Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things Are Tough All Over

It's rough out there.
The economy has tanked. Not is going to tank or will soon tank, it HAS tanked.
The US has hit it's credit limit. Congress has 11 weeks to raise that limit or risk another recession/depression.
Read about it here
You know, when an average person hits their credit limit, the local bank or credit union tells them "Nope, no more. You have to pay off your debts---or at least put a substantial dent in them before we will even think about giving you more credit."
Apparently, governments do not operate the same way. They run up more and more bills and figure our children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren, etc. will be able to pay the bills.

Crops this year will not be the greatest. State wide droughts in some areas, state wide flooding in others have rendered a lot of cropland in the US useless or close to it this growing season.
Estimates I have read places the losses at astronomical levels.
1/5 of the rice crop (in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas), gone due to flooding.
Possible 1/4 of the this years wheat and corn crop gone.
Ranchers having to slaughter herds of cattle and flocks of sheep due to lack of hay to feed them and the high price of corn. Some of the big pig farms in the mid-west considering culling their herds...and some have already started.

If you have the funds, get a freezer as I suspect the supermarkets will have a lot of meat specials in the next few months.
Add more rice, wheat and corn to your food storage if you have the funds.
Buy specials when and where you can and get that pressure canner and dehydrator going!
There was a special at our supermarket last week on spinach...fresh and frozen!
I loaded up on both and we have been enjoying nice fresh salads and various spinach dishes.
Last night I fixed a Greek dinner and spinach was one of the stars of the meal...everyone loved the dish and asked for seconds...and thirds! Yes! Teenagers loving spinach!

Greek Spinach
1 pound fresh spinach or 1 pack frozen--thawed out and drained til dry as possible
1 teaspoon minced garlic--or one clove minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 or 3 fresh mushrooms, sliced thin (optional--I had a few I got from the MUST SELL NOW! cart in the produce section...they were cheap and didn't look too bad)
Sesame seeds for garnish
Melt butter in pan, add olive oil and minced garlic and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook, stirring often until fresh spinach is wilted or frozen spinach is heated through.
Put in serving bowl and sprinkle a teaspoon of sesame seeds on top for garnish
Serve hot.

Like I said, everyone loved it! It is such an easy recipe, too.

The Greek dinner I fixed was cheap and easy.
Home made pita bread ( Here's the recipe I use )
1/2 cup yogurt mixed with 1 cup diced up peeled cucumber
Home made feta cheese
Shredded lettuce
Chopped artichoke hearts (I use canned ones I got on sale)
Greek beef in sauce ( I used about a pound of steak, cut in bite sized pieces, seared in butter, added 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cloves, 1 teaspoon onion powder,1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, pepper, garlic powder, a bit of salt, 3/4 cup water...cooked it in that --covered--for about a half hour, then added 1/2 cup water mixed with 2 tablespoons corn starch to thicken, stirred until thick, then served)
With the spinach it was a healthy and filling and tasty meal for all.
I know...no black olives...sigh. But they were jst not in the budget this month!
I try to stretch our food budget as much as possible. I buy meat, veggies (fresh, frozen and canned), pasta, etc on sale as often as possible while still feeding the family healthy meals.
Dessert here is a rarity...and when I do serve dessert, it usually is fresh fruit or yogurt and fresh fruit.
Thank goodness for the goats and chickens! I haven't had to buy eggs in ages and the goats milk provides yogurt and sour cream and milk for drinking and baking. I have recently started making cheese and have successfully made feta cheese and a nice soft goat cheese that I enhanced with the addition of fresh herbs.
Going to try for ice cream this weekend, I think. I have not been able to make butter yet from goats milk, but am still trying!
We only use butter here. I simply hate the taste and texture of margarine *shudder*. Margarine is simply nasty!  That is one item on my shopping list I cannot compromise on! Before anyone gets ruffled about fat content, etc., I find that I use far less butter than most people use margarine. Butter has a better *mouth feel* as the food experts say, less is needed to give an intense taste and the natural fat (as opposed to the plastic tasting margarine)gives a silkier texture that is more satisfying. I am sure a lot of my readers have that *one item* they draw the line at, too! Heh-heh...my mom has one brand of sliced ham she will eat...and no other! She can tell a generic brand from *her* brand at 50 feet, lol!
One of my sons has been going through a rough patch and it weighs heavily on my heart.
He had a good job, but it was hurting his health.The stress was high and the hours were horribly long (80+ hours a week) and because he worked such a long schedule, most of his meals were of the *grab and go* variety. At age 30, he was having what the hospital was calling *heart events*. His blood pressure sky-rocketed and repeated visits to the doctor ended up with the doctor telling him that either he would have to quit, or face the very real probability of dying young from a heart attack. So, he quit the job and got the rest the doctor ordered, along with medication, exercise and a diet change. Thankfully, he is doing MUCH better. He dropped the weight the doctor told him to drop, his blood pressure dropped and dropped until it was hovering at the right levels (whew!).
That part was good.
But being without a job was bad.
He gave up and cut corners as much as humanly possible. He sold everything he had that was possible to sell. Still, he got behind on his car note, so, sadly, he took his car back to the bank.
Happily, he has now found a job...a job with normal hours, a lot less stress and a fairly okay (if lower) paycheck. He has gone back to school (local college with online courses) to get a degree so that his employment future will be brighter.
Some friends have been giving him a ride to work, but that ends in about a week.
This all leads to:
My son needs a bicycle.The bicycle would be used for him to get to and from work and to attend those classes where he is required to show up at the school.
He is a large guy (6 ft 10in), so a normal little Schwinn from Wal-Mart just won't work. He has found a bicycle and negotiated a price, but needs a little help.
I have emptied out my paltry bank account to help him out and he is still a little short.
If any of my readers has just $5 they can send him, it would be greatly appreciated.
Greg Moore
1331 Woodrow St
Shreveport, La 71103

I know it sounds awful asking this way, but he is at the end of his rope, I am at the end of mine and I can't help him anymore until the first of the month when the fella gets paid, and even then it is going to be tight around here. I just couldn't think of any thing else to do.
I figured that 5 bucks was not a lot to ask and if just 10 or 12 people respond, that would be enough to get Greg *over the hump*. If there is any excess funds, it won't go to waste, he'll put it towards his college courses.
Thanks to anyone that can help.
BTW, my son has no clue I am doing this...and will probably be annoyed at me when he finds out.
I guess I am just a mama that won't give up being a mama and fighting for my kids in any way I can.

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