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This is the last week of school, and I'm suddenly realizing I have no idea what to have the kids give their teachers as an end-of-year little gift. (There's actually a "class gift" that everyone contributes to, which is nice--they're building a butterfly garden outside the school, and each child paints a stone that becomes part of the environment--very cool.)
I discovered melt-and-pour soaps last Christmas at teacher gift time; there was a bit of a learning curve, but we're much better at it now, so I feel okay about doing it again. (Actually, only three out of the six got soap at Christmas, and they were tiny little bars.) Since then I've bought soap molds and experienced a lot of trial and error, and I have something like six pounds of unmelted soap block sitting in the closet. It's a great project for kids, as long as the adult does the melting, because they can pour and stir and color and blend themselves.
So...off we go.
Jun. 3rd, 2009
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Actually, they say that if you soak the beans, dump that water, and then cook them in new water, you'll avoid a lot of the...side effects.
They also say that if red kidney beans aren't cooked really well, there's a toxin in them that can make you pretty sick. (I don't actually care for the red beans as much, so I don't cook them on anything like a regular basis.)
So for me, "beans" means either black or white, and if white, usually Great Northern because they're easier to find than cannellinis. (Cannelinis are yummy, though.) One of my ways to try not to generate so much throwaway packaging (not to mention the cost to transport beans in metal cans full of a lot of liquid that's going to be drained away anyway) is to mass-cook dried beans in my crockpot periodically.
I have a big 6-quart cooker, so I can do 4 cups of dried beans at a go. (Not really more than that, though. I think that's about 2 lbs.)
I usually start in an ordinary stockpot, though, just for speed, to get the beans soaked. To do this, put the beans in a big pot, covered with at least 2-3 inches of water. I use my pot with the pasta insert because it makes draining them really easy. Bring it t a boil on the stove and let it boil for a few minutes (some sources say 2 minutes, some say 10, I figure it's a pretty inexact science!), then turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let it sit for at least an hour untouched. (Again, some sources say an hour, others say 5, others say you can leave it up to 24.) Basically, in the soaking process you're just shortening the amount of time actual cooking will take, although some say it also affects how soft your beans can actually get after cooking...My MO is to start the process when I get home from work, boil the beans and then let them sit in their water for a few hours.
Then (usually after the kids have gone to bed) I drain the soaked beans and drop them in the crockpot. At this point, there's a lot more than 4 cups of beans because of all the water they've picked up, so they probably fill the crockpot 2/3 or 3/4 of the way full. Fill it the rest of the way with water (it's honestly at this point about as full as I can get it!) Put it on low overnight, or for 8-10 hours, or sometimes more, depending on how old the beans were and how long you soaked them. The only way to really tell is to test them and see if they taste right.
At that point, I drain them again. At this point I have two choices: either I can put larger quantities in quart ziploc bags in the freezer (they stack very nicely and take up not much space), or if I have more time to futz I put half cup quantities into my muffin tins, and freeze the tins for a day or so. Then I can take the nicely pre-measured "bean muffins" out of the muffin tins and put them back in the freezer in ziplocs, and I have nice, easily thaw-able, pre-measured cooked beans. They are easier to get out of the muffin tins if you plunge the cup parts into hot water for a couple of seconds until the "muffin" loosens. From the original 4 cups of dried beans I ended up with 24 "muffins," i.e. about 12 cups of beans.) I will have to again do the cost-benefit analysis of doing it this way, but in terms of greening my footprint, it's a fairly easy no-brainer.
So now I have a freezerful of black and white beans, waiting for salads and chilies and all that good stuff...
A friend of mine just got a new puppy, and she is floundering in a sea of way too much conflicting advice about how to deal with fleas, ticks, and other bug problems. So, being a good friend, I’ve agreed to give her even more advice, probably even more conflicting than what she’s already heard. (What are friends for?)
(Standard disclaimer: Not only has the FDA not approved any part of what I say, the FDA would laugh until they wet their pants if I even came near them. I'm a muscian with no medical training of any kind, I just read a lot and pay attention. Follow any advice I give with a grain of salt, do your own homework, and please do not hold me responsible for any negative results. I'm a musician.)
Her dilemma: to give monthly “preventative” medication or not? Obviously, me being me, I do not choose to give it to my pets. As I discussed in a previous post (http://greenmama.dreamwidth.org/7537.
I think the question for anyone would have to be something like, “How much would I freak out if I found living fleas on my animal?” Because once they are there, there’s a pretty lengthy and commitment-required regimen, if you don’t want to go the flea bomb route, for getting rid of them. (Discussed in part II of this post) (And by the way, they do sometimes appear on animals being treated in other ways! That’s another reason given for abandoning chemical flea treatment; many believe that the fleas are getting stronger and developing resistance to those meds anyhow.)
Because the fact is that every animal is different, and while I can say loftily that I’ve had pets for 16 years and experienced only 2 flea outbreaks, I could have been just plain lucky. However, given that that’s all I actually did have in all that time, in hindsight, it’s fairly clear that giving the prevention would have been way more expensive and way harder on the pet than it was worth for those two weeks out of 16 years when fleas actually were a problem.
( Keeping fleas out--natural flea repellent tactics )
( Getting rid of fleas if they got in anyway--natural flea eradication )