Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quick Greens

I want to show you how I cook fresh greens. I used to always steam them, but this is so much easier and faster. Here you see a big handful of Swiss Chard leaves that I plucked out in greenhouse just before dinner. I take off the main part of the stems. You could use them too, but I like it better if I take them off.

Here are the stems. They can be used in stock, or even steamed or stir-fried.

After washing the leaves and taking off the stems, I piled the leaves on top of each other and then roll them all up together:

Then I slice them thinly:

Here they are all sliced:

And then I cut them cross-wise a few times:

In a cast iron skillet, I melt 1 Tablespoon of butter and 1 Tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil:

Then add the chopped greens and on medium heat, stir and cook for approximately 2 minutes. I season them with Realsalt and plenty of freshly ground pepper.

Now they are wilted and done. You could cook them longer, but this is how I like them:

Here is my portion on my plate with turkey (remember Thanksgiving??) and homemade noodles on top of mashed potatoes. Yum!

This will work just as well for kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, or anything else of that nature. Quick, easy and wonderful!

What amazes me is how small the greens become after cooking!

By the way, we named the new puppy "Badger." :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Puppy!

We drove to Kentucky today (across the Ohio river) to meet this little Border Collie:

He is the last one left of a litter of 7 puppies born on August 13th. Very sweet and affectionate. Of course, on the way home, we had to do the right thing and break him in to our family. We stopped at Dairy Queen and got some ice cream, for us and for him. I know... I know... nutrition, but like I've said before, not having any fun is bad for you too! :)

He doesn't have a name yet. This has been a long and tiring day for such a young puppy.

A sigh of happiness just escaped me. I still miss my old doggie, but this surely has helped. Lots of work ahead now!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Tomorrow, we plan to drive about 130 miles, possibly to get a new puppy. Here is the listing on Craigslist in case you want to see. The male is the only one left. If we bring him home, I will post pictures. Wish us luck!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Sad times... Happy times.

The day before Thanksgiving, my 14 year old dog died. I miss her so much. She was such a good little friend for so long.

Then, Thanksgiving came, and we had a lovely and memorable day. I hope those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving all had a nice meal and loved ones to spend the day with.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Replacing a Zipper in a coat/jacket

Here you can see a perfectly good jacket. The problem is, the zipper is broken! Replacing a zipper is really not difficult, but it is tedious and takes considerable time. If your coat/jacket is nice, and/or you love it, it is more than worth the trouble to replace the zipper.

Here is the zipper I ordered over the internet here. This company is wonderful. They have everything and excellent customer service!

A closer look at the invoice:

The zipper I purchased cost $6.03 including the shipping, and so for a nice coat, you can see that this would really be worthwhile.

Now, don't be afraid. Breath. Relax. Here we go.

FIRST ~ set your sewing machine to its longest stitch length. Sew a line of stitching along the jacket opening, far enough in from the edge that you do NOT catch in the existing zipper. This is to hold everything together nicely and make the reassembly easier. Do this on both sides of the jacket.

Here I am doing the same thing on the other side:

SECOND ~ take your little seam ripper and do (carefully and don't stab yourself) whatever it takes to remove the broken zipper:

Here I've gone a little farther in the process:

Here I am removing some stitching from the surface:

And here is what it looks like with the zipper removed. Now you will see the wisdom of doing that basting line of stitches so the jacket doesn't blow up and get all weird.

THIRD ~ carefully remove all the bits of loose thread:

FOURTH ~ Thread a sturdy hand sewing needle with a doubled thread and run it through some beeswax so it will be less likely to tangle while you are sewing. Rosin will work instead of the beeswax, too, or if you have neither, find a piece of candle or even hand soap to use!

FIFTH ~ I hope you took the time to observe how the old zipper was positioned. You are going to unzip the new zipper, and one side at a time, you will put the new zipper in, and pin it in place and then hand baste it in place:

See? Here is one side basted together:

And here is the other side:

Oh, yes, and it is very helpful to have a fuzzy cat walking around under your work table at this point:

SIXTH ~ Before you sew the zipper in with your machine, zip up the jacket to make sure it is going to work!

SEVENTH ~ Now, simply, using a normal stitch length, sew along the same line where the old zipper was sewn in like this:

Make sure to replace any seams or stitching you have removed:

Be sure to remove any basting stitches. On this one, there was the nice little tab on the old zipper, so I just transferred it to the new one:

That's all you need to do! Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, it is better than throwing away a perfectly good coat.

Please feel free to ask questions if I can help.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tortilla Chips - Sort of homemade

Ever since I made the green tomato salsa, I've been wishing I had some tortilla chips to have with it. When I went grocery shopping, I looked for "baked" tortilla chips, thinking that way I could avoid the unhealthy oils they use in frying. It was not to be. Even the baked varieties have soy oil and disturbing things of that nature on the ingredient list. Then I thought, well, I could make some tortillas from masa, but just haven't felt that ambitious. I did the next best things this evening. I used commercial corn tortillas:

I used my pizza cutter to cut them into wedges. The salt shaker there is what I used to season them after they were deep fried. It is full of RealSalt. I love that stuff... it has such a good flavor, plus contains at least 60 different trace minerals that our bodies need, so is a healthy addition to our diet.

I filled my little "Fry Daddy" deep fryer with lard up to the line, and heated it for about 10 minutes before adding some of the chips. I only did one layer at a time and let them cook until they were almost done sizzling and had just barely started to turn brown:

Here is my tool for taking the chips out of the fryer. You could also use a slotted spoon.

I drained them on a plate covered with several layers of paper toweling. I also salted them at this time. As they were finished, I transferred them to a bowl lined with a dish towel:

And here is my little bowl of salsa. It was delicious!

Maybe next time I'll try to make my own tortillas. It is not difficult, just takes some time like anything else.

I am sharing this post of Wardeh's Tuesday Twister over at GNOWFGLINS!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I forgot to show you my Irish Potatoes!

Back in September, I dug the Irish Potatoes. Here I am holding a big one!

These all came from one plant!

Here is the entire harvest from that day. There are Kennebec and Pontiac Red in the basket on the right.

I had been robbing the hills for a few weeks prior to this when I needed some potatoes for cooking, so this isn't all of them... maybe 3/4. This was a good year for Potatoes here in Indiana.

I spread them out on newspapers to let them dry before storing. If you don't do that, you'll end up with a lot more rotten potatoes. We also covered them with an a thin board to keep the light out. You could use more newspapers, or an old blanket. Just make sure that the air can get in there to dry them out.

When they were cured nicely, I sorted out a few that were going bad and put the rest into brown paper grocery bags, closed the bags and they are in my unheated food storage room. We don't have any kind of basement or cellar. It never gets below freezing in there, but through the winter is quite chilly.

I used the red ones first, since I have read that they do not last as long, being higher in water content.

It is very important to protect potatoes from exposure to light. If they are in the light very long, they will start to turn green with "solanine," which is highly toxic. Eating one such potato could kill a child.

I have often seen potatoes in grocery store that were "green as grass." NEVER buy those!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Water Kefir woes and a solution!

I would like to share with you something my daughter e-mailed to me today. She has been brewing water kefir and making kefir soda for quite a while now, and it's been a real blessing to her and her family. Recently, she was having troubles with it... Here, read what she says:

"Remember how I was having trouble with my water kefir grains not growing? Well, I tried tap water, letting the chlorine dissipate first. That didn’t work. I had read that reverse osmosis water is too alkaline for the grains and will eventually kill them. So as a last resort I tried our soft water, and it works! They are growing like crazy again. I had to murder about 2/3 of the grains this morning. Also, because of the temperature drop of around 10 degrees in the house, it takes a lot longer for the entire process. I have to wait until I don’t see any of the Sucanat left in the jar, which takes at least 36 hours, maybe longer. Plus, to make the kefir soda it takes longer, over 12 hours. "

I have realized, over time, that there are so many variables in brewing kefir of both types (milk and water) that it is more of an art than a science. You need to figure out what works for YOU and what pleases you. There are no exact formulas that you have to follow!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saving the Beans

I was in the storage room yesterday and noticed a 10 pound bag of pinto beans that I had bought well over a year ago and had not used. Dried beans, if they are left long enough, get too dry and no matter how long you cook or soak them, they never cook up nice and mushy. I think maybe the seeds actually die, but I don't know that as a fact.

I didn't want to have to throw away the beans, so I soaked them in warm water with some lemon juice for about 10 hours and then I canned them and got 18 quarts. That will be very handy when I am in a hurry and want to whip up some burritos, or need them for quick soup.

I did it like this:

Sort and rinse the dry beans.
Soak the beans at least overnight or up to 48 hours.
Drain and rinse thoroughly.
Cover with water and boil for 30 minutes.
Fill clean quart canning jars to within 1 inch of top.
Adjust caps.
Process 90 minutes in pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure. (Please consult a good canning book for more detailed instructions.)

Tooth Soap

A number of months ago I ran across an idea on the internet that intrigued me. There are people who believe that commercial toothpaste is unhealthy for us. I guess it makes sense, since the toothpastes are not made out of safe ingredients. You can buy "Tooth Soap" online, but it is rather expensive, so I looked for a recipe and found several. The one I used is made of all safe, nice, gentle ingredients. I found the recipe here. I chose the recipe called "Flavorful Tooth Soap Recipe."

Above is a picture of my ingredients ~ Dr. Bronner's castile liquid soap , extra-virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, orange essential oil and peppermint essential oil.

I measured out all the ingredients in the recipe (see below) into a small bowl and mixed it all up thoroughly with a fork:

After mixing it looked like this:

It was too thick at that point to flow at all, so I ended up adding 1 more teaspoon of the extra-virgin olive oil, and a Tablespoon of water. Then I used a funnel to put it into a small, very clean liquid hand soap dispenser that I bought just for this purpose.

I had to tap the funnel on the bottle to get the paste to go in, but it did go in and will last a long time, so the tapping was well worth the effort.

The thing to do is wet your toothbrush, apply a small amount of the tooth soap and then brush and rinse as usual.

The recipe is called "Flavorful." That is odd, because I think I would be more inclined to call it "Flavorless." It has almost no taste at all and is very easy and pleasant to use. And I am pleased with it. It does a good job and it seems to me that my teeth feel cleaner longer, and even after a night's sleep, I don't have that feeling in my mouth when I get up that is urging me to brush as soon as possible.

Here is the recipe:

Flavorful Tooth Soap Recipe

1 Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's castile liquid soap (the best price I found was on Amazon.com - I bought the kind for babies that has no scent or anything strange added to it.)
5 Tablespoons of coconut oil
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
10 - 12 drops of orange essential oil
10 - 12 drops of peppermint essential oil

Blend the ingredients together thoroughly. If the consistency is thicker than desired, more olive oil or water can be added until it reaches a pourable texture.

Store in a clean soap dispenser.

I recommend it!

I am sharing this post at Wardeh's Simple Lives Thursday over at GNOWFGLINS
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