Category Archives: Budgeting

Food on Friday ~ Desserts

There’s mo metaphysics on Earth like a chocolate dessert. ~ Pessoa

Now that summer is here, and some of us may be thinking of entertaining and garden parties, it might also be the right time to think of indulgent desserts.  After all, one may have the greatest grill in the district, but that means little if you can’t follow up the steak, oysters, and king crab with a really great dessert.

Some of you may also have some annual holiday celebrations coming up, I know my cousins across the pond celebrate their independence soon…..  And talking of dessert in the USA, pie and cheesecake isn’t what a great summer desert is all about.

So, first up this week, from Heather Christo, we have this vegan triple coconut sorbet.  I love sorbet, so light and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.  This sorbet is dairy-free, nut-free, and free from soy products.

Vegan Triple Coconut Sorbet

Now, from Chungah at Damn Delicious, I offer you this substantial slow cooker apple pear crisp.  Apples and pears are such a fabulous combination ~ I used to know a great London pub called The Apples and Pears.  (In Cockney rhyming slang that doesn’t mean what you think.)

Slow Cooker Apple Pear Crisp

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a very cool  looking dessert which appeals both to the sophisticated English Gentleman and the northern street kid in me; black raspberry lavender cobbler.

Black Raspberry Lavender Cobbler

I suppose I have to include one cheesecake recipe, but to give it an English flavour I offer you this no-bake Eton mess berry cheesecake from Half Baked Harvest.  (Eton is a town near Windsor, where the Queen lives.)

No-bake Eton Mess Berry Cheescake

To bring chocolate to the table, how about a chocolate cake, or 25?  From Olive Magazine we have the best chocolate cake recipes; including this ultimate chocolate fudge cake.

Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Cake

Your collection this week is from Delish Magazine; 79 delish summer desert recipes you’ll be making again and again.  I confess that this collection had me at the best ever rhubarb pie.  Being a proper Northern Englishman I love rhubarb pie ~ serve it with custard or vanilla ice cream.

Best Ever Rhubarb Pie

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

and to drink with your delicious desserts,

how about champagne mojitos?

(or a nice cup of tea)

The High Cost of Money

Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need more.

In The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare explores the dangers of borrowing money, and in Hamlet, Shakespeare says; ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be…..’  And, especially think twice, and twice again before borrowing money from a friend.  Think about what you need the most ~ the friendship or the money, for money is often the cause of acrimony and breakups of even the closest of relationships.  Your friend may not charge you financial interest on the sums you borrow, but there are likely to be charges and obligations other than strictly monetary.

In order of the least to most desirable lenders from whom you could think of approaching are;

  • Friends and lovers.  Borrow from a friend and be prepared to soon lose a friend.
  • Parents and family.
  • Payday Lenders, who will charge you usuary rates of interest ~ 250% to over 1,000% per annum.
  • Guarantor Lenders.  If you have a poor credit rating you could get a friend or family member to guarantee your loan.  These are doubly bad, with all the disadvantages of actually borrowing from friends, lovers, parents and family ~ plus very high rates of interest 50% per annum being about the norm.
  • Credit card debt.  These insidious borrowings can cost you 25% or more over a year ~ if you go on using that card you may never be debt free.
  • Bank loans.  If your bank will lend you money you may expect to pay a low rate of interest, maybe between 3% and 10% per annum.
  • Mortgages and other secured loans from your bank or a  mortgage company / broker.  Personally, I could get a mortgage at 2% per annum.
  • Car loans.  If you should want to buy a new car, many dealers will offer you a car loan at 0%.

And, why do you want a loan anyhow?  The very worst reason for borrowing is to feed your addiction; gambling, drugs, booze, sex…. and the second worst reason for borrowing money is to pay off another debt.  Both of those are likely to get you into deeper and even worse trouble.  Maybe the only good reasons for  borrowing are to buy a home, or car,  (or in some places to pay medical fees).  Vacations, wide-screen TVs, plush furniture,  jewellery, fancy clothes, expensive shoes, are all not worth getting yourself into debt for.

So, just beware of borrowing anything from anyone.

Some say a fool and his money are soon parted.  And that a man in love never counts the cost of anything.  All I know is that Shakespeare was a pretty smart guy.

~

Jack Collier

jackcollier7@ talktalk.net

Maybe a convertible Mustang isn’t the most prudent purchase.

Food on Friday ~ Summer BBQ

Friends, fun, beer, and BBQ ~ it’s what summer’s all about.

When you read this I’ll probably be in the air, somewhere over the Atlantic ocean, but I’m looking forward to sampling food like this when I eventually arrive at my various destinations in the USA; Orange County, Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff in AZ, and probably LA and San Diego Counties too.

From my Californian friends I know that it’s already BBQ season over there, so here’s an essential accompaniment to any grill, a potato salad.  Except from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest, here we have a wonderful looking pesto potato salad.

Pesto Potato Salad

Another potato side, this time from Diane’s Kitchen; simple twice baked potatoes, and the good thing about this dish is that, (if you need to), you can mostly prepare it the day before and finish it off in the oven or microwave.

Simple Twice Baked Potatoes

From Creme de la Crumb this is a fast, easy, and flavourful recipe you can just stick in the oven or broiler; sheet pan salmon, asparagus, and potatoes.  Or you could just do the salmon and asparagus and have it with a dill salad.

Sheet Pan Salmon, Asparagus, Potatoes

Talking of a dill salad, from Julia Moskin at the New York Times, we have this soft herb salad, which just cries out for whatever fresh greens you have growing in your garden.  This will go great with any BBQ’d salmon dish.

Soft Herb Salad

Your collection this week is from Olive Magazine which has 62 of the best BBQ recipes, and I especially like this very easy Miami-style blackened fish sandwich with smoked paprika mayo.  Cooking fish on the grill is so easy and deliciously cool.

Miami-Style Blackened Fish Sandwich with Smoked Paprika Mayo

And to drink with your early summer BBQ garden party; Beer.  Vine Pair has a list of the 50 best bottled beers of 2018, and at #1 the Sierra Nevada Brewing hazy little thing IPA.  If I was still a drinking man I’d quaff a few tinnies of this stuff.  IPA stands for India Pale Ale ~ Asian Indians, not the American kind.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Hazy Little Thing IPA

~

jack collier

jack collier7@talktalk.net

 

BBQ chicken lettuce wraps

clean, healthy, great with tequila

Food on Friday ~ Memorial Day Weekend

Happy Friday, let the long weekend begin.

This Monday is Memorial Day in the USA, and late Spring Bank Holiday in the UK, which means we all get a long weekend.  The weather should be good, so it’s a perfect time for some al-fresco dining.

Enjoy these cool recipes.

From Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb we have a recipe for one pan creamy cilantro lime chicken and rice.  I really like one pan dishes, but it’s coriander here, not cilantro.  Nice by any name.

One pan Creamy Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice

This is interesting from The Flourishing Foodie, pasta with a tomato vodka cream sauce.  I’ve heard of vodka pasta sauces before, but I’ve never tried one ~ maybe it’s time that I did.

Pasta with a Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

If you like salmon, then try this recipe for honey mustard grilled salmon with avocado basil sauce posted by Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  Perfect for Memorial Day.  Here in England we have a public hiliday on May 27th too, but it’s called Spring Bank Holiday ~ how boring.

Honey Mustard Grilled Salmon with Avocado Basil Sauce

Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower has this wonderful dish; pan seared scallops pasta carbonara.  This would be great to serve to a few friends on any holiday.

Pan Seared Scallops Pasta Carbonara

I like recipe collections, and I’m pretty certain that you do too.  Ergo from Delish we have 40 recipes for the perfect Memorial Day BBQ ~ including this fabulous recipe for grilled ranch potatoes.

Grilled Ranch Potatoes

And finally for this week 65 Memorial Day recipes for your holiday weekend barbecue, from Country Living.  I especially like this sweet-and-smoky cedar-planked salmon ~ and if you shop now you can probably get a suitable plank for Monday.

Sweet and Smoky Cedar Planked Salmon

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

you can buy grilling planks from Amazon

Food on Friday ~ Midweek Dinners and Workday Lunches

There is always a great recipe for tonight’s dinner.

This week’s recipes are all about making a good midweek dinner, but just as importantly every dish described here is also going to be great to take to work the following day.  And, you know that it’s always better to take your lunch into work, rather than buy something at a deli or pay a small fortune to eat out at a restaurant.

So, try some of these and enjoy.

Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest gives us something interesting and colourful with her weeknight saucy pineapple bbq chicken bowls.  As well as being perfect for any night of the week, this recipe is also perfect to take to work for lunch.

Weeknight Saucy Pineapple BBQ Chicken Bowls

Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower has this really cool recipe for spinach bacon quiche  ~  and this is a hell of a lot easier to make than you might think.  This delicious looking quiche would be great for a midweek dinner with some salad, or to take to work for brunch / lunch.

Spinach Bacon Quiche

Another quiche, (they are so great to take to work for lunch), this time an easy quiche Lorraine from Heidi at Foodie Crush.  This recipe will be great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even a midweek dinner.  Also from Heidi 14 days of healthy breakfast recipe ideas.

Easy Quiche Lorraine

Believe it or not, this grilled Thai pork tenderloin with soba noodle salad, is also an easy midweek meal.  At least Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats says it is.  The leftovers would be utterly brilliant to take to work for lunch, eaten cold, (or reserve the tenderloin and heat that in the microwave).

Grilled Thai Pork Tenderloin with Soba Noodle Salad

Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb has this super recipe for one pan Spanish chicken and rice, a bold and zesty dish you can make in a half-an-hour.  Tiffany calls one of her ingredients coriander, which you may know better as cilantro.

One Pan Spanish Chicken and Rice

Our collection this week is from Carrie Havranek at Simply recipes who has 6 easy Vietnamese recipes you can totally make at home.  My favourite for a midweek dinner and something great to take to work for lunch is this Char Siu Chicken, which would be perfect with rice and /or salad.

Char Siu Chicken

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

how to make the best grilled salmon

a post from Foodie Crush

Live Within Your Means

To achieve your goals and dreams you are going to need money.

Back in the day I worked in banking and finance, and I saw first-hand just how much of a mess most people could make of their finances ~ usually due to buying things they couldn’t really afford.  The three main culprits when it came to unaffordable and expensive purchases were; cars, clothes / shoes, and vacations ~ none of which are essential.  (There’s a caveat, in that you may actually need a car and you do need clothes and shoes, but you can buy the cheapest used stuff you can find, rather than flashy and expensive.)

You do not need to be a millionaire, or act like a millionaire, to be successful or feel successful.  Financial wealth is only one indicator of success.  However, you’re going to need money just to live day-to-day, and no successful person has ever ignored their finances.  Conversely, all successful people know how to manage their money and plan their finances.  And rule #1 is Borrowing is Bad, especially if you borrow money you can’t easily pay off.

Financial planning begins with these 4 questions;

  1. How much money do you take home each month?
  2. What are your regular bills; mortgage, utilities, taxes, loan repayments?
  3. How much do you spend each month in the various stores you use; clothes, groceries, gas, booze, cigarettes, etc?
  4. What assets and debts do you have?

If you are in the fortunate position of making more money than you regularly spend, then you should also be able to work out how much you are saving each month.

You need to write all this down, either just pen and paper, or on a spreadsheet.

If you are regularly spending more than you earn, then you are heading for deep shit.

If you are regularly spending more than you earn, then you need to totally cut out some of your expenditure.  Stop buying booze, cigarettes, chocolate, and anything else you may be addicted to; gambling, porn, sex, drugs…..  Always buy the cheapest gas, buy less expensive groceries, stop eating out, stop using the deli to buy your lunchtime sandwiches and make them at home instead…..

Borrowing is Bad.  Some borrowing is worse.  PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARDS.  Credit card debt is ruinously expensive.  In this day and age if your paying more than 10% as an annual interest rate on a loan, then stop eating until that debt is paid off.

Some say that they can make money playing online poker.  And, that its good to go to the pub most nights a week.  All I know is that some people end up on the street.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

life on the street is no fun

Food on Friday ~ Healthy Summertime

It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime.

Now that the weather is much better for most of you guys ~ warmer, sunnier, bluer skies ~ it’s perhaps time to think of lighter and healthier summertime dishes, rather than all of those warming soups you were cooking just a few weeks ago.

This week’s dishes all have a seafood angle to them.

First this week we have Chungah at Damn Delicious with these very clean and healthy looking garlic butter shrimp zucchini noodles.  I have to admit that I don’t actually make zucchini noodles, but looking at this recipe I’m beginning to think that I should.

Garlic Butter Shrimp Zucchini Noodles

Now, from Heidi at Foodie Crush we have this very useful post entitled how to make the best grilled salmon.  This isn’t so much a recipe as a method, but I think it’s damn good.

How to Make the Best Grilled Salmon

Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes has a great summertime dish; spicy garlic shrimp with coconut rice.  And, Elise is right, any shrimp dish is best eaten fresh.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has an absolutely delicious-looking crab avocado salad on buttered garlic toast.  So mouth-watering.  So great to serve with drinks.

Crab Avocado Salad on Buttered Garlic Toast

This is interesting from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb; garlic lime shrimp marinade.  And this is a fast marinade that will be ready for the grill in just 15 minutes.  Lots of cilantro.

Garlic Lime Shrimp Marinade

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

and to drink, not wine

Heather Christo gives us a

vodka fruit punch

 

Knowing Myself

Embrace the journey of getting older.

It’s time that I stopped bemoaning what I have lost, and started to enjoy what I have gained.  It’s time I stopped crying over the fact that my life isn’t perfect.  And it’s time I accepted that sometimes life is difficult and painful.

Since our society equates happiness with youth, we often assume that sorrow, quiet desperation, and hopelessness go hand in hand with getting older.  They don’t.  Emotional pain and numbness are symptoms of living the wrong life, not a long life.  ~  Martha Beck

Getting older is a good thing, I need to open my eyes to the amazing opportunities it affords me.  I can go anywhere and do anything without having to worry about money, time, work, or any of those other responsibilities I had when I was a younger guy.  Instead of thinking about my past I should focus on what I have gained; insight, wisdom, experience, and a myriad of new opportunities for adventure.

I can act young ~ there is no need for me to retreat into doddering senility.  But, I have lived through my youth, and there is no need for me to endlessly repeat the mistakes I made then.  I can be a very mature guy and still have a youthful and joyful outlook on life.

However, I need to accept that some things have changed, and live my life the way it is today, not the way it used to be years and years ago.  For example ~ I have more money than I can sensibly spend in the time I have left to enjoy it.  And, I am never going to bench-press 250 pounds again.

Some say that I live a really great life.  And that if I just let myself enjoy life as it is then things would become even better for me.  All I know is that I have some very good friends who really care about me.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Marmaduke is always there for me

Food on Friday ~ Main Courses

A sirloin, medium-rare, is not only an entrée, it is a philosophy.

I supposed I could have called this post Entrées, but for me that conjures up an image of something served in a high-end restaurant, preferably in Florence, or some other magical city.  In that kind of place, choosing the correct wine is just as important as making an inspired choice of food.

However, if you’re lucky enough to find a really good restaurant, them you can probably rely on the sommelier to give you some appropriate advice.  For wines to drink with a sirloin steak try a cabernet or merlot, unless you’re in Italy, in which case you want a really good Tuscan red or maybe a quality Barolo ~ the King of Wines.  (But beware, a great Barolo can be hideously expensive.)

If you want to know how to cook the perfect sirloin steak, look no further than this link.

Our first entrée this week is by Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb, and she has the BEST ultra tender instant pot pork tenderloin, with a balsamic glaze.  This cut of pork is an excellent source of Protien and lots of vitamins and minerals, and it isn’t at all fatty.  You know what?  I love a good pork tenderloin.

Instant Pot Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Next, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest, there’s this delicious looking honey butter blackened scallops with herby polenta.  I think scallops are fabulous, and I love the way Tieghan cooks them here ~ I’m still willing to be convinced as far as polenta is concerned.

Honey Butter Blackened Scallops with Herby Polenta

Another shellfish recipe, this time from Sheryl Julian via Simply Recipes ~ spring scampi with peas and mint, served on a bed of pasta.  Looks great for a midweek dinner, or if you have guests at a weekend.  This is a pretty easy dish, and would be fabulous if you have a lemon tree and mint in your own garden.

Spring Scampi with Peas and Mint

Broccoli is really good for you, if you want to be healthier, then eat more broccoli.  Chungah at Damn Delicious offers us this easy sheet pan recipe for beef and broccoli.  Allegedly this is the easiest beef and broccoli dish of your life; Chungah says it doesn’t get any easier or quicker than this.

Sheet Pan Beef and Broccoli

Your collection this week is from Great British Chefs, who offer us some great beef sirloin recipes; including this fantastic roast sirloin of beef with mushrooms, brandy, and roasted potatoes from Marcus Wareing.  Admittedly this dish takes two-and-a-half-hours, but doesn’t it looks fabulous.  Allegedly, it was King Henry VIII who named this cut of beef Sir Loin.

~

As an accompliment to your entrée Heather Christo has this utterly brilliant spring cobb salad, which looks absolutely fabulous.

Spring Cobb Salad

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Barolo, the Italian King of Wines

a guide to the wines of Barolo

Food on Friday ~ Broccoli and Cauliflower

If you want to live a healthy life, eat more broccoli.

Both broccoli and cauliflower are very good for your health, being nutritious, full of fibre, low in calories, and packed with vitamins and minerals.  However, broccoli is better for you as it has much more vitamins B, K and C, as well as containing vitamin A which isn’t in cauliflower at all. Broccoli also contains a lot of sulforophane, which is said to have anti-cancer properties.

The main thing with cooking any vegetable is not to boil them to death, because boiling will leach out up to 90% of the good stuff you’re eating the vegetables for in the first place.  Anyhow, boiled broccoli and boiled cauliflower are tasteless, and more akin to bad prison / school food than anything you’d want to have at home.

There are some great recipes for these two cruciferous vegetables;

First for this week we have broccoli pesto pasta with whipped ricotta from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  This is a 30 minute dish that you can also take to work the following day ~ perfect for Meatless Mondays.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Whipped Ricotta

From Joy Wilson at Joy the Baker, there’s a cool recipe for roasted cauliflower and plantain tacos.  I firmly believe that roasting cauliflower florets is the best way to cook this vegetable.  However, I’m not certain about making tortillas from scratch.

Roasted Cauliflower and Plantain Tacos

In Diane’s Kitchen there’s a recipe for chicken stir-fry and ramen noodles, which includes lots of nutritious broccoli.  This easy dish should only take you 30 minutes to prepare.

Chicken Stir-Fry and Ramen Noodles

From the Good Houskeeping test kitchen I found this kale and roasted cauliflower salad.  Now that the weather is warming up a little, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about salads again ~ and you don’t get much healthier than this.

Kale and Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Well now, this is different from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats broccoli cheddar tots ~ part of her Side Dish Sunday.  I guess you can call these very healthy nibbles / appetisers ~ and very interesting.

Broccoli Cheddar Tots

Your collection this week comes from Olive Magazine with their 32 best ever broccoli recipes, including this broccoli and crispy chilli beef stir fry.  I just love stir-fry it’s such a quick way to cook food, sealing in all the flavours and all of the goodness.

Broccoli and Crispy Chilli Beef Stir-Fry

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

there are dozens of cool ways to cook a cauliflower

click the link to check some out

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