Sunday, October 23, 2011

Organizing, Cold Weather Eating & Chillaxin'

Despite the fact I can't move around normally (yet), or perhaps because of it, it has been an incredibly busy few months. Barely a day goes by when I am home and when I can attend to the day to day running of the household, relaxing, paying the bills (ha!) or catching up with friends. This past week, I cancelled and rearranged several appointments so that I could have a few days to myself to get things done like shop for my mother (see post here) and myself, look after some administrative issues for the Missions of Hope, shop for some books (more about that in another post), cook, clean, plan ahead for new appointments (massage and physiotherapy) to continue the leg treatments, a bit of mending, and a lot of washing dishes (not something I really enjoy). Next week will be another busy one so I had to make the best of the last few days.

I'm madly trying to catch up to my goal of reading two books a month. I'm sadly far behind but I've read some good books.  Some of them were rather long, like Anna Karenina which is over a 1000 pages. It probably qualifies as 3 average length books, lol. I've got numerous books in various stages of reading so before the year is out I will have made good progress toward my goal even if I haven't fully achieved it.

One of the things I managed to buy for myself was a good pair of cross trainers so I can walk properly.  I also had to pick up a new bottom for my swim suit.  Mine seems to have disintegrated since my last swim lesson at the Bontana Hotel in Nakuru in June. Hopefully I will have some time this winter to continue with the lessons.

When I am too busy I also don't get a chance to cook and eat from scratch and it is important I keep on track with the dietary changes to help my blood sugar levels. This weekend I was at least able to cook and use kidney beans and cook a few cups of pinto beans for use later this week in soups or salads.

On a coolish day, I tend to want some "stick to my ribs" kind of food like a good hearty soup, stew or chili. Yesterday was such a day. It was also my first full day home all week and a time to get caught up on laundry and other things before the week starts again.

I don't have a standard recipe for chili. I use whatever I have on hand.

Today's version consisted of:

- 1 or 2 pounds of lean ground beef, pre-cooked
- several cups of not quite cooked kidney beans
- 2 large celery stalks, cleaned and chopped
- 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup of diced carrots
- 3 medium tomatos, washed and diced
- chili flakes to taste
- hot sauce to taste
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- half can of tomato paste (approx. 1/3 cup or 75 mL)
- few splashes/dashes of soy sauce
- few splashes/dashes of vinegar
- bit of salt (not too much if you have high blood pressure or diabetes)

I browned the meat and put it in an electric rice cooker to cook on the counter top. I added the celery, onions, carrots and kidney beans to this along with about 4-5 cups of water. If you like a thinner broth you can put more water or reduce water if you prefer a chunkier chili.

I added the tomatoes and all the seasonings after this was all boiling together for a while.  Cook and simmer everything together until you are happy with the consistency and the taste of the vegetables and beans. I like my beans a little on the crunchy side but some people prefer their beans very soft. The chili was good but it made me realize I was out of chili powder so I made a point of getting some for next time.  It is a gorgeous, deep red mexican chili powder and will add just the right amount of zing for the next chili dish.

If you are vegetarian you could of course omit the beef and perhaps add some zucchini instead. You could also add another type of bean to the dish if you like beans.

Notes:  I soaked the kidney beans for about 1 hour and pre-cooked them in the rice cooker before using them. I left them a bit on the firm side so that they wouldn't get too soft and mushy as my chili was cooking.  The beans were not of a high quality. I noticed that a good many of them were already split open.  I used them anyway but they tend to cook more quickly than the beans that are intact.

I am really loving my rice cooker which I've had now for a few weeks. It is much quicker to cook beans from scratch. It literally saves me hours of waiting for beans to soak or boiling on the stove for hours.  It also cooks my brown rice to perfection in about one third the time. I've owned a rice cooker several times before (we've worn them out) but never used it for more than cooking white rice.  I know a lot of people who like slow cookers for chili and stew.  I don't like slow cookers.  They take too long and I am usually hungry long before the slow cooker has finished it's process.  I think this little appliance is not only going to save me a lot of time in the kitchen but also save me money by reducing the electricity consumption.

I didn't finish all of my errands and realize it doesn't sound like I've relaxed much.  But in truth I've found that just being at home for a stretch of time helps me to feel like I'm not dashing around all the time.  It helps me to pace myself too so I don't get overly tired.  When my hands aren't busy with something else, I can also read a few pages of a good book.

What about you dear reader? How do you relax and chill out when you are super busy?


Angelika Poe said...

good evening Penny...I love reading Penny, do you have to do much, much too much, because you do not go too pretty to read ...

I read a little at the time, my eyes hurt and I'm working rather quickly, I have many ideas, Christmas is coming and for all is a small thing to be finished.

So I relax when tinkering.

Now it's late and I go to sleep.

Have a good week, starting tomorrow, we have no more sun, it will be raining and foggy, so I can tinker particularly well.

Best wishes to you from the Geli

Kay L. Davies said...

I can't believe how much you're doing. You wear me out just reading about it!
I can't really do much of anything right now, but I'm very glad I'm able to write. When I was in full-blown writer's block and also couldn't do anything else, it was much worse.
Glad you got new shoes. Take care of yourself!

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Kaybe said...

I just got a rice cooker & I love it. I haven't used it to steam anything yet so I'll have to try cooking the beans like you did in it. Everything looks yummy.

Fred Alton said...

WoW, Penny! What a busy bee you are! And full of determination to be at your best. With that attitude and all of the good food pictured here you must be better soon. God Bless and strengthen you.

Heart n Soul said...

Actually I love a therapeutic massage but failing that a cup of tea sitting in the swing outside in the little bit of garden I have is pretty special :)

Vores have said...

Hejsa Joyful
Puha, du har travl, jeg bliver helt forpustet bare af at læse det.
Husk at mærke efter om din krop kan holde til det - ( forhøjet blodtryk)
Flotte sko du har købt.
Dejligt mad, men tror at det er "lidt" stærk for en sart mave (min).
Ønsker dig en god dag fra det kolde Danmark.
Vejret her: Overskyet / blæst + 9,4 grader.
Pas godt på dig selv.
Knus Hanne Bente ♥

~✽Mumsy✽~ said...

What a hearty chili! Look scrumptious..

Linnea said...

You're busy as a bee! That's funny, but I made a big pot of chili yesterday in my crock pot...used canned beans though and many of the same ingredients you used in yours. Haven't added a dash of soy sauce though. I'll have to try that. Thanks for stopping by at my SSS.

My Castle in Spain said...

Hi Penny,
Hope you'll soon be a 100% better and resume the swimming lessons too...Am into making soup at the moment ! :-)

Saucy Siciliana said...

I like your attitude. I have fibromyalgia and cannot move around a lot at all, I need to rest every 10 minutes of walking. Yesterday I finished a session of 10 deep tissue massages which really help, I hope I can move around better now. All the best to you and greetings from Rome. We are expecting lots of rain again, but hopefully Rome will not be flooded like last Thursday.

Joyful said...

Geli, yes Christmas is soon coming so you will enjoy that as you plan and tinker in preparation. I do LOVE to read books.

Joyful said...

Hello Kay, I'm so sorry you can't do much of anything right now. I know how frustrating that is as that was me for the first month or so of treatment on my leg issue. One must try to relax and go with the flow, whatever it is and try and heal. Writing is a great outlet and I love to read your posts.

Joyful said...

Kaybe, thank you for your visit. I'm happy you dropped by again because I had lost your URL. I'm sure you will love to use your rice steamer for other things once you've tried it :-)

Joyful said...

Fred, thank you for being a faithful reader and commenter :-) Yes I have been rather busy and I guess that is also a sign of my getting a bit better. I am hopeful that I can fully recover. Blessings. xx

Joyful said...

Heart n Soul, therapeutic massage is so wonderful. I am adding that to my regime :-) It's great you have a little garden. I wish I had a greener thumb. Thank you for your visit. Please come again.

Joyful said...

Hej Hanne, Det var en smuk solrig dag her i dag, og omkring 12 C. Jeg var nødt til at gå til en aftale, men bagefter gik hele vejen hjem. Ikke for langt rigtig, men for mig har jeg ikke været i stand til at gå, at for i mange måneder. Den nye sko virkelig hjælpe.Knus Joyful

Joyful said...

Mumsi, so nice of you to visit. It was delicious ;-)

Joyful said...

Linnea, great minds think alike ;-) Thanks for stopping by!

Joyful said...

Lala, it was nice to have you visit my blog. I am slowly improving in my leg. It will be nice when I'm finally back to normal.

Joyful said...

Ciccia, I'm so sorry to hear about your fibromyalgia. I know what inflammation is like. No fun at all. It seems you keep very active though. It is good when we can try to lead a full life even with the inflammation and pain. A nice session like you had to deep massage is very good for that. That is why I hope to start mine soon ;-) Thank you for stopping by.

Kilauea Poetry said...

Hi Penny, sounds like your busy..way busier than me! I started making brown rice with my rice cooker but enjoy brown jasmine mixed. My husband missed white rice with his raw fish (sashimi) I still serve that too. I'm curious how you cook your beans quicker in it though? I've never that. I'm sure I have the original recipes (it comes with) but would have to fish it out? I just tossed some two year old kidney beans someone gave me cause I thought if I went to the trouble of cooking them that long they may be a disappointment?
Good shoes are important! Hey, thanks for the great chili recipe too!

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