Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zoning laws

I am trying to understand the reasoning for some of the zoning laws.
I thought that I owned my home. I have to pay taxes just to own this home. Then, the government is going to tell me what I can and cannot do. I have a decrepit fence that I inherited when I bought this home. It is falling over, has holes in it and looks a mess. I must pay money to get a permit to replace my fence, but my neighbors can spray their lawns and trees with pesticides that are poisonous to wildlife, our children and our environment and linger in the environment for decades, and do not need a permit to do so.

So replacing my ratty fence with a nicer fence that hurts no one, is not allowed without permission and paying a fee, but they can poison the world, just so their lawns don't have dandelions and need no permission to do so. I remember reading an article about a woman who was told to cut her wildflowers down that she planted, because they were "weeds". The definition of a weed is a plant that is not valued where it is growing. So who needs to value this ? The homeowner that planted the wildflowers to attract birds or the government, who leads us to believe this is a free country, yet we never really own our homes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christina Cooks

One of my favorite cooking shows is Christina Cooks.

She has great healthy recipes and I have all of her books (except her newest one, just haven't ordered it yet). One of her books, my favorite is called

Glow: A prescription for radiant health and beauty. It talks about what you eat and how it affects what your skin, hair, nails and eyes, etc look like. She has foods to help you gain more beautiful skin and also shower regimens, that you can view on her current newsletter, which you subscribe to free on her site...

Here is an excerpt from her website, on her story and what got her started in whole foods.

LEUKEMIA DIAGNOSIS It’s really interesting, in hindsight. I was told I had delicate skin when I was young, because if someone would so much as take my arm to cross the street, I would have bruises the next day. I’d hear from my mother, “You’re a girl, where do you get these bruises?” And I’d be thinking, “I don’t know.” I remember, as an athlete in high school on the swim team, I would come home from practice complaining that my bones hurt, and you know, typical Italian family, they’d say, “What do you mean your bones hurt; go do your homework.” Life was different then. We didn’t rush off for blood tests so quickly. When the doctors diagnosed me, I had thought I was tired because my mother had passed away, with the whole grieving process; but the doctors said that the leukemia had been there for many years, never diagnosed. So the condition was pretty acute by the time it was diagnosed, but they said that it had been undetected for so long.

GETTING STARTED WITH WHOLE FOODS I remember asking, “Is there anything we can do that will cure this?” and they [the doctors] said, “No.” This was 16 years ago, and [since then] we’ve made quite a few advances. Do I recommend this kind of course? Not for everybody. I really did it the hard way, which is how I do most everything. But at the time, they couldn’t offer me much. Even a bone marrow transplant would be iffy. So one of the five doctors agreed to monitor me, and the minute I would deteriorate they could intervene. And I agreed to that because I didn’t think this [diet] was going to work either. So Robert and I went shopping at a co-op, and he’s loading all this unfamiliar food into my basket. Now I’m a cook, and I’m thinking, “I’m dead, I don’t know what to do with this…” We emptied my cupboards and loaded them up with new foods; he gave me a few quick lessons, and it may sound simple, but that’s how it started.

MY RECOVERY It took a year and a half to regain my health and there were lots and lots and LOTS of ups and downs. I guess it was maybe 2 months before they saw a big difference in my blood. They didn’t know what I was doing, and I said, “Well, I’m doing this diet thing. I’m eating whole grains, beans and vegetables.” They said, “That’s very nice honey, but what are you doing?” They called it spontaneous regression and had no answer for it. They said, “Whatever you’re doing, do it, because something’s changing.” And off I went; it was a long year and a half, but after that period, my blood tests showed no sign of cancer and haven’t since. And what I’ve discovered since then about the power of food in the body is what drives me in my passion every day. If people understand the energy of food and how it affects our health, they can make choices best suited to them.
Check her out, she is beautiful and has some great advice and recipes.

Wine Charms (not just for wine)

I make my own wine charms out of shinky dinks, swarovski crystals and other charms. I stamp the blank shrinky dink material, with things like cute characters for generalized charms to personalized charms with names stamped on them.
These are great for parties, and also for kids. My kids like to drink grape juice, water etc from wine glasses, and so do we. You can also put these charms on the pop top of soda cans to tell whose is whose, and coffee mugs too.
I cannot take credit for these wine charms pictured here, but they are the basic type of layout for my wine charms. I did not take pictures of mine (yet). Some have name tags, animals, bugs, etc...and some have silver charms instead of shrinky dinks.
I actually got the idea from Long Trout Winery, they have shinky dink charms of their fish logo they gave to us when we bought a case of wine. It did not have any beads on it, it was just the fish logo shrinky dink, but it was so cute, I had to make them.
And of course, you can put them on your MARGARITA glasses!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Twice Baked Potatoes, super easy

I used my Wolfgang Puck immersion blender today to make twice baked potatoes...omg it was so good.

I took the potatoes, and baked them (okay, I admit it, I microwaved them to bake them lol) I let them cool a few min and then I cut them in half and scooped out the insides with a small cookie scoop. I put it in the immersion blender conatiner, and I added some cheese, cream cheese, and leftover bacon, broccoli, whatever you have is good... we had broccoli the frige from a restaurant we went to the day before... chopped it all up well, sort of a mashed potatao consistency and scooped it back into the potato skeletons, seasoned it up....baked it about 10 min.....Wow, they were terrific and so easy to make.
My Immersion blender is something I use so much, I burnt one out and am on my second one...not that they are built cheap....I just use it for everything, even chopping steaks into burgers, brussel sprouts for has, chicken into chicken burgers, etc....I love it. I can't live without it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lazy One Pot Pasta

Pin It

I make pasta in one pot all of the time. No strainer to wash, no sauce pot, just one pot for everything.

I take a stir fry pan (or a sauce pan will do, make sure you have a lid for it).
Add 2 T olive oil and garlic to your liking. Any meats , peppers etc you may want, chicken, clams etc and cook.. Then add a large can or two soup sized cans of pureed or diced tomatoes. Some of your favorite spices and let it simmer a bit to create a sauce. Then add a box of pasta (penne or tortellini is what I use for this type of lazy pasta cooking). Add some water, 1-2 cups, judge it and watch it, you may need to add more water as it cooks and the pasta plumps up, put on the lid and let it cook, stirring occasionally.

I make this a lot and got the idea from that crappy hamburger helper, I thought, I can make my own sauce and spices and make it healthier.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Recipe Cheat Sheets

My Recipe Cheat Sheets
I use some of the same recipes over and over and although I don't always follow recipes, except when I bake, although I tweak it.
I like to tweak recipes and make them my own. My family loves them so much so I want them to be able to make it, should anything happen to me. I keep them in my files, in a yahoo group all my own just for storage purposes.
The recipes that I make often, I have printed out and taped inside of my kitchen cabinets. This makes them available to me immediately, without me needing to get my recipe basket, or go on my computer to get the recipe again. For right now, they are just taped lazily inside the cabinet and I open the cabinet when I need to see the recipe. I do plan to put them in page protectors so they are wipeable, if I would mess on them.
I am working on recipe books for my kids (I got cute blank recipe books from the gooseberry patch) so that they have their favorite recipes when they are older and move out, they will be able to make the recipes "Mom" made that they love. I wish my mom and grandmother had done this for us. Although my mom is still alive, and I get recipes from her, my grandmother passed on in the early 80s and I don't have many of her recipes. I remember cooking with her all the time, as she lived across the street from us and we spent a lot of time with her.
I am not much a recipe follower, so I have to sometimes figure out how I make things to include in their books, so they can make them. I do not measure EXCEPT WHEN I BAKE, I just judge, little of this, little of that. When I bake, the flours, sugars, baking soda/powders matter, but I do tweak the spices to my liking.
I feel when you like ingredients, you will like the end result, so if there is something I am not fond of in a recipe, or something missing that I like, I add/omit whatever I want.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting children to eat Healthy!

Getting kids to love healthy foods

When my boys were little, I did not want to make special foods for each of them, so I figured out ways to get them to like foods we liked.

I always used to grind up the foods I cooked for them as baby food, so they were used to real food all along.

They love broccoli and when they went to school in early elem school years, I packed broccoli and carrots in their lunch box. A mom of one of my son's friends came up to me and said, "what is the secret to getting your son to eat broccoli. My son came home and said, Alex eats yukky broccoli everyday." I always made food fun...they could play with their food, as long as they ate it. We would pretend the broccoli was trees and they were dinosaurs and would bite the top off the tree. I also used their liking of broccoli to get them to eat spinach. I always use fresh and frozen spinach, never ever ever ever canned, that is just gross mush. I told them the spinach was broccoli chopped up, they liked it.

I would put smiley faces on hard boiled eggs and we called them Happy Eggs. This made it fun for them (we would make funny faces, etc) and I could also distinguish the cooked eggs from the raw ones.

When I made "meatloaf" I made meat muffins. I would make the meat loaf and sometimes chop veggies and put them in the mixture, and make them in muffin can put a slice in cheese in the middle for a fun dairy kids loved them. I still do this occasionally, as not only are they fun to eat, but they cook faster than a loaf pan of meat loaf.

If you get kids to try things over and over, they develop a liking for it eventually. If my kids say they don't like something, such as sauerkraut, which we here in PA Dutch Country eat every year on New Years Day, I make them eat one spoonful. I did this with Brussels sprouts, and they eat them.
My children have very grown up tastes buds, but even as babies, I just ground up what we ate.

I always chopped veggies up and put it in my kids foods, long before Seinfeld's wife did this. I think all moms did this. She just happened to have the connections to make money on the old idea.

Any food, cooked properly is good food. My kids love zucchini, but we make it into mock crab cakes, or we grill it on the grill with some seasonings. If you make it bland, they will not eat it. You have to find spices they like and use them on veggies to make them taste good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pantry Challenged

I joined a great group called, Pantry Challenged. It's a yahoo group with some great gals (and maybe guys) where they talk about kitchen issues, using the foods in the pantry, how to stock the pantry, ideas etc.

Its a fun group. Nice members.

Here is the homepage description
This list was the original Pantry Challenged list that became Pantrychallengedandfrugal at one point. We've decided to "reclaim" this list and make it active again. All topics related to homemaking, budgeting, shopping, cooking cheaply, living frugally, menuplanning, eating out of our pantries, decluttering, couponing, and just trying to save and get by are all welcome. "Whats for Dinner?" topics are welcome as well as recipes and even a little off topic chat! This list has a "Closed Membership" setting so the only way to join is by invite or direct add if you allow it. If you would like an invite or would like to be added directly please email the list owner and mods and request so. Be sure to include where/how you heard of us in your request along with a brief introduction as we are a private list and not listed in Yahoogroups directory.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chicken burgers from scratch

Wow these were so good, I could eat one now.

My friend Kelly does not eat beef or pork and now my sister doesn't either...
I am always searching for creative things to cook, and we love to cook out even in winter. We have fish a lot and chicken breasts etc....even veggie burgers, which we really do like....just want variety.

I made these the morning of the wine festival and froze them ...and we had them when we got back....I bought a family pack of Chicken breasts.

I chopped them up in the chopper bowl with the immersion blender into a ground chicken. I added....garlic, chopped onion, chopped green peppers (actually red and yellow)....chopped mushrooms, about 2 T avocado oil (coconut oil,canola or grapeseed will do , anything that has high heat point) a bit of celery seed and ground pepper (I add that to everything lol)....

I think that is it..again, "me no follow recipe, little this little that" lol....I mixed it with my best kitchen tool, my hands and then made big meatballs, placing them on wax paper on a baking pan....then, cover with wax paper and put another baking pan on top and smush the meatballs into burgers.

Freeze for a few hours (or longer but at least a few hours).Grill and add cheese if desired and serve on a bun, or for you guys who are Atkins followers, no bun....

(bleu cheese and hot sauce is what we added, once it was cooked, with lettuce and had celery sticks on the side, well, Brian had Barbq sauce on his, he isn't a hot sauce kid)....Yummo! I used a family pack of chicken breasts (about 10 or so) and made about 16 burgers, so we have more for next time! I am going to grind my own burgers from now on, both beef and chicken, it was soo good and quick and easy to do.
I have also done this with chicken thighs too. Super good.

My favorite storage jars

I don't like to use plastic containers for food so I buy Ball (Atlas, Kerr, Mason) canning jars and use them for everything. They are freezer safe, microwave safe and dishwasher safe.

I use them for food leftovers, they store in the freezer and refrigerator nicely. I use them for dry goods, like flour, chocolate chips, rice, etc.

I use them for candy jars, and have one or two in my living room with candy, almonds, or snacks in them for guests to munch on.

I make home made iced tea and simple syrup and have pre-sweetened iced tea in my refrigerator for guests to drink, in pint jars in the frige. When I use one, I just take off the lid, they can be drank out of and put right in the dishwasher.

When guests come for food, I send him leftovers in the jars, and don't mind, they are cheaper than those other brand containers and can be reused by the person who gets it. I think people are more inclined to reuse something glass than a plastic container, which get throw away more often.
I also save glass pickle jars etc, to give away leftovers too.

Amish friendship bread, make the starter and bread with the starter

I have made the bread twice now.....It is so good. starter recipe at bottom if you lose your starter or have no one to get it from.Yes I know the Amish do not use instant pudding...this is a variation recipe, if you google, you will find recipes that do not use it....I like mine with banana pudding and walnuts.Amish Friendship Bread
Important: Do NOT use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing. Do NOT refrigerate. If air gets in the bad, let it out. It IS normal for the batter to rise and ferment. The date lines below can be used to help keep track of the date or day you are at in the process.
Day 1- Do nothing, this is the day you receive the bag, unless told otherwise.
Day 2- Mush the bag
Day 3- Mush the bag
Day 4- Mush the bag
Day 5- Mush the bag
Day 6-Add to the bag: 1 c flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk and mush the bag
Day 7- Mush the bag
Day 8- Mush the bag
Day 9- Mush the bag
Day 10- Mix and divide the starter.
Directions below.
Dividing directions: Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-meal bowl. Add 1½ cups flour, 1½ cups sugar and 1½ cups milk. Mix. Then measure 1 cup of the batter into each of four Ziploc bags. Keep one for yourself and give the other 3 starter bags away with a copy of the recipe instructions.Note: Starter should be passed to a friend on the 10th day. Be certain to tell the recipient what day the bag is at when you present it to her. If you keep one starter yourself, you will be baking every 10 days.

This bread makes a great gift.

Baking Directions: To the remaining batter in the bowl add:3 eggs 1 cup sugar ½ tsp salt1 c oil 2 tsp cinnamon 2 c flour½ c milk 1½ tsp baking powder 1 large or 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding½ tsp vanilla ½ tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 325°. Grease two large loaf pans. Mix together and additional ½ c sugar and 1½ tsp cinnamon. Dust greased pans with half of this mixture. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and sprinkle remaining sugar on top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour. Cool until bread loosens from the pan evenly (about 10 min). Turn over onto serving dish. Serve warm or fool.Options: Add 1 cup chopped nuts, raisins or chocolate chips. You can also use chocolate pudding instead of vanilla if you prefer. ( Its really good with banana and walnuts)If the starter turns green or gets an awful smell discard and start over.It should have a beer like smell, that is normal.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD (STARTER)1 pkg. active dry yeast1/4 c. warm water1 c. flour1 c. sugar1 c. warm milk (110 degrees)Mix all and divide into one cup portions in Ziploc bags.Follow the directions for the amish friendship bread as it needs to be fed and tended to or it will die. If it turns green discard.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tequila and Salt

My mom sent me this great motivational email today.

I especially love the one about if someone hates you, its because they want to be just like you. lol.


This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it every day.

You may not realize it,but it's 100% true.
1. There are at least two people in this world that you would die for.
2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to Be just like you.
4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone,even if they don't like you.
5. Every night,SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
6. You mean the world to someone.
7. You are special and unique.
8.. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.
9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take another look.
11. Always remember the compliments you received..Forget about the rude remarks.
So.....If you are a loving friend, send this to everyone, including the one that sent it to you.If you get it back, then they really do love you.
And always remember.....When life hands you lemons,Ask for Gin and Ginger beer and call me over!! Good friends are like stars.....
You don't always see them,But you know they are always there.'Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway.'I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I'm here than a whole truck load when I'm gone.