Coming up with a title for my posts is hard for me. What am I going to title it? “Yet another boring post in an uneventful life?” This is what has been happening since my last post in August.
I got a job at Sam’s Club. It paid pretty good but I needed a larger paycheck (more hours) and, as a cashier, I was expected to get two basic ($45) memberships up graded to the Plus ($100) membership per day. That wasn’t really a problem. I’ve got the Plus membership and I really like the points that I accumulate. We used points to get a refrigerator at a great price. I just think I save far more money with the Plus membership and we get in much earlier in the morning. It pays off for me. I also had to get two credit card sign ups per day as well. Now that is where I have a problem. I do not think a cashier should be pushing a credit card at the register. It makes me uneasy to be pressuring people into making that kind of decision in just a few minutes. It’s bad financial decision making. While I do think that there are a lot of pluses to the Sam’s Credit Card (if you are considering a credit card) just asking every person who walks up is not a good idea. I do like the idea that one could get back 3% on RV park site rent (for me that would be $14.25 per month). At the end of a year, that would add up. But as someone who has been burned, badly, by credit cards when we hit a down turn in income, I am uneasy about pushing credit on anyone. I also didn’t like that they refunded my personal, recently renewed, Sam’s Club card and made me get an “Associate” Sam’s Club card (they take the money to pay for the card out of each of my paychecks… didn’t like that either). So I quit Sam’s Club. But not before I had another job in place.
Now both Tace & I are cashiering at the K-Mart about 1 mile from where we are parked at. I had accepted the job while I was still working at Sam’s. My last week at Sam’s Club was only 17 hours. So I did my interviews, drug testing, was offered a job and accepted. I gave SC notice before starting my last day. I don’t feel bad about that. SC had basically said I would be getting over 24 hours per week. I wasn’t. They did not hold up their end of the deal. I also did not think I was doing them right because I was having trouble pushing the credit. Other than that, it was an okay place to work for. I’m getting less per hour but already got more hours in my first week than I did at SC. It is working out to where I got more money coming in. And, unlike at Sam’s Club, I can buy clearance merchandise. K-Mart has some fantastic sale and clearance prices. Plus they have brought back the old Bluelight Specials. We both signed up for the free “Shop Your Way Rewards” program during the hiring process. And we are able to get an overall discount on any of our purchases at K-Mart and Sears. Plus Sears has a “Family & Friends” sales event once a year. I may be taking advantage of that to replace the washing machine in the bus. It hasn’t run right since it froze the last time.
Tace was getting temp work thru the temp agency. She was working out at the fairgrounds getting ready for the fair to start. The bad thing is she was doing heavy manual labour and then started working at K-Mart. So she has been running ragged this week. Friday was her last day at the temp job. With both of us working we should be able to pay our bills and save some so we can leave again. It’s just going to be tight for a little while until we get evened back out. But I have the rent for the up coming month sitting in my checking account. And we got the money for the wi-fi and insurance. Just not much else. Plus Tace goes to her week-long Lavu convention that is required if she still wants to do the Lavu Point of Sale thing when we leave here. The convention was paid for a long time ago and there are no refunds as it is mandatory for the sales reps to attend. So we still have that in the future. And no, I have not tried getting the bus cranked up. Between job hunting and actually finding a job, I have not been inclined to crawl under the bus to look at it. I think I need to buy a gizmo a friend linked to that will get the air out of the fuel lines. That would require having a little extra money first. Even if I get the engine cranked, we have to stay here until we get enough money saved up to leave. At best after Christmas, at worst a year. We are not making any solid plans right now. Our only goals right now are to get to where we are able to pay our bills and get the bus ready for another freezing winter. And get my cellphone back working… or get a new phone. I can’t remember if I was having problems with this phone or a previous one.
Ruby Lee has been making new friends who come and go. One of the park workers has an American Bull Terrier rescue that they believe was fought (it’s big here in NM). He has a bad leg but that is getting stronger since he plays with Ruby. And they play rough. He’s a bit older than her and they believe he was cooped up in a cage long-term. He is gaining stamina. They just love each other so much. They kiss each other all over their faces every time they see each other. It’s kinda funny watching them. She isn’t happy about Tace & I being gone (at work) and leaving her. But I think she is getting used to it.
I have come up with a couple of new recipes. We liked them. They are definitely “make again”s. I still need to make a little adjustment on the Pressure Cooked Apricot Pork as it was a tad too sweet for us. But we have been cutting back on sugar so much that what some folks think is not too sweet we think is terribly sweet. So I bought some dried apricots and apricot nectar from Dollar Tree to make my own apricot puree to use in the dish. I also have an Apricot Fruit Braid that uses a cream cheese pastry and apricot puree. I used to use baby food but have found that the apricot baby food available here is a mixed fruit as opposed to pure apricot puree. And I have yet to find apricot puree in a jar like I used to back East. I guess it’s just one of those things that aren’t sold out here. But I found a simple recipe for apricot puree. I dumped the extra sugar they added (why the extra sugar?) and included it at the bottom of the Apricot Pork recipe. So here’s the recipes if you want to try one of them too. They will also be added to the recipe page here as well. No pics since they were eaten too fast. Next time I make these recipes, I will try to remember to take pictures to add. BTW, I use kitchen shears to cut up the stew meat. It is faster for me than using a knife.
Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up 3 pounds pork stew meat into small bite sized pieces. Dust generously with Cajun seasoning blend. Set aside. Dice 2 large yellow onions,. In a 1/3×4″ deep steam table pan, saute the onions in coconut oil for 20 minutes. Spread one third of the meat over the onions. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir to mix the steamed meat, onions and juices together. Spread another third of the meat over the cooked meat-onion mixture, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, mix together and spread the remaining third of the meat over the mixture, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Once all the meat is cooked, add 1 teaspoon garlic powder and then stir well to mix up. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, dissolve 3 tablespoons cornstarch in 1/2 cup cold water. Add to the meat-onion mixture to thicken the sauce up. Served on sub rolls with a couple sliced of Muenster cheese. Also tasted good with the sliced Gouda cheese.
Notes on the Leftovers: This froze well for me. I thawed it over night in the refrigerator. I heated up the pork mixture and served it over rice with steamed broccoli florets.
Town & Country Brussels Sprouts
Trim and clean 2 pounds fresh Brussels spouts. Split sprouts in half. If large sprouts, then quarter them. Set aside. Dissolve 1 teaspoon chicken base (Better Than Bouillon or similar chicken base) in 1/2 cup hot water. Coarsely chop 1 large yellow onion and add to a 1/3×4″ deep steam table pan. Slice 1 pound smoked sausage into bite sized slices. Add to the onions and cook, stirring often, over medium high heat until the sausage releases fat and the onions are lightly golden. Add the Brussels sprouts over the sausage mixture. Sprinkle 1 cup dried cranberries (Craisens) over the sprouts. Add the water and cover. Steam over medium to medium high heat, stirring often to prevent burning, until sprouts are tender. Remove lid and continue cooking off the liquid in the pan until reduced. Stir before serving to mix the pan juices with the mixture. Could serve over rice or egg noodles.
Notes: We ate this with no rice or noodles. Just ladled it onto a plate and sucked it down. It was tasty. And filling. And mostly gone. We were stuffed and happy. The dried cranberries added a nice touch to the dish. They did soften a little but still had that nice chew to them. Dried cranberries seem to pair up well with Brussels sprouts.
Pressure Cooked Apricot Pork
Cut 1-1/2 lbs boneless pork stew into bite sized pieces . Salt and pepper to taste. Brown in olive oil in pressure cooker. Remove meat from pan. Pour off drippings and excess fat. Do not remove fond (browned bits) on bottom of the pan. Deglaze with 1/4 cup white wine. Stir in 1/4 cup my homemade low sugar ketchup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup faux Soy Vey teriyaki sauce, 1/4 cup apricot puree (Simply Fruit). Return meat to pot. Stir to coat with the sauce. Close cover securely; place pressure regulator on vent pipe. Bring cooker to full pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 15 minutes. The pressure regulator should maintain a slow steady low hissing sound or a rocking motion, depending on the style of weight used; adjust heat if needed to maintain pressure.
Notes: We had this over steamed broccoli. Would be good with brown rice and the steamed broccoli. The Simply Fruit was a tad too sweet for our taste. I think I need to try making my own puree with no additional sugar added. I think dried apricots are plenty sweet on their own. Below is the apricot puree recipe I will try for the next batch.
Apricot Puree – No Sugar Added
1 1/4 cups apricot nectar
1 6-ounce package dried apricots
Stir all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until mixture simmers. Cover and cook until apricots soften, about 6 minutes; cool. Transfer mixture to processor and puree until almost smooth (some apricot bits will remain). Refrigerate. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead.)