Sunday, December 26

It's a White Christmas -- Time to Read and Enjoy Each Other!

Look what happened, last night! Thought we were going to be by-passed, but Mother Nature had a different idea! Thank goodness, we're all comfy and warm inside, with new books to read, lots of holiday goodies, and a cozy fire.

Christmas Eve was at my daughter's. I brought the leftover quenelles transformed into this lovely pate, surrounded by fresh kale, and cold baked potatoes with my own aiello sauce and smoked paprika garni. Beef heart wasn't mentioned until AFTER the yum-yums!
If you recall, during the peach and plum harvests, I managed to make a little brandy to be included in my holiday baking. Well, it turned out very well, indeed, and so I went even a step further and made some Bristol Cream out of a combination of the peach and plum brandies. Then, of course, into some Brandy Balls, and fruitcake. So, I'll be able to keep the insides warm, too!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21

Beef Heart Quenelles, Mushroom Sauce & European Soldier Beans - Solar Baked

Beef Heart Quenelles with Mushroom Sauce & European Soldier Beans
A few weeks ago, I applied to participate in the Iron Foodie Contest offered by Foodie Blogroll and Marx Foods where they had 25 contestants + 25 recipes + 3 ingredients chosen by Marx Foods. Well, I didn't win. 8-(   BUT, Marx Foods offered me a consolation prize of five (5) random ingredients and an offer to create an original recipe and submit it for possible sharing on their blog and winning a consolation prize of more exotic ingredients! I couldn't resist. But, it had to be submitted by December 22nd. Here's my surprise ingredients -- and I've managed to use them all!

Aji Panca Chilies, Black Trumpet Mushrooms,
Saffron Threads, Granulated Honey, and
European Soldier Beans!
This was definitely going to be interesting and a multiple process meal. Because Marx Foods is a great place for exotic foods and spices, I decided on beef heart for my meat protein -- just because they don't offer it!

Guest Blog on Grow With Stacy

Is Entrepreneurship for You? This is my guest posting article about entrepreneurship on the Grow With Stacy blog today! Stacy knows her stuff and is a great source for personal development, blogging, and entrepreneurial needs! A quick peek will tell you that she offers so much more, so I hope you'll pop on over and give her site some attention and comment love! I know it's the holidays, but you gotta sit, sometime!

Friday, December 17

12-Bean Pork Chili

12-Bean Chili with Pork Loin on Seasoned Rice
Now, before you say think anything about this picture, bear in mind that I seem to have some kind of fascination with eggs (or, too much exposure to wide-eyed cartoons, as a child!). I was tryng to make a nice presentation of a rather mundane meal -- not in taste but in appearance -- without using a bowl. But, there being some liquidity to the chili, I didn't want it running all over the plate; so, I decided to place it in a rice ring. And, then, I wanted some corn but not IN my chili -- not this time. Soooooo, I ringed it around the outside and, well, there it was, a reversed adaptation of a fried egg! Can't help it. Holidays are keeping me busy and my mind is still focused on ingredients for other projects and photography is very low on the totem pole.

But, this is a super-easy meal for really cold evenings and I wanted to share it with you. The pork was in my doggie bag from a local bbq place and saved me oodles of time. I had placed the beans in water, the night before, and they were plumped and ready.

I pre-heated the solar oven (and, it's been cold here, in the low teens!) to 225F. Then, drained the beans and put them in a roasting pan that has a cover. In a large saucepan over med-high heat, combine the following ingredients: finely chopped pork; 1 medium onion, chopped coarsely; 1 medium-hot chili pepper, seeded and sliced finely; 1/2 tsp chopped hot chili pepper seeds, chopped very fine; 1/2 tsp carrot leaves, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp garlic granules, 1/2 tsp ground horseradish, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, 2 tsps sugar or stevia. Blend together over med-high burner on stove, until mixture starts to bubble. Transfer to roasting pan, cover, and put in oven for 2-3 hours. Prepare rice and corn in last half hour. Serve.

Saturday, December 11

December 2010 Toast to You!

Goodness! Wasn't Christmas Just a Few Weeks Ago?
A little late in my toasting, dear followers, although, I'm not apologizing. We're all busy and you've been wonderful. eReader cover sales have been great, and there's still time for those of you who haven't gotten one for yourself or a loved one.

Like you, I've been busy baking, crafting, wrapping presents, and getting ready to put up the tree. But, I don't want to miss thanking you for being there for me or forget to welcome all the newcomers!

My Toast to You!
The season brings us joyful memories, 
Through cards from family and friends.
Each produces that special moment
Of gatherings that have been.
It's a time to count our blessings,
And remember those who wait above.
A time to wish the happiest of holidays, 
To you and those you love.

Wednesday, December 8

It's My SITS Day! Welcome, SITStahs! Happy Holidays!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! -- My "Decorating for Christmas on a $15 Budget," free e-book gift to you has been extended through the Holidays! Obviously, my SITS day has passed but for all of you who continue to visit, simply follow the directions at the end of this posting and you will receive your own FREE copy, either as an e-book or in the .pdf version for those of you who use 

Today is my SITs Day! If you haven't heard about SITS, please check out their site. It's one of those super-special support sites that dedicates itself to helping more than 6,000 female bloggers find each other. Do yourself a favor and visit them if you want to find a way to build up your site, link together, and forge new friendships that make blogging such an exciting journey!

Now, if you've never been here to my site, before, welcome to a whole new experience in ways to make delicious meals and reduce your energy bills. Francesca (a really cool SITStah!) asked for a how-to article for the holidays and I decided to offer you my FREE ebook on Decorating for Christmas on a $15 Budget that used to be available on an older web site.  Before we switch over to the book info, I just wanted to say that I could go on all day about the benefits of solar cooking -- to the earth and your pocketbook -- but it's probably easier to let you browse my site and let it speak for itself! I hope you'll find it intriguing enough to want to incorporate it into your own cooking arsenal to create delicious meals for your family and put money in your pocket! But, now on to your FREE holiday gift!

FREE e-Book
 Happy Holidays from Creative Handz -- the crafty side of Solar Cooking at Home for Mainstream Cooks!

Thursday, December 2

Solar Winter Cooking is All in the Timing

Winter Solar Cooked Meals Need Timing
For new followers, I'm updating an older post to help with using a solar oven during the colder months. On a sunny day, the outside temperature doesn't matter; but, what time you begin to solar cook does matter. If you've prepared your meal the night before, as you would for a slow cooker, placing your meal in the solar oven before going to work, no problem; you'll have a wonderful meal waiting for you.

But, same-day preparation means you'll need to plan on using the best winter times for solar cooking -- between 10:00am and 2:00pm.  This meal was actually cooked between 1:00pm and 4:30pm, but that was with full access to the sun. A meal started after 2:00pm would probably require finishing up in the conventional oven.

This 1.5-pound package of pork loin was removed from the freezer and defrosted in the microwave. A loaf pan was lined with sliced onions, the pork loin placed over them, then spices, more onions, some raisins, and the whole thing was sealed in an oven bag. For my side dish, I used a packaged mix of scalloped potatoes and put all those ingredients in a second loaf pan. Both were placed in their own SolarWear(tm) Carriers and into the sun oven by 1:15pm.
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