Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Gracious Plenty

A Gracious Plenty indeed. I have done a few cookbook reviews on my blog and I'm adding one more to my list.

The link above will take you to Amazon's website where the books is tragically no longer in print, but you can get it used. I would highly recommend buying this book, you need it.

It is a little ironic that I'm blogging about this cookbook now. It is a great resource for many different recipes, but especially great southern vegetable dishes. I have really enjoyed using it to cook simple and delicious okra, tomato, or almost any other southern vegetable. The irony is this year has been so tough for farmers, and my grandparents, the great source of our summer vegetables have had a horrible garden year. I always really appreciate what they send us, as a child I didn't know how blessed we were to receive "groceries" from Granny and PopPop. Now I absolutely cherish them and have tried to carry on the tradition by growing our own. And to think last year I canned tomatoes because we had such of a surplus!

This cookbook is great even if you must go to the farmers market to buy your own vegetables to cook. I cooked a great and super simple okra and sausage recipe that Daniel really liked. That is always the marker for whether a dish is successful or not. I will really eat almost anything, unfortunately I think most of my taste buds are dead. I can taste things, but I don't pick up on subtle notes of bitterness or the like. Plus texture weirdness doesn't bother me. Thankfully Daniel is not picky, but if he doesn't like something I probably won't fix it again. Most everything I have prepared from this cookbook has been a hit. The techniques are fairly simple, the ingredient lists short, and the recipes are fairly healthy. Yes sausage and bacon are used, but I'm not going to get in that debate now. I have several past posts on that subject.

I love that many of the recipes are probably similar to what my great grandparents cooked. One of my favorite PopPop lines is "if you'd come to Hebron 70 years ago talking about a canola (oil) people wouldn't know what you were talking about", this was during one of his favorite stories, rendering a pig. My grandparents grew up doing things very differently than we do now. And I'm certainly not saying all progress is bad, but these recipes are definitely worth preserving. If you can get your hands on one of these cookbooks please do and cherish it like I do!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Getting ready for Simeon

So another non-food blog post here. I finally finished my sweater I have been working on for about 3 weeks. And I also finished my first wrap style diaper cover. I've got to sew the buttons on the diaper cover, after I decide where they should be placed. The sweater seems big and the diaper cover small. I'll have to try the diaper cover with the newborn prefolds I ordered on a tiny baby before I make more. I'm 30 weeks now and I'm feeling more pressure to get things done. I have a feeling the next few months are going to fly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Laundry updates

I know three posts in one day, so I should be good for a month right? I attempted to take a picture of our newly extended clothesline and my soap making supplies.

Truth be known I am not a cheap person. I never have racked up massive debt, but let's put it this way. I have a taste for quality. But since going more natural I wanted a simplified laundry detergent without all the chemical additives. This recipe is 3 ingredients: a bar of laundry soap (zote is my personal choice), borax, and washing soda (not baking). The Zote I buy at Brookshires, and the borax and washing soda come from Kroger. If you are interested in making your own laundry soap here's a great resource:

I do have people ask me about this since most people don't make their own cleaning supplies. I make the powdered version because of my tendency to make messes in general. The worst part is grating the soap. Thankfully the weather is nice here this week so I sat outside on the porch grated away while watching a really corny 80's movie on my laptop. Now I know that there are many busy people out there who don't have time for this. Please don't feel guilty for buying laundry detergent. This is just a way that I can save my family money and since I contribute no actual income to the family it is important that I find these money saving opportunities.

I absolutely love my clothesline, it makes me feel like I'm harnessing some of our natural resources (lots of heat in Mississippi) and saving $ at the same time. But the line was too short so after consulting with my handy husband he instructed me on how to double it's length. A drill and a screw in hook later we have enough clothesline to dry an entire load at once.

I'm a grandma

No I'm really not. But sometimes my love of vintage and retro makes me feel like one. Take my new hobby, knitting. I love it but I do feel kinda old lady surrounded by all my gear at times. I was showing Daniel's parents my cute diaper cover and partially completed sweater and his mom remarked, "that looks like something Richard's mom would have had made for Daniel." I really did think it was funny and I don't mind having old fashioned tastes.

This pic is of my mostly completed sweater, my goal is to have it done by Friday. Daniel and I are going to be driving a lot on Saturday and I want to start on my new diaper covers. I'm using thinner yarn and hopefully will get a less bulky diaper cover. I have enjoyed my bulky yarn, it knits up quick and hides my many boo boos.

Bean of the week club

So for those of you who have been around my husband for more than 5 minutes lately you can tell we are really into Dave Ramsey right now. We have always had a budget and tracked it, but we haven't always tried super hard to stay within it's confines. Well little baby on the way has changed that.

Thankfully we agree on most areas of the budget, but our grocery budget has been a point of contention. Before we got married Daniel spent far less on groceries, but he also ate lots of frozen cardboard pizzas. Blah! SO in comes Elizabeth with her exotic tastes and love of heirloom and organic foods. Yeah real budget blower. This year I've been trying really hard to still buy healthy but still stay in the budget. We've been eating lots of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and lettuce (most of the time organic). I will occasionally throw in the more expensive veggies. I recently discovered the secret to cooking great cabbage, like my granny can. It's generous amounts of butter and not overcooking. I shop the organic meat and dairy case for clearance items. I get wonderful fresh eggs locally for a great price. I bake our own bread, can jam when we have free fruit. And my dear husband still thinks we spend to much. So I asked him what he would like to change about our diet to bring the money spent down.

So Daniel told me about this article he read about some guy that ate healthy on a low budget. His secret- stretching the meat out with grains and legumes. I'm not sure how much dairy he ate, but I'm not giving up my organic dairy yet. So I told him I'd try to start cooking more beans if he'd eat them. And Daniel has been very good natured about it all, as he usually is. Last week I made pork & bean stew, with green bell peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, christmas lima & pinto beans, nice hunks of pork, and a little yummy organic pepperoni to spice it up. The recipe came from the Joy of Cooking. We have one more serving, but I did put a bunch up in the freezer. Now that my freezer is back to normal function I can start stockpiling meals. It is so nice when I don't feel like cooking.

I'm really glad that Daniel has pushed me to cook more legumes, I really like them. I guess I haven't been cooking them out of laziness. I'll get Daniel to take a pic of our bean of the week today, a favorite Caribbean black bean stew and brown rice.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Local Fresh Eggs

Yummy pictures courtesy of Daniel. Like the title implies all these dishes have eggs as an essential ingredient. Not just any eggs mind you, free range organic from my farmer friend Hal of Abby Farms. This first picture is a Monte Cristo sandwich. Daniel made this delicious breakfast on Saturday. There are many variations, ours had: bacon, strawberry jam, farmers cheese, mustard. Then Daniel dipped them in egg and cooked them in a cast iron skillet with butter.

These marbled eggs are Daniel's Easter eggs. He hard boiled them, cracked the eggs, and soaked them in soy sauce. They do look pretty cool and they were very tasty.

Finally my contribution to this post, so last night I was tired and had some leftovers I wanted to use up. I had leftover cooked cabbage and chicken, so I searched the wonderful internet and found this wonderful recipe. I will definitely be using it again. It was quick, easy and it made a healthy supper. Here's a link to the recipe Cabbage casserole

Monday, May 11, 2009

My new non-food hobby

Yeah my new hobby isn't photography obviously. But you get the idea right. I have taken up knitting and I'm totally addicted. Just ask my poor husband, he just wants me to put my needles down and really watch a movie with him. But the baby clock is so ticking down. I'm already 28 weeks! This picture is of a pair of wool "soakers" or a diaper cover I made for Simeon. Daniel isn't so sure about the "sweater on his behind" look. But I of course love most anything that looks old timey. This was my third knit project, and my first soaker. Since we're going to be using cloth diapers, I need to make more soakers. But the next few will be knit with a thinner yarn producing a trimmer soaker.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Back to Reality

So Daniel and I were gone last week on a wonderful trip to the beach. We were in St. Augustine, Florida for a friend's wedding. We decided to make a week out of it and shared the beach house with some good friends. It was a good time for our spoiled dog to get used to being abused by children. He passed most tests with flying colors. I thought this picture was ridiculous and I couldn't help myself from posting it.

We had a good trip and I feel refreshed and ready to get back on the frugal wagon. Spending time with Holly was fun, she's really into couponing and has inspired me to search for coupons for products we regularly buy. As much as I'd love to be entirely self sufficient, we aren't nearly there and saving money on my favorite organic brands is a big help.

Our friend's little girl wore a beautiful silk dress to the wedding, and her mother was lamenting the horrible dry cleaning fees. I shared this page with her. I have used these techniques to clean wool, silk, and rayon with no casualties yet. I thought the article did a good job of explaining why you can't throw these items through a regular wash cycle without damage. This is the product I use. Even though I used my homemade laundry detergent for most items it is still cheaper to use a cap of this than to pay outrageous dry cleaning fees. I try not to lament all the money I wasted dry cleaning before stumbling upon these tips.

I will have some food posts soon I promise, as soon as the sun comes back out I'll take a pic and do a little garden update.