Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup Recipe

Dont’cha just love having dinner already simmering along waaaay ahead of time? I do. In order to accomplish that, I employ one of my favorite indentured servants, my crockpot. (Ironically, at the time of this posting, my crock pot is out of service. Good thing that this stew can also be made on the stove).
Using a slow cooker is extremely helpful for anyone who just doesn’t want to deal with prepping dinner at the time when that would normally be done. This can be wonderful for those of you who either work outside of the home, or are busy at that time taking children to or from activities. You can throw everything in at breakfast time, turn it on, and walk away. It’s that simple. During the summertime when you want to keep the house cooler, you can even put that cooker outside on your porch, and during the winter it sure helps warm things up. Yummm. I am craving it now.
And at some point when I begin making meal plans ahead of time again like I know is helpful to do, I will definitely plan this one in. Here it is.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 1 cup diced kosher salami or other smoked meat of your choice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp. seasoned salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2 qts. hot water

Preparation:

Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone. Remove bones and bay leaf. Mash peas to thicken more, if desired. Serve garnished with croutons. Skip the croutons and you can consider it gluten free!  Freezes well. Serves 8.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Have you ever noticed how EXPENSIVE laundry detergent is? I mean, really. It is. And it’s not like you can just decide to save money by not washing your clothes….I HATE being trapped like that.

Besides the cost, laundry detergent has some toxic stuff in it.

Four of the worst offenders are:

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
1,4-dioxane
NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
Phosphates

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of making some household cleaning products at home.  I was uncomfortable with the idea of breathing in chemicals used for cleaning the house, and certainly did not want my children doing so. So when I learned that plain old white vinegar could be used as a cleaner, I was excited. And we switched to doing almost all household cleaning with plain old (and inexpensive) vinegar with water.  It works, it does not smell at all like vinegar once it dries, and I can even let the children help spray and wipe because it’s NON-TOXIC!

Speaking of Toxicity, it’s real, and most commercial cleaning products have high levels of toxins.

Here is a non toxic and extremely inexpensive laundry detergent that you can make easily at home.

Did I mention it was easy? And inexpensive? I mean REALLY inexpensive! These ingredients go a LONG way.

2  Cups – hot tap water

1  cup grated Zote bar (a little less than 1/3 of a 14 oz bar) OR 1 full bar of fels naphtha  (grated)

1/2 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*

½ Cup Borax

– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/4 full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to halfway point with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 5 gallons. (total, after adding additional water to bottles. 2 ½ gallons concentrate.)

Here are my thoughts on this recipe:

I found it to be too watery when I diluted it this much, and therefore ended up using more. So I decided to use it full strength and have continued to use it that way  since. At the time of this posting, I have used this as my only detergent for more than a year and recently upped the concentration by using almost 1 full cup of each of the powders, and have been satisfied with the results. I have tried it with both types of soap and both work fine. My only complaint is the chunkiness…it is not smooth but that dissolves in the machine. It would be helpful to use an immersion blend for this; I might use my vitamix to blend it in batches but am not sure it’s worth the effort.

I also put some in an empty stain treatment spray bottle for pretreating stains. Of course, it will only spray out if it is smooth and diluted slightly.

When I have anything extremely stinky in a load to wash, I will add some vinegar and also some Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner and that certainly does the job!

The BEST Garbage Disposal

I’m into natural things, yes. But hey- I’m civilized.

There are some natural things that have always been just a little too “crunchy” for me. Things that I thought that the other people who did them were sort of, well, either “off the deep end” in this area. And, I suppose, some of these things I wanted to do someday but just absolutely could NOT fathom finding the time to do them.

Here’s my list of some of these things:

  • Growing my own vegetables in a garden
  • Making my own clothes (or really, sewing anything at all that I can use at home instead of buying)
  • Using cloth diapers
  • Having a compost bin
  • Making bread for the family as a rule, and not just for fun
  • Using scented essential oils and herbs and acting as if I believe they actually do something other than smell good
  • Giving birth at home, unassisted
  • Making my own cheese
  • Raising chickens for eggs or having any other farm type animal at all
  • Making my own bath soap, laundry soap, or any other type of cleanser
  • Using cloth anything instead of paper anything simply for the environmental and practical reasons and not only because I enjoy doing so

There’s a joke I heard one time at a comedy show in Jerusalem. You know how there are different types of practicing Jews out there, and the ones who are more strict or observant than you, you might think of as “fanatics” and the ones who do less than you do “aren’t really Jewish”…? (Said tongue in cheek, it’s a joke, please don’t write me blasting my political incorrectness)

The same joke can apply to just about any practice that you do which can be measured in comparison to others. In this case, How Crunchy Am I?

Whatever the answer, of course, realize that anyone who does more than I do MUST be an off-the-deep-end fanatic, and anyone who does less than I do isn’t really into natural health….

A while back I wrote a post describing the things I do and don’t do in the area of natural living AKA crunchiness.

The funny thing is, I guess I’m changing. Or growing. Or just moving along on my journey, because I’m starting to do some of these things.

I used to think that compost was yucky, smelly, gross, and just TOO MUCH for me to do. I was not interested  in carting my garbage anywhere for the sake of making it rot so that I can put it in my garden….especially because I had no garden!

However, the times they are a-changing.  I began my first compost pile about a year ago now, and it’s been a good experience. I’ll let you know what I’ve learned so far.

Why compost? Well, a few reasons.

Environmentally, According to RecycleNow.com ,”Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. It’s easy to make and use.”

I have wanted to begin a Square Foot Garden for a very long time. I finally live in a place that has the space I need to be able to do it, and adding compost is a very important element of he garden. It’s expensive and possibly inferior to buy, and so it would be so much easier if I already had it. All gardeners seem to say that it’s just SO necessary. And most sources say how easy it is to do it….well, it was worth a try, I figured.

I started with a heap or pile, and turned it regularly. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did not stink, which was my biggest concern. The problem was that when the weather turned rainy I ignored the pile, and because of a lack of walls to build it up, it never really grew and sort of seemed to disappear. By the time the weather turned cold, I stopped bothering with the turning and just threw the stuff on there. So as a result, I never really got the compost. I did, however, make many earthworms happy and help out the water treatment system just a tad by not throwing it down the garbage disposal, so I still felt good about it.

About two months ago we finally began that garden, and I knew it was time to get serious about this composting thing. So I got some chicken wire and bent it to make a cylinder about 4 feet across and 4 feet high, and started again. I raked up all my old compost from whatever I had and began with that. I add all of our kitchen produce scraps, eggshells, and occasionally dryer lint. And I turn it 2-3 times a week. This takes about 15 minutes, but I enjoy the outside time. I turn it by simply lifting the cylinder and moving it to an empty spot, and then shoveling everything back in.

It’s not compost yet, but getting close. Soon it will be time to start another one so that this one can finish ‘cooking’ without having new stuff added all the time.

Yep, I’m becoming a regular homesteading gal. 🙂

The BEST (non-dairy) Creamy Tomato Soup

Do you like cream of tomato soup? I do! Of course, the best way to make it taste great is by adding lots of CREAM. However, most of us don’t want all those calories, and those of us who want to avoid dairy products also would probably decide to just go ahead and…..skip the creamy-ness.

 

Never Fear, I Have The Solution.

Here it is: A fantastic creamy tomato soup that is basically dairy free!

Here’s the recipe (for a huge batch, halve it for a normal size family)

2 large onions + about 4 cloves garlic, chopped, sauteed in olive oil + 1/2 stick butter till soft and sweet

add 1 large can crushed tomatoes + 1 can tomato paste plus water (dunno how much)

2 cans coconut milk

2 potatoes peeled & cubed

curry powder (amt?)

salt

molasses + some sugar (= brown sugar)

dash of vodka

juice of 2 lemons (added at the end with final seasoning)

Cook till potatoes are soft, then blend solids. Voila! A creamy, delicious tomato soup w/o dairy (other than the butter)

Serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.

Of course, add salad and fresh homemade whole wheat bread, and you’ve got yourself a first class meal!

Tastes of Jamaica

When I first met my husband-to-be, we talked of many things.  He spoke of a wonderful, seemingly magical place called Jamaica.  Of course, I’d heard of that popular vacation destination,  but had never been there.  He insisted that it is unlike any other in the world; the people there are genuinely kind and the whole attitude of the island tends toward relaxation, calm, peace, satisfaction, and love.

Sounds pretty good.

After several years of piquing my interest, we finally had an opportunity to go there together.  And although I was only there for 3 days, I indeed saw a tiny glimpse of what he described.  I also had an opportunity to taste some of the local flavors.  My favorite was Ackee with Saltfish for breakfast (yes, even I drank some of the famous Blue Mountain coffee with ‘sweet milk’).  Freshly squeezed orange juice was sold everywhere, sugar cane was to be chewed, and pineapple was to be munched.

And the sunsets….the white sand….the clear water….

Someday, I hope to go back.  And stay for a loooong time.

Meanwhile, we’ll have to be content with bringing some of those flavors to the dinner table.  The Jamaican Rice and Peas (which are not actually “peas” at all but red beans) is one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever made; it’s also inexpensive and healthful. You already know how I feel about beans

These and other recipes which I have not tried I found at this site.

Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe

3 cups of rice
1 can of tinned or 1 cup of fresh red peas (either kidney beans or pigeon peas) note: I use 2 or 2 1/2 c beans
5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper (1 jalapeno pepper may be used as a substitute)
3 Scallion (spring onions may be used as a substitute)
1 tin (or one cup) of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (2 teaspoons of dried thyme may be used as a substitute)

Soak beans overnight, rinse, then cook in 7 cups of water with the garlic until cooked through, about 45 mins. Add rice, coconut milk, scallions (crush them-don’t cut), salt, pepper, and thyme.  Simmer till all water is absorbed, about another 45 mins.  Remove hot pepper and scallions, serve, and enjoy!

Of course, you can do this in the crock pot.  Just allow more time, and be ready to add more water if needed.

I usually end up adding a little more salt, and if I want to be fancy-schmanzy, I squeeze on some lime juice, sprinkle some fresh cilantro, and accompany with some mango salsa(healthy) or fried sweet plantains (unhealthy).  Some fresh sliced cucumber goes nicely with it on the side.

And if I really want to go all out, I serve it with Jerk Chicken.  Fantastic combination.

Jerk Chicken

Here’s how to make the sauce:

NOTE: this recipe makes a HUGE amount of sauce. If you don’t mind having lots leftover to store in the fridge for another time, go for it. Otherwise, cut it in half and you’ll still have plenty for 3 or 4 pounds of chicken.

6 sliced scotch bonnet peppers (jalapenos may be used if scotch bonnet peppers are unavailable) NOTE: I’ve made this sauce twice, and have omitted the hot peppers both times with good results. I’ll add some heat after the fact if needed.
2 Tbsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. ground allspice
8 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Medium onions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tsp. ground black pepper

1 to 2 Tsp of the following (to taste)
-ground cinnamon
-nutmeg
-ginger

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of one lime
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white vinegar

Blend it all up, marinade meat overnight, and use some of the rest for basting, and the rest for dipping.  Cook chicken (in pieces) about 1/2 hr on each side.  Enjoy!

Here’s a funny thing: I mentioned Jerk sauce to a friend, and was reminded about the “Jerk Store”.  For all Seinfeld fans, this is for you: Watch this clip (unfortunately, embedding was disabled, or I would have put a player right on here.)

On the Other Side of the World

I haven’t posted much in a long time, and it’s not just because having 5 children keeps me so busy (though it does) or because having them all at home because we homeschool keeps me so busy (though it does), no. It’s because for several months we’ve been preparing, for various reasons, to uproot and move away from our home in Israel all the way to the other side of the world.  Back to the good ‘ole USA.

Oh, we’ve had adventures on the way here.

Just the amount of decluttering we did in an attempt to simplify our lives was tremendous.  Wanna know how to throw a super-good house sale? I can tell you!

Wanna know how to take 5 young children on an airplane for many, MANY hours? I can tell you.

So, we made it. From Jerusalem to sunny Florida, we made it. We don’t know how long we’re staying, but we’re up for more adventures along the road.

So, I’ll share any health-related or family-related issues I find (as I have time to ha HA), as well as just those things I’m noticing that are either different than how I remember them to be, or just different from how they are in Israel.

Which will always be our home.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

I know I’ve mentioned that I love making soups for a filling, healthy, and inexpensive meal. I love even more that it’s SO easy to make a double (or triple) batch and freeze it for a ready-made dinner whenever it’s needed.

Many of my creamy soups end up tasting sort of similar, so when I find a new and interesting soup, I’m excited.  This is one of those soups.

As soon as I read the recipe, I was intrigued. With the unusual combination of flavors and no unhealthy ingredients, I was enticed. And when I tasted it, I was in love. Well not really, but it was GOOD.

Here it is, from Martha Stewart:

Serves 6

  • 3 pounds plum tomatoes, (about 12), cored and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large eggplant, (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
  • Toasted rustic bread, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. with racks on top and bottom. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together tomatoes, carrots, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer, with tomatoes cut sides down. ( I didn’t have enough tomatoes, and I didn’t worry about them being in a single layer or having cut side down. )
  2. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss together eggplant, chickpeas, curry powder, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer. Place both sheets in oven (tomato mixture on top rack). Roast until tender, tossing mixtures halfway through, about 45 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, peel off and discard tomato skins.  ( I skipped this step and included the skins) Puree tomato mixture (including juices) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large pot. (I didn’t have enough tomatoes so I added some canned crushed tomatoes at this point). Stir in eggplant mixture; thin with 3 to 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro (the flavor of the cilantro really complements the soup); garnish with bread, if desired.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Roasted-Tomato and Eggplant Soup – Martha Stewart Recipes

Taking a Bloggy-Break

I’ve been away…well, not really. Just from posting.

We had lots of holidays here and are just now getting back into the swing of things.  Along with that, I’m getting SERIOUS about decluttering my home. Finally.

And, when the mood to write strikes me, I want to make some real progress on my book. Did I mention that I’m writing an E-book? And that if you want to get to read my book, all you have to do is register for my newsletter?

So, I’ll pop in to say hi every now and then, maybe post a link or something that I just couldn’t let pass by, but other than that…I’m taking a break.

And watching a little bit of  I Love Lucy on YouTube. It’s my favorite all-time show, you know.

Make sure you sign up for FamilyNatural News on the left hand sidebar!


How Chicken Nuggets Are Made

Jamie Oliver did an experiment for his Food Revolution in which he shows children how their beloved chicken nuggets are actually made, hoping to sufficiently gross them out and help them to choose differently once they know the truth. Sadly, the American children were still happy to eat the monstrosity he created. In contrast, the British children he’d practiced on previously were unwilling to eat once they knew the truth. Maybe the fluoride in our water and the drugs for the ADHD have made our children so completely stupid that they cannot make good choices. Pathetic. Watch for yourself to have an idea how these nuggets get made; it’s interesting, in a disgusting sort of way.

What difference does it make what you eat? Parts is parts, after all. Right?

And, now for some writing.  This article explains exactly how those things are made, at the end is a recipe for making your own healthier nuggets. I’m not sure I’d use the cornflakes, but whole wheat breadcrumbs would work fine.

Chicken Nuggets
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to get my nutritional feathers ruffled. I’ve seen a lot of things that have made me crazy over the years and you’ve heard me harp on them—from “healthy” whole wheat donuts to artificial sweeteners, Olestra and acrylimide. I’ve sang the siren’s song about good nutrition and what I believe too, to be common sense nutrition. Why would we drink something, in the name of quenching our thirst, that looks like toilet bowl cleaner or antifreeze?

Anyway, today I stop singing and start sounding the alarm. We absolutely must stop the madness that is fast food. We absolutely must stop the madness and the obesity and the rise in degenerative diseases. We are raising an unhealthy generation because we feed this junk to our kids! PLEASE STOP!

I know there are attempts at some fast food places to do better. As Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.” Well, today you are going to know better about chicken nuggets, because today, I am going to tell you all I know about them.

First, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets contain 38 ingredients. Yes, THIRTY EIGHT ingredients! Some of those ingredients are things you wouldn’t give to your DOG. Some of those things, you could use to start a fire—well, almost. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a derivative of petroleum that is sprayed on the nugget or in the box that holds the nugget to keep it fresh. TBHQ is also a derivative of butane, also known as lighter fluid. It is furthermore a suspected carcinogen—cancer-causing agent.

The batter is set in shortening (hydrogenated oils) and in turn, it is cooked in partially hydrogenated oils at the restaurant. Some of the additives in there are antifoaming agents, emulsifiers, leavening agents, preservatives, fillers and binders. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Something you’d want to feed your kids?

The nuggets themselves contain 53% chicken. You wanna know what that 53% chicken is? I promise you it isn’t nice white chicken breasts! If you find those nuggets spongy and watery it’s because the chicken meat and skin is ground into a slurry, binders and fillers are added, plus lots of water, then formed into neat little nuggets.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ILL. Why do we manufacture stuff like this and then call it food? Where’s the value in it?

Please, for the children’s sake and for your own health’s sake, let’s stop this craziness with the food. It’s time to get back to basics and only eat food that is 100% identifiable. If you don’t know exactly what went into what you’re eating, you’re making a mistake. Our bodies do not need to contend with more pollution than what is already in our environment.

Here’s a quick and easy alternative to chicken nuggets:

Crunchy Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers
Serves 4

1 pound chicken tenders
1/4 cup honey, warmed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, mix mustard and honey together. In another bowl, place the crushed corn flakes.

In assembly line fashion, dip the chicken tender in the mustard mixture, then roll in the corn flakes and place on the cooked sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, or when cooked through

Copyright (C) 2010 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved