Skip to content

As I’ve written before (Panko Flounder anyone?), I didn’t come easy to fish, but nowadays I try to eat it at least twice a week. Most often I buy flounder or scallops or clams or porgies from the fish stand or a bit of salmon from the grocer. In the cooking of fish, I’ve found it hard to branch out beyond the pan fry. However, last Friday I saw a headline in the most recent issue of Saveur magazine: Bluefish Wrapped in Bacon. Of course we all know bacon makes everything better so I decided that’s what we’d have for dinner that night. I didn’t read the recipe. I just knew bacon and bluefish would be involved and I’d take it from there.

Tasty Treat: Rhubarb Scones

I am obsessed with afternoon tea. I love the sandwiches, the tea, the scones and devonshire cream, which I could eat straight with a spoon! Afternoon tea is supposed to be a leisurely event intended for relaxing and recharging, kind of like a siesta, but with food. Most afternoons, tea time includes a warm mug of earl grey and a homemade scone if I’m lucky or even just toast with butter and jam. By myself, I stare off into space and meditate on my life while the steam gently massages my face. Other days, I sit down with a friend to chat and giggle because tea, when taken in the company of others, inevitably generates the giggles.

Classic Meals: Korean Bulgogi

Until recently, I didn’t have the guts to experiment with Asian cuisine. Big ingredient lists, unique spices, and alternative cooking techniques all seemed too complicated for my limited time in the kitchen. But then I tried Steamy Kitchen’s Beef Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It was flavorful and, despite the seeming long ingredient list, not too involved. Bolstered by my success, I made Pork Potstickers. Um, they were so very good, a little time consuming, but, happily they are meant to be made in big batches and frozen for future lazy dinner days. I’ve still got some in the freezer.

The Many Ways Irresponsible Borrowing Could Hurt You

Borrowing money on impulse is never good to your budget or your credit score. It can hurt you and your finances in so many levels. The advice: don’t borrow or take personal loans with no good reason.

It’s easy to assume that you can always borrow money from your best friend or take personal loans whenever you need money for something. After all, you know your best friend would lend you the money and that you qualify for personal loans. But without any good reason to make that loan, borrowing could be making more damage than good to your financial health.

Irresponsible Borrowing Makes You Irresponsible in General

If you take comfort at the fact that you can always borrow money, you also take comfort that you can spend money indiscriminately. This means you might be spending more on wants while the needs take the backseat. And since you believe that you can borrow and spend without care, you also take for granted that you need to make investments for your retirement, your future home, kids’ education and so on.

Irresponsible Borrowing Can Hurt Your Credit Score

Taking out loans is sometimes necessary. You may have an urgent medical expense to cover or have important bills to pay. But if you take out loans unnecessarily, you run the risk of hurting your credit score. Taking personal loans for luxuries at an amount that you can’t afford, you will have a more difficult time managing your finances and paying off the loan. As a result, your credit score dips down further. And you need to know that your credit score is an important requirement in different settings, from getting financial help, employment to establishing your identity.

Irresponsible Borrowing Will get you into More Debt

For instance, you got $10,000 worth of personal loans. But you suddenly saw a limited edition designer bag and bought it, charged to your credit card. Both personal loans and credit card bills need to be paid, ideally in full and in time every month. But with two payments you need to provide for, certain expenses may need to be sacrificed if they don’t anymore fit the budget. And when you need more money for something, you have no choice but to take out more loans or keep charging on your credit card.

Too often, borrowing irresponsibly constitutes two things: borrowing more than you can afford and borrowing for no good reason. The decline in your finances, getting into debt and lowered credit score are just three of the many things that can happen when you borrow indiscriminately.

But that’s not to say you shouldn’t be borrowing at all. There are circumstances in life that can prompt you to borrow money or get personal loans, but you need to make sure that these are necessities, not luxuries. Since our financial standing is different from one another, it is only you who can determine if you have good reasons to borrow. If not, you’re better off finding money in other ways.

Another good guide to borrowing is to take only what you need. Personal loans for people with bad credit, though fast and convenient, have interests that you also need to pay for. Borrowing more money can mean higher monthly payments plus interests. If you take more than what you need, you’re setting yourself up to a whole period of loan term paying off the loan that should have otherwise been more manageable.

If you want to be able to manage your loans and debts effectively, you should go back to the very core of why you are borrowing. If you begin with borrowing responsibly, then paying off your loans and debts shouldn’t be too burdensome for you.

Financial Emergencies

Financial emergencies are one of those distressing troubles you can have in life. It can happen no matter how well you are in handling your money.
Emergencies are unforeseen events not of your making, but unfortunately involve you, and the only option is borrowing from a lending company.

The situation may get complicated if you happen to be considered as a bad credit borrower based on your credit history. In the past, it is almost next to impossible to secure loans if your credit history is not good.

Fortunately, the process is not that difficult to hurdle these days with the advent of online lending companies, in addition to other office-based institutions. It can even positively affect your overall credit standing.

Getting a Loan

Lending companies today, however, have loans extended to borrowers who have spotty credit histories. Today, you can obtain one even from the comforts of your own home. Meaning, there is no need to go through the hassles of going to your lender’s office, filling up the form there, and getting interviewed by your loan agent.

The requirements have also been simplified. Here are the basic documents you may need to provide you lender with: proofs of your U.S. citizenship/ US residency, proofs that you are of legal age to be involved in such transactions, you have a valid email address, you have a working phone number and an active bank account , and proof of your income from a steady job or personal business.

Advantages

One obvious advantage of getting a loan from lending companies than on your card is the fact that the terms are better compared to those of credit cards. Your loan payments are fixed with no worries on market fluctuations.

The biggest benefit, of course, is that your loan is one very good way of rebuilding your credit scores after you hurdle the tough payment scheme. This includes paying your loan bills promptly. In time, your bad credit becomes good credit.

Classic Meals: Pastitsio

The bechamel recipe is adapted form the Yogurt and Olive Oil Bechamel Sauce in The Joy of Cooking

(Don’t be put off my the number of ingredients or steps. This will take 45 minutes to an hour to prepare and then an hour in the oven. It can be prepared in advance and will feed at least 10 people. It makes great leftovers or, even better, it’s a great casserole for parties and picnics.)

What You’ll Need:

For the Lamb Mixture

1 large Onion chopped

1 lb Ground Lamb

1 32 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes

1/2 cup Red Wine

1/4-1/2 tsp Allspice

1 tsp Salt

Pepper to taste

For the Pasta

1 pound long twisty pasta (I used something called strangoloni)

2 cups Kefolatiri Cheese grated on the largest setting plus more for sprinkling (if you can’t find it, use gueyere)

For the Bechamel

3 tbsp Olive Oil

3 tbsp White Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup Milk

1 cup Yogurt

1 cup Kefolatiri Cheese grated on the largest setting

Preheat the oven to 350. Set a casserole pan out.

Fill a pot with salted water and place over a high heat.

At the same time, place a pan over a medium high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and when it shimmers, add the onions. Stir and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the lamb and break it up and mix it well with the onion. Once the lamb is cooked through, pour off any grease. Oftentimes I’ll put it into a metal strainer. Add the tomatoes, wine, allspice, salt and pepper to the mixture, stir and simmer until the water is evaporated.

Meanwhile, once the water has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook until just al dente. You don’t want to overcook it as it will later spend time in the oven absorbing the bechamel and lamb juices so just al dente is perfect. When it’s done, strain the pasta and return it to the pan. Add the cheese and stir well.

Add half the pasta to the casserole pan and spread it out evenly on the bottom. Pour the meat mixture on top, spread it evenly and then spread the rest of the past on top. Set it aside.

To make the bechamel, add the olive oil and flour to a pot. Put it over a medium high heat and whisk it constantly until it starts to froth. Add the milk and yogurt and bring to a boil. Whisk it constantly until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it’s incorporated. Remove from the heat.

Gently pour the bechamel sauce over the casserole. Sprinkle cheese on top and pop in the oven for an hour until the top is brown and crusty. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.


Approximate Cost:
Groceries: $18
Cost per Meal: Expect 10-12 servings

When baby girl was born, I was lonely. None of my local friends were pregnant so while everyone wanted to meet baby girl and play with her occassionally, no one was interested in the nitty gritty of being with a baby all day long… and I was with her all day long. Did I mention that for her first six weeks baby girl screamed her head off day and night unless she was nursing or being walked?

During that time (middle of winter, mind you) I walked the streets every day from 10am to 6pm, stopping periodically to nurse and get a bite to eat. I peeked in shops, walked through central park and bought lots of coffee until night fell and I returned home. The life of a new mom in the city is like that (I’ve no idea about the burbs). Unless you’re one of those lucky people like my cousin whose friends all gave birth at the same time, chances are your child-free friends won’t understand why you’re unavailable so often, your husband will be at work all day and even your mother will have things to tend to other than your newborn (that is, if you’re lucky enough to have your mom nearby, which I wasn’t – tiniest violin in the world, I know).

Finally, I was so desperate to meet people I decided to go to a new moms’ luncheon. I’m not one of those people who make friends easily or who opens up and immediately knows the right thing to say. I’m a writer and my thoughts have always come across best either on the page or when talking to people I know well. My best responses always come hours after the question was asked. But I went and I talked to everyone there like a rabid animal and I exchanged numbers with loads of new mommies who were equally rabid and of those many moms, over the next several months, the numbers dwindled to a few really wonderful women who I adore to this day and whose children baby girl adores.

One of them is Greek-American and is a fabulous cook. She has family recipes for all my favorite Greek foods like spinach pie (spanakopita), moussaka and, the object of today’s post: Pastitsio. If I had several more pages, I’d tell you how I first had Pastitsio as a child with my then best friend whose father was obsessed with all things Greek. He’d take us to Greek festivals and there I would have Pastitsio: a casserole layered with long delicate pasta, a mixture of ground lamb and tomatoes and topped with bechamel sauce. I had no idea what it was called then and sadly, after my then best friend and I lost touch, I had no way to find out until one day when I was chatting with AC, my new mommy friend, and she enlightened me. Then she gave me the recipe and I knew we’d be good friends for a long time.

This recipe is a combination of my friend’s recipe with my own inclinations. I used lamb rather than beef and added allspice, which is a common spice used in Lebanon. I’m an eighth Phoenician so devotion to allspice is inbred. Instead of sprinkling the cheese over the pasta in layers, I mixed it in for a mac n’ cheese effect. I also used my favorite yogurt and olive oil bechamel recipe from The Joy of Cooking. The result is out of this world.