Fresh from the Oven

Ch-Ch-Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!

Holy cow it has been a craaaaaazy couple of days! I’m so sorry I haven’t updated but now I definitely have things to say! So Monday morning I woke up to a phone call from my sister. She is dealing with the aftermath of a fire in her apartment building that happened a few weeks ago. Technically I still live with her even though I haven’t actually stayed there since… September? August? It’s been a while. So anyway, I still had a bunch of stuff at her house and she was calling to ask if I could pretty please wit sugar on top get my stuff out of there because the clutter since the cleaning crews went through is driving her batty and in exchange… no more rent through the last three months of our agreement… well, I’m no fool, Manny and I ate some breakfast, got dressed, and went to pack up all my stuff and move it.

My sister is flapjacking amazing by the way, she let me keep some stuff in her garage… and by some stuff I mean most of my stuff. And my nephew really pitched in. See, the room I was in is now his room and he is very excited about it. In order to speed up the process he helped carry stuff down to the garage and out to the car. He spared my asthma and Manny’s back and was generously rewarded with the new xbox game he had been hoping for.

And what should appear on my phone in the form of a very exciting text? A message from the job I had originally had lined up following leaving the shelter! The situation that had made it look like the job had fallen through had resolved itself and they were able to once again offer me the job! Tuesday was spent cleaning out my car, grabbing the last of our apocalypse groceries, and hauling stuff up to the apartment from Manny’s car from the day before. Today I went in to fill out paperwork and tomorrow I start for real.

What does that mean for here? Well, what it means is that I won’t be updating daily anymore… of course I didn’t do so well that that so maybe it’s for the best. Tomorrow I’m supposed to get to discuss my job schedule so I’ll know better after that what days I’ll be able to post on here but right now I’m thinking a “life” post on Tuesdays and a recipe on Fridays each week. I’ll let you all know more as I can!

Stay safe in this crazy world, my friends. Comments are always love. And as always, take care and God bless!

Anxiety Sucks

Can we get real for a minute? I’mma get real for a minute.

I always said if I had something like this I’d keep it very down to earth and real about things that people deal with. Zero shaming. So I wanna get real for a minute about anxiety and I’ll start off by saying I have it. Pretty bad. But I have high functioning anxiety for the most part and am usually able to still get through daily life.

I was a little ball of anxious energy when I was working. Now that I’m not I’ve managed to come back to a little more of an even keel but instead of having the constant anxiety I was experiencing while working I’m now struggling with intense bouts of anxiety over Covid-19 and everything this means for me and the world. I can’t imagine I’m the only one feeling this way either. Because the world is very uncertain right now.

The world is sick right now. People are dying. Economies are tanking. It is impossible to speculate just what this could mean for the future but as impossible as it is to speculate, it seems even more impossible not to. The best experts say that hard economic times are ahead of us. But what exactly does that mean? And me without a job, does that mean I’ll even be able to get one after all this is over?

A little closer to home, I had to cancel my wedding and reception. We’re still going to get married, we’re just going to do it quietly but we need to find out if we can get a marriage license, and our pastor has potentially been contaminated and needs to be quarantined. My anxious mind can’t help but run over all of these things and view them as impossibilities. And then because why would anxiety only focus on one thing, it starts to wonder what would happen if one of us got sick. I want the right to be informed and I want Manny to have the right to be informed should either of us get sick.

There is no knowing about the future, not here in my own back yard or globally. But as Manny always tells me, we need to focus in on what we can change. Manny sent me this and it helped me tremendously so I’ll share it with you. Credits on the image.

I know I can’t be the only one struggling right now. If anxiety’s got you down, just remember God is in control. We will get through this. If we all focus on what we can do, we’ll get through this. And whatever comes after, we’ll get through that too. As always, friends, take care and God bless.

Kimchi Fried Rice

1 1/2 C uncooked rice ($0.52)
3 C water (free-ish)
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs or equivalent of meat, cubed ($0.77)
2 small onions ($0.32)
1/2 C frozen peas ($0.16)
1/2 C diced carrots ($0.13)
1/2 C chopped kimchi ($1.34)
1 tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
sriracha to taste
rice vinegar to taste
soy sauce to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger ($0.02)
1 tsp chopped fresh garlic ($0.06)
2 eggs ($0.22)
Total: $3.56

Whether in a rice cooker or a separate pot, combine water and rice. Make sure you rinse your rice ahead of time! In a separate skillet cook chicken on medium heat with a little olive oil or butter, your choice. When done add peas, carrots, and kimchi. Cook until heated through. In a bowl combine brown sugar, sriracha, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Add meat and vegetables to sauce in bowl. In the skillet you used to cook the chicken and vegetables, cook eggs, stirring often to break up into small pieces. Add rice and vegetable mix. Fold through until thoroughly mixed. Serve with sriracha and enjoy!

This was my first attempted ever at making fried rice which is kind of funny considering how much Asian food I make otherwise and I’m decently pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t the prettiest dish ever but it tasted AMAZING. There were no left overs and quite honestly I’m impatiently waiting until I can make it again! It was warm and comforting and just plain delicious.

If you know any tips or tricks to making fried rice please let me know in the comments. I’m always interested in learning something new! As always, take care and God bless.


Dirty Rice

Today a new challenge fell in my lap. Little did I know this morning when I asked my fiance what we should have for dinner I would be researching a food I’ve never made and creating a new recipe from scratch! See, this morning I asked Manny what we should have for dinner. In our house this means, pick a protein and I’ll do the rest and sometimes he’ll give me some ideas of what I could turn that protein into. He said I should make whatever we have the most of which is in fact venison. So I went in the freezer and grabbed the first package of venison I found which just happened to be a pound of venison hamburger. If you’re starting to get squicked out by the prospect of deer meat, take a deep breath. You don’t have to use venison. You can easily substitute traditional hamburger or even leave the meat out entirely to make a delicious vegan/vegetarian version of this meal!

We had gotten a rice cooker as a gift at my bridal shower and Manny has been dying to try it out so he suggested I make a big pot of rice, half it, make dirty rice tonight with the hamburger and tomorrow we can make fried rice (which will be another adventure I’ve never been on!) So that’s what I’m doing! Tonight is my version of Dirty Rice and tomorrow we’ll see how I do making Kimchi Fried Rice.

Sorry to have had to put the introduction before the recipe this time, but let’s get into it!

Dirty Rice

2 C uncooked rice ($0.70)
3 C water (free-ish)
1 C mixed frozen veggies (peas, corn, lima beans, green beans, and carrots) ($0.33)
1 can dark red kidney beans ($0.48)
1 lb hamburger ($3.71)**
pinch cayenne (< $0.01)
pinch black pepper (< $0.01)
1 tbsp paprika ($0.12)
1 tsp fresh garlic ($0.06)
1 small onion ($0.16)
cajun seasoning to taste (I used a lot… like a lot a lot.) ($0.05)
Total without beef: $1.90
Total with beef: $5.61

As mentioned above, I was working with a rice cooker, so first step is to start the rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker you can make your rice in a pot. Remember to rinse your rice though in order to get excess starch off and make the texture more pleasant.

In a separate pan brown hamburger with the spices and the onion. Strain kidney beans and add to pan along with vegetables when the meat is done browning. When rice is done add rice and mix. Eat and enjoy! We topped ours with Franks hot sauce and it was absolutely delicious!

As always, prices are an estimate. Obviously the venison also does have some cost as well. Best I could figure our venison cost about $0.58 a lb. This of course does not take into account time for hunting or processing. I come from a hunting family and hunt myself so it makes sense for us to use a lot of venison. All recipes involving venison can easily be made with beef or even pork sometimes.

Why venison?

For me, I’ve grown up hunting. It was a think I did with my papa before he passed away and a thing I continue to do with my dad. This year Manny decided to try it and although neither he nor I got deer it was still a fun experience and we will likely continue to hunt as we are able in the future. On a purely humane note, I like to hunt because I know how the animal was killed. If done correctly hunting can be very humane. Instead of living in big corporate pens, raised with the sole purpose to be someone’s meal some day, the deer get to live free and wild. A good shot can kill a deer with a single shot. This means the animal gets to live a free, wild life and have a humane death.

Venison is also really good for you. It is higher in protein than beef, with 26g per 3 oz as opposed to only 22g per 3 oz in beef. Additionally it has only 2.7g of fat per 3 oz serving instead of the whopping 13g in beef per 3 oz serving. Venison is high in vitamins B6 and B12 AND it’s high in iron too, making it a great choice for people who struggle with anemia. Plus, it’s organic and free of hormones and chemicals.

Whether you make this recipe with venison, beef, or no meat at all, it’s a delicious zippy meal to get you through on these chilly spring days. Let me know in the comments what you think! And as always, take care and God bless.

Banana bread without a bread pan

No bread pan? No problem. Use a saute pan! As always, we’ll get straight to the good stuff and jump right into the recipe.

B-nana bread

1/2 C oil ($0.24)
1 1/4 C sugar ($0.34)
2 eggs ($0.22)
1/2 C milk ($0.11)
1 C mashed bananas (roughly 3 bananas) ($0.58)
2 C flour ($0.66)
1 tsp soda (> $0.01)
3/4 tsp salt (< $0.01)
Total: $2.15

Cream sugar, oil, eggs, and milk. Add flour, soda, salt. Mix well. Add bananas, mix very well. Oil pan and add batter. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Because the saute pan cooks the bread thin it will cook much faster than a regular loaf of banana bread. Should be done in 30-45 minutes.

Does anything smell better baking in the oven than banana bread? It’s such a warm and comforting smell. I remember as a kid my mom making banana bread quite frequently and for me the smell conjures up such pleasant memories. Sometimes she’d add nuts but more often she’d add chocolate chips. This basic recipe has neither but as with all of my recipes, feel free to play around and make it your own.

If you need to go gluten free this recipe works well with standard mixed all purpose gluten free flour. It also does very well with a 50/50 mix of almond and coconut flours. Stevia is an easy substitute for the sugar as well. Want a more buttery flavor? Use butter instead of oil and substitute butter milk instead of milk. And lastly apple sauce instead of oil will keep it moist but reduce the fat content if that’s a thing you worry about.

Now, taking that fear of fat and throwing it straight out the window! Who loves butter on banana bread? I know I do! One of my favorite ways to eat banana bread when it is no longer fresh from the oven is to melt some butter in a non-stick pan and gently fry the slice of banana bread in it over medium heat. You can flip it. I find doing this gives the bread a delicious crunch and irresistible butter flavor, but uses less butter than if I just slathered it in cold butter. So a win-win!

Prefer banana cake to bread? Simple fix. Double the recipe on everything except the flour. Keep that at 2 C. Top with cream cheese frosting and voila! Delicious! Need a simple but delicious cream cheese frosting recipe? Well bonus, here one is!

Simplest Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package cream cheese (softened)
1 stick butter (softened)
2 tbsp vanilla
3 C powdered sugar

Mix well! I use the food processor attachment on our blender but you could mix using hand beaters or even just by hand. We have the food processor attachment though and I’ve gotten spoiled. Mix until smooth, spread on top of your cooled cake! Bam! Delicious desert!

Whatever you do, whether you make cake or bread; choose frosting, butter, or just pain; enjoy yourself. Play around a little! Add chocolate chips or nuts or something else entirely! If you’ve got a unique add to banana bread let me know in the comments! Let me know if you try the bread or the cake! Comments are love and as always, take care and God bless!

Getting to the Gritty by Cleaning the Privy

I don’t know about you but I’m not always as good about cleaning as I should be. Most cleaning schedule recommendations that I can find online say to clean your bathroom once a week. Which sounds great and even looks doable when staring at the simplification of life laid out in a schedule like that but when you get down to real day to day life how many of us can actually say we clean our bathrooms once a week? Not I.

So what’s the reality here? Once every other week? Once a month? What?

I’m a little ashamed to admit that at times it could be as rare as once every other month. Which is kind of gross. But in our defense, it’s just the two of us, we clean up after ourselves; and unlike homes with small children who struggle to rinse away toothpaste in the sink, excess soap in the shower, and sometimes pee everywhere but in the toilet; we stay decently clean just doing daily maintenance. But there are of course things that daily maintenance can’t clean and that’s why deep cleans need to happen.

While I was working at the shelter I was depressed and exhausted. I know I knew I was struggling because I recognized my need to make a change, but I’m not sure I knew just how bad it was until I was no longer in that situation. Now that it’s over and both my physical and mental health are improving I think I can safely say that I was truly depressed. I’ve struggled off and on over the years with depression and know for a fact that it can drastically effect a person’s ability to participate in daily life. Which is another reason our bathroom didn’t get cleaned as often as it should have been. But as a past therapist liked to tell me, ‘don’t should on yourself, just see what needs to change and do your best to do it, but don’t should or shame yourself to get there.’

Now that the funk of depression is fading around the edges it’s time to aid in it’s dissolution by creating a clean space to live in. I am a firm believer that a clean environment fosters healing and health so I’ve started tackling the apartment, one room at a time. First one to get attacked with my broom and dustpan and myriad of cleaning supplies? The bathroom.

I didn’t want to just do what I’ve always done either. So this time I did a quick search on Pinterest for cleaning hacks and found a multitude of suggestions for using Dawn Dish Soap in areas that are not the kitchen. So armed with nothing more than a bottle each of Windex and Dawn Dish Soap, I headed to the bathroom to do battle!

A lot of what needed doing was clearing clutter. Truth be told, that took the most time of the whole thing. Next I scrubbed out the sink with a foam sponge (dollar store) and a little Dawn. I polished up the mirror using the Windex and then used the same to bring a shine back to the faucet and drain. Next to go was the toilet. As per the suggestions I had found, I dumped a little dish soap in the water and then attacked it with my scrub brush. Never has the ring in my toilet come away so easily! And lastly I scrubbed out the tub much the same as I had the sink, using dish soap for the walls of the tub and shower and Windex to polish up the faucet, drain, and shower head. 10/10 would recommend using Dawn Dish Soap to clean the bathroom. It still required some elbow grease but the dish soap cut through soap scum with relative ease that not even SoftScrub cuts through so easily.

The clutter
toilet before
Tidied up
toilet after

Tub after. Sorry, I didn’t get a before picture of the tub but believe you me, it was pretty gnarly looking.

Now with the trash taken out and all the soap suds rinsed away, that’s one room down. Coming soon, the bedroom, kitchen, living room, and closets. Have a cleaning hack you’d like to see tested? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to give it a shot in the future. And as always, take care and God bless.

One-Pot Wonders are Indeed Wonderful

Spicy Beans and Rice

Nothing’s worse than when a blogger makes you scroll for ten freaking years just to find the recipe hidden in the depths of their post. So let’s get to the good stuff right away, shall we? And if you like what you see, do me a solid and read the rest after.

2 C rice ($0.70)
4 C water (free-ish)
1 can diced tomatoes w/habeneros ($0.99)
1 can pinto or black beans ($0.66)
1 C corn ($0.33)
1/4-1/2 C lime juice ($0.06)
1 tsp cumin ($0.14)
salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)
1 ring spicy smoked sausage ($2.98)
pinch dried or chopped cilantro ($0.09)
1/4 C salsa verde ($0.62)
Total: ($6.62)

Prepare sausage by cutting on a bias, cubing, dicing, whatever you want to do! In a large pot crisp up your sausage on medium-high heat. When browned add rice, water, and the can of diced tomatoes. I used Ro-tel brand for the tomatoes and habeneros and since I do not like chunks of tomato I pureed the whole thing before adding it but you could do either way. Reduce heat to medium-low. Next strain your beans, you can use pinto or black beans, and add these to the pot. Make sure you stir periodically. Add corn and lime juice. How much lime you use is up to you, I prefer a more limey taste so I did more. Next add cumin, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Cook until rice is done. Serve in a bowl with salsa verde as a garnish. Enjoy!

I don’t care for the chunks in salsa either but love the flavor so I also pureed this. Please be aware if you do the same it will make your salsa more spicy if it has pepper seeds in it as the seeds hold a lot of spice and when broken up they can get VERY spicy.

Pro-tip for rice preparation! Get a fine mesh strainer, we got ours from the dollar store, and strain your rice in cold water before cooking to get the excess starch off. This will make your rice not as mushy as it cooks and makes the overall texture of the dish more enjoyable.

So now that we have the recipe done, I’d just like to do the disclaimer that the prices are an estimate based off the current running price for that item in my area… which may not be your area… so don’t quote me on the prices. Also, I broke down what the full packages would cost if you split it up for what the recipe calls for. There are ways to make this cheaper. If you leave off the sausage the whole cost goes down to $3.29. A delicious one-pot meal that can easily be made vegan.

We had this meal last night for dinner and it really did hit the spot. Cold weather with a dreary drizzle and a beastly wind made the warm spice of this exactly what the doctor ordered. It was a little bit of a learning experience because I hadn’t realized how blending the salsa would affect it until too late and had added too much to my own bowl. Thank goodness my fiance was happy to help me out cleaning up the remainder that I couldn’t finish!

So give it a try, let me know in the comments what you think of it! And as always, take care and God bless.

Enter the Kitchen

The best place to begin is… well… the beginning. So let’s start there. This morning I woke up to the ping of an email, an email that would send my heart straight through my stomach and down so low it sat in my butt for a few good hours until I could work up the courage to move on and face the world again. Maybe that’s being a little dramatic but for real, it was an oddly earth shattering if very politely worded email informing me that the latest job I had lined up had fallen through much like all of its predecessors.

See last week I quit my job. I was an advocate at a very well respected domestic violence shelter but I was working overnights and quite frankly it was doing it’s best to kill me. I had been sick for the better part of two months, permanently exhausted, experiencing migraines that would last anywhere from one to six days (that’s right, DAYS, not hours) and my mental health was deteriorating at a rate that frightened myself and my fiance. So the decision was made. I needed to quit my job. Not wanting to be completely impulsive, I reached out to a former job and asked if they would hire me back and they assured me yes, they would. So I put in my notice and exhausted but hopeful, waited for my last day.

You know the saying “out of the frying pan and into the fire?” Well that’s kind of what happened here. I was no sooner done with my job than the new one I had lined up fell through. Never one to dwell for long, I cried for a couple hours, questioned my life choices, and then started applying for jobs. I had decent luck too. Twelve years of food service experience and roughly sixteen of customer service and I was pretty marketable. Within a couple days I had two job offers and although not life alteringly awesome, they were workable. Then Covid-19 became truly worrisome and the world stopped turning.

Again, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but that’s kind of what it feels like right now. On Friday I drove to a neighboring town to do some grocery shopping and while I was driving I was hit by the complete and all encompassing awareness that we are in fact living through history now. Whatever camp you’re in as far as Covid-19 is concerned, you would be hard pressed to deny that what we are currently experiencing will change the world and make history. Years from now they’ll teach our grandchildren about this pandemic in the same way that we were taught about Spanish Influenza and dare I say it? the Plague. A person should always be hopeful but as someone with a degree in history, I can’t help but feel I am reading the writing on the wall when I say hard economic times are ahead of us. If pressed to make a prediction, I would say that Covid-19 will affect the economy for years and that the recession in the early 2000’s was nothing compared to what lies before us.

Which brings us back to that email from this morning. Due to Covid-19 the country has ground to a stop. One could argue that the world has ground to a stop but I will stick to what I know and that is my own country. There’s something very heavy about being able to watch not only your president but also your governor, and your mayor declare a state of emergency. Piece by piece normal day-to-day life has slowed to a grinding halt, closing restaurants, bars, theaters, schools, daycare, and literally anything non-essential. And like a puff of smoke those two job offers I had disappeared.

Here I must insert another bout of crying and questioning life choices but I am very lucky in that I have been blessed to have the sweetest, most supportive partner to go through life with. My fiance has listened to me cry and freak out and wonder where on earth we’re going to get money to take care of things; then, when I’ve cried myself out he holds me close and tells me how we’ll make it. The number one and most crucial part of how we’re going to make it, is that we are going to get through this together. Second, he has a job that pays decently and there is generally no shortage of potential overtime. Cash will be tight but we should be able to meet our bills and make ends meet. Thirdly, given the fact that I have pretty bad asthma and the common cold can at times cause distressing airway problems, maybe this is for the best. So, based on a joint decision, I stopped looking and put the frantic search for work on the back burner until the pandemic clears up. My top priority now, is to keep our house, manage our finances, and ensure we have good food on the table every night.

Right here I would like to just say that I have never in my life looked down on stay-at-home moms or house-spouses but that has never before been an option for myself. I didn’t meet my fiance until I was thirty and by then I had long since come to terms with the fact that whatever I wanted in life I would provide, at least financially that is. Not working for financial gain was an utterly foreign and ultimately impossible concept. Because life costs money. Unless you live in the woods on land that is fertile and dotted with productive farm animals, life costs money. Rent, groceries, cars, gas, medicine, insurance, phones, internet, water, electric, etc. The list goes on and on. But we’re now in a place to have me stay home for a few weeks and I refuse to not be productive during this time. I love to cook and bake and keep house and I also love to write. So I thought, why not combine those passions and keep a blog of my adventures in frugal housekeeping. Here we go!

My name is B. I am currently unemployed and waiting out the pandemic in one of hundreds of cities affected across the United States. When life gives you lemons you make lemonade… or lemon bars… or lemon meringue pie… or lemon rice… or lemon chicken… you get the point. Click follow to get the latest in my frugal adventures. New posts daily. Comments are love. And as always, take care and God bless.