Monthly Archives: May 2008

Refried Beans

I have been trying my hand at Stretchy Beans this week and having fun with it. Pintos are my family’s favorite bean, with Limas running a close second. What follows is the story of my first pot of stretchy beans. I only managed 2 dishes out of them, because I’m still new at this. I hope to work up to 3 or 4 meals per pot of beans.

When starting with dried beans they must first be cooked. I do it this way. Rinse 2-pounds of dry pinto beans in cool water. Pour the dry beans into a large crock-pot. Fill the pot with water to within 1 or 2 inches of the top. Add the following seasonings . . .

seasonings for pinto beans

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons fat, such as bacon grease, margarine or vegetable oil

Stir the seasonings into the beans. Place the lid on the crock-pot and cook the beans on HIGH overnight or for at least 8 hours. They will be gloriously tender, with flavor and aroma better than you can even imagine.

Serve the beans with cornbread the first day. Refrigerate leftovers.

The next day my beans looked like this.

Cold pinto beans in crockpot

Not especially appetizing, and maybe even a little scary looking. Since I had made 2-pounds of beans, I still had a lot left. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to make refried beans and freeze the extra for kid snacks later in the week.

So the next step was to get out my food processor, which is old and sorely neglected. I filled the processor half full of cold beans and then pureed. It looked like this.

foodprocessor full of refried beans

The bean puree was then poured into small, square rubbermaid containers. It took 2 batches to process all of the beans. After filling the freezer containers with about 1-cup of refried beans each, I topped them with shredded Vegan Gourmet Monteray Jack Cheese.

 freezer tubs filled with beans and cheese

Finally we put lids on all of them and stacked them in the freezer.

refried beans ready for freezer

The beans froze quickly. This morning, my oldest son decided to try one for breakfast. He reheated it for 2-minutes in the microwave and then served it with a handful of corn tortilla chips. It’s not a nutritionists dream breakfast, but it was better than some he’s had. He pronounced the beans a success. Since he’ll be eating most of them, I was pleased.

This is a recipe I will make again, to give the boys a quick, nourishing mini-meal or snack that is blessedly affordable too.

P.S. I have borrowed Robyn’s method for using pictures to tell a recipe story because they seemed so effective on her site.



Filed under food stamps, GFCF Recipes, Low Cost Foods, Pictures, WIC

Snack Tray

Snack tray with dates, carrots and dry pineapple chunks.

This is my new toy. It’s a plastic snack tray that has 3 compartments. There were several colors available (blue, white, green) but I chose red because red stimulates the appetite, as do orange and yellow. Think of every fast-food joint you’ve ever been to, all the colors are designed to make you hungry and eat more. Red, yellow and orange everywhere you look. I figured I could use phsychology in my kitchen just as effectively as the big guys. The tray cost $1 at Dollar General and it is revolutionizing my kitchen.

I have teenagers, well 1 pre-teen (almost 12) and 1 teen (15). They are hungry children. They are slender children. They need food, lots of it, all the time. I hate cooking for them more than 2 or 3 times a day. There are always leftovers in the fridge and fruit in the fruit basket, but they want to graze like cattle, instead of preparing a complete, hearty snack themselves.

We are currently in famine zone, meaning we have enough for bills, and little else. So right now I’m going through my food storage, picking out things I’ve bought during times of plenty, and using them to best advantage. In the past my boys wouldn’t eat dried fruit, I think because they didn’t get their Gluten/Casein buzz from it. That has changed though. As a matter of fact, both boys are expanding their appetite horizons which is wonderful for me, because it makes cooking easier.

So, I’m filling our snack tray every morning, and then the kids have snacks all day long, without needing my help or input. Probably most kids in their teens are able to do a lot of their cooking for themselves, but my guys have been slow about it. I’m happy to report though, that my asperger’s boy has started helping me in the kitchen every single day for our evening meal and any baking I may do. It is sooo much easier to cook when I have a helper. This just started the past week, so it’s big progress for us. Actually every single week we seem to have a little progress, sort of out of the blue, and it’s like there’s a bunch of catch-up work going on, in the life-skills department. Praise God for his grace.


Filed under Family, GFCF, Health, Homemaking, Low Cost Foods, Pictures

Granny Etc.

First off, thank-you to everyone for your kind support–of Granny (who has a brain tumor), of our diet change (to gluten and casein-free), and of my sewing, recipes, sites and blogs in general. Y’all are a great group and continually bless me. I hope I can do the same in return.

Granny is doing better. She’s on mood stabilizers. They’ve sent her back home and she’s feeling better. The best part for her, is that she’s having her brain tumor at the same time as Mr. Kennedy, which is high status in her book. There are differences of course, Granny’s is operable and benign, and poses no immediate risk. But in Granny’s mind she and Teddy have the exact same tumor and she appreciates all of the support our Nation is giving her in her time of need.

Next, you may have noticed, but I am trying some new looks with my blog. I can’t decide if I like this or my old standby Black & White. I’d appreciate any input (pro & con) about the new look.

On the diet front I’ve been experimenting with baking bread and pizza. I don’t have any really good recipes or procedures to share yet, but hope to soon enough.

I found a really interesting blog that is revolutionizing my understanding of cooking with beans and lentils. The site is called Lentils & Rice.  Robyn, the owner, has this idea she calls Elastic Meals, Stretchy Beans.  Essentially she cooks up a big pot of beans and then takes the beans through a succession of meals throughout the week. I was especially delighted by her lists of things to do with each type of bean after cooking them. It makes me want to make similar lists for myself.

Robyn has some great tips on decluttering, and minimalism in general. I’ve found myself moved by her ideas, and am now incorporating some of her methods into my own.


Filed under Homemaking, Updates

Fun Trial Menu & Jamie’s Success

I’ve read that a lot of folks are thinking about trying GFCF and thought I’d help out by providing an easy to follow, relatively inexpensive menu plan for a week. It includes a menu list, shopping list, work schedule and recipes. The only specialized gluten-free product that is used is GFCF bread, which can be found in most large supermarkets. Sometimes it’s frozen and sometimes it’s on a shelf. GFCF bread is pricey–$4 to $5 a loaf, and you’ll need 3 of them for the whole week. Everything else is easy to find, at least in my area. Soy yogurt, vegan sour cream, and vegan cheese may be hard to find for some. In any case, these are used in small quantities, mostly to give you the opportunity to try new things. The bulk of the food is made up from low-cost staples like cornmeal, rice, soymilk; ground beef; canned tuna; roasted turkey breast; fresh fruits; fresh, frozen and canned veggies. The recipes do make use of several soy products. If you are sensitive to soy, then the menus may require some tweaking, and you may feel they are not appropriate for your dietary needs. The menus include packable lunches for week-days and family-friendly meals for the most part. Snacks are included for each day.

CLICK HERE FOR GFCF TRIAL MENU PLAN (pdf document, right click and save as).

My next update is that my youngest son is indeed feeling the results of the diet, apparently he was just a little slower to feel them. On Saturday they spent the night with their grandparents and went to church with them on Sunday. Jamie (my youngest), forgot his ADHD meds. His behavior was almost completely normal, even without his meds. He went to church and sunday school without his meds. He sat thorugh the sermon peacefully and thoughtfully, without his meds. No one even noticed until the late afternoon!

Only a few weeks ago he forgot to take his morning pill and the entire family noticed he was too hyper by 9 AM. Jamie’s been on Adderall since he was 5. He literally could not do anything without his meds. Couldn’t sit down, couldn’t stand still, could only manically flit about. This is a HUGE and significant change. I’ll be talking to his doctor soon about either reducing the dose or getting him off of meds all together. Something we literally never thought would be possible. The effects of a GFCF diet on my family have simply been miraculous.


Filed under GFCF, GFCF Recipes

Granny’s Brain Tumor

This post was with the one above, but I decided to give Granny her own spot for prayers.

Last update is that my Granny has a brain tumor. I’m still sort of reeling over the idea of a brain tumor, much less the reality of it. Granny’s behavior has changed somewhat over the past year or 2. She’s been meaner than normal. She’s always had a bratty streak, but it’s progressed to actual meanness, which is sort of sad to see in a lady I love so dearly. Anyway, the doctors who found it do not think it is affecting her behavior enough to remove it, even though it is operable in their opinions. Granny has been very polite and kind, even charming to the doctors and hasn’t had one of her mean episodes on them yet, so they don’t think it’s that big a deal. It will take a while for the doctors to realize how big a deal it is and how especially mean she can be. So until then, they’re sending her home. I expect she’ll be back at the hospital before too long, with another episode of overt cruelty under her belt. My family’s ability to communicate with doctors about their needs is clumsy at best. It’s part of the hillbilly heritage. I’m not in a position to overrule other family members, so I will just sit and pray and watch and see how things go. I would like to storm in and fix things and holler and scream until I get my way, but so many things block my path. Additionally I have prayed and do not feel that I’m being called to force my opinions on the rest of family. Sigh. I love my family so much, all of them. And I pray that God’s will be done, not mine. God is big enough to change the doctor’s minds, so I don’t have to be. I can’t control the situation, but I can trust God to control it and to work His miracles within it. Meanwhile, I pray and pray and pray, and focus on what I can control instead of what I can’t.

God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The Courage to change the things I can,

And the Wisdom to know the difference. Amen.



Filed under Family, Health

Update on Status of My Family’s Diet & GFCF Bread, again

First the bread, I am trying a new recipe, will share results later today or tomorrow. The recipe is from Gluten Free [Cooking School].  It uses a flour mixture made with masa harina (a type of cornmeal) plus soy flour, cornstarch and brown rice flour, all relatively cheap in my neck of the woods. Once again, I have high hopes for it. It’s rising right now, and I’m anxious to try it.

Next, we have been on our Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) diet for almost a week now. These are our results.

Maggie (Mom)

  • Fewer headaches, down to once a week instead of daily. Haven’t had a migraine since starting GFCF.
  • Much, MUCH more energy. I think I had chronic fatigue, but never bothered to get it diagnosed because, well, my schedule allows for daily naps when necessary. Since starting diet I am sleeping 5 to 6 hours a night, waking naturally, and taking a nap in the afternoons. I feel more energetic, more vital, than I have in a while. This extra energy alone is worth the dietary change.
  • Haven’t gained any weight. I’ve been eating sugar and starches, and haven’t gained a single pound. Not sure why. I hope it means that weight-loss will be easier in the long run.
  • No tummy troubles. Zero indigestion, zero heartburn, zero bloating, zero gas.
  • A very painful rash I used to get on my hands, made up of tiny blisters that both itched and ached, has cleared up. When it used to bother me really bad, I noticed that Benadryl (an allergy medicine) would give me some relief. Doctors have told me it’s eczema, due to stress. I never agreed with that diagnosis, but did pray often for the Lord to reduce my stress level (What stress level? I have to ask) so the bumps would go away. Certain dishwashing liquids helped, but nothing alleviated it completely. Today, it is almost all gone. Amazing!
  • I feel happy. It’s a simple thing, but very satisfying.

Tommy (Asperger’s Syndrome).

 Describes himself as . . .

  • Feeling more energetic
  • Focusing energy is easier
  • Having higher self-esteem
  • Being more self-confident in public
  • It’s easier to concentrate

 Mom notices . . .

  • Much more patience
  • Kinder
  • Much more talkative
  • Friendlier
  • More social with family members and at church
  • Thinking more clearly and quickly too
  • Lighter spirit, not so heavy and serious, more open
  • Less repetitive behavior
  • Happier. Definitely happier

Jamie (ADHD)

  • No changes what so ever. None. Zippo, finito, nada.

So, I have talked with Fred (who admits to seeing some changes, but not as many as I do) and to my Mom (who sees the same changes I do and others besides) and the boys. We have decided to be a GFCF family. Outside of the house if Jamie wants to eat “regular” food then that’s fine. In the house though I’m keeping everything and everyone on the same diet. Tom is very happy about the changes he feels and wants to continue the diet. He explains it like this “I’m autistic, so I have to eat a special diet. No gluten. No dairy.” This is the very first time he has actually said the words “I’m autisitc.” So that in and of itself is HUGE progress. It’s sort of like he’s blooming. Slow and steady, a little more every day.

In all honesty I really thought that the GFCF diet for autism was probably a bunch of wishful thinking on the part of the parents. It seemed like “New Age Mumbo Jumbo” to me. Before “resorting” to the diet we tried several different meds, none of them worked and some made things worse. We tried psychiatrists, psychologists, and a handful of doctors. I took him out of public school, in part because I could see that it was nearly killing him to go there everday. I saw how much he was hurting. We also have religious beliefs that made us take the boys from public school and teach them at home, but a big part was that the school could not treat Asperger’s Syndrome with any effectiveness. If anything their so called “treatment” made it worse.

I’d heard about a GFCF diet helping kids with autism for a few years. I read things online, but never really researched it in any depth. In fact I think I ignored and even avoided any information on it because I thought it was pointless. I was also terribly reluctant to even think about changing our diet. It would be too expensive, it would be too hard, too limiting, too different.

Finally I reasoned that if there was anything to the diet, that my kids at least deserved a shot at it. Praise God I finally did it. I think He had a lot to do with guiding me in this direction. So we tried it and I am now a True Believer. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, and I was wrong about this diet. It really does make a difference, and I’m seeing that for us (a family who cooks most things from scratch) the changes in our diet are pretty minor. I have to switch some of my formulas for baking. I have to use cornstarch for thickening instead of flour. I have to use non-dairy products instead of dairy. For the most part though, I’m still cooking normal food. Our grocery bill will go up. I can see that. But I will simply do what I do best, and that is learn cheaper ways to create the stuff we want to eat. I mean, God gave me that skill for a reason, so I might as well use it.

So, I will be making a few changes to my website (Frugal Abundance) as I sort out this GFCF thing. I will update recipes. Add more recipes. Maybe even write new articles.

We are now a GFCF family, and we will be here on out.


Filed under Budget, GFCF, PCOS

Fried Rice Recipe & Interesting Blog: Gluten Free Frugal

Gluten Free Frugal–a blog I stumbled upon today. It’s not dairy free, but the information is good. Thought some other folks might be interested in it too.

Includes an interesting article My 5 Basic Rules for Eating Gluten Free On A Budget.

 GFCF Fried Rice


  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cold, cooked rice (1-cup dry makes 3-cups cooked)
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables or peas and carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or 1 or 2 tablespoons GF soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • Optional: 2 eggs-beaten, tofu, chicken, beef, pork, ham, sliced hot dogs etc., about 1-cup chopped into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the bacon into small pieces. Place in a very large skillet or wok. Add onion. Fry until the onion and bacon are both lightly browned. Add the rice, frozen veggies and black pepper. Stir-fry until the rice is coated with the bacon fat and the veggies are thawed. Add salt or soy sauce and if desired any combination of the optional ingredients. We usually add 6 to 8-ounces of cubed tofu because the kids both like it. (I don’t know why my kids like tofu, but they do.) Adding the eggs is traditional, but we don’t always do it. If you do add the eggs then move the rice mixture to one side of the pan. Pour the eggs into the empty side of the pan and scramble as desired. After cooking them a minute or two, stir them in with the rice and veggies.

Continue to fry everything together until piping hot. Serve in bowls with chopsticks or a spoon. If you’re kids are veggie-friendly then a pound of frozen stir-fry veggies may be substituted for the mixed veggies. This isn’t as popular at our house, so I usually use mixed veggies instead. If you’re avoiding bacon then feel free to omit it and use 3-tablespoons of vegetable oil instead.


Filed under GFCF, GFCF Recipes, Low Cost Foods