Category Archives: Home cooking

Home cooking

Life Redesign – Goal 4: Review of

I tried out Once A Month cooking using Once A Month Meals Traditional Menu – January 2014. 20140205-105525.jpg


  • It has been really nice to have food to take out of the freezer for dinner.
  • Most of the meals have been really tasty.


  • The calculations on both the shopping list & the recipes were not 100% accurate. Probably 80%… but when you are cooking for 8-10 hrs, 20% can be very frustrating.
    • The biggest deal has been portions for eating – meals that had me put one recipe in 4 gallon bags only have fed 3-4 people. So I should have realized when it said “10 servings” on the recipe, I should put it in 2 gallon bags – only getting 2 dinners, not 4 out of it.
    • The most confusing part was that they had me cook a certain # of lbs of each meat ahead of time, but it was portioned in recipes in cups… So it didn’t spread out quite right. Luckily, I had frozen precooked chicken in my freezer…

Overall, I think the method is good… I think the recipes & variety are great!

I’ll probably try it one more time to see how it goes.


While the boys are away… Homemade chocolate donuts

All our boys left by 8am, so when Arabella woke up at 9am, I was ready for girl time.

She requested chocolate donuts, so we hopped on the web to find a recipe.









Salt-toasted Tofu

Back in the old days, we used to keep a little Vietnamese mom’n’pop restaurant called Pho Huy Tan in business.
Well, really Mike & Tammi Rice did, cuz they picked up the whole bill at least 80% of the time (which was a huge blessing, since we were living on $1000/month).

Anyway, my favorite food became Salt-toasted Tofu.
It’s got an awesome breaded-exterior like a popular non-veg comfort food.

Since Pho Huy Tan, then Mai’s, burned down, I’ve ordered Salt-toasted Tofu off-menu at every Vietnamese restaurant I’ve tried. And they always know how to make it.

So I started thinking it must be super easy & a Vietnamese basic known by all.

Now that we are Vegetarians again, I decide it’s time to learn to cook it at home.

I found this simple recipe and tried it last night.

Drain water from tofu. Wrap with paper towels and a kitchen towel, then place a pan on top. Let sit for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, add corn starch, 2 tsp garlic granules, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt. Toss in cubed tofu. If needed, add more corn starch so the tofu is completely covered.

Heat pan at medium high with canola oil. Cook tofu in batches, not too crowded. Some recipes call for cooking on each side for a few minutes. I cooked one side for 4 minutes, then continually stirred until all sides were golden. Place in separate bowl.

Heat pan at medium high with olive oil. Cook onions and garlic until soft, then add tofu. Toss in scallions until soft. Season if desired.

Here’s our tofu-toss. I wish I know the proportions for the dry ingredients… Taste-wise, I should have done 2-2.5 times all the seasonings for 2lbs of tofu.
It browned really great in 1/2″ of oil.
Of course, we needed white rice to eat the tofu over.
I was pretty impress with Arabella’s technique for carrying the cutting board.
She’s a huge help in the kitchen!
Final product!
It was pretty good. I need alot more green onions next time, as well as the increase in spices… I only did 1.5x for 2lbs & it was a tiny bit less flavorful than I wanted.

Eating well

I think this has been our most tasty, healthy eating week ever…
Joel decided to eat a vegan diet after his visit to the ER only 4 days after the 3rd anniversary of his heart attack… when he learned he now has diabetes. I am very supportive of this, since I heard Dr Fuhrman discuss curing diabetes this way a long time ago.

So most of our meals are vegan or vegetarian now.

Here’s what we ate…


  • Fresh Tomato Lentil Soup
  • Butternut Squash soup with Sherried Pumpkin Seeds
  • Smokey Black Bean Soup mixed with Spanish rice

Feeding my family

To piggyback on my last post, another strategy has been to buy less food with packaging & advertising and to cook/make items from basic ingredients.

My inspiration for this was hearing the author who made the popularized ‘anti-high fructose corn syrup’ statements, explain his original intentions: (paraphrase from memory)

High fructose corn syrup is no worse for you than other sugar.
But it’s presence in an item usually indicates a highly-processed item… Items like potatoes & hamburgers don’t need sugar.
And packaging is the same. Broccoli farmers don’t have money for advertising.
We should stop worrying about the corn syrup and:

  • Eat less overall
    • Eat less processing food
      • Eat more fruits & veggies

My first effort to do this is with yogurt. 2-3 of my kids were eating at least 1 $0.50 Yoplait each day… and it was not organic & has lots of sugar.
Solution: use 1/2 gallon $3 of organic milk + fruit + minimal honey/sugar

1. Boil milk (I use skim-2%) to 180*F.
2. Cool milk to 110*F.
3. Add spoonful of yogurt (I use Yoplait – and comes out pudding-thick).
4. Transfer to yogurt maker/warmer. (I use a vintage Salton.)
5. Incubate 2 days (ie. Start Mon, done Wed)
6. Pour off liquid.
7. Put in storage container, add fruit & sweetener.
8. Refrigerate… Will thicken more as cools.
I think this works good because them we just take out a single serving, usually smaller than a $0.50 Yoplait.

My second effort came out of Tammi’s idea for us to barter – my yogurt for homemade bread… her hummus for ???… of course, pita! Money Saving Mom claimed this Homemade Wholewheat Pita recipe was better than store bought… She is right! I make the dough in a breadmaker, then roll out mini-pitas. They are amazing… A batch is about 2 bags of pita!

I have also attempted Granola bars & Fruit leather (in oven)… Neither are right yet!