Taken September 2007 Mediterranean at dusk © Copyright 2007 Morgan Thomas all rights reserved

Word To the Wise Column
Story of the Month

Word To the Wise


Unless you live on the ground floor and are easy to break into, or never lock up anyway, or there is no automatic latch system on the door, never go out without your keys. This includes just to throw out garbage, to say hello to someone, or to take in the paper. As soon as you are on the other side of that door, regardless of the reason, have your keys with you. Even if you have some sort of door stopper, the guy from upstairs who is going out and has seen someone suspicious lurking around, may close it thinking he has done you a favor.

There are several backup strategies most of which mean spending some time outside. Except for the extra set you always carry on you no matter what. And then suddenly you are telling a cat to go away or something and you are in your house clothes – we won't go into details here, and the door which was wide open with no breeze blowing, shuts.

The other avenues include having a trusted, and I mean trusted, neighbor keep a set, have spares at work, hide a set somewhere outside, or have duplicates in your car – oh, I forgot you are without your keys. But, most of these require some amount of waiting so if you do go out without your keys, have enough foresight to take some reading material with you.


Story of the Month


Count yourself lucky if you have a colony of ants close by. They do wonders at cleaning things that you would find hard to reach and even those things that you can put your hands on. They are very diligent, constantly supervised, communicate with each other and obviously work very hard for the queen who must be satisfied.

How do I know this? I had a cup of coffee which was finished. I saw an ant on the base and not wanting to hurt it, I turned the cup over to see where he had gone. Well, the cup was not exactly empty with some sugary coffee syrup left in the bottom. I was hard at work so did not get up to clean it immediately. When I did come back after a foray to the kitchen, there were no less than 100 ants around the spill (the spill was not that big so they were rubbing shoulders all the way around) with bigger ants coming to give encouragement, making sure that no one slacked off, and pass on information. With all that coffee, I'll bet they had trouble sleeping that night. In a short time, it was all gone. Well, it took them three days with less and less ants assigned to the task as the spot became smaller. But, it is amazing what can be done when you're organized. So, I protect my ant colony, wherever it is.


For those suddenly finding themselves alone
or temporarily single

Published monthly
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This is for all of you who are either recently divorced, in the midst of deciding on getting one because you are living alone, have decided to go it alone from friends and family, or are suddenly alone because of a loss.

This is particularly useful for those who have not done much cooking before. However, even if you were the one who did ALL of the cooking, you may find something of value in here. One of the tendencies, even when you did do all of the cooking, is not to cook, not to follow a routine. If so, then this is for you.

What this is not.
This is not a cookbook telling you how to make meals taste better, look better or how to cook. This is not a page on gracious living even though single. This is not tips on how to become un-single. It is not an attempt to give nutritional advice – I eat to stay alive not to have beautiful skin, clear eyes and healthy hair, or for that matter, to live longer.

This is not a lot of things, but it is a method of survival during the first couple of months of being single and living to tell about it, as well as including a number of other things – many other things.

Hope it helps and that you will enjoy reading parts of it.

How it will work
I will add a page a month until I run dry. So, if you are interested, you can do one of two things: sign up to receive a newsletter each month or keep coming back - or get un-single and leave all this behind you.

Helpful hints on eating right without trying
Also see Eating Out in box below

Usually, if you prepare food only when you are hungry, you want it now. This page is for you. Otherwise, you probably know all of this and are an experienced chef or have done this sort of stuff a number of times before.

There are some basic things you should buy and the rest can take care of itself.

But first, my best advice is to eat out a lot. If not, you can read the following and who knows what will become of you. At least you will save money.

Double it up
Things to have double supply of because you will always run out, will feel the deprivation, have everything else you need, and do not want to go all the way to the market just to get it:

  • Butter (if you use it) or margarine
  • Maple syrup
  • Ketchup (catsup) - A note here: Basically, anything you use a lot of to put on other things to cover up the fact that you don't like your own cooking, or it is traditional to use it on something, or you are just addicted to it.

    I do not include in this list all those things for which there are substitutes – for instance sugar. If desperate, you can use any or all of the following in a cup of coffee – honey, maple syrup, artificial sweetener, jam, ice cream, melted down chocolate, and the list goes on. Most people just prefer sugar.

    And we continue with the list:

  • Bathing soap

    Get extra because you will invariably forget the next time and the next. So get it unless you like showering with laundry detergent when you suddenly run out.

  • Safety matches

    If you have a gas stove and do not have an automatic lighter in the stove or a hand held appliance (good to get one of these), or a cigarette lighter.

  • Toilet tissue

    I use it for many things like cleaning my glasses, drying off my hands when all the towels are on the to-be-washed pile on the floor, blowing my nose (tissues are too expensive), picking up something hot, but then you really do not want the 1001 uses of TP. Lets just say that when it runs out, you suffer.

  • Propane or natural gas

    If you use propane or gas for cooking, order that extra bottle when you run out of the first. See below.

    That's the end of the double-it-up list for now. And one point to remember - buy another whatever when you use up the first even though you have another waiting there.


    Now I come to the other things you buy in order to survive:

  • Some form of trail mix (it has many names made by many companies worldwide but it is a mixture of) ready to eat grains, raisins, nuts, banana slices, etc. and get the one which already has sugar on it unless you like to put it on by yourself. You can eat it dry as a snack, put milk on it as a cereal, or put some syrup, or honey, or favorite jam (I'll get to that later) on it, mix and eat. Or, you can even cook it on cold winter mornings. Do not put any more stuff on it than can cover what you are going to eat without any leftover. Otherwise, you are just wasting product and it really does not make it taste any better. And what's more, Wikihow has a page on doing your own How To Make Healthy Trail Mix. But I prefer to let someone else do all of the work even if it is not quite as healthy. Just do not let it become the main staple of your diet. "What did you have for breakfast." "Trail mix with milk." "And for lunch?" "Uhh..Trail mix - .I just didn't have the time." "I won't even ask about dinner."

  • Condiments (sauces, spreads, syrups) – you will be using a lot of these because your food just won't taste like it used to. The list goes something like this: Maple syrup, jam, barbecue sauce, sweet and sour sauce, mayonnaise, oil and vinegar (already mixed), and on and on according to taste. You might take a look at something you will never use but innovative - the periodic table of condiments aka Table of Condiments That Periodically Go Bad. Now, for something you could use but probably will not Course and Condiments, etc. 12,802 Recipes Hey, I never said that I would not give you something of value here.

    Note on jam
    If you are thinking of saving funds by buying the cheapest jam – don't. You will just think it tastes lousy and go out and buy a good one. The extra 50 cents or so is worth every penny and you will have saved yourself from making the first bad investment.

  • Eggs

    Range free where the chickens are out there doing their social thing and not in individual cages and under a lot of stress according to the range free people, or at least cage free if you want the farmer to at least do something humanitarian for the chicken who gives us so much. I must start buying them. The lone-chicken-in-a-single-small-cage people say that letting it out really doesn't help the chicken, but it would sure help my conscience. It's nature's gift to the world when fertilized but when it is not, it is fair game for us humans and other creatures who love eggs. Very high on protein and a gift in the most perfect of containers. Buckminster Fuller couldn't beat it. And then there is everything you ever wanted to know about eggs in one website Egg Nutrition Center (read the fact sheets and FAQ).

  • Fruit

    My tendency is not to eat fruit so the next best thing is to buy fruit juice but because they are heavy and I walk home, I look for the frozen concentrates of orange, and others which just need added water to use. This is usually the real stuff, so you are getting the nutrition which comes from freshly squeezing or biting into one. And of course, you are getting those raisins in the granola or whatever mix. The only other fruit I buy are grapes. They last a long time in the refrigerator and are great for snacking - just wash. Another tip: If you buy fruit, do not buy any more than you will eat in 3 days. More, and it will probably just sit there and get rotten. Small trips are better than one trip and a lot of wasted food.

  • Potatoes

    I now seldom buy potatoes because after a week or two during which I have not used them, I find them rotten and if not rotten then soft. One tip here, put some cloth or other cover on the potatoes in a basket a little bit off the floor that allows a lot of air to circulate. And do not keep them in the plastic bag in which you brought them home. See Harvesting And Storing Potatoes But me, I just throw a towel in there. In any case, I have to check to see if they are green (not good if eaten in large quantities), cut off the shoots which have invariably grown in that time, cut and slice, boil in water or bake for 20-30 minutes all of which for me is a drag. So, unless this whole process has some internal visceral meaning for you, buy frozen chips or powdered potatoes and be done with it. Of course, the fresh potatoes are the cheapest and taste the best and that might outweigh the inconvenience of it all. If you are really into potatoes, than visit Aki's Kitchen on the subject.

  • Vegetables

    I use frozen peas, green beans, etc according to taste. Very easy to thrown in with the meat or tofu you are frying and keeps over long periods of time.

    The one thing I buy raw all of the time is onions (I will deal with lettuce, tomatoes, and cabbage next time). White are less sharp than the red. That is all I know, but it is great fried, sliced on top of hamburgers or soy burgers, potatoes – just about anything. They say that keeping your mouth shut while cutting keeps you from tearing. But, do not answer someone or make a comment while showing them how it is done, and do not take a deep breath, do not sneeze, do not say ho hum – It’s the little things that count here. And, if you have a cold and have to open your mouth to breath, you will just have to suffer.

    Back to vegetables. According to the experts Harvard School of Public Health (very readable and lots of good stuff) you need 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day to ward off all kinds of things. Well I am just not getting that amount of input and need to rethink my intake proclivities.

    Well, that's it for this month. Next month the list continues including whatever else I eat in the meantime. I will run out of food items shortly and then will get to the other stuff.

    Eating Out

    As I said before, do it as often as your budget allows. It’s the best food you are going to get for a while. Plus the fact that it allows you to interact with someone if only the waitress or waiter. Hey, that’s contact. This is particularly true if you are between jobs, on vacation, retired, etc.

    There is one rule I follow, tip well. The extra 10% over what you would normally give will not kill you and everybody will be very pleased. The manager who sees his help smiling when he is paying lousy wages and there are not enough customers. The server whose saving for that trip to Kathmandu, caring for a sick mother, behind on rent and utilities. Who knows what, but that is what she/he is working for, and its hard work so help them out. Also, they will be glad to see you come back.

    One other thing, ask for their opinion on what is good and follow it even though it might not be exactly what you had in mind – a better way is to pick two things that you can stomach and ask which in their opinion is the best. They know because they have seen it being cooked and probably ate it themselves before starting the shift. In any case, they are the closest thing you are going to get to an expert on the subject – at least at that moment.

  • Photo of the Month

    Prewinterleftovers 2005 HaYarkon River  © Copyright 2006-7 Morgan Thomas all rights reserved

    Each month a new photograph, having absolutely nothing to do with the content of the site. will be put up showing some aspect of my immediate environment. Sometimes it will be accompanied with some comment but usually they will speak for themselves. I am a photographer by avocation and not by profession. From time to time, the works of others will be displayed. If you have a photo which is better than mine (I know you are out there), send it in and I may put it up, with full credit of course.

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