Good Finds

March 14th, and I finally feel as if I am over a tough 2017 and a truly bumpy holiday. The road ahead isn’t without its obstacles, but today at least, is a fine spring day and I have found some treasures.  It is these small things, ordinary things, that often surprise us and bring joy into our lives.  Finding these good things, I want to share them, hoping they will bring joy, or entertainment, or something really good to eat into your life.

The first is my outrageous garden. In September, I planted four tomato plants, told them to grow and make a few tomatoes. The two cherry tomato vines took the mission to heart and grew monster canes that have encroached on the driveway and roses and have produced hundreds of delicious, plump and sweet cherry tomatoes. The two patio vines have likewise made tomatoes until they are so heavy they are drooping over the cages.

Amazing

Imagine, tomatoes in November, December, in January and February and now in March.  There is something special about homegrown tomatoes. Ask Dwight who has had three months of tomato sandwiches. How to do it? Lots of good compost, plenty of water, a sunny location  with a south exposure, and our unusually warm winter.

Have no fear. This is FUN.

The second is a fun and creative art book, No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity, by Gina Rossi Armfield. Using a year’s worth of monthly calendars, she uses multi-media including collage, painting, stamping, writing poetry, making watercolor vignettes, and other things to make every day a creative day. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun with a project. Along the way, I’ve discovered Washi tapes.  Another good find.

I’m not a scrapbooker, but I think the prompts in No Excuses will ultimately lead to something introspective and significant. Already, I see bits of myself emerging. And that is the key word for March, Emerge—to leave behind that which is old and confining, to come forth new, changed and improved, freshly reborn, and better. Art is self-revelatory. There is in each of us a creative spirit. Finding ways to express that can be challenging. I love discovering something like this that provides assignments and structure.

Slow Cooker Chili

The last is a recipe. Usually, I am not a fan of chili, but I found a recipe in Paleo Slow Cooker Soups and Stews by Amelia Simons, an Amazon best selling author, that is delicious.  With four pounds of hamburger, it makes a crockpot full. The good news is it freezes well. The coconut oil used for sautéing the vegetables gives them a sweet flavor.

Hearty Chili

2 Tbsp coconut oil

8 stalks celery sliced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large onions, diced

4 pounds ground beef

2 Tbsp cumin

2 Tbsp chili powder

4 tsp thyme

24 oz favorite salsa

2 (14.5 0z) cans diced tomatoes

3 (7 oz) cans green chiles

2 Tbsp sea salt

 

  1. Turn slow cooker on HIGH so it heats up while you prepare your ingredients
  2. On the stovetop, use a large skillet to melt coconut oil
  3. Saute celery, garlic and onions until tender
  4. Transfer to slow cooker
  5. Add ground beef so skillet and brown. Drain.
  6. Put browned beef into slow cooker.
  7. Pour in the remaining ingredients and stir gently.

Turn the slow cooker to Low and cook for 6 hours.

Allen Bee Company’s Honey butter

Allen Bee Company’s Honey Butter

allen_bees

  • 1 pound butter, in a mixing bowl. Let come to room temperature and soften.
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla.

Mix cream, sugar and honey. Heat until it comes to a boil. Boil briefly – no longer than a minute, then add vanilla. Slowly add to butter and beat at low speed stopping to scrape the bowl until the butter is melted. Do not whip. Whipping will cause the butter to separate. Pour into wide-mouthed jars with a lid. Refrigerate. Hopefully, this will store for a long time (several months in the refrigerator) without separating. Should have a creamy texture and not granular. Really good on toast, roasted butternut squash, melted on ice cream, and straight from the jar.