Monday, September 23, 2013

Game Time Quick Salsa

I haven't had salsa for some time!  I have picked up all the ingredients for salsa making and canning it up in jars.  I also freeze it if I run out of energy or time, and need to finish using up all the tomatoes.  Otherwise, I prepare a couple jars every evening and set them in the water bath canner pot.  I skipped today because I was just a little too tired from all the running around at the markets yesterday.

Now, you don't have to do what I do and can these up for winter.  In fact I don't preserve the following recipe I am sharing.  I have a variety of recipes, but  you certainly can make a small batch or bowl of any type salsa to enjoy while you skip the fast-food type snacks. You don't have to buy everything prepared and pay extra even if you don't have half of these ingredients.

If produce is too expensive where you are, make the canned version and if it's not fit for eating like a snack to you, serve it over grilled chicken with veggies and rice! I have been known to serve or bring salad type salsa and chips to parties, brimming with corn, avacado and more colorful peppers!  I guess I was bringing my own snack, because the greasy wings and fried foods were good in moderation too but I prefer to pig out on salsa and chips!

This one happens to be fast and gives you an alternative if you don't have ALL fresh ingredients, and if you have a container of this in the fridge prepared in advance, it's quickly ready and easy to devour.  My tip is to not just dip the chip, but load the chip with huge heaping portions of salsa.  I like it spicy and this makes it much healthier for you and you will get satisfied faster!

Game Time Salsa

Prep: 10 minutes

-3 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped  (tip: you can use a variety of tomatoes for optimum flavour)
OR 1 (14.5 oz./ 430 ml) can of diced tomatoes
-1 medium white onion chopped OR any type of onion such as red & green onions
-1 -3 jalapenos peppers, seeded and finely chopped OR omit spicy peppers and add a tsp. of chili powder
-1- 3 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro OR 15 ml- 30 ml dried cilantro
-2 cloves of garlic OR a tsp. of garlic powder.
-1 tbsp. (15 ml) of freshly squeezed lemon or lime OR lemon or lime juice
-1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) salt
-pepper to taste

Cumin to taste is optional, but very much a flavour of Mexico.  If you have chosen to use the chili powder instead of spicy peppers,  skip the cumin as it's already in chili powder.  Sometimes it's better to let salsa sit and simmer all the flavours together, and other times just chilled is good enough.  Eat with tortilla chips or vegan crackers.  If you still include cheese in your diet, some grated cheese melted on the tortilla chips is very nice to add and will make up for the salsa if you did not use all fresh ingredients.

Directions:  In a medium bowl stir together tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lemon juice and salt.  Serve with chips.  Makes 2 cups.

So, if you are in a rush this week and still want to keep eating relatively healthy try this out!
Have a great week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Preparations and Organizing for Winter

I hope it wasn't difficult getting going this morning,.... did you get to bed at a good time last night?  Did you have your morning coffee?  The weather was nice where I am, although I am hearing the crispy leaves fall to the ground now one by one.  We are steadily approaching fall weather.

I have actually been getting together my to do lists this past weekend, doing chores, getting at harvesting the garden and overall organizing for colder weather.  I did some painting for crafts to sell, as I will need to get that completed in time for any winter market, craft or online sales.  I still will be needing a little fall cheer such as a pumpkin or a couple of gords.

So, how do you get ready for the snow to fly?  Is it vehicle preparations, home repairs and chimney cleaning, garden harvesting, yard work or canning.  It might be a little early to start getting your warm clothing ready, but I thought today we could go over the list!

It's still September but that can go by really fast.  We find that no one is willing to drive to garage sales in snow storms, so some people are still promoting their garage sales for fall.  I am doing the same on  Also, if you are moving or thinking of moving, it's nice to do that  prior to bad weather.  So perhaps, purging is perfect to do now and seeing what extra money you can acquire is going to be beneficial.

Money management would be another post, but if you are saving or reinvesting in areas where you will make money, instead of spending it foolishly going into winter that is recommended.  At least in Canada as we have long winters.

All through the year, I am watching what I am spending and what it is I am being charged but even so, it's a good time to review receipts or statements to do an overview of what you spent. For example, pay attention to fine print and make sure not to get yourself into a contract, that you cannot back out of.  I am noticing my service provider said they had a price increase, and they didn't notify me.  I reviewed the billing history and I believe I caught them charging me an overage of $12 in total.  If the price increase was as of recent, the total in adjustments - although that doesn't seem to be apparent but once calculated seems the price was increasing over the past months.   That money could be used towards something else.

 Then you can try to save some when it comes to holiday shopping, and perhaps if you have not done so you can save money in areas by bundling your services or taking advantage of promotions.  Then if you don't like how the services turned out you can cancel in springtime.  It's nice to save during the long winter months when bills and groceries are generally higher prices.  I also try to buy some pantry items when on sale in the fall.  Then I have most everything and don't need to pay higher prices near Christmas.  These things could be even as simple as a can of cranberry sauce or spices that you need for holiday dinners.

So today, I am not going to cover so much of the indoor preparedness list, but mainly the vehicle and outdoor winter preparing list.  There may be limited time you find to complete your outdoor tasks, and before it gets uncomfortably cold or there is little to no stock in the stores for the items you need it's good to get that out of the way.  I am not saying you have to purchase everything, but some items will save you time later on.

 Perhaps, you are stocking some firewood so that you be comfortable when it's very cold, and you can enjoy your indoor hobbies.  I like to obtain my dry firewood, and put it to the side. In my downtime, I should be finishing knitting projects of years past, as well as taking up writing an e-book this winter, but right now time is of the essence and we proceed to "button up the hatches" as they say.

Some plans can sure get altered in times of emergency, such as the flooding that happened here in Alberta.  I was prepared, and hence didn't have to rush around looking for supplies, or pay top dollar for anything. I barely made a move during the disaster, and toiled away at my upgrading courses.
I noticed even I could have been a bit more prepared for such instances, such as more firewood.  It's time to replenish some items you may have had to use, like batteries or candles. Water containers, drinking water and water filters are essential and should be kept ready all the time.  Again, I would recommend you do a Google search for a more in depth list for your home preparedness kit.

 In winter emergency situations, winter can call for perhaps more emergency items, so it's best to be prepared.  You might need heat, and if there is no electricity or fireplace, then it's best to have candles lit and stay in a smaller room to keep it warm enough.  I have done this before when an apartment building I was living at had every last heater freeze as it was that cold.   It's best to sort through your emergency items and take inventory.  Don't forget the pets, they also require food, medications and items for emergency!

Cleaning up the yard, doing your garden work and cultivating your garden are all part of fall preparation chores to do.  These are things to definitely finish off now, if not already and also tidying your garage, pack up the yard and overall de-cluttering the outdoors.  I also purchase canning jars, freezer bags, and items needed if you haven't already.  I have a case on hand, a canner and now I will  look out for good prices on produce from the market and get to storing food in the evenings.  This way you make use of your outdoor daylight hours, and then work on the food prepping little by little in the evening.  If you have a freezer to fill, and a family to feed then purchasing vegetables by the case would be ideal, such as green peppers for spaghetti or tomatoes for all kinds of meals. The whole family can help and you'll be done in not time.

So, here are some things you might need to prepare to do, but not limited to,  for the outdoors and winter vehicle preparation : add in your trunk an ice scraper, gloves,  a small snow shovel(s), de-icing compound, waterproof the floor mats in your vehicles, checking and replacing your vehicle batteries, checking and changing your seasonal tires to appropriate winter tires, and booking your appointments ahead of time for vehicle maintenance.  When it's cold or could get cold it's good to keep your gas tank full.  This way in a situation you have it and to prevent water freezing in the fuel lines.  You can get your bags of sand or kitty litter ready to put in your trunk for weight purposes, and to use for preventing tires slippage, jumper cables, tire chains, flares, flashlights, warm jacket, tuque or hat, scarf, snow boots and blanket(s) are also all good to store. You can decide to bag certain things in a plastic tote or bags, to keep them fresh, clean and dry.

You may also decide to invest in a first aid kit or put one together yourself, and have a jug of water readily available. You wouldn't want a frozen jug of water in the trunk so perhaps put it by the door everyday and take it with you. If you feel you need some non-perishable food or snacks, you could make yourself a cooler or backpack full of them, and take that with you everyday too.  Include yourself some money, like change or a calling card to use for payphones even if you have a cell phone.  You can depend on your cell phone, but in times of a snow storms or if you're out of the towers reach, your phone may not get signal and if you had seen a payphone you can make a necessary emergency call to 911.

Now if you live somewhere it doesn't snow then you are looking at a mild winter version of preparing but that is not to say it isn't your stormy season.  You may have to be weary of other weather conditions like hurricanes, hail or rain.  You might want to still have food, water, and other emergency items you see fit ready in your vehicle, and definitely research other things you might need in your conditions.  We do spend a lot of time commuting, so it's not just limited to family vacations that we may be stuck inside our vehicles on the freeway or need those items in general for any situations that arise.  It's better to be safe, than sorry and better to be comfortable,  than uncomfortable.

That will conclude today's post and now that we got the hard work out of the way; checking your lists now, could save you an extra trip or could save your life!

 I will be back next week... trying for Monday!!!


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Hearty Breakfast Pumpkin Muffins ~ Bourbon Style!

Thanks for reading my squirrely poem last week!  I have noticed a little more destruction of my garden, but I have been harvesting and eating produce from it. "Winning". :)

I thought I would share a delicious muffin recipe this week, a great one for fall!  I did make these delicious hearty breakfast muffins, and they were gobbled up fast!  I have no photos for you.

Pumpkins aren't in season all the time, but now we are closer to fall so they shouldn't be hard to obtain.  If you want you can use different fruits of your choice you can do that.   I have listed the recommended ones in the recipe instructions.  I also have my own style~ that's Bourbon style! I will list the recipe without the Bourbon first though, so you have that base first and the bourbon version is actually the alternative.

I know lots of people are watching football this Sunday, I have heard the hollering and cheering!
So, many of you may not have time to whip these up for tomorrow morning.  Maybe you can take a look at this recipe during this week, and pick-up ingredients you may need at the store.  Then bake them up next weekend.

When Monday arrives a hot coffee and one of these will set your day straight.  If you want to wait until you get some bourbon, or are gifted some Bourbon you can most certainly do that.  These are so tasty either way.  Coffee, tasty muffin, will travel!

Heart Breakfast Pumpkin Muffins

Here's the ingredient list:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

If you are making these Bourbon style, omit the honey and molasses.  Instead add 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar and 1/3 cup of Bourbon (cherry Bourbon is very good).   I usually eyeball it, I don't think too much bourbon should be used or the batter could turn out too runny, so be sparing at first and see how the consistency is.

**  If you don't like or have any pumpkin just yet, you can substitute banana, grated apple, carrot or zucchini.

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except raisins and nuts.  In small bowl, stir together wet ingredients including egg.  Add wet to dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Add raisins and nuts.  Fill 12 greased muffin tins.  Bake at 375*F (190*C) for about 15-20 minutes or until done.
Makes 12 large muffins.

That's it!  Enjoy!!!  Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Squirrel Schemes

Squirrel Schemes- (A Poem About Squirrels in the Neighborhood)

I was watching a squirrel, he was searching on the ground,
He saw I was focused on him, got excited and ran around,

The squirrel was thinking that I had for him a little treat,
But I had no squirrel food to offer, that really would agree,

A noon standoff occurred and we tried to read each others face, 
I heard The Good, The Bad & The Ugly theme song start to play,

He looked up at me, and squinted his eyes, stood up kind of tall,
He thought he was invited up to my balcony, and started up the wall,

I grabbed the water gun and screamed and let him have a blast,
He retreated down and and looked back like this would not be the last!

Yes,  that's right he has formed a black squirrel nation,
The following attempts growing from their covert operations,

I seen the evidence that they had been around my rosemary herbs,
Burying blue jelly beans to mark the biggest vegetables to disturb,

I witnessed a ninja squirrel move to hijack my tomato plant,
Tipped toed but I saw him reaching for the fruit with a black gloved hand,

He knew his cover was blown and skydived off the rail,
He made it down the wall and disappeared because he failed

I quickly looked overboard and there was another black squirrel suited,
He realized the gig was up, and he knew this was his first queue,

I know they keep planning a big garden heist scheme,
As they chatter, wait and watch from the trees..........

Who will be the winner of the urban organic garden?  To Be Continued......
I hope you enjoyed that.  It is based on a true story.  Have a nice week!