Saturday, July 26, 2008

Old fashioned pork and beans

Real food, thrifty food, home cooked food.

I keep telling myself that and yet in small ways I fail everyday.

I confess that here because I do not intend to use this blog as an arena. Because it is not, it is an opportunity for me to continue to be real and chat about the life I want to live. I do however use this forum as a discipline tool. If I put it out here, I better be doing it!

Some of the things I will accomplish:

eliminate "throw away" items: plastic wrap, paper towels, plastic grocery bags, etc

make more homemade: cleaners, food, gifts

reuse, recycle, rethink: all things

That does not mean I will not be spontaneous, or I will be stingy, or unfriendly. I will still be me.

Today is day 2 and last day of the yard sale. I do not know how we did financially, and it does not matter. There is more room in the garage for organizing the things we want to keep, without moving box after box to get to it. Other folks were able to get what they needed/wanted for a good price, so it is a win win for everyone.

Today is also my Friday, so after work the time is my own to do as I please, with whom I please. Tomorrow is July Sunday Cafe, and on Monday we get to have the granddaughter all day while her Mom is in a continuing education class. So the day will go quickly, and then before you know it, the whole weekend will have gone quickly, and it will be back to work.

Here is a wonderful "bring real food back" recipe. Beans. I seem to have a respect for beans, and look for ways to learn about them, cook them and enjoy them. Everyone can use a good basic recipe. One that is easy, tastes good and is open to adapting.

Old Fashioned Pork and Beans
crockpot/slow cooker

The evening before:

1 pound pea beans (small whites)

Sort beans, place in a large bowl and cover with water by 4 inches. Let rest overnight to soak and soften. Drain well, rinse and drain again.

The next morning:
drained beans
1 T salt
2 T molasses
6 T sugar (you can use less, remember adapting for your family is encouraged)
1/2 pound salt pork OR 2 ham hocks
1 onion, left whole
4 c water- boiling

Combine all ingredients in cooker. Cook on low 8 hours or until done.



Thursday, July 24, 2008

In a Hurry Chicken Curry

Last night I stayed on task and completed my list, with one more; I also made tapioca pudding in the crockpot. I priced the yard sale stuff and I made skillet "meatloaf" using 1 pound of lean ground beef and the other stuff listed in the freestyle process from yesterday. I discovered something rather important. I had thrown together the first skillet loaf a week ago in a quick attempt to feed us something for dinner homemade; instead of a burger and fries from takeout. We were tired, it was late and we were hungry. I only used bread cubes as a filler. Last night in an attempt to make a healthy version, I added 1/2 bread and 1/2 oats.

I do not like oats in my meat loaf.

The wonderful fiber in oatmeal that is healthy and helps to lower cholesterol, is gummy.

I realized last night that the texture of the first freestyle skillet loaf, was better. I don't like that gummy texture in my meatloaf.

I love oats, sometimes I will make oatmeal for dinner for myself. Oats with dried cranberries, walnut pieces and brown sugar. Yum. Oatmeal cookies, who can say no to that? Saucepan cake, it is the best. Oatmeal bread, wonderful toasted with jam. Oats used in crumble toppings, pile it on. But from now on, not in my meatloaf thank you.

I will take the yard sale stuff over to the kids house tonight. I priced it all low, don't care about the money really, just want the room back in the garage to store stuff worth keeping! Then back over early on Friday morning to help set it out, and return after work to help put it away. Repeat on Saturday. Haul any leftovers to a donation center.

Then it will be back to normal around here. I am looking forward to that. The house has been quiet, and I miss the interaction I receive from my Honey. We are creatures of habit and custom.

This weekend will be shed building and preserves making. And a hug or two!

It is time for something different. Food ruts are so easy to fall into, getting out is a bit more work. This recipe is handy, most of the ingredients are on hand and it has a great taste. This is great with rice, if using brown rice; start if before the curry and simple set it aside when finished cooking. It waits patiently.

Hurry up (chicken) Curry

3 - 4 chicken thighs
1 T oil

garlic salt and pepper
1 c chicken broth
1 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t curry powder
1/4 c raisins
1 small onion, sliced and ringed

1 red apple, diced - do not peel

1 T flour
1 t cornstarch
1/4 c water

1/4 c coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Cut chicken into 1 inch dice. Add oil to skillet, heat to medium. Add chicken and brown. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Add broth, lemon juice, soy sauce, curry, raisins and onion. Stir gently, cover and simmer, 45 minutes. Add diced apple, simmer additional 10 minutes. Combine water with flour and cornstarch, stir into skillet cooking until thicken. Garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve with rice.

Serves 2 - 4



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meatloaf using only one pound of beef

I have a favorites list of blogs that I visit. I am at the same time impressed with what others do as much as relieved, that others have difficult/less productive days; like I seem to have. We each are directed by weather, time, availability and desire.

I have always been a gleaner. It is quick and has a small element of instant gratification. I love finding that little nugget of information. Something so simple, yet right there. Another affirmation that it is the little things.

I am slow to wake this morning, still on my first mug of coffee. Possibly because it is only me right now. I do not have to do anything for anyone. And truth be told, I prefer doing something for someone. It is purpose and direction. I find that busy equals productive. I will be glad when my Honey is home. There will be lots to do and we will get it done together.

I will stop for the grocery specials on the way home from work, make a quick meal and get the yard sale stuff priced, no excuses!

I have begun experimenting with a small meat loaf, cooked in a skillet. Not a real recipe, more of a freestyle process.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 slice bread, or dried cubes or oatmeal
1/4 c onion dried or fresh
salt and pepper
herbs of choice
glop of steak sauce
catsup or other flavored sauce if desired

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Form into a patty about 2 inches thick. Remember you will need to turn it over. Brown well on medium heat, turn over and add catsup or sauce of choice if desired. Cover pan and continue to cook on low until done. Tilt pan on edge of burner so grease will run away from the meatloaf. Cut into portions and serve.

Serves 3 -4

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Southern Peanut Pork Chops and a very quiet Tuesday

I adapt very well, however I adapt at a slower pace now. Our home is very quiet with my Honey away for the week. The evening seemed longer than usual with only myself and the cat roaming around.

Even the cat knew something was different. He never sleeps on the bed (well when I am at work He will get under the pillows and snooze until he hears a noise and then scat,down he goes!) but He came into the bedroom to check on things a couple of times.

Today starts another work week, and I hope to make marmalade tonight. The ingredient list is short, 2 grapefruits, 2 pounds of diced grapefruit and sugar. The recipe had a great tip for checking on the thickness of the product. Place a plate in the freezer, when you want/need to check to see if the finished product will be thick enough to spread, place a teaspoon of the hot jam on the plate and it will cool almost immediately. If it is not thick enough, return the plate to the freezer and continue cooking. Test again. Great idea. I have made jam before and even cooking for the maximum time when it was opened later in the season to enjoy, the jam was more like syrup.

Then after cleanup from the marmalade, get busy pricing stuff for the yard sale.

I have been thinking more about July Sunday Cafe.

I think I will do a pulled pork for sandwiches using a crockpot.
In addition since we have some non-pork eaters in our group, a pounded chicken breast pan grilled with honey mustard.
Homemade rolls
Black eyed peas with red wine vinegar and bacon
vegetable tray with humus, cheese spread and assorted vegetables
Tossed salad
Saucepan Oatmeal cake

I had originally wanted to smoke a seasoned tri tip roast. But with the shed construction in the back yard, the grill and smoker are knee deep behind all of the stuff form the dismantled shed. So maybe in August.

Some days you need a quickly prepared dish. This one will work. You quickly brown the pork chops, add the sauce ingredients, then the flavoring vegetables and let is simmer. At the same time brown rice can be cooked to be served along side. The combination of pork and peanut is delicious.

Southern Peanut Pork Chops

4-6 pork chops
garlic salt and pepper
cooking oil or pan spray
1 c water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 c peanut butter
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, sliced and ringed

In a large prepared skillet, add chops in a single layer and season with the garlic salt. Brown chops over medium heat until golden brown, turn and repeat for other side. Remove chops to a plate, stir water, peanut butter and soup into drippings. Cook over medium heat scrapping up the brown bits and sauce is smooth. Add the seasoning vegetables then the chops, spooning some of the sauce over the chops. Cover and simmer 45 - 50 minutes until tender and done.

Serves 4 - 6



Monday, July 21, 2008

Teriyaki Chicken Wings!

We are going to have a 3 (or more if one of the kids has invited a friends family to join in the fun) yard sale. Today I am going through all of the boxes and such in the garage to get it all ready. It is as much a relief to get rid of the stuff as it is to make any money! I do have a nice pair of living room chairs to sell, those I do hope to get a little bit of money from. The rest, who knows. Maybe enough "jingle" to get a new pair of jeans. A body can never have too many jeans.

I have to work each of the days of the sale, but I can go over early and help with the set up and then again in the evening to get it all put away.

My Honey just left for a week out of town, his job assignment this week is in Idaho. The week will go quickly and then it will be the weekend again. With the weekend comes July Sunday Cafe. Yesterday was spent with oil change, car wash, and clothes being readied for packing. Not exactly the jam making I had originally planned, but I can do that early morning before work.

Before we know it summer will be gone. The shed is progressing nicely. It will sit in wait until His return. Then we begin on the fence. By the end of the fence, it will be getting cold outside and we will be ready for a break.

With the rebuilding of the bookshelf, I sit here blogging and to my left is the cookbooks. Rather a vivid reminder of cooking better for us and sharing it here. I need to get busy getting busy regarding July Cafe menu.

Here is a delicious summer time recipe. It originally calls for oven baking, but you could certainly grill the meat instead.

Teriyaki Wings

350 degrees or grill

12 - 15 chicken wings, separated saving the tips for stock or another use
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c sherry
1/3 c water
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t ginger (dry)
1/4 t pepper
2 green onions, sliced thinly

Combine all ingredients except chicken. Add chicken pieces, mix well. Refrigerate over night (you can let them sit longer). Drain chicken. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil. Bake 350 degrees 30 minutes. Crisp under the broiler or on a grill if desired.

Serves 6 as a starter



Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saucepan Oatmeal Cake

Always have, even when I did not know it.

Sounds funny to say, but we tend to grow into ourselves as we age and experience the world and how we might fit in. As I grew into myself, I automatically let the natural ways that are within me, to come forward.

I set an alarm (set at such a low sound no one can hear it) but I really do not need an alarm, it is my natural way to awaken between 4:45 and 5:15 each morning. Yes the cat is there for his share of tuna and an opened door so he can go outside if he chooses or just stand in the door way making up his mind. But the cat is quiet also, I like that about cats. The birds outside are much louder, I like that about birds. Coffee is set up and waiting for a switch to be flipped, the newspaper is about to be dropped on the stoop, and the quiet is there, waiting to be enjoyed.

The quiet allows my brain to relax as well as generate good thoughts and ideas. The quiet time allows all of my unseen, inside smiles to come out, ready for a new day.

Life is so busy.

There is a job worked to pay for life. Chores to be done so life is comfortable. Purchases needed to sustain life. And it repeats over and over each and everyday. Therefore it is important to relax the mind.

I can get cranky if I do not relax and let the unseen smiles come out to play.

Today is my Friday, and I will be back to a regular schedule next week. I am hoping to be a better cook and companion. My Honey has been great, pitching in and just being Him. Thanks.

I am excited to make the Rhubarb and red grapefruit marmalade. And last night as I got to tour the new shed and the progress being made, I could not help but notice the rhubarb growing. I know I have been on a rhubarb rut, it is about all I want to cook right now. I think it is because it is the only thing growing!

This is really good. It is easy, quick and keeps well. This is a great wooden spoon recipe, no mixer is needed.

Saucepan Oatmeal cake
350 degrees

1 1/2 water
1 c oats
1/2 c butter

2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

1 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 t soda

1 c diced dates
1 c chopped walnuts (pecans are also good)
1 c chocolate chips
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon

In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in oats and butter. Let cool until just warm to the touch. Add eggs 1 at a time beat well after each. Stir in sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl mix flour with salt and soda, stir well to combine. Add dry ingredients to saucepan and beat well. Pour batter into prepared 9X13 pan.

Sprinkle the dates, nuts and chocolate chips evenly over the top of the batter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl, crumble evenly over the top.

Bake 35 minutes or until tests done.

Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 16 - 24



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Grandmother's Rhubarb Cake, It must be time for cake

"Cake could help with world peace.", she said reading from the headline!

Not really, but seriously; who can stay made and plan their next attack with a mouthful of cake cooked just for them?

See, just like I thought.

A warm from the oven cake, with a hint of tartness that is bathed in a slow river of melting vanilla ice cream or a buttery glaze. 

Gosh think of the billions we could save on our military budget.

And when you lack inspiration; you can always make cake. Why you ask, because dessert is never a wrong choice.

Sometime dessert is the only choice. 

Like when you want to have dinner and a movie for the evening out. But there is not room for dessert after eating your dinner. Why not just have dessert and a movie. You want the dessert, however you feel compelled to eat dinner first, and run out of room. Why put yourself through that, simply have dessert and a movie. It is what you REALLY want, so go ahead....indulge. You can eat your veggies tomorrow.

I have a fondness for rhubarb. Maybe it is my grandmother. She could make anything taste wonderful. She had that kind of honest cheer in her. Where you take what you have, do your best with it, and enjoy the results with your loved ones. I think of her often, especially when my inspiration runs dry. I do not remember hers doing that. Oh I am sure she had her moments, but they never showed. She was a wonderful Grandmother. Never afraid, or too timid to try. I am still growing up to be like her.

This cake is in her honor. It is the type of dessert she would make. 

Berteen's Rhubarb cake
350 degrees

1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar, please do not use dark brown sugar, the flavor will be too strong
1 egg
1 t vanilla

1 t baking soda
2 c flour
1 c buttermilk

2 c diced rhubarb

1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon

In large mixer bowl cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. In medium size bowl, stir together the flour and soda. Beat 1/2 the flour mixture into the creamed butter, then 1/2 the buttermilk. Beat well after each addition. Repeat. Stir in diced rhubarb. Spread batter into a prepared 9X13 inch pan. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over batter. Bake 35-40 minutes or until tests done. Cool on rack. Serve warm with ice cream, or cool with a homemade custard sauce.

Serves 16-20

As always thanks for stopping by. 

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