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August Foodie Pen Pal

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This month’s foodie pen pal box was sent to me by Jen at Allergy Lane.  She has a great site talking about the food and environmental allergies that her family has.  I was super excited when my box arrived and I had JARS :).  I got three jars filled with wonderful finds.  The first jar was filled with lemon mint sugar.  This will be awesome for cookies and other baked goods when it gets cooler.  Next up was home made mint extract!  I’ve seen recipes for making my own extract, but hadn’t tried it before.  I was super excited to get this.  And my third jar is “cheesy” roasted chickpeas.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE roasted chickpeas.  I’ve made mine spicy, so this is going to be a new treat.  Thanks again to Jen for her great box.

The jars!

The jars!

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

The Lean Green Bean

July Foodie Pen Pal

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I again participated in this month’s foodie pen pal program.  My pen pal this month lives in California.  I was hoping for some local items, and she did not disappoint.  I was sent produce!  I didn’t even think about sending real fruits when doing this program, but this lady did.  I got a nectarine, avocado, and an orange.  On top of that I got some dried snap peas, tomato pesto sauce, Tobasco, tea, popcorn, and a mixture of nutritional yeast and pepper.  The note she sent said she puts the nooch on her popcorn.  It’s funny as I do that already!!!!  It’s like she already knew me.

My pen pal box

My pen pal box

The foodie pen pal that I sent to does not have a blog, so she asked if I wanted a write up from her end.  I always want to hear what my pen pal thinks of my food, so I was HAPPY to oblige.

Hi, I’m Geneva and I received the July Foodie PenPal Package from Jordyn.  The first item I pulled out was a jar of homemade applesauce.  I could only imagine the wonderful bread it would make and I was not disappointed.  I served it at a brunch I had for 6 of my girlfriends.  They all raved about it and wanted my recipe.  I gave it to them, but explained that the star ingredient was a gift.
Next I pulled out a jar of homemade coconut, almond cranberry granola.  I eat a lot of yogurt and I love to add something crunchy.  This was perfect.  I am trying to make it last as long as I can, but I find myself dipping into the jar whenever I walk past. 
One of my favorite candies is taffy.  I received two big boxes of taffy in the box.  I will be treating myself for quite awhile. 
Next I opened a bag of Simple Balance multigrain salt & pepper crisps.  These savory, crunchy chip-like snacks went into my snack drawer at work.  Salt & Pepper snacks are my favorite.  I am really amazed that you picked some of my favorite things.  
The last item in my package was a bottle of great tasting hot sauce.  It has been used in several marinades already.  I also used it on an omelette I made last Sunday for breakfast. 
Jordyn you really did a wonderful job on putting together a package of goodies I will enjoy for quite awhile.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
– Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

The Lean Green Bean

The Charmery

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I love my neighborhood.  Since having moved into Hampden proper, I’ve really been trying to take advantage of everything it has to offer.  One of the most amazing parts is “The Avenue“.  While touristy, it’s also really fun for locals as well.  There are plenty of shops and really amazing restaurants.  But one thing that has been missing in the neighborhood has been icy treats.  Well, now there is a new shop in town.

The Charmery

The Charmery

 

The Charmery opened up this past weekend.  If the crowds on Sunday at 5pm were any indication about how much the residents in Hampden were excited, I’d say that The Charmery will have no issues.  All the ice cream is made in store.  The dairy is locally sourced as is most of the other ingredients.  They definitely do a nod to Baltimore style flavors including an Old Bay caramel flavor and a Berger cookie flavor.  But what I found MOST exciting is that the store is offering vegan options!  After having some regular ice cream for the first time in a very long time two weeks ago and having a violent reaction (SORRY!), I was really happy for this option.  The option(s) could be a sorbet, a home made soda, or even coconut milk ice cream.  Luckily for me they had the coconut milk ice cream!

Toasted Coconut ice cream

Toasted Coconut ice cream

The flavor was toasted coconut, and it was DELICIOUS.  The texture is not as solid and creamy as what traditional milk ice cream would be, but it’s still so good.  The single scoop was for sure enough for one person to eat.  The ice cream was still so rich due to the fat content of coconut milk, plus the toasted coconut adds an interesting texture and deeper flavor to the cream.  I was told that the cones are currently not egg free, but they are working on getting a vegan option, plus they are working on creating their own vegan chocolate sauce.  I’m SUPER stoked to see this place grow.

June Foodie Pen Pal

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Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  I’ve had a bit of an issue with inspiration.  Plus we had a wasp issue.  Yeah…  But, I get to share with you the most AMAZING box I got!

This month I got a box from this amazing girl named Angelina.  She’s 21 years young and is studying to become a graphic designer.  This is all apparent in the box she sent me.  It all started with the wrapping on the outside.  I have never received a package that’s decorated on the outside!

Decorated outside

Decorated outside

Inside the box I got lots of new gifts!  There was a note about who Angelina was.  There was a great recipe to make my own banana chips.  And then the food…  There was seaweed snacks, banana chips, these AMAZING mango nut crunch snacks, Burts Bees chapstick, this meal pack, hazelnut wafers, and guava candies.

June Box

June Box

The most awesome part was this chocoate covered honey comb.  I am saving it for a fierce sweets craving.  It looks absolutely amazing.

Can't WAIT to eat

Can’t WAIT to eat

If you have ever thought about doing the foodie pen pal program, this box should convince you that you DEFINITELY should.

Here’s info about the program:

Foodie Penpals Terms & Conditions

Condition 1: You will contact the person you are matched with withing 72 hours of receiving your match to discuss dietary needs, allergies and food preferences.

Condition 2: You will make an effort to meet the dietary needs of your penpal- ie not sending animal products to vegans, dairy products if your match tries to avoid dairy or junk food if they ask for healthy snacks.

Condition 3: You will mail your box by the 15th of the month. It is HIGHLY recommended that you purchase delivery confirmation/get a tracking number for your package. It is very inexpensive and can be used to prove that you sent your package in the event that it gets lost.
If your match does not receive a package for the month, you will receive a warning. If it happens two months in a row, you will no longer be able to participate in the program

Condition 4: In the event that you do not receive a package, Lindsay and The Lean Green Bean blog cannot be held accountable. By agreeing to participate in FPP, we cannot 100% guarantee that you will receive a package. The mail gets lost occasionally and your partner may fail to deliver.

-Condition 5: Using the foodie penpals email list to send out personal or spam emails promoting your blog, giveaways, etc is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Doing so is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program as it is a violation of the other participants’ privacy.

The Lean Green Bean

Garden update

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So, it’s been a few weeks since my original post on my garden.  Things have mostly taken off.  The seeds that I planted are only kind of working.  No signs of beets or carrots yet.  Here’s hoping they will show at some point.  Also, I think the heat from last week seems to maybe have killed one of my hot pepper plants and my garlic maybe.  But some of the tomatoes have gone CRAZY!  Also, you can see the yellow squash growing!!

May Foodie Pen Pals

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Another month, another great foodie pen pal box.  This month I sent my box to someone in New York.  She got the Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies (the coconut and salted kinds).  This month, I got a box from Dawn over at Spatulas On Parade.

May Pen Pal Box

May Pen Pal Box

First off, I don’t know HOW she knew, but I puffy heart love the Lemon Bar flavor of the Larabar.  So delicious!!!!  I also love the Justin’s single serve almond and peanut butters.  They are perfect for race day or travel in general.  If you’ve ever gone to a race not in your town, these are PERFECT for a pre-race breakfast.  The Sunbutter crackers/replacement meal looks super interesting.  I’ll have to pack it on my next super long day.  The mints are tea flavored and are sweet, but not overly sweet.  Perfect.  And lastly, the two spice packets.  I can’t wait to use both!  Thanks again to Dawn for her great box.

Here are the Foodie Pen Pal details:

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
– Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. 

The Lean Green Bean

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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So, I have now served these to three different audiences (and my husband as well) and everyone loves them.  I’ve made a few different versions of the cookie thus far and think I have the best option figured out.  I promise no one will know that these are vegan.  Remember to just not skimp on the fat (vegan butter) part of this, as that is what helps make the cookies so darn good.

Spicy Cookie Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

    Cookie Ingredients

    Cookie Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg substitute (I used Ener-G)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 to 1.5 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups white flour
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips

Optional ingredients:

Cookie close up :)

Cookie close up 🙂

  • 3/4 cups chopped hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cups shredded coconut
  • pink Himalayan salt

Cream together the butter and sugars.

Creamed butter and sugars

Creamed butter and sugars

Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla.  Beat the mixture together well.  If using Ener-G egg replacer, add the 1 1/4 tsp of dry mixture to the milk with an extra two tablespoons of milk.

Liquids together

Liquids together

Add in the baking powder, cayenne, and cinnamon and mix well.  Finally, add in the whole wheat flour and mix.  Then add the white flour a half cup at a time.  Mix slowly.  Add in chocolate chips and any other of the add ins that you want. Refrigerate your dough.  It will make scooping the dough so much easier.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Heat the oven to 375 F.  Place the cookies about an inch to an inch and a half apart from each other.  If you cook on a silicone sheet, it will make removing the cookies that much easier.  Cook for 15 minutes.  The cookies won’t brown so much on top, so no worries about that.  Allow the cookies to cool then enjoy!

Coconut AND sea salt options

Coconut AND sea salt options

As for the options, I’ve found that using a full 1.5 tsp of cayenne pepper and chopped hazelnuts are the best option.  If you don’t want to add nuts, I’d suggest using dark chocolate with some Himalayan salt sprinkled on top.  Any way you have it, they will be delicious.  Other options may be to try using some tofu or apple sauce instead of egg or the Ener-G.  Also, try using coconut oil instead of the butter, which may work as well.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Friday Flicks: Django Unchained

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Movie poster

Warning: Anything you have heard about Django Unchained is true.  It’s bloody, gory, full of the “n” word, and REALLY LONG.  This is a Quentin Tarantino movie from the beginning.  Yes, he’s even in it for about 5 minutes or so.  But, in true Tarantino fashion, he doesn’t have problems taking himself out of the movie as well.

The basic premise is Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a previous  dentist turned bounty hunter, seeks out a slave named Django (Jaime Foxx) to assist him in identifying some bounties.  The hunt goes well, and the doctor decides to take on Django to be his partner for the rest of the winter.  Django agrees to be his partner with the agreement that Schultz help him find his wife come spring.  The two seem to get along very well and have a very prosperous winter, including geting the drop on a very high value gang.

Spring comes and Schultz and Django head to Mississippi to try to find Broomhilde (Kerry Washington).  They find out that she’s been bought by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and brought to his plantation.  As a matter of approach, Schultz and Django decide to play the roles of men looking to buy mandingos, or slaves that are fighters.  Their hope is that by distracting Calvin from seeing their true purpose they would be able to buy Broomhilde from out under Calvin.  Once they get to Candyland, they find that Broomhilde has tried to escape again and was being kept in the hot box.  Schultz is able to get her out under the pretext that he wants her company.  Django and Hilde are reunited, but it is short lived.  The main house slave Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) sees something’s up and alerts Calvin to the apparent plot.

Schultz and Django

This starts a very long cascade of people dying.  Calvin dies.  Shultz dies.  Most of Calvin’s men die.  Stephen dies.  Calvin’s sister dies.  Things do not look good for either Hilde or Django.  But things start going their way at the end.  And of course the movie ends in a literal “bang”!

Calvin

I have left out much of this movie due to its graphic nature.  There is so much blood and gore in this movie that it is beyond gratuitous.  This is VERY much Tarantino’s style.  Think “Inglorious Basterds”.  Actually, that movie put a bit of a damper on my opinion of this movie.  After seeing “Inglorious Basterds”, I was pretty ruined by Christoph Waltz.  He was such a terrible character that I kept thinking of him as the Jew hunter.  But his character in “Django Unchained” was the complete opposite.  This movie he shows so much more depth in character.  He starts the movie as not wanting to be involved or understanding the slave business.  But he learns very quickly all about it and seems to do the right thing by the slaves he meets.

Stephen and Hilde

All in all, you are going to have to WANT to see this movie.  While I LOVE Kerry Washington, especially in her performances during Scandal, but she really did nothing for me during this movie.  On the other hand Jaime Foxx seems to be choosing better roles that are actual real acting roles.  He’s not my favorite actor, but this was a good job by him.  The movie is over 2.5 hours long, so this is not a movie you can just breeze through.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday Flicks: Silver Linings Playbook

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Movie Poster

I hope I’m the only one that hasn’t seen this movie yet.  I know I’m not, as I called my husband and mother IMMEDIATELY after seeing it.  This was one of those movies.  Ones that you’ve heard was good and actually lives up to its expectations.  I only had a basic understanding of the movie.  The main male character was “crazy” and he meets someone else who is also a bit “off”.  I also knew that the EAGLES were involved and that Robert Deniro was in the film…  Again, all good things.

While the basis of this movie is a sort of romantic comedy, the “comedy” can be very uncomfortable as it is so close to being so true.  Pat Solatano played by Bradley Cooper, is bi-polar and has been ordered into psychiatric care due to an incident.  Pat caught his wife Nikky having an affair with the History teacher at the high school Pat also worked at.  Pat spends four months in a hospital before his mom comes to get him out.  In an agreement to get him released Pat must go to therapy daily and take his medicines.  The problem is that Pat refuses to take his meds as they make him foggy and dull his senses.

Pat striking a deal…

Pat is invited to a dinner party at his friend Ronnie’s house (played by John Ortiz).  Along with Ronnie and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) was also there.  Tiffany is a young widow who is very blunt with everything she does.  As she still sees Nikky occasionally and all Pat wants to do is reconnect with her, Tiffany negotiates with Pat.  If she gives a letter from Pat to Nikky, then Pat has to learn to dance and become her dance partner for an upcoming dance competition.  He reluctantly agrees, and begins to learn to dance and builds a strong relationship with Tiffany.

Parents

Pat slowly gains a new semblance of life, though it’s not easy.  He does eventually get to see Nikky and compete in the dance competition.  I won’t tell the ending, but it’s good, if slightly predictable.  What is great about the movie are the interactions and nuanced performances the “supporting” roles give.  I do think Jennifer Lawrence deserves an Oscar for her performance.  It’s not a flashy sort of role like her “Hunger Games” role is.  It’s much more subtle, like her work in “Winter’s Bone“.  Bradley Cooper does crazy really well.  It’s not comical crazy.  It’s a very in your face very uncomfortable and very realistic crazy.

Dinner party

But most of all, I loved Robert DeNiro.  His role as Pat’s father was played with such a slight hand and a professional’s job that it was absolutely amazing.  He was BANNED from the Linc!  OMG!  It is hilarious.  But ultimately he just wants to connect with his son.  He gets the other one, but Pat has always seemed to ellude him.  Watching the relationships grow in this movie is well worth the price of rental.

Dance!

Rating: 10 out of 10

My NEW garden

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As I’ve said, I moved this winter, which means I couldn’t continue with my garden set-up from last year.  I debated whether I should do the CSA that is popular around here (I’ve participated in the past) or start over with a new garden.  Since one of the things that drew me to this place was the outdoor space, I decided to garden again.

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I was up against a lot.  The girls that lived here previously planted some stuff, but I have no idea what.  I did see some oregano and mint, but they had started to completely take over the upper part of the back garden.  So, it took me about three weeks and a bunch of blisters, but I was able to clear the back and the side areas.  The big things I put in are a fig tree and a blueberry bush.  I also put in various tomatoes, spicy peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplants, radishes, carrots, beets (yellow and candy cane), onions, garlic, and carrots.  I also then planted some lettuces and I got a planter with various herbs.

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I then decided that I wanted my garden to be more sustainable, so I got a rain barrel and a composter. Hopefully I will have some good updates all season long.