Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Frozen Banana Goodness

I'm excited for spring to arrive and for the warmth to return. I always love winter, but I'm giddy when the next season arrives. Living in Michigan, my favorite season is usually whichever one is coming next. So in preparation for warmer weather, I thought I'd post one of my favorite warm weather desserts. The best name I've seen for this is Banana Ice Cream. But as there is no actual ice cream in it, that doesn't quite do it justice. The only ingredient you need is frozen bananas, but if you enjoy flavors outside of banana, you can throw them in too. The most recent one I made used all the ingredients below: frozen bananas, blackberries and a little bit of milk.
The reason I love this dessert is that the texture is so creamy. You get the consistency of ice cream without the cream and fat. So if you like the flavor of banana and you like ice cream, then this will be your new favorite dessert. And if banana isn't one of your favorite flavors you can add other yummy things to it. This one I made with black berries, but one of our favorites is to just toss in some strawberry jam. I've done peanut butter, and any fruit would be great. I also throw in a tablespoon of milk for consistency sake. If I don't, my food processor never quite gets past the chopped up frozen fruit stage. 

One other tip I have for you is on how to freeze your bananas. I don't recommend throwing in whole, unpeeled bananas into your freezer. Coming from experience, they are a pain to peel. I find the best method is to peel your banana and break it into 1-2" chunks and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Then place the cookie sheet in the freezer and you have easy to get to goodness. We use our frozen bananas within the same week, but if you won't get to all yours within the first couple weeks of freezing, I recommend storing them in a container once they have frozen on the cookie sheet. 

Hope you enjoy experimenting, and the best part is, it's really good for you!!
 Let me know if you come up with any great tasting variations :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Cut a Pineapple

Pineapples can be intimidating. They're prickly, they have that weird thing on their top, and they're juicy as all get out. But do not be afraid. Once you've managed to cut up a pineapple with this method you'll think twice before buying the pre-cut pineapples that cost an arm and a leg.

So here we go.
First step is to lay the pineapple on its side on a cutting board. Then cut off both ends. 
Now we're going to divide and conquer. Leaving the pineapple on its side and exposed on both ends. You're going to cut right down the center, hot dog style for you elementary school paper folders, and the long ways for everyone else. Once in half, you'll take one half and place it flat side down and cut it in half again. Repeat with other side so you have four quarters.
Next you'll cut off the unwanted hard core and the prickly outside. In order to accomplish this, you'll stand one of the quarters on end and cut the pointed part straight off. The part you're cutting off is particularly hard and not very fun to eat. If you don't get it all the first cut, you can always cut more off. Then your going to cut off the prickles. Depending on the size of your pineapple, this usually takes 3 or 4 cuts. You simply cut it like your pealing something. Line the knife up as close to the edge as possible and shimmy it down. You might leave some exterior pieces attached as it isn't a straight line. If that's the case, just cut off any spots you missed.
Once it's cored and pealed, you just need to cut it down to the size you want. I was snacking on them so I just halved them again and diced them into chunks. You can leave them whole for later or cube them or mince them. Whatever floats your pineapple boat. This only takes a couple minutes to do and is not a bad cleanup. It takes about as long as it would take you to peel and slice an apple. So do not be afraid and eat some pineapple!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hanging clothes out to dry

Sometimes I wish I could walk outside in February in shorts and t-shirt and feel the warmth of the sun. But living in Michigan has put the kaput on that. But I wouldn't trade my four seasoned state for constant warmth. But when I say it like that...No I'm sticking around. Who am I kidding! Nothing compares to spring and fall :)

Anyways, that has very little to do with what I'm actually posting about. This week I'm writing about how we save money with our laundry. Today I'm telling the tale of our drying system. We currently have a washer and dryer, but I haven't used the dryer since January 20th!! Whoot Whoot! During the warm months it's easy. Just hang your clothes outside, but when it's sub-freezing and your underwear would freeze long before it would dry, you have to take other steps. So what I've done is hung some string from the beams in our basement and hang our clothes up down there. Our basement is unfinished so I can stick nails where I want. If you have a finished basement, or a tiny home you can invest in a drying rack. My set-up works ideal because there is an open vent that blows on the clothes when the heat is on. It takes most of a day to dry one load. This probably has a lot to do with the temperature in which we keep our home. We let it drop to 55 when we aren't home and 62 when we are.

There are two reasons why I started hanging my clothes up in the winter.

First, it saves money. For a price explanation click here. They estimate that the average electric dryer costs 30-40 cents per load. If I did 100 loads a year, I'm looking at ~$35. That doesn't sound like much, but I believe every dollar counts. That's $35 I could spend on a vacation or a steak dinner. Money adds up!!

Second, it saves energy. You've probably heard it before, but we do not live on a planet with unending resources. I don't know all the details of how many resources it takes for me to dry a load of laundry, but I do know that it is a step in the right direction.

Hanging your clothes up in your home to dry during winter months may not be for you. And that's okay. But just know that it isn't that bad :)

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