Roasted Chick Peas

You want some kind of snack that’s salty and crunchy, but still healthy, right? Enter Roasted Chick Peas. You can make a ton all at once, but for this batch I used two cans. I usually make the beans from dried in the crock pot, but on this day I didn’t have time for that.

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In a separate container, or in the dish you’re going to cook them in, drizzle the chick peas in olive oil (about 3 tbspns) then throw spices on top. I like chili powder and garlic salt, or garlic salt, dill and basil, but you can use whatever your little heart desires. I tend to use a metric ton of spices, so use your discretion. Stir them around so they’re pretty well coated in oil and spices, then put them in the oven at 300 for 2-3 hours.

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Oops, picture of spiced beans!

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Roasted beans! Hooray!

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For the first hour or so, I ignore them. After that I stir them around every 30 minutes (aka when I remember to) to make sure they cook evenly. You can cook them to various levels of crsipness. I prefer to take them out of the oven when they are back down to the size of dried beans. They cook down a lot, and they are hugely popular at my house, so I try to make ginormous amounts each time, but they still don’t last long.

January 27, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Cooking. 4 comments.

Worst Book in the World!

I read a ton of books (though still not enough for my liking), so of course I come across some absolute stink-piles from time-to-time (and then force my mom to read them). First it was Madame Bovary, then that one about an evil painter that I ranted about for an hour. Then I read a book so terrible and misspelled that I didn’t even blog about it: Eviction Earth. But, that guy at least published a book, which I haven’t done, so props for that. Now though, a new steaming pile of poo has reared its head; a book so bad I wrote a bad review on Amazon, even though I got it for free!!

As you know, Mi Madre loves to read as much as I do, so she bought me a kindle a few years back. My friend Sara Of The Long Red Hair knows this and sent me a very dangerous website: Freebook Sifter. It lists hundreds of free books for kindle and has the links to Amazon to download them. I literally filled my kindle. One of the free books I downloaded is called “The Heart of Abundance“. It’s just as cheesy as it sounds, but from the description I thought it would be more along the lines of simplifying and enjoying your life.

I’m immensely glad I didn’t pay for this book. It was nothing but sacchrine drivel and bible quotes. The author’s “system” for appreciating the small things in life is to write “Abundance is…” then fill in the gap. She seems to have just looked around her house to create these jewels of wisdom. “Abundance is…a cat sleeping in your lap”, “Abundance is…fresh flowers on the table”, and on and on. Yes, every single one of them has an ellipsis. The author is also overly fixated on cats an flowers. If you’re an 85 year old shut-in, this might be the book for you. Otherwise, save your time.

January 25, 2013. Tags: , , , . Book Reviews. Leave a comment.

Chemical vs. Natural

My friend Palmer the Nomad recently wrote two blog posts that I really enjoyed, and inspired me to rant on a topic I haven’t blogged about before: chemical vs. natural. For some reason lots of people seem to think chemical = bad, and natural = good, and vice versa. Neither of these approaches is correct.

Chemicals:

I have heard the argument “Well, everything is technically a chemical”, which is scientifically true, but not the actual issue being discussed. People that are pro-natural and anti-chemical are talking about man made chemicals, like aspartame, not helium. Congratulations, you have just argued semantics, and completely avoided making a relevant point.

I have also heard “Why bother with natural stuff when the chemicals do the same thing (sometimes adding:) but better?” Well, several reasons. If you could just grow mint in your yard and chew some for a headache, it would be much cheaper than pain killers. You would avoid the toxic mess that’s a byproduct of the manufacturing process, the trash from the packaging, and the remaining chemicals you pee out into our water system. Some medications also cause side effects (decongestants make me high, for example) so if there was an herb I could take instead, I totally would. Medications can also have horrible problems that don’t show up until later, like the recent rash of heart problems caused in young women by birth control pills, or suicides caused by antidepressants.

Natural:

I have heard people say “It’s natural!”, in context meaning either ‘it can’t be harmful’ or ‘it’s good for you’. Neither of these are necessarily true. Poison ivy is natural, but there’s no part of my body I want that stuff near. Oleander, foxglove, nightshade, and hemlock, are just another couple of examples. Many plants evolved to try and NOT be eaten, and use poison and discomfort to achieve that. Buffalo feces is natural also, but I’m not planning to eat it.

The other problem with “natural” is that it has become a subjective term, in regards to manufactured products. Manufacturers know people prefer natural products to chemicals, so they’ve started sticking that word on all kinds of crap. Unfortunately, it has no regulatory meaning, so you may get that happy feeling from helping the planet, while unknowingly killing fish downstream, or giving yourself asthma.

 

I do think we use too many manufactured chemicals we just don’t need (air freshener for example), but just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s the best option for the job. That phrase is just used to assuage your guilt, like buying indulgences, and justify actions you want to take anyway. The bottom line, is neither of these choices is the right answer for every problem, and the arguments have been simplified to the point of absurdity. There is no reason for there to be a vs. in this topic at all. Find a solution that will do what’s needed with as little impact as possible.

January 15, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Random typing. Leave a comment.

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

I accidentally made the greatest split pea soup EVER. Be warned, I used a TON of herbs because I get them super cheap in bulk. Basically I was sick with zombiedeathplague, so I threw a bunch of stuff in the crock pot, then went to sleep for a few hours. Because I was in a Nyquil-induced fog, I didn’t really make good measurements, but this is pretty close. You need:

1 16 oz. bag of split peas
2 tbspn dried basil
5 bay leaves
2 tbspn dried parsley
1 tbspn chopped garlic
10 cups of water and 4 bullion cubes, or 6 cups water, 4 of broth
1 cup textured vegetable protein

To make it vegan use veggie broth, and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
To make it meaty, add a cup of chopped ham or sausage.

Throw everything in the crock pot, and set it to cook for 4 hours. Mine ended up being too brothy, so I added a cup of textured vegetable protein. If you don’t want to do that, reduce the water by at least 2 cups. When it’s done cooking, add salt and pepper to taste.

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This stuff was so thick, hearty and nutritious, I couldn’t get enough. It’s great for this cold, rainy weather, and it’s VERY filling, with a ton of fiber and protein. You could throw in even more of the spices I used, or even add cumin, or chipotle. My favorite part of this recipe is how easy it is. You can also keep all the ingredients in the pantry to make in an illness emergency. I just finished the last of it today, and I might make more tomorrow. IT’S THAT GOOD.

January 11, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cooking. 5 comments.