Frozen

…burritos.

So I bought a toaster oven for work so I could bring some things in and have a hot meal at lunch. I don’t use microwaves, I don’t feel like getting into a debate as to why, I just don’t.

Anyway, so the easiest thing to pop in is frozen burritos. Which will fall into one of two categories: arguably healthy and tasty but expensive as hell, or cheap and kinda gross and lacking even the redemption of a golden, flaky, deep-fried tortilla crust.

After a couple weeks I thought to myself: surely I can do better than this.

My favorite had been the Organic Southwest Chicken Burrito (brand withheld for fear of being sued)
Here’s a general breakdown of the nutrition:
Calories: 340, Fat: 9g, Sodium: 700mg, Fiber: 3g, Protein 17g

Not bad, makes for a filling lunch when paired with salad, and a good source of protein. But costs like 4-5 bucks.

Okay, so I bought a pack of organic tortillas ($3), can of organic black beans ($1.29), organic diced tomatoes ($1.29), organic onions (from my CSA), and organic cremini mushrooms (3-something a pound, I used maybe two ounces?). Add some Tabasco sauce for flavor/heat, or substitute salsa for the tomatoes.  Let’s say about 7-8 bucks worth of food.

Chopped the onions and mushrooms, mixed with one can black beans and half can of diced tomatoes, wrapped in a skillet softened tortilla, then wrapped in aluminum foil and put in the freezer. The above made 7 burritos, so that comes out to right around $1 each.

Here’s how mine stacks up against the store brand:

Bought: Calories: 340, Fat: 9g, Sodium: 700mg, Fiber: 3g, Protein 17g
Homemade: Calories: 230, Fat: 3g, Sodium: 350g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 10g.

So the store beats me on protein, but I come out on top in every other category: price, nutrition, and flavor! And vegetarian, even, so if that’s a consideration, you’re good!  Even visually, they look pretty much identical (so, mildly unappealing until you taste it).  The store-bought has a bit tighter folds, but that’s just because I over stuffed mine a tad.  Really, the hardest part of the whole process is stuffing the insides into the burrito without it escaping out the ends while folding it all up.

And I can certainly add chicken for more protein. In fact, when I run the numbers again assuming I’m adding a pound of chicken total to the recipe, which obviously a pound is then going to make more burritos, so assuming a final count of 10 instead of 7, that gives the following:

Calories: 258, Fat: 4.5g, Sodium: 375g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 18g.

So if I add half a serving of chicken to each burrito that’s only about 50 cents each.  And now I beat the store-bought on protein!  About 80 calories less, half the fat and sodium, same fiber, and still less than half the cost.  Pretty much the only thing this isn’t is gluten-free.  It’s so quick to make, so easy to take to work and pop in the toaster oven.  And I can make a whole week’s worth in about 15 minutes on the weekend.

What’s not to love about making frozen burritos at home!?   You know exactly every single ingredient that’s going into it, no mystery “flavors” or “preservatives”.  And if you have kids, you can totally trick them into thinking they’re getting not super healthy food. 😉  Or if you have sudden guests show up, you can whip out a batch of burritos from the freezer and pair with some rice and salad, some salsa and guacamole, and have a great meal on the table in the 45 minutes it takes to reheat the burrito.

And for the super recycling conscious people, the plastic wrapper from the store-bought burrito isn’t recyclable, but the aluminum foil from home made is 😀

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Late Start on the Garden, and Other Ramblings

Very, very late start. As in, I just planted everything yesterday. So technically before June.  I did have some salad greens going in planters already, and the borage is just starting to break the surface, but yesterday my dad tilled up the old chicken pen and last night I planted golden and purple potatoes, lentils, kidney beans, multi-colored pop corn, golden beets, three kinds of carrots, and two kinds of radishes.

Late start, but  most of it is short season or cool-hearty so it’ll either be ready before winter, or won’t care if it isn’t.

Here’s the general layout of what I’ve planted, the whole plot is about 12′ x 20′ – ish… and then the half-barrel planters that I drew below are tucked in around my front door and the side of my house.

GARDEN

You know you read too many post-apocalyptic/societal collapse books if after you plant your garden, you begin planning how to defend it from your neighbors…

I’ve also spent a good deal of time this last week slashing blackberry brambles and scotch broom from the side of my hill.  It does make me a little sad, I think scotch broom is so pretty, but it’s considered an invasive weed here in Washington, and my neighbor on that side of the hill is very allergic to it’s pollen so I keep it down for her sake.

Finally bought myself a machete, though, which should make the whole endeavor much easier.  I had just been using my dad’s brush lops but that is a rather slow and clumsy method.  He couldn’t find his machete, and even the lops are getting very old and the stopper to keep you from smashing your fingers together when you cut something is gone, so for an early father’s day present (since I’ll be in Arizona over the actual father’s day) I got him a new set of loppers that won’t smash his fingers!

And yes, for the last two weeks of June I will be traveling in  Arizona with a dear friend of mine who attends the Sheep is Life celebration on Navajo nation.  (So I guess if you ever wanted to stalk me, you’ll know where I’m going to be for a whole 3 days).  We’re driving down from Oregon with a stock-trailer full of sheep and chickens.  Road Trip!

My sister had her gall bladder out last weekend, rather unexpectedly, and so I’ve been stopping by her place in the evenings to help with stuff she can’t manage, and really just hang out and be company since she’s bored.  It’s partly what sparked my sudden desire to go ahead and do a garden this year when I had been resigned to just keeping the barrels and that was it.  It’s funny when you go somewhere and get into a “let’s do stuff” mood and then you get home and you keep looking for more stuff to do!

Not that I have any lack of stuff to do.  I’ve gotten on a cleaning binge as well, and I have reclaimed my living room from the ravages of neglect, and gotten my kitchen back in shape, and mostly tidied up the dining room and guest rooms, but my own room is always the last thing I want to tackle, and as it happens it is the last thing left this time, also.  I will be doing a purge again as well, getting rid of stuff that has become clutter and taking it to Goodwill or Salvation Army as donations.

So that’s about it.  Oh yeah, and the now five short stories I’ve started but can’t seem to finish… I think my muse is just in other-mode right now, so I’ll keep jotting down the ideas as they come and trust that someday, the rotten little muse will come back and cooperate. 🙂

What’s That Smell?

I decided to make incense.  Sort of like how I woke up one morning and decided to make paper, I decided to go around the house and pick yummy smelling things like rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, and lavender flowers and grind them up into incense.

Fresh ingredients: rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, lavender flowers

It wasn’t entirely spontaneous, I had been looking up websites for two days how to do it.   That’s not to say I exactly *followed* most of the instructions, but I did look them up.  The most helpful site (and the one I actually followed closest) was this one, but mostly I just got my mortar and pestle (I’ve always, always wanted a green marble mortar and pestle set, and I finally found one at the thrift store!  And since I don’t know what ever may have been ground it in before, I’ll use it for apothecary endeavors!)

 

Green marble mortar and pestle with dried hibiscus flowers

 

I’m making non-combustible incense (sometimes referred to as incense of the ancients) which means it isn’t shaped into sticks or cones, you can’t just light it and have it smoke.  It’s the pulverized blending of various woods and herbs and left in a semi-powdered form so it must be added to something to make it burn.  You can do this in a variety of ways, either get some incense charcoal disks, put it in an incense warmer, or sprinkle it into a fire (though the fire’s own scent will likely overpower any small amount or mild fragrance so it would take a very strong scent or a lot of it to get this method to work.)

From my beading days, I still have a handful of little sealable bags, so I can store my newly pounded, ground, pounded, ground, pounded and ground herbs, flowers, and woods.  And believe me, it takes a lot of pounding and grinding, especially the cedar bark, to get to a mostly powdered final product.  I may be developing some blisters on my hands, and no doubt my shoulder will remind me of this tomorrow.

Most of the instructions say to blend your ingredients and then wait at least two weeks before burning it for best results, so I won’t – alas – get to test the fruits of my labors for a few more weeks.

Fresh pulverized lavender flowers

 

Along with the fresh ingredients I had around the house, I also have a host of already dried herbs – such as white sage, chamomile, and green tea – or other fresh ingredients – like clover or dandelion – that I’d like to try as well.  But that will have to wait.  My hands are a little raw and I want to heal before I go pounding and grinding and pounding and grinding again.

Lavender, hibiscus, cedar, and rosemary, ready to be stored, tagged with the contents and date of bagging for future reference.

I’ll have to experiment quite a bit between the raw smells and the burning scents they produce, as they aren’t always exactly similar.  I’ll also have to do some experiments with which burn well together, and what ratios I should use, though I suppose if I were smart I’d follow the already tried-and-true recipes found on the internet.  But I like finding these things out for myself!  Besides, there’s too many things I want to try that I don’t think anyone has before.

Or they did try and it failed miserably, which is why you don’t find things like green tea and hibiscus incense.  But I’m going to make it anyway!  I can’t wait!  I hope it turns out okay…

Daily Prompt: Dream Home

Sometimes The Daily Post offers up a prompt that is just too delicious not to take.  Especially for someone who pines for her lost architecture career and has recently been wanting – but too broke – to do more home renovations.

And then this comes along:

You win a contest to build your dream home. Draft the plans.

With a squeal of delight audible only to dogs, I opened AutoCAD and got to work to once again draft yet another set of plans for even more dream home ideas.

Because let’s face it, asking an architect to design their one dream home is kind of like asking a chef to make the one meal they’ll eat for the rest of their lives.

And my dream home will always depend on the exact circumstances of my life at the time, of course.  I have no kids, so guest rooms and craft/art rooms will replace the bedrooms.  This set of plans has a lower floor area of 1,289 square feet and an upper floor of 919 square feet for a total of 2,208.  Still within the manageable range for cleaning, a bit larger than my house now, and most importantly, more bathrooms!

Among the features that make this my dream house are the attached greenhouse, the library with reading nook (which is to say: a bed set into the shelves for good proper book cuddles with cats and tea during a thunderstorm), a nice walk-in pantry, mud room to hose down the people and animals when they come in from the mud, or to catch snowy boots.  I just realized I didn’t put the washer and dryer in the mud room but rest assured, they would be there in my dream house.

There is room in the entry way for a coat tree, a bench for shoes, and perhaps fresh flowers in spring in a little table beside the window.  I love the way the rooms flow into one another.  The kitchen has easy access to and from both the living room and dining room, who also access one another while maintaining a level of privacy as well.

Upstairs, all the bedrooms have walk in closets, and the (theoretical) kid’s rooms are separated by their closets to (hopefully) reduce the amount of annoyance one child can cause another.   But as I stated earlier, their actual use would far more likely be guest rooms or sewing and craft rooms.

The master bedroom has a private deck to watch the sunrise, and a nice big tiled shower.  The second bath separates the sink from the toilet and tub area to allow for multiple use at once.  Though they are on the same floor, the bedrooms are separated enough to allow for a measure of privacy.

The house would be laid out with east oriented up, so the green house would face full south, the kitchen would face east, and the library would be tucked up north, with the entrance on the west side.

Now all I need is about… oooh, $200,000 to build it.

So for today, this is my dream home.  I’ve drawn them before, I will continue to draw them in future, but just for today, this is my dream home.

mainfloor

Main Floor Plan
1,298 square feet
© Eliza Murdock 2013

upperfloor

Upper Floor Plan
919 square feet
© Eliza Murdock 2013

 

And just for the curious, other iterations of my dream home have included – but are not limited to – a library with just enough amenities to make it habitable, a hobbit hole to go in the side of my hill, a castle (on the smallish side), and a yurt.

Something Old

we drink because we’re poets Weekly Photo Challenge – 3: Old

“something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue…”

And there it was…something old!

In a world that exalts novelty…get this brand-new giggling joppity great new fantastically never seen before variation of our dish soap… where youth is the by-word and be all of our age…I propose that we look for the venerable!

My “something old” is this gorgeous, vintage sewing machine, lovingly donated to me when my old machine broke down by my dear friend.  It has since been again retired, but the beauty and power of this old machine can’t be matched.

Could we but mend our torn lives,
Patch the holes in our spirits,
Rethread our dreams
With such elegance as this.

Photo Challenge

we drink because we’re poets has also issued a photo challenge:

Last week we looked at the Chinese element of Fire…this week we will look at Water…not the Chinese element, which I’ll talk about much later, this time I want just Water.

 

So I would like to humbly submit: water at my house

put words here

Like the cross section of a tree,
You can count the rings
On the sides of my water barrel
Down to the rocks at the bottom.
I’m sure the tomatoes won’t mind
A few rose petals in their drink.

She asked why I believed in angels. I replied, because I've seen them.

She asked why I believed in angels.
I replied, because I’ve seen them.

All the diamonds in the world Would scare suffice When what is longed for Is water and ice.

All the diamonds in the world
Would scare suffice
When what is longed for
Is water and ice.

Rain collects on leaf In the palms of green hands and Strawberry blossoms

Rainfall collected
In the palms of green hands and
Strawberry blossoms

May I interest you in a cup of tea?

May I interest you in a cup of tea?

 

Hand made gifts, part two

So here is my second half of the Christmas crafting creations!

First, for my nephew who is constantly carting around an armload of books, DS, games and other stuff where ever he goes, I sewed him a Avatar: The Last Airbender themed messenger bag.  The back has a pocket with embroidered patches of the 4 element symbols.

Avatar bag: back pocket

Avatar bag: back pocket

Here is the front flap with the arrow.

Avatar bag, front flap

Avatar bag, front flap

And I lined it with a wonderful wool-feeling fabric. Not sure what it really is, I picked it up at a thrift store, but it’s very soft.  I was prepared for it to be a “eh, cool.” but not really interesting to an 11 yr old, so I was rather delighted when he actually took his other gifts and stuffed them inside.  He *used* it, so that was close enough to liking it in my book!  Especially since I was up until 2 AM Christmas morning finishing it! (I ended up having to use my sister’s sewing machine, I flat ran out of time and some of the seams would have been too thick to reasonably hand sew.)

Avatar bag: inside lining

Avatar bag: inside lining

Of course, now my mom wants one, too!  And I’ll likely end up making one for my sister as well, and I really want one myself!  So I have several more projects pending, and nope, not burnt out on them yet!

For my sister and her hubby’s new house, I made them a Dream Catcher as a house warming/Christmas present.  I snipped some branches from their new willow tree and steamed them on the stove until they were nice and pliable, then wound a few into hoops.  Picking the one I liked best, I used my yarn and wove the center pattern, adding a couple of beads, then a tuft of kitty fur (one of my cats is half brother to hers.)

I also snuck out to her horses and got some of Cayenne’s mane, then bound both it and some turkey feathers with leather strips.  Added a few more beads, some shells, and a bit of bison fleece and was able to present them with this.  They were both delighted which of course made me delighted as well!

Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher

For my sister and brother-in-law’s individual gifts, I wove hand-spun yarn into bracelets and added a shell as clasp, and their two shells are halves of the same, so they fit together as a pair.  This one is his, and it’s laying on his gift bag, which he loved.  He asked if I’d make some more bags for him, their tribe gifts them to certain people at ceremonies or for doing a favor for the family or some such thing.  So I’m going to make several for him, and embroider a Lummi eagle onto each one, or some other notable Lummi animal art figure (like a frog or whale or some such).

woven bracelet with shell

woven bracelet with shell

Here is my sister’s, again the shell is the mate to the above, but I made her colors a little brighter, though there are many of the same colors in both, her base warp was white yarn, and his was a blueish gray.

woven bracelet with shell

woven bracelet with shell

All in all, everyone loved their gifts and I’m so glad I had a chance to do hand-made this year!