OK, the turkey is done, in the fridge, and now you have a nice weekend to begin frittering-away time until you can put on the yoke of capitalist oppression again Monday…
Rather than waste time – the one truly limited supply item in Life – might we offer a sampling of really useful prepping ideas to help fill the day?
1. Run your first pass through 2018 Taxes
Amazon started shipping “TurboTax Home & Business + State 2018 Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc [Amazon Exclusive]” on November 12. However, make sure to update the program as last week they were still working on the property taxes and sales tax cap portions so that may drift a bit. Update!
That point aside, we like to have our taxes filled out and the refund coming around the first of March. Any financial planner worth their salt will tell you only send it an honest “estimated taxes” check if you are paying quarterly.
Honestly, though, overpaying a little bit and then getting a “surprise” refund is better than having the wrong-way surprise hit along with late winter bills. So, we’ve already made a workable first cut through our 2018 and now we can spend the rest of the holiday season figuring out what to do with a couple of grand coming back.
2. Precook Some Meals
If you don’t have one, consider putting something like the $160 FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer FM5200 2-in-1 System Plus Starter Kit on your shopping list for Santa.
Thing is, once you have a FoodSaver, you can make up really tasty meals in advance and that frees up time down the road. Important because what “Time is the one truly limited supply item in Life!” (Hmmm…what genius told you that?)
One of my daughters – the Chef School Grad – regularly cooks only once a week. But during that spree, OMG does she put out the food. There’s baking going on, maybe a pot of spaghetti sauce, several main dishes, and when its over? Everything into the dishwasher and done.
I figure in her ultra-high intensity burst of cooking, she’s freeing up 4 or 5 nights a week. Which gives her time to do things with the hubby other than shop, do food prep, and cook every night.
PLUS – the added bonus – things don’t “go bad” in the fridge because of a change in meal plans. Can’t tell you how many ties in my life, the lowly one pound of hamburger ended up going bad because I used to keep “too much ready to cook” and didn’t spend enough time with “something on the fire.”
3. Even if You Cook – Concentrate Prep Time
Back in Ure’s (now long-ago) single days, I would keep about a dozen Tupperware containers in my fridge. There was one with sliced mushrooms, while others held assorted meats, veggies, and what-have-yous. (Chinese-style quarter-sliced)
As a result, when I came home and wanted a meal, I would fire a wok, pour a large glass of Cribari (Vino Biano if you can find it) and whip up a quick stir-fry. One night was pork, another night was chicken, then beef, and then whatever was left at the end of the week of cooking became a kind of bastardized fajita. That also cleaned up the unused onions, the celery, and mushrooms. See how it works?
Simple. Four containers of pre-cut meats (cut up top sirloin on sale for your beef, slice up chicken breasts, lean pork, shrimp, and such) into bite-sized pieces. Shrimp’s only good for a couple of days, mind you.
Traditional Chinese (which I happen to adore) is usually just three main ingredients. A meat and two accompaniments. Oyster sauce beef broccoli, for example. Only other ingredient is onions and it’s a 3-minute meal. Chicken with snow peas and cauliflower…OMG, what fun, huh?
Thing is, people buy a lot of prepared foods – and while that may be good for portion control, there’s also a lot of stuff in premade food that you’d never ingest if you thought about it. I mean, when you go to Safeway, do they have an “artificial flavors” department? Hell no.
A collection of Asian sauces: Hot Thai tomato-garlic sauce, Chinese oyster sauce, some teriyaki sauce, Hoisin…pretty quick in makes sense to get a rice cooker and there goes Ure wheat belly… At least till you come down with…
4. Bread-making Disease
I have no idea how many families in America have started to prep in a serious way (climate change, maybe?) but who have no idea how to actually make bread.
It’s an art.
You can tell Santa if you don’t have one that a giant KitchenAid KSM75WH Classic Plus Series 4.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, White is just the ticket – for $190 bucks, or so. Check the details and make sure you get one with a dough hook.
One of these days, I will pass along Pappy Ure’s Cuban Bread recipe because with the exception of the old Seattle Gai’s Bakery hard rolls, there was NOTHING on earth that could compare. Fresh Cuban bread out of the over, cooled about 20 minutes, but served still warm-enough to melt ice cold butter…yes, coronary confessions, I suppose, but unbeatable.
5. Look for Useful Kitchen Doo-Dads
Last month, Elaine was out shopping and noticed one of those little handheld dish washers – the kind with a detergent reservoir in the handle.
Turns out it has been ridiculously popular with both of us. Since we’re only two – and two meals a day usually – it doesn’t make sense unless we’re doing “real cooking” to run the dishwasher very often. Glasses and plates get rinsed and get in line for later-on.
This little guy gets things like the Teflon plans back in their proper pew in no time since it’s not right to put them in a dishwasher.
One quirk with it: If full of soap, it will leak out, so we put it in the bottom of the sink (scrub head up) and that ends the dripping of soap. We both enjoy the kitchen looking strack…
6. Get Off Mailing Lists
My life-long bud, the Major – and I got talking last week about catalogs coming in the mail. He’s gotten up to his elbows in their over the years.
“I found a couple of web sites where I could managed the problem down,” he told me: Here are his suggestions…
7. Build Your Own “Information/News” Budget
We have been into this more deeply on the subscriber side (Peoplenomics.com is still just $40-bucks a year and a steal, at that). But since it’s the holiday season, try one some of these:
- The New York Times offers 65 emailed newsletter you can sign up for. All, except for the daily news summaries, are free.
- The old Peoplenomics article on how to build your own “Home Intelligence Platform” is still valid: Use Google news alerts to keep you posted on professional developments that are pertinent to your life. Set up alerts for key competitor websites if you’re a business owner.
8. Freshen Up Your Resume
Opportunity doesn’t knock twice…or, stand around the door waiting. So, if you have a little time to burn this weekend, you can always put it to good use by tuning up the resume and making sure you have current references (who will still say good things about you, lol) at the ready, too.
9. Keep an Eye on National Job Openings
Sure, you love where you live, but what’s going on in other parts of the country?
In counseling our kids, we like to use https://indeed.com. Its a big, clean interface. We used to be fans of Monster.com but it got too busy for us. Try Indeed and shove some resumes out the door.
Like fishing, you never know what will bite. Rule of thumb: If you can get 10-15 percent more (locally) it’s a move worth marking.
Also never under-estimate the value of time off. The different between a three week vacation versus two weeks, is 2 percent. Working conditions and play time matter.
10. Have a Heart-to-Heart
Whether you’re a single parent, married, or have friends, take some down time to have a heart-to-heart with someone. Always peak the Truth as you Know It.
Emotions are easy to get ‘wrapped around the axle” so speak plainly and express your deepest-held feelings.
When you get things “in alignment” – that is, the inner feelings and voice is aligned with the outer expressions of self – things will roll much more smoothly.
As my late friend Robert O. Smith used to admonish his listeners: “You can’t turn your back on your face…”
Bonus Round: Fix Something
This week, I put on my “The Electric Detective” hat and got after a non-functions Heathkit SB-303 receive.
The problem turned out to be the wrong polarity of the AC line cord someone before me had wired. Thus, the arcane bit of electronic knowledge: When there is Y-bypassing only on one leg of an AC circuit, make sure the polarity follows all the way through the radio correctly or things won’t work and there will be oodles of hum. Flipped polarity and it rocked!
Who’d have thought? Learn something new every day – even at this age.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled holiday, though do…
Write when you get rich,