Thursday, May 21, 2009

Glorify! Respectify!

While the rest of the world was watching Dancing With The Stars and American Idol, I have been amusing myself with the funniest tv show to come down the pike since The Kids In The Hall. The Frugal Maven is addicted to The Penguins of Madagascar. I love them all, Rico, Skipper, Private and Kowalski, but mostly I love King Julien. If you've seen the movies, and who hasn't, he's the dancing king of the lemurs with the smart mouth and the continuous trashing of the English language. Now ensconced in the Central Park Zoo, Julien, his minions Mort the Mouse Lemur and Maurice the other lemur, the penguins and Marlene the otter drag race cars, raid the banned popcorn stores, and generally do all the things we think we would do if we lived in a zoo and had it all to ourselves every night.

All of them are entertaining, but Julien is the light that beckons me through lo these sad and hard times. He is irrepressible, rude, clueless, bossy, classist and a royal pain to everyone, yet he is impossible to resist. He says everything we want to say on our worst days. These episodes which air on Nickolodeon, are half-hour shows comprised of two full episodes, split in half by commercials but uninterrupted during the segments. When I come home from work beat and just want a little mindless tv to let me wind down, any episode will do. Here are just some of my favorite Julien moments:

King Julien: Silly otter. I do not need this thing called help.

Marlene: Mmm, okay. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.

King Julien: Yes, yes, but I don't change my mind. I have people for that.


[Julien is watching the TV he won from the penguins]

TV Announcer: Are you paying too much for auto insurance?

King Julien: It is quite possible. Tell me more.

[the signal goes to static; Julien turns to Mort, who is on top of the set, holding the antenna]

King Julien: Mort, no slacking! How am I to know if I'm auto-paying too much?


Maurice: [as they put Mort inside Rico to defuse the bomb] The birds have gone carnivore!

King Julien: We must flee! Quick, Maurice! Distract them by being eaten!

and my very favorite, when an unclaimed egg has been discovered and everyone wants it:

Maurice: You should just let it go. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure whatever is in that egg, it ain't one of us.
King Julien: Oh, really, Mister Smarty-booty? And where else would J.J. come from but an egg? Maurice: Well, mammals usually come from... [Whispers in Julien's ear]
King Julien: [Spit take] Do not gross me out with nonsense, Maurice!

So, as you can see, I am hip and stingy this week with my entertainment. Very few are more effortlessly hip than Julien and nothing is stingier than rewatching DVR'd episodes of Nick at Nite.
We are on the cusp of the holiday weekend! Three days off. Hope everyone's Friday brings with it that most wonderful of things; the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No More Fast Food!

I'm on a bit of a rant lately. I had a migraine yesterday which interfered with the natural progression of my life so I'm a bit snarly. I am also extremely tired of fast food. I have on occasion posted a freebie or discount coupon for a free Arby's Roastburger or some such thing. This KFC/Oprah thing has worn me out, though. I am done with pursuing any deals like this. We are clogging our arteries for a dollar. In my office we are forever trying to bring lunch to be frugal and healthier. We do fine for a couple of days, then life interferes and we're back to square one. I did two days of excellent leftovers this week and was so proud but then today ended up getting someone to pick up Long John Silver's for us. We had coupons and that was the deciding factor. Well, no more, I say! No more! I have got to get a grip because my junk food high only lasted until about 2/3 of the way through my meal and then I was regretful in oh so many ways. I am going to start tallying up my lunch-bringing adventures so you can all keep me honest. We decided in the office to bring our lunch four days and allow ourselves one day out to splurge. Sounds doable so we shall see.

In the meantime, it's strawberry season here in Kentucky so I will be hopefully making preserves this weekend. Stay tuned for frugal Memorial Day weekend adventures in the kitchen! Three days off in a row. Whooooohooooo! Hit your local farmer's market and buy something good and good for you like the fabulous cheeses pictured above which i will be investing in on Saturday.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How To Make Excellent Iced Coffee

I am an iced coffee fanatic. Other than iced tea it's probably my favorite summer drink. I do hate, though, the bitter brew you get at most places that sell it and the prohibitive cost. We all know they brewed it, let it set, and then probably just chilled the leftovers. This is a travesty and a terrible way to treat a coffee bean. The proper way to make iced coffee is a cold-brew system that makes a smooth, non-bitter, creamy drink that is head and shoulders above most commercial offerings. The origins of this drink come from New Orleans where they are very particular about everything they eat and drink. For those of us not in New Orleans where a real iced coffee can be found just about anywhere, here is a simple way to make it at home:

First, get a pound or so of ground coffee. We normally grind our own beans but I am not grinding a pound at a time. I have found that Kroger house brand Italian Roast makes a fine product. It comes in 12 oz. cans so I adjust my recipe accordingly. When it goes on sale for $2.49 I stock up. Second, mix the whole can with 2 cups of cold water. Make sure it's saturated then add 6 more cups cold water for a 12 oz. can or 8 more cups for a pound.

Let it sit covered on the counter for about 10-12 hours. After steeping, strain it until there are no grounds left. This usually takes about 4 or 5 cycles. I use cheesecloth, a fine mesh strainer, coffee filters or a paper towel depending on what I can find at the moment. Store it in a tightly covered jar in the fridge. It will keep its' flavor perfectly for at least two weeks.
When you are ready to use it, fill a glass with ice and about one inch or so of concentrate. Fill the rest of the glass with milk and enjoy!

I don't add any sweetener to this even though I sweeten regular coffee. The milk adds a sweetness that stays intact since there is no bitterness in the coffee. I am also not a plain milk drinker so this gets some real calcium into me without relying on a pill. If you don't want to go through the straining process there is a product called the Toddy. According to them cold-brewing coffee produces a product with 67% less acid which has to be a good thing. It is an easier system than the time consuming straining but so far I've been too stingy to spring for it. You can also heat up your coffee and milk for a fantastic latte or drink it without milk and just add water back to it.