Sunday, May 31, 2009

Before and After Pictures . . . sorry, I couldn't post the smell of CLEAN!

These are my hot pads, yes I actually use them  . . . .  that is why they look the way they do. They go well with my poor old stove  ;-)  They have gone and done some serious cooking at girls camp, turkey looking (I camp while Jon goes hunting), other camping and at home on a daily basis.  Even though you can see some difference in the two pictures, it really doesn't do justice to the difference.  They were really greasier than you can see in the first pic.

My and Rob's work clothes are very fresh, with no odor left at all.  I had been wearing mine every day for a week working outside.  The best thing is that they smell clean . . . as in, nada!  Can you tell that I have never bought into the "fresh scent" line?  The only thing that could be better would be if they had hung our on the line . .  . sunshine is the best!  Too bad it fades everything at the same time. 

LAUNDRY SOAP . . . the Results!

1.  These are the ingredients you need:  
  • Borax--1 cup -- found in your laundry soap aisle
  • Washing soda--2cups-- this is the baking soda from Costco, I have used it for years in my laundry for blasting odors, and conditioning the water.  I used again in this experiment.
  • Ivory bar soap-- 2 bars, 3.5 oz to equal 7 oz.-- I found Fels Naptha at Ace Hardware and Fry's grocery store.  the "scent" (more like stench!  NOT a floral smell, unless it was stink weed) was so strong it gave me an asthma attack in the car, even though it was wrapped in a grocery bag and heavy duty ziplock bag.  = {   Had my daughter return it so I could stay away from it . . . she put it into her trunk so that she didn't have to smell it!

1.  Take your little hammer to the bars of soap.  (Do you just love my "little" hammer?  I use it to drive rebar into the hard caliche we have for soil.)    2.  The bars break up easily if you start on the edges and work you way into the middle of the bars.

1.   The pieces were all under an inch when I put them into the processor.  2.  After 20-30 seconds of whirling.  I did it for  a minute to minute an half until it was very powdery.  Don't open it right away.  It floats into the air, not so good if you have asthma or allergies!  Sure glad that I returned the Fels Naptha!  

I forgot the last step!  I put all three ingredients into a big bowl and stirred them with the whisk, while standing outside to avoid breathing the dust.   The whole process took about 5 minutes. 

I washed my very dirty, smelly work clothes and my son's very dirty, sour smelling work clothes to test it.    We had spent most of a day working outside and they were really "ripe".  They came out of the washer smelling clean!  I also put in my hot pads that have been camping.  I will share the total results, including some before and after pictures tomorrow.

Thanks to Liz for letting me know what I had forgotten to put into this.  Now you know why my daughter has appointed  herself my editor!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bountiful Baskets . . . again

Today was adventure in Produceland again.  It has been fun to anticipate and then finally see what was coming for the next two weeks of menu planning.  Mariah & I went down early and helped distribute everything.  Most seemed to know what they were doing, so it was no big deal.  It was pretty fun though.  I always enjoy getting to know new people, especially when they are those who enjoy pitching in.

1.  What they call the conventional basket.  It costs $15.00.  2.  This is the 9-grain bread that comes in a 5-pack for $10.00.  It just has the five basic ingredients, no fillers, etc.  It usually costs over $4.oo per loaf.  3.  They usually have a special pack or two that are good in ethnic food.  This was the Mexican pack for $5.50.  It has tomatillos, limes, jalapenos, garlic, scallions, yellow onions, cilantro, and tortillas.

The adventure is when we get something you've never cooked with and get to find new recipes.  The green tomatillas are going to be made a into salsa, new to my family.  Tomorrow we'll use the mangoes, pineapple and ginger to make a dish with chicken and a sweet & sour type sauce dish over rice.  A gal who was also helping to day, has a mango salsa recipe that she is going to email to me.   YUM! 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

For the Love of Beans . . . WITH Pictures!

You will need:
  •  6 cups beans
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 T. lard or bacon grease

1.  Pick through 6 cups of beans.  2.  Pull out the funny looking beans, rocks, dirt clods.  3.  Rinse in colander. 

1.  Pour the rinsed beans in the crock, fill with water, stir around to allow the floating beans and any debris to rise to the top.  2.  Scoop out the "undesirables".  3.  Strain and rinse several times until the water is clear.
When the water is clear, place the beans in the crock. Add: 
  • one medium, chopped onion 
  • one minced garlic clove
  • one teaspoon of salt
  • 1 good scoop (2-3 T.) of lard  
Fill with water. Cover, with the lid and a towel folded in half.  Set to high and go find something to do for a couple of hours.   Check to see if it needs more water, mine usually does.  Add water, stir the bottom beans up to the top.  Cover again and check again in another 2 hours.


Melt enough bacon grease or lard in your skillet to make it about 1/8 inch depth.    Pour in the drained beans and stir them around to fry them.  2.  I try to brown them a little before mashing them with the good old fashioned potato masher for nice chunky texture.  You can also use a mixer if you want, for a little smoother texture.  Be careful, they can be flung out and they are hot!! This method usually keeps some of the beans whole or at least not as smooth as if you did it in a blender or food processor.  3.  Getting a little browned.  Time to add some liquid.
1.  Add some bean juice if they are too dry.  2.  Some milk instead of bean juice can make them so nice and creamy while adding some more calcium.  Another way to get that powdered milk down your family if they don't want to drink it!!  3.  Don't forget the VERY critical step, quality control, AKA as "QC".   This is good to do with a salty chip so that you can judge if you need to add any salt while adding the other seasonings you decide to add . . . it's time to do that!


Here is the way to make them.  You can use a mixer, for a little more texture, a blender or food processor for very smooth texture.

1.  Drain the beans the same way that you do for refrying them.   2.  After whirling them, add bean juice, a little milk or salsa to make them the consistency you would like. This will make very smooth dish that will have no whole beans left unless you add a few.   3.  And then don't forget . . .   the big "QC".   Now decide what seasonings you would like to add, and of course, QC again . . . to make sure you have it just right!

Seasonings For Beans and other Mexican Foods

As I said in my original post about beans, falling on financially tight times taught me a lot.  I would cook 6 qts of beans each week.  The first night would have just plain beans with a little cheese.  I would split the rest into half and make refried beans with some and chile beans with the rest.  Oops, I forgot the liquid smoke and canned diced tomatoes.

Since I put the directions above for refried beans, I will just give some tips for chile beans.  This will depend on your taste, so I won't really give exact amounts.  It usually changes from week to week for me, depending on my cravings and how much ground beef,  I have on hand.

  • Cooked beans--If you don't have some left-over, get a #10 can of the ranch style beans from Costco or Wally world.  These already have the red chile powder in them.
  • Ground beef--cook  while scrambling it up.  ***Chorizo-- I almost forgot to mention this!  If you don't know what it is, try Mexican sausage.  It has actually become fairly common and not too hard to find, at least in the western US.  It can add quite a bite and really lots of flavor.  Use it instead of ground beef.
  • Onion--I will usually add medium, diced onion
  • Garlic--yes I cheat, I keep the minced garlic in a jar in the fridge.  BUT, if I was using fresh garlic, I would use 1 clove, minced
  • Canned green chile--I always buy the big #401 cans (27 oz.)  I use about 1/4 can, diced.  Sometimes I go wild and use about half a can.  they are very mild and don't add much bite to the mix, just a nice peppery taste.
  • Bay leaf-- I just like the taste of them and it seems to bring out the beefy flavor of the ground beef.   If someone gets in their bowl at the table, they get to wish for something.  My 4 yr. old grandson is waiting for his rhinoceros
  • Canned petite, diced tomatoes--I use a #401 can
  • Red chile powder-- I use about 1 t. of the mild kind.  Sometimes, I use the crushed red chile flakes.  Since there are seeds, they usually add more "zest".
  • Tomato paste--This will make the "broth" thicker.  I have found that those of you in the colder climates seem to prefer this style ;-) 
  • Liquid smoke--1/4-1/2 t.--I do love a little bit of a smokey flavor.  Some left-over home smoked salmon I snagged out of my brother's fridge years ago had me hooked.  I love to smoke my own meats, etc. now.  This is a quick "fix" when I can't afford to do that for lack of time or good ribs, chicken . . . Nuts! . . . now I'm hungry!!
  • Cumin--This can add such a nice subtle flavor.  Just use a sprinkle.  I have had a fair number of dishes that got overdosed on cumin ,  takes all the fun out of it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Help . . . Summer is here!!!

If any of you are feeling this way, checkout the website:  Saw the magazine in the dental office and was quite impressed.  Just checked out their website and now I am even more impressed!  Make this a summer to remember . .  on the cheap!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Savvy Savings Tucson

My daughter, Mariah came over and told me all about this website.  I didn't get it entered right then and lost track of it. I just snooped on her blog and found it again.  Click HERE to check it out, good stuff!  

Make sure you don't miss this one!!  She has lots of great information that YOU need!

Sorry I forgot to put the link on this . . .  senior moment!!  I have a bad habit of letting my mind plan the next thing I plan to do, as I am doing something . . . I wonder why my grand kids don't seem to have very long attention spans . . .  where did they get it?  

. . . . Now what was I doing?!?!?!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

Don't worry, the scrub board is a joke . . . well kind of . . .  I do have one put back.  Rocks just don't seem very fun!  I took scrubbing lessons from a movie, so now I know just how to use it and if we need a percussion section for a family band, I have lots of thimbles. 

A friend of mine has been telling us all about the laundry soap one of her daughters has been using.  It works really well, doesn't have a bunch of fillers to make it look like your getting a whole bunch, (which of course also takes more room to store) has no fragrances to make everything smell "clean" . . . hello . .  isn't that one of the reasons we wash our clothes, to get rid of odors and is made of just basic, good old fashioned cleaning stuff!  I remember grating homemade soap that was given to us,when my family was tight for a few months, and it seemed to work OK.  

Anyway,  young friend of mine in Texas, Rachel, had this on her blog. I am totally ripping it all off, thanks to her generous email.  Down below are her results, looks good.  Today I will get the stuff and try it on some other really old stains, and let you know how it works!  I do plan to use the dry recipe, less storage space.  I also think I will try it as a spotter in liquid form.  I haven't bought any laundry spray for years . .  Spray & Wash is OK, but there are way better things you can make!

I am pretty sure I have seen all of these ingredients at Walmart.  I would buy the washing soda AKA baking soda.  I buy it at Costco, put a little in a clean container in the kitchen, and take the rest out to the garage.

TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha  bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

  • 4  Cups hot tap water
  • 1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1  Cup Washing Soda
  • ½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Powdered Laundry Detergent- Top load machine

  • 1   Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1   Cup Washing Soda
  • ½  Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Results Are In   ---- by Rachel

And NO, I'm not taking about American Idol,
Survivor or Dancing With The Stars.

The clothes have been washed and
the stains have been removed!!

Here are 2 examples of stains that
were on a changing pad of Keira's.
I won't tell you WHAT the stains are,
but I'm sure you can imagine!!

And after 1 wash and no "pre-treatment" application
the stains were gone.
Plus these stains were NOT fresh.
They were at least a few days old.

So the "SURVEY SAYS"...

this home-made laundry soap ROCKS!

The crazy part is that even though the Fels-naptha
bar had a scent to it when it was boiled,
the clothes had NO scent after being washed.

Which is great. No scent means clean.

Although I know many of us love that fresh smell.
So you might want to use some drops of **essential oils**
like the recipe suggests.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bountiful Baskets . . . the latest delivery

Today Mariah got to pickup for both of us.  It was a good day for my produce drawers in the fridge.  Click HERE if you would like to see more information about Bountiful Baskets.
I also got a forty lb. box of Granny Smith apples for $ .35 a lb.  next week will be the time to make apple sauce, apple pie filling and maybe apple butter.  Homemade is the best!
We're finding kind of fun to save money and  have an adventure !

Friday, May 15, 2009

MILK . . . Great Post About Milk

I was doing my early morning breakfast cruise and ran across this post about the "Basics on Milk".
I check this site out regularly. It has good posts, put in a way that it is easy to understand.

Amanda is doing this as a way of magnifying her calling and is doing an excellent job as far as I am concerned! I have a similar calling and should do as well ! Any way, check it out for clear basic information on milk storage. Click HERE. The same basic apply to powdered milk.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wonder Pot Update

Last night I found the styrofoam beads at Hancocks Fabrics for $29.00. NO ! I didn't pay that! I used the 40% off coupon! I have scrap fabric to use so I will make it over the next couple of days. My goal is to have it ready to cook a chicken in it on Sunday using the cooking bag.

I'll let you know how it comes out!!

Sorry there are still no pictures on the bean post yet . . . I have been living on left-overs and haven't wanted to make more until I had my fridge cleared out a bit!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WONDER BOX COOKER . . . Just In Time For Summer!

For the step by step pictures click HERE .

I was just talking to my sister-in-law and she told me about this little wonder. Have you heard about them? They would be great in an emergency, but how about now with the summer weather hitting with a vengeance?!? It would be a great propane saver too if you do a lot of cooking out side or while camping. Check it out!

Wonder Boxes work like vacuum flasks. In these days when we are being warned of worldwide shortages of food and fuel, this wonder box and it’s simplicity is designed to keep food at the temperature needed for cooking. Using very little fuel you only use about 15 minutes of energy to bring the food to the required temperature and then put it into the Wonder box. It makes it as though it were a thermos. On the flip side it will also keep ice-cream cold for about 4 hours.

Brief Cooking Instructions:

Boil your food on the stove for 10 – 15 minutes until the food is heated right through. (In practice this is too long.)

Use any cooking pot, provided it does not have a long handle, but do not use a large pot for a small amount of food. The W’box does not work well if there is a large air space. Remember that the more food or liquid that you have in the pot, the longer and better it will cook.

Put the lid on the pot before you remove the pot from the stove so the lid can also get hot. Make sure the nest in the bottom cushion is ready to take the pot and that it is nearby so you do not lose heat carrying the pot around. Place pot into the nest of the W’box, making sure that the sides are snug against the pot, so there are no air pockets. Quickly cover the pot with the top cushion, making sure there are no gaps or air pockets. Make sure that no one peeks inside. If this happens, heat will escape, and the food will not cook properly.

Do not leave the W’box on a metal surface while it is being used. Metal is a good conductor of heat and may draw off some heat through the bottom.

When cooking anything like a roast or a whole chicken, the liquid around it can boil before the meat has reached the same temperature. Make sure the liquid covers the meat and it has come to a boil. Meat must be covered with liquid! The cooking time seems to be 3-4 hours, or all day. It is sure to never burn.

Note: We had a chicken that was put in at 9:30 in the morning before church. This single dad prepared the chicken by placing it into an oven-cooking bag. He added spices to the chicken closed the bag completely (no added moisture was added to the bag) then brought the pot of water with the chicken in, to a boil and put it all in to the W’box. We ate with him at 4:00pm and as he tried to carve the chicken that was well cooked; the steam was ‘rolling’ off the chicken. It was still so hot he worked with forks to carve it. Nb: the opening to the bag was left protruding from under the lid.

The W’box was designed for cooking meals, but it can also be used for keeping food hot, cold or frozen for 3-6 hours depending on what it is For example, frozen meat will stay frozen longer than a tub of ice cream.

The cushions filled with polystyrene can be washed with hot water and soap and hung on the line to dry.

WONDER BOX Sewing Instructions

Click here for a Pattern

Material: 3 Meters (yards are 3″ shorter than a meter) soft cotton or broadcloth so it will conform to the shape of the pot.

(½ can be coordinated …. two colors)

19 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails of Polystyrene beads (it is an insulation that looks like the tiny separate Styrofoam bits that make up the protective packing in electronics, etc.)

“Polystyrene is about the best insulating material and it is also easily washed. If you are only able to get the solid pieces which are used for packing radios etc., you can break it up by grating it.”
the booklet also says “make cushions out of large plastic bags, mutton cloth or other washable material and fill loosely with any of the following:
Polystyrene, Dried corn husks, Woolen materials, Feathers, Waste nylon materials, Flakes of newspaper, sawdust and wood shavings, Hay or other dry grasses “In Canada we have a gray ‘blow in insulation’ in our attic, it would be impossible to wash without opening the wonder box but it may be added to this list as well.

Sewing instructions:

When you sew the wonder box together you sew 2 of the 4 pieces together along the longest sides. You open each of the pairs now and place them right sides together and sew those 2 together all the way around the outside, making an awkward shaped cushion affair. Don’t forget the opening to fill through. You then repeat with the 4 bottom pieces. One pair together, sew along the longest side, then the other pair. Open them up and place them right sides together, remembering to leave openings to fill through. I am adding a loop at this point to hang this by when not in use, or dry after washing.

The narrow part of the bottom pattern is the piece you will tuck into the bigger part of the bottom to make the pouch/nest for the pot to sit into.

Hoping not to confuse the issue. If you start where the bottom pattern says 90 (degrees for the angle) and sew down the right side of the pattern and stop just after the second 11 ½ ” mark, before the pattern starts back up. That will be one of the two pairs. Do the same with the other two, put right sides together again and sew it all the way around the outside edge now, into the box or ball shape. The same goes for the top cushion, start at the 100, sew down the right and stop just after the 11″ mark. The rights sides together and sew again making the shape of the top cushion.

It will not lie flat. It will take the shape of a square cushion when it is filled with the polystyrene beads, and the bottom cushion has a cavity like a nest or pouch.

Top: Fill a little less than ½ full while the bag is hanging. Approximately 7 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails.

A paper funnel works best, as the beads are very static prone. You may want to use an ice cream pail to pour from. Work with two people to fill-one to hold the funnel in and the other to pour. Spread a sheet on floor to catch beads.

Bottom: Cut 4 Fill approximately ½ full with polystyrene beads. Approximately 12 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails

Once this bag is filled, tuck the small end into the center to form the pouch/nest for the pot. Find a good pot that works well in this pouch. No long handles please.

When the pan sits inside the pouch/nest of the bottom, the pan is surrounded on all sides except the top. So… that is where the top/lid comes in. It is very important to keep all of the heat inside this wonder box cooker. One of the pages and the recipes explain that the lid/top of the wonder box must go on immediately with no places for the heat to escape or it will all be for nothing.

Wonder Box Recipes

Yogurt by the Gallon

4 cups dry skim milk powder

4 quarts warm water

Mix well, heat to scald, cool to luke warm


1 cup of starter (plain commercial yogurt) or product saved from this finished recipe may be used to start a new batch. Refresh monthly with commercial starter.

Mix well, put into a gallon glass jar with a lid and place into the Wonder box.

Leave undisturbed for 12-14 hours. It will thicken more after refrigeration.

May be used plain or add your favorite fruits to flavour.

For those that can afford the calories, if the yogurt doesn’t set to your liking, add instant

Vanilla pudding. (substituting yogurt for milk)

Can be reduced for smaller batches.


2 cups quick oats

4 cups boiling water

salt to taste

Stir oats into boiling water, put lid on and place quickly between cushions of the W’box for 15 minutes or more. Stir before serving


2 cups rice

Put into

3 ½ – 4 cups of salted boiling water. NB. Because the water does not evaporate you may need less water than usual.

Place quickly into W’box, and leave for 40 minutes or longer until ready to eat.


Potatoes or root vegetables may be cooked in their skins. Bring them to a boil in a pot full of water and place quickly between cushions of the W’box for about twice as long as you would normally cook them. They may be left all day without overcooking and can be more easily peeled after cooking

Try waterless cooking by using the crisp kind of bags used for cooking roasts, etc. Submerge the bag into the water and bring to a boil. The bag should be left with opening protruding out from under the lid. Place quickly into W’box.

Chicken and other joints of Meat

Place chicken into an Oven cooking bag with desired spices, and close bag

Bring pot of water with chicken in it, to a good boil.

Quickly place into the W’box and place top cushion on.

Leave alone for at least 3-4 hours.

The chicken was put in at 9:30 in the morning before church. This single dad prepared the chicken by placing it into an oven-cooking bag. He added spices to the chicken closed the bag completely (no added moisture was added to the bag) then brought the pot of water with the chicken in, to a boil and put it all in to the W’box. We ate with him at 4:00pm. It was impressive.

Try soups, stews, what ever you can bring to a boil and then give it a try. The worst that would happen is the first time, you may have to bring things back to a boil and replace into the W’box for a second cooking time.

I was given other recipes from a group who called this “The Clever Cooker” but they looked just like any other kind of simmered recipe and the consistent instruction was leave for 3-4 hours,

Never replace a pot of half eaten or luke warm food in the W’box It should be boiled up again to prevent it going bad.


This will give you a better idea of what is being "offered" this week.  The "conventional basket" is still a surprise, but the extras have more details.

The breads they offer are made out of the five basic ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, sugar or honey, water or milk.  They try to avoid the ones with all the preservatives, etc.

The produce that I received last week has help up well and we have really enjoyed it.  There was one thing that I never buy in it, but we took the challenge, made two dishes and found ways to use it so there was no waste.  Gave our week a little fun . . . and a giggle or two on the second attempt . . . not everything is better the next day!!

Co-op News
Week A Deadline Wednesday at 10:00 pm
Bountiful Baskets is on the move!
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to family and friends in the following areas who might enjoy participating.
- Udall Park - NorthEast Tucson
        - West Point
        - Pleasant View
Administrative Notes
  • All East Valley, Tucson, and Utah Sites are available during Week A.  All West Valley, Northern Arizona, and limited East Valley Sites are available during Week B. Please review complete schedule at!
  • If the website tells you that your account does not exist, please make a new one.
  • Use the link below to make a contribution.

    If your site doesn't show in the drop down menu on the website, it is because it is full!  You are welcome to select a site different than your regular one.

    Offerings (available by making a monetary contribution over this website by the deadlines below)Contribution DeadlineDistribution Date
    Produce Baskets & BreadWednesday, 5/13/2009 at 10:00 pmSaturday, 5/16/2009

    Produce News 

    Special Items:

    • Granny Smith Apples from Washington - 40 pound box
    • Asian Pack - Garlic, sugar snap peas, fresh ginger, bok choy, etc.

    Wishing each of you healthy eating for less,
    Sally & Tanya


Monday, May 11, 2009


Oh boy, I got a comment . . . a question even!  Someone will admit they looked at my blog!  It is a great day!  . . . oh, it's my daughter . .  could it get any better?!?!?
  • The new information on next Saturday's baskets will be posted some time on Tuesday.  
  • You will have until Wednesday night, 10:00 pm, to order and pay for the basket.
  • If it is your first time ordering, there will be an additional, one time charge of $3.00 .
  • Let me know if you have any other questions!  This was kind of fun!!

Bountiful Baskets Time Again!

On Tuesday afternoon there should be a new ordering opportunity for all who are interested in trying out this new buying group experience.  This is what I received last week.  the other picture is what Nikki purchased the first week.  Can you tell she was raised by a talented mom who taught her well in arranging things to create art?  

If you are interested in trying this out, go to Bountiful Baskets  and check it out!  These are located in Phoenix, Tucson, Casa Grande areas and a few in southern Utah as well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Joy of BEANS . . . Plain, Refried & Chile

I love beans!  if you don't, you must not have had them fixed right!  I guess I should talk about cooking them in the first place!

There are many methods that include soaking, with and without baking soda, boiling them a short time, draining and adding more water, etc.  Maybe I am lazy or just stuck in a rut;  I just like the way that my mom made them.  She learned from her mom, who was born and pretty much grew up in Mexico, so I have stayed with that . . . well kind of, she never used lard, but loved it when I showed her that little trick!

Crock Pot Beans (yeilds 6 quarts...use a 6 quart crock pot) 
  • Measure out 6 cups dried beans
  • Pick through and make sure you have found all the rocks, dirt clods, weird looking beans and any other debris that might be in the batch.
  • Put beans into a colander and rinse, rinse, rinse.
  • Pour into the crock, fill with water, remove any floaters then dump the water using the colander to catch the beans.
  • Put them back into the crock pot.
  • Add a chopped onion, minced clove of garlic, teaspoon salt, and a small scoop (about 2 T) of lard.  Yes, I said lard.  It just isn't the same without it!  The flavor is subtle, but makes a difference.  Don't be afraid to use it. It doesn't go rancid as quickly as shortening.  You can store it on a pantry shelf.
  • When I get wild and crazy, I  throw in a bay leaf (wish leaf . . . if you get it at the table, you get to make a wish), cumin, oregano, red chile powder, tabasco, Frank's Hot Sauce, or liquid smoke. They can be all used simultaneously or individually.
  • Fill the crock with water, turn it to high, and cover the top with a towel folded in half.
  • Mine are usually ready in about 4 hours.  I check them about half way through and see if more water is needed and stir the top beans to the bottom.
  • Now for my usual disclaimer!  I often cook the beans with just the 1 t. salt to accomodate my low sodium diet.  I love to scoop up a cup with lots of juice to sip on.  Major comfort food!  My kids think it's weird, but one has seen the light and realizes how yummy it is.
During our "lean" years, I would serve just plain beans with a little grated cheese the first night. Then I would split the leftovers to make chile beans with half and refried beans with the other half. This provided several more meals throughout the week.

Refried Beans
  • Make sure your beans are very soft.
  • Drain the beans in a colander, saving the juice.
  • Heat lard or (bacon grease if you save that for cooking) in a skillet till it equals about 1/8 inch deep.
  • Place the beans in the pan and fry in the lard, stirring frequently. 
  • Smash with a potato masher or small hand mixer. 
  • If they seem drier than you want, add some of the juice back in.
  • Season with additional salt and same seasonings that I mentioned in the basic bean recipe.  Sometimes I add salsa to really kick up the flavor.
  • If you want them to be really creamy, you can add a little milk while stirring and heating through.  Cheese melts into them really well also.

  • Put cooked beans in a 4 or 6 qt. pot.
  • Add any or all of the following:
  1. 1/2 to 1 pound ground beef (according to preference or budget allotment) scrambled and browned.
  2. 1 large can (14-16 oz) diced tomatoes and/or a can of tomato paste.
  3.  1 medium chopped onion or 1/4 ish cup minced dry onions or 1 T. onion powder (pick one of these options not all three)
  4. 1 clove minced garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder.
  5. 1 cupish chopped green chiles or if you are a masochist, chopped jalapenos. Can you believe that is being said by someone born and raised in the southwest?!?!?!  Five years in Utah ruined me, I came home a major wimp  =-(
  6. 1-2 tsp. red chile powder.
  7. More of any of the seasonings named in the basic bean recipe.
I'll do pictures sooon!!!  Maybe I should have my husband take pictures while I cook, they would get done faster that way.  He is getting quite a kick out of spotting "blogger moments" these days . .  funny ole feller  . . . think I'll keep him around  . . . yeah I will  =-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Parmesan Chicken ... with the Pictures!

First a disclaimer . . . I have lost a couple of my marbles . . . if anyone has them, please return ASAP!

I forgot the dijon mustard in the picture and down farther in the post. You don't want to do that, it's just not the same!

Click here to see the update!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bountiful Baskets

So yesterday Mariah and I went to collect our first Bountiful Basket.  I forgot to take my camera down to the pick up site.  Everyone was so friendly and helpful.  It seems to be growing by leaps and bounds!  Definitely worth looking in to if you want to stretch those dollars!  All this was $15 .

There was:
grapes=            2 1/2 #
bananas=           3 1/3 #
plums=               1 1/2 #
apples=               2 1/4 #
blackberries=     5.3 oz.
cantalope=        1
watermelon      1 (personal size)
red onions=      1 1/4 #
tomatoes=        1 1/8 #
carrots=            1 1/4 #
broccoflower=  2 1/4 #
red onions=      1 1/4 #
red leaf lettuce= 1 head
spinach=              1 bunch

I also bought  a flat of beautiful black berries.  12 containers, each with 5.3 oz. for $12.

I also decided to get the Italian food basket for $7.50 which had:

mushrooms: 8 oz.
onions 2 large
zuchini 2
eggplant 1
garlic 3 pack
Herb and seasonings including basil, oregano & rosemary.

So if you live in the Phoenix or Tucson area, check out this great opportunity!