Tennesseetransitions


It Starts at Home

These mid-winter days offer me time to ponder the meaning of life, gaze lovingly at my navel, and cross long-carried-over-to-do-items off of my to-do-list. I’ve even cleared out my sewing basket which I think has been on the list for a year now!

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January was National Radon Awareness Month and since I have lung cancer I’ve been thinking a great deal about the dangers of RADON-a leading cause of lung cancer. So, I orRdered a free home test kit here:  https://tdec.tn.gov/Radon_Online/frmRADON_Online.aspx and I hung it for 6 days for testing, mailing it back to the state yesterday.

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It’s precise but simple, and did I mention it’s free? It also comes with a prepaid mailer to return it in! Now be aware…if you find  your home has radon, you’ll need to be prepared to remediate the problem if you plan to ever sell your home, or  you’ll have to at least disclose it should  you sell. But I would hope you wouldn’t wait to sell to alleviate the problem should  you show a high reading. I understand the average remedy costs about $1,000-$1,500 if someone else does the venting work necessary to move the radon out of  your living area. It could probably done much cheaper if you do it yourself. How hard can that be? haha don’t answer that, please.  I’ll let you know when I get my test results back..we’re hoping of course we don’t have any problems.

I’ve also been making lots of soups and canning soup stock, using frozen bags of onion and carrot tops, mushroom stems, celery tops and other trimmings that I save for just such purpose. Last week I made 10 qts of organic broth, and at today’s prices, that equates to at least $20. My time is certainly worth that, and on cold days it helps to warm the house and add humidity by simmering that stock for hours. The resulting golden goodness is good for making soups obviously, but also for cooking rice, pasta, potatoes or beans in too. 

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Speaking of good food and cooking from scratch… I’ve had so many readers ask me for vegan/vegetarian meal ideas that I’ve been writing down what we eat for supper each night, always making sure there’s enough left for lunches the following day. It’s an easy process once you get used to it. I’m sharing this oh-so-exciting information with you, my readers, because maybe you’re one of the ones that have asked for ideas. (If this bores you, just go to the next section.) So, for the first week of February, here was the Jones’ menu:

Week of February 1st,2016

Monday: Good Shepard’s Pie-potato topping made with soymilk and Smart Balance vegan spread-filling contained beans, broccoli, corn, kale, green peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, bay leaf, dried basil, and srirachi sauce. (This is called GOOD Shepard’s Pie because a GOOD shepard doesn’t eat his sheep.)

Tuesday: Fried Rice w/peas and carrots in peanut sauce, roasted brussels sprouts

Wednesday: Aloo Gobi over Jasmine Rice with Fusion Slaw and Rolls

Thursday: Bean and Potatoes Burritos w/Guacamole, leftover Asian Slaw

Friday: Kale, Mushrooms and Potato Bake w/Salads and Whole Grain Rolls, fresh pineapple chunks

Saturday: Grill Cheese Sandwiches w/canned soup, with pickles and fresh fruit (bananas, pineapple and red grapes)

Sunday: Pad Thai w/Naan and Salad

Looking at the lengthening days and the calendar I’m beginning to think about spring planting of course. We ate our last Longkeeper tomato last week…

20160206_170333[1]...so the goal is to grow more of them and get them in earlier than we did in 2015 so that hopefully we’ll be able to grow enough this year to last the whole winter next year!  When planning  your own garden, perhaps you can find space to plant a “ROW” for the “Rest of the World.” Because I live in the city, all I have to do to share that extra produce is to set it out on my front steps.

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If  you aren’t in a high walkability area you may need to load it up and take it to your nearest food pantry or church. Please consider this one little addition to your garden this year…it can make a big difference and won’t cost you much of anything to provide good food for someone who doesn’t have it.

I’ve long advocated that we use our homes as a place of productivity, not simply a center of consumption. There’s a LOT of trouble in this big world and so I feel compelled to do what I can personally to feed and clothe and keep my family as safe and healthy as I possibly can. I share this blog with you in the hopes that it may inspire you to become more self sufficient in any way you can too. It’s my unpaid job but more satisfying than any other position I’ve ever held. It helps me to feel as secure as I possibly can given the state of things. The stock market has crashed again (no surprise there) but since I’ve not been in good health we aren’t driving much (except to doctors’ appointments!) so we’re hardly spending anything on gasoline these days. I love that we can walk to almost every place we need to, giving me an extra layer of assurance that ‘all will be well’. I need that assurance in order to BE well.

In order to create resilient and prosperous households and neighborhoods, it starts at home with me, with you, and you. 



Ding! Ding! Ding!

 

Image I recently touched on a concept called “The Green Triangle” that was put forth by author, editor, and simple living adherent, Ernest Callenbach. Seems he was able many years ago to put into words a principle that I’ve often used to guide me in my daily choices and decisions concerning my money, my health or the environment. The principle that relates these three points is: Anytime you do something beneficial for one of them, you will almost inevitably also do something beneficial for the other two – whether you’re hoping to or not.

I’ve also written several times about ‘win-win’ situations. Here, here and here for example. The Green Triangle is a ‘win-win-win’ situation in my eyes and as someone who cares deeply about those three things, I find it a helpful tool. I’ve used it so often over the years that I rarely ask myself anymore, “Self? What does the Green Triangle indicate in this situation?” But, it wasn’t- and isn’t- always that easy, so I thought perhaps it might be helpful to you if I could tell you of a few instances when it’s been a guiding light for me.

I long fretted over “Which is best? Local? Organic? Grass Fed?” Where my food is concerned, my health was my first consideration. So with staying healthy as my primary motivator, I felt comfortable with answering those questions by adopting a plant-based diet. Period.  As it turns out, by not buying meats, I’m improving my arteries, while saving money (beans, grains, nuts, eggs and greens are far cheaper sources of protein than meat)  AND protecting the environment from the harm that Big AG conventional meat producers are causing. Green Triangle =ding!ding!ding!

Whenever I walk or ride my bike, I’m putting the Green Triangle into effect. I’m saving gas money and wear on my car, I’m improving  my clogged arteries, and not contributing to the CO2 emissions that driving causes. ding!ding!ding!

Occasionally though, it’s not so clear-cut or even when it is, it’s not so easy to adhere to my own principles. When Michael and I were dating many years ago we had an old, heavy cooler that I couldn’t give away, try as I might. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, we simply wanted to buy a lighter one, with wheels and drink holders and little dividers inside that kept your hummus from touching your lettuce or whatever. I distinctly remember standing in the backyard and Michael saying to me that he felt we are responsible for the things we purchase until the end of that things’ life cycle. That simple statement stayed with me, and  the longer I live with it, the more I see how true it is. We didn’t buy the new cooler then, nor have we ever bought another one, because the karma of keeping the damn old thing boomeranged, as karma does, you know. Years later, a friend was moving and offered us his ‘old’ cooler-and it was just what we’d wanted! We still have the ‘old old’ one, which I use for protecting tender young plants on cold spring nights ;),  as an extra camp seat, and  as storage for camping gear during the off-season. We never did have to spend the $30 dollars a new one would’ve cost us, the landfill is STILL minus one steel cooler, and  I rest easy knowing I made a good decision. ding!ding!ding!

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Before I close, I want you also to understand that making good choices, whether using the Green Triangle or by following the advice found in my fortune cookie, is still really hard. I don’t always make the best food choices or purchasing decisions (did I ever tell you about my weakness for chocolate chip mint ice cream or my Imelda Marcos style shoe collection??), and some days I don’t gave a rat’s a## about the polar bears (ok, that’s not quite true) but being ever-mindful about my consumption of every thing that comes through my life has saved me lots of cash, helps me stay healthy and hopefully, has saved a polar bear somewhere as well. Maybe this Green Triangle thing can help you make better choices too. ding!ding!ding!



Frugal Friday August 30th

I’m on a writing roll friends, and since I didn’t get around to it last week, today is the day for… FRUGAL FRIDAY. It’s been a difficult week for my husband and consequently, I’ve wanted and needed to be home with him as much as possible. I walk the dog for a half hour each morning, and that’s about it. That said, when you don’t start the car, go out to eat, go into stores or out with friends, YOU DON’T SPEND ANY MONEY! I don’t recommend this forced method of saving however, because it can lead to…writing too many blog posts.

I rescued another stamp this week that had arrived in my mailbox uncanceled and used it to mail a card to a sick friend. I don’t go to many yard sales and thrift stores, but when I do, I always look for cards and stationery. I have a nice assortment of both now, and rarely have to buy an appropriate card at full retail price. Of course, using ‘recycled’ postage stamps to mail them makes the endeavor practically free. I really do enjoy sending cards and letters to folks, but felt it was wasteful of Earth’s resources, since most cards are thrown away within a week of receiving them so this practice of buying second-hand allows me to indulge without being wasteful . Here’s the latest stamp that came to me uncanceled-on my birthday earlier this month- which was like ‘frosting on the cake’ so to speak.  ;D

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Speaking of greeting cards… a ‘ritual’ that began quite unexpectedly has turned into an annual reaffirmation for me. Four years ago Michael gave me a beautiful and sentimental anniversary card. I told him it was perfect and that he could just give it to me every year after that. So he does, adding a new inscription to it each August. I still love it, and look forward to its yearly return. Savings: who knows?  but it’s priceless to me!

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I answered a posting on Freecycle this week for an offer of 3 vials of the same vet-recommended flea and tick medication (read: EXPENSIVE)  that I was already applying to my dog each month, and was so grateful to be chosen to receive it. Savings: $36.00 hmmm maybe I’ll send that Freecycler a thank you card with my next recycled stamp ;D (Here’s Junie showing off her stash)

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I picked up a book that was on hold for me at the library this week. Not only do they call me when it’s ready for pickup, they send me a complimentary email reminder when it’s due too!  Since I walked over to get it, I didn’t even use any gasoline! Public Library Privileges: PRICELESS! And see here how beautiful my library is:

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I enjoy making a meal out of essentially ‘nothing’ and put this one together initially because of the four potatoes I’d failed to harvest earlier: I stir fried the chard leaves and diced potatoes with the onions, cooked the green beans with the dill, and threw the beets in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes while the rest of it cooked. I sliced the tomatoes just as they were, had some leftover cornbread and apple mint tea with it, and it was more than enough for two meals. (I added the ‘Appalachian Grown Certified Local’ twist tie to the picture  just because it came on a bunch of kale I’d bought at the Farmer’s Market in early spring and I thought it was kinda novel- and it was appropriate for this local food too. I’m easily amused these days, can you tell?)
Savings: I don’t know…what would that organically grown produce cost me? Three or four dollars I’d say!

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Hope your Labor Day Weekend is anything BUT laborious!



‘Tis the Season…

...for ‘winter’ foods. I know it’s positively spring-like outside, but  we’ll be back to, ahem, ‘normal’ in a couple more days so let’s talk about what’s ‘normal’ for this time of year, food wise. I went to the Farmer’s Market today and was pleasantly surprised to find a fair variety of things to eat. There were pickled beets, meats and cheeses, fresh loaves of bread, jams and jellies, greens and more. Here’s what I brought home:

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The bag in the background contains fresh ground corn meal, ground right at the market from locally grown corn. (He had grits for sale too and I wish I’d bought some) The eggs, onions and turnips were beautifully fresh and everything I bought was a bargain.

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Not only was this food locally grown, it was appropriate for this time of year. You may be asking yourself, “what the hell can I eat besides turnips in January?” If so, let me offer some ideas. The fall crop of potatoes and apples is on sale everywhere, as are cabbages, carrots and greens. Luckily, I still have lots of garlic and shallots and Cushaw squash stored away, and we have broccoli, 4 kinds of lettuce, bok choi and cabbages in the garden, along with  parsley and cilantro growing in pots. Yesterday, we roasted our last homegrown potatoes in the clay cooker, topped with 20 or so of our spring-grown garlic cloves and a handful of fresh rosemary. (Note to self: plant more potatoes this year.) Our Christmas oranges yielded enough zest and juice to make “Orange Teriyaki Rice” tonight, and some of the green onions we’d bought were sliced and sprinkled on top . We had fresh, steamed broccoli that I harvested yesterday and a big bowl of lima beans from the freezer to go with it.

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It’s definitely more of a challenge to eat seasonally during the winter months, but it’s also definitely more satisfying when we do. Soup and cornbread is our mainstay in cold weather, and has proven to be easier to prepare, more filling, cheaper to make and most accommodating of my desire to eat seasonally. If you’re one of those people who says that they “just don’t feel satisfied with a bowl of soup”, then you must be eating the canned stuff, because winter soups simmered on the stove and filled with dried beans, herbs, sweet potatoes or squash, kale or cabbage, summer tomatoes and dried peppers, and served over rice, are filling, healthy and takes advantage of the foods that are normally associated with winter anyway.

Eating foods when nature produces them is what people the world over have done naturally through most of history, before mega-supermarkets dotted the landscape and processed foods became ubiquitous. Seasonal eating is also a cornerstone of several ancient and holistic medical traditions, which view it as integral to good health and emotional balance. Here’s a gentle reminder of what I’m trying to say:

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal …
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance …
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sow;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

ecclesiastes 3:1-8



What’s for Supper?

As promised in my last post, today’s topic is familiar to everyone.  Since I’m trying to lower my food bills and wastes while at the same time eating a healthy diet, I thought it might be helpful to offer some tips that I’ve found for getting a decent evening meal on the table without a lot of fuss or money. I no longer have young children living at home, nor do I have a day job anymore  (writing this blog is my ‘night job’ 🙂 )  but I haven’t forgotten the challenge of putting together the evening meal. I had four kids and a picky husband that I fed 3 times a day, 365 days a year, for oh, at least 25 years. Eating out happened only once or twice a year back then.

Michael is not picky, except for his desire for our meals to be as low-fat as possible. Since he contributes almost as much time in the kitchen as I do, and since I’ve learned the dangers of a high fat diet to my health, I’m accommodating. That said, my desire for keeping the food budget low so that we don’t have “more month than money” is important to me too. Where do we start then?

Breakfast for us is always crock pot oats (bought in 50 lb bags for $26) doctored up with apples (dried or fresh), raisins and cinnamon. A dab of honey is mixed into the crock at the end of cooking so that it mixes well into the hot oatmeal. A potful is stored in the ‘frig and lasts us 4 or 5 days.  Lunch is always leftovers from the previous night’s meal, so we simply make sure that we prepare enough to provide us with that noon time meal, even if it means stretching it with extra beans or potatoes. Or, if there’s not quite as much left from supper as we’d like, we simply supplement this meal with a salad from the garden, leftover cornbread from the night before or perhaps green beans or peaches that were canned last summer. That just leaves supper to deal with.

Since we eat a plant-based diet, we don’t have to worry about the price of meat. Instead, we spend our grocery dollars on what’s fresh and seasonal. We buy in bulk when it’s cost-effective to do so, doing a monthly (or even bimonthly) shopping trip to stock up on staples. Trips to the store ‘between times’ are limited to fresh soy milk or produce specials.

I believe the one thing that makes it easiest to stick to my ‘food values’ is planning ahead. After a full day of activity, staring into the refrigerator at 5 PM with no idea of what I’m going to cook, is a recipe for disaster.  I like to determine ‘what’s for supper’ each morning by taking a quick peak in there to see what needs to be used first. Then I plan the evening meal based on that. Wednesday I made a big pot of curried split pea/cauliflower soup, because I had a half head of it that needed to be used. We enjoyed the soup with slices of the homemade bread Michael had made over the weekend, and had sweet cranberry/nut bread for dessert, using up the remaining fresh cranberries we’d bought at Christmas. Last night he made ‘Lentil Tacos’ using the lentils I’d cooked ahead and frozen in the 2 cup portions that we need for most recipes. I do this with all kinds of dried beans since it doesn’t take any longer to cook a pound than it does to cook a cup or two. Adding condiments and spices to the thawed lentils gave them a taste and texture very much like real beef tacos. We enjoyed it wrapped in fresh corn tortillas, topped with chopped lettuce from the garden, diced tomatoes, plain homemade yogurt (in place of sour cream) and summer-canned salsa. (I forgot to take a picture of the tacos-from-lentils that he made, but I did take one of the ‘Sloppy Lentils’ and oven baked ‘fries’ that we enjoyed recently. It was yummy too!

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Because I had cooked a big pot of brown rice earlier in the day (an everyday staple also bought in bulk) he made a big bowl of rice pudding for dessert that  used up the remaining cup or so of plain soy milk that had been opened for mashed potatoes recently. Adding creamy milk, raisins and spices (bought in bulk too!) like cinnamon and cardamom to the rice reminds me of chai tea. YUM! There’s still enough pudding for several more bowls and tonight’s stir fry will be served over the remaining rice. Like beans, cooking rice in bulk saves time and energy.

For a balanced diet, I try to rotate meals by including rice, potatoes, pasta or beans as the basis for the main entrée, then add sides of salads or fresh cooked veggies that we’ve grown or purchased fresh and on sale at the little grocery store that’s within walking distance of our home. Soups are a limitless mainstay around here, and a great way to use small amounts of leftover foods. Salads don’t have to be filled with exotic or expensive veggies to be good. Letting the lettuces be the ‘belle of the bowl’ keeps costs way down, as does making your own dressings. 

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The point is, by planning ahead, growing and preserving what we can (oh! we’re going to miss our bees’ honey when it’s gone!), eating seasonally and cooking from scratch, we’re able to eat on less than the USDA’s recommended ‘thrifty plan’, which is about $4 per person, per day. Not buying sodas and juices, processed or snack type foods keeps our food costs down and our bodies healthy. We drink cups of (bulk) hot tea or water with our meals and snack on a wide variety of fresh or dried fruits, popcorn, sweet breads and muffins, nuts, smoothies and fruit tarts made with little effort. We collect recipes the way most shoppers do coupons and enjoy the cooking process and discovering new ways to use old ingredients! I’ll occasionally use a coupon for the weekly deal at Earth Fare, which is close to our home and sells the kind of food we enjoy, but otherwise, I find they’re just not needed for rice, beans, oats and fruits. 

Having a food system that’s COMPLETELY dependent on oil, huge monocrop farms and globalized transport makes me feel powerless, but sticking to the basics of fruits, grains and veggies enables me to make easy substitutions when those factors that are out of my control affect price or availability. This built-in resilience assures me that the eternal question of “what’s for supper?” gets answered every day.



My Slightly Crunchy Life

I was told today that I am ‘CRUNCHY’. For the uninitiated, ‘crunchy’, as defined in the ‘Urban Dictionary’, is used to describe “persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. Also used to describe establishments where alternative foods and products are sold, i.e. natural food stores.” So, I’m taking the comment as a compliment.

I have definitely altered my lifestyle recently, partially  for environmental reasons, by moving from the country to a walkable neighborhood near downtown. I’m relearning how to use my feet and my bike to get around now, I’m a vegetarian, a tree hugger, a gardener and a left-leaner but I am NOT a neo-hippie, which the same dictionary defines as ‘modern day suburban pot heads that play a lot of hacky sack’. For what it’s worth, I don’t know how to play hacky sack 😉

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ll share some recent crunchy things at my house:

Have you tried grilled peaches? These babies are filled with my homemade blackberry jam and they top my list of favorite foods. I hear grilled pineapple is excellent too. Have you tried this yet? Is this considered crunchy?

Speaking of good food, we had company for supper last night and enjoyed chile made from our homegrown beans, tomatoes, peppers and onions along with this blue cornbread, made from the Indian Blue Dent corn I grew last summer. I’ll admit, the cornbread was dense and chewy, with a  crunchy crust actually- just the way I like it. I love using my grandmother’s cast iron skillet to make it in. No pan in my collection equals it, and it’s probably 75 years old.  Simple, healthy meals shared with good friends and home-made music or board games like ‘Quirkle’ are some of the best of times in my opinion. Can you say “Crunchy Quirkle” five times, really fast? Me neither.

 

How many peppers did Peter Piper pick? I have no idea, but Michael and  I picked a five gallon bucket full out at Larry Thompson Farms over the weekend. This afternoon I diced and froze some of the bell peppers, put the hot ones in the dehydrator, and will pickle some of the mild banana peppers tomorrow. I sure hope they don’t get soggy, and that they’ll remain…wait for it- CRUNCHY!

Another friend had asked me on Friday if she could borrow my Excalibur dehydrator this week to dry some of her peppers. I fully intended to share it with her tomorrow, after mine had finished drying, but that was before I went to the ‘Tree Streets Annual Yard Sale” on Saturday morning. Look what I picked up for her there,  for just four dollars! A perfect way to start dehydrating on her own, and a great bargain, since their website sells this model for $129! A crunchy deal if there ever was one!

I’ll say it again: If we collectively plan and act early enough, we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. Now is the time for us to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being. My choices of growing and preserving food, composting, recycling, staying closer to home, hanging my clothes to dry and being frugal with my money, all while supporting local businesses and community building, isn’t a hysterical response  to Peak everything, but a slightly crunchy lifestyle that I cherish. Who knew?




Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart…

…”the more you eat, the more you fart. The more you fart, the better you feel, let’s have beans at every meal!” If that old adage  is true, my heart should be super healthy!  As committed vegetarians, Michael and I eat a lot of beans. You may have noticed the picture of the dried beans I used in the background of this blog’s homepage-they’re a variety I’m crazy about, called Hopi Orange Limas and I grow them because they’re drought resistant, taste fabulous, and they’re beautiful. Here, take a look:

 But, even if we weren’t vegheads, we’d still eat a lot of beans.There’s lots of reasons to include beans in our meals, but the most obvious is that, in terms of nutritional bank for our buck, beans really are a great value. As a matter of fact, we don’t even bother to grow dried beans anymore, unless they are a  hard-to-find variety. Common varieties of dried beans cost only a bit over $1.00 a pound and when cooked, plump up to six cups of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and are low in fat. If you cook them in the pressure cooker, there’s no need to soak them, and they’re done in about 15 minutes. This post  discusses the ease of pressure cooking, and how I freeze them in 2 cup quantities, which is what many bean-y recipes call for. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other so well, I thought a peek inside my freezer would give you an idea of how much we love beans: peppers, bread, corn and ‘soup stuff’ on the bottom, but the whole top shelf is dedicated to cooked beans!

 

We use ’em in soups, casseroles, salads, salsa, hummus, burritos, tacos, in crock pot meals, Indian dals, and any other way you can think of. Here’s the thing: with the huge variety of meals and beans, we never get tired of them. All that said, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite bean-y recipes. No chopping to this recipe, which is a plus for me. Let me know if you try it!

PS Mustard and coriander seeds, dried coconut, sea salt, turmeric and the yellow split peas can be purchased in bulk (read: cheaper, and no packaging waste) at the Mennonite Bulk Food Store in Chuckey. This store will definitely be listed in the soon-to-come ‘Local Resource Guide’.

CHICKPEAS IN COCONUT SAUCE

5 tsp sesame or canola oil

2 T. yellow split peas

1 tsp coriander seeds (let some of your cilantro go to seed and harvest it)

2-4 dried Thai or cayenne chilies (I’ve used all kinds of dried chilies for this recipe)

2 cups water

1 tsp tamarind paste

1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds

3 cups chickpeas, drained

2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt

1/4 tsp turmeric (studies show that including turmeric in your daily diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s, a real concern for me personally)

1/2 cup shredded, dried unsweetened coconut, reconstituted in water

2 T finely chopped cilantro

In a medium saucepan over medium high, heat the oil. Add the split peas, coriander seeds and chilies. Cook, stirring constantly, until the split peas and seeds are reddish-brown and the chilies have blackened slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, skim off the spices and transfer them to a plate to cool for about 5 minutes. Do not discard the oil.

Once the spices are cool, put them in a spice grinder and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine the water and tamarind paste. Whisk to dissolve the paste.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat. When the oil is warmed, add the mustard seeds. Cover the pan and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (about 30 seconds)

Stir in the chickpeas, salt and turmeric. Stir to coat the peas evenly with the spices. Pour in tamarind water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas absorb the flavors, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the ground spices, reconstituted coconut, and cilantro.

Start to finish: 25 minutes!

Makes 8 servings (IF you eat like a bird!)

I serve this over basmati or brown rice, add a salad and a side of greens, with chapatis or naan bread and herbal tea for a complete meal





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