Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Problem areas

Still slowly working my way through fall house cleaning. Here are some of the "problem areas" in my house that I would love to hear your tips on controlling!

1. Our children are really into craft projects. But all the glue, markers, crayons, paints, scissors, etc really get into a cluttered mess! Any ideas of good storage system, that is accessible for the pre-schoolers and not the toddler? I just heard of using a large tackle box as movable storage, and might try it - if you have no better ideas.

2. In a related area, what do you do with all the "masterpieces" that your children create! I don't mind my house looking like a pre-school but after a while my cupboards are covered with their paintings and I need some more ideas for craft display or storage. We take paintings with us almost everywhere we go as gifts which helps tremendously to cut down the clutter.

3. Probably the most dangerous closet in our house contains the game/puzzle shelf. If you don't remove items with utmost care, you are sure to collapse the whole pile! Maybe I just need to invest in some storage containers or boxes and pull the whole box down to access it. Any other ideas?

4. You may have gathered that I like to experiment with new recipes. We don't get bored with our meals but my recipes are a disaster! I have trouble finding what I'm looking for and badly need a better organization system. This is what I have now...two blank journals with our family favorites written in (I use these most often and can actually usually find what I want) a stuffed recipe box, a fat notebook with page protectors holding recipes printed off the net or torn out of magazines, and lots of scraps of paper with scrawled recipes waiting to find a permanent home. Add a whole shelf of cookbooks and maybe it is no wonder that I can't find particular recipes! What works for you? Sometimes I just want to type off every recipe I use into the computer, have a searchable data base, and throw everything else out! But then I'd need a lap top to sit on the kitchen counter - and what about computer crashes?...Maybe not a good idea!

I'll admit that one of my side motives in doing this blog has to do with recipes. I have a goal of someday giving my daughter a copy of our favorite family recipes as well as gardening, preserving, and homemaking tips. I know that it will be a long time before she leaves our home, and I hope to have many years with her but life moves fast! Besides, I want to remember what it was like to be a new homemaker with little ones under foot and more creativity, energy, and ambition then money! This blog has been a great excuse to start getting some things typed up. It isn't organized but maybe it will be easier then starting from nothing.

House Cleaning Master Plan

With my summer canning finished, my next goal is house cleaning. I've been working at at it a little bit at a time. I would love to fly into the job feet first and wildly clean for a week. Part of my all-or-nothing personality, I suppose. But at this point, with little ones to take priority, baby steps seems to be the best plan. It doesn't feel as fulfilling as accomplishing large tasks at one shot but it is the best for the family sanity level! I've learned to only pull out what I can easily put back in fifteen minutes or so.

To help keep me moving forward in the house cleaning process, and to satisfy my love of check lists, I made a simple chart. Across the top of the page I listed every room of our house. Along the left side I listed every area that could possibly be cleaned in a room, floor, wall, windows, baseboard, closet, lights, door, etc.

As I work through an area of the house I just check off the areas I complete. Of course, some rooms have no closet, and another has no doors. I have found that I'm much more likely to use an extra fifteen minutes of time to clean an area since I can check it off the list! Instead of waiting for that perfect week for house cleaning that never materializes, I can at least find time for a project or two. My goal is to at least make it through the list once in a year. But some of you probably do housecleaning spring and fall, or even monthly!

I'd love to hear your house cleaning tips!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Make It Yourself - Cream Soups

Believe it or not, I have never purchased a can of cream of (mushroom, celery, chicken) soup! And not because we don't like creamy casseroles!
 
 I've considered keeping a few cans on hand for a busy day but always figure that the few minutes and few pennies it takes to stir up my own didn't make purchasing commercial cream soups necessary. This is one recipe that I use so often that it is taped in the cupboard above my stove.
 
 If you ever need to cook for someone who is allergic to MSG, making your own cream soups will quickly become a necessity. I've learned from a MSG allergic lady that almost any processed food at the grocery store contains MSG and if it isn't listed in the ingredients, it is hidden in the "artificial and natural flavors". Any simple white sauce recipe will work (2 T butter, 2 T flour, 1 cup milk - is an easy one.)  and the ways to personalize the seasonings are unlimited. I'll share how I make cream soups - plus some ideas for variations.

Small batch - comparable to one can of purchased soup
2 T oil or butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk, water, or chicken broth
Wisk together oil and flour. Stir in liquid. Wisk briskly while heating until thick.

Large batch - comparable to two cans of soup - but I often make this batch just to have a creamier dish.
1/3 cup oil or water
1/2 cup flour
2 cup milk, water, or chicken broth
Mix same as small batch.

Seasonings I most commonly use (amounts are for large batch, but I rarely measure anything, and just use this as a guide)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of pepper
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce (this helps give it the flavor of bought soup)

Variations:
1. Saute a few chopped onion, celery, garlic, or mushrooms in the oil before adding the flour.
2. Add 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 1 additional cup milk, and 2 cups cheese for cheese sauce  for vegetables or mac-n-cheese
3. Add 2 tsp curry powder and 2 cups of cooked chopped chicken, turkey or beef. Heat well and serve over rice. We love this quick supper!

Turkey Time - Almost Here!

November is just around the corner. About this time, I start looking for good Thanksgiving grocery sales, especially on turkey. I usually try to buy three or four turkeys at the best price possible. A large turkey can be cheaper and have more meat then several chickens. I try to buy the largest I can find. Birds over twenty pounds will have a greater meat to bone ratio. I figure one large turkey can feed my family for about twelve meals. If I've paid less then $10.00 for the turkey, it is an unbeatable deal for poultry! Since often stores require you to buy a minimum to take advantage of their turkey deals, I'll be doing as little of grocery shopping as possible in the next weeks so that I have a long list to use when I stock up on turkey.  In future weeks, I plan to share my mom's easy method for roasting a turkey and some of our favorite ways to eat leftover turkey. 

Breakfast Recipes

Thanks to all who sent in breakfast ideas! If you don't prefer a large meal in the morning, consider having a breakfast meal in the evening. Breakfast foods are usually quite economical and it could be a great way to stretch your grocery dollars.

OVEN FRENCH TOAST
1 loaf bread
8 eggs
4 c milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, cinnamon
Topping:
3/4 c soft butter
3 Tbs. dark corn syrup
1c br. sugar
Butter a deep cake pan well. Lay bread slices in pan. Beat eggs add milk & spices: pour over bread. Cover & refrigerate overnight. Mix topping & spread on after bread mixture has baked for about 20 min @ 350 put back in oven for an additional 30 min.
We found out by mistake --we like it better to do the topping midway thru' the baking process rather then before baking-it seems to make it more like a sticky bun!!! - Janet

Sausage Hash Brown Bake
2 lbs. sausage, browned and drained
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 16 oz. sour cream, w/ dry ranch dip mix to taste, maybe half a pkt.
1 c. chopped onion or minced onion to taste
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. chopped sweet red pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 30 oz. pkg. frozen shredded hash browns, thawed if baking right away. Leave frozen if baking the next morning.
Combine 1 3/4 cup cheese and the next six ingredients. Fold in potatoes. Spread half into a shallow greased 3-quart baking dish. Top with sausage and remaining potato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Yields 10 to 17 servings.
Note: this recipe actually calls for 1 c. sour cream and 8 oz. container of French onion dip, but this is how I make it. - Hannah


Ham N Cheese Quiche (great for the freezer)
2 pastry shells 9"
2 c. diced fully cooked ham
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (or sharp)
2 tsp. dried minced onion
4 eggs
2 c. half and half cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Line unpricked pastry shells with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 more minutes.
Divide ham, cheese, and onion between the shells. In a bowl whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Pour into shells. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Or cover edges with foil and bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
To use frozen quiche: Completely thaw in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking as directed.
Note: I don't usually follow these baking directions to the tee and it usually turns out fine. The foil on the edges of your pastry is a good idea so they don't get to dark.
- Hannah

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

1 lb. sausage
6 slices bread, in ½ in. cubes
1 ½ c. shredded cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1 ½ c. milk
Salt and pepper to taste.(I usually put ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper)

Brown sausage and place in 9 x 9 inch pan. Put bread and cheese over sausage. Beat eggs and add milk, salt, and pepper. Pour over mixture in pan. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 325 for 45 min. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

My variation - I fry 1 lb. sausage and put it in a 9 x 13 pan, then double the rest of the ingredients. I bake at 350 for 1 hour. My mom and sister-in- law make it out ahead and freeze the casserole. The night before you want to serve it, get it out of the freezer and put it in your oven. Set your time bake and enjoy when you wake up! (I can’t do this since I don’t have time bake.)

I also like this recipe because I can use any meat I have on hand, bacon, ham, etc. I also add shredded or cubed potatoes sometimes. - Heidi


Egg and Cheese Bake

1 cup Bisquik
1 ½ cups cottage cheese
½ lb. grated Velveeta cheese (you can use other kinds also)
1 tsp. dried onion
1 tsp. dried parsley
¼ tsp. salt
6 eggs
1 cup milk

Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in 9 x 13 pan. Blend all other ingredients in blender and pour evenly over melted butter. Bake at 350* for 40 min. Delicious!

I wondered how it would work to blend the ingredients the night before and let your blender sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning melt your butter while you preheat your oven, pour in the blended mixture and bake. It would save a little time, if it would work. - Heidi

Breakfast Burritos

20 10-inch tortillas
1 lb sausage
1 med onion, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1 lb hashed brown potatoes (3 cup grated baked potato)
1 dozen eggs, beaten
1 can mushroom soup
1/2 lb shredded cheddar cheese

Brown sausage with onion and pepper. Add potatoes and fry. Add eggs and fry. Mix in mushroom soup. Spoon into tortillas. Sprinkle grated cheese. Fold up four sides of tortilla. Freeze. To heat, microwave or cover and heat in oven. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

I love Paperback Swap!

PaperBackSwap.com - Our online book club offers free books when you swap, trade, or exchange your used books with other book club members for free.

Is your housecleaning turning up books you want to get rid of? Check out www.paperbackswap.com! Many of you know that I have a book addiction and especially love visiting used book sales and hauling bags of books home for a few dollars! Only problem is, my husband also loves books, and so do our children, so our house is quickly being over taken by books! To make room for more books, I've been sorting out the books that didn't measure up to our expectations and trading them at Paperback Swap for books I do want!

We've been part of Paperback Swap for maybe two years now and love it! The idea is simple. You list the books you want to give away. When someone requests a book, you mail it to them, usually costing postage of around $2.00. You then receive a credit to "buy" a book listed on the site! The sender always pays the postage. Any book, in good condition, paper back, hard back, or audio book can be listed. Post your first ten books, and you get two free credits to start "shopping". And give my email address as the one who referred you and I'll get an extra credit, too!

The best part about Paperback Swap is their wish list service. If you search for a book that is not available, you can add the book to your wish list. Then, when someone lists the book, if you are first on the waiting list for that book, you get an email asking if you want the book. You don't have keep checking back to see if it is available, just wait for an email. Of course, popular books can have a huge waiting list. This summer, we were getting books almost every week that were on our waiting list! But this was after waiting for over a year for some books to become available! If you were here, I'd show you some of the beautiful hardback looks-like-new books that we have received from Paperback Swap! Not bad exchange for clutter! I highly recommend it! Of course, many of the books won't fit a Christian's criteria for reading material. But neither does much of what is sold at Borders! Just use wisdom when ordering books you aren't familiar with.

Just a few of our book swaps through Paperback swap.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Make It Yourself - Salad Dressings

Thanks for sharing your salad dressing recipes. Your favorite not here? Please share it with us! 

French Dressing

1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tbs. onion                 
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water ( opt. )

Put in blender. - Alice


Celery Seed or Poppy Seed Dressing
from Esther Shank cookbook

MIX:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
ADD:
1 tbsp. grated onion
1/4 c. white vinegar
STIR IN:
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. celery seeds or poppy seeds
(we prefer the poppy seeds)
I mix everything in my blender.
Tip: To keep dressing from separating, add 1 tsp. of egg white.
David and I rate this as #1 on Spinach salads, and we recently
discovered that it's just as good on regular lettuce salads. ~ Joanna

Italian Dressing

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp grated cheese
Mix all above ingredients well, then put on salad and serve.

Make It Yourself - Croutons

I have never made my own croutons but I figured it can't be that hard! I asked around and several ladies shared their recipes with us!

Nola's Croutons

1 loaf white bread cubes
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/4 cup butter
Melt butter. Mix seasonings in butter. Pour over bread crumbs and toss. Dry at 275 degrees for 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally.

Linette's Croutons

Cube bread. (I usually cut off the crust edges and then put them in my mini chopper to make bread crumbs.) Melt butter. Add these ingredients to butter in desired proportions and pour over bread cubes and stir until well coated.
Garlic Powder
Italian seasoning
Onion Salt
Oregano
Black Pepper and/or Nature's Seasoning
Put in over at 250 for 15-20 minutes or longer if you want them crunchier.
This recipe is really open for "scope to the imagination". You can add any spice in the Italian line and it would be okay. My proportions vary, but I usually do about 8 cups of bread cubes, 1/2 cup butter and about 1/2 tsp of each spice-give or take a little.

Regina's Croutons

Cube bread. (white bread or old French bread makes great croutons) Toss them with butter and then any seasoning you want. Garlic, dill, pepper, Italian seasoning - you get the idea. Then spread them out on a jelly roll or pizza pan and toast them in the oven around 250 deg. just till they are nicely browned and crisp. I usually stir them at least once. When they are cool, they store in a container for a long time. I usually don't have much to store though because I can't keep my children's fingers out of them as they are cooling - or hubbies for that matter! You just can't beat the flavor of homemade croutons.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

The Encyclopedia of Country Living I have numerous gardening books but the Carla Emery's book is certainly the one that has been most helpful. Carla could probably be described as a homesteading hippie in the 1970's and she spend twenty years writing down everything that you could possibly need to know about growing and raising your own food and much more. The book went through many editions but is still in print, which may be proof of how valuable others have found her information. From making butter and soap, to raising goats and butchering chickens, to recipes for almost anything, you can probably find it in these almost 900 pages! The gardening section is huge and contains vegetables I have never heard of! I am amazed every time I turn to it at the volume of information contained in this one book! If you are interested in "getting back to the land", this book would give you a good start. Carla has a "chatty" style of writing which makes you feel like you are talking to a friend over the back fence, not like reading a impersonal encyclopedia. As a printer's wife, I have to mention that the printing job is poor. Especially in such a huge book, it would be nice to have a hard back quality book. But Amazon sells it for less then $20.00 so I guess you can't expect flashy color printing. I've had this book since I was a teenager, and it certainly has been worth it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Apple Tips and Recipe

From Kaylene - Here is a tip I found from Taste of Home. I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to, since we love apple desserts.

For freezing apples, just peel and slice and put into a bowl with water and a tablespoon or more of lemon juice. Drain and put into freezer bags according to the amount you need. I did them for apple pies and put 8 cups in each bag. Get all of the air out and lay flat so you have more room for storage. My mother in law has done this for years and they turn out fine for cakes or pies. —1002, Hints and Tips forum

Also a good recipe, (one of our favorites!) copied out of my Grandma's old handwritten recipe book.
Apple Bread Pudding
In a large baking dish, make a layer of sliced apples, raisins (optional), layer of bread (I save crusts & dried out bread,in the freezer for this) and top with another layer of apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
2c. milk
1/4c. butter > heat these two until butter melts
Mix with
2 beaten eggs
1/2c. sugar
sprinkle of salt
Pour over apples & bake 350 for 1 hr. Excellent served warm with ice cream, or whipped topping !

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caution

The goal of my newsletter and this blog is to be an inspiration to other ladies. But I don't want these ideas and recipes to burden you with more "things to do". I happen to enjoy gardening, cooking from scratch, and creative ways to save money. This is part of my way of serving my family but you and your husband may have other (even better) goals or priorities to spend your time. There is nothing particularly spiritual or godly about growing your own food, for example! We, women (or maybe I should speak only for myself) can really put ourselves in bondage by comparing ourselves with others and trying to imitate all the good things someone else is doing! I love to hear other ladies ideas, plans, and projects but I find that I have a constant need to be careful that I don't just heap guilt on myself for what I am not doing!

I believe that the Scripture speaks clearly on some of the roles of a wife. Loving and obeying our husbands, caring for our children, making our home a place of joy and blessing are some of our non-optional duties. But the method that each of us applies to meet those goals will look different in every home and family!

I hope we can encourage each other, share what works for us, and appreciate each other's strengths without falling prey to the dangers of comparison.
No one, no matter how perfect they appear, is doing it all! Comparison is a dangerous trap for us women and I don't want to feed that tendency! Seek the Lord and your husband for how YOU should use the time and resources you have and don't worry about what others are doing!

Beef Vegetable Soup


1 large roast, cooked and chopped
2 qt diced potatoes
6 sticks of celery, diced
6 raw tomatoes, diced
6 raw onions, diced
2 qt peas
2 qt lima beans
3 pt corn
3 qt green beans, cut
2 qt carrots, diced
1 qt tomato juice
4 qt beef broth
3 T salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 T parsley
2 tsp pepper

Partially cook any raw vegetables (except tomatoes) Canned or frozen vegetables need no preparation. Mix all ingredients together. Place in jars. Can for 50 minutes at 11 lb pressure. Makes 23 quarts.

A Gardener's Fast Food - Chicken Corn Soup


I've canned beef vegetable and chicken corn soup the last couple years and have so enjoyed the convenience! When the family is sick, there is nothing like pulling out a jar of homemade chicken soup. It also makes a perfect quick lunch on a busy day. Canned soup does seem like a lot of work when you are in the middle of cutting up all those vegetables. I try to remember that I'm preparing over twenty meals and the work will repay me richly this winter! For my life, with all the interruptions from little people, it works best to spread it out over several days. Chop and cook your vegetables and store in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to assemble and can the soup. These soups are thick and not very "soupy". When serving, I like to add at least a quart of broth. I usually throw in a hand full of noodles in the boiling broth before adding the soup. You do need to pressure can soup.

Chicken Corn Soup

5 qt cooked chicken, chopped
2 qt celery, chopped
2 qt carrots, chopped
2 qt potatoes, diced
2 1/2 qt whole corn
2 large onions, chopped
6 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 T parsley
2 tsp thyme
4 qt broth

Cook each vegetable separately until nearly done. Add broth, chicken and seasonings to vegetables. Stir well. Place in jars and can 50 minutes at 11 lb pressure.

Note: Turkey can be substituted for chicken. In fact, I bought several turkeys back at the Thanksgiving sale and still have one left. Even when not on sale, a large turkey is often cheaper and produces more meat then several chickens.

Grilled Chicken

My sister-in-law just shared the most awesome way to grill chicken legs and thighs!

For 10 lb of chicken, make a marinade of 2 cup vinegar, 2 cup water, 1/3 cup worchestershire sauce, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 cup butter.

Heat the marinade in a large pot until boiling. Add your chicken to the marinade and bring back to boiling. Boil for 10 - 15 minutes.

Turn off stove and allow to sit in marinade for 1 hour.

Grill for 15 - 20 minutes.

This is SO good! The flavor is all the way through the meat and since it is already mostly cooked, it is so quick to grill. The meat was so tender!

Obviously this makes a large amount. It was perfect for serving for all my family at a Father's Day picnic. If you have less chicken, just decrease the amount of the marinade.

For more grilling recipes, see Life as Mom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Three Clutter Busters

Here is three super simple ways I handle clutter in my home. Very basic...almost embarrassing to write them down... but they've helped me!

1. Give-away Box (or drawer or shelf)
I designated one spot for items that I'm no longer using and want to give away. (For you it might be your yard sale box.) When I find a shirt that doesn't fit Ed, or the kitchen tool that has been sitting in the drawer for five years - into the give-away box they go. When the box is full, I bag them up and drop off at CAM or other charity.

2. Return Box
We have a shelf with anything that needs given back to someone. I don't always remember to check when I leave the house, but at least I'm not rushing through the house looking for that book, pattern, or whatever. And it doesn't have to be sitting on my counter waiting for it's turn to leave the house!

3. Attic Box
My attic is rather inconvenient to access with a narrow pull down stairs. I always want to make my trips count. But so often when I was going up for something, I couldn't remember anything that needed to go up. Enter the "attic box"! Anything waiting for a trip to higher ground gets dumped into the box. On my next trip up, I bring the box with me and quickly sort out the items!

Make It Yourself - Baby Wipes

At our house, we much prefer homemade wipes to bought ones. I usually keep some bought ones around for the diaper bag but if I run out of homemade ones and didn't get to making up new ones, Ed will mix up a new batch. It sure isn't hard!

You need:
half a roll of paper towels (I prefer a thick brand that has "select a size" perforations.
1-2 T baby oil
1-2 T liquid soap
2 cups warm water
To Make:
Cut a roll of paper towels in half. A bread knife works but is a chore. Give your husband an opportunity to use his power tools and he'll have several rolls cut in seconds!
Remove the inner cardboard tube.
Find a suitable container that will hold a half roll of paper towels. It should have a tight fitting lid. An ice cream pail is a good choice.
Pour the water, oil and soap in the container and stir. I usually don't measure the soap but just put in a squirt or so. You can use baby soap but I had a little trouble with mildew. I now use anti-bacterial hand soap and have no problems. If you'd like a natural anti-bacterial, two options would be tea tree oil or grape fruit extract.
Set the paper towels in the water, cover with lid and the water will soak into the towels in about an hour.
To use, pull from the center of the roll.

Remember: Baby wipes aren't just for babies! We use wipes all the time when we are traveling or camping!

Another option:
If you are using cloth diapers, try cloth wipes. I'm thinking of doing this and have been reading other's experiences.
Baby wash clothes seem to wear out quickly. Cut them in half and use for wipes! Old diapers or flannel blankets would work as well. Roll up the used wipe in with the diaper and dump both in the washing machine.
Use a spray bottle of water, add a tiny bit of soap if you wish, and you've eliminated your need to buy wipes completely!

Storing Sweet Potatoes


Someone asked how to keep sweet potatoes. It has been a number of years since we raised sweet potatoes but we were able to save a few until spring. The old timers always say to wrap them in newspaper and store them under the bed. If any of you have personal experience, please share. Here is the directions I found in my gardening book.

Harvesting: Dig on a sunny dry day. Let them lay in the sunshine for an hour or two. Separate the bruised or cut ones to eat first as they don't keep as well.
Curing: Cure for 10-14 days in a hot humid spot. 80 degrees with high humidity is ideal. Near a wood stove or even in a car parked in the sunshine will work. Cover with a damp towel if you need more humidity.
Storing: Once cured, sweet potatoes need to be kept very dry, which is why wrapping in newspaper is recommended. Store at 45-55 degrees. They will get better tasting with longer storage as starch changes to sugar.
Freezing: Wash, cook or bake in oven, peel, cool, fill bags, and freeze.
Canning: Cook in boiling water for 20-30 minutes. Peel and cut into pieces. Fill jars, add salt, and pressure can for 95 minutes at 11 lb pressure.

Did you know?
*That sweet potatoes (which are not potatoes at all) have more vitamins than almost any other vegetable.
* In this country, the name sweet potato and yam are often used interchangeably. But yams are not at all related to the sweet potato. Yams grow only in the tropics with a 12 month growing season, and can reach sizes of a hundred pounds!
*Sweet potatoes prefer to grow in poor dry soil without much fertilizer. Rich soil will promote lots of vine growth and yield long skinny tubers.

Frosty Evening Indulgence- Hot Cocoa

I just love frosty evenings with a cup of hot cocoa and just found a new winner of a recipe! This is my newest indulgence - don't pregnant women need to drink extra milk?

Hot Cocoa

For each serving:
1 cup milk
1 T cocoa
1 T sugar
2-3 drops vanilla
sprinkle of cinnamon

Heat the milk, stirring occasionally. Mix with other ingredients. Whisk vigorously to froth the milk. A stick beater works well, if you can keep the hot milk from splattering! You can adjust this as you wish. The original recipe called for 2 T of sugar but I thought it was too sweet. I actually use three cups of milk (perfect amount for filling two large mugs) but only double the other ingredients. You can drink Swiss Miss, but after trying this, you won't want to!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yummy Fall Recipes

Thanks, Linette, for sharing three wonderful sounding recipes! I'm planning to try at least one of these this week!

Upside-Down Apple Gingerbread


1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
Gingerbread:
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 c. hot tea

Pour butter into a 9 in. square baking pan (note: I tried it in an 8 in. square pan and the cake didn't get done in the middle!) Arrange apples over butter; sprinkle with brown sugar and set aside. For gingerbread, combine butter, molasses, sugars and egg in mixing bowl; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to sugar mixture alternately with hot tea. Mix well; pour over apples. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool for 3-5 minutes. Loosen sides and invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 9 servings.

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake
If you like cheesecake and the flavors of maple and pumpkin-this will be a hit. We think its heavenly although its kinda like any cheesecake-you can't eat too much at one time. :)

1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
3 (8oz.) pkgs. cream cheese
1 can (14oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 eggs
1 can (15oz.) Pumpkin Pie Filling
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Maple Pecan Glaze:
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1 c. (1/2 pint) whipping cream
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300. Combine crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press firmly on bottom of 9" springform pan. In large mixing bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs, pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until edge springs back when lightly touched (center will be slightly soft). Cool. Chill 2-4 hours. Drizzle with glaze. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 8-10 servings.
For glaze: In saucepan, combine maple syrup and whipping cream. Boil rapidly 15-20 minutes or until thickened; stir occasionally. Add 1/2 c. chopped pecans.

Chunky Apple Cake
This recipe was a grand prize winner in Taste of Home and we think its grand prize worthy!
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 c. chopped peeled tart apples
Butterscotch Sauce:
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, cubed
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined. Spread into a greased 13x9 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until top in lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Serve with cake. Add a dollop of whipped topping if you'd like. Yield: 12-14 servings.

Bacon tips and Baked Potato Casserole

If you ever need to fry out a large amount of bacon, try this tip. Put a little water on the bottom pan of your broiler pan. (To keep the grease from burning.) Lay out your bacon on the top broiler pan (the one with holes) It is okay if the pieces are touching. Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees. The length of time will vary considerably depending how thick your bacon slices are and how well done you prefer your bacon. I start checking in 15 minutes. If the bacon is basically cooked but you wish it to be crisper, you can place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Since I started this method, I haven't had as much burnt bacon as using a skillet or consumed so many paper towels as in the microwave. Right now when we have fresh lettuce and are eating lots of salads, it is handy having bacon ready in the fridge.

Need more uses for bacon? Here is one of our all time favorites!!!

Baked Potato Casserole

5 pounds potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 T minced chives
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine potatoes and bacon. In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add to potato mixture and toss gently. Bake in greased dish, uncovered, at 325 for 1 hour or until bubbly and light brown.

This also works well for the crockpot. Put it on low for 2-3 hours.

Garden Tip - Floating Row Cover


After several years of having no success with broccoli, one year I covered the plants with the thin white gardening fabric. Another name for it is floating row cover. The most popular brand name is Reemay. That year my broccoli grew huge! And an added bonus, I had no worms! Apparently the butterflies couldn't get under the fabric to lay their eggs! Though our garden isn't organic, I try to spray as little as possible, so I was thrilled to avoid the little pests!

When the broccoli plants are first planted, we make a tent with chicken wire over the row to hold the fabric. Sticks, bricks, rocks, and old stakes keep the fabric from blowing away. As the plants grow, I remove the chicken wire and just cover the plants with the fabric. Last year I got tired of taking the fabric off the plants to check if it was ready and removed the fabric. In a short while, I saw butterflies hovering over the plants, and not long after I had worm problems! So I certainly think it is worth while covering them up!

The row cover fabric can be used year after year. In fact, our piece came from Ed's parents who were going to throw it away because it had some small holes. Six years later, we are still using the same piece! The holes are much larger but it still works. Maybe we really are scavenging tightwads!

Edited to add: About two weeks after I took the above photos of our fall broccoli plants, I uncovered the plants to check on them. I had ran out of fabric and couldn't completely cover the last plant but I figured it was good enough. All the plants were beautiful, about twice the size of the above photo, except for that last plant. It's leaves were badly chewed and there was maybe a dozen gloriously happy fat worms! One more testimony to the effectiveness of floating row cover!!!

Contentment

Written many years ago - but still challenging me today!

Practical Suggestions Concerning the Acquisition of Contentment
By E. B. Pusey - 1800's

1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even the weather.


2. Never picture thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.


3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.


4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.


5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God's, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. "The Lord will provide."

Grocery Shopping Tips


If you don't already have one, a master shopping list is an incredible savings of time and frustration. Surely I'm not the only one who has come home from an exhausting shopping trip only to find I forgot the most important item!

To make a master shopping list, walk through your house and write down everything you commonly buy at the grocery store. Don't forget to check the freezer, refrigerator, bathrooms and cleaning supplies.

Before going shopping, take your list and walk through your house checking off anything that is gone or soon will be empty. Now you can go grocery shopping knowing that you won't come home to find that you forgot to get toilet paper or the ketchup bottle was almost empty!

I further increased my grocery shopping efficiency by setting up my list according to the aisle arrangement of my favorite grocery store. When I return home from shopping, I put a fresh list on my refrigerator with a highlighter. If I use up an product, I can quickly make note to purchase it on my next trip.

I can not tell you how many trips this simple method has saved me! My preferred method of shopping is, every month or six weeks, make a mammoth trip to the store buying all the nonperishable products that we will need for about a month. We make it a family event and Ed usually takes a cart and half the list and half the children.

In between big shopping trips, if needed, I can make quick runs, picking up more produce, something we ran out of unexpectedly or maybe something special if we are entertaining. I don't buy milk, eggs, or bread at the grocery store so this works well for us.

I can think of a few reasons why monthly shopping wouldn't work for others. Not having a much storage, or husband's help or having a bigger family that consumes more food. But for me the fewer times I'm in the store, the less money and time I spend. I really admire those that look at a weekly store flier and plan their menus for the week by the best deals. But I like to have a well stocked pantry of the basics and just do without something that I may not have at the moment. It is what works for me!

However you shop, a master shopping list will be a time saver. Give it a try!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mennonite Style Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

For your summer picnics...

First, a note on the name!!! Last summer, Cook's Illustrated magazine was raving about this awesome Amish method of making freshly squeezed lemonade. It required thinly slicing the lemons and pounding the slices to remove the juice. I laughed when reading it because it was exactly my method of making lemonade - except that I use a blender! So this recipe is Amish style but with power tools. Since it actually came to me from my Mennonite aunt, it is now known, in my mind, as Mennonite lemonade! If you were around six years ago at our wedding, you may remember this from our reception! Enough talk, now for the recipe itself!

4 lemons
2 cups sugar
1 gallon water

Cut two of the lemons into eighths and place in the blender. Cover with water. Blend quickly but don't puree. There should still be small chunks of lemon remaining. Sit your pitcher in the sink with your colander over it. Pour the lemon mixture into the colander. Run water through the lemons and squeeze well. Do the same with the remaining two lemons. Keep running water through the lemons until you have one gallon. Add sugar. Stir well, cool and serve! You can also make this ahead of time, not add as much water, freeze until needed, then thaw and add the remaining water.

Summer Pleasures - Strawberries


This morning, I was checking on the garden. As usual, my one year old trudged into the strawberry patch. He sobbed as I tried to explain that the strawberries were over for the year. He couldn't understand what happened to his wonderful all-you-can-eat buffet that he visited daily for almost a month! As I was thinking about how much we have enjoyed having our own strawberry patch, I thought I'd share our experience, in case someone has a desire to plant their own strawberry patch and was unsure how to begin.

Choosing a Variety - We chose a variety called something similar to All Star.For a very wide selection, check out a seed catalog or online. One of the most popular varieties is Early Glow. It is the first to ripen in the spring and is a nice dark red through to the middle. For many people, it is the preferred variety for eating and jelly. Other varieties are compared to Early Glow by listing how many days later they ripen then Early Glow. We chose to NOT plant Early Glow because after the first picking the size diminishes rapidly to a very small berry. Also, late spring frost often hurts Early Glow worse then later varieties. We have been very pleased with our variety. It produces nice size berries for up to three weeks. If you have the space, you can extend your season by planting two or more varieties.

Planting- Strawberry plants usually come in a bunch of 25 plants which cost something like $10 or $15. Plant them as early as possible in the spring, usually in April. Plant each tiny plant about a foot apart. Spread the roots out over a little hill of soft dirt or compost. Then cover the roots with soft soil being careful not to bury the crown deeply. The plants will grow quickly and send out lots of runners. You can encourage them to keep in the row by pushing the runners where you want them.

Care- The first year, pick off all the blossoms so that all the energy can go into the plants, roots, and runners. If it is a dry summer, be sure to water the plants. Drip irrigation works best. I understand that strawberry production depends a lot on the moisture levels the summer before. In the fall, we cover the plants loosely with straw. In early spring, when they start showing green leaves, we pull the straw off the plants and put it beside the row for mulch. It is really nice to have straw to walk on in wet springs like this year. After the berry picking season is over, we mow them off in July. Not everyone does this but I think the goal is to cut back on disease. We also run a tiller along the patch to neaten up the rows. Keep it well watered and it will quickly send out runners and fill out the row again. A patch will last for three or four years before it stops producing heavily. To rejuvenate an old patch, rototill down the middle of the row. You will be removing the oldest plants. The younger plants on either side of where you tilled will send out runners and build a new row which should again last several years. In this way, you shouldn't have to buy new plants for a long time, unless they get diseased. In which case, it is best to start over with buying brand new plants (make sure they are certified disease free) and plant in a new place that hasn't had strawberries for several years.

Pests - Our patch has been hurt badly by some creature eating off most of the leaves from about a third of the patch. We assume it was deer. The plants are recovering but didn't produce berries this year. We also had a lot of help from robins. We tried hanging up foil pans but it didn't seem to deter them. Since we had more then we needed, I didn't worry much about them but it is frustrating to find a huge berry with a big peck in the side! The other option would have been to cover with netting.The wet weather brought some tiny black beetles but since I hate to spray, I decided to just share with them, too!

I think strawberries are one of the best garden investments. For very little cash and work, you get a very good return! Our patch isn't large but we picked 42 quart this year, despite our pest problems and not counting the hand fulls that were eaten straight out in the garden. At a local pick-your-own patch price of $1.75 a quart, we saved over $70.00 this year alone. We were able to share many of those with our neighbors, giving us a welcomed opportunity to interact. Very little space is needed for a patch of strawberries. I have seen people planting them in pots or half barrels. I heard of one city family who planted strawberries in the middle of their driveway between the tire tracks! I doubt any of us will need to get that desperate! Of course, strawberries do take some time. My patch is next to the swing set so I weed occasionally while watching the children play. Probably our worst problem is the thistles. We don't call our place Thistleberry Hollow for no reason! When the time comes to pick, I save a lot of time by not needing to get a babysitter and drive somewhere and pick. For us, it is well worth having them right in our yard. And there is nothing like watching your one year old return to his sand box with a huge strawberry in each hand and strawberry juice dripping down his chin!

(written in June, 08)

What To Do With Leftovers



I'm sure that leftovers are a foreign word for some of you with growing boys! At our house, many leftovers like pizza or lasagna are relished just as they are. Ed usually takes leftovers to work for lunch and I purposely plan meals so that he has things to take. But those little bits of meat and vegetables are the things that can sit and moulder in the fridge. It always irks me to throw out food so here are a few ways I found to use those little bits!

Quiche
1 cup chopped vegetable (pepper, brocolli, asparagus, spinich, etc)
1 cup chopped meat
1 cup shredded cheese
Layer in pie pan.
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste (if using ham or bacon, add none)
Mix together. Pour over veggies, meat and cheese. Bake 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
You can easily multiply this recipe and put it in a larger casserole dish.

Fried Rice
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 cup cooked rice
1 cup chopped veggies or meat, optional
3 T soy sauce
1/8 tsp pepper
2 T minced fresh parsley, optional
1 tsp garlic powder, optional
1 egg, well beaten
Fry onion in butter until tender. Add rice, any leftovers, soy sauce, pepper, parsley, and garlic powder. Cook over low heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occsionally. Add egg, stirring constantly. Cook on low heat 5 minutes more. We enjoy this so much that I always cook extra rice to have this later in the week. Extra good with peas and chicken or even shrimp!

Soup
 For a soup that will taste different every time you make it, place two containers in your freezer. In one place any bits of chopped vegetables or meat. In the other, pour meat broth or vegetable juice. When you gather enough, make soup!

4 cup chopped vegetables or meat
2 qt meat or vegetable  broth
1 pint tomato juice or soup
seasoning as desired
Heat. Add noodles if desired. Serve!

Salad Sandwiches
Leftover ham, chicken, and roast beef make great meat salad. Chop the meat finely, add mayonnaise until the consistency you prefer, stir in chopped pickle or olive if desired, and season to taste. Spread on a roll, roll up in a tortilla, or stuff in pita pocket, add some lettuce and serve.

Pizza
This may seem odd, but our Saturday night pizza can be used to clean out our fridge! Leftover chili, balogna,  taco meat, refried beans, grilled chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers - they  have all found their place as a pizza toppings at our house! And none of my family has complained yet! Give it a try! You might find a new family favorite!

Scrambled Eggs
Almost any leftover meat, veggie, potato or cheese can be combined with scrambled eggs. I usually heat the leftovers in the skillet first before pouring my scrambled eggs in the pan. To make a frittata, cook in the pan until the bottom is cooked. Then put the pan under the broiler in the oven to finish the top. This way you don't need to actually "scramble" your eggs while cooking - but make sure your pan, including the handle, is oven safe before trying this!!! It is also good to add a little milk or buttermilk to your eggs before pouring in the pan.

Did I miss you favorite way to use leftovers? I would love to hear about it! Not wasting food can be our first way to stretch our grocery dollars!

Make It Yourself - Granola Bars



My husband says these beat the bought ones hands down!

1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
2 T hot water
2 tsp vanilla
Mix until well blended.
2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or nuts
1 T sesame seeds
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins or other finely chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup coconut (optional)
Stir together with above ingredients. Press mixture into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into 24 bars while still warm. Cool completely before removing from pan.
Variations are endless. Try mini M&Ms, Reeses Pieces, craisins, white chocolate chips, Rice Krispies, etc.

Make It Yourself - Yogurt


We have been enjoying our own yogurt for some time now. For a while, I thought that making yogurt was only a good option if you have free or very cheap milk. But I was recently looking at yogurt at the store. The cheapest I could find was Walmart's quart size at $1.57. One quart of milk will make one quart of yogurt, so unless you are paying over $6.00 for a gallon of milk, it is still far cheaper to make your own yogurt. And you avoid all the added sugars in commercial yogurt. I was scared to try making my own yogurt but after giving it a try I found that it sure isn't difficult to make!

For a quart of yogurt, you need:
1 quart of milk
1/2 cup dry milk powder (not absolutely necessary but makes it thicker)
1/4 - 1/2 cup yogurt starter (plain - not vanilla - yogurt) room temperature

To Make:
Mix the milk and dry milk powder well. Heat on the stove to 180 degrees (almost boiling) You can use a double boiler but I don't bother. When heated, take off stove and cool milk to 115 degrees (baby bath water temperature) To cool faster put pot in a pan of cold water. When cool, add a small amount of your milk to your yogurt starter and whisk well. Add all milk and whisk well. Pour milk into a quart jar and cover. Incubate for 6 to 8 hours. Refrigerate. Serve!

Incubating
The goal is to keep your yogurt from 100 to 115 for several hours until it is set. There are many methods to incubate yogurt. I'll mention a few. The first two I have done. The others I have just heard others use.

Yogurt maker. This will keep it the perfect temperature without adjusting. I have seen numerous yogurt makers at yard sales which is where mine came from. This is easy but by no means the only method that works.

Crock pot. Sit the jar of yogurt in a crock pot. Fill with warm water. Put the crock pot on warm. I usually just heat the crock pot for an hour or so, then pull the plug and cover it with a towel for several hours or overnight. If I want a large amount of yogurt, I just pour the mix straight into the crock pot without putting in jars. This method works well and I'm almost ready to chuck my yogurt maker and use this all the time. I hate single use items cluttering up my kitchen!

Heating pad. Sit your jar on a heating pad. Cover with a towel or blanket.

Oven. Turn your oven on warm. Turn oven off. Turn on your oven light. Put yogurt in to incubate. Don't forget it is in there!

Tips and Tricks

The first several times I made yogurt, I religiously watched my candy thermometer to make sure it was the correct temperature. Now I rarely use a thermometer. I just watch for the milk to get close to boiling, then cool to lukewarm to touch. I don't really measure any of the ingredients either but just mix in a dollop! It really does get easier after a few times. But I'm still amazed every time I pull out the jar and find the milk has turned to yogurt! It is almost miraculous!

To make yogurt the first time, you need to buy some commercial yogurt for use as your yogurt starter. After you make yogurt, you can use your homemade yogurt to start your next batch. After quite a few times of making yogurt, it may weaken and you'll want to start with commercial yogurt again. To avoid buying yogurt again, take your bought yogurt and place it in ice cube trays. Keep the yogurt cubes in a container in your freezer. When you need a fresh starter, get out several cubes and warm to room temperature.

Make sure your jars, pots, and utensils are very clean. You don't want the wrong type of bacteria to incubate in your yogurt! I don't sterilize or disinfect and I've never had problem with this. Simple soap and water seems to work for me. And my kitchen is far from sanitary at times!!! I just mentioned it as a problem solver if you have difficulties with your yogurt.

Homemade yogurt is sometimes a little softer then bought. Cooling it before using it will help to sit it up better. I have never had a batch fail though sometimes I think it is a little better then other times.

I made yogurt, now what do I do with it?

If you have young children, you have it made! Get them started eating unsweetened yogurt with all of the great acidopholus and immune boosting powers when they are young and their taste are being formed! It is a perfect first food for babies and especially important if your child needs to be on antibiotics. Our one year old gulps it down just plain! Older children may need some more encouragement. If you aren't used to plain yogurt, it does have a peculiar flavor. The three year old likes his with applesauce and a dollop of strawberry jelly. While the four year old relishes smoothies with frozen strawberries, bananas, yogurt, and maybe a little honey. But I'm most amazed at Ed. He had never even eaten the sweeten version before meeting me! His favorite breakfast these days is yogurt and homemade granola! Sure can't get any easier breakfast for me, except that I can't seem to keep yogurt on hand! I'm glad that something that is so good for you, is so easy to make!

I also use yogurt in any recipe calling for sour cream. I haven't noticed any difference in the numerous recipes I've tried. I've heard that you can drain your yogurt through cheesecloth overnight to make yogurt cheese. It can be used for a healthy substitute for cream cheese. Cheese cake anyone? I really need to try that sometime but right now we eat it fast enough the way it is!

I just found a recipe for vanilla yogurt that I haven't yet had a chance to try. To the above recipe, you add 1 T. vanilla and 4-6 T. sugar or honey.

I hope you give it a try! Even for just the fun of seeing fluid milk turn to yogurt! Let me know if you try it, have questions, or something is not clear.

Make It Yourself - Buttermilk


Several of the recipes I use regularly call for buttermilk. Usually instead of buttermilk, I would add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for a few minutes. But I found this easy way to make your own buttermilk.

You will need:
1 quart mason jar
1 quart whole milk (raw, pasteurized, or homogenized milk is fine but not "ultra- pasteurized")
2 tablespoons of buttermilk starter (store bought buttermilk or a previously made batch of buttermilk)

Place the 2 tablespoons of buttermilk into a 1 quart mason jar. Fill the jar up with whole milk. Screw on a tight fitting lid and shake it well. Place the jar into a dark kitchen cupboard and leave it there for 12- 20 hours. After 12-20 hours, shake the jar and place it into the fridge. After it has cooled in the fridge, make some buttermilk biscuits or buttermilk fried chicken! Mmmmm...good!

I find that homemade buttermilk is thicker then store bought. It is often more like yogurt. At times, I even thin it down with milk a little when making a recipe. Need some recipe ideas? Here is a few...

Waffles

Since we were married, almost every Wednesday has been Waffle Wednesday at our house! After over six years, we have still not tired of this recipe!

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour (I use half whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 T butter, melted

Heat waffle iron. Beat eggs, beat in remaining ingredients until just combined in smooth batter. Pour batter into center of hot waffle iron. Bake 3-5 minutes. Remove waffle carefully.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

1 young chicken, cut into serving pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cornflake crumbs
1/2 thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Dip chicken in buttermilk, then in crumbs. Place in greased dish, skin side down. Sprinkle seasonings over chicken. (May vary depending on your taste.) Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, depending on the tenderness of chicken. Remove foil, turn pieces of chicken over, and bake, uncovered, 20 minutes longer.

Make It Yourself - Pizza Sauce


This recipe was given to me when we were first married by a friend. Each year I adjust it a little and we think it is about perfect! I like the simplicity as it does not use a strainer or squeezo. A large pot and good blender is the only equipment needed. It is also one of the cheapest recipes I've found, not using tomato paste or seasoning packets. I can't easily figure out the cost (what does 3/4 cup sugar cost) but if you grow your own tomatoes, onions, and peppers, it would certainly be in the pennies!


Homemade Pizza Sauce

2 gallon tomatoes (generous)
2 1/2 lb onion
several stalks of celery (optional)
6 green or red sweet peppers
2 T basil
2 T oregano
1 T garlic powder

1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 T crushed red pepper (optional)
1 T paprika (optional)
1 T chili powder (optional)
1 1/2 cup clear gell

Boil water in a large pan. Soak tomatoes in water for a few minutes until skins can be easily removed. Puree peeled tomatoes in blender. Coarsely chop peppers, onions, and celery. Cook in pan with a little water until soft. Puree vegetables in blender with a little of the tomato juice. Mix clear gel with some tomato juice. Stir all ingredients in a large pot and cook for 30 minutes at a low simmer to blend will. Seal in jars. Can 10 minutes. Makes 15- 20 pint.

Variations: For spicier sauce add more red pepper. In an attempt to have a darker red colored sauce without the added artificial colorings, I added the chili powder and paprika. Using all red peppers instead of green also makes a much redder sauce. Add more or less clear gel depending on how thick you like it. Cornstarch can be substituted. I use this recipe for spaghetti and lasagna as well.


Edit to add disclaimer: This recipe has not been tested for safety by experts. I believe a thickener such as clear gel is not recommended for canning. Use this recipe at your own risk.

Make It Yourself - Refried Beans


4 cup dried pinto beans
Soak beans overnight in water. Drain water.
6 cup water
3 chopped onions
10 chopped garlic cloves
Place water, onions, and garlic in large crock pot with beans. Cook on low for 8 hours. Add more water only if needed. When beans are soft, drain off any extra water.
4 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
4 tsp parsley
Mix seasonings with beans.

Now here is where I'm unconventional. The normal method is to place a small amount of beans in a pan on the stove and mash the beans by hand while cooking on low heat to remove water. I find that by cooking the beans in the crock pot, I only need to add a very small amount of water, which is absorbed in the cooking. I use my hand held stick blender to mash up the beans right in the crock pot! It works great with no mess or splatters! I have also let the beans cool a little and mashed them in my mixer but the hand blender is certainly the easiest method! Refried beans don't need to be perfectly smooth. I like to have a little texture!

You can easily adjust the onions, garlic and seasoning. This recipe is flavorful but not very "hot" for the sake of our children. You could easily add more chili powder or red hot peppers. Sometimes I wait to add the onions and garlic until half way through the cooking time so that all the flavor isn't cooked out. I won't say that you will save tons of money by making your own refried beans, unless you eat lots of them! But dried beans are extremely cheap and they aren't hard to do! But my favorite part is the wonderful aroma they add to your house while they are cooking!

What to do with your refried beans? Use just as you would use canned refried beans. Bean burritos, chip dip, or any Mexican dish. Extras can be frozen in containers. Here is one of our family's favorite recipes using refried beans!

Baked Nachos

1 lb ground beef
1 onion,chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pepper, chopped
Fry together.
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
Stir into meat
3 cups refried beans
Spread in greased 9x13 pan.
16 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Sprinkle half cheese over beans. Spread meat, then remaining cheese.
1 pepper,diced
4-6 oz black olives, sliced and drained
2 to 3 tomatoes, diced
Sprinkle pepper, olives, tomatoes. Bake at 375 for 15 -20 minutes or till hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream.
Wow! Good!

Recipe from www.tammysrecipes.com one of my favorite sources for new winner recipes!

Make It Yourself - Fire Starters

Spend a few minutes with some trash items to make a handy fire starter for the next time you are camping.

You will need:
a cardboard egg carton (not Styrofoam)
several handfuls of dryer lint
old candle stubs (or a block of paraffin)
a large tin can (coffee cans are perfect but anything works) You can bend a pouring spout in the can, if you wish.

To make:
Tear the top of the egg carton.
Fill the individual egg cells with dryer lint. Just fill lightly. You don't need to pack the lint.
Set a shallow pan of water on the stove.
Fill your can with wax, either old candles or paraffin.
Heat the wax until it is liquid.
Sit your egg carton on some newspapers or cardboard.
Carefully pour the hot wax over the dryer lint, filling the egg cells.
Allow to cool and harden. Cut the egg cells apart with a saw.
Place one of your new fire starters under your kindling the next time you start a fire.
Enjoy a hot fire in a much shorter time!

I love to take something normally discarded and find new uses for it! Do you have any personal examples of creative uses for trash?

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