Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bless me, Crockpot, for I have no control. (Crockpot Banana Chocolate Pudding Recipe)

Okay, I love $5 Dinners–great site, great ideas.  But occasionally she posts things I’d rather not know about. Like this amazing-looking recipe for crockpot mocha pudding cake.

I’m not going to go that far into the worlds of not-at-all-good-for-you…after all, that recipe calls for more than a cup of sugar and a whole stick of butter, and no good can come of such things. (Hmm. That sounded unconvincing, even to me.)

What I will do is try to make a variation on this recipe, in my first foray into crockpot “baking.” This evening, assuming I can get the burned rice pudding out of my crock (left it in there too long), I’m going to try the following:

Crockpot Banana Chocolate Pudding Cake

In a bowl, mix:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • (maybe 2/3 cup chocolate chips, but we won’t talk about that…)

Pour into well-buttered crockpot, cover, and cook on low 2-2 1/2 hours. Turn off, let sit (still covered) another 30 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt or, who am I kidding, vanilla ice cream.

I’ll be back tonight with a review…check back when the Oscars get boring!

UPDATE: Oops! I forgot to come back and add that review! Okay, here we go: It was pretty good, though I overcooked it (ran the full 2 1/2 hour time) and instead of a pudding cake kind of thing it was more of a dense heavy flourless-y (though it did have flour) kind of thing. I didn’t care for it; my husband and kids thought it was delicious. So next time I’ll err more to the 2 hour time frame…flavor-wise, though, it was very very nice. A keeper, I think!

UPDATED UPDATE: Tried this again, and only cooked it 1 hour 45 minutes on high; it was perfect, nice and gooey in the middle and cakey on the outside. Incredibly rich. Lovely.


Cooking for the Week (Curried Lentils and Barley)

I’m on a new mission. Less-to-no meat, inexpensive, and geared to weight loss are my new core values in food. Anything I can do that manages all three at once is considered victory. (Oh, and not cooking an entire different meal for the kids is also a big plus.)

So here’s last night’s dinner, with scads of leftovers and lunches for days to come; It requires two good-sized pans with lids and about 45 minutes:

Curried Lentils and Barley

In one large pan with lid:

  • Bring 1 quart of water to boil. Rinse 2 cups pearled barley.
  • When water boils, dump barley in, bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover
  • Simmer for about 40 minutes.

In another large pan with lid (dutch oven type):

  • Heat 1-2 tbs olive or other oil; add about 1 tbs curry powder mixture of choice and stir in
  • Saute 3-4 cloves minced garlic (or mashed from a jar) and 1 chopped onion till soft
  • Add 1 28 oz. can (or a quart of your own preserved) diced tomatoes
  • Add 1 quart water; heat to boiling
  • While water is heating, rinse and pick through 2 cups brown or green lentils
  • When water-tomato mixture comes to a boil, add the two cups of lentils, bring back to a boil, and lower heat
  • Cover and simmer 35 minutes or so (or until barley is done)
  • Correct seasonings; add 1 tsp or so salt (to taste), a few shakes pepper, and another tsp-to-tbs curry powder.


My kids eat the barley with butter and salt, like pasta. But healthier.  My husband and I mix the barley and lentils.

This makes a lot of food. For really cheap. At least 2-3 dinners, plus several lunches.  And if you start running out of the lentil mixture, you can add some broth to it, and more veggies if you want, and bam, you have soup.

Give it a shot!

Crockpot Yarn Dyeing!

Okay, this may be one of the coolest things ever:

Tutorial: Crockpot Yarn Dying

This is so neat–this blogger has apparently done a series on using Kool-Aid to dye yarn in cool variegated patterns. I’ve never tried it, but it looks absolutely awesome. You have to use natural fibers (or they won’t hold the color), but otherwise it looks sort of foolproof. (I say that having not tried it.)

Who knew that there was something one could do with Kool-Aid (provided one has enough sense not to drink it):-)

How cool is this?

Hey, check this out:

Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, Animated

Love this–very cleverly done.

“Real” oatmeal is SO almost-as-easy as the tasteless “instant” stuff…

Anyone who’s read this blog much at all knows how much I love oatmeal, and how one of my grand missions in life is to convince people that “instant” oatmeal is a travesty of glue-ish glop and that the real stuff–you know. Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats–is nearly as easy and tastes ten times better.

I posted about how it’s become a staple of my Cheap Grad Student Eats this year, and how it only takes about 3 minutes in the microwave, a while ago.

I had a new revelation this morning: If you have a little extra time, you can make it with plain old boiling water and no microwave.  One of the other students (bless her!) brought in an electric kettle a few weeks ago, and we’re all using the hell out of it. This morning, just to see if it would work, I boiled the water, put the oatmeal into my mug, poured the boiling water over it, covered it, and let it sit for maybe ten minutes.  That was plenty–the oatmeal was soft, the cranberries and raisins were nice and plump, and it was delicious.  More soupy than cereal-y, so if you like your oatmeal fairly “dry” this won’t work, but it’s again a lot better than the instant stuff.

Just FYI! Give it a shot!

Mondays at the Booth–Greener Fireplace Logs

Over the weekend we lit our first fire ever in our home’s fireplace, which led to me doing more research on those fireplace logs…turns out they are better for the environment and air quality and such than I’d realized. Come check out my post today at the Green Phone Booth!

Feel the Burn: Greener Fireplace Logs

Weird Green Headlines

I love reading “green news”—to the extent that I tend to lose track of what’s going on in the rest of the news world, which is sort of a problem. Somehow this couple-of-week-period has been marked by a fairly delightful surge in Really Bizarre Headlines. So let me share:

Urinating on your tomato plants could give you fruit four times larger. Who knew?

Sea Cucumber poo may be key to saving coral reefs. Again—who would ever have guessed this?

Why do feet fall asleep? Okay, this one isn’t too weird, but now that they mention it, I don’t think I have any idea.

1000 lb. butter sculpture will power farm for 3 days.  Calling butter sculpture a “state fair tradition” that’s “unnecessary and kinda gross,” Grist tells the story of how it nonetheless will be used as a source of alternate energy.

McDonalds discovers social media can backfire when people hate you. Love this one—McD’s apparently started this “twitter party” kind of thing for people to pop in and say what they love about McDonalds’ food-like substances. And…things didn’t go as they’d hoped. 🙂

I’ll keep looking—but honestly, I’ve never seen a whole surge of headlines all at once be as strange as this clump of them…

Salads. I’m sick of salads.

Still trying to eat well. Keeping the snacking down, eating good stuff, keeping track a la half-assed Watchers of how many of each particular food group I’ve consumed in a day. Not finishing my kids’ leftovers.

And where I’m failing, as per usual, is the veggies.

When I make soups it’s okay; there it’s easy to sneak the suckers in, and if I use frozen bagged vegetables it’s easy and doesn’t take very long. But I know I want to be eating more salads, and they are just a pain in the butt. Takes forever to cut and chop and shred, and I really can’t afford to buy the Whole Foods Salad Bar every day for lunch.

This blog by Fat Free Vegan (doesn’t sound healthy, but…) has some really cool salad ideas…I may have to check these out.

Anyone have any other ideas to get the time-consuming raw veggies into my lunchbox every day?

Mondays…er…Wednesdays at the Booth

I keep forgetting to post what  I’m writing at the Green Phone Booth over here…

So come over and check out my Monday post, about the green and social problems with this most annoying and consumerist of winter holidays…Valentine’s Day! (Any holiday whose main purpose seems to be “buy things for the people you love so they will know how much you love them” is just messed up, IMO!)

Come check it out!

Monsanto makes another Sweepingly Stupid Pronouncement

Okay, this isn’t new, it’s been sitting in my bookmarks for a couple of weeks, but, check this out:

Monsanto: ‘There is no need for, nor value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans.”

Great. Thanks. So glad you feel this way.

Morons. Asshat gobshite peewits.

(Peewit is a word I ran into in a Scrabble game against my computer…it is a little bird that makes a “peewit, peewit” kind of sound, but I think it makes a perfect Term of Insult…)

Thanks to Crunchy Betty for linking!