Black Bean Salad

Ronnie's mom gave me this recipe and its absolutely delicious - probably one of my favorite black bean recipes. It doesn't save well overnight because of the avocado so plan on serving immediately after making.

3 ears fresh corn
3-4 tbs lime juice
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
30 oz black beans (rinsed and drained if canned)
2 large tomatoes
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped finely
1 small purple onion
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Place corn in boiling water for 5 minutes or until cooked. Drain and cool. Cut corn from cub.

Whisk together lime juice, EVOO, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Add corn, black beans and remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Cover and chill for 30mins-1hour. Yields 8 servings

Click here to read about black bean's health benefits and nutritional facts at the World's Healthiest Foods website.


Healthy Cleaning

Environmentally safe cleaning products can be expensive. "Green" dish soap, dishwasher soap, detergents and all-purpose cleaners are generally a lot more expensive than the chemical based cleaners. However, by creating your own products you can save money and use products that are not harmful to your health or the environment. Here are a few recipes that I have tried...

Laundry Detergent:
I found a variety of laundry detergent recipes online and made a powdered detergent back in November. It has lasted a really long time, I am just now starting to run low. I can't remember exactly how much I spent on all the ingredients but I would guess around $20. Seven months of detergent for two adults is a little over $2.85/month. That is not bad considering the other green laundry detergents are much more expensive and last for substantially less amount of time. Anyway, here is the recipe for the detergent that I use...

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub. Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

**Tip: The recommended soaps to use are Fels-Naptha, Ivory soap, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile, and Zote. Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps.

Click here to see this recipe and other detergent recipes at TipNut.com

All Purpose Cleaner
This makes about 2 cups of formula, and it works really well cleaning dirt and grime.

1/2 teaspoon baking soda or washing soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups hot water

Combine all the ingredients and the water into a spray bottle. Shake well. This is a great formula for cutting grease. Find this recipe and others here.

Vinegar Cleaner and Deodorizer
Pour 1/2 white household vinegar and 1/2 water into a spray bottle. Use it to clean countertops and cut grease on the stove. Vinegar kills mold and mildew and is a natural deodorizer.

Bathroom Cleaner

To clean the bathtub, you can sprinkle baking soda in your tub or sink. Add some water to form a thick paste. Scrub all areas and then rinse clean.

This Week's Flowers

This week's flowers from my local CSA include a yellow snapdragon, white saponaria, purple bachelor buttons and sunflowers. Instead of using the typical glass vase, I pulled three glass jars from recycling - two milk jugs and a jelly jar. I washed them out and peeled off the labels then separated the flowers into three small bouquets.


"Ryan" by Chris Landreth

My recent blog poll showed that readers wanted "more" posts about art and new media. Frankly, I’m glad that it got the votes yet embarrassed that it took a poll to get me to write about the subject. I’m getting my Masters in Art & Design - there is no excuses for not having more art related posts. I have officially stopped ignoring my artistic side and plan to introduce you to artists and works (mostly within animation) that interest me.

Chris Landreth is an engineer turned animator that is most known for his short film, Ryan. Landreth won an Oscar for Ryan in 2005 for Best Short Film. A couple years ago, Landreth came and spoke during my animation studio. I was completely blown away by his works both aesthetically and conceptually.

Ryan is a touching story, infused with creativity, emotion and metaphors, that provide a number of avenues to be explored and interpreted. Click here to view Ryan on YouTube. Enjoy!

My Friend, the LIQUID Mulit Vitamin

I hate swallowing huge horse pills such as fish oil pills or vitamin pills. It does not go well for me. I either can't get them down my throat or feel uneasy if I do get them down. Unfortunately, this issue has led to a big bottle of multi-vitamins going to waste since they expired before I was able to take them all. What a waste of money.

Anyway, I have since found a solution. I picked up a liquid multi-vitamin called Alive! from Whole Foods a few weeks ago. I'll be honest, the taste is not all that great and makes my face scrunch but for me it's better than swallowing horse pills. Plus, one dose is not very big. In addition, you can mix the dosage in with a smoothies if you want. Overall I'm pleased with it and feel better that I have finally found a vitamin that I can take once a day.

One serving of Alive! contains: 25 vitamins & minerals, 24 fruits & vegetables, 18 amino acids, 14 green foods, 12 organic mushrooms, 12 digestive enzymes, plus bioflavonoids, EFAs, herbs, nucleic acids and trace minerals.


Beautiful Beausol Flowers

As mentioned earlier, my first share of crops from the Beausol Gardens' CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) came this week. We receive a share of the farm's crops as well as a bunch of flowers every week. Ronnie purchased the flower package for me back in April for an Easter present. It's nice to have fresh flowers around and I'm learning about flowers I have never seen before. Pictured above is a pink peonie, white clover and my favorite, a purple Foxglove.


Homemade Caesar Salad

This week was the first share of crops that I received from Beausol Gardens' CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. I got a variety of greens including Romaine, therefore I decided to make a homemade Caesar salad. I must say, I was a little nervous about making a Caesar dressing from scratch. The thought of having anchovies in a dressing never bothered me but dealing with em face to face was a little nerve racking. I did find some Caesar dressing recipes that excluded the anchovies, however if I was going to make Caesar then I was going to do it right.

After thumbing through a variety of recipes, I decided to combine two different recipes. One from Tyler Florence and the other from Robin Miller. They can both be found on theFoodNetwork.com. I liked the simplicity of Tyler's recipe however did not want to add two whole egg yolks to the dressing. Therefore, I excluded the egg yolks and added Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce as seen in Robin's recipe.

The dressing ended up being light and really flavorful. Ronnie and I really enjoyed it. I'm glad that I conquered the fear of cooking with anchovies because I have added this dressing to the collection of favorites. So here it is...

4 pieces of whole wheat bread
Extra virigin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400ยบ. Chop bread into cubes. Place bread in a bowl and drizzle olive oil over the bread. Toss to cover. Spread bread over a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins or until golden brown.

Dressing Recipe:
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 garlic cloves (minced)
2 anchovies
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Romaine lettuce

Mash anchovies. Then, add garlic, lemon juice and zest in a bowl and whisk. While whisking, gradually pour in the EVOO. Continue to whisk until emulsified. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Gradually pour dressing over greens. I like to add a little at a time so I don't over drench the greens. Toss to coat. Add croutons and any additional cheese, salt or pepper (if needed).