Monday, May 25, 2009

Menu Monday

Let's face it, organic chicken is spendy. The easiest way to get your moneys worth is to buy whole chickens and have a two day chicken meal. I usually make a whole chicken for my family about once a week. I stick a whole organic chicken in the crock pot, cover it with chicken broth, and drop an onion (skin and all) in there with it. After 3 hours we have a perfectly cooked chicken for dinner.

The next day I have tons of tiny pieces of chicken that are not quite enough for a meal for the 5 of us... but perfect for adding to another set of ingredients to make a good meal base. Our stand by is of course, chicken soup. Adding the chicken back into the crock pot with all the juices, some celery, carrots, sliced onion, and a couple bay leaves. Sometimes I add some Summer Savory and broth concentrate (low salt bullion substitute) to make the flavors pop.

Lately I have been trying to mix it up a bit. The kids are kinda sick of roast chicken and soup and it is getting on summer weather out here, so I have been making chicken casserole and chicken/spinach quesadillas instead. And the change has been good. ;)

Leftover Chicken Casserole

Leftover chicken pieces (no bones)
1 box chicken broth (28oz)
2 pouches reduced chicken broth (or 1 cube bullion)
4 lg stalks celery
4 lg carrots
1/2 summer savory
2 bay leaves
1 lb package of small shell noodles
salt and pepper to taste

Add it all back into the crock pot and cook on high for 1 hour. That is enough time for the chicken to heat through and start to fall apart, the noodles to take on the broth and make a yummy thick casserole, and for the veggies to be tender but not quite mushy... and it is SO good!

Leftover Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

Leftover chicken
1/2 lb Monterey jack cheese
pepper jack for the older people in the family
raw baby (or cut up) spinach
Chop up the chicken into small slices. Grate cheeses. Place the tortilla on a hot pan or griddle and put some cheese on half of the tortilla. Then add the chicken, spinach, and then a bit more cheese, folding over and flipping when the cheese is melted.

Dip for quesadillas

1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs hot salsa
1/2 can black beans
chopped cilantro leaves

Add all of this into a small food processor and process until chopped but still slightly chunky.

So good!

This weeks menu:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Manu Monday

Today we had a really great morning making peanut butter and applesauce.

Then the kids saw pasta salad on the menu and wanted that for dinner. I figured, why not??

A while ago I started to add Newman's Own balsamic vinaigrette dressing into this pasta salad (about 2 Tbs) and it just took it to a whole new level of goodness! Everyone in the family loves it. Add in some fresh corn from OR (the first I have seen at the market) and you have a darn good dinner.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shrimp and Sour Salad

Shrimp and Sour Salad

1 bag baby spinach
1 lb shrimp (25-30 or bigger)
Sea salt
black pepper
1 red onion

Wash and dry (spinning is best) the baby spinach and set aside. Clean and de-shell shrimp, and place them on skewers for broiling or BBQ'ing. Sprinkle sea salt, black pepper, and cinnamon liberally and the sugar sparsely onto the shrimp and cook for 4 minutes on each side on high heat or until they are pink throughout. Cut onion into slivers and place in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Saute until caramelized adding salt to bring out the flavor.


2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
4 Tbs Asian sweet and sour sauce (like to dip egg rolls in)

Place onions and shrimp on the bed of clean baby spinach, and drizzle the dressing over the top.

I served with artichokes (in season this time of year) with curry/mayo dip. YUM!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Monday (and a little something extra)

I want to make menu Monday more interesting. So I have decided to include budget recipes every week I have one. This week I was lucky... there were two!

Veggie Fried Rice
  • 4 cups cooked brown/wild/red/mixed rice
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • One large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 handfuls of each frozen golden beets and frozen green beans
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Bragg's Amino Acid or 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise

Chop onion into slivers, and mince garlic. In a large skillet, saute' over med high heat with oil until onion starts to clear. Add in beets and green beans and agitate constantly until they are cooked through. Add in the rice and mix until warm. Remove from heat and add the Bragg's and mayo. Toss and serve, warm or cold.

Mexi Comfort Rice

  • 4 cups cooked brown/wild/red/mixed rice
  • Olive oil or butter for cooking
  • 1 can or 1 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 can or 1 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 3 Tbs salsa
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives
Dice the bell pepper and saute in oil or butter until soft. Add in the beans and corn. When hot, pour into a large bowl and add in the rice and toss with salsa, cilantro leaves, and chopped olives (saving some of the cilantro and olives back for garnish if you wish). Add salt if needed (ours didn't need it... but it depends on the salsa.)

Either of these recipes could be converted to vegan, and both serve 5 - 6 people for under $5. I just love rice!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our foods are anemic

I once thought that you could get all of your nutrition from foods. I was VERY opposed to supplements and what they were supposed to give you. The bio-availability of supplemental vitamins and minerals couldn't possibly be better than telling someone to eat a whole food that contained that vitamin... right?

Unfortunately, this isn't true.

Due to the intensive growing practices and overuse of the soil, not to mention the dedication of our society to the massive over production of food, we have created a food chain that is limited in variety and lacking in nutrients. Frankly, our foods are deficient. Even the organic movement that sets itself so much higher than conventional foods (and rightly so) still is lacking in variety and they still breed their plants for higher yields, larger plants, and more consistency in size and color... instead of health benefits of the varieties that are less desirable in the fields, but better for our bodies.

A very simple example of nutrients and health of food is mold. Yes, MOLD. One of my teachers in high-school had a Twinkie sitting on her shelf. When the year was coming to a close I finally asked her why she had a Twinkie on her shelf... she said that she was waiting for it to mold. It was her own personal experiment. And it hadn't just been sitting there for one year, it had been sitting there for seven. Seven YEARS and not a spot of rot. That is more than 2500 days at room temperature. That is scary. Now think about it this way: If microbes that make up mold (which don't have brains) don't want to eat that, why the heck should we? The microbes want exactly what we want. They want nutrients to grow big and strong and fight disease and reproduce. It sounds strange, but if it won't rot, we shouldn't eat it!

It all comes back to eating locally and eating small for me. Small local growers can use the varieties that you wouldn't be able to grow by machine, because their veggies are grown by hand and only shipped short distances. They can give you more variety and better quality... giving you more nutrients for your dollar. Seattlites buying apples from Argentina when you can get them from Yakima (100 miles from here) just doesn't make sense to me. How do you think those nutrients are being stored? What did they have to do to the food to make it last that long on a plane or a ship? They truth is, they chose varieties that didn't have many nutrients in the first place. When the way we choose our varieties to grow is based on how far they can travel before they go bad, well, something is lost. And it ends up being the nutrients.

Other reading on this subject:

The Downside Of Modern Agriculture

Farm Fresh, a growing trend

The Living Soil

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vandana Shiva interview on Cooking Up A Story

This woman is amazing! Just thinking about all the information she gave in these interviews makes my heart sing:

I think the third is my favorite. The idea that food is life, and money is money. So novel! But so true. A favorite saying of mine came from a frugal online friend "Financial freedom does not come from having money, it comes from not needing it." And when it comes down to it, she was right. You don't need money if you have your own source of food. You don't need money if you can make your own clothes (for the most part). You don't need money if you live frugally and don't depend on gadgets that will break. Money is money. Food is life.

Plastic Bags, an article from my friend Kristena

5 great reasons NOT to use plastic

1. The U.S uses 380 BILLION plastic bags, sacks and wraps every year. 100 billion of those are shopping bags.

If you have ever walked past a public garage can, you can see how many hamburger wrappers, sandwich wrappers, plastic cups and things of this nature are thrown away.

There have been times I have imagined every garbage can in my town and am overwhelmed with the fact that just one little town can create such waste in one day.

Thinking ahead to 10 years with this same situation, is pretty disheartening.

2 Plastic bags are made from petroleum and 12 MILLION barrels of oil are required to make the bags consumed by the U.S. alone.

3.Only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled. the rest end up in the landfills, on trees,in rivers and oceans which brings us to the next point.

4.Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, birds, and land animals die every year from eating or being entangled in discarded plastic bags. When swallowed, plastic bags choke animals or block their intestines leading to an agonizing death.

Also, things like straws are picked up by birds, and causing them the same fate.
To reference the marine issue, also called the plastic soup, you can see this link

5.Plastic bags take up to 1000 years to degrade. The process is called photo-degradation where plastic pieces get smaller and smaller, becoming toxic, contaminating soil and waterways, entering our food chain.

So what can be done? Well one VERY EASY way to cut down on plastic consumption is to bring your own tote bags to the store with you.

We keep about 4 in our vehicle and I have a Chico bag in my purse as well.

This is really really simple, it just takes some practice in getting accustomed to grabbing your totes when you enter any store.

Another great way to cut down is to get Eco Bags for your produce and bulk items. Or if you can sew, make your own with really cool fabric.
We keep these in our totes so we can avoid using the plastic bulk food or produce bags.
These are washable,so each time we wash them, we take them back out to the vehicle on our next trip out to it, and put it in our totes.
Again, with practice, it happens easily.

These are really great and I need to thank Emily and Stacey for hooking me up this year with some.

Totes are showing up everywhere and often for free. Take advantage of them and use them. It is so wonderful to know you are doing something to keep all those shopping bags from flying through the air, littering your neighborhood or ending up as the huge problems I have mentioned.

Another way to cut back on plastic consumption is to use glass or ceramic containers with lids to store your foods.

We use Frigoverre by Bormioli Rocco. These bowls next inside each other and really save space in our tiny kitchen. I love them so much for all my food storage. You can see through it, since it is glass, and know exactly what is where, which seems to cut back on food waste. They look nice and can also be used when taking foods to gatherings. I love them!

A huge thanks to the town of Jackson and the efforts they put into keeping things green. The statistics mentioned about was given to students in schools along with a free Bag 2 Differ bag.