Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More On Laminating

Thrifty Homeschooler member Traci writes:
I often just get laminated sheets of construction paper or other paper. That way if later I need them for something else I can just write on them with a permanent marker and they are ready to go. Anything laminated can also be written on with a wipe off marker, so I do this for my kids calendars as well and that way I can reuse them.

I know of several homeschoolers who like to laminate worksheets to use with wipe-off markers. As long as you have copyright permission, this is a great thrifty tip. You can re-use the same page over and over with multiple children, or even with one child who needs repetition.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Recipe: Homemade Refried Beans

Here is my simple recipe for refried beans for days when you're in a hurry:

1 teaspoon corn oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 dash Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in skillet. Saute the onions until clear. Add the garlic, beans and spices and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher until smooth. If the beans are too thick, you can thin them out with a little bit of picante sauce.

If you want to make a bean dip, only drain one can of the black beans and add the liquid from the other can to the pot.

Pinto beans will also work and are the traditional bean, but I like the black beans.

If you have time, here is a thriftier choice made with dry beans:

When I make refried beans with dry beans, I make a LOT at once and freeze them.

Note: Refried doesn't mean to fry twice. The prefix "re" in Spanish means thoroughly or very. Authentic refried beans use lard or bacon drippings.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Making Homemade Broth

The following are more guidelines than recipes. Substitute away with what you have on hand or in your garden. It really isn't that hard to make broth -- throw a bunch of stuff in a pot with water, boil it to death, and delicious broth is created.

Simple Broth
I hate to throw anything away, so I often make my own homemade broth from leftovers and the discards of cut-up vegetables from other dishes. I keep them in the freezer for the next time a recipe calls for broth or stock. Besides, homemade broth tastes tons better than bouillon cubes and water. The following recipes are just a base, use whatever veggies, herbs, and bones you have and improvise. The best stock comes from the freshest ingredients.

Vegetable Broth
2 large leeks
2 large celery stalks, including leaves, halved
1 large onion, cut into chunks
3 large carrots, quartered
2 garlic cloves
salt to taste
1/2 Ib. green beans, cut in half
3 quarts cold water
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley sprigs
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dry)
1 bay leaf
8 peppercorns

Cut roots off leaks; remove and discard coarse outer leaves. Split lengthwise and clean well. Add vegetables, garlic, and water to stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and skim any foam from the surface. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Cover and simmer at least one hour, but longer is better. Strain broth and discard veggies. Season to taste with salt. Cool uncovered in sink or cooler surrounded by ice. (I do it this way so I don't heat up my fridge and spoil my other food.) Cover and store in fridge for up to 4 days or freeze up to 6 months. Makes 10 cups.

Beef Broth
3 to 4 Ibs. beef bones
2 quarts cold water
2 large onions, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, halved
1 stalk celery with leaves, halved
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dry)
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns

Preheat oven to 400. Place bones in roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes, turning once. (This part is optional) Discard fat. Transfer bones and remaining ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 4 hours. Skim the foam off the top. Strain the stock. Cool uncovered in sink or cooler surrounded by ice. Store in fridge for 4 days or in freezer for 3 months. To de-fat the stock, place in fridge until the fat hardens on the surface, then remove and discard.

Chicken Broth
3 Ibs. chicken backs, necks, and/or wings
3 quarts of water
1 onion, quartered
2 stalks of celery with leaves, cut up
2 large carrots, quartered
2 tsp. fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh Thyme (or 1 tsp. dry)
8 peppercorns
salt to taste

In a large stockpot bring all of the ingredients to a boil. Reduce and simmer, partially covered for at least 1 hour, longer is better. Skim the foam off the top. Remove chicken and strain stock. (The chicken meat can be used in chicken salad.) Cool uncovered in the pot in sink or cooler immersed in ice. To de-fat the stock, refrigerate until the fat hardens on the surface, then remove and discard. Store in fridge for 4 days or in freezer for 3 months.

Fish Broth
2 to 3 fish bones and/or fish heads, well rinsed, cut into 4-inch pieces.
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 celery stalks with leaves, quartered
4 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 tsp. dry)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, halved
6 whole peppercorns
1 lemon slice
salt to taste
2 quarts water

Combine fish, celery, onion, carrot, and lemon in stockpot. Add enough water to cover. Stir in wine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Skim off any residue. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Simmer 30 minutes, skimming surface as necessary. Strain broth. Season with salt to taste. Cool uncovered in sink or cooler surrounded by ice. Cover and store in fridge up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Makes 6 cups.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Free Laminating for Educators

Office Max is offering free laminating for teachers, including home teachers, on Thursdays through September 13th. Laminating is great for timelines, school ID's, and so much more.

You can print out the coupon HERE.

Staples and other office/copy stores offer to match competitors' coupons if you don't have an Office Max close by.