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Showing posts from March, 2012

Homemade Oven-Baked Hard Taco Shells

Those taco shells you get out of a box are okay I guess, but if you want something really fresh and delicious tasting, you need to try making your own from scratch!  Making tortillas is not as labor intensive as it may sound, and it requires very little in the way of ingredients (three ingredients to be exact).

And not only are there few ingredients, as far as equipment goes, you can get away with what you have on hand if needed.  Now, you can use a tortilla press if you have one--they do speed up the process--however, a tortilla press is not a necessity.  You can use a rolling pin, or just smash each tortilla under a large, heavy plate.  Whichever method you choose, you will find that sandwiching the dough between two pieces of lightly greased (I used coconut oil) parchment paper will work well for flattening your tortillas and preventing them from sticking.  And as far as cooking the tortillas, I prefer to use my cast iron pan, but any pan should work if you don't have any cast…

Soaking, Cooking, and Freezing Beans (Plus a recipe for Confetti Beans)

Whether you grow your own beans, or would just like to save money by buying dried beans, freezing cooked beans, legumes, and lentils is a great idea.  It is as convenient as having a can of beans in your pantry, only less expensive!  It's a bit more work to prepare, but the savings are worth it in my opinion.


When I grow my own beans, such as black beans, I will allow the beans to stay on the plants in their pods until the pods have turned yellow and crumble easily.  I have learned the hard way not to wait too long to harvest the beans--if you leave them on the plant for too long, the pods will split open, and your precious beans will be on the ground.  Great if you want them to self-seed, but not so awesome if you were planning on storing them for food use!



Purchasing Dried Beans

If you are not growing your own beans, you can purchase dried beans from many sources.  My local grocery store sells them in bags by the rice and other grains, but they also have bulk bins full of organic…

An Experiment: Coffee and Cacao Bean Extract

I recently purchased a bag of organic cacao beans from Mountain Rose Herbs.  It was an impulse buy, purchased mainly because they were on sale, and I was curious to see some cacao beans.  After all, I have had an almost life-long love affair with chocolate.


I got my cacao beans in the mail, opened them up, looked at them.  Closed them.  Set them on a shelf.

I had no idea what to do with them.  I still don't really, but I've been trying some things.  First, I un-shelled a few of them to get the "nibs" out, and put them in my mortar and pestle.  See, I had been reading up on cacao beans, and found that the nibs are ground into a thick liquid.  This liquid is partly cocoa butter and partly cocoa powder.  The liquid is then pressed to extract the cocoa butter, and you are left with the powder, which is used in baking.

I ground my nibs up to see if I could duplicate this at home.  When I ground it in my mortar and pestle, I was unable to get it into any sort of liquid for…

St. Patrick's Day Dinner Menu

I had two questions.  The first question was:  Why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

The second question was:  What can I make for dinner to make St. Patrick's Day fun for the kids (and us crotchety grown-ups too, I guess)?

Well, to answer the first question, St. Patrick's Day is actually a catholic holiday, originally celebrated in honor of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, who died on March 17. This holiday was originally celebrated as a feast day by the Roman Catholic Church.  However, over time, the holiday morphed into a celebration of Irish pride, and began to include other festivities involving consuming large amounts of alcohol and other green mischief.

Though I am not much Irish, and am not a Catholic, I still will try to wear at least a little green, so I don't get pinched, and pretend to talk like a leprechaun in a horrible Irish accent.  And I will eat green food.

Which brings me to my second question.  What should I make for dinner on St. Patty's…

Homemade Parmesan Potato Chips

In 1853, a customer in an elegant resort in New York complained that his potatoes were too thick and soggy.  The chef, who was reportedly miffed by having his potatoes sent back, decided to cut the potato slices as thin as he possibly could.  This was in attempt to annoy the customer, but the chef got an unexpected reaction:  they were a big hit.  The fried, thin slices of potatoes went down in history as being one of America's favorite snack foods.

Nowadays, you can buy potato chips of all varieties in bags at your grocery store, but the taste of freshly made potato chips far surpasses anything you could pick up in the chip aisle.  And not only do fresh, homemade potato chips taste better, you can also customize your chip flavors and invent new combinations.

If you are growing your own potatoes, you will save a lot of money by making your own chips, and you will also know that aren't any pesticides or other chemicals on your potatoes.  In fact, potatoes were unfortunate enou…

Homemade Furniture Polish II

Did you know that many commercial furniture polishes contain ingredients that are known neurotoxins?  Common products, such as Pledge, contain ingredients that can cause depression, damage to the central nervous system, and memory loss.

Do away with that junk, and make your own lemony furniture polish at home.  Not only is it a healthier alternative, but it is very inexpensive and easy to do. 

In the past, I used a recipe containing oil and lemon juice.  This recipe is good, but I found one that I like even better!  It smells so nice, and it has a secret ingredient in it:  alcohol.  The idea with the alcohol is that it will evaporate, pulling up some of the oil with it, which will in turn leave less of a residue on your furniture.  ...That's my theory anyway.

You will need to infuse some oil with lemon peels before you mix this up.  This is quite simple to do, so have no fear!



Lemon Infused Oil

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups olive oil
peels from one lemon

Place lemon peels in a large jar.  …

Our First Double Yolk Egg

I am so happy that our lovely hens have started laying again!  We had a monster egg out of the first four eggs we found.  It was so large because this egg had two yolks inside:


I was curious as to why this happens, and found an answer at poultryhelp.com:

DOUBLE YOLK EGGS:Double Yolkers appear when ovulation occurs too rapidly, or when one yolk somehow gets "lost" and is joined by the next yolk. Double yolkers may be by a pullet whose productive cycle is not yet well synchronized. They're occasionally laid by a heavy-breed hen, often as an inherited trait.
You can see the cracked shell from the double-yolked egg in my picture above compared to a regular egg.  The double-yolked egg was much larger--poor hen!