Mexican Restaurant Style Rice

I can’t believe it hasn’t occurred to me to share this recipe before now.  I literally tell someone how to make this at least once a month.  The conversation goes something like this:

Friend:  I would eat white rice at home, if only I could make it like the Mexican restaurants do.

Me:  It’s really easy, I’ll show you how.  (I’m super helpful that way 😉 )

You’ll need two secret weapons to complete this task; a pan with a tight fitting lid, and Knorr brand Caldo de Tomate.  You’ll also need white rice, but I don’t suppose we can call that a secret.  (I am not affiliated with Knorr, but I do recommend this specific brand.  We love it, and eat it far more often than we should considering it’s sodium/msg content.)

 

First, brown one cup of white rice over medium heat.  We usually use butter or cooking spray for this, but dry works too.

When the rice is nicely browned, add 2 Cups of boiling water and 2 tsp of Caldo de Tomate.  Give it a quick stir to incorporate the caldo, then reduce heat to low, and put the lid on.

 

Allow it to cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes.  Resist the urge to check it by taking the lid off, and whatever you do, DO NOT stir it!  Stirring it will cause it to become sticky.

After 20 minutes you can check it.  It will likely be done, but occasionally I find that I need to add more water.  If this happens, pour a little boiling water in the center of the rice, Do Not Stir It, and put the lid back on for a few more minutes.

After the water is all absorbed, fluff the rice and serve as a side dish to your favorite Mexican entrée.

Enjoy!

 

This recipe has been shared at The HomeAcre Hop, The Homemaking Link Up, and No Ordinary Blog Hop. and The Homestead Barn Hop.

Sloppy Joes for Fou

A few weeks ago, while I was making up a meal plan for the month, I asked my husband for some suggestions.  He suggested Sloppy Joes, and I jotted it down and moved on.  It wasn’t until this morning that I realized I have never-ever made Sloppy Joes, not even with a can of Manwich sauce.  So I hit up the ever helpful Google, and came up with loads of recipes.

Unfortunately sloppy joes are apparently intended for large families or small armies.  Each recipe I read called for three pounds of ground beef.  I know I could make a huge batch and freeze the extra, but I’m not a big enough risk taker to use three pounds of anything (not even cheap ground beef, which I don’t actually happen to have, I used venison) on my first try at a recipe.

I noticed that they all seemed to have a varied mix of a tomato base, sugar, vinegar and some veggies.  I decided to use the basic premise, but strike out on my own, based on what I had on hand.

  • A scant pound of ground venison (My kids don’t eat much and a pound is usually more than we need for a recipe so I package ours light figuring I can add veggies to most recipes to bulk them up if necessary)
  • 1 C ketchup
  • 1/4 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated

Brown ground venison (or beef, which will need to be drained) and add in chopped veggies. Reduce heat, and place a lid on the pot to steam the veggies while you mix up the sauce. Add the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 or 10 minutes.  Serve on grilled hamburger buns with a side of your choice.  Yields four, two-scoop sandwiches, and had a bit of extra sauce, so you could choose to use a full pound of ground beef and get another sandwich or two.

Enjoy!

 

Roast Beast

We are so fortunate to live in a place where there is abundant game. No joke, this is something I thank God for every day, and twice or three times when I go to the grocery store and look at the price of the crummy beef, let alone the higher quality stuff.

It also helps to have a dedicated hunter in the family.

When I first saw this photo I thought he was goofing around, but it turns out he was hunting overlapping seasons.  I won’t lie.  He’s quite studly and I have a huge crush on him.

 

So do some of the neighborhood girls.  😉

Enough about the man though, this post is about a different beast.

When I tell people we eat bear,  I get a range of responses.

I could never eat bear, you can tell they have a soul by looking in their eyes.   Although I don’t think she ever actually looked a bear in the eye.

Ewww, do you like it?  It’s so (insert adjective, greasy, pungent, stinky, …)

Wow, I’d love to get your recipe!

First I’ll give you some background on our local bear population.  We live in a very bear friendly country.  Apple Country.  Actually these days its really more pear or cherry or wine country as more and more farmers are pulling out their apples in favor of more lucrative crops.  But you get my drift.  Lots of low hanging fruit.  We also have plenty of wild fruit such as elderberries, service berries, and choke cherries.  In the summer it is very easy to pick out a berry bush that has had a bear foraging in it.

In fact there is no shortage of bear sign, from tracks, to scat, to mauled branches, it’s obvious we have a healthy bear population.

Despite all the sign, it’s very easy to forget we live in bear country. Unlike some of our neighboring communities, we have never had our garbage raided, never had one in our camp, never seen a bear when we weren’t specifically looking for one.  The raccoons give us more trouble than the bears ever do.  They just don’t need to venture into our neighborhood because there is plenty for them to eat in the hills and orchards.  I suppose they also eat small critters and fish sometimes too, but with such abundant fruit, they can pretty well rely on easier meals.

Fruit eating bears are mild-flavored bears.  I have no experience cooking or eating bears from areas where they mostly eat fish.  From everything I’ve heard, if you’ve had bear that tasted “pungent” it was probably a fish eater.

We usually have our bears processed into jerky, German sausage and summer sausage, but we also have a bunch cut into roasts.  My absolute favorite way to eat bear is as a pot roast.

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I cook it the same way I would a beef or pork roast.

Pop it in the crock pot and give it a generous coat of minced garlic or garlic powder, and black pepper.

Toss in some coarsely chopped onion and one or two bay leaves.  You don’t need to add any liquid.

Put the lid on and cook it on low for around 4- 6 hours.   More won’t hurt, but you’ll want to baste it if you go much past 6.

Chop a couple potatos and carrot, or whatever veggies you like, and add those for the last hour of cooking.

Really that’s it!  It’s tender and juicy, and as good as any roast beef I’ve ever had.

Leftovers (which we rarely have) make awesome sandwiches, or stews.

Enjoy!

Why You Need a Routine

Have you ever noticed how exhausting a week off is? Needed a vacation to recover from your vacation? I know I have.  We have this week off of school, and I tell you I’m beat!

It’s from all the fun activities and extra projects, right?

NOPE.  Haven’t done a single honey-do, catch up or special treat.  We’ve been surfin’ the ‘net, watching too much tv, eating at weird times and flopping around the house.

It’s been the perfect week for an epiphany, because somewhere in all the hours of “free” time, I read about something called Decision Fatigue. And so much of what I’ve always believed about the power of a routine clicked on an even deeper level.

You see, whenever my kids lose their minds, or are just generally turds, I can almost always trace it to a deviation from the routine.  You’ve seen it.  The first week of summer break, Christmas, a new sport, whatever it is, it exhausts your kids and they turn into beasts, until you return to your regular routine or the new norm is established.  But I never extended that to myself.  I’ve been impatient, cranky and exhausted this week, even though I’m not “doing” anything extra.  Or am I?

Here’s the deal.  When you stick to a routine, you get into habits.  The joy/curse of a habit is it iseffortless. When I let my good habits (in this case it’s following the school routine -with built in household chores) run my day,  the decision is already made.  I don’t have to think about every little thing.  I’m going to get up, space out and drink two cups of coffee, then the screens go off and the music comes on. Breakfast then chores then math, copy work, circle time, literature and lunch.  I don’t even have to think about it.  I get no push-back from the kids.  It’s EASY!  

Here’s what some smarter-than-me folks have said on the topic.

“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  – Samuel Johnson

“We are all mere creatures of habit.  We think our accustomed thoughts, make our usual small talk, go through the trivial round, the common task, without any self-determining effort of will at all.  If it were not so– if we had to think, to deliberate, about each operation of the bath, or the table–life would not be worth having; the perpetually repeated effort of decision would wear us out.” – Charlotte Mason

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.”
–Charlotte Mason

I know you’re wondering what my point is and it’s this:  If you’re exhausted for “no reason”, and you’ve ruled out health/sleep issues, it may be Decision Fatigue.

Here’s what you can do :

  • Set up a routine to follow until you don’t have to think about every little thing all day.  (I know, setting up the routine initially requires some decision making, but it will lighten the future load on your decision making muscle, so it’s going to pay off!)
  • Use a checklist for your new routine until you no longer need it.
  • Make your decisions ahead of time, or early in the day if you know you’ll be going off your regular routine.
  • If you don’t like the idea of living by a timer, at least decide what you’ll do first, next, then, last.  (Notice my list earlier in the post didn’t say “8-8:32, drink coffee, 8:32-8:45, chores” etc.  It’s just knowing what to do next)

As for me, I’m planning now for the rest of my “days off”, and looking to Monday with eager anticipation.

And that is something I never thought I’d say!