Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lima Bean Stew

As I’ve mentioned in my menu posts, I’m making an effort to clear out my kitchen of all the food I preserved last summer before this summer’s harvest starts to flood in. One potential problem child is the 2 pounds of Christmas lima beans in my freezer, which are really pretty, but I’m suspicious of lima beans, despite never having actually eaten them before. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I used to be a picky eater and sometimes I forget that I actually like most foods once I get around to trying them. Anyways, last week I decided to bite the bullet and actually use them. I went to my boyfriend, Mark Bittman, and found a recipe for lima beans with dried fruit that used canned tomatoes, which are also taking up space in my pantry, and figured I’d give it a whirl.

Oh my goodness! These lima beans are delicious! I had them as a main course with a side salad, but I could totally see these served as side dish to roast pork.

Lima Beans and Dried Fruit Stew

  •  2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ in fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp cayenne or crushed red pepper
  • 24 pieces dried fruit (the recipe called for ½ apricots & plums, I used dates)
  • ½ lb lima beans, fresh, frozen or cooked from dry (weigh after cooking!)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • salt

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium low heat. Add onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, ~15 minutes. Turn heat up to medium, add garlic, ginger, and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover. Cook for about 20 minutes until beans and fruit are tender. Serves 4 to 6.


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Weekly Money Check-Up: 5/28

weekly money check-up

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was at the gardening center. I needed a few things for my garden, which quickly added up to $15, but I had a coupon for $10 off a $30 purchase, and they were paying the sales tax this weekend. So for $20 I got 2 tomato cages, a watering can, tarragon, 3 colorful perennials for my front flower bed, new gardening gloves and a hunk of rope to make a toy for the pup.

2. Today I am thankful for a really fun weekend with lots of gardening and not nearly enough school work.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was having a friend over lunch. We caught up over pizza, roasted broccoli and grapefruit yogurt popsicles.

4. I will consider this week a success if I pick up my office! I’ve been so busy lately that my spare bedroom has become the catch-all for everything I need to deal with but don’t have time to face just yet.

5. This Memorial Day weekend I sang at my town’s VFW Memorial Day service. I was really honored to be asked, and I was moved by the presence of so many brave men and women of all ages and the support of our community.

Weekly Money Check-Up is a weekly series created by My Pretty Pennies. To participate, please go visit Ginna at My Pretty Pennies!

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When I became serious about staying within a budget, I realized that unfortunately I would have to cut back on donations to charity. By the time I paid for my basic needs, set aside 10% for savings, and pay a little extra on my credit cards each month, there’s only enough left for a few extras, and every month it feels like there’s another extra: textbooks, dentist visits, wedding presents. And I have to admit, I felt guilty about having enough for a weekly $2 beer out with friends, but nothing for the collection at church.


But, after much contemplation, I realized that while I don’t have money to contribute, I do have other things that organizations are often in need of: time and certain skills. When my friend invited me to volunteer with her for a free weekend-long science and nature camp for underprivileged elementary school kids, I knew I found a potentially great fit. Summer camp and a free afterschool science program were two of the biggest experiences in my childhood. Camp was so much fun and gave me a love for the outdoors, and that science program helped direct me to the career path I’m on.


I’ve spent the last few months helping a group of teens plan hands-on science activities and this weekend we finally got to see our plans in action. 80 kids came up and we did a little science, slept under the stars, made lanyards, played games, ate s’mores, and sang silly songs. I don’t know the last time I was that tired or washed that many dishes in the weekend, but man it was worth it. I’m so glad I said yes and can’t wait to do it again next year.


Does anybody else volunteer? If so, what other programs are out there?

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Menu Plan for the end of May

I have to say, I really enjoyed the way things worked out with my last menu plan. By putting a little time and energy into it early, I ended up with a nice variety of foods to eat that used up most of my perishables. Now I’ve got another box, with a lot of the same ingredients, but I’m hoping to come up with an entirely different menu.

CSA box contents: fennel, beets, broccoli greens, peas, spaghetti squash, grapefruit, oranges, eggs

Other CSA ingredients: yacon, acorn squash, canned tomatoes, green Peruvian beans, rice


  • vegetarian pasta carbonara with roasted fennel
  • cheese pizza with whole wheat crust with beet salad
  • broccoli green and egg stirfry over rice


  • curried acorn squash soup with red lentils
  • roasted spaghetti squash with fennel frond pesto and peas
  • Peruvian bean stew with yacon salad

Oranges go in my lunch bag for a snack, and I’ve already made a batch of grapefruit yogurt popsicles for dessert. Yum!

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Weekly Money Check-Up: 5/21/12

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on gas: I had to top up before a trip this weekend.

2. Today I am thankful for my bed. I went camping this weekend and while it was fun, sleeping in a bed is glorious after two nights on the ground.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spend some time with friends.

4. I will consider this week a success if I finish all my homework!

5. I am really trying to get a lot of research done. I officially start a second project June 1st, and I’m trying frantically to finish my current project so I can put all my energy into the new one.

Weekly Money Check-Up is a weekly series on My Pretty Pennies. To participate, visit Ginna’s blog!

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I’m an Idiot

Pretty much, the title says it. I ran some errands the other night, including picking up a giant bag of dog kibble from Costco, which is enough for 2 1/2 months in my household. I unloaded everything on my front patio, then brought my groceries inside and got distracted by hurrying to put away my perishables. By the time I thought about it, it was the next morning, but sadly the kibble was gone. So whoever stole it, I hope you really really needed 40 pounds of Kirkland’s best chicken and vegetable formula, because I so don’t have room to spend another $30 on dog food this month.

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Favorite Black Beans

I was looking through my recipes and realized I hadn’t shared my favorite, very basic, black bean recipe with y’all. They’re the perfect side dish for Mexican food, make great refried beans, and show up in my lunch rotation constantly, often over rice with some guacamole and a side salad. Oh yeah, and they’re fat free. They do take a while to cook, so I tend to put a pot on to simmer while I’m doing housework or making something more immediate. The chipotle is optional, but if you like a little smoke and heat in your beans, I highly recommend it.

Favorite Black Beans

  • 1 can black beans, or 2 cups cooked with liquid
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp whole or ground cumin
  • 1 dried chipotle
  • salt to taste

Combine beans, onion, garlic, cumin, and chipotle in a medium pot, and add a cup or so of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until the onions are very tender. If beans start to look a little dry, add more water, as needed. 30 minutes is usually enough, but let them go an hour to fully develop the flavor. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serves 4.

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