Category Archives: brag

Sriracha Popcorn Recipe

popcorn This is a first for my blog, I think. A recipe!

One thing I hate is when there’s not enough contents left in a bottle of sauce or tub of yogurt to do anything with it, but too much to throw out without feeling guilty.

We had this exact situation in the Foundry household a couple nights ago, when I found the sriracha (Thai hot sauce) bottle sitting next to the sink (in Venessa’s patented “Joe, I put this here so you’d wash it out” spot).

I couldn’t let this precious mouth-watering nectar go to waste, so I decided I’d try to make popcorn with it. The popcorn turned out AWESOME, Venessa mentioned it to a friend on Facebook (giving it a lukewarm review. Thanks, honey!), and a friend of that friend requested the recipe (despite the lukewarm review). Since facebook is private, I figured I’d put it here to share it with the world.

Two servings of Sriracha Popcorn:

Ingredients:

  • Popping corn – a handful
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)* – 2 Tablespoons
  • Sriracha – 2 squeezes
  • Butter – 2 Tablespoons
  • Salt – to taste

* [edit: Venessa told me not to use EVOO because of its low smoke point. But I used it and things turned out OK. Caveat emptor.]

  1. Put a medium sized pot on medium-high heat and pour in enough EVOO to barely coat the bottom (about 2 good “glugs” out of the bottle).
  2. Pour a handful of popping kernels into the pot and put the lid on it. It always makes more than you think it will so err on the side of caution.
  3. Watch the pot carefully (watched pots never boil water, but they will pop the heck out of popcorn). When the popping starts, grab the pot and the lid and give it a few good shakes (using a potholder).
  4. When the popping slows down to about a pop per second, turn off the stove and empty the popcorn into a serving bowl.
  5. Salt to taste. A large 3-finger pinch should do it.
  6. Put the pot back on the stove, but leave the heat off. Put about 2T of butter into the pot. The heat of the pot will melt the butter. It may spray up so be careful. (1T of butter is like the size of the pat that they slice off the stick in butter and bread commercials. Also most butter wrappers have a little measuring guide printed onto the side.)
  7. Squeeze 2 squeezes of sriracha into melted butter. It may spray up again so be careful.
  8. Put the popcorn back into bowl to soak up the sriracha-butter magic you just made. Shake it around and pour it back into the serving bowl.
  9. Prepare your mouth for the imminent onrush of awesomeness by saying the following out loud: “I JUST MADE SRIRACHA POPCORN FROM SCRATCH!!!!!”

You can actually buy pre-made bags of sriracha popcorn from J&D (the Bacon Salt guys). I know the J&D founders personally (we used to work together) and love ’em, but $5 a bag is highway robbery! This recipe is about 50 cents worth of ingredients and 5 minutes of your time.

Most of the credit for this recipe goes to Venessa since this is pretty much her popcorn recipe, but with sriracha added at the end.

So there ya go! Enjoy! Maybe I’ll do more recipes, but how can you top this one?

* I even tried to condense the recipe but it’s still way too long for a tweet: “cook handful kernels in 2T EVOO on med-hi. Empty popcorn into bowl when popping finishes. Salt to taste. Melt 2T butter in cook pot. Squeeze 2 squeezes of sriracha into melted butter. Put popcorn back into bowl. Toss.”

Advertisements

Welcome MMM Readers

Welcome MMM readers! This is a blog about urban frugalism written here in Seattle, USA (pictured to the left). Take a look around the site, I think fellow “Mustachians” will find a lot to love. Here’s a bit of background about the blog name.

A confluence of internet things is bringing a nice amount of traffic to my humble blog, from Personal Finance blogger Mr Money Mustache, and his readers. I wrote about him a couple posts ago, and let him know (since I was using his topic ideas after all). In return, he tweeted a link to that post, which brought some of the traffic. As if that wasn’t enough, he linked to his twitter account prominently in a recent blog post, which brought even more traffic here. MMM’s post is about sucking at things, but I’m sure that isn’t related to his opinion of my blog 🙂

Hope a few new Mustachians stick around!

BTW, a post like this is called a “catcher’s mit.”* It’s a way to retain an influx of new traffic. I’ve never had any influx of traffic so I’m new to writing them. I learned the technique from Ramit at I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

* I also added a miniature catcher’s mit to the top of my aforementioned post.

How do you compare with the average U.S. “Consumer Unit”?

I’m starting to do a year-end tally of our spending for 2011, and I came across the following infographic:

Click to open at full size

I guess it’s not politically correct to call us “households” any more. Some facts from this survey that I found interesting:

  • The average “consumer unit” surveyed had 2.5 people and earned $62,857, which is slightly down from the previous year’s earnings.
  • This “unit” unit spent $49,067, but the chart doesn’t include taxes or savings. The national savings rate is around 1%, so let’s assume the unit saved a pitiful $629 for the year, and was taxed $13,161 (or 21%).
  • Average food spending was $6,372, of which $3,753 was spent on meals at home. In other words, the “unit” spent $312 per month on groceries, or $125 per person. (My next post is about grocery spending)
  • Spending for housing was $16,895, or about $1,400 a month. In a big city, you’d be lucky to get a small house for that cost, but as a nationwide average it’s amazingly high. Even though the housing bubble has burst, we’re still paying for it!

Too bad transportation costs aren’t broken down by car/commute vs air/travel. I’m curious how much the average unit spends getting to work. Mostly so I can gloat, since in our family it’s near $0 (yay bikes!).

Here’s how our unit compares:

  • We have 5 people, and earn more than average (though we live in a major city so cost-of-living is higher).
  • We “spent” every penny of it, though almost 15% of it was spent on savings (the big goal this year has been building an emergency fund).
  • Food spending was $8,100, of which $6,214 was spent on meals at home, or $130 per person per month, not counting the baby. I’m especially proud that we were able to stay near the US average, while still enjoying so much local, sustainable, healthy food (amazingly cooked by Venessa).
  • Our entertainment spending was less than half the national average, though I feel like we experienced a lot of culture this year. We have memberships to the science center and zoo, and we’re symphony subscribers for the first time ever.

How does your consumer unit’s spending compare to the “average” American’s? Don’t be concerned with whether you’re spending more or less in any given category. Instead, be proud that you track your spending to begin with.

Happy Holidays!

A Full Freezer

[If you already know me, you’ve probably heard this story already so you can skip this post]

We bought a 7.2ft³ chest freezer for $75 delivered. To see how much it costs to power the freezer, I borrowed a kill-a-watt from the library to check out how much energy it consumes. At current electricity prices, it’s going to cost $25 a year to keep it running. Probably less, since I measured it when it was mostly empty and full fridges/freezers run more efficiently.

To fill the freezer, some friends and I bought an entire cow. I read that buying meat by the cow instead of by the pound can save a family of 4 almost $500 a year, if they eat beef frequently. We only eat occasionally, but even if we save $100 this year, that pays for the freezer and the cost of running it. It came to $4/lb for all the various cuts of meat. (Where I live, a good cut of grass-fed beef can be $10/lb.) We split the meat 5 ways, and each of us got anywhere from 80 – 145 lbs.

The meat is amazing! If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend getting some meat from 3 Sisters Farms.

Finally, a solar power option for renters*

* in Seattle, anyway

One of the few drawbacks of renting is that we’re limited in the modifications we can make to the house. Even though I know it makes long-term financial sense and it’s in line with my values, converting the house to solar power is out of the question!

I almost fell off the couch with excitement when I got this in the mail:

[Seattle] City Light is offering customers the opportunity to participate in Community Solar at Jefferson Park. When you enroll in the program, a portion of the electricity generated by the project will be credited annually to your power bill. Your name will become a permanent part of the ground-breaking Community Solar installation. And you’ll be pioneering a bright, new energy future for Seattle…

Each solar unit is estimated to produce 50 kWh of electricity per year through June 2020 when the program ends. The one-time, up-front cost is $600 per solar unit.

If you read the fine print you’ll find that the solar panels don’t fully pay for themselves in electricity bill credits. Even so, it’s an opportunity to make a local investment in sustainable energy and send a message to the rest of the country that our community is ready for renewable power.

If you live in Seattle, spread the word and consider signing up! My goal is to ensure that all 500 solar units are purchased.

How we got paid $200 to fly to San Francisco

This week, Venessa and I are taking a short trip to San Francisco. We don’t travel often, especially not by air. It’s bad for the environment, I don’t like what the government has done to our freedoms, and there are so many places in the Pacific Northwest that I haven’t explored yet, it seems like a shame to go somewhere else.

Largest caggage at the local fair

But every once in a while we get a travel bug that can’t be satiated by our environs. This one was prompted by some junk mail I got a few months ago. It was one of those frequent flyer credit cards offering a 50,000 point signup bonus. Equivalent to two free flights, they said.

A side note on credit cards: I have 2 rewards cards (REI and Amazon) and a Schwab cash-back card that just got bought out by Bank of America so I’m going to cancel it. Trent from The Simple Dollar has two good rules governing rewards cards:

1. It doesn’t matter what rewards card you have if you’re carrying a balance. If you won’t be able to pay your balance in full every month, cut up that card.
2. The best rewards program is the one that most closely matches what you buy and where you buy it.

Since I don’t buy airplane tickets very often, why’d I sign up for this card? Here’s the story:

I looked at the airline’s website and saw how many “points” out of my signup bonus a trip for 2 to San Francisco would cost. Then I looked at the same trip in dollars. It was $600, more than twice as much as the cheapest flight to San Francisco from Seattle, offered by Virgin America.

So here’s what I did. I signed up for the card anyway, and got the 50,000 points. Then I went over to the “other ways to redeem your points” section of the website, and spent all the points on $500 worth of Amazon.com gift cards. (I can’t believe they let you do this.) Amazon is a big enough website that their gift cards are extremely liquid, and we use it frequently enough that the cards about have the same value as cash for us anyway.

We booked the Virgin America flight for $300, and pocketed the $200 difference to use as spending money on the trip. After the gift cards came, I called the credit card company and canceled the credit card. I’m sure my credit score took a hit for this, but I don’t plan on borrowing money any time soon (if ever), so it’s not a problem. I even got the yearly card fee refunded since I had the card for such a short time. Never hurts to ask.

I might take a break from posting here since I’m not taking a laptop on the trip. See ya!

My secret about jackets

Speaking of jackets, I have a little secret that I’ll let you in on:

My ski jacket is as waterproof and as clean as the day I bought it. That’s a pretty bold statement considering I live in rainy, outdoorsy Seattle, and the jacket is 10 years old.

The secret is a product called Nikwax. It’s really two products purchased together. The first preps the jacket by cleaning it. The second is the actual waterproofing agent.

A kit costs $20 and is good for about 5 jackets. I figure for that price (plus the negligible cost of running the washing machine twice and the dryer once) I’ve extended the life of our family’s jackets by at least 10 years. (The kids get cheapo thrift store ski jackets that they lose or grow out of in a year anyway.)

Frugality doesn’t mean not buying nice things. But it does mean taking care of the things you have so you can get the most use out of them.