About Dana

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I'm a dichotomy of blue jeans, pretty jewelry, frugalista, and Southern girl living the simple rural life. I want to live my life holistically, thoughtfully, economically, and most of all gratefully, and encourage other women to do the same.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Orange Slices for Sweet Tea

Southerners love their sweet tea. I am no exception. A few years ago, however, I decided to make some dietary changes when my homeopathic physician told me I needed to give up black tea. That was blasphemy, but I found a way around it with iced green tea that works for me. While I was making changes, I decided to swap out white granulated sugar, instead using half Stevia and half turbinado (raw, unprocessed) sugar. Today, I can't tell the difference from my old brew, and I have grown partial to this new, improved version of iced tea.

I have always loved lemon slices in my tea, but I happened upon a different idea one day when I had an overflow of oranges in my produce bin. Orange slices! They are delicious and sweet in tea, great if you're craving something on the sweeter side instead of the tangier, lemony side.

Y'all know I drink my lemon straight up anyway. I don't really need the extra slices in my water or tea glass.

Recently, I have been receiving loads of oranges in my produce co-op basket each week, so I have returned to using oranges for a bit.
A nice change. Give this a try. Now is a great time to find oranges at a good price in the grocery store.

Happy day to you!
TCB

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chili and Beans for a Cold Day

One of my son's favorite foods is a pot of chili and beans. I'm happy to oblige him when the weather is cold. This past weekend, he traveled with his Boy Scout troop on a campout adventure and somewhere during that time away, I received a message that he would love chili when he made it home on Sunday afternoon. So, being a softie Mama, I made chili for him.

Here's his favorite recipe:


Chili & Beans

Ingredients

2 lb. ground beef or venison
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. paprika
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 (32 oz.) carton of beef broth
24 oz. tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chiles, undrained

Brown beef/venison and onion in a large stockpot over medium heat. Drain grease and return all to pot.

Add dry spices - chili powder, cumin, red pepper, and paprika - and stir well.

Add tomato paste - stir well over the heat for about one minute until combined.

Add all the remaining ingredients. Bring them to a boil, then reduce temperature to simmer, cover pot, and cook for about 2 hours until thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and to ensure contents don't dry out.

This is great with cornbread, oyster crackers, or corn chips (a favorite in my house). Grate sharp cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese and slice green onions as toppers.

Until next time,
TCB

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Cook Collard Greens

I think some ways of Southern cooking are a dying art. One of the dishes that often intimidates people is collard greens. What do you do with a vegetable with huge, green leaves that isn't salad-ready? Some may have tasted collard greens that are bitter, and it turned them off for good.

Cooking collard greens isn't difficult, and the result can always be delicious with the right mix of sour  (vinegar) and sweet (sugar).



First, wash the leaves in cold, running water to get all the dirt and grit off of them. No need to dry them; you soon will be putting them in a pot with liquid.

Here are all the ingredients you'll need to gather:

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. collard greens
7-8 thick-cut bacon slices, sliced in half vertically and then chopped into smaller pieces
1/2-3/4 lb. chopped ham (I use packaged diced ham)
2 small sweet onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 to 3 (32 oz.) containers of low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2-3/4 tsp. pepper

First, choose 8-10 collard green leaves. Stack them and roll them. Slice the roll so you end up with "strips" of greens. Discard the toughest end stalks, but don't worry about leaving some of the smaller pieces of stalk with the leaves. They will soften when cooking. Continue this process until you have chopped all the greens.

Next, cook bacon pieces in a large stockpot over medium heat until almost done. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and ham bits and cook for another minute.

Stir in all the remaining ingredients. At first, the greens may seem to overflow the pot. Give them a few minutes and they will wilt and fit easily into the pot.

Cook them for about 2 hours. Enjoy!

Greens are great with pork tenderloin or squash casserole (plus more sides than I can list!).

Love,
TCB

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The South is not Made for Snow (and Neither are its Inhabitants)

A couple of weeks ago, we had a 3-inch snow in South Carolina. If you're from the Northeast or Midwest, please stop snickering now. The South shuts down when it snows. We like it that way. No work. No school. No snowplows. Get the picture?

Happy really loved the beautiful snowfall. Can you see her?
It's a good thing her tongue is pink.

One snowfall per winter is a tremendous accomplishment for South Carolina. We actually only achieve it every 8.2 years. Or something like that.

Two weeks later, the sky is at it again.
This was yesterday. A layer of ice, overlaid with a couple of inches of snow.

But today - Let's just say we are quaking in our boots around this house. We're preparing for a full onslaught of ice, "The biggest ice storm in a decade," the meteorologists say. I say, bring on the flashlights, generator, and bathtub full of water. I was in this very house a decade ago when the last ice storm hit. Even I was disgusted by my 4-day-old yoga pants and showerless aroma. Ever slept in mittens, a ski jacket, and a wool ski hat?

This year, I have a full-fledged Boy Scout living under my roof. No, he won't save me from power outages, but I have been rooting through his footlocker of heavy duty sleeping bags, headlamps, lanterns, and MREs.

Happy is exhausted just thinking about it.
(What? Never seen a dog play with a rubber chicken?)

Fingers crossed. Power on.

See you soon.
Love,
TCB

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dogs Love Snow Ice Cream, Too

A snow day in the South is something special. We had one a week ago. It was our first snow in three years.

The little man in our house enjoyed snow ice cream.

Happy did, too.


But apparently only slightly less than she enjoyed running in the weird, cold, white stuff.


She slept for hours later.

It's all gone now. Only took 2 days - the beauty of the South. Now we are looking forward to spring planting! We're crazy that way.

Love,
TCB

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Country Squash Casserole

Vegetables are usually the healthiest addition to the supper menu at our house. Roasted or steamed and seasoned, they help balance out a Southern meal. Sometimes, I like to get a little crazy with our vegetable sides and make them into a casserole like the main course. It's a trick most Southern mama-cooks have developed.

Here's a recipe to get you started. Squash is delicious homegrown in the summer, but what you can buy in the store now tastes just as delicious in this easy casserole side dish.

Country Squash Casserole


Ingredients:
2 c. cooked yellow squash
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp. sea salt
pepper to taste

This one is simple, y'all. Wash, slice, and boil the squash in a small boiler until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Mash the squash with a potato masher.

Add all the remaining ingredients.

Mix well and pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the casserole begins to brown around the edges and slightly on top.

This is one way you may be able to convince your little ones (or larger, picky ones) to give squash a try.

Happy day!
TCB


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keeping Chickens Warm


Even though we live in the South, there is occasionally a stretch of winter days where the weather is unseasonably cold. When it falls to the 20s and below, I turn on the heat lamp in the chicken coop. If you have added backyard chickens to your home site and you live in the South, you may not have given much thought about how to keep chickens warm. After all, it's rarely cold enough to worry about the lower temps. In the spirit of sharing information, I've rounded up some good articles on maintaining chickens in the colder days of winter. I hope you learn something new from them.

Caring for Chickens in Winter

Keeping Chickens Healthy in Cold Weather

Winter Care for Chickens

Happy Roosting during this cold snap!

Love,
TCB

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Double-Yolk Egg
Strangers in my Backyard