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Recipe: Mint Julep, a drink for Kentucky Derby

Another item served at almost every Kentucky Party is the mint julep - an alcoholic drink that makes use of local Kentucky Bourbon and mint, and is quite suited for the Southern and Genteel Ladies attending the racetrack!

4 fresh mint springs
2 1/2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon whiskey
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 teaspoons water

In a collins or other unusual/fancy glass, crush the 4 mint sprigs with the powdered sugar and water (called "muddling"). This lends flavor to the bourbon. Fill the glass with crushed ice, then add the bourbon. Top with a bit more ice and garnish with an additional mint sprig. Serve with a straw that has been cut to just barely be above the glass - that way when taking a drink, your nose will touch the mint spring!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Kentucky Derby Bourbon Pie

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Once a year, our little family caught Derby Fever... we'd chase hot air balloons, watch the race, and eat Derby Pie. While I haven't kept up with making this since I left Kentucky 25 years ago, I love eating my sister's version whenever we visit.

Here's an easy recipe if you'd like to catch Derby Fever this weekend!

9" pie crust (store-bought is ok)
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dark (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon (required!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the eggs with the cooled butter. Gradually add the flour and sugar until mixed well. Stir in pecans, chocolate and bourbon. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set. While it's still warm, serve topped with homemade vanilla ice cream! VERY yummy!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Amino Acid Cookie-Square

Have you heard of the cookie diet? It's basically cookies that you eat in place of a meal. Looks like 3 cookies per meal, 2 meals per day, with a sensible 3rd meal. The cookie-meals are about $4.20 per meal! Supposedly, the inventor came up with a special combination of amino acids which help ... do something. It's not clear.

This got me thinking about flax seeds. We buy large containers of flax seed meal at Sam's Warehouse, and flax seeds are a wonderful source of amino acids. So I took that and a few other ingredients and created this "amino acid cookie-square". It's gluten-free, lactose-free, chock full of amino acids and proteins, and it's very yummy with cocoa and chocolate chips.

6 cups puffed rice
1 cup flax meal
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (lactose-free as needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pan spray a 9x13 baking dish. In a small to medium mixing bowl, combine the flax meal, sugar, and cocoa powder. Add the honey and water and carefully mix. Let sit until the flax meal absorbs the liquid, turning into a gelatinous goo! In a large mixing bowl, place the puffed rice. Add the flax meal goo and the eggs, and mix well. Incorporate the chocolate chips. Pour into the baking dish and even out. Bake for 1 hour minutes. Cool and cut into approx. 2-inch x 2 inch squares. Snack on once or twice a day, as a snack.

When going crazy with making up new combinations, remember that walnuts are also an excellent source of amino acids. Add the walnuts with a heavy hand, and the sugary items with a light one.
-chopped dried fruit (mango, apples, peaches)
-banana and walnuts
-blueberry and chopped pecans
-cinnamon and raisin
-coconut and chopped walnut
-peanut butter
-chocolate and coffee
-almond and butter
-chocolate and orange extract
-chocolate and raspberry extract or fresh/dried raspberries
-chocolate and maraschino cherries
-white chocolate and macadamia nuts

I'm not claiming that these are diet-cookies-brownies, or that you'll lose weight with these squares. I'm just saying that if the guy says amino acids helps people lose weight, I thought I'd try it. Let me know if these squares help you lose weight!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Eating to Help Prevent Swine Flu

I have complete confidence that you've heard about the possible swine flu pandemic that might have started in Mexico and as of this writing, has entered Canada, USA, Spain and more places. It has caused 86 deaths and many more people have caught it and survived.

But don't take a chance; read this article ( Then take charge of your life to minimize your chances of getting this swine flu. Supercharge your immune system by making some changes today!
  1. Healthful fresh foods and nutritional supplements.
  2. Sensible daily exercise.
  3. Stress reduction.
  4. Heartfelt daily prayers or meditations.
  5. Regular loving intimacies with your mate.

Let's concentrate on number 1: eating healthy foods and taking supplements. I've been reading, and based on independent research, many people believe that eating as close to Nature's Buffet will help boost your immune system. That means:

  • Take a multi-vitamin daily
  • Add to your supplements: echinacea, goldenseal, zinc, vitamin c, vitamin d, and peppermint
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and beans
  • Don't overcook your food, eating as much raw as possible
  • Add lots of garlic to your diet - it helps to clean out your blood and boost your immune system
  • Eliminate all meats (animal products) and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, etc.) no matter how hard it is
  • Eliminate all sugar, white flour, and any and ALL processed foods, especially any with words that don't naturally occur (like maltodextrin, dyes, enriched anything, etc.)
  • Stock up on dehydrated (without sulphur) fruits and vegetables
  • Start your garden, if you haven't already. Even if you have only a little bit of space in a tiny apartment, you can have a grow light and couple of pots growing fresh greens, carrots, tomatoes and peppers
  • Grow and eat sprouts on a regular basis: beans, alfalfa, clover, etc.

We are pretty ready, considering VHTS (Very Hungry Tween Son) has adverse reactions to many foods, including corn, soybean, wheat, peanuts, seeds and nuts. We could have rice, millet or certified-gluten-free-oats daily, along with lots of rice crackers, homemade rice brownies. He also loves dried peas, blackberries, blueberries and mango so he could have those daily. We have lots of apples and pears - enough for a couple of weeks minimum. He loves canned baked beans so we have plenty of those. He will take fish oil in applesauce (to get more amino acids in him). He's a very picky eater, but I'm working on a flourless brownie that has lots of flax seeds (again, more amino acides) to hide certain bits of produce in it... like spinach, zucchini and carrots. I might be able to hide herbs in there too!

Our garden will soon produce carrots, radishes and greens/lettuce, although VHTS won't eat salads without ranch dressing. Our seedlings for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, okra, etc. are comiing along well.

We have lots of herbs and medicines stocked up. Besides having lots of fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and beans, be sure to have lots of herbs and supplements too. Peppermint to settle stomachs. Echinacea and elderberry for lung health. Goldenseal. Zinc. Vitamins C (strawberries!) and D. Grow the garlic. Step out into the sun for 15 minutes a day (that includes your gardening time!).

As you may know, we are starting to prepare to sell our house. We rented a storage unit this past weekend and plan to pack and add to it weekly. Meanwhile, in doing this, I seem to have misplaced much of our prep items, including the night-time cold medicine and cough syrup. That means, I need to get more, dag-nab-it! At least I know where all of the food is!

I already have a cough but have had this for the past couple of weeks so I'm pretty sure it's not the swine flu. But today... besides getting more cough medicine (and celebrating my birthday), VHTS and I have lots to do today:
  • I just placed another order for dried fruits and veggies from my fav place (
  • Ordered more N-95 respirator masks - hope they still have some in stock!
  • Health food store for more herbs, rice crackers and puffed rice
  • Sam's Club for more honey, peeled garlic, dog food and socks
  • Wal-Mart for more water, chocolate chips, eggs
  • Dollar Store for disposable gloves, goggles and plain masks

Unbelievably, though, I awoke to 4 inches of very heavy wet snow on my car! What the heck? I can't drive in this stuff any more. Argh!

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This website and specifically this article does not intend to replace professional assistance, either medical or legal. Please consult your physician for additional information.

Recipe: Baked Custard

I love custard. I could eat it every day, but never found a recipe that was easy enough for me. Then I came across (basically) this recipe. I modified it and here we go:

3 eggs (reconstituted powdered work well here)
3 cups milk (we use reconstituted powdered)
2 teaspoons real vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Using a blender or hand-mixer, whip well. Place a large bread pan or baking dish in a larger deep pan. Pour mixture into the inner pan. Sprinkle nutmeg on top (if desired). Pour 1/2 inch of hot water into the larger / outer pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a clean knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Take the inner pan out and set on folded towel or wire rack to cool for 1 hour or more. Refrigerate any uneaten portions.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Sweet and Sour Chicken

This odd combination really works!

1 package skinless, boneless chicken
1 small bottle of russian salad dressing
1 package dry onion soup mix
1/2 jar apricot preserves
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, julienned
1 cup pineapple chunks, drained of juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine russian dressing, onion soup mix, and apricot preserves in a small bowl until well combined. Cut chicken into chunks and place in a well-greased baking dish. Scatter in bell pepper and pineapple. Pour mixture over top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until chicken is done. Serve on rice.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Traditional Trail Mix

Also known as GORP, it's a yummy treat to keep with you whether on the go, camping, or snowed in for a few days.

2 pounds M&M candies
1 jar peanuts (we use dry roasted unsalted)
2 cups raisins
1 cup granola
1 cup sunflower seeds

Add all ingredients in large (1 gallon or 2 gallon) sealable baggie. Shake to combine. Don't leave it out in the sun!

GORP: Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts
GORP: Granola, Oats, Raisins and Peanuts
GORP: Gobs Of Raw Protein

No matter how you make it or what you call it, it's still good eating!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Storing Food vs Eating

I just read this posting at - - great discussion about whether you should eat your stored food, or whether it should be stored until absolutely necessary and needed. Here's a summary:

Brown rice goes bad quickly. Beans get impossible to rehydrate after a while. Pasta gets stale.

When properly stored, white rice, powdered milk, wheat berries, dehydrated veggies and fruit, vacuum-sealed beans, and dried potatoes do well for long term. Canned goods (like fruit cocktail or baked beans) are just fine unless dented and bulging.

So... which side are you on? Do you stock only the basics but you rotate them and eat them regularly so that (1) you can practice preparing/cooking with them and (2) your body gets used to them? OR... do you stock up on the basics and put them away for that special rainy day, while eating "regular food"?

Recipe: Easy Salsa Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 medium-sized jar chunky salsa (mild, medium or hot, your choice)
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 slices tomato
1 tablespoon butter

Brown chicken in butter in skillet. After it's browned, pour salsa over top. Cover with a lid and cook on low (simmer) for about 30 minutes. Chicken will be cooked. Take off lid, place a slice of tomato and a slice of cheese on each chicken piece, replace cover, turn off stove, and let cheese melt. Tomato will also get warm. Should take only five minutes. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

King Soopers Has a Sale on Ground Beef

I don't know if this sale is effective everywhere, or at their affiliates: Kroger and City Market, but a store stocker-person (in north Denver, CO) told me this morning that King Soopers is having a sale on 73% ground beef this weekend: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. $1.00 per pound, in 1 pound or 5 pound logs. Limits apply PER TRANSACTION.

Our freezer needed cleaning out anyway, so we'll have plenty of room by the time Tween and I leave for the store very early Friday morning.

Thought you should know.

Recipe: Ice-Cream Cone Cakes

This is an easy way to get a fun dessert on a budget. Makes 30-36 cones, so plenty for a family of 4 to have for several meals.

1 package dry cake mix
1-2 package flat-bottomed ice-cream cones
1-2 packages of frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place ice-cream cones in a 9x13 baking pan, close together to keep them from falling over. Prepare cake mix according to box directions. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons on the batter into each ice-cream cone, till each is about 1/2 full. Bake 20-25 minutes (until tops spring back when touched in the center or when an inserted toothpick comes out clean). Cool. Frost. Decorate.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Italian Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons dried garlic granules
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg
2 cups oatmeal
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup green can parmesan cheese
salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pan-spray a big piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet (for sturdiness). Combine all ingredients. Shape into a loaf-shape and place on the sprayed foil. Drizzle a little oil over the top and rub by hand to coat. Wrap into a foil-pocket. Bake for 1 hour. Take out, uncover the meatloaf, change oven temperature to 375, and bake another 15 minutes. (Crust will form.)

Alternate: I like to combine 1/2 cup ketchup with a little garlic and onion powder , and spoon over the top. I like this crust even better!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Buttermilk

I posted a recipe the other day for cornbread, and realized that not everyone had buttermilk. Here's a substitution that should work just as well for you.

Milk (just under one cup)
1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice

Add the vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to have a total measurement of 1 cup. Let stand for about five minutes, then use how much of that you need for your recipe.

Recipe: Thousand Island Dressing

My favorite salad dressing is 1000 Island Dressing. I know, it has a lot of calories, and really isn't good for me, but I can't help myself. So... I found this easy recipe and it tastes pretty good!

1 stalk celery
1 small onion
2 large hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons ketchup (or chili sauce)

I use a twist-chopper to finely mince the celery, onion, parsley and eggs. You could just chop these very fine. Add the mayonnaise and ketchup, and mix well. Makes about 2 cups (enough for about 3-4 salads for me!)

Note: also works well as a big-mack sauce. :>)

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Savory Flatbread

This is very tasty when accompanying a big pot of stew or beans. This isn't exactly an easy or quick recipe, but worth it when you have the time.

1 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Use a medium-sized mixing bowl to dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the flour, salt and sugar and mix to form a dough. Knead well for about 15-20 minutes on floured surface. Add more flour if you need to, to prevent the dough from sticking. The dough will be ready to rise when it's smooth and satiny.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (against the dough to prevent a "skin" from forming) and then a towel. Allow to rise in warm place (top of radiator, top of refrigerator) until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces and form each piece into a ball. Roll each ball into a 5-inch circle on floured surface. Place the circles on lightly oiled pieces of waxed paper. Sprinkle on sesame or poppy seeds, if desired. Place on cookie sheet and cover with lightly floured towel. Allow to rise 45 minutes or until puffed.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the dough circles from waxed paper and place on an oiled baking sheet or preheated cast iron skillet. Bake 15 minutes until the bread is brown and puffed. If the rounds are not brown enough after 15 minutes, turn on broiler for 2 minutes to brown. Remove from cookie sheets and wrap in towels to cool. Bread will be hard but will soften as it cools. Store in a plastic bag.

Feel free to replace the onion and garlic powders with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Yum!

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Money Saver Menu #6: Rice

The feature of today's menu is rice! It is so cheap, especially when purchased in bulk, and very filling. We often eat it just cooked, with a little Smart Balance and Honey.

.10 = 2 pieces whole wheat bread, toasted with
.29 = 1/2 cup cheese (1/4 cup on each piece of bread)
.60 = 1/4 cantaloupe (at .79 a pound)
.99 for breakfast

.34 = 3 ribs of celery, smeared with
.48 = 2 tablespoons peanut butter per rib = 3x.16=.48
.43 = 2 gala apples bought on sale at 1.49/lb
.20 = 1/5 bag of generic corn chips at 1.00 per bag

.56 = Rice FryCakes/Recipe, doubled .28/serving x 2 servings = .56
.44 = 1/2 can baked beans
.20 = 1/4 broccoli crown at .79 a crown on sale, raw or steamed w/butter
.28 = 1/4 chocolate cake from on-sale cake mix
1.48 total for dinner

Total expense per person for this day is: $3.92, leaving $1.08 for snacks, drinks, more fruits and veggies, or the savings jar.

Note that there's no meat in this day, but you don't really need it. There's beans with rice, cheese with whole wheat bread, and peanut butter. Plenty of protein! You're also getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, but you can easily up that by adding a couple of carrots and a peach or pear.

Recipe: Pocket Potatoes

I found these mentioned in one of the "Little House" books, and looked up how it was actually done. They didn't use foil (just roasted in coals), but here's an adapted version for modern days:

white potatoes or sweet potatoes
aluminum foil
roaring fire

Clean potato and wrap in foil. Scrape some of the fire's coals to the side, and bury the potatoes in them. Turn occasionally. Cook about 45 minutes (you may see some steam come out). Check by poking with a clean sharpened twig or knife - the middle will be soft/tender.

Here's the beauty of this. When they are done, don't eat yet. Let them cool just until they can be handled, then slip into your pockets. These used to be hand-warmers. Use while out preparing your garden, or traveling (like they did - horse and buggy), or just out taking a walk. In the 1800's, children who walked those long distances to school would keep one in each pocket to help them stay warm, then eat them for lunch.

Serve with butter, as desired.

Recipe: Wheat-Free Cornbread

This is a real good recipe for cornbread, good for gluten-intolerant people like in our household, and will use that dried corn from your last year's harvest.

2 cups yellow or white cornmeal (freshly ground)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable (or olive) oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray your baking pan. Using a medium mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup of the freshly ground cornmeal and the boiling water. Mix until it turns from mushy to stiff then set aside. In a separate larger bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg into the medium bowl that has the cornmeal mush, then stir in the oil. Briskly mix in the buttermilk to make the batter thin. Add this bowl of liquid ingredients to the bigger bowl of dry ingredients. Mix until just smoother. Pour immediately into the sprayed pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the cornbread is slightly rounded and firm. The edges will be golden brown. After taking it out of the oven, let rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Variation: to make muffins or cornpones, bake for almost half the time.

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

When Is CornBread Not CornBread?

... Cornbread isn't really cornbread when you have 2 cups of wheat flour or bisquick to 2 tablespoons of cornmeal. I just don't understand it!

I was reading a blog that I follow when I have a moment, and it had a recipe for "Best Corn Bread". The ingredients included 2 cups of bisquick and 2 "heaping" tablespoons of corn meal. To me, that's a pan bread with a little corn meal thrown in.

I'll post a cornbread recipe shortly. A REAL cornbread recipe.

Sorry... had to vent!

Recipe: Poke Cake

I remember going to church potluck suppers, and little blue-haired lady that always brought this cake. It was made with yellow cake mix and red jello (probably cherry). Me and my sisters loved it, probably because it looked so lovely.

1 box of yellow or white cake mix
1 small box instant jello mix - any flavor
1 8-ounce whipped topping

Using a lasagna-type long pan (9x13), make and bake the cake according to the cake mix box directions. As it cools in the pan, use a spoon handle to poke holes all over the cake. Make the jello according to the package's directions, and before it congeals, drizzle the jello liquid all over the cake. Make sure it gets in the holes. Cover and chill several hours (overnight is better). Let the whipped topping sit in the refrigerator overnight to soften, then spread on the cake in the morning. Add colorful sprinkles to finish off the decoration, and voila'!

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Chicken and Celery Casserole

This is an easy casserole to prepare. Very filling.

1 can cream of chicken or celery soup
1/3 cup water, broth or milk
1 cup dried chicken dices
2 cups dried pasta (macaroni or egg noodles work well)
1 can green beans
1/4 cup dried onion dices
1/2 cup dried celery dices
1 sleeve saltine crackers

In a medium mixing bowl, add the can of green beans, with the liquid, and the 1/3 cup of water/broth or milk. Add the dried onion and celery dices, and the dried chicken dices. Allow to rehydrate. Add more liquid (milk or water) if necessary. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook pasta, drain and add to mixing bowl. Add the can of soup and combine all ingredients. Pour into a baking dish/casserole. Top with crushed crackers (rolling pin and baggie works well). Bake for about 25 minutes.

Cost Breakdown:
4.00 = dried chicken dices (1/2 cup at 2.00 x 2)
.50 = broth or milk
1.48 = 2 cups dry pasta
.59 = can generic green beans on sale
.79 = can generic soup
.96 = celery dices
.32 = dried onion dices
.25 = crackers
$8.89 = total for this dish, at 4 servings = $2.22 per serving

To make this dish cheaper:
  • use chicken you bought on sale - 4 thighs at 2.78, or even cheaper by using a whole chicken, cooked and divided in half.
  • use water instead of broth or milk.
  • use 2-3 ribs of celery bought on sale (.25 or so)
  • use breadcrumbs - whenever you make bread and it's a mistake, or no one likes to eat the crusts, crumble it up and put in a container in the freezer. That will give you "free" breadcrumbs whenever you need them!

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Homemade Greek Yogurt

I have discovered Greek Yogurt, specifically Greek Gods Honey Yogurt. In case you haven't heard of this... greek yogurt is the creamiest, thickest yogurt - it's almost like cream cheese or thickened sour cream.

Actually, we get the plain greek yogurt for lactose-intolerant Hubby to use as sour cream - it doesn't cause the problems because of the process milk goes through to become yogurt.

There's no way I could possibly describe the process better than this site: so please check them out. Very detailed information about how to make your own cow's milk yogurt, and then taking it a step further to make it into greek yogurt.

I wonder if we can use our recipe for making soy milk yogurt and turn it into soy milk greek yogurt? hmmm... will have to experiment sometime!

Recipe: Mud Fish

Another old-way of cooking. This time, fish! This recipe is adapted from what Native Americans used to do:

1 fish
thick mud
a roaring fire

Catch a fish. Start the fire. Make up some thick mud. Coat the fish with about an inch of thick mud on all sides. When you have a good amount of coals from the fire, scoop some of them to the side. Bury the mud-covered fish in the coals and leave it there for 45 minutes. Then scrape away the coals. Knock the dry mud off the fish - it will take most of the fish scales with it, and the mud will have steamed the fish, keeping it moist and tender.

This mud in the fire process kinda acts like an oven. It can be used for almost anything.

Recipe: Easy Biscuits

Thought I'd provide a few recipes for easy biscuits. Enjoy!

Recipe #1 - Ingredients:
2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons real mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a muffin pan. Combine all ingredients - will be a thin dough. Spoon into the muffin tins, dividing evently. Bake until done - light brown. Makes 12 rolls.

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Recipe #2 - Ingredients:
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup cooking oil (I like walnut oil)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Into a medium mixing bowl, add the flour first, then the milk and oil. Stir until the dough clings together. Transfer to a flour surface and knead lightly for about a minute (no more!). Roll out (or press if you don't have a rolling pin) to desired thickness. Use a glass or cookie cutter to cut biscuits, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. I take the leftovers to pat into an oddly-shaped biscuit. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

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Recipe #3 - Ingredients:
2 cups of self-rising flour
8 ounces of butter (melt)
8 ounces of sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter (in a medium-sized mixing bowl) in the microwave. Take out and add the sour cream and flour. Combine well. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls into ungreased, non-stick muffin tins - about half-full. Bake until golden brown (15-18 minutes).

Copyright (c) 2009 V.P.Lawrence-Williams

Money Saver Menu #5: Chicken

Here's another money-saver-menu! I got a good deal on the chicken thighs, so that whole dinner, in the foil-pocket, was really cheap!

.26 = yogurt, bought on sale
.08 = 2 tablespoons grape nuts in yogurt
.50 = fresh pear (.99/lb)
.84 total for breakfast

.10 = 2 slices whole wheat bread, with
.25 = 1/4 of cream cheese ($1.00 each) spread on one slice, and
.25 = 1/2 cucumber (2 cukes for $1.00) sliced on the cream cheese, and
.01 = dash of onion powder sprinkled over
.44 = 1/2 can sliced peaches
.32 = 2 servings plain potato chips from big bag
1.37 total for lunch

Dinner (See recipe at Chicken and Veggies in Foil Pockets):
2.78 = pkg 4 chicken thighs
1.00 = can of pineapple
.28 = chili sauce
.10 = honey
2.00 = dried vegetables/onions
6.16 total, but serves 4 people so... $1.54 per person for dinner

These three meals are very filling, and cost a total of $3.75. This doesn't include any desserts, drinks or snacks, but with $1.25 leftover, you could afford a couple more pieces of fruit!

Recipe: Electrolyte Drink

Dehydrated due to diarrhea or working hard/sweating? If you don't keep Gatorade or Pedialyte around, try this recipe:

1 quart water
8 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Mix thoroughly. I tried this with a quart bottle, screwed the cap on tightly, and shook. Not exactly the tastiest thing, so I added a half teaspon of lemon juice to give it a little lemony taste. Helped a great deal.

Also heard you could add a package of colored drink mix like kool-aid or even tang to improve taste.

Happy Passover

I'm not Jewish so I couldn't possibly presume to post a menu or recipe for you, but from our family to yours... have a good and healthy Passover.

Recipe: Mud Apples

Going back to the pioneer theme, here's a recipe... well, more of instructions ... of how to bake an apple with just a fire and mud. Native Americans used to do this ... more or less.

1 large apple
thick mud
roaring fire

Apply a thick coat of mud (about an inch thick) around the apple. Once you have some coals in the fire, scoop some off to the side. Carefully bury the mud-coated apple in the coals. "Bake" for about 45 minutes - long enough to dry the mud and cook the apples. Carefully scrape away the coals and take out the mud apples. Knock the dry mud off of half, discarding that side of the apple skins. That leaves a kind of bowl. Spoon up the pulp for a delicious treat.

Can You Afford Organic and Local Produce?

I recently came across a blog where the blogger had a local/organic/sustainability challenge going. It looked like a family of 4 has (only!) $588 a month budgeted to buy all food, and most (all?) had to be locally grown, sustainable and/or organic. Reading all of the comments, it's easy to see how some of her readers are frustrated. Not that many people these days have $588 a month to spend on food.

We are a family of 3, plus I'm helping to feed my mother in law in exchange for letting Hubby live there during the week. VHTS (Tween) and I can't have wheat, Tween can't have corn, nuts or soybeans, and I am working on losing weight/getting healthy. We have at most $300 a month to do this. I try to come way way WAY under that (not always successfully). How?
  • We're still eating winter squashes we grew last year. They've survived the winter down in the basement. I think we have 2 acorn, 1 butternut, 2 spaghetti, 4 mexican x-top cushaw, and 4 pumpkins left. We also have sunflowers; we still need to brush the seeds off and roast them. We also have black turtle beans left - I think enough for 2 family meals. We still have a string of very dry jalapeno peppers hanging in the kitchen.
  • Also from our garden, and now resting comfortably in our freezer are: 12 packages of various types of tomatoes, 5 baggies of string beans, 4 baggies of soy beans, 20 clamshells of raspberries. We already finished off the corn, okra, strawberries, and peppers.
  • In 2007, I had started to stockpile dried fruits and veggies, and last year (2008) stocked up on canned foods. We dig into these regularly.
  • I try to get to King Soopers (Krogers/City Market) early on Tuesday mornings, where I can usually find "orange stickers" (prices reduced by at least half) on dairy, produce and meat items. Sometimes I can get a little 1-pound log of ground beef for $.99! Yogurt can sometimes be found for .26, and milk often for $1.00 a gallon. I've discovered I can freeze the yogurt. Right now, I have 5 little 1-pound logs of ground beef from the last time I found them on sale (I grab as many as I have money and room for).
  • When I see a sale for gluten-free ketchup, beans, smart balance butter, or other items we used very regularly, I buy multiples.
  • Every other week I go to Sam's and get big bags of apples and pears. It seems like the other fruit goes bad before we get to it all, so for a while, it's bananas, apples and pears. Not local, I'm sure, but necessary for our health.
  • Wal-Mart usually has good prices for avocados, sometimes for $.50 each. I buy 10 at a time and refrigerate them to make them last longer. I'm working on a way to preserve them long-term, without causing brown spots or sacrificing taste. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
  • We supplement/bulk-up meals with white and sweet potatoes bought on sale, and rice and beans bought in bulk. This summer we will eat mainly from our garden (carrots, onions, greens, strawberries, beans, tomatoes, etc.).

VHTS and I need to gluten-free bread, and it's really hard to make all nice and soft, so I spend about $15 a week for 3 loaves of bread. Tween eats most of it... growing kid, bottomless pit, hollow leg, etc.

I can't do local and organic, and still get within our budget. I'd like to, but can't. The organic section of the supermarkets are getting bigger, and the prices ARE coming down, but they are still a little too high for me. Unless it has an orange sale sticker on it or is notably on sale, we just can't do it.

Farmer's markets aren't open yet, and given the weird Winter we've had, who knows what the local produce will be like or when it will be ready.

Who can afford to, realistically, buy only locally-grown, organic and sustainable produce for their family? How much do you spend? What do you get? Do you have enough variety in your diet?

Contest Winner

I'll post the blog winner on this posting later. I suddenly have a broken fence that I need to take care of so that our dogs don't disappear! Unbelievable.

Updated April 7 2009 at 8:15 p.m.... Took care of the fence best I could, and now am updating this blog posting. There were 10 comments, with a total of 18 entries. Each were given a number, put into a bowl. The slips of paper were tossed around, and VHTS drew the winning number.

And the winner is...

Harvest Moon Homestead said...
March 30, 2009 10:29 AM
My favorite Homesteading book of all time is "The self-sufficient life and how to live it" by John Seymore. This book is what started my enthusiasm for becoming a homesteader. The pictures are colored, the reading is easy, and the projects make sense. I dare you to put this book down. You will not be able to. Sara Carlson-

Sara... Please send us your e-mail address. And congratulations!

Recipe: Rice Fry-Cakes

This is a quick recipe in which you use leftover cooked rice. Good to make extra rice, and extra fry-cakes!

1 egg
2 cups cooked white rice
2 scallions/bunching onions

Chop the scallions. Mix ingredients together, pat into little cakes, and fry in an oiled skillet until golden brown. Delicious! Make extra for a quick snack the next day.

.26 = 2 cups rice
.25 = 1 egg
.26 = 2 scallions
1.13 Serves 4 conservatively = $.28 per person

(I posted the cost breakdown for this recipe because I plan to use this in tomorrow's posting for a money-saving menu)

Recipe: Crockpot Beans and Salt Pork

I just discovered this recipe - found it in a pioneer book and modified it to suit me. Before bed on Friday, I placed all of the ingredients in the crockpot and let it simmer on low all night. The house smelled wonderful! Hubby and I ate on it all day; VHTS is a very picky eater and had to be coerced to eat any, but he loved the "bacon" taste.

For this recipe, you need to use a large-sized crockpot, and trust me, it will provide many meals! Well worth it.

  • 1 pound of dry (picked-through) kidney beans
  • 1 ham bone or a big ole chunk of salt pork or bacon
  • 5 cups water or broth or red wine or any combination thereof!
  • 1/2 cup various spices (you choose from: tobasco sauce, bay leaves, garlic, onion, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, marjoram, etc.)
  • 2 cups miscellaneous dried vegetables (bell pepper, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc.)
  • Garnish: chopped parsley, grated cheese, chopped scallions
Put the beans, pork, spices and liquid in the crockpot on low heat. Cook covered for 8-10 hours. Then check the liquid level - add more if you need, to cover the beans. If it's too liquidy, you could add a half cup of rice or pasta. Add the dried veggies (if you do it at the beginning, they'll be mush!) Cook another couple of hours - beans should be very tender. Remove bones and any bay leaves. Sometimes I thicken it up by adding 2 tablespoons of rice flour (you could use wheat flour but we're gluten-free here) and cook for another 30 minutes or so. Serve in bread bowls or regular bowls, and add garnish just before serving.

This is a really cheap dish. Sometimes we get cheap bacon end pieces for $4.99; we could use a fifth of the package for this, so $1.00 plus $1.27 for the beans, and another $2.00 for the various dried veggies and spices + nothing if you use water instead of broth = $4.27 for a big crockpot that makes 8-10 servings. Add in bread and you have a well balanced meal for around $5.00 for 8-10 people!

This soup can be made so many different ways, just by varying the beans, spices and veggies. Enjoy!

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Bread Bowl for Stews, et al

I was watching TV the other morning, and saw a wonderful commercial for Red Lobster - a bread bowl with a soup (or something) in it! Oh, yum! It got me thinking... that's a good idea. One less dish to wash (which is always a good thing) and a fun way to present your meal. So I searched and tried out this recipe. Strong enough to hold chili, chowder, soup, stews and even fun to present a salad this way!

This starts out in your bread machine (dough cycle) but you can do it by hand if you'd like.

1 cup water
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Measure all ingredients carefully. Add first 5 ingredients in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the directions for your machine. Select dough/manual cycle and start it. Don't use delay - it won't make the dough right. Don't bake yet! Using floured hands, remove the dough from the bread machine pan. Cover with a lightly moist towel and let rest on a lightly floured surface.

Use pan spray to oil the outsides of six 10-oz ramekins or custard cups (must be oven safe!). On a sturdy ungreased baking sheet, place the ramekins/custard cups upside down. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, pat (or roll!) each piece into 7-inch circle. Lift up and shape the dough circles over the outsides of the cups. Don't let the dough curl under the edge of the cup becaue it will bake onto the edge of the cup, making it difficult to remove the bread bowl from the cup. If any gets onto the edge, use a sharp knife to cut it away. Cover these with a moist towell and let rise in warm place for 15 to 20 minutes (until slightly puffy/risen).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water (to make an eggwash). Brush the eggwash carefully over the dough. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. After taking out of oven, use clean towels to carefully lift bread bowls from custard cups (cups and bread bowls will be hot). Invert the bread bowls and cool on a wire rack.

Add a bit of garlic powder or Italian seasoning to flour before mixing. Delicious when serving pasta with marinara sauce.

= = = =

I'd like to know YOUR opinions of bread bowls.

Recipe: Hardtack (hard biscuits)

I'm really into pioneer food right now. Never realized that hardtack is basically a rock-hard biscuit, or a thick cracker. If stored correctly, it could last for years. It could be made very cheaply (well, duh, flour and water!) and because it would last so long, it was a very convenient food for people who travel so it made it through wars, pioneer treks across the continent, explorations, and more... whenever someone needed to move fast and pack light.

Hardtack was eaten by itself, or crumbled into coffee. Nowadays, you could dunk it in reconstituted powdered milk, or crumbled into soup. You could also crumble them into cold water, then fry the crumbs in the juice and fat of meat (a dish known as "skillygalee" or "cush").

2 cups freshly ground flour
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine ingredients and knead until smooth. Sprinkle some additional flour on a smooth surface. Roll dough flat until 1/4 inch thick. Cut biscuits out with a can or score and slice into squares or rectangles. Keep within 3-4 inches in diameter/across. Poke holes into each using a fork (see the picture above). Place on a floured cookie sheet. Bake 35-45 minutes until biscuits are hard and dry.

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Stewed Pumpkin

I went down to do laundry the other day and realized we still had quite a few winter squashes left over from our harvest last Fall. They include a couple of pumpkins. So it got me thinking... what to do what to do.. besides the typical pumpkin pie. Here's an easy recipe for stewed pumpkin - in the crockpot!

1 medium sized pumpkin
4 cups water
1 stick butter (or lactose-free equivalent) in small chunks
1 -2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
1- 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt

Take the rind off the pumpkin, and clean out the innards. Cut into chunks and add to the crockpot with the water. Cook on high for 8 hours, until the pumpkin meat is tender. Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot and stir until well combined. Cook on low for 2 hours. Adjust spices to taste.

Pumpkin Pie Spice:
I buy this already made at Vitamin Cottage, but it also comes in tins in the spice section of a regular grocery store. You could also make your own from ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon. Use amounts of seasonings to your preference.

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Avian/Bird Flu FOOD Prep

Last week I wrote an article about basic preparedness for the possibility of a bird flu pandemic. Today's will give more info on what foods to store.

Fruits/Veggies: If you don't grow any yourself, that's ok. We buy a lot of dehydrated foods from My VHTS loves the dried blueberries, blackberries, mango, peas and soybeans. My favorite are the bananas, strawberries, raspberries and cherries, and Hubby likes the tropical mixture that has pineapple and kiwi. They also have pomegranate, cranberries, peaches, carrots, green onions, tomatoes, corn and much more. The prices are pretty reasonable, especially if you get the larger sizes. We also get a good supply of dried onion, garlic, spinach, parsley and soup veggies from our local health food store, Vitamin Cottage. Gather what you can, and either process by canning, freezing or dehydrating. Have a good supply of foods that your family will actually eat. Remember quick-cooking grains like rice, oatmeal and millet (preserving fuel), and plenty of protein like dehydrated eggs, peanut butter, jerky, nuts and seeds. Be sure to include in your diet (for their anti-viral properties): Onion, Garlic, Shiitake Mushrooms, Green Tea, Cranberries, Turmeric Spice, Red Wine.

Supplements: Stock up on: grape seed extract, grapefruit seed extract, fish oil, ginger, cranberry concentrate, (odorless) garlic oil, high quality multi-vitamin, 1,000 mg vitamin C, 25 mg zinc, and 50 mg selenium. We also are stocking up on echinacea, golden seal, mullein and feverfew. Get lots of ibuprofen and acetaminophen (different classes of drugs so if each says to take one or two every 4 hours, then take 2 ibu and 2 hours later take 2 acet then 2 hours later take another 2 ibu and so on.) We've also heard conflicting reports about colloidal silver - you decide.

Store water: can't emphasize that enough. Usually it's recommended to have one gallon per person per day for drinking, cooking, and cleaning (body and other). I've tried to get by on 2 liters (a re-filled soda bottle) and sometimes do ok.

Cleanliness: You MUST keep yourself clean to help your immune system. And face it.... you do NOT want to use your bottled drinking water for cleaning. It's certainly understandable. So we store (and use regularly just to be in the habit) baby wipes (sometimes). We buy a big box at a time at Wal-Mart of the cheapest unscented baby wipes we can find. It takes no time at all to swipe one over a growing 12-yr-old boy's face, buzzed-haircut-head, hands, underarms and, er, other places.

Storage: When we get a large container of dried pomegranate seeds from, we divide them up into small snack-size baggies, seal, and store all in a mason jar. When we finish one, we open the jar, pull out a snack baggie, and close the jar back tightly. One baggie lasts a while. ... ... ... ... ... Store tomato paste instead of tomato sauce (less space). Use a lot of peanut butter? Get the dehydrated peanut butter powder and use some of your water stores to rehydrate (check out Not enough storage room? Look under your bed: you can fit quite a few cans under there. Or your linen or broom closet. In the spare bedroom/bathroom. Or fill up a long-lasting great-sealing trash can with super-sealed stuffs and bury it in your backyard (make a map!). Make a list of what you actually use on a regular basis, acquire your stock (a little at a time is fine) and start writing out recipes. Forgot to add salt to your list? Get some. Forgot you need a little cumin for your favorite rice dish? Pick up some on your next grocery trip. Now is the time to experiment and make sure you have the things stored you need to provide nutritious meals for your family members (and pets) in case you are forced to live off of what you store. (Note: this is the essence of why people come to this website: to have enough food stored in case of blizzards, power outages, economic disasters, or pandemics. Your comments as to what you are preparing are appreciated!)

What can YOU think of?

Polls We Posted

We'll update this page when polls are closed and results are in.

Poll closed: March 14 2009
What topics do you want to see discussed more on this blog? Choose all that apply:

Alternative Housing/Construction
3 (16%)

Animals for Homesteads
4 (22%)

Cooking Methods (No Power)
10 (55%)

Defense Methods / Ammo
4 (22%)

Emergencies to Prep For
5 (27%)

Food Preservation Methods
13 (72%)

12 (66%)

Health and Medical
6 (33%)

Recipes for Stored Foods
9 (50%)

Storing Methods/Items/List
9 (50%)

Substitutions for Everyday Items
8 (44%)

Water Purifying/Saving
6 (33%)

Work-at-Home Info
5 (27%)

Other (send us an e-mail)
1 (5%)

Poll closed: February 12 2009
How Prepared are you for a Worst-Case Scenario:

Just Beginning
11 (29%)

1/4 There
11 (29%)

1/2 There
9 (24%)

3/4 There
5 (13%)

1 (2%)

A Change of Face

I just went on one of my favorite blogs (great recipes and ideas for dinners under five dollars), but I've been busy and haven't had a chance to since March 15 or so. She's completely redone the blog, and now I can't find anything. She has over 1500 followers, but still... is this what you, my regular readers, feel when I try to tweak this blog's format? If it is, I completely apologize. I think I'm done experimenting.

Recipe: Salt Rising Bread

I was re-reading "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder to create a test for VHTS. It kept mentioning salt-rising bread, so I looked it up. This is a bread developed in the early to mid 1800's (1830-1840's) by pioneers who couldn't get a hold of "already-made yeast"- either because they couldn't afford it or because they were too isolated. This takes planning, and a willingness for a stinky house, but if you don't have yeast and want a risen bread, this recipe will be great for you!

You need: 1 medium Irish potato, sliced and placed in a big jar.

1 tablespoon cornmeal (white is preferred)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water

Cover and let rise in warm place until morning. Place in a box surrounded by a heating pad on warm if your house is too cold. If mixture is foamy and “smelly” the next morning (which is what you want!), pour the liquid into your mixing bowl and throw away the potatoes.

Mix 2 cups very warm water with 1/2 cup shortening (we like olive for a savory or walnut for a "sweet"). Then add 1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons sugar, and 5 cups of flour. Combine with the stinky rising mixture to make a stiff batter. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

Work in another 6 cups of flour to make a soft dough. Lightly knead. Divide into 3 portions. Let them rise for 10 minutes. Knead for 3 minutes. Place in greased pans. Let rise until mixture comes to top of the pan. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 25 minutes.

This doesn't really translate into a bread machine.

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Gardening To-Do-List for April

Now that we've split this blog, we've moved the gardening articles, including this one, to Check it out!