Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Recipes: Bean Soups

January 6th was Bean Day and January is National Soup Month, so to celebrate, we are sharing quite a few of our popular bean soup recipes. There's also a great article on correctly preparing beans over at Alicia's as well as some awesome tips for making great soup over at Annie's.

Enjoy :)

Blackeyed Peas and Ham

1 pound dried blackeyed peas
2 ham hocks or a ham bone with ham left on it
Pepper to taste
onions, sliced
hot sauce

Place the ham bones or hocks in a crock pot, add the peas after they have been rinsed (but not soaked), and cover with water completely. Cook all day on low, or 4 or 5 hours on high. Crock pots vary, so keep checking. You may need to add more water. Stir a couple of times while checking. Some people like them almost mushy, but I like them not quite that soft. Season with pepper if you wish. Serve with slices of onion and hot sauce-a smooth cayenne variety.

Bean Soup with Ham

1 ham bone with some meat left on
2 cups Navy, Northern beans or mixed beans
8 cups water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash beans the beans and add to a medium to large pan on the stove. Cover with water, boil, and turn off the heat. Let these sit about a 1/2 hour. Drain the beans, and place all the ingredients in the crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or so, then switch to low and continue to cook. You want the beans to be done, but not mushy. Add more water if needed to make it a soup consistency as it cooks. Cut the meat off the bone and put in with the beans and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Black Bean Soup

2 cups dried black beans
1 ham bone with meat still on
6 cups water
4 cups vegetable or ham broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 tomato diced (or about a half can-drained well)
1 cup chopped ham (optional)
1 tablespoon vinegar

You can soak the beans overnight in the refrigerator, covered with water, but what I usually do is place the dried beans in a pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow them to sit for one hour. Drain and rinse with either method, then add them to a large pot with the water, broth and the ham bone. You can add salt if you wish, but most hams are pretty salty. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours until the beans are tender. Remove the bone and take off any meat-add back to the pot. Saute the onion, tomato and ham if you had extra that you diced, until the onion is soft. Stir in the vinegar to this mixture and add all to the soup. Simmer for 20 more minutes and serve. You can offer hot sauce and chopped onion as toppings for each person's bowl of soup.

Split Pea Soup

one ham bone with remaining meat
1 cup minced onions
2 tsp. black pepper
1 pound dried split peas, green or yellow
1 cup chopped carrot

Place the ham bone and other ingredients to a crock pot. Just cover with water, and cook on low all day long or high for 4-6 hours. I cook my peas til they are fairly mushy, but you can cook less if you like them less done. We always ate big bowls of this soup with bread and butter. Very simple! If the meat isn't falling off the ham bone, remove and use a fork to remove it and place the meat into the soup. Discard the bone. Season with salt if desired.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Mom Rules

Thank you. I'm here all week.

Repurposing Old Quilts

Recently one of the members of our message board community, affectionately known as The Parlor, asked for ideas on reusing an old quilt made by her grandmother. The quilt was in mediocre shape and becoming threadbare, but as family heirlooms go, she wanted figure out a way to repurpose it. After all, isn't more respectful to find a purpose for all that hard work that grandma did, rather than stuffing it into a trunk in the attic? i like to think Grandma would think so.

Here are some suggestions inspired by our community as well as some of my own:

Teddy Bears
Turn them into teddy bears for the family's children and grandchildren. Because they don't need to be washed very often, they won't wear as much. The best part is that you will remember that special family member whenever you see our hug the bears.

Framed Quilt Patches
Use a plain black frame with a white matte. Place 1 quilt block, or a block of 4, depending on the size of your frame, centered within the matting. Cover with glass and close the frame.

Baby Quilts
Cut good sections of the quilt and finish all the edges to make a miniature version. Wonderful as an accent hanging in the nursery, draped over the crib, and better yet, used to cuddle baby in.

Pillow Shams or Covers
Old quilts can be cut up and made into pillow shams for your bed, or make smaller ones to cover plain pillows for your window seat or sofa.

Be creative! Cut out squares of the quilt and sew a backing on it, stuff with batting and add a hanger for a keepsake ornament. For sections that have worn squares or unsalvageable areas, cut around those and make shapes, such as pine trees, birds, and circles. Stuff these, add hangers and you have some lovely keepsake ornaments. These make perfect gifts to share with family members!

Pin Cushions
Cut quilt sections , stuff tightly with batting and you have an ideal pincushion.

Rag Dolls
Similar to the teddy bear idea, turning old quilts into rag dolls make for lovely accents to a tea room or little girl's room. Adorable sitting on a shelf as well!

Seat Cushions
Covering the cushions of a window seat, or the chair pillows of your tea room or sun porch is a great way to use old quilts. Because these areas do not receive as much activity as general living areas, the wear and tear on your keepsake fabric will be much less.

Place Mats & Table Runners
Repurposing old quilts into place mats and table runners is another great option. They look wonderful atop a shabby chic wicker table or an old rustic wooden table.

Bags & Totes
While making quilts into purses is common practice, you might not want to turn granny's keepsake quilt into something that will quickly wear out. However, making a craft tote or yarn bag will remain mostly in the house and receive much less wear and tear.

Heart or Flower Pins
Cut 2" hearts or flowers from the quilt fabric, use a blanket stitch to finish the edges, use fabric stiffener to make the fabric hard and attach a pin to the back. These make lovely lapel pins.

You might also like: Caring for Heirloom Quilts 

Do you have any ideas to share? Leave them in the comments, or better yet, join The Parlor and post your ideas there!

Special thanks to community members PamperedLady and Sheila for sharing their ideas!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vintage Garden Advice

Where flowers bloom so does hope. ~Lady Bird Johnson

This winter I thought I would share some garden advice from old garden magazines I've been given over the years. The following tips are from Home Garden, August 1969.

In a small article some advice is given on fighting off the moles when they attack your bulbs and other roots. I'm assuming the writer did this in the area she was noticing the mole damage.

I perched a piece of bacon on a mousetrap and crossed my green thumbs. The next day I was rewarded with a captured mole. Within a week, I had captured a colony of moles. My problem seemed to be solved.

Plant narcissus bulbs among crocus, tulips or whatever type of spring flowering bulb you may have...the odor discourages moles from munching on surrounding bulbs.

This was interesting. I've always wondered about the seeds on peonies. I usually dead head the blooms when they fade. It takes four to eight years to develop peonies from seeds! Needless to say this is a project for a very adventurous gardener.

The seeds should be gathered as soon as they are ripe and kept moist until November when they are sown in a coldframe or in a very protected spot outdoors. It is a good plan to mulch the seed bed so that it stays evenly moist. It normally takes 18 months for the seedlings to appear above ground and then a few more years before the plants bloom.

How to Water a Tree During Drought

The Shallow-rooted ones such as dogwood, beech, birch, maple (especially Norway and red), hemlock and spruce are the first to suffer.

One good soak a week is far better than letting the sprinkler spray the area beneath a tree for an hour or two a day. If possible water a tree by letting the water trickle over the root area overnight. Trees should be watered at night when possible,not a midday.

Plan ahead; learn how to attract hummingbirds:


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lunch Box Tips & A Reader's Advice

Winter came down to our home one night Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow, and we, we were children once again. ~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Today I wanted to share some tips from a book my parents gave me last month. It's a copy of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book from 1944. My dad has bought, sold and collected books for many years now and said this particular edition wasn't available online and they thought I would enjoy it.

With the economy struggling as it has been, we are all looking for ways to save money. Buying lunch for adults at work, or the kids at school doesn't seem expensive until you add it up for the month, then it becomes a fairly large expense. I found some good tips for packing lunches in my "new" book.

-Work butter or margarine with a fork until creamy and easy to spread, before using. Never melt it, it soaks into the bread.

-Avoid putting lettuce into sandwiches-it may become limp and unappetizing. Rather wrap the washed, dry leaves in waxed paper, so that they can be added to the sandwiches just before eating.

-Tomatoes sometimes have a tendency to soften in sandwiches. So frequently tuck a small whole tomato in the lunch box to be eaten with salt.

-Keep the lunch box in mind when planning dinner the night before. Oftentimes you can prepare enough of the soup, main dish, bread or dessert to include in the next day's lunch box.

-Because sandwiches are so often a mainstay in the lunch box, coax tired appetites by varying the bread you use. In addition to enriched and whole wheat breads, use raisin, bran, French, corn, rye, oatmeal, pumpernickel, cracked wheat, and nut breads for variety.

-Blueberry, corn, bran or other muffins left from dinner the night before, as well as hard and soft rolls, also ring a welcome change in the sandwich part of the lunch box.

-Be sure to vary the sandwich fillings too-in fact, try to include two different kinds of sandwiches in each lunch. It's a great help when at least one of these fillings can be made up from the dinner the night before. Leftover potroast, meat loaf, corned beef, lamb, etc. are all delicious.

-To keep sliced meat sandwiches from seeming dry, blend the butter or margarine with mayonnaise, salad dressing, prepared mustard, horseradish, catchup, chili sauce, pickle relish, or the like before spreading generously on the bread.

This was one sample menu:

Cream of Celery Soup
Minced Bacon and Egg Sandwiches on Whole Wheat bread
Cookies or wafers

Martha sent in another tip regarding a substitute for corn syrup:
Your friend can make a syrup that will work in the recipe. Use 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water. Mix them in a sauce pan and boil until it becomes thick like syrup. You can also add a little molasses to this too. Maybe honey? Here is good sugar free recipe:

SUGAR FREE PECAN TARTS: 1/2 c Splenda; 1 (12-oz) s/f imitation honey; 3 eggs beaten; pinch salt; 2 T butter; 2 c chopped pecans; 1 tsp. vanilla; 12 pastry shells. Melt butter, add Splenda, mix well. Add beaten eggs and mix. Add other ingredients; mix well and pour into shells. Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes. ~Martha

Yummy ideas for Grilled Cheese sandwiches on OFL: