a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Three Simple Summertime Treats to . . .

Cool You Off by Bringing On the Tastes of the Tropics  
in the Scorching  Days of Summer

When we had our first official "summertime" meal last Monday we served the Bowl of Sunshine and the coconut pudding as dessert. However this fruit bowl combo is perfect and refreshing at any time, beginning with the first meal of the day. 

Bowl of Sunshine

There are no precise measurements --- simply adjust to your taste and the amount you need.  The pineapple and orange juices keep the bananas from turning dark.  I cut the oranges over the bowl so their juices drip onto the other fruit.  

In a non-metal bowl combine:
1 can crushed pineapple
bananas cut into bite-size pieces
orange segments cut into bite-size pieces
Store covered in refrigerator.

When Dave and I lived on a remote atoll for six months we learned that the coconut palm tree is truly the "tree of life."  The islanders did not carry bottles of water on their treks. They knock down coconuts when they were thirsty.  They told us the liquid of the fresh coconut is so pure it can be used intravenously if necessary. We learned that the coconuts we purchase from our stores (and then  laboriously dig out the chewy meat) are basically what they discard. The interior of a fresh coconut is very smooth and custard-like. It is the perfect food for their infants and ill and elderly. The closest we have found to duplicating the taste and feel of fresh coconut  is the following popular tropical pudding.

Helen's Haupia (Coconut Pudding)

3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 cups canned Coconut Milk

Combine cornstarch and sugar in a saucepan.
Add a small amount of the coconut milk and stir until 
the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining coconut
milk and cook, stirring constantly until mixture
is thick.  Pour into 8x8 inch glass dish or a bowl and refrigerate.

We love iced herb tea when the weather is hot. There are many great flavors but our favorite is "Lemon Zinger" by Celestial Seasonings. After making tea the usual ways ("steeping" in boiling water or hours in the sun) before the impatient waiting for it to get cold, we came up with a quicker way by simply cutting out the middle step.

Simply Iced Tea

You can adjust number of herb tea bags to suit your taste.
We put 5 herb tea bags in a large pitcher and add 
two quarts (8 cups) room-temperature water.
Place in refrigerator until cold.  The hot water/heat
part is not necessary. It will start  "steeping" before 
you even get it to the frig!)

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Simple Summertime Feast plus . . .

a better burger ---  with all the  fixins' EXCEPT  Hamburger With Lettuce Tomato And Cheddar Cheese On A Bun With Sesame Seeds Clipart Illustration by Maria Bell   
the Burger!

We had our first-of-the-summer meal last night --- with much of it coming directly from our garden. 

The menu looks long but it was all Simple! Healthy! Attractive! Fun! Delicious! and Quick!

Three "burger" varieties
Whole-wheat slider or dollar-size buns
Plate of pea pods, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and olives
Plate of tomato, onion and cheese slices, romaine lettuce and pickles
Catsup, mayonnaise and mustard
Shake and Eat corn on the cob http://thecreativecheapskate.blogspot.com/2012/04/cob-corn-in-natures-own-microwaveable.html

Marinated multi-bean salad

The "burgers" can all be made ahead of time. They reheat very quickly in the microwave.

Chris' Cottage Burger
Combine in large bowl: 
1 slightly beaten egg 
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup regular rolled oats
1 package (or 5 Tablespoons*) dry onion soup mix
Form into patties and fry in olive oil --- about three minutes on each side until well-browned. Drain on paper towel.

Black Bean Burger
(We used S&W Caribbean Recipe Black Beans for a spicier taste)
Combine in large bowl:
1 slightly beaten egg
1 can well-drained and rinsed black beans - "smashed or squished"
1 cup regular rolled oats
1 package (or 5 Tablespoons*) dry onion soup mix
Follow directions above.


Grilled Zucchini Burger
(perfect use for overgrown zucchini)
Unless it is so big the skin is tough, you do not need to peel them!
Slice large zucchini into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick  
Rub with olive oil and season as desired
Grill on outdoor grill or George-Foreman-type indoor grill

Marinated Multi-Bean Salad
This is a great salad to have on hand at all times. It keeps well for days and you can continue to add more veggies to the remaining marinade.  

Choose one of the following dressings, according to your taste. 

1. Combine 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 3 T. oil, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar and black pepper to taste.

2. Combine in a blender: 1 scant cup sugar, 1 cup apple cider, 1/4 to 1/3 onion (cut into chunks), 1 tsp. mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
You can add oil if desired---we don't.

Pour over your choice of beans, cover and refrigerate. We use varying (or sometimes all) combinations of green, yellow, kidney, black and garbanzo beans. We also add sliced onions and chopped cucumbers. Plus, sometimes, slightly pre-cooked crookneck and zucchini squash, sliced banana peppers and have chopped tomatoes on the side to add to individual servings (because they get mushy in the marinade.) 

Sometimes I will serve it on lettuce leaves --- topping it with croutons and cheese cubes --- for a meal in itself!

Make the most of  the season's fresh produce ---
especially great when you can grow your own or find Farmer's
Markets or local stands where they sell what they have grown. 

Check back Friday and I'll share what we had for a Simple! Refreshing! Dessert and a quick hint for making cold herb tea.

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail