Saturday, May 31, 2014

Update with photos

Well, spring has come and is now almost gone. I started a new sourdough starter outside a few days ago ... I didn't think to take photos so I might make a new one to show how it's done. We'll see how ambitious I get! Here are a few photos that are 'springy' ...

bleeding hearts in our front yard

hummingbird at our feeder

Corban raking hay

Tylor (left) planting trees

The garden in the church parking lot is doing very well!! Everything is thriving, we are being diligent to check on it daily, pulling weeds, etc. Tomorrow morning we'll probably do the liquid fish fertilizer. I'll take photos or a video and share if I remember. We decided to only do a small garden this year so I am able to handle it mostly by myself with whatever help I can get when it's available. It's working out very well. The large gardens are nice ... except they put us under too much pressure and we cannot do that right now. Besides, whatever we lack there is usually someone in our fellowship that is more than happy to fill in. We've already been getting a few really nice, garden fresh tomatoes from one family that sells at farmers markets. They get an early start in the green house and the tomatoes are fabulous! Another family has given us salad greens and strawberries. Yum!

Have a great day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Frugal Friday: Leftover Makeovers

Just a few thoughts to share here on making-over left-overs.

First a tip: never be afraid to experiment!

not mine but similar; I forgot to take a photo
I am always up for something new and if I like it I will try to duplicate it at home. For instance, a brother here introduced me to a Salvadoran food called pupusas. Pupusas are basically corn tortillas stuffed with either beans, cheese or meat ... just one ingredient, or two, or three. Low-cost, could be dairy free, are gluten free, could be vegetarian ... so versatile! A fermented cabbage dish called curtido and a smooth [blended] red sauce for dipping (salsa roja) are commonly served with the pupusas. There is a nice little Salvadoran restaurant in Rogers, AR that I've been to a few times. They serve both for really cheap ... a few dollars will fill you up. (Pupuseria Salvadorena #1 on Walnut Street by Aldi's for those who are interested!) YUM! Not only are they cheap but they taste good and I knew I could make my own at home with much healthier results.

I purchased some Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina from Azure Standard, looked up a few recipes online and then last monday we had a 'Salvadoran food night'. Homemade versions of pupusas [two options with or without dairy cheese] with salsa roja, cortido, platanos fritos (fried plantains), and some generic 'Salvadoran rice recipe' I found online. The results were delicious! I made too much (on purpose) so here is what I did with the left-overs.

The next day the 4 young men / men we feed lunch to had this packed in their boxes.

The day after that I was hankering for what I call 'Oriental noodle soup'. I gently stir-fried some of the curtido with sliced mushrooms and green onions. I also roasted some sesame seeds and cooked some Japanese noodles I got at the Asian Market in Omaha a few weeks ago. (Great store!) When all was ready I combined them and added Braggs, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. A delicious combination in my opinion. Usually I throw in raw spinach at the end and also put in raw broccoli with the cabbage and carrots and mushrooms ... however this time I was in a hurry and just wanted to eat ... and there was no room left in our bowls for the spinach :)

And now this morning we finished the rest of the rice and curtido ... I heated them together in a frying pan with a little olive oil and added some eggs. I guess this would kind of be like 'fried rice' but not really ;) It was very yummy topped with our favourite Indian junk food: Aloo Bhujia (spicy potato noodles ... fried ... certainly not healthy but tasty in moderation). Here is the exact brand we purchased last time, however we are not brand loyal. These were pretty good though and was just the right addition to our breakfast fried rice. 

So there you have it ... several meals made from one. What was interesting to me about these meals is that the flavors changed quite a bit ... from Latin American to Oriental-ish to Indian-ish ... from supper to lunch to breakfast ... and it all tasted great. Also, these were all vegetarian if you consider eggs part of a vegetarian diet. They were all gluten-free and most were dairy free too.  

Some times we just have a 'left-over buffet' where I get out all the left-overs, heat whatever needs heated and then let everyone choose what they want. Sometimes we have what I call 'left-over extravaganza' where I take all the leftovers, combine them in one pot, add some seasonings that seem appropriate and call it a meal. These usually turn out really good however it's impossible to get an exact recipe for it if it turns out really good!

Have fun! Don't be afraid to experiment!

Monday, May 5, 2014

NE/IA trip

Recently we went to Nebraska and Iowa to see my dad, my friends and deliver a puppy to my uncle Jay. Here's a few photos from that.

Corban at the Asian Market in Omaha.
This was a basket, not a hat.

Dad bought a bicycle for Tylor from craiglist and fixed it up.
Here he is showing him how to fix it if it slips.

Uncle Jay fed us bbq chicken. He's a pro.

Tylor with a chin rest.
Uncle Jay has a GREAT view of Iowa countryside.

Here's the puppy we gave to Uncle Jay.
His name is Zeke but I call him trouble.
Brianna trained him in the basics but the rest is up to Jay.
This is NOT from our trip. I took this when I stepped outside at
the elderly woman's house that we help. Nice view.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Frugal Friday: Diet and Exercise Tracker

For today's 'frugal friday' I'd like to talk about a great diet and exercise tracker program that is FREE and easy to use. SparkPeople is extremely user friendly and the phone app makes entering meals even simpler. The phone app is NOT as complete as the full website, however it is really convenient for quickly entering in a meal, exercise log, or some other daily goal. You can also read articles. The full website has a lot of free videos as well, though I have not tried to see if I can watch them on my phone.

Some of the daily goals are already set, however you can change or delete them and also add more or even make up your own. They allow you to either have a number system to track a goal (ex: how many cups of water you drank that day, how many servings of vegetables you had that day, etc.) or a 'yes' or 'no' response (my personal examples: exercise for 30 minutes [check the box for 'yes' leave it unchecked for 'no'], eat a light supper).

I've only been using this for a week but that's long enough for me to know for sure that this is a great program. Because it is so easy to enter meals and snacks it does not seem like a chore or become cumbersome. I've tried other meal tracker programs in the past like FitDay and NutriDiary but always gave up after a few days of tracking food because it took too long. I do not have that problem with SparkPeople, and their reports make it fun and easy to see where I might be lacking or where I am doing well.

There is some sort of social aspect to the website as well, however I have not explored that side of it. Maybe if you are on it you can be my 'friend' and then I'll learn how to use that feature? My user name is joannejsmith.

A negative that I have found is that when others enter foods sometimes all the smaller vitamins and minerals do not get added. For example, someone entered in earthbound organic celery but it only shows the vitamins and minerals that are listed on the package. When I select 'celery' however all sorts of vitamins and minerals show up for the same amount of celery. The only difference I guess would be that 'celery' was in some sort of national database put out by some FDA person (total guess) who knew all of the smaller nutrients. So ... instead of selecting 'earthbound organic celery' I select 'celery'. The computer system does not care of I eat organic or not :)  :) 

One more negative I found today is that raw, fresh juice has only been entered by members, hence the problem explained in the last paragraph. For this problem I just entered the individual components of the juice (like 'kale' 'celery' 'spinach' etc.) and make a mental note that I really did not have as much fiber as is listed in my daily breakdown (fiber hopefully being the only thing missing after the food is juiced).