Since Blogger rarely--if ever--provides me with an email address to respond to when people leave comments or questions, this is actually the easiest way to answer questions.
The dehydrator is an Excalibur (though we have not yet noticed any magical properties nor been crowned rulers of England, though there's always hope....). I had a dehydrator made by Mr. Coffee--Mr. Dehydrator not being as catchy--for years, but the heat & air came from the bottom and tended to almost "burn" things if I didn't rotate the trays. I've been drying apples & bananas for years, but this year branched out wildly as a result of helping Bananas with her food parcels during her Appalachian Trail hike. The dehydrated rice is fabulous--it's Minute Rice without all the chemicals added, and the dried curried chickpeas are a great snack, though I'm still working out why some of the beans get so hard they could chip a tooth and sometimes they just come out "crunchy but no dental work needed." Andy tried dehydrating watermelon, which shrunk to 1/100th of the original size and tasted like candy. The cheese and bacon dehydrating episodes we are still trying to forget, but it's wonderful for beans--you can take the entire bag, go through the whole marathon soaking/cooking process, then dehydrate them. To use them later they cook MUCH faster. The pudding leather turned into a very bizarre substance in a few days--which I found out later could have been solved by adding applesauce to the pudding. It would have tasted weird, but it would have remained pliable "leather." Backpackers cannot be choosers.
Refined sugar--now there's a good question. We use so little sugar that I hadn't thought about it. The last time I tried to make a cake I had to tell Andy to pass it off as "brownies," so sweets are not a big part of our life. It seems like it should be left out unless it is in a state we could make ourselves--which isn't very likely. I'll have to look into that one. The big exception would be canning--I never edit canning recipes, so if that calls for white sugar I might use that as one of my two weekly "exceptions," but it will be worth looking into. Living in Idaho, we actually have a sugar factory here as a lot of sugar beets are grown here. So, maybe they'll let me visit and see how sugar is actually made? How cool--our Year of No Processed Foods could include field trips!!!
Why All The "Month of" Projects?
As you might imagine, we get this one a lot--or variations regarding a certain lack of sanity in our lives. The first one--the month of not buying anything new--was actually just a whim as a fun way for two people with different spending habits to find common ground. We just had so much fun with the idea that it has become a way to explore anything we're curious about. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be," and I firmly believe it. Life is a wonderful adventure.
What were all the jars last weekend?
First, I made a blueberry jam with honey and nutmeg. I was a little concerned as this was my first jam-making endeavor ever, but it turned out really well. Of course, it involves an insane amount of sugar, so I used 4 ounce jars. Having spent 3 years working for the American Diabetes Association, I still have great difficulty in giving people anything involving sugar, but I did make a double batch.... Then I moved on to jalapeno mint jelly, which should work well as an appetizer with a little cheese--or that is the current theory. Then I made a red onion relish with caramelized red onions and balsamic vinegar. For the food aficionados, it tastes as good as it sounds. Then I collapsed from exhaustion.
Oh, and Yes! We do have the Michael Pollan book, In Defense of Food. I blame much of our current insanity on him: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. When I have to go an entire year without a cinnamon bear, I shall blame it all on him and his common-sense approach to nutrition!
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