around the kitchen

Vegan MoFo 2015: Tour of My Kitchen

13 It’s kitchen tour time!

So, I’ll give you this video that was published… one year ago yesterday. Wow.

Also, I’ll link you to my other kitchen tour posts, since not much has really changed since the latest one.

The first two involve How to Kitchen in a 29′ Trailer, so if you’re in tight quarters, those two may be of interest to you.

Kitchen Tour #1, April 2012

Kitchen Tour #2, October 2012

Kitchen Tour #3, January 2015

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Categories: around the kitchen, vegan mofo, vegan mofo 2015 | 1 Comment

I am a fountain of ambition and numberless dreams.

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Well hello there.

I’ll have another post in a few days about all the new recipes I’ve tried this month, but I wanted to post quickly right now about what I’m going to be trying in March. I’ll still be trying a lot of new recipes, but I’m treating it with much more organisation. I’ve made a meal plan for the main meal of each day in March! I have no idea how well this will work; I’ve never been very organised about my meal planning or grocery buying, but because of our current situation I’m trying to be more conscious of how much we spend, and be more deliberate about using more of the goods we have in our Rather Large Collection of Buckets, and the stuff available from our garden.

So yesterday I sat down with a big old pile of cookbooks (the picture above) and a piece of paper and I chose a bunch of recipes that will require minimal buying of foodstuffs – mostly just the fresh veggies required!

The goal is to buy as little food as possible next month. We’ll see how it goes and if it seems to work, I just might keep doing it. 🙂 Of course, I will report on all the new recipes I tried at the end of the month along with comments on how well the meal planning worked.

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Categories: challenges, meal planning | 1 Comment

The Saga of the Ever-Changing Kitchen!

Okay, so it’s not actually ever-changing, but it’s changed a lot since my last kitchen tour post, not to mention the one before that, because we’re, oh, IN THE HOUSE. Partly for your perusal, but mostly for my own records, here’s a current peek at my makeshift kitchen!

_MG_5071Here’s an overall view of the south end of my kitchen, with a bonus Lou Who and Pumpkitten II.

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This shelf used to be in my sewing closet, and someday it may again be used for that, but for now it sure is handy in my kitchen. On the bottom are canisters of staples: rolled oats, mixed rolled grains, granola, flaxseed, and frequently-used dried beans.

Next shelf up is dried fruit.

Third shelf up, my spice shelf of doom.

Top shelf, vitamins, meds, oils, salt, a digital clock, an assortment of nukkys, random overflow spices, a mortar and pestle, bandaids, my glass of water,  and my kitchen scale.

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Here’s the stove. This stove was in the house that we tore down when we bought the property, because it was a stinking mouldy mess, about 19 times worse than the trailer. It still works. We stored it in the shed until we had this room ready for it and a plug to plug it into, and then we Thoroughly Santised it, because there was a dead mouse in it and apparently years’ worth of bacon grease, or something. Blech. So anyway, it’s a good stove and although I’d like a nicer one someday, I’m happy to have one that works for now.

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Next to the stove is this counter. It is a clever counter because it is supported solely by my precious decoupaged table (that has a towel on top to protect it from harm). There is a piece of plywood, a layer of black plastic, and tiles that will eventually be our utility room floor. Mr Pine Nut made me shelves with boards and cinderblocks, and I appropriated the plastic drawers (also a sewing room item in a former life) to store silverware, baking things, kitchen towels, and miscellany.

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Here’s what the black plastic looks like under the tiles. I have to lift the tiles occasionally to clean around and under them, since flour tends to sift through the cracks when I make bread or whatever.

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And this is under the counter: my aseptic milk stash, oil, pots and pans, flour mill, and other stuff.

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And this is the west end of my kitchen. The yellow buckets have white flour, wheat berries, brown rice, and rolled oats: things we go through the most. There are also stacks of boxes of last fall’s canned goods and a juicer.

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And this is my living room bookshelf that is, for now, a kitchen shelf. The top has a variety of grains we use for breakfasts, the food processor, popcorn popper, and utensils. Next down is all my storage containers, mixing bowls, and kidlet dishes. Bottom shelf has my most-used cookbooks and more canned goods both storebought and homemade. I still have the convection oven there on the floor too! I don’t use it much any more, but I’m glad to have it.

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And finally, the north side of the kitchen. Same counter setup. The dishwasher was a free item from a lady at church who was upgrading; the sink is a cast-iron Kohler sink that we got for $35, and the refrigerator was also free – we just had to go pick it up. As you can see, the bag dryer is still getting heavy use! 🙂 We have our knives on the far end of the counter, and this is also my morning grooming spot, so I have a little mirror on the windowsill and all my “stuff” in the overnight bag on the counter. Yes, we do have bathroom mirrors, but no bathroom sinks or counters, so this is easiest for me.

So that’s my update. But I’m going to leave you with this, because it makes me really happy:

That's Mr Pine Nut plastering the walls of the office, the first room we'll be finishing! I AM BEYOND EXCITED

That’s Mr Pine Nut plastering the walls of the office, the first room we’ll be finishing! I AM BEYOND EXCITED

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Categories: around the kitchen, Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Musings on a Small Living Space

So, if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know we are living in a 29′ trailer. (And if you didn’t know that, now you do.) I’ve posted previously about some of my space management here and here.

We’ve been living in this trailer since June of 2011, so it’s been over 2 years. As soon as it gets warm enough in the spring, we move over to the unfinished house at night for sleeping. It’s nice to be able to spread out that way. But it is inevitable that cold times will again come and it’ll be back to the trailer. I anticipate that this will be happening in about a month, since we got chilled out of the house in about mid-October last year.

So, we’ll embark upon Winter #3 in 232 square feet of living space for two busy little girls, two adults, and a cat. Let’s rehash the last three winters a little bit, shall we?

Winter #1

I am a pregnant, emotional, and volatile basketcase. Mr Pine Nut and I are in twin beds with GooGoo on the floor between us. But the house’ll be done by the time the baby’s born!

And sometimes my laundry room looked like this:

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And other times it looked like this:

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Winter #2

The baby has been born!! And the house is not finished. I’m no longer pregnant, but I’m more volcanic than Winter #1. Mr Pine Nut and GooGoo now occupy the twin beds, while Lou Who and I are out in the kitchen on the dinette bed (which means that Mr Pine Nut’s workspace had to be relocated to the table we use for eating). But the laundry room is now in the house (YAY YAY YAY).

So, here’s my projection for Winter #3.

I’m on medication. I’ve had therapy. I’m no longer a volcano, and my hope is that when I get off the medication I will continue to be in control, like a rational, normal human being.

The house isn’t finished; it’s going to be a long time before it is. The fact is, this is my life now, and I’m okay with it. Not just resigned, but really okay. Someday things will be different, but this is what it is now.

Part of my life is living most of my time in cramped quarters and cooking on 2 square feet of counterspace.

Part of my life is highstepping over toys on the floor and having all flat surfaces covered with hard drives, pots and pans, and drying plastic bags.

Part of my life is not having extra money to buy cashews and having to substitute sunflower seeds.

But I am blessed. I have a roof and a heater and cupboards that are overflowing with food, albeit simple food. I have two beautiful girls, and a cat to cuddle on cold nights. I have a hardworking husband who is there for us, and I would rather have him with less money than all the money in the world and a husband who didn’t care.

I’ve decided that I’m going to up our quality of life in the trailer this winter. When we first lived here, we were using our second-rate dishes and silverware. Last Thursday I decided ENOUGH. We’re using our GOOD dishes and our NICE silverware and our GLASSES instead of plastic tumblers of TACKY MISMATCHEDNESS. We’re going to hit this winter with style and finesse. Trailer dwellers are not automatically trashy, no matter what outward appearances may indicate.

And that is that.

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Categories: around the kitchen, Mrs Pine Nut | 2 Comments

Crafty Post: Plastic Bag Dryer

As you may recall from the tour of my kitchen post, we wash and reuse our plastic bags. That day I took all those pictures was a good day when there weren’t 20 bags sitting around, because once they go over there to dry, I tend to just leave them there. And then they get dirty again, because they fall on the floor. It was really frustrating.

At the First Alternative Co-op in Corvallis one day we had seen a bag dryer that we really liked, but for whatever reason didn’t buy it at the time. I think it was one of those things where Mr Pine Nut said, “I could MAKE something like that,” and of course, it never actually got made.

At long last, however (perhaps my tidy husband finally had it with the avalanche of drying plastic bags?), Mr Pine Nut made me a bag dryer. He went outside and about half an hour later came back in bearing this:

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A few branches from the apple tree he’d been pruning a few days prior, a couple blocks of wood, and the faucet handle from the bathtub in the hideous house we tore down on the property: my new bag dryer. It’s so pretty and everything is CONTAINED and my windowsill looks SO MUCH BETTER. Thank you, Mr Pine Nut. ❤

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Categories: around the kitchen, crafty crafts | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

An Ode to White Beans, Cooked Carrots, and Rice

On Sunday I did a pressure-cooker load of white beans* and a large pot of brown rice.

On Monday I made stroganoff with blended white beans, the last of my moo-free seitan from “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day”, and some other stuff, and we ate it over rice with some salad.

On Tuesday we had something. I don’t really remember now what, but I know it involved beans and rice.

On Wednesday I cooked vegetable stock. I also made a soup with rice and white beans and carrots and blended up the stock ingredients after they were done cooking and stirred that into the soup.

On Thursday we ate the rest of Wednesday’s soup and I did a crockpot seitan using some of the previous day’s veggie stock.

Today, Friday, we’re finishing the last of the beans and rice, cooked in the seitan cooking broth with some fresh carrots and frozen zucchini thrown in.

It makes my week so much easier when I do beans and rice on Sunday.

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*Can someone PLEASE explain to me the difference between Great Northern and Navy beans? Is there a difference? THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME.

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Categories: meal planning | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Vegan MoFo #3: A Tour of My Kitchen

I’m not posting about a recipe specifically today, even though I did work on one. 🙂 You’ll read about it later. Today was a catch-up-on-chores and do-ALL-the-things kind of day and it’s now 5pm and the first chance I’ve had to even consider doing a post at all.

I saw someone else post about what they considered essential in a vegan kitchen, so I decided to take pictures of mine and share them with you as my contribution today. I talked about my kitchen a little bit in a past post, but this time I’m going to show you inside my cupboards. Bear in mind that this is a 29′ trailer and so I’ve used every inch of space as efficiently as I can, if not in the most TIDY fashion.

This is my staples area. On the top shelf are a variety of containers with screwtops. Left to right we have barley, nooch, sugar, black beans, mixed rolled grains, pinto beans, bandaids, and a flour sifter. (Bandaids there because GooGoo can’t reach them.) On the bottom shelf there are garbanzo beans, white flour, wheat flour, rolled oats, granola, and a crockpot. These are all the staple foods we use the most.

Next over we have brown rice, cocoa powder, bag of cocoanut, instant clear jel, and bread pans on the top shelf, and a mishmash of Pyrex lids, cooling racks, muffin tins, and baking sheets on the bottom. And a bonus pennywhistle, because Mr Pine Nut sometimes plays during or after mealtimes.

Top shelf: gluten flour, box of matzo, half the popcorn popper, tapioca pearls, popcorn, and an empty space where the pressure cooker is kept when not in use. Bottom shelf: pie pans, Pyrex cake/casserole pans, electric skillet, small saucepan and skillet. The electric skillet is an amazing thing to have in this tiny kitchen.

Under the staples cupboard (the first picture), we have a toaster, food processor, olive oil, and blender. And a drying ziploc bag. Because yes, we’re the crazy cheapskates who wash and reuse them until they shred or break open at the seams. 🙂

This is the cupboard over the sink. Big spice containers of cinnamon, onion powder, basil, and parsley up here; baking soda/powder, cornstarch, Ener-G egg replacer, oil, salt, soy milk powder, peanut butter, liquid sweeteners…

Cookbooks! Tomato powder! The other half of the popcorn popper! And random cans of beans, olives, and jarred salsa!

This is the (currently rather paltry) fridge door. All I have in here at the moment is tahini, Nucoa, yeast, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and hot sauce. I think those are peanuts in the bag.

Again, this is rather a paltry example of in-fridge supply. Usually I have loads of Pyrex full of cooked rice and beans and leftovers. Loads means “more than the four in this picture”. Those are tomatoes and cabbage from our garden and that’s hickory-smoked applesauce on the top shelf. *

And finally, the crowning glory of my kitchen: the spice drawer!!!1! This is the top layer.

And this is the bottom layer. It’s like a puzzle that has to go in just so, or the drawer won’t close. I LOVE MY SPICE DRAWER.

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*Actually, it just burned in the pan, but rather than throw away a Rather Large Batch of Applesauce, we’ve been eating it bravely for some time now and alternating it with Non-Hickory-Smoked Applesauce.

Categories: around the kitchen, challenges, recipes, vegan mofo, vegan mofo 2012 | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Random Bullet Points

Do you like bullet points? Whether you do or not, I have some for you.

  • I use ginger fairly regularly, but not quite often enough to use up an entire ginger root before it spoils. So I grate it up and freeze it in a plastic container and scoop out what I need as I need it. Just don’t pack it down, or it’ll be really hard to scoop out.
  • Despite the recommendation to Not Keep Garlic or Onions in the Fridge, I do anyway. They last longer and onions produce less tears streaming down my face if they’re cold. Also, if I have more garlic than I can use (think those big bags of pre-peeled cloves from Costco), I do the same thing as I do with ginger: I press it all and pop it in the freezer and scoop out bits as I need it.
  • I LOVE discount grocery stores. In our area we have two Grocery Depots and a couple Grocery Outlets. Good things can be found at both, but I prefer Grocery Depot myself. When they have shelf-stable non-dairy milks, it’s 79 cents a quart, and it’s usually feast or famine with it because they only get what they’re given. (Things that are getting close to expiring, have damaged boxes, or the like.) One time they had Sabra hummus for 50 cents a container and once they had frozen tofu 4 for $1. I can deal with deals like that.

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Just Milling Around

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My bowls of grains waiting to be ground: white wheat, rye, white wheat again, and red wheat.

One thing we do in our household is grind our own grain. It’s pretty cheap to buy 25-50 pound bags of wheat, oats, or other grains. We store them in plastic 5-gallon buckets in our shed with tightly sealing lids – you can get these sorts of buckets and lids from a paint shop.

First we tried the Family Grain Mill.

Positive things about the Family Grain Mill:

  • You can get it with a handcrank option, if you’re the hippie homesteading disaster-preparedness type.
  • It makes very nice flour.
  • It’s easy to wash because it comes apart.

Negative things about the Family Grain Mill:

  • It took a  r e a l l y  long time to grind enough grain just for one batch of bread (2 loaves). I think it took the better part of an hour. I don’t recall now exactly how long, because that was 3 or so years ago, but I remember feeling like it was NOT worth my time to have to constantly replenish a hopper that was as slow as molasses in January just to make one batch of bread.
  • The milling part is metal. This isn’t a bad thing as long as you have sorted through your grain first to make sure there are no stones in it, because rocks will really do some serious damage to steel mills if you don’t take the time to sort out rocks.

After using the Family Grain Mill for a few weeks we got tired of how slow it was in comparison with my mother-in-law’s old Magic Mill, and so my husband went on eBay to find one of those for ourselves: the old kind with the stone mill, that Magic Mill doesn’t actually manufacture any more. He soon found one for a good price and we’ve been using that one ever since.

Magic Mill

This is our Magic Mill.

Positive things about the Magic Mill:

  • It’s really fast. I can grind up several kinds of grain and fill various bags/canisters in the same amount of time it took the Family Grain Mill to just do one canister of one grain.
  • It’s got a stone so while I still try to pick out rocks I’m not as worried about it as I would be if we had a steel mill.

Negative things about the Magic Mill:

  • This is about mine specifically: because it’s older and been used, the stones don’t come quite as close together as they originally would have, due to wear. My husband was able to tinker with it to get the stones a little closer, but it’s something to be aware of if you do buy a used one. The flour is still very usable but if I want it super super fine and fluffy I run it through twice. (I rarely bother, because it’s really not that big of a deal.)
  • It’s a little harder to clean out thoroughly than the Family Grain Mill, which all came apart for washing. If you’re on a strictly gluten-free diet you won’t want to buy a used one, because it’s impossible to get every speck of flour residue out. I brush mine out with a bristle brush or (dedicated) toothbrush and call it good. For reference purposes, the picture I posted above was taken between grinding flour and brushing out flour residue.

I also find my small coffee grinder indispensable, pictured in this post. You can find them at thrift stores. (Just make sure they don’t smell strongly of coffee, or everything you grind will smell like coffee.) For small quantities or things such as nuts or flaxseed that can’t be run through the flour mill, this little apparatus is wonderful. I’ve used my blender, but the coffee grinder works far better.

I asked my friends what kinds of grain mills they have and here’s what I learned from them.
  • My husband’s parents have the Magic Mill (an older one than ours). You can look at what Magic Mill currently has available or check eBay for an older model.
  • Carol and Tom have the Ultramill that they bought at Bob’s Red Mill several years ago. They are pleased; usually grind corn and wheat in it.
  • Peter has the Country Living grain mill. This is a hand-crank one. They’ve had it over 10 years and like it.
  • Joy has a K-Tec kitchen mill that her mom bought about 17 years ago. It is a steel mill, doesn’t take up a lot of space ( about the same as a 4 slice toaster) and when you aren’t using it, the mill pan fits over the motor and stores the cord, etc. As far as speed, she hasn’t used any other mills but it seems fast to her. The only negative is that it is loud! Otherwise, they haven’t had a bit of trouble with it and would buy it again.
  • Esther’s is a NutriMill. She’s had it since she got married and thinks it does a good job but has nothing to compare it to.

Do you use a grain mill? What kind do you have, and how has it worked for you?

Categories: around the kitchen | 4 Comments

Gigantinormous Bowl + Waffles.

About 15 minutes from our house is a charming little shop called Shoppe of Shalom. It is owned and run, interestingly enough, by relatives of some friends I had during my time in Idaho as a child. What a small world.

Anyway, it has been my dream for many years to own a Very Large Stainless Steel Popcorn Bowl. I have memories of visiting friends during my childhood who had such bowls and watching my friends’ mothers deftly tossing popcorn in these bowls to coat them with the butter and toppings, and I wanted to be such a skilled popcorn genius as this myself. (I love popcorn. I love it best with olive oil, salt, and onion powder.)

So, for our third anniversary, my husband and I went to the Shoppe of Shalom and treated ourselves to a Very Large Stainless Steel Popcorn Bowl.

The cat was fascinated by his reflection, and my daughter found it to be a wonderful depository for her inflatable beach ball. I didn’t get too many chances to actually use it for popcorn, however, because we didn’t often have popcorn when we had ravenous hordes at our house. It’s even been used as a camping bathtub for my daughter during the summertime.

Then we moved from our deliciously spacious townhouse to this 29-foot travel trailer, as I’ve previously discussed, and I find that in my limited space I’ve actually used the bowl more often than I did in my big kitchen. I’ve mixed granola in it, and filled it with snow during a snowstorm-caused power outage to melt for water, and made quadruple-batches of bread in it.

Or quadruple-batches of waffles.

Here’s the thing. I love waffles, but they’re so time-consuming for the results you get out of them. (Maybe I’m just too impatient.) So I find I’d rather dedicate an entire afternoon to cooking waffles one at a time for 5 minutes each and then putting them in the freezer so that we can get 8 times the breakfasts (or suppers) out of the effort. The Very Large Stainless Steel Popcorn Bowl is perfect for doing gigantic batches of waffles.

This was one of my first successful vegan adaptations, from some recipe I found somewhere. It’s a basic waffle – yummy, healthy, light, and fluffy. You’d never guess it has no eggs. A single recipe makes about 6 ten-inch waffles.

Egg replacer equivalent to 4 eggs (if doing flax eggs, this will be 12 T water+4 T ground flaxseed)
2 c rice or other non-dairy milk
1 1/2 c water
1 c olive or other veggie oil (you can substitute 1 c pumpkin puree for the oil or replace half the oil with applesauce if you want a lower-fat waffle)
2 c white flour
2 c whole wheat flour
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp baking powder
2 T brown sugar or liquid sweetener
1 tsp salt

Get your waffle iron heating.

Beat egg replacer on high speed for 2-5 minutes until fluffy (this is only if using Ener-G, and it’s optional, really. The flax eggs work fine without beating them first.)

Add remaining ingredients and blend just until smooth.

Pour approximately 1 cup of batter onto the waffle iron and let it cook 4-5 minutes. You can eat them hot off the pan, keep them warm in the oven until the batch is done, or let them cool on racks for freezing.

We top it with fresh hot applesauce, or cornstarch-thickened fruit sauce, peanut butter, and sometimes nothing at all.

Categories: around the kitchen, breakfast, freezer meals, Mrs Pine Nut, nut-free, recipes, soy-free, vegan | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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