Food

Humble Food and the Classics

Today started with waking early and doing my usual Morning Routine. After the journey to drop the teen at school I came home to tea while the sun came up again. I also made the meal plan in my head today. Last night I soaked black beans and pinto beans.

I turned in the slow cooker when I came home and fed the sourdough starter. I placed it behind the cookers to keep it warm since the house is at 66 degrees.

Them I put together my sister-in-law’s birthday package of two pot holders and four Compassion Coasters.

This is what the Compassion Coasters look like:

That being done, I sat down with Rogue to crochet a trivet and listen to “How to Listen to Music (Beginners Guide to Classical Music) .

It was a little tough to stay with but I managed a few chapters. It’s free on Librivox in the public domain.

I ate a lunch of a bowl of pinto beans. As part of my morning routine I have an apple and a couple of mandarine oranges. I’ll be frying a few corn tortillas soon to prep for tonight’s tostadas that consist of refried beans, TVP “taco burger” and possibly some spinach thrown in one way or another.

For dessert we’ll have popcorn while we watch another episode of Dr Who on Amazon Prime.

I rather enjoy the humble food we eat. The TVP is actually a luxury that we have just once or twice a week at most. We want to stay plant-based as much as possible. The refried beans are simply smashed pinto beans with some homemade onion soup mix thrown in at the last. We then throw them in a skillet with a ladle of liquid from the slow cooker and let them cook down into the mushy paste that we love. The corn tortillas I do buy at Costco for a ridiculously low price of under $4 for a 100 of them. I can’t make them for that nor do I want to. The red delicious apples are usually 98 cents a pound at the local WinCo Foods where I do most of my grocery shopping. Last night I combined the two leftover soups we had in the refrigerator and some of the vegetable stock that I made yesterday from the leftover vegetable scraps. Somehow I always get lucky and it was tasty. Even though we eat humble food, we do enjoy fresh vegetables and fruit as often as possible. We are trying to use what we have before we buy more. Unfortunately last year we were not as mindful and we wasted a lot of produce that spoiled. Onward, we are doing our best not to waste or to produce wasted such as packaging whenever possible. I buy bulk produce, staples, coffee, and spices. By buying in bulk we also stick with pretty humble food too. I’m really okay with that. Simple foods are still good foods. People forget that. We get so busy using food as a status symbol that we forget what matters. I’m not saying people shouldn’t enjoy a gourmet meal out sometime. I’m just saying that for everyday life, simple food is less stress, less money, and better for us.

Later, after taking the Rogue for a stroll, I sat outside and listened to Vivaldi Four Seasons with a glass of red wine from the box above the fridge. Life is good

Zen Routines

Tuesday Soup Day

After my Morning Routine, I stopped at Winco Foods and bought

Pinto Beans 25 Pounds @ $15.20 ($16 for the same if I bought it out of the bin.)

Garbanzo Beans 25 Pounds @ $26.84 ($28.25 for the same if I bought it out of the bin.)

We use both of these types of beans very frequently in our Plant-based Lifestyle so there’s no worry about using it all up and dry beans keep forever. Literally.

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After I came home and unloaded the beans, I pulled out the vegetable scraps that I’ve been saving in the freezer. Admittedly, it won’t be this much in the future because after these plastic bags have been used a few hundred times, I’ll be using glass jars to store them in the freezer.

I save my onion peels, leek tops, kale that’s starting to fade, and the celery bottoms or middle leaves. You can also see some asparagus bottoms in there. I cut off the tough part and save it to flavor soups in a batch like this.

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This bag was a group of vegetables that was nearing the end in our refrigerator so I dumped it all in a bag and saved it for soup.

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Every time I peeled carrots or cut celery sticks I put the peels and leftovers in a bag for the freezer to save for soup stock.

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Here I dumped one bag into my Wolfgang Puck Triple core skillet. (I’m pretty proud of this one. I bought it at the thrift store for $5 without a lid. That same day as I was bragging about it to my home care client, she grabbed the glass lid she had to fit it and was incredibly pleased that we’d made a match and she was rid of the spare lid.)

Then I added the bag with the leek tops etc and put the lid on. Medium heat for a few minutes will thaw the vegetables and cook them down enough to add more.

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This gave me a few minutes for an Italian Roast coffee and enjoying the morning sun with Rogue, our little Scotty-Cairn Terrier.

Next, I added the third bag of the dreaded Kale, broccoli ends, and such with enough water to cover about half way up.

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Now I’m off to do laundry and do my Tuesday Cleaning Routine.

Lunch was a lentil basil vegetable soup, apple, and Mandarin orange.

I spent the early afternoon listening to “How to Live on 24 hours a Day” by Arnold Bennett while I crocheted Compassion Coasters for future gifts. I’m using up the yarn I have before I buy more or do other projects. My books by Marie Kondo came in the mail today too so after school Tea Time was popcorn, tea, and books.

Frugal Living, The Beginning, Uncategorized, Zen Routines

Money Monday

Mondays are pretty pleasant. It took a lot to get here but I took baby steps. I don’t generally go to work on Mondays unless my home care company has a needed shift to fill. Most of my work is done on Friday and Saturday so when that dreaded Monday comes for everyone else, I can sit back and relax.

In the past, I didn’t structure my free time so my mind would take over and I would get everything from hyperactive projects to sadness to take up my time. I finally got smart and learned to structure my time a bit so that I get things done and yet rarely stress about any of it. Today, for example, is Money Monday.

Money Monday is pretty easy because we do these steps for a Zen Life 365:

1) Put everything possible on online autopay. Everything from the Mortgage, Credit Cards, Utilities, Solar, Car payment, and phone service is put on a payment schedule online so we plan well for our budget.

2) We don’t carry cash. This makes tracking easier and we are instantly accountable.

3) We use Google Drive (Linked to our family email) to build spreadsheets and store receipts so that each of us can view the expense record from anywhere.

4) Receipts are scanned with our TinyScanner app using our smartphones as soon as it’s in our hand. The rule is that we don’t leave the parking lot until it’s done.This work done right away means that we don’t have to worry about keeping physical receipts including the mess that goes with them.

5) Every Monday I sit down with a cup of tea in the afternoon and enter our expenses into our monthly spreadsheet. This takes just a couple of minutes because we prepped well enough and because we don’t spend nearly as much as we used to.

This year we have goals to pay off our credit cards and one of our vehicles. We are saving money by eating frugal vegan meals and by avoiding needless little shopping trips where we would be tempted to buy more than we need. Instead, we stocked up on what we need and have more time to spend at home as a family together.en

Cleaning, Frugal Living, Rituals

Zen Fridays

Fridays used to be busy at our house. Then I changed my thinking. They have a routine that has become joyful.

I get up early every morning because it’s my peaceful, quiet time for coffee and reflection. Then the teenager sits with me for half an hour before we eat breakfast. Breakfast is simple fresh fruit. I stay in my loungewear to take him to school. On the way back I buy fruit and vegetables for the weekend. When I get home I put vegetable soup in the slow cooker and cut up finger vegetables for home and work. This is when I prep for the boys’ meals while I am at work. I make sure there is freshly made bread on Thursdays. I’ll make another bread like tortillas or cornbread too. While I work in the kitchen I listen to an audiobook. While soup and bread are cooking I clean bathrooms and floors. Then I put the soup in Mason jars and let bread cool. After a quiet lunch I shower and put on makeup. My hair is a wash and finger comb with gel so it’s about 30 seconds work. Right before I go to pick up the teen, I make phone calls for appts and reconcile the monthly spreadsheet for expenses to date while I have a cup of tea. My Thursday plan makes it a pleasant day because all I have to do is grab my backpack and food bag to go when we arrive home after school. I’m lucky that I work all of my hours in one go from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Food

Ginger-Infused Black Rice with Fiesta Vegetables

Black rice is more nutrient dense than white or even brown rice. 

Today, I combined my favorite frozen mix of Fiesta Vegetables, red onion, yellow pepper, sweet corn, and black rice.

Thaw Fiesta Vegetables or any combination that you like, one bag.

Combine one cup black rice with two cups water, sliced ginger to taste, and one tablespoon olive oil. Cook covered on low until rice is soft and liquid is gone.

Chop one red onion and one sweet yellow pepper. When rice is done, remove from pan and set aside in bowl. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to pan, with onion and pepper. 

Cook on medium until soft then add Fiesta Vegetables. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Turmeric is optional.

Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add black rice and mix well. Remove from heat and serve.

Frugal Living

My Frugal September

So far this week jeans have been bleached in the laundry by accident and I realize that I am down to the last pair of my favorite eyeglasses. It was time to sit down and shop. I have been trying to limit spending not only for the budget sake but for the reasons of my becoming a minimalist. I am lucky that I have some favorite places that have been consistently reliable. So shopping was quick and painless. I bought only what I needed by shopping right before we  were paid. This makes me shop very frugally. If I shop on payday I tend to be more liberal with my spending because I think I have more money to spend. It makes sense in my world.

Jeans: I dislike extreme fashion trends so I buy jeans that are middle of the road classic and affordable. The ones that fit me well and meet all of that criteria are

Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Jeans

I buy them at Costco online because they are never more than $14.99 and they carry the tall sizes as well. Sometimes they have them at my local warehouse but rarely the Tall sizes. I also want to shop as much as possible online so it worked well.  Today there was a $5.00 off coupon for each pair so final cost for two pairs jeans = $22.11 . Not bad.

I have bought my eyeglasses for years from Zennioptical.com . They have glasses starting at $6.95 a pair. If you get upgraded lenses, coatings, etc there is an additional cost. Even with add-ons ,these are much less than a local vision company. They charge one low-cost shipping fee of $4.95. I ordered three pairs of glasses at $6.95 each with no additional extras. These are prescription glasses that I use daily since I ditched the contacts. The Final cost for three pairs prescription eyeglasses = $25.80 Not bad there either. Done.

For the next 15 days:

My buying schedule for bulk items this month:
Black Turtle Beans 25 lbs = $19.00
Old Fashioned Oats 25 lbs = $15.20
I’ll buy these both on the 15th as planned.

Soy Milk 2 cases $26
Bulk Coffee 4 lbs $28
Pasta Sauce $4
Frozen Strawberries $10
Bananas $8
Carrots $4
Sweetener $8
Vegan “Meats” $50
Vegan Pizza $16
TOTAL= $154 ish

We have enough vegetables from the garden,pasta,and spices etc to make whatever dishes we dream up for the next two weeks.

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Growing Food

Growing Herbal Tea

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Who knew that you could make herbal tea and other beverages from Citronella Plants?

I did some investigating and it turns out that Citronella is not only in Lemon Grass but also in a Geranium, Pelargonium citrosum.  It’s commonly called the Mosquito Plant or Mosquito Geranium. Don’t confuse it with others called the Mosquito Plant as well though.

I bought these two last spring in the hopes of keeping the little bugs away from the patio. Although it seems to deter them when I crush a leaf in my hand and rub it on my arms, the plant itself just smells good and doesn’t really seem to make a difference on the patio.

While doing some investigating herbs to grow for tea I stumbled upon the fact that I can actually use the leaves either fresh or dried in tea or other beverages. Here I was thinking I would have to purchase Lemon Grass starts to get that fresh lemon taste all winter and behold I have something I can use already.

I have already taken a few sprigs to make new starts and as all Geraniums, it’s easy to grow new plants from clippings.  I’ll make a tutorial if anyone is interested. This plant is also easy to grow in pots in the house over the winter or to pull from the dirt and hang upside down in a place like a basement or a garage to overwinter. In the spring you just trim the dead leaves, repot the plant, and water.

Here are the articles I found for reference:

Three Incredible, Edible Scented Geraniums

Organic Scented Geraniums

Edible Landscaping- Scented Geraniums

As fall grows near I will prune my plants and dry the clippings, then place in a sealed glass jar for lemon tea this winter.

This adds to my stock of Mint and Basil that I grow and use now for herbal tea. My goal is to be able to grow most of what we consume. This includes beverages. We buy beans, rice, pasta, whole grains, spices, and nuts in bulk to fill in what we can’t feasibly grow.

More later….