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Showing posts from October, 2016

Meat Roll-ups

Tonight I made meat roll-ups.  And I got to use some ingredients that made food prep much easier than normal!  I did make two batches of rolls so that John could have a lactose-free meal.

The first thing to do is to brown some hamburger.  With the main batch I stirred a tin of mushroom soup into the browned meat.  For John's batch, I stirred in flour, some almond milk, and seasonings just enough to moisten it, but not to make it really runny.  In Niger, I would make it the second way since we don't have tinned soup.

Next I made a batch of biscuit dough using Bisquick.  Of course, in Niger, I have to make the biscuit dough from scratch.  I mixed it up with the almond milk.  Once the dough is rolled out in a strip, spread the meat mixture on it.  Roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls and cut into slices.  Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and cook in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.

While they're baking, I browned fresh mushrooms in butter (in Niger I would use tinned mushroo…

Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, and Asparagus (Post for Oct 18)

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven't been keeping up as well on the blog as I'd like.  That's because:  1.) We left Niger on Friday night, Oct. 14 and arrived in the USA on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 15 AND 2.) Sometime while we were on our flight from Niger to Paris, our grandson, Hezekiah James Hines entered the world!  Between Friday night and Monday afternoon we were in three different countries and in four different states in the USA.  We are now in OH enjoying time with Suzanne and Theo, Tera and Kiah.  Daniel will come down this evening and Kelly will come for the weekend.

Last night I cooked supper.  Suzanne thought of the idea and I made it happen.  As usual, it was fairly simple, but wow, was it delicious.  The three parts of the meal were salmon, sweet potatoes, and asparagus, none of which we can get in Niger.  Well, we can get a variety of sweet potatoes, but they are usually white.

I cut the sweet potatoes in strips and then put them in a bowl in which I…

Freezing for the Lean Months

From about November through March we have beautiful fruits and vegetables, most of the grown locally.  Then the rest of the year, it's hard to find good fresh produce.  Local produce especially is hard to find because it's just too hot to grow.  

So, in the months between November and March, I work hard to fill up my freezer with fresh veggies.  We do broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, and guava sauce.  And, why yes, those would be printer ink cartridges in my freezer. :)

Broccoli.  I cut it up, put it in a pot of boiling water for about three minutes, immediately plunge it into ice water, then drain it, and put it in zip-lock bags.

Green beans.  Same process as broccoli.  Boil, plunge in ice water, freeze.

Tomatoes are super easy.  I wash them well, cut them up a bit, throw them in the food processor and whirl them just enough that they are broken into pieces.  If I have fresh cilantro or basil, I'll throw that in, too.  I immediately…

Using Cook Books, Even in Ex-Nihilo Cooking

When I was in high school and first learning how to put together a meal on my own, my dad would tell me to just be creative and change recipes by adding ingredients or substituting ingredients.  I was too afraid I'd mess it up, so for a long time I stuck strictly to the recipe.  Now I've been cooking so long that there are many, many meals I make without a recipe.  I'm also no longer afraid to add to or to substitute ingredients in a recipe.  I do stick pretty close to the recipe for things like cake, though.

I think every cook has a few cookbooks that they go to over and over again.  Here are my favorites.

1.  More with Less.  This is "suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources".  This is my go-to book because the recipes are easy and use a limited number of ingredients.  If I had to cut down to one cookbook, this would be it.

2.  Betty Crocker. 

But the second book I'd want to keep is my Betty Crock…

Oven-baked Chicken

Tonight we once again had quick and easy! :)  Of course.

This recipe is called Oven Baked Chicken and originally came from the More with Less Cookbook.  But I don't even use the recipe anymore, it's that simple.

First, in a plastic bag put about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, then add seasonings you like.  Today I used salt, pepper, paprika, dill, seasoned salt, and "garlic and herbs".  Dip the chicken pieces in milk (I used soy milk), then put the pieces in the bag of breadcrumbs and shake the pieces until they are coated.  Lay the pieces in a slightly oiled pan and bake about 60 minutes.  Or do like I did, and put the pieces in the crock pot.  Mine cooked all afternoon (well, when the power wasn't off) and was delicious.  I served it with buttered rice, but often I'll put potatoes in the crock pot at the same time and bake potatoes.  We had a 
can of beets for our vegetables.  

And the power went off, so we ate by candlelight.  Sorry, the meal doesn't look like mu…

Spanish Noodle Skillet

This is another one of our favorite go-to meals for quick and easy.  It is cooked in one pan, is fast, is delicious, and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

You can use any kind of pasta, but I usually use a small size of macaroni.  Just use what you have in your cupboard.  The point of this meal is to not have to make a grocery store run to get some specialized ingredient.

As the recipe cooks, you can add more water as the liquid cooks down because you need to keep the pasta covered with liquid.  Make sure you stir it often, too.

I used tomatoes that I had frozen back when tomatoes were in season.  I just whirl fresh tomatoes in the food processor and put them in bags to freeze.

Here's the recipe:

Saute in a small amount of oil:
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped (optional)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 lb ground beef (or less; this is a good "essence of meat" meal)

Pour off any excess fat.  (Our beef is so lean this never happens!)
1 t. salt
dash pepper
1/4 t.…

Stir Fried Cabbage

Today I've been beyond exhausted.  So I made the quickest easiest meal I could think of.  I'm also trying to use up stuff in my fridge so it's nearly empty when we go on vacation.  And I sat down at the table and took out my camera to take a picture of our dinner and then totally forgot to take any pictures.  So, today, no picture.

This is another one of those meals that I don't have a recipe for and I don't think there's any really right or wrong way to make it.  I fried up some hamburger with onions and garlic.  You can never have too much garlic!  Sometimes I'll add in fresh grated ginger and sesame seeds.  Then I stirred in thin-sliced strips of cabbage, added salt, pepper, and paprika and sprinkled on some soy sauce.  Meanwhile rice was cooking and voila! in 15 minutes we were ready to eat.  I do the same with zucchini or green beans.  It's a quick, nutritious meal and you could also experiment with different kinds of meat or with no meat at all.  I…


Last night a friend invited us over for the evening meal.  She had hardly slept a wink the night before because the power had been off all night (thankfully, while it had gone off and on in the night, it wasn't off all night at our house).  Then she worked all day and came home around 4:30 p.m. to fix dinner for us.  Around 6:30 the power went off again and stayed off throughout the evening.  It was probably 95 degrees in her apartment and we were all sweating profusely.  A friend who is doing a one month refresher course at a nearby school dropped in and she joined us for dinner.  I thought I'd take a picture of us sharing a meal, but it was too dark!  The power did finally come on right before we left (but they said it went off again in the night and they had a second sleepless night).

This is a perfect example of true hospitality.  Our friend went on with the meal in spite of cooking in less than ideal conditions.  She laughed and joked about eating by flashlight.  And in th…

International Food

Even though it's Monday, this is Sunday's post.  I never had time on Sunday to do any posting.  But it's still Sunday somewhere ... California, maybe.

We go to an international church.  In fact the name, translated in English, is "International Evangelical Church".  I think the pastor said we have 24 nationalities.  Yesterday in the service when new people stood up to introduce themselves, I remember hearing Chad, Cameroun, and Cote d'Ivoire.

Yesterday at church the ladies did an international food day. 

 You had to pay for your food as it was a fund-raiser.  It was a bit confusing how to pay (at least for us low-context people!), but we finally figured out that you could pay a small amount and get a cup of porridge, you could pay more and get meal that didn't have meat in it, you could pay another price and get a meal with some meat in it, or you could pay even more and get a meal that was mostly meat.  

The meal I got was from Cameroun and was very yummy!  …

Baking Day

For as long as I can remember, I've done all of my baking for the week on Saturday.  I probably started doing that when we first got married and I was teaching all week.  Or maybe I started when we lived in the village and I was home-schooling.  At any rate, if you work outside the home or are home-schooling, baking on Saturdays may work well for you.  Even if you are a stay-at-home mom, it might be easiest to find one day to do the baking, but I'm guessing you need to bake as it fits around the needs of the kids.

On Saturday I almost always make bread.  In the village I made two to three loaves at a time and did it by hand.  Then my house-helper wanted to learn how to make bread, so I taught her and soon turned that task over to her.  As often happens, the student became the better bread maker than the teacher. :)  Now i have a bread machine and I always make my bread in that.  Since it's just me and John now, and since I really don't each much bread, one loaf will eas…

Tortillas and Tacos

Making tacos or tortillas sounds like a quick and easy meal, right?  Just grab some tortillas at the store, cut up some veggies, put out already grated cheese, fry your meat and add a package of seasoning, right?  Uh, no, not right.  First, make your tortillas, grate your cheese, make your own seasoning.....  It's funny how your idea of "easy" changes, though, because even with the make-your-own steps, this is one of my go-to easy meals.  We make it often on Friday nights.

A lot of people make tortillas with a dough that is about like pie crust and roll out their tortillas and then fry them.  But I have a runnier dough that I pour on the griddle like crepes or pancakes. 

They are super yummy, too!

Stir together:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small egg
1 1/2 cups cold water

Heat your griddle blazing hot.  Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle and quickly smooth it out with the back of a soup spoon.  (I decided it was impossible to pour, spread…

Eating Out

Everybody needs a break from the kitchen every now and then.  We eat out about once a month, usually at a place that's moderately priced.  This week we've had Council meetings for three days running.  On the last night we always go out for dinner and if we have spouses who are not on Council, they are invited to come along.  

The restaurant we chose last night is The Pilier, one of our favorite restaurants.  It's not cheap, though, so it's a nice treat to go there every now and then.  I ALWAYS have the ricotta-epinard ravioli (ricotta and spinach ravioli.  The picture is funny because of the lights in the restaurant, but it sure is yummy!

I never posted this yesterday because it was late when we got home and right when we walked in the door the power went out.