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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,

Hard Copy available on, 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:

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

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.

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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 ( 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: - 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?


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!

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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.

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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.

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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 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!