New Year’s Eve fare

colorful salad

2017 seems to be going out with a bang. The temperature dropped to -6°F (-21°C) this morning, but it is up to 18°F (-7°C) this afternoon with sunshine.

It got warm enough to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a salad! Aldi Spring Mix packaged lettuce, cubed leftover Christmas ham, red bell pepper, onion, olive oil, cider vinegar, and sweet pickle relish.

Earlier in the day I had black bean soup made from an Instant Pot recipe in the new cookbook. It it fairly simple: soaked black beans and chopped onion seasoned with cumin, bay leaf, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and smoked paprika.

After having four malware attacks on KittanningOnline earlier this month, knock on wood, we have been clean for over a week.

Anyway, Happy New Year wishes to all. Hope 2018 brings relief to those suffering hunger, homelessness, and persecution.

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Consumed the last carton of frozen split pea soup this week, so decided today would be the day to fire up the Instant Pot (IP) and replenish the frozen soup supply.

freezer compartment with room for more food

Yesterday morning I drove my dad for a checkup with his doctor and shopped at DiMaio’s Market when he was done. It was below freezing all day and although it was sunny by the time we got to the market it was windy too. I decided to get supplies for making chili. I didn’t need to urge my father to take refuge in the car to get out of the wind while I loaded the groceries and returned the cart. As we were leaving a young Amish woman in a horse-drawn buggy entered the lot. We looked at each other and said at the same time that it must be pretty cold to travel that way.

Breakfast this morning was polenta (steamed, pot in pot), an over easy egg, and Yunnan tea. When the IP cooled I removed the trivet and emptied the water and wiped the pot with a cloth. Next I rinsed pinto beans that had soaked over night and added them to the pot and covered them with water and set them to cook for 25 minutes with the Bean/Chili setting.

Once they cooked and the pressure came down, into the pot went a can of Rotel tomatoes with lime and cilantro, some Delallo tomato paste, frozen corn, one chopped up chipotle pepper and sauce, salt.

An Instant Pot and induction cooker make a great combination. While I do use the IP’s Saute function to brown ingredients for small batches of soup or stew, I left the beans in the pot and used a separate pan to brown a slice of chopped bacon and cumin seed. I then added a pound of ground chuck, then half a large onion chopped, and chili powder. That went into the pot along with a little bit of water to rinse out the last of the skillet goodies.

I replaced the IP lid and used the Bean/Chili setting for 6 minutes and let it go while I washed dishes. So, by 10:30 am, had a savory pot of chili. Making chili from scratch used to take most of a day.

chili in Instant Pot where it cooked

I ate some of the chili for brunch, now waiting for the remainder to cool before dividing it into individual portions to freeze.

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a portable kitchen

This gallery contains 5 photos.

This might be helpful to others living in unconventional or under-construction spaces. You can eat quite well without big, expensive, hard to move appliances. While I draw inspiration from the Tiny House Movement and camping community, I do rely on … Continue reading

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r.i.p. mousey

This frosty morning I took a trap out to release last night’s catch. It was the 8th mouse of the campaign started on November 24. I opened the trap door but it didn’t jump out right away like most of the others had. So I shook the trap gently and discovered the mouse wasn’t moving. I left it in the sun just in case it was just dormant from chilling in the trap all night.

deceased mouse

I took a few minutes to observe its tiny perfection — a body not much bigger around than my thumb. What an amazing long tail!

I found my tea strainer on the floor this morning so this little guy or his companions had fun last night.

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Mousey Tale

Below: Live capture trap with mouse inside.

After the furry little party animals interrupted my sleep several nights in a row I decided to reinstitute the capture and release program averaging one mouse a day for the past six days. At first I thought I should release them immediately, but since they are active at night that meant going out in the dark. Figured some down time in detention might help discourage them from returning.

About half way down to the creek near a hay field there is a tree with some long grass under it, pictured above. A nice mousey nest. They are awfully cute but best appreciated at a distance.

View from mouse release point this afternoon:

hay field and corn field with creek in background

(Photos from my new Canon PowerShot SX530 HS camera.)

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