African Groundnut Stew: My Very American Version

I know, I know.

You read the title of this post and thought African Groundnut Stew?!   What's that?!

Give me a chance, okay? ;)

I've been cooking this up for several years, and every time it hits the supper table the family slurps it down.  It's wonderful, warm comfort food for a chilly autumn night.

My variation is much more "American" than this hearty stew is supposed to be, but it's how we like it.  Maybe your family will, too?

 

African Groundnut Stew, Americanized

  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped very fine
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 cups (or 1 - 15 oz can) of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups (or 1 - 15 oz can) of white kidney beans
  • 1 cup corn (frozen or off the ear, doesn't matter)
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper

Here's what you'll need to do:

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot.  Saute the onions just until they start to soften, then add ginger and garlic.  Saute for a minute or two, then add the sweet potato.  Stir well to combine.

Add the cooked chicken, chicken stock, tomato sauce, peanut butter, corn, spices, and beans.  Stir well.  Bring to a simmer, then adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

Cover the pot and simmer very gently for about thirty minutes, until the sweet potato is tender.

Serve as you would serve a bowl of soup, with crusty bread, or ladle over a bowl of steaming hot rice.  Yum!

TIP:  I try to keep cooked, shredded chicken stored in my freezer in freezer bags.  It makes this dish -- and many others -- very simple to pull together on a busy day.

 

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:: also shared at GNOWFGLINS and Nourishing Gourmet

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10 Herbs That Heal: Are you growing these in your garden?

Organic Gardening recently shared a helpful image of "10 Herbs That Heal."   Three of these herbs I'm growing in containers on my deck this year: basil, dill, and cilantro.  Do you grow any of them?  Do you use them for medicinal purposes?  Here's the image:

 

credit: Organic Gardening

On a side note, we've been busy enjoying our summer.  Sorry that you haven't heard much from me!  I've been sharing a bit more on the Like a Bubbling Brook facebook page lately; are you following us there?

This month we had a special visit from GG (my mother-in-love) and are so glad she came all the way from the West Indies to see us!  It's not often we get to spend time together, and this was a real treat --- especially for the children.  GG is 72 years young and in incredible shape.  We took her on a hiking trip and she kept up beautifully, even through some rather rough terrain.   She takes good care of herself, watches her weight, remains physically active, and is very careful about what she eats...lots of fruits and veggies, barely any sugar or refined foods.  She's a testimony to eating right and caring for your body, that's for sure!

 

Our 7 year old and GG

Finally, I found out about a terrific summer sale at Dayspring today.  As my regular readers know, I love their faith-based home decor and have reviewed several of their items in the past.   Right now you can receive 25% off your ENTIRE order (including CLEARANCE items!) with code JOY2012.  This code is valid through 7/31/12.  If you browse their clearance section you can find beautiful, inexpensive items to either keep for yourself or give as a gift.  You can pop over to this page and see if they have anything you might like.  They even have my Life Collection 16" oval platter reduced to only $9.99 (from $26.99), making it only $7.49 after the discount code!  That's a steal!  I love using mine when we have company over for dinner.


Blessings to you all, sweet mamas.  How's your summer been going?  I'd love to hear about it!


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Our Whole Foods, Bulk Storage Pantry

Last year, we packed up all of our belongings and moved two states over when my husband was invited to pastor a precious church body that is bursting with anointing and God-given talent.  We love our new church, city, and home!

One of the plans we had for this new house was to turn a small room in the lower level into a bulk foods storage area.  During the last few months we've tossed stray boxes and miscellany into this small room and then closed the door behind us, all the while dreaming of setting up sturdy shelving and beginning to really stock up our whole foods pantry.

Quick Peek Into The Upstairs Closet Pantry

We do have a closet pantry upstairs in the kitchen where I keep my "in process" grains, rices, popcorn, quinoa, beans, etc (mostly stored in OXO containers and mason jars) and a few small appliances, including my yogurt maker and food processor...

But the downstairs pantry-to-be?  Well, that really needed work.

The Bulk Storage Pantry, Before

A few weeks ago, after researching different shelving options and not really feeling a peace about making a purchase, an acquaintance of ours (out of the blue!) offered us some commercial restaurant shelving he'd purchased from an auction.  What a blessing!  We quickly accepted his offer and went to work cleaning and assembling the units.

The Bulk Storage Pantry, After

The room is small, so the shelving fits a bit tight, but there's ample room to store our bulk purchases.  We managed to fit a large upright freezer in there along with three shelving units that are 42" wide and 24" deep.

It's not beautiful, I know, but I suppose it's not intended to be.  Our plan was for simple and functional bulk storage space.  I think we've achieved it, along with ample space for future purchases.

Most of the items in there now were purchased from Azure Standard and Vitacost, including rolled oats, oat groats, hard red wheat, barley, dried beans, organic pasta, organic tomato sauces, and yes, even chocolate.  Chocolate helps makes everything better, doesn't it? *smile*

We have a bit of bottled water for traveling and emergency purposes stored down here, as well as some personal care items.  Also worth noting is that this room stays fairly cool and dark, so I'm storing my potatoes here, too.

In my upright freezer I'll store extra homemade jams, fruits, and veggies that we'll hopefully have after this season's local harvests and sales, as well as some grass-fed beef.  I'm working with a local farmer right now to try and secure half of a grass fed cow.  We don't eat an abundance of meat, but we do eat some meat and are hoping to stock up on the best quality for the best prices possible.

I also like to bake my whole wheat bread (using soaked ww flour) in large batches, then slice and freeze them for easy use later.  That extra bread will be stored in this freezer.  I grind my own grain using this beautiful, durable mill; here's why.

We eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and you'll find those stored upstairs on my kitchen counters and in my refrigerator, not in my bulk storage pantry... just in case you were wondering!

Why Stock Your Pantry?

  • Having ingredients on hand means you’re less likely to eat out. It's a huge help with meal planning and prepping... you always have something on hand for a quick meal!
  • A well-stocked pantry makes grocery shopping easier and saves your family money. Having what you need already on hand saves you money at the store because you can stock up on pantry items when they are on sale at their lowest price, and you can plan your meals around meat and produce "loss leader" sales as well. You can also order bulk foods online at a fraction of the cost and eliminate long trips to the store.  Just do a quick run when you're running low on fresh produce!
  • It’s healthier to cook at home from scratch. Having your pantry stocked so that you’re cooking more from home and from scratch is one of the first steps to a healthier lifestyle. Prepackaged, processed food items contain lots of preservatives and additives that wreak havoc on your body.  You control the amount of salt, fat, sugar, etc that goes into everything, and you control where it came from.
  • You're better prepared for hard times or economic difficulty. Be it something extreme (like a local, national, or global catastrophe) or something personal (like a job loss, underemployment, or illness) you will have food on hand to feed your family during lean times.  It's not a matter of fear, but rather of stewardship.

Do you have a bulk foods pantry or have you been thinking about creating one?  I'd love to hear about it!

 

Related posts:

Should a Christian Practice Food Storage?

5 Simple Ways to Build Your Pantry

10 Ways to S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Whole Foods Budget


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also shared at Nourishing Gourmet, Simple Lives Thursday, Real Food Wednesday, Homestead Revival and The Healthy Home Economist

Back to the Family Table

Written by monthly Titus 2 contributor, Mrs. Faye Henry

The family home today is a very busy place.  Perhaps both parents are working outside of the home and the children may be involved in extracurricular activities.  The trend toward either just eating and running or else setting ourselves in front of some entertainment while we gulp down our food is on the rise.

Let's consider the importance of getting back to the table:

Dining together provides so many benefits for helping your family grow into the strong loving unit that the Lord intended.  It can be a special time daily for you as a family to consider one another.  Each day is full of highs and lows and your dinner table can be a place of encouragement and support...A wonderful time of laughing together... It can also be a lovely way of teaching your children manners, etiquette, and even leadership and hospitality skills.

If mama can make at least one meal a day a happy family time then it will prove to be time of blessing and memory making, and well worth the investment of time and effort.

Frugal tips for setting your dinner table:

  • In the photo above are two tea towels which were only one dollar each, divided into two place mats and four napkins.
  • Cut one tea towel in two for place mats and the other one into four napkins.  I did sew the edges but perhaps you don't really need to...smile...
  • The place settings are just thrift store finds.
  • Blending the colors can make an attractive but frugal eclectic table.
  • Cutting off the two sides of this three dollar vintage table cloth made two table runners, and then I divided the middle into four napkins.

The place settings are two small sets of thrift store vintage dishes blended together to make one large one.  We don't need fancy tables all the time, but it is lovely once in a while to have a special family meal.

One last frugal and decorative tip is to collect vintage silverware.  It does not need to match and it will add style to your eclectic table settings!  Check my site HERE for a green and frugal way to clean your silverware.

Children can help make meal times special by helping mama with the preparations.  Helping to cook the food and setting the table can be fun and creative; girls might like to create a centerpiece, and boys can fill water glasses and arrange the chairs or cutlery.

Then, as a family sit down together, holding hands and thanking the Lord for the blessings of food and fellowship.

Remember, sweet mamas, that these lovely days of family pass all too quickly... let's count our blessings and head back to the table!


Mrs. Faye Henry has been married to her sweetheart for over 41 years and together they own a lovely shop in New Brunswick, Canada. She also leads many young ladies, wives, and mothers in "Keepers of the Home" classes that she facilitates in the local community. She has a heart for mentoring younger women and fulfilling the Titus 2 mandate! Won't you pop over and visit Mrs. Henry at The Blessed Hearth? Pour yourself a nice hot cup of tea and stay for awhile. The fire is lit and burning brightly and the candles smell heavenly. Biscuits are in the oven...

 

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10 Ways To S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Whole Foods Budget

Written by Christy from Whole Foods on a Budget

1. Determine which foods are of the most vital importance to you. If you're not sure, read up and do a little research on nutrition.  Maybe it's raw milk that is most important to you or simply grass-fed milk, or grass-fed beef, pastured eggs and chickens, wild caught seafood, plenty of local produce, quality fats or organic grains. Whatever they are, make a list of the foods you want to buy, prioritizing from the most important down to the least important.  Spend your money on the items at the top of your list and cut corners on the ones at the bottom.

Similarly, focus your money on the foods you eat most often.  Make sure those are quality items.  For the foods or condiments you eat but here or there, don't spend the extra money to make sure they are top quality.  Skimp here and place that money towards the food items that count the most.

2. If you are unable to afford the quality you desire, buy it half the time. For example, let's say you want to buy pastured chickens--could you buy the pastured chickens half the time? And the other half of the time buy a lesser quality chicken?  Or perhaps consider buying chicken less often, so that when you do you are able to afford the pastured chicken.  Some is always better than none.

3. Make some extra pantry space in your house (basement, garage, armoire/cupboard in kitchen...), and buy yourself a chest freezer. Extra pantry space for storing bulk grains, dried beans and baking supplies is so helpful!  It allows you to buy in bulk, saving money and time.  A chest freezer will quickly pay itself back as you will be able to stock up and take advantage of good sales, purchase items in bulk, and freeze extra produce.

4. And in that same vein, skip the grocery store and instead buy the brunt of your food from farmers and co-ops. I could never afford to buy all the quality foods we buy if I were trying to do so shopping solely at the grocery store. It would cost me a fortune!

Co-ops are a fabulous way to save money.  I purchase all of my grains and dried beans plus some meats and dairy, straight-from-the-farm pastured eggs, and other items through two local co-ops.  If you do not have any extra pantry or freezer space, split orders with a friend or two. That way you can take advantage of the savings without the bulk.

Find local farmers and buy directly from them.  About 10-12 friends and I place a joint order from a local farmer every summer for a few whole cows, which are butchered, packaged and divided into quarters.  We get our grass-fed and finished beef for about $3.70 a pound (which includes steaks and roasts, as well as ground beef).  I would never find that price in the grocery store.  I have also participated in group orders of peaches and blueberries from local farmers, getting excellent prices.

Frequent pick-your-own farms during the summer.  I take my kids fruit picking at a local, ecologically-minded farm all throughout the summer, and we freeze extra fruit to use during the rest of the year.  By the end of the summer, our freezer is packed with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and peaches--all bought at low prices.  While you're there, don't forget to ask about seconds.

If you are unaware of any farms near you, Local Harvest is an excellent resource for locating farms within your region, helping to connect you directly to local farmers.

5. Eat more whole grains and dried beans. Most whole grains are inexpensive and full of excellent nutrition.  They are also very filling.  Experiment and try new ones.  If you're concerned about gluten, there are quite a few grains that contain no gluten, such as quinoa (red + white), millet, teff, amaranth, and all kinds of rice--and boy are there lots of varieties of rice!

Dried beans are also quite inexpensive and are full of fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins.  They are an excellent source of nutrition and a tasty, frugal addition to your diet.

6. Make soup. Many soups make quite frugal and filling meals and are perfect for cold winter nights.  You can use leftover meats and grains in soup, and it's easy to add in those vegetable odds and ends sitting in your fridge--that quarter onion, the last two carrots from the bag, that half a zucchini that's still there, the leftover green beans from last night's dinner.  Don't pitch any of those bits and pieces!  Throw them in a pot of vegetable-based soup.  Dice random vegetables small, and you will hardly know they are in there. Add previously cooked vegetables at the very end so they don't get overcooked and mushy.  Soup is an excellent way to use up those odds and ends that might ordinarily get forgotten about and thrown away.

7. Know your food and use every last bit. Eat the radish tops, the male zucchini flowers, beet greens, edible flowers and herbs. I made a delicious, zesty pesto this spring using the radish tops from our garden radishes. Zucchini flowers are delicious in pancakes and also stuffed and fried.  Beet greens can be sauteed and eaten like spinach.  I grow nasturtiums in our garden to attract pollinators but also because they are edible.  The flowers and leaves can be picked and added to salads.  Dandelions grow wild in our area, and the greens can be sauteed like spinach or dried and used as a tea.  My great-grandmother loved to saute the fresh greens with lots of garlic and olive oil.

Those tough stems from swiss chard or beet greens?  Dice them and throw them into a pot of soup.  They will quickly soften as they simmer.  Do the same with broccoli stalks. Peel the outer edges off, then dice the inner stalk and add it to your soup pot.  Stale bread?   Grind into breadcrumbs, or try this tasty salad.  Carrot, onion and potato peels?  Save those to use when you make chicken or beef stock.  Mushroom stems?  Clean them and add them to your next pot of beef stock.  Mushrooms impart a rich, woodsy flavor to beef stock.

8. And speaking of stock...make your own beef and chicken stock. What can be more frugal than using what is typically thrown away?  Simply add bones to your crockpot (fill about 1/3-1/2 way with bones), carrot peels (or a carrot), cleaned onion peels (or a quartered onion), one bay leaf and a few whole peppercorns.  Cover with water and let cook on low for 24 hours.  Strain and use for soups or any time a recipe calls for chicken/beef broth. You can also freeze it for later use.  Not only is homemade stock super frugal, it's very nutritious.

9. Experiment and try new things. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new.  Last year I bought 10 lbs of organic fresh olives for $15 and tried my hand at curing them myself.  It was a learning experience to say the least. I tried two methods, one of which worked really well.  The olives didn't come out perfectly, but if I do it again (hopefully next year) I now know just what to do to fix the minor errors I made the first time.  Fifteen dollars was not a huge investment, so if it was a failure, it was going to be okay.  But as it turned out, it was a fun experience, I learned a new skill, and I now have a way of providing my olive-loving family with organic olives ridiculously cheap.

10. Garden! Did you know that you can grow nearly $500 worth of produce in one 4x8 foot garden bed plus 10 patio pots?  I do because I did just that this year! Two years ago, before I began reading about gardening, I thought I was severely hampered by my lack of gardening space (and my not-so-green thumb) and never would have guessed I could grow half as much as I did this year.  Little did I know just how much food I could grow once I gained some new knowledge and put a few good plans in place!  That was $500 worth of produce that we consumed (and shared) that we paid roughly $80 for.

Even if you don't have room for an in-ground or raised-bed garden, you can garden just about anywhere--even on a sunny kitchen windowsill.  Herbs and lettuces are easy to grow and can be grown indoors year-round by a sunny window.  Most vegetables can be grown in large pots on a porch, balcony, deck or patio.  Plants like zucchini and tomatoes will need at least 8 hours of sun, but if you don't get that much sun, try lettuces, greens, herbs and cold weather crops.  Many can grow in part shade.  When you start your plants from seed, you save even more money.  Most seeds will last 3-5 years when stored properly, some even longer.  If you grow heirloom varieties, you can save seeds from your garden's harvest for the next year, giving yourself "free" seeds and cutting down on your gardening costs.

 

Christy, who blogs at Whole Foods on a Budget, is a blessed wife and mommy to three (plus one on the way).  She loves adoption, cooking, painting with watercolors and natural living.  Christy is currently co-authoring her first book with her sister Jessica.  It will be a simple introduction to whole foods and will include a section of inspiring recipes.


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also shared at Simple Lives Thursday and Homestead Revival

12 Simple, Frugal Dishes For Potluck or Carry-In Parties

There are so many dishes you could bring to a holiday potluck, but what are your choices if you're trying keep things simple and frugal during the holiday season? Plan now for your upcoming family, friends, or church gathering by browsing these inexpensive dishes that are also simple enough to make while creating memories with the children.

Here are 12 ideas to get you started:

image by carolyn|umami girl

1)  Deviled eggs - Easy, yummy, and very inexpensive.  Add a layer of lettuce to the bottom of your flat serving dish to help keep them from sliding around.

2) Melon skewers - Try cantaloupe, honeydew, or any melon and use a melon baller to make perfectly round spheres, then skewer them.

3) Cheese and fruit tray - Children especially love cheese squares, so these make a great option if there will be children at the party.  Garnish with a few pieces of fruit, such as grapes or sliced strawberries.

4) Garlic hummus - My recipe is super easy.  You'll love it.

I'm sharing the rest of my list over at Raising Homemakers.  Won't you join me there?  I'd love for you to add your simple meal ideas, too!