Kitchen Tip Tuesday 10-6-09

by Lora on October 6, 2009 at 2:07 pm

I love a good cup of hot tea, and think there is no better way to relax than with a cup of tea and a good book. I have found that some people find tea to be bitter and unappealing. I believe that a this often comes from improper brewing. Now there are some teas that I don’t really care for, Lapsang Suchong is one of them. I personally don’t care for tea that tastes like the smoke from a campfire. A few of my favorite teas are Twining’s Lady Grey, and Republic of Tea’s Cardamom Cinnamon and Good Hope Vanilla Rooibos. I also enjoy Republic of Tea’s Darjeeling, and Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice and India Spice Chia.

Many people don’t realize that teas need to be brewed at different temperatures, and for different lengths of time. So my kitchen tip is actually a few tips; all having to do with brewing tea. One of the first things I would suggest is to read the directions on the package. While I brew Lady Grey, Cinnamon Cardamom and most of the others using boiling water and timing it for three minutes (yes, I really do use a timer), the Vanilla Rooibos must steep for 10 minutes. Some teas are brewed at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so be sure to check the temperature at which to brew the tea. If you are making a pot of tea, preheat your pot with very hot or boiling water. A few minutes before your second kettle of water is ready, pour out the hot water and set your tea bags or infuser into the pot and put the lid on, as this will help the tea leaves begin to open. Pour the hot water over the tea and brew for the appropriate time. Sweeten the tea with your favorite sweetener (I love cane sugar, though it can change the taste of a milder tea), sit back, relax and savor the tea.

Make sure you drop by Tammy’s site to get other great kitchen tips and enjoy a great cup of tea today.

Menu Plan Monday 10/5/09

by Lora on October 6, 2009 at 12:54 am

It has been quite a while since I posted here, it amazes me that I haven’t posted since July. Our lives have changed greatly since that time; you can read about the changes on my other blog. I’m hoping to get back into the groove of blogging on this and on My Simple Life.

A few weeks ago I went out of town with three of the girls, leaving Hannah and Rachel at home to run the house. Rachel planned a menu for every meal and had a great time doing all of the cooking. She also did a wonderful job cooking. I recently decided to let Lindsay and Rachel begin doing the menu planning, so that they could both get practice in what it takes to plan meals for a family of 7. I gave them some parameters to work within, and then let them do all of the planning. This is the menu that they came up with.

Monday: Crock-Pot Steak with Rice and Gravy

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday: Orange Chicken, Stir-Fry Veggies and Chinese Rice

Thursday: Red Beans and Rice, Garlic Bread

Friday: Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork Sandwiches, French Fries

Saturday: Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork over Baked Potatoes

For other great menu ideas, make sure that you drop by Laura’s blog.

Hard to Find Ingredients

by Lora on July 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Recently I have had some trouble finding a couple of items that I really enjoy using. One of the items was Twinings De-Caf Lady Grey Tea. I love Lady Grey, but if I drink it at night, my favorite time of day for a cuppa, it will keep me up all night.  A friend suggested that I look online, and when I did, I found it at Amazon for the same price per box that I pay in the store.

The other product I couldn’t find was Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning. This is one of my favorite seasonings. I use it in most of my dishes where I use chicken. Recently I made chicken soup without it and I could tell that it was missing. The price I paid at Amazon was comparable to what I pay in a store.

Since I bought both of these items together the total was over $25, I got free shipping. It only took a week for them to arrive, and I was so excited today when my box came. I’m sure that I will do this more in the future when looking for unusual items.

For more great kitchen tips be sure to drop by Tammy’s Recipes.

Menu Plan Monday June 1, 2009

by Lora on June 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm


Last month I wrote about changing my budget. Things went pretty well, though I did have a couple of issues. The biggest budget eater was our buying soft drinks. When you have 7 people drinking a couple of sodas a day, it really adds up. When I was working on our budget I noticed that I had spent $50 on sodas in one week. We have eliminated them, so I think things will work out well on my budget now.

Monday– Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Tuesday–Pirate Stew

Wednesday– Country Style Steak, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy & Veggies

Thursday– Bar-B-Que Crockpot Pork Chops, Taco Beans, Oven Roasted Potatoes

Friday– Swedish Meatballs over Egg Noodles

Saturday– Taco Rice Taco Salad

Sunday– (for church potluck) Taco Rice Casserole

I hope that my menu will spark some ideas. For other great menu ideas, go visit Laura’s blog.

Kitchen Tip Tuesday May 5, 2009

by Lora on May 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Tammy posted about ways to cook beans so that they have less gas. In south Louisiana, where I lived for 13 years, we cooked a LOT of beans. A tip I learned while living there was to add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to each pound of beans as you are cooking them. I usually added it a couple of hours into cooking. You want to add the baking soda slowly, and be prepared for Mt. Vesuvius! I usually scoop the bubbles off as they appear. All the bubbles are produced by the escaping gas, so they are a good thing. Unlike Tammy, I hardly ever soak my beans, especially if I am making Red Beans. We like our Red Beans like they have them in south Louisiana, which is creamy. Since I don’t soak the beans the baking soda does the trick for me.

Here’s my recipe for Red Beans & Rice. The way I cook this is to rinse my beans and dump everything into the pot at one time, dry beans and all. I add water as needed always being sure to keep at least an inch of water over the beans. When you start cooking them you can keep a couple of inches over them, but as time goes on and they start absorbing more you will want to reduce the amount that you add if your goal is to have creamy beans.

Red Beans and Rice

2 lbs red kidney beans
1 lb smoked sausage
1 lg. chopped onion
1 bunch green onions
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp oregano
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Tabasco
1 8 oz can tomato sauce

Slice and brown sausage. Put everything in pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for several hours until beans are tender. Serve over rice. Feeds an army! Freezes well. For white beans, you can substitute Great Northern Beans for the red beans, and omit the tomato sauce.

MPM May 4, 2007

by Lora on May 5, 2009 at 1:40 am

I have been assessing many areas of my homemaking life and trying to implement several different changes. One of them being getting on a stricter budget. In the past I would basically buy what I wanted not being extravagant, but not keeping to a strict budget. Now, I have a strict budget and am diligently trying to keep to it. I got all of my money for the month last week and I am having to pay close attention to what I spend. The stricter budget isn’t due to Gene’s income going down, actually his company is doing quite well, we just wanted to pay closer attention to where our money is going. We are working on trying to become debt free and this is one of our first steps in that direction.

As for my menu, I am trying to have one or two nice meals each week, with the others being more economical. I will try to include some of the recipes as the week goes on, if time permits. I hope that my menu gives you some ideas for easy & economical meals. For more ideas be sure to go to Laura’s blog.

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken Spaghetti, French Bread, Salad

Wednesday: White Bean Soup with Smoked Turkey Wing

Thursday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy & Veggies

Friday: Crockpot Roast over Rice with Veggies

Saturday: Chicken Quesadillas

Sunday: (lunch at church) Taco Rice Casserole

Kitchen Tip Tuesday 4-7-09

by Lora on April 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Today has been a busy day around the house. I put pork chops in the crockpot to cook by 12. As soon as I finished the pork chops I went ahead and put my sweet potatoes in the oven to bake, so they would be cool enough to handle when it was time to mash them. After I mash them and put all the wonderful fattening ingredients in them, I will heat them in the oven. I am also boiling chicken leg quarters. We will remove the meat from them and freeze it in two cup batches. I really love having chicken like this on hand, as it makes it much easier when preparing meals. The girls are working on the kitchen, family room, and washing laundry. In the midst of all of the kitchen work I have been doing some planning and much needed computer work.

Tammy is talking about cookware cleaning on her site today and asked for any tips that others may have. When I have something that is baked on and seemingly impossible to clean I put the pan in the sink and fill it with warm water. I then add several tablespoons of baking soda and let it soak for a few minutes. You would be surprised at how easily the caked on food falls away. Often there is no scrubbing required. If any hard to clean places remain I will use some of the scrub I wrote about in this post. I hope that you will drop in on Tammy, as she always has so many good tips to help us with our home.

For an update on how things have been going with our family, go over to My Simple Life

MPM 4-6-09

by Lora on April 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Yes, once again I’m posting my menu on Tuesday, but better late than never.  Things are actually becoming a little more sane around here, and I am beginning to plan a little more.  You would think that planning during all the illnesses would help, and it does to a degree, but, it’s difficult to plan when you don’t know what will be happening from day to day.  Here is my menu plan, I hope that it will spark some ideas for you.  I will try to include recipes as I make them.

Monday– “Beef” Soup and homemade bread

Tuesday– Cranberry Slow Cooked Pork Chops, cabbage, sweet potatoes, butter beans, homemade bread

Wednesday– Chicken & Dumplings & Biscuits

Thursday– Meatless Mexican Cornbread, Refried Beans & Spanish Rice

Friday– Chicken Quesadillas

Saturday– Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans & Homemade bread

Sunday– (lunch for church) Chicken Enchilada Casserole

For an update on how things have been going with our family, go over to My Simple Life

For more great menu ideas, be sure to pop on over to Laura’s blog.

Frugal Friday Lentil Chili

by Lora on February 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Since I have been attempting to reduce our food expenses, I have been trying some new recipes.  I found a recipe for Lentil Chili at Hillbilly Housewife, but I changed it a little to make it more to our liking. It was really good, and everyone enjoyed it. I served it over brown rice, added cheese to the top and also had cornbread muffins to finish it off. I doubled the recipe for our family of 7 and it gave us some leftovers for lunch today, here it is the way we made it.

Lentil Chili

2 1/2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
3 T dry onions
5 beef bullion cubes
2 15oz cans of tomatoes ( we blended ours because our girls don’t like chunky tomatoes)
4 teaspoons of chili powder
A couple of dashes of hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of minced garlic

Bring lentils and water to a boil. Once a boil is achieved, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (You want the lentils to stay moist, and if they seem to dry out, add a little water). After the lentils have cooked for 30 minutes, add all the other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

For more frugal ideas, visit Crystal.

Kitchen Tip Tuesday 2-3-09

by Lora on February 4, 2009 at 12:40 am

Due to our allergies and sensitivities to many perfumes & scents, we have begun to use homemade cleaners.  I still use store bought dish detergents, laundry detergents, and toilet cleaner, but for most everything else I use homemade.

For our general all purpose cleaner I use 2 quarts of water, 2 Tablespoons of Borax and a few sprigs of Rosemary out of my herb bed.  I warm up the water in a pot, just enough to dissolve the borax.  I then take it off the heat and let it cool and sit.  The longer the rosemary stays in the pot the more color and scent your cleaner will have.  You could use any herb, such as lavender, I happen to like the rosemary.  You could also substitute a couple of drops of essential oil as well. Put the cleaner into a spray bottle and begin cleaning. I use this cleaner on my counters and any other place I would use an all-purpose cleaner.

I make our glass cleaner with 1 quart of water,  1/4 cup of white vinegar and a couple of drops of essential oil. I put this in a spray bottle and use it as I would any glass cleaner.  We use peppermint oil in our cleaner, and I love the minty smell in the house when I’m done cleaning.

For fabric softener we use straight white vinegar in the rinse dispenser.  If the towels have gotten a little smelly, we will put some in the wash cycle as well.

For a soft-scrub type scrub combine baking soda with liquid dish detergent until you get a smooth paste.  Use this in like you would any abrasive cleaner.  I found that it works quite well in the bathtub as the dish detergent breaks down the bathtub scum really well.

***UPDATE*** Today (2-4-09) I had to clean my broiler pan which was quite disgusting after dinner. I used a little of the scrub on it, and it cleaned up quite easily. After cleaning the kitchen I put a little on my hands and used it to exfoliate them, and it worked really well.***

Join the rest of us as we share our kitchen tips with Tammy.

If you haven’t visited my site in a while, things have changed a bit. I have changed my homemaking site address, but haven’t yet moved all of my old posts here yet. If you would like to see my older posts you go to our family site.

I am considering having a “Belt-Tightening Thursday” post every week with Mr. Linky so that you can share your belt tightening ideas as well. If you are interested in this, please leave me a note and let me know what you think. If there’s no interest, I won’t bother to do it.