Monday, October 27, 2008

In these tough times...

P.G. County is taking extreme measures to attempt to make up its budget shortfall, such as furloughs for county employees, including paramedics! 9News Now obtained a (verified) list of county medic units, which contains many of the dates that furloughs will be taking place. (I assume this means that those units are down one or more persons for those stretches. This means no newbies need cook on those days!)

This is seriously scary--although it appears that at least all units will be at full capacity for Halloween, which, I presume, must be a time when all emergency hands are needed on deck. However, one unit will have furloughs taking place Christmas week, which means don't drink too much eggnog that week if you live or party in the Largo area!

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Speaking of needing to cut back on expenses, I've been able to cut down ~$40 last month on my electric bill, and $40 the month before that, as well as money on the gas bill, dough which has come in handy.

How did I do it? (And yes, I do use lights in the house when needed.) For one, I've become more careful about how lights are used--not every room needs to be lit in the evening; maybe one room in the front, another in the back, but not both back rooms--just the one that I happen to be using.

I also turn off the computer when leaving for extended periods, which means turning off the monitor as well (which people seem to forget to do in business settings), and switching to the "off" position on the PC's power strip.

When cooking, I often partially or fully cook something, like potatoes, in the microwave, then transfer the goods to the toaster oven to crisp. For a household of two, this greatly cuts both time and gas used! I've used that toaster oven to make a small tray of homemade biscuits, homemade cornbread, and other things that I couldn't be bothered to warm up a large over for. Apparently, other folk have latched onto the wonders of the little appliance that could. I consider the toaster oven a wonder of the modern green kitchen...

However, I'm not about to give up the microwave, not when I can use it to make a five-minute miracle like the aptly-named Absolutely Divine Microwave Chocolate Cake. This deliciously rich, yet dairyfree dessert has a permanent place in my culinary repetoire, if only because you can whip it up from scratch from what you may already have at home, and is perfect for any time of year, as there is no need to heat up an oven to make this small cake. (My only gripe is that after the initial 1 minute heating, you need to cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, so that overall cooking time is about 5 minutes. Overall preparation time should be 15 minutes or less.) Yum!

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