Archive for Food

Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Review??

I’m putting together some food gifts and thought these cookies looked great. Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Don’t answer that if you don’t like chocolate chip cookies…

The box calls for 1 egg and 1/2 cup of butter for each mix packet. I had eggs (yes, we’re usually vegan, but we’re not perfect), but our previously-purchased butter was frozen so I decided to use applesauce. I read that applesauce can be used in baking in place of oil, so why not?

Did not turn out like I expected! The batter did not hold together well using the applesauce.

The cookies spread even more while baking.

Apparently, we are cookie-deprived because I made twelve cookies and we each ate three off the cooling rack. The flavor was great; we were very happy with the flavor. However, I noticed that the texture was kind of spongy. I don’t know if that was due to the applesauce, but I’m betting it was.

I took a butter out of the freezer today and will be “testing” another packet actually following the instructions. Using applesauce was fine for us eating our cookies, but I need something that will hold up in cookie tins to give as presents. Or maybe it’s just an excuse to eat more cookies. Don’t judge. I’ll post another review after I’ve made them with the butter.

P.S. A gift for the wanna-be homesteader–Jason at Beyond Off Grid is having a flash sale on their online homesteading course for 50% off. But it ends tonight at midnight PST. Hurry and don’t miss this one; get it today!

Psst! Did You Do It? Menu Planning, Of Course!


Menu planning is all the rage these days (did I just sound really old?). I’ve tried planning for a long time, but have usually still been flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve found that, with me not getting home from work until after traditional dinner times and frequently not “having” enough time on the weekends to meal prep, I’ve gotten further and further off course. No more! I vow this day to get back to the straight and narrow as quickly as possible, or as soon as we get through the leftovers in the fridge and get caught up on dishes. But I digress!

I’ve mentioned before that we’re vegan. That kind of limits our meal options (at least for a not-very-skilled cook such as myself). I also found that dental issues from grinding/clenching my teeth my whole life are limiting. Also, (surprise!) having a seriously limited grocery budget is a hindrance. So that leaves…

Beans, rice, and potatoes to the rescue! Also, oatmeal plodding along and bringing up the rear.greatveganbeanbook

I started by writing down a list of menu items I could make at least palatable and that my daughter, Kaida, would usually eat. This was not a huge list. I then divided that list over four weeks. I used an Excel spreadsheet. I planned out what type of bean, what flavor profile I was going for (different spices), what grain I wanted on the side, and what vegetable would accompany it. I used “The Great Vegan Bean Book” for recipe ideas for beans and “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook” for potato ideas, though you’ll notice that my potato dishes are not really that hard. *sigh*

At first, I alternated having a bean dish and a potato dish for dinner, but found that I just can’t devote the time to cooking potatoes when we get home, mostly because of the peeling. My solution was to plan all the bean dishes for dinners, since they can go in the crockpot, and to use potatoes or sweet potatoes for lunches. Breakfast alternates between cold cereal with almond milk and oatmeal. About every other week, we have pancakes on Sundays and Wednesdays. I make a large batch on Sunday and then we just warm up the leftovers on Wednesdays for a mid-week break from the monotony.

This schedule has been working better for me. Last week, I actually used the slow cooker twice! I know it’s not five days, but it’s better than none! My problem now is figuring out leftovers. I guess I could freeze all of the leftovers for now. I have days/meals scheduled to eat leftovers in my finalized schedule, but we’re not quite there yet. Bedtime is horrendous, but that’s another post. 😉

This week is week 3. Tonight’s dinner is schedule to be what I call “sweet beans.” It’s pinto beans with garlic powder, pepper, brown sugar, mustard powder, and a little maple syrup. Sometimes some chopped sweet onion, if I think of it. I may try it with a prepared mire poix just to see how it turns out. I think it’s similar to some baked bean recipes, but I just kind of throw things in there. The menu says I’m supposed to make applesauce biscuits to go with them, but I will probably be too lazy to make them. I’m supposed to be making them Sunday evening during food prep time, but it’s not Sunday anymore so we’ll probably just have a slice of wheat bread instead. Broccoli on the side.

Lunch for today is supposed to be mashed potatoes. Ugh. I like mashed potatoes; I just don’t like having to peel them. Okay, I admit I actually don’t like to spend time cooking. Ooh! Maybe I’ll cheat and use tater tots!

Tomorrow’s dinner is supposed to be black beans with carrots, mushrooms, and cauliflower with curry seasoning with brown rice. I know chickpeas are more frequently used with curry, but we’re having homemade hummus tomorrow for lunch. I used it to make sandwiches on Tuesdays because I have to go to work earlier. Lunch is scheduled to use leftover veggies. We’ll see what’s still edible in the fridge while I try to get this schedule under preventreverseheartdiseasecontrol.

For reference purposes, the mashed potatoes I make are similar to the “Good Garlicky Mashed Potatoes” on page 138 of “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook.”



The Good – Plants To Fight Diabetes

Following yesterday’s post on plants and heart health, how about learning how plant-based diets deal with diabetes?

How about prevention (1 minute 35 seconds)?

How about treatment (1 minute 31 seconds)?

How about reversing diabetes (4 minutes 12 seconds)?

Next up, Alzheimers. Stay tuned!

The Good – Plants For Heart Health

I know the last post had a long video about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and that a lot of people won’t have the time to watch an 84-minute video. How about less than 6 minutes each? Sound more doable?

How about 1 minute 16 seconds?

Also 1 minute 16 seconds?

Or 1 minute 29 seconds?

Dr. Greger has a ton more videos and information, but I think you get the idea. 🙂

What Do I Mean By Vegan Homestead?


When I bought our property in 2012, we were eating basically a “traditional foods” diet–Paleo but with a small amount of grains such as brown rice or oatmeal. I thought we would be able to try to grow most of our food on our 4 acres, fishing in the pond, eating eggs from our ducks and chickens, getting dairy from our own cow and goats, beef from our own cow, chicken and duck from our older birds, and pastured pig. Life was looking grand.

Until I actually got livestock.

We started off taking 2 free-lease ponies, added 2 miniature cattle (bull and heifer), Image5874 piglets (2 boys, 2 girls), 5 goats (1 boy, 4 girls), and many ducklings and chicks. We discovered that (a) not many people really need to own a bull, especially people with no cattle experience, (b) pigs really are smart and actually can be very nice, (c) everything else in the world wants to eat your birds, and (d) goats are really cute!

So we sold the cattle, which I had no business owning, and the pigs, which would come running to lay down for belly rubs whenever we yelled “piggy love!” We would have kept the pigs for pets if I’d been able to keep them separately and afford to feed them. However, something would have had to been done about the rooting. I know it’s what they’re designed to do, but I now have areas of our pasture where I can’t take the riding mower due to how deep the ruts are and I’m actually afraid that a horse would break a leg in that part of the field. Someday I hope to get it disced.

My daughter, Kaida, had already stopped eating chicken and duck after we got our own birds and she saw how cute they were. She became friends with some of them, being able to hold and pet several of our hens as well as our then-head-rooster, Halloween. Note: all of our original chickens and half of our ducks have been eaten by predators, mostly fox. We did get more chicks recently because they not only helped with bugs, but apparently helped keep the weeds in check. The backyard needs them, badly!

After selling the cows, we were still kind of okay eating beef, but had already stopped eating pork. We just lost interest in eating it; we would always picture our piggies laying down with their eyes closed for belly rubs every time we tried to eat bacon or ground pork. I had to sell the pigs, but I at least sold them to someone who would let them live on pasture without rings in their noses. The goats got to stay because they’re cheaper to feed.

By this time, I knew that I would not be able to butcher anything so I decided that if I couldn’t do it, I at least had to watch how the butchering was done and see if I could be a party to that. No, I could not. A fast shot between the eyes while still out in the field eating would be the ideal way to kill for food, but I decided that we were done with eating animal products since it wasn’t physically necessary. Luckily, Kaida was fine with that since she already didn’t really like eating meat.

Vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes would become our staples. fruits_&_veggies

There were also health benefits that encouraged me to pull back from eating animal products. There have been challenges too, but I will cover them in another post.