Tuesday, March 31, 2009

EXCELLENT EMPLOYMENT ADVICE From LDS Magazine



STAYING IN THE BLACK     by Lacie Hales


This is an excellent article.  Clear, concise, and really could make a difference in whether or not someone stays employed.  Take it to heart!

With the economy in its current shape, everyone is looking for ways to avoid financial hemorrhaging. At home and at work there are a few tried-and-tested tips that can help to keep you in the black. 

At Work

Job security isn't far from most people's minds. Corporations everywhere seem to be tightening belts and that means reducing hours and employee numbers. And when things are more stable, employers reward those who are giving their best efforts. Here are some tips to help you be the best employee and keep your boss thinking good things about you when employee reviews come around.

Be 5 Minutes Early

Common sense tells us that employers don't like tardiness. It is a signal that you aren't interested in your job or it's not a top priority. Being prompt is good, but if you're early, you can be getting things done for the company earlier and faster, you will be on top of last-minute changes, and you'll show your boss your dedication. 

Whistle While You Work

Being cheerful spreads into everything you do, and it will get noticed. Not only will it help keep you from getting stressed, it will show in your work that you are a positive person and can accomplish things because of it.

Smile at New Assignments

Employers can sense apprehension like dogs can sense fear, and if you accept an assignment with any amount of grudge, the red flags will go off. If you have legitimate concerns about the project (or your ability to complete on time), share them frankly, along with your desire to help and get the job done right.

Don't Flub Deadlines

Finishing work on time or early makes everyone happier. Also, know what your limitations are. It's much better for an employer to reassign something that you just can't get to than to have to wait for it. Chances are if you're overloaded, your work quality will go down, along with your attitude.

Solve Your Own Problems

Your employer has other things he needs to accomplish during the day. He doesn't have the time or patience to solve all of your problems for you, especially ones that you can handle yourself. To avoid taking trivial problems right to the top, find out the infrastructure of your company; ask the billing department about bills outstanding, etc. If you have simple information from another department that can help a customer, take care of the question without bothering someone else. 

Value Curiosity

While trusting your own knowledge is important, there are some things that you just don't know. Don't be afraid to ask people around you how something works or what way things are supposed to be done. Little misunderstandings can be seen as shortcomings and will get you noticed for the wrong reasons. 

Don't Be a Globe-trotter

You were hired to be at work. There are instances when you do need time off (hey, everyone needs a break), but be responsible in how you go about it. First, find out your company's policy on time off. If they don't have one, request the time two weeks before you plan to go; during the holidays, when everyone wants to leave, make your lead time a month. Also, try to finish major projects before vacation time. That way people won't be upset you're gone, and you won't be worried about work during your play time. If you're sick, call at least thirty minutes before your regular arrival time. 

Use Criticism as a Tool

Instead of taking criticism personally, use it to your advantage. By taking it gracefully, you'll impress your employer. Then, by incorporating what she told you, you'll prove two things: one, that you actually listen when your employer is talking to you, and two, that you can learn and become even better at your job. 

Stay Away from the Water Cooler

Congregating at the water cooler is a classic waste of work time, not to mention a place where workplace problems arise because of gossip. By not being involved in gossip, you won't burn any bridges and will be able to focus on work. Don't just avoid "gossip” always have something nice to say about someone else. This comes with the added benefit of being liked by most people you work with.

At Home

Preventing loss at work is important, but it's not the only aspect to preventing loss during the current economic situation. Being smart around the house can help save some money as well. Here are a few ways to keep your household budget under control.

Put on a Coat

Wear an extra layer instead of turning up the heat when it's cold outside (or don't turn it up as much as usual). Try cooking dinner in the oven, which will give off ambient heat and help warm the house. Also, with the changing seasons, take advantage of cooler nights by opening windows instead of using the A.C.

Hug a Tree

Many times, being friendly to the environment can also be friendly to your budget. Buying energy-saving light bulbs and higher efficiency appliances when they are needed will pay off in energy bills in the long run.

Shop Smart

By planning out weekly or monthly menus, grocery shopping is far more effective and less goes to waste. Now is a great time to buy in bulk and stock up on food storage. And don't forget to check out the coupons available for stores in your area. Lots of places are conscious of customers' needs and are giving more opportunities for savings.

Monday, March 30, 2009

WEIGHT WATCHERS take on SUPERMARKET PSYCHOLOGY


I find the Weight Watcher website to be very informative and full of good principles for good health and nutrition.  I just found this article in the newsletter that I receive regularly.

Your supermarket employs clever strategies to encourage shoppers to spend more; how can you keep control of your wallet and your waistline?

Have you ever gone shopping hungry and come out of the supermarket in shock, having spent far more than you thought you were going to? Or found yourself staring at products in your home, thinking, why on earth did I put that in my cart? If so, then you've succumbed to supermarket psychology, the marketing tactics that are employed by stores to get people like you to buy more products than you really need.

Marketing expertise
Supermarkets have been employing marketing experts and psychologists to design their stores for many years. The simple plan is to entice you to buy lots of goodies; whether or not you actually need them is beside the point.

David Lewis, a consumer psychologist and author of The Soul of the New Consumer: Authenticity, What We Buy and Why in the New Economy (Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd.) has spent 15 years analyzing how we buy. He says, "Nothing is left to chance. From the width of the aisles (planned so that you are prevented from bumping into other people, but aren't so wide that you can't get your hands on products) to the music (composers even spend their lives writing music designed to entice shoppers to buy more goods), a supermarket is a place where a consumer and his money are meant to part company. Remember that a supermarket is a bit like a machine; its mission is to get you to spend, so to counter this, you need to keep your wits about you."

The supermarkets have vast amounts of data about our shopping habits from point of sale, loyalty card databases and market research data that are given to psychologists and the retail geographers to create an optimum store layout.

So can you avoid the pitfalls of supermarket psychology? Yes, if you keep your wits about you and observe the following guidelines.
  • Go in with a list and stick to it
  • Eat before you go shopping
  • Stick to buy one, get one free offers and fresh produce markdowns; don't get sucked into special offers if you can — they are often misleading
  • Check if generic brand products are as cheap and as good as branded — sometimes they aren't
  • Consider shopping online — you won't be tempted by in-store marketing
Recognize the following devices?
An in-store bakery: The smell of freshly baked bread is designed to make us hungry and get us spending.
Produce near the front door: Fresh food looks best in natural light, hence you find these areas near the opening to the supermarket.
Hidden staples: Milk and bread are set far apart from the entrance and each other, to encourage consumers to walk through all parts of the store.
The "end cap" trick: Special displays at the end of the aisles, known as end-caps, are laden with offers; shoppers notice them more than regular displays.
Eye-catching at eye level: More expensive items with higher profit margins are placed at eye level, while the shop's basics range will be on the floor — companies actually pay more to have their products at eye level, as shoppers are considered "lazy" and will see them first.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where Bread Came From . . . Really . . !

According to the show, Modern Marvels, bread was invented 10,000 years ago when someone left their porridge next to the fire.  It turned into a cracker  . . .   and the rest is history!  No, Really!  

This little cave woman came up to the fire and found this bowl sitting there.  It wasn't scraped out, much less rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher (aka hollow rock).  She saw the petrified goo in the bottom of it, 
tasted and said, "Yum, this is good.  I need to write down the recipe or I'll never remember it!"  so we all need to try it, I dare you!

I told Jon about it, he chuckled and gave me his version of how bread was invented.  
"Heavenly Mother came down to the Garden of Eden, sat down with Eve and and said 'OK sweetie, lets talk'.

 Don't know about ya'll, but I vote for Jon's version!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This is the recipe for Neufchatel (cream) cheese that you will find on the www.junketdessertsrecipes/cheeserecipe.aspx website. It is designed to be made with regular fresh milk. As you read through the post, you’ll findhow I adapted it to using non-instant powdered milk in italicized text. The equipment list is actually mine.

This is a soft, spreadable cheese originated in France and is eaten fresh. Sometimes called " farmer's" cheese, think if it as a low fat cream cheese which can eaten on crackers straight or mixed with seasonings, used in cheese cake, folded into omelets, etc.

NEUFCHATEL CHEESE

1 gallon milk or 3 c. water + 2 c. non-instant powdered milk

1/4 cup culture buttermilk (fresh)

1/4 tablet Junket Rennet tablet, dissolved in ¼ c. cool water

EQUIPMENT

Things you will need:

· Stainless steel pan or bowl with cover.

· Thermometer that goes down to 45° (I love my digital)
Stainless spoon or whisk for stirring.

· Stainless steel or plastic quart size strainer.

· Small strainer.

· Stainless steel knife for cutting curd.

· Good timer.

· Yogurt or buttermilk (I’ve had best luck with Shamrock brand)

· Time and patience, in bits and pieces.

· Cheese Cloth

o it’s best if you pay a little more and it has a denser weave.

o even better … I found a 100% polyester drapery fabric that is the best ever. I have used it several times, it washes up so well and doesn’t get embedded with the soft cheese curd.

PROCEDURE

· Mix 3 c. water with 2 cups milk powder in blender. Pour milk into the presterilized stainless steel pot and let it sit for about a half hour. Scoop the foam off the surface the top with small strainer for a much smoother texture later!

· Warm to 65° F while stirring. I think this is pretty funny, my tap water is between 70° to 75°, but still works. This summer, I will have to chill the water!

· Meanwhile, dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in 1/4 cup cool water.

· When the milk reaches 65° F, remove from heat, add buttermilk, whisk gently (avoid making foam) to mix thoroughly.

· Stir the dissolved rennet into the 65° F inoculated milk, blend thoroughly.

· Cover and let sit overnight undisturbed at room temperature (65° to 70 F, 20°C). Let it sit for a few hours with just the buttermilk before adding the rennet for a fuller flavor. My mixture usually sets up quite faster than the “overnight” after adding the rennet.

· If the coagulated milk is not firm enough, let it sit until it does, as long as another 12 hours.

· When a clean break is achieved, cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. Cut all the way

across, then again, perpendicular to the first cuts. Next cut sideways

with the knife at a slant.


· Ladle the curds and whey into a clean sterile cloth supported in a large strainer, placed over a large bowl. Allow the whey to drain through. If the cloth

becomes clogged, lift the cloth back and forth or scrape the curd away from the cloth . The lid is to prevent the cheese from drying out. (Save the whey for making ricotta or baking if you wish).


· When most of the whey has drained through, pick up the four corners of the cloth and suspend the curd in a cool place to drain overnight (from a shelf of the refrigerator if

you have room). The surface of the cheese dries fairly quickly, so cover it if you can by wrapping a plastic bag or towel loosely around it. If you want the cream cheese to be soft and creamy, just hang and drain it for a few hours, until the dripping is to once or twice per minute..

After draining, remove the cheese and mix in1- 3 teaspoons of salt, according to taste. It may be eaten immediately. I use 1 to 1 ½ t. salt in this smaller batch.

Store covered in the refrigerator until use. You may pack the cheese into a mold of your choice (a squat tin can with the ends removed for instance).

Archived Post From Old Blog

Following is my first attempt to help others learn to make cheese.  

Since then, I have learned how to put pictures in the posts, read this and thought, "No wonder no one wants to try this!", survived Halloween, two Thanksgivings, three birthdays, Christmas, University Ward New Year's Dance ( ha! . . . more like sit!) and ignored a few other holidays that I just for the sake of survival.

I have added the pictures and would like those who feel brave, to make note of the bold faced sections, gather your equipment and ingredients and be ready to try it.

*** I use pasteurized or powdered milk (pasteurized before it is dried). If I happen to have raw milk, I pasteurize it myself. There are many pathogens around. In my opinion, it isn’t worth taking the chance using raw milk. Please use wisdom when using these milk ideas, your family’s health and safety should always come first.

** Check below for additional tips **

I started making cheese years ago when we realized that my son didn’t do well with cow’s milk. We bought goats, started milking and the rest is history. With only four of us, I had to do something with all that milk and poor little Robby wanted cheese.

What you’ll need:· 

  • Stainless steel bucket or pan (enamel with NO chips can also work)
  • Thermometer (digital is easiest)· Stainless steel, long handled spoon
  • Cheese cloth (old diapers or tea towels are too linty, definitely no terry cloth)
  • Colander, SS or plastic
  • Rennet tablets (Junket, in ice cream toppings section at Wally world)
  • Buttermilk or yogurt with live culture· Cheese press (pics will show better than I can describe)
  • Scentless soap with no additives
  • Nail brush

Make sure that everything that is being used is very clean. Wash everything you can in a dishwasher if possible. Your hands need to be very clean, even under nails. Bacteria grows and you don’t want that in your cheese!

Let’s get started! This is actually pretty fun. I make up the powdered milk according to the normal recipe (2/3 cup powder per 1 quart of milk) 3 gallons of milk = 1 – 1 ½ # of cheese. If you want to cheat a little bit, you can make up the milk with up to 2X the powder and you will have a higher yield in a smaller pan. That is what I have done this time and it seems to be working OK. (It did turn out great!)

Warm the milk to 65 ° . Dissolve ½ Rennet table in cool water. When you reach temperature, stir rennet and 1/2 c. buttermilk into the mix. Cover and let stand without being moved

over night. Cover with clean, lintless cloth. If you have to, put a sign on it (necessary to keep snoopy husbands & hungry kids out of it) :-) .


Next morning, after you feed family and get them out of your way, check for clean break. If you don’t have it, leave it sitting up to 12 more hours. If you get up early you can check and take about

10 minutes to process to the curd warming stage. Multi tasking!

When you get the clean break it is time to cut it into 1 “ cubes using a long SS knife. Slowly warm it in water (like a double boiler set up) until it reaches 110°. Hold for 20-30 minutes, stirring gently with hand or long handled spoon every 5 minutes. Cut any cubes that are over sized. The warming will draw the whey out of the cheese, shrinking and firming the curds. This is where you need to decide how firm you want to your curds. The firm

er they are the harder the cheese will be when you press it. If left very soft, you will have cream cheese. 

When it gets to the stage you want, pour it all into a cheese cloth lined colander. If you are thrifty, you can do lots of things with the whey, so collect it. I know it makes great bread. Otherideas are in old LDS or pioneer cookbooks and more than likely on the internet.

The next step is to rinse in hot water to get the “cleanest” taste. While it is still warm, sprinkle with salt and other seasonings if you would like. Mix really well. The softer the cheese, the better it mixes with the seasonings. Some of my favorites are:

  • Mexican seasoning
  • Dill
  • Garlic, basil, onion, and oregano (all or various mixes)
  • Mrs. Dash (pick your favorite)
  • Ranch Dressing Mix
  • Green Onion Dip mix
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • Toasted onion, make your own
  • Make up your own according to your favorite seasonings!

I just made the best cottage cheese I have eaten in a long old time. I did warm it longer than I meant to, so I’m not sure if it will press into a block very well. If it doesn’t hold in the block, we will have yummy “squeaky cheese”. Ever had that? Great snack.  

My worthy assistant, Gabriel thought it was great and kept begging for more. Unfortunately, he doesn’t handle dairy very well, so I had to bribe him with more of his rice cheese,  emphasis on tried.


TIPS
When I followed instructions that had me pressing the cheese with presses made out of cans, wood ends, and threaded dowels going through the middle I ha

d some interesting new taste experiences (Yuck!). All of those reacted to the acids in milk. In the meantime, the milk was absorbing all the smells and tastes from the metal and wood … none of it was good. This is the reason I specified scent

less soap with no additives, SS equipment, etc. You don’t want any of that to cling to your equipment or hands to come off into the milk. Anything the milk takes in will become much stronger as it reduces into the cheese product … even worse.Aging takes precise conditions. Temperature, humidity, and air flow are c

ritical. Any dust, spores or anything else floating in the air will make changes in the results. I plan to bring in a small under desk fridge and try it in there when I can make sure the temp will stay very stable. I will let you know how it works.

 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


In case you haven't noticed, I do feed you a lot of my opinion.  I am posting a lot of what may appear as pretty dry information right now, but it is because it is important.  These sources are often where my opinion comes from, LOTS of reading and research.  

When my family was young we had to struggle so hard to make ends meet and I was determined to give my children a good healthy start.  That was the incentive to learn at first.  Now I have type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and just need to be healthy again, so I continue to read and learn.  My kids often felt pick on because their friends had “better” lunches, but often they were not getting even the basics of good nutrition.  

When you look at how most of us eat now, you can see more than one reason for the prophet's counsel.  A three month supply is more attainable, but it also will be the foods that your family will be used to eating.

In this post, I am including the food pyramid that will help you plan your daily diet. Hopefully, this will help you plan your daily nutrition and assist in planning your 3-month supply.  

If you aren't following this pretty closely, I challenge to do it. You will feel better.  If you are LDS, you will be following the Word Of Wisdom, D & C 89.

Every individual does not like the same foods. Each family member should have some

input into planning what foods to store. A simple, sensible rule is to store the foods that you normally eat, if they provide an adequate diet. 

 

Now, you have a good idea where and how to store your food, and have some good guidelines on what should be stored for good nutrition.  Check out http://www.sistersavings.net/  and click on helpful tips and then menu chart.  The shopping list link will give you a great start to organize your shopping!   Another good site would be http://theprudenthomemaker.com

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Where Should You Put Your Food Storage

I get this question all the time.  

In a nutshell, drier, cooler and the more constant the temperature, without freezing, the better.  

I did find this excellent publication from Utah State University.  I will break it up and post sections at a time.  

THE STORAGE AREA

The storage area should be located where the average temperature can be kept above 32°F and below 70°F.

1.   The storage area should be dry (less than 15% humidity), and adequately ventilated to prevent condensation on packaging material.

         3.   Food should not be stored on the floor. It is a good idea to have the lowest shelf 2-3 feet off the floor in flood prone areas.

      4.  Shelves should be designed so that a simple rotation system can effectively allow the oldest food to be used first and the newest food to be held within the shelf-life period.

      5.  When designing and building a food storage, do it to minimize areas where insects and rodents can hide.  As practical, seal all cracks and crevices.  Eliminate any openings whick insects or rodents may use to gain entrance to the storage area.

6.  Electrical equipment such as freezers, furnaces and hot water heaters should not be housed in the storage area.   These appliances produce heat, unnecessarily increasing storage temperatures.

7.  Insulation of the storage area from other areas of the house will effectively reduce the average yeaarly temperature of the food.

    The cooler your storage, the longer the food will maintain quality.

 



Monday, March 2, 2009

Gardening Bonanza at Sister Savings!!!

I need to quit cruising around on the intedrnet or something. I just saw this on one of my favorite sites and just had to call other's attention to it!

http://www.sistersavings.net

Click on her GARDENING link

Spice Storage & Shelf Life

Storage

A spice jar over the stove might be handy, but because herbs and spices deteriorate when exposed to heat, light, and moisture, it’s not a good place to keep them.
  • The best storage temperature for herbs and spices is one that is fairly constant and below 70° F. This means you need to stock them away from the furnace, stove, and the heat of the sun.

  • Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation, and eventually mold, so if you store spices in the freezer or refrigerator, return them promptly after use.

  • A good storage system keeps herbs and spices dry and in the dark, too. Amber glass jars with airtight lids are ideal. You might also keep them in a cupboard or drawer, cover the jars with large opaque labels, or use a curtain to cover them when not in use.

  • In a nutshell, store your herbs and spices in clean, airtight containers, away from heat and light, and handle them thoughtfully.

Shelf Life
How can you tell if your seasoning is past its prime? The shelf life of each herb and spice is different, and all age, even under the best conditions.

  • Check your herbs and spices—and those you consider purchasing—to see that they look fresh, not faded, and are distinctly aromatic. Replace them as soon as you detect deterioration.

  • The shelf life of herbs and spices will vary according to the form and plant part, too. (Those that have been cut or powdered have more surface area exposed to the air and so lose their flavor more rapidly than whole herbs and spices, for example.)

Here are some guidelines:

Whole Spices and Herbs:

  • Leaves and flowers 1 to 2 years

  • Seeds and barks 2 to 3 yearsRoots

  • Roots 3 years

Ground Spices and Herbs:

  • Leaves 1 year

  • Seeds and barks 1 year

  • Roots 2 years

What to Do With Old Food Storage


OK, you have stuff that used to belong that used to belong to your great, great grandparents. As long as you store it some more, you will be blessed, right? WRONG!

So, you have stuff that came from your parents and it's old so just toss it and don't waste the space, right? WRONG again!

It depends on:
  • What the food is.
  • How it was processed in the first place.
  • How it has been stored.

First let's talk about what the food is.

  • 1. Is this a food that your family would normally eat? Being hungry won't necessarily get it down children or even us. We are a pretty pampered people and don't want to give up our yummies. Our bodies can not adjust to strange foods overnight. When we sent powdered milk to Ethiopia, their bodies couldn't tolerate.
  • 2. When you get around old timers and say Sam Andy, you always get giggles. These foods were low moisture most of the time. If you have any, open one can of each product and check them. I have found that the fruit with sugars in them are black, knarly, and sometimes a little fermented (:-0 On the other hand, some of the dried veggies could be salvaged and the I made cream cheese out of the nonfat, non-instant milk that turned out OK.
  • If you have flour that has picked up the yucky metalic smell, that is all it is, a smell. Open, put in a 13 X 9 pan, stir it a few times over the next couple of days and it will be aired out.

So the moral of the story is check it out! Open your minds and get adventurous! If you live in Tucson, give me a call and I will be happy to experiment with what you have that is questionable.

3. The next generation of food was most commonly Rainy Day Foods. It was still dehydrated, as Sam Andy was, but they had progressed to the point that the foods were much dryer and stored longer. Fruits and those with sugar and some moisture were still suseptible to the same problems, but not as quickly. This name has resurfaced from Walton Feed, in Idaho.

The foods that I have bought over the last couple of years have been improved a lot and we are now cooking with them often. I have dehydrated potato slices, dices and flakes. The slices and dices have turned brown after 20 years and have a funny smell. I soak them in hot tap water, rinse, several times, usually starting the afternoon before. If done until they are white again, they cook up just fine. I made potato soup and served it after RS one Sunday. Everyone loved it. They were a little surprised when I told them everything in it was 20 years old, even the powdered milk.

The flakes are still white, but couldn't be soaked to get rid of smell, so I haven't been able to find a way to use them. the dried peas and corn are still OK.

4. If you can afford freeze dried, you're lucky. That is the "cadillac" of dehydrated foods. So far I have found the few that we have managed have held up well. They did cost so much that we were more careful about where they were stored, so that may be part of the reason.

5. Home dried foods seldom last as long as the commecially dried foods. When I make jerky, I keep it cold, even freezing if I plan to store it very long. Commercial plants are able to keep mold spores and other creepies out of the foods better than we can at home.