Instant Pot Refried Beans Are Pretty Darn Good

A recipe so good and so easy that I am writing it before I forget what I did.

The resulting recipe using Olive Oil is Vegan, but don’t let that scare you, I served mine with some grated cheese on top in the Mexican Style.  It’s a mild dish, and I am estimating that it’s about 150 calories per serving cooked with Olive Oil, More if the spices and onion are cooked with animal fats which is more traditional.

Personally I recommend making this recipe with double the spices and onions.  I found it as written bland and not authentic.  Doubling it was much closer to what I expected from my favorite Mexican Restaurant.

Finally, I used a potato masher to get the texture right but these beans were creamy like a good yogurt when I was through.

Soaking them in Baking Soda really is necessary, if not required!   It also drastically reduces the gas you get when you soak them in Baking Soda. 

So here’s what to do with all those beans you impulse bought to help you through any emergencies!

Ingredient list:

  • Dry Pinto Beans – 8 oz/1/2 pound/225 grams
  • Water – 3 cups for soaking plus about 3 cups for the Instant pot.
  • Baking Soda – 1/2 teaspoon once for the soak, once for the Instant pot.  It makes your beans extra silky soft.
  • Oil or Fat for cooking – Bacon Grease, Lard,  or other rendered fats are traditional.  I used a deeply green Olive Oil because I just didn’t want that many calories added back to a light side dish.
  • Onion – 1/4 to 1/2 Minced Fine
  • Garlic – 1-2 cloves Minced Fine
  • Cumin – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oregano – 1 Sprig or 1 teaspoon dry.

First, soak your beans: Yes, the night before.  Do it, you will be thankful.  This will give you creamy beans that will seem to melt as you prepare them.

  • For 8 ounces/ 1 cup dry/ 225g of pinto beans, add them to a large bowl with 3 cups of water.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda and swirl the water around.
  • Cover the bowl and ignore overnight.
  • I waited 12 hours.

Second – Cook your beans in the instant pot:

  • Drain the beans – you will notice that the water is brown and somewhat syrupy.
  • Rinse the beans thoroughly.  I gave mine three passes through the water until clear.
  • Drain the beans again.
  • Add beans to the Instant pot.
  • Add enough water to cover the beans plus at least a thumbnail extra over top.
  • Close and seal the Instant Pot.
  • Cook on the Beans Button or 25 minutes plus Natural Release.

Third – Prepare your spice mixture:

  • 1/4 onion diced quite small.
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic to taste.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry Oregano or 1 sprig fresh.
  • 1 Bay Leaf.
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin.
  • Salt to taste.

Fourth – After Natural Release, Cook your Spice Mix

  • Drain the Instant Pot of the water.
  • Remove the Beans and set them aside.
  • Add your oil or fat to the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  • Turn the Instant Pot to Saute and allow it to warm the oil to cooking temp (shimmering).
  • Add the Spice Mixture and Onions to the pot.
  • Cook the Onions well until they become clear to translucent.

Finally add the beans to the instant pot and stir.  At this point the beans will be very tender.  I did not need a mixer to get the proper silky texture to my Refried Beans.  Authentic Refried Beans do tend to have some unbroken beans in the mix.  If you are unsatisfied with the smoothness, blast it with a stick blender or potato masher until you are.

Made with Olive Oil, this should be well under 200 calories per serving for a quarter of the batch with a healthy portion of cheese on top.  Your Mileage May Vary!

Making a Surgical Mask For COVID-19 Might Be Easier With Sewing Hem Tape

I am going to make a surgical mask to “survive” a doctor’s trip tomorrow (as of this writing).

This is definitely NOT one of those “N95” masks that you hear about.  This is a stopgap measure designed to slow down things, and while it is designed after what hospitals are asking as donations, anything like this is used at your own risk.  “Better than nothing” is all we seem to be getting these days anyway since hording seems to be out of control.

Oh, and wash this after one outing.  That’s true with any mask.  I’ll be throwing mine into the washer on Hot when I get back.  You may want to soak yours in Alcohol instead.

It is all up to you.

If this sounds vague, I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice other than Be Careful Out There.

This will not be fancy, and it will be easily made because I will be using Hem Tape instead of sewing things together.  If you don’t have a sewing machine, this will work.

Mine did work for me.  If you get nothing more from this article – use Hem Tape if you can’t or won’t use needle and thread.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s a 1/2 inch wide (or so) strip of synthetic fabric that has a “low” melting point.  You place this within a seam, use a hot iron to press the fabric.  The Hem Tape melts and bonds with the fabric.  It is not permanent, but I have had tape hold in a seam for more than a decade.

After looking at a number of videos and reading plans, I realized that you can simply heat the iron and press in some hem tape.

The result will look like something out of the TV Show MASH with ties instead of elastic.

Since this is done for ease, it may be a bit crooked.  It’s ok, Crooked can save your life too.
The basics are a 9×6 inch rectangle that is an envelope open at top..

The open area at top is so you can slide in a filter material if you have access to any.

It is made with a tightly woven fabric and is two ply – a top and a bottom layer.
Mine will be made from an old bandana I got at a street fair given to me for my dog.
The two ends have ties or strings on them to tie behind the head.
There is one pleat on it to help shape it to the face, but typically there are three of them.
I only put one in mine because it seemed enough.

Any raw edges that have been cut will have to be hemmed or taped closed so you don’t have it unraveling in use.
This assumes Hem Tape is 1/2 inch Wide.

  • Cut your fabric to 10 inch by 12.
  • Iron your fabric flat.
  • Fold fabric in half, pattern outside.
  • It will be 10 inches by 6 when done.
  • Iron the fold to ensure it lays flat then turn it inside-out again to work on the seams.
  • Pin or lay some hem tape on the very top of the cut long side(s) opposite of the fold and hem that side closed. 
  • Do this so that the fold faces you.
  • Flip and repeat for the other top side.
  • Hem the shorter sides together.
  • This will create an envelope that is inside out, and open at the top.

Turn the mask inside out.  Now you are looking at what will be the “outside” of the mask.

Pleats.

  • Pleats seem to be optional but to add them, pinch the edges together along the short sides.
  • This can be repeated up to three times but I only did one.
  • Use a 1/2-1 inch long piece of Hem Tape to close your Pleat.
  • Cut the piece of hem tape to fit.
  • Slide it inside of the mask against the side and add your pleat.
  • Heat the pleat until it sets.
  • Repeat the pleats on each side of the mask.

Ties to hold the mask in place can be made from rubber bands or by sewing laces to each corner to be tied behind the head.
I will make my own ties with the extra fabric from construction.

In testing the mask, the ties held well fastened behind my head, the mask seemed that it will work for the short work that will be required of it.

COVID-19 Killed My Outdoor Workout And It Killed Yours Too

Hey!  You!  Listen to The Coach, stay the hell home!  You don’t want COVID-19.

Great, now that we have gotten that out of the way, if I’m a little grumpy I’m trying to remove 500 calories a day out of my daily diet because I am home and can’t workout.  I will be dusting off the Bowflex home gym today.

It’s all because I got a lesson in Social Distancing.

I workout at Pompano Beach Airpark.  It is a 4.5 mile outdoor loop around an airport and a golf course here in South Florida.  It has benches and three water stops.  Flat as a pancake even if they did put speed bumps on the trail itself for the blind.

Whoever made that decision, needs to have a talking to.  The speed bumps at the .6 mile marker (1 KM West of the southern start of the loop) are enough to make an elite inline skater fall down.

Can you file them down a bit, they’re excessive!

Never the less, I have a complicated set of maneuvers that give me a 14 mile workout without ever hitting a street or that particular speed bump.  There are people Skating, as well as Bikers, Runners, Walkers, and people out strolling to enjoy the setting.

I have been going there for a year and a half and it shows.  I’m in markedly better physical condition than the average person in the US at my age group.  A workout is 1700 to 2200 calories, generally twice a week.

The last time I went there, I went specifically to ask the question “Is it safe to continue skating“.

The answer is a resounding NO.  Emphatically.

First, about half of the people normally working out are staying away.  I have a few people I know well and all of them were gone.  The Canadians are heading back North, and the locals are skipping it too.

Second, that Golf Course?  Easily half of the old duffers were missing.  The line for a Golf Cart was gone, there was nobody sitting on the bench that I use at mid workout.  Even the Pro Shop was idle.

Finally, the parking lot was down by about 2/3.

While we all make decisions that effect ourselves, the decision to employ Social Distancing effects others as well.  If you have COVID-19, it does not pass it to someone if you aren’t there to do that deed.   Also you can’t pick it up if you aren’t drinking from a contaminated water fountain or sitting on a contaminated park bench.

I’m done for the duration.  The skates will all be “refurbished” for the next workout, hopefully sooner than later.

 

But, Stay Home.

 

Walk your dogs longer.  Go out before dawn and get some exercise when nobody else is awake.   There were a few people still out but this morning’s one mile walk was completely alone and I live in the middle of a populated area.

Your health will thank you.

If you are an outdoor workout person, I did think that you can do it safely if you do a few things.

  • Bring what you need to keep yourself safe.  Sanitizer and a mask are helpful if you have enough.
  • Obviously – Social Distancing – Stay away from others.  If someone coughs and you run through it, you’re exposed.
  • Don’t touch anything or anyone.
  • Don’t use the facilities.
  • Don’t drink the water, bring your own and bring extra.
  • Don’t use the benches unless they are in full sun and consider wiping them down with full strength rubbing alcohol or other sanitizers.

 

Don’t fall.  That’s just good for any other normal day.  Falling hurts.

Maybe this autumn I will see you all again but for now, I’m looking for my skate box.  I have bearings to tear down and re-lube.

Belling The Cat or How A Jingle Bell Helps A Mobility Scooter be More Mobile

I came to the conclusion that I had to bell the cat.   Santa needed to be invited to town in September.

We all have our moments, but this maxim that I have was illustrated to me perfectly clearly, when I took a friend to a supermarket.

You see that friend broke his foot.  He’s recovering from an emergency freak accident where the bone broke for no apparent reason.

Since he was in London, he got much better care than he would have gotten here in the US where even the doctors were amazed at the quality of care of the NHS.

I am thinking that had it happened in Philly, NYC, or LA he may have had a chance of a similar level of care, but at this point we’d be talking about selling his house to pay for it.

Thanks to the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, he came home with a pair of shiny crutches, a cast on his leg, and a really fascinating collection of screws and stays to stabilize his bones.

We don’t know why nor will we ever know why it happened.

One thing he did not get was a scooter.  NHS does not supply them nor did his US Insurance since Insurance is not here to serve you so much as to try to keep as much of your money as possible while giving you the absolute minimum of care.

 

However, he did not have to pay a dime on the NHS.  At. All.

I just may move to Vermont or Southern California when I truly retire so I can have a walk across the border for my future meds in Canada or Mexico, but that’s a different story.

We have all seen these contraptions where you kneel on it and glide along to where you are going.

I’m afraid of that damn thing, he’s faster than I am while walking.

But he is also just this side of silent on it.

Since as my maxim goes, Other People Don’t Believe Society’s Rules Apply To Them, I went along as Security.  Being as tall as I am, people may not notice him but they surely won’t miss me and I can run interference.

As it was we both got crowded out of places we wanted to go.  My heart goes out to the wheelchair bound and the blind.  If we had trouble with all of this, I can only imagine what they go through.

So I had a brainstorm.  I belled the cat.

Not literally, don’t get your animal rights in a twist.

I put a jingle bell on the front of his scooter.

While going through his paces, now you can tell he’s coming.  He jingles.

Yes, I finally found a use for those over large jingle bells I found one holiday season and set aside.  It’s September and I have no pressing need for a golf ball sized bell, let alone two.

Taking a small piece of Copper Wire, I tied the things to his basket.

Yes, they have baskets, that is where you put your crap when you get out of the easy chair and scoot to the kitchen to do dishes, get your snacks, or use El Baño to get rid of same snacks.

It was helpful.  When he went to his next appointment, the bells were cheerily announcing his presence at a subliminal level and he had an easier time of it.

Next time if it happens, I swear I’m going to a toy store and getting a squeaky horn and some tassels.  The horn will shock people awake from their phones.

The Tassels is just because.  May as well have a sense of humor with it.   The horn should be as outrageous a color as possible since if you’re going to look silly, Own It!

Managing My Dog’s Pancreatitis Flare Up Requires Dietary Management

Standard Internet Disclaimer:  I’m not a vet.

If you have a problem with your dog’s health go see a vet.

I can’t be responsible for any “bad advice” that you apply – GO SEE A VET if you suspect a problem.

I am but a blog writer, don’t let me be your only source of information.

However this is what worked for me.  I am not a Doctor, or a Vet.  I am however someone who has been on an “Athletic Training Diet” since 1979, so some of this is a lot of applied knowledge that came from my own trial and error.

The symptoms were that my dog got sluggish, started vomiting, and started refusing his food.  We had a bout with Diarrhea.

The Vet suspected Pancreatitis, and after research, it seemed very likely that this was the case.   We also suspected that he has always had this but it just hadn’t flared up yet.

It took a couple weeks worth of fiddling with his diet to figure this solution out.

The solution was “nuanced”.  There were a few subtle things that I was doing wrong, apparently very wrong for my dog.

 

The result was that he’s now healthy, two pounds lighter, and probably will always be on a low fat diet.

We never have completely figured out Rack’s nutritional problems.  I got him as a rescue puppy with some pretty severe problems.  Worms that took three cycles of de-worming powder to kill off.  What turned out to be an allergy to poultry and grain.

His nutrition as a puppy at 7 months took him longer to get figured out than I would have liked, and it resulted in him being on the “small and light” side for the breed.

He always got the grain free dry food, when I could convince him to eat it since his teeth were naturally missing in the back.

While that is a lot to manage, it triggered my own training diet mind in gear and I figured out what was wrong.  I lost 75 pounds in 2 years when younger and have maintained a better than normal build through nutrition and exercise in the too-many years since, I should be able to figure this out.

When the prepared dry food we were giving him moved production to the US, and to a state  known for lax enforcement of food quality standards, I panicked.  The quality would suffer so we needed a different way.  That brand later had a food recall for some reason and we heard that there were dogs endangered as a result.

I was forced to prepare his own food.  Twice a week, I would take 2 1/2 pounds of cooked and browned ground beef, add water, add powder and feed him that.  He did very well on it although he got bored with it after a while.

That should have been a cue something was up.

So I did an internet search for a crock pot dog food.  Found one recipe that is human safe, although very bland – I even tasted it.  He did very well on that but it did tire him after a while.

I kept feeding him the two foods, alternating every week between recipes.

Then the Pancreatitis hit.  I recognized the symptoms from my old dog, Lettie, who had it before she passed of kidney failure induced by “recalled dog food”.  The same symptoms.  Refusing food, sluggish, loose stool, occasional vomiting.

Rack at this point is in the prime of his life.  Five years old herding dog.  Should be beyond active.

I did some research and realized that treating him well was the problem.

We have a routine.  He gets his food at breakfast and dinner.  I rarely give him treats.  Almost never give him table scraps.

I have Pork more often than I have anything else.  I can make a pork tenderloin into something that is High End Restaurant quality.  Pork Tenderloin is a very forgiving recipe – 250F Slow oven until internally 140F.   Takes around two hours.  Marinade the Pork the night before in sauces of choice, I prefer Barbecue Sauce.

Try that recipe on Pork Loin and it works, although Pork Loin is much tougher.  Pork Loin also has a layer of fat left on it so it can soak down into the roast.

That was the problem.

Dogs do not digest pork fat well.

Two days before the incident, I had given him the fat from the top of my lunch pork.  I did that again the next day.

The third day, he later started refusing food.

HIS food never changed.  MY food had.  I went from the Pork Tenderloin which is just about the leanest meat you can get to Pork Loin and feeding him an ounce of fatty scraps.

On research it turns out that you should never feed a dog pork fat.  That includes Bacon.

Dogs can not digest it well, it tends to cause problems.  Like Pancreatitis.

So all snacks were cancelled.  He got a Fasting Day to clear his system of the fat.  His “regular food” was cut down to a quarter and served on a bed of white rice to be mixed in.

He began eating it slowly.

As his system cleared out, I mixed in proportionally more of the regular food.

He had a small flare up.

It turned out that the beef I was serving was a problem as well.  There was too much fat in the meat.  This was a “Utility Grade Meat” and as such had a significant quantity of added fat.  You could actually smell the fat in the resulting dog food.

Now my own cooking skills were brought to task.  I had a freezer full of Utility Grade Meat that needed to be de-fatted.

If you won’t eat it, don’t feed it to the dog.

Brown the meat and skim off as much fat as possible.

I was getting as much as a cup of fat skimmed off of 2 1/2 pounds of “beef”.

Prepare the normal recipes.

Success.

The only side effect was that he started losing weight.  That I can manage since he was acting hungry again.  His serving sizes were increased by an ounce at a time over the next couple weeks until the weight loss stopped and the begging slowed.

Now he’s doing fine.  Begging for Yogurt here is at a normal level and since I make the stuff for my own use, it’s not a problem.

Stools are normal.  Coat is shiny and soft.  No vomiting.

Best of all the energy level is higher than I remember it.  Which means that I get more exercise as well.

So:

  • Reduce the fat to the utmost minimum.
  • No table scraps ever.
  • No added sugar, ever.
  • No added salt, ever.
  • No treats of Bacon or other fat from the roasts.

It helped him out big time.  I’m back to being run around by a herding dog with a big personality.

Rum Raisins – How to make them for baking

This isn’t so much of a recipe as it could be called a kitchen hack.

There isn’t a picture this time because it looked like pebbles in some murky brown water, but you’ll get the idea. Really it is that simple. You just have to let things soak and sit for a day.
It’s so easy that it’s one of those things you do while waiting for the kettle to boil.
Rum Raisin
Get a 2 cup or 1/2 liter container – or larger. Feel free to double this recipe with a larger container if needed. You want extra “room” so you can shake the mixture every so often.

Raisins, your choice – 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 225 ml

Rum, your choice – 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 225 ml
This will scale up or scale down based on your needs. The trick is to make sure that the raisins are all covered by rum.
When you go to use the rum raisins, strain them with a sieve or mesh. But reserve the extra rum because the now-brown rum tastes awesome straight up or on ice.
… or on ice cream.

To use the raisins in Tapioca Pudding or Oatmeal Raisin cookies, use the strained raisins as you would with any other wet raisins. They will change the taste of your baked goods, and in a normal sized serving of Tapioca, you will get between 1/2 to one ounce of rum.
If you’re a tea totaller or “On Recovery”, substitute water or grape juice.
This also works with any dried fruit within reason. I’m thinking dried Mangoes next time I go to the shops, or perhaps Apricots.

Monarch Extinction or Fake News and a reason to keep your adblocks up to date?

Here I am.  In the South Eastern portion of a state named after Flowers.

I just saw a Monarch butterfly float past the window.  It’s February and I do see them daily, I didn’t think much of it.

The other day I was sitting in my Jeep.  I was at Pompano Airpark in the south eastern parking lot.  Putting on my inline skates for a workout.  A Monarch butterfly floated between me and the next car of to do whatever it was that butterflies do.

They are here.  But in a state named after Flowers you would expect that.  Lots of nice Nectar to drink, places to visit, fields to float through.

Along with my favorite Monarchs are Swallowtails and others, flashing black and yellow in their own dazzling display while floating on the breezes.

Then I get home and am confronted with a rather frightening news story screaming that their numbers are Below 1% and Heading towards extinction!

Pretty shouty and frightening titles if you ask me.

Except.

 

Those two links I have above?  Almost Word For Word copies of each other.  If you click on the links, expect to have more shouty advertisements for bogus things that you were not interested in popping up on you shilling some nonsense that you will never follow through with.

Any time you find that the majority of the search of a specific phrase, pick your search engine, I have been using Duckduckgo.com lately, are identical in a search – think fake news.

Those who support that sort of … prank have been busy in recent years.

At any rate, any time you see something like that, it’s a red flag.   Keep your antivirus programs and your ad blockers up to date, someone has a farm of web pages, none of which really are all that worthwhile.

If you are in the west and are witnessing a drop in the numbers, plant butterfly weed and milkweed.

Even if you aren’t, it’s a good idea.

As for me?  Any time I get a web site throwing up a nonsensical pop up urging me to sign onto their newsletter list, I immediately go in and start blocking things.

It’s a sure sign it’s not really worth bothering with.

And plant some milkweed, ok?  After all the Monarchs really could use our help.