"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cabbage Crazy Salad

When I looked back at my Crazy Salad post, I realized that was the beginning of my crazy salad experiments. This is an update.

After I found that a head of lettuce went bad before I could eat it all, I got a head of cabbage and tried that. I liked it. It is different. But, it makes a great base for a crazy salad. Plus, it keeps for several weeks in the frig.

If I worry about it going bad, I just cut a half or quarter of the head, drop it in boiling water for a few minutes, then freeze it. The frozen cabbage can be used in my Universal Skillet Dish or other cooked cabbage recipes.

Cabbage Crazy Salad

Base (Choose One)
1-3 Tablespoons per serving

Chicken, cooked and diced or canned, or as chicken salad

1/8 Head green cabbage, sliced into short thin strips
Rice, cooked, or Spanish rice
Salmon, canned, plain or as salmon salad

Step One - the Base

Other Ingredients (Use What You Have)

1-2 Tablespoons per serving

Artichoke hearts, 1-3
Avocado, slices
Beans, canned, black, red, or Chick peas
Beet, slices or cubes
Broccoli, pieces
Carrots, sliced or grated or shredded
Cauliflower, pieces
Celery, diced
Celery, sliced or diced
Chayote, sliced
Cheese, white, cubed
Cucumbers, sliced or diced
Green or red pepper, sliced or diced
Jicama, thin slices
Leeks, diced
Mushrooms, sliced
Olives, black or green, sliced
Onion, red or white, sliced or diced
Palm hearts, 1-3
Radishes, sliced or diced
Tomatoes, regular or cherry tomatoes, sliced or diced

Apples, slices
Pineapple, fresh or canned, chunks

Toppings (Use What You Have)

Croutons or toasted bread cubes
Imitation Bacon bits
Parmesan cheese

Seasonings (Choose one or two)

Curry powder
Ground black pepper

Final Step - adding the extra ingredients

Note: I often don't use any dressing because the salad has lots of flavor.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Midnight Snack -- A Variation on an Appetizer

Skewered Midnight Snack

Why I get the urge to eat late at night is still a puzzle.

Usually, I would eat a few pretzels or a slice of turkey, but then I got a bright idea.

Let's make a skewer.

1 skewer stick (wood or metal)
a few grape tomatoes
1 slice of turkey lunch meat, cut into strips
a few small chunks of cream cheese or other cheeses
a few olives
1 tsp of dry basil

Fold the strips of lunch meat, then piece the meat to add to the skewer.
Pierce tomatoes or olives or cheese to add to the skewer stick.
Alternate the order of the items.
Crush the basil between your palms and sprinkle over the skewered items.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

No Bake -- Blackberry Shortcake-Styled Dessert

No Bake -- Blackberry Shortcake-Styled Dessert
Adapted from: Enjoy Cooking: The Costco Way, Blueberry Shortcake

1 Soft sweet roll(s)
1/4 Chunk of cream cheese
2 Tbspns of Blackberry Marmalade or preserves
2 Tbspns whipped cream topping
Garnish: Crushed nuts (Optional)

Nuts not shown.

Slice roll in half horizontally.
Spread a portion of the cream cheese over the top of each roll half.
Add 1 Tblspn marmalade on top of cream cheese, spread out over cream cheese.
Add 1 Tblspn whipped topping on top of each roll half.
Sprinkle each half roll with a little crushed nuts. (Optional)

Suggestion: use a fork to eat.

In a way, making recipes for the next volume of Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook has blown my food budget and my healthy eating diet.  I keep buying things that I will use infrequently like the blackberry preserves and whipped topping. But, it's fun and educational.

Salmon Ceviche Recipe and More...

When I worked, I never had time to really learn to cook, to explore or research all the various aspects of food preparation.

While Amy Daczycn gets the credit for inspiring me to try to learn to cook on a budget, and to use my creativity, so many more authors and agencies have led me down various paths to finding recipes, and food and cooking information I could adapt or use while I try to write my second cookbook.

Along the way, I have explored sustainable seafoods and I am always on the alert to health and safety issues.

Another thing I try to show is the mistakes and the learning curve that occurs when trying new recipes and when you try to adapt a recipe using what you have on hand or using substitutes.

Since my move, I have a limited reference library. But, I was perusing my cookbooks and took another look at Enjoy Cooking: The Costco Way and I was floored when I saw so many recipes similar to ones I had already tried, like: Berrylicious Breakfast Crepes, Nutella Breakfast Granola Parfaits, Asparagus Frittata, and others. Plus, now I can now add "Stacks" to my many variations such as: sliders, skewers, wraps, melts and more.

Note: you can read this cookbook online.

The only recipe I had adapted previously from this cookbook was "Double Nut Berry Yogurt Pie" (pg 228). My recipe "No Bake - Fruit & Yogurt Dessert" is different in ingredients and serving size.

Anyway, I found several recipes I wanted to try including "Ceviche-Inspired Wild Alaska Salmon", again, I had to adapt.

Salmon Ceviche

1 can 210g of Salmon, drained
1 can salsa 210g, drained carefully
6 grape tomatoes, quartered
About 6 pickled cucumber slices or fresh, diced
1/2 white onion, diced (or red onion)
2 Tablespoons, carrot shredded (Optional)
1 capful of lime concentrate
1 tablespoon dry cilantro or fresh
Hot sauce to taste

Onions not shown.

Add Salmon to large bowl. Using a fork, separate large chunks into smaller pieces.
Add salsa.
Add tomatoes.
Add diced cucumber slices.
Add diced onion.
Add carrots (Optional).
Stir to mix ingredients thoroughly.
Add lime concentrate.
Crush dry cilantro between your palms. Add cilantro.
Add hot sauce.
Stir again, to mix throughly.

Single Serving Shown

When I opened the lime concentrate it hissed which lead me to believe it was fermenting but after just reading about botulism, it made me wonder. I guess I'll know in 12 hours to 8 days. Feel like pinning a note to my clothes, "If I am found paralyzed, check for botulism poison."

USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service - Clostridium botulinum

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sucker Purchase

Just came home from grocery shopping. I noted that a few items went up in price like milk went up considerably from $13.80 (pesos, MX$) to $15.20 for 1 liter, whereas a few items went down a few pesos in price. I did pick up a few items on sale.

But, I was also shopping for a friend's care package. I always include chicken soup in the items. I could not find "chicken soup." I have not tried the canned "Sopa de Lima", but, I came across some children's canned chicken soup. I bought a few cans because I thought they'd give my friend a laugh.

The children's soup ($27.90 a can) was just one serving. It was good soup.

Whereas, the other canned soups I bought ($14.03 a can) are concentrates. I can make three bowls of soup from one can.

As a consumer, it is important to be aware of packaging, varying sizes, marketing, sales, ingredients, price differences, and more, in order to make smart purchases.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Online Publishers' Customer Service -- Update

3/5/16 UPDATE: In further correspondence with LuLu, they answered my questions fully and promptly which made me happy. Lulu looks good at this point. Now, it's up to me to make sure I made a good file for use on their site.


As an author, for me, good customer service is one of my primary criteria in choosing an online publisher as well as other online services.

As a Smashwords.com author, their customer service is very good in my opinion, which I appreciate.

But, in my search for a POD publisher, I have been less than satisfied with the customer service. Most send you to a "knowledge base" which is often a mishmash of customer comments and do not address specific minute details.

For example,

This reply does not address my question specifically and saying they will respond in x number of days is not reassuring. This is the type of reply I get often from various online services including Blogger.com. From my perspective, this is very unsatisfying.

I can not seem to get POD publishers to understand my request.

I want a POD publisher who will 1) host my POD (made by me) for sales and distribution from their site  2) distribute it to other eTailers and 3) make it available for download as a POD file, so customers can go to their local printer to get a copy made.

I see this as another publishing avenue as seen by the growth of the Espresso Business Machine (http://ondemandbooks.com) but even this program does not address the lack of service in many areas of the world where mail service is costly and delivery times are long. But, if local printers could produce a POD, then customers could go to them to get a print copy of a downloaded POD, much like customers do with photobooks.

I do recognize that POD file formats will vary.

Also, in some cases, using POD publishers can be costly.

I am still researching this issue.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Corny Casserole

While looking for a recipe using corn kernels, I thought of Amy Dacyczyn’s (author of The Tightwad Gazette) Universal Casserole.

Also, I had one can of tuna left and because I had decided not to buy tuna fish anymore for sustainable seafood reasons, I wanted to use the tuna fish in a dish that would be more than one meal. Amy’s casserole was ideal.

The last time I used  Amy’s recipe I called my casserole a Klingon Casserole because it started out looking very green but it came out fine.

With Amy’s universal recipe, you pick an item from each of the six categories then combine them to make the casserole.

Here’s Amy’s recipe:

1     cup main ingredient
1     cup second ingredient
1-2  cups starchy ingredient
1 1/2  cups binder
1/4  cup goodie

Main ingredient: tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood
Second ingredient: sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs
Starchy ingredient: sliced potatoes, cooked noodles or rice
Binder: cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup
Goodie: pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts
Topping: potato chips, cheese, bread crumbs

Choose one item from each category except topping and mix together. If mixture is dry, add 1/2 cup milk or stock. Transfer to buttered or greased casserole. Add topping.

Bake 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes.

Here’s my recipe. As usual, I used a few items not on her list.

Corny Casserole

1 can tuna fish drained
1 cup creamed corn
1 pkg spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 can mushroom soup
3 palmfuls of sliced almonds, crushed manually
Lots of bread crumbs


First, cook the noodles in a separate pot.

Then in a microwavable casserole dish, add the tuna fish, creamed corn, spaghetti, soup (straight out of the can, don’t add water), almonds, and mix thoroughly. Next, spread bread crumbs over the top of the whole casserole. I spread a thick layer.

Microwave on high for 15 minutes.

My largest casserole dish worked pretty good but I held out a small portion of cooked noodles to make sure I did not overfill the dish.

When I grabbed a can of corn. I did not realize it was a can of creamed corn meant for another recipe, but I went ahead anyway.

The tienda (mom and pop convenience store) near me sells bags of seasoned croutons. I buy alot of them. I use them in my crazy salads. I save the crumbs. These are what I used as topping.

I use an empty parmesan cheese container with the sprinkle or scoop option top to hold the leftover bread crumbs and I store this in the freezer. Surprising, they keep well and you don't need to thaw them out.

I call this one a Monster Casserole because it looked yellow but it came out pretty good, too.

For More Information:
Sustainable Seafood: http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/seafoodguide/