It’s April, the first true month of spring in Austin, as we remember how we spent the remainder of March hiding indoors from the unexpected arctic winds. The bluebonnets are rampant, the pigeons and grackles are mating, and everyone is clamoring for the outdoor patio tables. And taxes are due. If you’re like me, you get a refund every year, but if you end up owing, I have a few year-round tips to help you recover. First, go to an Irish pub downtown, during an extremely busy tourist season (say SXSW) and order a $6 pint of Guinness and a plate of fish and chips. Then contemplate the following:
Beans and rice aren’t just for Mexicans. I may be undercover, but I have not lost my instincts. There are so many ways to make beans – cowboy beans, curried beans, refried beans…the list is endless. They are high in protein, fiber, inexpensive, delicious, and a pot will go a long way. As far as the rice, brown is the way to go, but wild rice is even healthier. And neither contains gluten, which has increasingly become suspect in causing anything from mild fatigue to seriously adverse digestive complications. Although this topic of gluten is controversial, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Borrow instead of buying when you can. I’m not saying you should ask your next door neighbor every other Saturday if you can use the lawnmower. But think about items you buy but only use once: books, DVDs, or a fondue pot for that one Valentine’s Day dinner party. You can borrow books and movies for free from the public library, and you save yourself from carrying heavy boxes every time you move. The library might not have that latest Hollywood, Oscar-winning hit, but you’d be surprised at what you’ll find. Besides, almost all the best films were made before 1975.
Not that I have anything against the Irish. Even though not economical, I am still craving those fish and chips. And besides, the Irish and the Mexican formed an alliance during the Mexican-American war in the mid-1800s. But that history lesson is for another time. ¡Viva los San Patricios!