Not everything about the links I share are going to be things I necessarily agree with or endorse, but they all have some valuable things to glean from! Take what you can use :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Gearing Up to Start

One more week until school starts [ETA- We went back to starting our school year in January, makes so much more sense to me!] and I spent today getting ready! We got our second order of books for the year...

With this order we have everything we need to get started!

I set up my teaching station; my nice comfy chair, one of those little doohickies that keep your tea or coffee warm, and a basket with the books we'll be reading from most frequently...

We bought that table when Sheldon was a newborn!
Can you tell it's 16 years old? LOL
I've got our blackboard and school schedule set up right up on the wall...

Going to have to get Sheldon to rethink how he hangs his internet cable

I got the shelves all organized...

Still got a few things on top that need to find a home (just a few more things left to unpack yet) but top shelves are books we'll be using in the future. The second shelves are for things we're using this year. The next shelves are for the girls' school things, one each. The bottom two shelves on the brown set are for equipment and board games. Second to bottom on the white shelves are reference books and the bottom is for books that can take anytime they want.

Between the shelves and my desk live the girls' instruments. Anne's violin (which belonged to her great grandfather!) and Vanellope's djembe. The keyboard lives on the other side of the room.

Here it is, over by the computer/ tv area; which the girls forgot to tidy up I see :p.

I've also been working on cooking ahead for the freezer.

This here is 6 lbs of ground beef I cooked up with onions and green peppers (as well as 2 cups of pureed liver!). This I froze in 2 cup portions which gave me a good head start on 10 meals! I also put up another jar of fermented veggies (ginger carrots this week). I really let our diet slide with all the stress of the moving situation but I'm easing back into it. My sourdough starter is quite active and busy now, I'll be putting up some big batches of sourdough goodies this week; tortillas. and english muffins... loading up the freezer for quick healthy meals!

 I also just got some kefir grains from my MIL (thankfully I'd given her some before mine died!), and I'm putting up one jar of veggies up a week so starting August 15th we'll have a jar of beautiful ferments ready every week! I found a local source for kombucha and water kefir starts but I want to take my ferments back up one at a time so I don't get overwhelmed (I am so bad at jumping into too much at once and burning out!). I think the next thing on my list will be to purchase a new matsoni culture. We eat a LOT of yogurt and I've never been real great at thermophilic yogurts. Matsoni is a little thinner than we like our yogurt but I have a great greek yogurt maker that will take care of that! However that will have to wait a bit, we really went all out on the school books this year (this is going to be the best year EVERS!!!! <3 ), not to mention we still need to get a good snowblower before winter and the car is wanting some attention, but when I have a bit to spare, matsoni's where it's at ;).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cooking Dry Beans

One job that I don't particularly care for in the kitchen is picking through beans. Hate it! It's so monotonous yet if not done I'll be left with beans with hard crunchy shriveled beans and a few even crunchier pieces of rock! So if I can't avoid doing the job, I want to at least avoid doing it so often! So when I make beans I don't make any less than 2 lbs at a time. That way we can have bean dishes several times and only have to pick through once.

Actually, for many years I'd only buy canned beans! I knew dry beans were much cheaper (and with the high salt content plus the risk of unpleasant things leaching from the can, much healthier too) but the process of preparing them seemed too much work compared to opening a can! Well, I needn't have avoided them because aside from the dreaded picking process (the bane of my existence :p) they are so easy to make! I make big batches and then freeze what I don't need immediately in can sized portions (2 cups cooked and drained beans, add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid if your recipes tend to require a can of beans with the liquid but not many do).

1- Empty bag (or bags) of beans into a bowl and pick through; discarding stones and cracked or shriveled beans.

2- Rinse and cover by a couple inches with cool water. Cover the container and let soak about 8 hours or overnight.

3- Drain and rinse the beans and place beans in a crock pot (I use a 3 quart if making a single pound but let's face it, why make a single pound?! I do 2 or 3 pounds at a time and use a 5-7 quart crockpot). Cover with fresh water or bone broth (broth is healthiest but if I'm making something like hummus or black bean brownies I don't want them tasting like chicken!) by a couple inches and cook them 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. I like to put my beans on to soak in the morning, then get them in the crockpot just before I go to bed and cook them on low overnight. Then first thing in the morning drain them and pop them in the fridge to cool. Once I use what I need that day I portion and freeze the rest.

How simple is that?! I do keep a few cans around for use when the need for beans strike when I hadn't the foresight to replenish my freezer stash, but so long as I'm careful to make a new batch when I use up the last of the old it's nearly as convenient as canned! Even if I forget to thaw them it doesn't take too long to thaw them in a colander under warm running water in a pinch!