Trib Tips

March resembles a lion this year, but maybe it's fitting things are frozen as it's national frozen food month.
Marie Havenga
Mar 1, 2013

Keep an eye out for tame prices in your grocer's freezer. It's the perfect time to stock up.

This week, Trib Tips offers a cheap and natural homemade dishwasher detergent and a super-easy rice recipe with fresh — or frozen — vegetables to fill your sparkling clean plates.

Dishwasher dilemma

When we ran out of dishwashing detergent the other night, I didn't want to slip-slide on slippery roads to restock. But I didn't want to leave dirty dishes hanging around, either.

So I took a quick cyber spin in search of a solution.

Many bloggers boasted Borax, but I didn't feel comfortable with the toxic nature of that product. We didn't happen to have any around the house, anyway. Nor did I have other recipe ingredients handy, such as washing powder and citric acid.

I checked my cupboards for cleaning agents and gave this combination a whirl:

1 tablespoon baking soda (natural disinfectant)

1 tablespoon kosher salt (coarse texture)

2 drops of liquid dish soap (grease cutting)

1 tablespoon white vinegar (I put this in the rinse compartment)

I'm happy to report that the flatware, dishes and inside of the dishwasher came out sparkling brighter than with my usual brand. I might just make this switch permanent.

Gotta' love the cost savings, too. When I restocked at the dollar store, kosher salt was $1 and baking soda was 59 cents.

Like white on rice

One of my all-time favorite dishes is brown or white rice topped with skewered vegetables from the grill.

Staring at a snow bank outside my window, I can only dream of wandering my way to the ol' Weber. Instead, I experimented with a way to incorporate vegetables into my rice in efficient one-dish fashion.

Here's what you'll need: a rice cooker, white or brown rice, and your favorite veggies.

Cook the rice as you normally would in your rice cooker — about 1½ to 2 cups of water for each cup of white rice and 2-3 cups of water for each cup of brown rice, depending on texture preference. The more water, the softer the rice.

I like to use chicken or beef stock for the liquid. Or opt for a teriyaki flavor with soy sauce, ginger, sugar and water. Throw in some garlic and onion powder for added zing. Just make sure to mix the liquid and spices well.

While the rice is cooking, peel a couple of carrots, then continue to shave thin curls from the flesh. Chop cabbage into bite-size pieces. I added the carrot curls and cabbage to white rice for a tasty pairing with picnic ham.

Your imagination is the limit here. You can add sliced or chopped mushrooms, onions, zucchini, pea pods, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes or even frozen peas, carrots or beans.

Add the veggies to the rice during the last 10-15 minutes of the "cook" time or after the cooker has switched to “warm” mode.

Simply stir in the veggies and let them cook in the warm rice. You'll end up with a crisp texture and fresh taste similar to fried rice, but up a notch in nutrition and ease of preparation.

March money-savers

Besides frozen food, you'll find these items in the bargain bin this month: luggage, winter outerware, high-end chocolates, jewelry, perfume and sunglasses (retro and animal print styles are hot this year).

Have some favorite apps, household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? Or searching for a solution? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail Marie Havenga at mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.

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