Thursday, September 25

The Slow Cooker

What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes? I've been wanting to use mine more, and now is as good a time as any. I haven't used it nearly enough in the last three or so years despite the fact that I love to come home from work and have dinner prep so well progressed already. I thankfully have the option to come home at lunch or any time in the afternoon to start a recipe that doesn't require all day cooking. I really should use it more. Help me!

Saturday, September 20

Now the Lightswitches Work!

At five pm on Thursday, our electricity came back on. We were sooooo happy to have it back (and still are).

Here are some pretty amazing pictures of Hurricane Ike damage.

Wednesday, September 17

I still flip the switch anyway

Wind on Sunday night. No power until Friday. That is our story.

The longer version is our area was hit by high winds from Hurricane Ike on Sunday night. As we drove home from the RP Home where Ryan preached, there were branches around and areas without power. Minutes after arriving home, we lost our power. It's been off ever since and the power company says "late Friday" for our area. Around noon on Monday, we moved the food in our fridge and freezer to the church, and it's still there, nice and cold. Some good friends invited us to shower at their place, which we took them up on the last two nights since we don't have hot water. They also invited us to dinner last night and for Thursday. Tonight, there is a meeting and pizza at church.

I've enjoyed going to bed earlier but it would be nice to have light to clean the kitchen and be able to cook or have cold food. I have food at work in my mini fridge, but Ryan has had to scrounge for breakfast. I'm thankful that we haven't lost anything and that it's been cool enough to sleep comfortably at night.

What's funny is I sometimes still turn on light switches or lamps out of habit. Obviously, nothing happens. Who knows how many lights will be on in our apartment when the power comes back.

What's the longest you have ever gone without power?

Monday, September 15

35 Ways to Save on Groceries

Money Saving Mom linked to this helpful post on MotherLoad which lists 35 ways to save on your grocery budget. It's worth a read -I bet there is something you can implement from the list. Check it out.

I've done many of the things on the list. A few months ago, Ryan and I started using cloth napkins for the two of us instead of paper. We have a good stock of paper napkins, and they will last a long time! The cloth napkins last us a while since we aren't messy eaters - we see no reason to wash them after one or two light uses.

I've been making my own cheese biscuits using whole wheat pastry flour and sometimes half all purpose flour. I use palm oil shortening, and they are so much better than using Bisquick! Earlier this summer, I stopped using canola oil in my own cooking in an effort to reduce our consumption of damaged oils. I haven't made tortilla strips for tortilla soup yet though since doing so, and will need to find a good, flavorless substitute.

There are also many other things I prefer to make myself instead of buying the product or a mix to make the product: salad dressing, pancakes, waffles, bread, guacamole, salsa, spaghetti sauce, cookies, and cakes.

I have yet to cook a whole chicken...I don't know why they scare me!

Talk to me. Are there things on this list you do or other ideas you have?

Friday, September 12

When to Buy Organic

I've known of some foods that one should try to buy organic, because of how heavily they receive pesticides (raspberries, peanuts/peanut butter). I've known of other foods where it isn't as much of a concern, because there is an outer skin (oranges, bananas). I read a helpful post on Whole Food nation summarizing what types of you should try to buy organic and which are ok being non organic. I summarized the info below but there is additional helpful info in the original post, including why certain foods should be bought organic and how many pesticides are sprayed on the foods (most are 25 or more).

Non organic is ok:
Sweet corn
Sweet peas

Organic is safer:
Beef, Pork and Poultry
Milk, Cheese and Butter
Strawberries, Raspberries and Cherries
Apples and Pears
Spinach and Other Greens
Peaches and Nectarines
Red and Green Bell Peppers

I would like to add that I believe buying local produce when you know how it is grown (like from a CSA) can provide a happy middle ground to the expense of organic and the lack of quality and nutrients of the non organic, conventionally grown items above. Cost is unfortunately prohibitive of our buying more organic.

Are there particular foods you regularly buy organic? There are some for Ryan and I, though I don't think there are any foods we always buy organic. I prefer organic raspberries, for the lack of chemicals and because I have found them to taste immensely better. We have never bought organic meat. By the way, don't be fooled by "all natural" or "100% natural" labels on chicken - there are no established guidelines for what constitutes natural.

Monday, September 8

Perhaps you should try it

The most common search that sends people to my blog is "Ancho and Coffee Rubbed Filet Mignon with Ancho Mushroom Sauce". It comes up at least weekly (which is pretty common for my low traffic blog).

Have you seen the recipe? It's the first Bobby Flay recipe I ever made, and it is delicious. A special occasion dish. Spicy. Flavorful. The method of cooking the steaks is perfect and superior over the grill, and there are components of the recipe that you can make ahead.

Check it out. Ancho-And-Coffee-Rubbed Filet Mignon with Ancho-Mushroom Sauce

Saturday, September 6


Micah and Asher could go all day with playing frisbee! Throw, fetch, tug, rinse and repeat.

My parents also do agility with each of them, and they can hardly wait to get out on the course to practice! They whine and whine when it's not their turn and see each other getting to do agility.

Practice at dusk in the backyard

Thursday, September 4


We went and are back already. Man, did it go fast. We looked forward to this trip for about seven months and can't believe it's already over! We had a great time with my family. Thankfully, we did not have any flight delays! Here are some photos. Check out the rest here, if you'd like.

My husband, the rock thrower.

My younger brother Adam, being goofy in the surf. The water wasn't as cold as it normally is.

We picked peaches again this year.

Monday, September 1

The Chocolate Pudding That Wasn't

It was last time though. It was very good. This time? Something went wrong. I took pictures, chronicling my pudding-making extravaganza, expecting to end with a lush, thick display of rich, dark chocolate. Not this time. Not like last time. Fear not, for you can make this successfully, as Catherine did, as I did before, and as Smitten Kitchen originally posted. But because I'm humble and want to capitalize on a teaching situation, I'll show you what happened. The end result was a less-than-thick pudding that tasted wonderfully chocolaty. The consistency was the problem.

Starting out, I make my own double broiler. The clothes pin, or something like it, is essential to let the steam out. It's smart to put it at the back of the pan to allow the steam to escape out the back and not up on your wrist.

I made a double recipe to use some milk that wasn't going to last much longer, and I used agave nectar in place of the sugar. Not being a pudding expert, I wonder if this did me in right from the beginning. I haven't baked with agave but we like it as a sweetener for coffee, smoothies and yogurt. It gives pure sweetness (as opposed to honey) and is raw and unrefined and doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike. So I tried it with this recipe. Since the cornstarch seems to "make" the pudding, I thought this would be ok. I used up most of the agave I had. I now wish I had saved it for coffee and such. I've since ordered more though, so it's ok.

Since I used agave, I added another tablespoon of cornstarch.

After an hour (AN HOUR) it had only thickened slightly. The recipe calls for 15-20 minutes. I realized it just wasn't getting hot enough to cook. I finally decided to add the chopped chocolate to see what would happen:

The first time I made this pudding, it quickly melted and became smooth and shiny. I finally resorted to straight heat and it started thickening, though a little lumpy. I think during all this I added even more cornstarch (whisked into a little water first to be lump-free; don't dump it straight in). I was so ready to be done with it that I stopped there and put it in dishes.

When I tried it after it chilled, it tasted GREAT and with a full chocolate flavor. The only problem was it was set very firm.

My mom didn't think the double broiler was actually necessary since there wasn't anything to curdle. Maybe the double broiler cuts down on the lumps though.