Thursday, September 29, 2011

Simple Lives Thursday

Another week has passed and we've arrived at Simple Lives Thursday, the day where I and four other remarkable bloggers host a blog hop where ideas for produce more and consume less are shared from all over the web.  Have a look at last week's featured posts and all the awesome stuff that people are putting up this week!

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge

We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!

1. What's Going On In Woodwife's Kitchen? by The Woodwife's Journal. This week Woodwife explores folklore and recipes for common plants that ease everyday ailments.

2. Pan-Seared Salmon by The Purposed Heart. This salmon dish looks incredible and in only 10 minutes would make an excellent choice for a real food weekday meal.

3. Four Bathroom Essentials by Mexican Wildflower. Four natural household products that can be used to make almost any essential toiletry.

4. iCandy: Corn Syrup-Free Cranberry Yummy Gummies by Frugal Kiwi. Easy and inexpensive diy gummy treats for the family!

5. How to Perfectly Roast a Potato by The Table of Promise. Learn how to bake the perfect roasted potato -- crispy skin, steamy soft inside and buttery delicious. Plus this is a walk-away meal, in that you can walk away and do other things while it is baking!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Meatless Freezer Stocking: Potato and Bean Soup with Sage

Greetings! I hope I didn't fool you into thinking I was having a baby by not posting on Monday.  The sad truth is I've managed to catch my first cold of this whole pregnancy (all 38 weeks of it) and have been feeling like doing next to nothing lately.  (That said, we've been doing a lot of renovations to the kitchen in anticipation of baby, so I haven't exactly been taking it easy.  I'll have pictures for you when it's all done!)
I have been trying to get the freezer stocked when I can, starting first with these burritos, which reheated fantastically.  This week, I made a huge pot of potato soup.

One of the most common reasons people cite for having trouble quitting meat is their concern with protein consumption.
First, one fact that might surprise you is that the average American consumes more than twice the daily recommended protein amount.
Secondly, animal protein is one of the most expensive choices when it comes to protein, and often comes with other negatives like antibiotic and hormone use, not to mention inhumane growing and slaughtering conditions.
There are plenty of options for meatless protein that don't include the fake meats that some vegetarians seem to love, and it's very easy to sneak these into your normal cooking routine and increase your daily intake of high quality protein at a reasonable price.

I love to make potato soup in the fall, but this time I wanted to tweak my normal recipe for Potato Soup with Bacon and Leeks by removing the bacon and adding some beans for protein and sage for extra flavor.  (Potatoes and sage just go perfectly together. If you've never tried it, check out my recipe for gnocchi with brown butter and sage sauce. It's so simple, so every ingredient just sings.)

Potato and Bean Soup with Sage
makes one gigantic pot

7-10 lbs. potatoes (I used white baking potatoes)
2-3 c. beans, cooked from dry.  (I used red, but white would disappear into the soup well)
4 leeks
2 white onions
3 cloves garlic
4-5 leaves kale, chopped

5-10 c. broth
2-3 c. shredded cheese (Sharp cheddar is excellent)
1 c. sour cream
1 handful (approximately 20 small leaves) sage, chopped

salt and pepper

Roughly chop the potatoes after scrubbing them clean.
Boil these in lots of well-salted water until they're cooked through.  I leave the skins on because they're good for you and I'm lazy.  If you're one of those people who wants perfectly white soup you may peel them, but I just don't think it's necessary.

Meanwhile, prep the rest of your veggies. 
Chop your onions and garlic and get them softening in the bottom of a pan with butter.
Thinly slice the leeks.

Add them to the pan with the onions. 
 Cook down until they get nice and soft.
I cooked my beans the night before in the crock pot.  Once the leeks are soft and the potatoes are done, drain the water from the potatoes and add the leek/onion mixture, your beans, and the remaining ingredients, adding enough stock to just cover everything.
 Shredded cheese will melt more easily.
Cook this down just until it warms up over medium-low heat.  Then use your potato masher to achieve a chunky texture, leaving bits of potato and beans whole.  Once you have the texture you like and the soup is warm, add a big handful of chopped fresh sage.  

Serve hot with a couple sage leaves on top.

 To freeze, pack into a freezer-safe gallon bag and flatten.  Be sure to label with contents and date.
Next time, some bump pictures and updates on the nursery and kitchen!  Until then, enjoy fall!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Simple Lives Thursday

It's Simple Lives Thursday, so link up your posts about consuming less and producing more. Check out last week's featured posts and the linky after the jump.

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge

We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!

1. Two Herbal Teething Remedies Your Kids Will Love by The Holistic Mama.
Two recipes to soothe the symptoms of teething. Both taste great so children don't fight to take them.


2. Pear Walnut and Blue Cheese Tart by Allotment 2 Kitchen.
This blogger shows us that seasonal fruits can be the cornerstone for satisfying fall dinners as well as desserts.


3. Video/Recipe: Homemade Ghee by Real Food Forager.
Ghee is a great cooking oil that is easy to make, keeps well, and has a high smoke point.


4. Lose the Shoes and Keep Your Head Up by Laurel of Leaves.
Lori introduces some great tips for barefoot and minimalist running.


5. Spinning a Yarn by An Austin Homestead Moved West.
Miranda shows us her first attempts at spinning a yarn. Most Excellent!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meatless Freezer Stocking: Breakfast and Dinner Burritos

It's Monday.  As usual, my weekend was crammed full of exciting and fun things with family and friends, and some less than fun work around the house.  Saturday, my little nephew turned SEVEN and I made him a cake for his birthday party.  It was a bit of work, but honestly came together easier than I thought it would.  Normally I stay away from food dye, but I just couldn't present him with a pink lego cake, so I used Wilton jells to get the bright colors.  
Friday marked my completion of the 37th week of this pregnancy, which means I'm technically full term. While I'm hopeful that this baby girl stays put until at least 40 weeks, my doula (she is AWESOME) reminded me that we really need to be ready for her to come any time between now and then.  I had been talking about stocking up the freezer with some easy meals for when we're sleep deprived and decided that it was finally time to get started.  So on Sunday I blocked out a couple hours to throw together some burritos for both breakfast and dinner that we'll heat up in the oven or microwave.

All the prep was easy and mostly hands off and assembly of the 20-some burritos took only 30 minutes.  I haven't tried reheating any yet, but plan to do so in a medium oven for half an hour or a microwave on 50% power for 2-3 minutes so the filing is warm before the tortillas dry out.

To protect them from freezer burn, I wrapped them tightly in foil and then packed them into freezer bags.

Both styles of burrito had a few ingredients in common because they were easy and went well with both sets of flavors.
These ingredients include

  •  beans cooked in the crockpot with broth

  • roasted peppers
  • yellow and sweet potatoes

and roasted
the breakfast burritos included scrambled eggs with chives and tomatoes
and the diner burritos used quinoa for bulk instead of rice
All together:

Homemade Frozen Breakfast Burritos
  • beans
  • grated cheese
  • scrambled eggs
  • roasted potatoes
  • roasted peppers
  • salsa

Homemade Frozen Veggie Burritos
  • beans
  • fresh jalapeƱos
  • roasted peppers
  • roasted potatoes
  • grated cheese
  • salsa
  • quinoa

I tucked the sides in like this:
and then rolled them up from the bottom, wrapped them up in foil and labeled them.
This stack of burritos made me feel just a little bit more ready for her.
We've never been a freezer-stocking family, but we just might start.  What are your favorite things to prep in bulk ahead?  How did you get ready for your little one?  I'd love to hear.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Simple Lives Thursday

It's Thursday, so I have a linky and some excellent posts full of ideas for you to consume less and produce more.  Check out the favorites from last week, grab the badge, and link up your posts!

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge

We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!

1. Sugar-Free Chocolate Bars by MAID in Alaska. Sweetened with stevia, these coconut oil based chocolate bars look delish!

2. Peanut Butter and Jam Muffins by Happy in Dole Valley. These PB and J muffins are a tasty way to start the day, sure to be loved by kids and adults alike!

3. Top 10 Reasons Why I Use Local Honey by Granola Catholic. These are great reasons to use local honey!

4. What To Do When You Can't Get Raw Milk by Butter Believer. A very thorough run-down of your dairy choices when you can't get raw milk.

5. Six Strategies For Super Healthy Lunches Kids Love! by The Nourishing Home. Inspiring ideas to create healthy lunches on the go for the whole family.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Johnson County Local Food Alliance Culinary Walk

Last week, Timmer and I took ourselves downtown to have a good walkabout and enjoy our third year in a row of attending the Johnson County Local Food Alliance Culinary Walk.  (Read year one and year two)

It was fun to see a lot of familiar faces and the new kid on the block, El Banditos.  I pinch myself to remember that Iowa City is a very small town of only 65,000 people with such an active and high-quality local foods community.  Looking back on my first post, I now see just how much I've gotten to know these people, places, and foods over the last three years.  Not only did I run into lots of great friends who were also attending the walk, but I was also satisfied to see just how many farms and products I recognized from my grocery basket and freezer.  We are truly lucky to have so many passionate farmers who are willing to supply our restaurants and grocery stores with high quality ethically produced food.  I will never take it for granted, and couldn't be more excited to bring my daughter up in this environment.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, as it has continued to be this week, making the walk extra enjoyable, especially for those of us who are nine months pregnant.

We started the tour at Atlas where we ate lots of elk, pork sliders with slaw, a mushroom tart, and a pork belly bun with kimchi-style cucumbers on top.  The bun was the standout with its chewy dough, savory meat, and crunchy hot vegetables.

I cleaned up!  Check out that bump.  She's almost done cookin'.
We walked to Devotay next, where we were given Spanish-style tortillas (this is basically an egg pancake, thick and filled with potatoes, onions, and spices with sour cream on top.) a meatball, a slice of watermelon, and a piece of toasted bread with dry cheese drizzled with dark chocolate.  The toasted bread was the highlight for me, hitting the right notes of salty and sweet.
The next stop was El Banditos where we each got a tamale.  The vegetable tamale was actually much better than the pork one, having a more tender dough and flavorful filling.  The salsa on top was spicy and good.
The next stop was New Pioneer.  It was really nice to stop here because it made me reflect on being there a year ago when Rosie's Best was still just a twinkle in my eye.  Now my product is on their shelves, which feels really great.  They loaded us up with Maytag blue cheese, first on pizza and then on a cracker with fig preserves.  They were both delicious.    
There was also some tasty apple cake from the bakery.
We washed it all down with some local wines, beers, and Shaktea Kombucha, which devastatingly lived up to my expectations and was totally delicious, forcing me to buy more soon. 

Next we walked to Red Avocado where we ate some fresh and crunchy green beans in a spicy sauce and had some delicious cake that must have been pumpkin.  The frosting was SO good.
We enjoyed the patio and the warm weather while sipping on local brews.
Finally, our last stop was 126 which had a sprout salad from Organic Greens, tomatoes and mozzarella and their own pork pate served on their house made bread, which was perfectly chewy with a little crunch. 
 They also served up a vegan carrot soup with some kind of cream on top.
We both enjoyed the full walk, spending the two hours eating great food, seeing people we love, and soaking up our last precious moments as a duo before the little one gets here.  
If it weren't for her impending arrival, I would be doing this Culinary Ride which benefits the ICCSD Farm to School chapter and the JCLFA.  If you're in the area and are able bodied, don't miss it!  Here are details about how you can participate by riding OR driving.  

How's the weather where you are?  It was in the 90s yesterday and we're looking at lows in the 30s in the northern parts of the state by the end of the week.  Oh Iowa.
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