>Sloppy Joes!!

>This is modified from the Uncle Ben’s version; I didn’t use the rice. I tried it with rice and it was good, but we felt like putting rice on a bun was a little overkill in the carb category. The sauce was tasty, though.

We served it with leftover potato salad and veggies from the graduation party. No cake for dessert; it’s all gone!

Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcerstershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup water (if needed)

hamburger buns (I like whole wheat buns best)

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add the ground beef. Stir to separate the meat and then add the onions, peppers, garlic, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the meat is cooked and the onions are translucent – about 5 minutes.
2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water.
3. Drain meat. Add liquid ingredients to meat in skillet and stir well. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes to meld the flavors.
4. Serve on whole wheat buns.

Mmmm: a simple staple, done well.

For the original sloppy joe recipe, look here.

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>Jammin’ with my Bloggy Friends

>In generations past, cooks would exchange advice over the backyard fences, over coffee in each other’s kitchens, or over the phone. In today’s world, we’re not all that different; we exchange advice through our friends. Some of those friends, however, are not in the immediate neighborhood; they’re online.

I sought advice on twitter. I asked friends on Plurk. I visited City Slipper’s jam/ jelly tutorial on his Home Kitchen Garden blog. I visited Green Girl’s home kitchen and garden! Well, her raspberry patch, to be more accurate. After seeking advice from friends on Plurk, on Twitter, on blogs, and in real life, I did it. I successfully made three kinds of jam.

First I had to clean the kitchen. There was no room to work.

I didn’t take any pictures of the jam-making process. Trust me; it all went as planned. The house smelled wonderful. After the initial kitchen clean-up, the mashing of berries, the stirring of fruit and sugar, and the heating of jars, I cleaned up once again.

Oops, I forgot one sticky pot.
There. Now it looks better. Three kinds of jam: strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, and raspberry. Organic strawberries from the farmers’ market, rhubarb from my backyard, and raspberries from Green Girl’s yard: wow. This is pretty darn cool, impressive even for the locavore in me.

Very cool – or rather hot. The jars will be cooler in the morning. Ooh: which should I spread on my toast for breakfast? Maybe I should bake bread, too.

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>Summer salad: Chicken, apple, walnut, and brown rice salad


Here’s another resource using rice from Uncle Ben’s! I made half of this because only three of us would be eating. Served on a bed of lettuce with a few more random veggies, it was delicious and filling.


2 bags Uncle Ben’s Boil-in-bag whole Grain Brown Rice
2 cups cooked, shredded skinless chicken breast, cooled (I cooked mine on the grill the previous night; planned-overs rule!)
2 thinly sliced medium green apples
1 cup finely chopped red onion (Optional: I like onion, so I included it)
1/3 cup toasted coarsely chopped walnuts
6 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 Tablespoons fresh chopped sage or parsley for garnish


1. Prepare rice according to directions. Let cool.
2. Cook chicken. Shred with fork.
3. In a large bowl, toss together rice, chicken, green apple, red onion, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
4. Serve cold or at room temperature; garnish with sage or parsley.
Serves 6.

Daisy’s tips:

Daughter requested more vinaigrette.
Chuck suggested more walnuts or perhaps sprinkling them on top rather than tossing with salad.
I dipped the diced apple in fruit juice to prevent browning. Lemon juice works, too.

This was not a sponsored post. I had more Uncle Ben’s Rice left over from a previous review, so I tried another of the recipes they’d provided. It was a hit – I’ll make this again on the hot, hot days of summer!

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>A high tech and low tech day

>Readers, are you old enough to remember MegaTrends? In the early 1980s John Naisbitt wrote a book called Megatrends in which he predicted a global switch to high tech in business and in personal relationships. He balanced the high tech with what he called high touch: the low tech connections still necessary to keep our emotional lives balanced.

Yesterday I had a day that swung from low tech to high tech. High touch, maybe. Let’s take a look, and you can decide.

Morning: prepping strawberries! I bought a flat of strawberries at the downtown farmers’ market. It’s best to prep these right away, but Amigo and I had a high-priority plan: a road trip to Miller Park to watch the Milwaukee Brewers play! Major League Baseball; now there’s high tech and low tech melded into one experience.

But back to Sunday’s tasks. I rinsed the strawberries, cut the tops off, and diced them into smaller pieces. The ripest and softest berries went into one container, and the more solid in another. The bucket of softies will become jam; I flash froze the rest. On top of a baking sheet lined with wax paper, I froze a single layer of berries for about an hour. At that time, I dumped the lightly frozen berries into a bucket. The strawberries are now frozen individually rather than in clumps. When I want one cup of strawberries for a cake or muffins, I’ll thaw exactly one cup. This worked so well for us last winter, I almost wanted a bigger freezer!

While the strawberries were freezing, I composted the tops and buried the juice-soiled containers in the squash section of the garden. Small as they are, they’ll be weed barriers until they decompose. It works for me. In addition, I picked a batch of rhubarb for either jam or cookies, also making the rhubarb plants smaller to simplify their transplanting later on.

So far, we’re looking at low tech. Very low tech. Fresh, organic strawberries, produce straight from the producer. Compost. Natural weed barriers. Rhubarb.

Here’s the first hint of high tech: I used a food processor to dice the rhubarb.

Now the main high tech action of the day; a politically active friend came over and trained me in data entry for the local chapter of Organizing For America. She handed over the data sheets from the area canvassers, and I took over from there. Canvassing, whether door to door or by phone, is not my strength. Data entry is one way I can contribute to the cause. High tech, perhaps! But my convictions remain high touch as I focus on issues that can truly make a difference.

But off the political soapbox for a bit. I finished off the evening with one more low tech, high humidity, hands-on, high touch task. I moved the rhubarb plants to their new home. I worked up a sweat in the muggy weather, but it needed to be done. Now the rhubarb is moved, the mint is gone (well, for now), and the raspberries have all the room they need to grow and spread.

And I’ll be patient; no matter what kind of high tech goodies I have at my disposal, the only tool to make raspberries grow is time.

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>Throwing a greener party

>It wasn’t fully green. We did use paper plates; you can see them here. However, there were many green elements to the graduation party at our humble home last weekend.

There were plastic cups available, but no one used them. Those who chose not to drink out of the cans and bottles (yes, we’re a casual crew) used real glasses and actual coffee mugs. We used regular flatware instead of plastic utensils. Between our own set and the stash from La Petite’s apartment, we had plenty of forks and spoons for the picnic-style meal.

Serving dishes were all reusable. They didn’t all match (not by a long shot!), but they all fit in the sink or dishwasher later for cleaning.

Can you see them, behind Chuck’s German potato salad and my mother’s baked beans? To the right of the coffeepot? The basket in the corner has cloth napkins. Yes, you read that correctly. We used cloth napkins for the party. We own plenty, and they were easy to wash with the rest of the regular laundry.

The end result: one bag of garbage. One. Thirty to forty people (give or take a few) had supper at our house, and we only generated one bag of garbage. If we do this again, I might collect the paper plates separately and bury them in the compost bin.

Maybe. If someone else does the dishes.

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>True or False: did you guess?


First: did you see the true or false quiz yesterday? No? Then go to Friday’s post first. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Guess which one (yes, one) is false.

Okay, you’re done now? Here’s the list again, but with commentary, of course.

What did Daisy do recently?

1. Amigo and I got well-deserved haircuts.
Yes, we did. We were both overdue, too. I feel lightheaded but well-groomed now that the haircut thing is done.
3. Plumbing and electrical inspectors stopped by to check on the recent remodeling project.

Yes, they did. They were quick and efficient, and I didn’t have to wait around home too long. That’s good, because Amigo and I needed haircuts.
4. Amigo and I went out to lunch at a tiny hole-in-the-wall grill downtown.
Funday Friday! Yes, we like to go out to lunch on Fridays in the summertime. Our favorite places are locally owned, smaller restaurants or even diners. Today’s was very tiny; most of their business is through catering and through the pub next door. Sound good? Yes, it was.
5. La Petite took care of Krumpet (the bunny) post-surgery.
Yes, indeed. Krumpet the adorable was spayed yesterday.
6. I made half-caff coffee: decaf fair trade from last week’s farmers’ market, full-caff Door County coffee, chocolate raspberry truffle flavor.
Yes, surprising though it may be, I made half-caff. It was delicious. I sometimes drink more coffee during breaks than during the school year, so I often cut down on the caffeine by brewing half and half.
7. I cleaned the bunnies’ litter boxes.
It’s almost a daily chore. It feels so good when that’s done. The house smells a lot better, too.
8. I chased a bluejay away from my garden. You’re welcome to the worms, Mr. Jay, but leave my seeds alone!
I suspect there are plenty of worms to keep the soil healthy. But why is there almost no spinach, but lots of lettuce? Who’s munching on the beans, but leaving the peas alone? BlueJay, can you tell me that?!
9. The rain barrels remained full, despite several days of sunny weather.
Even though I used the rain barrels to rinse the litter boxes (see #7), they’re still filled to the brim.
10. I wrapped up nine packages for Paperbackswap and mailed them all!
Yes, yes, and yes!! Nine packages containing ten books. Two were audio books, worth two points each. When all arrive at their destinations, I’ll have 12 more credits with which to order books!
Ah, but I hear you. “Daisy, what happened to number 2? You’re a teacher; you can sequence and count and make accurate lists!” Yes, I can. Here’s number 2, the statement that was false.
I did not uproot the rhubarb. I am, however, working on transplanting it. At the moment, it is surrounded by raspberries. Rather than continue pulling out raspberry vines, I’m aiming to move all the rhubarb to a new home. We moved one plant already, and it’s doing well. Here’s the new home:

You can see one rhubarb plant on the left. The rest is mint. Tall, spreading, incredibly aggressive mint. But what’s that in the middle? There are three or four of these stray plants in the middle of the mint.
It vaguely resembles a lily, but the lilies La Petite put in are much, much shorter. This tall piece has no flower, either – at least not yet.

Well, I gave in. I took it all out. Mint, the mystery plants, and the remaining sickly looking hollyhocks. The rhubarb is hanging out all by itself now. Soon, it’ll have friends. And I will have lots of rhubarb for cakes, quickbreads, muffins, crisps, cookies…

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>Fun Day Friday — True or False

>It’s Friday! In the standard workweek, it would be a TGIF. It’s summertime, though, and in a teacher’s world that makes the schedule a bit different. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to decipher which of the following items or activities is False. All are True but one.

What did Daisy do recently?

1. Amigo and I got well-deserved haircuts.
2. I uprooted the rhubarb in the backyard.
3. Plumbing and electrical inspectors stopped by to check on the recent remodeling project.
4. Amigo and I went out to lunch at a tiny hole-in-the-wall grill downtown.
5. La Petite took care of Krumpet (the bunny) post-surgery.
6. I made half-caff coffee: decaf fair trade from last week’s farmers’ market, full-caff Door County coffee, chocolate raspberry truffle flavor.
7. I cleaned the bunnies’ litter boxes.
8. I chased a bluejay away from my garden. You’re welcome to the worms, Mr. Jay, but leave my seeds alone!
9. The rain barrels remained full, despite several days of sunny weather.
10. I wrapped up nine packages for Paperbackswap and mailed them all!

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>BP or not BP: Accountability, not apologies.

>Republican Congressman Joe Barton personally apologized to BP in a congressional hearing this week.

Apologized. Told the huge international company, the one responsible for eleven deaths and an unprecedented environmental disaster, that he was sorry. He called the $20 billion victims’ relief fund a “shakedown.”

What the #%$%!^&*#!?!?

President Obama and many members of Congress are working hard to ensure that BP provides relief to the victims in the Gulf region — and that the oil giant is held accountable for the damage it’s done. This is not a shakedown. This is accountability. This is responsibility. This is Taking care of the world in which they do business.

On that note, here’s my apology.

Dear Representative Barton and colleagues:

I’m sorry that you’ve been misled by your Grand Old Party. Successful business is good, and oil is important. But the cost in human lives, animal lives, and massive environmental damage, is not something to be taken lightly.

I’m sorry you think it’s wrong to expect accountability. Paying for damages is not a shakedown; it’s restitution. Putting up an escrow account for the future to rebuild and restore the beaches and marshes and fragile ecosystems; that’s not a shakedown, either. It’s called responsibility. Average citizens, the “small people” so condescendingly mentioned by BP executives, call it insurance. We pay premiums in case of disasters that we hope will never happen.

Most of all, Representative Barton and associates, I’m sorry that you have the power to make policy and write laws. If taking responsibility for our world, accepting accountability for mistakes that cost lives, and planning for the future are alien concepts, I don’t want you in office. You certainly don’t represent me.



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>The good, the bad, and the ugly in the garden this week

>The bad: darn these baby maple seeds! The helicopters landed, I picked up as many as I could, and now I’m pulling the sprouts of those I missed. If I ever let natural succession take its course, I’ll have a lot of silver maples.

The ugly: Poor Chuck! The bunnies ate his new shrub. The rain and the construction kept him from putting up the fence, and the neighborhood fuzz-balls thought they’d enjoy a salad.

The good? My tomatoes are supported! I couldn’t decide which type of support to buy, so I bought all three. This will be the experimental year. I’ll see what works best and invest in that kind of support next summer.

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>Oil, oil, everywhere – how to help?!?

>Some people use skills and knowledge to clean oil-slicked birds.
Some set up barriers and hope they’ll hold.
Some apply their knowledge toward capping the devastating leak.

Some raise the money to help pay for the frighteningly extensive clean-up and restoration efforts.

The Nature Conservancy contacted me and asked if I would use my blog to help spread the word about CNN’s Larry King Live telethon Monday night at 8pm ET. The 2 Hour Gulf Coast Relief Telethon will help The Nature Conservancy raise funds to help restore the Gulf Coast.

The Nature Conservancy has launched the Fund for Gulf Coast Restoration to expand our work in the long term recovery of the Gulf of Mexico and key surrounding states. Money raised from this fund will help scientists and staff devote their energies and expertise to aiding in the recovery of critical ecosystems – the future of oyster beds, marshlands and estuaries is now at stake. Celebrities lending their support to the telethon include Sting, Philippe Cousteau, Kathy Griffin, Ted Danson, Robert Redford, Harry Connick Jr., Aaron Neville, Anderson Cooper, Edward James Olmos and more. For more information about how The Nature Conservancy plans to help the Gulf coast, its wildlife and the people that depend on it please visit http://nature.org/restore.

Do you feel powerless to help with this huge disaster? The Nature Conservancy suggests these five methods to help raise money for the Gulf restoration fund.

1. RSVP to the related Facebook event.
2. Stay informed; follow Nature Conservancy bloggers as they report directly from the Gulf.
3. Post updates to Facebook & Twitter. Use the hash tag #CNN#HelpGulf.
4. Watch the CNN Telethon.
5. Make a donation to help restoration efforts in the Gulf.

Please tune in Monday night on CNN. The telethon airs at 8 PM Eastern Time and lasts two hours.

The Nature Conservancy is a trustworthy nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting nature and preserving the diversity of life on Earth. They did not compensate me for my post. Nor should they. Blogger friends; please help spread the word. Others, please use your networks, live or online, to inform others of this opportunity to make a difference.

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