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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

Recipe: Blueberry Jam or Preserves

Blueberries are so cheap this week so I'm buying lots. I don't have time to make jam this weekend (since we're getting the house ready to sell and move) but I'll freeze as many as I can afford to buy. I'll make the jam after the house is ready to put on the market. This recipe will make a big batch.

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups crushed fresh (or frozen) blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups of sugar
2 pouches of Certo fruit pectin

12 8-ounce jars with lids, sterilized
or
20 4-ounce jars with lids, sterilized

Directions:
Prepare the jars (boil 10 minutes). Prepare fruit in a large (5+ quart) pan on the stove. Add lemon juice and sugar. Mix well. Bring to full bubbling boil and stir constantly while mixing for 5 minutes over high heat. Add the Certo to the mixture and boil for another minute, stirring constantly. Move from heat; skim off foam, then quickly (while boiling hot) ladle into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims and add lids, screwing on tightly. Turn upside down for 5 minutes (to help move the bubbles around) then turn back upright. Let set for 1 hour, cooling.

Seal each jar with paraffin when the jam is cool.

Recipe: Yogurt with Oranges and Berries

Since berries are obviously in season now (didya see my last post?), it's time to post some berry recipes. Here's something I'll make for me and Tween (VHTS) tomorrow morning for breakfast:

Ingredients:
1 cup plain or vanilla goat (or cow) yogurt
1/2 cup canned/drained mandarin oranges
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
honey
cinnamon

Directions:
Layer the yogurt, oranges and berries in a pretty glass (see the pic). Top with a dash of cinnamon. Drizzle on a little honey. Garnish with granola or a mint spring. Yum!

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Blueberry Bonanza

My Tween can't handle any chemicals on his food so I buy organic whenever possible. We stopped by King Soopers (Krogers/City Market) to get apples and pears because we were completely out (remember his nickname: VHTS: Very Hungry Tween Son - also known as BottomLess Pit). I noticed the produce stockers were putting up berries: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and yum, blueberries. I chatted with them, and after grabbing the apples and pears (and celery and carrots), examined the berries.

Organic blueberries. Grown in California. 1-Pint Clamshell. $2.50 each. I bought 8 of them, and here it is, 3 hours later, and 2 packages have already been eaten.

We'll be going back tomorrow or this weekend for as many as I can grab. They were sweet and juicy and ripe and ... not at all moldy!

As to the other berries, they had been imported from Mexico, so because produce isn't reliable there, I didn't get any. Just might change my mind tho... $1.00 a pint! Okay, just thinking about them... yep, we'll go get some.

Note:
Although we'll eat plenty of fresh berries, we'll also freeze some (for smoothies) and dehydrate others. Be sure to wash first and then completely dry before placing in the dehydrator or freezer.

Recipe: Marinated Radishes and Cucumbers

This can marinade in the fridge for up to 36 hours. Tasty quick pickles!

Ingredients:
1 cup slices of radishes
1 cup slices of cucumbers
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped scallions (green and white)
1 tablespoons sugar

Directions:
Place the cucumbers and radishes in a mason (glass) jar with tight lid. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over radishes and cucumbers. Screw on lid and refrigerate about 12 hours, lighting shaking and mixing occasionally. When ready to serve, drain liquid, and serve with the onions sprinkled over the radishes and cucumbers.

Add white pepper to the marinade if desired.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams

Recipe: Radish Dip or Radish Quark

This is an unexpected and tasty dip to accompany spicy foods or to use as a dip for raw veggies. Experiment!

Ingredients:
1 cup sliced radishes
1 cup plain yogurt (we use goat)
3 tablespoons soft goat cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:
Wash and top the radishes before slicing. Add the goat cheese to a small to medium serving bowl and smash with a fork into bits. Add the yogurt and mix well. Add a bit more goat cheese for a thicker dip. Gently fold in the radish slices and mint.

Alternate: If you have dehydrated radish slices, you can use them with this recipe! Either rehydrate them as is and use in this recipe, or grind them into a powder to add to the yogurt and goat cheese.


Another name for this is "radish quark". Quark is a soft, unripened cheese that's similar to sour cream. Herbed quark is the cheese with herbs added, and radish quark is the cheese with sliced radishes added.

Copyright (c) 2009 V P Lawrence-Williams