Archive for April 2012

Apr162012

EarthTainer Update #4

We have baby tomatoes! The Sweet 100s have been blooming for about two weeks now, and the blossoms are finally starting to drop off. They’re being replaced by the tiniest little green orbs.

The Beefsteaks are also starting to do their thing, and the girls love seeing the difference between the two plants. Where the Sweet 100s have small, delicate little blooms, the Beefsteaks are much bigger and seem to be more closely bunched.

Once again, in just two weeks you can see how much taller they’ve gotten. These plants are thriving, and the stalks on both of them are so much thicker than the plants we tried three years ago. The EarthTainer is doing an excellent job so far!

I’m hoping we’ll be able to get around to starting at least one more container this weekend. We definitely want to do zucchini, and I’d love to do red peppers and jalapenos (altogether that would be two additional containers), though it’ll depend on what the garden center has.

Apr132012

Steel Cut Oats

Steel Cut Oats

Here’s an inconsequential fun fact: I have never had steel cut oatmeal before. I’ve had every other oatmeal, from instant-in-the-microwave to five-years-on-the-stove (steel cut, of course, falls into the latter category) except this one.

I actually bought a can of it several years ago right before our last move. And I just realized that I never saw it again, along with a stove-top popcorn maker and some kitchen towels. How does that happen? We were the only ones who moved us!

It’s taken me a long time to find another can. Because apparently steel cut oatmeal is not located with, you know, the oatmeal. It’s in the specialty health foods aisle. Who thought of that?

Anyway, the can says to use four cups of briskly boiling water with one cup of oats, but that sounded like a lot of oatmeal, so I cut it in half (and it still ended up being a little more than I could eat). I actually pre-boiled the water in my electric kettle before pouring it into the pot because this already takes half an hour of cooking, I didn’t feel like waiting nearly as long for the water to boil.

Steel Cut Oats

desert honey and irish oats

When it was done I decided to take it easy on additions so I just drizzled some honey on top. Sadly, these oats need something with a little more punch because the oatmeal overpowered the honey (that’s saying a lot, isn’t it?). I love honey but I don’t want to have to dump in half a cup.

Also, I got that five pound jug of honey at Sam’s for all of $6. That’s how much a small little honey bear at the grocery store costs. Thank goodness honey doesn’t spoil, right?

I may or may not have looked like this when I found it.

Apr112012

Crockpot Ham and White Beans

Crockpot Ham and White Beans

One thing I really love about big holiday dinners are the leftovers I get to play with for the next several days! I love that I can spend just one day with the main dish, and then use it for several different ones over the course of the next few days (or months if you freeze it!) without having to buy any more.

For Easter this year I made a nice big ham with all the sides, and after dinner was over we spent some time portioning out containers of ham to use for sandwiches and other meals like split pea soup, red beans and rice, and the ham and white bean recipe below.

I like to use this one throughout the year (using a package of diced ham from the store is just fine if you crave it post- or pre-Easter) and the family loves it — even the kid who hates beans asks for seconds!

I get six good servings from this, and you can easily adjust it if you need more.

Crockpot Ham and White Beans

1 lb dried northern beans, sorted and rinsed (do not pre-soak)
1 lb ham (ham bone, diced ham, leftover ham, etc)
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1-2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
6 cups chicken broth

Put the rinsed beans, ham, and broth in the crockpot. Add onion powder, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and stir gently just to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until beans are tender. Remove ham bone and pull off meat, put meat back in the crockpot and discard ham bone.

For a thicker soup, remove 1-2 cups of beans and stock and combine in a blender. Add back to the crockpot and stir. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.