Ms Betterhome

Slow cooker blackbean chilli (vegan)
May 6, 2012, 11:36 pm
Filed under: food, vegan eating | Tags: ,

I have been making chilli with dried black beans ( aka black turtle beans) for a few years. The beans are not common in Sydney, so I used to buy 5 kilo bags from the Fiji Market in Newtown whenever I spotted them. Now we no longer live in Newtown, my spotting opportunities are limited, so I buy them online from Honest To Goodness ( again, in 5 kilo bags).

Black beans have a great, earthy flavour, and they’re quite high in protein ( around 14 grams per cup). I used to make the chilli in 3 stage process, that involved soaking overnight, precooking the beans, then cooking again with veggies & seasonings. However, this process was a bit fussy, and often led to slightly runny chilli, because the beans were so well hydrated when they went into the slowcookerfor the last time ( slow cookers trap condensation, so you often get extra liquid in the meal as a result).

Emboldened by an experiment with slow cooker baked beans that used pre-soaked but not pre cooked Cannellini beans, I decided to cut the precook stage from my chilli recipe. It was a great success, and the process will be simpler forever more.

My new recipe (based on the approximate amounts I use in my smaller slow cooker) is:

Pre soak about 2 cups of dried blackbeans overnight or longer

Add drained, soaked beans to the slow cooker with:

2 onions, 4 cloves of garlic and one chopped red chilli, sautéed in olive oil

One chopped red capsicum ( no need to pre cook)

One tin chopped tomatoes

Veggie stock to cover bean/veg mixture by about 2 cm

Seasonings to taste: I used a harrissa spice mix and about a teaspoonoff cumin seed. Sometimes I add smoked paprika and/or dried oregano

Optional: a 2-3 cm square of  kombu sea vegetable. This is an old macrobiotic trick for cooking beans. It adds minerals and flavour to the broth, and increases digestibility (ie reduces farting).

cook on low for at least 10 hours.

I freeze in 200 gram portions, and we get about 4-5 taco dinners for 2 out of this amount… It makes about 2 litres of chilli in my 3 litre slow cooker.


Mid Autumn update
May 6, 2012, 6:59 am
Filed under: gardening | Tags:

I’ve been traveling again for work, hence the lull in blogging. However, we have been working in the garden, and an update is long overdue.

Last month we finally bought two half wine barrels and a ute load of compost, and re-potted the dwarf macadamia and lemon myrtle. We also topped up the beds in thefront yard that had become very compacted, and planted lots of mixed greens, beetroot and lettuces.

Today we pulled out the tomatoes in the end front bed, topped it up with more compost, and planted 3 bulbs of Italian garlic. We also cut back theasparagus, and mulched it heavily. I’ll give it a good feed in late winter.

We also did a lot of pruning and feeding on all the backyard fruit trees last week, which Mr B followed up with an overly ( to me) enthusiastic prune of the passion fruit vine. We had lots of fruit, but very little ripened, due to the cool summer.

Long weekend domesticity
April 6, 2012, 11:11 pm
Filed under: gardening | Tags:

We had an incident with our seedlings a couple of weeks back – a huge gust of wind knocked the mini greenhouseobverse, and only a fewbabies were saved.

I planted them out last weekend, and will get one more beetroot and fennel seeds in this weekend, and do some general feeding and mulching.

Seedlings, and a timely taro tasting
March 19, 2012, 3:06 am
Filed under: food, gardening | Tags: ,

The weather has been delighful so far this Autumn… much better than our grey, miserable summer. We’ve still had a lot of rain, though, & the black taro is thriving in the back yard (though it doesn’t look quite as good as this stock pic yet!).

Having planted so much taro we thought we’d better try some, so we bought a tuber from the fruit and veg market. We roasted it in our usual pumpkin/potato/sweet potato combo, with olive oil, salt and pepper. It tasted good, & was super fluffy inside, but was very dry… the outside of the cubes toughened up while roasting, rather than crisping or caramelising like the other veggies. We speculate a sauce or gravy might be needed next time – though we’re still a long way off a harvest.

We also planted broccoli, collards, fennel, parsley, beetroot, coriander & leeks in seed trays; and more rocket, turnips & beetroot seed direct in the beds. So far the collards & broccoli are ramapging along, the rest is creeping along.

Autumn garden update
March 4, 2012, 2:27 am
Filed under: gardening | Tags:

We sat down yesterday and planned our autumn plantings. We’re going to focus on our past successes, and on things we buy a lot. That means we’ll plant A Lot of beetroot, plus some broccoli, leeks, turnips, collards, taro, silverbeet, beans, snowpeas, and lots & lots of rocket.

This weekend has seen us undertake phase one: clearing out old buggy kale plants & replenishing the beds with lovely rotted soil/compost blend. We bought some beetroot seedlings to get things going, but will start seedlings next weekend.

In the clearout we harvested a couple of leeks, some beans, a ton of kale, some chillis and a pile of green cherry tomatoes (these cooked up beautifully in a veggo shepherd’s pie).

I planted more beans and rocket, and we also pulled out the encroaching grass from under the fruittrees, and mulched them with castings from my sister’s worm farm (we have mountains of her castings, but since her worms process dog poop we’re not putting it in the veg beds).

What I’m up to…

Well, I’m not doing the Independence Days Challenge this year. Work has already gotten crazy, and I’m trying to really take care of myself, so it’s first things first!

My personal priorities right now are:

Home & relationships I have a lot of travel this year, and I want to devote energy to MrB and our home & garden. That means having fun together, but also staying mindful of the household jobs that really niggle at him. I like Gala Darling’s take on keeping thing’s fresh.

Work This year I want to thrive, not just survive! This means planning ahead to manage my projects well, and making sure I delegate when I can. I currently have 4 staff, 2 who are pretty autonomous, another 2 who really only work on my projects… So I have to stay in a good place to supervise them properly and delegate (not dump) tasks appropriately. Plus I need to be in a good place to encourage and mentor them, so they can develop according to their own interests. That means preventing overwhelm by staying positive & forward looking, and focusing on eating well, and getting enough sleep & exercise.

Exercise I do 30 mins of walking most days, taking the dog for a stroll. I’ve added 3 x 20-40 minutes swimming or gym cardio per week, plus an additional 1-2 hours a week of yoga and pilates (using Gaim DVDs) , and at least a 1/2 an hour of dancing. I’ll be going to a day club to dance this afternoon. When I do it at home, I tend to do Gabrielle Roth’s Wave DVDs. I have her 3 DVD set – the Power Wave is my favourite. I’ve also started doing some arm work with light hand weights. I’m starting with 1.5 kilos, as my upper body strength is pretty ordinary.

Food I used the myfitnesspal app to keep a food & exercise diary for 6 weeks. I’ve stopped now, as I think I’ve learned appropriate portion sizes pretty well now… I’ll start again if I feel like I’m backsliding. I’m generally eating vegan with attention to getting some protein in all meals; minimising my intake of oil & processed foods (but getting plenty of plant fats in whole nuts & seeds); minimising flour products; and avoiding anything with added sugars, and limiting fruit to the equivalent of two small pieces a day.

According to the scales I didn’t lose kilos in the first 6 weeks, but my body has changed shape dramatically, and I’m fitting pants I haven’t worn for a while, so things are definately happening. I feel a lot stronger, and it’s much easier to climb stairs & hills.

Having said I’m not doing Independence Days, the truth is, we are still gardening, harvesting, cooking at home and buying in bulk. This week I did a big stockup on organic, fair trade coffee, bulk rice (from Honest to Goodness), and tinned tomatoes & beans (from Aldi).

Independence Days 2012 week 1
February 11, 2012, 9:27 am
Filed under: independence days, learning

I had a killer week at work, so did the bare minimum. But in keeping with this challenge, I’m  counting my wins.

Plant something: no planting this week, but I’m doing some weeding & feeding.

Harvest something: green beans, purple king beans, cherry tomatoes, figs, lettuce, thyme, rosemary, basil

Preserve something: saved the overripe figs by making a fig sauce.

Waste not: froze the rest of the bread to avoid mould in the humidity. Usual composting & recycling.

Want not: no stockpiling or prep this week

Eat the food: used up frozen green vegetables that were getting old in a soup.

Build community food system: nothing really in this category.

Skill up: nothing here either… I eased into this challenge:)