Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weighty Matters

I think I now own twice as much stuff, pound-wise, as I did yesterday. (We had a cubic yard of sand and a pallet of concrete pavers delivered this morning.)

2600 lbs of sand + 3200 lbs of pavers = yikes!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Butter


This is adapted, mostly for efficiency, from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. If you don't have this cookbook, you should. Everything in it is delicious, and the vegetable section is invaluable for figuring out what to do with the stuff you brought home from the farmer's market.

I can make this in about 25 minutes, start to finish. We eat it with rice, and if you start the rice cooker while the veggies are sauteing they'll be ready at the same time. (Our rice cooker is teeny and adorable, maybe a larger one takes longer? You probably know how yours works.)

  • 3 cans kidney beans (I like to use 2 light and 1 dark, or vice versa, to make it prettier)
  • 2 cups water, maybe more (are you supposed to list water in a recipe's ingredients?)
  • 3 tbsp peanut or another neutral vegetable oil, like grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (1 cup of jarred sauce works okay, too, but I prefer the pureed texture of canned in this recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few spoonfuls of peanut butter

Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper over medium heat in a pot until the onion is translucent. Measure out the cumin and put it in a little prep bowl. Open the can of tomato sauce and measure the cayenne + lemon juice + salt into it.

Put the cumin in the pan, stir it once or twice, then add the can of tomato sauce + cayenne + lemon juice + salt. Stir that a few times, then add some water to the can and swirl it around. Stir that water + leftover tomato goodness into the pot so your tomato mixture doesn't get all crusty.

Simmer for a few minutes while you rinse the beans in a colander. Dump them in the pot with the remaining water. Add some more water if it doesn't look brothy enough, but this is stew, not soup.

Put a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter in the pot. I do this by taste, because it's a pain to measure peanut butter. Aim for "just a little bit peanut-y." Eat another spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar. Add more salt if you like.

Put the lid on the pan and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes more while you set the table.

Note on the rice cooker: we have had perfect luck with it, although looking at the Amazon reviews some people think it bubbles over. Never happened here; but we don't fill it all the way -- 1 cup rice, 1 1/3 cup water. (That's 1 "normal" cup, not the weird little confusing cup-that's-not-a-cup that comes with the cooker, which you should ignore.)

Friday, March 2, 2012


We looked at a lot of adorable ranch houses from the 1940s through the '60s recently, and I was really struck by how fresh and modern "retro" can be.

A jaunty pair of crocheted potholders, worked square and on the bias!

Snappy! offers lots of possibilities for customization; each stripe requires only a few yards of yarn. The coordinating pair makes a great hostess present.

Any worsted weight cotton will work, although the size of the finished potholder will vary. Exact gauge is not important as long as you achieve a dense fabric. Each potholder requires 1 ball of yarn for the main color; the border takes less than half a ball.

The potholders are double layered for extra insulation.

Skills required chain; slip stitch; single crochet; simple embroidery stitch of your choice, such as chain stitch, back stitch, or cross stitch. Pattern includes instructions for working embroidered chain stitch with the crochet hook.

Pattern is written in US terms (US sc = UK dc).

Available for $3.00 on Ravelry or Craftsy.