Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recipe Using Canned Beans

After a day like today, where I did homeschool from 8:30-11:30, then spent the afternoon prepping and painting the schoolroom, dinner is the last thing on my mind.  So, when the husband calls from 20 minutes away and I realize that in order for the night to run smoothly dinner must be ready in 25 minutes, I know exactly what to make.  Here's the recipe:

Chicken White Bean Chili
1 can chicken broth
1 pint canned chicken
1/2 pint canned green salsa
2 pints canned white beans
1/2 tsp. cumin

Mix all ingredients in a pan.  Heat over medium-low heat until warmed.  (30 minutes or so gives it the best melded flavor, but less will suffice in a pinch)

There.  Dinner done.  And delish.  Not often that dinner comes together so quick, with such great results!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Canning Dried Beans

When it comes to using food storage the biggest problem that we all face is that it's well... not instant.  I've come to grips with the fact that I must grind my wheat before I make bread, must cook the rice for 20-30 minutes, not just 5.  But, to soak beans overnight and then cook them for 1-2 hours just takes too much.  So, I don't do it, and the beans go unused.  I love beans, my family loves beans, and they are cheap!   My solution: can them up.  Spend a few minutes here and there throughout your day, and you have quarts of beans ready to eat!

Here are the steps:

 Open your bucket o' beans.  You will use one cup of dried beans per quart jar. 

Rinse your beans thouroughly (I do this in a strainer) then put them in a clean, sterile quart jar

 Add 1/2-1 tsp. salt (if I try to go "low sodium" and add 1/2 tsp, I add more salt when I prepare the beans, so most of the time I go with the full 1 tsp.)

 Add water up a little past the rim.  Right up to where the ring will be.

Heat your canning lids in boiling water for a minute (or just follow package directions).
Put a lid and ring on each jar.

Put into your pressure cooker and cook at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. 


This all takes very little hands-on time, and you have beans on your shelf and ready to use.  Very simple, and tasty!  Ready for soups, tacos, refried beans, salads, anything you would use a can of beans for.  This works with all bean varieties.  I have tried navy beans, black beans, and pintos with equal success.  I plan to try kidney beans soon, and I'll have to let you know how that works out. 

I weighed it out this time, and each cup of black beans is 1/4 pound.  Average price of beans right now is around $15 a 25 pound bag.  That is $.60 a pound, $.15 per cup.  A lid costs between 10 and 15 cents.  Per quart of beans then, cost averages 25 to 30 cents.  Last time I checked, that was way cheaper than any in the store.  And coupons don't seem to cover beans very often. 

Awesome!  Just thought I'd pass this along.  It's my favorite frugal/food storage/canning project!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


These are my dishwashers.  My mechanical dishwasher is on the fritz--again!  It works sometimes.  There must be a short in the control board (the one we've replaced 4 times in the 2.2 years we've had this dishwasher) because the start button doesn't always work.  It usually works as soon as all the dishes are washed by hand.  Of course.

My lovely ladies slaving away
I am taking this opportunity to teach my girls how to wash the dishes by hand.  A skill everyone should know.  They were super eager to learn, so I took advantage of this (relatively) rare occasion.  They take turns rinsing and drying.  I wash and put away.  It actually goes pretty fast.  We can do 2 meals worth of dishes in 30 minutes.  Not bad, I say!

Zenna asked if she could help, so I said "grab a towel and join in!"  Then she hesitated.  "Actually, I have other things I need to play."  As soon as the dishes were all finished and put away, Zenna showed up.  "Look!  WE did it!  WE washed the dishes!"  Ahem.  I don't think so chick...  

When we finished Abigail said, "You know mom, it's better when we have a dishwasher because then it doesn't take us ALL DAY to was the dishes.  We have time to play when we use a dishwasher."  I reminded her that now that we are done, she has all day to play (like 11 hours or so).  Too funny.

The culmination of dish training came last night when I had finished making cookie dough.  I put the dough in the fridge, and Abigail came and looked into the sink at my cookie dishes.  "MOM!  We JUST washed those!"  I could suddenly hear some empathy with the plight of my life.  (Insert Cruel Cackle) I LOVE IT!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adding Dice

This is one of my ideas of how to teach addition.  One of the problems that I face is that as soon as home school tasks get laborious, I lose my power.  There are no threats that will make a 6 year old do more addition practice when she doesn't want to.  I tried to use my very favorite threat in this situation, but with no results.  (My favorite threat: "If you don't want to clean your room, I'll do it for you.  But remember, I clean with a garbage bag.")  They don't care if you throw their addition papers in the trash.  In fact, they would prefer it.

To counteract this powerlessness, I have come up with lots of ways to practice addition.  Because lets face it, they need to drill addition.  There's no way around that.  So, we put the worksheet in a sheet protector, and they do addition with dry erase markers.  We add on the chalkboard.  We add using number magnets on our magnet board.  Or, me favorite, we add using m&ms (we had to stop that one when the teacher ate all the teaching tools in a bout of frustration).  This is another way to add, and my girls love this one.  This also means that we are just a few months away from playing Yahtzee for math time, and I can't wait!!  I rock at Yahtzee.

I give each girl 2 dice (we'll move to three later) they toss the dice, and write down the addition problem that results.  They write the complete problem and the answer, and toss the dice again.  They end up doing between 10 and 15 problems, and I am satisfied.  It is great for beginning adders, with sums up to 12.  It's great too because the little ones toss the dice and scribble on their papers "adding" just like their sisters, and I can nurse the baby in peace. 

Try it.  I know you'll like it.

Book Review: Dombey and Son

I am going to start writing about every book that I read here on my blog.  I should probably do Goodreads, but I never really got into it.  So, here you go!

I have read this book before, and I didn't like it so well.  It was in my Year of Dickens where I read every novel Charles Dickens published.  I have been reading more while nursing, and decided to go for it again since it's been 3 years.  I absolutely LOVED this book this time.

I love how Dickens takes a human trait and intensifies it in one character.  While this makes some of his characters less plausible, it makes for a very interesting view of humanity.  The character trait in this book is PRIDE.  The stubborn, self-willed kind.  The consequences are horrific.  They are contrasted against pure sweet humility and undying devotion, so those consequences are heightened to the reader's sensibility. Makes for an incredible read.

The question that I have after reading this book is, can love die?  The daughter of Paul Dombey, Florence, loves with all her soul with no return for years upon years.  Then, in an intense moment of passion, her father strikes all that love out.  She flees from his house, and doesn't return.  So, I am wondering if love can truly grow with no return, and if it is killed, can it be revived?

I would say more, and am dying to discuss it with someone, but I don't want to give away too much of the story.  Dickens is such a masterful storyteller that I wouldn't mar your experience for anything!  So, if you have read it, please discuss it with me, and if you haven't, please do, and then call me!!

Once I can get the pictures off my camera, I am going to write a post about canning dried beans.  The best way to use your food storage, if you ask me...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back to the Blog

I have rededicated myself to blogging.  I am going to combine my blogging efforts, and in this blog I am going to include my experiments with Homemade Everything.  I am going to try to share some of my homeschool ideas, and also share book reviews.  Do all my friends want to know all this?  Perhaps not, but I would like to document it all.  So I, like others before me, am going to document it in a public forum in case someone does want to know.  :)

So, till tomorrow...