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I've been working an overnight this weekend, so the boys are at their mom's for supper tonight.

Monday: Chicken Tamale Pizza

Tuesday: Spaghetti

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner/Dinner out for Luke (15th birthday!)

Thursday: Pot stickers with fried rice

Friday: Chicken and Garden Veggies Quinoa Skillet

Saturday: ham hocks with beans, cornbread

Sunday: Shepherd's pie
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My green tomato salsa came out very red! Well, about half of the tomatoes where light red, and there's a sweet red pepper in there, too.

This is how I made my green-tomato salsa:

everything was chopped fine

8 cups tomatoes -- unripe or barely ripe
1 mango
2 Serrano peppers
4 cloves garlic
teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon black pepper
4 cups sweet pepper; I used 1 red and 1 green
4 cups yellow onion
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
juice of one lemon

I toasted the Serrano peppers in a hot cast iron pan. I added the smoked paprika and black pepper because my tomatoes are so citris-y and I wanted some low notes. The jars were sterilized using the oven method.

I simmered the salsa in a big pot until the liquid was mostly gone, and then filled the jars, topped the jars with lids and bands and now they're cooling on the counter. For me, this recipe made three and a half pint jars and one quart jar, so about half a gallon. The half jar will be used tonight for mango salsa chicken.
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Moroccan Inspired Pork Stew

I've got left over pork roast, a butternut squash, and several tomatoes from the garden, so this is going into the crock pot -- From Yummly:

2 T Paprika
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Finely Grated Ginger
1 tsp Course Sea Salt
1 Approx. 3lb Pork Shoulder Roast
1 Med. Butternut Squash, cubed
1 15oz can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pint water
1 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Black Peppercorns


Combine Paprika, ginger, cumin, and sea salt in a small dish. Rub pork shoulder roast with spice mixture, coating well and using about half. (I'll be cubing my left-over roast) Add squash, chickpeas, tomatoes (with their juice), and water to bottom of slow cooker, leaving a small well in the center for the roast.

Place roast on top, sprinkle with peppercorns, and add the cinnamon stick. Cook on med-high for 4 hours or until pork roast falls apart easily. (I'll cook on low for maybe three hours, or just until the squash is soft). Remove roast to a plate or cutting board, shred meat using two forks, and add back to crock pot. Retain bone and excess fat to make pork stock, discard cinnamon stick.

Edit: This was really good!

note to self: here's that recipe for crock pot BBQ Chicken and Quinoa that sounded so good.
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Mike has two menu requests for this week -- sweet and spicy beans, and the rice/kale casserole. Luke wants Really Simple Goulash. For the rest of the week, I have skinless chicken breasts, hamburger and odds and ends. Hmm. I have a lot of potatoes.... I have a lot of brown rice.... Ooh, I have a big bag of frozen veggies (carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.) So,

Friday: rice/kale/mushroom casserole -- like it says, kale cut into strips and sauteed in olive oil, sauteed sliced mushrooms, and pork medallions, spiced with garlic, salt and pepper, maybe some Worcester sauce, mixed with steamed brown and wild rice. Yum!

Saturday: Chicken Primavera -- made with frozen veggies, but still yummy and very easy

Sunday: Shepard's Pie -- probably just hamburger, onion soup mix, and frozen mixed corn/peas/gr.beans, topped with mashed potatoes.

Monday: Sweet and Spicy beans -- four kinds of beans, onions, sweet pepper, cajun spice and brown sugar, and chunks of sweet potatoes.

Tues: Pasties -- the real Yooper thing. With rutabagas from the garden.

Wed: Really Simple Goulash (noodles, hamburger and tomato soup) -- Luke's favorite meal.

Thurs: Simple General Tso's Chicken (with sauteed instead of deep fried chicken, that is)

I think I have everything I need except some pork medallions for the rice/kale casserole and the sweet potatoes for the Sweet and Spicy Beans, oh, and I need fresh ginger and garlic -- under $20 or so, I think.
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As I've mentioned, I have a ton of broccoli plants with great big stems that honestly didn't produce much broccoli florets this year. So, I'm on to pickles. This week I'm going to pull all the plants and make pickles from the stems.

I'm going to do two different kinds of pickles; fermented dills and processed bread and butter. I've cobbled together some recipes that I think will work. Note that broccoli stems have the same vitamin content as the florets, and that the fermenting process doesn't destroy the vitamins and may actually enhance them.

Fermented Broccoli Stem Dill Spears )

Bread and Butter Broccoli Chunks )
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I just read How to Make the Best Tomato Sauce From Fresh Tomatoes and am inspired. Tomato sauce pasta dishes are one of my family's staples, and the idea of using my own organic and lovingly grown tomatoes is very appealing to me.

I have a ton of beefsteak tomatoes, and I'll buy some farmer's market plum tomatoes to balance it all out. Or maybe I'll be able to score some of my own romas, we'll see. I have at least eight quart canning jars, with lids and rings; I'd like to put up more like 16, so I might just go buy some more. And I'm actually thinking that I'll freeze the sauce instead of regular canning. My idea is that the sauce will have a better taste frozen than if I do regular canning. We'll see!

The plum tomatoes will be turned into paste, and the beefsteaks will be cooked into a thin sauce. I have about 5 lbs of beefsteaks sitting on my kitchen counter; if I get another 5 lbs of plum tomatoes from the farmer's market, I should be able to make about 2-3 quarts of sauce. That sounds like so little! But I've got another 30 or so pounds of tomatoes on the vine, so I can think of this as a practice run.

I want to make a garden sauce, with carrots, celery, onion and garlic. And I want to make a chili base, with cayenne, cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, black pepper and cocoa. Mmmm; now I'm hungry!
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I've got tons of stuff coming out of the garden! Here's the vegetable soup recipe I'll be making tonight:


4 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves
2 diced onions -- medium yellow
8 cups broth
1/2 cup barley, the long-cooking kind
2 teaspoons hungarian paprika (sweet)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Ms. Dash original flavor
quality salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2-3 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped collard greens - chopped in dime-sized pieces
2 cups of peas
3 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups kernel corn (I use frozen)
3 ribs of celery with greens, chopped
1 diced zucchini
4 cups of peeled, seeded fresh tomatoes (4 to 8, depending on size)
1 can garbanzo beans, well rinsed


Put the olive oil, onions and garlic in a large pot and sweat on medium-low heat, stirring now and then, until the onion is translucent. Add the broth and salt to taste. Add the rest of the spices and barley, and bring to a low simmer. After 20 min, add carrots and collard greens. Bring back up to simmer and after another 15 min. Add the remaining vegetables and garbanzo beans. Now bring it up to a high simmer and cook another 15 min or so. Give it a taste and add more salt if needed.

I usually chop stuff up in between, like, while the barley is cooking, I'll chop the carrots and collard greens. Also, quinoa can be substituted for the barley and any kind of bean is good. Lentils, too. I'll freeze half of this in two separate containers to bring up for a quick meal. This soup is great served over sweet potatoes. Or sprinkle some course parmesan or romano, and a dash of Louisiana hot sauce. Yum!

My garden supplied the peas, broccoli and collard greens -- no tomatoes or zucchini yet.
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a week of menus:

today, Monday: frozen pizza (sigh)

Tuesday: Slow cooker Thai Chicken (Betty Crocker)

Wednesday: Pork Chops, scalloped potatoes, steamed veggies

Thursday: Meatball stroganoff, broccoli salad, melon

Friday: boys at their mom's, Mike at work, Luke at his friend Aaron's house -- I might go to a fish fry!

Saturday: tacos, fresh sliced plums

Sunday: Crockpot chicken and noodles with carrots

Shopping list:
a lime
fresh ginger root
4 oz bag of peanuts
Gruyere and cheddar
fresh broccoli
small can pineapple tidbits
small bag sunflower seeds
sour cream
dumpling noodles
brown gravy packet
fresh plums
2 cans cream of chicken soup
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We have our holiday dinner on Christmas eve, and then a special Christmas morning brunch. The dinner on Christmas day is very laid back, munching on leftovers and such.

The 2014 Christmas Smörgåsbord

Swedish Meatballs
2 small Savory Rice Rings, one with broccoli in the center, and one with buttered rutabaga
Little Smokies wrapped in crescent roll
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Sweet Potatoes
Apple Salad
Strawberry Pineapple Jello
Fresh bread
Spice Cake for dessert

What are some of your traditional holiday foods?
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I only worked 11a-2p, so most of the day was free. It was nice. I got to hie off to the coffee shop for two hours, and that alone/down time really made a difference. Mike is putting up new window blinds in the front bay window -- the kids had destroyed the mini-blinds -- and I made a banana triple-berry swirled coffee cake. It's cooking right now and smells amazing. The original recipe doesn't call for jam.

Jam Swirled Banana Streusel Cake )

Edit: it came out really yummy! I'm not completely sold on the banana and jam combo -- it's a little sweet for me. I was just thinking that a nutella filling with the banana coffee cake would be amazing. Well, that would be sweet too, but I love a banana/chocolate mix.


Nov. 18th, 2014 10:47 am
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Link spam of holiday cookies:

Shaped Ice Box Cookies -- 9 different variations on a theme, from Martha Stewart's site.

The Chocolate Cookie Topped with Andes Mint -- one of my all-time faves.

Thumbprints and Mexican Tea Cakes -- love the melt-in-your-mouth of butter cookies. Has anyone ever made thumbprints with freezer jam? Or is that too soft, 'cause I just made some blackberry and I love it.

What are some of your favorite cookies?
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I've got the simmered grapes in the cheesecloth. Looks like I'll get about 8 pints. I also have 6 heads of cabbage and an unfortunately large zucchini on the counter. I work tomorrow and then we're heading to the UP on Wed, so the cabbage and zucchini are gonna have to wait. But here's a recipe so I don't loose it: cabbage rolls -- a super-simple recipe. If I have the time/energy, I might try Emeril's cabbage roll recipe.

Out of curiosity, I just looked up how to make balsamic vinegar. It's pretty insane.
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So I was looking up various DIY stuff and came upon this recipe for mouthwash:

-- Antiseptic Homemade Mouthwash

4 ounces (120 ml) peppermint hydrosol (flower water)
4 ounces (120 ml) strong herbal infusion made with echinacea angustifolia root, sage leaves, and peppermint leaves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) thyme extract
2 teaspoons (10 ml) myrrh gum extract
5-10 drops 100% wild-crafted mint flavor extract

Combine all ingredients in a pint-sized glass mason jar. Shake well to blend. Shake well prior to use. Swish in mouth for 30 seconds, then spit out. Will store in glass jar on bathroom counter indefinitely.


Myrrh gum has broad-spectrum antiseptic properties. It is also well known as an anti-inflammatory — excellent for use in treatment of oral ailments…namely gum disease.

Which led me to this: How to make hydrosol.

What is the difference, do you think, between condensing steamed peppermint and just boiling the peppermint and straining it? I'm thinking that the condensed peppermint steam would be milder? Not as much peppermint oil in it? I dunno.

Also, this whole thing led me to Arid Lands Greenhouse, located in Tucson, AZ, which has several interesting plants for sale, including myrrh.

Also, I found this DIY myrrh gum extract tutorial -- kinda interesting at this point:

This extract is probably equal in potency to the "myrrh terpene isolates" which are available online. 50 to 100mg is a good dose. It can be eaten, dissolved subinguinally, smoked, or snorted. I'm on methadone maintenance, currently at 90mg a day, and tapering down, so I probably don't get much mu opiate effects from this extract. The delta opiate effects are quite noticeable though.

20 minutes after swallowing 100mg I feel a relaxed, yet stimulated. A sensation of warm fuzziness pervades my body. Desire to smoke cigarettes is increased, and nausea is occasionally noticed, but easily relieved by laying down. It is kinda like kratom.

Really? Myrrh is an opiate? Kinda. I found this:

Since ancient times the fragrant plant secretion known as myrrh has been used in incense, perfume, and even as a painkiller. Now a team of chemists and pharmacologists at the University of Florence in Italy report that two compounds of myrrh do indeed have pain-relieving properties. The researchers initially observed that mice injected with a myrrh solution were slower than a control group in reacting to the heat of a metal plate. They tested three main compounds of myrrh and found that two of them--furanoeudesma-1,3-diene and curzarene--had pronounced analgesic effects. Additional tests suggested that these compounds interact with the opioid receptors in the mice's brains to decrease the sensation of pain.

Which led me to this really, really interesting paper: Mechanisms of neurotransmitter release by amphetamines: a review -- pfd link. This paper contained the note: (caffeine and nicotine do not enhance locomotor behavior in rodents and are not considered psychostimulants.) Which make me go "huh."

And now I know what kratom is. Interesting.
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We're heading to the park today with our family -- Jerome, Trentyn and Zari, Luke and his friend Aaron, maybe Aaron's mom, Mike's gf Sylvia, our beloved Lois who has been like a mother to Mike, and me and Mike. So, five or six adults, and four kids.

We're cooking out at the park: brats, hamburgers and chicken, potato salad, calico beans and watermelon.

Have a recipe!

Lisa's Calico Beans (which are only different from other calico bean recipes because I'm not fond of kidney beans)


4 ounces bacon, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green and red sweet bell pepper
1 can (21 ounces) pork and beans
1 can (16 ounces) butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 ounces) black beans rinsed and drained
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt


- In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Pour drippings into can for later use.

- In the same skillet, cook beef, sweet pepper and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Combine the beef mixture, bacon, beans, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, mustard and salt. Spoon into a greased 2-qt. baking dish.

- Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 45-60 minutes or until the beans are as thick as desired. Recipe can be easily doubled for a larger group. Yield: 8-10 servings.

- Or place in a crock pot and cook on high for one hour, simmer on low or warm as long as necessary, adding water when needed. (be careful not to stir too vigorously or it will turn into refried beans)

For my own reference: shopping list

butter beans
sweet pepper
paper plate holders
plastic forks


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