Homemade Hummus

Everyone who has my hummus loves it and wants the recipe and I am happy to share!

The basic ingredients are below. You can mix and match a variety of ingredients on top of these 6 basics and you will be creating hummus. Another popular one I made is a 6 pepper hummus that adds crushed red pepper, bell pepper, banana pepper, jalapeno, black pepper and cayenne. In the past I’ve left the tahini out for a friend who wasn’t partial to it, the texture and taste are a bit off from traditional hummus, but it’s still delicious. Another time I left out chick peas and only used black beans, once again you aren’t making a traditional hummus base, but it is still very good.

Basic Hummus:

  • tahini
  • chick peas
  • garlic
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

For my black bean hummus I use the following proportions:

  • 1/4 cup tahini (If you leave tahini out, you will need more olive oil.)
  • 1 can chick peas (You can leave out chick peas and double the black beans.)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/4 c minced garlic (Yes, that much!)
  • half of a bell pepper (Red is best, all I had this week was green.)
  • green onions (I’m eating this hummus as I write this, and I did not use enough green onions, use 5-6.)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • olive oil (not pictured)
  • salt and pepper to taste (Remember that your canned beans have a bit of salt already.)

Note: I added cayenne pepper because I love spicy and the wine pictured is for the cook.

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Step 1: Cut fresh green onions from your garden. Oh, you don’t have any? Well if you do buy onions for this recipe, use my method here and you will have your own fresh onions for next time.

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Step 2: Get out your food processor, because you totally have one. In the past I have made hummus in a blender, it requires a lot of stirring to get the hummus off the sides of the container as you blend. I imagine a nutria-bullet would do a good job as well.  I use the small bowl to make the hummus, in hind site I should have used the large one.

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Step 3: Drain and rinse your beans. You don’t need all that canned bean mess in your hummus.

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Step 4: Add the beans and tahini to the processor and start it up!

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Step 5: Add olive oil as needed through out the process to get a smooth mixture. You probably won’t need more than a 1/4 cup, water helps too but doesn’t give the same texture or taste.

Step 6: Add in all the other ingredients, as the food processor is running, until everything is mixed and at the consistency you desire.

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All done! Now package your hummus.

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Since I LOVE spicy food  I packed my hummus adding crushed red pepper and cayenne on top for my daily snack.  I left the bulk of the hummus without spice so I can share when guests come over. If you are plating this for a potluck, I recommend a cilantro and parsley garnish. I highly recommend eating this hummus with pretzel chips or carrots.

Cabbage Harvest and Cabbage Rolls

Time to harvest the winter cabbage and make room for spring vegetables.

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I first pulled the cabbage out from the root. Then I cut off the bottom half (the stem portion without leaves and roots) to place it in the compost. It’s a good idea to give the cabbage a squirt with a hose while outside to get some of the critters off safely, no need to kill all the bugs while in the kitchen.

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Cabbage Rolls:

  • 2 heads of cabbage
  • 1-1/2 cups of rice
  • 1/2 lb meat (Your choice, I used some smoked corned beef leftovers)
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 6 average tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • spices: salt, pepper, paprika

(Makes approximately two casserole dishes)

Step 1. Put the rice on to cook and a pot of water on to boil. Later you will be blanching your vegetables.

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Step 2. Prep the cabbage. Cut the cabbage leaves from the stem, give it a quick wash and then put it through a salad spinner. You will have bugs crawling out of the cabbage as you go, so keep a paper towel nearby to squish them.

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Cabbage in spinner and clean cabbage on a plate:

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Step 3. Blanch the cabbage. Put the cabbage in the pot laying flat for about a minute. The desired result is to have bendable cabbage that is not cooked through. The cabbage will turn a more vibrant shade of green, it makes for great photos.

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Step 4. Blanch the tomatoes. I left the tomatoes in for 2-3 minutes or until you see the skin split. No need to change the water in between. If you’re trying for low waste or live in California you can blanche the vegetables first then use the same water to cook your rice. Once the water is cooled it can also be used to water your garden.

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Step 5. Tomato sauce prep. Peel the skin from the tomatoes, cut in half, and place in a blending apparatus. I used the magic bullet. Add the sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. The sugar is used to balance the tart tomatoes. It is completely optional based on your tastes and tomato variety used. Blend and set aside.

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Tomato sauce will look like this:

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Step 6. Make the filling. Cut meat into small chunks or shred. Chop onions to your liking. Mix onions and meat with rice, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic (we used jar garlic so no prep needed). Below the mix is shown before the rice is added.

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Step 7. Grease two casserole dishes. Olive oil is a great choice and if you’re not worried about calories try bacon grease.

Step 8. Stuff those cabbages! Put about 1/4 cup of the mix or less into each leaf depending on it’s size, roll the cabbage together like a burrito, and place it into the first dish.  Not all cabbage leaves will be big enough to roll, this is especially true if it’s garden cabbage. I set aside all of the small cabbage leaves for the second casserole where I made a lasagna type dish: there is a layer of cabbage, layer of filling and then another layer of cabbage.

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Step 9. Spread the tomato sauce on top. The rolled cabbage is pictured left and lasagna cabbage is on the right.

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Step 10. Bake covered at 350F for 1-1/2 hours or cover and freeze. I froze the second dish for later this month when I’m too busy to cook.

Step 11. Serve and eat! The cabbage rolls turned out so well that I ate until I was stuffed. Please don’t mind the Styrofoam, plastic, and terrible photo quality, we ate the dish at a friend’s house.

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Upcycle Grocery Bags into a Macramé Potted Plant Holder

This is a recycle, upcycle, and craft DIY for all of those bags you have in your cupboard. Lets not lie, we all have a time or three where we forget to bring our cloth bags to the grocery store. Then the bagger tells you they’re out of paper bags so you cave and get plastic.  Next you are left with a multitude of plastic bags.

Aside from using them to pick up dog poo and to line your bathroom waste bin, there are a few craft options for you. My favorite is to make rope from the bags. In addition a lot of images of macramé potted plant holders have been floating around the internet which gave me the idea to make this item.  If you follow my instructions you will be able to upcycle 36 plastic bags. I do not provide macramé instructions in this post, your macramé will need to match the pot you want to use.

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Step 1. Lay the bag flat as shown below. Cut the bag in half.

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Step 2.  Align the bag-half on it’s side as shown below. Cut down from the handle to the seam at the base, but do not cut all the way through. The desired result is a circle. To make thicker rope, skip step one and lay the bag shown in the right image below and cut down from both handles at the same time until you get to the seam at the bottom.

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Step 3. Count them! I have 18 loops cut from 9 bags, you want a number divisible by 3 so you can braid evenly.

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Step 4. Knot the bags together. You need three strands that are two bags long to start. Add additional bags as you go, do not tie all the bags together to start, it is HARDER that way.

This is one way to tie the bags. Lay them end to end and grab as I’ve shown in the 3rd and 4th images below. Pull with both hands. (I had to hold the camera with the other hand, so bare with me)

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Pull until the knot is tight, but do not pull so hard you stretch the plastic. You may have to work the bags a bit with your hands. Mine usually get stuck at the point below and I have to work the knot tighter; this is because the plastic bags have friction!

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The other way to do the knot, and the way I do all subsequent knots after the first, is shown below. Grab and pull. Once again work the knot when you get near the end so that it is tight. The desired knot is shown in the right image below.

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Step 5. Tie three of the strands in a knot and begin to braid. DO NOT attach all the bags together first and then begin to braid. Only attach two bags for each strand in the braid, when you get to the end, attach the next bag to each strand. I’ve done this before where I’ve had huge lines of bags tied together, braiding that is a nightmare.

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Once the braid is long enough I highly recommend tying it to a nearby post/table/chair so that the braiding becomes easier.  The second image below shows what the knots look like in the braid: there is a slight budge but it is really not noticeable. Usually the knots will be at different points along each strand so that you will never have a point where all three knots come together at once.

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Step 6. Macramé time. After you have all of your strands then it is time to macramé them together to form your potted plant holder. I used 4 strands made up of 9 bags each. The second image below shows the somewhat finished product. I hadn’t noticed that the knot was off center until much later, so that has been adjusted since this image was taken.

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This is what it looks like in my garden.

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Lessons: I need to macramé better and next time I may try to color coordinate the bags. Other than that I’ve made rope before from bags and each time I get better. This time I had much thinner rope because I cut the bags in half first. A thicker rope will look like the image below from last year. The rope was intended as a dog deterrent and it worked!

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Gardening Season Has Begun: Some tips and tricks

Winter is not coming. Winter is over. Now it is time to shape up the garden.

Protect: I inspected for caterpillars, weeded and found a slug! It was really gross since I touched it while weeding. We’ve had a few slug attacks at this house in the past. To protect from slugs I do a border of used coffee grounds around the plot and toss a few among the plants as well. In addition to slug protection the coffee provides nitrates into the soil.  I also made a blanket of pine needles for the winter cabbage to keep the weeds down. The pine needles make the cabbage look so cute!

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Transplant:  Remember the grocery store green onion post? Well after a few harvests inside, I was determined to get more life from these plants. So, I’ve planted them as a pest border in my garden. Green onions can be planted as a companion to most plants to deter bad insects but do not pair well with peas or beans. I planted the onions approximately 2 inches apart around a 2′ by 2′ section of my 4′ by 4′ plot (the remainder of the plot has cabbages). In the center of the 2′ by 2′ section I’ve planted two rows of beet seeds. I do not expect all the onions to transplant well, but most of them will survive and be my first line of pest defense.

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Potting Prep: Normally we use the Lowes brand of basket fiber liner for our wire pots (you can see them hanging in the background). However having no excess liner on hand this past Sunday and being reluctant to go to Lowes, we’re going to try something new.  My boyfriend used the pine needles from our yard to line this wire basket and I can’t wait to see if it will work. The basket will be planted with lettuce once the extremely wet soil dries out a little.

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Roof top garden: Another big concern with our garden is that everything has to be above our dog’s pee height, which is about 2-3 ft off the ground. The height constraint has made us use creative garden planning. In the image below you can see that we use his dog house as a rooftop garden. In the background there are potted plants on various pot holders and throughout the yard we have a number of metal supports for hanging plants.

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Creative Ideas:  Shown below is the 4′ by 4′ plot during last year’s summer planting season with a few of our hanging baskets. On the right is the old juicer repurposed as a pot and hung from the fence.

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Seeds that were planted outside before last frost date are lettuce, spinach, parsley, cilantro, basil, beets, oregano, and a few pansies that we bought at the store. The seeds that were started indoors will be planted when the weather gets warmer.  Most of the seeds are from the heirloom seeds supplier http://www.seedsavers.org

Starting Seeds and Indoor Plants

With all the cold weather keeping us down, let’s talk about something that can brighten the inside of your house, increase oxygen, and lift your spirits in the wasteland that is winter. Growing things!

-As an aside, we’ve decided that our Game of Thrones house words would be “If you plant it, it will grow” I’ll be working on crafts with these words in the future.-

To start the seeds I used solo cups that I have already in my house from past garden parties.  The cups are ok to plant if they’re ok for food. First I punched holes into the bottom using a steak knife (probably should have used the box cutter). Just one or two small holes are needed for drainage. Then I filled the cups with a mixture of 1/2 last year’s soil and 1/2 compost. Since we do not monitor if seeds make it into our compost there is always a small chance that I’m growing compost seeds instead of the seeds I want.  It is important to fill the cups all the way to the top so that there is not stagnant air trying to cause mold on my soil.

Did I jump the gun on starting my seeds? Very possible as snow is heavy on the ground and it is freezing outside. Do I care? Maybe.

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Then, according to planting instructions on my seed packets I put in the seeds to the correct depth, sprayed a bit of water and set in our indoor growing area. Shown below is the start of some of the seeds doing well.

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The indoor planting area has all the plants that cannot last the winter plus my indoor green onions that I cover here: https://ormecreate.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/regrow-green-onions-at-home/ and an indoor parsley plant that we use in our juice (which is supposed to remove heavy metals from your system, and tastes fresh.)

The tall plant to the left is an avocado that started growing in our compost. This is the second, larger pot that it’s been in. Let it act as a friendly reminder to cut avocado seeds in half before adding them to compost. The avocado is more of an experiment to see if we can actually grow the avocado in our climate. It will likely remain only in pots so that we can bring it indoors each winter. The plant has also had pests twice so far that we removed with a wet paper towel, the pests did not move to the other plants.

On the back right is what my grandparents call a “night blooming sierra” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night-blooming_cereus, this is grown from a clipping from their plant. It does NOT last in cold weather which we learned from killing our last one when we left it out a bit too late in fall.

I actually forget what the plant is called in the front right is called, but it is another gift from my grandparent’s indoor garden.

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The lights are a combination of grow lamps that can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes. They are on a wall plug timer which starts at 7am and turns off at 8pm. We feed the plants with a combination of indoor plant food and coffee grounds.

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I also have several plants that only use regular daylight next to windows throughout the house: three hanging vine plants in the kitchen, a few succulents in the living room, plus my aloe and bamboo plant that are shown here: https://ormecreate.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/revamp-a-stool/. Indoor plants really make a difference in the flow of a household. Be sure all plants are cat/dog friendly if your animals like to chew.

Regrow Green Onions at Home

Green Onions!!!!! are one of my favorite foods. Did you know that you can grow the grocery store green onions in your own home? Simply buy a bunch or two, cut from 1-1/2 inch from the roots, and plant.

First option is to grow in a glass (or wine glass for aesthetic reasons) with less than 1/2 inch of water. If you do not add any plant food, you will get 1-2 sets of new growth before it wilts. I have used indoor plant food (just a tiny bit) or coffee grounds (a pinch) to feed my onions and results are better.  I’ve also used left over flower food that they attach to bouquets.  It is easy to flood the onions and cause mold. If you’re just trying it out, I’d go with minimal water and monitor closely to refill. If you are lazy and will forget, just make sure only the roots are covered with water. The image shown below is the first growth after the initial cut.

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Another option is to plant the green onions into a pot. I used a mix of potting soil left over from the summer and some of our compost, with a few extra coffee grounds on top. I then punched a hole with my finger, put in the onion with the top exposed and pushed dirt around the plant so that the onion was tucked in nicely. Shown below are the onions after first new growth from the original cut. Half of the onions were harvested for last night’s burritos.

I have also planted the onions outside with GREAT success in cooler weather; they last a few weeks past first frost. Green onions do not do so well in the humidity of summer though, and will wilt quickly. Over time the base of the onion will form into a bulb and these are easy to replant anywhere needed.

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More information on the green onion: http://www.food.com/library/green-onion-363

I’ve also had mediocre success with replanting romaine lettuce.  Cut the bottom 1-inch up and plant in a glass until new growth is 3-4 inches, then plant outside. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as the green onions because results are slower.

Also check out this post on growing your own garlic from store bought: http://aquaberrybliss.com/2015/01/10/sprouting-garlic/

All Natural Sugar Free Granola-Oatmeal Bars

All natural, mostly* sugar free, granola-oatmeal bars.

Ingredients:

2 apples (or approx. 1 c unsweetened apple sauce)

1c oatmeal (I used instant, but experts will tell you to use steel cut rolled oats)

1c plain granola (*the plainest I could find is shown below, there is some sugar in it, but minimal amounts)

approx.:

1/3c pecans

1/3c walnuts (I’m allergic to almonds, but they would make a great substitution if you want more protein)

1/3c dried bananas

1/2c honey

Full disclosure, this is the second time I’ve made these. I’ll go over what I did differently the first time and you can decide how you really want to do this, because both times the bars were AMAZING.  It’s the matter of achieving the “form” of a granola bar rather than a semi-gooey clump.

Step 1. Make apple sauce because you have a juicer/similar device. (If you don’t have a juicer, you should use the unsweetened apple sauce). I peel my apples because the skin gives me a mild allergic irritation but you don’t have to, then cut and core the apples and put through the juicer. My juicer has an insert just for this sort of thing, the apples turn into mush instead of being separated into juice and ‘left overs’ like normal. However if you don’t have this sort of juicer, just use yours like normal but then remix the juice and the separated parts at the end.

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Step 2. Chop the nuts and bananas. Any ‘slap chop’ device will work best. Obviously this can be done with just a knife, but it takes more time and is less uniform.

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Step 3. Mix it all together. Shown in the pot is my chopped mixture. I had to buy store honey this time because the local honey guy stopped coming to the Saturday Market. Also shown: plain instant oatmeal, you can see why I didn’t use ‘special oatmeal’ because I already had so much of the instant stuff (I use it in my morning smoothie).  In addition I have the “classic” oats, but if you can find some without added sugar that’s healthier.

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An aside: Shown below was my first batch, it was essentially the same except I also had pomegranates and coffee beans and I used water in place of apple sauce.  What I attempted to do was mix everything (save the fruit) together in a pot a cook down the mixture so that it would be sticky. It worked to an extent, but I didn’t have enough free sugar to create a syrup.  After I cooked it down, I added the fruit and laid it on a sheet to set in the freezer. It worked really well!

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Step 4. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.  I also attempted to cook down this mixture, but I’m impatient and my stove sucks so instead I baked it. The main reason I switched from water to apple sauce was to cook down the sugar in the apples to create a sticky substance that would stand up (unlike the honey which stays pretty fluid). However baking works just fine!

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Step 5. Partition and wrap. Since there are apples in it, keep it refrigerated! Putting it in your unrefrigerated lunch in the morning and waiting a few hours to eat is fine though. I should know, I do it every day!  The mixture keeps its form unlike the first time I tried it, so it’s mission success! (I’m eating one now)

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