Friday, February 20, 2009

WHATS FOR DINNER? Red Beans and Rice Yummy!

My husband and I have been following (loosely!) the McDougall diet. My husband's doctor recommended it to him to help lower his high blood pressure and to loose some weight. I did some research and learned that it would help lower my cholesterol and loose some weight as well.

One of the more interesting aspects to this diet is we can use our food storage almost exclusively. Being a fat free diet eliminates added oils, meat, processed foods and dairy. The bulk of the diet is green and yellow vegetables, rice, potatoes, other grains and some wheat and shou along with a little fruit. That's it.

When I first read about this my first thought was, "of course you loose weight, there's nothing you can eat!" How wrong I was. Fortunately I found All I can say is Susan is a terrific cook! She's a Southern girl like me, so flavor is of utmost importance.

I feel very blessed to have found her and her recipes. She makes following a stringent diet like this very easy. So much so that loosing weight has become difficult due to the wonderful recipes she posts!

Hands down, my favorite recipe is her Red Beans and Rice. As a sausage lover, I can honestly say that I really don't miss the meat all that much. Would I eat sausage with these beans if I didn't have 4 babies worth of weight to loose? Probably. Hey, I'm not called the Reluctant Vegan for nothin'. I'm just being honest here!

But since I don't have that option, I can say that we eat this at least once every 10 days or so along with her wonderful cornbread. It is the ONLY cornbread my husband will eat. It is good.

So without further adu here is the recipe for her red beans and rice:

Real Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

Recipe courtesy of:
Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

1 pound dry red kidney beans (if you're in Louisiana, only Camellia brand will do)
4 cloves garlic
1 very large onion (about 2 cups chopped)
4 ribs celery
1 large bell pepper (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4-1 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons chopped chipotle pepper, in adobo (this is not traditional but lends a smoky taste; substitute another tsp. of Liquid Smoke seasoning if you prefer)
1/2-1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
salt, to taste
cooked rice, to serve

Tip: Start off lightly with the red and black pepper and Tabasco sauce; you can always add more at the end.

Cover the beans with water 2 inches over beans and soak overnight. Or, bring beans to a boil for one minute, remove from heat, and soak for at least an hour. Drain beans and rinse.

Put the beans back in the pot and cover them with water 2 inches above level of beans. Put over high heat to begin cooking while you prepare the other ingredients.

You're going to want to chop the garlic, onion, celery, and bell pepper very finely, and the fastest and best way to do this is in a food processor. I throw the 4 peeled cloves of garlic in first, and then add the onion, quartered, and pulse until finely chopped. Add this to the pot on the stove, and then do the same thing with the celery and bell peppers, adding each to the beans. Add the remaining ingredients, except the salt and the rice.

When the beans reach a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring every now and then, until they are completely tender and falling apart. This can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending upon the age of your beans. (Add more water as necessary to keep them hydrated.) When they are completely tender, add the salt to taste, and check the seasonings. Add any additional spices you want, and cook for at least 10 more minutes, until sauce is thick and beans are disintegrating. Remove the bay leaves, and serve over rice.

Note: If your beans are old, they may never disintegrate, or at least not in time for dinner. What you have to do is take out a bunch of them, mash them up well, and add them back into the pot (or use a hand blender right in the pot). Then proceed as though they had fallen apart on their own. I won't tell anyone if you don't!

Copyright 2009 Susan Voisin and Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
All rights reserved. Ask first!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Hey, is this thing on???

I'm just wondering if anyone is reading my words of wisdom? :)

If anyone is out there, I'd love to hear from you. Give me suggestions, questions, criticisms, witicisms, whatever you want to share. We can all learn from one another.


Spice It Up! ::Edited::

One portion of food storage that many forget about are spices and salt.

Salt and spices can make even a tasteless meal palatable and in most cases, make it delicious.

I'll give you an example...

My husband travels to see his clients. He doesn't like buying food while he's out because of the cost and the fact that fast food especially is so unhealthy.

So when he goes out I load up a cooler with homemade (fat free) refried beans, whole wheat tortillas, lettuce and salsa and other things. Burritos are his favorite, so I always send those.

One time I didn't put enough salt in the bean mixture (recipe to come) and frankly, it was a waste of calories. He was glad I had gone on this trip with him because I was able to easily remedy the situation.

I ran into a BK and got some salt packets, stirred it into the beans and Viola! Great tasting filling for the burritos.

He was amazed at the difference a small amount of salt made. He had always taken salt for granted. He had NO idea what a difference a little salt would make.

Spices can do a magic trick on your recipes too. I am also a believer in flavored stocks (beef, chicken and pork) as well as using bouillons and soup bases.

We are fortunate to live in an area that has a WINCO. Their bulk section of spices and soup bases make it easy for me to make tasty meals at down right cheap prices. I have plenty of spices in my kitchen, as well as my food storage.

If you're concerned about spices loosing their flavor, well, they will over time. You won't have a problem if they're stored properly. I use clean, dry canning jars sealed very tightly. And even if they loose some potency, I'd rather have a less potent spice than none at all.

So think about the spices you go to meal after meal. Mine are:

Italian Seasoning
Chili Powder
Onion Powder
Dehydrated Onion
Chicken Soup Base
Season Salt
Tabasco/Pepper Sauce
Can you tell I'm part Cajun and Italian? :)

We also like Asian inspired flavors, so I have Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil stored.

Even if you don't have access to a bulk section as I do. I encourage you to seek out discount spices online. It is an investment, but well worth it.

Until you're ready and able to make the jump into a stockpile of spices, check out Wal Mart. They have bottles of spices for 50 cents. Pick up a few every week and before long you'll have a bucket full. It's a great place to start.

I have recently begun a stockpile of pepper sauce. I had coupons from Franks Hot Sauce and Tabasco. If you use the coupon on the smallest bottle, it's almost free.

And don't forget the Iodized salt. I always pick up a couple of those when I do my weekly shopping. At 30-40 cents each, it's a no brainer. You'll have a years supply in no time.

Edit~My mother just reminded me that in my pre-WINCO days we would buy bulk spices at our health food store/co-op. Their prices were fantastic. I encourage you to check your local stores. They are a great resource for bulk items. I was a member of this co-op and got a 10% discount. They would even order items for you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Coffee and Tea

I just read a great post about storing coffee and tea.

These are two things I am passionate about storing. When you think about how life will be without the conveniences we now take for granted, think of things that will bring you some simbalance of comfort.

For me, my morning cup of coffee is one of those things and an evening cup of tea always hits the spot.

One day I was at Smiths and they had an entire basket of Twinings teas marked down for clearance. I looked at my husband and asked "how much can we spare for a good deal like this?" He told me to wait and quickly came back with the manager.

He asked the manager how low he could go on these. The manager said, "Well, they're marked down already." My husband asked, "Just what is your lowest price if I buy it all?"

"OH!", the manager said when the light bulb came on. He immediately marked them down to 25 cents per box and we were the proud owners of a grocery cart full of tea.

Now, all of these flavors of tea were not my favorites. But I could surely choke them down if I had nothing else to drink. And, some of them have not held their flavor after all these years. Yet at 25 cents a box, I could afford to throw the stale tasting ones away.

I highly encourage you to seek out those good deals on "splurges" that can add some zing to otherwise dull food storage programs.

He who has the most toilet paper wins

Shortly after my husband and I began dating, I became the patient of a great chiropractor. This man was a member of the LDS church and was also a member of the John Birch Society. So aside from theology, he and my future husband had A LOT in common.

One day I was at his office and noticed an entire (small) closet filled with toilet paper. I asked what in the heck that was about and he told me "he who has the most toilet paper wins!" I was too shocked to ask what in the heck he meant. So I waited and asked my beloved.

This was our first conversation about food storage/prepping. Needless to say, I was shocked. I thought if we needed food we just went to the store. No problems. Right?

Well, fast forward 3 years and I'm a newlywed. At this point I am becoming more aware of my husband's belief in food storage. I was learning how to cook with stored wheat and other grains. We learned that we are not fans of the dehydrated vegetable (more on that later) and basically thinking past the end of my nose where the future is concerned.

So one day when I was perusing the grocery ads, I saw that our local grocery had NAMED BRAND toilet paper at "incredibly low prices" Name that movie...anyone, anyone?

I cannot tell you how proud my new husband was when I suggested that we think about buying some of this TP because there was no limit. He was certain he had just hit the jackpot in the wife category. I was just happy he was happy.

I called the store and asked them to hold a couple of unopened cases for us. I knew this would be easier to store if they were still in the box.

My husband appreciated my forethought, but he was thinking more like 8 cases! Why I asked? Well, he had to beat the 1,000 rolls of tp that my chiropractor had stored! Men are so competitive!

In the end, we stored 1,400 rolls of tp. I'll have you know, that lasted our family for 8 years! I just last year had to start buying tp again.

Coincidentally, the same store has Charmin at great prices for the next two weeks. This time, I'm using coupons to make my money go further.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


This afternoon my husband helped me move some things around in our pantry. One thing led to another and we ended up re-organizing the entire space. It turned out great.

We had needed to do this since we moved in 7 months ago. No need to rush things, huh?

In the process we moved all the buckets we had around and put some things in buckets that were not in buckets. "Why?", you ask?

It's because we have a bit of mice problem in ye ole garage/pantry area. We thought we had it under control with some poison. But the problem must be worse than we thought. Our new house is in a subdivision. But we're all on lots around an acre and there is an empty lot next to us and 2 empty lots across the street. Our house faces a big drop off, so there are no houses directly behind us. So there is lots of space for critters to roam free around us.

As we moved things around, we continually found, umm...evidence, of their visits. Yuck!

So now, everything that is not a can or bucket or bottle is in some kind of rubbermaid, gladware, or bucket. Hopefully between the poison and containers, the little critters will move on and leave me alone.

I am not afraid of mice, I just don't like them. Oh! I'm getting the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

Once we get the pantry completely situated and restocked a little I will share some pictures. If I posted pictures right now, you'd think I was THE most unorganized slob you've ever seen.

...and you wouldn't be far off!