Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm not a yogurt lover but my family is. If you love yogurt or use it as a sour cream substitute in your cooking, here are some good recipes to get you started.

The most important thing about making homemade yogurt is that if you have not already learned to make it, don't wait until hard times before you try. I have an electric yogurt maker but that would be of no use in an emergency. Even the crock pot recipe below would not help much. However, if you have a wonder oven, this would be a good excuse to learn how to make yogurt. If you perfect the basics of yogurt making now, then you can use alternative methods to make it. Also, as it requires a starter, if you start making it now and keep a starter on hand you will be in good shape.

Great Crock Pot Yogurt
This is Awesome! Homemade Yogurt in a Crock Pot
8 cups of whole milk--pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized. (Start with whole milk until you get the hang of yogurt-making)
1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)
Frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring
1 thick bath towel
Directions: This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a weekend day when you are home to monitor. I used a 4 quart Crockpot. Plug in your Crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. Unplug your Crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours. When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the Crockpot. Stir to combine. Put the lid back on your Crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation. Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours. In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened--- it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt. Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. I did mango, strawberry, and blueberry. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually. Chill in plastic containers in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch. This is awesome! The next morning the yogurt will be thickened. You can add honey for sweetening. This is so much more cost-effective than the little things of yogurt you buy in the store. To thicken the best, add one packet of unflavored gelatin to the mix after stirring in the yogurt with active cultures. Some have had good success mixing non-fat milk powder in as well. The way I created fruit-flavored yogurt was by taking a cup or so of the plain and blending it in the stand blender with frozen fruit or jam. Although this tastes great, the yogurt never thickened back up the way the plain did. I think maybe keeping the plain separate and adding fruit daily is your best bet. Or you can try the gelatin trick. I was able to achieve a Greek-style yogurt this afternoon by lining a colander with a coffee liner and letting the liquid drip out of the leftover plain I made. The remaining yogurt was as thick as sour cream. I do not know how this will work with soy milk and soy yogurt or rice milk and rice yogurt. I'd imagine it would work similarly, but I have not tested this out.

Another method using the wonder oven:

Heat a half gallon of milk on the stove and when it is baby bottle warm, put a cup of yogurt from the store in it. You could use a start that you keep for this. Don’t stir it. Then put it in the Wonder-Oven and let it sit overnight. It all turns into yogurt. You can add jam or other fruit to flavor it. Or make a gallon and double the yogurt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Short Term Food Storage Recipe #7 AND Storing canned meats

I'm a fan of storing canned meats; canned chicken, beef, tuna, and spam. In a cooking emergency it wouldn't take very much meat to flavor a pot of beans, make a casserole or soup or stew. I've experimented with the cans of ham chunks (the kind you can buy in Family Dollar or Walmart for about $1. I've used them in split pea soup, ham and beans, ham and noodle casseroles etc. I've found that they are a pretty handy item to have in your storage, and with other added ingredients you can stretch them to feed a family quite well.

My theory is that if you are fixing a meal in an emergency, it won't be a gourmet meal, just something to fill an empty tummy and provide nutrition. Any recipe that calls for ham can use the canned ham.

Here are some things you can do with canned meats:
Add Barbecue sauce to chicken or beef for a sandwich or pizza or salad (remember to store Barbecue sauce along with your canned meats!
Chicken, tuna, ham or beef sandwiches, hot and cold
Chicken or beef enchiladas
Soups any variety - many choices
Chicken pot pie
Foil dinners (beef, carrots, potatoes (canned or fresh), sprinkled with dried onion and beef bullion granules or onion soup mix, sealed in foil, baked in baking dishes in the oven)
Chicken, beef, tuna and ham casseroles of many varieties
Mexican foods (haystacks, burritos, tacos, etc.)

Any meat can be added to casseroles or gravies to serve over rice, noodles or toast.

Many years ago the U.S. Army ran some tests on canned meats and found that they store for a very long time (up to 40 years in some cases) and a little can of meat provides a good supply of protein. Think of some of your favorite quick recipes that could be adapted to use canned meat. Here is a quick short term food storage recipe that can be adjusted to feed any number of people. I bet anyone knows how to make this one and there have to be an endless number of different ways to make this not only using tuna, but ham, chicken or beef with noodles or rice and any sauce from cream of chicken soup to white sauces with cheese. Don't forget canned salmon or vienna sausages of your family likes those. Variety is always a good ingredient.

Get some canned meats in your storage. Add a few cans at a time and they'll add up pretty quick!

Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 can solid pack tuna
1 can cream of chicken or celery soup (or use soup substitutes)
1/2 can milk (can use mixed powdered milk)
Cooked noodles
Throw in any cooked or canned vegetable for variety. Combine soup, milk, drained tuna and vegetables if desired. Heat through and serve over cooked noodles with whole wheat bread or biscuits.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Another addition to your food storage that you might want to consider is dried carrots. You can buy carrots already dehydrated or if you have carrots in your garden, you can dry your own. I occasionally buy them in bulk at Costco, Sam's or Winco and dry a huge amount at once.

Here is some information on different methods of drying carrots:
Sliced carrots can be used as a snack if you want to slice them about 1/8” thick, otherwise you can slice them a little thicker for just regular use. If you have a mandolin slicer or a food processor with a slicer attachment this isn’t hard to do. They need to be steam blanched for about 2 minutes and dehydrated at about 135º for 6-12 hours depending on your dryer and the thickness and size of the slices, until leathery. Make sure all the slices are uniform in size so they all dry at the same rate.

Diced Carrots can be a little more labor intensive than some other things you my dry but it is so nice to have carrots ready to throw into a soup or stew. And they store well this way. I bought dehydrated diced carrots when I was first starting my food storage preparation and didn’t care for them as a side dish but they are a great addition to cooked items. If you are using baby carrots to dry, they will be best for diced carrots as they shrink quite a bit when dried and are hard to pick up for a snack. They also need to be blanched for 2 minutes and dried until hard.

Shredded carrots are also good to dry. This is so easy if you have a salad shooter or shredded attachment for a food processor. This idea is more for a quick use or use in baked goods as well as soups or stews. One idea for shredded carrots is when in a hurry to make dinner grab some shredded carrots, and some dried onion pieces, some fresh or dried celery and add them to cooked ground beef and potatoes in a pot of boiling water and your favorite spices and make soup. This would be an easier way to dry and require less time to dehydrate.

Carrot powder is another idea to use your dried carrots. Blend them to make smaller chunks or finer powder. This isn’t a new idea; you can buy tomato powder and many other powders. The powder is easy to sneak into other items, increasing the nutrition and flavor. Add carrot powder to spaghetti sauce, especially sauce that is a little too watery. The dried carrot powder soaks up the extra water in the sauce, making the sauce thicker and yummier. Finely chopped carrots are an ingredient of bottled marinara sauce. Add a little powder to zucchini or other quick bread recipes or your bread dough, though you may have to explain the orange specks. Use dehydrated fruit or vegetable powder to make baby food by soaking the powder with a small amount of liquid, and gradually adding more until it is the desired consistency.

To rehydrate dried carrots: You must soak and cook your dried carrots before using them in recipes or they will be tough. Add 2 ¼ c. boiling water to 1 c. dried carrots and soak for 1 hour. Then cook in till done. Give yourself extra time when first learning to use dried carrots to make sure they are tender. Hard or tough carrots will spoil the meal

My favorite use for dried carrots is in this carrot cake. It is heavenly! You can also use fresh carrots. If using dried carrots, make sure your carrots are totally rehydrated before adding to the cake batter.

2 c. sugar
1 ½ c. oil
4 eggs
1 small can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 c. grated carrots
2 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
2 t. soda
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. nuts
Beat sugar, oil and eggs well. Add rest of ingredients and bake at 350º till done. Frost cakes with cream cheese icing. Makes a large dripper pan (larger than 9x13) or use 3-8" square pans. Freezes well.

Friday, August 20, 2010


One of my favorite memories from when I was growing up was my mom’s Raspberry Jelly. I love raspberries in any way, shape or form, but the Jelly was awesome. Nothing better! We ate it on hot rolls, ice cream, pancakes, waffles or sometimes if she wasn’t looking with a spoon. My dad loved it mostly because there were no seeds. I just loved it.

I think one of my kids’ favorite memories of their Grandpa was picking raspberries with him. He’d show them how to find the perfect ones and I know they all remember those experiences fondly. I certainly do miss running out in the back yard and picking raspberries. Someday I hope there are raspberries in my garden. (I make it sound like they might just magically appear there!)

The last 2 years I have found beautiful, sweet and extremely cheap raspberries to buy. The first year when I bought them and they were so reasonable I bought a lot. Like 3 or 4 flats. I planned to make some jam and jelly and freeze a few. I did, but there were so many I decided to try canning them. I’d never had canned raspberries before and being the food texture freak that I am, I worried about them being soft or mushy, but I knew that my husband would eat them.

I never envisioned them being so wonderful. I canned them in half pint jars and they were perfect to open for a snack, to pack in a lunch or for any other excuse I could find. So the next year when I found an even better price I bought 5 flats and canned again. This time in pint jars.

This year they are more expensive and as of yet I have not found a really good price so I’m not doing as many unless I find that really good deal. But…this is the year I make the raspberry jelly.

One thing I want to mention here is that if you are an avid canner, you know how important it is to have the right equipment for the job. One of my favorite “tools” is my steam juicer. If you can a lot of tomato or fruit juices or syrups, this is the best thing ever. I think back to my mom squeezing her fruit through cheesecloth to extract all the juice and working with the strainer for hours and I could cry. The steam juicer makes it so much easier and the juice to fruit yield is so much higher. So…there is my product plug for today.

Here are some recipes to try if you don’t have your own. The only thing better than eating raspberries is seeing all those canning jars filled with raspberries and raspberry jelly or jam sitting on your shelves.

4 quarts raspberries mashed
½ c. lemon juice
Boil berries and lemon juice for 4 minutes. Drain juice through a strainer. Bring to a boil and add sugar, stirring till sugar is dissolved. Seal in bottles. Process in water bath canner 5 minutes. Use 1 ½ c. sugar to 1 c. juice. Jelly thickens as it cools. This is a thin jelly, and works well as a syrup also. For thicker jelly, use pectin as per pectin package instructions.

Canned Raspberries
Wash and pick over berries. Eat a few to make sure they are as good as you remember. Pack into canning jars to within 1/2” of top. Fill to within 1 ½” of top of jar with boiling syrup. To make syrup Boil sugar and water together until sugar is dissolved. Use 1 cup sugar for every 3 cups water. (This is a thin and not too sweet syrup). Put on cap, and band. Process in boiling water bath for Half pints – 10 minutes, Pints – 15 minutes or quarts – 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


About this time each year I start thinking about the sweet, juicy peaches that will be coming soon. I used to can quarts and quarts of them and they were good, but some of my favorite things to can were Peach Jam and Frozen peaches. If you already do these things you probably already have your own recipe. If not here are a couple you can try.

The thing I love about frozen peaches are they are so versatile. When my family was younger and my kids often took homemade lunches to school and husband packed a lunch to work each day, I loved to freeze these peaches in empty baby food bottles, then I could take one directly from the freezer to the lunch box and by noon it was just right to eat. Now, there are so many handy small freezer containers it is easy to do. I also freeze them in bigger containers for toppings for waffles, ice cream or for peach cobbler. Ziploc bags also work but are messy to transport.

If you are planning to can peaches this year, try a few frozen. They are so good. Think how good these would be in a smoothie!!!

Put peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds then into cold water. Peel and remove pit. Slice into solution of 1 quart water, 3 c. sugar and 4 t. fruit fresh, (1 t. per cup of water). Pack fruit into bottles or Ziploc bags. Fill with syrup (juice they were sliced into), to within ½” of top of jars. Freeze. These are good frozen in baby food jars and packed in lunches, or to use as ice cream topping or for peach pie or cobbler.

15 c. peaches, crushed
15 c. sugar
5 packages orange jell-o
Boil peaches and sugar 10-15 minutes. Add jell-o. Stir until completely dissolved. Bottle and seal or freeze. This recipe can easily be cut down to make a smaller batch.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Got Tomatoes?

I love tomato season. I always start thinking ahead about what I want to can with tomatoes. I've tried a lot of different things, just plain tomato juice, tomato ketchup, chili sauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce and a couple of different kinds of soup. My favorites are the chili sauce which is my sister-in-law's recipe and is divine and the one that I come back to most often is the Creamy Tomato Soup. This recipe I got from a friend years ago and it is a real winner. It is a little labor intensive but so worth it. Isn't it true that the things that we love the most we usually work the hardest to get.

I have made this soup with both tomatoes and canned tomato juice and I can't really tell much difference. It's just good food either way. If you have an excess of tomatoes in your garden this year, you might want to give this a try. If not, use canned tomato juice and make some of this. It makes about 12 quarts and when serving you can add browned ground beef or any other things you like in your soup. It's not a vegetable soup but it could be if you want.

I've always made it with alphabet macaroni which is next to impossible to find so this year I used orzo and it was okay, though not as good as the alphabet mac. You could even try it with rice if you want or pick your pasta. It's great to have on your shelves for a quick meal and is just plain delicious.

½ bushel tomatoes, juiced (about 8-9 quarts juice)
6 large onions
3 med. Green pepper
1 bunch celery
1 pkg. alphabet Macaroni
¾ lb. butter
2 c. sugar
1 c. flour
¼ c. salt
½ t. black pepper
Juice tomatoes. Grind onions, peppers and celery with medium grinder blade. Simmer in ¼ lb. butter till tender. Cream ½ lb. softened butter with flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Add 1 quart hot tomato juice to flour mixture. Blend till smooth. Add blended mixture to rest of hot juice and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add macaroni the last 10 minutes of the 30 minutes. It will stick to the bottom so stir well and often. Pack into jars. Put on hot lids and rims. Cold pack in canner. Y: about 12 quarts To serve, add a little water and heat.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mini Mixes

As I mentioned before, I love homemade mixes. Here are a few fun "mini mixes" for you to try. You'll soon learn as you use new mixes how to tweak them to your liking. Here are some fun ones you can experiment with.

Onion Seasoning Mix
¼ t. ground black pepper
¼ t. garlic salt
1 t. Onion powder
8 t. dried onion flakes
4 t. beef bouillon granules
Combine and use in place of onion soup mix or combine and store in individual containers or baggies for future use.

Sweet Oil Dressing Seasoning Mix
10 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. paprika
2 t. celery seed (ground)
Combine ingredients and store in airtight container. To make dressing combine with the following:
½ c. white vinegar
1 c. oil
Minced onion to taste
Put all ingredients in container and shake well Makes a large quantity. *Note: can substitute 1 t. dried onion (reconstituted) for fresh minced onion.

Spaghetti Seasoning mix
1 T. dried minced onion
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. parsley
2 t. green pepper flakes
1 ½ t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 t. dried oregano
½ t. basil
¾ t. Italian seasonings
¼ t. dried minced garlic
Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container. Use in place of Spaghetti Seasoning mix packet.

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE (1 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/8teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves

APPLE PIE SPICE (1 teaspoon)
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1 ½ t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. cloves

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Vinegar is an important storage item. It is very versatile. Here are some of the uses of vinegar that you may or may not have tried along with using it in your cooking:
1) Use vinegar as a window cleaner
2) Use to get rid of hard water
3) Add a cup a vinegar in your wash water along with an old towel to wash your shower curtains
4) Use undiluted as a spotter for suede
5) Put ¼ cup white vinegar in the final rinse of your laundry to soften clothes
6) A great final rinse for your hair
7) White vinegar in a spray bottle to remove soap scum on showers, tubs and sinks – let soak 10-15 minutes
8) For mineral deposits on shower heads, put a baggie with vinegar around the head and attach with rubber band – leave overnight. Rinse. *Note: remove baggie before your husband’s shower :)
9) Add 2-3 T. white vinegar to hot water along with regular soap to cut grease on dishes and crystal
10) Clean stainless steel sinks with baking soda and vinegar paste
11) Cleans drains – ½ cup soda and ½ c. white vinegar poured down drains once a month
12) Polishes chrome
13) Clean mirrors with solution of half vinegar/half water. Buff.
14) Spray underarms of clothes and let soak 15-30 minutes to deodorize and minimize underarm stains
15) To clean toilets pour 1 c. vinegar over stained area of toilet then sprinkle 1 c. borax over vinegar. Soak 2 hours, brush and flush
16) Kill weeds and grass growing in sidewalk cracks by pouring undiluted white vinegar on them
17) For cuts and scrapes, use vinegar as an antiseptic
18) Clean the microwave: mix ½ c. white vinegar and ½ c. water in a bowl. Bring to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.
19) Clean shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half & half solution of water and white vinegar.
20) Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white vinegar
21) Avoid the smell of a newly cleaned oven by using a sponge soaked in diluted white vinegar for final rinse.
22) To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.
23) Remove soap buildup, hard water buildup, and odors from the dishwasher by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle. Do monthly.
24) Easily clean mini blinds by wearing pair of white cotton gloves. Dip gloved fingers into a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm tap water, and run your fingers across both sides of each blind.
25) To clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter, use a paste of equal amounts of white vinegar and table salt.

There are hundreds more where these came from – believe me. My favorite use of vinegar is definitely making pickles and relishes. I love, love, love sweet pickles – the kind that sit in the crock for 2 weeks but that’s a story for another day.

Today I want to share what I call summer pickles. These are not canned although they keep in your fridge for several weeks, and if you have an excess of summer squash in your garden this recipe is what you need. I like these pickles so much I often buy summer squash just so I can make them. They are so good. I have given many jars of these away and never yet has anyone failed to ask for the recipe after they tasted them. They are quick to make and taste so good this time of year.

3 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped or sliced thin
1 large sweet red or green pepper cut into ¼” strips
1 T. salt
1 c. sugar
¾ c. white vinegar
¾ t. mustard seed
¾ t. celery seed
¼ t. ground mustard
In large bowl, combine squash, onion, peppers and salt. Cover and chill 1 hour; drain. In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add squash mixture; return to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool. Store in airtight container in fridge for at least 4 days before eating. May be stored in fridge up to 1 month.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Homemade Cake Mixes

This is a fun one. It's easy to use though it may take an extra 5 minutes to make a cake but it is worth it. I am including the basic cake mix and several of my favorite variations.

Please don't feel bad that these recipes are missing the artificial flavors and colors, Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Propylene Glycol, Distilled Monoglycerides, Dicalcium Phosphate and a couple of other things you get free when you buy a cake mix. I promise you won't miss them!

I have a bulk cake mix recipe that you mix and store in your fridge or pantry that will make several cakes from each mix. I've opted to share this recipe as well as one that will only make one cake mix at a time. I like not having to put one more thing in my fridge to take up space. If you make a lot of cakes and have room, try the bulk mix.

If you don't have a pastry blender (the little guy with a handle and 5 blades used for making pie dough) you can use forks or knives to cut the shortening into the mix, but if you have one,it really does make a smoother mix to cut the shortening in. Don't use an electric mixer to blend the dry ingredients. After mixture resembles coarse crumbs you can plug in the mixer and beat the cake mix together for a couple of minutes, just like that little cake mix box tells you.

As is noted in the recipe, you can turn this into a true food storage recipe by adding powdered milk and eggs to the recipe and adjusting the amounts of water you add accordingly. Experiment with these recipes, and others you may like and see what you come up with.

Recipe #1:
Bulk Cake Mix - Y: 16 Cups of cake mix
8 c. cake flour
6 c. sugar
¼ c. baking powder
1 ½ t. salt
2 ½ c. vegetable shortening
*Note: If you don’t have cake flour, remove 2 T. flour from each cup of flour in the recipe and replace with 2 T. cornstarch for each cup of flour. This mix well be better if all flour and cornstarch are sifted together. In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in shortening until evenly mixed. Put in a large airtight container. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks. Yield: about 16 c. of cake mix

For basic yellow cake:
3 1/3 c. cake mix
¾ c. milk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 t. vanilla
Grease and flour cake pans. Combine cake mix and milk. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and beaters. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat 2 more minutes. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and Frost.

Recipe #2:
Homemade Cake Mix
2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour (try substituting 4 T. cornstarch for 4T. of the all purpose flour) cake will be lighter in texture.
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
*Note: if desired add 1/3 c. powdered milk to this recipe and make up using 1 c. water instead of 1 c. milk.

Variations To Make:
Yellow Cake: Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening until fine crumbs are formed. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat at low speed for 1 minute, then high for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently. Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake in preheated 350º for 25 to 30 minutes.

White Cake: Prepare as above except use 3 egg whites instead of whole eggs. Beat whites separately and add into batter for a lighter cake.

Chocolate Cake: Using basic cake mix, add 1/4 cup cocoa powder before adding the milk.

Chocolate-Cherry Cake: Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening until fine crumbs are formed. Add ¼ c to 1/3 c. cocoa powder (depends on cocoa and your taste) to dry cake mix. Stir in 2 beaten eggs, 1 t. almond or vanilla extract, and 1 can cherry pie filling (mix in gently). Bake till cake tests done. Frost.

Buttermilk-Chocolate Cake: Using basic cake mix, add ½ c. sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 1 c. buttermilk; mix well. In small bowl combine ½ c. cocoa, 1 t. soda and 1 t. vanilla. Add to cake mixture. Bake 20-30 minutes till done.

Spice Cake: Add 1 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ground cloves, and 1/4 t. allspice to the basic cake mix.

Candy Bar Cake: Using basic cake mix above, add 2 eggs and 2 c. warm water and 1 small package chocolate instant pudding. Bake as directed above. Cool completely and ice with the following; 1 stick soft butter, and 1 c. powdered sugar whipped together. Fold in 8 oz. cool whip. Spread over cake and top with 3 crushed chocolate-covered toffee bars (Heath or Skor) or use crushed toffee bits. Keep refrigerated.

Pumpkin Cake: Prepare cake following yellow cake recipe, using 2 eggs, 1 small box instant vanilla pudding, ¾ c. water instead of milk, ¼ t. soda, 1 t. cinnamon, ½ t. ginger, ½ t. cloves and ½ t. nutmeg. Stir in 1 – 16 oz. can pumpkin. Blend 4 minutes. Pour into greased and floured cookie sheet. Bake 350º 25 minutes. Top with the following: Whip ½ pint whipping cream using ½ c. brown sugar; stir in 1-8 oz. pkg. cool whip. Spoon topping over sliced cake to serve.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake: Melt 1/2 cup butter in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Add 2/3 cup brown sugar, stirring into the butter. Arrange drained pineapple slices in the pan. Top with the yellow cake recipe. Bake 30-35 minutes and cool 5 minutes; invert onto serving platter. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Last fall I experimented with drying some herbs. I did Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro and Basil. It was easy and quite inexpensive. My conclusions were that parsley is pretty inexpensive to buy dried or otherwise, but if you have parsley growing, by all means dry it. I use a lot of basil and oregano so I liked having those dried and Cilantro was a new one to me. I had never used it much but wanted to start.

I have two recipes that use cilantro, so far. I use it in White Chicken Chili and this week for the first time I made the knockoff Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Burritos/Salad. I thought I had plenty of fresh Cilantro but after coaching from my daughter to use plenty, I realized I was going to have to use some of the dried Cilantro. It was awesome. The whole meal still makes me almost drool just thinking of how good it tasted. I will definitely dry some more cilantro for days like this when, living miles from a store which stocks fresh cilantro, I just gotta have it!

Herbs are very easy to dry. Just line your dehydrator trays with nylon netting and spread the washed and dryed herbs in a single layer. Dry till crumbly and store in airtight containers. These make a great addition to your food storage. I don't care for Rosemary but if you do, give it a try. It dries well also. My goal is to someday grow an abundance of fresh herbs in the summer and dry them for use in the long winter months.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Corn Time! is still hot! The heat makes me a bit grouchy and I think it also makes me hungry. I’m not sure if it is because I know that I don’t want to heat up the house by cooking that makes me think about food even more, but I think a lot about what I could be eating. If I was cooking. One thing that I do love about this time of year is that it is time for fresh corn on the cob. I love fresh corn. I remember liking it as a little girl and I still can’t wait for it to be corn time.

It seems that corn time lasts a relatively short time. It’s not long enough for me anyway. I want fresh corn to be on for months, not just weeks. I guess that is why I always did a lot of canning at corn time; always frozen corn, dried corn, sometimes creamed corn, I even tried freezing the corn on the cob but didn’t love it. One thing I do like to make these days is corn relish. I’ve made this off and on for years. It used to be fun just to eat with a meal now I love it as a dip.

I mix black beans, corn relish, fresh Pico de Gallo or even canned petite diced tomatoes and chopped onion will work. Whatever you like in a dip. Combine and serve with Fritos “scoops” or tortilla chips. So good AND easy. When you bottle the corn relish, you can throw this dip together in minutes, any time of the year. This year I'll experiment and see if I can make the corn relish from reconstituted, dried corn.
Corn Relish
10 cups corn
1 c. chopped green pepper
1 c. chopped sweet red pepper
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 T. salt
1 ½ c. sugar
2 ½ T. mustard seed
1 t. celery seed
½ t. turmeric
2 ½ c. white vinegar
2 c. water
Drop ears of corn in boiling water. Boil 5 minutes. Dip in cold water. Cut from cob; measure. Combine corn with remaining ingredients and boil 15 minutes. Pack into sterilized canning jars to within ½”of top. Put on cap, screw band tight. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Y: 5-6 pints.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wheat Berries

Wheat berries are cooked kernels of wheat. There are many ways to use wheat berries in order to incorporate them into your daily cooking and eating routine. I was first exposed to wheat berries in a few different ways. I went to a workshop on using food storage. I want to tell you about some ways I learned of to use the cooked wheat berries.
1) One of the items we taste-tested was chili with cooked wheat berries added along with the ground beef. This is an easy way to disguise your wheat berries. They taste good and are really hard to notice unless you are looking for them.
2) We were served wheat berries in a little cup with concentrated apple juice or fruit punch concentrate poured over them. This was a fun little snack.
3) We tried a taco salad, again with wheat berries added in with the ground beef and seasonings, topped with Tortilla chips, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and salsa. It tasted great. I was looking for them but otherwise I may not have noticed.
4) As croutons for a salad, these little guys are really good. Just put about a 1/2" layer of oil into a frying pan. Heat it hot enough to fry berries. Add about ½ cup wheat berries (already cooked wheat) and stir to toast berries evenly. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning; buttermilk ranch dressing mix, barbecue spice, parmesan and garlic or any other seasonings of your choice.
5) These are a great snack, prepared as above and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
6)Prepare as above by cooking in the oil and make a snack mix by salting lightly and adding your other favorite snacks to the mix; nuts, Craisins, M&M’s, pretzels, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips or any combination that you like.
7) Cook the wheat berries and serve warm or cold with milk and a little sugar for breakfast. Add in fresh or dried fruit for variety.

It’s important to remember that when you are not used to eating a lot of whole wheat, it should be introduced into the diet gradually. Cook some wheat and keep the berries in you fridge for a few days looking for different ways to use them in your cooking or snacking. It’s a fun experiment. Here are some alternative ways to cook your berries.

Crock Pot Wheat Berries
1 c. wheat (1 part)
2 c. water (2 parts)
Put in crock pot on low all day or overnight. For breakfast, add milk along with fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon, honey or brown sugar. Add cooked berries to your yogurt for a fun alternative.

Thermos Cooking Wheat
1 cup whole wheat kernels
1 quart boiling water
Put wheat into thermos and add boiling water. Tighten lid and let sit for a few hours or lay on the counter overnight. Strain water off and serve with milk and honey or sugar for breakfast. Refrigerate leftover berries or other uses.