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Posted on Nov 29, 2013 in Inspiration

A Day to Pause

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For a lot of people, today is for action.  To me, the day after Thanksgiving is a bonus day.  The holiday is over, and if you are lucky, there is plenty of leftovers to eat, so cooking is not on the schedule.  We spent the day yesterday in gratitude, and we still have the weekend ahead to do all the errands and chores.

Today can be a day to pause, even if it is for a few minutes between shops, to be still and reflect.

Happy Friday.

 

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Posted on Nov 27, 2013 in Inspiration

Wordless Wednesday: winter

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Posted on Nov 24, 2013 in Inspiration

Simplify your Cooking with Dehydrated Foods

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A couple of summers ago, I took a class in food dehydrating.  I have some experience with preserving with freezing and canning, but I thought it would be fun to take advantage of the long, hot days of summer to hold on to those fresh fruits and vegetables all year.  The first thing I tried was a solar dehydrator.  I put some of my crop of tomatoes out in the sun to dry.

It was a disaster.  The humidity and flies collaborated in turning my tomatoes into trash in only a few hours.

Next, I tried an indoor dehydrator with a fan that blows heated air over three racks of food.  I wanted to try to make jerky and fruit roll-ups.  These were sort of successful, but the roll-ups were very sour, and took a long time to dry completely.  You can dry tomato paste, mashed potatoes, smooth soups and refried beans the same way, and use them later in recipes.  The jerky requires a lot of salt to be sure it is stable to store.  Here ( also here, here and here) are some resources in case you want to try dehydrating.

But the fruits and vegetables are great.  Some work better than others, and some are brilliant.

This is a whole pineapple

This is a whole pineapple

These work great.

  • mushrooms
  • strawberries
  • cantaloupe
  • pears
  • onions
  • chives
  • cooked rice (that’s how they make the instant rice you buy in the store)
  • pineapple (my favorite!)
  • zucchini
  • kale
  • broccoli (chop first)

These work OK, but change color or flavor when they are dried.

  • bananas
  • potatoes
  • asparagus
  • cauliflower

These don’t work well

  • watermelon
  • blackberries
  • blueberries (unless you cut each one in half)

My dehydrator has a temperature control, that suggests to use a cooler level for herbs, and higher for fruits and veggies, with the highest setting for meat.  A mandoline can help to get slices thin and even so you food dries quickly and evenly.  If you dry strong-smelling food, expect your house to be fragrant for a while.

Instant vegetable soup

Dehydrated rice

  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 2 c white or brown rice (medium or long grin work well)

Cook rice according to instructions, and allow to cool slightly.  Spread on racks in dehydrator and run until completely dry. Store in ziplock bags in freezer or cool, dry place.

Soup

  • 4 c water
  • 1 c dehydrated rice
  • 1/2 c dehydrated zucchini
  • 1 T dehydrated onion
  • 1/4 c dehydrated veggies (one or more: asparagus, tomato, broccoli, green beans)
  • 1 t dried herbs

bring water to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Add other ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes, or until veggies have rehydrated.  Add more water or stock, and season to taste.  If you mix the ingredients together dry, this makes an excellent camping or hiking meal.  You can also make inexpensive instant lunches to take to work with you.  These cost a fraction of the price of the kind you buy in the store.

 

Before

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on Nov 21, 2013 in My Journey

An Even Simpler Life

I have not posted for a while because I have a new hobby that has taken hold of my life.  Well, not a hobby exactly, but an re-activation of an old injury that needs my attention.  I have begun physical therapy, and I hope that this will eventually make me stronger and healed for good. But, the therapy takes a lot of time and makes everything hurt more  (The PT thinks this is logical: more pain= healing.  I didn’t notice it at first, but she is starting to resemble this guy:

05_Flatbed_2 - AUGUST

Like the physical possessions that inhabit our lives, our activities inhabit our days.  I can do almost anything I need to do, but some things take longer, have to be put off until later, or just cancelled. It’s amazing how a change like a health issue or other disaster can change your whole perspective on what is important and what is expendable.

Seriously. I am back up and running, and mostly not dead.

Sorry for all the Princess Bride references.

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Posted on Nov 15, 2013 in How to simplify, My Journey

Multitasking in the Kitchen

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Well, I learned a few things this week.  First, multitasking does not work in the kitchen.  Like it never does anywhere.  I just ran upstairs to put a load of laundry on while a pot of water cam e to a boil, and then I thought I should collect the trash, and somehow, when I came back, the pot had just boiled dry.

This seems like a lucky break, but this was a non-stick pan, and overheating them can be dangerous (Really.  Don’t keep you canary in the kitchen. Check it out here and here).  I decided to let my last two of these pans go, and replace them with a healthier alternative. After doing some reading about how well (or not well at all) the ceramic non-stick pans work.  Also, they are pretty expensive.  One thing kept coming up as a suggestion, though.  Use cast iron pans.  I have been using a cast iron frying pan for a while, but I also have two pots that are enamel-covered cast iron.  I use them for soup and in the oven mostly, since I don’t have a crock pot.

For now, I am just getting rid of the non-stick pans, and using the heavy iron pots.  They are heavy, but I already have them, and this is a chance to simplify the kitchen a little more.  Plus, they are awesome and red.

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