January 26, 2011

Weight Loss

So far I've lost 27lbs in the past 4 months. It's not coming off fast by any means, but I'm losing more than 1.5 lbs a week.

What am I doing?

Portion Control: More specifically I'm limiting myself to single portions at meal time. No second helpings. No between meal snacking.

Water: I drink around a gallon a day.

Exercise: I've been doing at least 30 minutes a day of cardio. I usually try to shoot for an hour on days I'm not busy. I also do a few toning exercises as part of my daily routine in the morning.


January 13, 2011

Bean with Bacon Soup

2 lbs dry navy beans (soaked and drained), chicken stock, 1/2 lb bacon, onions, red pepper, salt.

Chop and cook your bacon until the fat is rendered (about 5 minutes). I take the bacon out the pan and replace it with the onions and pepper. I cook the onions until they are translucent but not quite caramelized.

Add all of your ingredients to the crock pot. Fill the pot the rest of the way to the top with water. Cook on highest setting for 3-4 hours.

I remove the lid and keep the crock pot on high to let it condense just a bit for about an hour. My pot needed more salt.

Yummy soup to serve as an appetizer or for lunch on a cold day.

My kids prefer to strain out the beans and serve it over rice.

Either way, this is one of my favorite ways to eat beans.


January 9, 2011


I've used this pattern before.


This one is made from silk yarn I've had in my stash for a couple of years now. I have no idea how long it will last. The yarn seems a bit fragile. But I wanted something pretty to wear in all this cold weather we've been having.


January 8, 2011

Red Shouldered Hawk

Our visitor is back. He and his mate make a lot of racket with all their screeching. We haven't seen them for a while. They live in the swampy creek near our home.

They are gorgeous creatures. I love watching them fly. We almost never get a close up of the two of them together. Mostly they just call to each other.


January 6, 2011

Bean Pot

A slow-cooker makes the perfect bean pot. It cooks them perfectly through and you don't have to keep an eye on them. Toss them in with enough water in the morning, set them on high, and your beans are ready by dinner.

I have this StayorGo Hamilton Beach slow cooker. It's large enough to hold 2lbs of beans and plenty of water. I like the clips on the side that make it easier to take to a pot luck.

I haven't used it to cook a pot roast in a very long time. Really, aside from cooking my beans, I don't use it for much else. I do want a small one to make yogurt in. Maybe I'll make that a goal for the New Year.


January 5, 2011


I really like lentils. They are like a super food. 1 cup of cooked lentils packs 18g of protein, around 200 calories, and around 40 carbs with about 20g fiber.

I cook my lentils in the slow-cooker like I would any other beans. My slowcooker is my bean pot. It is the easiest way to get fantastic beans that are perfectly tender without being overdone.


1lb bag of lentils, stock (chicken, vegetable, you can even just use water), onion, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.

You can skip this next step and just add the raw onions and garlic to the slow-cooker. I like the extra flavor of browning them together in a pan with a touch of olive oil. It sweetens the onions and mellows the garlic just a bit.

Now toss all of your ingredients into the slow-cooker. Make sure you have enough liquid to cover about 1 inch above your lentils. You don't really need more than that, you don't lose water if your slow-cooker seals properly.

Set them on high and cook them for about 2 hours.

I like to serve them as a side dish for dinner, and eat the leftovers over rice for lunch.

Cooking lentils used to scare me. But in the slow-cooker, they cook just right. They should be soft but still hold their shape when you dish them up.


January 4, 2011

Chili Part 2

Now that the beans are done, I'm ready to make the chili. This recipe is pretty much the same recipe Mom made when I was growing up. I've added to it just a bit over the years.

This recipe has won many times at our church's Chili Cook Off. There aren't any measurements. It's all based on taste and preference. The slower it cooks the better it tastes.

I seasoned the ground beef with onion and garlic powder, then browned it.

Drain the beans and toss them into the pot along with the beef, onions, chili package (for my double batch I actually used 2 of these), and tomato sauce (I didn't have enough so I also reconstituted a can of tomato paste). Don't add any other seasonings at this point. Let the flavors stew together for a while before you decide what it needs. You can always add to it as you go, you can't take it out.

Once you have the chili at the consistency you prefer, add more water. Lots more water. It's going to cook on the stove for the rest of the afternoon and it will dry out. There's nothing worse than the smell of burned chili beans...burned popcorn is a close second.

After about an hour, when the chili is nice and red, you can add your other seasonings. Don't go overboard. You probably won't taste the change right away and can easily overdo it. Chili takes time for the flavor to develop. Add some salt and spices, then re-taste in another hour. You can keep this up every hour until the chili tastes exactly how you want. Be patient.

I did find that I used a lot more salt with the dried beans than I ever did using canned.

Another tip is to keep it simple. Most people don't really like exotic spices in their chili, and believe me I'm a huge fan of exotic spices. Don't make it so spicy that you can't taste it.

The end result is a nice hearty bowl of delicious chili that will warm you to your toes.


Chili Part 1

Chili is one of my favorite cold weather meals. Normally, I'd save myself a lot of time and trouble using canned beans. In the spirit of cutting the budget (again) and living more frugally I'm going to be experimenting with dried beans.

I never remember to soak my beans overnight. So instead I put the beans on to soak first thing in the morning. 

Quick Soak Method: Pour a bag of dried beans (these are small red beans) into a pot of boiling water. Turn off the heat and let them soak for around 2 hours. I'm making a double batch of chili so I used 2 bags of beans.

How they should look post soaking:

Cooking the Beans:

Drain the beans and refill the pot with water. Cook on medium high until tender (about an hour and a half). I'm thinking since my chili will cook for the rest of the day, I might not want to overcook the beans here.

This may be more done than I'd prefer (the skins are split and the beans are soft enough to eat right now). Next time I'll shorten my cooking time.


Fingerless Gloves

I knit these as a Christmas present for Kelsea.

I used a pattern from Ravelry. I learned how to knit in the round using double point needles(dpn), I had a lot of trouble joining in the round and ended up using the cast on tail to stitch in a seam where it gapped. I also learned how to work a thumb gusset, though I didn't quite understand how to cast the thumb stitches onto waste yarn. I managed to get the thumb done, even if it was a bit clumsy. These were really a lot of fun to cast on.

This second pair I've been working on for a friend. I finally figured out how to work with the waste yarn. It was so much easier than I was trying to make it for the previous pair. I enjoyed doing the cable rounds.