Just Stuff..

Computer Management for Everyone

My real job is answering the phone and helping people get their computers online. I have been working in the computer industry for over ten years.  As a result, my family and friends often come to me for help with their computer issues.  You may not have a tech around but,  there are some things you can do to keeps your computer running.  Also if you have a problem regular maintenance will help your tech get everything back up and running faster and easier.

1. Have Antivirus software and keep it up to date.  Most people actually do this one.  There are many good antivirus programs out there pick one and use it.  when it asks you to update take a few miutes to do that.

2. Have a firewall and use it. If you turn off your firewall every time you go online,  it won’t protect anything.

3. Backup your data. If you think you may want a file later, back it up. you can use an external drive, an online backup service, or another computer.  If you don’t backup your files and you lose them, it is not your tech’s fault.

4.  Restore points.  Every now and then save a restore point on your computer. do this at least once a month.  Also create a restore point before you install ANY software or hardware.  That way if the new program or device messes up you computer, you can go back to before you installed it.

5. Use secure passwords.  If your passwords for everything are password, or you dogs name, change them.

6. Downloads.  If you are stealing files from the internet and you get a virus,  I really have no sympathy for you.  Sorry.

7. Secure your wireless.  That way when your neighbor downloads all 27 High School Musical movies, Disney and you ISP won’t come after you.

8. Be smart. If something seems sketchy, don’t click on it.

This is by all means not a complete list.  Just some basics everyone can and should do to keep their computer running.  besides if you do all these things then your computer geek friends will be much more likely to help you if something goes wrong.


Vegan Applesauce Muffins

This recipe came about on a Sunday morning when I woke to find no eggs in the house.  Being far too lazy to change out of my pajamas and go to the store.  I improvised.  These have become a weekend favorite here. Hope you like them.

Here’s what you need:

2 Cups of flour

1/2 Cup of sugar

1 Cup of Applesauce

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup soy milk (you can use regular milk if you are not the vegan type)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a muffin pan or use baking cups.   Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and spices in a big bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix oil, milk, vanilla, and applesauce.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.  The batter will be slightly lumpy, that’s ok.

Bake for about 15 minute, till the muffins are golden brown. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.

Make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy.


Growing herbs

In my last post I mentioned growing mint, like I said then mint is super easy to grow.  Most herbs are pretty easy to grow.  Plus, they don’t take up very much space.  So if you live in an apartment and always wanted to garden, growing herbs is perfect.  I almost always have at least mint and basil on a windowsill.  Just make sure you plant your herbs in good potting soil.  Makes sure the container is big enough to give the herbs room to grow.  I find a five or six inch pot works just fine.  Put them in a really sunny windowsill. Water them about every other day.  For fertilizer, save your coffee grounds and egg shells. (Another great use for those take out soup containers.)  Shake it once a week or so.  Every 8 weeks mix a couple of Tablespoons in with the soil.  As for using them just pluck off leaves as you need them.  Once you start cooking with fresh herbs you will love it.  Also, don’t feel bad if you occasionally kill a plant.  I do that too.


Strawberry Mango Salad

We had some friends over for dinner the other night. The weather is getting warm here in New England and we felt like a picnic.  My husband made barbecue pulled pork. I promise I will post that recipe one of these days because it is awesome.

I made this.  I just had some strawberries and mango in the house. I sort of improvised as I went along.  It came out really good.

Here’s what you need.

Strawberries – About a quart. I quarter them but,  you can just cut them in mouth sized pieces.

Mangoes – I used two.  Again, just cut them in mouth sized pieces

I should stay here that you don’t have to use strawberries and mango.  Use whatever fruit you like raspberries,  melon,  peaches, kiwi.  I think pears would be good.  I would avoid citrus because the recipe has a lot of acid in it.

Balsamic Vinegar – 1/4 cup.  You definitely want to use balsamic vinegar.  It is sweeter than other vinegars

Mint – 2 Tablespoons.  Finely chopped. You could use dried mint  but fresh is better.  As a matter of fact get a mint plant,  put it in a sunny window , water it every other day or so.  Then just pull the leaves off as you need them.  Mint is super easy to grow.

Oh if you don’t like mint.  Grated or powdered ginger would be nice too.  Only use 1 Tablespoon though because that stuff is potent.

Honey – 2 Tablespoons.  You can use sugar instead or sugar substitute.  If you are going to use sugar substitute I recommend Stevia.

White Wine – 1/2 cup.  Remember it should be wine you would drink.

If you don’t drink alcohol, or you are feeding children. Then use 1/2 cup of ginger ale and skip the sweetener completely.

Get a bowl.  Add the honey, mint, wine and, vinegar.  Wisk it a bit till it is all combined.

Toss the fruit in with it and serve it really cold.

That’s it!  So easy, right?  And…It will make all your friends say nom nom nom.

Books · Cleaning · Parties

Alabama Dinner Party, A Pretty Cool Book and New Projects

Last night, I went to an awesome dinner party that my best friend threw as a benefit for the Alabama Tornado victims. I just wanted to mention how much I love this idea. We all brought donations to help the victims and ate a wonderful southern feast. The menu included, pulled pork, black eyed peas and collard greens, corn bread, and ice box cake for dessert. Jay did a great job. This is one of those ideas I really think needs to be stolen. So, if there is cause you feel strongly about, make some great food and, invite your friends over.

Also yesterday, my wonderful hooligan of a husband gave me the book Generation T by Megan Nicolay. If you’re like me, one of those punk rock girls who never got over cutting up her T-shirt’s this book is for you. It’s got a bunch of great projects so that you can keep wearing that old much loved t-shirt or turn it into something entirely new. Since we all have old t-shirts stuffed in our drawers all the projects are inexpensive, maybe even free! What’s cooler than that? I hope to do my first project from the book this week, I’ll make sure to post some pictures when it’s done. I am also looking forward to making pillows, tote bags (even one of my own design), and eyeglass cases from my old tee shirts.

Speaking of eyeglasses, one quick tip for my cool girls who wear glasses. When I was a kid, my optometrist told my I should always clean my glasses with dish soap. He explained that dish soap was made to clean the very materials glasses are made of and, to remove oils like the ones in your skin. Just soap them up with your hands rinse them in warm water and dry them with a lint free cloth. I swear, you will never use glass cleaner to clean your glasses again.

I think I may have another recipe for you next time and, maybe some notes on tonight’s karaoke birthday party.

(don’t you love teasers)


Pasta sauce 101

Recently two of my friends told me that they didn’t know people made their own pasta sauce, it just came in a jar like ketchup.  This struck me as strange because it never occurred to me that people don’t. I know that sauce comes in jars, but I come from an Italian family and when I was a kid sauce was made every week. My English/Irish husband makes great pasta sauce.  So for my friends and for everyone else who has only had sauce from a jar… you can make this.

Here’s what you need:

1 can of crushed tomatoes 28oz -Lately I have been seeing cans that are less that 28oz that’s ok. Buy as close to 28oz as you can

1 clove of garlic- Smash it with the side of a big knife, peel it and chop it fine, if you have the pre-chopped stuff in a jar, use 1/2 a teaspoon. Garlic powder won’t work.

3 or 4 Tablespoons of olive oil- No substitute here you have to use olive oil.  It’s good for you too, so buy some.

2 tablespoons of basil- Fresh will taste best, chop it fine. Dried will work too.

1 can of tomato paste 6oz -If you find the kind that comes in a tube like toothpaste use 3 Tablespoons

1/4 to 1/2 a cup of red wine- Make it wine that you would drink. If you don’t drink you can skip it, but, the alcohol will cook off and the sauce tastes better with it.

salt and pepper

possibly 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar, I will explain this later.

OK got everything? Great. Now grab a big ass pan, the heaviest one you can find. It should hold about two quarts. Open the can of tomatoes now, too.

Put the oil in the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Wait for the oil to get hot (it should take about a minute).  When it’s hot, you will start to see it almost shimmer.  You can put 1 drop of water into it.  You should hear it sizzle or spit. Make sure you only use 1 drop of water though because hot spitting oil hurts!

So here comes the hardest part.  Put the garlic into the oil and stir it constantly for 30 seconds to a minute.  Don’t let it get too brown or burn because burnt garlic tastes awful.  As soon as the garlic is tan-ish pour the tomatoes into the pan. (aren’t you glad you already opened them?)  So that was the hardest part, not too bad, right?

Now turn the heat down to low, add the basil and wine.  Taste it and add some salt and pepper till it tastes good.

Leave it like that for at least an hour, two is better. Stir it every 15 minutes or so to keep it from sticking to the pan. Go read or watch TV or dance around your living room, or do whatever you like to do.  Just don’t forget to stir.

After an hour or two, add the paste,  leave it again for another 1/2 hour to hour.  Remember to stir.

OK almost done. Taste it! If it seems acidic, add the sugar. If you cooked it for long enough you probably won’t even need to.

Make some pasta and eat.

You can add any veggie, onions and peppers are good. You can add meat too even fish or chicken.  Just take whatever you are adding and brown it in the oil before you add the garlic. Everything else is exactly the same.

Oh, and if it seems like too much, or if you make a double batch you can freeze it.  The containers that take out soup comes in work great for this.  I will probably refer back to this recipe later, we eat a lot of tomato sauce.

So now try it, experiment with it and if something goes wrong, try again!

Just Stuff..

Hardcore Home Ec

Hi there and welcome to Punkhousekeeping! A blog about food, home, friends, and making stuff.  This is not your typical homemaking blog.  My house is not a showroom.  I fail, a lot, I swear a lot too, but hey, if I can do it, you can do it.  Along the way,  I’ll make some food,  throw some parties, share some recipes and ideas.  I’ll tell you what works for me, and what doesn’t. So stick around, comment about what you like and what you don’t.  Share your ideas and try some of mine.  So let’s rock home ec, hardcore.