A Penny Earned for Feb. 1, 2009

Use cloth instead of paper towels

Bounty paper towels might be super absorbent and all that, but it costs more money. Why don't you just use a simple piece of cloth to clean all the mess? That saves you money and trees.

— Monica Banelos,Medford


A family meal for $10

The following recipe is quick, inexpensive and great for family cooking. You can prepare this meal for four in under 45 minutes for less than $10 without skimping on basic ingredients. Use good Italian pasta, quality tomatoes and real Parmesan cheese.

Simple tomato garlic pasta

Ingredients: 1 pound of Italian spaghetti

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

Dash of red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

1/2; bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes

In a skillet large enough to hold your pasta, add the pepper flakes, garlic and oil. Slowly heat the pan, being sure not to brown the garlic. Using the slowest speed on your blender, chop the tomatoes, add them to the pan and let cook, uncovered. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta, stirring to prevent sticking. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Add the chopped parsley and toss well. Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese and fresh green salad on the side.

— Keith Wangle, Central Point


Cardboard egg-carton fire starters

I collect cardboard egg cartons (not the Styrofoam type) and lint from my clothes dryer to make fire starters for our woodstove.

Roll the lint into balls and place in each empty egg holder. Separate as needed to start a fire. For added burning time, you can melt old candles or paraffin wax and pour it over the lint. Buying paraffin wax can be an added expense, but it's worth the extra burn time.

— A. Gates, Jacksonville


Use cloth instead of paper towels

Bounty paper towels might be super absorbent and all that, but it costs more money. Why don't you just use a simple piece of cloth to clean all the mess? That saves you money and trees.

— Monica Banelos, Medford


Save on your gas heating bill

Here's an idea for saving electricity if your home has a gas furnace. The furnace may burn gas, but the start/stop cycles are run by electricity. If you have a programmable thermostat, set the number of heating cycles per hour down by half, for instance from six cycles per hour to three, or from three down to two or one. It can save about 8-10 percent on your electricity bill. I also set the temperature up 1 degree to compensate for the longer time between heating cycles and didn't really notice a difference on my gas bill.

Shonna Zimmermann, Ashland


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