Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Almonds

One thing I love about my CSA is the all the yummy almonds that I get year round. At first, I just snacked on them raw, but that got a little boring. So, I played around, did a lot of googling, and ended up with a recipe for sweet and spicy roasted almonds. The sweetness comes from maple syrup, which is very subtle, plays well with savory flavors, and most importantly, acts as a glue for keeping the spices on the almonds. As for the spice mix, I’ve played around with a variety of flavors. Some of my favorites are Cajun seasoned salt, like Tony Chachere’s, curry powder or garam masala.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Almonds

  • 1 lb almonds (~3 cups)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp spice mix + 1/2 tsp salt OR 2 1/2 tsp seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl mix ingredients, then spread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the almonds are just becoming fragrant, shaking the cookie sheet halfway through. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet, then store in an airtight container. Makes 16 1 oz servings (~24 nuts).

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Dumpster Diving

One of my friends was recently taking a short cut behind a grocery store, when he saw an employee bring out a cartload of stuff to throw in the dumpster. It included a couple cases of cleaning supplies and one of flour where one item in each had exploded in transit, and it apparently wasn’t worth it to the store to clean up what was left behind. My friend proudly left with 2 cases of cleaning supplies and a case of flour, and he was eager to share his bounty.

And while it’s hard to admit, I wasn’t too proud to accept 2 bottles of cleaner and a few bags of flour. Blatant waste makes me angry, the groceries were still in their intact packaging, and any expiration date was far away. Most embarrassingly, my budget is so tight that free cleaning supplies and flour can give me a little breathing room.

What would you guys do in this situation?

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Yacon Stirfry

There’s been a couple of yacon rattling in my refrigerator and I wanted to do something beyond my usual salad of shredded yacon with lemon juice. After some Googling, I found yacon.wordpress.com which not surprisingly features a number of yacon recipes. For something a little different, I decided to use their beef and yacon stirfry recipe as inspiration. The yacon itself adds a slightly sweet crunchy, not unlike water chestnuts. The original recipe called for Asian greens, but I had broccoli greens from Nevermore and they added such great flavor. Feel free to sub in bok choy or spinach.

Yacon and Mushroom Stirfry

  •  3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • salt
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • ½ lb mushrooms, sliced (I used white because they’re cheap, but shiitakes are nice)
  • 1 bunch broccoli greens, destemmed and chopped
  • 1 lb yacon, peeled and shredded
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a bowl, scramble eggs with a pinch of salt. Add to the skillet and cook to your desired hardness. Set eggs aside.

Add remaining oil, turn heat to medium high, then add onions. Cook about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutesm until mushrooms and onions are lightly browned. Add greens, yacon and hoisin sauce and allow to cook until greens are soft, about 5 minutes. Fold (cooked) eggs in, until ingredients are evenly coated. Serve over rice or noodles. Serves 4.

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Weekly Money Check-Up 3/26/12

WMC 3.26

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on food. Despite my best intentions, finals week turns me into a big ball of stress, and I found myself buying, rather than packing, food.

2. Today I am thankful for finals being over! 

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was learn a new move in Crossfit. My friend and I are using Groupons there (so not exactly free, but way cheap!) and this week we learned the clean and jerk (?) and it makes me feel so tough to be lifting free weights like that.

4. I will consider this week a success if I get everything done that I need to. My house is a mess, and the dog needs a bath and a trip to the vet.

5. One thing I love about my home is that it’s mine. I take so much pride in owning my place and it lets like a grown-up, while going back to school full time has left me feeling like a kid again.

Weekly Money Check-Up is a weekly series created by My Pretty Pennies. To participate, please visit Ginna’s blog!

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Adventures in Cycling IV: What to Wear for Longer Distances

So, last weekend I covered what to wear when you’re riding your bike around town, which is how I started. But as I fell in love with cycling, I started biking for longer distances and times, just for the fun of it or to reach further and further places. With the longer distances, my regular clothes were no longer quite so comfortable.

To begin with, I can’t say how much I love my padded bike shorts. Yes, they’re skin-tight. Yes, they make me feel like I’m wearing a diaper. And yes, they certainly make me look like I’m wearing said diaper. But they are so comfortable and my rear says “thank you” every time I wear them. I found a nice pair on the half off rack at the fancy bike shop for $25. I found a second pair at the discount sports store for the same price, and while they’re not quite as squishy, they’re more than adequate for rides of an hour or so.

I know some cyclists wear the fancy tops with pockets on the back for gu-packs or whatever else they want to carry, but I’m not that hard core and more than a little poor. Whatever I need usually gets thrown in a bag that rides in my basket and I wear my more all purpose technical athletic shirts. Under that, I go with a relatively supportive sports bra. Generally cycling is low impact, but I’m well endowed and bumpy stretches of road can get a little uncomfortable.

Since I don’t have clip-in pedals, I just wear lightweight athletic shoes. I found that wearing my running shoes actually is uncomfortable and can make my feet go numb on a long enough ride. But, my usual cycling buddy has never had that problem, so that’s probably just me. Most times I wear my Vibrams, which make me look like a dork, but they’re comfy, I don’t mind.

Less important on the what to wear check less, but something I always use, is sunglasses. Squinting is not fun, and leaves a girl (or guy) with wrinkles. Plus, they keep your eyes from watering from the self-generated breeze. And, what I consider most important, they protect you from the oh so comfortable bugs flying into your eyes. Ick. Mine were $20 from the clearance rack at the cycling store, but any athletic-y pair will do you.

I also invested in a $20 pair of fingerless cycling gloves. The weather only has to be a little cool for my hands to be freezing, but full gloves are too much while riding. Plus they’re padded at the pressure points, which keeps my wrists from hurting, and wick away the sweat so my hands don’t get too gross from the handlebars. Now I wear them for any ride over 30 minutes.

Finally, and I know I’ve said it before, a helmet. Anytime I’m deliberately riding fast, or along busy roads, or out on country highways, a helmet is a must. I think mine was $50, but it’s a few years old, so don’t quote me on that. The key part is to replacing it after any crash or fall.

Next week, basic bike tools: because if I can maintain a bike, anybody can.

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Another Freecycle Victory

Have I mentioned how much I love Freecycle? Because I do. I’ve managed to break most of my mechanic pencils, use up all their lead, sharpened my regular pencils down to just a nub and worn off all the erasers. I was contemplating actually going out and buying more office supplies, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to limit myself to just pencils. (Does anybody else have an office supply addiction? If so, is there a 12 step program available?)

Anyways, today on Freecycle somebody posted a bunch of mechanical pencils that they rounded up from around their house during spring cleaning. This afternoon I biked over and found a bag of 30 (!) mechanical pencils waiting for me. I’m soo excited. Some are broken, but I figure I can extract the lead and erasers from those and keep myself in writing implements for at least a few months.

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Weekly Check-Up 3/19/12

Weekly Money Check-Up is a weekly series created by My Pretty Pennies. To participate, please visit Ginna at My Pretty Pennies!

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1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on replacing my watch battery. I feel so naked without one!

2. Today I am thankful for a break from the rain. It poured most of last week, and it’s supposed to rain more this week, but for today I didn’t get soaked on my bike.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was watching the first few rounds of the NCAA tournament. My friends and I are betting with batches of cookies, and so far I’m ahead!

4. I will consider this week a success if I pass my finals.

5. If I could afford one unnecessary luxury, I would pay a dog walker. Picking up poop in the rain is my least favorite part of being a dog owner.

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