Monday, February 28, 2011

Black-Eyed Peas

We have talked about many different kinds of beans and the ways to cook and use them but one that is often overlooked, especially in the northern part of the US is the black-eyed pea. Black Eyed Peas are really a bean and are also called cowpeas.

Dried black-eyed peas are a great item for your storage. Using dried beans instead of the canned, makes the nutrition levels higher. Canned beans have 11 g of protein per cup, while the same amount of dried beans has 13 g. If you consume 1 cup of black-eyed beans, you will get roughly 25 percent of your protein requirement for the day. Just as important as total protein is the quality of the protein. Black-eyed peas contain all the essential amino acids or protein building blocks for your body. Canned beans contain 8 g of fiber, while cooked dried beans have 11 g of fiber per cup. This is even more important as we get older. Black-eyed peas contain 90 percent of your daily value of folate.

The major difference between canned and dried beans exists in the sodium content. Canned foods require a lot of salt to preserve the food. Specifically, canned black-eyed beans contain 718 mg sodium, while cooked dried beans only have 7 mg per cup. The average adult should consume 1,200 mg of sodium per day. That means if you eat one cup of black-eyed beans from a can, you are consuming 60 percent of the suggested daily intake. Consume nutritious black-eyed beans from a dried source rather than from a can to avoid high intake of sodium.

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin' john. It is often believed that you should always eat these beans at the start of a new year to bring good luck. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the New Year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

I’m a little late with the New Years ideas but I figure after the storm of last weekend we could all use a little good luck. Maybe eating these beans will bring us good luck and spring will come soon.

There are lots of great recipes using these beans and they are a fun addition to your food storage for a little variety. Here are some recipes using Black-Eyed Peas. There are a couple of different salsa-type recipes, each with a different twist. The first has some crunchiness because of the celery, cucumbers and peppers. You can adjust the jalapeño to fit your family’s tastes. The second uses hominy which has always been a fascination to me. We used to buy it for a fun snack occasionally, served with butter and salt. I’ve never had it in a dip before but your might like the different texture it adds to this one. If your family likes to dip, give these a try. Feel free to substitute the canned beans for cooked dried beans.

Black Eyed Pea Salsa
½ c. olive oil
1/3 c. white wine or cider vinegar
2-3 T. sugar
1 t. celery seed
½ t. dry mustard
½ t. salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
3 stalks Celery finely diced
3 stalks green onions, sliced
1 whole red bell pepper, diced fine
1 whole cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 whole Jalapeño seeded and diced fine, optional
1 c. chopped cilantro
2 cans Black-eyed peas, drained
Mix 1st 7 ingredients. Set aside. Combine all vegetables except cilantro with peas. Pour dressing over the top and gently stir together. Add cilantro and stir gently. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Serve with chips.

Cowboy Caviar
Sweet basil
1 Green, red or yellow pepper (if you double the recipe just use all three)
1 Can white corn or Hominy (doubled I use both)
1 Can diced Italian or Mexican style tomatoes
1 Purple Onion, diced
1 Can black-eyed Peas, drained and rinsed
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Black Olives, sliced
1 8 oz Bottle Italian Dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ Small Can Diced Green Chiles
1 t. Cumin
1 Avocado, diced
½ Bunch Cilantro
Mix everything, but the avocado and cilantro and let sit a few hours or overnight. Before serving add avocado and cilantro and serve with chips. It's delicious for eggs rancheros etc too!

I found the following recipe for black-eyed pea cakes with comeback sauce several months ago here and fully intended to make it for New Years (thought the good luck thing was fun) but we had too many leftovers and were leaving for a few days on New Year’s Eve so I didn’t get to it until a month or so ago. I thought it was a fun and tasty recipe. Serve me anything with a sauce and I’m all over it, especially when there is heavy cream involved. I was very careful with the spices in the sauce but I really liked this dish and will make it again. It is definitely a fun way to use the black-eyed peas which were new to me. Next time, I will definitely use dried black-eyed peas instead of canned.

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes
(Y: 8-12 depending on size)
2 cans of black-eyed peas; drained
1 slice bacon; fried and crumbled
4-8 T. olive oil; divided
½ c. onion; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
½ t. cumin
1 T. fresh cilantro leaves
½ t. dried basil leaves
½ t. cayenne
1½ t. salt
½ c. heavy cream
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/3 c. half & half
2 c. panko or fresh bread crumbs
Warm the black-eyed peas, while you prep the other ingredients. Sauté onion and garlic together in about 2 T. olive oil until softened. Add half of the black-eyed peas (about 1½ c.), bacon, onion, garlic, cilantro, basil, cumin, cayenne, salt to a food processor and pulse a few times until blended. Not too much. It doesn’t need to be totally smooth.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the remaining black-eyed peas and heavy cream. Chill the mixture until cool – about an hour or so. After the mixture has cooled, gently form the cakes and set aside. Prepare 3 separate bowls for battering. Flour goes in the first one. Then beat an egg and the half and half together in the second one. And the bread crumbs go in the third one. Batter the cakes by coating first with flour, then the egg mixture and finish with the bread crumbs. Set aside after coated. Have a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels ready for cakes when cooked. Prepare skillet by heating 3-4 T. of olive oil over medium heat. Fry cakes in small batches, cooking approximately 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Be sure to watch the oil for overheating, and, if needed, add additional oil or start with new oil if it gets too dark. Remove cakes, let cool on paper towel lined plate. Serve with comeback sauce (below).
Comeback Sauce
(Other than mayonnaise and oil, we didn’t measure any of the ingredients, so combine to your taste preference.)
½ c. mayonnaise
1/8 c. salad oil (I used walnut oil)
Black pepper
Celery salt
Hot sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until served.

Below is a traditional recipe for Hoppin’ John if you have never tried it. It is full of flavor and a fun New Years Tradition. However, it is great served anytime

Hoppin’ John
1½ c. dry black-eyed peas
1 lb. ham hock
1 onion, chopped
1-3 garlic cloves, finely diced
½ green bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 t. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
4 c. water
1 ½ c. long-grain white rice
1 can petite diced tomatoes with chili peppers (optional)
1 cup shredded smoked Cheddar cheese
In a large pan place the peas, ham hock, onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1½ hours. Remove ham hock and cut meat into pieces. Return meat to pot. Add tomatoes. Stir in the rice, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle sliced green onion and shredded cheese over top of individual servings, if desired.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and tip of the week

Today’s tip is for substituting applesauce for the fat in your recipes. Here are some guidelines. Experiment and see what you come up with. If you have a favorite applesauce substitution, we’d love to hear about us. Leave a comment and tells us about it.

Tips for using applesauce as a substitute for butter or oil to cut the fat in baking:

It's usually a 1:1 ratio. It works best in baked goods such as, quick breads, muffins etc. Generally the best way to know is to experiment because there is generally a slight change in texture. So, for example if you need 1 cup of butter start out with half butter half applesauce. If it works, next time do a little more applesauce etc. Although fats add richness and texture, the primary job of a fat in a recipe is to keep the flour protein from mixing with the moisture and forming long strands of gluten—a reaction that would give cake the texture of rubber. That’s why it’s so important to keep the liquid and dry ingredients separate until the very end, and to mix them together very gently by hand. When you substitute applesauce, it’s even more important to work the batter gently, and as little as possible, in the final mix.
Applesauce tips:
* Use unsweetened applesauce, or reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe if you use sweetened applesauce.
* Measure applesauce in a liquid measuring cup.
* Use a hand or stand mixer to thoroughly combine the applesauce with the other liquid ingredients (egg, flavoring), then blend the liquids with the sugar. With a large spatula, carefully fold the dry ingredients into the mixture until just combined.
* The finished product will be moist. Don’t alter the time for cooking because low-fat recipes dry out when they’re over-cooked.

The recipe of the week is a great one for this time of year. I am of the mind that you can’t have too many good soup recipes. This one was emailed to me by Sara J. from Utah. She says she makes this recipe with both fresh potatoes and corn and also food storage items and says her family likes it either way. I’d love to print your favorite food storage friendly recipe here. Email it to me at Thanks for the recipe Sara.

Chicken Corn and Potato Chowder
3 c. chicken broth
1 T. dehydrated chopped onion
¼ t. pepper
1 t. salt (or less to taste)
½ t. dried parsley
2 potatoes, diced, or 1 c. dehydrated potato dices
1 c. cooked and cubed chicken or 1 can chicken breast
1 can evaporated milk
¼ c. flour
1 can corn, drained
In large pan, mix broth, onion, pepper, salt, parsley, and potatoes. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. In small bowl, mix milk and flour; add slowly to pot, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, and then add corn. Simmer for 10 minutes. This recipe is very creamy. Y:4-6 servings

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's All About the Know-How

I ran into one of my friends the other day. I’d just recently told her about this blog. She told me that she had read most of it from start to finish. Her most surprising comment to me was, “I can’t believe you live that way!”

When I asked what she meant, she said that she would never make things from scratch when she could buy them. And if there was something that she wanted she would buy it instead of making it herself or going without. She mentioned the homemade laundry soap and asked why I don’t just buy it? I make it because I can and I love using it. Every time a scoop some into my machine I think about the fact that I would never have to go to the store for laundry soap again.

We had a good discussion and we both see things differently and always will. That is okay, it’s why we are friends. We discussed this for awhile and then we agreed to disagree on a couple of different points.

First of all she has good food storage. Lots of wheat and the basics. She always says, “I could feed a hundred people on my storage!” However, as for me, I would have a hard time living on just the basics. I want the good stuff too. Not that the basics aren’t good, they are just…basic.

Our biggest point of disagreement is that she strongly believes that she will never have to use her food storage. She said she only has “all this stuff” because her husband insisted. I guess that is as good a reason as any. I believe that at some point, we will be using our storage. In fact, I try to do that now. I tried my best to make her see that I believe it isn’t just for some time in the future, but it is a way of life.

I told her after we talked that I was going to have to blog about our conversation and she is okay with that. Her only comment was, “As long as my husband doesn’t read about it!” I laughed at that but I think she was serious.

Here is my theory. I believe it is “All about the know-how!” For many years I have clipped and copied different recipes for different ways to store and use everything. I’ve saved articles and collected cook books and survival information. I sure hope I never have to “survive” like some of those books describe but it would certainly beat the alternative. I want to “Know How” to make the best bread from wheat as well as how to make wheat meat – even if I never have to. I want to know how to live on what I have if I CAN’T go to the store.

I want to be able to raise a garden and preserve every bit of it that I can and then know what to do with it after I get it in the bottles. I want to know how to make storage food not only attractive but delicious.

I especially want to keep warm. I want to know how to heat and cook without electricity. I want to know about alternative methods of getting water other than just turning on the tap. I really don’t want to live on bottled pasta sauce and spaghetti noodles for a year.

As I was writing this, I remembered an experience I had a few years ago. A group of us had gone to the cannery to can chicken. While we were there, one of our friends who was with us made a comment that really hurt my feelings at the time. He said,” So I bet you have so much food storage that you can’t even get it all in your house. You probably need an extra building just to store it all.” Looking back I think he might have been making a joke but I didn’t think it was funny. I was hurt and embarrassed because he said it in front of everyone else. I understand now that he just didn’t know any better. Many people mistakenly believe that to have a good food storage, you have to have tons of food put away and I don’t. You just have to have the “know-how” to use what you do have to provide nutritional and filling meals for your family.

So I guess the biggest thing I can say to anyone who is interested in food storage and preparedness is that even if you can’t get all the storage you want to right now, you can afford to gather the “know-how” and study it so that you can be mentally prepared as you prepare physically.

I don’t ever want to wake up and realize that I don’t know how to cope with an emergency because I don’t have the know-how. That explains the several binders of handouts I’ve saved over the years and the papers I’ve copied from other’s information. I guess the biggest thing on my mind is I NEVER want to have to depend on someone else to take care of me because I didn’t prepare to take care of myself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Tools

Part of the preparedness idea of the 72 hour kits is to have the right tools to do whatever is necessary to provide safe shelter and food for your family if you were forced to leave your home during an emergency. When you think about what you might have to do, chopping wood to build a fire to keep warm is at the top of the list.

One thing that is strongly suggested as part of an adult family member’s kit is an Axe. This could be used to cut firewood or kindling or for other emergency uses. There are different sizes of axes that can be purchased for your kit.

Another imperative item might be a shovel which you might use to dig a fire pit, an outdoor latrine, or trenches to detour water in case of a rain storm or just for any unforeseen problems. These too, come in more compact sizes that can fit in your emergency kit.

Smithfield Implement and R&R Hardware are having their “Crazy Daze” sale this week and their camping axe is only $3.97, so it isn’t a huge investment but an ideal one to find. The compact shovels are also very inexpensive.

As a matter of information, if you live close to Smithfield or Tremonton, Utah, they have tons of preparedness stuff on sale from crank flashlights and radios to the tools mentioned above. There are also emergency blankets and sleeping bags for under $3 as well as many different kinds and weights of regular sleeping bags. They have lanterns, 5 gallon buckets with lids, wool blankets, water storage drums and jugs, Dutch ovens, hand wheat grinders and various other items. If you can’t make it in this week, this is still an awesome place to get your emergency supplies even if they aren’t on sale especially for those who live in Northern Utah or Southern Idaho.

Keep working on putting cash away for your emergency kits. Gather the axes and shovels for your kit; and maybe if you get a chance, visit an emergency preparedness store or browse through a catalog or website and take note of some of the preparedness items that are available. Then grab a notebook small enough to carry in your purse and start a wish list. If you plan to get the items when you find them on sale or as you can afford them, it will get done, if we don’t plan, it seems it seldom happens.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Rotating Can Storage Racks

I’m so excited to tell you about my latest project. I have been making rotating can racks for my canned foods. They have been a fun project and are helping me rotate and inventory my canned foods. The best part of all is the only cost for them has been a couple of bottles of Elmer’s Glue (one of which I already had).

These can racks are made from cardboard and will sit on my shelves. The cans are loaded from the top and roll to the bottom and most will hold 12 or more cans, depending on the size of the cans. You can paint them if you want; right now, because of the nasty weather outside, I’m just making and filling them and may paint them when summer comes and I can do it outside. I also still need to add labels to the boxes when they are painted.

I’ve seen the large can racks that you can buy at Wal-mart and thought they were nice but the thing that I didn’t care for was that first of all they are expensive, they take up a lot of room and don’t store many varieties of cans unless you have multiple racks and I don’t have room for that. I’ve seen homemade wooden varieties which are great and I’d love if I had a customized food storage area which I don’t. I guess the biggest drawback for me is that I have seen people who have a limited food storage budget spend a lot on racks that they could have spent on food to put on them.

With these homemade can racks, all your money can go towards the canned food to put in them. Also, another plus for me, is that I can see at a glance what items I am low on and need to restock, and how many I need to buy on my next shopping trip.

I have made 20+ of these shelves so far and one thing I’ve found is that as I make them, I think of things I’d like to have in my storage but don’t, so I figure that by making a rack for that item, and seeing it empty, I’ll be encouraged to start buying some cans of that item when I shop.

The original idea for these racks comes from the blog Pantry Panel and the details and instructions were further explained on the blog which you will see when you visit the above link. There is a blueprint for these racks found here. As I have made many of these, I’ve made a couple of changes to the storage bins. Check out these pictures and see if you are interested. I can answer any questions you may have and help you get started if you wish.

When I first started making these, (and I thought about it a very long time before I started) I decided to just make one and see if I liked it – I had a hard time believing they would actually hold heavy cans. I made one and loved it so I made a couple more and have not been able to stop since. These racks will fit on most standard shelves. The sizes given are for vegetable size cans (I adapted this size to also fit mandarin orange, sweetened condensed milk and tomato sauce size cans), Fruit size cans like 20 oz. pineapple cans, and soup cans which I adapted to also fit canned milk.

Check out the above pages for instructions and more information. I think it is a great help to organizing and storing your canned foods. Let me know if you have any questions. I'd love to hear back from any who try making these.

Below is another picture of my assembly line making 7 of these boxes at once. It's kind of funny to see. Good luck with this project, it's a good one!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Many years ago our family moved to Utah. When we moved in, the community was in the process of putting together a community cookbook. Keep in mind this was in the days before computers and cell phones. I think because I was the new girl in town, I was asked to be on a committee to help compile and type the book. We called everyone in the area and asked for as many recipes as they would like to contribute. We then gathered them up and typed them on 4x6 colored index cards – certain colors of cards for main dishes, salads, breads, desserts, etc. – then we punched holes in the top of each card and they were held together with large rings. I used an old manual typewriter to type the cards I did and can I just say how relieved we were when the books were done. They turned out very nice for the most part.

The lady who was over this project was very worried that we weren’t going to have enough recipes to fill the book, or at least make it look interesting, so she gave me lots and lots of her recipes to use as fillers if we didn’t have enough recipes. We had so many recipes come in that we had to use the largest size rings we could find and it was still almost too full, so we ended up not using all of her extra recipes. Well, one of her recipes that we didn’t use in the book (mainly because it was too long to type on an index card) was a muffin recipe.

I have been planning a post about muffins for a long time because they are such a great food storage food and easily adapted to use food storage items. A few weeks ago, I was going through an old recipe binder and came across her recipe. It was called, “Marilyn’s Marvelous Muffin Mix”. When I came across the recipe, I wondered if they really were all that marvelous. I knew I had to try them so I made up some of the muffins and they really are good; a perfect addition to food storage recipes.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add any fruit or vegetable, spice or extract to the muffins and have literally tons of different variations from one little mix. I like that idea. I made blueberry muffins with a streusel topping and carrot-applesauce muffins also. (I even added zuchinni along with the grated carrots in this one and really like them.) I froze some of each of the muffins, just to see how they freeze and they freeze very well. What a great idea to not only have a homemade muffin mix on hand but to also have some ready to heat and eat in your freezer.

Muffins are filling and nutritious and can be made ahead. You can adapt them to any kind of flour, white or whole wheat or a combination of the two. You can use fresh, frozen or dried fruit, or vegetables, including using a fruit sauce in the batter like applesauce or any blended fruit and they make a great breakfast or snack item. You can add nuts or topping or just have them plain. If you want to substitute powdered eggs for the fresh eggs, just mix the egg powder into the mix and add an extra 2-3 T. water or milk when you make up the muffins.

We like them hot with butter and jam, jelly or honey – a perfect way to use all the jelly on my shelf. Remember if you have dried peach or strawberry flakes in your storage, these muffins are a great way to use them. They are also great with dried chopped dates, apricots or pineapple. There is not a variation for a Rhubarb nut muffin but that is my next experiment. See how many variations you can come up with.

I have also included a recipe for homemade English Muffins. These are a little trickier but interesting to make. They don’t require baking and can be made on the stove-top.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Basic Muffin Mix
8 c. flour
3 c. sugar
3 T. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. salt
2 t. nutmeg
Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Store in airtight container in a cool dry place. Use within 9 months.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Blueberry Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 c. fresh, frozen or drained canned blueberries
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Gently fold blueberries into batter and fill cups ¾ full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins. Optional Streusel topping: In a small bowl mix 1/3 c. flour, ½ c. sugar and 1 ½ t. cinnamon, Add ¼ c. cold butter, cubed, and blend with a pastry blender or fork until you have pea size crumbs. Sprinkle muffins with crumb topping. Bake at 400º for 20-25 minutes.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Fresh Peach Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 c. diced fresh peaches
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Gently fold peaches into batter and fill cups ¾ full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Fruity Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 c. raisins or dried cranberries (any other dried fruits you desire)
Chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Gently fold raisins, dried cranberries and nuts if desired into batter and fill cups ¾ full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Banana-Pecan Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 Banana, mashed (1/2 c. mashed)
½ c. chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add mashed banana and add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir in pecans, stirring just till moistened; batter will be lumpy. Fill cups ¾ full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Cranberry Nut Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
3 T. sugar
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
½ c. chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add 3 T. sugar to dry muffin mix. Add egg-milk mixture all at once to dry muffin mix. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts, stirring just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fill cups ¾ full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Carrot Cake Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
¼ c. butter, melted
2 T. molasses (optional)
½ c. applesauce
½ c. finely shredded carrots (can substitute shredded zucchini)
½ c. coconut
½ c. raisins (optional)
½ c. chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter, applesauce and molasses (if desired); add all at once to dry muffin mix. Gently stir in carrots, coconut, raisins and nuts, stirring just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fill cups ¾ full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Butterscotch Pecan Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
6 T. butter
6 T. brown sugar
2-3 Pecan halves per muffin
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Melt 6 T. butter in saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Put 1 T. mixture and 2-3 pecan halves in bottom of each muffin cup. Fill cups ¾ full with batter. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Vanilla Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Stir 1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix into dry muffin mix. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fill cups ¾ full with batter. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

Marilyn’s Marvelous Chocolate Muffins
2 ¾ c. basic muffin mix
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. butter, melted or ½ c. oil
1 small pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix (try white chocolate pudding)
½ c. mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400º. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. Stir 1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix into dry muffin mix. Mix egg, milk and butter or oil; add all at once to dry muffin mix. Stir in chocolate chips if desired. Stir just till moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Fill cups ¾ full with batter. Bake 18-20 minutes. Y: 12 large muffins.

English Muffins
1 c. hot water
½ c. prepared powdered milk or ½ cup water and 3 T. powdered milk
2 t. honey
2 t. salt
4 c. flour (you can use ½ white ½ whole wheat)
2 t. instant yeast
2 T. oil
Add water, powdered milk (and water for powdered milk), honey and salt to a mixing bowl. Combine. Add 2 c. of flour and yeast and stir until combined. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for one hour. Add remaining 2 cups of flour and oil and stir until well combined. Roll out onto a cornmeal covered surface and using a cookie cutter or cup, cut out round shapes. Let cut muffins rise, covered, for another hour. Heat a griddle to medium high heat and grease with a little oil. Grill muffins on both sides until lightly brown and cooked in the middle. Eat fresh!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and Tip of the Week

This week’s tip is probably one you have already heard. I have heard it just twice this week alone. It’s about the increasing prices of everything this year. So here is the tip: If you need to buy anything that is primarily made of cotton, try and do it before March. Supposedly, the price of cotton has gone up 10% already and is expected to rise another 80% by the end of this year with a big price hike coming in March.

You may be wanting to buy clothes, or bed linens or (a preparedness tip coming up) White cotton flannel to store for diapers if you have infants. Storing Diaper Flannel (unless you have flannel diapers in your storage already) is a great preparedness idea. If there were an emergency of almost any kind, one thing that would immediately hard to get would be disposable diapers. If trucks can’t get to the stores for any reason, diapers would clear off the shelves in a hurry.

Storing diaper flannel allows you the option to make up some diapers to have ready just in case (along with storing diaper pins, etc.) and if you don’t use the flannel to make diapers you can use it for any number of other uses. If you use other cotton fabrics you may want to buy some of them now. This is just a heads up here in case you see any major cotton purchases in your future.

It is time for another reader submitted recipe again. If you have a favorite recipe that uses mainly food storage items or would easily be adapted to use items from your food storage, send it in. Email it to me at It is amazing to find that many of the favorite things we make all the time could easily be adapted to be food storage recipes. So look in your cookbooks and find recipes you love that you would like to share with the rest of us to help us make good food as part of our preparation.

This week’s recipe is for a quick meal. It is sent in by Jeri B. from Arizona.

BBQ Pork, Chicken or Beef Sandwiches
1 pint or quart of canned pork or chicken or beef
BBQ sauce
Homemade hamburger buns from roll mix or roll recipe or thick slices of homemade bread
If you don't have BBQ sauce stored, then make your own with ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, garlic powder and if you want, some molasses

*Note: as Jeri mentioned, you can make your own barbecue sauce but I’ve found that if you have a favorite barbecue sauce, it will store a very long time in the proper storage conditions. It’s a great idea to have a few extra bottles on hand. Thanks, Jeri!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Hand Crank Radio

Even though we cannot predict or prevent earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or other natural disasters, we can prepare our families to cope and survive as well as possible. Here are some things that you can discuss in your families to prepare for any unforeseen event.
First, establish a "meeting place" where family members can gather in the event of an emergency. You may want to select a local school or church.

Second, in case it is not possible to gather, having a common message center is vital. One of the most important keys to receiving and sending information to family members who may be in various places when a disaster occurs is through an out-of-state contact. This is a friend or relative designated to handle messages should you not be able to call or locate your local family members. While most local private phone lines may be out of order for hours after a disaster strikes, pay phones are usually operable much sooner. The out-of-state contact can receive and relay messages from family members so you will know they are safe.

Establish in advance who your out-of-state contact will be. Everyone should carry with them a card with the out-of-state contact's name, address, and day and evening phone numbers. Let your children's teachers know who the out-of-state contact is for your family. That way, if your children are at school and you cannot pick them up, school authorities will know whom to relay a message concerning where your children will be taken. Each family member should carry a phone card or enough change for several phone calls.

This week’s suggested item for your 72-hour kits is one small hand crank radio. These range in price from about $15 up to $50 or more. My theory on this is that you just need a way to know what is going on in the event of a widespread emergency. You cannot plan on having access to a car radio in the event of an emergency as you may not have your car with you. It is always possible, depending on the type of emergency that you may be separated from others or even stranded with others who are not prepared.

A battery-powered or hand crank radio is helpful in monitoring the status of the disaster. Be sure to keep a fresh supply of batteries on hand. Check expiration dates on the batteries and rotate them regularly. Do not keep batteries inside the radio because they expire more quickly and may leak. When charged, most cell phones are able to call 9-1-1 even when they are not active. It is wise to have a cell phone (even not activated) when traveling or for emergency use. However, do not totally depend on Cell Phones. If towers are damaged they may be useless.

Emergency Essentials has a good selection of different radios with everything from a basic hand crank AM/FM radio to wavelength emergency radios which include a flashlight, charger for your cell phone depending on what you want and how much you want to spend.

If you have a transistor radio that uses batteries that is okay too; just make sure to start with good strong batteries (not stored in the radio) and to rotate the batteries with fresh ones every 6 months. If there is a chance you will forget to rotate the batteries, you are better off using a crank radio.

I am including a link to Emergency Essentials to see their variety of radios; many of these are on sale in their catalog on a regular basis. You can also give them a call at 1-800-999-1863 for more information on what is available.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Recipe and Tip of the week

The tip this week is for your dishwasher. I believe it may have other applications as well. Let me know if you know of any other similar ideas. Here is the tip: Use 1 packet of lemonade flavor Kool-Aid (or any other generic brand) in place of that expensive chemical stuff to clean your dishwasher periodically. It works the same and helps to keep down the hard water deposits. You can just put it in the soap dispenser and run it on a short cycle. However, do not allow the dishwasher to dry the dishes. Change the setting to avoid running through the drying cycle or just keep an eye on it and shut it off when it gets ready to start drying. Prop the door open a bit to allow the dishes to air dry. Nice in the winter as it heats up the kitchen a bit.

If you have had very hard water you may have used a chemical such as something called “Lemi-Shine” with your detergent when you ran the dishwasher. This lemonade Kool-Aid will do the same thing so you can use 1 packet of that with your detergent every time you run it if you want. Or however often you think it is necessary. This is much cheaper and leaves the glasses sparkling with no white residue. Just use the cheap store brand with no sugar.

The reason this works so well is because of the citric acid. I have read so many good tips concerning citric acid lately. I need to study up and see what else it will do.

This week’s recipe was sent in by Camille J. from Utah. This food storage friendly recipe is for dessert. This looks like a cake my mom used to make a lot. It was my dad’s favorite. I’ll be trying this soon. The name of this one pretty much says it all. What a great food storage friendly recipe. Thanks, Camille.

WWI Eggless, Milkless, Butterless Cake
1 c. water
2 c. raisins
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
½ t. cloves
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. shortening
¼ t. salt
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
Place water, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, shortening, nutmeg and salt in a saucepan and mix. Place on heat and bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes. Allow to cool, then sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir into cooked mixture. Place in a greased loaf pan and bake at 350º for one hour. Glaze if desired.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homemade Fabric Softener Sheets

One of my very first posts was for homemade laundry soap. I was so excited to try making my own soap and seeing how it would work.
Well, I’m halfway through the 5-gallon bucket of Laundry detergent and I must say I have loved using it. It has lasted forever, was cheap to make and cleans well. What more can you ask? I still use prewash spray occasional or sometimes add a scoop of OxyClean but I have been very pleased with the homemade soap. I also posted the recipe for powdered laundry soap.

Several people I know are making this and using it and I was interested to see what they thought about it. The only negative comments I heard were that someone said it seemed like a lot of work to make it (she obviously had not tried it) and someone else said they didn’t have a place to store a 5 gallon bucket where their kids could not get into it and they were afraid of one of their children falling into the bucket. That is a valid concern. Because so many people I have talked to were interested in doing it, I wanted to post a link to the post where I originally posted it but I can’t make it go directly to that post so I decided it is just easier to repost the recipes again.

I’m also posting a recipe for homemade fabric softener sheets. I don’t use fabric softener all the time but it’s great to be able to make my own for when I do.

Just a couple of things I want to mention before I put the recipes here. First, Fels Naptha is an awesome cleaning product. It’s cheap, easy to store and very versatile. If you store a bar or two along with borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (this is different than the Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent – Make sure you get the Washing Soda), you have your long term laundry products stored for more than a year or two depending on the size of your family. Pretty inexpensive storage compared with the number of containers of laundry detergent you’d need to store for a year. I’ll be posting some other uses for these cleaning products.

Also, someone mentioned to me that they had a hard time finding the Fels Naptha. If that happens to be the case with you, you can substitute a bar of ivory hand soap instead. I think that’s awesome too.

I am excited to make the powdered laundry soap next and give it a try to see how it works. I’ll be sure to let you know. Here is the scoop on the homemade fabric softener.

Homemade Fabric Softener Sheets:
3- 4 cups water
1 cup vinegar
1 cup of hair conditioner (the cheap kind is fine)
An old fabric softener bottle or a big clear plastic juice bottle to mix ingredients in
A plastic container – a square Tupperware or an empty baby wipes container would be ideal – anything that has a lid
Combine all ingredients in your large bottle and shake well to combine. Use old wash cloths, (if they are badly frayed, trim and hem them) or cut and hem an old towel. Cut the towel or wash clothes or rags to fit into the square plastic container. Layer 3 to 5 clothes and pour enough softener to get the bottom rag wet. Seal the container. To use a fabric softener sheet, flip the stack of rags and get the wet one. Wring it out into the container. After your clothes are dry, put the used cloth back on top. Next time flip the stack to get another wet one. Just keep rotating through the rags and add more fabric softener to the container as needed. If you wish to double the recipe, a 15 oz. bottle of conditioner will work just fine. Experiment with different scents of conditioner till you find one you love. Vinegar is a natural rinsing agent and will not leave a smell but helps make your clothes soft. Also, you can almost always find VO5 or Suave conditioners for under $1.00 a bottle so this is very economical. Buying big gallon jugs of vinegar also makes it even cheaper. Give this one a try and see if you don’t feel like you are saving money. I like that!
Here are the reposts of the Liquid and Powdered Laundry Soap for anyone who missed it the first time around. Seriously, if you have not tried this yet, do it. It is one of the best things I've done!

Liquid Laundry Detergent
4 c. Hot water
1 Fels-naptha Soap Bar
1 c. Washing soda
½ c. borax
1 -5 gallon bucket with a lid
Grate bar of soap and add to a large sauce pan with the hot water. Stir continuously on low heat until soap dissolves and is melted. Fill the 5 gallon bucket ½ full of warm water, add washing soda and borax and melted soap. Stir with a large spoon or stick (Paint stirring stick works great) until all powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover with lid and set overnight to thicken. You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil for each 2 gallons of liquid if you want. For a top loading washing machine use ¼ c. per load. You will get 180 loads out of 5 gallons For a front loading machine use 1/8 c. per load and you get 640 loads out of 5 gallons. This costs just pennies a load and cleans better than popular commercial brands.

Powdered Laundry Soap
2/3 bar grated Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup 20 mule team borax
Mix and store in airtight container or bag.
**light or small loads, use 1 tablespoon
**normal loads, use 2 tablespoons
**heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons
Tip: The above recipes will NOT make suds in your washer, so don’t be alarmed. Fels Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds, in the water. This makes it perfect for the new washers, as well as, traditional washers. You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener, or in most cases you can even eliminate the use of softener completely.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday- First-Aid Kits

I’ve read several discussions where people have asked if it is really necessary to have all the suggested items in your 72-hour kit. Most lists I’ve seen are quite long and some I have seen, like the ones put out by the Civil Defense Program years ago, were up to 3 pages long. I think that you have to decide what you are willing to include and what you don’t want to be caught without.

One thing that is, in my opinion, absolutely necessary is a First-aid kit. I don’t think, however that it needs to be real extensive. Here are my thoughts on the best way to put one together.

First of all remember this is just a small kit for your backpack. I do believe each person should have their own small kit with just the basics; band-aids, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, gauze and tape, some alcohol pads and maybe a triangular bandage. Here is one suggestion that I really like; make a small kit for each child in your family with the above listed items or any items that you see fit. If you wish a basic small kit can be purchased already put together with just the minimum items.

One of the adults should have a more extensive kit which includes things like small scissors, safety pins, triangular bandages (if they are not included in individual kits), a more extensive assortment of band-aids including butterfly bandages for more serious cuts, Rubbing alcohol or alcohol pads, burn ointment, elastic bandage or wrap, calamine lotion, knife, soap, thermometer, fever reducing tablets (Tylenol) adult or child, Ibuprophen (for aches and pains), matches, Ipecac syrup, eye wash, and perhaps a small first-aid Manual if someone is not well trained. The contents of each kit will depend on the ages and number of family members. Your kit needs to be personalized to your needs.

One thing you need to remember as you assemble your kits is that, as we have talked before you need to rotate the items in them every six months. This will also include the items in the first-aid kits. They need to be rotated regularly and updated with new and more current items.

One thing I would suggest for each 72-hour kit is a container of anti-bacterial wipes. These would be an awesome thing for each family member to have. Remember we are also working towards getting cash in your kits. Hope you are putting a little away every chance you get.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A book review - Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

The Book - Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treat
by: Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope

An interesting new cookbook that hit the store shelves in 2010 is “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.” This is a charming cook book with adorable pictures. These two authors are not new to the cookbook world, they also have several other very successful and much acclaimed vegan cookbooks. It is a fun book to flip through and just look at the great pictures, and maybe drool a bit.

The recipes themselves are varied too. This book has all-time favorites and regional classics as well as many interesting variations. Here are some of the great recipes; Magical Coconut Bars, Snickerdoodles, Cheesecake Brownies, Sweet Potato Blondies, Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, Frosted Grapefruit Icebox Cookies, Blackstrap Gingersnaps, Oatmeal-raisin, Deluxe Cocoa Brownies, Graham Crackers, chocolate cut-out cookies and Applesauce Softies to name a few. These utilize natural sweeteners and whole wheat flour. One recipe I really want to try is the Vegan Lemon Bars, it looks really good.

This cookbook is for those who wish to change the way they cook and eat. It has some amazing recipes and ideas in it. Remember that it isn’t just for vegetarians but for anyone; especially helpful to those with milk or egg allergies as well as to people trying to adapt food storage to their baking. This might be interesting to those who like to “taste” the raw dough, but worry about raw eggs in it. Now you don’t have to worry about raw eggs.

For those looking for a few 100% shelf stable, food storage, recipes to have on hand, this book is great. All the recipes are made from 100% shelf stable ingredients. The ratings on this book were surprisingly high, as they were for the authors Vegan Cupcake book.

Here are some more of the cookie varieties from the book:

Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you love the butter flavor in cookies you might be a bit disappointed by this one. But then, I’m an original Nestlé’s Tollhouse Cookie Girl! However, considering it has no dairy or eggs, it is an interesting option. This is the only recipe I did not read great review about so I did not give it a try.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows These cookies are dairy free and egg free. They are like stuffed cookies; a rich chocolate outside with a peanut butter surprise in the middle. This is a softer dough that is very easy to work with. This is a great recipe and just as good as other similar versions I have tried.

Lazy Samoas are the dairy free, egg free version of the famous Girl Scout Cookies. I have a recipe to make them and it is lots of work. The recipe is very long and involved and I’m not sure I want to put that much time into it for just the two of us. It could take all day. This dairy free and egg free version is quick and quite good. There is no shortbread bottom, in order to save time but the end results are good.

If you are looking for some recipes to adapt to your food storage you may want to check out this book. I think you will have fun experimenting with the different recipes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How Sweet It Is!

I love sweet stuff! I love cookies and candies and almost anything that has sugar in it and I probably eat more than I should. Okay, I have really cut back since Christmas but considering all the goodies we made at Christmastime, that isn’t really saying much. However, most everything that isn’t savory has some kind of sweetener in it.

We’ve talked before about honey and what an awesome sweetener it is. Today we’ll talk about some of the other sweetener options we may choose to have in our storage. All the beans and wheat in the world will get pretty bland without a little sugar to lighten them up.

The recommended amount of sweeteners per person per year in your food storage are as follows: Honey – 3 lbs., Sugar – 40 lbs. , Brown sugar – 3 lbs., Molasses – 1 lb., Corn Syrup – 3 lbs., Jams and Jellies – 3 lbs., Powdered fruit drinks – 6 lbs. and flavored Gelatin – 1 lb. This is a total of 60 lbs. of sweeteners for each person in your family. Remember these are the MINIMUM recommended amounts for each person in your household. You really need to evaluate how much of each you use in a year and adjust the quantities as necessary. I’m sure that we use at least 3 times as much brown sugar as the recommended amount, and I know we use more honey. I go through a lot of sugar when making jams and jellies too.

The picture above shows several sweetener options. (Who turned the Molasses bottle around so the label doesn’t show? Hmmm. Sorry about that. Some of the other sweeteners that are options, not shown in the picture are agave nectar, granulated fructose, jams and jellies and powdered sweetened fruit drinks and even maple syrup.

Honey is probably the easiest sweetener to store. It stores well and never spoils. It has gotten a little pricier lately but is still one of the best storage options. If you are interested in buying honey in a large quantity, you may consider checking with a honey distributer in your area for better prices. Consider getting a group of friends together to see if you can get a better price. As we’ve talked before, it is important to use honey that is made in your local area as it helps combat allergies. Because honey has a natural presence of endospores, you shouldn't give it to children under the age of 1 year old. This is something to plan for when considering food storage.

Granulated sugar is something I really want to have in my storage, if for no other reason than to use in my canning. I wonder how long I could go without a cookie??? White sugar will store indefinitely as long as it is stored in a cool, dry area. Sugar is highly susceptible to moisture as well as pests. If you decide to store granulated sugar, however, you may want to consider dry packing it or buying it in the sealed buckets as it absorbs moisture very easily and goes hard. When dry pack canning sugar, omit the oxygen packet, it will suck out all the moisture and make your sugar into a hard rock. It is still useable when it’s hard, but difficult to measure and add to recipes.

Brown Sugar is something we have talked about storing a bit too. Brown Sugar is basically just white sugar with added molasses, making it moist and giving it color. The storage on it is a little difficult but the same rules apply with it as with granulated sugar. If kept moisture free, it stores well for a long time. Other than canning, I probably use as much if not more brown sugar than granulated sugar. I would never want to be without it. If brown sugar does harden, here are some ideas to keep it soft; put a slice of bread or some apple slices into your brown sugar over night. The sugar will suck out the moisture and soften. You can also use a piece of clay and soak it in water, dry the outside, and store it with your brown sugar. Make sure the sugar is in an airtight container, always covered.

Powdered sugar is another storage option. I mostly use it in baking but have used it in several other things as well. It too, stores well for a long time if kept moisture free. It is a great item to dry pack if you are interested.

Molasses is another sweetener that many people use in lots of different recipes. It stores well and is an option to use in many sauces, desserts and baking in general. I always use it in my granola and pumpkin pies.

Corn Syrup also known as Karo Syrup can be stored as part of your sweetener storage too. Corn syrup is made from corn (maize) and is not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup which is a swear word in today's society. If you've ever had a popcorn ball, you've had corn syrup. It is used in candy making as well as many syrups and sauces. The storage life is pretty much indefinite, open or unopened. It stores well if kept in a cool dark place. Whatever your feelings on corn syrup are, it is inexpensive and if money is tight, it might be a good thing to add to your food storage.

Jell-O or Sweetened Gelatin is probably the most overlooked sweetener item. I promise that if you have kids and store Jell-O you will be glad you did. It can actually be used in other ways besides set Jell-O and is a great storage option. If you decide to buy it, make sure you buy it in the #10 size cans as it is so much cheaper than buying it in the small boxes. I keep hoping that someday it will be available in bulk but I haven’t seen it yet. However, in my experience the flavors you can buy in the large cans are limited so if you have other flavors that you use regularly you might consider other options. Check with restaurant suppliers for larger quantities of different flavors of jell-o. Gelatin has an indefinite shelf life. Gelatin can be used to make savory or sweet recipes. Unflavored gelatin comes in sheets or powder. It is 85% protein. Keep your gelatin powder or sheets wrapped tightly. Stored in a dry, cool place, they will last for years.

Jams and Jellies are an awesome thing to have stored. How much jam or jelly does your family use? One thing to consider is that if we were in a crisis and you couldn’t go to the store and cooking involved building a fire, we would probably eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than usual. Jam is a great way to sweeten oatmeal or to use in cookies or on pancakes. However, remember that if you make your own jam or jelly, you’ll need to calculate extra sugar in your food storage for canning.

Powdered fruit drink is another option. Remember that the taste changes over the years of storage so although it is a great storage item, it must be rotated and replenished regularly. It is available in bulk and some canneries and many food storage suppliers.

Agave nectar is a great option. Agave Nectar or syrup is made from the agave plant in Mexico. The same plant that gives us tequila interestingly. Agave is the sweetener of choice for vegans because it is natural and in its raw form and is not made by bees. It is a little more expensive but is very sweet. If you have not tried it and can’t use honey for some reason, give it a try. You’ll find it in the grocery store next to honey. The storage life is about 2-3 years, though others claim it’s longer. That combined with the expensive price tag, doesn't make this a number one choice, but it is a nice alternative to have around.

Fructose is sweeter than honey but an option for some who don’t like to store sugar. You can find it almost anywhere these days but can often buy it a little cheaper in the bulk section. If you decide to use Fructose, you’ll need to experiment as to how much to use.

Maple Syrup is wonderful on pancakes, but it's also great as a topping for oatmeal and can be used to replace sugar in some recipes. Of course if you store maple extract and brown or white sugar you can make your own syrup, however, if your family likes it, it is a good idea to have some on hand. The shelf life of unopened maple syrup is 2 years or more if kept in a cool dark place. After opening the syrup, you have at least a year, maybe more if it is stored in the refrigerator.

Here are some general rules for changing out different sweeteners in your recipes. Of course every recipe is different and may need some adjustments:
•You can substitute brown sugar for granulated white on a 1 to 1 basis, and the most significant difference will be taste.
•Substitute white sugar for brown sugar on a 1 to 1 basis, but add 4 T. of molasses per cup, and decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by 3 T.
•To use honey in place of sugar, use 7/8 cup for every cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 T.
•To use sugar in place of honey, use 1¼ c. of sugar plus 1/4 c. more liquid.
•To use maple syrup in place of sugar in cooking, use 3/4 cup for every 1 cup of sugar.
•To use maple syrup in place of a cup of sugar in baking, use 3/4 cup, but decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by about 3 T. for each cup of syrup you use.
•To use sugar in place of a cup of maple syrup, use 1-1/4 cups of sugar plus 1/4 cup more liquid.
Finally, granulated sugar has 46 calories per tablespoon, brown sugar has 50, maple syrup has 53, and honey tops them all with 64.

Here are some fun recipes using some of the alternative sweeteners listed above. Do you have a favorite recipe like one of these that uses one of these different sweeteners? Email it to me at and we’ll post it here.

Jam Cake
1/2 pound butter
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon allspice
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 whole eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups blackberry jam
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and yolks; beat until light. Sift flour with dry ingredients. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk; add jam. Bake in 3 greased and floured 8-inch pans for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
2 egg whites
1/2 pound butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
Cook butter, sugar and milk to soft ball stage; pour slowly over stiffly beaten egg whites. Spread between layers and over cake.

Jam Cookies – My favorite cookies from my Grandma Weatherston
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
3 eggs
½ c. strawberry or other jam
1 c. nuts
1 c. ground raisins (grinder or food processor)
1 t. soda dissolved in ¼ c. water
1 t. cinnamon
2 ¾ c. flour
Cream brown sugar & butter; add remaining ingredients. Bake at 375º for 15 minutes.

(A delightful cookie that uses no eggs and only powdered sugar for a sweetener)
1 c. butter
¼ c. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 T. water
2 c. flour
Mix well and add chopped nuts. Roll into balls and bake on greased pan at 300º for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and immediately roll in powdered sugar.

Jell-O Kool-Aid Punch (First had this at a friend’s birthday party)
2 pkg. any flavor Kool-Aid
1 sm. pkg. Jell-O
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 lg. can pineapple juice
Use any flavor Kool-Aid and Jell-O, according to color and flavor desired. Put Jello, sugar and Kool-Aid in a gallon container. Add a little boiling water to dissolve sugar and Jello. Add pineapple juice and enough cold water to make a gallon. Refrigerate. Add ginger ale just before serving.

Seriously Good Jell-O Cookies
3/4 c. Shortening
1/2 c. Sugar
1 -3 oz. pkg. Jell-O any flavor (cherry is good, but you can do anything, grape, lemon, lime etc.)
2 eggs
1 t. Vanilla
2 1/2 c. Flour
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Salt
Heat oven to 400º. Mix together shortening, sugar, jell-o, eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Roll into balls and then roll in sugar. Flatten cookies with the bottom of a glass, just slightly. Bake for 6-8 minutes.

Pretty Pink Popcorn
1 c. light corn syrup
½ c. sugar
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cherry Jell-O
10 c. popped corn
Combine corn syrup and sugar in heavy pan. Cover with lid and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and add Jell-O. Stir till dissolved. Place popcorn in large buttered bowl. Pour syrup over popcorn and stir till all kernels are coated with syrup. Shape into balls with buttered hands if desired. Y: 12 balls.

Sugar on Snow
Boil a pint of maple syrup until it reaches 232º on a candy thermometer. Drop by small spoonfuls on hard packed snow or crushed ice.

Maple Frosting
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients but vanilla in top of double boiler. Cook over boiling water, blending constantly with egg beater until mixture stands in peaks. Add vanilla and continue beating until thick enough to spread.

Maple Sundae Sauce
1/2 c. Maple Syrup
8 marshmallows
Combine syrup and marshmallows and cook over hot water, stirring frequently, until marshmallows have melted. Cool; add 1/2 c. chopped nuts. Serve over ice cream or baked pudding.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and Tip of the Week

This is double tip Friday. I want to share a couple of tips that I’ve learned with you today. The first tip is from Marie Ricks who is a professional organizer and who I first heard on a radio show she did on Saturday Mornings on a Salt Lake City A.M. Station. Marie has an organization site/blog/business/books/ etc. Okay she pretty much does it all. I learned about this tip years ago and have used it ever since. It’s a small insignificant thing but one worth taking note of.

Here’s the tip: Memorize the number date of the 1st Sunday of each month so you’ll always be able to figure which day of the week a certain date falls on without looking at a calendar. So when you memorize this number it will be 12 digits long – one for the date of the first Sunday of each month. Clear as mud? She said it much better than I can. Anyway, I have used this numerous times when asked about making an appointment on a certain day without looking at a calendar. It is very helpful.

The second tip is one I learned just recently. I bet many of you already do this but it was new to me. I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been a bit obsessed with nutrition lately. That’s what happens when you get older and realize you should have taken better care of your health! I’ve also mentioned that I was raised on a potato farm and have always eaten and cooked with lots of potatoes. We love them and they are a main staple of our diet. However I didn’t realize how much nutrition was in the peels. Yes, I grew up peeling the potatoes most of the time.

There are tons of Potassium and Magnesium – as well as other nutrients- in the skin of potatoes. Often when I do cook potatoes, I discard the cooking water. However I learned that if you scrub your potatoes very well, DO NOT PEEL THEM, cut them up and cook them you should save the broth. It makes a delicious warm drink. It is high in nutrition and easily digested and much better for your gall bladder and liver than hot chocolate. It’s okay to add a little butter and a tiny bit of salt to the broth and drink it down.

I’ve been drinking a lot of this lately because my potassium levels are low and I don’t really love bananas but this stuff is good. And I do really love hot chocolate but if I drink it too often I pay for it dearly. I actually feel better after drinking the potato broth. I seriously thought it would be gross but it is so good. I’m also learning to substitute vegetable broth for chicken or beef broth in a lot of my recipes and it is fun as well as healthy.

Today’s recipe of the week was sent in by Gayle P. from Utah. It is interesting because the sausage is made from Wheat. I’ve read a lot about wheat meat before and experimented a bit but this looks like a fun thing to try. I’d love to hear comments or recipes from any of you who make your own wheat meat. We need to do a post on that soon. Thanks, Gayle!

Grandma’s Wheat Sausage – Gayle P. - Utah
2 c. ground cooked wheat (not packed) grind with fine blade in food grinder
1 ½ to 2 t. ground sage
1 egg
¼ t. each onion powder
¼ t. garlic powder
1 T. Brown sugar
1 t. beef bouillon
1 T. oil
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. sausage seasoning
Mix all ingredients except wheat together. Fold wheat in. Drop from spoon into a frying pan with hot oil; fry like a sausage patty. Fry about 6-7 minutes. This freezes well after cooking and is great on pizza. *This is a recipe using the cooked wheat that I love to make and freeze to use for pizza topping! For Pizza topping I fry it in smaller pieces.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Learning to Love Wheat Berries

Somehow, over the years, wheat has gotten a bad rap. It has come to be known as the food that people only eat in an emergency or when there is nothing else. So many other foods are available that wheat most often gets put completely out of our minds, except for having some in case there is nothing else to eat. Unless we change our way of thinking and start using some wheat, our kids will grow up thinking the same thing as we do and our grandkids and so on.

One of the most valuable assets of wheat is that during these tough economic times, wheat can be used in so many ways to help save money on our food budget. If we become used to using a little bit here and there it will not only improve our nutrition but also save us money and introducing it into our diets gradually will help us to become accustomed to eating it and having it in our diets.

I remember when I was just starting to learn about using wheat. I heard over and over that if wheat were all of a sudden introduced into our diets, we’d get sick if we ate too much. I learned a lot of things over the years and forgot a good portion of them, but this has always stuck with me. I have also learned much about nutrition that I wish I had known much sooner. One thing I want to do this year is to improve the nutrition of the foods we eat. And one of the ways I want to do that is to use more wheat in my cooking and baking.

Today I want to share some tips for using wheat in your foods, a little at a time, so that we can not only improve nutrition but hopefully same some money at the same time as well as becoming used to eating wheat and using it daily.

One of the best tips I have ever heard for using wheat is that if you have some, already cooked, in your fridge, you’ll find ways to use it; whereas if you have to stop and cook wheat every time you think you might want to add it to a dish, it most likely won’t get done. Wheat berries refers to two things; first the uncooked grains of wheat are often called wheat berries and second the cooked, drained wheat grains are also called wheat berries. For discussion here, wheat berries will refer to the cooked wheat grains.

Here are three different ways to cook wheat to have it on hand in your refrigerator for different uses. It will keep in the refrigerator about 6 days. You can also spread it on a tray or baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment and flash freeze then store in sealed containers for 4-5 months in the freezer.

Crock-pot Wheat
1 part wheat
2 parts water
Rinse wheat good. Put in crock pot with twice as much water as wheat. Cook on low all day or overnight.

Thermos Wheat
1 cup uncooked whole wheat
2 cups boiling water
Preheat the thermos by filling it with very hot tap water. Place the lid on it loosely and allow it to sit while you do the rest of the work. Meanwhile bring 2-cups of water to a boil. When the water boils, dump the tap water out of the thermos. Immediately pour the boiling water into the thermos. Pour the wheat berries into the thermos along with the boiling water. Try to work quickly so the water doesn’t lose too much of its heat. Screw the lid tightly onto the thermos. Now allow the wheat to cook in the thermos for about 8 hours, or overnight. When you open the thermos you will have freshly cooked wheat, the perfect temperature for eating. You may need to drain off a little of the water if it hasn’t all been absorbed.

Stove-top Wheat
1 c. wheat berries
2 ½ c. water or broth
You can soak the wheat 12 hours (overnight) in 2 c. water,if you want. This is not strictly necessary, but it will cut down on cooking time. Combine water and wheat in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed and grain is soft, about 1 to 1½ hours.

Once your wheat berries are cooked you can begin using them any way you wish. Once I tried the stuffed tomatoes (below), I was hooked. Here are some other ideas.

Ideas for using wheat berries:
•Add with your cooked ground beef to extend the beef.
•Add to vegetable soup or stew.
•Throw a handful of wheat berries into you chef salad instead of croutons. I love the texture that wheat berries add.
•Stir wheat berries into your tuna salad with diced celery and green onions for a nice sandwich filling
•Combine wheat berries, diced red onion, diced sweet pickles and chopped hard cooked eggs with salad dressing or mayo and mustard for a good egg salad sandwich or salad served with greens.
•Add wheat berries to your favorite bean salad
•Stir some wheat berries into your yogurt or bowl of granola for added texture.
•Pour ½” layer of oil in a fry pan. Heat until hot enough to fry berries. Add ½ - ¾ c. wheat berries. Lightly stir to toast evenly. Berries should be crunchy but not burned. Remove and drain. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings; Ranch dressing mix, garlic & herb seasoning. Cajun spice seasoning, Barbecue spice seasoning or sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
•Replace some of the beans in your favorite chili recipe with wheat berries.
•Add wheat berries to your favorite stir fry just before removing from heat.
•You can serve wheat berries any way you would rice. Wheat berries are a little chewier than rice but you can use them in any recipe as a substitute for rice.

Breakfast Wheat Berries
Cooking wheat overnight in the slow cooker is a great way to have an easy and healthy hot breakfast in the mornings. Throw in some salt and spices (cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg would all be good.) Stir in a little brown sugar or honey if you wish. If you like, add dried cranberries, dates or raisins, grated apples, sliced bananas or any fresh, frozen unthawed or canned fruit. Stir into the cereal just before serving. Add sugar and milk in the bowl.

For a snack
To get your kids to try wheat berries, put a few cold cooked wheat berries in a small bowl. Top with thawed apple juice concentrate or fruit punch concentrate is good too. Eat with a spoon just as you would cold cereal.

Stuffed tomatoes
Choose nice large ripe, flavorful tomatoes for this recipe. One for each serving. Cut the very top off of fresh tomatoes and hollow out the tomatoes, leaving a nice shell. Chop removed tomato filling and drain well. For salad filling combine cooked wheat berries, diced tomatoes (from the hollowed out tomatoes) diced celery, diced cooked chicken (optional), and sliced green onion. Make a dressing of mayo, sour cream or heavy cream, sugar and salt to taste, and a little vinegar or lemon juice. Blend together well and gently stir in chopped veggies and chicken. Fill tomatoes. Just before serving, top with your choice of finely diced green pepper, shredded cheese, chopped cashews, salted sunflower seeds or your favorite croutons. Chill till serving. Note: the wheat berries add such a nice texture to this salad. If you are a beginner to using wheat berries, give this one a try.

Leftover Sloppy Joe Casserole
You may want to make extra Sloppy Joe filling next time so you can make this casserole the next day.
Leftover Sloppy Joe filling
Rotini noodles, cooked (enough for the amount of Sloppy Joe filling you have left)
1 can whole kernel corn drained or 1 c. frozen corn
1 small can sliced olives
Shredded Cheese
Combine pasta, corn, sliced olives and sloppy Joe mix. Put in casserole dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 350º 20-25 minutes or until heated and bubbly. For a fun alternative, serve with tortilla chips.

Wheat Berry Pasta Salad
2 c. cooked chicken breast, diced
1 c. diced Granny Smith apples
4 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
1 c. red seed less grapes, halved
1 stalk celery, diced
2 green onions, sliced thin
¼-1/3 c. cooked wheat berries
Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl
½ c. mayo
¼ c. plain yogurt
1 t. lime zest
2 T. lime juice
1 T. honey (can substitute brown sugar)
¼ t. kosher salt
Combine all dressing ingredients together and gently stir into chicken mixture. Cover and chill 3-4 hours before serving. Serve on a lettuce leaf with fresh wheat rolls or breadsticks.

Minestrone Beef Soup
1 can beef chunks or 2 c. leftover shredded roast beef or cooked ground beef
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. sliced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
5 c. water
1 can petite diced Italian flavored tomatoes
1 ½ c. chicken, beef or vegetable broth
2 carrots, sliced thin
1½ t. oregano
1 t. crushed basil
½ t. thyme
¾ c. shredded cabbage
1 c. frozen peas
½ c. wheat berries
1 c. cooked black beans
1 c. cooked elbow macaroni, cooked
Sauté onion, celery and garlic in oil and butter until tender. In a large pot combine sautéed vegetables, meat, water, tomatoes, broth, carrots and spices. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add cabbage, wheat berries and beans. Cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Add peas and cooked macaroni and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle individual servings with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Sleeping Bags

What cold nasty weather we are having. It seems to me that a large portion of the States are suffering from the cold or severe weather right now. Many other countries are struggling too. Our thermometer registered -9º last night and it is located in a pretty secluded place so I know it was probably colder than that. I can’t even imagine being forced from our home by an emergency in these kind of temperatures and hope it would never happen but it is certainly best to be prepared.

Our item for this week is sleeping bags. My personal opinion is that every person in the family should have their own sleeping bag as part of their 72 hour kits. If you live in a colder climate, it is worth the investment to buy a bag that is rated for the cold. You will pay more but it is so important to prepare to sleep warm. Besides, if you are a camper, you may already have a bag for each person. Begin checking prices now. Ask if and when the good bags go on sale and shop around. Check with Emergency essentials or any other camping or preparedness stores and see when their best deals are.

We bought our bags which I believe are rated to be good to well below zero – can’t even imagine sleeping in that – and got them on sale. Still not cheap but less money than not on sale. It make take some time to accumulate bags for all your family members but in the event of a disaster, even if you took shelter in a school or a church, you would still want a good bag for each family member.

If you don’t have bags for everyone and can’t afford to get them all at once, set a goal to accumulate one a month or every other month until you get them. Work them into your budget and start price shopping. I think in extreme cold it would be wise to also have some extra gloves, socks and even stocking caps for sleeping. These could be rolled up inside the bags so that they are there when you need them. Check now for discount prices on the one-size-fits-all gloves and stocking caps as they are being closed out in many stores to make room for spring and summer items and I found some at only $.35 a pair last week. Grab some now and put them away for an emergency.