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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?