February3–The Energizer Bunny Beans & Rice

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It all started innocently on July 10, 2016. I shared a recipe in a Facebook group called Plant-Based Instant Pot People. 

Today, the recipe has had 373 “likes” and 458 comments. Wow. The comments are still pouring in 6 months later … it has been compared to the Energizer bunny multiple times! I call it my “one hit wonder.” Last week, I decided I need to write a blog post about it. 

So, here is my Cookpost!  … because one recipe isn’t enough for a Cookbook 🙄

We had been making this recipe for a few weeks, and I was pleased by its versatility and confident in its results.  It was born because we needed something easy, and we were still getting acquainted with the InstaPot. 

👇👇👇👇👇

I have lost count of how many times we have made beans and rice in the last few months, since stumbling upon a perfect recipe. My daughters make it at least once a week! It tastes slightly different each time, depending on what spices are used. (Oldest favors Rogan Josh curry spice blend). Sometimes, we use salsa. 

Über simple:

  • 1 cup Dry beans (we have used black or red) (DRY, not soaked, but picked over and rinsed)
  • 2 cups brown rice (or a medley of long-cooking rices)
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 1 cup salsa (or equivalent of water or part tomato paste)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of spices (more is always better, in my opinion, but this low amount is for the benefit of milder palates — start with this amount and adjust next time you make it)

Manual 30 minutes

Natural pressure release for at least 15 minutes

**Note: I have doubled the recipe successfully.

👆👆👆👆👆

If you are unfamiliar with the InstaPot, it is a magical appliance that is primarily an electric pressure cooker. (It does other things, but mainly it is awesome for cooking dried beans.) 

It can cook dried beans without soaking in about 25 minutes, plus the time it takes to come up to pressure and then release the pressure at the end. Total time is about an hour. It cooks rice, too. White rice cooks in 4-6 minutes (plus that pressure time), but brown rice takes 22 minutes. This recipe works because the rice and beans each take about the same amount of time to cook. 

It is not a perfect recipe for everyone, but it has been a great recipe for a heck of a lot of people, and I am thrilled. The rest of this Cookpost will be quotes from the Facebook post. Enjoy!

Credit to the original recipe:  http://myplantbasedfamily.com/2015/04/02/instant-pot-mexican-casserole/

  • Me>>> I was so excited to find this original recipe. *It wasn’t flavorful enough for me, which is why I modified it. Now that we have made it so many times, I am confident in the results.

😋😋😋😋😋😋😋😋😋😋😎

🐰 How many does the original recipe serve?

  • Me>>> We are a family of five. We generally have very small amount of leftovers. I try to make 1-2 burritos to freeze, so the leftovers don’t get forgotten in the fridge.
  • I measured it out and got just under 8 cups. Hope that helps!
  • Doubled it and it was just the right amount for 40 people (half were small kids). Great for a crowd with good salsas, lime and cilantro. Used smaller tortilla. Thanks!
  • Thanks for the recipe. I made a 1/2 portion of it to see how my husband liked it. It was a big hit. I used 1/2 red Salsa and 1/2 verde. Making it again soon.

🌞 Dry beans? 

  • DRY, not even soaked.
  • I soaked beans for 30 years and now I am SOLD on pressure cooking completely dry, unsoaked beans. If for nothing else, the IP earns its keep on this capability alone. You would never know my IP’d unsoaked beans weren’t soaked! I have read repeatedly that you do not want your beans to cook dry (no water left) when pressure cooking. It is apparently a mess to clean up! So just make sure they have plenty of water or fluid to cover the beans well. It is truly a neat thing to not have to cart those heavy, obnoxious cans home any more. Less landfill waste this way, also! I can get a bag o dry beans for $1.65. That’s two cups dry beans. It makes several cups of cooked beans. Dirt cheap. Give it a shot! It’s a cheap experiment!
  • Wait, wait, wait! We don’t even have to soak the beans?! I think I just fell in love 😍!
  • This was my very first attempt at dried beans…amazing.
  • I have made this recipe more than a dozen times. My experience has taught me smaller beans work best. But with the variety of beans on the market, “small” still leaves many options. I have even tried du puy lentils – tiny, but hold their shape.

🌶 Spice recommendations …

  • We use random stuff, usually a home made taco seasoning blend. Also cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, cayenne …
  • Look at regular bean/rice recipes for spice suggestions. 2-3 tablespoons, depending on your taste buds. We always use at least 3 tablespoons and add Sriracha or our new favorite Aardvark sauce.
  • I like chili powder (there are many different mixes, some hot–not my thing–some less so) and cumin. Oregano is also used in Mexican cooking. Or you could find a mix like “taco seasoning” or “Mexican seasoning.” Frontier Cooperative Herbs and Spicely are two organic brands I’ve used and like. 
  • Ha, a little bit of everything! Cumin, Mexican oregano, ancho chile powder, onion and garlic granules. Then added some salt and pepper after cooking 😊
  • I seasoned mine with Indian spices. My husband really liked it. Both rice and beans cooked well.
  • I was thinking of trying black beans and jerk seasoning
  • I just wanted to use up the broth, that’s all. Did half and half and it was yummo. My mom who never tries new things loved it and my toddler is shoveling it down as I type. Added in some chili lime seasoning this time and diced tomatoes instead of sauce. 👍👍👍👍
  • And so adaptable!! I added fresh green peppers; red onion; a big clove of garlic; and a bag of frozen organic non-gmo corn. I may want to change up the quantities to equal rice & beans, 1 1/2 cups of each. YUM
  • For seasonings – 1 TBSP cumin , 1 TBSP chili powder or paprika, 1 TBSP garlic powder and optionally up to 1 TBSP onion poweder and can do less of any of those if not preferrable flavor
  • I am doing it now based on a non-IP Cuban style black beans and rice recipe I like. Saute onion and garlic. Add 4 tsp cumin, 3 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, 2 bay leaves, rice, beans, and water. This time I put in 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder too. I’ve always heard not to add tomatoes/acidic ingredients until the end because they prevent beans from cooking. In a separate pot, I’ll saute green & red pepper, maybe some tomatoes, maybe 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, and mix it in when everything else is done. I also have some leftover jarred enchilada sauce that I bet would be really good on top. Or salsa.
  • Finally made this! I used 1T cumin, 1T chili powder, 1/2T each garlic and onion and used tomato paste instead of salsa. 33 minutes and was perfect!
  • I made it today with great success (used pintos that I had previously soaked and frozen, uncooked) and brown Basmati rice. Instead of salsa, I whirled up some garden tomatoes in the blender along with 2 garlic cloves and 1/3 of a red habenero pepper. I added seasonings like onion powder, oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and a bay leaf. Very yummy served with corn tortillas and topped with salsa and my homemade soy yogurt. And easy-peasy….!
  • Made this the other day – soaked (old) pinto beans for 2-3 hrs first, used brown basmati rice, spaghetti sauce, 2 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp onion powder and 2 Thai hot chilies. 

🍚  Rice …

  • Me>>> I used a sprouted medley from Costco, but now they don’t have it. 😩 I have gotten a bulk-bin rice medley at various grocery stores: Winco, Fred Meyer, Whole Foods. Haven’t looked for anything in the rice section. If the medley has brown rice, in addition to other varieties, it works.
  • Right up our alley! I have a ton of short grain brown rice…wonder how that would work?  <<<It ought to work out just fine.>>>
  • Black bean, Northern bean, wild rice tacos with guacamole, red cabbage slaw, tomatoes, lettuce and red peppers. Soooooooo good although I had to add a lot more spices and if I did it again I would add caramelized onions to make the bean mix lighter and I did have to go another 10 minutes for the northern beans to cook through.
  • Just made this using brown basmati and black beans. HUGE hit! Thanks so much for sharing, it will definitely be a regular in our rotation!

💪 Successes …

  • Came out delicious. Nice texture to beans and rice (not mushy and not over cooked). I seasoned with chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and used fresh chopped tomatoes because I can’t buy salsa here. My kids love love love it. Even my 19 month old who typically likes her foods one by one rather than mixed together. I topped with chopped tomatoes, pickled daikon, and pickled peppers. This will definitely be a go to meal for our family. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
  • Made it today!!! It was perfect!!! Thank you so much for sharing!
  • I made it tonight too and it was fantastic. Thanks for sharing! (By the way, I used 2 T chili powder and 1 T cumin.). I wonder if there’s a record for number of people cooking the same dish at the same time across the country? 😊
  • I made it today! It was great! But my 5 and 3 year old don’t think beans and rice should be mixed so they weren’t as impressed lol. But it was perfect, to me! Enjoyed it with garden veggies, guacamole, and Tofutti sour cream in burritos.😄
  • Made this tonight as our first Insta Pot meal! Everyone loved it! Thank you!
  • I made this today and it was easy and tasted great. That is a combination that I like -easy and tasting good. Thanks for the recipe for how to make it. I served it with broccoli and it was a good combination.
  • Made these for my parents who are trying to be plant-based…they loved it and it’s a bonus that it is so quick and easy in the ipot!!!
  • it was a big hit in my house. I made this today and didn’t soak them (actually, I forgot to even rinse 😳). I followed the recipe exactly and used 2T of chili powder for the spice. It could have benefitted from that third T of spice, but it was great otherwise. My incredibly picky son ate it on corn tortillas and kept asking for more! I cooked mine on high and let it sit for 15 min or so for natural release.
  • Worked for me, though only used 1/2cup salsa b/c I didn’t have any more. Added a random assortment of sautéed veggies to tacos (including kohlrabi!)
  • I’ve made this twice now, once beans were soaked about 4 hours first (husband is a skeptic lol) and cooked with tomato sauce and spices, once beans soaked about 30-45 minutes and cooked with salsa. Both times cooked beautifully. Salsa one was tastier in my opinion but kids liked the plain tomato sauce one better.
  • I used really small black beans and it worked great
  • i just made this recipe today for the 5th time. I had to make it for my daughter and her family because my grandson pronounced this the best! I put salsa, jalapenos and Pensey’s chile 9000 spice in with the rice, beans and water. 30 minutes and natural release seems to work perfect every time. Thanks for the recipe.
  • Made this today…added some scrambled tofu, caramelized onions, corn and guacamole…the perfect breakfast wrap! Thanks for the recipe!
  • I’ve made this twice and taken it to work to share with the omnivores. It’s quite popular. Maybe next week again…
  • Just had this AGAIN for lunch … never get tired of it ~~
  • I used pinto beans today! Perfect!
  • when I use the dry beans I have used small red beans and it worked very well
  • I used pinto and the whole jar of salsa .. delicious

😶 Crunchy beans do happen sometimes …

  • Me>>> I started making this recipe in the spring in Sunriver, Oregon: 4163′ elevation and dry climate. I had crunchy beans one time, but others have had trouble. 
  • I live on Cape Cod… I asked Siri what my elevation was and she said 80 feet. I also think if after the natural release you stir it and put it back on for maybe five more minutes maybe some of the beans that were at the top will cook better…. Just guessing but love the recipe and how simple it is and how you can make so many variations.
  • 300 feet. Crunchy each time I make it no matter the beans. I think a mid stir would help b/c it’s not all the beans, only some.
  • I made these again last night with red beans and rice, canned diced tomatoes and smoked paprika, onion and garlic powders and Cajun spice. It was really good! My beans were al dente too…the black beans worked better, I guess because they’re smaller? Can’t wait to make them again!
  • I tried this and had a slight bite to my beans BUT I think it was because I accidentally flipped the breaker and the IP turned off! 😱 lol! I put it on for an extra 5 minutes and PERFECTION. I used diced tomatoes instead of salsa and brown rice + black beans. Served to a picky crowd of vegans and vegetarians and a picky 4 year old and 10 month old – everyone loved it. There was a fight for who could take the leftovers home. I didn’t serve it with a tortilla, but on the side of corn and chips and salsa.
  • My black beans came out a little crunchy. Rice was perfect. Near San Francisco, sea level.
  • You need to be very careful with less than fully cooked kidney beans.  Higher elevation requires longer cooking, as it takes longer for water to boil. You are certainly at lower elevation but maybe your beans are older.
  • I was apprehensive for the same reason! But it actually will cook fully if you just give it a couple more minutes in the IP. If you find yours crunchy, add 5-10 minutes and you’ll be fine!
  • I just made this for the 2nd time and again my beans weren’t cooked. This time I used small red beans (adjuki) and before I used black beans.  <<<I cook 10 extra minutes and it turns out great now.>>>
  • I made this tonight with pinto beans. Although the rice was perfect, the beans were not all the way soft. Maybe my beans are too old? Next time I will soak them first. We still ate it wrapped in a burrito and hardly noticed they weren’t all the way soft.
  • If they’re too old soaking or more cooking won’t work, they just never get tender! Believe me I’ve had some old batches over the years and you just have to throw them out! Best to get your beans from places with high turnover; places that supply restaurants are a good idea.

💔 Failures …

  • Just cam out of the ipot. But it’s mushy. I used long grain brown rice and black beans (not soaked) with the stated salsa and amount of water. Maybe if I make it again I’ll do a quick release instead of a natural release. <<<note from janis: do NOT do quick release>>>
  • The only time it has ever failed for us is when my daughter didn’t put enough water in. And even then it was just a partial fail. We ate it all anyway.
  • I had trouble with this recipe too. Had to throw it away. The beans were still partly hard. We are in Memphis- so it’s humid here and 300′ above sea level. I don’t know that those were the problems. The beans weren’t old either. 
  • I’ve made this twice recently, with different dry black bean sources, and beans have been al dente. I’ve followed recipe. Everyone seems to have great success. 
  • I have commented about this recipe before – got the timings right but really not impressed with the taste – it was bland – my opinion. I have 6 portions in the freezer and now put it into vegetable soup for some protein. Needs more flavouring –
  • I made this last night but the rice was mush and the beans crunchy. Disappointed 😔
  • MIne either. I`ve done it twice. Beans and rice don`t cook in the same time frame. I won`t do it again.

🍅 Tomatoes and beans?

  • Me>>> I have had troubles with tomatoes, but never this recipe. I think the ratio of tomatoes is just minimal enough. I had problems ONE time when I added frozen tomatoes to a chili at the beginning. (previously, the same chili had worked fine when tomatoes were added at the beginning)… I have been making this exact recipe for about 3 months, at least once a week. I do believe that there may be variables to consider since we are in different locations (humidity, elevation) — and there may be a difference in ingredients, even though I have used different rices and beans. I have even had a lot of success instructing my daughters to make this, and we all know that children don’t believe their mothers know ANYTHING.
  • I made this last night. Not successfully, I might add. The beans did not cook all the way through. I don’t know how anyone has success with this. Two things should have happened: 1) I should have soaked the beans. Period. 2) When tomatoes are added to dry beans (even soaked ones) they do not cook. The acid in the tomatoes toughens them. I should have added the salsa after they were cooked through. I should have known better. I have made these mistakes before, I should have learned from those mistakes. Sorry, I don’t have anything positive to say about this method.
  • I wonder if this is the most commented-on post in this group! I can’t wait to make this as well…good template. I’ve been wary to put something tomatoey in the pressure cooker with dried beans since it takes beans w tomato so long to cook in the crockpot. Interesting!

👍 I like more beans than rice. Do you think I could swap the ratios? 1c rice and 2c beans. Or would I need more time/water?

  • I actually thought the same thing before making the recipe (rather more beans than rice). But it was so so so good, and didn’t seem rice heavy at all.
  • I tried it for the first time tonight, I used half/half, so 1.5c beans/1.5c rice and added an extra 1/2c water. I let it NP release for 20min and it came out perfect! For what it’s worth I used black beans and brown rice.
  • I would just use the “regular” ratios. For me that is 2 cups liquid for each cup of dry beans and 1 1/2 cups liquid for each cup of brown rice. I find that using the suggested ratios regularly helps with my cooking (and in writing recipes for my cookbooks).

👀 How can I add more veggies?

  • Here is what Hip Pressure Cooking site says about adding veggies to risotto. Might work for this recipe:  “Adding veggies Since writing this post, almost two years ago, I have refined and improved my risotto veggie-adding technique. Since vegetables can be almost 95% water they can really throw off the liquid/grain ratios in the pressure cooker. Too much liquid in a risotto means the grains will keep absorbing and then burst open making them looking over-cooked, though they are really over-absorbed. When I don’t need to saute’ the veggies for extra flavor, I just put them right in my measuring vessel. For this recipe, I use a 1L pitcher, but you can use a 4-cup measuring cup. I add the vegetables and then measure all the way to the top with broth – usually adding a little extra dash to make up for that 10-5% of vegetable matter. The only exception to this veggie technique is the potato. Though it’s 80% water it’s 20% magic. It can be added to the risotto without needing to adjust the liquid ratio. Add just one small chopped potato with the rice. And get ready the creamiest rice – ever!!”  ((http://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-risotto-in-7-minutes/))

🐵 Variations …

  • I make this recipe so often, I wanted to kick up the nutrition a notch. Today I put I cup of whole grain hull-less barley with 3 cups water and partially cooked for 20 minutes at high pressure, NR. Then I opened the Pot, added a cup dry black beans and a cup of dry red beans, a green pepper, 2 cups frozen corn, 12 oz jar salsa, onions, garlic and spices.  Add 4 cups of water and cook 25 minutes – natural release. Flavor is the same as original recipe (YUM YUM) but just a heartier texture.
  • Have made wraps, which were very good w/ mango chutney. Tonight, I made these – stuffed pattypan squash with the curried rice/beans. IP for 7 min NP release for 7 min then quick release. Served w/ chili paste and more mango chutney. They were yummy!

🐱 Would it change cooking times much if I wanted to do a quick soak first? I’ve made black beans both ways but some family members find the beans to be gassy when cooked dry.

  • Okay, I figured out how to do it and it turned out perfectly! I used a Trader Joe’s brown rice medley and black beans. After soaking the beans, I cooked the rice by itself with 2 cups of water for 12 minutes, then added beans, spices, and the rest of the liquid in exactly the same amounts as you listed, cooking the whole thing for an additional 10 minutes. It is WONDERFUL! Had it with corn tortillas, scallions, and diced tomatoes. Can I write about this on my food blog and credit you and this Facebook group? I also sauteed onions and garlic first.
  • I made this 3 times with dried beans and the last time I made it with soaked beans. I soaked the beans 8 hours and then did brown rice and beans as described in the recipe and it was perfect! When I didn’t soak I felt I needed to cook it more.
  • I soaked my red beans and rice separately for 24 hrs. Cooked beans for 8 minutes with quick release, added rice and cooked on high for another 15 minutes with 15 minute natural release and it came out very good. Used 3 cups water and 1 cup salsa and 3 tbsp spices.
  • A few times I had made this wonderful recipe, the beans were not as tender as I would have liked, so I tried something different today and thought I would share: I presoaked the beans in 4 cups water and 1 bay leaf by using the “yoghurt” button then hitting “adjust” until it read “boil” on the digital screen. This causes the instant pot to bring the liquid to a boil and then switch to “warm”. It will ding after it does this. At that time, I just shut if off and waited an hour. After draining the water, I put in only 2 1/2 cups of water from the recipe (or a tad more), and followed the rest of the recipe as written–still cooking on manual for 30 minutes. For spices, I used about 1 TBSP of onion powder, 1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, 1 TBSP of hatch chili powder, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 TBSP parsley flakes, 1 TBSP of Mexican Oregano. It turned out perfectly! I think I will continue to use this method of soaking the beans first.
  • I soaked the beans then took the advice of someone on here who recommended to cook the rice for 12 mins then add the beans for the rest of the time – it was perfectly cooked.

    🐶 Don’t you have to soak beans?

    😍 Giggles …

    • September: Your recipe has gained celebrity status! So many results, more positive than not! 😀
    • October: Today I purchased my third Instant Pot gift … and I include THIS recipe with each one ~~~ Thanks again!
    • November: This feed just has a life of it own since JULY!!! So funny! 
    • LOL I just commented that this is the photo that keeps on keepin’ on!
    • I love that this costs literally pennies.
    • I gave my best friend an Instant Pot, a copy of Vegan Under Pressure, and this recipe!
    • I get happy every time I see this recipe because it’s so good and a staple in our house now😋
    • December: This feed is like the energizer bunny! Cracks me up….going since July!
    • I love this recipe so much. Thank you. Kinda life changing!
    • Abel-Hyde Janis Phil Pjamz making a difference in the lives of IP’ers across the globe since July 11, 2016! Lol
    • January: This is still going strong!?!?
    • That is way too many comments for one basic post. Goodness.
    • Even still, like the energizer bunny….!

    🐭 Other blog mentions …


      Thanks to everyone!
      –janis

      November15 — Water is Life

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      Today, we began our journey to activism. 


      (Molly sure looks grim, but I didn’t get a happier picture! I think she was cold and hungry…)

      In solidarity with Standing Rock, we joined and open forum prayer rally outside the St. Louis office of the Army Corps of Engineers. 


      We didn’t bring our own signs (who has space for that in an rv?), but we are thinking about something generic to have for the next rally. 


      A statement was shared with the group that implied that the Army Corps may have forced a temporary halt to the DAPL. We can only hope for a more official solution. Too many pipelines have exploded around the world to ignore this issue any longer. 


      I don’t know how many people were there, but it was well received by the cars and trucks who passed us by! Two news crews arrived to take video, although we don’t watch tv news, so I don’t know how that turned out. 


      Friends of ours are actually at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, and they have given me these suggestions for monetary donations: 

       
      More grim faces …. We will work on smiling next time. 


      We had to use the restrooms inside the federal building. The guards were friendly, and Zoe thought it was funny that it was just like airport security but we didn’t have to take our shoes off. 


      Smiling faces, at last. (We were on our way to eat dinner.) 


      And finally, giant bunneez. 


      September6 — My love affair with paint. 

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      I have always been a DIY home-decorator. I inherited the stubborn “I Can Do It Myself” attitude from my mother who always redecorated our homes by herself with great skill. She wallpapers, paints, and does almost any craft you can imagine (and does it very, very well).

      So, it is only natural that I would want to paint my RV. Completely. In any color other than beige. (Oh, how I hate beige.)  Maybe EVERY color, other than beige. 

      However, I have one big problem: I am allergic to traditional paint. Four years ago, I was still able to use latex paint, as long as it was extra super duper NON-toxic. But even that was hard for me because latex primers are not generally available in NON-VOC. (And before you suggest that xyz major paint company has a “good” paint, I am also very picky about the quality of paint, and xyz paint company just was not good enough. Plus, I still had trouble with the primers.)

      So, I started researching alternative paints, and I found something called “chalk paint.”  It sounded too good to be true: no fumes, no primer, no negatives at all!  I got lucky and found a distributor in Asheville, NC, who offers classes for trying out this paint. (We just happened to be in Asheville when I was researching. All distributors of this paint seem to offer the classes.)

      Molly and I took the class. I brought a cabinet door from the RV, and she brought a little wood shelf from her bedroom.  The paint was indeed as amazing as it sounded!  The smell was not offensive, and the process was ridiculously simple. Seriously, this paint dries in less than two hours!  I was sold and immediately bought enough paint to do our tiny bathroom. 

      The magical paint is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Check out their website for workshops and stores near you.

       
      It seemed like a good idea to start with the smallest room.  

      Wrong!  It ended up being extremely challenging to paint a 12 square foot room. Further complicated by my wanting to do an ombré painting technique. In spite of all of the obstacles, it was very rewarding.

      • I learned that I can be totally enclosed in a tiny space with this paint without any ill effects. 
      • The paint exceeded my expectations: A tiny bathroom shared by five people for nearly three years, with minimal need for touch-up painting. (see a future blog post)
      • You don’t need a primer or any special surface preparation. Really. Nothing. I was dubious, so I lightly sanded the pretend-wood cabinets, and I washed all the walls with vinegar and warm water. A little soap on the walls by the sink … Probably all overkill. 
      • The paint dries super fast and can be recoated in about two hours!  I am generally very nervous with painting living spaces, though, so I wait 12-24 hours between coats.  It takes about three coats of paint for even coverage, but when it dries that fast, who cares?? If you slightly water down the paint, it is easier to work with, and it lasts a little longer. 
      • I painted all materials with the same paint: cheap laminated wood cabinets, door, trim, weird wallpaper walls, metal cabinet hardware, plastic electrical outlet and light switch, cheap metal light fixture, and some metal washers and bolts from our RV remodeling. (structural support for bunk room cabinets)  The only surface showing wear after nearly three years is the light switch!
      • The best part? You don’t have to worry about brush strokes. In fact, it works best if you are sloppy. Kids are really good at this paint technique. (A little watered down, but not too much or it will dribble down the walls.)

      There are some negatives, of course, but they are not deal-breakers. 

      Finish: it has a chalky matte finish, sort of like a chalk board. (I think you can actually use it as a chalk board, but that is not its intended purpose.) To make the finish more durable, you apply a wax and buff it off a few hours later. Additional coats of wax makes it more shiny and protected. (I did three coats of wax, 12-24 hours apart in my bathroom, knowing my daughters would be splashing the walls with water, toothpaste, and soap. It has survived everything except glitter nail polish.)

      The wax is a bit fumey, but it did not trigger any reactions. I wear non-latex gloves to apply it with Tshirt scraps. 

      Cost: It is more expensive than xyz paint. But if you are painting an RV, you don’t actually need much paint!  Plus, I was personally willing to sacrifice in other places in order to paint my home. 

      Next blog post: Updated Pictures of the Bathroom and Projects 2 and 3!

      March5 — thoughts in the kitchen

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      March5 — thoughts in the kitchen

      I spent most of today in the kitchen.  It isn’t very hard to get carried away and spend hours doing a constant stream of kitchen projects!  I thought I would write some of my thoughts, while they are still fresh in my mind: I have always been a big believer in making from scratch, but I have gotten so reliant on products designed to make my life easier: boxes of almond milk and broth are things that come immediately to mind. However, at the same time, I really hate that those things come in wasteful packaging. I buy in bulk when possible, but still. Hate the tetra paks. (We actually use them to collect trash, so at least they serve a second purpose.)

      In addition to the waste factor, I also worry about ingredients.  I try hard not to be totally pessimistic about our future, but I do worry about the long term health of myself and my children. 

      So, I have been focussing more on making whole food.  I have been making vegetable broth from scraps, and I must say it is possibly one of the most rewarding things I have ever made.  I still buy dehydrated veggie broth powder, but it isn’t very complicated to make the broth from scratch, and I love that I am getting a second benefit from foods that would otherwise just go to compost.  (or waste)

      And now, I have also mastered making almond milk!  We generally only use nondairy milk – for baking or cereal.  Almond milk just strikes me as insanely wasteful, but the teen loves it.  We drink less soy milk, mainly because of all of the controversy regarding soy, and we really like tofu.  Rice milk is watery, and nobody liked the hemp milk.  So, after a couple years of complaining about buying almond milk, I finally got serious.  

      IMG_7462Today, while the kids were playing outside, I donned my cotton gloves, nitrile gloves and an apron.  You see, while I may have fantasies of being Donna Reed, my skin issues prevent me from doing much of anything in the kitchen (touching food, washing dishes …) without protective gloves, which also irritate my hands.  I also don’t like using gloves, in general.  Once or twice a week, I will take the extra precautions and really do stuff.

      My goal for today was to make almond milk from the 2 cups of almonds I had soaked in salt water.  As is typical, I did abut 42 other things at the same time.  First, I had to wash the dishes.  The almond milk is a cinch to make in the Vitamix.  There are lots of tips on the interwebz, but I have found this page to be the most informative and least intimidating.  I made milk from most of the almonds, but I toasted some in the toaster oven.  Apparently, they are healthier that way.  I tried one, and it wasnt as disgusting as raw almonds. (I don’t like almonds, but since they are nutritious, I am trying.)  Annie said they were squishy, and Zoe thinks they needed salt.  At the same time as this was happening, I had to coerce the kids to do their chores. What is with the arguing about doing the Tiniest Task?   I also had to do laundry.  And I dont even remember what else I did today.

      After the almonds are blended with water, they have to be strained.  I do this with a washable mesh hops bag from the beer-store.  Once all the milk is squeezed out, you are left with almond pulp.  So, of course, I have to do something with That!  It can be dehydrated and used in baking or in oatmeal or many other things.  So, I dehydrated it in the toaster oven (because I was too lazy to empty out the oven).  Once it is dry, it can be blended to make almond flour.  Yippee!  I finally used the dry-grain-container we got with our Vitamix over 6 years ago!  

      Then, I started experimenting with milk flavors.  I made some of the milk “sweetened” with vanilla and dates.  Meh.  Then I added cocoa and more dates.  Mmmmm.  I also made some with strawberries and dates.  Zoe particularly likes the strawberry mixed with the chocolate.  

      IMG_7455

      Now, I was faced with a blender with some leftover food in it. I really hate wasting food. I really love my Vitamix, but I sure do wish it were easier to get the last remnants out of it. So, I decided to take this opportunity to clean out the fridge: a failed attempt at cucumber water, almost dried out oranges (the juice was still tasty), squishy kiwis, the center of a pinapple, the last bits of superpower baby greens, and some dates. I tasted it, and it was ok, but I wouldn’t want an entire cup of it. It is now freezing into green cubes we can add to stretch out fruit smoothies.

      For a brief moment, I contemplated making almond butter with the toasted almonds, but I quickly stopped myself.  Instead, I cut the moldy bits off of a loaf of bread and made myself a toasted peanut butter sandwich and some leftover green bean risotto, and I called it a day.  And a bottle of local blackberry hard cider.

      Donna Reed may be too lofty of an aspiration.  I will have to settle for just being Me.

      December19 – O Tannenbaum

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      IMG_5807-0Today, we cut down our very own Christmas tree … in the woods. We found out that you can get a permit to chop down a tree on BLM or National Forest land. Five bucks a tree, up to five per family.  We paid for two trees, a saw, a tree stand, and it cost us an additional two hours of family time.

      We have been planning this for two weeks, but we kept getting sidetracked by activities or weather.  Finally, today was a beautiful clear day with lots and lots of snow, and our friends have left town for the holidays, so we had no other plans.  We drove toward Mt. Bachelor, hunting for a place where we could stop and walk off the road to even access trees.  The sights were beautiful, and it got colder and colder.

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      IMG_5791-0  IMG_5793

      IMG_5799-0It was 23 degrees when we got to the ski resort.  We decided to check out the slopes, since we were there … We are planning to do ski lessons in January.  Annie is freaked out by the height, so we are not sure if she will do it — but she and I might try cross country skiing.  (I cross country skiied in Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Finland — and downhill skiied in Wisconsin, Finland, and Australia. But that was over 25 years ago! 😜)

       

      ~

      ~

      IMG_5860Anyway, after a lot of complaining about the cold and wind, we returned to our original mission.  We drove back toward home and found a spot close to a trail, where another family was sledding.  Phil slipped on some icy tire tracks as we set off on our search.  We laughed at him.

      The rules say you have to be 150 feet away from a highway, but this was just a regular road.  To be on the safe side, I told the kids to count to 150 steps, which led us to a fork in the trail.  We walked a little further and found a few suitable trees.  The rules also said the tree have to be under 12 feet tall, which was fine with us.

      ~

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      IMG_5824-0  IMG_5823-0

      IMG_5822-0  IMG_5803

      IMG_5805-1  IMG_5821-0

      Annie wanted a little tree, which took longer to find than the big tree.  Eventually, we finished the shenanigans associated with walking in snow that was knee-high, took a bunch of pictures and made our way back to the truck.

      IMG_5830  IMG_5834

      IMG_5846  IMG_5836-0

      Each of us helped Phil carry the tree, but I tripped literally at the edge of the road and twisted my ankle.  It still hurts.  😩

      IMG_5849

      IMG_5851  IMG_5857

      We now have a tree.  It is outside.  We put lights on it tonight, and we will decorate it with weather-proof ornaments.  Maybe Santa will bring some toboggans or other snow toys under it …

      ~
      IMG_5863-0
      O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
      Wie treu sind deine Blätter
      Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
      Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
      O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
      Wie treu sind deine Blätter.

      O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
      Du kannst mir sehr gefallen.
      Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
      Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut.
      O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
      Du kannst mir sehr gefallen.

      O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
      Dein Kleid will mich was lehren.
      Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit,
      Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!
      O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
      Dein Kleid will dein Kleid mich lehren.

      November6 – hunting and gathering

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      Parenting is so hard! I am utterly exhausted.

      After a particularly hormonal-tween morning, we finally set off to forage for food. First stop was the post office to mail packages to my mom and Alma! I forgot to write Beware on Alma’s package. (Note to friends: we now have a local address! P.O.Box 3010, Sunriver, OR 97707)

      We first went to a nice farm stand I accidentally found last week. (Guess where I lost my driver license??) I started hunting with $20, and then the kids found more food … Dig into wallet and find another $20 … Shopping resumes. Annie finally relented to journey into the walk in fridge to hunt for pears … Total now is $44 … Uhoh … Dig some more. It is like Christmas in my wallet!!! I found another $20, and now we can buy honey!

      The gang returned to the vehicle. We stopped at Humane Society to inquire about volunteering (apply online only) and fawn over puppies and cats. Onward we go!

      Next stop is the Central Oregon Locavore. At first glance, it is uninspiring … Then we found the first Refrigerator Room. At least 10 individual fridges are decorated with signs describing the vittles inside, from beer to eggs, frozen fruit, gluten free bakery and paleo. Ask about milk: that fridge is in another room. We have the secret code, so we can open it! I estimate it holds 70 gallons of milk, neatly packaged in half gallon jars with names on each. (5 shelves, 7 columns, 4 rows deep). After cooperative searching, we found our name. We then scoped out the store. It sells local fresh stuff, bulk dried beans and herbs as well as products ranging from kombucha, bars galore, gelato, personal care and humongous stainless steel bottles. They even refill growlers!

         

      Finally, we returned to the expedition vehicle and headed to our last stop: Costco. It was not quite the madhouse I anticipated, but the younger two kids turned into wild animals upon entry. We found what we needed, and the car was packed to the roof with our final bounty.

      Dinner was prepared while Phil built a very manly fire. Scrambled eggs, from Lyle Washington (thinking of Helen!), with a chaser of raw milk. Black beans were also prepared from scratch. Once the heathens retired to the fireside, I was finally able to eat. My dinner was 2 eggs scrambled with some milk and veggies (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes) — and a Gewurtztraminer from California (thinking of Jessica!).

      Soon, the children will be in bed, right? And then I can work on Barbara’s shark blanket …

      ————

      Lazy Cook’s Black Beans, adapted for a pressure cooker by me

      from Serious Eats – http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/lazy-cook-black-beans.html

      2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over

      • Add water up to 5 cup line (approximate, depending on how soupy you want your beans)
      • Set to Manual, high pressure for 24 minutes (leave lid off til after next step, so it can start heating up)
      • 8-15 cloves of garlic: peel and smash
      • 1 onion: peel and slice in half. Cut the roots barely off, so they stay mostly together to remove at end
      • 1 orange: wash and slice in half. Squeeze some juice into pot, then add the entire orange

      • Put lid on, seal vent
      • When finished, do natural pressure release for 10 minutes

      • Remove orange and onion
      • Salt as needed
      • Smash some of the beans to thicken
      • Simmer to thicken more

      Add to rice for a complete meal. 😜