30 June 2010

The Green Pan

A couple of years ago we rented out our house to do a short stint in my folks home. It helped us lighten our load (our junk piles) as well as our income to debt ratio. When our renters had to break their lease we were ready to move back in, not having found another dwelling in our dream house realm! We returned to a fairly unchanged house, and I found a few jewels in the kitchen that told a stereotypical story of bachelors:  camping cookware.

So, believe it or not, for the last couple of years we've been using the little cheap-o pan more than any other piece of cookware! Mind you, I own a fantastic set of heavy Calphalon pots and pans that we received as wedding gifts. We hadn't purchased a tiny pan because I didn't know we would need one, let alone use one EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Back to the camping pan... I started to get a little put off by little specks of metal showing through the nonstick surface of the pan. Yes, this means that the nonstick substance had been flaking off into our food, or perhaps burning off into the air for us to breathe in. Eeeeeeuwwww.

One day as I perused the cookware aisles of The Big Red T, I found ONE option for a small pan that didn't have teflon on its surface.
Enter: Green Pan.

Wow! Talk about non-stick! This baby is so slick you could almost fry without any grease. The instructions actually tell you to use cooking oil in order to brown the food. Perfect made-to-order eggs, slip-n-slide fried rice, and boy howdy...NO teflon!

image: Target.com

Blog Favorite: Make Grow Gather by Kelly Wilkinson

There are a LOT of blogs out there to help inspire me as a new blogger, but there is one that somehow fits into a neat little gift that I can't wait to open! When I see there is a new post I get a happy feeling and look forward to to the *click click* of my mouse. A bit nerdy for me to admit? Maybe. Maybe it's what we have in common – the middle sister thing...or the Bay Area thing...or perhaps the "doing everything I want to be doing" thing? Whatever it is, I really recommend Make Grow Gather. Give it a whirl and you may discover what you love about Kelly's world too.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention the fabulous giveaway this weekend! Leave a comment for Kelly and you'll be in the running for a pair of beautiful napkins and a gorgeous tote from Flowie (Bay Area designer, Yaling, that used to live in my old 'hood).

Cloth napkins are a staple in our kitchen and dining room. It's so much easier to throw them in the wash after a few uses (yes, keep yours in your own place setting everyday) than to buy paper napkins every month. Well, Yaling's napkins would be for the weekends with our guests! Beauty oozes all over her site, so please give it a browse.

Image via MakeGrowGather via Flowie

28 June 2010

Peep No More

Since I was a child I've had a "thing" about making sure that the curtains, blinds and/or shades are drawn COMPLETELY at night. I realize that during the day it is more difficult to see inside a window without being really close, so the only place I have allowed to be uncovered in our house are the three panes by the front door. Well, truth be told, I had a custom cut paper blind hanging over it for several years. I couldn't stand it so I took it down but have waited 3 more years to solve the problem! I was not comfortable napping in the front room alone, doing yoga, and definitely NOT nursing... Until now.

   * the window panes are nestled in a door frame with an inch of room on either side
   * the frame is metal so I was unable to install a traditional curtain rod or blinds
   * we need some diffused light to come through the window in the morning, but cover it in the late afternoon sun
   * we must be able to pull back the curtain or blind enough to see who is at the door
   * view from outside needs to be obstructed
   * the perfect scraps of fabric I wanted to repurpose (leftover panels cut from my sister's place) weren't long enough to cover all 3 panes

   * I found a mini Levolor magnetic curtain rod that fit in the space around the panes
   * create a "roll blind" that wraps the rod to have both the white semi-transparent fabric and the solid linen beige color!

Here is what I came up with. You'll see there are different positions that you can "set" the Roll Blind to, depending on your needs, or mood. Sorry, folks. I still have one window left before I can quit the elite group "PBLUFO5YC" (that's Paper Blinds Left Up For Over 5 Years Club).

26 June 2010

Date Night!

We called in the babysitter last night (the fabulous Katie) and headed out to the bookstore. Yes, our date night was at the bookstore! We looked at the movies for a bit and marveled at how they didn't have "This Is It" for sale on the anniversary of MJ's demise... We browsed the books a bit, then sat and had coffee with a couple of magazines. Mike looked at how to build your own green home and I explored the world of Mary Jane Butters in her magazine, Mary Jane's Farm. I left the store holding hands with my date, mocha'd up, and feeling very good about my new resource. Check her out, as well as her "farmgirl friends."

image: craftingagreenworld.com

So, what have you done recently for a date night?

24 June 2010

Fresh Rainbow Chard with Tofu

We live in an area of the country that has a tremendous amount of bedrock. Call me Wilma, but we can't just decide to put up a fence or dig a garden bed on a whim! It's everywhere, and in places that it has pushed up closer to the surface we have actually removed the dirt (that was not able to hold a decent blade of grass) to create bare stone areas. Because of the difficulty in tilling the soil or even supporting a raised bed, we have chosen to integrate vegetables in our flowerbeds, as well as patio pots. We are discovering which plants work well in this environment and sticking with those few hardy takers.

One of the first things we were able to harvest from our northwest flowerbed was the Rainbow Swiss Chard. We've also harvested some broccoli from the same bed and are patiently waiting for the brussels sprouts and volunteer squash (or is it cucumber? time will tell). 

Here is what we did with the first chard of the season:

Fresh Rainbow Chard with Tofu

1 block Firm Tofu
Large bunch of Swiss Chard
1-2 cloves Garlic
1/2 medium Onion
Soy Sauce
Olive Oil or Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cooked Brown Rice

Drain tofu and set on folded piece of paper towel or layered paper napkins. While the paper soaks up excess water from the tofu, prepare the following: peel and chop garlic and onion, wash and cut chard, prep wok or large pan on medium high heat. Put enough oil in the wok to cover the surface of the pan (but not to deep fry). Cut the tofu into the pieces of the size you want, then place them into the pan in a single layer. Be careful... You may get some *pop* with the water in the tofu hitting the hot oil! Season tofu then let it simmer in the oil for a few minutes. Flip them over and season again (tofu is TASTELESS so you need to season at each step). Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside in your serving dish.

If needed, add just another tablespoon of oil to your pan. Check your heat--if you're smoking then turn the heat down for the next part. Sautée onion until it sweats, add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add stems of chard and sautée for just a minute or so. Add the tofu back to the pan and drizzle soy sauce over everything in the pan (enough to change the color of the tofu just a bit). Move it around quickly then add the greens, then cover and simmer until wilted. Serve over brown rice. A complete meal!

Do tell...I'd love to hear what you do with your Rainbow Swiss Chard! 

21 June 2010

Where's the beef?

I've been searching high and low this year for a healthy beef resource. Believe it or not, Jon & Kate (of the 'Plus 8' kind) actually inspired me a few years back. One episode of the infamous show featured the couple bringing their eight darling chitlins to an organic beef farm. They had fun that day on the farm but the main objective was to collect their purchase – investment, really – of an entire cow. Freezer beef, as it's called, is butchered, dry aged, then frozen to take home.  I didn't know the details on how, why or when I would be trying it myself, but I knew that it intrigued me.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I have done some research online, visited stores, farmers markets and scoured magazines for resources that would provide an affordable option. As of Friday's market in M'Boro I think I've found a match!

Happy cows (image: Dixon Family farm)
Dixon Family Meats sells a $65 Value Pack that allows the customer to choose from steaks and roasts, to add to a tenderloin, round, hamburger patties, 2 lb. tubes or (2) 1 lb. tubes. A great deal (as far as I've seen at point-of-purchase). They added up the weight of what I chose, multiplied that by $6.50 and I walked away with a full bag of premium dry aged grass-fed beef. Of course you can opt for 1/4, 1/2 or whole freezer beef purchases with farms, but you need to have a really big freezer and a lot of mouths to feed.

We cued the NY strips yesterday for our "Father's Day BBQ Home Church Dinner" and the farm did not disappoint. Our friends brought CSA veggies to throw on the grill and teriyaki chicken skewers. Tonight was hamburger patties on rice (yes, very Filipino of me) with summer market vegetables. I roasted onion & beets, finished off the marinating salad (tomatoes, cucumber, raw corn, lime basil, genovese basil), and topped it off with tiny orange marbles that taste like sweet heavenly tomatoes (from Mike O's garden)!

The Beginning

For those of you that know me, you understand that I am quite frugal. Oh yes, and I have a nagging desire to live a do-it-yourself type of life. What I've figured out along the way is that in order to do something yourself you have to either know how or learn how (duhhh). Trial and error always make for great stories, so sometimes I take on a project without any know-how – or learning for that matter. Did I mention that another favorite pastime is storytelling that may cause embarrassment to myself but bring MUCH laughter and guffawing?

NP Green Coffee Cupacrylic on canvas
So, back to the main course here... My earnest endeavor to acquire good food for my family, a great environment at home and healthy habits brings me to this blog. Unfinished projects and certain food preferences fuel this particular endeavor – as a supplement to days that I'm engrossed in list-making, researching on the internet, visiting stores, browsing farmers markets and scouring magazines for resources! Here we go folks. Grab your coffee or beverage of choice... and let's talk about how to "Do that." One blog at a time!