Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Peanut Soup

The Hopping John (black eyed peas and rice) was yummy last night. I made a double batch of cornbread, one to go with the meal and one to use as breakfasts this morning. I also tried something new, peanut soup. The inspiration was a recipe from a book called The Seven Days of Kwanzaa by Angela Shelf Medearis. I veganized it and changed it around a bit and it was delicious. Best of all it was super quick and simple.

Here's the recipe:

Place 2 cups of peanuts in blender and blend into course crumbs(I don't think a regular blender is capable of handling this so you may want to start with 2 cups peanut butter instead.)

Pour in:
3 cups soy milk
2 cups water
1 Tbs Braggs or tamari
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp whole wheat pastry flour

Blend this well. In a large pot, steam chopped kale or collards until bright green. Pour blender contents into pot. Put one cup of water into blender and blend to get residue out of blender (makes it easier to clean later and you don't waste any.) Pour into pot. Bring pot to a boil, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TVP & Black Eyed Peas

Biscuit is adjusting nicely, although he's really thrown off my schedule with his frequent potty runs. But in the grand scheme of things, I much prefer running outside whenever he whines to dragging out the carpet cleaner because he didn't whine. Thankfully, we seem to have a pattern of walks now and he's now willing to come downstairs while I'm on the computer or doing laundry. If anyone tells you getting a dog isn't a lot like having another kid, they're just plain lying!

Last night I sauteed some frozen green peppers and some onions, added some of the tomato sauce that I canned, about a tablespoon of tamari, 1 tsp of chili powder and finally added some rehydrated tvp. The end result was a sloppy joe type concoction that I served over brown rice. The leftover soup was served on the side. It was all quite good. I'd forgotten how fast and convenient tvp could be. (This month tvp was on sale through our cooperative, hence its reapperance in my cupboard.)

Black eyed peas were also on sale this month, so tonight we'll be having Hopping John with steamed greans and corn fritters or maybe Ruthie's corn muffins instead. I like black eyed peas because they are fairly quick cooking compared to other dried beans. I've still got a fair amount of kale and collards from the bonus CSA pickup before Thanksgiving. I'm planning to steam it all tonight and whatever doesn't get used will get frozen.

Biscuit took up a lot more of my time than I anticipated so my holiday list is still a work in progress.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Frugal Dog Bed and More

This weekend we added an 8 month old yellow lab mix to the family. We found him in the website in the classifieds section. This is a section where individuals, rather than organizations, can lists animals in need of new homes. It is searchable by location which is always useful.

Aside from a routine vet check up tomorrow and an appointment to be neutered next week, there was no charge for his adoption. A wonderful woman named Tracey had found him and just wanted him to get into a good home.

We're opting to crate him at night for now, so I needed a dog bed for inside the crate. I used an old twin size fleece blanket that had seen better days as the inner stuffing. I figured it washes nicely, holds it shape well and really provided a nice bit of cushion and warmth when folded to fit into the crate.

I folded it into the size I needed and then did a basting stitch through all the layers to keep it together. I suppose you could just fold it without sewing it but with the dog moving around in the crate it might not stay nicely. Then I took some heavy cotton fabric that I had and stitched a simple pillow case to slip the folded blanket into. I left one side open so I could remove the blanket if I needed to wash just the case. (Here's a tip, whenever anyone offers you fabric, say yes. I never thought I'd have a use for this loud zig zag red and black print but it made a great dog bed pillow case!)

Knowing that last night might not be restful, it was Biscuit's first night at home, I put some leftover black beans, some leftover veggies, a bit of leftover rice, some chopped up kale, a bit of tamari and the hot water that I used to get the peanut butter residue out of my Vitamix (it adds a great flavor) into the crock pot last night. This morning everyone could just pop it into their insulated bottles and head off to school and work. It worked out well because my youngest was a little concerned about the size of the dog and must have gotten up 15 times last night. We're all a little delerious this morning.

I'll use that soup either as a side to go along with tonight's dinner or I might add to it and make it the main course. I'll have to check what's in the fridge.

Also on today's agenda, making a plan for holiday gifts. We had the discussion with our families about keeping things smaller, now its time to put pen to paper and figure out how to make it all happen.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Fork Is Mightier Than the Sword!

I couldn't get my behind out of bed so as predicted, the crepes never happened. In fact, neither did the potato scramble. We enjoyed the carob banana muffins, squash biscuits, oranges and grapes at brunch.

Later in the day, the Red Lentil Loaf was a big hit. The squash biscuits, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and carob banana muffins were all delicious as well. I ran out of soy milk Thanksgiving morning so I made a quick batch of almond milk and used that in the pumpkin soup instead of soy milk. It seemed to taste better using the almond milk. The roasted root vegetables were a really nice addition to the meal as well. My mom even made brussel sprouts! I'm really glad my mother was open to trying/including so many things.

Along with all our vegan choices, there was also a turkey and a ham. In an ironic twist, the turkey was untouched at the meal's end. The fork really is mightier than the sword!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Vegan Thanksgiving Planning-Down to the Wire

Well there's not a whole lot of time left before the clock strikes twelve her in NY but here's a last minute update for any diehards who are curious. With the help of my daughter(she did the peeling), we rescued last nights very unimpressive squash dish and used it in our squash biscuit recipe. The thyme, oj and maple syrup that it had cooked in really lent a nice flavor. That took care of one request from my mother to go along with dinner. It will also do double duty as part of our brunch when my inlaws visit tomorrow morning.

I rescued some very spotty bananas from my mom's (she was on her way to throwing them out) and experimented with using carob in place of cocoa powder in a cocoa banana muffin recipe. They were a hit, so they will also be on the table at brunch. We'll round out that table with homemade applesauce, sprinkled with cinnamon and potato scramble. I want to try and make crepes too but I don't hold out a lot of hope that it will actually happen.

The Red Lentil Loaf with gravy is still coming to my mom's and I may be making pumpkin soup as well. (I still have to call my mom to find out if she wants it tomorrow morning.) The pumpkin pie is in the works as we speak. Whew!!

There will be no post until Friday evening when I look back at the whole affair. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all! This holiday season be at peace with your own choices, share your good food and woo others to your cause by way of their taste buds.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Thanksgiving Menu Plan-Subject to Change at the Last Minute Of Course

Despite all my tinkering, I've run low on time so the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving meal will be the Red Lentil Roast with gravy. I was thinking of serving roasted root vegetables with it but they don't hold the heat well. Since I'm cooking at home and bringing the food to my mom's, I'm going to bring a baked acorn squash dish. It sound similar to a glazed sweet potato dish (a little brown sugar, a little margarine, a little cinnamon.) I'm cooking it tonight and I'll post my review and actual recipe of it later this evening, probably much later this evening!)

There's a vegan pumpkin pie recipe that I'm going to try, that's been highly recommended. Heather on the vrgparents list shared it a few days ago. It is from Joanne Stepaniak's Vegan Vittles. Here it is.

Pumpkin pie- makes 1 pie, 8 servings

1 10.5-oz pkg firm silken tofu
1 1/2 c. unsweetened canned or pureed cooked pumpkin
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Dump everything in the food processor or blender and whiz until
completely creamy and smooth. Pour this mixture into the crust (if
it's homemade, it has to be prebaked).Smooth out the top, and bake on
the center rack of your oven at 350F for 45 minutes.
Remove pie from oven, and let it cool thouroughly or refrigerate
until ready to serve. Remember the veg whipped cream!!
Hope you enjoy it.

I'm so glad Heather shared this recipe since the one I'd been using didn't always set up firmly.

Now back to the kitchen!

Acorn Squash Update
The recipe I tried was a stinker. The one I ended up trying used maple syrup, orange juice and thyme. It was ok, but clearly not worth the work involved. The biggest drawback of the recipe was that you cut the squash into rings which looked pretty but were a pain in the tush to scrape the cooked squash out of. Back to the drawing board on that one.

I'll give the brown sugar and margarine glaze a try tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

What a busy weekend it was! Lots of little projects were completed, including installing the door sweeps to the exterior doors to keep the drafts out. I confess I still haven't finished lining the four living room curtains with fleece but I'm cutting the fleece as soon as I finish blogging! Lining the curtains has made a huge difference in keeping the bedrooms warm.

The door sweeps cost $4.99 a piece but work much better than the homemade draft dodgers we had been using. A draft dodger only works if you remember to put it in front of the door and even then, it only works if the dog leaves it there!

I've been tinkering around with some Thanksgiving recipes. I made a tofu/red lentil stuffed roast last night. It was a little sandy tasting but it had potential. I'll keep tinkering for now. I'm not worried about the stuffing portion of any roast, I'm just trying to find the best housing for the stuffing. I'm planning to play around with veganizing an acorn squash recipe that I saw on one of the morning cooking shows. Tonight I'll experiment a little more and, hopefully by tomorrow I'll have a Thanksgiving meal plan.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Using Leftovers to Make Yummy Patties

Last night's dinner was quite an entertaining mish mash that, in the end, pulled together nicely. We had leftover Mac Uncheese, baked potato and vegetable soup. Everyone seems to love baked potatoes in our house.

However, it didn't use any greens but thanks to Ruthie reminding me, we're having the garbonzo and greens soup concoction from my Wednesday, October 12, 2005 post (check out the archives.)

This morning I took some baked squash seeds that had been languishing about and ground them down in the blender. I added this to some leftover Lentil Soup, a tiny bit of split pea soup and what little remained of last night's vegetable soup. I added a scoop of peanut butter, a squirt of Bragg's and some flax seed meal mixed with water to bind the whole thing together. I plopped scoops down on my cast iron griddle. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, knowing that ketchup would cover almost any disaster I had caused. The end result was a tasty little patty that I liked with mustard rather than ketchup.

The secret to concocting something like this is to taste along the way and, unless you're sure you love what you're adding, only make small additions. I'll serve the rest of these with tonight's dinner.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Incentives & Food from the Freezer

I taught my last evening nutrition class for the year Wednesday night. I really enjoy sharing info with people but I'm thrilled that I no longer have to run out Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The challenge now is to clean out the bags I use for each course and prep them for February. This will also free me up for a little more creative cooking during the week, which my family will appreciate.

I've continued to dip into the freezer for the last two evenings meals. Tuesday night I dug out a lentil soup, to which I added some millet to make it more substantial. Wednesday I made Mac Uncheese (the recipe is from ). Its a very simple and quick recipe. I added cauliflower and green peppers from the freezer to it, although you could add whatever veggies you like.

In the interest of not ending up with only greens left in the freezer, tonights menu will probably include some greens. (I'm still in the planning stages for tonight's dinner.) Knowing that greens in general are not a family favorite, I'm planning to include a favorite dessert as an incentive just in case the meal is not a hit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eating From the Freezer

Last night I began my foray into the freezer. Sure, I've been dipping into it here and there but as of Sunday night we officially ran out of fresh veggies. (I'm not counting pumpkins, squashes, potatoes, garlic or onions just the less hardy veggies.)

On the menu was pasta with sauce (I sauteed fresh garlic, frozen green peppers and added frozen sauce), split pea soup (also from the freezer) and biscuits made with dill and onion powder (these had nothing to do with the freezer but they sure tasted good!) Dessert was an experiment, peanut butter and carob chip cookies. As experiments go, it was pretty successful!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Project Updates

The attic is finally insulated! What a disgusting, dirty, dusty job! In some ways I hate a job like insulating because the savings aren't immediately evident. In fact, we had to lay out a little cash for supplies! Patience is a frugal virtue, though. I have to remind myself, changing our oil burner last year, to a more efficient model, resulted in a savings of about $240 during the heating season despite the increase in heating oil prices. The rewards of frugal living are often best viewed over the long haul.

The curtain projects continue, mainly because I'm making these last curtains into draw drapes. (In defense of my apparent insanity, the rod was already there!) Its actually not as difficult as it sounds, I'm just double and triple checking my math along the way to make sure I don't royally mess up. I've started by sewing a large rectangle of my curtain fabric. Then I've taking the fabric that I'm lining the curtain with, in this case an old barney blanket, and cut it to the size I need for it to lie flat against the window. Then I've marked the blanket at the points where the drapery hooks will attach and where the pleats will be. This is where it gets tricky and time consuming, but I'm getting there.

Here's a picture of the first panel of the curtain.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Vegan Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

I got a couple of questions about the whole wheat bread recipe that I've had really good success with. Its a variation on the 100% whole wheat bread recipe from The Cornell Bread Book. The recipes in that book are easily veganized. The main change needed is the omission of dry milk and subbing in either soy powder or soy flower.

I use an old fashioned bread bucket to mix my bread but I don't see why this wouldn't work with other mixers. The batter is loose enough that hand mixing with a spoon wouldn't be impossible if you chose to go that route.

Place 3 cups warm water and 1 cup of raisins in a blender and puree until the raisins are just little pieces. Pour into mixing bowl and add:

2 pkgs dry yeast (this equals 4 1/2 tsp of dry yeast if you buy it in bulk)
2 Tbs. blackstrap molasses
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. salt
4 Tbs. flaxseed meal

Let stand until little eruptions begin to form as the yeast becomes active. When the entire surface has "erupted" add the following:

1 1/4 cup soy flour
5 cups whole wheat flour

Mix until well blended. Let rise until dough has doubled, about an hour. Turn onto board and shape into three loaves. Place in oiled bread pan. Let rise until dough doubles and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower oven to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes. Cool on rack.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Menu for a Productive Saturday

The Chinese food last night was a big hit. I ended up doing things a little differently. I marinated cubed tofu in the tamari for about 15 minutes and then placed the tofu on a greased baking sheet. I cooked it in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, while I chopped and stir fried the veggies. I poured the tamari from marinating into the veggies and then added the baked tofu and mixed in the rice. I think baking the tofu really added a special flavor.

We've got a busy day ahead of us, we're finally insulating the attic over our bedroom. While Jim heads up the insulating job, I'll be working a lining the remaining unlined curtains. We're starting the day with a hearty breakfast of pancakes, potato scramble and Clementines. Lunch will be a quick grab, leftovers or sandwiches, so we don't lose a lot of time.

Dinner will be Red Lentil Loaf and a variety of roasted veggie sticks (carrots, turnips, and potato). You can either spray the cut veggies with olive oil or put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl, cover and toss the veggies to coat. My kids love these with ketchup and they are so much healthier than conventional French Fries. Sweet potato fries are also really delicious if you have sweet potatoes on hand. I'm still thinking about what dessert to make.

We'll also spend a little time adding some additional mulch around the currant bushes to protect them from what promises to be a cold Adirondack winter. Fortunately for this frugal gardener, Mother Nature has dropped an abundance of leaves and pine needles for us to use.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Vegan Barely Fried Rice

My daughter, Tasha, was kind enough to chop up the greens yesterday. What a relief to have that done. Fried Rice is super easy to make, although the version I make is really more honestly called Vegan Barely Fried Rice. I usually use just plain old brown rice but basmati rice would work nicely too. Honestly, any rice except arborio rice (think risotto) would work well.

Cook the rice, per package instructions. While that's cooking, you get to be creative. Chop up some onions, mince some garlic and then poke around your fridge to see what else you have in there. Chop up any veggies you like or use frozen veggies. I've used bok choy, napa cabbage, regular cabbage, peas, carrots, broccoli, anything I feel like. Try to organize your vegetables by the time they take to cook to your liking. (Personally, I'm a tender crisp kind of a gal.)

Root around in the fridge a little more to come up with some tofu, tempeh or leftover beans. If the fridge has nothing to offer, open a can of beans from the cupboard.

When the rice is cooked, spray the bottom of your frying pan or wok with canola oil and add a few drops of sesame oil, toasted sesame oil is even better. (The sesame oil adds a nice flavor but it has more polyunsaturated fats and a bit more saturated fat than canola oil. It also has a lower smoke point. By mixing the oils you get the flavor without as much of the other stuff.) Heat the pan and toss in your onions and other long cooking veggies, like carrots. Next add the garlic, remember to keep stirring. Toss in any veggies that need a little less cooking, adding quick cooking veggies last. Toss in tofu, tempeh or beans and stir to avoid sticking. If things do begin to stick add a little water to the pan.

Pour in 1/4 cup tamari (remember I'm cooking for 6 hungry people, so this is a huge stir fry. You may want to use less tamari.) Add in rice and stir to mix evenly with tamari vegetable mixture. For a sweeter taste, add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the tamari before adding it. Serve and enjoy. This is one of the simplest recipes that my kids like the most.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Forgot!

Oops, I forgot about making Chinese food and ended up making vegan Baked Mac & "Cheese" with collards and brussel sprouts. I made two pans of it which will take care of dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. My kids love brussel sprouts which amuses people to no end. I'll shred the greens tonight so I remember to make the Chinese Food Friday night. Then I'll share the recipe, I promise!

I just took the book No Need to Knead out of the library. I'm curious to see what it has to say. The gist of the book is the bread recipes in it have a looser batter than most bread batters, hence there is no need to knead the bread. I'll let you know what I discover. Right now, I'm really happy with the whole wheat bread recipe that I use. Interestingly enough, its a pretty loose batter as well.

We've had two fabulous free finds in the last few days. A car stereo lying around in my parents garage collecting dust was a perfect fit for Jim's broken car stereo. My parents also had a ceiling fan that they removed a long time ago collecting dust. Jim just put it up this afternoon to replace our broken one. My parents were going to throw both of these things out! Thank goodness we happened to mention the broken radio and fan during a visit.

Jim's getting ready to give homemade winemaking a try. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Chick Peas

I love chick peas! Today as part of my preschool nutrition program we made hummus and served it with pretzels. For tonight's dinner we'll be mashing up some of those chick peas, adding a little vegan mayo, garlic powder and lemon juice and serving the whole concoction on toast. We'll have leftover vegetable soup on the side.

The last regular CSA pick up was pretty big. I'm going to try to use the greens in this batch first to avoid a total glut of greens in the freezer. I'll be planning my meals for the rest of the week around the greens. Tomorrow night will probably be some type of Chinese food, probably Vegan Fried Rice. That will allow me to use quite a bit of the greens as well as some of the chick peas. I'll share my recipe tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

When Leftovers Go Missing

Last night, when I went to make the casserole for dinner, I discovered the leftover lentils had already been eaten. Instead I made a quick potato leek soup in the pressure cooker. Actually it was onion, I finished the leeks a few days ago. Instead of adding soymilk, I used the leftover gravy from our Tofurky. It really gave it a rich creamy texture.

I pureed some steamed greens along with some tomato and garlic and used this to top the feeble bit of leftover pasta that remained in the fridge. Finally I made a batch of Stedda Egg Salad (as in Instead of Egg Salad) from The American Vegetarian Cookbook by Marilyn Diamond, which we served on whole wheat toast. It's tofu and a mix of spices like cumin, curry, tumeric plus a few others. The pureed greens were tolerated but everyone loved the potato soup and the Stedda Egg Salad. My teenage daughters even took it for lunch today, that's the true mark of success.

I've begun the day by getting a batch of vegetable soup into the slow cooker. That cleaned out the last of the greens, carrots and parsnips from the fridge. This will become the base for the next few days meals.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Book Updates & Freezer Organization

I've just about finished reading Don't Eat this Book by Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me). Its definitely worth a read. I did finish reading The American Vegetarian Cookbook by Marilyn Diamond. She had some very interesting recipes including one for sunflower seed "milk". I recommend taking it out of the library and mining it for recipes that you find interesting but I don't think you need to buy it.

Today I'll be making a casserole with the veggies and leftover lentils in the fridge. Tomorrow is our last regular CSA pick up of the season. (There is a final, special Thanksgiving pickup the Saturday before Thanksgiving.) Next week my cooking will shift from what's in the fridge to what's in the freezer. I'm double checking my inventory sheet to make sure its all up to date. This will help me plan meals that will give us a variety of veggies. Hopefully it will also help us avoid being stuck with only greens for the month of May (CSA pickups begin in late May or early June.)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Making Do With Food On Hand

We ran out of soymilk yesterday but I didn't notice until I began making pancakes this morning. There was no way in the world I was running out to the store. Instead I took the water I had saved from cooking pasta and threw it in the blender with some sunflower seeds and some flax seeds. I blended the whole thing together and used it in place of the soymilk in our favorite pancake recipe. The result was some delicious pancakes with quite a bit of holding power.

I also took the leftover peanut noodles, which had gotten rather dry, mixed them with some leftover veggies, some water and a bit of oatmeal to bind it all together. This mix became some rather yummy patties that tasted like a cross between a hashbrown and a veggie breakfast sausage. I had planned to make a smoothie but due to the lack of soymilk, made an apple juice slushie (apple juice and ice cubes blended together) instead. The best part everyone enjoyed the meal.

We spent the afternoon chopping and stacking wood from trees we had to have taken down earlier this year. This was our first foray into wood splitting but Jim seems to be a natural. The kids and I gathered up the small pieces and the bark to use as kindling.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I finished reading Affluenza and I really enjoyed it. It confirmed a lot of things that I suspected like the increase in home sizes over the years. The average size of a first home in the 1950's was 750 square feet and the average today is 2300 square feet, despite the number of kids we have decreasing over the years. Hmmm, I grew up in a 1,000 square foot ranch with my 4 siblings and both parents. (I'm one of four sisters and we only had one bathroom!) I don't remember feeling particularly crowded or deprived (although since I only have one brother, that bum got his own room while the girls shared!)

The biggest point the book drove home is the utter lack of satisfaction peoples feel despite the accumulation of material things. Its very good food for thought as we get into this holiday season. I don't think its a must own book but definitely a worthwhile read from the library.

On today's agenda, some cleaning and a lot of organizing. We really lose control over the household neatness during the week. Laundry gets washed but never put away, papers are brought home but left on counters, lunch containers lose their lids (within the house!!), shoes are everywhere, you get the idea.

On the food front, I'll be steaming some more greens to freeze, although freezer space is very limited right now. I've never been so thrilled to run out of space before!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Thanksgiving, A Practice Run

Last night I decided to make some Tofurky. Our coop food order had come in Tuesday so everyone saw the Tofurky come in and was itching to have some. Its like this every year around this time. I've played around with making it in the slow cooker quite a bit and here's my favorite recipe. Its a variation of the basic recipe on the Tofurky box.

Thanksgiving Tofurky Feast

2 Tofurky Roasts (frozen is ok)
1 small onion
any other root veggies you enjoy

Grease the sides and bottom of your cooker and turn on to high. Slice onion thinly and spread over the bottom. Cut potatoes & beets into quarters, cut carrots & parsnips into coins. Add any other root veggies you like but try to keep the size fairly uniform to allow for even cooking. Place veggies on top of onions in cooker, being sure to leave enough room for the Tofurky roasts. Remove plastic covering (if frozen, let sit in hot water for a minute to assist with this) and place Tofurky on top of veggies. You can fill in around the Tofurky with any remaining veggies.

1/4 cup apple juice or apple cider
2 Tbs tamari
2 Tbs maple syrup or other sweetener
1/2 cup water

Pour this mixture over Tofurky, place lid on and cook 3-4 hours on high or about 8 hours on low. I have tried cooking this with the gravy in the cooker but the Tofurky disintigrates a bit so I prefer to cook my gravy seperately.

I also steamed some brussel sprouts and baked some potatoes to go with it. Everyone was thrilled. I mashed together the leftover Tofurky, root veggies and potatoes with some leftover gravy this morning and used it as a sandwich filling. So far the reports have been postive!

On tonight's menu, Peanut Noodles. The reason is quite simple. I just bought 30 pounds of organic peanut butter stock from our food coop and I need to make a big batch of peanut butter in my Vitamix. Since the Peanut Noodle recipe calls for a certain amount of water, I can use the water I rinse the Vitamix out with and thereby minimize my left behind peanut butter!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Homemade Margarine

I'm really enjoying reading Morgan Spurlock's book. He's got a very witty way of getting dry, factual information across.

Today I gave making my own margarine a try. Someone had posted a recipe on one of the lists I belong to and it was too intriguing to pass up. It was actually quite good and based on the prices of the two main ingredients, it cost about $2.25 less than our current margarine. Here's the recipe:

Homemade Margarine
Place 1/2 cup plain soymilk into blender and begin to process on highest setting. While processing, through the hole in the lid, pour in the cup of oil slowly. Continue blending until the hole in the center fills in. Turn off blender and add a tiny bit of tumeric for color, a few drops of lemon juice for freshness I believe, salt to taste (we used about 1/2 tsp of salt.) Blend briefly on low to combine. Pour into airtight container and store in fridge.

We tried this on baked potatoes and it was a big hit. It is not as firm as regular margarine but just as tasty.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Trip to the Library

Yesterday I hit the library because some books I had requested were in. I brought home Affluenza (the book based on the documentary, I was inspired to check this out after reading Barbara's blog), Don't Eat this Book by Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me), and The American Vegetarian Cookbook by Marilyn Diamond. I also got a few craft books for my daughters to check out.

There's a quirky librarian there, who's on the same page with me regarding frugality. He always gives a little critique of what I take out. His comment yesterday was, "Affluenza? I hear there's an epidemic but if they're counting on me to go out and spend this holiday they're going to be very dissapointed." Here, here!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Slow Cooker Keeps Saving Us Money

It's been a rough go the last few days. We've been really busy and I've been relying heavily on the slow cooker to help us avoid ordering take out. It hasn't been anything fancy but here's an example of how the slow cooker helped me get through Tuesday, which is by far our most hectic night.

Last night before bed, about 10:30pm, I put frozen lentil soup into the slow cooker on high. This morning at 6:30am, the soup was hot and ready to go into everyone's insulated lunch containers. As soon as I finish blogging, I'll be chopping up the remaining cabbage, carrots and collards from last weeks CSA pickup to add to the broth that's left from the lentil soup. This will be served as a vegetable soup along with tofu "steaks" for tonights dinner. A quick simple supper is a big help since Jim has to go to the CSA tonight and I have to teach my vegetarian nutrition class.

Here's a quick way to use green peppers and tomatoes that are getting a bit soft. Slice the peppers into strips, removing the seeds and the white stuff. Dice some tomatoes that may also be headind past their prime. Finally, thinly slice some onions into rings. Put a drizzle of olive oil into a skillet, toss everything in and cook until the onions are soft. By the time the onions are soft, everything will be soft but that's ok. Serve over toast with a shake of garlic powder on top. Jim and the kids loved this.