I did a blog not too long ago about the last hurrah before the kids go back to school. Picnics and barbeques, pool parties and last-day-at-the-lake kind of stuff. I didn’t really talk about what you eat though…and a barbeque or cookout is prime eating time! I have some tips and some recipes for your Labor Day weekend revelry, from the basic to the sinfully delectable. I hope you enjoy and please be safe over the holiday weekend!
¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 Lb ground beef (your choice of lean percentage)
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground pepper
- Preheat your grill to medium-high
- Combine the cheeses in a small bowl
- Mix the beef, Worcestershire, paprika, and pepper in a large bowl. Shape into 8 thin, 4” wide patties. Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each of four patties, leaving about a ½” border. Cover with the remaining patties, crimping the edges closed.
- Grill the patties about four minutes on each side for medium –well. Don’t press down or the cheese will ooze out.
4 ears of corn
Butter (we use a lot and I don’t measure. Typically one stick per 4 ears)
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
1cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Carefully peel the husk down, keeping it intact, and clean out the silk. Gently pull the husk back up, and soak the ears in water for about 15 minutes. Shake off excess water and drain. Do not pat dry
- While they are soaking, preheat the grill to medium.
- Cut butter into pats, cutting enough for two per ear. Insert the pats and distribute the cilantro and cheese evenly between the ears, dropping them into the husks. Tighten the husks to hold in the ingredients and place on grill. Grill until slightly charred.
Grilled Veggie Kabobs
5 Cups vegetables (I use squash, onions, eggplant, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms)
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Olive oil
2 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS chopped fresh herbs (I used cilantro and thyme)
1 TBS lemon juice
4 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut vegetables into chunks, slightly larger than bit size (I keep tomatoes whole). Place them in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the veggies, stirring well to coat.
- Thread onto skewers (presoak if they are wood) and grill for about 8-10 minutes, with one turn half way through.
We always have a fire in our firepit, so S’mores are easy for us. For those of you with a gas grill, you can still enjoy them!
Chocolate bar or chunks (I also substitute chocolate bars with Nutella)
Marshmallows (the big ones)
You want a 12×8” piece of foil for each S’more. Place a graham cracker on the center of the foil. Top with chocolate and marshmallow and wrap up in the foil, but not tight. Grill on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Grill Tips –
Do not press down on your burgers! That presses out the juices and makes for a VERY dry burger. Which is fine if you like a dry burger. I don’t.
Constantly turning your burgers causes them to dry out as well. Flip once. That’s it. You know it’s time to flip when the brown color is halfway up the patty.
It always helps to oil your grill. Easy way to do that is to oil a paper towel, hold it with tongs, and rub over the rack.
Soak bamboo or wood skewers for at least 30 minutes, or else they will catch fire. Should be self-explanatory, but its not.
I was going through some products on our website for a presentation…okay, I was shopping for cleaning supplies. I admit it. I was running out at home, and figured I’d just restock my supplies from here (see what I did there?) and ship them straight to the house. I was picking out my favorites – the all purpose cleaners, the window cleaners, etc and had them in my cart. Then I remembered that I needed paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissue. We have a party planned for Labor Day, so I definitely didn’t want to run out! So I went back, and searched for Bounty first. Found what I wanted and put it in my cart. Then I searched for Charmin, found what I wanted and put it in my cart. THEN I went back and searched for Puffs (the only tissue my husband will use) and…well, you get the picture.
After I put all the items in the cart, I realized something. All of my favorite brands are all from the same manufacturer: Proctor and Gamble. There was not one thing in my cart that WASN’T from them. WOW! I never gave it much thought, really. I typically don’t stick to one manufacturer on anything, consciously anyway. I’m fickle, I’ll cop to it- I flutter around products like a butterfly. I don’t have loyalty to one car brand, I don’t shop at only one grocery store, I don’t even have a smartphone brand that I’m partial to (I’ve owned Androids and iPhones and I can’t say I prefer one over the other), but apparently, I LOVE P&G products!
Ah, BOGO. We’re all familiar with it. We know what it stands for, we know where to find it, and we know what it means – usually a madhouse at the store offering it. Crowds, fights, shoes flying everywhere…it’s a sad mess! And it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is either. BOGO at any time is a free for all. Then there is the little matter of how BOGO has evolved over the years as well. When you saw the BOGO and KNEW that it meant something exciting.
Historically, BOGO was always a buy one get one free or a buy one get one fifty percent off. Back then, BOGO was REALLY exciting, but the insane amount of advertising that surrounds us today really whips us into a frenzy of shopping ecstasy. I know people who will go shopping at a store they’ve never even been to, as long as its running a BOGO promotion. To me, that’s like clipping coupons for items you never buy, just to save a few cents. And now, BOGO doesn’t always mean what it used to.
I saw an ad for one of my favorite stores one day, and all it said was “BOGO!”, so naturally I thought I was either getting something free or for fifty percent off (of equal or lesser value. Don’t forget that part). So I jump in the car, toodle on down to the store and walk in, expecting to be bragging about my spoils to my friends later that afternoon…only to find out it was buy one item, get a pair of socks for 25% off (equal or lesser value). What was that? I was robbed!! What a waste of time for me! Needless to say, although BOGO’s are still very exciting, don’t forget to pay attention to the fine print, so you don’t let yourself down. Happy shopping!
Everywhere in the Southeastern part of the country…well, at least from Louisiana to North Florida, people are rushing around trying to get their hurricane preparedness kit in order right now. It’s no secret, Southeasterners are procrastinators. I have no doubt there are people that live in my area of the country who are Johnny-on-the-spot prepared for hurricane season in March, but for the vast majority of us, that is just not so. I’ve weathered 7 hurricanes, three of them Category Four or Five, and STILL don’t get my stuff together until a storm is bearing down on me. I was without power for almost two months after the season of 2004, which saw four landfalling hurricanes in Florida (I was in all four), and yet…I still wait. A lot of it is, those of us who have been through it, grown up with them, know how to improvise.
For those of you that DO like to be prepared, I decided to write about hurricane preparedness in the spirit of procrastination since ideally I should have written this prior to June 1st! Considering that Tropical Storm Isaac is being predicted to make landfall in Louisiana today or tomorrow (and the fact that I should have gone shopping for my kit before he sideswiped us this past weekend), here is a handy list of things you should have available in your house if you are in a storm path. This works for all manner of storms, even northern storms (you just have to add alternate heating sources and blankets to yours), and some of the things are handy to have around in the middle of the year as well.
- Flashlights (fun for scary stories as well)
- Spare batteries for all battery operated items in your home
- A car power converter/inverter – they make your car lighter or power outlet into a regular household outlet
- Non-perishable food for three to four days (canned meats, fruit, dry cereal, non-perishable milk, etc)
- Bottles and bottles of water (for drinking only. Fill up tubs and sinks for cleaning purposes). A rule of thumb is a gallon per person per day. Figure three to four days.
- A first aid kit, with prescription medications for illnesses.
- Extra gas for your car
- A generator. I really can’t stress this enough. Yes, they can be fairly expensive, and you may not even use it in a season, but I learned to appreciate mine when I was standing in a line at Grainger for 12 hours in 100 degree weather, waiting to purchase one after Hurricane Charlie.
- A portable fan. No, people in the south don’t always have portable fans. We always have ceiling fans.
During the summer of 2004, when we were just being slammed with a hurricane pretty much every two weeks, we tried to make it fun for the kids in the family. We all crowded together into our house (in-laws and us) and pretended we were camping. We are champion campers, and are used to being out camping with no power. We have propane stoves, and mastered the art of keeping ice as long as possible. If you find yourself in a hurricane (cyclone, blizzard, etc) just remember to stay calm, and keep your smarts about you. After the storm has passed, make the best of a bad situation, and stay careful!
A co-worker and I were talking the other day, and she idly wondered why some restaurants use condiment packets, and other’s use those squeeze bottles (we get bored sometimes). Is it cost efficient? Is it cost control? Is it the ratio of diners to packets thrown away? Or do the squeeze bottles grow legs and walk out the door? I don’t think we’ll ever have the answer to this weighty question, but it got me thinking about other differences as well.
In this economy, every cent spent needs to be accounted for. Squeeze bottles can cost as little as .85 cents per bottle, but they DO get lost and stolen (I’ve seen it happen). They have to be filled up multiple times a day, from a big ol’ can of condiment that can cost almost $10 per can! Packets, on the other hand, can be as low as .01 cent a piece, depending on the brand you buy. Some, like Taco Bells sauce packets, can deliver a laugh while you’re using them. I think the choice to have the squeeze bottles is more sentimental and esthetic than cost effective.
We are huge coffee drinkers here at Restockit. We used to have a Keurig that was hooked into a waterline, but…we blew the coffee budget. People were drinking four or five cups a day, and that’s a lot of Keurig pods! So now we’ve switched to ground coffee, and we have about seven or eight different kinds, and we switch them up. We always have non-flavored and flavored pots available, and an assortment of sweetener’s and creamers, and we’re saving more money that way. Honestly, I could go on about ways to save money, but that’s a blog for another day!
Hand sanitizer – the handiest tool for germaphobes and mothers everywhere. Also, it’s pretty handy for finding paper cuts. Even for me, who grew up playing in the mud and never met a germ that I feared, hand sanitizer is something that I carry and use on a fairly regular basis. It’s not just for kids on the playgrounds, or disinfecting your hands after pushing the grocery cart around. Sweaty handshake? Purell afterwards! Stroll through a store, picking up objects that who knows who else touched? Purell afterwards! It’s also great for wiping down gym equipment; especially the elliptical wands after the last person sweated all over them and forgot to use their towel afterwards. They are handy to pop into your kid’s backpack for school as well, so they can help keep the fight against germs going, and not bring home every illness known to man.
I have two hand sanitizer dispensers, and get refills for them once a year. It is the perfect example of how hand sanitizer has become a part of our daily lives. Yes, the dispenser is bulky and it needs refills to work, but in the long run, it’s inexpensive and can go anywhere in your home. I keep mine in the garage (perfect for after taking out the garbage, which gives me the skeeves, frankly) and I also have one in the kitchen (perfect for after touching raw chicken). The refills last my household for a long while, and the dispenser is touch free, so it remains free of the germs you’re killing with the hand sanitizer. Obviously, hand sanitizer should go hand in hand with washing your hands (no pun intended), but what a great addition to your home or business!
Cup stacking. Air guitar. Extreme ironing. Worm charming. These are all extraordinary competitions that actually exist. People train to be good at these events and hold a championship for it. A co-worker was trolling the ‘net for oddities and ideas when she came across a really interesting blog that she suggested I read. Buried in the animated screen was something that piqued my interest: pen spinning. Yes. Pen spinning.
Seeing as though I write a blog about office supplies and how they factor into our lives, I had to see it. Whoa. First off, if you have no idea what it is, I’ve included a convenient YouTube link to it, which you can find here:
Japan has a Pen Spinning Association. There are special pens that you can buy. There is even a Wiki for it. I used to be a baton twirler, but I don’t think I have the dexterity in my fingers to do with a pen what I did with a baton! I watched the video and I couldn’t keep up! The pens are flying through their fingers so fast that I don’t know how they don’t spin away and hit someone in the face. Which is what would happen if I tried it. It reminds me of the people who can roll a coin across their knuckles. The coordination it takes to do that astounds me, and I always considered myself a coordinated person (don’t ask my husband about that though).
Watching these people spin their pens made my head spin. And the championships are televised in Japan. What’s next for pen spinning? World Championships? The Olympics? And to think we used to make fun of curling, but that actually made it into the Olympic games. Let’s hope that worm charming doesn’t follow in its footsteps.
Continuing on the vein of back to school, it’s amazing the changes that have occurred since I was in school. Even in tools that are used IN school. Teachers used to use chalk, now its dry erase markers. No more chalk fights, no more eraser fights, and no more staying behind to clean the chalk board or erasers if you cut up in class while leading an eraser fight. That was character-building stuff! There was nothing like having to stay after class while your friends go out and play, and you have to watch from the windows as you meticulously cleaned the chalkboard and erasers. I didn’t instigate that many fights after that punishment.
Another thing I’ve noticed when we’re all talking about walking uphill both ways in five feet of snow (in Florida, no less) is that our teachers used pointer sticks. You remember them, long sticks about 2-3 feet in length, could be used as a punishment tool when slammed on your desktop as you sat chatting with your neighbor? Yeah, those days are done. Now it’s a laser pointer. Laser pointers are nice, but the lack of fright factor is lost with them.
Planning books have gone away, being replaced by Mac Books. I can definitely see this one, since teacher planner books get lost easier and hacked into a lot easier. A mischievous student can’t easily make away with a Mac Book to put a crimp into a lesson plan. That translates into at least a misdemeanor these days as opposed to an afternoon or two cleaning chalkboards. Another thing that technology is enhancing is the fact that a student is no longer shaking in his or her boots while reading from a tattered, many-times-erased composition sheet. No, now its PowerPoints and flashdrives. Composition books are still used, but for presentations, it’s all technology-based. One of my co-workers said her daughter has been using PowerPoint in school since the third grade! I hesitate to think what school will be like for my grandchildren…
For most of the country, kids start back to school on Monday (except in certain parts of Oklahoma-they start Friday. Weird) and parents everywhere are rushing to get last minute supplies and fight for what’s left of the dwindling supply. Department stores are a madhouse right now, with binders flying everywhere and pretty composition books being bought by the dozen. We wade through the sea of humanity, dreading the holiday shopping season because if back to school is like this, then that time of year will certainly be insane. When we were kids, school supply shopping was fun! Not this maddening crush of Bedlam that sucks our accounts dry.
When I was in school, things were so much simpler. We had pencils, pens, notebook paper, and notebooks, and some form of book bag. Accessories, if we got them, were pencil cases, scissors, and Trapper Keepers (for those of you that read this blog regularly, yes, I have an obsession with Trapper Keepers). Most often, in those days, the classroom supplied crayons, colored pencils, art supplies, etc so we didn’t have to worry about that. Then middle school came and we had to add calculators to our list. Maybe a ruler. Nothing like the insanity of school supplies we have to purchase now!
With high school came the “suggestion” of a personal computer. We had computer labs at school, but of course all the cool kids had computers at home (Texas Instruments TI-99’s, Macintosh, or Commodore 64’s) and we all wanted to be the cool kid. We had to be part of the BBS system (that’s Bulletin Board System for those younger than 33) and to play Oregon Trail or Zork. Ah, the good old days. I admit, the stuff kids have now are so much cooler than what we had, but our stuff was just…simple. Elegant. And I miss it sometimes!