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!




Thurz Day Recipe

Hello there!  And Happy Thurz Day!  Today I am featuring a recipe that I created for a breakfast beverage.  My goal was to pack a lot of nutrition in a drink.  Have a look at the main ingredients:

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The small chunk of root is fresh turmeric.  It is expensive, so I use it sparingly.  The larger root is ginger.  I try to get a little turmeric and ginger every day, usually by putting a small amount of the dried spices in some hot water in the morning.  There is also an assortment of leafy greens – spinach plus two types of kale – blackberries, and a Meyer lemon.  I added a little aloe vera juice and coconut water as well.  Here it is ready to go:


The color was kind of strange, but here it is blended:


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I tried to get a little artistic.  I like the open blinds in the background and the waving flag.

The recipe:

6 large blackberries

1 Meyer lemon

3/4 cup baby spinach

1 leaf each – curly kale and Tuscan kale

1/4 inch each – peeled, chopped ginger and turmeric roots

1/4 cup aloe vera juice

1/4 cup coconut water

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and drinkable.  You will feel energized!


As a P.S. – I wanted to share last night’s dinner plate:



This includes a falafel burger, tahini sauce, hummus, and babaganoush, and a whole wheat pita – all from Mrs. Green’s Market.  I put the mixed salad together, and the dressing is a simple, home-made lemony dijon vinaigrette.  The cauliflower is oven-roasted with a little olive oil, Mrs. Dash seasoning, and salt and pepper.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to put together a well-balanced, nourishing, vegan meal!

Enjoy your day!



Avocadorito for Breakfast

Happy Monday!  Here is a typical vegan go-to meal that I can’t seem to get enough of lately…..

For Breakfast, my “Avocadorito:”


The recipe?  Quite simply:

One ripe avocado, sliced

One whole-grain tortilla(If you haven’t got tortillas or wraps, use whole grain toast and eat as an open-faced sandwich)

Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash to taste

Lay tortilla flat.  Top with avocado slices and spices.  Roll up burrito-style.  Serve with fresh fruit on the side for a nourishing breakfast.


This recipe is so quick and easy.  It only takes a couple of minutes to make.  Brewing tea takes longer.

Enjoy your day!


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:

Another favorite is:

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:


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:



Behind things on the counter top:



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!



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.


Delicious and Nutritious

As always, I look for new, fun ways to improve our health habits.  I recently discovered:

This is not a brand-new book, but it is, nevertheless, very helpful and informative.  With the basic principles in mind, I created a yummy lunch  It contained a little olive oil, baby kale, some red kidney beans, chopped onion(dried), zucchini(I have to use that up!), walnuts, shitake mushrooms, and sunflower nuts:

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Here it is after cooking briefly:

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I have to say, it was delicious.  I plan on using food combinations like this as often as possible.  They are nutrient-dense foods, which are low in calories, so they pack a powerful punch when it comes to healthy eating.

In the meantime, I am drying seeds to save for next year’s garden planting:

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If it is hard to see, due to my “expert” photography skills, I have French Breakfast Radish, Purple String Beans, and Painted Lady and/or Scarlett Runner Beans.  The Scarlett Runner Beans have all red flowers, but the Painted Ladies have red and white flowers.  I think they make beautiful plants as well as yummy food!

It never ceases to amaze me how such a big, beautiful plant can come from a tiny seed!  Every year I marvel in wonder…..



(Flowers from the Painted Lady String Bean plants)

Enjoy making healthy food to nourish you, give you strength, and help you feel happy!


Appetizing Harvest

Happy Day after Labor Day!  Over the weekend, we were invited to our dear friends’, Lisa and John’s house.  Remember Lisa’s garden?  Well, as usual, they made a fabulous meal, and I contributed an appetizer from my bounty.  It was a bit of a twist on the tomato-mozzarella-basil recipe that continues to be popular, especially this time of year:

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For the photo, I displayed this on a Depression Glass dish.  (I think Depression glass is so pretty)  Can you find the “secret” ingredient?  Well, look at the bottom layer.  That is a small piece of one of my mammoth zucchinis.  (I keep finding ways to use it out of necessity)  Next, of course, is the traditional basil leaf, then small mozzarella ball, then a half of a Sun sugar cherry tomato.

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I used kale, parsley, and those delightfully Purple String BeansCIMG2467as garnish for the platter.

Here is another view from the top:

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Now for an update!  Remember the little stair banister I was getting ready to paint?  Here it is all finished!

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And since everybody loves a before and after:


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What projects are you setting out to accomplish?  Have you completed anything?


A Special Wenz Day

Today is my birthday!  Woo hoo!

We’ve had so many sad things befall us in the past few months that I am glad to have a reason to celebrate.  Not only did my Mom pass away suddenly, my Father-in-law passed suddenly as well approximately 2 1/2 months later.  Other things have been happening (one of which I describe in the next paragraph) and believe me, we have had difficulty coming up for air.  This is why I really want to celebrate LIVING today.  I know that is what my Mom and Father-in-law would want.

What to do?  Put up the rhubarb!  But first, I must tell you what happened last week.  I was bitten by what we believe was a deer fly.  Ew.  It bit me on the face above my right eye.  The swelling was atrocious, and it got infected.  After a little research, it turns out the bacteria for Lyme disease is carried by the deer fly as well as the deer tick.  Not only that, there is another bacteria carried by the deer fly which can be pretty horrible.  I went to the doctor and I am now on antibiotics, as if I had Lyme disease, which I might, but we won’t know for sure for another week when I have blood drawn.  Either way, I feel it is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

I have had to come up with a new get-up for outdoor work.  Child #2 said I resemble Jessica Lange in “American Horror Story.”  I’ll take the Jessica Lange part, but, well, I guess the look is kind of horrifying:

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Joel, in his charmingly sarcastic way, says that I look “fetching.”  (He’s the best husband ever)  A breakdown of my trend-setting fashion statement is as follows:

Dust mask – keeps the allergens away from my nose and mouth, plus holds back the bug-attracting carbon dioxide a little bit

Sunglasses – these have my reading lenses in the bottom half, which come in handy when I am dealing with little seeds and such

Hat – gotta have a hat for gardening……keeps sun and glare away plus helps protect against sunburn

Mosquito Net – I got this here.  It can be tucked into the collar of your shirt if you have a collar.  When finished with gardening, you can re-use this on Safari….

Not pictured – Long-sleeved shirt(light-colored), long pants, socks and sturdy shoes, garden gloves, sunblock, and spray-on insect repellent(I spray it on my skin and on the outside of my clothes).  I also have a little battery-powered thing that clips onto my pocket which is supposed to keep the bugs away.

What things do you do to keep the buggies at bay?

Now, onward to the task at hand….


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That is what my rhubarb looks like ripe.  It’s not that ruby-red color, but it is organically grown, heirloom rhubarb.  That patch has been growing at Country Mouse House for longer than the oldest neighbors can remember.  I’ve given whole plants away and it seems to renew it’s own vigor.  I gave a couple of plants to Lisa and she now has a constant yield second only to my own.

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Here is the rhubarb with leaves in tact.  Remember, don’t eat the leaves!  They are poison!  (Apparently some snails don’t know this, or are immune, so they eat the leaves anyway)  Below is what the flower looks like on a rhubarb plant.  I pull these off so the plant can put the energy back into the rhubarb stalks.

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Below is the rhubarb patch from another angle.  In the foreground is a horseradish plant.  I put that in last year as a tiny baby and it is really taking off.  If you look closely you can see spindly baby asparagus, too.  Only 3 of my 6 asparagus starts made it through the winter, so I added a few more this year, marked by those broken sea shell pieces.  (Sea shells can add nutrients to the garden.  The only other thing I add to this patch is composted manure 1-2 times per year.)  I also have Columbine growing here.  Columbine and rhubarb get along very well in the garden and help each other grow and stay healthy.

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photo (41)I picked up these beautiful blue canning jars last year at the local crafts’ store and never used them.  Now I’m breaking them out!  (or in?)

Check out Finn copping a snooze in the background.

Who’s doing a little bit of Spring-harvest canning?  Recipes, anyone?

I will let you know how it goes!

Have a deliciously wonderful day!







I really mean, “blanch.”  I know, I have a silly sense of humor.  But it’s good to have fun and laugh a little, yes?

So…….onto the blanching process……

Wash and trim and possibly cut your beans if you like them cut.  Some folks like them whole, so do it the way you like, of course.  At least cut the stem-end off…..I plunge them into boiling, salted water until they are bright green.(very short amount of time – keep your eye on them)  After that, I drain them and allow to cool enough to handle.  This can be achieved by plunging into ice water for a few seconds.  Then put in freezer-appropriate containers labeled with date.

For a more detailed variation:

We love our string beans!



Hi there,

I had to clear out the rhubarb recently.  Look who I met in the process:


These little guys seem to like my gardens.  They are all over the place.  Kind of cute, eh?

The rhubarb was already there when we bought the place.  It comes back every year.  I thin it and give it as gifts.  A friend took some to market one year.  It is very hardy.  I have canned it in the form of jams, jellies, and sauces and given that as gifts, too.  I’ve baked pies and cobblers until I didn’t know what else to do.    We absolutely love it.

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Rhubarb is high in vitamin C, but is very tart.  I’ve seen people who don’t mind that and bite right into it raw.  I’m not that brave.  I usually cook it with an equal amount of sugar to the chopped up rhubarb.  Then, we just eat it up.  Joel likes to make pancakes on the weekend and rhubarb sauce tastes pretty good with those.

A local friend told us that patch of rhubarb was there for well over 60 years.  Our farmhouse is 163 years old, so who knows when the rhubarb got there?  And, even though I have cleared it out pretty well, I will have 1 – 2 bumper crops before the season is over – no kidding.

For anyone unfamiliar with rhubarb, the leaves are poisonous, so just eat the stalk.

Does anyone have a recipe or a creative way to use rhubarb?