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Excellent Meal for Thanksgiving

Can you hear me patting myself on the back? Gotta say... everything I made to contribute to Mom-in-Law's feast yesterday was a big hit. One person, after tasting my pecan pie, asked where I was from. I said Kentucky, and she said, quite loudly with great enthusiasm: "no wonder you're such a great cook"!

Gotta say, even tho my Hubby and Kid often compliment my creations, hearing it from a complete stranger (wife of brother-in-law's brother, never met before) was a complete surprise and thrilled me beyond belief.

I ate too much, of course, and now don't want to move. I think we'll do our recipe experimenting tomorrow. Meanwhile...

how did YOUR Thanksgiving go? what did you cook? where did you go? did a local restaurant take the headache off your hands?

Marinade for Steak

Recipe deleted for inclusion in ...

Kindle Book "Survival Cooking: Eating From Your Pantry and Backyard", publish date: March or April 2013, Amazon.com

Hard Copy available on www.rosemary-ridge.blogspot.com, also March or April 2013

Pecan Pie

I have the task of providing pecan pies to our Thanksgiving feast. I have 2 regular crusts, and 2 gluten-free crusts, so we're making 4 pies today. After each is being pulled from the oven, we're using dark chocolate chips to mark an "R" for regular crust, and "G" for gluten-free crust. Gotta do this for the Kid's sake. We're taking one regular and one gluten-free, because this is the Kid's favorite pie, and with all of his food allergies and being so picky, I want to make sure he has a good time there too!

Anyway, here's the recipe I'm using:

Ingredients:
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened (or melted/cooled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup pecan halves
9" pie shell

Directions:
Beat eggs. Add the corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla, and blend well. Stir in pecans (I use pecans, whether they're halves or broken!). Pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 F. degrees for 50-55 minutes.

= = = =

NOTE: (1) I ended up with too much "batter" from each batch so I poured into a little tart shell (or 2) and will bake when I'm done with all of the pies. (2) Always place your pie plate/tin on a baking sheet not only for stability but also to catch any overflows (you'll need to clean the oven less often). (3) My first pie turned out a bit darker than I expected, so the second I baked only for 48 minutes, and it turned out beautifully. (4) For the gluten-free pies, I used pre-made gluten-free pie crusts from my favorite bakery (http://www.debysglutenfree.com/). Use care to not cross-contaminate.

After each was done, I moved from the baking sheet to a nice-sized plate and placed in our garage, where there are no bugs (or mice, thank goodness!) but it is about 40 degrees in there. After it completely cooled, I placed the entire plate/pie in a big baggie, and there it will stay until it's time to take to Thanksgiving dinner.

Green Bean Sidedish Controversy

I had found a new recipe for a green bean salad that I wanted to take to Thanksgiving. I was only told to bring green beans. Not any specifics. So this recipe looked delicious. Only thing was that I didn't have a pretty serving bowl for it; most of our stuff is still in boxes. Hubby asked his mom, the hostess of our coming Thanksgiving feast, if she had a serving bowl for this new green bean salad. I only heard his end of the conversation, but suffice it to say... no green bean salad. So I guess I'm making the old standby green beans with cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions. Along with the mashed potatoes (which were "too lumpy" the last time), baked ham, and 2 pecan pies (1 gluten-free and 1 regular). Hope the rich sister brings something other than wine this year!

Do I sound bitter? Sorry. I'm not having a great week.

Hubby and I decided that on Friday, we'll make our own "Thanksgiving" dinner here ... with the stuffing **I** like, the new green bean salad, homemade not-from-a-box bread machine bread, and whatever ham is leftover from Thursday. I think we'll also make cinnamon-and-sugar pecans and walnuts.

Then we're going to spend Sat and Sun making even more homemade breads ... experiments, if you will. For the bread machine, or drop biscuits or skillet ... all completely from scratch.

I'm thinking the diet will start on Monday.

Hopefully, after Friday, I'll post recipes for some of our bread experiments, and, of course, the green bean recipe IF it turns out ok. It has mushrooms, red onion, walnuts, feta cheese, and a white wine vinaigrette. Served chilled. Can't wait! Yum!

Possible change to blog

Keeping up with these blogs is very time consuming ... not that I mind, usually! We're getting ready to embark on an intensive homesteading adventure, and may not be able to work on blogs daily.

So... I'm thinking about combining our blogs (cooking, gardening, homesteading, survival, storage, homeschooling, etc.) into one. I would eventually move posts to the new and combined blog.

We have a lot of readers, and I value your opinion. Thoughts?

Pioneer Bread Brewis

I found this recipe in a book of pioneer ways and tips. It's a good way to use stale bread. No measurements were given so be your own best judge.

Spread bits of bread out and let them dry, to be pounded for pudding or soaked for brewis.

Soak your crusts and dry pieces of bread for a "good while" in hot milk. Mash them up, salt, and butter like toast.

(Some recipes I found online say to serve this with fish. Others to serve with maple syrup. I personally am going to mash them up, leave out the salt, and fry them up, then serve with honey. Yum!)

The Gluten-Free Diet Fad

I was watching TV the other night, when Channel 4 kept giving a teaser for the 10 p.m. news - about the "gluten-free diet fad" - will it really help you lose weight? I waited and waited and finally after 25 minutes of "news and weather", they got to the story. Basically, they said that gluten is found in wheat, and most people don't really need the diet.

Excuse me?

Then I did a search tonight... googled "gluten-free diet fad" and couldn't believe what I read. Some people write about gluten-free people being snobs, and not really needing gluten-free food but just want the attention. Some people write that all poultry is ok, but that is misleading as any poultry or other meat with injections and additives usually have a gluten product in them. .

Here's a link to one of the stories: http://cbs11tv.com/gethealthytexas/Gluten.Free.Diet.2.1279346.html - she barely mentioned oats (a responsible reporter would have mentioned that oats are usually contaminated from wheat being grown nearby but "certified gluten-free oats" are ok for gluten-intolerant people). And it's not true that chips are always ok ... many many times they use fillers that have gluten in them.

Gluten-intolerance MAY be a diet choice for some people, but those people don't really understand the diet. The products aren't made to reduce fat and sugar and cholesterol and sodium and calories, but only take out and replace products made from wheat, rye, oat and barley, including maltro-dextrin, soy sauce and more. So... are these people completely deleting from their food intake sodas? Candy? Sweets of all kinds?

People, come on! A gluten-free diet won't solve your problems; eat less and work out more.

This isn't a joke. Some people need to be on the diet, or they will die. Celiac disease is a serious auto-immune, digestive disease. Why would someone choose to put their kid on this diet if they didn't have to? That means no fast food, no birthday parties with other kids, no cereal with goofy characters on the boxes. Really? Parents would choose to pay extra money for special gluten-free products? Ha! Not likely.

No, my kid isn't celiac, but gluten-products, along with cashews, soy, corn, peanuts, cow's milk, preservatives and fake colors can turn my sweet boy into a hellion... going from nice to unbelievably horrible and suicidal within moments. Plus he's a very picky eater. When we find something he can eat, we stick with it, which he's ok with.

For me, I get a rash all over my body when I eat gluten. It's called dermatitis herpetiformis, and it's absolutely not fun. Gluten also messes up my ovulation cycle (which is why I can't get pregnant), but that's just me and hasn't been medically proven.

Enough of my rant. Input?

Vikki

How to Make Yeast for Bread

I had been trying to figure this out, and being spurred on by reading a great book about self-sufficiency "Living the Good Life: How one family changed their world from their own backyard", I searched for and found this recipe.

And since I just made bread 2 days ago, first thing tomorrow, I'm starting a batch of this yeast!

= = =

Step 1: This step pulls the wild yeast from the air in your kitchen. The more you bake with yeast, the more you'll have in your air, so be sure to capture yeast shortly after you bake bread.

Combine in a medium-sized bowl: 2 cups of warm water, 1 tablespoon white table sugar, 2 cups of flour. Cover bowl with a cheesecloth, and place in a warm area in the kitchen. Stir every day at least once. When it bubbles, it means you have captured yeast from the air. From then on, just allow it to sit for 3-4 days to continue to bubble.

= = =

Step 2: This step makes the yeast into something you can use.

After the 3-4 days of bubbling, prepare a cookie sheet or dehydrator tray with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Thinly spread the liquid mixture on the prepared tray. When dry, break the dried yeast into small chunks. Grint into a powder (food processor or mortar/pestle). Use what you need. For longer, place in an air-tight container and store for short term in refrigerator. For long term storage, freeze in the container.

= = =

Step 3: This step shows how to use the yeast you made. This yeast isn't as concentrated as the yeast you can purchase (since it's mostly flour), so plan to use 1 cup of homemade yeast for 1 ounce of store-bought yeast.

Take 1 cup of liquid that your recipe calls for, and dissolve 1 cup of homemade yeast in it. Make the dough, making sure to reduce the flour you need by 1 cup (because your yeast is mostly flour!). Knead and rise dough as usual, which may take longer to do. Bake as usual.

Throw-Together Soup and Bread

With my fever raging, and the whole family down for the count with this swine flu, I just didn't feel like cooking yesterday. But I could throw things in the crockpot ... so I did. Sorry but I didn't measure - that's why I call it "throw"-together!

white beans (maybe a cup or 2?)
water to cover

Cook until soft. Added quinoa (maybe a cup?) and more water, and cooked until quinoa was soft. Added dried soup veggies (maybe a cup - green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, onion, bell peppers, etc.). Also added lots of dried garlic (good for immune system) and dried onion dices. Pinch of hot pepper flakes.

When it smelled ready, we ate it with some bread I had done in the bread machine (comes in handy when I have no energy to knead).

I'm re-heating leftovers for tonight, after adding a dash of Mrs. Dash's garlic and herb mix, and we'll be adding some goat or sheep cheese to melt in the hot soup. Yum.

Inventory Check: Honey

Been thinking a lot about that "Alas, Babylon" book, especially when I did my monthly shopping today. One of the things that post-nuclear-war book mentioned a couple of times was the lack of sweets, sweeteners and calories, especially for the kids. One man was a bee-keeper, and had a great supply of honey, but was concerned about how the radiation was killing the bees. Then, he gave a good supply of honey to the main character "for the kids" and shortly after, he was murdered for the rest.

I can't imagine my 13 yr old not having honey on oatmeal or cereal or spiced quinoa in the morning. And adding it to my hot tea when I have a sore throat. And using it as syrup on chocolate-chip pancakes. Yum!

We have about 8 gallons of big bottles of honey, and several small honey bears in this storage tub and that. We also have sugar and stevia, and are growing stevia in the hopes that we can figure out how to use the leaves to sweeten things. We also have seeds to grow sorghum.

So take a look at your supplies. Even if you're not a prepper or stocker or hoarder ... buy local honey for those lean times when you can't get to a grocery, or don't have the money. Having something sweet is always a nice little thing to help perk up your mood.

Remember that honey doesn't go bad, as long as you don't contaminate the honey with butter or something like that (so you should pour it or spoon out with a clean spoon or dipper). Honey does crystallize but it just needs to be warmed slightly (NOT boiled) to re-liquify.

Note: Never give honey to a baby under the age of one year. Their digestive system can't assimilate the bacteria.

Alas, Babylon - use as a guide for food storage

I recently read the book "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank, published in 1959 but republished in 2005. I'll review the book on http://www.colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/ tomorrow but for now... just note that it's a must-read for what people most want when they suddenly have to go from a "modern" life to bare-bones civilization pre-electricity and pre-running water.

What I hadn't given previous thought to is honey. Yes, I knew people, especially kids, would need sweets as comfort food, but now I realize that it's more than that. It's a necessary food-store item for calories, sweet-taste, cooking, comfort, and it's a great antibiotic "ointment".

Another thought is salt. I don't salt anything because I have high blood pressure, but I know salt is in a lot of processed foods, and naturally occurs in some vegetation. It's also used to cure meats. When the main characters ran out of salt, they became confused, lethargic, nauseated, tired, headaches, disoriented and more. Hyponatremia (low sodium) can also progress to muscle twitching, seizures, coma and death. Although I don't use salt, I have 5 25-pound bags stored. Might want to get more.

I liked how the central cast of characters thought a little ahead and create a still for when the corn and sugar cane would be ripe. Once they made the "white lightening", they traded it for other things, but also the one doctor used it as an antiseptic. Think ahead: are you growing potatoes (vodka)? Hops, barley and some yeast (beer)? Honey (meade)? Grapes (wine & vinegar)? Apples (soft and hard cider, vinegar)? Elderberries (wine, syrup)? Molasses and yeast (rum)? Fruit, brewer's yeast and sugar (all kinds!)? You better believe that I'll be making lots of these, but meanwhile, I have a few bottles put away of various liquors.

Coffee isn't locally grown, so it became extremely valuable in trading. When the main character found a tin of coffee he has put aside, months after his last taste, he practically screamed with joy. People were willing to barter almost anything for coffee. I found the following list of drinks that have at least some of the caffeine jolt:
•Green tea*. Full of antioxidants, comes in many varieties.
•Black tea*. Strong flavor, good with milk, large variety of options. Has half as much caffeine as coffee.
•Licorice tea. Has a sweet flavor and nourishes the adrenal glands.
•Siberian ginseng tea. Nourishing herbal tea. Has a tonifying effect on the body.
•Yerba maté. No caffeine, but has a stimulating effect.
•Chocolate powder*. Has a bitter, coffee-like taste with a mild stimulating effect when unsweetend.

If you've read this book, let us know what you've given thought to because of it. Thanks!

Spiced Quinoa

Since I have a gluten-intolerant kid who is also a very picky eater, I experiment with different grains. Here's something I made the other day (yes, in the crockpot again!) that we all enjoyed. PLUS it filled us up! The kid ate a big bowl of this plus some carrots. Made me happy.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed with fine sieve
3 cups water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:
Add rinsed quinoa and water to crockpot; cook on high for 4 hours. One hour before serving, add the sugar and spices, and cook on low. Served with a bit of butter (lactose-free for Hubby and soy-free for Kid) and a sprinkling of more brown sugar on the top.

I'm thinking next time I'll add with the spices about a teaspoon of tapioca flour to thicken it. Might even add raisins but kid doesn't like them.

Crockpot sausage and cabbage

I'm cleaning out the freezer. My kid's birthday is next week (omg... a teenager!) and need to make room for lots of gluten-free items I've ordered at a special bakery. So... found some breakfast sausage without casing. Did this in the crockpot:

Ingredients:
1 pound breakfast sausage, no casing
1 1/2 cup water
3 baking potatoes, scrubbed and chunked
1 onion, diced
1/3 head green cabbage, sliced
1 cup baby carrots

Directions:
Turned on the crockpot, high. Crumbled the breakfast sausage into the bottom and cooked on high for about 2 1/2 hours (until cooked through). Added the rest of the ingredients, cooked on high for about 3 more hours, or until the potatoes were fork-tender. Stirred before serving.

As you can tell, I don't use spices very often. Feel free to season to taste.

Hubby said he loved it (the garlic and other spices from the sausage added more flavor to the dish), and even took some for lunch today. (I don't like cooked cabbage or sausage, and Picky-Eater Kid wanted gluten-free mac-and-cheese for dinner, so ... yep, I made 3 different dinners last night! That's ok... I'm used to it.)

Food Prices Gonna Rise? More?

I keep following links from blogs about how the prices of food stuffs (like rice, wheat and cocoa) are gonna rise big-time and soon. I've been reading that for a while, and I myself posted something to that effect a while ago.

Yes, I see prices increasing. Yes, I see supplies decreasing. But here I am, tucked in my comfy temporary home, all snug and warm, with pantry bursting and closets filled to the brim, while a blizzard rages outside. Over a foot of snow in the last 20 hours or so, and still more expected over the next 24.

We keep a list of supplies we'd like more of, and when prices are low, we stock up. We have enough potatoes, rice, beans, peas, dried fruit/veggies, canned fruit and soups, cocoa, flours (regular and gluten-free), quinoa, amaranth, and much more for probably 9 months. NOT that we're gonna be home-bound that long! Please?!?

So keep a sharp eye out for the grocery circulars, and pop into Costco or Sam's Clubs when you get a chance. Personally... we're asking family and friends for gift card to Amazon.com for birthday and holiday gifts so we can get more cans of powdered rice milk (pic above) and more.

Native American Goulash

I met a very old man yesterday who was from the Native American tribes of Pima and Punca. He told me one of the dishes he grew up on was goulash. Here's how he explained it to me:

Ingredients:
ground beef (LEAN) or beans
small unripe pumpkins
canned corn
canned green chilies

Directions:
Brown ground beef and drain of fat (or soak and cook beans). Harvest pumpkins while still small and green, peel, de-seed, and cut into small chunks. Add to beef/beans. Add drained corn and chilies. Cook and serve.

I'm thinking he probably missed a step or ingredient, but I'm going to try this when I have unripe pumpkins! Comments?

BPA in canning jars

I just read a post about how Bisphenol-A (BPA) is part of the rings, lids and seals that we use to preserve our harvests. BPA is a poison. Here's a link about the effects of BPA: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/484739_5

Check out these links:
- http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/is-there-bpa-in-your-home-canning.php
-
http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=921820
-
http://www.freshpreserving.com/pages/home_canning_faq/42.php
-
http://frugalcanning.blogspot.com/2009/09/used-jar-lids.html

That's just a small sampling.

BPA has even been found in some baby food jars! Yes, those we find at the grocery store! AND supposedly in most pre-canned products on any grocery shelf.

Those purported to have BPA in the lids/rings are Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, and Bernardin brands. I heard a rumor that Weck Canning jars don't have BPA but can't find confirmation on their website ... they don't even address it.

This makes me very glad that I dehydrate almost everything.

I gotta figure out an alternative to canning. It was bothering me, anyway, about how I needed to buy new lids every year. What did people do to "put up" their harvests before jars were invented?

Crockpot Potato Soup

I hadn't made this soup since I had my first apartment at age 17. It was easy then, and is easy now! With the 100 pounds of potatoes I bought this weekend (99 cents per 10 pounds of potatoes - Safeway special thru today!), I had to come up with something.

So yesterday I made soup.

In my small crockpot, I cut up 2 large and 3 small potatoes (washed, with skin on). Added 1 medium onion, cut in chunks. Added 3 cups of water. Set on high for 3 hours.

When the potatoes were soft, I smooshed some of the chunks with a fork which made it really creamy looking without using butter. Then I added another onion (cut in small chunks), 3 tablespoons real bacon pieces,1 tablespoon seasoned salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder.

To serve, I sprinkled with dried parsley, and added sheep-milk cheese to Hubby's bowl (he can tolerate only goat and sheep cheese), with swiss to mine. If I could have found the box that had Velveeta in it (still haven't finished unpacking), I would have used that.

Pretty tasty! A bit salty, tho, from the bacon and seasoned salt. Will go easier on those the next time.

Quick Nourishing Oatmeal

I was reading somewhere, probably in one of my health magazines or blogs, that cinnamon and honey are very good for almost anything, especially diabetes and high blood pressure. Since I have pre-diabetes and high blood pressure, I thought I'd try something new today.

From my vast food stores, I got out almost-ready-to-expire instant plain oatmeal. While a cup of water microwaved to a boil, I opened 2 packages of oatmeal into a bowl. I added 3-4 large dried strawberries and about half a teaspoon of cinnamon. I added the water and let the oatmeal and strawberries rehydrate. When I came back 10 minutes later, I added a teaspoon (ok, 2) of honey.

Delish!

Tomorrow, I'm using dried blueberries. Maybe the day after, blackberries or mango. The possibilities are .... well, my tummy's growling!

Potatoes on Sale at Safeway

Trashdigger posted that he found potatoes on sale at Safeway here in the Denver, CO area ... 10 pound bag of baking potatoes for .99 each! (http://ddfdb.blogspot.com/2009/10/potatoes-galore.html)

We're stocking up this weekend. Good and filling, and can be nutritious when served with the skin. Potato soup, fried potatoes, added to stews ... even dehydrate them to preserve them longer.

Rice Recipes

Hubby brought me home some rice pudding the other day, to help settle my flu-riddled stomach. It felt good going down, and was ever so tasty. Got me thinking how with all the rice I've stored, I have yet to find a really good and simple rice pudding recipe.

Then my mind wandered. It tends to do that these days.

Now, I'm working up as many VERY EASY recipes for rice as I can find. If you have a favorite recipe using rice and only a few other ingredients, and that's very easy to make, please post it here, or e-mail it to me at thorntonwilliamsfamily at yahoo dot com.

Crockpot Pot Roast

While I was at Wally World yesterday, found a pot roast for $4.50 - 2 pound roast for $2.25 a pound. Came home, and made this dish in the crockpot:

2 pound roast
3 tbls garlic powder
1 cup water

Cooked on high for 3 hours. Then added:

1 cup water
1 onion, cut in chunks
2 cups baby carrots
1 large potato, sliced
6 small tomatoes (from our indoor container garden)
3 tbls dried diced red bell pepper
2 tbls garlic powder

Cooked for another 2 hours. Hubby ate 2 big bowls. Then, to stretch it for more meals, I added:

2 small potatoes, sliced
1 cup baby carrots
1 onion, cut in chunks
1 cup water
1 cup penne pasta (on top, not mixed in)

Set to very low and let it go all night. Pasta was cooked but not mushy since I'd left it on top. Dished up a big bowl for Hubby's lunch, and put 2 more large servings in the freezer.

So... 5 good-sized servings (probably 6 or 7 regular sized) all for about $5.75. Not bad!

Alive and Kicking

I had a rebout of the flu and it knocked me flat. Finally feel alive again, but it's a long road. I have kid and Hubby on regimen of goldenseal, echinacea, elderberry, and Vitamins C and D. So far, no symptoms. That's great news!

Ventured to Wally World yesterday where I proceeded to spend most of my check: teas, coffee, gummy Vit D for Kid, soups, canned fruit (for Kid who would eat 1-2 a day if allowed), more fever reducers, spices, hand cleaner, protein bars, canned ham, chafing dish fuel, 10-lb bag of potatoes, and more. While I was there, stubbed and broke the pinky toe on my right foot (I did the left foot in August) and after I got home, burnt myself on the crockpot. I was really dizzy. Side effect from lingering flu.

Hubby went to Sam's Club and got powdered cow's milk. I ordered 2 canisters of powdered rice milk from Amazon.com. From Honeyville, I ordered more powdered eggs, dried blackberries and dried blueberries.

I think we're set.

Tummy Trouble Foods

Have you heard of the BRAT diet?

Bananas
Rice
Applesauce
Toast

This is recommended when you have stomach problems, like nausea and diarhea. Since the swine/H1N1 flu causes these problems, you should make sure your food stores include:
  • Bananas (fresh for immediate use, or dried or jarred baby food for long term storage)
  • Rice (instant, long cook, rice cakes, etc. - NO pilaf or other ingredients that could harm delicate stomachs)
  • Applesauce (jarred or individual servings, make sure natural, with no sugar added, no fruit flavors, etc.)
  • Toast (freeze or refrigerate bread to eat plain, plain soda crackers for long term storage)
If milk products "stop you up", then feel free to eat some plain yogurt or simple cheese on toast or soda crackers.

Mylar vs Seal-a-Meal

Question: has anyone done cost-comparison and effectiveness-comparison between using mylar bags and vacuum sealing with seal-a-meal?

I just called Seal-A-Meal and the lady who answered the phone didn't have any info comparing seal-a-meal to mylar bags. She'd never heard of them. But stated that foods should follow the guidelines in seal-a-meal product booklet:

Pantry:
Cereal - 6-12 months
Coffee, ground - 1-2 years
Flour - 1-2 years
Nuts - 1-2 years

That doesn't seem like a long time. I really need more information.

STOP!

Just talked with the lady's supervisor, Sheila, and she said that as long as you get all of the air out, dry goods properly sealed in a seal-a-meal bagging could last 5-7 years! Thanks, Sheila.

A side note: I will use oxygen absorbers, not in the seal-a-meal bags but 10-15 per 4-gallon bucket. Well, I guess I'm gonna be sealin'-my-meals when I'm over this flu!

Question: Will a seal-a-meal machine seal mylar bags?

= = = =

As a side-note, I've broken down and am ordering 26 4-gallon square buckets with lids. I chose 26 so that I can pack 2-weeks worth of food in each - from rice, beans, peas, lentils, gluten-free pancake mix and pastas, dried fruit, spices, tea, powdered milk and eggs, etc. We received a seal-a-meal as a wedding present, and, barring a relapse of the flu, will start unpacking boxes, organizing our food stores, and sealing up 2 weeks at a time.

A quick meal when can't find kitchen stuff!

We've finally sold the horrible house and moved into our temporary place. I've been down with the flu (not THAT flu!) so I haven't really unpacked yet. No idea where the dishes are, and still can't find my clothes!!!

I did just find my small crockpot and a bag of white northern beans so I put 1 cup of beans in the crockpot with 4 cups of water. On high. I'm going back to bed for a while.

Then... an hour before dinner, I'll add another cup or 2 of water, 2 tablespoons of dried carrot dices, half a small can of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of dehydrated onion flakes, and 2 tablespoons garlic powder (can't find the garlic flakes!!). IF I can find some bacon in our chest freezer, I'll add a couple of slices too. Or maybe 2 tablespoons of jarred bacon pieces.

Now... where's my bread machine?

Food Storage Shelf Life

I just got an e-mail from a good friend that stated a lot of canned food and properly-stored dry good will last a long time. Here's the jist:

When stored away from light and heat, in airtight moisture-proof containers at temperatures between 40-70 degrees F:

30+ YEARS
-wheat
-corn
-white rice

30 YEARS
-apple slices
-macaroni (pasta)
-rolled oats
-potato flakes

20 YEARS
-powdered milk

INDEFINITE
The following items have an indefinite shelf life (last a very very long time!) when stored in the original packaging, away from heat and light and moisture (and bugs/rodents!):
-salt
-baking soda
-granulated sugar

Canned foods when stored away from moisture (to prevent rusting of cans) and away from variations in temperature (not in attic or garage) should last 20, 30, 100 years! These include jams, fruits, veggies, and even meats! The vitamins and nutrients degrade but studies show protein levels stay pretty much the same, although the taste ain't all that great!

For items I grow myself, I've been dehydrating then using a seal-a-meal and storing small baggies in mason jars (unprocessed). I'd like to re-pack some of my supplies. I used to buy bulk dried fruits from http://www.justtomatoes.com/ because my kid loves them but am switching to www.thereadystore.com because they have better prices. Need to buy blackberries, blueberries, mango and green peas... he loves these!

Sorry... I digressed! When I buy pasta and huge bags of rice (among other things(, I'd divide in smaller portions and seal-a-meal'd them. But I don't want to keep doing that. I'm thinking I'd like to seal in a mylar-bag and put in a bucket (used and cleaned icing bucket from bakeries). Will buy the supplies after we move (hopefully within another month).

Here's a link for the mylar supplies: http://www.survivalunlimited.com/buckets.htm

I would also like to #10 can (that's the can that things from Providant Pantry come in) my own supplies but I can't find a supplier for a non-Mormon. Anyone have a link and a cost?

NOTES:
1. The info above said "wheat" or "corn" - not the flour made from those. Grains should be stored whole, and ground when ready to use.

2. I can't find info on storing gluten-free grains like quinoa. I'm going to assume that properly sealed in mylar bags or #10 cans that the whole grains of quinoa, amaranth, etc. should be good for at least a couple of years. Hope so.

3. The info said "pinto beans" - sure am hoping it's good for other legumes, like lentils, split peas, black turtle beans, white navy beans, etc. We just don't like pinto beans much.

4. Not on the list was honey but we've all heard the story of honey from ancient Egyptian tombs that was still edible and delicious.

5. Before I store bought-rice, I always freeze it for 2 days to kill any bugs. Starting to do that with almost everything I buy to store!

6. I just read that a lot of dry goods can be preserved in quart canning jars, with just the tight seal of lids and rings, and not processing. Anyone done this?

Shortcut: Onions, Garlic, Herbs and Veggies

Here in Colorado, it's Fall bordering on Winter. Our best growing season is over. So, if you didn't garden this year and are worried about providing decent food for your family, it's not hopeless. This posting will give you a shortcut on providing a few essentials additions to your dishes.

Check out your local health food store. Near where I live are several locations of Vitamin Cottage. If you don't have a V.C. in your area, get out your phone book and call up health food stores to find out if they have the following:
  • Onion flakes: These are diced onions that have been dehydrated. I usually buy every bag they have out. If the section labeled "onion flakes" is empty, I find a clerk and ask! Sometimes they have more in the back and sometimes they are waiting to dry more. Sometimes I rehydrate them and use as regular just-diced onions. Most often, I leave them as is and use these while making taco meat, spaghetti sauce, stew, crock pot meals, roasts, etc.
  • Garlic flakes or granules: I prefer the flakes even though they look almost as small as a granule. Again, this is garlic dehydrated. These are still pretty potent and really add a great garlic taste, whether rehydrated before adding to a dish, or during cooking.
  • Spinach flakes: These are spinach leaves chopped and dried. Sprinkled on salads, add to spaghetti sauce, or rice. Remember that spinach has iron and calcium so we try to add them to our meals several times a week.
  • Soup Vegetables: This is a combination of dehydrated veggies like potatoes, celery, parsley, carrots and more. This can be powdered (see below), or added to sauce, stews, chicken bakes, and more. Or, here's a novel idea, make soup with them! One bag of soup veggies makes one decent pot of soup.
  • Parsley flakes: Same as spinach. Doesn't have as much flavor as fresh parsley but still provides great nutrition.
  • Herbs: they have chives, borage, thyme, and many many bags of dried herbs. Good not only for cooking but also holistic treatment of ailments.

The above aren't very expensive. A $3.00 bag of garlic flakes should last you a couple of months.Each comes in a plastic twist-tied bag, marked with contents and price. They aren't marked "organic", but I think they are pretty close. And they don't have any additives - just what's on the ingredients section.

Most of the above can be found in V.C.'s bulk item section, along with other herbs, nuts, seeds, TVP (textured vegetable protein), granola, beans, and much more. Check out the entire section.

When you bring these home, mark on the bag the date you purchased them. Then store them in the original bag but placed inside something airtight like a mason jar. Include a dessicant package (moisture-eater) if you have some (we save them from new shoes or vitamin bottles). No need to process by canning; just seal tightly. Store in cool place, away from light. I have my VHTS color brown paper bags, cut to fit, as labels.

POWDERED: If you need to get more veggies into your children, use a spice or other grinder to turn them into a powder. This will hide the color and individual tastes. We call this our "all-vegg powder". Add to mashed potatoes (covered with cheese), rice, into mac-n-cheese, pizza sauce, etc.

Individual Packets Important

I was browsing Sam's Club this morning, especially the food section. I noticed, in the spice and condiment aisle that there were boxes of individual packets of mayonnaise, etc. That got me thinking. Even tho the price is a bit high for individual servings of various condiments, like mayo, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, etc.... they might actually be a good idea to store.

I like the big bottles of lemon juice, but what if we should lose electricity and thus, refrigeration? How could we keep the bottle of lemon juice fresh without keeping it cool. (Found this link - check it out: http://www.foodservicedirect.com/index.cfm/S/489/CLID/64/N/3366/Portion-Pac-Realemon-Juice-Packets.htm )
Remember - using a citrus juice like lemon or lime will "cook" meat and fish. Might come in handy, but then, a bigger bottle would probably be necessary.

Has anyone else stored individual packets of condiments?

Fridge Food

Well... we terminated the contract to sell the house. The buyer's mortgage-people lied about the financing being in place, and since we were already out of contract for about a week (2 deadlines not met), and since we couldn't trust this buyer's team, we killed the deal. We went back on the market as of Friday afternoon, so we're back to showing the house, sometimes at a moment's notice.

So... here's what we ate today:

Breakfast:
-yogurt (kid had goat, Hubby/I had greek)
-apples (shared with Hubby, me, kid and our bunny)

Lunch:
-rice crackers
-pears

Dinner:
-carrots (shared with Hubby, incl bunny!)
-deli turkey with gf bread for kid, bagel for me
-hubby had chicken/broc pot pie

Guess we're eating on the fly again. It's too late to do this tonight, but tomorrow after showings are done, I'll put some white navy beans, bacon, onion and later tomato sauce in the crockpot so we'll have them cooked to eat the next day. Always have them stored!

Ate Out - oh no

Yesterday we didn't spend much time at home, between the long drive to check out the new place and general crankiness from the delayed closing, so here's what we did yesterday:

Breakfast:
-goat yogurt
-handful dry gf cereal

Lunch (at Village Inn):
Kid: eggs, bacon, applesauce, milk
Me: turkey and bacon flat-bread sandwich, applesauce, chamomile tea

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that we ate out again for dinner.... met up with Hubby who we don't usually see during the week.

Dinner (at Outback Steakhouse):
Kid: baked potato, orange juice (carrots later at home)
Me: salad, sweet potato, grilled shrimp
Hubby: pork tenderloin, string beans, garlic mashed potatoes

So... I didn't do great planning meals yesterday. Barely any veggies. Hope to do better today - we still have some fresh zucchini I harvested the other day and we sure do like them raw!

On a good note... we're actually supposed to close today! Streamers! Confetti! Okay, hold on... maybe I should wait until we've actually signed the documents. I just don't trust the situation.

Quick Healthy Menu

Still being in the State of Upheaval with no real kitchen, here's what we snacked on yesterday (from either fridge or our "stored foods stash"):

Breakfast:
-dry chex cereal
-fresh pear

Lunch:
-rice crackers
-canned fruit
-pumpkin seeds
-sunflower seeds

Dinner:
-gluten-free bread with butter, garlic powder, and cheese, melted in toaster oven
-carrots
-baby spinach
-cole slaw (me, not kid!)

I'll be soooo glad when this fiasco of a house-sale is over, and we move. But this is teaching me a lot about not being able to use a microwave (sold it day because our first scheduled closing date).

It's time for a Snack Meal!

It’s so hard to eat healthy and use our stored foods while our kitchen is all packed up. Which it has been. For weeks! That’s right, we still haven’t closed on our house that we’re selling… something about the buyer’s finances aren’t in order. Hmph. So we’ve been eating a lot of “Snack Meals” lately. Here’s tonight’s menu, taken straight from the fridge and a box on the counter:

Baby carrots
Dried peas
Turkey lunchmeat
Rice crackers
Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Water

I’ll be glad when this house is sold! Hmmmm... wonder where my camera is?!

Preserving Nuts by Pickling

This recipe is especially good for green walnuts, but will work for most all kinds of nuts. Use about 12 pounds of nuts, picked early while still tender and green and their shells haven't become woody.


Ingredients
12 pounds nuts
3 cups salt
3 gallons of water
2 tablespoons each of: mustard seeds, allspice, peppercorns
2 teaspoons each of: mace, ground clove
1 gallon vinegar


Directions:
Scald and de-fuzz the nuts. Soak in the salt and water (brine) for 10 days, keeping the nuts submerged. Replace the brine twice during that period. Drain. Thoroughly dry the nuts, pricking several holes in each. Combine all the spices. Arrange the nuts in a large (gallon will work) canning or "pickle" jar - add a layer of nuts then a sprinkling of spices, nuts, spices, etc. Boil the vinegar for 5 minutes, then pour it into the jar. Seal tightly. Store in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks before consuming.


Spoon out a few, leaving the marinade in the jar. Or you can serve with the marinade ... your choice!


This is a tasty and unusual treat to add to the Winter holiday table. Great source of protein, too.

Eating to Boost The Immune System

I don't plan on taking the H1N1 Flu Virus vaccine that supposedly will help prevent the "swine flu". I don't believe it, and really doubt that the vaccine came about while this virus is still mutating.

I've done my own research and am working to change my eating habits and food storage plan to go through this naturally. Here's our plan:

  • Lots of fresh vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, with gluten-free grains (for 2 of us but the 3rd gets other grains too).
  • Very little cooking to preserve nutrients.
  • Minimize processed foods. Processing foods into chips, candy and etc. takes out vitamins and other nutrients.
  • Cut out dairy products. Milk from dairy animals can cause an increase in mucous production. We've switched to supplemented rice milk and hemp milk. (Can't have soy milk.)
  • Cut out flesh products. We're not going 100% vegan or even vegetarian but we're minimizing. I recently saw a special on PBS that discussed how horrible the meat processing is ... and it's so bad that many meat inspectors become vegetarian. Meat is recommended to be fully cooked not because of the intrinsic nature of the meat but because it almost certainly has e-coli or other bacteria that needs to be cooked to be eaten safely. Except for tuna and some bacon (probably), we're working to become mostly no-meat people.
  • Garlic. I have lots of dried garlic and will add that everywhere and every chance I get.
  • Increase Vitamin D levels. It appears that Vitamin D levels are lower in the Winter when we're less exposed to sunlight. I'm storing rice milk supplemented with Vit D and the actual capsule/pill supplements. We'll also sun ourselves on the patio whenever we can.
  • Pro-biotics. Supplements, sauerkraut (for hubby because... ew!), kefir, etc.
  • Sugar - cut it out! We like honey in our rice and oatmeal, but I'm working to at least cut it back to one tablespoon per meal. We don't use white sugar. I like a little stevia in my tea but can do without. We eat a lot of fruit but since it has a lot of sugar in it - albeit natural - we'll cut it back.
  • Blueberries. Yes, I know, blueberries are fruit but they are a superfood and great for the immune system. I have a lot of dried blueberries stocked up, and we'll have one small "dixie" cup each day with lunch.
  • Lots of liquids. Keep things moving along with lots of water. Don't skimp.
  • Elderberry capsules. Starting with the first sign of Winter, we'll be taking one a day. Should I come down with a respiratory-something, we'll take elderberry syrup/extract.
  • Vitamin C... well, this one everyone knows. Goldenseal and echinacea are absolute musts for supplements.

Other things to do:

  • Get lots of rest to help the body fight off viruses and bacteria.
  • Use coping mechanisms to deal with stress - talk, throw pillows, scream, cry, hug, etc.
  • Exercise is essential to get the body in shape to fight off illnesses, but also produces adrenalin and endorphins and helps the circulatory system.
  • Wash hands often. Everything I touch has already been touched by someone else... shopping cart handles, items in the grocery store, car door handles, door knobs, money, etc. Keep hand cleaners handy, but don't use too much because we need some bacteria! Buy a good plain chemical-free soap. Even a "dry-rub" (rubbing your hands together for 3 minutes to get rid of the top layer of skin) is a good substitute when you can't get to a sink and soap.

We've set up an indoor grow room in our home (with grow lights). We are planting seeds for string beans, shelling peas and cucumbers. We already have 2 tomato plants, and 2 buckets with strawberry plants. We'll add parsley, zucchini, spinach and carrots when we figure out where to put them! This is in addition to veggies we've already dried.

We are also going to be raising quail soon. This can be done indoors, with very little evidence to people who don't come into the home or garage (not much of a smell or sounds). We'll be eating the eggs - 4 quail eggs equal 1 small chicken egg. Good source of protein.

2009-10 Winter Prediction

As you know, I live in Colorado with my little family. The weather here has been very very weird for the last couple of years, and this Summer was quite unusual. Compared to 2008 with scorching heat and very little rain, this 2009 Summer has been actually cool, with periods of intense rain and no days thus far over 100 degrees.

By watching the signs, studying animals and plants, intuition, and reading everything I can... I'll give the following prediction for this area:

The Winter of 2009/2010 will come early, be hard, and stay long.

I'm quite sure I don't even need to discuss how the H1N1 flu virus will affect our Winter. This all being said, we are very stocked up on not only food and water, but also medical supplies, quilts, mittens, ski masks, and more.

Are YOU prepared for this Winter?

Staple Storing in Groups

My post from yesterday got me thinking.... I might not have written yet about how I store certain staples, like beans, peas and rice. Thought I'd do that today.

As you know, we're pretty picky eaters, with dietary allergies and other problems. I have to pick what we buy to eat and store (ok, same thing!) very carefully. I don't really store wheat since only one person in the family can have it. Same with soy, tree nuts, peanuts, and cow's milk dairy. Most of what I'm storing is gluten-free, and I store things in groups to make sure we have all the ingredients to make certain things.

The following packages are gathered up, placed in seal-a-meal packaging along with a recipe and informational card and a couple of bay leaves, and sealed up. Then they are put into a plastic storage bucket, contents marked on a sheet on the outside of the bucket, and marked in our inventory. Very careful to note expiration dates, especially for the special flours or grains. (Note: I don't store millet because it needs refrigeration.)

Package 1:
-Small bag green split peas
-Small bag brown rice
-Small jar real bacon pieces
-Small baggie dried onion pieces

Package 2:
-Small bag lentils (any color)
-Small bag white rice
-Tiny baby-food jar garlic powder

Package 3:
-Small bag white beans (navy usually)
-Small bag grain: quinoa or amaranth
-Small tomato paste
-Small bag dried onion pieces
-Small bag dried garlic pieces
-Small baggie brown sugar

Package 4:
-small package adzuki or anasazi beans
-small package gluten-free oats
-small tomato paste
-small baggie brown sugar (times 2)
-small jar real bacon pieces
-small onion powder

Package 5:
-1 jar unsalted sunflower seeds
-small package cornmeal

Package 6:
-package of teff flour or coconut flour
-package of potato starch
-package of sorghum flour
-package of garbanzo-bean flour
-tiny baby-food jar of baking soda
-tiny baby-food jar of xanthum gum

Package 7:
-2 packages of rice crackers
-2 large cans chunk chicken
-2 small cans tuna in water
-3 single-servings of Spam (for hubby)
-1 squeeze mayo
-1 squeeze pickle relish

In a survival situation (whether a worsening of economy or otherwise), each package will last our family of 3 for 1 meal per day for 3 days, IF we are careful about portion control. More or less. Yes, we'll be eating the same protein meal for 3 days in a row, but we get to look forward to what the next package will be!

I'd take pictures but we're still in major upheaval with selling the house, moving, etc.

So... anyone else do something similar to this?

Wal-Mart Cleaned Out

I went to Wal-Mart this past Sunday to get package of cloth diapers (took me 15 minutes to find and never did find cloth diaper pins!). While I was there, I wanted to get another package of dried split peas, lentils and 2 bags of rice. I do this almost every time I go.

The dried bean section was nearly empty. There were some bags of turtle beans, peas and lentils, and some bags of white beans (navy, etc.) but there wasn't much else left. About the only thing that had any quantity was pinto beans. Even the mixed beans/bean soup was gone.

Thought it was a fluke, till I went to the rice section.

Cleaned out.

There was one bag of brown rice that was hidden in the 4 bags of jasmine rice, and a bag of organic brown rice hidden in the back on the very bottom lower shelf behind 8 or 9 very large bags of white rice.

I have my suspicions. Do you have yours?

Storing powders in mason jars

A recent comment: "Please tell me your process for storing powders in Mason jars. I have been putting cake mixes in the wide mouth jars still in the bag. But I tried to do the same thing with Pancake mix and it would not go in the jar. I worry about the powder getting in my Food Saver and it suddenly stop working. That would be a terrible thing! Thanks for all you do. GRITS"

Great question.

First, I tend to use the larger wide-mouth jars... mason, ball, etc. Second, since I was talking about the small bags of gluten-free flours, they will usually fit.

However, I've found a resource for certified gluten-free oats and those bigger bags don't fit in my mason jars. Here's the 2 options I've come up with:

Option 1:
Freeze the product to kill any potential bugs (between 2-3 days). Open the original package, and divide into smaller portions using ziploc or other strong baggies. Squeeze out all of the air. Place in the mason "canning" jar. Add a dessicant package and a couple of bay leaves (to keep away critters). Apply lid then ring. No need to process. Mark with contents and any expire date that was on the original package. Sometimes I photocopy (shrink to 50%) the original package and wrap around the inside of the jar before applying lid.

Option 2:
There are other ways to do this one. Gather those large glass pickle jars. Except, well, not pickles because anything you store in those jars will smell like pickles. Go through Sam's Club or Costco or even Wal-Mart and look at the bulk condiment section... salsa, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc. Need not be glass. Place what you're storing in the big jar/container. Again, add dessicant packages and bay leaves, seal and mark.

I've even used a super-large plastic coffee container, emptied, cleaned, and loaded with small bags of coffee beans!

I recently found a huge bulk pancake mix (just add water kind of thing) in the bakery markdown section at my local grocery, for $3.00. I froze to kill any bugs, then scrubbed out an old huge mayo container. Perfect!!

Let me know if this answers your question, GRITS.

Buying Gluten-Free Long-Term-Stored Staples

As you know, we have food allergies and intolerances in our family. As I was perusing the newest "Backwoods Home Magazine" yesterday, I realized I hadn't put away (storing for emergencies) any long-term-stored oil or butter. I took a look at where I get most of my supplies, Emergency Essentials at http://www.beprepared.com/, and took a look at the ingredients for shortening powder, butter powder and margarine powder.

Then I looked at the nutritional info. Shortening powder and margarine powder are made with soybean oil, which my Kid (VHTS) can't have. The butter powder does not have that... just dairy which my Hubby can't have. All three are "processed in a plant that handles dairy, wheat, soybean, peanut, and tree nut products". Which means I can't get any of them because my Kid's behavior would go so completely out of orbit if any of that is eaten.

Plan: I'm gonna keep buying olive oil, and keep working towards getting 2 dairy goats to make our own butter.

Sigh.

But that's not all. Many of these storage places (not just E.E.) don't provide products for people who have food allergies or reactions. I can get some wheat for Hubby, but the Kid and I need gluten-free grains like quinoa, amaranth, rice flour, even cornmeal that hasn't been processed where wheat has been. I realize we're in the minority and it's not cost effective to provide long-term-storage containers of these grains, but it is a little frustrating.

Solution?
Because most of these grains are so expensive, we're buying only a few extra packages every month. (3 brown rice flour, 1 quinoa, 1 amaranth, 1 gluten-free oats, 1 cornmeal, 1 bean flour, 1 teff flour, 1 coconut flour, 1 potato flour, 1 millet flour, 1 sorghum flour). I mark the date, and seal in a mason jar.

We can also grind/mill from our whole grains/etc: rice flour, bean flour and corn flour.

Fun fun.

Preserving Harvests for My Picky Eater

My VHTS (very hungry tween son) is a bottomless pit but a very picky eater. Add to that his food problems and allergies, and we have a problem.

Last year I dehydrated much of our harvest, but I also froze a lot. Didn't do much with canning and pickling. Here it is harvest time for 2009 and we still have lots of the 2008 harvest in the freezer. I got to thinking... what on earth am I going to do?

As I was harvesting yellow squash, zucchini and tomatoes today, I really worked on puzzling this out. How can I get him to eat our harvest several months from now... during the Winter? I expect this winter to be long, hard and early, and combining that with the possibility of a swine flu quarantine, so this could become a very serious problem.

Here's what I've come up with, based on what we grow:
  • TOMATOES: He doesn't like these at all, except as pizza sauce and ketchup. However, all of my canning supplies are packed away until we sell the house and move into a new place. So... I'm dehydrating all tomatoes, and will powder and rehydrate to make pizza sauce and ketchup as needed.

  • STRING BEANS: He likes this fresh and frozen and canned, but as I said before, I can't can this year. He likes them cooked so I'll freeze these.

  • DRY BEANS: He doesn't like my baked beans as well as Campbells or Bush's but he'll tolerate them. I'll finish drying them on the bush and vine (or pick before we move and string up to dry). I'll store them in a mason jar to cook in the winter. Perhaps I can soak, cook, mash, and hide in frycakes?!?!

  • YELLOW SQUASH and ZUCCHINI: He likes zucchini better raw but none of it cooked and certainly not frozen first. I'm dehydrating a batch today. I'll store dried in a mason jar, and powder it to hide in pizza sauce or homemade gluten-free bread or smoothies or wherever I can.

  • EGGPLANT: Same - dehydrate, store, powder, hide

  • CUCUMBER: He hates cucumber unless it's benedictine (cream cheese, onion, cucumber dip) so I'll dehydrate, store, powder, and reconstitute into benedictine during the winter. Hmmm... yum.

  • WATERMELON: He hates watermelon too. I know, unbelievable. I'll dehydrate any leftover, store, powder, and add to smoothies.

  • PUMPKIN: He loves pumpkin pie. I'll dehydrate, store, then rehydrate to make gluten-free pumpkin pies and turnovers.

  • CARROTS: We never have any left over, so we just eat them raw. In the future, hopefully we'll have extras, and we'll dehydrate, store, powder and hide. We don't like the taste of cooked carrots, so this will work.

  • PARSLEY: I'm growing flat-leafed and curly, and he won't even try them. I'll dehydrate, store, powder and hide. I can buy more at Vitamin Cottage, already dehydrated.

That's my plan for the little bit we're growing this year. I didn't have the space or time for really anything else this year. When on sale, I'm buying: beets, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, cantaloupe, bananas and other fruit. He likes much of those raw, none of them frozen or cooked.

So, as above, I'll mostly dehydrate (at night since the house gets shown during the day), store, powder and hide.

Just remembered that Vitamin Cottage (a local health food store) has mixed vegetables, spinach, parsley and other things, already dried. Especially fruit. I'll stock up on those, store in a mason jar, and powder/hide as needed. All of the dried fruit, whether purchased dried or dehydrated by me, will do well rehydrated and added to his smoothies. Loves it!

Preserving Nasturtium Seeds (like capers)

Americans like to use nasturtium seeds like other people use caper seeds (the bud of a Mediterranean shrub). The nasturtium seeds are just as spicey.

Gather the seeds (from plants YOU grow to make sure they don't have pesticides) while they are green and let them stand in the sun for a few days to dry. Soak/steep for a day or so in cold vinegar. Drain. Add to fresh boiling vinegar and boil for 10 minutes. Pour seeds and vinegar into sterilized canning jars and cover tightly. Store in a cool place for 5-6 months. This makes them like pickled seeds.
Add to salads or even martini's!
NOTE: I've also seen where people take the seeds, dry them and grind them to use as pepper. Store in a tightly sealed bottle in a close place. I'd wait to grind until just ready to use. This was a common substitute for pepper from World War II. Good to know if you can't grow black peppercorns where you are.

Freezing Milk

Local store-brand milk has been pretty cheap lately. $1.58 per gallon of fat-free milk. Take advantage of the price by buying several. For this, you'll need to get the bottles that aren't quite as full, with perhaps an inch or a little more of headspace. Remember, liquids expand when frozen.


Assuming you rearranged your freezer before you left for the store, place the extras in your freezer. Keep in the container it came in. Will keep about 3 months.


Be sure to check on the milk a few hours after placing them in the freezer, to make sure the milk jugs didn't burst when the milk inside expanded during the freezing process.


To use: Take out of freezer and thaw in the refrigerator. Again, check periodically that same day to make sure as it thaws, there's no leak.

How to Dry Eggplants

Last year I dehydrated eggplant slices dipped in lemon juice but they browned a little too much. I just found a better way, and since our first eggplant of the season is about ready to pick, now's the time to try it!

Method:
Choose eggplants about the same size or smaller than a large pear. Wash and wipe dry. Hang them from their stem in the sun for a few days. No other prep required. They are ready when you shake them and you can hear the seeds rattling inside. Store in plastic bags or jars.

Slice and rehydrate to use.

How to Freeze Bananas

I love using bananas in smoothies, but they do better when they are frozen. Never freeze a banana in it's skin; it's very difficult to peel a frozen banana! Here are two ways to freeze bananas:

Method 1:
Peel banana. Split in half. Wrap each half in a small piece of freezer wrap. Mark and freeze. Use within a couple of months. Note: I freeze them individually so they are easier to whirl in the blender.

Method 2:
Mix 1/2 cup of white table sugar with 2 teaspoons of ascorbic-acid solution (to use per 3 cups of banana puree). Now... peel bananas. Mash bananas and as soon as you measure out 3 cups of banana puree, combine with the above sugar/ascorbic-acid mixture. Freeze in container. To use, defrost unopened in the refrigerator. Use within three months.

How to Preserve Avocados

I've been trying to figure out how to preserve avocados because sometimes I find them for 50 cents each, and don't get to each all I've grabbed before then start to turn bad. I tried to coat slices in lemon juice and dehydrate them but the slices turned brown.

Ingredients:
avocado
lemon juice
freezer wrap

Directions - Method 1:
Halve and pit the avocados. Sprinkle each with lemon juice. Wrap each half completely, leaving no air space, in aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Store for a max of 2 months.

Directions - Method 2:
Halve and pit the avocados. Mash the pulp. Mix thoroughly with lemon juice. Lay freezer wrap in a small shallow freezer container. Pack the pulp immediately and fold over the freezer wrap and squeeze out all air. Freeze. When frozen solid, take out of freezer container, and place in a freezer baggie and mark. Return to freezer. Store for a max of a few months. Good to use for quacamole.

Note: instead of using lemon juice, you can use a strong ascorbic-acid solution, or a combination of both.

Recipe: Steak Sauce

Now that you've made ketchup/catsup (see yesterday's post), it's time to make your own steak sauce!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons strained catsup
3 finely minced shallots
1 teaspoon anchovy extract
1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 quart strong vinegar (we use apple cider to be gluten-free)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place that saucepan in a larger pot of boiling water (keeping the water from getting in the medium saucepan with your sauce), and keep boiling the water until the sauce in the inner pot is well heated but not yet boiling. Remove from the heat. Cover. Let stand 2 days. Strain finely then bottle/jar/can. Should keep for years if canned correctly.

Recipe: Tomato Ketchup

We've been eating tomatoes from our backyard grocery garden since the last week in June. Just this past Sunday, I picked 9 beautiful red tomatoes, and there are another 5 or 6 ready for tomorrow. Now is the time to bring out the tomato recipes! Here's one for catsup / ketchup. I use apple cider vinegar to make it gluten-free.

Ingredients:
1 gallon ripe red tomatoes
2 cups vinegar (cider, wine, etc.)
1 teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons white table sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons cloves
2 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon mace

Directions:
Cut up and cook until soft a gallon of ripe red tomatoes. Pass them through a medium sieve (to get rid of big chunks of seeds or skins. In a large pot, add the cooked tomato goo, the vinegar, red pepper, sugar and salt. Then in a small cachet or cheesecloth bag, add the black peppercorns, cloves, mustard, cinnamon and mace, tie it up and add to the pot. Boil all for about 4 hours. Remove spice bag. Bottle/can while it is still hot.

Properly jarred, it should last a LONG time on your pantry shelf. I personally can't imagine my son eating chicken or fish without ketchup so it's a staple in my home.

Recipe: Rummed Blackberries

Rum is gluten-free and a great way to preserve those berries that are very available during the Summer. Here's how:

Ingredients:
fresh raw berries (blackberries, mulberries, etc.)
90-proof rum
white table sugar

Directions:
Wash the berries and drain thoroughly. Place in jars that you have a cover for. Add 1/2 cup white table sugar to 1 cup of strong 90-proof rum. Cover the berries in the jar with the sugar/rum mixture. Seal the jar tightly and store in a dark place. Do not use for at least one month for blackberries, two months for mulberries.

How to Use:
Spoon over pound cake or fresh homemade ice cream for a delicious treat.

Hot Enough To Fry An Egg

Don't you love that expression? It's so hot I could fry an egg on my sidewalk! Well, it's not exactly sanitary, but that phrase got me thinking. Can we cook without any fuel, other than the sun?


Yes!


According to my research, eggs need a temp of 185 degrees or higher to cook. Sidewalks don't get that hot. But thinking outside the box... here are a few suggestions:
  • Find a large rock with a slight indention. Clean a little OR place a piece of aluminum foil over the rock. Allow to heat in the hottest sun. Make a ring with biscuit dough, and in the middle crack an egg or two. Loosely "tent" another piece of aluminum foil over the food and cook.

  • Use a cast-iron or regular skillet in this one. Place a pane of glass on the sidewalk or rock. Place your skillet on it. Add food to be cooked to the skillet. Place another pane of glass (or a glass top) on top of the skillet.

I'm sure you couldn't do a pot-roast like this, but on a hot sunny day, I know for a fact you could do an egg-and-biscuit meal.

Are you going to experiment with this? Let us know how it goes, how you did it, what you prepared, how quickly it cooked, etc.

Recipe: Cream Soda Campfire Biscuits

I love this recipe! Nice way to start the camping day:

Ingredients:
3 cups self-rising flour
1 can creme soda
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Combine ingredients. Spoon into a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Bake on campfire (or grill) until done.

NOTE: Feel free to add whatever you want to your biscuits ... substitute walnuts for pecans, filberts, almonds, etc. Adding just-picked berries makes for a delicious treat!

Recipe: Beet Preserves

Another recipe I found in an old-timey preserving book. I didn't realize beets could be preserved this way. My harvest isn't very good this year, since I couldn't garden AND get the house ready to sell. If you make this, let us all know how it goes.

Ingredients:
approximately 4 pounds of beets, without greens or roots
2 1/2 pounds of sugar
2 lemons - juice and rind
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

Directions:
Scrub the unpeeled beets under running water, then slice very thin. In just enough water to cover, simmer the beets about 15 minutes. Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon rinds, and ginger and stir. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about an hour, or until thickened sufficiently. Add nuts during last 5 minutes of cooking. Pour into sterilized jars and seal tightly.

Note: I assume you can make an additional seal with wax at this point.

Recipe: Apple Ginger Jam

I haven't made this yet, but found the recipe in a very old-timey preservation book. Let me know how you like it!

Ingredients:
about 4 pounds of apples
1 cup water
sugar
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 lemon (juice and grated rind)

Directions:
Peel and core the apples. Boil in the water until the apples are soft. Strain the apple(sauce) through a coarse sieve and weigh it. Add 3/4 cup of sugar for each pound of applesauce. Bring to a boil again and skim. Stir in the ginger, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Boil again but this time WITHOUT STIRRING until the right consistency is obtained. Pour into sterilized jars and cover tightly.
Note: At this point, I assume you can seal the jar with wax, etc.

Recipe: Campfire Foil Pockets

How about planning to have foil-pockets when you're out camping (IF you have a cooler)... or taking what's in your fridge to make foil-pockets for an inspired family leftover-night? Easy to prepare and just as easy to clean-up!

NOTE: these are perfect when you are cooking in your backyard because of no electricity, and when you need to empty out that fridge before things go bad.


First and most important, the aluminum/tin foil. Use heavy-duty if you have it. Use double-thickness if your foil is thin. You'll need sheets about 2 feet long.


Next, spray or oil the sheet not only where you'll be placing the food, but also on the part that you'll fold over it.


Place the food on the middle part of the foil. Fold up the foil to make a nice pocket. Edges need to overlap to make the seal. Roll up the ends, good and snug. Leave a little room for expansion (steam).


Here's some suggestions:
  • fish (trout, etc.) with wild rice, onion, lemon, lemon juice and lemon pepper
  • jambalaya with different kinds of sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, carrots and celery
  • veggie mix with green beans, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, chives
  • salmon, asparagus, wine, lemon and chives
  • chopped apples with walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and 1 or 2 raw biscuits
  • hamburger patty smothered with canned baked beans (I like to add a couple tablespoons of chopped onions too)
  • grilled cheese (butter outsides with cheese in the middle - add spices, parsley or sliced tomato for added taste)
  • sliced fajita meat with salsa, onions and peppers - place wheat tortillas in a second foil pocket and heat for only a few moments, just before the fajita meat is done
  • stuffed onions (ground beef, diced tomatoes, diced potatoes)
  • stuffed bell peppers (pre-cooked rice, ground beef, etc.)
  • popcorn (use double or triple thickness - leave lots of room for popping - equal amounts of oil and popcorn), seal tightly, tie to a stick and shake over coals.
  • pita bread pizzas (spaghetti or pizza sauce, cheese, pre-cooked sausage or pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, etc.)
  • half an orange, scooped out to leave only the rind, then fill the half of orange rind with prepared cake batter (chocolate or white or yellow) or a raw cinnamon roll (from a package) or raw biscuit dusted in cinnamon and brown sugar - wrap in buttered foil. Leave room for expansion. When it's time to cook, place carefully in hot coals. Be sure to place correctly so the cake mix or roll or biscuit stays in the orange half.
  • Sliced banana, place chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows in banana's slit, place in buttered foil, close banana as much as possible, and tightly wrap. Delicious!
Use your imagination... here's a guideline:

  • 1 serving of meat per pocket (chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, or even hamburgers can be used) - be sure to cut up the meat into bite-size pieces so you won't need to worry about using a knife

  • various vegetables - cut in chunks (potatoes or sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, onion, peppers, and/or green beans)

  • oil

  • seasonings like salt, pepper, etc. (to taste)

When ready to cook, place it either in your fire's coals or on a grate over medium heat. Directly over the fire would give too much heat. Turn with tongs a couple of times (this is when it's evident whether you sealed the pocket properly or not). You should be able to tell from the smell when they are done. If not, check from time to time, being sure to refold the seal to keep cooking as necessary. Handle with care as the pockets will be hot. Serve in the pockets (but I usually put the pocket in my plate to give sturdiness).

Recipe: Campfire Bread or Bannock

I don't know about you, but when I eat bread, I tend to fill up. Here's a recipe for quick bread (also known as "bannock") out in the boonies. Good for cooking at home, too! Highly nutritious and tasty.

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons oil
water

Additions:
coconut
raisins
walnuts or other nuts
cinnamon
cranberries or other berries

Directions:
Stoke the fire. Oil your deep skillet and place on fire's grate. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and the sugar. Make a well in the center and add the oil; incorporate. Add enough water to make a slightly-loose dough - you want to be able to pour it but not too fast. Add additions and combine until just mixed. Move skillet to over coals (not direct fire) and pour batter into oiled medium-hot skillet. Distribute it around in the skillet. It will start to withdraw from the sides of the skillet/fry pan. Use a spatula to carefully flip it over. When it's done, cut into wedges (like a pie).

For plain bread as a side dish, don't add the sugar or any additions. For a savory bread, leave out the sugar and add chopped parsley, grated cheese and pine nuts.

Recipe: Campfire Porridge

Whether camping outside, or cooking at home, for a breakfast that will stick to your ribs, try a pot of porridge. It will give you long-lasting energy, no matter what tasks you face during the day.

Ingredients:
boiled water
dash of salt
grains (7-grain, oats, bulgur, flax, cracked wheat, quinoa, etc.)
raisins
nuts

Directions:
Boil the water. Add salt, if desired. (Note: 2 parts of water to 1 part of grains.) Add grains. Add a little bit of raisins and nuts, if desired. Place pot on stove burner (or campfire). Stir regularly (with spoon or stick!) so it won't burn or get stuck to the pot. It's ready when it's thick. Serve with additional raisins or other dried fruit, gorp, and brown sugar. Yum!

= = = =

NOTE: When making this to take camping, measure dry ingredients and place in a baggie, marked with contents, how many people it will feed, when made, and how much water goes with it. I also make a second baggie with some raisins, and a third baggie with some nuts. That way, when I get up in the morning, all I need to do is stock the campfire, boil the water, add the water to the pot, the dry ingredients to the pot, and put it back on the fire to cook.

Preserving Walnuts by Making Wine

Here's a recipe for Green Walnut Wine. Pick unbruised green walnuts during June. Prepare this wine in June so that will be ready by Christmas. Makes a great gift, too!


Ingredients:
40 green walnuts, in their shells, quartered
5 quarts strong red wine
2 pounds white table sugar
1 nutmeg, grated
1 clove
1 vanilla bean
1 quart brandy


Directions:
Quarter the walnuts. Place in a large container than can be covered. Add the rest ingredients (but NOT the brandy). Cover tightly. Leave in a dark cool room for 50 days, lightly shaking every 2 weeks or so. After the 50 days, uncover. Add the brandy. Let sit for a few moments, then drain the liquid using a sieve and several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the liquid into your prepared (sterilized) bottles - I use a funnel. Leave 1 1/2 to 2 inches of headspace. Seal tightly. Place in a cool dark place for minimum of 6 months. Can store 1-3 years. Refrigerate after opening.


Walnuts are well known for being a great source of amino acids. I wonder if making wine from them changes that? Anyone?

Rice and Corn Chex are now Gluten-Free!

It's so hard coming up with a gluten-free cereal that my kid will eat. And that I can afford. He loves Panda Puffs but they are so expensive.

As you know, we're packing up so we can put the house on the market. That means pretty much no cooking once the kitchen is packed up. We'll be existing on yogurt, cereal, fruits and veggies. Sounds fun, right? Well, we can do it.

It had been several months since I'd bought cereal that wasn't from the health food store. I just don't eat it that often, and honestly, it's not a good value for dollar spent. But since we'll be eating more cereal over the next month (or god no, two months), I thought I'd look for another. So I was looking in the cereal aisle the other day, hoping to find that a gluten-free cereal has magically appeared on the shelves. And I saw them. Rice Chex and Corn Chex. They actually have "gluten-free" right on the box!

Ok! Now I can collect coupons for them, buy lots, and add them to our stockpile as well as what we'll be eating until we sell the house and move to our homestead.
Anyone got any original chex recipes? Feel free to post them here.

Hello, Chex people! Got any coupons? :) Vikki

Powdered Milk for Long Term Storage

Most people stock powdered cow's milk because that's (1) most readily available, and thus (2) cheapest. However, some children are born unable to tolerate the lactose, or adults develop problems over time.

What would happen to your storage plans if you stored only powdered cow's milk... you're in the middle of a 3-month quarantine... and your tummy suddenly can't handle the milk? You either leave it out of your recipes, or you drink it and get sick.

Don't.

Make plans for alternates. There are three that I can think of that can be found in most supermarkets or health food stores, and certainly online at amazon.com:

  • powdered goat's milk - it's a bit strong and takes some getting used to. Add a bit of sugar or cocoa powder. My kid loves it! It can be mixed half goat with half rice or soy to change up the taste.
  • powdered soy milk - I get the carob flavored because it tastes just like a chocolate malt! Also comes in plain and vanilla. And probably chocolate too.
  • powdered rice milk - I like this the best because my kid's tummy can't handle cow or soy milk. Also comes in vanilla, which I find a little too sweet.
Most powdered milks will last a lot longer than the expiration date. Manufacturing plants have to do that for legal reasons. I'm going to tell you that I've opened a carob-flavored soy milk 5 years after the expiration date and not only did it not make me sick, it was pretty tasty. However, I'm also going to do the disclaimer thing because I don't want to get sued: follow expiration dates!

Store in original packaging (sealed cans work best) in a dark cool area. Freeze if necessary. Don't allow to get too warm.

Start stocking now, and using them in your regular rotation. The tastes are a bit different and may take some getting used to. Start now!

Tips for Using Powdered Milk:
  • add a tablespoon or two to smoothies for calcium and creaminess
  • add 1/4 teaspoon of white table sugar to 2 quarts of reconstituted powdered milk, any kind, for added sweetness
  • add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to reconstituted powdered milk to bump up the taste
  • cold milk just tastes better than room-temperature milk
  • cold milk in a glass container tastes better than cold milk in a plastic container! Time to use those quart-size mason or bell canning jars!
  • my mother would buy a gallon of 2% milk, and when it was half empty, add a half gallon of reconstituted powdered cow's milk... try this if you're working to get your family to accept the taste
  • use reconstituted powdered milk when a recipe calls for a creamed soup
  • add a tablespoon or two of powdered milk to the instant hot cocoa mix, combine, then add the hot water - makes for a creamier hot chocolate!

Use this link to buy these at amazon.com

Recipe: Walnut Meringues

I love meringues, don't you? They actually aren't that difficult to make, and are a tasty gluten-free, lactose-free snack. Sometimes I add chocolate chips instead of walnuts, and when I do... they don't last the day!

Ingredients:
3 egg whites (I use large)
pinch salt
3/4 cup white table sugar
1/3 cup finely-chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place egg whites and salt in large mixing bowl and beat (either by hand or with an electric mixer) until you have soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar so that the peaks stiffen. Fold in walnuts (or chocolate chips!). Spoon (or pipe) mounds about 1 inch in diameter and 1 inch apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until the meringues are dry to the touch. Let them cool completely before removing from baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.

Using Nasturtium Flowers and Leaves

Some people grow nasturtiums for beauty, and some add them to their grocery list! Nasturtium flowers can be used in appetizers, butter or steeped in vinegar. Versatility for this spicy flower.

Obviously use nasturtiums that you've grown yourself, or from a reliable source that doesn't use herbicides, pesticides, miracle grow, etc.

Nasturtium Vinegar
In a large canning jar, add white wine vinegar, leaving at least 1 inch headspace. Add your homegrown nasturtium flowers (any color!) - make sure you've inspected them for bugs. Cover and let steep for 4 days. Change out flowers and steep another 4 days. Do 2 or 3 more times. The color of the vinegar will change. Will make a great dressing for a salad.

Nasturtium Butter
Soften butter and add to food processor. Add lots of nasturtium flowers and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Process to completely combine. Freeze in little logs. Pull them out and use all winter for a taste of summer! Add little pats of nasturtium butter to freshly grilled fish or potatoes or whatever you can come up with.

Nasturtium Appetizers
Experiment with this: combine a package of softened cream cheese, a quarter-cup of raisins, and a quarter-cup of walnuts. Add some chopped mint if desired. Dollop on to nasturtium leaves, roll up, and tie with a long-stemmed flower. Beautiful presentation.

Nasturtium Pasta
Toss cooked pasta with olive oil, basil and nasturtium flowers. Simple, colorful and delicious! (Add chopped zucchini if desired.)

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

I love blueberry muffins! Fresh and warm from the oven, with a bit of freshly-churned butter. This is one of my favorite breakfasts. Be careful when adding in the blueberries to make sure to keep the berries whole; fold to keep the berry juice from coloring the batter that awful gray-blue!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tin with the paper liners. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-large bowl and set aside. In a large small bowl, combine egg, milk and oil. Add the liquids to the dry mixture but stir only until moistened. Carefully fold in the blueberries. Use a big spoon or ice-cream scoop to fill muffin tin (cups should be 2/3 full). Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Berry and Apple Jam

I've seen recipes for blackberry-and-apple jam, and blueberry-and-apple jam, and found this recipe to work well with both. Give it a try!

Ingredients:
2 pounds of cooking apples (windfalls are fine)
2/3 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 pounds blackberries or blueberries
4 pounds sugar

Directions:
Peel, core and slice the apples. Place them into a medium-to-large saucepan with the water and lemon juice. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add the berries and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, at a simmer (low heat) until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring up to a boil. Boil rapidly until the setting point is reached (you'll be able to tell by how thick it gets). Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with immediately. Or let cool and seal with paraffin.
Sometimes a dash or two of cinnamon added to the blueberries completely changes the taste... yum!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams