Thursday, April 20, 2017

My New Favorite Breakfast...

     When I was about 14 years old, my grandmother gave me a copy of An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott.  I loved the story and it had a profound affect on my life.  In the book, the main character, "Polly", preferred to eat oatmeal for breakfast.  To this day (54 years later) oatmeal is still my favorite breakfast.  I have cooked and served it in many different ways through the years, but always enjoy oats for breakfast.

     I had some leftover fruit salad that I had made and decided to experiment.  When I put together a fruit salad, I just use what I have on hand.  This time, it included banana, apple, orange, mango, raisins, strawberries, grapes, blackberries and a few walnuts.  I usually cut up the oranges first, as the juice from them will prevent the other fruits from oxidizing and turning brown.  The banana, papaya and apple were fresh. The strawberries, grapes and blackberries I had saved in the freezer.

     So, here is how I made my oatmeal this morning.  In a microwave-safe bowl (large enough not to let it spill over as it cooks!) I combined 1/3 cup quick oats, a very small pinch of salt and 2/3 cup water.  This I cooked on "high" in the microwave oven for about 1.5 minutes.  In the meantime, I cracked an egg into a small bowl and whisked it thoroughly with a fork.  As soon as the oats were done, I quickly stirred in the whisked egg.  Next, I measured out 1/2 cup fruit salad and mixed that in.  Oh.. my... this is so delicious!


By the way, that bowl is from my first mother's dishes, so it is probably about 70 years old.  It says "Bavaria" on the bottom.  That makes my oatmeal even more special to me.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Do you remember the Orchid?

Last February I bought an orchid and blogged about it HERE.  I had never had an orchid before and I want to show you how it is doing now.  Literally, there have only been 2 days in all this time that there wasn't at least one bloom on the plant.  It is amazing!  And since the longer days have come, being springtime here, it is very happy. I think it was more than worth the investment of 5 dollars, and the little time I take caring for it. Here are some pictures:




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'm not an interior decorator, either...

When we moved into our trailer almost exactly 2 years ago, I brought the sheer curtains from our old house and hung them at the windows in the trailer... (a.k.a. "mobile home")  That was fine, for a long long time... until a few weeks ago, I was visiting our oldest daughter, and she was getting rid of some clothing and other items.  There was a very nice cotton valance in there.  I said, "Can I have that?"  So, here it is at our kitchen window:



Well, like the story of the peasant man who broke his shoelace, this new addition to our home made me dissatisfied with the sheers I had at the windows.  Sigh....  so I bought 3 yards of muslin and 1 yard of a print at our local Walmart and made valances for our 3 other windows in the "great room."




If you look closely, you will see that I applied some lace trim above and below the strip with birds on it.  I have had that lace for a number of years.  I probably got it at a thrift store.  It was obviously purchased new well before the internet.  The printing on the card it is wound around says, "Home-Sew Bethlehem, PA 18018".  I looked online and found the company!  They have some really good deals on there: if you sew, I urge you to take a look!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Making leftovers last longer.... a frugal tip

Generally, when I have leftover food in the refrigerator, I will use it for up to a week.  Fish is an exception.  I only keep cooked fish or dishes with fish for 3 days.

If I have some soup or stew that is nearing the end of the week, I don't want to waste it, so I put it in a pot on the stove and simmer it for a few minutes, let it cool and then put it into a clean container and back into the refrigerator.  That way, I can get a few more days to use up the food.

Today, I had some chicken broth, that I had made last week for my husband who was suffering with a head cold, and also some chili.  So, I simmered them and now we can use them up! One caveat... I am not an expert on food safety.  This is just what I do.




Friday, February 17, 2017

An Extremely Tiny Tip...


You see that?  It's a stoneware paper napkin holder.  I don't use it in my kitchen anymore because I have a basket where my cloth napkins live on the counter.

I imagine nearly everyone has "junk" mail and papers that have an unused side or part of a paper.  I cut them into little pieces, rather than throw them away, put them in my napkin holder, and then when I need to write a list or a note or a recipe, these are just right, free and frugal.

Post-It's cost money.  These don't.  :)

Monday, February 13, 2017

(Almost) Perpetual "green onions" (a.k.a. "scallions")


If you like to use green onions in your cooking and as a garnish, here is an easy and inexpensive way to grow your own.  I set an onion in a mug with some water in the bottom, and you can see what is growing there. When I need some, I just snip off a leaf or two and cut them up.  The onion will last for quite a while and when it gets looking pathetic, I will replace it with another one.

Where I live, this time of year, the onions I have grown or purchased are sprouting enthusiastically, so that makes them grow in a mug even faster.

 Here is what the roots look like:


I change the water every other day.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pressure cooking in the 21st Century....

I had been reading for quite a while how much cooks love their electric pressure cookers.  I was particularly drawn to the Instant Pot, since it has a stainless steel cooking kettle in it, as opposed to the non-stick variety.  Non-stick is lovely, but inevitably, it will get damaged or worn out.  The Instant Pots were rather expensive, though, so I always told myself that I was fine, just fine, using the stove-top pressure cooker - and I was!  However, I had an opportunity to buy an Instant Pot for a very low price, so I got one, fell in love and waited for another sale and got another one.  Now I'm "wired for sound!"


These things are amazing!  I've been pressure cooking since the 1970's and so am no stranger to the method.  The main difference is that you Don't Have to WATCH the thing.  You can quickly program it and walk away with no worries.  It will even keep your food warm for you for up to 10 hours after the cooking cycle is done, if that is what you want. You can also set a time for it to start.

The one I purchased will even make yogurt very easily.  I will not get rid of the stove-top cooker, as I think some day I may need it, or if the power goes out, I could figure out something....

Today, I made up a recipe for the IP (Instant Pot) that turned out very well and is delicious!

Instant Pot Corn Pudding

1 pint of home - canned corn (you of course could use 2 cups of fresh, frozen, or store-bought canned)

2 eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

A few "cranks" of black pepper

1 green onion, finely minced

Drain the corn and then pulse it in a food processor to kind of mush it up.  Then combine all the ingredients.  Divide it into 4 buttered custard cups.  Cover each one with foil.  Place the wire trivet in the bottom of the IP, add 1 cup of water and stack the custard cups, 3 on the bottom one on the top.



Secure the lid, seal the lid, push "Manual" and set the time to 16 minutes.  Walk away.  When it is done cooking, it will beep at you.  Let the pressure release naturally.  When the pressure float valve goes down, open the pot and remove the custard cups.  Voila!


It really is very yummy.  You could do the same thing in a stove top model.  You'd just have to hang around and adjust the burner when it comes up to pressure and I would reduce the time by 2 minutes.  Natural pressure release with that too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Donna - This is for you!


I promised my cousin that I would teach her how to make milk kefir, and even though I've posted information about milk kefir before (see what is listed on the right on this page) I want to try to simplify it for her.

Above, from left to right, you can see what I use.  First is the jar with the kefir grains and milk that has been fermenting for 24 hours.  There are a LOT of grains in there because I'm letting them propagate so I have plenty to give away.

Then you see a glass bowl with a stainless steel strainer, a jug of Vitamin D milk (whole milk) and last is the container I use to keep the liquid kefir in the refrigerator.

So, to reiterate, you need the following:

Milk kefir grains
Fresh milk
Glass jar with a lid for fermenting
Glass or plastic bowl
Stainless steel strainer (or plastic colander with small holes)
A glass jar or container with a lid for storing the liquid kefir

Here is the jar with the kefir grains that has been fermenting since yesterday:


Pour the contents into the strainer over a bowl:



Bounce the strainer up and down until most of the liquid kefir has drained into the bowl.  Here is what they will look like then: 


Return the grains to the fermenting jar and pour enough milk over them to cover the grains well.  



Replace the lid.  Do not tighten it.  It needs to be a little loose so the gases can escape.  Set the jar out of the way somewhere in your kitchen:


Pour the liquid kefir from the bowl into your refrigerator container and put it back in the fridge:




After 24 hours, repeat!  The grains will multiply and you can either eat the extra or discard them or share them with someone else.  Other than milk, you never have to buy another thing.  I've had mine for a long time and bought them originally on eBay.

Once a week, I wash my fermenting and storage jars.  This takes a lot more time to talk about than to do.

Donna, I am going to send you the grains.  Just put them in a jar immediately and cover them with milk.  Then, the next day, proceed.

Easy peasy!

Love you!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

A new bread box!!

My birthday was yesterday.  One of our sons and his wife sent me a new bread box?  It is ceramic and I love it.  It's sitting there in the middle on top of the hutch.  :)


Friday, January 6, 2017

Bread boxes - - - I never knew this!

.... I can't remember now how it came to be, but I started reading online about bread boxes.  I always just assumed a bread box was a place to store your bread so the counter wouldn't look messy.  Not so!  I have discovered that the traditional Bread Box helps to keep bread fresh longer.  How did I not know this?  I guess my mom didn't use one and I simply never talked with anyone about it.  I thought I would put it to the test.  I don't have an official Bread Box (yet), so I cleaned up this old "tin" to use:


It's a nice big old cookie tin that I've had for a number of years and have used to store canning rings in.  I thought, "Well, if this works, then I'll see if I can get a real Bread Box."  The article I was reading suggests wrapping the loaf of bread in a cotton cloth, so that's what I did.  I put my loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread in the tin, wrapped in a nice cotton cloth.  Here is what is left today.  I put it in there on Tuesday, so that was 3 days ago.


Let's unwrap it!


And here I cut off a nice slice.


The bread is still nice and moist and nearly as fresh as the day I made it.  Now, I do understand that sourdough bread (true, long - fermented bread) has better keeping qualities than "normal" bread, but even so... this is much much better!

If you store your fresh breads in plastic bags, it simply doesn't work.  I don't know why.  It just doesn't.  And if you pre-slice your bread, that's not a good idea either.

I can't tell you how pleased I am!  The extra bread that I made is in a plastic bag in the freezer.  When I need some, I will just get it out and let it thaw and then wrap it in the cloth and put it in the tin.  

A small thing, again, but I am easily entertained.  ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Something little - gluten-free "dumplings."

Are you on a gluten-free diet?  I'm not, but my husband is currently doing the ketogenic diet in order to lose some weight, and I thought maybe I could make some dumplings for soup for him.  These are nice!  They are very tender, and I suggest you make them right before serving the soup, and cooking them in the soup.

Tender, gluten-free dumplings

1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons blanched almond flour

Crack the egg into a little bowl and whisk it up with a fork.  Add the other ingredients and stir it thoroughly.



Bring your soup to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer.  Dip a teaspoon in the hot broth, and then scoop out some of your batter and put it in the broth.  Dip in the spoon in the broth between each scoop.  Continue until all the dumplings are in the soup.  Simmer for two minutes.  That's it!





You might want to scoop the dumplings out in order to treat them gently, then replace them in the bowls of soup.  These would also be very nice with some savory gravy, or with a homemade "cream" soup ladled over them.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Avocados were on sale!

My local grocery store advertised Haas avocados for 88 Cents each!  So, I bought 10 of them, put two in the refrigerator to eat soon, and have frozen the rest.  I blogged about this process a number of years ago, but thought it might be good to mention it again.

This time, I had 8 avocados and mashed them thoroughly with my electric hand-held mixer, and then mixed in 1/2 cup lemon juice.

I divided the pulp into 1/4-cup batches in the fold-over sandwich bags, tied them all shut and put them into a larger food storage bag and then into the freezer.

How cute!



You might wonder, "Why 1/4-cup batches?"  Well, I'll tell you...  I like to make "Avocado Ranch Dressing" - a recipe I found on AllRecipes.com.  Blogger won't let me link to it, but you can go there if you want to see it.  Here is how I made mine:

AVOCADO RANCH DRESSING

1/4 cup ripe avocado
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon buttermilk (I used milk kefir, and you could also use plain yogurt, if you wish)
1.5 (one and a half) teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried parsely
1 pinch dried dill weed
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1 pinch garlic powder

I put all of that in the small container of my food processor and blended it well.  Alternately, you could mash the avocados up with a fork and then stir everything in, or use a hand-held electric mixer.

Refrigerate.  It's really yummy!

Okay, I prefer not to use commercial mayonnaise, so I make my own, very quickly and easily, like this:

MAYONNAISE

In a medium-sized bowl combine:

3 egg yolks (if you are not worried about the safety of raw eggs)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1.5 Tablespoons (one and one-half) raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste (about 8 pinches)

I use an immersion blender to blend this all together and it takes only moments to do.  I used to do it in a stand blender, drizzling in the olive oil very slowly and that works fine, but takes a lot more time.

According to Gnowfglins, if you add a Tablespoon of live whey to this and let it sit out on the counter for 7 hours before putting it in the fridge, it will keep much longer, but if you are going to use it within a week, I wouldn't worry about that.

Avocados really do freeze well.  Just get some out the day before you need to use it and put it in the refrigerator to thaw out.  You will be glad when the price of avocados go sky high!




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