Quote of the week

If we were not intended to eat extraordinary food, we would not have been given such extraordinary senses of taste and smell.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

White Bean and Kale Soup

It's late winter, the snow just keeps on falling and the tempertures just keep staying COLD!!! What what do I do when I am feeling the winter blues? I throw on a pot of soup. Something hearty and warm, healthy and delicious. Whate bean and kale! Yep, that is what is on the menu.
What I love about make soup, it there are no real rules. You throw things in a pot and season until it tastes good. It is perfect for that "clean out the refrigerator' day!

For this soup, I used the basics:

1 pound dried white beans, rinsed and picked.
2 white onions, rough chop
2 bay leaves
Dash or two crushed red pepper flakes
4 large celery stalks, slice thick
4 large carrots, scrubbed clean, but skin on, sliced thick
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
5-6 basil leaves, julianned
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 15 ounce package/can of diced tomatoes
A large bunch of kale (about 3-4 cups) chopped.
water or chicken stock (whichever you prefer, there is also a vegetarian "chicken stock" powder sold in the bulk section of the local HyVee if you like)
sea salt, pepper

After white beans are rinsed, you can either do the overnight soak (put beans in pot and cover with 6-8 cups of water and let sit for 8 hours or over night), or you can do a quick soak (add beans to the pot and add 6-8 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil and let boil for two minutes. Cover and remove from heat and let stand for an hour. Once beans are soaked, rinse again. Throw beans in pot, add chopped onions and bay leaf. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and tilt the lid to let steam escape and cookf or an hour to hour and a half until beans are tender.
Add carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary and basil and add more water or stock to cover vegetables. Add a nice sprinkling of sea salt and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes and  kale and stir. Simmer until kale wilts. Season to taste

** keep heat low and stir regularly to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom of pan.
** add any vegetable you like, parsnip, trunips, rutabagas, fresh parseley
** play with the seasonings to your liking
**finish with shredded parm if you like

I love to bake a fresh loaf of bread when I make a pot of soup. Fresh bread and homemade soup go togehter like peas and carrots! ( ;

Enjoy! Bon Appetite!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

In today's crazy world, more and more people are looking for ways to not only save money, but to create a more natural and chemical free home. Here is a simple and extrememly cost effective recipe for  homemade laundry detergent.


1/3 bar Fels Naptha 
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder 
optional: add natural fragrance with essential oils. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 ounce. I use lavender

Grate the Fels Naptha and place in large pot. Cover with 6 cups of water and heat until soap is melted. Add the washing soda and the Borax and mix until desolved. In a large bucket (I used a 5 gallon bucket) add 4 cups hot water. Pour in soap mixture and stir until well combined. Now add water until mixture is 2 gallons (about 1 gallon 6 cups).

Place lid over bucket and let sit for 24 hours. It will 'gel up' a bit. But more of a watery gel. You use 1/2 cup of mixture per load of laundry. I use an old liquid detergent container for easier use.

This is a low suds detergent, so don't worry if it doesn't seem as soapy as the store bought stuff.
This recipe makes 2 gallons of detergent. Cost per load is below $.20 per load. 
A family favorite. I even converted my "Tide is the only thing I use" spouse!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

There are several different styles of pulled pork. I, myself, am a big fan of the Carolina style. I am a vinegar fan. I love the spicy tang of the vinegar mop over the sweet tomoato based barbeque pulled pork. But, everyone has their own preference. In order to please the masses, I will make a large batch of the Carolina style pork and then offer a couple of different barbeque sauces on the side. That way, everyone can make their own style. So this is a recipe for spicy Carolina pulled pork, cookeed in the crock pot.
This recipe serves roughly 10-12 pulled pork sandwiches

Things you'll need:

A large crock pot

1 5-6 plus pound Boston butt (bone in pork shoulder). You want these untrimmed (the thick layer of fat still attached)

Dry rub for pork:

3/8 cup brown Sugar
1/4 paprika (I prefer smoked Hungarian)
4 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder

Combine ingredients and rub mixture on the pork butt. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best.

Take pork out of the fridge and set out to return to room temperature (about an hour). While the pork is is hanging on the counter, gather -

1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce (you can use Bragg Amino Acids for a gluten free option)
4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons honey (I always try to use a local raw honey)
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 red onions, quarted
4 yellow onions, quartered

In a bowl, mix everything, but the onions, until combined.

Place quartered onions in bottom of crock.
Unwrap park and place on top of onions. Pour 3/4 of vinegar mix over the pork, reserving the rest to add to the shredded pork when done.

Turn crock pot on low, cover and cook for 7-8 hours (preferred) or high for 4-5 hours.

Remove pork and onions, place on large cutting board (there will be plenty of juice). Remove the layer of fat and set aside. Using two forks, pull and shred pork and chop onions. Take a small bit of fat (to your liking) and chop up and add to shredded meat nd onions. Through back into crock pot and mix well. Lower the temperature to warm on crock pot.

Serve with your favorite bun. We prefer kaiser rolls. Serve the extra vinegar sauce on the side, along with any barbeque sauce you like as well.

We suggest serving with coleslaw for a classic Carolina pulled pork sandwich.


Carolyn's Game Day Chili

With the Super Bowl just days away, here is a great recipe for a crowd pleasing chili, sure to please all fans! And best of all, it is simple to make and easy to mix it up and make it your own!


1 pound dried Pinto Beans or Red Kidney Beans-canned or dried, if beans gives you discomfort, I strongly reccommend that you use dry beans and soak overnight; it will allow for easier digestion.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
11/2 lb beef chuck steak, cut into 2 x 1/2 inch strips
11/2 lb lean ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
2 good size garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chili powder-trust you will need it
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 10oz can of green chilies
1  9 oz can of crushed tomatoes, personally this is where I use 16oz can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
2 bay leaves
pinch of dried Thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste, I never just use a teaspoon
1 tablespoon of Worchestershire Sauce
11/4 cup of Beef Stock
1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon of pepper, or to taste
1 Jalepano chopped-pending on your level of heat-hot chop jalepano with seeds and all, not so hot de-seed and chop

Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C).  Heat half of butter with the oil in a large heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Pat the beef strips dry with papaer towels and saute in batches until brown-you do not have to do in batches if your skillet is large enough but you do want an even browning of the beef.

Transfer beef directly into a large heavy pot or Dutch Oven

Add ground beef to the saute pan and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the lumps and until lightly browned.  Transfer ground beef and juice directly to the heavy pot or Dutch Oven

Add remaining butter to the saute pan and stir in the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the saute pan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, add garlic and let cook for 2 more minutes longer.  Transfer to pot or Dutch Oven

Stir the chili powder into the meat mixture and add the reamining ingrediants-except the beans, mix well.  Heat to boiling, cover and transfer to oven.  Bake for 11/2 to 2 hours or until strips are tender.

For Dried Beans-place in a pot with cold water, heat to boiling, reduce heat, add some bacon fat and simmer till tender about 1 hour, drain.

When the meat is tender stir in the "dried" beans or canned beans and return to oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  If you noticed that your chili is lacking suace add a little more beef stock.  This has never happened to me.

Some extras:
Add roasted corn to this in the last 15 minutes of the uncovered cooking.
Vary your spices to your taste but also add some smoked Hungarian Paprika
Pickled Jalepanos-always a treat
Crunchy Tortilla Strips or Crunchy Jalepano Strips for garnish

And....Chili is always better the next day!!  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Bean Chili

Who said Vegetarians cannot have fun on Game Day!!

Serves 6 to 8

Since this is a Vegetarian Chili use whatever mixture of beans you like.  We used light and dark Kidney Beans and Black Beans.  You can also serve over rice but we found it was not necessary.

2  tablespoons of vegetable oil
2  lage onions, chopped fine
1/4 cup  chili powder
1  Red Bell Pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1  tablespoon cumin
1  tablespoon paprika
1  teaspoon cayenne
6  good size Garlic Cloves
3  (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1  cup of vegetable stock or water (stock is always better)
2  Chipotle Chiles in Adobo sauce, minced
4  (15.5 0z) cans of beans-any combination you would like
1/2  cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, bell peppers, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, and cumin.  Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds.  Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, water or stock, chiles and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

Add beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the chili is slightly thickened, about another 30 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

This chili can be prepared up to the point where the cilantro is added, cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.  Reheat over low heat, adding additional water or vegetable stock to adjust the consistency.

Avocado, Chopped Scallions, Sour Cream, Daiya Cheese (non-dairy cheese), Shredded Cheddar, Crispy Tortilla Strips, Crispy Jalepano Strips, Diced Peppers, Chopped Fresh Cilantro-whatever floats your chili boat!