Archive for the 'Home and Garden' Category

Beat the Heat

It’s July and we’re now in the firm grips of sun, heat, and more heat. Here are some tips to keep cool and keep the electric bill from rising. These tips are especially useful if you don’t have air conditioning at all.

Shade. Before it starts to get hot, close the blinds and the curtains. Not having direct sunlight come inside the house makes a huge difference on the temperature indoors. And really it’s cheaper to have a light on than to have the A/C running on full blast.

Windows. While it’s still cool out open up all the windows in your house, letting in all the cool air — better still to leave them open all night when it gets even cooler. Then before it starts to get hot shut them all. It will stay cooler in your house longer if you don’t keep letting in the hot air.

Fans. Fans take up less electricity than an air conditioner and they’re a real life saver if you don’t have any A/C at all. Ceiling fans are best as they keep the air circulating and you can change the direction of the blades but box fans and oscillating fans are better than nothing. A great trick for cooling off your house fast when the sun goes down is to open the windows to create air flow and put the fans in front of the windows on one side of the house. They will suck the cool air in from outside and push the stale warm air out the other side. It doesn’t work if you have fans in all the windows because the air doesn’t move anywhere. When you have the house shut up for the heat of the day, keep them running to help keep the air cooler and to keep it circulating.

Water. If you have access to a swimming pool the best time to go is when it’s hottest. It gets you out of the hot house or apartment and cools you off — don’t forget the sunscreen, though, because that’s when the UV’s are at their worst. But if you don’t have access to a pool, then run a cool bath. Drinking lots of cold water helps to keep you cool internally as well.

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Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs (part two)

In this installment of Beyond the Sandwich, we’re looking at turkey. There always seem to be leftovers when you make a turkey, and after a while, turkey sandwiches can get a little boring. Here are two easy recipes to breathe new life into those turkey leftovers: turkey tortellini soup and warm turkey burritos/wraps.

First, set aside some turkey breast for the burritos/wraps.

Turkey Tortellini Soup


Turkey (still on the bone)
Stewed tomatoes
While the turkey is boiling, wash spinach and remove the spines from the leaves. Set aside.
Carefully remove bones from the liquid and discard them. You may need to use the slotted spoon to help gather the smaller bones. Use a pair of tongs to return any meat collected in the spoon back to the soup.

Add the tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes to the mixture.

Add a handful of basil (Note: other spices are not necessary as the soup will have the flavoring of whatever spices were used to season the turkey initially before cooking.)

Bring mixture to a low boil, stirring intermittently. If the mixture is too thick, gradually add cupfuls of water until it is at your desired consistency.

Simmer for 20 minutes

Bring mixture back up to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions.

When tortellini is al dente (or near it) gently add the spinach to the soup by the handful and stir it into the soup. As each handful of spinach wilts down, add another of fresh spinach.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all spinach is wilted.

Serve and enjoy.

Warm Savory Turkey Burritos/Wraps
(Note: these can be served cold as well, just omit the melting directions)

Large, round flat bread/tortillas (either wheat or corn)
Field greens/lettuce (optional)
1 T olive oil
1 medium Red onions (chopped)
Chopped tomatoes
Scallion /green onion (chopped)
Block of sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

Optional Sauce:
Chipotle powder
Black pepper

Cutting board
Small whisk (or fork)
Small bowl (for the sauce)
Cheese grater

Prepare sauce and refrigerate
In a small bowl, add about ¼ tsp of chipotle powder to mayonnaise and whisk, blending well. (Add more or less of each to taste.) Dash with a sprinkle of ground black pepper to taste.

Prepare wrap
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Shred the cheddar cheese and set aside

Wash the lettuce/field greens and set aside (if using for the cold wrap)

Cut the turkey breast into long, thin strips (about ¼ to ½ inch wide)

Chop the scallions, red onion and tomatoes and mix together. Set aside.

Gently warm the tortillas/flatbread in the oven. (You can also steam them if you have a large steamer.)

When warmed, remove from oven and layer the turkey and cheese, lengthwise in the center.

Return to oven to melt cheese/heat turkey. Watch carefully as cheese melts. When cheese starts to melt, remove from oven and layer on the onion/tomato mixture.

Top with the sauce and roll up or fold into thirds. (This last part has to be done fairly quickly.)

For a cold wrap, still warm the bread but skip heating the turkey and cheese. Instead layer on the lettuce/greens, turkey, cheese, onion/tomato mixture and sauce. Roll up and enjoy.

Next up…Left-over Lamb

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House Thinking : A Room-by-Room Look at How We Live has an interesting interview with Winifred Gallagher about her new book “House Thinking. Winifred is an environmental psychologist who explores how we interact within the environment of our home. Here’s an excerpt of the interview:

What got you thinking about “House Thinking”?

House Thinking

When I was working on “The Power of Place” there was an enormous concentration — which there still is — on how our internal neurochemistry can affect our behavior. And that seemed to me to be very lopsided. I believe that the environment, and not just the social environment but also the physical environment, has a big impact on behavior. And science up until the turn of the 20th century thought that too — it was so-called geographical medicine. Doctors would tell patients afflicted with melancholy (which we call depression) to go to a sunny place to feel better. It actually works.

Our culture doesn’t look at the effects of the environment on behavior. We talk about social relationships and neurochemistry. But it’s not just my opinion that environment affects behavior. There’s real solid research from environmental psychology, from psychiatry, from design, architecture, cultural history. A Roman doctor in the second century said, “Melancholics are to be laid in the sunshine, for their disease is gloom.” The American Psychiatric Association didn’t recognize seasonal affective disorder until the ’80s, but the ancients recognized it and knew how to treat it. We can actually do much more to improve the quality of our lives for little or no money.

Posted in Lifestyles, Home and Garden, Mental Environment | No Comments »