Tag Archives: health

Southern Housepitality: Become Your Own House Guest

Throughout my life I have noticed certain inalienable truths. You’ll always find what you’re looking for the day after you need it. The home projects you’ve been meaning to tackle (ugly countertops, hideous paint jobs, tragic flooring) are the things that get done just before you hand the keys over to the new owners and move out of your house. And when it comes to rolling out the royal treatment, most of us are adept at treating house guests with a sense of pampering that we fail to master for ourselves in our daily lives.

No more, I say. It’s time to be your own guest.

Southern hospitality is no joke. And while my first year of living in the south may not have sold me on chitterlings, sweet tea or turnip greens, the great lengths that southern women go to in order to care for their homes and create welcoming spaces for guests (whether they’re staying an hour or a week) is near and dear to my heart.

If you’re anything like me, hostessing a house guest is an opportunity to tap into your Pinterest-loving, friend-and-family-spoiling, Martha Stewart-idoling inner core. In the days leading up to a house guest’s arrival, I find myself pressing linens and arranging fresh flowers while plotting flavored water recipes.

As is known to happen, after the guest leaves life returns to it’s regularly-scheduled, hectic pace. Linens get tossed in the dryer instead of line-dried. Flowers bloom and wither on the vine. Water is water.

This is the picture of insanity. Over the course of a year, I probably entertain house guests for an average of 20 cumulative days. That’s less than a month when all is said and done.  The other 11 months of the year, I live here. I know I’m not alone int this tendency. So what is it that compels us to care for our guests with such joy and enthusiasm during a brief stay, while we forgo the simple pleasure of a pampered life when it comes to our own daily lives?

No more, I say. It’s time to become your own house guest. Below you will find ten of my favorite, standard houseguest niceties. I hope you will treat yourself to one (or eleven) of these simple pleasures. They truly can make the difference between just getting through the day and savoring the little moments of life.

Lavender Water

I have noticed that most lavender waters sold online and in stores are often QUITE expensive. (Put anything in a glass bottle with a french name and I guess it gives them free reign to jack up the price.) Here is  a great recipe for an at-home DIY lavender water that is just as lovely as any you will find in the store. Your local Whole Foods is a great resource for reasonably priced lavender essential oil.

Quality Hand Soap

Sure, you can grab a bottle of hand soap at the local dollar store. It will clean your hands and get the job done, but will it invigorate your spirit? For whatever reason (call me a soap snob), I have found that investing in a quality hand soap is one of those unexpected opportunities for a little pick-me-up moment of invigoration. Two of my favorites hand soaps are Mrs. Meyers in Lemon Verbana and J.R. Watkins in Lavender.

A Cream-Colored Quilt

I will admit, I am a bit quilt-obsessed. There are few things as quintessentially American as being wrapped in a quilt on an autumn night. It feels like being hugged by history.

I know some people love to get crazy and colorful with their bed linens, but I tend to be more of a traditionalist, favoring the crisp, clean look of white linens topped with a cream-colored quilt. Not only does it conjure up a sense of B&B luxury, a cream quilt goes with everything and gives me the freedom to change accessories in the room without having to invest in a new set of sheets.

Here’s a beauty from Restoration Hardware

An Signature Scented Candle

Find a signature scented candle. Embrace it. Sprinkle it throughout your home. Breathe deeply throughout the day. Feel good about life. I can understand why some people balk at the thought of paying $30 for something you are going to burn, but I have noticed that Henri Bendel candles really do last forever. They claim to have a 60-hour burn time, and I have squeezed a year of fairly regular use (hour-long burning sessions) out of mine. Firewood is my signature scent. It’s like having an eternal autumn on speed-dial.

Another favorite candle brand: Linea’s Lights. Soy candles, cotton wicks, utterly amazing scents. I pray that they will bring Forest Fir back this Christmas, at which point I will be stocking up with enough to get me through the year.

Quality Stationary

Every woman needs a set (or two..or eighteen) of quality stationary on standby. My suggestion is:

  • a set of personalized, blank stationary for formal correspondence
  • a set of fun, blank stationary for casual correspondence
  • a set of quality thank you notes (because, let’s be frank, most greeting cards sold on supermarket shelves are simply hideous)
If you are in the Asheville, NC area, be sure to check out The Baggie Goose. It is one of my favorite places in AVL, and quite possibly the planet. If you’re not in the Asheville area, check out Crane & Co. for stunning stationary.

Reading Material

Last year I went a little nuts with Amazon’s Christmas $5-$10 magazine special, and I must admit, opening the mailbox to discover a new glossy awaiting me still gives me a kid-on-Christmas thrill. Whether your vice is celebrity gossip, interior design or guns & ammo, go ahead and indulge in reading material for your bathtub bookshelf. Your secret is safe with me.

Line-dried Linens

Nothing smells more amazing that line-dried linens. And white linens bleached by the sun? Utter heaven. Do it. And while you’re at it, check out LaundryList.org.

40 slotted clothespins for $2.30

A beautiful, signature tumbler

A special, pretty tumbler, all my own, makes me want to drink more water throughout the day. Or lemonade. Or mojito.

Yummy Bath Products

What pampering list would be complete without a little tub-side luxury? I realize the above photo looks like a jellyroll gone awry, but trust me on this. Lush has THE MOST amazing bath products ever. And while they’re far from cheap, they are worth every penny. And the cost of shipping. And the wait time as they slowly travel down from Canada. Try the bubble bar in Karma. Bathtime will never be the same.

Note: I slice off half-dollar size pieces of the bubble bars to extend their life (and help my wallet.) While you won’t get a bubble extravaganza from such a small piece, it is more than enough to scent the water, your skin and bathroom.

Fruit Infused Elixirs

I always get a kick out of the spa waiting area. Admid the zen waterfall and mood lighting, women chug down thimble-sized cupfuls of spa elixir (fruit infused water.) The possibilities here are endless. I like to pull from my garden. Play around until you find a combination that makes your taste buds cheer.

A few options…

  • Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
  • Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Ginger
  • Herbs (basil, mint)

Now, go forth and spoil thyself. Happy living!

xo,

Amy

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Oh, sheet! Your dryer sheets could be killing you.

If names like “Spring Breeze” and “Island Fresh” have visions of tropical escapes and faceplants into piles of fresh laundry dancing in your head — think again. Your dryer sheets could be killing you.
I love wrinkle-free, gently-fragranced, static-free, fluffy loads of laundry as much as the next girl, but after a friend mentioned that dryer sheets are TOXIC, I thought I better do a little research. What I discovered was more than a little horrifying. One of our clients at work advocates against teen tobacco use. Seeing the list of ingredients in dryer sheets list was frighteningly similar to the list of chemicals in cigarettes. The chemicals may vary, but much like cigarettes, dryer sheets pack a noxious cocktail of ingredients linked to dangerous and fatal diseases and conditions.
According to Healing Naturally by Bee, the list of ingredients in dryer sheets includes:
  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Limonene: Known carcinogen
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

If that’s not bad enough, dryer sheets are made of FIBERGLASS. I don’t know about you, that will give me pause to reconsider before I toss another dryer sheet in with a load of panties in the future.

So what’s a girl to do? Bid farewell to fluffy towels? No way. There are plenty of wonderful, natural alternatives to chemical-laden dryer sheets. They are easy to make, use ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard and cost next to nothing.

THE REMEDY

FOR SOFTNESS (IN THE WASH)
Vinegar (among all the other amazing things it can do) is a natural fabric softener. It also removes soap residue, neutralizes tough odors and reduces dryer static. You can add vinegar directly to laundry during the rinse cycle or pour vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser (or fabric softener ball if your machine is dispenserless) of your washing machine.

FOR SOFTNESS AND SCENT (IN THE DRYER)
Grab and old, cotton washcloth that is ready for retirement. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil of your choice (Whole Food’s 365 eucalyptus oil is my favorite – and very affordable!) to your cloth and throw it in the dryer with a load. Replenish cloth with 3-5 drops between each dryer load.

If you’re seeking something with even more wrinkle-release power, check out Mister Steamy, a non-chemical fabric softener/wrinkle release ball that depends on the power of steam to whip your laundry into shape.

CHIME IN: What are your favorite alternative, green or natural laundry tips? 

 

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Cracking the Code: Getting to know egg labels and certifications

Eggs courtesy of Merciful Hearts Farm | Photo Credit: Jennifer Bedenbaugh

When organic milk started popping up in the dairy aisle featuring images of happy, happy cows, I knew there was no turning back. Gone were the days of plastic-jugged factory farm milk at reasonable prices. Almost overnight I became an organic milk consumer, willing to pay significantly more for a half gallon of milk than a galloon of gas (the price of which, I lamented to no end.)

As time has gone on, organics have invaded other sects of the dairy aisle. Yogurt. And now eggs.

For awhile now, I have been paying significantly higher prices for “cage-free” eggs. Last week it occurred to me that I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT that meant. Sure, I like the sound of it – but what does “cage-free” REALLY mean? How is it different from “free range?” And who is controlling these designations?

It  was a question that warranted further investigation.

After a quick online search, I discovered the egg producer offering “cage-free” eggs in my local Publix – is actually a MUCH larger egg producer. Cage-free makes up only a small portion of the eggs they produce. And while I feel good supporting cage-free policies, in the end my dollars is still going to a megacorp that utilizes “traditional” (read: inhumane) factory farming practices I disagree with.

Why are all these new kinds of eggs becoming popular?

Ever since people started becoming aware of the conditions in which laying hens are “traditionally” kept in the U.S. (crammed into “battery cages” packed so closely they can barely move for almost all of their lives, and forced to endure other practices that most people find inhumane), alternatives are becoming increasingly popular. (In Europe they are phasing cages out of egg production.)

Are the hens really better off in these new conditions?

There is no doubt that they are better off. BUT the images that the terms “cage-free” and “free-range” bring to mind to most people are pretty far from the reality of most chickens, whether laying hens or those used for meat.

Who regulates these labels?

There is very little actual regulation, but there are some definitions published by the USDA which are called “Trade Descriptions”. Although they are voluntary, apparently most poultry farms conform to these standards.

CRACKING THE CODE: WHAT DO ALL THE LABELS *REALLY* MEAN?

UNITED EGG PRODUCERS CERTIFIED

The overwhelming majority of the U.S. egg industry complies with this voluntary program, which permits routine cruel and inhumane factory farm practices. Hens laying these eggs have 67 square inches of cage space per bird, less area than a sheet of paper. The hens are confined in restrictive, barren battery cages and cannot perform many of their natural behaviors, including perching, nesting, foraging or even spreading their wings. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. This is a program of the United Egg Producers.

CAGE-FREE

This simply means that the hens are not kept in cages, though there are no regulations to govern care beyond that. According to the Humane Society, cage-free hens usually do not have access to the outdoors. They can engage in many of their natural behaviors such as walking, nesting and spreading their wings. Beak cutting is permitted. There is no third-party auditing.

FREE RANGE/FREE ROAMING

Free-range chickens are (according to voluntary regulations) supposed to have “access to the outdoors” — however, by many reports, the care of many of these hens is structured so that they are very unlikely to go outside. The doors are not opened until the hens are of an age where they are likely to keep doing what they are used to doing, and when the (usually small) doors are opened, they usually don’t go outside. Michael Pollan, in his best-selling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, describes one farm producing organic, free-range chickens for meat. He says that the chickens are “given outside access” at 5 weeks, then killed at 7 weeks. He never saw a chicken go outside during his visit.
There are no standards in “free-roaming” egg production. This essentially means the hens are “cage-free.” There is no third-party auditing.

ORGANIC

There are regulations to govern what can be called organic. The chickens must be fed organic feed (grown without commercial fertilizers or pesticides), and not given hormones or antibiotics. The birds are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, and are required to have outdoor access, but the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

CERTIFIED HUMANE / HUMANELY RAISED

This is a totally unregulated definition, although organizations are springing up to try to come up with common definitions. The birds are uncaged inside barns or warehouses but may be kept indoors at all times. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density and number of perches and nesting boxes. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Certified Humane is a program of Humane Farm Animal Care.

AMERICAN HUMANE CERTIFIED

This label allows both cage confinement and cage-free systems. Each animal who is confined in these so-called “furnished cages” has about the space of a legal-sized sheet of paper. An abundance of scientific evidence demonstrates that these cages are detrimental to animal welfare, and they are opposed by nearly every major US and EU animal welfare group. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. American Humane Certified is a program of American Humane Association.

ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED

The highest animal welfare standards of any third-party auditing program. The birds are cage-free and continuous outdoor perching access is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Birds must be allowed to molt naturally. Beak cutting is prohibited. Animal Welfare Approved is a program of the Animal Welfare Institute.

PASTURED / PASTURE-RAISED HENS

According to the USDA Trade Descriptions, “birds are raised outdoors using movable enclosures located on grass and fed an organic diet (without hormones or non-organic additives) and/or raised without antibiotics.”The advantage to pasture-raised eggs is that the hens are able to eat a wide variety of the natural food of chickens — greens, grubs, etc. Not only do many people find these eggs to be much tastier, but there is accumulating evidence that the eggs from these hens have better nutritional profiles — less cholesterol, less fat but more healthy Omega-3 fat, and more of other nutrients such as Vitamin A, lutein, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.

VEGETARIAN-FED / NATURAL / OMEGA-3 ENRICHED

These label claims have no relevance to animal welfare.

 

So with all the crazy labels, what’s an egg-eater to do? My solution was simple – and just a short drive up the road. Instead of purchasing my eggs from a producer by way of a grocery store, I’m turning to local farmers to provide my dairy needs from now on. Not only does buying local give me the ability to know EXACTLY where my eggs are coming from (and thus, how those animals are treated), it also means my dollars stay local, supporting area farms and farmers who share my commitment to animal welfare.

My friend Jennifer (the photographer who  of the amazingly beautiful image at the top of this blog) hooked me up with local farmer Deb at Merciful Hearts. Meet Deb and check out the farm on the Merciful Hearts Farm Blog.

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Preschooler Forced to Eat Chicken Nuggets After Homemade Lunch Confiscated by Government Agent

I wonder if the ketchup packet counts as a veggie?

Hey, parents. Let’s play a little game. The goal is to send your child to school with a nutritious lunch. Which would you choose?

a) turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, apple juice and potato chips
b) chicken nuggets

If you picked “A” … YOU LOSE. At least according to one North Carolina school system.

A Hoke County (North Carolina) preschooler recently had her homemade lunch (which included the items mentioned in choice “A” above) confiscated because a government agent conducting lunch box inspections felt it did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. The guidelines state each lunch must include one serving each of meat, milk and grain and two servings of fruit or vegetables, and apply to home-packed lunches as well as cafeteria meals.

The homemade lunch was then replaced with the school’s CHICKEN NUGGET MEAL, which satisfies the guidelines.  [Full story here]

The decision was made as a result of regulations put in place by the the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs to meet USDA guidelines.

Sound like an isolated incident? It’s not. Here is another story from across the pond. If students are found with sweets, chocolate, carbonated beverages or full-fat chips, the items are confiscated and held in the teacher’s staff room. The treats are returned, but only if parents ask.

A note sent to parents about the lunch box searches warned: “Lots of unsuitable items have been sneaking in lately. Therefore, we will have to look after such items until the end of the day in order to be fair to everybody.”

In the article, the Headmistress of the school says, “We were finding that some children could be bringing in crisps, a Mars bar and can of Coke with their lunches. This stance is trying to work with parents to provide a healthy meal for their children.’ Danegrove is not the first school to cause controversy with its healthy eating policies.”

 

SO. What do you think? Do we applaud schools for taking an active role in student nutrition – or it this the onset of a lunchbox gestapo?  Should schools be responsible for strong-arming parental choices about their child’s nutrition? Or should schools stay out of the lunch box and keep to the classroom? And do these anti-sweet sentiments send an unhealthy message to kids? Does villainizing food instead of empowering healthy behaviors and choices (such as moderation) send the wrong message to kids? 

Would love to hear your thoughts. Chime in. 

.

 

 

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Life, Death and a Dinner Table: A Family Tale of the Healing Power of Eating Together

Four generations of us.

I have a fairly large extended family. For the most part, our current clan originated in Wichita, Kansas, but through the power invested in marriages, divorces, job transfers and time, we have been strewn out across the country over the years. You’ll now find pushpins in our family map everywhere from the Florida Keys to Honolulu, Austin to Wisconsin.

As a result of our geographic divergence, it makes it very difficult for all (or even many) of us to ever come together in the same place at the same time. Years go by and we don’t see each other. The younger cousins eternally frozen in my mind as munchkins at the “little kids table” are now high school seniors and sophomores in college. The home I cast as the scene for all family memories hasn’t been in our family for nearly a decade. This is just to say – things change, people get busy, time flies.

A year ago my grandmother passed away after a brief battle with cancer. Weddings and funerals. For better or worse, these are the things that  finally bring a modern family together. As each branch received the call, they made plans to descend upon the teeny, tiny town of Frederick, Oklahoma – my grandmother’s childhood stomping ground. She had elected to be buried in Frederick beside her parents.

Frederick. How do I explain Frederick? It is perhaps best described as a blip town. A blip I fell very much in love with. Frederick is the kind of little place you pass through on a rural highway heading somewhere else. The last census put the population at under 4,000. I’m not sure what industry supports the economy there, I can only guess farming, and I remember reading somewhere that the median income in Frederick was well under $30,000.

In many ways Frederick feels like a land untouched by time. It struck me as the kind of place that could be described (and accurately so) as the heartbeat of America. A place steeped in family, God and the American dream. Unpretentious and hardworking. A welcome smile with a little grit under the fingernails. A land where people know their neighbors – and the value of a hard day’s work. Frederick isn’t relic as much as it is artifact. It isn’t un-evolved, rather it’s a place – and a lifestyle – unperturbed. From what I have gathered from my mother’s accounts of visiting the sleepy tow in the 50s and 60s, not much has changed for Frederick the past half-century…and that’s okay.

My family descended on Frederick like a bit of a storm. If you’re going to stay in Frederick, your lodging options are limited to two motorlodge-type hotels on the outskirts of town. If you don’t like the first, no worries. The other option is right next door. But if memory serves, one of the signs boasted that they were now offering wireless internet, so you may want to take that into consideration.

Our first afternoon in town, we took a driving tour around the city – and down memory lane. 40-some years later, my mother’s memory was still able to trace its way back to the modest farmhouse my great-grandmother (Mimi) and great-grandfather (Homer) had owned together. It is the place where my grandmother grew up. My mother reminisced about the small patch of land my great-grandmother had tended, a vegetable and flower garden, and beyond it, the land my great-grandfather had tilled. She regaled us with stories of Mimi, the industrious wife of a farmer, snapping the necks of dinner chickens and plucking them clean. It was a stark contrast to the gentle, quiet, if not a bit frail, great-grandmother I remembered. In my mind, she was a soul better suited for gently cradling a cup of tea than slaughtering unsuspecting chickens. The image of her strong and fearless doing what had to be done gave me new perspective.

I come from a long line of strong, courageous females, it would seem.

The funeral went as funerals go. The chapel and cemetery set in a picturesque, rural area outside of town. It was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm, and cows were murmuring off in the distance. I suspect our unusual quietness was a bittersweet recognition of the irony that bidding a loved one farewell was the one thing that had a way of bringing the living back together.

After the casket had been laid, we mobilized the troops. We’d need lunch before everyone traveled back to their separate corners of the world. Having had our fill of Pizza Hut (and having no inclination to try Sonic), we ended up at a little local restaurant called The Bomber Inn.

My people are not a small people. At 5’10″ I am one of the shorter cousins on my mother’s side of the family. As we descended on The Bomber Inn, the staff and regulars looked at us incredulously, but only for a moment before shuffling chairs and tables to make it work. We crammed into booths, shared menus, stormed the single restroom. Clearly strangers, nobody poked or pried. They just made us feel welcome.

I don’t recall what I ate that day. A grilled cheese or a chicken-fried steak, who can say for sure? I remember strange things from that afternoon. One of the waitresses asking my cousin to come into the kitchen to reach something on a high shelf. An older gentleman approaching my uncle to tell him he had a “mighty handsome family.” More than that, I remember a feeling. A feeling of being acutely aware of the importance of eating together that day.

The truth is we cannot control the ticking of time. We don’t get a say in when or how or where things come together or fall apart. We get busy, stressed, preoccupied, but at least a few times a day, life forces us to stop and eat. And we can choose to do that together.

Author Norman Kolpas once said, “Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” That afternoon, crammed in booths at The Bomber Inn, we weren’t just eating lunch, we were celebrating a life. We weren’t just nourishing our bodies, we were nourishing our hearts and our spirits, too.

It’s unlikely I will ever be in Frederick again. I doubt I’ll be back at The Bomber Inn. But I often think of the kindness they showed us that day, and I hope they know that more than a meal, they gave us a rare and precious moment of togetherness in the heartbeat of America. It won’t soon be forgotten.

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“Everybody in the F’n Pot!” Soup (aka Taco Soup)

Everybody in the pot!

I should preface this post with kudos to the dear friend from whence it came. I should also state the recipe was given to me with explicit instructions not to deviate from the instructions whatsoever. Of course I, being me, immediately deviated in every conceivable way. And it was awesome. My apologies, old friend. And now…with no further ado, I give you “EVERYBODY IN THE F’N POT!” SOUP*. (*Commonly referred to as “Taco Soup” in less dramatic circles…) 

Once in awhile a girl comes across a recipe so good, she finds herself thinking absurd things – and I am not talking your run-of-the-mill “makes me want to run out into a field and twirl” fantasy. I am talking more like “With this soup I am pretty certain I could snag a ruggedly handsome lumberjack husband with Midwestern values and a high IQ who will build us a house with his own two hands where together we will raise three strong, smart, talented children and spend our weekends roasting marshmallows over a backyard fire pit whilst throwing sticks for our retriever named “Blue.” (Because, you know, it only makes sense if I’m hypothetically marrying a lumberjack named Paul Buyon.)

Oh wait. I fear I’ve said too much.

But what I am really trying to say is this soup f’n rocks. And I’m not the kind of girl who throws the f-word around like a hot potato at lunch. Actually, it’s more of a chili than a soup, and although the original recipe includes meat, even during my omnivorous days I never really found the meat necessary. Instead, I beef it up (pardon the pun) the beans, which makes it plenty hearty. The exclusion of ground beef also makes it a VEGAN chili, which should merit some sort of additional bonus points in veggie world if you ask me. Or at least some extra good karma.

Below you will find my standard version of Taco Soup, but more often than not, this dish becomes an excuse to clean the pantry. I pretty much toss in any array of beans, veggies or anything else I have on-hand. Fresh cilantro? In  the pot. Jalepenos? In the pot! I am fairly convinced you cannot screw it up. Also, it makes a TON, so assuming you would like to win friends and influence people (or just maintain existing friendships so you always have someone to drive you to the airport at 5 am) , this is a great way to do just that.

Side note: For some reason when I make this dish, I always imagine the beans are listening to Barry Harris’ “Dive in the Pool.” Not sure why I associate soup with legume raves, but there you have it. And once they’re down the hatch? Well, that’s when the party really begins.

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BASIC INGREDIENTS
2 cups diced onions
Several cans of beans (pinto, kidney, red, black, navy, great northern – the sky is the limit!)
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix

OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
Small can chopped jalepenos
Fresh cilantro
Corn chips and shredded cheese for serving

DIRECTIONS | Brown the onions in a large skillet; then transfer to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add all remaining ingredients and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. While you wait, check out this bean-friendly history lesson on BEANFEAST.

To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with corn chips and cheese if desired.

Voila! You are master (or mistress) of the crock pot! There is nothing you can’t do now. (Except maybe fold a fitted sheet.)

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They like us. They really LIKE us. No seriously…LIKE us.

Not sure if it’s love? There’s always LIKE.

If reading full blog posts requires a level of commitment that leaves you feeling like we’re moving a little too fast – there’s always LIKE.

Yeehaw, ReVeg is on Facebook. Profess your LIKE by LIKING* us.

What’s in it for you? I’m glad you asked. Upon liking ye shall receive…

  • Access to brief blips and burps of foodie-releavant information
  • Zero calorie, zero carb, 100% delicious images of food and foodstuffs
  • Insta-connection to fun people who love food and drink (not necessarily in that order)
  • Another way to look busy at work when you’re really just killing time until 5 (ahem)
  • A free workout for your fingers (clicking uses energy!)
  • Miscellaneous other things I cannot think of at this moment**
  • Good karma points

Convinced? Click here to get your LIKE on. 

Not convinced? Here is a photo of a goddess stacking pigs. Now you are convinced. Because who can argue with that?

*I had to carefully review this post to make sure I didn’t transpose “lick” for “like” – which would be a WHOLE other kind of internet love connection…

**But will undoubtedly be awesome.

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Things that make you go hmmm…

salad versus big mac

This infographic has been floating around Facebook. And we wonder why America has an obesity crisis?

Also, the fact that the “affordable” food model looks like a candy corn is not lost on me. Mmm…sugar corn.

Wishing everyone a happy weekend. I am off to secure an engagement gift for my GVL bff. The party is in six hours. According to my calculations, that gives me just enough time for to drive around town, find nothing, panic and ultimately find something perfect at my last hope stop. At this point we can only hope Salt-N-Peppa were right when they said: bet’cha bottom dollar you were best under pressure.

That’s right. I just quoted S-n-P.

Happy weekend, y’all.

 

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