Monday, November 29, 2010

Everything you always wanted to know about Pinto Beans....and then some!

When you’re cooking on a budget, beans are a staple. They’re inexpensive, versatile, and tasty. Pinto beans are a great way to start experimenting with different types of beans and different recipes. Here are some pinto bean facts and information:
Appearance : Pinto beans have a beige background strewn with reddish brown splashes of color. When cooked, their colored splotches disappear, and they become a beautiful pink color.
Nutrition: Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and they prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. They are good for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. Pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. They are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of fiber, foliate and manganese, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Pinto beans are rich in fiber. One cup cooked pintos provide 58.8% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research has shown that this fiber helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. Certain phytonutrients—shown to be helpful in prevention of some cancers, including stomach cancer—are also provided in important amounts by pinto beans.

Pinto beans have also been shown to lower your risk of heart attack. They give you energy to burn while they stabilize your blood sugar. They also increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores and help prevent iron deficiency, especially in women. The added bonus is that they are low in calories and fat free, unlike other iron sources. They are an excellent anti oxidant and have been shown to improve and help maintain your memory because they are a good source of thiamin.

Sorting: Before washing pinto beans, sort beans to check for small stones, debris or damaged beans. Then, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.

Soaking: To shorten cooking time and make them easier to digest, pinto beans should be presoaked (presoaking has been found to reduce the sugars associated with causing flatulence.) There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each, put beans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

The first method is to boil the beans for 2 minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for 2 hours. Drain soaking liquid and rinse beans with clean water before cooking. Tests show no important amounts of essential nutrients are lost when the soaking and cooking waters are discarded.

The second method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight. Drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water before cooking.

Cooking: Add 3 cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about 1-2” above the top of the beans. Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process. Pinto beans generally take about 1-1 ½ hours to become tender using this method. Do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after beans have been cooked; adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time. Pinto beans can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare.

-To prevent skins from bursting, simmer gently and stir as little as possible.
-Increase cooking time in high altitude and hard water areas.
-Cook the full contents of smaller packages such as the one pound size. Refrigerate or freeze (quick freeze on cookie sheet and store in baggies) leftover cooked beans;
-Store dry beans in airtight glass or metal containers in a cool place.
-Add 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon of baking soda per cup of beans to shorten cooking time in hard water or use distilled water. Excess soda will cause an undesirable flavor and loss of nutrients.
-A t. of sugar and a clove of garlic enhance the flavor of plain, cooked pinto beans.
-If a recipe calls for tomatoes, lemon juice, wine or vinegar, add when beans are almost tender; acid delays softening.

Measuring beans:
One 15-oz. can pinto beans = 1 ½ c. cooked beans, drained or ½ c. dried beans uncooked
One lb. dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans, drained.
One lb. dry beans = 2 cups dry beans.
One cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans, drained.

Pinto beans are very often used in chili in place of kidney beans. Rice and beans are a popular Texas dish. Don’t forget baked beans and even bean salad. Fudge and pie are also made with Pinto beans. Another common use of pinto beans is to make homemade refried beans. There is no comparison between the homemade and the canned beans. Many years ago, a friend of mine who does authentic Mexican cooking, came to my house, taught me how to make homemade refried beans and then used the beans for tostados. They were so good. I learned a lot about beans that night. She told me that the more you eat beans, the more your system gets used to them and the less they bother you. She told me that she always fed her children refried beans or some other beans in a tortilla before school because they didn’t get hungry and stayed healthier during the cold winter months. Here is the recipe for the beans and the tostados.

Homemade refried beans
Here is what you need:
2 lbs. dried pinto beans
Bacon, if desired (not necessary but adds a nice flavor)
Oil (not Olive oil), lard, bacon grease, shortening or butter
1 packet chili seasoning mix or chili powder
2 cloves garlic (optional according to your taste)
½ - 1 medium onion, finely diced (Optional)
Salt to taste
Shredded cheese (optional)
Cooking liquid from beans
In a large pot (about 4 ½ quarts) put 3 - 4 c. of dried, sorted and well-rinsed pinto beans. Soak them in 2-3x that amount water to cover overnight (or use quick soak method above). Drain and rinse beans and put them in the pot and cover them with water to about 2” above the beans. Then add 3 strips of bacon, and onion if desired. Bring beans to a boil then turn down to a simmer and simmer about 3 hours or until tender. Stir them every so often and add more water as needed. (Beans can also be cooked in the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low or until tender.) At about the 2 ½ hour mark, add salt to taste... about 1 tsp. Put less than you think you need as you can always add more later. When the beans are done, remove the pot from the heat and set it aside. Now get a large skillet and heat about 1-3 Tbsp. of canola oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. You can use lard if you like to, or bacon grease or shortening or even a little vegetable oil. Olive oil will change the taste of the beans. If desired, at this point sauté minced or pressed garlic until fragrant. Add the beans with a slotted spoon and about 1/4 c. of the bean liquid. Reserve the remaining liquid in case you need more. Don't overfill the pan, you can do this in batches if you need to or freeze any extra beans and liquid for later use. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they are of desired consistency, adding more bean liquid if needed. Stir well. Add 1 packet chili seasoning mix, or chili powder. You can also add shredded cheddar cheese and stir until mixed well, if you want to. Allow to cool a bit then stir again, if they seem too dry add more liquid and stir again. Add more liquid than you think you need because they will thicken a lot. Once you’ve incorporated all of your beans, taste the beans, add more salt if needed. Just keep adding salt and tasting until they are just right. If they seem too liquid, just keep cooking them and stirring them, the liquid will dry up as they cook. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. You can add a good healthy handful or two of cheese and just dust the top with chili powder or season according to your taste. Stir well before serving and add more cheese on top if you'd like. If you want to freeze some of the beans, freeze the beans in the liquid in freezer bags then thaw them and mash them when you are ready to make the refried beans. Serve them warm with some fresh homemade tortillas and rice you’ve got a really yummy meal!

Corn tortillas
Refried Beans
Taco Meat – browned, drained and seasoned ground beef, seasoned as desired
Chopped onions mixes with oregano leaves
Grated cheese
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Tomatoes
Sliced lives, if desired
Salsa (for a thinner taco sauce mix salsa with tomato sauce and heat through
Sour cream (can thin with milk for a thinner sauce)
Fry tortillas on both sides in hot oil until crisp and drain on paper towels. Spread flat shells with heated refried beans, taco meat, chopped onion mixture, grated cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and olives. Top with salsa, taco sauce and thinned sour cream if desired. A bit messy to eat but delicious!!!

Another idea for refried beans if you don’t have or like corn or flour tortillas, is this recipe for
Mexican Cornbread Tortillas:
1- Package cornbread mix (normally calls for ¾ cup of milk, instead use 1 cup Milk)
1 c, milk
½ cup of grated longhorn cheese
1 jalapeño pepper finely chopped
3 - 4 T. onion finely chopped.
Mix all together, let chill a few minutes. Put a well greased griddle over medium heat; pour cornbread mixture in and cook 4 or 5 minutes on each side. Cut each one in pie like slices now serve with beans or any desired toppings. This is a thick corn tortilla that tastes like cornbread.

Texas Pinto Beans
1 pound dry pinto beans
1 (29 ounce) can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup green salsa 1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper water, if needed
Place the pinto beans in a large pot, and pour in the chicken broth. Stir in onion, jalapeno, garlic, salsa, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking 2 hours, stirring often, until beans are tender. Add water as needed to keep the beans moist.

Chuck Wagon Chow
1 pound beef chuck or round cut in 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder
11/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons salad oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 4-ounce can chopped green chile
2 cups cooked and rinsed pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn
Sprinkle beef cubes with chili powder, salt and pepper. Slowly brown the meat and garlic in the salad oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and green chili and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir often. Drain pinto beans and corn; add liquid to meat mixture; cover; simmer 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Add pinto beans and corn; cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir often

Baked (Pinto) Beans
3 c. dry pinto beans
1 medium size onion
3 c. water or unsalted chicken stock
2 level t. salt
1 heaping t. prepared mustard
1/4 t. black pepper
1 t. Worchestershire sauce
1/3 c. molasses
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/8 lb. bacon or salt pork
Cook soaked beans on low heat until tender. Drain and rinse beans. Slice onion in bottom of bean pot and add drained beans. Mix remaining ingredients, except meat, with water or chicken stock and pour over beans. Cut meat into small pieces and stir carefully into bean mixture. Place in 300° F oven and bake for 2 1/2 hours; uncover for the last half hour. Add water if necessary.

Pinto Bean Salad
2 c.s cooked and rinsed pinto beans
1/2 c. diced celery
3 green chile peppers (canned or fresh)
2 medium cucumber pickles, chopped
1/2 small onion chopped
2 T. prepared mustard -
4 T. canned milk or cream
Mix all ingredients thoroughly except mustard and cream. Beat mustard and cream together. Add to the bean mixture. Serve on lettuce. Sprinkle top with red chile powder.

Another common use of Pinto beans if to make fudge. I’m including the recipe I used and two others. I promise you can’t tell there are beans in this fudge. I made it, divided into several portions and added different ingredients for different tastes. I added raisins to one portion, mini marshmallows and chopped pecans to another, chopped dried cherries for cherry-chocolate fudge, and cashews for still another variety. Try this and you’ll be amazed that it really has beans in it.

Pinto Bean Fudge
1 c. warm cooked pinto beans
¾ c. melted butter or margarine
¾ c. cocoa
1 T. vanilla
2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 7 ½ c.)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mash or sieve beans until very smooth. (A baby food grinder would work perfect for this) Add melted butter or margarine, cocoa and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar gradually. Put on wax paper and knead sugar in until well mixed and not sticky anymore. Add nuts if desired. Press into a 9x13” non-stick pan. Store in the refrigerator.

Pinto Bean Fudge
1 cup Pinto beans, drained and mashed into a thick paste
¼-½ c. milk (or ¼ c. evaporated milk – 1 ½ T. Dry powdered milk + ¼ c. water)
6 T. Butter
6 oz. Unsweetened chocolate
1 T. Vanilla
1 c. of chopped pecans (optional)
2 lb Powdered sugar
Melt chocolate and butter together. Mix mashed pinto beans mixed with milk. Add chocolate and butter mixture and blend well. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla. Stir until slightly thickened. Gradually work in the powdered sugar (easier to knead in by hand) and pecans. Raisins (optional). Spread in buttered pan. Refrigerate.

Pinto Bean Fudge (with dry powdered milk)
1 c. soft cooked pinto beans (if using canned, boil first)
2/3 c. non-instant powdered milk
1 T. vanilla
3 T. cocoa
¾ cube butter
1 ½ - 1 ¾ c. powdered sugar
1 c. chopped nuts or raisins (optional)
Mash beans until smooth. Stir in milk, cocoa and vanilla. Combine with soft butter and stir until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar until well blended and firm. Add nuts or raisins if desired. Spread on buttered pan and cut into squares. Stays well in refrigerator for a long time.

Here are a couple of pie recipes. Give these a try and see what you think.

Mock Pumpkin Pie
2 cups pinto bean puree*
3 eggs
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 (9”) unbaked pie shell
*Use tender cooked, unseasoned pinto beans. Rinse well and puree 2 cups beans with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water or chicken stock in a blender until smooth. Scrap down sides occasionally. Mix remaining ingredients in order given. Pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 425° oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° degrees and continue baking for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center of pie filling comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

These 2 recipes are both pecan pie knock-off’s. Are you brave? Try the one you think looks the best to you. You never know, it may be your new favorite!!

Pinto Bean Pie
This pie tastes like Pecan pie and can be served with whipped cream, non-dairy whipped topping or a scoop of ice cream.
1 c. of mashed Pinto beans
½ c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. butter
2 eggs, beaten
Unbaked pie shell
Note: 1 ½ c. cooked beans equals about 1 c., mashed.
Blend sugars, eggs and butter until creamy. Add pinto beans and blend well. Pour into 9” unbaked shell. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes, then at 350º for an additional 25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Grandma’s Pinto Bean Pecan Pie
½ c. hot pinto beans
½ c. melted butter
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ c. sugar
½ c. coconut
2 eggs
1 (9”) unbaked pie shell
Heat the beans till they are hot – not boiling. Drain juice from beans and mash. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
Serving as you would pecan pie. NOTE: This is so much like a pecan pie you will be surprised.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dry Pack Canning at Home: A Tutorial

I posted this information when I first started this blog but have had a couple of request to post it again along with answering some questions that I have been asked about the Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers and other miscellaneous information. I’ll try to answer those questions and explain the method and reasoning behind dry pack canning.

An iron
Mylar Bags
Oxygen absorbers
A board to iron on – mine is ¾” thick plywood measuring 10x18” but any piece of wood or wooden surface will work.
Purchase the bags and oxygen absorbers at any food storage supplier or from your local home storage center. They are pretty inexpensive. I believe the bags are 35¢ each and the oxygen absorbers are about 8¢ each. Figuring that I cut the bags in half or sometimes in fourths, they are pretty inexpensive in the long run.

How to:
First, decide on how large of quantities you want to can. Most things that I will use up quickly when I open them, I can about a quart or so at a time. That is about the right amount for a half-size bag. So, measure from side to side of a bag with the opening at the top. Cut in half lengthwise. If you want to can a smaller portion, cut bags evenly in fourths. Leaving the top edge open for filling, iron (medium hot iron – no steam) remaining edges closed using about a ½” seam all around. For a half size bag iron only the long edge and for a fourth size bag iron 2 sides, leaving an opening to fill.

Put food in bags, filling evenly and shaking bag slightly to let food settle into the bag well. Add oxygen absorber, sliding it down into the food so that it will not be in the way of the iron when you iron the bag closed. Lay bag flat on your wood, press excess air from bag and make sure no food is in the top where you will iron. Press iron across top of bag to seal properly, making sure there are no gaps in the seal. It only takes a few seconds to see the bag.

Label each bag as you seal it with the food, date, amount if you wish and any special instructions you want to include. I like to use the labels that I can print out on my computer because they are quick to use and I can add any information I want, such as how to reconstitute the food. You can however just use a permanent marker if you like or if you are canning a large quantity of similar items, label the box or tote you plan to store them in.

Why dry pack canning at home?
A friend asked me why don’t you just take what you want canned to the cannery and do it there? There are several reasons I like doing it at home and here they are:
1) I live about 70 miles one-way from a cannery. It is expensive and necessitates loading up all my food and hauling it to the cannery to dry pack. Not to mention the cost of gas and the fact that it would most likely take a whole day to drive there, do the canning and drive home. Besides lugging everything to and from the car several times.
2) I like being able to dry pack a little or a lot depending on what I have to can. Sometimes I spend several hours catching up on my dry packing and other days I can do what I need to in 15 minutes.
3) I’m more likely to stock up on bulk items and dry pack some when I know it won’t mean an extra trip to the cannery and I can do as little as a cup if I want to.
4) I really like being able to dry pack ingredients for an individual meal and have it on my shelf for when I need it.

Why Mylar bags instead of #10 cans?
I like the cans I really do. They are great and every time I go to the cannery to purchase the Mylar bags, the people there always try to talk me out of it, saying the cans are much better. I realize the cans are great for large quantities and they are insect proof. The Mylar bags have their advantages too. I can dry pack a cup of wheat germ or coconut or whatever without having to fill a can. And, best of all, the Mylar bags are reusable. If you cut just the top off and use the ingredients, you can refill them, add another oxygen absorber and seal them again for more time. The bags are harder to store but if you put them in a Rubbermaid tote or a metal garbage can, that works as a great storage bin.

Advantages of dry packing at home:
If you have a vacuum sealer, that is great. This method uses oxygen absorbers and is meant for longer term storage. If you are doing large quantities of beans, rice or whatever, your best bet may be a dry pack canner. If however, you are like me and dry your own produce and want it to be canned properly, this is a great way to do it.

I love shopping the bulk section of Winco and picking up a little of this or that along the way. Some of these items I won’t store much of, or some things I will store in smaller quantities so I don’t have the disadvantage of having food spoil because I can’t use a full #10 can quickly. However, the large cans I already have on my shelf can now be divided into Mylar bags and resealed into smaller portions once I open them.

I mentioned dry packing meals in the Mylar bags. I have several recipes for soups or sauces that call for dry ingredients that I can now have all assembled and just add liquid or fresh ingredients when I make them up. And a list of the remaining ingredients can be printed on the bag so I don’t have to search for a recipe later.

Below are some recipes for meals you can make and dry pack in mylar bags for quick meal additions to your food storage.

Black Bean Soup
1 lb. dried black beans (2 c.)
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. dried thyme leaves
1/4 c. dried onions
1 bay leaf
1 t. cumin powder
4 beef bouillon cubes
2 – 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
Put beans in Mylar bag. Put remaining ingredients in a Ziploc bag inside the Mylar bag.
Directions: Wash, sort and soak beans in water overnight. Drain beans and place in large stockpot, add soup seasoning mix and 8 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook partially covered for two hours. Add tomato sauce and heat through. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If desired, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and grated cheese. Sprinkle with fresh green onions if desired. Sprinkle with fresh lime juice or hot sauce in individual bowls if desired.

Vegetable Soup Mix
In a blender combine the following dried vegetables: tomatoes, celery, onion, zucchini, peas, broccoli and carrots, and blend to a powder (enough to equal 1/3 cup).
1 T. cracked wheat
1/4 t. dried parsley
Pinch garlic powder
1 T. fine noodles or instant rice
1/4 t. dried sweet basil
Pinch onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Dry pack ingredients in a quarter size Mylar bag and seal. Directions: Add mixture to 2 cups boiling water. Allow to set covered for 5-6 minutes. Serves 1.

Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup Mix
1/2 c. barley
1/2 c. dried split peas
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 c. dried carrots
3 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. dried onions
1/4 c. dried celery dices (can substitute with fresh)
Additional Ingredients:
7 c. water
1 – 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, any flavor
3 stalks celery, diced if not using dried
Dry pack all dry ingredients in Mylar bag, seal and label. Directions for making soup: In large pot, bring water to a boil; add additional ingredients and bring to boil. Simmer for 1½-2 hours or until tender. Add meat of your choice if desired.

Curry Soup Mix
2 c. uncooked rice
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
2 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. dill weed
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. dried onions
1 T. curry powder
2 t. paprika
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground cardamon Put rice in Mylar bag. Combine nuts and raisins in Ziploc bag and put in with rice. Combine remaining ingredients in another Ziploc bag and put in Mylar bag; seal. Directions for soup: put 10 cups water in crock pot or large pot. Add soup mix. cook on medium heat until rice is done. May add 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or canned chicken.

Friendship Soup Mix
½ c. dry split peas
¼ c. pearl barley
¼ c. dried onion
½ c. uncooked long grain rice
½ c. alphabet macaroni or other small macaroni
1/3 c. beef bouillon granules
½ c. dry lentils
2 t. Italian seasoning
Add on:
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 lb. browned hamburger or canned hamburger
1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce
Put macaroni in a Ziploc bag. Put remaining ingredients in Mylar bag; add baggie with macaroni and seal. Directions for soup: Add all of the mix except for the macaroni plus 1 (28 oz) can of tomatoes in 3 quarts water. Add browned hamburger, browned with pepper and garlic. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add macaroni; cover and simmer for another 20 minutes or until macaroni, peas, lentils and barley are tender. *Note: this is also good with a small can of ham shredded in place of the ground beef.

Minestrone Soup Mix
¼ c. dried split peas
4 beef bouillon cubes
1 t. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 ½ t. salt
½ c. dried kidney beans, sorted
¼ c. dried celery (or use fresh)
½ c. dried carrots
¼ c. dried onions
1 t. dried parsley
½ t. ground pepper
1 c. elbow macaroni
1 lb. Italian sausage (optional)
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
Put kidney beans in a small baggie. Put macaroni in a small bag. Combine bouillon, basil, oregano, salt, parsley and pepper in a small baggie. Put peas, celery, carrots and onions in Mylar bag. Add bags with macaroni, kidney beans and spices to Mylar bag; seal and label. Directions for soup: Wash and soak beans overnight. In a large stockpot bring 9 c. water to a boil. Add beans, veggies and spices from Mylar bag. If desired add 1 lb. Italian sausage, 2 stalks celery (if not using dry celery), and 1 28-oz can tomatoes; simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add elbow macaroni and simmer for 30 minutes, until beans are tender.

Rainbow Bean Soup
½ c. (or more) of each of the following dried beans:
red beans
great northern beans
Dried peas or yellow split peas
black beans
seasoning packet:
1 T. dried onion
1 T. beef bouillon granules
1 T. dried parsley flakes
1 t. dried basil
1 t. powdered lemonade mix with sugar
3/4 t. chili powder
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. oregano
Add-Ons: 1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
Meat of your choice, if desired
Put all dried sorted beans except split peas and lentils, into Mylar bag. Put lentils and split peas into a baggie and put into Mylar bag. Put remaining spices and flavoring into a small baggie and put in Mylar bag; seal Mylar bag and label. Directions for making soup: soak beans overnight, rinse and add them to 4 cups of water. Bring to boil, lower heat; cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add 1can of tomatoes, the split peas and lentils and seasonings. Simmer another 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender, stirring occasionally. Y: 12 cups of soup. *Note: Ground beef, shredded ham or diced cooked chicken may be added to this soup.

Taco Soup
¼ c. dried minced onion
½ t. dried minced garlic (optional)
1 T. chili powder
1 T. taco seasoning mix
¼ c. dry ranch dressing mix
½ c. dried corn
1 T. dried chopped bell peppers
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1 c. dried, sorted beans (kidney beans or black beans)
1 lb. hamburger, cooked or use canned beef
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomatoes
¼ c. salsa (optional)
1 ¾ c. water
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream
Shredded cheese
In a Mylar bag put beans in a baggie. Put onion, garlic, seasonings, corn, and peppers in another jar and put in Mylar bag, add oxygen absorber and seal; add Label. Directions for soup: Remove beans from bag. Soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Simmer beans in 6 c. water, covered, for 2 hours. (Can cook beans in advance.) In a large pot bring to a boil 4 c. water; add cooked beans and seasoning packet into pot. Turn off heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Return to a simmer, continue simmering adding tomatoes and soup and hamburger. Keep covered and simmer and additional 15-20 , minutes until beans and corn are tender. Line bowls with tortilla chips, fill with soup and top with desired toppings.

Alfredo Noodle mix
1/3 c. instant nonfat dry milk
1 t. grated Romano or parmesan cheese
2 T. dried minced onion
¼ t. garlic powder
¼ t. salt
1/8 t. white pepper or black pepper
Measure all ingredients into a Ziploc bag, seal and shake to combine. In a Mylar bag, put 1 ½ c. uncooked noodles or medium size pasta shells and seasoning baggie; seal and label bag. To use, cook pasta in boiling salted water. Combine sauce mix with 4 T. melted butter and ½ c. milk. Toss with cooked pasta and heat through.

Beef Noodle Dinner Mix
1 cup dry non-fat milk
1 T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder
1 t. Black pepper
1 t. salt
1/4 t. basil
1/4 t. oregano
1 t. Paprika
1/8 tsp Cayenne
4 T. Brown Gravy Mix
1/4 t. ground celery seed
2 T. Cornstarch
Measure all ingredients into a large Ziploc bag, seal and shake until well combined. Y: about 26 T. mix
Beef Noodle Dinner
1- 12 oz. package egg noodles
1 ½ lb. of lean ground beef
7 ½ T. Beef Noodle Seasoning Mix
1 can mushroom stem and pieces, drained
6 ½ c. water
Brown hamburger & Drain. Add mushrooms & hot water. Stir in the seasoning mix. Add noodles and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, cook 15-17 minutes. Remove lid and let gently simmer until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. *This dinner can also be dry packed in Mylar bags. Divide sauce mix between 3 baggies and pack in 3 Mylar bags with dry egg noodles and spice baggie in each.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Canning Supplies

Years ago when I first started working on my food storage I realized that canning was an important part of it. I also realized that part of being able to can if we were ever faced with a long term emergency, was to have canning supplies as part of my storage. Fortunately for me, I started a long time ago. Prices have drastically increased over the years.

I hear so many people comment that it is so much easier to just buy it than to can it. But what if you can’t just buy it? What if it isn’t available? I used to believe that would never happen, now I think it could happen in a matter of hours. I heard a trucker remark once that even a truckers strike could empty shelves in an hour or two. Not to mention what an earthquake, flood or any other natural or unnatural disaster could do.

Here are a few simple tips on how to stock up on your canning supplies – or get some if you don’t have any:
1) This is the best time of year to buy canning supplies. Especially if you can find them at a store that only carries them as a seasonal item. I recently found a 30% off sale on all canning supplies at C-A-L Store. I found good prices on lids at K-Mart. Any place that wants to make room for more seasonal items will usually discount the canning supplies to get rid of them rather than store them.
2) Make sure you have enough lids stored for the number of jars you have. It’s a good practice to buy a box or two a week when you are shopping until you have a year’s supply on hand. Buy a few extra rings too, because they get bent and rust and eventually have to be thrown away.
3) If you don’t feel that you have enough bottles to can what you’d like, decide how many more you need to bring your supply up to what you’d like. Check the second hand stores and remember yard sales are a great place to pick them up. Keep your eyes open.
4) Do you have all the canning equipment that you need to can the things you’d like such as; Water bath canner, pressure canner, jar lifters etc.? Do an inventory and make a list.
5) Also make sure you have some extra sugar, pickling salt, pickling spices etc. on hand in case those are in short supply. Pectin is not a long term storage product. Check the date on the box if you wish to store it and make sure it will be used by that date. Even if there is no emergency, it is a pain to start a canning project only to realize you don’t have enough sugar, pectin or lids to finish. And more than once I’ve gone looking for a certain spice during canning season and all the stores were out of it. Never hurts to have extra.

My sister-in-law sent me a website where you can purchase reusable canning lids. I’m including that here if you are interested and want to check it out. Thanks, Lynda!

Just for fun I’m including an awesome recipe that I want to share. As I was getting ready to can the pumpkins I bought, I wanted to find out if it was really as good as the canned stuff. I’d made these rolls last year and they were good but a little heavy. I thought I’d done something wrong so I tried again; still good but still too heavy. This year I wanted to try one more time so I tweaked the recipe a bit and cut it in half just in case, but they turned out light and delicious. Wish now I’d made the whole recipe. I’m sharing this with you if you want to try. You can use home canned pumpkin or the fresh cooked pumpkin or, if you want or you can just use Libby’s 15 oz. can. This dough was incredibly easy to work with and had a wonderful texture. And, if you don’t want to make the rolls, just make the icing. It’s to die for! Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Icing
2 ½ t. or 1 pkg. active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water
1 t. + ¼ c. granulated sugar, divided
2 eggs
¼ c. butter, melted
1 – 15 oz. can pumpkin (1 7/8 c. of your own pumpkin)
5 ½ c. flour
¾ t. salt
1 cube butter, very soft
¼ c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
3 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/8 t. cloves
½ c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
¼ t. salt
¼ c. milk or cream
1 t. vanilla
2 ½ c. powdered sugar
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl. Add 1 t. granulated sugar; let stand till foamy, about 5 minutes. Mix in remaining ¼ c. sugar, eggs, butter and pumpkin. Gradually add 5 c. flour and the salt until soft dough forms. Continue to knead 10 minutes adding more flour as needed until dough is smooth. Place dough in large greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled. Give it plenty of time to rise. When ready, roll dough out into a rectangle. Combine all filling ingredients and spread evenly over dough. Roll up and cut into rolls. Place on greased baking sheet and allow to rise until doubled. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or till golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and frost while warm. For frosting: melt butter in saucepan; add brown sugar and stir till smooth. Add milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour warm icing over rolls. Let sit 5 minutes (if you can) and serve. Y: 12-16 rolls depending on size.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranberry Relish and some fun appetizers

I have 3 quick and easy canning projects for you today. These are fun little goodies that you can put on your shelves or give to friends as a gift. Here is the skinny on each:

I love the Thanksgiving meal. I love turkey and stuffing and the yams, rolls and pies that traditionally go with it. I like all the trimmings, but I must say maybe my favorite is the fresh cranberry orange relish we have every year. I love this stuff and could eat it on almost anything. I usually make a pretty large batch and freeze the leftovers for use throughout the year.

I love the leftovers and even more than going for the leftover pie, my first choice would be leftover rolls, turkey and yes the relish. I have always made the fresh relish and it is hard to beat but this year I decided to try canning it. It worked great. I can't wait to try it with this yummy "leftover turkey pot pie" which is also good made with chicken from the pioneer woman.

The texture is a little different and the color is not as bright as the fresh but it tastes good. I like the idea of being able to open it at any time during the year and have cranberry relish all made and ready to go.

This is the same consistency of the filling that I use in raisin or date filled cookies. I want to try some of this cranberry sauce in a filled cookie. I have a couple of entree recipes that call for cranberries that I want to try the relish in. I’ll tell you another discovery I made about using this relish in a minute.

Here is the recipe for the Fresh Cranberry-Orange Relish which is quick and easy to make and delicious to eat. The canned version follows.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
4 c. fresh cranberries (sort, remove stems and bruised cranberries and rinse well)
2 fresh thin skinned oranges washed, (slice off ends but do not peel) and cut in eighths and remove any seeds
1 ½ c. sugar
Put berries and oranges through a food chopper or use your food processor to chop well. Add sugar (more or less to taste). Stir well until sugar is dissolved. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Freeze leftovers. Y: 1 quart

Home canned Cranberry Orange Relish
4 c. Cranberries washed and sorted, removing any unripe or overly soft berries
2 oranges, cut in 8 pieces (do not peel, cut off ends of oranges and remove any seeds)
1 ½ c. sugar
Using a food processor, chop cranberries and oranges until no large chunks remain. Put in a kettle and heat until mixture starts to cook. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Mixture will start to simmer and will thicken. Stir often to prevent burning. When it starts to bubble in is heated through, put in half-pint jars. Wipe jar rims, put on new flat lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Y: about 4 half pints. (I doubled this and got 9 half pint jars.)

Now here are some fun things I canned this last week. The last few years we have enjoyed snacking on cream cheese with different topping and crackers. We would buy the raspberry chipotle sauce during the holiday season at Costco. This is very good but sometimes it’s too hot for me, sometimes it’s okay but it has just enough heat in it that I can only eat so much and then I’m done. Another problem was that it comes in quart jars so you have to eat a lot quickly so it doesn’t spoil.

I’d been hearing a lot of talk about pepper jelly and looked at a lot of different recipes. I knew my daughter canned it so I asked for her recipe. To be honest I didn’t really think I’d like to that much. I don’t love green peppers and I’m a wimp with jalapenos but decided to give it a try. It is delicious and I can’t seem to get enough so I did another batch last week.

Some people eat the jelly on eggs or toast or with different kinds of meat. We like to spread softened cream cheese on a serving dish and top it with the jelly and serve it with crackers, like a dip. I’ve even found myself spreading the cream cheese on crackers and topping with a little jelly and making lunch out of it.

I decided to try another topping this week. I love the Kraft brand cheese spreads that come in a little jar that are so popular at Thanksgiving time. My favorite being the pineapple spread. Love this on Ranch Doritos or in stuffed celery or just on appetizers. When I saw this recipe for pineapple jam I knew it would be great on the cream cheese with crackers just like the pepper jelly. And it is! I also discovered that the cranberry relish I canned yesterday is awesome that way too. Here is the recipe for the pepper jelly and the pineapple jam. For some quick appetizers, spread some cream cheese on some serving dishes, top with the pepper jelly, pineapple jam or cranberry relish and serve with crackers. It’s quick and delicious. Here are the recipes to can:

Jody’s Green Pepper Jelly
6 large green peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
¾ c. apple juice
¾ c. cider vinegar
6 c. sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin (Certo Brand works best)
Core and seed peppers. Puree half the peppers with half the juice and half the vinegar. Repeat with rest of peppers. Strain; measure 3 ½ c. juice. Put in large pan and add the entire measure of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in entire amount of Liquid Pectin. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Fill jars and add lids and bands. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let set at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Y: 8 half-pints

Pineapple Jam
1 can (20 oz.) Crushed Pineapple
Pineapple Juice
1 t. butter
1 box pectin
3 c. sugar
Empty can of crushed pineapple and empty it into a 4 cup measuring cup. Add enough pineapple juice to equal a total of 3 ¼ c. Put pineapple mixture into a pot with the butter and pectin. Stir well. Bring to a full boil, then add sugar all at once, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When this has reached a full rolling boil, time it for 1 full minute, then turn off heat. Ladle jam into hot jars. Place lids and rings on. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath, then leave them in the pot for 5 minutes. Remove from water and cool. Y: 5 half-pints

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cleaning out the Refrigerator!

You know things are bad when you dream about the vegetables in your fridge. I’ve been thinking all weekend about all the things I have to do…and make. I have a very long list of things to try, vegetables to use up, soon, canning I still want to do and fruit that has to be used very soon.

I was dreaming about the cranberries in my fridge. I bought an extra large bag at Costco this year hoping to find a way to bottle the “fresh” cranberry-orange relish I always make at Thanksgiving time. I usually freeze the leftovers in small bottles to use with different dishes I make during the year but I have spent hours trying to decide what to do with the rest of those cranberries. Still thinking on that.

So when I got up this morning I was still thinking about those cranberries and the oranges to go with them in my fridge. Until I opened the door to the fridge and remembered all those carrots that are waiting for me. And the apples that need to be used soon. Thank goodness the pumpkins and squash are waiting patiently. What to do first!?!

I had already decided to make another batch of carrot pudding because it is so good. And it is very nice to have a quick dessert all ready to heat up and serve with ice cream or whipped cream and caramel sauce. So I hurried and grated carrots for another batch and guess what? It didn’t even make a dent in all those carrots waiting for me. Then I remembered this delicious carrot soup I made last fall. I loved it and it made a big batch. It freezes well so I froze the leftover soup in serving size containers and we ate it all up through the winter.

I thought about making another batch of the soup and freezing it again but I am really making an effort to clean out my freezer so I have room for my holiday baking. And because I find myself freezing more leftovers this time of year, I really need the freezer room. Besides, I felt kind of guilty just moving it from the fridge to the freezer. I knew it needed be canned.

After doing some research on how to can it, I was set. I grated more carrots - about 10 cups full – grabbed some of those apples that kept staring me down when I looked in the crisper, and I knew I was on to something good. Never fear, there are still more carrots in the fridge! And more apples! And THOSE cranberries!

I’m including the recipe for the soup and for some carrot cake loaves that are topped with cream cheese icing that my mom always made with her leftover carrots. These loaves freeze well and make a nice little something to give with a card to a friend when they are having a bad day or just because.

This Carrot and Apple Soup is a recipe I found years ago. I have tweaked it a bit and I really like it. It will be great having it ready to heat up. Last year for Christmas I gave a basket of different canned and baked goods along with some of this soup to a sweet friend of mine. She loved the soup and asked for the recipe. This is a thick soup that can be eaten as is or with vegetables, meat or pasta added. It has a slightly sweet flavor with a hint of curry. It calls for cream to be stirred in just before serving, which is so good. I like it just the way it is or with some cooked pasta and shredded cheese on top. It’s good with leftover vegetables or meat added too. If you want to can some, here is the recipe or you can make it and freeze the leftovers if you want. I used my salad shooter and grated the carrots and the apples in no time at all.

Carrot and Apple Soup
3 T. butter
2 onions, finely chopped
5 med. Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored & chopped (I used a couple extra because I had them)
2 ½ lb. carrots, peeled & chopped or grated (I used about 10 c. grated)
3 cans (14 oz.) chicken or vegetable broth
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
½ t. ground ginger (use fresh if you want)
½ - 1 t. curry powder (according to your taste)
3 c. water
Half-n-half or heavy cream for serving, optional
In large soup pot, melt butter. Sauté onions in butter till tender and golden. Stir in apples, carrots, broth, sugar, salt ginger and water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer 20 minutes or till carrots are tender. Puree mixture in blender (I used an immersion blender) until smooth. It is ready to eat or freeze at this point. To can soup, pour into hot jars with ½” of top of jar. Add lids and rings. Process pints in pressure canner at 15 lbs. pressure for 35 minutes. *If using frozen soup, move to the fridge to thaw. Reheat and serve with a swirl of cream or garnish with chives, any of your favorite cooked vegetables or pasta.

Carrot Cake Loaves
2 c. flour
2 t. soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
4 eggs
2 c. cooked mashed carrots
2 t. vanilla
2 c. sugar
1 ¼ c. oil
Beat eggs. Add carrots, vanilla, sugar and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into 5 small well-greased loaf pans. (If you use the small foil pans they are ready to give away.) Bake at 350º for about 50 minutes (the smallest pans may require less time so watch carefully) or till cake pulls away from sides of pans. Frost with cream cheese frosting and eat or freeze for later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Brrrrr…It’s Cold Outside

Okay. It isn't that cold yet but I have not been able to get warm for the past few days. Don't even want to think about the really cold weather that is coming. I recently read one woman's experiences of going through an ice storm a few years ago. How she wasn't prepared and what she will do different next time. It has made me think about how difficult it would be to not have heat in my house. As cold as I have felt this week, I would feel a lot colder without electricity.

Here are some more things to think about when preparing to keep warm. This is one woman’s experiences in turning off the electric heat last winter and using wood to keep warm. Here is what she says: “I have learned so much! First it can be done. I not only have lowered my electric bill but I am getting exercise collecting, cutting, splitting and hauling in wood. It is true that there are other things that can be done to keep warm besides changing the source of your heat. This was a voluntary turning off of the heat. In an emergency there would be no alternative. Just some things to think about as you prepare. Here is what I did:”

1. Wear layers of clothing. Your body creates heat and wearing layers contains this free source of heat. Both cotton and wool hold moisture which can lead to hypothermia. Choose to have many polar fleece articles of clothing; hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, vests, jackets, pullovers, socks and a bathrobe, etc. made from polar fleece. If you are really cold, wear a warm hat as much heat escapes from your head and the brain gets the cold message immediately. Get used to wearing a fleece jacket in the house during the day if you are cold. Find one that is not bulky but keeps you warm.

2. When coming inside from being outside during the day, change all your clothes. There is a layer of moisture trapped between your clothes and your body. You don’t even know it is there but it will keep you from getting completely warm. Put on new dry clothes and socks and your body will warm up quicker and stay warmer.

3. Throws and lap blankets. Keep one on each of your easy chairs for when you are sitting or relaxing. Polar fleece wins the contest for being the warmest.

4. Cover furniture with polar fleece if you are having a cold spell or just want to save money on your heating bill. Cover your sofa with polar fleece because it is warmer to sit on than other fabrics. Make sure you only buy good quality polar fleece to keep you warm.

5. Socks and Slippers. There is a huge difference in the warmth of your body when you wear socks in the winter months. Coupled with a great pair of warm slippers you will not feel drafts that creep around the floor. Since hot air rises, feet are subject to this cold air.

6. Down Comforters are great. These "blankets" are very warm and hold in your body heat.

7. Use Door Draft Stoppers. Door draft stopper or guards are filled tubes that keep cold air from creeping under doors. They can be purchased new or made easily by filling a tube sock or tube of fabric with rice, beans, sand or stuffing. They look a bit like a snake and really do the trick.

8. Close Doors. Keep the doors closed to rooms that do not need to be heated. Just heat the areas that you sit in during the day.

9. Do leave the Bathroom Door Open. Showers and baths create lots of heat but more importantly humidity. In the winter the house dries out and the moisture from the bathroom can help tremendously. Now I understand in some family's privacy is important. Just leave the door open after showering and don't use the fan.

10. Leave the oven door open after cooking and turning off the oven. Let that heat escape to warm the kitchen.

11. Open the dishwasher when washing cycle is finished. Once the dishes are washed open the door and let the dishes air dry. This will let the heat escape, allow the moisture to escape to humidify the house and save a bundle on electricity over a period of time.

12. If you are cold, a cup of hot chocolate or hot soup will raise your body temperature and keep you warmer. Keep a tea kettle or pot of water on the stove, not only for humidity in the house but also to use with your supply of instant soup or hot chocolate mixes.

13. Invest in some good quality thermal underwear for each member of your family. Also the cheap little gloves (one size fits all) would be a great investment. If your children are cold, a pair of gloves and socks would make sleeping in cooler conditions much easier and healthier. Stocking caps are also a great item to have on hand for each person if you live in a cold climate.

If you do get sick, here are some helpful home remedy ideas. These are just a few suggestions. For specific concerns or ideas, check the internet. Home remedies:

Onion & Honey Cough Syrup & Sore Throat Remedy
Trim and peel a medium-sized white onion. Slice the onion, and place the slices together in a small bowl. Cover the onion slices with honey, (about ¼ c.) and then cover the bowl with saran wrap. Leave on the counter, unattended for at least 4-5 hours, preferably overnight. Strain off the accumulated ‘syrup’ that has formed, (I like this part best!), and throw out the onion slices. Use the accumulated ‘syrup’ as you would any store-bought over-the-counter cough syrup: Take 1 tablespoon of the gathered syrup up to once every four hours, or as required, to ease a sore throat and calm a pesky cough. Not only will you be able to sleep peacefully throughout the night without coughing, during the day you can go about your daily routine without having to stay away from driving due to other store-bought medications you may have. Surprisingly this does not taste like onions. It has a rather pleasant taste that will surprise you and is so much better than the nasty cough medicine you are used to.

Using essential oils for Sore Throat and for Chest Congestion:Here is a recipe for a sore throat remedy using essential oils. It is a take-off of the popular oil marketed as “Thieves”. Thieves oil is a mixture of several ingredients that have antimicrobial properties. "The recipe goes back to the Middle Ages, where it was used by these thieves who would go around stealing jewelry from dead bodies to keep them from getting the plague or other diseases. This is also an effective remedy for mosquito bites and bee stings.

Homemade Thieves
In a 2 oz. bottle combine the following:
1 T. each:
Eucalyptus Oil
Rosemary Oil
Cinnamon Oil
Clove Oil
Lemon Oil
Finish filling the bottle with Olive oil. For use as a sore throat remedy, use an eye dropper and drop 3-4 drops in the back of your throat.

Oregano Oil for Chest Congestion:
Put several drops of Oregano Essential Oil onto your chest and rub it in. If there is congestion in your lungs, you will begin to see the outline of your lungs on the skin as it begins to turn red wherever there is congestion. If it starts to burn, use a few drops of any oil (almond, olive or even vegetable oil) to dilute it a bit. This really works for bad congestion! *Note: the burning is because there is congestion. It is not a serious problem but if you do feel burning be sure to dilute with another oil so that it doesn’t burn your skin.

Mustard Poultice
For a baby:
1 part dry mustard
4 parts flour
½ t. soda
For an older child or adult:
1 part dry mustard
3 parts flour
½ t. soda
Mix with water to make a real thick paste. Spread between 2 thicknesses of old sheet on chest and throat. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn skin. Leave on about 20 minutes. Remove and rub chest with warm croup ointment or Vicks and cover with hot flannel. Loosens cough and helps break up chest congestion.

Homemade Croup Ointment
¼ c. white Vaseline, slightly melted
3 t. spirits of turpentine
3 t. spirits of eucalyptus
1 t. menthol crystals
3 t. spirits of camphor of 1/6 bar of camphor gum (it is cheaper, but takes a little more time to dissolve)
2 t. peppermint extract (to make it penetrate into the skin)
Mix all together and keep in a tight jar. If it seems too strong, you can add a little more Vaseline.) The peppermint extract can be obtained from the grocery store and other ingredients from a drugstore or online. You will have to ask the druggist to get some of these items.
If you’d rather forego the hassle of making this yourself you can order pre-made croup ointment from Allen Drug in Malad, Idaho. Here is their information:

Daniel’s Croup & Cold Ointment
For the relief of croup, colds, minor aches, and pains
Allen Drug
4 North Main Street
Malad City, Idaho 83252

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keeping Warm In An Emergency

If you are in an area hit by a natural disaster in the winter months, the most important thing for you would be to stay warm. Especially with small children. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a natural disaster that leaves you without electricity, heat or lights. The power grids in this country, nowadays, are pretty much all tied together and they are very fragile. Any kind of disruption could leave us all without any electricity for a long time. The threat of earthquakes, ice storms, EMP (Electro-magnetic pulse), terrorist activities or any disaster of any magnitude could pretty much disable the regular flow or power or even gas for a very long time. Hopefully, nothing like this will ever happen, but it is certainly comforting to be prepared just in case. This is a very important thing to think about. One of the best options is a wood burning stove that can double as a cook stove.

Many areas have laws against using wood stoves on certain days in the winter if there is an inversion unless that is your only source of heat. Because of this, many people who used to have wood stoves in their homes for heating and emergencies have gotten rid of them. Very sad! Fortunately for you if you are looking for one and live in the Utah area, KSL classifieds is a great place to look. There are always lots of wood stoves for sale there. If you live elsewhere, check your local classifieds and search the internet for availability. Here is some information on choosing and buying a cook stove for your home.

Being prepared with a wood cooking stove and wood for burning during a long term emergency is something not thought of often. If all sources of heat and electricity are off for an unknown long period of time because of some disaster, it would be well to have a wood burning cook stove for cooking and a source of heat if it was cold. If you had storage of propane, kerosene, or some other fuel, it might be wiser to save it for lanterns for lighting your dwelling place instead of heating and cooking. You would run out quickly otherwise if your use it for heating.

If wanting to buy a wood stove, it would be more practical to buy a cooking wood stove where it could be utilized for duel purposes of heating and cooking. There are many different designs and choices of wood stoves to choose from if wanting to purchase one. It would be good to have an idea of what you want in a wood cook stove. Options like having included an oven in the stove for baking, or lots of room on the stove top for multiple cooking if having to feed lots of people. Also, how big is your place to keep warm? Would you need just a small stove for a small dwelling or a large wood stove for a large home? Or maybe how efficient is the stove in maintaining its heat for long periods of time? Would you want a stove that could easily be moved outside of your dwelling place for those the summer times when the outside temperature is too hot for cooking inside? Solar ovens might be an option for the summer days.

Having a cooking wood stove without wood would obviously be useless. How much wood to get would be according to how big your stove is and where you live. If you live in a moderate season where maybe five months of winter was normal and you had a good cooking wood stove to use for heating and cooking, then it might be around four of five cords of wood to gather for each year of use. It just all depends on what your situation is. If in question, find someone in your local area that uses firewood to heat their home and they could give you a good estimate of how much you would need. Most arborist tree trimming companies have fire wood for sale if you are not cutting it yourself.

When storing wood that isn't under shelter, you would want to cover it with tarps making sure they are tied down good to keep the wind and weather from ruining them. You should also remember that if you have cut down your own trees, you will need to allow the wood to dry for five to six months before using. There are ways to drying your wood more quickly by putting your wood in a green house for a month or so. It will dry pretty quickly that way. If wanting to test its dryness for use, you can buy a wood tester for moister content that would show you. Most wood, when dry, will crack and the ends of the logs and be much lighter in weight. If given the time to dry, it will be ready to use when needing it.

Learning how to cook on a wood cook stove can take some time in learning by experience. Most our ancestors learned how and have passed it down from mother to daughter but because of our modern age most of us will have to learn from our own experience. It would be wise to buy a temperature gage for your stove to help in your cooking. Also it would be wise to practice cooking on it at good times so you will have some ideas of how to do it when the hard times come.

Choose carefully the room or area where you wish to install a wood stove. Choose a reputable contractor to take care of the chimney and masonry installation. Safety is very important in selecting the proper stove and adequate installation. Weigh all your options before making a final decision and make sure everything is done up to code. Be wise in your choice of a stove. Appearance is second to functionality and efficiency. One of the biggest benefits of a wood stove, aside from cooking or staying warm is the atmosphere it will add to your home. Not only is it nice to have a warm fire but it will quickly become a family gathering place in the cold winter months.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


If you have never used lentils in your storage or cooking, you would be very surprised to find out how versatile and good they really are. Vegetarians often use them as a meat substitute. They can be used in most recipes that call for beans. They are a great meat extender in other recipes. Best of all they are very nutritious and inexpensive to use ($.45 a pound at Winco) and to store.

Lentils are legumes that generally have a rich nutty flavor. They are grown in pods, which contain one or two seeds each. There are many varieties that are classified as large or small and are round, oval or heart shaped. They are generally no more than a ¼” in diameter. Lentils cook much faster than dried beans and do not require soaking. Lentil seeds are sold whole or split and some have had the hulls removed. The green and brown lentils, which hold their shape best after cooking, are the most common types used in the United States. Red lentils are also popular but they do not hold their shape as well when cooked. Lentils have good nutritional value, containing dietary fiber, B-vitamins, protein, and hardly any calories.

Lentils are generally used in soups and stews. Green and brown lentils hold their shape fairly well if not overcooked and can be added to salads and other dishes. The varieties that are soft after cooking are used mainly to thicken stews and soups or are made into purees.

Lentils are dried and are available throughout the year. The more common varieties are found in most food stores but some varieties are only available in Ethnic markets and specialty stores.

Lentils are sold prepackaged in boxes or bags, and they are also sold in bulk form. When buying in bulk, be sure that the lentil bins are covered and that the product is turned over often enough to ensure freshness.

Lentils can be stored indefinitely but after a year their color will begin to fade and they will become dryer and take longer to cook. Also, keep in mind that it is uncertain how old the lentils are when they are purchased so it is a good idea to only store lentils for six months. Do not mix newly purchased lentils in with the lentils you have stored at home because the lentils you have been storing will be dryer than the ones you just purchased. Different degrees of dryness will cause the lentils to cook unevenly. Store lentils in a sealable bag or airtight container in a cool dry area out of the direct sunlight. It is a good idea to reseal lentils bought in bulk in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers if you plan to store them for any length of time.

Cooked lentils can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 4 to 5 days. Cooked lentils can also be stored in the freezer for up to six months, but freezing them may affect their texture when reheated. Here are some recipes using lentils. One lady suggested that when she needs a quick meal she cooks some lentils, some penne pasta and some broccoli, carrots and onion and combines them all with her favorite pasta sauce for an easy and quick supper.

Barbecue Lentils
(Like Baked Beans)
2-1/3 c. lentils, rinsed well
5 c. water
½ c. molasses
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. vinegar
½ c. ketchup
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce (may use vegetarian variety)
16 oz. tomato sauce
2 T. minced onions
Green pepper diced
¼ t. liquid smoke, optional
Add lentils to water bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes or until tender but whole. Add molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, onions, and liquid smoke to the cooked lentils, stirring to combine. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Yield: 8 servings

Red Lentil Curry
2 c. red lentils
1 large onion, diced
2 T. vegetable oil
1 (14.25 ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes.
Curry Mixture:
2 T. curry powder
1 t. ground turmeric
1 t. ground cumin
½ t. chili powder
1 t. salt
1 t. white sugar
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. ginger root, minced (or ginger paste)
Hot cooked Jasmine Rice
Chopped Cilantro (I love lots of cilantro)
Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear (this is very important or the lentils will get "scummy"), put the lentils in a pot with water to cover and simmer covered until lentils tender(add more water if necessary). While the lentils are cooking: In a large skillet or saucepan, Sauté the onions in vegetable oil, until onions are translucent and tender. While the onions are cooking, combine the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl (or pestle and mortar). Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready. When the lentils are tender drain them briefly (they should have absorbed most of the water but you don't want the curry to be too mushy). Mix the lentils into the hot curry mixture and serve over hot rice and cilantro on top

Lentil Tacos
1 c. lentils
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
2 ½ c. chicken broth
1 c. salsa
A bit of oil to sauté the onion and garlic
Taco shells and toppings
Rinse the lentils and drain them. In a large skillet, sauté the onion and garlic together. Add the lentils and spices, cook for a minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Uncover and cook a few more minutes to thicken. Add the salsa. Use this just like you would taco meat.

Really Good Vegetarian Meatloaf (really!)
2 c. water
1 t. salt
1 c. lentils
1 small onion, diced
1 c. quick-cooking oat
3/4 c. grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss, jack or American)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 oz. spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried basil
1 T. dried parsley
½ t. seasoning salt
¼ t. black pepper
Add salt to water and boil in a saucepan. Add lentils and simmer covered 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of water is evaporated. Remove and drain liquid; partially mash lentils. Put into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Stir in onion, oats and cheese until mixed. Add egg, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, parsley, seasoning salt and pepper; mix well. Spoon into loaf pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and smooth top with back of spoon. Bake at 350º for 30- 45 minutes until top of loaf is dry, firm and golden brown. Cool in pan on rack for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of pan then turn out loaf onto serving platter. Serve with ketchup and brown sugar mixed together or your favorite barbecue sauce or mustard sauce.

Smoked Cheddar and Lentil Burgers
Yield: 8 servings
2 ½ c. water
1 c. dried lentils
2 bay leaves
1 t. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped onion
½ c. finely chopped carrot
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded smoked cheddar cheese
½ c. dry breadcrumbs
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 ¼ t. salt
¾ t. garlic powder
¾ t. paprika
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ t. ground red pepper
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
8 t. stone-ground mustard
8 (2-oz.) whole wheat sandwich buns, toasted
8 (¼” thick) slices tomato
Lettuce leaves
Place first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender; drain. Discard bay leaves. Place lentils in a large bowl; partially mash with a potato masher. Cool slightly. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly. Add onion mixture, cheese, and next 8 ingredients to lentils; stir well to combine. Cover and chill 45 minutes. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a ½” thick patty. Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add half of patties, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure with remaining patties. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard on top half of each bun. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun, and top each serving with 1 tomato slice, lettuce leaf and top half of bun.

Moroccan Lentil Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t. chopped or grated gingerroot
1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like)
1 t. cumin
1/8 t. cinnamon
1 medium carrot, chopped or grated
1 rib celery, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
3 cups chicken stock (or water and 2 bouillon cubes)
1 c. cooked small green lentils
1 c. cooked chickpeas
1 cups cooked, cubed chicken
½ T. lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
Heat oil and add onions, garlic, gingerroot, hot pepper flakes, cumin and cinnamon. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add carrot, celery and tomatoes. Bring to boil. Add chicken stock, lentils and chickpeas and continue cooking another 30–40 minutes. Add cooked chicken near the end. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Add lemon juice and sprinkle with cilantro just before serving. If you make this soup ahead, it will thicken as it stands – just add water or broth according to taste.

Slow Cooker White Bean and Lentil Chili
1 cup uncooked white beans, such as great northern
2 cups steamed or uncooked lentils
2 c. diced cooked chicken
1 small green pepper, diced
4 c. chicken broth
1 T. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
2 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes: Shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, Sour cream; Salsa and Tortilla chips
Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Garnish as desired

Annette’s South of the Border Soup
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T. oil
2 qts. Beef or chicken broth
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 c. pearl barley
1 c. lentils, sorted and rinsed
¼ c. chopped green chilies (or 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies)
1 T. chili powder
2 t. cumin
Cayenne pepper to taste
Sauté’ onion, celery and garlic in oil till tender. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid as necessary. Serve with sour cream and grated cheese. Y: 8-10 servings.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eat your Oats!

There are lots of different types of oats and each have their own advantages and uses. Here is a little more about oats.

All types of oats are cleaned, hulled, and conditioned, which removes the outer shell (called a hull), leaving the inner kernel or “oat groat”. Then, the groats are heated and become stable for storage. From there, the groats are processed differently depending on what type of oatmeal they are being made into. The type of oats you have (regular, quick, etc) all depends on how thinly the oats were rolled. The thinner the rolling, the quicker the oats cook because of the greater surface area.

I was once told that the best way to store oats is to store the oat groats which are available from Walton Feed or any other distributer. The advantage to this is that regular oats will mold easily if there is ANY moisture at all in them. The disadvantage is that you then need an oat roller to roll your own oats. This is not extremely expensive but may just be one more thing to buy.

Regular Oats: These are made by steaming the groats and flattening them with a roller. Old Fashioned Rolled Oats are thinly rolled.

Quick Oats: Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into small pieces, then steamed and rolled extremely thinly (more thinly than regular). Because they are so thin, they cook very quickly.

Instant Oats: Instant oatmeal is thinly rolled, then pre-cooked and dried, usually with sweetener and flavor added to it. Just add hot water and stir.

Steel-cut oats: Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats which have been cut into only 2 or 3 pieces. They look a bit like small pieces of rice. Many people prefer the taste and texture of steel-cut oats over regular or instant oats. The only real disadvantage of steel-cut oats is that they take a bit longer to cook.

Both regular and quick oats can be used interchangeably in most recipes – it simply depends on the results you are looking for. If you want something that looks very whole grain and is chewy, you’ll want to use regular oats. Quick oats, on the other hand, are cut smaller and are less noticeable in recipes.

As you gather oats for your longer-term storage, consider how much your family eats it and factor that in. If your family doesn't eat oats often, consider trying them in some different ways - maybe it will be a big hit! Oats are so healthy, and they store really well, so it's perfect for your food storage! Here are some optional ways to use your oats.

Oatmeal Batter Bread
Batter breads are much easier than regular yeast breads because you don't have to knead them. This hearty loaf is ready in under two hours, most of that rising time.
2 to 2-1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. rolled oats
1 t. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast
1 c. water
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. butter
1 egg
Grease an 8x4" loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine 1 c. flour, oats, salt and yeast and mix well. In a small saucepan, heat water, honey and butter until very warm, about 120º. Add to flour mixture along with egg, and beat for three minutes. Stir in additional 1 to 1-1/2 c. flour to make a stiff batter. Cover batter and let rise until light, about 25-30 minutes. Stir down batter and place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise until batter reaches top of pan, about 15-20 minutes. Heat oven to 375º. Bake bread for 35-40 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from pan immediately and place on wire rack to cool. Y: 1 loaf

Basic Oatmeal Muffin Mix
18 cups flour
5 cups sugar
2 1/4 c. buttermilk blend or non fat dry milk
6 T. baking powder
2 T. baking soda
2 T. salt
3 T. ground cinnamon
3 t. ground nutmeg
(Oats will be added into the batter when mixing)
Measure all ingredients into a large bowl, blend well then transfer to a sealable storage container.
To Make 12 Regular Size Muffins:
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine the following
2 eggs
1 ½ t. vanilla
1 c. water
½ c. oil
2 c. muffin mix
½ c. oats
2 c. raisins or grated apples
The batter should be slightly lumpy. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 18- 20 minutes or golden brown and spring back to the touch. Muffins freeze well. To reheat frozen muffins, microwave on high for 30 seconds per muffin.

Healthy Homemade Oatmeal Muffin Mix
This easy muffin mix is low fat and low sugar, and contains whole grains. Mix the dry ingredients and store in an airtight container on your shelf for several weeks.
2 c. white flour
2 ½ c. whole wheat flour
2 c. quick cooking oats
2 c. wheat bran
2 c. milled flax seed
1 c. sugar
2 t. salt
3 T. baking powder
Mix together the dry ingredients listed, and store them in an airtight container. When you are ready to make muffins, follow the next steps. For 12 regular healthy muffins: Measure 2 c. of muffin mix into a large bowl. Add:
1 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. oil (canola, olive, or corn oil
1 large egg
Stir everything together, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be a bit lumpy.
Prepare 12 muffin cups with spray or paper liners, and spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake these in a preheated 400º oven for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
*You can make easy Variations of these delicious muffins. As you add the wet ingredients, include your favorite additions. Raisins, nuts, or chopped dates are great. Try stirring in the zest of a lemon or orange, or add cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter. To add 1 c. chopped apple, reduce the oil to 1/4 cup and proceed with basic recipe. Try a touch of honey on a warm baked muffin.
*This muffin mix can also be used to make a Coffee Cake. Begin with 2 c. of the dry mix, and add 1 c. buttermilk, 1/2 c. oil, and 2 eggs. Mix together thoroughly and pour into a prepared bundt pan. Bake the coffee cake at 350º for 25 - 35 minutes, checking after 25 minutes. Any of the variations you like for the muffins can also be used with the coffee cake.

Instant Oatmeal Packets
¼ c. Quick cooking oats
Pinch of salt
1 T. Creamora dry non-dairy creamer – any flavor(optional)
½ t. Sweetener – sugar, brown sugar (or add honey when you make it)
Flavorings of your choice (Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla powder – or other powdered flavorings)
Dried fruit if desired (raisins, dates, dried cranberries, apricots, blueberries, chopped dried pineapple, apples or any dried fruit)
Nuts if desired
Sealable sandwich bags
Mix oats, of salt, cream substitute (dry milk tends to mold and could be used if the packets will be consumed in one week) and sweetener. Add your own flavorings, dried fruit or nuts if desired. Pack in individual sealable baggies. Label baggies by flavors.
To Use:
Add 1/4 cup water and microwave for 60 seconds. If you did not add Creamora, ¼ cup of milk can be substituted for water. If you like thicker oatmeal, add 1 T. oatmeal flour to the packets. To make Oatmeal powder, blend oats them in a blender. This can also be made without a microwave. Stir boiling water into your oatmeal and let set a minute or so.

Oatmeal Cookies
1 c. butter or shortening
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 c. oats
1 c. raisins or chocolate chips
½ c. chopped nuts (optional)
Cream shortening or butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients well and add to creamed mixture. Stir in oats. Stir in the raisins or chips and nuts if desired. Mix well. Bake at 350º for 10 - 12 minutes.

No Bake Cookies
2 c. sugar
½ c. milk
½ c. butter
2-3 T. cocoa
½ t. salt
Mix all together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add:
3 c. quick oats
1 c. coconut
Nuts if desired.
Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper to cool.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
2 c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa
1 cube margarine or butter
½ c. milk
3 c. quick oats
½ c. peanut butter
½ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Combine sugar, cocoa, margarine and milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir well. Add oats, salt and vanilla; mix well and drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper. Let set, and then eat.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Graham Crackers

I really like trying to find a way to make things from scratch. I spend lots of time looking for homemade recipes without preservatives and un-pronounceable ingredients. I love browsing the copycat recipes. I really thrive on finding a new and better way to make something or finding something I’ve never tried making before. I mostly just like knowing that if I can’t go to the store, I can still have access to most of the things I want.

In my quest to try and duplicate as many products as I can with food storage items, I decided it was time to try Graham Crackers (I can hear my daughters saying, “Ghrum Crackers?” even as I type this. I’ve put off making these for a long time, thinking it would be harder and more time consuming than it was. I also wanted to make them with Graham Flour and also with regular Whole Wheat Flour so I could decide which was best.

I guess I was also pretty skeptical that they would actually look and taste and just be like graham crackers. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only were they easier than I thought they would be to make, they are good.

In order to pass my somewhat skeptically hesitant test, they had to do five things:
1) They had to look like Graham Crackers. I scored them and pricked each cracker with the tines of a fork and even though my crackers were more square than rectangular and a little uneven (or maybe a lot uneven) I will admit they looked like graham crackers.
2) They had to have the same texture as Graham Crackers. The recipe says that they are soft when you remove them from the cookie sheet, but harden when they cool. When I tasted one, fresh from the oven, I found myself thinking that in a way I hoped they wouldn’t harden because they were good just like they were. But they do harden and become crisper as they cool and set for awhile.
3) They had to taste like Graham Crackers. These have a really good flavor. I like the taste and they are what my little grandma would have called “Moorish” – they really do make you want more.
4) They had to pass the Graham Crackers and milk test. My favorite way to eat graham crackers is just to dip them in cold milk, well…unless there is chocolate frosting in the house then I like to sandwich a couple of crackers with frosting in the middle and then dip them in milk. They were delicious dipped in milk, even without the frosting.
5) They had to crumble like Graham Crackers. I knew that I wanted to be able to use them in the same way I used crushed graham cracker crumbs. I really wanted to use some of them to make this Peanut butter cookie recipe (below) which calls for graham cracker crumbs. They crumble very well, thank you.

There are a couple of things I would do different next time I make these. First, I thought I was rolling them very thin but when they bake, they puff up quite a bit so they aren’t as thin as I’d like. I rolled them less than ¼” thick, thinking they were closer to 1/8”, but I think thinner would be better. Secondly, the first pan I baked, I took out too soon. They still crisped up but I let the second pan get a little browner around the edges and those crackers that were browner definitely tasted sweeter.

The recipe called for Graham Flour and also white flour. It said that whole wheat flour could be substituted. I did use Graham flour but also tried them with whole wheat. They work either way. I have several graham cracker recipes and plan to try another one or two to see for sure which ones I like best. The recipe I used calls for honey and they did taste like honey grahams but I think they could be a little sweeter. The recipe also suggested using ½ honey and ½ molasses. I’d like to try that combo too. Another recipe calls for brown sugar instead of honey and I’d like to try that to see which the best overall combination is. Still another recipe calls for shortening. I’m thinking that these crackers are pretty flexible as far as the different recipe possibilities.

I’m including the recipe I used and I’m also including the peanut butter bar recipe that I use the graham cracker crumbs in, just for fun!

Homemade Graham Crackers
4 T. butter, softened
1 egg
6 T. sugar
4 T. honey (or 2 T. honey and 2 T. molasses)
½ t. baking soda
2 t. water
¾ t. salt
1 ½ c. graham flour (can use whole wheat flour)
¾ c. all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 350º. Combine butter, egg and sugar in a bowl and beat till smooth and creamy. Stir in honey and blend well. Dissolve soda in the water and add to mixture. Add salt, graham flour and all-purpose flour to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too “tacky” add more graham flour. Liberally dust work surface with graham flour and roll dough to about 1/8” thickness. For easy handling, cut rolled dough into 3 or 4 sections and work with smaller sections at a time. If you use parchment paper to line your cookie sheets, you can roll the dough out on the parchment rather than trying to transfer it after it is rolled. With a knife, score dough into2 ½” squares and prick each square a few times with a fork. For a fun treat for your kids or grandkids, use cookie cutters and make shapes instead. You can also sprinkle the crackers with a cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking for cinnamon grahams. Bake for 8 minutes (if you want you can turn the dough over at this point) and bake 6-7 minutes more. I tried turning it over and didn’t think it made much difference – not really worth the trouble. Watch dough closely so it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and cool on racks. Finish cutting in squares before they harden.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 ¾ c. crushed graham crackers
2 c. milk chocolate chips
Melt butter and peanut butter together. Stir in powdered sugar and graham crackers. Press mixture firmly into a 9x13” pan. Melt chocolate chips; spread on top of peanut butter mixture. Chill until firm. Remove from fridge and allow cookies to warm to room temperature. Cut into 1” squares. If the cookies are too cold, the chocolate will crack when you cut them. *This recipe can be cut in half and made in a 9x9 baking dish.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I love condiments! Unfortunately my fridge is usually stocked with way too many but there are just some I can’t live without. I love Barbecue sauces and right now there are 2 different varieties in there. I go through a lot of Worcestershire sauce (French’s brand) and even though I cringe a little that it is made with anchovies, I still have to have it. There’s soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, mustard sauce, two kinds of taco sauce, red and green, sweet and sour sauce, pizza sauce (until tonight) and even a bit of leftover fry sauce and tartar sauce. (This isn’t counting the salad dressings, mayo and miracle whip.

That being said, I can only say that I would eat less food if I didn’t love the sauces so much. I believe my grandkids got their love of dipping as many foods as possible, from me.

I always have some of the mustard sauce made up. This isn’t the horseradish-clean out your sinus’-bring tears to your eyes recipe I’ve often found on my plate next to the funeral potatoes (and left on my plate) variety. This is a tangy sweet sauce that I use on everything from baked ham to meatloaf to any variety of sandwich, and include in my potato salad recipe and most other recipes calling for just plain mustard. It is delicious and thanks to my college roommate, Ann Lorraine for sharing it many years ago. Every time I make it I think of her and all the good times.

The homemade tartar sauce is one that we always serve with fish. I never had a written recipe but this can be adjusted to your taste. I have not tried the Worcestershire sauce recipe yet and if you want to make it, you can actually add anchovies to the recipe to come pretty close to the real thing.

I think everyone has their own version of homemade barbecue or pizza sauces and these recipes can be adjusted to suit your own tastes, spiciness or preferences. Most of these recipes are food storage friendly so if you find some that you really like, it’s easy to store the ingredients to make your own.

In my quest to duplicate as many recipes as I can for food storage purposes, I’ve gathered several recipes for homemade sauces. I even tried homemade ketchup but it just wasn’t the same (not to mention the fact that it took hours to make) so I'll just have to store ketchup. Here are some of my favorite sauce recipes.

Ann Lorraine's Mustard Sauce
½ c. tomato soup
½ c. vinegar
½ c. prepared mustard
½ c. sugar
½ c. salad oil
3 egg yolks
Stir together till smooth and cook till thick. Delicious on meat loaf or ham. Keeps well for a long time.

Barbecue Sauce
1 c. Heinz ketchup
1 t. liquid smoke
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. mustard
1 c. water
¾ c. brown sugar
1 t. salt
1 dash Tabasco sauce (optional)
Heat together and bring just to a boil. Use as a dipping sauce, over little sizzlers, over meatballs or over ribs or pork chops or cooked roast beef.

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. water
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. pepper
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minute. Cool. Store in the refrigerator. Y: ¾ cup

½ c. sugar
½ c. vinegar
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. Catsup
Mix in saucepan and bring to a boil. It will clear and thicken. For a spicier sauce add finely diced red pepper to the sauce before heating.

¾ c. salad dressing
1 T. dried minced onion (soaked till soft)
2-3 T. sweet pickle relish
1-2 t. mustard (or mustard sauce)
Combine and chill a few minutes. Serve with fish.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 T. self-rising flour
1/4 cup New Mexico or California chili powder
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion salt
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth, and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Add salt to taste.

Homemade Danish Dessert Mix
1 c. sugar
2 heaping T. cornstarch
1 pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid brand drink mix in desired flavor
Mix these three items with a fork until well blended. Put in a sauce pan and add 2 c. cold water. Cook until desired thickness. Cool and add 1/2 of the sauce to the fruit and spread over top of cheesecake, dessert or use in pie as directed. Save the rest for another pie or make two pies at once. I use strawberry Kool-Aid with fresh strawberries for strawberry shortcake and raspberry flavor Danish dessert mix for a thickener in my chokecherry jelly. Use in any recipe as you would packaged Danish dessert mix.

Homemade Cheese Sauce Mix
1/3 cup dehydrated cheese powder (American cheese)
3 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
3 Tbsp. dehydrated butter powder or flakes
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with wire whisk. Store in tightly closed container in the refrigerator. To make cheese sauce, combine 1 cup hot tap water with 1/2 cup Cheese Sauce Mix in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Y: 1 cup cheese sauce.

Pizza Sauce
6-oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water (tomato paste can)
2 T. powdered parmesan
½ t. kosher salt
½ t. oregano
½ t. basil
½ t. marjoram
½ t. parsley
½ T. garlic powder
1 T. sugar
3/4 t. onion powder
Empty tomato paste into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly until combined. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine; allow to stand until ready to use. Y: Sauce for 2 pizza’s
*Note: to make just enough sauce for 1 pizza use 1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce, no water and half of the remaining ingredients. Also, for barbecue chicken pizza use 2/3 part your favorite pizza sauce to 1/3 part pizza sauce.

Easy Teriyaki Sauce
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. Soy sauce
3 T. Rice wine vinegar
Heat till sugar is dissolved and mixture boils. Cool. It will thicken slightly as it cools. Serve over stir fry or vegetable cooked rice. Double or triple recipe as desired. Stores well in the fridge. These ingredients also store well as food storage items. They keep quite a long time.

Teriyaki Sauce
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. cold water
½ c. white sugar
½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. black pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and black pepper.
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While sauce is heating, combine cornstarch and cold water. When sauce comes to a full boil, add cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and store in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Mild Taco Sauce (like Taco Bell)
3 c. water
2 t. cornstarch
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
3 T. white distilled vinegar
4 t. chili powder (unless chili powder is too hot)
2 t. salt
1 t. cayenne pepper (Maybe a little less)
Dissolve cornstarch in water in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. (If using a hot chili powder, start with less and taste test until reaching your desired heat. Also add less cayenne and continue adding until you find the spiciness you want.) Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover until cool. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerator to store.

Homemade Chicken Gravy Mix
¾ c. flour
3 T. instant chicken bouillon granules
1 1/3 c. instant dry milk
¼ t. ground sage
1/8 t. thyme
1/8 t. pepper
½ c. butter
Combine milk, flour, bouillon, and spices; mix with a whisk until well combined. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until evenly distributed. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Use within 2 months. Y: 2 2/3 c. mix
Pour 1 c. water into small saucepan. Using a wire whisk, mix in ½ c. gravy mix until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Y: 1 c. gravy.

Homemade Beef Gravy Mix
1 1/3 c. instant dry milk
¾ c. flour
3 T. instant beef bouillon granules
1/8 t. thyme
1/8 t. sage
¼ t. onion powder
½ c. butter, softened
3 t. brown sauce for gravy
Combine all dry ingredients with a wire whisk. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle brown sauce over mix. Whisk in till blended. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator. Use within 2 months.
Mix 1 c. cold water in a saucepan and ½ c. gravy mix. Whisk mixture together till smooth and heat over medium heat till it starts to boil and is slightly thickened. Y: 1 c. gravy.