Dec 31, 2012

Ceiling Fan Directions for the Seasons

A while back, I made entries about Thermostat Settings and Utility Bills as ways the air conditioner and furnace perform the best, and how to save some money. Another inexpensive way that helps are ceiling fans. Current ones are required to have a way to "reverse" the rotation of the fan blades. During summer counter-clockwise and in winter, clockwise.

How can I tell which way it is spinning? Stand under it and look up at the spinning blades. Make sure you have some space above your head so it doesn't whack you. Use the lowest speed setting so you can actually tell which way the blades are going. Here’s why I recommend using the ceiling fan and reversing it for different seasons.

Summer - Counter-Clockwise
  1. When spinning counter-clockwise, the fan blows air down on the area covered by the fan.
  2. This creates a draft that makes you feel about 4-6 degrees cooler by making your perspiration evaporate more. 
  3. Making you feel cooler, you can set your thermostat for the air conditioner a few degrees higher, which save electric usage on the utility bill.
  4. A ceiling fan uses less electricity than the air conditioner and furnace (yes, the furnace blower is running in the summer to move the cool air through the house). 
Following this recommendation, I was able to keep my thermostat set at 78 F this summer. This reduced my electric bill tremendously by making it feel like it was actually at 72-74 F. Another suggestion... when you leave for the day, turn the fan off. Ceiling fans do not actually "cool" the air, they cool you. I leave mine on when I go out because I have 2 dogs here, and they need it.

Winter - Clockwise
  1. When spinning clockwise, the fan pulls the air UP from the area right under it.
  2. Pulling air UP in winter helps because heat rises, so guess where there is more heat? On the floor or along the ceiling? Pulling the cooler air up better combines it with the warm air, when it is circulated down along the walls.
  3. Use the slowest speed, you want to circulate the air, now create a draft that will make you feel chilled.
  4. A ceiling fan uses less electricity and natural than it takes your large furnace to keep you warm.
Following this recommendation, I was able to keep my thermostat at 55 F this year. Again, my electric bill remains low, but my natural gas bill is almost non-existent. Sure, I still have to bundle up a little more than in July, but I'm comfortable.

Anyway, just wanted to share some thoughts on how you can save some too... it has worked well for me. 

Dec 27, 2012

Ground Meat Comparison

Since I'm an "adult" now, I've always tried to watch what I eat. But I got into a conversation with my son about how closely I watch it. Fortunately I research everything, and have actually learned some things from the next generation. I was brought up that ground turkey was better for you than ground beef. But guess what? In all of my research, butchers have caught up to the difference. This entry is about comparing the nutritional contents of ground beef to ground turkey.

"Back in the day," I was brought up that ground turkey was better for you than ground beef. But, the manufacturers of beef have progressed. So, here is my research between the two (due to research on buying both, and online). I'm going to share the RAW information, since I don't know how you prepare it... The ground meat for turkey was 97/3 and the beef was 95/5.

     Turkey          Beef    
Serving Size 100g100g
Calories 149137
Calories from fat 7545
Total Fat 8g5g
Saturated Fat 2g2g
Cholesterol 79mg62mg
Sodium 94mg66mg
Carbs 00
Protein 17g21g
Vitamin A 00
Calcium 1%1%
Vitamin C 0%0%
Iron 7%13%

Bottom line? HMMMMM. Seems to me that beef is healthier than turkey. The only real differences are in taste and price. Beef costs more than turkey, but it is "better" for you if you can find the right blend. It ultimately comes down to selection of the mix. I compared apples to apples here. If you select a lower cut of meat, that will change the chart. But, you need to watch it if you care about your health...

Dec 17, 2012

Calzone vs. Stromboli

It is always interesting when you have long conversations with people about what the differences are between similar things. The first blog entry I did on this topic covered sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa. This entry is about the differences between a calzone and a stromboli.

Traditionally, a calzone is made using bread dough that is covered with the ingredients, folded over, edges sealed, and cooked. It is made in a single serving size (easier to walk and eat) in a half-moon shape. A stromboli is made by cutting bread dough as a square, covering it with the ingredients, it is rolled up and cooked. Typically made in a multiple serving size (so you can share it).

Now this is where you say "BUT THAT'S NOT HOW THEY DO IT NOW!" Exactly. Time changes a lot of things. In the U.S.,  both are typically made from pizza dough instead of bread dough, and are about the same serving size. The calzone is still folded over, but the stromboli isn't rolled. The ingredients are put down the middle and the 2 sides are folded up so the seam is down the top middle or they are folded in half like the calzone.

This is where I also step in to say that this isn't necessarily true of how the are made EVERYWHERE. Different regions of the U.S. and even all over the world may vary. Above is just what the majority of the people agreed on and what I found in the research that is similar. Below is where it got a lot greyer about the differences.

Origins ItalyU.S
Cheeses Mozzarella, Ricotta, 
Parmesan, Provolone
Tomatoes          YesNo
Sauces   On top or on the side  
for dipping
  Rolled Inside 
Meats YesYes
Veggies YesYes
Cooking Baked or FriedBaked
Shape Half Moon  Half Moon or Squared 

So what does it all come down to as the differences? Just like the sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa entry, whatever you want to call it and how you want it made, is a personal choice. They thing to keep in mind today is when you are reading a menu, read what ingredients are used. Other than that, just get eating and enjoy...

Dec 6, 2012

Work on your OWN Car - DIY

"Back in my day," spending time with Grandad meant that we were in the back alley behind the house, working on family cars to keep them running. I learned a lot on those weekends plus spending time with brothers of my friends that happened to be auto mechanics. That is why I spent a lot of time with my first car, a 1978 Buick Regal (pictured at right). I learned how to change spark plugs, rebuild alternators, rebuild distributors (remember those?), change batteries, replace fuses, change lights, replace engine seals, replace air filters, but most importantly to check all of the fluids an engine needs.

Over the years, vehicles have become more technological, we all became busier, the "stop shops" popped up to do that all FOR us, have caused us to forget how to do things, or just not bother to even learn. I decided today to change my own oil, replace a burnt out tail bulb, and top off my fluids in my 2006 Highlander.

While it meant I had to expend some elbow grease, bust a couple of knuckles, I have to say that it was all worth it. When done, I got to stand back and feel that I accomplished something.  Not only did I get the jobs done successfully, I learned more about my vehicle and how the rear-wheel drive cars differ from front wheel or all wheel drives when it comes to the engine. The BEST thing I experienced today? How much money I saved.

If I had taken it to one of those "quick serve" shops, it would have cost me over $70. By doing it myself, I only spent $35, which is a 50% savings. By doing it myself, my monthly cell bill is almost paid or can go out to dinner at a really NICE restaurant.

My bottom line on this, is that if you learn to do some things for yourself, you will keep money in your pocket achieve a sense of accomplishment, and take care of the baby that takes you to work each and every day...

Hot Dog Fiend

Have to admit, I'm a hot dog fiend. Always have been, always will be. I had a job as a contractor, and "back in my day," the quickest way to eat was at a convenience store by grabbing a couple of dogs and eating them in the parking lot (Sheetz has the best ones, IMHO). Then I worked in a convenience store, so the best meal I could get was a dog (on the roller cooker). And even now, whenever I am going past a dog house, my left hand causes my car to automatically pull over. This entry is about the 2 most awesome dog houses I've encountered.

I fell into doggie heaven when I moved to Medina, Ohio. Just north of the town square, I discovered Dan's Dogs. I got to know the owner very well, and even though it used to be a bar when he bought it, he felt it should change it to meet the community. Their menu has over 35 different ways that you can order your dog, and in 2 different sizes (regular or jumbo). But he kept the decor like it was back in the 50s. How can you turn down a diner setting that has that many options for dogs down? Every time I go there, I always order the Dog Paws and 2 jumbo Old Yellers. He even has an annual hot dog eating contest. They even have an antique Wurlitzer juke box that still plays 45 RPM vinyl records.

Then one day at work, my car automatically pulled me into a driveway for the Doghouse in Bedford, OH. A very small place, used to be a barber shop, but definitely worth the stop (dog topped with my choices, bag of chips, and a can of pop, less than $4). They are reported as having the best hot corned beef sandwich too. So if you are down on Broadway, make sure you stop here, don't blink, you might pass it. There are 2 stools that you can sit on inside, but the best way is to eat them at the picnic table outside, or in the front seat of your car.

To bottom line it, I'm a hot dog fiend. I've boiled them, nuked them, baked them, made casseroles with them, grilled them, put them on a stick and cooked them over a camp fire, put them on a toothpick and cooked them with a Zippo. I've tried the beef ones, the mixed ones, the "home made" ones, and the new turkey based ones. As long as they involve mustard, relish, chili, and cheese... I'm good to go. Enjoy your lunch...