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Category: Food

Cheap Cooking Basics: Chicken Dinner

Super short instructions here. Long explanation below.

You’re going to chop up a bunch of veggies and put them in a pan and put a raw, seasoned chicken on top, breast-side up. That goes in the oven with a bunch of oiled potatoes on the top rack above it, and baked for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the bird. It takes us about 5 minutes to get this meal in the oven, maybe 10 if we chop celery. The leftovers are going to get used in a variety of tasty meals.

If you don’t know how to cook, you should keep reading. This may seem overwhelming (or too basic) but this is written with an assumption that you don’t really have a lot of experience or background in the kitchen.

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On accepting help

We get a lot of messages in our culture about bootstraps and “making it on our own” and “being independent”. “I never accepted handouts from anyone!” I don’t see that as necessarily laudable. Here’s the thing. While striving to do the best you can is…

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Baby food purees are a racket. Jenrose’s guide to babies and eating.

This comes up all the time, so I’m putting it here so I don’t have to keep typing it. The questions are, “When should we start solids?” and “What should we use as first foods?” and “Why not wait longer than 6 months to start (or conversely, why wait past 4 months to start solids?)

There’s quite a bit of research (and a lot of parental experience with grabby babies) that says there is a “sweet spot” around six months for starting experimenting with solids. Babies started later than six months or earlier than four statistically speaking tend to have more allergies and reactions. Too early and the gut is still quite permeable and immune reactions can be triggered, too much later and they don’t get the small exposures that teach the immune system to ignore food as not-a-problem. Theoretically.

But this is not going to be a line by line cited official paper, this is how I feed my kids, and an approach to eating for babies that I think makes a lot of sense. I’ve been parenting for 21 years,  have three children of vastly varying dietary foibles, allergies, sensitivities and pickiness, age 3, almost 10 and 21 1/2 at this writing, and have a zillion food issues so tend to read constantly on the subject. This is drawn from many sources, so if the wording appears familiar, it’s because I burned it into my brain at some point and don’t remember where I got it. I’m not looking up a darned thing for this right now, it’s mostly “what I tell people when they ask about it online”.

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Feel-better Chai Pudding

An experiment worth repeating…. In a jar: 1/4 cup chia seed 1/8 cup coconut sugar 1/8 cup cocoa powder 1/8 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon “power tea” (Power Tea is a mixture of organic spices including: Ceylon Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Turmeric, Black Pepper and Cayenne…

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Homemade Marshmallows, updated for 2012

People think marshmallows are complex, difficult things to make. “Jet puffed!” implies some magical thing that “marshmallows” sugar and gelatin into fluffy goodness.

Not so. Marshmallows are candy, and they require a strong mixer, but your average stand mixer will do the job just fine.  The only way you could “jet” marshmallows would be to use the engine as a mixer, I suppose. Really, like meringue or whipped cream, marshmallows depend on the incorporation of air into a matrix, in this case sugar and gelatin, beaten at high speed for about 11 minutes. Science is important with candy, and temperature is critical.

Work fast, work smart, and be prepared for things to be very, very sticky. 

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Cocoa water and cherry juice for coughs

Basic recipe (the TL:DR version!)

2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
Honey to taste (preferably raw!)
1 cup tart cherry juice (must be pure cherry, should be tart, use black cherry juice if you can’t find tart)
Water, seltzer or almond/rice/coconut milk to taste. NOT dairy milk (and I don’t ever recommend soy for anyone but that’s another post.)

Mix cocoa and honey into a paste.
Add a tiny bit of hot water and stir
Add a little more and stir.
Once it is thin enough to mix well, add the rest of whatever liquids you want. They can be hot liquids if you prefer. The cherry juice is not just for flavor, it helps pain.
Drink up to half right away. Sip the rest as needed.

For more discussion, look behind the cut.

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