December 2008

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This here, my pretties, is truly happiness on a plate, well, at least, for me and my family.  Paris, as much as she may want a taste, will get no such thing.  It’s mine, bwa ha ha!  But, you, gentle reader, should you like to follow the recipe, can savor bite after bite.  I’m going to put on my teacher hat here and ask that you read the whole recipe before you start, because it is done in stages.  You’ll see.

Colleen’s Green Chile Burritos

2-4 pound pork shoulder roast, cut into 1″ chunks, removing as much fat as you can

28 oz diced green chiles – the really big can (use more or less, to your taste)

2 fresh poblano peppers (optional)

1 dried ancho/pasilla chile (a dried poblano with different names – very dark and wrinkly)

1 large onion, diced

8 cloves garlic, diced

2 teaspoons salt (I use alder smoked sea salt from Mountain Rose Herbs, fantastico!)

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 cup dried pinto beans

1 piece kombu seaweed (optional)

water

tortillas

grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese

other toppings of your choice – lettuce, sour cream, avocado, black olives

For the beans:  The night before you want your burritos, get the beans soaking.  I use the same pot I will cook them in.  Use enough water to allow the beans to triple in volume.  Once the chile is going, drain the soaking liquid from the beans, and add enough water to cover by about an inch.  Add the kombu – it is supposed to help with the dreaded after-effects of beans, and truth be told, I think it works.  Whenever I make beans without it, I’ll be honest – there is more farting.  I bought mine at New Seasons ages ago, but I’ll bet an internet search will reveal more sources; the package lasts forever – unless you’re big on beans.  Getting back to it.  Add two cloves of diced garlic. Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours, adding 1 teaspoon of salt at the END.  Add it too soon and the skins will be tough.  Strain the excess liquid along with the kombu (It will be slimy and likely in a few pieces) and keep warm.

For the green chile:  Brown the cubed pork in a little oil on medium high heat, working in batches to keep from overcrowding the pan.  Place in crock pot on low heat.  In the rendered fat of the pork, saute onion until soft.  Add to the crock pot. Add the canned green chiles to the pan, filling the empty cans with water to get all of the chile goodness and adding to the pan to deglaze.  Add this mixture to the crock pot.

Poblanos: Chop the dried pepper into small bits with a very sharp knife, discarding the stem.  Add to crock pot.  Also, for the locals, Food 4 Less is the absolute best source for chiles, and come to think of it, just about all ethnic foods and sundries – Asian, European, Russian, and Latin American.  It’s quite the adventure.  To roast the fresh poblanos, I turn on a burner and hold the pepper over it until the skin gets blackened, rotating it to get it even.  Your kitchen will smell like chile heaven.  Once all sides are good and dark, place in a paper bag until cool.  Remove the skin by rubbing it with your fingers (don’t touch your eyes, ouch!).  Dice the peppers, discarding the stem, keeping the seeds if you like it a little more spicy.  Add to crock pot.  Add cumin, chile powder, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt.  Add 1 cup water.  Cook for 2-3 hours, until the meat is tender and thoroughly flavored.

Putting it all together:  Take a tortilla and set it on a burner turned on medium heat, rotating quickly to keep from sticking or burning.  Once it has softened a little, turn over and do it all again.  Add beans, a layer of pork, and a handful of grated cheese.  Roll up, um, like a burrito, tee hee.  Add another handful of cheese, and top off with another ladle of green chile goodness.  Add your favorite condiments and enjoy!

Added info – I don’t know how much this makes – I’d say at least ten burritos, but I don’t know if you are a Gregory burrito – MONDO or a Colleen burrito – just right.  Let’s put it this way – the recipe fills half of my crock pot, which  holds 6 1/2 quarts.  Also, if you want your chile thick, like a stew, turn the crock pot to high about a half an hour before you want to eat.  Once it is bubbling mad, take a ladle full of the chile and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour, stirring thoroughly to avoid lumps.  Put back in crock pot and quickly incorporate it.  Keep the the lid off.  It should thicken in a few minutes.

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Yes, I am a crazy person.  I’ve got that look in my eye.  However, I am not crazy with junk sticking out of my head.  That is just the door hinge in my very unprofessional office/photo studio.  Anyhoo.  Back when it was sunny and warm outside, I wrote this Concoctions post that told you about my DIY proclivities.  Well, I’ve got an update for you, along with a couple recipes for new goodness you can try at home.

To start, the Queen of Hungary water is awesome.  It really does make my skin feel super tight and smooth as a baby’s bum, with one caveat.  It smells like vinegar, so I have to dilute it with water or I smell as crazy as I look in the above photo.

Angry Chicken’s deodorant has been terrific for the hubster, but after about a month, it made my pits get a rash, so I stopped using it.  I am now deodorant free, and it isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, even Gregory agrees.  I am guessing the fact that I shave is the reason for the rash.  So, if you don’t shave, I think you are golden with this stuff.  Maybe try it without the baking soda, too.  Just a thought.  Also, I did use her suggestion for glycerin to make it softer.  I used a couple tablespoons, and the consistency is quite nice.

Kombucha – still going strong!  I love it!  If you are a local yokel and want to try it, give me a holler and we’ll hook you up with a SCOBY.

Birch Water – my original intention with this was to replace shampoo.  Initially this was great, but then, even though I had just washed my hair, it looked, well, dirty, mostly oily.  So now I use it as a body wash and am super happy with it.  You can’t beat the smell of rum in the shower.

So you might be wondering if I returned to the shampoo.  Nope.  I have, since September, been cleaning up with baking soda and Queen of Hungary Water.  Here’s the “recipe”:

Mix about a teaspoon of baking soda in about a quarter cup of hot water.  Swirl around until the water is clear.  Pour the water over your head, concentrating on the scalp.  Close your eyes, too.  This stuff burns a little.  Once you’ve gotten all of it on, give yourself a nice scalp massage.  Let it sit for a minute or two, or comb through it.  Rinse very well.  Seriously, very well.  Even though you’ve only used a little, it will dull your hair if you don’t get it all out.

Next, take about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, or even better, Queen of Hungary Water, and mix it with about a quart of water.  Pour this over your head, comb through, and rinse, rinse, rinse!  Nobody wants to smell a vinegary head, nobody.  I am speaking from experience.

Finally, the reason for the title and the kooky photo above.  I recently made lip balm and it turned out really well – like well enough to surprise everyone who’s used it, including me.  I got the ingredients from a few places, but this awesome website (Mountain Rose Herbs) has it all, and most of it is certified organic.  Yippee!

Pucker-Up!

12 teaspoons castor oil

9 teaspoons grated beeswax (pack this and the cocoa butter into the measuring spoon)

9 teaspoons grated cocoa butter

9 teaspoons sweet almond oil

9 teaspoons jojoba oil

9 teaspoons glycerin

1 teaspoon vitamin e oil

Essentail oils – I used spearmint (10 drops), rosemary (8 drops), and peppermint (6 drops).

15-20 1/2 ounce metal tins – I used 20 but didn’t fill them all the way.  I didn’t know how much the mix would expand as it cools – not very much, so I’d use 15 next time.

Place all ingredients in a heat proof glass measuring cup.  Place that in a pot of hot water over low heat, and stir, stir, stir, until melted.  It takes a while, but I read that melting it too quickly could cause everything to be grainy.  Nobody wants grainy lip balm.

This turned out medium firm, I’d say.  If you like it really soft, more like lip gloss, change the ratio of castor oil (more) to beeswax and cocoa butter (less).  Do the reverse if you like it a bit more firm.  You can also use any combination of essential oils.  Lavender, orange, or lemon would be nice, too!  Finally, if you want it tinted, add some lipstick or food coloring at the end.  It will look much darker in the tin than it does on your lips.

**I forgot to tell you that I filled my tins with a turkey baster.  Just be sure to get it really clean because it will smell like your lip balm or get a baster to dedicate to unusual home projects.

Have fun, and if you do try something, let me know how it goes.  I’d be eager to hear.

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Back before I was a bit derailed by life and took a break from the blog, I had my Friday Spotlight, where I wrote about movies, books, and music that I like.  Well, I’m bringing it back, but a little early this week for topical reasons.

My husband and I have a Christmas Eve tradition of reading Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory aloud to each other.  We take turns, each reading a few pages at a time.  It is so magical for me.  Though I know the plot, each time is new and wonderful, full of funny quips and brilliant details, bringing me both laughter and tears.

If you aren’t familiar with A Christmas Memory, it recalls Capote’s own youth when he lived with relatives, and in particular, Miss Sook and their dog Queenie.  The story centers on the Christmas season, but like any good tale, it is so much more than that.

We watch the trio venture into the woods to cut down a tree and decorate it with home made ornaments (they couldn’t afford any others).  We also learn of the myriad ways they earn money for the fruitcake fund.  Each year making cakes (and enjoying a little whiskey themselves) for strangers dear to them, including President Roosevelt.  What different times – can you imagine sending the President a cake today?

Like so many of the stories I am drawn to, it is also about love and the deep connections we share, for Buddy and Miss Sook, and little Queenie, too, have a most tender and sweet relationship, one that, despite distance and time, only grows stronger.

If one day you come upon the story, regardless of season, please do read it, for it is so very special, one to treasure, and you will never look at two kites flying in the same way again.

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The Everyday

Hello Everyone!  It’s been a while, my digital friends…

As you can see, our red roof is currently under a rather thick blanket of snow.  Yikes!  Save the times we’ve gone outside to shovel the walk and feed the animals, we haven’t left the house since Friday evening.  Now that doesn’t really sound so terrible, but when you know you can’t get out, it makes it feel like it’s been even longer since you left.  The mind plays funny tricks.

To pass the time, we’ve watched A LOT of Netflix, in particular, the ENTIRE first season of 30 Rock, plus a few episodes of the second season, and the movie Becoming Jane.  We now feel pretty complete in those areas.  Like there was ever really a problem.  Again, the mind plays funny tricks.

I don’t know where I saw this, but I liked it and thought I would share it with you.  The five things I do every day:

1. Drink my fiber drink (for those who don’t already know about this, it contains: fiber (think psyllium or inulin), Emergen-C powder, spirulina powder, acidophilus, homemade kombucha, and lemon flavored cod liver oil (most of us are Vitamin D deficient)).  Digestive health is very important people, and besides, I think it tastes good!

2. Exercise.  Also very important.  I like to walk, but not in the snow drifts we have today, practice yoga, Nia dance (or just dance around the house like a crazy person), lift weights (not too heavy), and row on the machine in the basement.

3. Feed and/or watch the animals in our backyard “habitat.”  That’s me this morning.  I am sharing stale corn chips with my peeps.  I am wearing my hubby’s overcoat, my new nightgown from my parents (thanks!), rubber boots, and my green hat.  The hat rarely leaves my head these days.

4. I like to make good food.  I like simple ingredients done well.  I am not terribly fancy.

5. Love my life.  I can’t imagine a better one.  I have an amazing husband, healthy, happy, and fun friends and family, cute kitties, a lovely home…the list goes on.  It is all very sparkly, just like a holiday (that’s a quotation from Rain Man film fans).

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