Monday, March 21, 2016

One Question Leads to Another

So after eating at a local sub shop the other day and having their black bean soup, I decided I *must* make a version of that soup. It was smooth, chunky, sweet, hot, and all around wonderful.
They called it Sriracha Black Bean soup. And apparently, it's a hot soup right now.

So I went to researching the ingredients, which lead to another research on the origination of food products.
Sriracha is named so for the area in which it was developed. One source lists Sriracha as being made from red jalapeno's, another from any chili pepper (usually the yellow Madame Jeanette and red cayenne peppers).
That search lead me to the Grand Exchange (aka Colombian Exchange)...because when I research a topic, it snowballs. Literally.

Did you know that before the Colombian Exchange, there were no oranges in Florida, no bananas in Ecuador, no paprika in Hungary, no potatoes in Ireland, no coffee in Colombia, no pineapples in Hawaii, no chili peppers in Thailand, no rubber trees in Africa, no tomatoes in Italy and no chocolate in Switzerland?
Fascinating stuff...this exchange and trade system.
Today we call it economics.

I mean, I knew some things, like potatoes were not from Ireland; that they were from the America's....but the sheer magnitude of foods we continue to think of as an inherent part of a country (tomatoes and Italy? Come on!) has all been a lie! (j/k)

Go. Read about the exchange. Not because you must, but because knowledge is good.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Just a Bit of Fun

Because what's life without a little whimsy, right?

Last year I painted a few wine glasses for a gift and was so pleased with the result, I decided to make a few of my own.

I'm not really a painter. But I am a bit crafty in the arts kind of way. I have so many art supplies I'm thinking of giving them away. Why give them away? Because I have a horrible habit of trying something to see if I can do it, to enjoy doing it, to pass the time, whatever, and then not having the time to go back and continue doing it.

One year, I spent months painting a plaster christmas village. Dry-brushing is easy-peasy and doesn't take a lot of time in and of itself.  But once I did that village, I sort of lost interest in painting little houses.
But I at least still have the paint. Or most of it. A lot of it has dried.

Although over several occasions when my stepson would come over, he and I would take time and paint glass ornaments. We decided to focus on a different color each year. One year we did blue, we've done red, silver, etc.

So, back to the wine glasses....

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Prepping Step 1

It's not normally something people boast about. I mean, how many tv shows have preppers appearing as crazy individuals stockpiling for the apocalypse?
When the reality is, that's not how most preppers are. Oh, we plan ahead. That's for sure! It's just most of us are not that unshowered, wild-haired, off-your-rocker Grizzly Adams looking guy.

Do you purchase car insurance?
Do you grocery shop for the week?
Use coupons to get more stuff for less cost?
Put more gas in your car than what you need for the day?
Get milk, bread, and water when a storm is coming?
Have a savings account with money in it?

These are all 'prepping' ideas. I'm not kidding. Seriously. You're half way to prepping already, you just don't know it.
Prepping is short for 'prepared'. And most people like to be prepared. Some of us just do it on a much larger scale.

Why am I going into all this now?
Well, because it's the first of March...and that means gardening is coming soon. In turn, canning your bounty is not far behind.
Of course, most preppers do not stop prepping just because it's winter. But we tend to use the spring and summer months to replenish our homemade food supplies and to gather everything we need for the upcoming winter. Strange, I know. Thinking about saving up for winter when you're still in the throes of the current winter. But that's what we do. We get prepared for what we think will come next, while making sure we have enough to last six month, a year, two years. Whatever we can afford to do, to get, we do.

Because you can't always count on anyone but yourself. We don't rely on the government to take care of us. We don't rely on a neighbor to share what they have with us. We don't bum rides constantly to get places. We don't expect others to take care of things we can do ourselves with a little pre-planning.
Prepping means going back to a simpler time when you grew as much of your own food as possible. Traded with others if needed. Raised chickens, had a dairy cow, hunted your own food. Whatever it took, you did it. You dealt with whatever life threw your way and you became prepared for what you thought would come next.

Some preppers live in the city. Some in the country. Rural, urban, suburban. It doesn't matter. The idea is the same. Take care of your own, and make sure you have enough to last any possible duration. A week. A month. Six months. A year. Two years. Five years.
Whatever you can do, do it. Get prepared. No matter where you live, there are things you can do.

I will try to share more of what I do over the next few months. With pictures, if possible. I will share with you stories or activities from other bloggers that I think you might like.
And of course, I will throw in some of my own nightly cooking recipes.

Here's your first prepping tip:

Stock the food you like.

If you don't like it, you won't eat it. Why store something you won't eat? Even if it's a good buy, you're just wasting your money, and that's silly.
30 cans of green beans are great, but not if you don't eat them.

You go grocery shopping usually on a weekly basis. Just start picking up an extra can or two of the things you normally buy.  When you get more time, make a list of what you want to obtain. Things you know you'll eat. Thinking about how often you eat something will help you calculate how many you will need for a month, six months, a year or five years.

The next post I'll go over some calculations I use, and see if I can't get a pdf to upload for you to use on your prepping journey.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Vanilla Bean Paste

I went to make some vanilla bean paste because making it is so much cheaper than buying it...have you seen how much they want for that stuff? Sheesh!

And So I started playing around with making my own....and I had one batch....and the husband knocked it out of the fridge onto the floor.

Huh. Guess I know why it's so expensive.

I'll try again another day. With pictures. Promise.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chicken Epiphany

The other day a local morning news show had a live 'remote' at a nearby cheese shop. One to which the husband and I have frequented. We couldn't wait for this place to open, being such cheese-nerds that we are.  Once it did, it took us two weeks to get there. (Bad cheese-nerds!)

Anyway, the last time we were in we picked up some three spice gouda that was absolutely to die for. Seriously. It was really freaking good.

Seeing the morning news show at that same shop, we were reminded it was there and decided to stop in for some cheese....any cheese that caught our eye.

Well, I got this epiphany while in the cheese shop (what? that's not where you get your epiphanies? huh...)... what if I were to use the three spice gouda, along with some sun-dried tomatoes and stuff it inside chicken breast, wrap it in bacon and bake it? Oh how good would that be???

...and then I made it....and forgot to take pictures. And the cheese melted out.
Some epiphany. :P

Friday, January 29, 2016

Asiago Bisque- More Than Just Cheese Soup

I needed something for lunch today so when I got up at 0400, I decided that a quick cheese soup was on the agenda.

Except this couldn't be just ANY soup. Nope. Nosirree. I had to make it AB Normal, like me.
Don't get me wrong, regular cheese soup with or without broccoli is fabulous. But I wanted something with a little HA!, and a HIYA! and a kicker! (my kicker is when I ended up walking out the door and forgot to TAKE my newly created soup for lunch! Doh!)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cabbage Rolls. An Experiment. On the Husband.

I am not a big fan of cabbage. I know, bad Irish girl. But I'm just not into the whole eating stinky feet smelling food thing. Call me crazy.

However, the husband *loves* cabbage. So tonight I tried making my first ever cabbage rolls.
Let me tell you...easy and hard all rolled up in one. (see what I did there??)

Now, all I've ever done with cabbage is slice it like wheels, cover it in garlic, parmesan and some olive oil and bake it. Or slice it for cole slaw. Which I don't eat, either. Chances are if it's cabbage I'm not eating it. But I will make it for the husband.

I went with THIS recipe. And while mostly easy, it takes a bit to know when to take the cabbage leaf OUT of the boiling water before it falls apart. Yeeeah. I can cook a gourmet seven course meal, but cabbage throws me. Go figure.

After a bit of fine tuning, I let the cabbage leaves soak in hot water in the sink for about 10 minutes..because I obviously couldn't be held accountable using boiling water.

It seems to work like a charm. All I really needed was the cabbage to become pliable so when rolled, it wouldn't break apart.

Once again, I wish I took pictures. But, if you really want to see it in action, go to the link and make the cabbage rolls yourself.
The husband pronounced them, 'Fantastic and fabulous!' and said I can make them again.
Of course, what he doesn't know is that since I am not eating them, he has two more servings ready to go in containers for lunches this week. I'm sure his coworkers will hate me when that cabbage comes out the other end, but one ever said cabbage was glamorous.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Beef Bourguignon...ok, Beef Noir

I attempted Beef Bourguignon tonight.  I say attempted because while I made something, Beef Bourguignon is probably not what it should be called in reality.

I got up early this morning and chopped up celery, carrots, onions, and the beef...then marinated it in Pinot Noir (same grape, less expensive wine since Burgundy wine *must* come from the Burgundy region in France to be called Burgundy)...

I took pictures of the ingredients, the veggies,

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How does THAT work? Why Essential Oil and Baking Soda Freshens the Air

When I spoke of chemicals the other day, it got me to thinking....what if I tackle a question every so often that everyone is wondering, but not many people know the answer?
I'm not saying that I know everything. FAR from it. What I am saying is, I have a lot of smart friends. Like neurobiologist, lawyer, chemist type people. If I cannot figure out the answer, one of them usually knows. And trust me, I go to them a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.

And yesterday the question popped into my head--if baking soda is used as an odor absorber, how can people add essential oil to it and call it an air freshener? Wouldn't it absorb the smell of the oils, too, and NOT freshen the air?

So I went to my handy dandy chemist friend...and here's the answer....

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chemicals and the Toxicity of Everyday Things

I am one of those naturalist type people who love to make things myself. Lotions, soap, sugar scrubs, laundry soap, you name it. I do so because I like doing it.  I like saving money. I like challenging myself to make new things. I don't do it because I am afraid of 'chemicals' in my laundry detergent. Here's why:

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Best Low Carb Pizza You'll Ever Eat

I am not kidding about this title. Oh, I know people have raved about the cauliflower crust pizza. Mine didn't turn out so well...besides not really liking cauliflower, it was too wet, soggy, floppy and it spread like a bad rumor.

A couple days ago I posted about carb-free crackers- which were fantastic, by the way.

Today, I am posting about using that same  cracker