Cooking, food, and recipes are three favorite topics around here, with most of our gardening focused on producing food as well. It’s no accident that this section of the website is one of the largest!
The most popular article in this section, at this writing, is one on how to vacuum seal jars. It always fascinates me to see what gets the most attention. Because of this one, I have plans for a variety of articles on storing foods and cooking with stored foods.
Besides unusual recipes like Hot Tub Brown Rice and Carob Pudding Cake, there are how-to articles on making bread, making yogurt, canning foods, sprouting at any time of year, and the like.
Ingredients come in for their share of attention, especially healthy ones like olive oil and ACV, or apple cider vinegar.
I also write about useful tools. That includes the humble but so-handy stainless steel kitchen bowls, the best kitchen scissors, and the innovative non-electric slow cooker from South Africa, the Wonderbag cooker, to name just a few. I tackle the gas grill vs. charcoal grill controversy.
A couple of weeks ago we had our first experience of receiving food commodities for seniors, and this afternoon we went to a different place for another one, also for seniors. This event, run by the Gospel Mission here in Silver City, NM, is monthly early in the afternoon on the third Wednesdays of every month at the Knights of Columbus hall, since moved to one of the churches, I think the Mormon one. I liked how this one went. My husband and I signed in and were given the number 55 as we were the 55th household to sign …Continue reading →
Ever since we moved here (Silver City NM) three years ago, one of our neighbors has been encouraging us to go to the three commodity distributions that take place near our house. We figured we made too much money and never did. But after my husband Kelly and I were talking about how our business income has dropped recently, I decided to check out the seniors distribution that took place this week on Tuesday at the local rec center. I don’t know how old you have to be to count as a senior but whatever it is, we are well …Continue reading →
When it comes to salt, we have a lot of choices. Here are some salts that I have tried… in fact, most of these are in the kitchen right now! NoSalt When I discovered that my blood pressure was somewhat higher than ideal, a good friend who is a doctor told me to switch to because it isn’t sodium chloride like we normally think of salt as being. Instead it is mainly potassium chloride and doesn’t affect blood pressure without the sodium. It happened that we were about to do our monthly shopping at the big chain store that has …Continue reading →
Since I’ve been eating essentially in a plant-based way for over four months now, it’s getting to be very natural. I have taken a few nibbles of meat when my husband ordered something at a restaurant or when I went to a potluck, but I’ve been very pleased that they haven’t enticed me back to my old ways at all. Okay, the one exception to that was a small lamb chop, but I could be happy with one of those quite rarely. Here’s the article I wrote explaining my shift to pretty much vegan. Here are photos from a vegan …Continue reading →
I’ve recently changed what I eat. There are so many reasons to eat essentially vegan that I expect to make this a continuing habit. Well, sure, I may bend the rules now and then, but the principles I’ve learned are shaping my eating habits. Why Eat Plant-Based? What’s motivating me, more than anything, is my health. I’d like to stay at least as healthy as I am now, which is with no serious issues. Better yet, I’d like to say goodbye to lethargy, larger clothes, and brain fog. I’d much prefer to be energetic, slender, and clear-minded. Also, not eating …Continue reading →
Vegetable steamers are great! For many years I’ve had a stainless steel one that fits in a 2-quart saucepan, but unfortunately more than once I’ve also let the water boil out and ended up with a tough scrubbing job on the bottom of the pan. I’ll keep my non-electric steamer for emergencies, like if the power goes out. Here’s a link to . We all know that vegetables are an important part of our diet, but people who cook rarely or not at all are missing out on them. Steaming is just about the quickest, easiest way to cook vegetables. …Continue reading →
Why make sauerkraut? And if you are going to make it, why make sauerkraut in a jar? I’ve recently started keeping one jar fermenting as a regular thing, and here I’ll tell you how I have learned to make sauerkraut in a mason jar. It’s quick and easy to get it going, but not exactly quick until you can eat it… it needs to ferment for maybe a month. But it’s worth the wait. Now, there is sauerkraut as a side dish on the table frequently when we eat. Besides being tasty, it has health benefits in aiding digestion. That’s …Continue reading →
When we invite friends over for dinner–which is quite often–we always ask if they eat bread. They usually say yes and so then I tell them that my husband Kelly will be making homemade bread in our bread machine. (if they are eating gluten-free, he can pull out his recipe for that.) It’s always a hit, specially with the homemade jam he also makes in the same bread maker. We’ve even had friends ask us if his bread will be on the menu when they accept an invitation. I like doing it because the fresh, hot bread is part of …Continue reading →
Recently some friends served brie baked in puff pastry with fig jam and pecans. Rich, you bet, but even a small bite was quite a lovely blend of flavors! I had to try making it myself. I got directions and it was really very simple. You can make puff pastry from scratch, but my friend and I used a frozen one. You just sprinkle a little flour on a clean counter and then roll out the pastry. I don’t have a rolling pin anymore but a quart canning jar worked fine. I spread the dough out to not quite a …Continue reading →
I dreamt one night that our supermarket had an assortment of legs of lamb for sale. Sure enough, when we did our shopping that day, there they were, frozen as it was still weeks before Christmas. I snatched one up. I cooked it on Christmas Eve, when friends were coming over for hot tubbing, drinks, and dinner. What with the hot tub and the visiting over drinks, there was some flexibility about when we would eat. I figured the earliest would be around 4 PM, but I was glad we ended up eating about 5:30 PM. I think the leg …Continue reading →
Cardamom is my new favorite spice, and it’s in both of these recipes for rich sweets from India. They’re called fudge by the Indian cooking teacher Mina Joshi, but they don’t follow the American usage of having chocolate in them. Both these recipes were from Mina’s site, and you can see them here: cashew fudge and Magaj. They were both big hits at my recent dinner party. I was glad because the second one didn’t turn out at all like I expected. I even wrote FAILURE at the top of my recipe printout, but I was quite wrong. Cashew Fudge This …Continue reading →
The mint and basil are what give this salad its distinctive flavor. We have both in our garden most of the year. This salad is not changed very much from this recipe at a comprehensive website I’ve been browsing recently, on Indian vegetarian cooking. So far I’ve made it twice, once for lunch when a friend came over and the other time for a dinner party with several friends. On the second occasion, I knew that one of the guests didn’t care for garbanzos, so I served them on the side as you can see in the little image to the …Continue reading →
We had a dinner party the other night, and I cooked up a storm of recipes I had found and adapted from a wonderful Indian vegetarian website I recently discovered, Give Me Some Spice. After starting with soup, the Potato Eggplant curry was the main dish I served (here’s the original recipe on that website) and our friends raved. Even my husband said it was better than the time I had tried it out on him. Why? Spices! With sizzling in the cooking oil and adding its exotic flavors, this was one flavorful dish. Those links take you to Amazon… I …Continue reading →
This soup is based on one I found at a blog about Indian vegetarian cooking that I’ve been cooking from where it’s called Carrot Soup with Hint of Onions, Garlic, Coriander. The first time I made this, and the third time, I followed that recipe quite closely. The photos here are from the third time. This is a good starter dish for a meal or it could be the main course. But the second time I didn’t even put carrots in the soup… the veggies were green beans from the garden including quite a few that were tough and bulging with …Continue reading →
I love cooking with spices and it’s a great way to make simple meals special. Recently I came across a website which is giving me a lot of ideas about cooking with spices. Mina Joshi teaches vegetarian Indian cooking in the U.K. but you can learn a lot from her website Givemesomespice.com. I’m not a vegetarian but we do eat a fair number of vegetarian meals and I think we will eat more since I discovered this site. Die-hard carnivores could easily add meat to many of these dishes. Want to know more about Indian spices? She explains them at that link. …Continue reading →
Our arrived recently and we photographed its arrival and our first meal. I’ve just turned those photos into a YouTube video, which you can see further down this page. I was so thrilled with getting our non-electric Wonderbag cooker that I posted this on Twitter: Love it! Slow cooker without electricity! https://t.co/BPw4fqtiAd pic.twitter.com/JKPaXNffVx — Zana Hart (@simplegreenlvng) May 7, 2016 I’ve also blogged about the Wonderbag here before. So why is this thing inspiring my media outreach so much? (I also posted on Facebook and Pinterest, and believe me I am no social media maven!) It uses a way of cooking …Continue reading →
Four years ago we bought a pair of Joyce Chen kitchen scissors and a pair of Henckel kitchen shears. Despite very heavy daily use on the scissors and plenty of use on the shears, both are still sharp and going strong. Here I’ll be talking about why I think they are the best kitchen scissors and the best kitchen shears respectively, and I’ll be mentioning some other good choices in each category. I’m left-handed and my husband is right-handed and both these items work equally well for each of us. In a hurry? You can get the and the . …Continue reading →
Grilling is great fun and it can provide excellent meals. Many people grill, grill, grill from spring to fall. The key question is: gas grill or charcoal grill? Both kinds of grills have their fans and their detractors, but does it matter for the flavor? The Weber kettle folks said on their website that they had done blind taste tests and that people couldn’t tell whether food was cooked with gas or charcoal. Still, I love the smoky flavor from charcoal. Maybe those taste tests had a heavier hand with sauces than I do. Gas Grills: Quick and Easy Gas grills are …Continue reading →
How can the simple non-electric make such a difference in so many lives? I’ll get to that, but first let’s see what it does. You start a dish on your stovetop as usual, for example a beef, veggies, and rice casserole. You’re cooking it in a pot of yours that has short handles and a good lid. The pot can be between 2 quarts and 9 quarts in size, and it’s best to make a dish that pretty much fills the pot so it will stay hot longer. After just a few minutes, the food reaches a rolling boil. You turn the …Continue reading →
I’ve got seven stainless steel kitchen bowls, a set of three small ones I got at a yard sale in the 1960s, a medium-sized one, and a set of three quite large ones. I use several every day. My largest one holds 8 quarts, as does the largest one in the set to the left below us. The middle two sets in the illustrations come with lids, which certainly could be handy. (I doubt the lids would outlive us, but who knows or cares?) And the one on the right end could certainly be handy at times, with the handles and pour spouts For example, I …Continue reading →
Is cooking with olive oil good or bad for your health? And do you know about the scandals related to the best kind, EVOO or extra-virgin olive oil? I started this article to research the benefits and possible drawbacks of olive oil and soon got caught up in scandal as well. I’m happy to be able to tell you that cooking with olive oil is good and healthy, provided you follow the few simple tips outlined below. I once lived for a year in Nerja, a seaside village in southern Spain with olive orchards around it. A favorite snack was olive oil drizzled over fresh bread bought …Continue reading →
I had just been thinking that we were almost out of the tasty dried bananas I sometimes make in our dehydrator when someone offered me about two dozen organic bananas. So we now have about two quarts of dried bananas chips. Making them is a simple process that doesn’t take long. First, I’ll show you my method and then I’ll sing the praises of home food dehydrators. Here are half the bananas: I sliced each banana into a bunch of rounds. Ideally you do these to be the same width, but it doesn’t matter if they are somewhat uneven. You may need to dry …Continue reading →
Raw organic apple cider vinegar is one of my favorite vinegars, and not just for its strong flavor. Because it helps to alkalinize our bodies, numerous health benefits are claimed for it. I’ve just embarked on a project of drinking one or more glasses of water daily, each with a teaspoon or two of ACV added. I only use raw and organic kinds, and you can see why in my picture here. Looking at the bottom of the vinegar bottle, you can see the cloudy “mother” which has a cobweb-like nature. You wouldn’t get this in a pasteurized version. By …Continue reading →
Our eight hens are laying more eggs than we can eat. (This may not go on forever… one of the girls is broody now.) So I decided to try freezing whole eggs in our freezer, for use in the coming months, even up to a year. I read books and websites, and people agree that the eggs work fine after you thaw them for use. So here is how I am doing it:  Select very fresh eggs to freeze. If you have your own hens, or if you can get eggs from someone who does, this method will work. …Continue reading →
Back in the 1930s, Vermonters were not particularly inclined to eat salads. That makes sense, considering that national distribution of fresh produce didn’t exist at the levels it has since reached. Vermont’s climate isn’t the easiest to grow year-round gardens, though now people are doing it with greenhouses. So how did Vermonters get some vegetables into their diet back then and even earlier? I recently read a book that raised that question and many others. It was not something I had ever given a moment’s thought to, I admit. But The Food of a Younger Land (link to my review of …Continue reading →
is a partly-fascinating tour around the US during the depression. With a subtitle of A portrait of American food- before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, you get the idea. There were major regional variations in those days. Author Mark Kurlansky found the drafts of a Depression project that had never been published. To be called America Eats, it was a compilation of food writing from different regions, but when World War II came along, it was abandoned. It had been part of a huge government project to provide work for writers, and Eudora Welty, Nelson …Continue reading →
I learned how to vacuum seal jars over ten years ago, and I’ve done it ever since. By vacuum sealing, much of the air and thus the oxygen which encourages spoilage is pumped out. This makes it a good thing for longer term storage of grains, nuts, beans, herbs, spices, and a lot of other things. Vacuum sealing can be done with fresh foods to keep them fresher, but I haven’t developed that habit. Mainly we do this for the jars we use in our kitchen as airtight kitchen containers. This isn’t a substitute for canning. Here my husband is …Continue reading →
We use wide mouth glass canning jars every day for storing foods. We hardly ever use plastic any more. Why? Well, we find the glass jars very useful and we don’t like plastic. I’ll explain why. Glass Canning Jars These work really work for a variety of uses in our kitchen and sometimes beyond. As the photo below shows, we use them for long-term food storage. Most of the things there we bought in bulk at local food coops and natural food stores. Left to right, you see raisins with goji berries behind them, black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, multi-colored …Continue reading →
No, I don’t cook the rice in the hot tub. I call this the hot tub brown rice recipe because it allows us to get in the hot tub before dinner while rice is cooking — with no worries and no scorched rice or pans. I was cooking dinner a little while ago, and my husband Kelly was out, at a meeting with someone. I decided to cook up a big batch of long grain brown rice and I wasn’t sure how much water to add for long grain. So I googled “how to cook brown rice” and discovered a …Continue reading →
I was immediately drawn to the paradox of the title , a book by Simon Fairlie published originally in the UK and then by Chelsea Green here in the US. I eat meat myself, and luckily I live in an agricultural area in Colorado where we can get local grass-fed beef, lamb, and even yak, as well as locally raised organic chicken. And that’s what we eat when we eat meat, for the most part. I am not drawn to eat meat where the animals may have been treated inhumanely, fed corn, or fed dubious feeds. So this book turned …Continue reading →
Like many people, I am a good bit overweight. And like many people, on January 1, I decided to do something about it. Unlike many of them, I am still at it and I have lost five pounds. But even more important, I sure think I have found a way of eating that will work for me from now on. It solves a lot of problems that I have had with food for a long time. An online friend posted before-and-after photos of himself after eating in this way since last spring. Those sure caught my attention! I read his …Continue reading →
One of the joys of life is homemade ice cream. This past spring, I decided to get an ice cream machine. We have friends with preschoolers who were coming over for dinner quite often, and I could imagine using an ice cream maker with the kids. Of course, I thought I’d use it a lot more than that too! Like when an active 20-something friend lived with us for several weeks. So off I went to Amazon.com, where I read reviews and put a couple of things on my wish list. Then I realized I already had something I could …Continue reading →
Do you eat beans much? Here are some ways to work them into your meals more, while minimizing their famous side-effect of flatulence. We’re talking here about dried beans such as garbanzos, black beans, pinto beans, and dozens of other varieties. Split peas and lentils, while not technically beans, are related legumes with similar qualities. First, why would you want to eat more beans? Here are four reasons: Beans can be really delicious when cooked properly. They need to be thoroughly cooked to be most easily digested. They lend themselves to all manner of combinations with other foods, such as …Continue reading →
Carob is an amazingly versatile food, good for the digestive tract, naturally quite sweet. I love the combination of textures that this recipe makes. It’s excellent served with a dollop of home-made yogurt on top. If you are allergic to wheat or gluten, substitute any other kind of flour that you use. Carob keeps a long time, though it will get clumps in it. I find that rubbing the little hard bits between my fingers is the best way to get rid of them while the carob is dry. If you happen to be using a recipe that combines carob …Continue reading →
“If things get really bad, we’ll have to eat beans and rice,” I’ve heard people groan. Well, this isn’t such a terrible fate. It does take a little planning. Most evenings, I spend a few minutes considering what we might eat the next day. Often there is a container of leftovers from something Kelly or I have concocted, and if we don’t have them for lunch, we’ll have them for dinner. If it looks like we’ll be cooking something for dinner the next day, then I consider my beans and grains. Usually I’ll get a feeling of a bean or …Continue reading →