June 21, 2006

How to Cook - 3: Slow Cookers

Slow cookers, which some may know as "crock pots," are great contributors to a simple life. Not only do they free up time, they also good for the electric bill as they allow you to avoid heating up the entire kitchen (or house) with the oven. Lots of inexpensive family meals can be created in this one, big pot, too.

You can prepare desserts, soups, stews, main dishes, as well as hot drinks in your cooker. Good recipe sources include: http://www.crockpot.com/recipescatapp.aspx, http://crockpot.cdkitchen.com/, and http://www.tastycrockpotrecipes.net/.

Or, you can convert your own recipe to the slow cooker - just change the times:

recipe = high setting = low setting
15-30 minutes = 1.5-2.5 hours = 4-8 hours
35-45 minutes = 3-4 hours = 6-10 hours
50 minutes-3 hours = 4-6 hours = 8-16 hours

Some tips?

1. Never just stick meat in the pot without some liquid in the bottom. If you don't want the liquid to touch the meat, take two or three balls of aluminum foil and place them in the bottom of the pot so the meat has something to rest upon. If you avoid using aluminum, try two or three potatoes instead.

2. As for which kind of crock pot to use, the one you got as a wedding present is fine -- but if it's one of the older ones that doesn't allow the stoneware pot to be lifted from the heating bucket, consider buying one that does. It's just so nice to put that stoneware pot first on the table, and then in the fridge after dinner is done....

3. Have more than one. Cook the roast or chicken in one pot, the veggies in the other, for example. Make a casserole in one, a bread pudding in the other. You get the idea.

Personal Note

While I try and avoid personal notes here on Everyday Simplicity, I thought I would create an exception to the rule today to explain my absence during the month of June. I've had a pinched nerve injury recur early in the month which has prevented my being able to type, and today is my first day back with the keyboard.

Thanks for your patience!

June 14, 2006

Fantastic Advice Site - Smart In So Many Ways

Better than Ann Landers or Dear Abby, there is a free website that connects wise seniors with those seeking counsel or advice. The site was ranked as the number one advice site by Google in November 2005.

Elder Wisdom Circle allows you to send in a question and get a reply from an elder - who may live hundreds of miles away from you, and may be physically challenged in some way. These elders have life lessons under their belt -- and the examples of their responses to select queries exemplifies that wisdom. Plus, EWC offers one-on-one attention to your query that Dr. Phil just can't provide.

NPR covered the site in an in-depth article in February 2006. Salon magazine covered the site earlier this year, as well. As EWC elder Tom, a 62-year-old semiretired Michigan contractor, explained to Salon:

“You get older and you think, After everything I’ve done, is that all there is? Am I just going to get put on the back shelf? With the site, I can apply all of my knowledge and experience, pain and joy. I’ve laughed and cried and raised a family, what am I supposed to do, just carve some wooden ducks, or pick up knitting?”

Simplifying your life means more than cutting back on purchases and scheduling your time. It means getting real with yourself, and what's really important, and cutting out the rest. A little sage advice in that process is always welcome, and isn't it fabulous that these seniors are available?

Shown: the first page of a thank you note from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman: "I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of LEAVES OF GRASS. I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed."

June 2, 2006

333,000 Free Books That You'd Actually Want to Have

Get ready. For thirty days next month (July 4 - August 4, 2006), you are welcome to download as many of the (approx) 333,000 offered at the World EBook Fair as you'd like. For free. And, mark your calendar: next year, the ante ups to 500,000 available; in 2008, it's 750,000; and the number hits a MILLION in 2008.

What kinds of books will be offered? Things you'd never buy at a garage sale? Nope. Good stuff - great stuff is available.

During the last 30 days the top 100 ebooks downloaded from Project Gutenberg included:
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen;
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle;
Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie;
Roget's Theasaurus; and
Hand Shadows to Be Thrown Upon A Wall by Henry Bursill.
The World EBook Fair will, of course, offer much more than the standard collection from which these works were downloaded.

To learn more, and to download, visit Project Gutenberg for details or just check out the World EBook Library.
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