Category Archives: Budgeting

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.

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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

The Cashless Conspiracy

Life is like a cash register, in that every account, every thought, every deed, like every sale, is registered and recorded.  ~ Fulton J. Sheen

There is a conspiracy at the highest levels of government and the banking industry that wants to do away with cash ~ that is the notes and coins in your wallet, purse, and pocket.  Here in England our Treasury Department, The Bank of England, (which is really another branch of government), the large high-street banks, and the major retail store chains are doing all they can to bring about the complete end of physical cash.

In the UK the number of free-to-use cash machines, (ATMs), is dwindling at the rate of about 250 every month, and that leaves shoppers and small businesses struggling to get hold of any cash, (source ~ consumer group Which).  Add to that the number of bank branch closures which adds up to about 1,000 a year over the past 3 years, and one can see that the finance industry is just not interested in anything but card payments and electronic banking.

The thing is, cash is utterly reliable, whereas electronic payments systems can and do crash from time to time.  Also some small businesses cannot afford the trouble and expense of installing a card reader and becoming a card merchant, so they are reliant on cash payments.  In addition, for very small payments, a card is just a stupid way to pay.  (And what stripper or hooker will accept anything but cash?)

However, the Government, the Bank of England, and the rest of the finance industry are doing everything possible to either promote cashless payments, or force cashless payments upon us.  Electronic swipe cards are now the norm, which means no signature or PIN is required to make a purchase, just wave your card at the reader.  Trust me, as a guy with 30 years experience in Banking and Finance, electronic swipe cards are not and never will be secure.  And just you try getting your money back from your bank if you have been a victim of card fraud.

One high street bank in the UK is trialing a system which will allow customers to authorise card payments for any amount just using their fingerprint ~ and that is also totally open to a number of easy frauds.

The thing is Governments, Central Banks, the Tax people, High Street Banks, Major Retail Chains hate cash because; it’s expensive for them to handle, they cannot monitor your every payment and spending pattern if you use cash, and they have absolutely no control over your earnings and spending if it’s in cash.

If we are not all very careful, then very soon Big Brother will be watching your money.

These comments apply to the banking and finance industry in England, which I know a bit about, but they also apply in equal measure to the USA.

Some say that Cash is King.  And others, that Cash is Dead, card and electronic payments are the real future.  All I know is I can get cash-back from my favourite store if I just make one tiny card purchase.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

The Bank of England is just another arm of Big Government

Food on Friday ~ Cooking in Foil

Cooking is fun, eating is fine, clearing up afterwards is a drag.

If, like me, you like cooking but don’t like clearing up afterwards, then cooking in foil packets is one way to cut down on the mess.  And, don’t believe the urban myth that aluminium foil is bad for your health ~ you can wrap food in it, and you can cook in it, and it won’t hurt you one little bit.

You can use foil packets to cook on the grill, in a fire-pit, in the oven, (and I’ve even baked potatoes wrapped in foil in the engine bay of a sports car).  Using a packet like this helps to seal in the flavours, and keeps your food moist and tender.

Add your herbs, spices, and other seasonings to the foil packet, but it’s also a good idea to use a flavouring that will add moisture to the meat, fish, or vegetables you’re cooking ~ for example; lemon, orange, honey, butter, olive oil…..

Chungah Rhee at Damn Delicious has a fantastic recipe for Asian salmon cooked in foil ~ and trust me, this is a brilliant way to cook salmon.  This dish uses fresh ginger and lots or garlic, as well as honey ~ all on the superfoods list.

Asian Salmon Cooked in Foil

Another salmon dish from from Chungah, and we have this seriously easy and seriously good recipe for lemon dill salmon in foil.  Really this great looking dish is a 30 minute effort, tops.  And, I’m pretty certain anyone can make a great job of cooking this damn delicious dish.

Lemon Dill Salmon in Foil

For a mid-week dinner or a weekend lunch here’s a recipe for a hearty potato dish you can prepare ahead ~ sausage, potato, and green bean foil packets.  If you have an oven in the lunch room you could cook these packets at work, or you could cook them ahead and eat them cold, or whatever…  And, you could swap bacon for the sausage…

Sausage Potato and Green Bean Foil Packets

From San Diego’s Averie Sunshine archive I have chosen this foil pack lime cilantro salmon.   This is so easy to make, and it will be ready to eat in 10 minutes ~ you heard me right, just 10 minutes to produce this wonderful tasty, and very healthy dish.

Foil Pack Lime Cilantro Salmon

I know how much you like recipe collections, so from Wide Open Eats here are 20 foil packet recipes making dinner a breeze ~ how cool is that?  Anything that makes mid-week dinners easier is a good idea.  Included in this collection is a great recipe for lemon chicken and asparagus from Creme de la Crumb.

Lemon Chicken and Asparagus

From Taste of Home we have a collection of 30 Wrap-and-Cook Foil Packet Recipes, including this delicious-looking crab and shrimp stuffed sole.  If you can get a decent Dover Sole this would make a fabulous dish ~ even for your high-end dinner party for two.

Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Sole

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Thai salmon in foil

Food on Friday ~ Spicy

food for the body is not enough ~ there should also be food for the soul

Everyone’s definition of what constitutes spicy food is different.  Some people think a dash of black pepper is sufficient, whereas others like the red hot chili peppers, (and that’s a very overrated band).

Personally I prefer a little subtlety in my spice palette.

First up this week we have a dish with good old-fashioned mustard from Diane’s Kitchen.  I think you should be able to make this Honey Mustard Chicken in about a half-hour, maybe serve it with a baked potato.

Honey Mustard Chicken

Next we have a vegan recipe from Cookie + kate, and this Spicy Black Bean Soup with a Cuban twist should be in your bowl in about 45 minutes.  Obviously this would be great to take to work the following day, and Kate says it freezes well in Mason jars ~ hmmmm, I’d never freeze a glass jar.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has this brilliant recipe for Ginger Scallion Noodle Bowls ~ ginger is the Queen of Spices, it’s good for just about whatever ails you, as well as providing a great pick-me-up.

Ginger Scallion Noodle Bowls

Half Baked Harvest is a site for some really pretty dishes, and this 30 Minute Vietnamese Beef and Crispy Rice Bowl is no exception.  I really like the look of this recipe and it’s on my list to try in the very near future ~ I like 30 minute recipes.

30 Minute Vietnamese Beef and Crispy Rice Bowl

Next to last for this week, from Amanda at Chez le Rêve Français, there’s this Chilli and Ginger Glazed Salmon ~ what’s not to like about this dish?

Chilli and Ginger Glazed Salmon

This week’s collection is from Olive Magazine, with their 25 Best Ever Hot and Spicy Recipes.  I’ve chosen to feature this Sri Lankan Veggie Curry partly because it’s vegetarian, but mostly because I love Sri Lankan food ~ it’s far, far better than Thai.

Sri Lankan Veggie Curry

~

jack collier

jackcollier@talktalk.net

 

Chinese 5 Spice Beef and Ginger Stir Fry

from Vacation Food

the interconnectedness of agribusiness and you

Gambling with your health and well-being for the sake of more profitable hamburgers.

One of the main purposes of genetically modifying food plants such as wheat and corn is to make them resistant to a weed-killer called Roundup, which is sprayed on food crops several times in a season ~ including right before harvesting to dry the crop out.  The principal active ingredient of Roundup is a chemical called Glyphosate.  Of many lies told about glyphosate is that it was discovered by Monsanto in 1970.  In fact this nasty chemical was first patented as a descaling and chelating agent for boilers and pipes by the Stauffer Chemical Co. in 1961.  It’s a drain cleaner.

Glyphosate is a poisonous organophosphorus carcinogen.

When I was a boy, learning about farming, I was told about field rotation, (or crop rotation), which is the practice of changing what the farmer grows on any piece of land on a four-year cycle.  This prevents such nasty things as soil erosion, soil exhaustion, soil poisoning, and poor soil fertility ~ all of which lead to poor crop yields.

Modern agribusiness doesn’t practice crop rotation, instead it uses monoculture farming.  This destructive method of land use requires large amounts of artificial fertilisers and pesticides to make it work, and it leads to an unbalanced and unsustainable ecosystem.  Agribusiness in the USA does not work in harmony with the land, instead it beats the land into submission to produce larger and larger amounts of poisonous food and drink.

These are very similar farming practices to those which caused the Great Plains dust bowl of the 1930’s, except modern farming practices are far more intensive and artificial than anything dreamed of by the farmers who helped cause the Great Depression.  Today, agriculture is based on very capital-intensive heavy machinery.

If a farmer in a typical high plains farming community decides to eschew intensive chemical-based monoculture and embrace more ecologically sustainable organic agriculture, he / she is likely to be ostracised by the rest of his / her community.  Peer pressure is a powerful thing and very difficult to ignore.  Most farmers are in denial about the damage they are doing to the soil, the rivers, the sea, and the wider environment.  Not to mention the poisons they are putting into your food and drink.

These chemical fertilisers and pesticides can take decades to completely clear from the environment.  The half-life of glyphosate in soil and water is much longer than Monsanto would like to admit.  Monsanto is a German company.

Some say they would never shop at a farmers market or buy organic produce.  And some people don’t believe that intensive farming practices are killing them.  All I know is that in 1945 about 45% of American food was grown in people’s back yards.

And, by the way, probiotic drinks are very bad for your health. The live bacteria in probiotic drinks originated in cows.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

anything made with grains is bad for you

unless it’s organic, then it’s not so bad

Become a Renaissance Being

The heart and soul of a Renaissance Man is creativity.

Creativity, curiosity, honesty, openness, kindness, understanding ~ these things and honour are what separates a truly superior Renaissance Man from the common herd.  There are a couple of other important attributes a superior man should possess in abundance; confidence and self-control ~ a Renaissance Man does not want, desire, nor need instant gratification to bolster his self-confidence.  The confidence of a Renaissance Man is assured and will brook no criticisms.

part-finished teardrop trailer kit

A superior man is creative and innovative, and creativity means to actually create something, if there is no physical end-product then all you are doing is daydreaming.  Almost everyone can daydream and come up with an idea or two, but few will go on to get those ideas down on paper, make a plan, and go on to create / build / make whatever it is the plan calls for, be it writing a book, creating a work of art, a boat, car, a tiny trailer, a kitchen, bathroom, or even a whole home.  Almost everyone goes no further than having an idea, they never follow through and do something tangible.  They are held back by a lack of confidence in themselves, laziness, fear, and the pressures of coping with a partner, family, friends, and coworkers.  These are excuses, not reasons.

Other reasons for not actually doing something real, for going no further than daydreaming, are; lack of money, time pressures, lack of space, not knowing how to do whatever it is they think they want to do…..  All of these are also just fucking pathetic excuses.  And then there are some other reasons people don’t do creative stuff; they drink too much, smoke too much, smoke pot, do street drugs, take too many unnecessary prescription and over-the-counter medications, gamble, spend too much time looking for cheap sex in bars……

Perhaps to be truly creative you first have to put your life in order.  It’s a fallacy that booze and drugs will help your creativity ~ all those things will do is help you daydream, right up to the point where you pass out.

Creative living and creativity is available to all of us  But how do we energise our creative abilities?

  • Do something, even if it’s just baby steps.  Make a start on your project, even if it’s just writing down your ideas. Get out of your comfort zone.  Pick up whatever tools you need to work on your project, from a hammer, to a brush, to a tablet.
  • Mindfullness.  Be aware of ourselves, be aware of our environment, be in the moment.
  • Fresh air, exercise, sunshine, movement in nature.  Get off your ass and take some physical activity to energise your body.  Most office workers do not move nearly enough during the day, and then they go home, sit on the sofa, and drink some booze in front of the TV.
  • Stop taking yourself too seriously.  Reawaken the inner child.  Be prepared to make mistakes. Be playful.

Some say that serious people don’t have time to waste on being creative.  And, that being mindful is just a ‘new-age’ gimmick.  All I know is that a really cool Renaissance Man creates his own reality.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get out into nature

Food on Friday ~ Menu Planning

For some people meal planning is like a chess puzzle.

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Planning what we are going to eat for a whole week is a pretty easy thing to do, but it does mean sitting down and writing a list or two.  It might also mean looking at some recipes, and then checking what one has in the larder, refrigerator, freezer, and garden.  That leads to making a shopping list ~ (and one should never go into a supermarket without a shopping list) ~ and a menu list for the week.

Get one thing straight, a recipe, a menu list, and a shopping list aren’t rules ~ these things are just guidelines to help us get organised without wasting lots and lots of time.

So, before I post some recipe collections, let me feature something about menu planning.  From Hali Bey Ramdene at The Kitchn I can give you The Beginners Guide to Meal Planning: What to Know, How to Succeed, and What to Skip.  Remember, when you plan your meals to allow enough quantity so that you have leftovers for another day, or to take to work for lunch.  Also, when you plan your meals try to follow some healthy eating guidelines.

The Beginners Guide to Meal Planning

Some more on the basics of meal planning and we have Common Meal-Planning Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid from Greatist, and The Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning from the Wellness Mama.

Winter Meal Plan

My own preferred menus lean towards Mediterranean food, and Heidi at Foodie Crush has a great post of 50 Favorite Mediterranean Diet Recipes, which also includes a Mediterranean diet plan and this recipe for Mediterranean Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Olive Tapenade.  I love the fresh herbs in this dish.

Mediterranean Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Olive Tapenade

It’s the heart of the apple season here, and I really do prefer eating organic foods in season.  But what to do with apples?  Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest found this post by Katherine Power at Clique Brands ~ 4 apple recipes she’s looking forward to baking this month.  I particularly like the look to this Honeycrisp Apple Pandowdy, (what a great name).

Honeycrisp Apple Pandowdy

Last up this week, from Alanna Taylor Tobin at The Bojon Gourmet we have Savoring Winter with 40 Vibrant Citrus Recipes. This is all so colourful, but I especially like the look of these gluten-free black sesame kumquat financiers, (except I’d call them tea-cakes).

Savoring Winter with 40 Vibrant Citrus Recipes

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

if you can buy packet sauces, they make meal planning easy

grasp your own future

Dreams do not have deadlines nor commitments…..

Hardly anyone is really in control of their own life.  This is doubly true if you happen to be an ‘average person’, who has a job, mortgage, and normal financial commitments ~ face it you have to turn up for work every day, whether you like it or not.  Add in a family, who undoubtedly will have expectations of you, and your time is not hardly ever your own.  (And, I wasn’t even thinking about the ‘average person’ who is married with children.)

The ‘average person’ can’t really have dreams and desires, unless their dreams and desires happen to fit in with what others expect of you.

Just supposing you want to take a year off, buy an old school bus, turn into a camper van, and see as much of backroads America / Europe, as you possibly can in that year.  What do you think your partner / family / friends / employer / neighbours are going to say about that?

I’ll tell you that the likelihood is that their views and words will range from incredulity to negativity, to downright hostility.  That is if you are an ‘average person’ living a ‘normal life’.  Ergo, to protect yourself you would probably not ever have that kind of empowering dream and desire.

Instead your mind will be filled with things such as; ‘what can I do about my partner / sister / brother…..?’ or ‘how can I afford to pay my bills’, or ‘how can I get a better job?’ or ‘what can I have for lunch / dinner / supper?’

None of us can do anything about our past, except reframe the way we think about it.

Most ‘normal’ and ‘average’ people can do very little about what’s happening to them in the present.  The chances are that, for them, today will be pretty much like yesterday.  If they have to work for a living the chances are that any working day will be exactly like the working day before.  Even their thoughts and conversations will have a mind-numbing repetitious banality.

However, and this is fucking damned important, we can all do something about our futures.

NOBODY has to settle for the status quo.  If there is something or someone in your life that’s sucking the life out of you, then get rid of it / them.  If your marriage is crap / abusive / boring, then get out of it.  If your job is horrible and badly paid, then leave and get another job ~ there’s nothing like being out of work to put a real edge on job hunting.

There is only one problem ~ most people will never leave their ‘comfort zone’.  If that’s you, then it’s time you grew up and grasped your own future with both hands ~ carpe diem.

As for me?  I’m a really cool guy, living a great life.  I can do just about whatever I want, just about whenever I want ~ within my own pretty rigid code of ethics, and the fact that I don’t ever want to get arrested again.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

That van was in Palm Springs

Food on Friday ~ Easy Lunches

Time is an illusion ~ lunchtime doubly so…..

So many people either grab something from the deli, or supermarket, or just eat out at lunchtime.  Actually, at weekends there’s no reason even a working person should do that.  It’s perfectly possible to prepare and cook a great lunch in about 30 minutes at home, and that way you know exactly what you’re eating without having to puzzle over just what’s in your lunch burrito.  And, if you make lunch, (or supper), at home, then you’re going to have some great leftovers to take to work the following day.

From Dianes Kitchen there’s this wonderful-looking crab meat Frittata.  Now, while I like both frittata and crab this is a combination I’ve never thought of.  I agree with Diane, this dish would be great at breakfast, lunch, or supper ~ or for something to take to work the following day.

Crab Meat Fritatta

Chungah at Damn Delicious has a recipe for creamy red pepper shells, I think this dish would make a wonderful lunch along with a glass of Italian or Californian red wine, and maybe a hunk of crusty bread.  I think I could whip this together in 30 minutes, and it’s another dish to take to work the following day.

Creamy Red Pepper Shells

Well then, Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb invites us to try this dish of Southwest Stuffed Poblano Peppers, which she assures us are the BEST healthy stuffed peppers you’ll ever eat.  If you don’t want your peppers too hot, then choose green and not red.  As well as ground beef and rice you could use a host of similar Southern and Californian ingredients to make you stuffed peppers luncheon.  I guess you could make this dish in 30 ~ 45 minutes.

Southwest Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Here’s an awesomely artistic dish from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest; Spicy Turkey Taco Salad with Baja Dressing.  This is big, green, nutritious, filling, and healthy.  OK, so this may be a 40 minute recipe, but there are so many cheats and shortcuts into making this that I think preparing this dish just takes as long as you want to take.

Spicy Turkey Taco Salad with Baja Dressing

I am very well aware that you American guys like your mac and cheese, so just for you here’s a recipe.  Found for us by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes this dish, by Aaron Hutcherson, combines two classic American comfort foods into Chili Mac and Cheese.

Chili Mac and Cheese

This week’s collection is brought to us by Good Housekeeping who have no less than 70 Healthy Lunch Ideas That Will Actually Keep You Full Until Dinner ~ wow!  From this collection I’ve chosen to feature a Kale and Roasted Cauliflower Salad ~ even I like to be healthy sometimes.  Anyhow you can make this dish in 25 minutes, and as well as being a good lunch or supper, it will make a good side for any of the other dishes featured in this weeks Food on Friday.

Kale and Roasted Cauliflower Salad

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Marmaduke isn’t a big fan of Mac and Cheese

and then again, neither am I

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