Welcome to Life at the Holman's.

Within this blog, you will find everything from recipes to school ideas to everyday fun stuff and things we have learned along the way. From time to time you will find just a tidbit of our journey here in Oklahoma. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What about Epson printers?

About 4 years ago, I decided to purchase a new printer. I had an older HP printer that I was using. It had 2 cartridges-one color and one black. I was constantly running out of the "blue" in the color cartridge before I used up the "yellow" and "red" part of the cartridge. I found an Epson printer that was reasonably priced that had separate cartridges for the colors.

As far as printing, the Epson does a great job. However, I have most recently noticed how much colored ink that I go through without a lot of printing. I had to buy ink again this last weekend. I decided to research to find out why I am going through so much ink.

I do not print much of anything. I am very careful as to what items I print whether it be for school or for printing coupons. I only print off items that I know I plan on using because I do know how expensive my ink is (usual price is about $20 for the black cartridge and $50 for the 3 different color cartridges). Also, I noticed that despite my previous years of printing experience in always running out of blue before any of the other colors, I always show equal use of all the color cartridges with this printer.

After 4 years, I have finally realized there is a problem. I began researching my current Epson CX4800 printer online. In my research, here are some of the interesting things that I discovered for anyone considering purchasing an Epson:

1) I found out that the color cartridges are used
every time you print whether you are printing in color or just black and white. I find myself running out of colored ink and rarely using the color. Here is what I found out from the Epson website.

Q: A color ink cartridge is expended even though I print in black only. Why does this happen?
A: To keep the print head clear and ready to print, the printer uses a small amount of ink from all the cartridges whenever it prints. Even if you select Black ink Only, some color ink is still being used.

This helped to explain why I was always running out of color even though I did not use them.

2) Also, I found that even if I only ran out of the color cartridges or the black cartridge, the printer would not work. Epson is made so that when you run out of ink in any cartridge, you can not print at all, and it can not be by-passed. Here is what the website said:

Q:Can the printer still print if an ink cartridge is expended or not installed?
A: No. The printer will not operate if any cartridge is expended or removed. It’s best to always have extra cartridges on hand.

I visited the local
Staples this past weekend to check into various printers. I found that, while the particular printer that I was looking at did not offer the separate color cartridge option, one positive thing with HP is that you can print even if your color cartridge runs out. You can even take out the color cartridge and still print in black and white or gray-scale. Therefore, as long as you have ink in one of the cartridges, you can still use your printer.

Anyway...I just wanted to share my findings on the Epson.

Frozen Banana Trick

My children really enjoy bananas and recipes that include them. We often purchase the bags of slightly ripened bananas that are discounted at the grocery stores. This week I picked up a 5 pound bad of bananas for $1.29 at our local grocery store.

Sometimes, the kids eat the bananas like crazy, and they are gone before I know it. However, there are those times that they sit on the counter until they are beginning to get too brown for anyone to want to pick one up and eat it. That is when freezing the bananas becomes a great options.

All you have to do is peel the bananas and place them a freezer bag according to the size of the recipe that you will use them for. For example, I usually place 3 large or 4 medium bananas in a quart freezer bag because that is what a typical banana bread/muffin recipe calls for. Also, I emphasize to peel the banana because I have tried to freeze the banana with the peeling, and it is disastrous. You have to thaw the banana which is mushy and watery when you take it from the freezer, and in the process of trying to remove the peeling, you lose a lot of the banana!

This is a great treat for using up old bananas and having them on-hand and ready for your baking recipes!

What's for dinner? - Cinnamon Banana Breakfast Cakes

Today I tried a new recipe - Cinnamon Banana Breakfast Cakes. The recipe came from "The Prepared Pantry" online book that I received via email. I was skeptical at first because I have tried so many different banana bread recipes - some good,some bad - that I did not really expect much. However, I was not disappointed. This is by far the best banana bread/cake/muffin recipe that I have ever eaten.

I was planning on making the recipe for breakfast but did not get around to it. Savannah and I decided that we would make it for an afternoon snack. The recipe is as follows:

Cinnamon Banana Breakfast Cakes
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed over-ripe bananas (approx.3 large)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
bananas for slicing
2 Tbsp. melted butter for brushing tops of cakes
mixture of three tablespoons sugar and two teaspoons cinnamon for sprinkling
Prepare some baking pans or muffin tins by greasing well and flouring the bottoms or by lining with parchment paper. Large muffin tins work well. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue beating. Add the bananas, vanilla, and buttermilk.
2. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together.
3. Add the flour mixture to the butter-banana mixture and fold in.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared molds.
5. Slice the remaining bananas and arrange them on top of the dough. Use as many slices as desired. (Remember, the dough will expand in the oven while the banana slices will tend to become smaller.)
6. Brush the tops with the melted butter and then sprinkle them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the baking molds. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Cool on wire racks.

I did not have any buttermilk on-hand so here is a trick...I put about 1/4 tsp. of lemon juice (or you can also use vinegar) in the bottom of my 2/3 cup measuring cup and then filled it the rest of the way with milk. The mixture needs to sit for a couple of minutes to coagulate and make the "sour milk." I use this method with any recipe that calls for buttermilk because I never have it around. You can also buy the powdered buttermilk that you mix in with your dry ingredients and follow the directions on the package. The powdered version can be found at most grocers.
I used part of the batter to fill 12 muffin tins 2/3 full. I had enough left over to make an 8" loaf and a Pyrex small pan of bread. I used previously frozen bananas for the batter and fresh bananas for the topping. I overlapped the banana slices so that when the bread puffed up they spread out nicely. I used Blue Bonnet light margarine in the batter and real butter to brush the tops. It took about 35 minutes for the muffins to cook and about 55 minutes for the loaves to finish baking. The finished product was sweet and delicious. It smelled scrumptious while baking, too!