Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Leftovers: Bean "Burgers"

     On Monday, I decided that to go with our salad (we have been having large salads on Sundays or Mondays, as we only shop at farm stands once a week, and the greens are best within the first 48hrs) I would use the leftover refried beans to make bean "burger". They came out WONDERFUL! Veggie burgers are a favorite around here, but I do not buy them pre made, we avoid soy as much as possible and its hard to find that type of "meat substitute" without it. Try making your own sometime, there are plenty of great recipies to be found online! Or be like me and just experiment:)
     Here's what I did:  I Peeled three small carrots and tossed them into my food processor, added 1/4 of an onion and 1/2 of a green pepper and zipped them through until they were minced pretty fine.
To them I added an egg, a few handfuls of rolled oats and what was left of the refried beans, and some salt, then zipped again. It was a little wet, so I added a little more oats and a homemade bread roll, that made the mixture less of a batter and more of a "dough", which is what I wanted.
I then let the mixture sit for a few minutes while I washed the greens, to give the oats a time to absorb any excess moisture from the veg.

I divided the mixture into four patties on a foil lined baking sheet that was generously oiled with EVOO. I then gently basted the top with some more oil, to encourage browning. I popped them in the oven at 375' for about 20 min, until they had firmed up, I flipped them over and baked for about 10 min more.
       You can serve these on a bun with the sauce of your choice and some nice sharp cheddar, or, "meatloaf" style like I did. My Husband loved these, and made me promise to make them again! The oats gave them a nice texture while the green pepper added a nice aromatice flavor.
      Sorry I didn't give exact amounts, but this is how I cook most of the time, I just make things up as I go along. I have come up with some of our best meals that way! So don't be afraid to put your own spin on things and be creative!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I love living near the Ocean!

     We had a terrific day Saturday! We went to the coast with some of our friends, and spent the day swimming in the not very cold water, playing keep the beach ball up, passing a football, and teaching a three year old that getting "dirty" in the wet sand is fun! I am now nursing a pretty bad sunburn, but it was worth it! Summers are pretty short here in the Northeast, so we are enjoying the last of the heat while we can. I am a autumn lover though, so the crisp nights are getting me excited for apple picking and corn mazes!
     Well, I guess I had better go and finish getting this place cleaned up before my Poot gets home, I hope you have had a great weekend too!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Frijoles Refritos,,,, yum yum!

     Refried Beans! A yummy and nutritious food. It can be expensive to buy them ready made though,  with the ever increasing rise in food prices, especially canned food. Around these parts a can of refried beans can cost up to $2!!! I think that's a bit outrageous, considering how inexpensive the ingredients are. I tried over and over to make them at home, and they never tasted quite right,,,, until I looked in one of my vintage 70's cookbooks and found the simplest, and most delicious refried bean recipe yet! After all, this shouldn't be complicated, that's one of the things I love most about Mexican food, its fresh and flavorful simplicity!
      So, if you want something that "hits the spot", then try making some Frijoles Refritos, you (and your family) wont be sorry!

     Now hows this for easy, you don't even have to soak the beans!
     1lb bag of pintos, picked over and rinsed
     6c water
       Put the beans and the water in a medium to large sauce pan and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 +1/2 to 3 hours, until the beans are very tender. (to test, cool a bean then place on your tongue, if you can "mash" it against the roof of your mouth they are ready) During the cooking time, if the beans start to dry out add just a tad bit of water, but not to much, I don't like to drain them after cooking, no sense losing any minerals!
     Now let them cool for a while, just set them on the back of the stove and get on with your other chores or cooking, maybe even try your hand at making your own flout tortilla's!
     After they have cooled, if you like extra creamy beans like I do, place the beans and their liquid in a food processor, and season to your taste. Purist's can put in only a teaspoon or two of minced garlic and a couple of teaspoons of salt. I like to add a tablespoon or so of chili powder, a liberal sprinkling of garlic powder and salt. Its totally up to you and your taste buds! Now after they have gone for a nice long wizz through the processor with the spices, you can either "re-fry" them immediately, or put them in a covered dish and store in the fridge for quick lunches and snacks. I havent tried freezing them, but I'm sure they would freeze well in a covered plastic container. We use them up within a few days, we are both bean lovers!

     I know, I know, not the most appetizing looking of foods, but my oh my! they are so goooood! Not to mention, they are great way to slip meatless meals into your week. Beans are a good source of fat free protein, and also have a ton of fiber and some minerals to boot. I do not add fat to my beans, as I can't tell the difference in flavor, so I save my "fat" calories for something else. These are rich and creamy without any added fat anyway, so be sure to try them before adding the tradition 1/4 cup of lard or butter.

     Bean and cheese burritos make a great late-night dinner or snack for hungry Hubby, and they are very quick and easy to make. Just slap a couple big spoons of beans onto the center of a tortilla, top with cheese and bake at 350' for 10 min, flip and bake 5 more min, serve as is or with sour cream and salsa, YUM!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cleaning Monday's

     Its Monday again, that's one of my "big clean" days. After the weekend, which I mostly take off from cleaning, there are a lot of things that need doing. There are some dishes in the sink, sheets needing changing, dust on most of the flat surfaces, and little balls of kitty fluff everywhere. I get stuck in, and get sweeping, scrubbing, polishing, dusting and generally tidying up. After a few hours the whole place is sparkling clean, fresh, and ready for my Poot to come through the door. In the winter, I use my crock pot on my cleaning days, that way I get dinner out of the way first thing in the morning, because by the end of the day I am pretty worn out, and not in the mood for messing up the kitchen again. In summer's though, I just do something easy, like a salad or corn on the cob.
     My cleaning style is very relaxed, I clean for a while, sit and sip a drink and check facebook for a few minutes, then clean some more, and take another break,,, ect. ect. I don't like cleaning while there is anyone else around, I'm not sure why, maybe its just because I don't like cleaning "around" another person. So, I guess its good for me that I spend most of my time alone, I can't use it as an excuse for why the house is untidy!
     My favorite chore,,,, probably making the bed, as its also the easiest chore!
     My least favorite chore,,,, cleaning the shower,,,,, ack,, how I loathe soap scum!
     So a quick run down of my cleaning schedule would be,
     Mondays, all over clean, inc. vacuuming, dusting, bathroom, and general tidying.
     Tuesdays, anything not done on Monday + a load or two of laundry.
     Wednesday, laundry again, and vacuuming, and of course, and tidying that needs doing.
     Thursday, I finish off any laundry that isn't done, and that's about it!
     Friday, I tend to do another big clean, to get ready for the weekend. I try to take the weekends off,
     and enjoy my husband!

     How do you clean, what are your favorite parts of keeping your home tidy? Do you take the weekend off, or do you keep cleaning straight through the week? I love to know how other ladies keep house, so please let me know in the comments. Have a good day, happy homemaking!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New clothes CAN cheer you up!

     I am having BAAAAD PMS this month. Its not bad every month, more like every three, this happens to be a bad one. I guess on one side its good Poot is working crazy hours, cause he's not here for me to snap at,,,, but then I am all alone for hours and hours and hours, and that can get me a bit lonely. So as I find myself watching youtube vids that arent remotly sad, and crying my eyes out, and I dont have a stitch of candy in the house, whats a girl gonna do?
     Just in time, the mail man comes to the rescue!!!!
     Last week my darling Poot let me do some online shopping, and I found a LOT of great deals on my two favorite sites. I got my package today from woman within! I know it shouldnt make me so happy, retail therapy is a shallow pastime after all, but I will be truthful, nothing cheers me up quicker (except maybe a hug from my Poot:) than getting some new clothes. It doesnt happen often, I am picky when it comes to clothes. They have to be girly, and the more flowers/lace/ruffles/pink the better! Part of the joy, I think, comes from growing up quite poor. The only time we got new clothes was in august, for school. It was such fun! Like a fresh start every year. Now its such a novelty, to be able to shop a sale, and get clothes any time of the year, within reason of course:) My Poot takes such good care of me!
     So here are the things I was soo happy to see this afternoon,
new dress, only $12!
another dress, I think this one was only $15
and this luggage set, a "free" gift for only $3.99!!!
     I got some great deals! I can't wait to get the things I ordered from the other site, they are SUPER girly, and couldn't be more "me" if they had my name embroidered on the front!
     Now I'm off to make me something sweet, I am also trying out making yogurt in the crockpot today, if it works out I'll be doing a post on it. Have a nice night:)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Goodwill treasures

     I just love Goodwill stores. I love looking through the old dishes. pictures, knick-knacks, and odds and ends. I once in a great while find clothes that both fit me, and are my style,,,, but not very often. Good thing I like treasure hunting though! Thrift stores are ripe pickins' if you like to decorate with vintage flair like I do. In fact most of our apartment is decorated with stuff from them, with occasional finds from antique stores.
     I am pretty *durn* excited about this weeks finds! Without further ado, I'll show them to you:)

     A vintage lamp that not only has roses on it (have I mentioned that roses are my *thing*?)!!!!,,, but is also the same kind my grandmother had in her bedroom and dining room. I just LOVE it!

     I found a bunch of patterns for $.99ea, Some I'll have to size up to fit me, but hey, its worth the extra work, I have been wanting to learn how to make pleated skirts for a while now, this vintage pattern will be put to good use very soon. I see some tweedy, woolly, winter skirts being made this coming fall,,,

     And this little guy, who actually came from an antique shop, not a thrift store, but I have been waiting for a "treasure" post to put him in. Isn't he sweet? He says "made in Japan" on the back and has string connecting his arms and legs. I have no idea how old he is, but I am guessing at least 50. I'll have to knit him a tiny blanket, and maybe make him a little nappy, he's just too naked:)
     Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my latest finds, and can't wait to go treasure hunting again soon! Happy hunting my friends!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Healthy food and Politics,

     Why is it we keep hearing stories (if you pay attention to such things) about stores and co-ops that sell healthy food being raided, sometimes even by armed police? I'm sorry, I may have been asleep at the wheel here, but when did natural, fresh, organic, and raw become illegal? Who has a problem with us eating food the way God himself wanted us to eat it, un-fiddled with? When did Amish dairy men become criminals and fresh from the cow milk become an illegal substance???
     These are all questions I have been pondering on my path towards eating more real foods. For the longest time I pondered it on the sidelines. My husband and I have a dream of homesteading someday, of raising our own food. But at this point it is still a dream. It was only recently, after watching yet another documentary on food, that we came to realize we can't wait until we "someday" to start eating better. After all, just looking at the collective health of western "civilization" is enough to convince any logical person that there is something very wrong here. Even children are falling sick to illnesses that in a more natural lifestyle would rarely effect adults. I think its worth at least a little consideration. After all, God designed our bodies to eat a certain way, who are we to say that we can come up with something better?
     So, if you, like me, are interested in the politics of REAL food, here is a video for you to watch and ponder,
    This is in Cali, I wonder when they will start picking on the local farm stands here?
     Here is today's haul. We now shop at three different farm stands, all within a short distance from where we live. I am super excited to have found a place to buy RAW milk. If you have been brought up thinking that raw milk is akin to poison, I suggest you visit here, and then do some research on your own. There is absolutely nothing to fear when it comes to milk from healthy, naturally raised cow. In fact, the milk is more nutritious than anything they sell in a regular grocery store. This milk is from Guernsey cows that live very near here. I can't wait to try out the Angus beef and milk fed pork products soon! I love that the stand where we bought the milk and lettuce from had an "honor" pay system, which was a basket by the door:) I have a feeling that kind of thing wont last too much longer in this world, but it warms my heart when I still see it once in a while.
     Anyway, I had better get off here, have to go make a grilled summer squash salad with cherry tomato's and purple sweet pepper:) God bless you friend!

Weekend BBQ with family.

     I guess that this weekend was THE social weekend of the summer, as we had about 6 different invitations to bbq's/birthdays/ocean trips/bonfire,,, But when I found out my grandparents were going to be coming up for a surprise visit to my sisters, I dropped everything else and went. You have to put family first. A big lesson everyone has to learn is that you should never take for granted loved ones, young or old, because you never know when your last visit them will  become the last memory of them.
     So here are the pictures that I captured of the day,
Meet my beautiful Grammy:)
My handsome Grampa!

My little sister, kissing her grammy:) ~Shutterbug Photography~

After the parents and grandparents left for home, us sisters and our hubbies went out for some Excellent ice cream! this is my older sis and my hubby, yum yum! ~Shutterbug Photography~

The best waffle cones EVAH!!!
 It was a great day with great family! I am one lucky ducky, thats for sure.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What to do with leftover boiled dinner!

     Other than making a soup, as I mentioned in my last post, you can do something else that's super easy and very tasty with your leftover boiled dinner meat and veg. You can make what is known 'round here as red flannel hash! I'm assuming its called that for the simple reason that loggers often made boiled dinners (after all, you don't need to be an experienced cook to make an excellent boiled dinner) and would then eat the leftovers the next day in this tasty "hash", more often than not for breakfast with fried eggs and piping hot biscuits. Seeing as how the traditional loggers garb included an almost mandatory sturdy red and black flannel shirt, this is one way it got its name. (BTW, here in Maine, most real Maine men still proudly sport their flannel shirts, especially during hunting season, along with the obligatory scruffy beard!) Another reason for the name is the color the dish takes with the shredded red corned beef mixed in.
     Its a bit too rich and heavy for our modern tummies to take first thing in the morning for breakfast.After all, we will not be headed into the cold damp woods to fell mighty pine and cedar! Instead we'll be having this hearty hash for dinner! I like making it, I feel connected to my roots seeing as my paternal relatives of old were stout Scottish loggers who were some of the first to brave the wild Maine woods and clear land for the more delicate colonists to settle! *why yes, that would be pride you here in my voice*
     OK, so lets get to cooking,
   First, preheat your trusty, giant and super heavy cast iron skillet with a good gob of butter in it,
   Meanwhile, chop all your cooked veggies and meat to bite size-ish pieces,

   Now dump your stuff in the sizzling pan, level out and cook on medium heat, stirring and turning occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, season to taste with salt and LOTS of pepper,
   Now feed it to your husband (maybe even with some homemade biscuits), and don't forget to compliment his manliness, 'cause all men are mighty loggers, even if they don't all cut down trees:)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New England Boiled Dinner

     We have been visiting local farm stands lately, in our quest to eat fresher and local. We are also trying to eat as many fruit and veg as we can, as its a key to healthy living. So this weeks menu so far has been -Monday, steamed broccoli, baked sweet potato and minute steaks. Tuesday, a DELICIOUS Greek green bean salad, the recipe found here, Last night's dinner was fresh corn on the cob, and tonight, new england boiled dinner!
     All local vegetables! In Maine, we don't have a long growing season, so the local veg are limited to plain and ordinary "peasant" foods. Potato's, carrots, cabbage, turnip, beans, broccoli,,,,,, So when looking for recipes for these types of foods, its best to look for classic, traditional recipes. In days gone by, farm wives used what they had and could grow. In today's world, most of what they ate would be considered boring, but that is far from the truth, it is delicious, and often most importantly nutritious! Women didn't have the time to fluff about with extra culinary foolery. They had TOO much else to do since everything was done by hand. The tried and true one pot stews, soups, and casseroles have hung around for so long because they are not only EASY "from scratch" cooking, but also some of the most comforting of home cooked meals. Meals Grandma and Mom made.
     So tonight I'm scrubbing up a bunch of veg and tossing it into a pot with some lightly salted water. If you have never made a boiled dinner, you don't know what you are missing! If you can boil water, you can make this!
                  Veg,(some or all of these can be used)
                        Potatoes (leave peels on for extra nutrition) carrots, turnips, rutabaga, onion,
               parsnips, cabbage.
                   Meat : You can use the traditional corned beef or large bone in ham, or you can use smoked sausage, polish sausage, or, like I am using tonight, all beef hot dogs.
     If you are using ham or corned beef, you don't need to add salt to the water, as the meat will add plenty of flavor to the broth and veg.

     If using ham or corned beef, place in the bottom of the pot, add water and simmer according to directions for weight,,,, about an hour before the meat will be done add all the veg except the cabbage and cover with more hot water, bring to boil and simmer for about an hour more, until veg are tender. Add quartered (or eighths if large) cabbage and cook until tender, about 15 more min. If you decide to use sausage, add it with the cabbage so that it gets heated through but not over cooked.
     To serve, scoop out meat and veg onto a platter, serve with plenty of butter and pepper and some mustard for the meat. SAVE the broth, you can use it the next day to make a wicked good soup with the leftovers. Don't worry if you don't have leftover meat, just add some beans (canned or pre-cooked) of any variety and serve with crusty bread. Them theres some good eats!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekend Getaway Pictures

Well, its a new week

     Back to the plain old ordinary world here in the Evans castle. We had a Wonderful weekend, relaxing in a huge jacuzzi tub, swimming in the pool, eating out at new and Amazing restaurants, and then sleeping in a lush bed with regal bedding! Ohhhhh, to be spoiled like a king and queen was such a treat! And the breakfast,,,,, oh my,,,,,, the bacon couldn't have been tastier if it had been dipped in chocolate!
      Now its back to life as usual. I cleaned everything before we left, but for some reason it all needs to be done again today,,,,,, housework, its just one of those things! So I'm stripping sheets and vacuuming up the fuzzy carpets (pretty sure the kitties threw a party while we were gone) and cleaning the powder room. Dinner tonight will be something with broccoli, as there is some in the fridge that needs using up. One thing I am looking forward to is getting back to work on my afghan this evening, I have missed my yarn!