Saturday, September 7, 2013

Boston butt, baked beans, and creamy slaw

My crockpot has probably been THE best kitchen purchase I've ever made, aside from the basics of course. I'm always looking for recipes that call for fresh ingredients and require few steps in preparation. I recently came up with this pork Boston butt recipe by browsing the Internet, listening to family and friends, and tweaking for our tastes. I've served it with homemade Boston baked vegetarian beans, and homemade cabbage coleslaw. Here are the recipes and ingredients I used:

Pork Boston Butt BBQ Crockpot
About 3 to 4 lbs Boston butt
Dry rub, lysanders BBQ
4 cloves of garlic
1 onion
Bottle of BBQ sauce

Trim excess fat off of the roast. Use scissors to slice deep holes in the meat, then stuff with garlic cloves. Chop onion and place in the bottom of the pot. Put the meat on top then sprinkle the dry rub generously over all sides. Cook on highest for about 5 hours. Drain fat once or twice before finishing. Put on warm and mix about a half bottle of BBQ sauce in the meat after shredding with a fork.

Creamy Coleslaw
Shred half a head of cabbage
Use one small bag of shredded carrots
Finely sliver and chop white onion (optional)

Mix sauce ingredients and pour over vegetables, then stir:
3/4 cup mayo
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil

Boston Baked Vegetarian Beans
1 package of dry pinto or dry white beans, 1lb
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 medium onion chopped
5 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp dry mustard
5 tbsp molasses
2 tsp sea salt

Soak beans in water overnight, keep covered with water. Drain while preparing the bean pot. In a bean pot, place onion, garlic, sugar,mustard, and salt. Pour beans over the mixture then top with molasses. Cover all of it with water until about an inch higher than mixture. Bake for 6 hours on 300 degrees in the oven. Check after the first hour to make sure it hasn't dried up. After that, leave it alone. No need to stir at all!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I love other people's garbage!

Yes, you read that right...I love other people's garbage. I probably inherited this from my grandfather or at the least learned young....treasures WILL be found in the garbage! Lucky for me, I don't have to dumpster dive or paw through heaps of stinky bags at the landfill to find such treasures. Our neighborhood has one day designated each month for curbside pickup which means all the good stuff is saved for then to be discarded. I have found countless treasures, but the most recent tops them all! Check out this chair pair. I found them without the cushions, looking a little dirty, with the cushion supports falling apart. What I saw though were very easy fixes and potential for two reclaimed chairs in my living us some much needed extra seating!

First I cleaned them up. Then I replaced the supports with strips of feed sack, making that fix totally free! I measured the bottom seat and found replacement cushions, in a neutral color, online and made the back pillows with removable covers so I can change the look whenever I want. The fix ups cost a lot less than what two brand new chairs would cost and now I have stopped the fighting over the one chair we had before.

Leftover Mexican Medley

Leftover Mexican Medley
Tacos, burritos, quesadillas and the such are a common staple in our house. I can mix up the ingredients easily and everyone always walks away with bellies full & happy. Last week when I made soft tacos, I purposely doubled my rice and meat mixture so I could squeeze another meal out of one night of prep and cooking. Lets just say, it was a total success!

I took the leftovers, mixed them up in a bowl, added 1 cup of frozen corn, 1 can of black beans, and about 1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese.
I pressed this firmly into a deep pie dish (you can use any casserole pan or cake pan), then spread the leftover refried beans on top, and sprinkled more cheese across the top. Bake for about 30 minutes on 350 or until the cheese is starting to brown on top. Serve with scallions on top and a side of sour cream. This was a big hit with the whole family and works great being prepped ahead of time too! Enjoy!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Ladies

Six ladies have settled in nicely at our home in the city. This family addition has put us further into urban farming than we've ever been before. Until now, we've been slowly changing our ways around the house, trying to teach our children what it means to be self-sufficient and eco-friendly. While it does seem to be the trend these days, we've been adjusting our lifestyle for as long as I can remember. My husband and I are absolutely creatures of habit and comfort. We don't mind new routines, but we certainly like our old ones. So, we do tend to take our time making big changes. Well, "the ladies" (otherwise known as six hens) sort of put us on warp speed for progress in the yard.
Two ameraucanas, two rhode island reds, two barred plymouth rocks

We had been discussing when and how we'd eventually obtain some laying hens so we could stop spending what seemed like a small fortune on organic eggs. When a sudden opportunity arose for us to adopt six laying hens, which were already laying eggs daily, we simply couldn't resist. My dear husband got to work immediately (despite the repeated days of rain) and built our ladies one of the prettiest little coops I've ever seen. We gathered tips and suggestions from experienced hen keepers, researched different coop styles, and eventually came up with this design. The coop provides the girls with two indoor nesting boxes and open air perching all constructed like a fortress to keep out those pesky predators and egg snatchers! In fact, it was built so well, when we accidentally closed it up with a rat inside - it could NOT find a way out until we opened the door in the morning. We learned our lesson and thoroughly check every night before lockup now.
The hen house inside their private free-range yard, which connects to the end of the house

Neither one of us have ever taken care of farm animals on a regular basis before. This has been a tremendous learning curve but luckily we live in an information age and I can find answers to my questions at a pace faster than ever. We've had the ladies for more than a month now and I look forward to interacting with them every morning. My children wake up early on their own, just so they can be ready for school early enough to go help with the morning chicken duties. We've also noticed the children want to spend more time outside in the evenings and they argue about who will do which chicken jobs because they want to do them all (except clean the poop).
Nothing tastes better than farm-fresh eggs
Overall, inviting these ladies to our home is turning out to be the best decision ever. Yes they are work. Yes they tie us to the house more. Yes they are loud. Yes the poop stinks. But we LOVE them anyway and those fresh, never refrigerated organic eggs are simply delicious.
Barred Plymouth Rock kicking up dust

Rhode Island Red looking for grubs

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chocolaty Delicious SuperFood Breakfast Smoothie

I've been drinking this for breakfast every day. In fact, I even replaced coffee with this chocolaty delicious breakfast smoothie. I've been feeling great and had to know (exactly) what these ingredients are doing for my body. The recipe began in a simpler fashion, coming from a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook when I was in desperate need of nutritious smoothies after a phase of TMJ. I added the parsley and avocado trying to incorporate more healthy ingredients without compromising the taste too much. I find myself trying to lick the glass clean and feel full for a few hours. Now, let's break it down to what we've got going on here. (I put this collage together for the added visual)

About 3 oz of Freshly Frozen Organic Blueberries According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, new studies show blueberries can be frozen for 3-6 months without damaging the precious antioxidants. Not only do the antioxidants assist the nervous system and brain health, but evidence shows 12 weeks of servings improve memory too! Blueberries also have a low glycemic index (GI) helping to regulate blood sugar levels. If you can't get fresh berries, grab some from the freezer section.

One Frozen Organic Banana According to organic bananas are a powerful energy boost. Bananas fight depression, cure hangovers, protect against diabetes, kidney cancer, and osteoporosis. Bananas are high in fiber, vitamin B-6, pectin, and potassium, aiding the digestive system while also stabilizing blood sugar. Peel the banana, break into chunks, and freeze in an airtight container. This is a great way to use up those really ripe bananas you didn't get around to eating.

Handful of Fresh Spinach Doctor Robin Wasserman, a writer for the LiveStrong website, says adding spinach to smoothies increases your intake of carotenoid compounds which self-destruct and prevent prostate cancer cells. Due to other compounds in spinach, you'll also reduce the risk of ovarian, bladder, liver, and lung cancer. Furthermore, the folate, vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium in spinach will aid bone health, blood pressure and heart health!

Tablespoon of Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley A health advocate from the GreenMuze website states "parsley is high in vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin C," and a good choice for bone health with vitamin K. The vitamin C is necessary for collagen, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and strengthens the body's immune system. Just one tablespoon is packed with nutrition, but it's best to avoid if you are pregnant.

Almond Milk This is my alternative to dairy because we suspected an allergy in the family and have been trying alternatives. The brand pictured here happens to be my favorite, but you can use whatever you want - even cow's milk. However, almond milk is low in calories (if you're counting) and rich in calcium plus vitamin's A, D, and E. Again, the calcium is great for bones and teeth. Use as much as you need to get a drinking consistency of your liking.

Quarter Piece of Haas Avocado Full of monounsaturated fat and antioxidants, avocado will help reduce inflammation and assist your body in absorbing all those A, D, and E vitamins. According to Oprah's blog, these are key elements in keeping your skin looking great! Avocado also has potassium, something your heart will be thankful for. I suggest blending the avocado in at the very end to avoid creating an extra thick smoothie.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder Can you believe this ingredient has benefits too?! I have to admit, this is the main ingredient that pulls this smoothie together and almost makes you feel like you're indulging in a chocolate milkshake. I'm sure you've heard about health benefits of dark chocolate. Well, guess what? According to Leslie Beck's Body Science website, those benefits actually come from the cocoa powder. Although cocoa powder comes with added calories and fat, it is full of concentrated antioxidants offering a hefty dose of disease fighting compounds. In fact, the antioxidants are so rich, cocoa beats red wine and green tea in comparison! I use 1 to 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in my smoothie.

Lastly, if you find you're missing one of the fruits or another ingredient, don't sweat it! Just substitute for the day or leave it out all together. I've used strawberries as a substitute and a half of an avocado before. Kale can be substituted for the spinach. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do It Yourself Recycled Soap Holder

This post is for all the people with children, who frequently get their hands dirty outside in their gardens, and avid campers. Use a recycled mesh bag (mine is from the fresh garlic cloves I purchase at the grocery store), a stretchy hair band, and thick thread. Hand-sew the hair band onto one side of the open mesh bag. If you don't like to sew, just use a large safety pin instead! Stuff a bar of soap inside and hang it at the water spout for quick hand-washing outside. I don't remember where I saw this but it's exactly what I needed for the children!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sewing with my serger machine

My brilliant husband gave me a serger machine for Christmas. I'm weird about when I read directions and when I don't....when it comes to things like my SLR camera and new sewing machine, I tend to avoid reading those manuals. So, my new machine sat (opened) in it's original box until March because I didn't have a good reason to experiment with it yet. Well, the other day a couple of friends inspired me to get it out and start using it (we're attempting to knock-off the Victoria Secret bathing suit cover-ups). After an evening with my dear friend Shelley, whom I lean on for creative support, I was feeling a bit more confident about my new machine. Yesterday I had an impulsive idea to re-create a favorite skirt from my closet. Before I go any further, I must explain how my serger changes my level of creating. The serger makes these really great stitches which completely remove the need for additional hemming and provides a more finished professional look to clothing. It basically saves me a lot of time and headache when using difficult fabrics! This layered wrap skirt only took me a couple of hours to throw together (and that was without a pattern). I'm thrilled with how it turned out, especially since I used old fabrics from my sewing stash. This new skirt cost me zilch, and it's reversible! My 6-year-old is now anxiously awaiting for me to make her one.