Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Diatomaceous Earth

...otherwise known as DE. Diatomaceous Earth (Fossil Shell Flour) is an earth friendly product used for deworming, insect control, parasite eradicator for plants, animals, and people!

Its great for ant control in our kitchen and that's saying alot living in Africa, where they must have every size ant known to man...and other funny bugs of yet unknown names to me.

The great thing about DE is that it's totally harmless to humans and pets (of course, unless you have a pet termite...he he he...). It will not harm children and putting it in your garden is OK, because it doesn't hurt earthworms either.

We even use it on our puppy to help with ticks and fleas and on her bedding. We mix some into her dry dog food to kill bugs (in storage) and for her when she eats it. It is very useful for animals both small and large. Even farmers are finding out the great things about using DE in their fields, and with their animals. It can also be used for silos and storing grains.

Believe it or not, it can even be used as a supplement to rid parasites from people. Human use of DE is getting more well known apparently. Check this Freshwater Organics site out.

Another help for the kitchen...DE can be added to your grain, bean and other bulk bought storage. It will kill any bugs in your storage. And when you go to eat your bulk items, you don't have to clean it off, it's perfectly fine for human consumption.

It's not chemical or artificial. It's very important to get the right kind of DE for human & animal use. Note: the DE that is used for swimming pools is a very different product - never use it for human or pet use!
So check out these links for more information on DE (Fossil Shell Flour).

Freshwater Organics

Dirt Works

Perma Guard

They cover it better than I could in a blog post.

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My #1 Breastfeeding Aid

A friend called me today to ask me about a breastfeeding aid I once told her about. Turns out she's in need of it and couldn't remember the name of it.

What she wanted to know was about a great little invention called Lilypadz. These are the best aid for breastfeeding I have ever come across and have had wonderful success with them. I only wish I had known about them with my first baby.

(Guys, let your wife read the rest of this post. You've been warned!)

A little background...My first baby had trouble latching on correctly. And I got such terrible pain with cracked nipples and had my share of awful breast infections with him. I also had trouble with leaking. I joked that I could've nursed twins with the amount of milk I was blessed with.

Because of my trouble with leaking, I needed to have some sort of nursing pads to put in my bra so I wouldn't soak my clothes. I was given some disposable nursing pads and I also bought some flannel cloth ones to use. Well, the disposable ones would tear and the cloth ones would stick and be painful for me to take off. Since there was not much for an alternative, I still had to use one or the other all the time. Trying to heal cracked and sore nipples while needing to nurse and still having trouble leaking were leaving me at my wit's end.

And then there's the problem of keeping nursing pads where you want them. Oh, and how to keep them from showing through your clothing, with an "unnatural" silhouette. Somehow eventually things started getting better and I was able to nurse my first baby until he was 17 months old. I had made it through OK.

Before I was pregnant with my second, I was in a store and saw Lilypadz. I couldn't believe it. There it was...another silicone product like the Diva Cup. And I loved that product!!!

I remembered that information for awhile until I was pregnant again (we were blessed again after 7 years - PTL!) with our second baby. It wasn't long before I trekked out to that store to buy my newest breastfeeding friend. I bought it long before that baby was born - I was not going without this time!!!

Let me tell you...it is just as good as the Diva Cup is for your monthly cycle. And the Lilypadz are only necessary for the "elite" few of us who actually leak when we have a new baby in the house until they are about a year old or so, if you are an active breastfeeding "team". But guess what? I hardly had trouble with breast infections - no big fevers or sick in bed anymore. No, not me. Cracked, bleeding, and painful sore nipples were a thing of the past. I was a convert.

A great side benefit of the Lilypadz is that they are reusable and hand washable. No running out of the disposable ones or having to launder cloth ones in the washer or hand wash and dry. These little gems can be washed one minute and applied the next minute. I found that I only needed to wash them about once per day. I found that one pair lasted me at least 6 months. So if you have leakage after this time, you may need to buy another pair. I am still nursing my two year old, but without leakage trouble at all these days.

On their website, you'll find many more testimonials from women like me who love them and can't say enough great things about them. I fully recommend it to any lady that is either pregnant or has a newborn that will be nursing. A pair will cost about $20.00 US or so. I believe it to be the best money paid for such a great invention!

If you know of anyone that could benefit from this product, tell them about this wonderful gem. They will not be disappointed.

...Another great product for easy nursing: stretchy sports bras or these wonderful bras at Decent Exposures. This company does sell bras with a nursing flap, but I found the original "unbra" to be the most helpful that is without this feature. You simply lift up to nurse, no hooks to bother with. They even have organic fabrics and latex-free elastics available! Shipping is included in the prices.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Basic Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

To one lovely couple who today celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary... Dad & Mother, this is for you. Happy Anniversary!

For a treat for your honey on that special day...

Basic Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

1/2 c. honey
4 c. milk/cream mixture*
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, dissolve honey in 1/2 cup milk/cream over very low heat, stirring until well blended. Pour this and remaining ingredients into the canister of an ice cream maker. Stir well together. Process until mixture thickens and freezes. Serve immediately as soft serve. Or take out of ice cream maker canister and put into an airtight container, putting it into the freezer to harden.

*You can use soy milk/soy cream mix for this (Silk brand sells a soy creamer). The more milk you use, the more it will be like "ice milk." The more cream, the more like "ice cream" it will be.

Vitamix: Freeze part or all of the milk/cream into ice cubes adding honey & vanilla when processing in Vitamix, skipping the stove top and the ice cream maker steps. Proceed as directed to harden in freezer.

Flavor ideas:

mint: use mint extract to sub for the vanilla (same for other extract flavors)
carob/chocolate: add in carob or cocoa powder
strawberry: use some strawberry jam to replace some of the honey

Stir-in ideas (to be mixed in when putting into ice cream maker or into freezer after blending in Vitamix :

carob/chocolate chips
fruit or berries (ie: strawberries, peaches, pineapple, raisins, banana, etc.)
nuts: any ones you like, chopped (ie: pecans, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia, cashew, etc.)

Have a great vegan cookie dough you like? Mix up a small batch of cookie dough as usual and put onto a pan thin (flatten to about 1/4") like a bar cookie, but don't bake. Then score into very small squares. Now freeze it, still in the pan. When frozen, break up into small squares. Add as a mix-in to the recipe above.

Ok, now I'll have to start posting some cookie recipes! I must be craving something sweet! =)

This would work well with baked oatmeal or carob cake too!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

You know you live in a hot climate when it gets down to 75 degrees F and everyone is cold! Recently we've had some cooler weather here in Ghana because of the wet season. It can cool down considerably here right before it storms.

So like everyone during the winter season (in other parts of the world), my mind turns to something warm. From socks and jackets to baked food...like baked oatmeal. I don't ever think that I had this as a child, but children (and the young at heart) love this.

Baked Oatmeal

6 c. rolled oats (aka: old fashioned oats)
4 tsp. baking powder, optional*
1 Tbsp. (or more) cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. - 1 c. honey/maple syrup
2 c. non-dairy milk, or water (or pasta water, or...)
1/4 c. flax seed/meal ** mixed with 1 c. water
2/3 c. - 3/4 c. coconut oil (can use part applesauce/pumpkin puree or equivalent in mashed bananas)
2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately, then mix all ingredients together. Put into greased (I use coconut oil) 9" x 13" baking dish. At this point, I let it "soak" for a few minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 45 minutes or more until done. Great warm with fruit and some non-dairy milk. Wonderful for leftovers!

*Note about baking powder: I do not always use baking powder. Using it means that your baked oatmeal will have a lighter texture, more like cake. I do not use it for any other recipe. I found that not using it still gave me satisfactory results. Even our church's men's group loves it, even without it. You can decide. Not sure? Try a half batch without and decide for yourself. Baking powder also adds sodium to the recipe.

**Flaxseed substitute info here. I have used my Vitamix to blend up the water together with whole flax seed to my liking. No cooking required. And if you have flax seed meal (in your freezer only please - it will go rancid fast!) you can just follow the first suggestion in the aforementioned link.
I have been able to use bananas to replace half the "egg" amount with success. If using any applesauce or bananas to replace any oil or "egg" amounts, decrease honey amount.

Great for breakfast or any meal. Try it as a snack meal with homemade soy ice cream sometime! Come back for the recipe in the next post!

For other frugal tips, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Edited on 10/3/2012 to add note about baking powder.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


What to do with all this fresh ginger? Well, after I washed and trimmed it, I made a puree with added water and fresh lemon juice.

Now it looks like this...

Nice and creamy...

I used about 1 & 1/2 c. each of water and fresh trimmed, chopped ginger and about 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (2 lemons). The recipe I was (somewhat) following said to strain it, but I think I'll leave it all in there. It will settle anyway. Juice at the top and solids at the bottom.

We had a curry dish the other night and because we are giving our daughter foods from the table these days, we added our own ginger "juice" to our dishes at the table. That way she wouldn't get too spicy a bite and we'd still get our ginger taste. Yum.

I want to try to make other things with it, maybe even make a version of ginger ale with it. Flavoring in cookies, cakes...?

The following recipe is one I used from the vegetarian cookbook, "A Celebration of Wellness," by James Levin and Natalie Cederquist.

Fresh Ginger Concentrate

1/2 c. fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

1 c. pure water

1/4 c. lemon juice

Liquefy all the ingredients in a blender for a couple of minutes. Strain into a glass jar and store in the fridge. Use this is stir frys, salad dressings, soups or sauces - or added to sparkling waters or juices. You can also add 1 tsp. to hot water as a beverage to increase your circulation. An easy way to have fresh ginger around. Make ahead and store in fridge. It saves preparation time.

Also from the same book: "Ginger...This tasty aromatic rhizome soothes the digestive system, stimulates the circulatory system, and acts as a decongestant. To make ginger tea, pour boiling water over a bit of chopped ginger root; it will warm you up on a chilly day."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Carrot Dip - Art Or Invention?

I like my favorite hobby. Food. Sometimes I play a little and see what I can come up with. Recipes, that is. Then sometimes something just looks cool...

I love the way good food looks. Things are beautiful in the "natural," don't you think?

This was my latest experiment...not too bad. Can you even guess what's in my Vitamix?

I'll give you a hint...it was dip for our "homemade" corn tortillas (the last ones till we get back to the good old USA). No tomatoes either...

OK, give up? It is the beautiful orange carrot. Pureed. Yes, that's right.

Carrot Dip

I put in about 6-8 carrots with water to cover and pureed it. So that's what you see in the bottom under my seasonings.

Seasonings (the artsy part!) from top, going clockwise around to the middle (very rough estimates...I am a shake and pour kind of person sometimes):

2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt (hard to see)

1 tsp. dried onion flakes

1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder

1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic

2 Tbsp. beet juice! =)

and about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast on top of this

All mixed up, very good. I wanted to see if the beet would make it more red. Not really. But it didn't hurt anything. The finished product still looked orange, just darker. Sort of a cheesy type carrot sauce. And no, it did not taste like overcooked carrots with no flavor. It was very good.

We had this alongside some avocado (Remember our friends? They supply us about once per week!) and corn tortillys and we had us some happy mouths.

...and because I couldn't decide which photo to use, I'll leave you with a parting shot...ain't it perdy?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Beans, beans...

...the musical fruit!

That's how my husband jokingly refers to beans. The whole little rhyme (even has a musical tune - of course! LOL)...

"Beans, beans, the musical fruit,

The more you eat, the more you toot,

The more you toot, the better you feel,

So let's have beans for every meal!"

I will say that for some people, beans (correctly called legumes) and their "musical" after effects is not on their all time favorite things in life. Many people just avoid them altogether. If you happen to like them, like me (and to avoid pain and embarrassment), check out the list below.

1. when soaking ahead of time, always drain and rinse before adding fresh water to cook beans

2. add ginger to beans when cooking

3. cook beans with a piece of kombu, a seaweed perfect for this

4. change the cooking water after boiling for a few minutes, rinse beans, then add fresh water to a clean pot before continuing. (I don't always do this, but it helps when I cook soybeans to avoid boil overs.)

5. "Add epazote to the beans when cooking. Epazote, a little-known herb also called Mexican Tea, helps control gas when cooked with beans. It adds a strong, distinctive taste that is common to Central and South American cooking. Look for it in Hispanic groceries or health food stores. You can also buy it online; just search for 'epazote.'" - (from Bean Bible website)

(6. I would suggest another popular remedy for digesting beans here, but alas, I have heard it is not vegetarian friendly, because it contains gelatin and other non-veg ingredients - oh well...)

Some people think that being vegetarian means that you have to eat beans (legumes) for protein. While this statement is not entirely true, many people find a few varieties of beans they like.

Here are my favorites:

Pinto: for "refried" beans, or tex-mex type meals

Lentil: very quick cooking (without soaking ahead) for soups and stews

Black (turtle): just because I like them (my dad used to grow them)

Small red: a nice small colorful bean for salads and soups

Peanut: for peanut butter, even in (African) stews and boiled (I love boiled!)

Mung: for bean sprouts in Asian dishes

Garbanzo (Chick Peas): great in salads, in curries, and yummy as a fried snack

Great Northern: nice white bean for soups and bean mixes

There's always more that I find interesting, so the list could go on...and on...

Beans from a can are ok in a pinch, but home cooked are not only cheaper, but you control what amount of salt (if any - it is not a requirement) and other things in it. Preparing beans from dry form is an easy job and can be done very efficiently once you have done it a couple of times.

There are many kind of beans with varying yields from each cup of dry beans. If you look up all the amounts that people say you should be able to get out of your particular kind of bean, you'll find that roughly for every 1 cup of dry, you'll get about 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked.

The jury is still out on whether to soak or not, salt or not, and other things bean related. There are many ways to prepare and handle beans. Read up on other methods (see links at end of this post). What I've heard is to just try different things until you find what works for you. A combination of things might be best.

My take on beans at present:
As far as soaking time, most beans should be soaked for at least 8 hours. Soaking water should always be discarded and use only fresh pure water. You can use soak water to water your plants.

Cooking time can vary quite widely, but as a rule of thumb, plan on two hours to cook. Some take about an hour, some are slightly more than 2 hours. Hard water can affect the time needed to cook. Best to use purified/filtered water to soak and cook.

Test if they are done by picking some out with a spoon and blowing on them. Skins should crack and they should be soft. They can be a bit firmer if you plan to freeze for later use. Taste some for final test. Cooking can take a while for beans that are old. The fresher the bean, the faster it will cook up from dry.

There are some exceptions to the general rules above.

1. I have found that with soybeans, it is easier if I soak them a full 24 hours, changing water at least once during this time, more if I remember.

2. Lentils do not need a prior soaking time before cooking. They usually cook in under an hour from dry.

3. Soybeans take about 3 hours or more to cook, less than this if they are the black soybean variety.

4. Dry lima beans will yield less than 2 cups cooked from 1 cup dry, generally.

Loretta's Slow Method To Cooking Beans From Dry:

1. Measure out how many cups of beans you'd like to cook.

2. Sort, tossing stones and other misc. foreign materials out. Also, toss out any beans that don't pass your inspection. A lot of cracked skins on beans may indicate the beans are old. I toss beans that are not whole (generally), or have holes, and cracks. These indicate bugs or age, etc.

3. Rinse them with clean water. For this step, I like to use a bowl big enough to have more water than beans and do the following ... toss ones that float. Swish around with hands or spoon, till you have tossed all floaters and to agitate them a little to dislodge dirt, etc. Pour out water and do this 2-3 times until water is clear (generally) and all floaters, etc. have been tossed out.

4. Put sorted, rinsed, clean (still wet) beans into pot with enough water to cover plus a little more.

5. (Optional step) Cook until the beans have boiled for about 10-15 minutes. Then drain and rinse in a colander over the sink. Use a clean pot to put back on stove repeating step #4 above. Then proceed to step #6.

6.* Put in pot, with beans, in desired amounts:

onions, quartered or roughly chopped

garlic, roughly chopped

a tablespoon or two of oil to avoid a boil over.

Do not put in salt at this point, because it usually will take the beans longer to cook that way. I wait until they are done to add any type of salt.

7. Cook until done (take into account the guide above).

8. Drain and rinse in colander over sink, discarding cooking water. This will also help to alleviate digestion problems associated with eating beans.

9. Proceed with recipe as needed. Or you can freeze them for later use in amounts that are best for your family. I like to freeze in 2 cup amounts. I do use some cooking water to cover beans if I freeze them, discarding it after thawing before I proceed.

*Note: You would not add onions or garlic if cooking soybeans intended to make soy milk. Likewise, if you plan to cook your beans intended for any sweet dish, do not add onions or garlic.

Other helpful links:
To check out the many varieties of the humble bean, look here.

For other storage and soaking helps, check out part 1...and part 2 - the many options for cooking beans.

For cooking times and yields in a chart form, check this out (they also have a chart for whole grains). This is from another vegetarian site called Vegetarians in Paradise.
Check out the Bean Bible for some thoughts on avoiding the musical part and all things bean related.
To see more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What I "do" for fun...French braids!

Life is more fun if you get a little creative. When you don't "do" a lot of entertainment (by the world's standards), you start to have fun with the simple things in life.

Take for example, doing a little girl's hair. To me, it's fun to see what I can do for a "do.''

French braids are my preference because she has many short hairs that need corralling. When I first started doing them, even though I knew how to do them, with a wiggly child...easier said than done. I figured out that having a distraction was very helpful. Some barrettes, rocks & shells, or a fun colorful toy to play with helped me out while I did the following hairdos.

This is from one of the first times I did her hair...

One time I did a three French braid "do", another... a side part French braid...

Last week...a spiral, one continuous French braid...why not?
And today, a "crown" style that turned out really well!

Simple, frugal, and fun. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lemon Water

"Mama, can I make lemon water?" My son is asking if he can serve us a refreshing drink we all like around here. "Sure!" is my usual answer to him because I'm glad he's getting into the habit of using lemon in his water. He makes it from start...washing lemons... to finish...even cutting an apple up and garnishing our cups with the apple slices as well. Ain't that swell?

His recipe for Lemon Water:

1 lemon, juiced


apple slices for garnish

Divide lemon juice into 3 drinking cups/glasses. Pour water in to fill. Put apple slices onto glass. Serve on a tray to your family. Hope you like it.

Mama's addition: if you like you can add a little sweetener (stevia would be good) and if you're adventurous, sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on top of the lemon water. There are so many benefits from drinking this. Drink this everyday for a month and you'll see why.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz

My Ecological Footprint - Quiz Results
Congratulations, you are living an ecologically conscientious lifestyle. If everyone lived like you do, we would need only: .17 earths!!!

How about that? That's only point one seven earths. How cool is that? Of course, that is because of no car, vegan diet, and needing less energy because we live in a warm climate and no, we do not use air an conditioner either.

But some of those things will change when we move back to the states. Like getting a car. And using heat in the winter! So I'll take the quiz again in a few months and give you an update then.

Until then, why don't you take the ecological quiz today and see how you fare.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Haystacks with Cheese Sauce and Raw Salsa

I never had haystacks till I was grown, and boy, was I missing out! =)

This is like a taco salad, but not quite. Instead of everything being mixed together, ingredients are put out for everyone to make their own “hay” stack. There are some items that do not normally go into a taco salad that you see here…like warm cheese sauce (don’t worry, its dairy free), instead of shredded cheese.

This dish appeals to most everyone, since they can top with what they choose from all the fixings. No need for side dishes with this meal.


crushed tortilla chips or crackers (or both)
brown rice, cooked and still warm
seasoned cooked beans* (cold or room temperature)
cheese sauce (recipe below)

Following raw toppings:
any non-iceberg lettuce (lay leaves flat and stack, then roll and slice thinly)
tomatoes, chopped or raw salsa (guide below)
bell peppers, chopped
onions, diced

black olives (sliced)
mushrooms (chopped)
carrots (shredded)

*Beans: add seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, basil, oregano, cilantro as desired.

Put out all items for everyone to make their own “haystacks.”
Assembly order:
vegetable toppings
cheese sauce

Cheese Sauce (dairy free):

Blend smooth in blender:
1 c. water
½ c. cashews
½ c. sunflower seeds
¼ c. nutritional yeast flakes
¼ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 c. pimento or 2 Tbsp. each of tomato paste & water, optional for color
1 tsp. salt (or Liquid Aminos)
1 tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder

Heat through on very low heat til warm, stirring frequently. Do not boil. Spoon over haystacks.

1. Substitute other nuts and seeds for the cashews and sunflower seeds.
2. Economy sauce: substitute ½ c. hot, cooked millet or rice for the cashews or sunflower seeds.
3. Nightshade free: for color, use 2/3 c. cooked carrots to substitute for the pimento or tomato paste w/ water mix.

Raw Salsa(in amounts as desired)

tomatoes, chopped
onion, diced
cilantro, fresh or dried
salt or seasoned salt

Optional for salsa:
avocado (mashed or chopped)
cucumber (chopped)
garlic (minced)
sweet corn (cut off cob)
chili peppers (minced)
dash of cayenne pepper (for hot salsa)
fresh squeezed lime juice

Mix together in bowl and serve. Tip: For best flavor, never refrigerate whole raw tomatoes.

Don't forget to vote in the poll (upper right sidebar). For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Brown Rice Basics

The brown rice I find here really is brown, sort of a reddish brown. The brown rice in the states is more of a creamy, brownish tinted rice. Both cook about the same.

When I consider the benefits of using brown rice versus using white rice, brown rice wins hands down every time. I always use brown rice and sometimes put in a small amount of wild rice for a "pilaf" look. In recipes on my blog, when it says rice, it means brown rice.

I thought you all might enjoy seeing the label from my most recent bag of brown rice (see above scanned photo). I love how it lists all the health aspects of using their brown rice (white rice is still more common here than brown). In fact, there are plenty of things they didn't say about it.

In case you can't read the label very well, here's the text, typos (theirs) and all:
(See basic recipes below label text.)

"Ghana Brown-Rice"

Your best Nutritional & Longevity Food for all ages:- Babies; Children; Adults.

Your best medicine food to fight and prevent: Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes; Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Heart Diseases; Diarrhoea, Malnutrition, Obesity, Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) etc.

Minerals: Iron; Calcium, Fibre; Oil; Protein; Silicon (Silica); Sodium; Fat; Starch-Free; Cholesterol free; Carbohydrate; Chromium (GTF); Magnesium; Potassium; Selenium;

Vitamins: B1; B2; B3; B6; F; E;

Acids: Nicotinic-Acid; Amino-Acid; Linolenic-Acid (Essential Fatty-Acid) Folic-Acid.

Enjoy whole grain & Porridge

The Vegas best choice

100% Natural & Organic

Immune System Booster

Promotes & Increases Longevity

Health Advice: No sugar; No salt; No Margarine; No Alcohol; No smoking.

The World best Brown-Rice from Africa

5 Kg [corrected weight of 2 Kg (kilograms) has been written over the 5]

Best taken before year 2014

Distributed by: STAR-GATES FARMS; Abeka-Lapaz, Accra-Ghana.

COOKING-INSTRUCTIONS: Wash the rice two times with water and put into a rice-cooker or into a pot with plenty water and add few tablespoons of "Pure and Fresh Palm Oil" or "Olive Oil" or "Soya-Bean oil" or Shea-Butter' as softener and then boil for 35-40 minutes and serve with soup or stew.

You can cook this rice as "Jollof Rice". You can also cook this rice with 'Beans' or 'Nuts' or 'Wheat' or 'Sesame-seeds'

To make a porridge then grind the brown rice once and put into a pot with enough water and boil for 20 minutes and serve.

May Yeshua the Messiah bless you. Amen.

Ezek. 47:12, Prov. 30:8, 1 Cor. 6:13

Here are two methods to cook brown rice that I've used for years, from the More-with-Less Cookbook, by Doris Janzen Longacre, page 125:
Basic Steamed Rice

Combine in heavy saucepan:

1 1/2 c. rice

1/2 tsp. salt

Just enough water to rise above rice level to a depth of one inch; Asians measure using index finger from tip of middle of first knuckle.
Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil. Stir through with a fork, loosening grains at the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover with tight-fitting lid, and do not stir or peek for 20 minutes. (If electric burner stays too hot and causes rice to boil over, pull saucepan partially off the burner for first 5 minutes of cooking time.) After 20 minutes, turn off heat and let rice stand covered until ready to serve. Flake gently while transferring to serving dish. Yields a tender but slightly chewy dry rice with no gluey moisture at the bottom.

Measure 1 2/3 c. water to 1 c. rice. Use cooking method above, but reduce water when cooking large quantities.
Use brown rice but increase cooking time to 45 minutes.

Omit salt if serving rice with salty or spicy side dishes.
My note: I have had good consistent results, when doubling the recipe, with these amounts: 3 c. brown rice with 5 c. water. I use a 3 quart saucepan to cook this amount on the stove. With my current gas stove, I can't get a nice slow simmer, so I end up turning it off and on about 5-10 minutes at a time, until done, noting the original recipe cooking times. I rarely put in the salt called for in the recipe. Sometimes I add a teaspoon or two of oil to avoid boil overs.

Baked Rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Combine in covered casserole:
2 c. hot water
1 c. rice

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. margarine (I use oil)

Cover and bake 45 minutes or longer for large quantities.

My note: I have used 3 c. water and 1 1/2 c. rice in a 2 quart covered casserole fine. This baked recipe is the only way I prepared rice for years, mostly because I was automatically prevented from opening the lid too much. I did eventually switch over to the stove top cooking method to save energy, but this recipe would be good when you have something else baking in your oven, since it uses a standard 350 F (180 C) temperature.

When reheating any leftover rice, add about a spoon or two of water per cup of rice and warm up in pan, stirring frequently.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Keep It Simple For Baby

Simple tip...keep it simple. This can apply to many things: hair style, clothing, gadgets, children's toys, directions, schedules, food choices, etc...

After my last post, I thought about something I am glad about...and I thought that I could give you a specific example of something I've done to make my life easier and help my daughter all at the same time.

is a large piece of tie dyed Ghanaian fabric about 51" wide by 68" long (about 130 cm x 174 cm). Its green, yellow, brown, and purple colors just look fun together. See the photo below for the pattern.

It is my "cover." So called because it is my cover for nursing (in public). But it is so much more than that. Actually I should call it my baby sling...or stroller... or blanket...or sun shade...or backpack...or baby swing...or baby nose wiper...or...
Most of the time, it is in use as a baby carrier/sling. Babies everywhere in Ghana (and I suppose in other African countries as well), are seen on their mama's backs sleeping or watching the world go by. Babies are content there too. It's funny, besides being in mama's arms (probably getting nursed), I think this is a baby's next favorite place to be.
It's actually very easy to do. Baby goes on back, piggyback style. Then the fabric is put centered over baby, with the top edge underneath their armpits. In the front, the top edge gets rolled out and tucked (much like a towel wrapped around you, except the roll is outward, not in). Then you put the extra fabric tucked under the baby's "bum" (as we say at our house), like putting them in a "seat." Then the bottom extra fabric is brought to the front and the two corners are gathered separately and twisted together then tucked under. So...wrap, roll, tuck, gather, twist and one more tuck and you are ready to go! =)
I use it everywhere and because we walk a lot (no car)...well, it has really been useful and I love it. You would think that it would not be comfortable, but the first time I put in on I knew I was going to love it.
At the beach...

...at the Bible school's banquet (here with students)...

..at the main mission house (not ours)...

Here is the earliest photo I have of me when I first put my daughter on my back without my friend helping (Ghanaian friend who showed me how to do this)...

I even took a photo of myself one day, when my daughter requested that I put her on my back. She needed to sleep, I guess...

She does look comfy there, doesn't she?

(Sweet dreams, little Missy. I love you.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ghana Style Rice and Beans

I thought since many of us are doing the "rice and beans" method of getting out of debt, it would be appropriate to show you a dish very common here in Ghana. There's a sauce and toppings, so it seems pretty "dressed up" and not so plain. It's actually a great dish and is served when there are guests from the states. You can pick which toppings to add. We like it with everything!

Recipe for Wa Kyi (pronounced wah-chi, or wa-chee)
This dish would be like the West African version of the haystack. Very yummy!

1 c. dried small red beans
Sliced onions and chopped garlic (optional, but adds nice flavor to the beans)
Water to cover
2 c. rice
About 4 c. more water

Sort & rinse the beans. Then soak the beans in water for 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse the beans. Adding the onions and garlic if desired, cook in a dutch oven (or other large enough pot for adding the rice and additional water later) in water to cover until soft. Then add the rice and the additional water. Cook until done adding water if needed and stirring as needed. Taste to make sure all is cooked through.

Red Sauce:

Sauté in a 3 quart saucepan or larger:
1/4 - ½ c. palm oil (not red palm oil, any mild flavored oil will work)
1 large sliced red onion

Mix together:
1 ½ c. tomato paste
4 c. water
1 t. red pepper (for medium spicy…if you want mild, use half this amount…not black pepper)
3 bouillon cubes (or about 2 tsp. seasoned salt)
1 t. curry powder
1 t. dried ginger powder
salt (optional)

Add to the oil and onions. Cook until oil rises to the top. Serve warm.

Other toppings for Wa Kyi:
Cabbage, finely shredded
Tomatoes, chopped
Onion, finely diced
Green pepper, chopped (my addition)
Carrots, shredded (my addition)
Cooked angel hair/spaghetti - can use wheat free pasta (optional)
Gari (a cassava product that looks like parmesan cheese… it mostly soaks up the sauce – you might get the same idea using finely ground tapioca, which is also made from the cassava root vegetable. Other options for this might be bread crumbs or crushed crackers.)

To serve: set out the rice and bean mix, the red sauce, and all the toppings. Let everyone serve themselves haystack style, adding what they like. Enjoy!

Please vote in the newest poll, on the top right of the page. Thanks.

For more kitchen tips, check out Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Boy

Today is my son's birthday and he is now in the double digits. He turns 10 years old. Sutherland has grown so much even since we've lived in Africa. Why do they insist on getter older, taller, bigger, tell me? I know you parents out there know what I mean.

He really is only a size or two smaller than I am. OK, I'm only five foot tall, but still. =) His shoes are just one size smaller than mine. I think I should blame this on my wonderfully tall husband (at six ft. two in.), don't you think? LOL

Here's a photo I love of Sutherland taken in December 2007. Our family was on a retreat about 2 hours away, further west along the coast of Ghana. It remind me of his curious and inquisitive spirit. He's always ready to learn something new and find some new treasure.

Already today he showed us what he learned about a baby lizard he caught the other day and what it likes to eat. Apparently he likes to eat ants... live ones. So Sutherland is now the ant hunter for his lizard. I could use a few less ants around here...LOL.

He is my bud. We are so glad to have him after a long time of waiting on the Lord to bless us with a child. We thought he'd be our only child when we didn't conceive again for more than 7 years after he was born. God had other plans though and about 6 weeks before he turned 8 years old, we had our second child. Praise the Lord! He's a great big brother to Francesca. This next photo was taken in late 2006.

This is Sutherland today...on his 10th birthday.

May the Lord bless and keep you on your life's journey.
I love you, Sutherland.
Thanks for making me a mama!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Poll #2 - Results and My Comments

A new poll (#2) has been posted. See the top right to vote your opinion.

It will be open until June 15th. I plan to have about two polls per month, more often if I have more visitors to my blog.

I just ask that you vote only once per poll. Everyone is invited to vote.

For the results of poll #1 and my "commentary" after the original blog entry, see this post.

Edit to post:

Results for poll #2 taken June 1 - 15th, 2008:

45 people voted

In your opinion, why do people primarily eat a vegetarian diet? (pick one answer)

love animals - 13 votes (28%)
for better health - 23 votes (51%)
less expensive
save world resources - 3 votes (6%)

lose weight - 1 vote (2%)
popular to do so - 3 votes (6%)
doctor's orders
religious reasons
- 2 votes (4%)

The most chosen, "for better health," seems to be the consensus of the voters on this poll. That's good because it is true. And it's why I chose it in the first place, almost 12 years ago. While everyone is trying to get their "five a day" to eat more fruits and vegetables, healthy vegetarians should have no trouble.

"Love animals" came in second, but I think a reason why young children or youth may request to eat less/no meat. Of course, if you are an adult, like me, you may be finding out that there are many things about the meat industry that they don't want you to know about. There are some unscrupulous people in the farming/butchering/meat industry business. As a meat eater (or otherwise), you should be informed of how your food is handled before it finds its way to your plate. Just like there are some very unethical practices in food crop agriculture, there are equally some in the meat industry. Be informed.

Three votes each for "saves world resources" and "popular to do so." Eating a vegetarian diet does save world resources. Eating a vegan diet, even more so. It does take much less water and other nutrients to grow food crops than to raise meat of any type. As to the popularity of a vegetarian diet, it all depends on where you live, your age, your family, your friends, etc... It really does depend on many things. In my experience, being a vegetarian has been easier than I thought and most people think its great. But they always say something to the tune of "but I couldn't eat that way." Or "I would miss meat," etc....and to think, I use to love meat. Really.

Two votes for "religious reasons." There are some religions that prohibit meat eating. As far as I'm aware, there are none in Christian based denominations.

One vote for "lose weight." I suppose some people may eat this way to lose weight. But the reason will probably not hold very long once weight has been lost for that individual. I see it as a side benefit to a healthy diet, but not the main factor in staying vegetarian. In fact, some people may even gain weight eating vegetarian at first, especially if they are ovo-lacto vegetarians (still eat eggs and dairy). Take it from me, eating lots of cheese and eggs after going meat free will not help you. And there are still many junk food items considered vegetarian or even vegan that should not be eaten in light of genuine health gains.

All that being said, there are many good reasons to eat a vegetarian diet. And going cold "turkey" to a strict vegan diet, I will never advise. Any big changes is diet are best done in steps and with someone who's been there. My purpose on this blog is to give my friendly say about my experience and to gain insight and exchange good ideas with others...whether they are vegetarians or not.

I have never tried to convince people to become vegetarian. It would be a welcome relief if no one tried to convince me to eat meat/animal products either. I have given support to those who wanted to change their diet for the better, because I can relate to that. I have also wanted support as well. May I be able to help someone out there who desires the same.