IT’S getting close to THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!

In the Fall I’m usually stocking up for winter in the wild and snowy north.  I start with LARGE bulk packs of meat.  I then break them down by size and meat right down to cutting certain recipes into bite sized pieces.  Then I wrap them in freezer paper because I really hate freezer burn!  And I package them into pre-labeled ziploc bags for the freezer.

I didn’t get a secondary picture, but I then wrap the center of each one with a strip of duct tape.  Yep, you read that right, duct tape.  Just a small strip.  Enough so when they’re stacked in the back of the freezer you can identify the meat.  I buy it in colors – red for beef, green for chicken and blue for pork.  It makes it soooooooo much easier when you’re searching in the freezer for the right meat.
Many times this prep includes rotisserie chickens.  My market at home has buy one, get one free on Tuesdays.  Can you figure out when I did my shopping? By the time I get home and put away the groceries, the rotisserie chickens are cool enough to pick off the bone.  The bowl below is the skin, congealed juices and bones I collected as I stripped 2 birds.
I think Martha (MM) and I met over some post about buying in bulk and we found a common ground – saving money!  Talk to your butcher.  Many times you can save even more than the advertised sale prices.  For example, recently my local market was running a sale on chuck roast.  None of the roasts were as large as I really needed for company so I asked the butcher if they had one the size I wanted and instead she offered up a manager’s daily sale (in the bulk section just a few feet away from the ones I was looking at) where I could buy twice as much for half as much saving me $8 over what I intended to spend and gave me enough for 3 meals.  I made ALL the chuck roast as Pot Roast & Veggies for company and then used the leftovers to make Ortega Chile Bake and Black Eyed Pea Chili.
I then use a large stock pot and cover the “debris” with water.  I set it to simmer on a low temp and let it go for an hour or so.  I don’t add any seasonings since I’ve normally bought mesquite broiled or lemon herb, but adjust according to your tastes.

 Then I drain it into my large 8 cup measuring cup and allow it to cool.

I have several of these containers that I bought just for chicken stock in the freezer.  I haven’t bought chicken stock in over 10 years now.  It’s just so easy to make your own.  Even if I start with raw chicken and poach it for a recipe I add seasonings and by the time the chicken is done, there is several cups of broth ready for the freezer.

Today’s flavor was Mesquite broiled so it left us with a spicy red color also.

So what do you do to get ready for winter?  Have I motivated you to stock up? Have a wonderful Weekend! 

Can Number Conversions

Many old recipes call for an ingredient by the can size. I found these conversions in some vintage cook books. Many of my grandma’s old recipes called for a specific dollar amount of an ingredient. I wish I had a conversion table for 5 cents of hamburger or 10 cents of pork chops. I had to go to the library and try and convert from old grocery ads based on the approximate year.
  • No. 1 can = 1 1/3 cups
  • No. 1 tall = 2 cups
  • No. 2 can = 2 2/3 cups
  • No. 2 1/2 can = 3 3/5 cups
  • No. 3 can = 4 cups
  • No. 10 can = 12-13 cups
  • No. 303 = 2 cups

Good Cast Iron really makes the best non-stick pan… and SMOTHERED CHOPPED STEAKS taste best made in that pan.

After a really good seasoning, these pans are awesome and produce super tasty recipes!  

How to Season Cast Iron Cookware


Cast iron lasts nearly forever if you take care of it. Seasoning cast iron cookware is necessary to ensure a non-stick surface and to prevent the pot or pan from rusting. If seasoned correctly your cookware can last a lifetime and more.
  1. For crusty cast ironware that you inherited or picked up at a garage sale: Your cookware may have some combination of rust and thick crackly black crud. It can be restored fairly easily to good as new condition! First place the cookware in a self-cleaning oven and run one cycle OR place in a campfire or directly on a hot charcoal fire for 1/2 hour, until dull red. The crust will be flaking, falling and turning to white ash. Then, after allowing to cool a bit to avoid cracking your cast iron,use the following steps. If you have more rust than crust, try using steel wool to sand it off.
  2. Wash your cast iron cookware with warm water and soap using a scouring pad. If you have purchased your cast iron cookware as new then it will be coated in oil or a similar coating to prevent rust. This will need to be removed before seasoning so this step is essential.
  3. Dry the cookware thoroughly, it helps to put the pan in the oven for a few minutes to make sure it’s really dry. Oil needs to be able to soak into the metal for a good seasoning and oil and water don’t mix.
  4. Coat the pot or pan inside and out with lard, Crisco, bacon fat, or corn oil. Ensure that the lid is also coated.
  5. Place both the lid and the pot or pan upside down in your oven at 300F for at least an hour to bake on a “seasoning” that protects the pan from rust and provides a stick-resistant surface.
  6. For best results repeat steps three, four and five.
  7. Ongoing care: Every time you wash your pan, you must season it. Place it on the stove and pour in about 3/4 tsp. corn oil or other cooking fat. Wad up a paper towel and spread the oil across the cooking surface, any bare iron surfaces, and the bottom of the pan. Turn on the burner and heat until smoke starts to appear. Cover pan and turn heat off.

Alternate Method
  1. First, if you find your cast iron needs to be stripped down and re-seasoned do not fear. All you have to do is place the utensil in your Self Cleaning Oven on the shortest cleaning cycle (usually 3 hrs. on most models), and it will come out looking like the day it came out of the mold. Allow it to cool overnight. Wash the residue off with WATER ONLY in the sink using a stiff abrasive pad. Make certain NO DISH SOAP comes in contact with the utensil during this procedure. If it does you will have to start over!!! Dry the cast iron utensil off with a paper towel, and IMMEDIATELY place BACK in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or so.
  2. Next, take the utensil out of the oven after the 10 minute drying time is complete, and lightly brush the utensil with a paper towel coated with Crisco or other solid cooking oil. Liquid vegetable oil will do in a pinch, but it’s better to save the liquids until AFTER your initial seasoning. It is important in this step only to lightly coat the cast iron with a light, thin coat of oil until it only glistens. Do not allow any puddles or pools of liquid as this will cause problems at a later time.
  3. Then, place the Cast Iron in the oven set to 500 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit with the COOKING SIDE FACING THE BOTTOM OF THE OVEN. This allows for any excess oil to drain off to the sides, and prevents pooling during the seasoning process. The higher heating temps allows for the oil to truly ‘cook’ as it should as opposed to just ‘gumming up’ at lower temps. Cook undisturbed for 1 hour.
Please note: During the previous step it will be best to turn off any smoke alarms in the immediate area as it may smoke quite a lot. Ceiling fans also aid in ventilation.
Finally, after your cast iron is finished seasoning for 1 hour or so, take it out of the oven and IMMEDIATELY wipe it down with another extra – light coat of Crisco. Allow it to completely cool.

TIPS

  • If food burns, just heat a little water in the pan, and scrape with a flat metal spatula. It may mean that re-seasoning is necessary.
  • If you’re washing the cast iron too aggressively (for instance with a scouring pad), you will regularly scrub off the seasoning. Wash more gently or repeat oven-seasoning method regularly.
  • If your pan develops a thick crust, you’re not washing it aggressively enough. Follow “crusty pan” instructions.
  • If storing your Cast Iron Dutch oven for any length of time, it is always best to place one or two paper towels in between the lid and the oven to allow for air flow.
  • Also, after cleaning after each use it is always best to place it back in the oven on 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so to ensure all water has vaporized and left the surface of the cast iron.
WARNINGS
  •  Do not cook tomatoes and other acidic foods in your cast iron cookware unless it has been well seasoned.
  •  Washing pans with detergent after they have been seasoned will break down the seasoning. Either wash without detergent (if you’re cooking similar foods with the pan, this is fine) or repeatedly oven-season your cookware.

SMOTHERED CHOPPED STEAKS

2 pounds ground sirloin
1 sleeve Keebler club crackers, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Jumbo eggs
1 tablespoon liquid Smoke – MYSTERY ingredient
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped,
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin
large shred cheddar cheese
  • Combine all the hamburger steak ingredients until well mixed. Form six steaks.
  • In a well seasoned cast iron grill, sear steaks on both sides.  About 4-5 minutes each side should leave you with medium steaks.
  • In a large skillet melt the butter. Saute the onions and garlic until fragrant and caramelized.
  • Top steaks with onions, tomatoes and cheese.

CARROT TUTORIAL

Carrots are an important vegetable, and although they were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, they were not introduced to Europe until the Middle Ages.
The orange-colored taproot of the carrot contains a high concentration of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a substance that is converted to vitamin A in the human body. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked carrots contains four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A in the form of protective beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant effective in fighting against some forms of cancer, especially lung cancer. Current research suggests that it may also protect against stroke, and heart disease. Research also shows that the beta-carotene in vegetables supplies this protection, not vitamin supplements.
Carrots are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium and copper.
Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked, but to obtain maximum benefit it is best to eat them raw.

Health Benefits
Carotenes, the famous ingredient in carrots, is an anti-oxidant that has powerful healing virtues for many diseases. Drinking a glass of carrot juice daily will do much more for you than many bottles of supplement tablets. Here are some disorders that can be helped by drinking carrot juice regularly:
Acidosis: The vital organic alkaline elements in carrots help balance the blood acidity and blood sugar.
Acne: Its powerful cleansing properties are effective in detoxifying the liver, thus overall effective for acne which are caused by toxicity of the blood.
Anemia: Carrot’s molecules are closest to human’s hemoglobin molecules, making it very beneficial in blood-building.
Atherosclerosis: The highly cleansing power of this miracle juice scrubs away even the old build-up of arterial deposits, reducing the risks of heart diseases and stroke.
Asthma: The anti-oxidants effectively protects the respiratory system from infections and free-radical attacks.
Cancer: Studies show that adding one carrot per day in our diet significantly reduces cancer risks.
Cholesterol: Pectin in carrots lowers the serum cholesterol levels.
Congestion: Carrot juice is very effective in dispelling mucus from the ear, nose and throat area, easing nasal congestion, sinusitis, phlegm and mucus in the throat and other similar disorders.
Constipation: Take five parts of carrot juice with one part of spinach juice regularly to regulate chronic constipation problems.
Emphysema: If you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke, taking carrot juice regularly may well save your life.
Eyes: Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are some of the finest nourishment that help keep the optic system in tip-top condition, with special protection against astigmatism, macular degeneration and cataracts.
Fertility: One of the reasons for infertility is lack of nutrients and enzymes in your dietary. Carrot juice taken regularly, is able to nourish your body back to fertility.
Inflammations: Its anti-inflammatory effect greatly helps reduce arthritis, rheumatism, gout and other inflammations.
Immune systems: It does wonders for boosting the immune system by increasing the production and performance of white blood cells; building resistant to various kinds of infections.
Nursing mothers: Carrot juice helps enhance the quality and quantity of a mother’s breast milk.
Pregnancy: Drinking carrot juice regularly during pregnancy, especially during the last few months, will reduce the chances of jaundice in baby. No, you won’t get an orange baby!
Skin problems: The high quality vitamin C and other rich nutrients in carrot juice efficiently nourish the skin, preventing dry skin, psoriasis and other skin blemishes.
Thread worms: One small cup of carrot juice in the morning taken daily for a week can help clear up thread worms in children.
Ulcers: The abundance of nutrient present in carrots help nourish cells that have been starved of nutrients which result in ulcers.
Water retention: Carrot juice is diuretic and helps to eliminate excess fluids from the body, reducing water retention, especially for women during their monthly menstruation cycle and in pregnant women.
Carrots that are no longer than 6 inches tend to be sweeter. So choose the shorter variety if you like it sweet or the longer one if you prefer it less sweet.
The most nutrients are concentrated just under the skin so try not to peel off the skin. To clean it, simply use a hard brush to brush the skin.
Cut them lengthwise to preserve the nutrients as when cut in small rounds, they easily lose their nutrients in water when you wash or cook them.
You may have heard of people “turning orange” from drinking carrot juice. It is not the carrot juice that is showing through the skin but is an overflow of materials which have been clogging the liver and are being eliminated with the consumption of carrot juice. This shows how effective carrot juice is at cleansing, a good sign that the system is getting a good clean-up. When this “turning orange” happens, continue to take your carrot juice and the color will eventually go off as it cleanses.

BROWN SUGAR CRUMB CAKE

BROWN SUGAR CRUMB CAKE
CAKE
1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 JUMBO egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Prepare baking dish with cooking spray and a light flour dusting.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla until well blended.
  • Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients JUST until combined. DO NOT OVER MIX!
  • Spread batter into pan.

TOPPING
1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar**
2 teaspoons cinnamon, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • In a medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients.
  • Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and stir gently until crumbs form.
  • Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter.
  • Use a knife to swirl some of the crumb mixture down into the cake.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
**With the move coming up I’m not replacing food and I was OUT of brown sugar!  Then I remembered I had cut out an article on making your own brown sugar.  I have to say that in the future I may always make my own brown sugar – the flavor was so deep and rich.
HOMEMADE BROWN SUGAR
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Grandma’s molasses for light brown sugar 
2 tablespoons Grandma’s molasses for dark brown sugar

Combine together in a large mixing bowl starting with a low speed and gradually increasing until well blended.  This can take as long as 10 minutes.

KNOW YOUR ARTICHOKE

One of the many things I miss most about the west coast is all of the available produce and the ability to grill ANY time of year without getting hypothermia while doing it!! I just can’t wait until we’re back home. In the meantime I’m taking advantage of ANY and all produce I can get.

A lot of people find artichokes intimidating. When artichokes are prepared well they are to die for. I even had a cream of Artichoke soup at a little cafe in Carmel a year or so ago that was excellent. I’m still trying to duplicate it.

There are more than 50 varieties of Artichokes. The most common type in the United States is the Green Globe. The mini versions you may see, known as baby artichokes are ideal for sautes and stir frying AND are as flavorful, if not more so than the larger ones. The size difference is due to where they grow on the stalk. The higher on the stalk, the bigger the artichoke.

Choosing an Artichoke:

  • You want an artichoke with a large heart and tender leaves.
  • Artichokes tend to have larger hearts if they are rounder.
  • They also have more tender leaves the smaller they get.
  • Look for deep-green, tight-leafed globes that feels heavy for its size.
  • When you squeeze the artichoke’s leaves together and it squeaks, it’s a fresh one.
  • Discoloration, bruising or split leaves are signs of age. Fresh artichokes may have purple-tinged leaves in late summer and fall.
  • It’s best to choose the smallest and roundest artichoke you can find.
  • I personally find large (grapefruit sized) Artichokes to be less tender and more fibrous. The small (egg sized) and medium (orange sized) ones are much more tender and easier to work with.

There are a few key secrets to preparing a great Artichoke:

  • Wash your Artichoke in cold running water and leave upside down to drain a few minutes.
  • Artichokes cannot be rushed – allow enough time for proper preparation. If you are going to be short on time, plan to prepare it the day before and then reheat.
  • You MUST trim the bottom stem and top leaves. Trimming the bottom rough part of the stem allows flavor to flow into the artichoke as it cooks. Trimming the top leaves (about 3/4 – 1 inch) does the same thing as well as removing the sticker part that WILL cut you if you’re not careful. Depending on how they look trim the very bottom leaves off the stem. Don’t be afraid to trim the tops as necessary. Remember that only about the bottom third of each leaf is actually edible.
  • Immediately rub any cut surface with lemon juice to prevent browning. You can also use flavored vinegars, but lemon juice is the most neutral.
  • Don’t forget even the stems are edible.
  • Never use a cast iron or aluminum pot to cook them in! The will discolor the pot AND the artichoke too! Use enamel or stainless steel.

Preparing your Artichoke:
There are as many ways to prepare an Artichoke as you have imagination. I’ll just list a few of the basic ones. Remember too that your seasoning and liquid all add flavor, so be creative. For example trade the water for chicken broth or add a touch of olive oil and garlic or flavored vinegars or juices…

You can also buy one of those baskets to stand your Artichoke in, but I prefer to use thick sliced onion rings in order to add a bit of flavor and have less mess when it’s all done. Despite most instructions you can cook an artichoke upside down too. I like this if I’m using many flavors. The flavors are being infused into the leaves and then the leaves are constantly draining back down into the base. This works much the same way as the drip knobs on the lid of a roasting pan. The onion rings work also either way.

  • Boiling: This is done with plain old water with a bit of salt. It has been determined that this is the least healthy way to prepare most vegetables since you are boiling the nutrients out of the vegetable itself. You add the Artichokes to rapidly boiling water. They take between 25-40 minutes until tender based on size.
  • Braising: This is the best method for using your flavored oils, vinegars and seasonings. Prepare your flavor combo and then add 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer before adding the onion rings and Artichokes. Cover tightly and simmer 25-40 minutes until tender.
  • DeepFrying: This is good for the hearts only.Dip them in the batter of your choice and fry until golden.
  • Grilling: Yep, you read right. Artichokes can be grilled and are EXCELLENT done that way. You do need to pre-cook them by steaming or microwaving until tender, but then it’s up to you. I then cut them right down the middle so I’ll have a flat side for the grill. I then like to soak them overnight in a lemon juice and garlic butter mixture before grilling. A Tupperware marinader that can be turned frequently without leaking works well. They don’t take long on the grill so just before you meat is finished grilling add the artichokes, turning frequently to prevent burning until the desired charring has been reached. Hubby has been known to add BBQ sauce and they are pretty tastey.
  • Microwaving: This is the fastest way, but not necessarily the tastiest. Stand Artichoke in a microwave safe bowl and add 1-2 inches of water. Cover bowl with a plate. Cooking on high a medium Artichoke will take 7-10 minutes while a large Artichoke will take 12-15 minutes. If cooking more than one at a time, you will need to add 2-3 minutes per additional each Artichoke. Let stand for 5 minutes in the covered bowl before serving.
  • Roasting: Roasting Artichokes will bring out their nutty flavor. This method also requires pre-cooking but reduce the precooking method time by 10 minutes. I like to dip each leaf into a combination of olive oil and garlic rice wine vinegar. I then let them drain a bit on a paper towel. Arrange the leaves on a stainless steel cookie sheet coated with a thin layer of PURE. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until tender and and edges are just crisp. Start with the concave side of leaf down and turn mid way.
  • Sauteing: This method is also just for the hearts. Season with your favorite seasoning and then saute’ 3-5 minutes in your favorite oil.
  • Steaming: This is the most ideal method for maintaining the nutrients. Stand the Artichoke in the basket or onion rings. Add enough liquid that the pan won’t boil dry (you might have to add water so keep an eye on it), but make sure the Artichoke is above the water level. Cover and steam over the rapidly boiling water for 30-50 minutes until Artichokes are tender. Time depends on size.
  • Stuffed and Baked: This is one of my very most favorite ways to prepare an Artichoke. Pre-cook but reduce the precooking method time by 10 minutes. Halve the Artichokes. Mix together olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper with a clove of garlic. Pulse into a thick paste. Using a spoon coat the inside of each leaf. Place on a stainless steel baking sheet sprayed with a thin layer of PURE. Bake at 400 degrees until tender. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and butter immediately out of the oven. Serve with roast chicken or pork chops. YUMMY!

BROWN SUGAR CRUMB CAKE & HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BROWN SUGAR

BROWN SUGAR CRUMB CAKE
CAKE
1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 JUMBO egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Prepare baking dish with cooking spray and a light flour dusting.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla until well blended.
  • Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients JUST until combined. DO NOT OVER MIX!
  • Spread batter into pan.

TOPPING
1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar**
2 teaspoons cinnamon, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • In a medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients.
  • Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and stir gently until crumbs form.
  • Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter.
  • Use a knife to swirl some of the crumb mixture down into the cake.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
**With the move coming up I’m not replacing food and I was OUT of brown sugar!  Then I remembered I had cut out an article on making your own brown sugar.  I have to say that in the future I may always make my own brown sugar – the flavor was so deep and rich.
HOMEMADE BROWN SUGAR
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Grandma’s molasses for light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Grandma’s molasses for dark brown sugar
  • Combine together in a large mixing bowl starting with a low speed and gradually increasing until well blended.  This can take as long as 10 minutes.

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COOKING with KIDS

15% percent of children today are overweight and one of the many major reasons is their easy access to unhealthy food and the preconceived ideas that cooking is hard. Obesity, diabetes and liver disease are some of the consequences of kids not being comfortable in the kitchen.

The new Web seriesJr. Chefs of America” paves the way for kids to not just help in the kitchen but also to lead the cooking process. The program features confident teenagers giving live cooking demonstrations of their own recipes, showing that cooking is fun and easy — and one avenue to help stop the junk food epidemic.

Jr. Chefs” is both entertaining and educational for children — with delicious looking food and a catchy theme song.

My most recent personal experience of cooking with kids was with my girl scouts a few years ago on some simple tasks and the time with Amber a couple of summers ago. What readily comes to my mind though is my grandma teaching me way back when.

Grams would let me wear her apron which she so cleverly converted into a size that fit me pretty well. Then she would bring a kitchen chair over to the counter and let me climb up on it. She would let me help her do simple measurements or read her the recipe (that she already knew by heart, but wanted me to learn to understand) or stir pancake batter. When she taught me to measure it was EXACT, (though she didn’t herself and I grew into a by sight and feel cook myself). You used a table knife to level off the top of the measuring cup. She also taught me how to make the best cakes with double sifting. These days they say you don’t need to sift, but I feel I get a better texture and moister cake by still sifting.

No matter how old they are, kids want to help in the kitchen and we should be glad and always welcome their eagerness. Much of our life revolves around food and cooking in one way or another and boys as well as girls should learn at the very least, the basics. As Barbara pointed out, even finicky eaters become better eaters when they are a part of the process of making their own food.
 
You can include children of all ages in any food preparation. Just be aware of their capabilities and base their tasks on that. For example, every kid wants to wield the meat cleaver, but probably shouldn’t.
Start their tasks with simple ones like learning to measure correctly, snapping beans, washing vegetables, measuring rice, when to add the different ingredients and even simple things like cracking an egg which can certainly be messy, but every kid wants to do it! Grandma taught me to crack eggs into a separate bowl instead of directly into a recipe which turned out to be a very valuable lesson. You can always pick out egg shells if the only thing in the bowl is a single egg, but you don’t want to be doing it from a bowl with all your cookie makings in it. There was a point when I was using farm fresh eggs and let’s just say I was certainly glad I still used that separate bowl for eggs or my whole cookie batch would have needed to be tossed out. Kids can roll dough or meat into cookies or meatballs. They can use a fork to criss cross the tops of peanut butter cookies. Teaching them to clean up as they go will also be a benefit in so much of their life! If all goes well, this will also bleed over into cleaning up their toys and/or rooms.

As for that meat cleaver task at hand, you can take turns so that their tasks don’t involve the sharp implements, but yours do. Most importantly make it fun for you and them. The more fun they have, the more likely they are to want to learn more and more.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL

A few years ago we purchased an investment house that came with a multitude of problems.  One of the least was the 35 gallons of ancient paint in the basement.  Some was even lead based.  This was a small town and no local hazardous waste facility.  It took a lot of research, but I finally found through the local trash company’s main office a knowledgeable woman who gave me the instructions on how to dispose of all the old paint.

It took 6 months, a 5 foot tall stack of cardboard and newspaper and 300 pounds of kitty litter to accomplish.  We only have 4 gallons to do here so this will be a quick process.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 1STEP 1 – Arrange the cardboard boxes on top of plastic drop cloths .

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 2

STEP 2 – Open the cans and arrange the lids paint side up along the bottom of the boxes on top of several layers of old newspaper.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 3

STEP 3 – Sprinkle a substantial layer of clay based kitty litter over the can lids.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 4

STEP 4 – Pour the first can of paint over the kitty litter and spread even with a paint stir stick.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 5

STEP 5 – Sprinkle another layer of kitty litter on top and allow to dry.  This process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the paint consistency and amount.  Ideally you want to make very thin layers and not make the boxes too heavy to lift.

STEP 6 – Sprinkle kitty litter all over the insides of the empty cans.

PROPER PAINT DISPOSAL 6

STEP 7 – When the paint is dry, toss the whole mess in your trash can.  Simple as that.

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IT’S ABOUT THE PROTEIN – FLOUR TUTORIAL

Wheat flours contain a protein called gluten which, in the presence of water, forms an elastic network throughout the dough. This is the stuff that gives bread doughs their rubbery consistency. The whole point of kneading bread dough, in fact, is to organize the strands of gluten running through the dough into a strong, resilient, interconnected web. It is this web of protein that will entrap the bubbles of CO2 given off by the yeast as it ferments, enabling the dough to rise. Without the gluten, the CO2 would just bubble up to the surface and be lost.

But flour vary greatly in both the quantity and quality of the gluten they contain because different strains of wheat from different regions and different growing seasons have different gluten profiles. There are times when gluten is not your friend; in a cake batter, excess gluten will create a chewy, coarse-grained cake, and in pastry doughs it will produce a tough pie crust. But for bread you want lots of strong gluten to produce a well-risen and well-shaped loaf. This is why there are special flours for special purposes: cake flour, pastry flour, bread flour, etc.

All-purpose flour is typically a blend of “hard” and “soft” wheats which will perform pretty well in most roles. It usually contains 10-12% gluten. It can be used for bread, but will tend to produce a denser, flatter loaf. Some people will add 1T extra per cup of flour when using all-purpose for bread.

Bread flours have from 12-14 percent protein. They will feel decidedly more elastic while kneading, and will give full, rounded loaves. These flours are made from hard winter wheats from northern states.

Besides the quantity, the quality of the gluten will vary. Some glutens are better at forming the elastic network than others. You can judge this for yourself by making a “gluten ball” from different flours: make a stiff dough using just water and 1/4 c of flour. Knead it until it becomes quite elastic, then continue kneading it between your fingers under a stream of water. This will wash out the starch from the flour and after a few minutes of this you will have a ball of pure gluten. By playing with this ball, stretching and folding it, you will see that some are far more resistant to tearing than others. A good bread flour will enable you to pull the gluten into a thin membrane.

SOURCE

Everything about Brussels Sprouts that you want to know, but were afraid to ask!

I thought maybe it was time for a little education for those other naysayers out there. Brussels sprouts can be GOOD!

From www.azcentral.com. Like all members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are moderately low-carb and highly nutritious. A half-cup contains 7 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 5 grams. It also has 2 grams of protein, a decent amount for a green vegetable. They’re a good source of potassium (247 mgs) and vitamin A (561 International Units). They have respectable amounts of vitamin C and folate, too.

 
Season: Peak season for Brussels sprouts is October through March.
Selection: Look for firm sprouts with tight, green leaves. Avoid puffy or soft sprouts with loose leaves. Wilted or yellow leaves indicate overripe sprouts.
Storing: Place in sealed container; store in refrigerator. Do not wash until ready to use. Use as soon as possible.
Preparation: Wash, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in each to speed cooking. Or slice into roughly 1/4-inch slices, if sautéing.
Seasonings: basil, caraway seed, dill, mustard seed, sage, thyme, curry powder, nutmeg, garlic, onions, garlic salt, pepper, cumin, marjoram, or savory.

For more information about Brussels:

 
The following information is from www.wholehealthmd.com.

Preparation

Before cooking, drop the sprouts into a basin of lukewarm water and leave them there for 10 minutes as this step will eliminate any insects hidden in the leaves. Then rinse the sprouts in fresh water. Trim the stem ends, but not quite flush with the bottoms of the sprouts, or the outer leaves will fall off during cooking.
Many cooks cut an X in the base of each sprout. This nick helps the heat penetrate the solid core so that it cooks as quickly as the leaves.
Whichever cooking method you choose, test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the stem end, which should be barely tender.
Boiling: Use 1 cup of water for every cup of Brussels sprouts. Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large pot, add the sprouts, and quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the sprouts uncovered just until tender. Drain them, return them to the warm pot, and shake for a few seconds until dry. A little parsley added to the cooking water can reduce the cabbage flavor. Cooking time: seven to 10 minutes.
Braising: If you cook sprouts slowly in stock, you can reduce the liquid after the vegetable is done and use it as a sauce, thereby conserving nutrients. You can braise the sprouts on the stovetop in a heavy covered skillet, or in the oven. For oven-braising, place the sprouts in a casserole or baking dish and pour in enough stock to cover them. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven. Cooking time: 25 to 35 minutes.
Microwaving: Place 1/2 to 1 pound of Brussels sprouts in a microwavable dish; add 1/4 cup of liquid, cover, and cook. Cooking times: for medium sprouts, four minutes; for large ones, eight minutes.
Steaming: Sprouts can be steamed in a vegetable steamer or steam-boiled in a small amount of water. These methods have the advantage of keeping the sprouts intact, minimizing the chemical interactions that cause the sprouts to develop a strong flavor, and maximizing the retention of nutrients. To steam-boil, add the sprouts to 1″ of already-boiling water and cover. Steam or steam-boil for one to two minutes, uncover the pot for 10 to 15 seconds to disperse the strong-tasting sulfurous compounds that form when sprouts (and other members of the cabbage family) are cooking. Cover and finish cooking. Cooking times: steam-boiling, five to 10 minutes; in a steamer, six to 12 minutes, depending on size.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes – Garlic Lemon Brussels Sprouts and a few more I’ve yet to try.

 
Microwaved Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. Quick and easy basic recipe.

1 pound Brussels sprouts (4 cups)

1/4 cup water

Wash sprouts, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in the core of each, if desired, to speed cooking time. Place in a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Cover and microwave at High until fork tender, from 4 to 8 minutes, stirring once. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes.

Season as desired.

 
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

Two servings.

2 cups small Brussels sprouts (25 to 30 sprouts)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash sprouts, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in the core of each, if desired, to speed cooking time. Place in a medium-size roasting pan.

Sprinkle with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

 
Braised Brussels Sprouts with Vinegar and Dill

Twelve servings. From www.justvegetablerecipes.com.

3 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Trim sprouts; cut in half if desired. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook Brussels sprouts for 8 minutes if whole, 6 minutes if halved, or until barely tender. Drain, refresh under cold running water and drain again.

In well-greased 13×9 inch casserole, combine sprouts, dill, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Bake, covered, in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer. Makes 12 servings. 

 
Brussels Sprouts for People Who Think They Hate Brussels Sprouts

From Healthy Cooking with Dr. Andrew Weil.

1 pound Brussels sprouts

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

5 cloves garlic, finely minced (or equivalent minced garlic in jar)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste (preferably freshly grated)

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove and discard any discolored outer leaves. If sprouts are large (more than 1 inch in diameter), cut them in quarters lengthwise through the stem end. If smaller, cut them in half.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil, add salt and the sprouts. Boil the sprouts uncovered until they are just crunchy-tender, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook them. Drain the sprouts well.

Wipe and dry the pot and heat the olive oil in it. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the sprouts and nutmeg and sauté for another minute. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and toss the sprouts until the cheese melts. 

 
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

12 fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced 1/4-inch thick (do NOT use frozen)

1/2 of a large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup or or 3 to 4 ounces)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth (or chicken-flavored vegetarian broth)

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet; add Brussels sprouts and onion, and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup broth and simmer about 5 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts are done, adding more broth if necessary.

 
Nutty Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. Source: Light & Easy Diabetes Cuisine by Betty Marks

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1 teaspoon virgin olive oil

8 toasted hazelnuts or toasted almonds

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Wash Brussels sprouts and trim off bottoms of stems and loose leaves. Steam sprouts over boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove sprouts to a serving bowl and stir in olive oil, nuts, and cardamon.

 
Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Six servings. Source: McCall’s Magazine, November 1992

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup trans fat free margarine (Brummel & Brown is good)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 teaspoons water

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

In large bowl of cold, salted water, soak Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes. Drain; trim ends and discard any bitter outside leaves. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise.

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter. Add sprouts, salt and pepper; over high heat; sauté 5 minutes or until sprouts start to brown. Add the water; cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes, until sprouts are crisp-tender. Stir in lime juice.

 
Brussels Sprouts Casserole

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1 medium onion, sliced

Olive oil

5 medium tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup water

1 cup shredded soy cheese

Sauté onion in olive oil until transparent. Arrange Brussels sprouts in casserole with onions and tomatoes. Cover with water. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for about 45 minutes. When sprouts are tender, remove from oven, sprinkle with the cheese, and brown under the broiler. 

 
Browned Brussels Sprouts

Adjust amounts as desired. Very tasty.

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup olive oil (or more)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Prepare sprouts: wash, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (iron skillet is good). Add Brussels sprouts and “fry” them until they are dark brown all over. At the last moment, just before serving, stir in 2 crushed garlic cloves (or use 1 teaspoon crushed garlic from jar, or more to taste).

Lift them out with a slotted spoon, drain well (can put on paper towels to absorb excess oil). Salt lightly.

 

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and Fresh Ginger

Four servings. From chef Maria Scanlon.

1 tablespoon oil (canola, light olive, or other on the approved SBD list)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, grated

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

12 medium-sized fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons reduced salt soy sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan, add the onion and cook over a high heat until the onion begins to soften and turn golden.

Add the carrot, garlic, and ginger and cook a further few minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and continue stir-frying until they soften a little. Add the soy sauce and the water and mix well.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and allow the vegetables to steam until they are cooked to your liking.

Sunny Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. This recipe uses frozen Brussels sprouts. From http://www.cooks.com.
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen Brussels sprouts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons trans-fat-free margarine (I use Brummel & Brown)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
Cook celery, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, and salt in boiling water in saucepan until crisp-tender. Drain. Combine mustard and butter. Spoon mixture over vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.