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 (Inspired by  the 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.


Dreaming of summertime and the GARDEN!




Vegan Christmas Cookies

Today I am embarking on a journey.  I am baking Christmas cookies, Vegan Style.  I currently have 3 vegetarian children, one of whom is Vegan, one who doesn’t eat dairy (but does occasionally eat a tiny bit of seafood), and one who is trying it for one month to see how it all works out(but does eat dairy).  Joel still likes meat, poultry, and seafood.  I can’t digest red meat, so it’s off-limits to me.  I can tolerate poultry and most fish.  I do make beef for Joel once in awhile.  Christmas dinner is usually filet mignon.  This year, Joel will be the only one eating that.

The rest of us will be eating:

My vegetarians eat this at Thanksgiving, and I tasted it and it is really quite good.   The key is NOT to expect it to taste EXACTLY like turkey!  It just doesn’t.  Really.  But it isn’t bad.  Really!

Back to my mission today – to bake some cookies.  Here is the recipe:

And here is how they turned out:

photo (17)

I have found that vegan baked goods have a slightly different texture, due to the fact that there are no eggs or milk.  They are still light and fluffy, and very, very SWEET.  (Not diabetic-friendly!!)  I am going to freeze this batch and the rest of the dough, since Vegan Child won’t be home for the college break until tomorrow.

All my shopping is done – I just have a tiny bit more wrapping to do.  My cards will be sent by this weekend, so I apologize to any of my card recipients if you get yours “late.”  I figure if it’s by the New Year, then it’s all good.  I have done my holiday decorations in “Minimalist” style this year, and so far nobody has complained.

Of course, I always crank up my stress level by adding a random project to the mix.  My gift to myself is re-painting the ceiling and walls of my front entry/vestibule in Town Mouse House.   Add that to one child having been sick, a school concert in the works, numerous holiday parties and events that must be attended by various family members, well……I’m sure we don’t have it much different from anyone else out there.  And really, none of this is complaining on my part!  Just describing the busy-ness of the season.

My hope and prayer is for good health, safety, and joy this Christmas and in the New Year.  From our family to yours – Blessed Peace on Earth!


Healthy Comfort Food

When all else fails, have some SOUP!  I still have grated squash in abundance in the freezer, so….

Into my slow cooker went:

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 large can Cannelini beans

1/2 cup green beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Then I sautéed in butter:

4 chopped carrots

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 minced garlic cloves

1/2 onion, chopped

THEN, I added the sautéed goodness to the slow cooker, along with 2 cups frozen, shredded squash and a large boxed container of vegetable stock.  For the meat-eaters in the family, I will offer chopped, grilled chicken pieces.

Here is the soup simmering away joyfully in the slow cooker:


It looks a little bit blurry, but I tasted it and it is yummy.  I am making cornbread and a salad to go with it.

Healthy comfort food! 


Getting Saucy in the Kitchen



I had to make tomato sauce, and while that was simmering, I made tomato salsa.  While that was refrigerating, I blanched and froze my string beans.  While they were freezing, I saved the rest of the bean seeds to use for next year.  After that, I roasted eggplant to make Baba Ganoush.  While the eggplant were roasting, I grated squash and zucchini to freeze for upcoming breads and cakes.  I then threw a little of the grated squash into the sauce…… Phew!  Getting there – We ought not go hungry, that’s for sure!  Here is the sauce recipe:

Wenz Tomato Sauce

One 6 oz can tomato paste

Fresh tomatoes – I used approximately 12 Plum tomatoes and 5 or so “Early Girls”(once they were blanched and seeded, tomato flesh plus juice equaled about 3 cups)

3 cloves garlic (Lisa gave me a bunch of garlic she grew, in exchange for some eggplant)

1 med-large onion


Basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper to taste

Optional – ¾ lb ground beef, browned

Optional – some grated zucchini and/or summer squash(adds nutrition)

We have vegetarians in the family, so I make the sauce without the meat. 


The fresh tomatoes need to be plunged in boiling water, then ice water to slide the skins off.  Then the seeds need to come out.  Squishing them up with your hand is the best way to do it, and that is best done over a strainer.  After that, place the tomatoes, tomato juice, and other ingredients in a saucepan or slow cooker for about 3 hours or so(simmer/low setting).


How about some Salsa?

Image result for salsa dancing silhouette


No, that’s neither me nor Joel….Here is our version of Salsa-in-the-works(note the little Red Hot Chili Pepper on the left):


Wenz Salsa

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

2 large ripe red tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3 cups Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes, halved

One hot chili pepper, chopped(I would have added another, but I only had one Lonely Pepper, Sgt.)


1 Tablespoon minced cilantro

Juice of one small lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients.  Place in an airtight container in fridge for a couple of hours.  Get out the tortilla chips and Margaritas, and enjoy!



If anyone has great tomato harvest recipes, I would love to know!  This week, I will feature more of my favorites.

Have a delicious day!


Harvest Time

We are back from vacation!  Vacations are never long enough, are they?

It is cooling off here a bit.  Everything is ripening at once and I’ve been making some rather tasty dishes!

Here is the Eggplant Parmesan:


I used a recipe I found online that was, allegedly, by Martha Stewart, and the instructions said to bake the breaded eggplant first.  I opted to fry it in olive oil seasoned with garlic and a little salt and pepper instead.  I then placed the pieces in the baking dish with sauce, layered with shredded mozzarella, more eggplant, sauce, and then sliced fresh mozzarella and sprinkling of parmesan.  Yum, yum, and more yum!

Here is another of my salads:


The orange-colored cherry tomatoes are called “Sun Sugar,” which really describes them because they are just about the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.  The red tomatoes are “Early Girls” chopped up.  The cucumbers are supposedly “Burpless.”  I added onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil….. and now for the dessert……

Blueberry-Rhubarb Pie:


Notice the foil around the outer edge?  It was so drippy and juicy…I used a cup of blueberries and 2 cups of rhubarb(from our abundant bumper-crop!), plus about 1 1/2 cups sugar.  There was not much else to the recipe.  I added a little flour to the filling in hopes of thickening it a bit.  It dripped so much I can’t imagine what it would have been like without the flour!

On to another harvest activity:

Right now I am saving some seeds.  The “Painted Lady” stringbean flowers are so darn pretty….


I am saving seeds for next year’s plants:


Even the seeds themselves are pretty!  The darker ones have been drying a bit longer than the rest.  I will not need so many of them, so perhaps some of my gardening friends will be receiving some seeds as gifts for birthdays and/or holidays!

I am not going crazy with the beans, just blanching and freezing them, most likely.  One year a friend pickled her beans.  I think I’m just a little too tired for that.  Any thoughts on easy, fun ways to fix string beans?


Bye the way, all these photos were taken with my phone.  My camera seems to have disappeared.  One of my children has two pet ferrets, who are responsible for hiding the remote controls for the TV.  I wonder if they had anything to do with it?

Meet Nigel and Pudge.  Nigel is more likely the guilty party, or so I’m told.  He is the one who is in the lower half of the picture:


Part of a day in Wenz World is always filled with a little adventure!

Have a wonderful adventure of your own today!


Creative Climbing

These purple string beans are so cool!  At Town Mouse House, here is one of the vines climbing past my little trellis up to the porch light:


The beans turn green when cooked – but I’ve actually been chopping them up and putting them into salads a lot.  The color is so pretty.  The last salad I made contained cucumbers, beans, carrots, chives, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  It was a real treat.  It was even better on the second day!

At the Country Mouse House Garden, I deliberately planted beans that had very pretty flowers this year.  One kind is the “Painted Lady” variety, which has a red and white flower.


Here is the flower of the purple, Trionfo Violetto, bean:

Purple bean flower

My friend once canned pickled string beans.  I may try that this year.  Anyone have bean recipes?

Have a yummy day!



As is the case with many-a-gardener this time of year, I am seeing more than my fair share of squash.  It is definitely a mixed blessing!



I happen to love squash, but other than my usual uses:

1- Slicing raw and tossing into a salad.

2- Stirring in skillet with a little olive oil and/or butter with salt, pepper, and garlic or onion.

3- Giving away to family and friends.

I am a little bit at a loss for creative ways to use this up.  I found a cool-looking recipe which I think I will try:

Summer Squash Bread

Probably similar to zucchini bread or carrot cake.  I hope it’s good!  If anyone has a new way to use Summer Squash, I am open to ideas!

Have a brilliant day!