Guest Blogging!

Exciting stuff!  My daughter, Erin, is a Blogger over at Fit 4 All.  She is passionate about health, fitness, and helping others.  I’m very proud of her and of the good work she does.

Her contributions to the Fit 4 All blog primarily center around healthy, thrifty food, or “Affordable Fuel.”  She asked me to contribute our favorite chili recipe!  And although this was posted last week(I’m a bit behind), I am so thrilled for this happy honor.😃

Without further delay, here it is:

Mom’s Chili (based on recipe for “Pantry Raid Chili” in “Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker” by Robin Robertson(See link below)

Notes – I’ve made this in the slow cooker or atop the stove.  It can take 30 minutes on the stove top, or up to 6 hours on a low setting in the slow cooker.  I do not cook with salt for health reasons, but you can add salt if that is your preference.

1 (24-oz) jar tomato salsa – any kind, I like the chunkier varieties best

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 Cup (or a little more) water

3 cups cooked beans, or 2(15-oz) cans beans, rinsed and drained.  I mix and match.  I find that black beans plus kidney or pinto beans are an especially nice combination.

1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

Freshly ground black pepper

Optional seasonings – salt, a dash of cayenne and/or red pepper flakes(depending on your spiciness preference)

2 Cups frozen corn kernels

Garnishes – avocado, onion, (vegan)sour cream, (vegan) shredded cheese, fresh cilantro

-Combine salsa, chili powder, marjoram, cumin, and water in the slow cooker or soup pot.  Stir to combine.  Add beans and soy sauce, season to taste with pepper and optional seasonings, if using.  Cover – if slow cooking, set on low for 4-6 hours; if stove top, medium/simmer for ½ hour, stirring often.

-The original recipe says to thaw the corn kernels and add to the pot and cook for 10 more minutes.  I’ve done it this way, or just added them frozen at the beginning with the other ingredients and had equally excellent results.  Serve hot, garnish to your liking.  This freezes well and is a wonderful go-to meal all year round.  Add your favorite salad plus some cornbread or tortilla chips for a very satisfying meal.

You can read the full post here.  If you are interested in the cookbook from which my inspiration was derived, you can find it here.  And, find out ways you can help support Fit 4 All here.

It’s snowy up here in the Northeast.  Keep your long johns on!  I’m knitting a blanket right now.  That keeps my lap warm.

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Dreaming of summertime and the GARDEN!

Wendy

 

 

Friday with Finn

Happy Friday to you all!  Since it is still brutally cold out, I will share with you a bit more of the indoors at Country Mouse House:

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You see, there is this rather deep green-blue color that runs throughout the house on much of the woodwork.  My vision,(since I can’t strip it down to the bare wood and stain it) is to paint the majority of it White Dove(Benjamin Moore).  The reason I say I can’t strip the paint is that I’m unsure if there is lead paint involved, and I don’t have any way of finding out.  Plus it would be a rather large mess, and I’m trying to remove and prevent as many messes as possible.

The thing is, one coat of primer looks like this:

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It takes several coats before the green-blue color is gone.  Therefore the update is pending….hopefully it will be done before spring, as I have MUCH to do in the garden!  We have some trees to plant, for starters.

May I send you off to your weekend with a smile from our beloved Finn:

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Happy Friday!

Wendy

The New Year 2016

May 2016 bring you health and joy.  In spite of all my good intentions, I didn’t post nearly as much as I would have liked last year.  We were in the thick of a very massive renovation at Country Mouse House, and we moved Town Mouse House TWICE!

All things considered, we are holding up well.  I’m still vegan.  Our Holiday season was joyful.  All of my children were home for Christmas, and I don’t think there is much else in this world that makes me happier than having everyone home and together.  It was relaxing and so much fun.

A significant thing that Farmer Joel and I did last year – we both became Certified Permaculture Designers.  We took a course and met some pretty cool people.  We received our certificates upon completion.  We are hoping to use our knowledge to create a more efficient and beautiful farm.  I will expand on that more in a future post.  Meanwhile, some photos:

If you’ll recall, last year, this is what the back of the Country Mouse House looked like:

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Then, it began its transformation:

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And now, nearing completion, from a different angle:

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Finally, with a back porch:

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Here’s some winter beauty for you:

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I also wanted to share some seemingly random things.  It’s been so long since I’ve shared anything that I feel the need to catch up a little bit.  Here is Finn in a new sweater:

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This is Rocket, my “Grand-dog,” dressed as a reindeer for Christmas:

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An edible wreath for a New Year’s Day party over at Lisa’s(I added the vegan ranch dressing when I got there):

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Now, for the gardening portion of our program…..It’s time to start pruning.  I have a wisteria, and it’s a little out of control.  I found out the times of year to prune are January-February AND July-August.  I will be pruning soon!  Meanwhile, here is what it looks like right now:

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The roses shall be pruned when the forsythia blooms.  The weather is so unpredictable, I’m not sure when that will be.  Here are the roses:

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A little wild and crazy, yes?

I wasn’t wearing the proper footwear when I was taking pictures:

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Oh well.  May you stay warm, safe, and dry this weekend.  Avoid going out if there are heavy snows in your area.  Enjoy!

Wendy

More Vegan Adventures

I’ve maintained my Veganism since September 8, 2014.  That isn’t very long, I suppose in the grand scheme of things, but then, for someone who has been an omnivore all her life prior, it feels like quite awhile!

I have found that when I follow a vegan recipe, and everyone in the household likes it, I keep it in my Recipe Archives to be used at any time.  A current family favorite is a carrot-orange soup, from:

http://www.amazon.com/Hannas-Quick-Easy-Vegan-Cookbook-ebook/dp/B00AEUT3GI

Another favorite is:

http://ohsheglows.com/2010/11/16/holiday-soup-for-the-soul/

I tend to change things up a little bit based on my whim and what is available in my kitchen.  I made the carrot-orange soup, for example, without the parsley or orange zest.  Instead, I garnished it with toasted pepitas.  As for the holiday soup, I pureed about 3/4 of it in my blender, then added it back to the soup pot.  This gave it a somewhat creamy, not-too-chunky texture.  And, lo and behold, here is what happened one evening whilst I was making one of the above soups:

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You see, I didn’t realize in enough time that the lid on the blender was not secure.  I  slammed my hand down on it quickly and held it there until the blending cycle finished.  Unfortunately, the damage was done.  It went on the the floor:

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Behind things on the counter top:

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It went on the walls, too, as well as on me and the dog.  I have no photos of that, though.  All I can tell you is that I walked into the room where Joel was resting and he asked me if I threw up on myself.  Ew!

It was a 2-day clean-up.  But the soup was GOOD!

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Winter is the time of year for lots of soup!  It is the ultimate comfort food, at least for me it is!  With the recipes above, you can pack a lot of nutrition into a relatively easy-to-cook dish.  Just be sure to keep your hand on that blender lid to prevent the craziness.

Wendy

Happy August Monday

Good day to you all!  I wanted to share a little bit of the interior of Country Mouse House since I FINISHED CROCHETING THE CURTAIN TIEBACKS!!!

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So….I had to shorten just one pair of the curtains since the one window was just a tad smaller than the rest.  I got out my Mom’s old sewing machine.  It is the machine I learned on, and it is just as trusty, rugged, and consistent as ever:

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It’s a plain straight-stitch machine.  It has a button-hole attachment, which also still works.

And now, here is a peek at my cute little living room in Country Mouse House, complete with curtains and tiebacks:

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The flag throw blanket came from my Mom’s house, as did the little table(covered in lace), which my Grandfather built.

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Everyone in the world loves to sit in the chair-it reclines.  I can’t tell you how many family members and friends get comfy in that chair and doze off!

The garden is full to bursting.  We can’t seem to harvest the bounty fast enough.  I am very thankful for the gifts of the garden!  To be continued…

Wendy

What’s been going on…

Since y’all know of our losses this year, we are just trying to take life day by day.  I love the sunshine, but I seem to over-heat when I am out in it too long, so as a result, the garden is starting to look a bit shaggy.

I have so many pending projects indoors, too.  Besides rooms to paint, all kinds of things to fix, caulk, maintain, etc., I am teaching myself to crochet.  I once had a basic knowledge of crochet that grew quite rusty over time.  My Mom left behind numerous crochet hooks, skeins/balls of yarn, as well as knitting needles.  She knew how to sew, knit, crochet, and embroider.  She was very creative and loved pretty colors.  Her flower garden was gorgeous.  She used to cut flowers and bring them in to display in vases.  I guess I inherited her love of flowers and gardens!

She taught me to sew, among many other things.  She tried with the crocheting and knitting, but I was less interested.  Now, however, I wish I could have her coach me and answer my questions!  At the moment, I’ve created a simple project.  I just replaced old, worn out window-shades with simple, white, sailcloth curtains at Country Mouse House.  I need tie-backs, so I am crocheting them!

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I have to make 14 of them because there are, obviously, 7 windows and 2 panels per window.  If you know how to crochet(and you want to do this in your home), I simply start with a chain of about 20, then go back and single crochet through 9 or so(sorry this isn’t exact science, but I am still quite the beginner!), connecting the ends to form the loop.  Then I just single crochet for around 20-21 rows.  After that, I make another chain stitch for 11-12 and connect with a single crochet at the other end.  If you don’t crochet and you would like to do this, might I suggest:

http://www.amazon.com/Crocheting-Dummies-Susan-Brittain-ebook/dp/B003B6QZ6I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405623449&sr=8-1&keywords=crochet+for+dummies

I have found this book to be a big help!

Meanwhile, back in the Town Mouse Garden:

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Truthfully, these were taken a couple of weeks ago.  I just didn’t post them right away.  (That’s why the garden doesn’t look so shaggy yet in these photos.)

I’ll have to give the Country Mouse/Vegetable Garden update soon.  Great food is growin’!

And here is our best buddy, Finn, since he got a heat-relieving hair cut!

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And for an action shot(had to get the scratch!)

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I think he feels so much better now when he goes outside…..and since he is a doggie, he HAS to go outside rather often!

Stay cool and enjoy your day!

Wendy

T. G. I. R.

Thank God It’s Rhubarb!

We made a Vegan Rhubarb Cobbler:

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It really was very good.  The way to “Vegan-ize” something (quickly and easily) is to first check to see if there are any animal-derived ingredients.  This would include milk/dairy, eggs, butter, meat, animal fats, gelatin, etc.  My recipe called for eggs, so we did our chia-seed egg subsitute.  Per egg equivalent, mix one tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water, let sit a bit.  It gets gooey and egg-like in its consistency.  For milk, we used almond milk.  For butter, we just used vegetable oil.  You could use coconut oil or a vegan margarine if you want.   We are not all vegans, but one of my children IS a vegan, and yet another goes without dairy.

Onward to the canning…….

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I loved using the blue jars!  They make the contents look even yummier!  I ended up making a Rhubarb-Cherry Topping, which I used on my French toast this morning.  If I do say so myself, it was delicious.  I tried using a jam recipe, but I had more rhubarb than the recipe called for.  I didn’t have quite enough pectin, and I had some cherry preserves in my stash…hence….it didn’t gel up enough to spread.  It pours easily, though, and I have no fear that it will get gobbled up quickly.

Last week, I tried my hand at homemade laundry detergent.  It also came out rather nicely.  The reason I did this is that the cost of laundry soap seems to rise as the size of the container seems to decrease.  This cost about 50 cents a gallon to make.  You can check out a how-to video here.

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I got to playing around with these Martha Stewart labels I found in Staples, along with a “chalk pen,” which I hadn’t heard of before.  That was in the craft store next door.  The painting in the background is of my front porch at Country Mouse House, by a local artist.   Note the blooming flowers?   (Sigh……)

Time to head outside and smell the lilacs!

Have a beautiful weekend!

Wendy