Monday, January 25, 2010

It takes how long?

We recently put a bid on a house that is being sold as a short sale. Sadly, we got outbid, but when I was trying to explain to Munchkin how looooong it takes for a "short" sale, he asked, "Does it take the same amount of time to grow a chicken? About the same time as a baby chicken to grow up and then some more?"

I have no idea where he got this since we've never had chickens and don't even know anybody who has chickens, but he was about right!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dark Days Week 10: Easy Chili & Biscuits

As I was cooking dinner this evening, I realized it would make a great candidate for my Dark Days meal this week. I call this “Easy Chili” since I don’t bother with a recipe. For the chili, I sourced only some of the ingredients locally, although it would be easy to find them all with a little planning. The biscuits and spice mix did not include local ingredients, but they were made from scratch, so that should count for something. :)

Normally, I would bake corn bread to accompany the chili, but I was out of corn meal so I made “Easy Biscuits.” My family prefers them to cornbread anyway. “Easy,” to me, means that I can combine all ingredients into a bowl in one step, stir and bake without ever having to get out a mixer or rolling pin. Here’s tonight’s recipes. One of these weeks I’ll remember to take a picture before we eat it all up.

Easy Chili
(serves 3-4)

¼ to 1/3 lb ground beef (fresh from our cow in the freezer)
1 onion, diced (Farmers’ market)
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced (frozen from last summer’s CSA)
1 can diced tomatoes (grocery store for me)
1 cup water, local :)
1 cup red beans, cooked (I have local beans in the pantry, but I forgot to cook them in advance, so these also came from a can)
4 tsp taco seasoning mix (homemade, recipe to follow)

About 45 minutes before dinner, brown ground beef and onions until beef is no longer pink and onions are transparent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer until time to eat. Pour into bowls and top each bowl with:

Dollop of sour cream (local Tillamook)
Small handful grated cheddar (Tillamook)
3-4 black olives, sliced (from far away unless you live in California)

Easy Biscuits
(makes 6-8 large biscuits)

1-¾ cups flour (I use part white, part whole wheat)
2-½ tsp baking powder
1-¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup milk

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until moistened. Drop by large spoonful on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 450 degrees, 12 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Mix
(I use this for chili, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc.)

2 Tbsp chili powder
5 tsp paprika
4-½ tsp ground cumin
3 tsp onion powder
3 tsp salt
2-½ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I omit because I don‘t like it so spicy)

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. To season 1 lb ground meat, cook meat until no longer pink then add 8 tsp seasoning and 2/3 cup water. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helping Haiti

For anyone out there who is following the news reports coming out of Haiti and wants to help, I'd like to recommend an organization called Partners in Health. They are the group birthed out of the work of Dr. Paul Farmer, the author of Mountains Beyond Mountains. A while back I read the book and was impressed and really amazed at the work Dr. Farmer was doing and the compassion with which he was doing it. I wrote a review here.

Partners in Health has been on the ground in Haiti for 20 years. Their main base is just close enough to the capitol to be able to offer medical care for the wounded, and just far enough away that it was not badly damaged in the quake. If you're looking for an organization to which you can contribute, this is a good one. Check it out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Red flag

Munchkin got a new race track. It's hard to race with him, though. Every time a car crashes, it can't be re-set up until you call in the pit crews, the paramedics, the firemen...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dark Days week ???: Farming mom's stew

It's been so long since I've posted my dark days meal that I don't even know what week it is! I guess I'll find out when they do the recap. :) I've had a hard time sourcing local ingredients because as we got ready to move, I used up any stockpile from last summer. There is a small year-round farmers' market here, but but the number of vendors is down and it's also a lot farther away than it used to be because we've moved. (We're still hunting for our new house, found a wonderful one this past week and put a bid on it, but it's a short sale so we have no idea if we'll actually get it.) Anyway, my sister bailed me out by giving us a large box of home canned goodies and some found their way into my recent finally-local meals.

The inspiration from our local meal this week was a post from Farming Mom. I adapted the recipe since I don't have a wood stove and the casserole dish I used ran out of room. After it started boiling over in the oven, I quit adding ingredients. :) Anyway, in our version of the stew I used:

a packet of beef labelled "stew meat" from the cow in our freezer
onion (farmers' market)
garlic (farmers' market)
diced tomatoes (grocery store, since I didn't have any from last summer)
red potatoes cut into chunks (farmers' market)
one quart sister-canned green beans
bay leaves, chives & parsley, dried
salt & pepper

I browned the meat and then added the onion & garlic. Then I put it all into a casserole dish, added the rest of the ingredients, and baked at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. The stew itself tasted delicious, but the meat was really tough. Next time I'll put it into the slow cooker instead of the oven and cook it all day. The green beans were a great addition and I never would have thought to include them except that Farming Mom did.

To accompany the stew, I made "Yucky Bread." Yucky bread was so named when I gave the recipe to a friend who made it for her family. The kids said the bread was yucky, trying to keep everyone else from eating it so they could eat it all themselves, and the name stuck.

I normally use a bread machine recipe called "Cottage Dill Bread," but the book is buried somewhere in storage so I returned to my original Dill Bread recipe from the More-With-Less Cookbook. Local ingredients included Tillamook cottage cheese, Tillamook butter and a fresh duck egg from the market. I would have used local dill if I'd remembered I had some in my freezer, but I forgot. I made the bread dough in my bread machine and then formed it into rolls to bake in the oven. The smell of the baking dill bread is heavenly.