Monday, September 21, 2015

Failure [Red Bean Pops]

Failure. I am so afraid of it. If I am unsure about an outcome, I avoid it. I have a hard time coping with the thought of failure. Because I don't want to fail, I come up with an overwhelming amount of contingency plans for uncomfortable situations. I want to be so prepared that I won't be shocked if something goes wrong. Of course, with such a need for control, my stress levels are through the roof.

I have been working on relaxing and realizing that experiencing failure isn't a bad thing. I'm working on trying and seeing where something goes instead of predicting every single step. This self-improvement is incredibly stressful, but it's the only way to grow. Isn't it?

Time to stress eat with some red bean pops. This pops are hearty and full of beans. Feel free to add some whole milk to thin it out.

Red Bean Pops

105g (1/2 cup) dried red beans (adzuki)
28g palm sugar
150g condensed milk

  1. Rinse the red beans. Bring to a boil. Pour the water and rinse the beans again. Cover the beans with 2 inches of water. Add palm sugar. Bring the beans to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and lower the heat so it simmers. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Be sure to check the water level every 30 minutes. If most of the water evaporated, add more water so it covers the beans. The beans are finished when it is tender. A quick way to check is if a bean easily squishes between your fingers. 
  2. When the beans are finished, remove from heat and smash with the back of a spoon until mostly smooth with some chunks scattered throughout. (If you prefer extremely smooth paste, blend with an immersion blender.)
  3. Add condensed milk to the bean mixture. Add milk now if you want a less bean intense pop. 
  4. Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. The next day, fill the molds with the mixture and freeze.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cutting Costs [Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee]

When I first started this blog, I was carefree and I wasn't very money conscious. Since I started working full-time and building my savings and retirement accounts, I feel very uncomfortable now being unemployed. I don't like seeing the numbers decrease in my bank account. In order to make money last, I have been tracking my expenses and finding ways to cut down cost.

My latest discovery is brewing my own coffee. I know. The majority of the world brews their own in the morning already. Back when I used to work, I wasn't a daily coffee drinker so I didn't see the purpose in brewing my own. It was more economical for me to buy that one cup of coffee that I needed once a month. Now that I'm returning to school, I need coffee to wake up and absorb information in class. I have been spending $1.75 two times a week, which totals to $3.50, which isn't much when you're working. However, when you're living off savings that is money that can be saved. I didn't want to waste money purchasing a coffee machine so I decided to cold-brew. For $1.30, I bought enough fresh coffee beans that made 6 servings. That's approximately 20 cents a cup! Now, that is the price that I can afford.

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
from New York Times

Servings 2

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
1 1/2 cups water
ice cubes
milk (optional)

  1. In a jar, mix coffee and water. Cover and let it sit overnight or 12 hours.
  2. Strain twice through a coffee filter.
  3. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

Personal Preference: I don't add extra water, I add ice cubes and let it dilute the coffee. I also add plenty of milk. No sugar. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What will the future bring? [Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars]

When I was at my previous job, I was burnt out. I woke up dreading work and felt sick all the time. I never seem to get better. I finally decided to leave for my own mental and physical health. I was counting down the days and fantasizing about my new beginning.

That new beginning wasn't as glamorous as I thought. I was expecting to suddenly know what I wanted to do. I thought jobs would suddenly fall into my lap. I thought I would just know where to go next. None of my questions were answered and I felt stressed from the unknown.

I kept asking myself, "Where do I go next?" "What do I want to do?" Eventually, I had small meltdown and cried and cried. Surprisingly, the tears helped clear my mind. I decided to take a step back and take some courses at community college to explore. I found a part time job to cover my basic needs and pay for classes. Hopefully from this point on, I'll find some clarity.

Since I am in the low-income bracket, I have been more money conscious especially on the amount I spend on food. I was stoked when I discovered Leanne Brown's Eat Well on $4/day. Good and Cheap. She wrote a free cookbook with recipes for cheap, simple, seasonal, and tasty snacks and dishes. You can download the cookbook from her website above. The first recipe I tried was her Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars. They are easy to make and portable. I have been bringing them with me to my morning classes. The peanut butter flavor is subtle and it is lightly sweetened from the jelly.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars
from Leanne Brown

Makes 12 granola bars (162 calories per serving)

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup (128g) all natural peanut butter
1/2 cup (152g) jelly or jam
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat over to 350°F. Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper. 
  2. In a medium sized pot, add peanut better, 1/4 cup (76g) jelly, hot water, and salt. Stir over low heat until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Remove from heat and pour in 3 cups of rolled oats. Mix well. 
  4. Spread evenly in the baking dish. Smear the top of the oats with the rest of the jelly.
  5. Bake for 25 - 28 minutes. It is finished when the edges are brown and crispy.
  6. Allow it to cool in the baking dish. When cooled, cut into 12 equal pieces and store in an air tight container.


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