Tag Archives: recipe

Slow cooker black beans

When last we left, I had set a few goals, including coming up with new recipes and posting them.

I’m counting this one, because I did not search out recipes in advance to see if it would work. The beans had been sitting around in my cupboard for far too long and I thought it would be nice to prep a batch and have them on hand. Freezing them for future use means I can make a small meal with beans and not have to worry about trying to eat a huge amount before they go bad.

Frugal, nourishing, and delicious!

Making beans in the way takes some advanced planning and just a little active worth and has a big payout. The store where I get beans sells these in bulk for $1.95 a pound, so even if my plan did not work out it would not be a bit waste of money.

Why soak the beans?

I mentioned a similar process before when I posted my tutorial on sprouting lentils. Soaking beans is a traditional method of preparation which makes the beans more digestible and the body can more easily absorb the “enhanced by impressive stores of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and molybdenum, as well as B vitamins such as folate and thiamine. All legumes contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with kidney and pinto beans particularly high in omega-3. (from the linked article)

If you want to boost the nutritional content further you can cook the beans in homemade bone broth as well.

While the soaking does take time, putting everything together to soak takes minutes and can be left to its own devices. Using a slow cooker also means not having to tend to a pot and worry about scorching. A win-win arrangement if you ask me.

I was inspired to use apple cider vinegar to soak based on my friend Lindsay’s recipe for black beans. A fruit-based acid will impart extra flavor on to the beans and add character to any dish.

What I did with this batch was freeze portions in quart bags and cover with enough liquid to keep the beans themselves from getting freezer burns. Now they are ready to be defrosted at any time! And the best part, they taste great!

You can use these beans as is for a side dish, or you can try one of the following recipes:

Black bean soup from Thankful Expressions

Another black bean soup from The Homesteading Hippy

Black bean cake from Blue Viola Farm

Tortilla soup from Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Pizza black beans from The Granola Mommy

Or you can take the soaked, uncooked beans to make a variation of traditional natto.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

(to soak)
2 cups black turtle beans, dried.
Water to cover.
2 tablespoons of acid, like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice

(to cook)
One onion
5-6 garlic cloves
8-10 cups water, broth, or a mix of both liquids

1 bowl
1 colander
1 slow cooker
Sharp knife
Cutting board

Total preparation time: 24-36 hours
Active preparation time: 10 minutes

1. 12-24 hours before you plan to cook, place beans in a bowl with room temperature water to cover and acid for soak.

2. After beans finish soaking, drain and rinse.

3. Place rinsed beans in slow cooker with water/broth, one whole onion cut in half, and crushed garlic cloves.

4. Set slow cooker on low for 12 hours and leave to cook.

5. To store, freeze in bags with enough cooking liquid to cover from freezer burn. Remove onion and garlic before freezing.

Happy eating!

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I’m sharing this post at Real Food Friday, Simple Saturday, Simple life Sunday, Motivation Monday, Natural Living Monday, Homestead Barn Hop, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Wellness Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!


Soli’s overloaded muesli

Back in the summer, when it was super hot and muggy and I needed some inspiration for meals I could make without heat, I put together this list of meals to cover the gamut from breakfast through dessert. One which captured my interest was a simple recipe Wardee had shared in her podcast at that time.

Homemade muesli. All I could say was wow, what genius! Soak some oats (gluten-free in my case) overnight and then add in whatever I may want to eat with it in the morning.  Even with the oncoming autumn and drop in temperatures, I think I am going to continue using this method of preparation instead of making hot oatmeal for myself.

Two of the big ingredients I try to include whenever I make the oatmeal are chia seeds and powdered gelatin. Chia seeds are a good source of fiber and protein, minerals, and beneficial fatty acids, while gelatin is also rich in protein and collagen, beneficial for joints. I am partial to Great Lakes brand gelatin, as it is made from animals which are grass-fed and pastured.

These instructions will make a single serving of muesli. If you want to prepare for several people eating this, use Wardee’s instructions in the link above.


Soli’s overloaded muesli

Part 1

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup raw milk (if milk is not raw add 1 tablespoon of an acid like raw apple cider vinegar to ferment)

The evening before ou plan to eat, combine the above ingredients in a bowl and cover with a towel. Let sit outside overnight. The acid in the raw milk (which is what you find in whey when the milk separates) will break down the phytic acid in the oats to make them more digestible.

Part 2

In the morning, uncover oats. I start by stirring in

1 T chia seeds

1 T gelatin powder

Generous sprinkle of cinnamon

Milk kefir


Small amount of honey

Stir the above into the muesli. Add in any more add-ons. I am partial to fresh berries, bananas, and crispy nuts.

Serve and enjoy! Happy eating!

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Avocado gazpacho

This is easily one of my favorite summer meals. And it’s pretty close to perfect.

It requires no cooking, meaning all the enzymes in the produce are still present.

The addition of broth gives a big boost of minerals.

The avocados mean a good infusion of beneficial fats, and the blending make for easier digestion.

Oh, and it’s delicious!

This soup pairs well with shrimp or crab, if you want something extra to eat.

The recipe originally came from a newspaper article many years ago. The original measurements were for cups and ounces, which I think can be silly when it comes to chopped veggies.

This does not take too long to make once your avocados are ripened and sliced and the broth is chilled.

Avocado Gazpacho

3 fully ripened avocados
1 medium onion
2 medium ripe tomatoes
1 pound of cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 quart of chicken broth, ideally homemade
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Optional: crab, shrimp, tortilla chips, cilantro

1. Prepare the avocados. If serving the soup right away, keep half of a sliced avocado to the side until the end.

2. In a blender, combine a portion of all of the vegetables and broth, blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. Continue until all the ingredients are combined and smooth.

3. Add the lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Adjust to taste.

4. Allow to cool for a few hours before serving. If this is going to be eaten during one meal, garnish with the remaining avocado and add tortilla chips and/or cilantro if you like.


Happy eating!

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A recipe: roasted gazpacho

The days are still warm and sunny here, but the change of seasons is already in the air. Leaves turning, acorns falling (more on that soon), crickets singing at 5pm, and that hint of change, a tang in the atmosphere.

I love autumn. But I’m not ready to let go of the summer just yet.

Fortunately the farmer’s market is still rife with summer’s bounty. And I am still scouring cookbooks, finding tempting recipes to make up for a week’s worth of lunches. I found this one in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. As much as I am not a fan of his current food policies, he still crafts and finds some good recipes. When I first made up this soup a few weeks ago, I used orange tomatoes. And luxuriated in several meals of a delicious golden bounty. If you still have a glut of vegetables from your CSA, this may provide inspiration for you.

The original recipe also calls for stale bread and croutons, which I did not have. The directions also suggest straining to get out any remaining seeds or bits of skin. I didn’t bother, because I prefer a “rustic” taste. What can I say? I like hearty soups.

The ingredient which makes a gazpacho a gazpacho is vinegar. The original recipe called for sherry vinegar. I have substituted real apple cider vinegar for two reasons. First, I had it on hand. Second, ACV is wonderful for your digestion. Give it a try!

Roasted Gazpacho
Makes a lot! (The book says six servings. I get 5-6 lunches out of this, with some left over.)

4 ripe tomatoes
2 small or 1 medium eggplant
4 small or 2 medium zucchinis
2 medium onions
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (get the real deal. I like Bragg’s.)
4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Plain yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche for garnish (optional)

Roasting pan, dutch oven, or baking sheets
Large bowl
Measuring cup
Blender, standing or immersion


1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Chop vegetables into large chunks. Put vegetables, garlic, and olive oil into or on cooking device. Put in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Which I did not do and it turned out fine.)

3. Let cool if you like. I do this because it’s easier working with the food when it’s not piping hot.

4. Put the mix into your bowl and add the water, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

5. Blend ingredients together until smooth. Put soup through a strainer if you like. Test for taste now!

6. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

7. Serve!

Told you it made a lot! That’s a 4 quart bowl, filled to the rim with the richness.

Happy eating!

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How to (really) make milk kefir

Oh, hi everyone! Before I go barreling in to blogging again, let me sum up the last month or so.
Rest, go on vacation to see best friend, finally feel like I am doing with schooling, get over the feeling like I have to shoehorn activities into each day otherwise they don’t get done, relax for real, come home, have amazing fellowship for 2 days, be lethargic for a week, have sinus issues for a week, regroup, and plot out blog posts for the month of June.

And here we are now!

One of my ongoing tasks with this blog is to prove that real food is indeed for everyone. That it IS possible to make these foods and live this kind of life even if you don’t have the ability to be at home all day. Let’s face it, between soaking, sprouting, letting things ferment, and all the other prep work, it can be very intimidating. My key to “doing it all” is simple: I don’t. I decide which things are most important to me in terms of health, ethics, and logistics. What’s going to do the most for my body, can I justify my purchases, and do I have enough space for everything.

Cultured and fermented foods are a big part of my diet. Somehow, however, I have managed not to write much of anything about them until now. (Have you seen my sourdough tutorial?) But they were the first noted diet addition when I started eating traditional foods in 2009. Fortunately there is a brand of fermented vegetables available in the northeast called Real Pickles. I quickly got hooked on their sauerkrauts. I also started buying milk kefir from the supermarket, then the farmer’s market, then last year started making my own. It plays a big role in the Body Ecology diet. I decided that since I already bought my own raw milk every week, buying grains for culturing would quickly become a more frugal option.

Why eat cultured and fermented foods?
In a phrase: they’re good for you. Extremely good. Most every culture on earth has some form of cultured food as part of their diet. It’s not only a method for preservation. Cultured foods, when consumed regularly, build probiotics in your gut. They play a vital role in your overall health. These days, between not consuming fermented foods and high use of antibiotics means that most of us have very poor levels of good bacteria in our guts.

There’s one thing about cultured foods. They take time to culture. I can’t speak for water kefir or kombucha, but milk kefir also takes time to strain if you use grains. Usually the instructions for making milk kefir look like this:
1. Put grains or culture in fresh milk.
2. Cover.
3. Let sit until milk takes on a yogurty/custardy consistency.
4. If using grains, strain out grains. If using a culture, retain some of the kefir for the next batch.
5. Put grains/culture in clean jar with new batch of milk and start process again.

There is just one little thing with my making of kefir. I make it in mason jars. When I got my kit from Cultures for Health, I received dehydrated grains and a plastic mesh strainer. So let’s go back to that straining step, shall we?

That’s not a large strainer. I tend to culture at least a cup of milk each time. It’s not going to all fit in that strainer. Let’s also note that bit of kefir escaping over the lip of the jar. I’m too cheapfrugal to let any of this deliciousness run down the side and somehow not find its way into my belly.

This means that when I strain kefir, I want to be there to make sure all of it gets in the jar. I’ll be honest, it takes me about 15 minutes to take care of the kefir this way. The time turns into a meditation for me, because I am so focused on the work and can’t really do anything else then. It’s comforting. I also like being able to slow down this way.

Incidentally, I recommend checking your kefir daily. During the cooler months it takes two days to culture, no matter how much milk is in the jar. When it’s warmer, I have to strain daily. In fact during very hot and humid days I could possibly strain off twice a day. The time to do so is just not there.

So now, I present…
Soli’s guide to REALLY making milk kefir

(This guide presumes you have active milk kefir grains. If yours are dehydrated, follow the instructions you are given to make them active.)

1. Check that your kefir is ready. It should resemble the consistency of yogurt. Get your mesh strainer (and NEVER USE METAL, the culture will corrode the metal over time), a clean jar, lid, and a spatula.

2. Start pouring some of the kefir through the strainer into the jar below. I like to run the spatula between the kefir and jar to loosen it up and make pouring easier. (I also like to lick some of the kefired cream from the spatula. You’ll only have this option with non-homogenized milk, because the cream rises to the top.)

3. Use the spatula to help move the kefir through the strainer quicker.

4. As the strainer empties, pour in more kefir. You may need to scrape the jar to get the kefir clinging to the sides. Something else I do is scrape the bottom of the strainer, which seems to help make things go quicker.

5. When you get to the end, you’ll see your grains in the strainer. Get as much of the kefir into the jar. I don’t worry about some kefir clinging, and have never had an issue with things going sour or bad.
Transfer the grains to a clean jar, and cover with milk. Cover the jar and start the process again!

6. Place a lid on your strained kefir. I like to date them, in case I don’t remember which jar is older. You can see my geekdom and how long I’ve been planning this post by the date here…

7. Drink up and enjoy! You can keep your kefir plain, do a second culture with spices or fruits, make it into smoothies, or even salad dressing. The latter is a great option if your kefir is tasting a little more sour than you like. I made this salad dressing last week. It’s SO GOOD.

Do you make kefir or other cultured drinks regularly? Do you want to try doing so now?

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Recipe: Zucchini with Tomatoes

Are you finding yourself with an overload of zucchini from your garden? Or an overload from the gardens of your friends? I actually wish I had your problem. I like zucchini, but at the same time I find it’s a vegetable that wants additional flavors. I’ve grown bored with eating it sauteed in butter, and when searching for recipes over the weekend, learned for certain that you should not boil it. This makes sense, since it is a very water-heavy vegetable.

I want to eat zucchini, I really do like zucchini. (If you’re in southern New England and looking to pan off some to a wiling victim, let me know!) Zucchini is also apparently good for people with adrenal diseases: asthma, allergies, and eczema. I’ve suffered from the first two even though I almost never have a problem with them anymore. It’s the almost part which has me wanting to fully cure them. This is going to involve more than some zucchini; for one, I need to find some time to read Thomas Cowan’s The Fourfold Path to Healing. In the meantime, I work on finding more ways to prep this lovely vegetable.

This recipe comes from Nourishing Traditions. I cut the ingredients in half because I was only going to feed two adults with it, and I still had leftovers. It’s good! Zucchini and tomatoes work very well together for flavor.

Zucchini with tomatoes (Nourishing Traditions, p. 410.)
Serves 4

2 medium zucchini
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped*
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
4 T. butter
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Cut ends from zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise and slice thinly.
2. Mix with sea salt and let stand about 1 hour.
3. Rinse in a colander and pat dry.
4. Saute zucchini in butter and olive oil in batches over medium-high heat until golden and set aside.
5. Saute onions in butter and oil until tender.
6. Add tomatoes, raise heat and saute a few minutes until the liquid is almost all absorbed.
7. Add zucchini, garlic, thyme, and pepper. Saute about 1 minute more until flavors are amalgamated.
Do not let the zucchini overcook!

*To peel the tomatoes, put one in boiling water for 5 seconds and remove with a slotted spoon. Score the skin and peel it off. To seed, cut tomato along the equator and squeeze gently over the sink.
This was the first time I used this method, and I know it’s going to take some practice to master.

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This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday. Be sure to check out the carnival for other delicious blog entries!

Real Food for One: Frittata

Have you entered the Real Food for Rookies contest yet? Even if you don’t win, entering will make you eligible for a 15% off coupon for enrolling.

Are there ever times when you are cooking for yourself or you just want to make up something quick and easy? Most recipes aren’t designed for solo cooking, so when I find one which IS, I will use it a lot. Often times I will make up one of these when I come home from my yoga class, when I need something FAST and GOOD.

Frittatas are are type of egg dish akin to omelets and quiches, only without the crust and with all the ingredients mixed into the egg. They are easy to make, taste wonderful, and look good. They’re also frugal, since it’s a good way to use leftovers and even pastured eggs are not that expensive.

My quick frittatas never look this good, but it does inspire me to make them more often and see what kind of masterpieces I can produce.

This is the foundation of the frittata:

2-3 eggs (ideally from chickens who do not eat feed, but roam around the land eating grass and bugs. AKA pastured chickens)
1 T. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt the butter in a small skillet, around 6-7 on the heat. Beat the eggs until they are well-mixed. When the butter has melted and it very warm, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Cook until the edges of the eggs start to firm. If you are adding ingredients, pour them in now and add herbs and spices. Place the pan in the oven. If you have not added a lot of extra items to the eggs, cooking time is about 5 minutes. If you have added other solid ingredients (cheese, vegetables, herbs, etc.), extend cooking time to 6-7 minutes. Check it! The center should look cooked on the top and not runny.
You can adjust the amount of eggs to serve more people too, making it more like a quiche.

For my frittatas, I like to add goat cheese, traditional cream cheese if I have it on hand, white or black pepper depending on my mood, olives, and other herbs. When it comes out of the oven, I like to put a little salsa on it (from Zukay) and serve with a slice of homemade sourdough toast with a liberal amount of butter. Adding the cream cheese is a great way to acclimate yourself to the taste. I still find it a little strong and don’t have as many chances to sample it.

This is a great way to get more eggs into your diet. It’s also very filling, especially when you add cheese to the frittata. It’s a nice variation from the standard scrambled eggs or omelet. It’s also a good way to start experimenting with cooking. You can try different mixes of foods and flavors, and especially doing it for yourself, you don’t have to worry as much about failing with the mix. No one will know but you.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, and Fight Back Fridays. Check out the carnivals to see what else is happening in the real food world this week!

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