Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bean Update

Sorry for the lack of posting. Let's just say wicked Shakspearean art project. Ok back to the beans. My family loves them!!!! The coolest thing is soaking them overnight in the crockpot, rinse in the morning and cook all day. Its the easiest (and one of the healthiest) methods of one pot cooking ever. Our favorite accompaniments are cornbread, salad, biscuits, sopapillas, jello, greens, homemade bread. My secret: liquid smoke. This is powerfully good stuff. It makes the beans have a smoky flavor without adding any meat. Brown sugar is great with pintos and white beans for sweetness. The two combined is a tummy filling heaven.

The basic idea is to throw in the pot whatever you have. I found these recipes and adapted them to what I had in my kitchen:

Basic bean cookery notes:

1. Always soak your beans! Some people say you do not have to do this but I disagree. It really makes cooking them easy, it helps you to plan a bean meal and it doesn't require anything but time.

2. Cook them a long time. The crock pot or pressure cooker are your best bets. I'm a little afraid of my pressure cooker so I am still tentatively using it. The crock pot is your bean's best friend. Slow, even cooking, no work in the kitchen and delicious smells, not to mention it doesn't heat up the house in the summer.

3. Cook beans in just broth all day and then jazz them up to go with dinner. They can be frozen in 2 cup amounts to be used whenever they are needed. I did this with a batch of black beans because I wanted to be able to feed them to the baby and didn't want any seasoning. I took out a couple of cups of beans, added them to a skillet with a can of diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, and 1/2 pound of ground beef...there were 0 leftovers.

4. Rice and beans actually go really well together but there are other ways. Look for soups, wraps, casseroles, even breads. We also love chalupas Kirk family style. Fry tortillas in oil so they puff up, spread with mashed pintos (or canned refried if pressed for time)and cheese and bake for about 10 minutes. Then we cover with all the fixin's: lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, bell peppers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Beans, Glorious Beans

Now I'll be the first to admit that I don't know beans about cooking beans. I have a lot as you can see in the picture but I've had the same stash of beans for a very long time. They are sort of mystical to cook since we can get in them in a can and they are ready to use. For some this isn't rocket science. For me, it is. I haven't often tried to use dried beans. I worry about the time it takes, I worry about seasoning them well. Usually, I abandon the process and get out my trusty can opener. The problem with this is cost. Dried beans are a tiny fraction of the cost of canned. I can purchase 1 lb of beans for around $0.70 dried. That same pound of beans yields about 6 cups of cooked beans. I can buy a can of beans (around 16 oz) for around $1.00 ($0.50 if its a good sale). That is only 2 cups of cooked beans! We are talking a major savings by planning ahead a little bit. Dave Ramsey often tells his callers to live on beans and rice, rice and beans. This is why.
So, in an effort to learn how to function in the kitchen with this little mystery I am undertaking beans. I cleaned out my bean cabinet in order to attempt to get aquainted with them. I have alot more than I thought. Given how often we eat these this amount would probably last another five or six years. I'm hoping to correct that though. First, I realized that we don't ever eat pinto beans but that is what I have stored the most of. I definitly need to increase our black bean stash. They are our favorite. I also have pink beans, what the heck are these and how do you cook them? If you know please tell me.

I have these two bottles of white beans. I bought the bags at the grocery store and put them in these bottles. They have the PETE symbol which means they are safe for food storage. They also work well for water (I'll get to that later). I like white beans too, once again cannot for the life of me make them taste the way I like them.

This is a picure of my bean cabinet. I like to keep like items together. This allows them to play with their friends and for me to find them easily when I go hunting for them. This is one of those cabinets that is wasted space in my kitchen (I actually have a lot of that). It isn't wasted in my house. Every cranny is filled with #10 cans. This keeps the food in my kitchen where I will use it and it also fills space that would otherwise be infuriating.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First Step for a 72 hour kit

There is another first step besides this one and that is having a family meeting about what you will do in an emergency. I felt like that was a subject for another blog. I want to focus here on items and organization just to keep the blog from straying to far from the point. There is some good information about having a family meeting at Red Cross and FEMA. Those two websites are absolutely chock full of excellent information including free course material to help people prepare for emergencies. Tornado season is in full swing here in North Texas and this is a good time to think about what we will do.
So, my big contribution today is the tub in the picture. Our kit has evolved over the years as we've added members to our family. At first, we had two backpacks. One for me and one for Dave. Then we added a bucket for the food and tools. Then we added another bucket, one for tools, one for food. Now we have an enormous tub.
Now I didn't get rid of the backpacks . I have four backpacks in my garage, mostly stocked and ready to go.
I meant to clean them out a couple of weeks ago and haven't gotten there yet. They contain items I will cover in the next post. The best first step in getting your kit ready is to pick a container and a place to put it. I don't have a hall closet so the garage must suffice. Sometimes when we go above 100 degrees I bring some stuff in but not often. The tub is an easy way to transport the things we need. Right now all that's in there is breakfast food. Each person has a labeled freezer bag with instant oatmeal and hot chocolate. That's one of the things I will rotate in the next month. The grocery sack contains a bag of dog food (that I got for free using coupons at Kroger). Can't have our little (big) Nora going hungry. So, I will tape a menu to the lid (one of these days) and as I buy more items for nearly free with coupons they will go in there. I'm thinking of adding chili next because its a good deal at Kroger this week.


This deal didn't quite work out as well as I'd hoped. Oh well. I still didn't spend an exorbitant amount of money. One of the benefits to shopping the CVS way is that I plan my trips very carefully. Most of the time it is for things I need and sometimes stocking up. So there isn't a down side. However, some days are better than others.

This picture of for transaction #1 and #2. I had planned to buy all of my products at once but I had a $2 off a CVS brand purchase. So I decided to use that for the wipes and the two bottles of pain reliever. The total was just over $10-$2 off and $8 ECB's. Total for that transaction was like 5 cents. Then I had the guy ring up the diapers and the shampoo. I had a $2 off CVS coupon for the diapers, plus $1 off the shampoo and $0.75 off Huggies mfr. My total for that transaction after ECB's was $1.48. The bummer was I only ended up with $3.49 in ECB's left after that transaction. That's why it didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I wanted to get all the Huggies in one transaction with my coupons so my oop was less. Oh well. Its not like we don't need diapers around here.

For this transaction I only had the $3.49 in ECB's and I had $4.00 in mfr. So my total oop for these items was $25.60. I did get $15 ECB's though. So I still feel like I did ok. I would have liked to have ended up with as many ECB's as I paid out in cash but I was going to buy the diapers, wipes and soap anyway. Now I have ECB's for the next sweet deal. I probably will not be going back next week. The deals are not things I really need. So, I'll take a break until the following week from CVS.

Friday, April 4, 2008


The picture came out bad but this was a good run. Here's the breakdown:
6 4lb bags of sugar
4 frozen breakfast boxes
4 pilsbury pizza crusts
1 mini crescent roll tube
5 yellow mustard
5 assorted mustard

Total after coupons and sale: 13.32

I worked the deal in which you bought ten participating items and got $5.00 off. So I had 10 between the pilsbury and the mustard, then ten between the sugar and the breakfast boxes. The other mustard was 0.59 and I had 0.75 off mfr coupons for each one. So I had some overage for the sugar and frozen items. 25 lbs of sugar alone at Costco is more than what I paid for all of this. I stocked up on some important food storage items and hardly dinged my grocery budget. I have a couple more runs planned for this sale and I'm headed to Tom Thumb as well to get catalina coupons.