Momma Told Me: August 2011

Blog Archive

Momma Mondays: Lenovo B-575 Laptop Review

This review is for my new Lenovo Ideapad Laptop / AMD E-Series Processor / 15.6" Display / 4GB Memory / 320GB Hard Drive – Black, Model: B575-1450A5U. It was purchased for only $299.00 at a major retailer last week. It was such a good bargain that I did something (I normally would never do) I went ahead and purchased the (1 year Extended Warranty). For those of you who know me; this is shocking.

I want to say; the reason I am reviewing this particular Laptop Computer is merely circumstantial. My circumstances required that I stop procrastinating and just go out and buy one. I was in dire need of a computer to enable me to continue researching products, composing my reviews (including doing slight adjustments to uploaded images, i.e. color, cropping, etc.), processing and organizing my incoming/outgoing emails and in general; I just needed a little “workhorse” computer. No frills. No big graphics package for gaming. I just wanted the basics. Sometimes; that is all you need to get the job done.

I’m not one of those gals that like “all the bells and whistles”. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes they come in handy. My husband (a Professional Photographer who produces high resolution images) obviously, needs everything that he can get out of his computer. We have pulled the whole “Tim Allen – Home Improvement” thing with that system. It has been upgraded and filled to capacity with graphics programs, image files and music. Regarding that; I am telling everyone right now, there is no thing as “too much memory”. No matter how much memory you have and no matter how many gigs the hard drive has, you will get to a point where you’ll max it out. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have heard the words, “this is more memory than we will ever need or use”. The next thing you know; we’re out shopping for another drive to back it all up, and get it off of the main computer.

Going in; I knew exactly what I needed in a computer and I was particularly savvy as to, how much, I should pay for it. I went into the store prepared to duke it out with the “computer specialist”, that was going to tell me what I should be looking for in a computer and advise (up-sell) me, towards a more “state of the art”, “graphics oriented” model. I’d done my homework and knew which brands (from experience) to stay away from. I didn’t even go near those models in the aisle. It doesn’t matter how good-looking the computer is; if it doesn’t have a decent processing system, or a company that will stand behind their product, it’s not worth buying.

In the past I have been (coerced) into buying the biggest and best system that my budget could afford. This was all made too simple by the offering of a “store credit card and 5% off”. Who could resist that? In every case, this has led for the most part, to severe disappointment. After spending 1,000’s of dollars (and I am not embellishing this figure) on super machines, promising to do everything but make the coffee; I have come to the reality that my instincts should prevail, when making the next computer purchase. Don’t get me wrong; I was almost enticed to get the next bigger/better unit. But then; that little voice in the back of my head, said “Snap out of it!”

It didn’t take long for me to hone in on my Lenovo B575-1450A5U. This model comes with an AMD E-Series Processor, a nice 15.6” Display, 4GB Memory and 320GB Hard Drive. That’s exactly what I was looking for. After getting it home and using it for a couple of days; I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. This computer does, absolutely everything that I need it to do; maybe even more. Actually; my husband tells me that this computer rivals his “super computer” which was purchased, just under (2) years ago, for twice as much as this Lenovo model. I think that he wants one for Christmas. All of a sudden; the old one, isn’t so “pretty” anymore.

I am so happy that I listened to my instincts, in making this purchase. This little computer, is reasonably priced and will do everything that the average student, housewife, small home-based business needs (emailing, shopping, blogging, social networking, word programs, photos, etc.). There is one pet peeve though; the edges are flush all the way around. This makes it difficult to open from the folded position. If you can live with that; it’s a good choice in a, very low end, computer. The initial investment is almost negligible. Heck some of our kids pay more for their cellphones. At least you can compose a complete (non-text) email, resume; or in my case, a review on it.

As Required By The FTC: This product was reviewed by Momma, herself, with no backing from Lenovo. All opinions provided therein are hers, and hers alone.

Excalibur Dehydrator Series: Beef Jerky

Momma Told Me: I'm not buying that, I can make it!

If you're just joining us: In the Summer of 1991, at age 5, I recall hours (which to me seemed like weeks) of sitting in electronic warehouses watching my parents make their next major purchase. Momma, newly in remission, was still getting used to being a stay at home momma. Pop was over compensating the situation by indulging in every high tech kitchen appliance on the market. We'd already picked up 2 rice cookers, a Crock Pot, Steel Chamber Ice Cream Maker, Cutting Edge Microwave, Home Bread Maker- and were presently shopping Dehydrators- with a Meat Slicer surely to follow. Even so young, I remember staring up at the price tags, with so many digits, and gasping at the prices of these 'luxury' items. While today these kitchen electronics have become much more mainstream, in price and function, I still run into people who tilt their head when I mention such things. What do you need that for? And I've come to notice half our readers had never heard of a dehydrator until this series.

In either case, Momma taught me the value of a Renaissance housewife- the woman who's at home tasks change with the seasons and bring value to the household through frugality and innovation. Momma could shop a grocery bill down to pennies on the dollar (and in the best of times get paid to shop), complete my social studies model with dental floss and tongue depressors, or turn a broken vacuum into a terrarium. I learned from her never to waste, and that just because something comes in a frilled bag doesn't make it better than it's 'real', homemade, counterpart. And while Momma kept the dehydrator out year round, the summer was when our kitchen truly came to life. That was when I'd learn all her gourmet secrets and, like magic, a boring apple and yogurt blend would turn into a delicious fruit roll, or a piece of tough London Broil, tender and juicy beef jerky.

After introducing my brand new kitchenware baby: the 5 Tray Excalibur Home and Garden Dehydrator I began to discover new uses for this kitchen aid. However none matched up to Momma's tried and true recipe for beef jerky. Excalibur's unique Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology helps to effectively remove moisture from the entire piece of food, resulting in a superior dried meat that's consistent and flavorful. And, because of the stack-able square footprints and pull-out trays I can rotate my batches for quicker processing, or dry multiple items at once. (Of course, jerky and raw meat should always go on the bottom) Unlike many low end models Excalibur units allow for easy monitoring and switching during the baking process. There's no more messy layers to re-stack, and everything cooks evenly!

One of Momma's favorite Dehydrator projects was certainly beef jerky. She'd bribe the butcher with bags of it, have the neighbors attempting to buy it, and turn pop and I to putty with a single slice. If we were playing Family Feud, and the Survey Said: Name The First Thing That Comes To Mind When You Think of Your Momma, Jerky would be my Number 1. There was nothing more exciting for Pop and I than seeing the mounding portions of trimmed beef waiting in the fridge. And the aromas which filled our household during those days were enough to burn calories with anticipation. It's a wonder I didn't catch food poisoning trying to eat undercooked, stolen jerky slices as a child!

Many novice dehydrator users are often most skeptical of working with dried meats. The truth is making homemade jerky in an Excalibur Dehydrator couldn't be simpler (or more affordable)! Believe it or not, I've used over 10 cuts of beef in my jerky adventures, and Momma's favorite, London Broil is still the best for flavor and texture. When this cut is on sale, you can stock up for as low as less than $1/lb! In fact, the marinade is the most expensive part....but I can't share our family secret for that (Momma would kill me). Don't worry, half the fun is playing with flavors, and the trickiest part is in the cut. If you're not blessed enough to have access to a meat slicer, or a kind butcher, you can partially freeze the cut of meat. London Broil will tend to be 1-2" in thickness, and when partially frozen should cut into fine slivers easily. In fact, this cut lends itself well to the classic strips many associate with beef jerky.

A good place to start, for a marinade, is with a high sodium base, such as Soy Sauce. Adding spices and heat, if desired, isn't as integral at the marinade stage and all meat should be marinated at least 10 hours. Longer marinating cycles will result in more flavor, but be careful not to over do it or your jerky will come out too salty! Momma's jerky is a sweet and tangy version with hints of Teriyaki- one of her secrets is to sprinkle a generous layer of her special sugar and spice mixture halfway through the drying process. It's easiest to add flavor outside of the marinating tub/container- and this is where any heat (pepper/paprika/etc) should be sprinkled on. Depending on the cut and size of the pieces, dehydration will take 10-16 hours on average, at 415F or above. Excalibur's timer comes in especially handy for overnight batches. It's wonderful to wake up to fresh jerky! Best of all, clean up is a breeze thanks to the brand's complimenting line of non-stick sheets!

What Daughter Says: Everything tastes better when you make it yourself is only true if you know what you're doing. With Excalibur's comprehensive line of Dehydrators and accessories anyone can master the art of preserved snacks!

****Check back each Tuesday during the Summer to follow our Excalibur series, then be sure to come back on August 7th to enter our giveaway!

~See the Excalibur Introduction post here.

~See the Excalibur Fruits and Veggies post here.

~See the Excalibur Yogurt Rolls post here.

As required by the FTC: I received no monetary compensation for this post. I received a product sample in order to conduct my review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.