Family: Utah Reunion

A wonderful time was had by all of our family as we visited Park City, Utah to visit with some of C’s dad’s side of the family. DSCN2323

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Bash and Beginning of Summer

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Every year, E’s school puts on a variety of performances. The main Spanish performance is in December, but all the programs participate in the end of year Bash! All the Spanish Kindergartens did a beach theme – here is our littlest dressed up for “la playa”!

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Here’s another fun trip to the zoo… Scary place, right!?!

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E is getting to be an excellent cook!

048Lastly, here is a picture from her graduation from Kindergarten. She is getting to be a big girl!

Yum. (A testament to spring)

After a much needed break from blogging I’m back! (In case you’re wondering, I planned to get back to the blog every week of my absence and it just never happened. There was work stuff, home stuff, summer work stuff, family stuff, and most of all garden stuff. But I’m back. Finally)

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I have 2 dishes for you – Lovely, wonderful dishes that celebrate spring in all her glory. I go out every morning with my lovely basket (from Goodwill) and fabulous knife (Thanks Elizabeth – I sing songs about that knife and I don’t know what I would do without it!) and figure out what I will pick. Is there enough lettuce in the perennialized lettuce bed to make a salad for lunch? Is there enough pak choi to stir fry? Ohhh – should I pick strawberries for a snack?! *****, something is eating my swiss chard. Grrrr!

Along the way, I inspect every food plant. This week, the jalapenos produced the first baby pepper. The basil was looking a little yellow so I added some compost for nutrients. The walking onions get used just about every day. We gave away sage and mint to Ms. Theresa (our neighbor) today in exchange for the promise of summer beans.

Yum.

Back to the Food. A primer on eating radishes. Even if you are SURE your don’t like radishes, try these. Spring radishes are wonderful, with a sweet earthy flavor and just a touch of bite.

  1. Slice your radishes very thinly. If you are doing a whole bunch, use your mandoline.
  2. Drizzle your melted butter over each layer of radishes – sprinkling with salt as you go.
  3. Conveniently forget to call your family over and enjoy the snack by yourself!

Kale – you know you are crazy when your kid drops the kale chip on the floor and you call out “Pick it up, pick it up!”

  1. Cut kale into 2-3 inch pieces. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle and rub lemon juice over. Dash on a little salt. Bake in a 400 F oven. Eat. Enjoy.
  2. If you want an actual recipe, go here.

 

Crockpot beans

April 9 071There are 2 things that I feel everyone should have a crockpot for: making homemade stock (I have 4 quarts of stock in my freezer at any given time) and making beans.

Beans are so cheap and easy to make in the crockpot it’s an affront to purchase them by the can. I used to see beans in a recipe and think “oh they must have a ton of money to eat beans all the time!”

Ahem. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit that.

Even if you can only purchase beans in the bulk bin, they are (almost always) less than $1.50 a pound. A pound of beans makes around 6 cups of beans. You can do the math yourself. Well, here it is if you don’t want to.

  • 1 pound of beans = 6 cups of beans.
  • 6 cups of cooked beans = roughly 3 cans of beans.
  • all for 1.50 or less.

In Denver you can purchase beans in 25 pound packages from the LDS cannery in Aurora.

  • 2013 prices:
  • Black beans 16.80
  • Pinto Beans 18.55
  • White beans 16.00

You can also purchase from Vitamin Cottage. I bought 25# of lentils from them but you have to call for their prices. The point is that if you want to get beans for cheap you can. You have to be willing to store them – some people don’t actually use what they have in their food storage. You actually have to use them!

Ok. Onto the recipe.

Every crockpot is different. I suggest making the largest amount of beans your crockpot can hold – it takes the same amount of time and saves you time later as you don’t have to do it all over again. I have a 5 quart crockpot and use around 5 cups of beans.

  1. Clean your beans. Pick out rocks, etc. Give the beans a good rinse or two. Remember. Other people have been messing with your beans. Get rid of their cooties!
  2. The day before(at least 12 hours before, I like a good 24 hours): Fill your crockpot about half full with beans. Add enough water to cover the beans completely, plus 2 inches. The beans will “plump” while they soak and you want them to be covered completely the entire time they soak.
  3. When you are ready to cook the beans, pour out the soaking water and rinse the beans. Add the beans back to the pot. Add enough water to cover the beans plus 2 inches. They are going to plump up even more while they cook.
  4. Now you add spices according to what you have on hand: 2 Tbs dried onion or 1/2 onion roughly chopped, 1/2 to a whole carrot, a couple bay leaves, 6-10 peppercorns, and/or a couple cloves of garlic. You don’t have to add any of the spices. The spices flavor the beans with a lovely flavor though and I recommend using them if you are going to eat beans often. A sensitive palette can taste the difference (yes, I realize what I just said. Yes, it sounds stupid, but yes, it’s true! I’m leaving it in!)
  5. Put the cover on your crockpot and set to cook on low for 4 – 8 hours. Cooking time depends on the age of the bean, the heat of the water, the humidity in the air. I cook black, white, garbonzo and pinto beans in the crockpot. I feel perfectly fine putting them in the crockpot in the morning and coming home 8-9 hours later to cooked beans.
  6. I put my beans in plastic bags to freeze in 2 cup measures. I like to have beans on hand to pull out whenever I want to eat them. It makes cooking with beans fun and easy.

Pictures of the process:

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**Just one example of the rocks you’ll end up pulling out of your beans. Get them all or you’ll have dirty cooked beans!**April 9 078

**Can you see how dusty these beans are?! Gross!!! Rinse them a couple of times.**April 9 079

**Rinsed in the colander – ready to be soaked.**April 9 081

**The beans in the crockpot with the spices ready to go.**

Food in Review

Feb 6 was the last recipe I posted. Wow. It’s not that I haven’t written lots of recipes – or that I haven’t taken photographs. I’ve done both. Just not of the same recipe (ahem!). Due to a severely reduced budget (we’re keeping it under $200 a month – hard to do with a gluten free house that eats good food!) but we’re getting by. Though, anyone who wants to pay for E’s school is more than welcome to! Look for a cornbread recipe coming up – and the story of why we’ve taken to cornbread.

Here’s just a sampling of what we’ve been eating:

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**Beans, beans and more beans. I bought some from the local LDS cannery (and had a wonderful time with the most wonderful woman – she was just as sweet as can be!). We clean, rinse, soak and cook in the crockpot with yummies. I actually have the recipe written up – it’s just going to be a matter of putting the pictures (which are on the computer) with the recipe (which is on my work tablet) together. April 9 084

**Tacos. These have quinoa and black beans and a little meat from the freezer.**April 9 100

**quesidilla topped with salad. Quick dinner. Corn tortillas, cheese (any melty kind – we used mozzarella here) meat, beans, whatever you have on hand.**April 9 102

**quick omelets. bacon and cheddar.**April 9 129

**Easter dinner was on the patio with what we had on hand. Lamb from the freezer, Parmesan and roasted garlic mashed potatoes and oven roasted cauliflower. Yum**April 9 149

**Here’s my secret. I make a huge crockpot of soup. We eat it for a night or two and then freeze the rest. I then pull out “freezer meals” when I need something quick for dinner. I love easy food. In case you’re wondering, yes i reuse my lids for the freezer. This lid was used for my frozen apple pie in a jar desserts. I might pull one out tonight… that sounds good!**April 9 151

**We’ve eaten a variety of soups and curries. Our favorite soups are split pea (with ham bone) and chili. Any brothy soup gets all the broth eaten and none of the fillings. Not that that’s a terrible problem!**

A windy weekend

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**Near us, less than 2 miles away, is the perfect kite flying park**April 9 133

**The look on her face as she runs around after the kite is priceless**April 9 135

**She loved the exploring, trying to keep the kite up**

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**She’s almost too big. Where did all the time go?**

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Look at the clouds in the pictures. Aren’t they just amazing?! Hope you have amazing, windy days wherever life takes you!

Easter

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I love snow days! E is sitting next to me, reading her current favorite book, and I am updating the blog. Well, reading is a bit much. She’s memorized it and is reciting it. Gotta love it! Easter was great. E is getting so big – she loved the Easter sunrise service and the egg hunt the best. Just a FYI – the ears were the best thing at the Egg Scramble – we couldn’t lose her with those ears on!

Happy (late) Easter!

The story of a cousin

A visit with her Uncle and Cousin

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┬áSo many fun things – playing My Little Pony on the electronics, playing in the snow, a sandwich board, Uncle Ian reading AND singing…. What fabulous memories were created! We had a great time – thanks so much for coming up!

Garden love

There’s something that happens to the gardener’s heart right about that time of year where the first shoots break free of the soil. It’s a pitter patter, a quick, little dip, that makes them race back inside to grab the camera. I’m going to warn you right now, you have to be a gardener yourself – or crazy – to read this post. Because, really – who wants to see pictures of scrawny, itty-bitty plants? You do? Well come along and join me on a little garden tour!071

Do you feel the need to ask me if I’ve ever cooked rhubarb? Well, ahem. No, I haven’t. But I’ll be using it this year! Look at the colors on the rhubarb! Beauty at it’s best!

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An experiment…

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…trying to create mini greenhouses using milk jugs and sticks. Well see if it works. There’s a bunch of lovely spinach in there. The spinach is part of a funny story. I try to get most of my seeds for free or by swapping, but I bought these. I was taken in by one of my favorite seed companies (who shall not be named) and picked up the package without looking too closely. This is NOT an open-pollinated variety of spinach. Oh well, lesson learned. Look closely at your seed packets.

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These are our first garlic shoots ever. First year planting garlic – garlic is so cheap to purchase I can’t really justify spending garden space on it. We bought a head at Thanksgiving (while visiting Chris’ grandparents – it was our souvenir of the trip!) though and planted a lovely heirloom hardneck variety. I can’t wait for garlic scapes – those you can’t purchase cheaply from the store!

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This is our third year with parsley right here. Parsley is a biennial – but it will also reseed itself heartily if allowed to go to seed. Looks like I am going to get another two years out of the plant that I bought 2 years ago! I can’t wait to have a huge, bushy parsley plant again – there are so many great recipes that use parsley.

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If pride cometh before the fall – well take me now. I am tickled pink to see my Egyptian walking onion coming back. Last year, I bought one 4 inch container of the spicy stuff. I carefully split the overgrown roots, and crossing my fingers, planted 4 onion sections from that one container. All four sections survived, and 2 of my plants “walked” so I have a total of 6 starting this year. E BEGGED me this morning to have a “snack” from the garden – so she got a stick of onion that she immediately ate. And then asked for more.

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Speaking of E, here she is outside, taking pictures of the garden. Like mother, like daughter!

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Inside the house we have started a bunch of stuff including chard, tomatoes, basil, spinach

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pak choi and spinach. Not to mention kale, jalapenos and eggplant. Now, I’m going to sign off and get to starting more plants.

You can never have too many plants!