Friday, September 30, 2011


“Abundance: A great or plentiful amount. Fullness to overflowing.”

This is one of my favorite words. I am so grateful for the abundance all around me. Much of what has led me to be so involved in preserving and preparing stems from the abundance around me. I think my grandma said the same thing in another way, “Waste not, want not!” It is true. It is so very easy to overlook the abundance around us and want more.

Let me share with you some of the abundance I’ve seen lately:

A sweet girl sharing her extra garden produce with friends and neighbors (and even a stranger).

An elderly lady picking the small, seemingly useless apples off her tree to make jelly.

A kind couple sharing their extra garden produce with friends and neighbors.

A girl freezing just a few ears of corn that would have ordinarily gone to waste, to enjoy as part of a meal later on.

We live in a world of great abundance but also in a world of much waste. It is so easy to throw out leftovers or let the last few veggies freeze on the vine rather than preserve what we can, even if it is a small amount. A little of this and a little of that adds up to something to be grateful for later on.

If you have extra garden produce this year don’t let it go to waste. Turn your green tomatoes into green tomato relish, your last few ears of corn into corn relish or maybe those last few beets into a few jars of pickled beets. Every jar you preserve adds up to something you didn’t have before. Remember that dehydrating extra produce is also a great way to preserve your abundance.

Today I want to share some of my favorite recipes; most have been handed down to me, to use things that might otherwise go to waste. Check for the abundances around you, whether it’s small amounts of produce from your garden or a neighbor, good sales of things that need to be used quickly or just something for fun. You’ll be amazed when you start looking at all the abundance around you, just how much there really is.

Green Tomato Relish – My mother-in-law

3 quarts Green tomatoes, ground or chopped fine
6 onions
3 cucumbers
3 red peppers
3 green peppers
1 t. turmeric
1 t. ginger
1 t. allspice
1 t. cloves
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. salt
5 c. sugar
4 c. vinegar
Grind tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and peppers or process in a food processor until fine chunks remain.
Combine spices, sugar, salt and vinegar. Stir over med heat until sugar is melted and syrup is hot. Pour syrup over vegetable mixture and boil until thick. Ladle mixture into hot jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Pickled Beets – My mother-in-law
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. vinegar
1 c. beet juice (water the beets were cooked in)
Top beets and scrub well with a vegetable brush until clean. (Small beets are the best but any size works well. Cook beets in a large pan until tender. The peeling will slip right off when the top is removed. Pack small beets in jars whole or cut in chunks or slices as you wish. Combine sugar, vinegar and beet juice (enough for the number of jars you are making) and bring to a boil. Fill hot jars with beets and finish filling with hot syrup. Put on new lids and add rims. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
*I have tried lots of pickled beets in my time and Never tried any that I like as well as these!

Chili Sauce – My sister-in-law Jan
*This makes a very large batch but recipe can easily be cut in half. This is a sweet chili sauce great mixed in meatloaf, any casserole or served with chips!
36 Tomatoes
5 green peppers
4 red peppers
12 small onions
4 ½ t. salt
4 ½ c. sugar
3 c. cider vinegar
3 t. cinnamon
2 t. celery seed
3 t. paprika
1 pkg. whole pickling spice in a spice bag or cheesecloth
Scald tomatoes and peel and chop. Peel onions, core peppers and grind in grinder or food processor. Mix together all ingredients in a large kettle. Cook 2-3 hours until thick, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Ladle into hot jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. YUM!

Corn Relish – A family favorite
10 cups corn
1 c. chopped green pepper
1 c. chopped sweet red pepper
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 T. salt
1 ½ c. sugar
2 ½ T. mustard seed
1 t. celery seed
½ t. turmeric
2 ½ c. white vinegar
2 c. water
Drop ears of corn in boiling water. Boil 5 minutes. Dip in cold water. Cut from cob; measure. Combine corn with remaining ingredients and boil 15 minutes. Pack into sterilized canning jars to within ½”of top. Put on cap, screw band tight. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Y: 5-6 pints.

Glazed Carrots – Ball Blue Book

6 ½ - 7 lbs. carrots
2 c. brown sugar
2 c. cold water
1 c. orange juice
Wash and peel carrots. Wash again. Cut carrots into 3” pieces. Slice thicker ends in half lengthwise. Combine brown sugar, water and orange juice in a saucepot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Keep syrup hot. Pack carrots tightly into hot jars, leaving 1” headspace. Ladle hot syrup over carrots, leaving 1” headspace. Remove e air bubbles. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process in a pressure canner - pints and quarts 30 minutes at 13 lbs. pressure (dial gauge canner) or 15 lbs. pressure (weighted gauge canner).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Cornbread

It is interesting how everyone’s appetite seems to pick up when the temperatures drop a bit. It must be an instinctual thing, like your body preparing for winter. Food just seems to taste a bit better and cravings for healthier food seem to increase.

It is also interesting that when it starts to feel like fall, that desire to cook (and try new dishes) returns. I love making soups this time of the year, even though technically it is still probably too warm, but they still taste good. I always try to serve soup with some kind of bread accompaniment, and corn bread with honey or honey butter or even jelly is one of our favorites.

Using whole wheat to make corn bread is another good way to introduce your family to more whole wheat in your meals. I have only made this recipe using ground hard white wheat but it works wonderfully and I bet hard red wheat would be good too. This is definitely one of those recipes that my grandma would have referred to as “Moorish”; it leaves you wanting more; and soon.

Try this recipe with whole wheat flour and grind your own corn into meal if you have dried corn; if not use any cornmeal for this bread. You can also adapt this recipe to use powdered eggs and powdered milk if you like.

So-Good Cornbread

½ c. cornmeal (fresh ground is awesome)
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ t. salt
1/3 c. oil
3 T. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ c. milk
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat eggs; combine with milk, oil, and melted butter. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add egg mixture in the center and using a fork, stir into dry ingredients, ONLY until mixed. Pour batter into an 8” square baking pan and bake at 350º for about 35 minutes. For a 9x13” pan, double ingredients.

Monday, September 19, 2011

First-Aid Kits

Having a well stocked first-aid kit in your home is an essential part of preparedness. It is also important to have personal first-aid kits in your 72-hour kits as well as your cars, campers and etc.

Basic list of suggested first-aid kit items vary but you can put together a kit that is as simple or complex as you want. It is imperative that you are prepared to handle serious first-aid emergencies that might accompany a disaster or any emergency that might occur.

Below is a pretty comprehensive list of suggested items for assembling your kits as well as some suggestions to making your kits complete, useable and keeping them up to date. You can customize them to fit your personal situation. Be sure that you include enough items to make sure you can handle any crisis that might arise if medical help is unavailable.

1.Update your first aid kit every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to replenish and check all supplies. Expired or contaminated items should be replaced.
2.Check with your family doctor for any specific medicines and first aid supplies your family might require for an emergency.
3.Some items may leak or break open. Using tubes, plastic bottles, or Ziploc bags can help prevent contamination.
4.All first aid supplies should be labeled and organized for quick and easy use.
5.Supplies may be divided and organized into compartments or sections for easier access when using your first aid kit.
6.You may include any other first aid items you feel would be useful or necessary.
7.A condensed version of this first aid kit should also be included in your 72 hour kit.

Standard First Aid Kit Supplies*
•ABD Pads (large absorbent sterile pads to stop bleeding for larger wounds)
•Ace bandage
•Adhesive bandages
•Adhesive spots
•Alcohol wipes
•Allergy medication
•Ammonia inhalant
•Antibacterial wipes
•Antibiotic ointment
•Antiseptic toweletts
•Antiseptic ointment
•Any critical medical family histories
•Bicarbonate of soda
•Burn bandages
•Burn ointment/spray/gel
•Butterfly bandages
•Calamine lotion (sunburn/insect bites)
•Consecrated oil
•Container (metal, wood, or plastic) with a fitted cover (Watertight)
•Cotton balls
•Cough syrup/cough drops
•Diarrhea remedy
•Disposable blanket
•Elastic bandages
•Extra large plastic bandages
•Eye drops/eye wash (Sterile)
•Eye pads
•Feminine Hygiene (Pads will double as compresses)
•Fever reducing medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen
•Fingertip bandages
•First Aid Booklet (including CPR)
•First aid cream
•Gauze bandages
•Gloves/ latex
•Hand sanitizer
•Hemostats – for stitching
•Hot and cold instant packs
•Hot-water bottle
•Hydrocortisone cream
•Hydrogen peroxide
•Immunization records
•Instant ice packs
•Iodine prep pads
•Ipecac syrup (induces vomiting)
•Knuckle bandages
•Lip ointment (chap stick)
•Measuring cup
•Medical tape (waterproof & regular)
•Medications for children (if applicable)
•Medicine dropper
•Micropore tape
•Nail clippers
•Needle and thread
•Pain reliever
•Paper bags
•Plastic bandages
•Prescribed Medications
•Razor blades
•Rubbing alcohol
•Safety pins
•Snake bite kit
•Sponge packs
•Sterile strips and pads/ Extra large too
•Surgical tape
•Tourniquet kit
•Transpore tape
•Triangular bandages
•Water purification tablets

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Case Lot Sales - A tip and A Recipe

I love shopping the case lot sales for 2 reasons; the obvious is that it makes me feel like I am doing something really tangible and visible for my preparedness; it is kind of a feel-good thing. Second and more obvious it helps me to stock up on things I may be low on at a better price.

Actually shopping the case lot sales does several things. It gives you an opportunity to buy what you need at a lower price. You can probably purchase most of your canned goods at a dime or more cheaper for each can. With a box of 20 cans, you've already saved $2, just on one item you use regularly.

You are also making things easier on yourself. You have the cans of the things you use most in stock without having to run to the store. It gives you a kind of head start if you remember to keep a list of the things you used and replace them regularly so you always have at least a case of those items on sale. It is harder to catch up if you wait until you have used the whole case before replacing those items and it seems harder to spend the money for another case than it would a can or two at a time.

Peace of mind is a valuable thing. It is hard to put a price on it. With the economy in a terrible state, we all know how hard it is to shop these days and not be so discouraged at the rising prices. If you have ever known anyone –especially yourself – who has had to live off their food storage because of job loss or another setback in family income, you understand what tremendous asset food storage is. You just might be able to buy some peace of mind after all.

One thing that is the hardest for me when I am able to shop the case lot sales is that when I know I have X amount of money to spend on cases, it does go really fast. It is so important to sit down and make a list of the cases you really want to spend your money on. I used to always buy a case of cream of chicken soup and, aside from cases of meat, the soup was probably one of the biggest chunks of my case sale budget. Ouch! Now that I know I can make cream of soup substitutes for just pennies, I don’t waste my money on that any more.

I love having good quality canned meats in my storage and fruits and vegetables. Tomato sauce is also wonderful but if you are now converted to tomato powder, you are saving money there. Making my own gravy and spice mixes also saved me money. Canning jams, jellies and syrups helps too.

Before shopping the sales, if possible, obtain copies of the sale circulars, these are usually posted online. It’s a good idea to pour over these and be very selective as you make your shopping lists. If you make up a list of 15-20 of your favorite meals that you make the most often and then purchase only the case good times that you use the most it helps so much. I found that when I get in the store I am tempted by many “cheap” deals on convenience foods that promise time saving meals. It’s so much better to make them from scratch and save your money for other things. A good comprehensive list of not only your favorite meals but also canned items you use the most cross-referenced with the sale ads will save you time and money as you shop.

Watch for things that are not that much cheaper by the case. For instance a case of cooking oil may be a great deal but if you won’t use 12 bottles of oil in the next year, just buy 6 instead. A case of cake mixes may be a really good deal, but knowing that cake mixes come on sale pretty often may cause you to just buy a couple or even make your cakes from scratch.

Don’t be afraid to make a list of your most important items that you want to buy cases of. Go through the store and purchase and pay for those first then make another trip getting your second most important items next. Sometimes shopping in shifts helps you to not be tempted to purchase things you don’t really need a case of. If you have money left at the end of your shopping trip then you can go back again and pick up some things you may have passed over before.

One more thing that has helped me many times when I shop case lot sales is to make a list of all the meals I could make from the items that I have in my house without buying any other items. Survey your list and see how many meals you can make. Then make a list of meals you can make with just picking up an item or two to enable you to make a complete meal. Add those few items you are out of to your list.

I think the best advice I ever got was to make a list of 15 meals that I could make using canned or shelf stable items. Write down all the ingredients to make those meals. I did this on a spread sheet. Then I times those meals by 2 and have enough meals for a month. If I multiply by 3, I have a 3 month supply. List all of the ingredients you need to make those meals that many times. This is not necessarily your shopping list but it is your planning list. If you know that you are going to need 12 cans of black beans for instance, you can work at acquiring 12 cans of black beans. Once you get those 12 cans, make sure you always have 12 cans on hand.

I made a list like this for a 3 month supply, including just the dinner meals for 3 months. I carried the list in my purse for some time before I was able to cross everything off the list; once I did, I had enough food stored for 3 months of dinner meals. Then you can work on breakfasts and lunches. It is surprising when you make your shopping spread sheet for your 3 month supply, just how much you can actually find and cross off your list without too much trouble. It is just getting it done that is the hardest.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on cases. Every little bit helps if you are wise in your choice. Planning your shopping trip is as much work as the trip itself. Set your goals and make your list and carry it with you till you accomplish your goals.

Tip of the week

I have always struggle with hard water buildup in my dishwasher and it seemed I just couldn’t get on head of it. I’d clean it with white vinegar periodically but it was not long before that nasty buildup was there again.

I tried a new tip this week that I think is a keeper. Just fill you soap cups in your dishwasher with Tang Orange Drink Powder (I used the generic brand that I bought in bulk for just a few cents at Winco) and set your dishwasher to run through the regular cycle with an empty dishwasher. I am going to do this on a regular basis.

I am happy to have my computer up and running again with all my preparedness info and documents still intact – thank you PC’s Unlimited! I have been canning like crazy all week and am a little behind in – well, everything. I just wanted to share a recipe I tried this week and loved. It is for Peach-Raspberry jam. It was easy and I love it. If you are still doing peaches you may want to try this one. I think it’s a keeper.

Peach-Raspberry Jam
5 cups peeled and mashed peaches
5 c. sugar
1 ½ c. raspberries, fresh or frozen or use a 10 oz. pkg. frozen raspberries, thawed
1 package (3 oz.) raspberry Jell-O
Mix sugar, peaches and raspberries in a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a rolling boil. Stirring constantly, boil for 15 minutes. Thoroughly stir in raspberry Jell-O. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe rims and add new lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Y: 8 half-pint jars

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Wheat Meat "Beef Steak"

We’ve been discussing the methods for using gluten to make wheat meat. Today I will pass on the instructions for making “beef Steak” using gluten.

The first thing to remember when attempting this is that this is wheat gluten, not beef steak. However, with a little practice you can make a satisfactory beef steak substitute.

Wheat Meat Beef Steak

Follow the methods for making wheat gluten we have already discussed. Beef steak is made by rolling and stretching the gluten as thin as you can. It is very springy and bouncy, but keep rolling and stretching as you go and eventually you will be able to stretch it thin enough.

Use a very sharp knife to cut into steak shaped pieces; drop these pieces into a pot of boiling broth made from 4 Tablespoons beef soup base and 2 quarts water. Simmer for 2-3 hours until the texture resembles that of beef.

The texture of the “beef steak” may be improved by patting the steaks dry with paper toweling and drying in a 300º oven for a few minutes. They should resemble thin beef steaks, or cube steaks.

One way to serve these “steaks” is to serve with beef gravy, or a seasoned sauce such as if you were making Swiss Steak with a tomato base. Just remember not to simmer the “meat” in the gravy or sauce, but rather to just serve the sauce over the meat.

One thing about making wheat meat is that if you have your wheat already, you don’t have a big investment to try making the wheat meat and experimenting. You can see what you come up with and how you like it or if your family likes it. Could be very interesting and definitely a good learning experience. You’ll never know what you can do with wheat until you try!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Clear Jel

What is Clear Jel?
Clear Jel is a corn starch derivative, a commercial thickening product used by bakeries and for frozen food. This product is used the same as flour or corn starch. There are two types of Clear Jel available, "instant" and "regular".

"Instant" clear jel does not require heat to thicken. The product will thicken once the liquid is added. "Regular" clear jel, on the other hand, must be heated. This is generally the preferred type to use in products to be canned. To use Clear Jel in a hot dish such as gravy, first mix a small amount in cold water, then add gradually to the hot liquid, mixing constantly. Or, mix everything together while cold, and then heat and stir to thicken.

Instant clear jel is the most widely used and stored. However, if you wish to use clear jel to replace pectin in your canning recipes that are cooked, you should use the regular clear jel. It should be noted here that canning recipes that use regular cornstarch are not considered safe. This is a great alternative.

Advantages to using Clear Jel:
• It is clear in color when cooked.
• It has excellent stability.
• It remains smooth.
• It prevents liquid separation and curdling after foods have been frozen.
• Cream sauces, custard, and puddings may be frozen with excellent results
• It is less expensive than pectin.
• The amount of sugar may be adjusted without losing the jelling capacity.
• Recipes may be doubled, tripled or halved.
• The jam may be frozen or processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
• It stores relatively well if stored properly.

Hints for using Clear Jel:
• Any fruit jam or jelly recipe may be used as long as the product is processed for 10 minutes or frozen. Substitute 7 tbsp of Clear Jel for the pectin in cooked jams and jellies and 3-4 tbsp of Clear Jel for the pectin in freezer jam recipes. • For freezer jam follow the jam recipes on this sheet.
• Clear Jel does not dissolve easily in liquid. To help dissolve the product, mix the Clear Jel with a little sugar before adding to the fruit or juice. Here are some recipes using Clear Jel. Also included are a recipe for homemade Karo Syrup and a recipe for Homemade Cool Whip.

Homemade Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
Substitute with this for any recipe calling for a 3.5 oz box of instant pudding.
For chocolate, add extra sugar with the cocoa: use 1/2 cup cocoa and 3/4 cup sugar. Add an extra 1/4 cup of milk or so because of the extra dry ingredients.
1/3 cup instant dry milk*
2 cups cold milk*
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Instant Clear Jel
1/4 tsp salt, optional
Combine dry ingredients.
Add 2 cups cold milk and 1-2 t. vanilla; mix well.
*Note: A secret of using instant clear jel is to mix it with the dry ingredients first before adding liquid; it’s less likely to clump. You can just shake it, or use a mixer, blender, stick blender.

Cherry Jam
4 cups pitted chopped cherries
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons Clear Jel
Sugar to taste (approximately 1 cup)
Add lemon juice to cherries. Combine Clear Jel with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add to cherries. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or freeze.

Apricot and Pineapple Jam
5 cups ground apricots
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 tablespoons Clear Jel
Sugar to taste (approximately 3 cups)
Add lemon juice to apricots. Combine Clear Jel with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add to apricots. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add rest of sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or freeze.

Apricot Jam
3 1/2 cups apricots
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons Clear Jel
Sugar to taste (approximately 2 cups)
Add lemon juice to apricots. Combine Clear Jel with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add to apricots. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add rest of sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or freeze.

Peach Jam
3 3/4 cups peaches
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 tablespoons Clear Jel
Sugar to taste (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
Add lemon juice to peaches. Combine Clear Jel with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add to peaches. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add rest of sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or freeze.

Berry Jam
4 cups crushed berries or juiced
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 tablespoons Clear Jel
Sugar to taste (approximately 1 1/2 cup)
Add lemon juice to berries. Combine Clear Jel with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add to berries. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add rest of sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour into jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or freeze

Canned Blackberry Pie Filling
6 quarts fresh blackberries
7c sugar*
1 3/4 c. Clear jel
1 t cinnamon*
9 1/3 c water or juice
1/2 c. lemon juice
Combine Clear jel, sugar, cinnamon in large pan. Add water and juice and mix until smooth. Heat till mixture bubbles stirring constantly. Add berries and fold in. Remove from heat. Fill 7 quart jars leaving 1" headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 35 minutes.

Karo Corn Syrup Substitute
A corn syrup substitute without the high fructose!
Servings: Makes almost 2 cups
2 c. white sugar
3/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Dash of salt
Combine all ingredients in a heavy, large pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and put cover on it for 3 minutes to get sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook until it reaches soft ball stage. Stir often. Cool syrup and store in a covered container at room temperature. It will keep for about 2 months. Y: 2 cups

Homemade cool whip
1 t. gelatin
2 t. cold water
3 T. boiling water
½ c. ice water
½ c. nonfat dry milk
3 T. sugar
3 T. oil
Chill a small mixing bowl. Soften gelatin with 2 teaspoons cold water, then add boiling water, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool until tepid. Place ice water and nonfat dry milk in the chilled bowl. Beat at high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Add sugar, still beating, then oil and gelatin. Place in freezer about 15 minutes; transfer to refrigerator until ready for use. Stir before using to retain creamy texture. Y: 2 cups.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday - Condiments

If you are a honey connoisseur, you are familiar with not only regular honey but also creamed honey. What you may not have tried is flavored creamed honey.

This is a special treat that you can make yourself. This makes such a fun treat to serve on hot rolls or bread or a great gift to give to neighbors and friends. Here are the instructions to make it.

I’ve also included a recipe for homemade ketchup and homemade mustard. If you have never made them, you should try. It’s a fun experiment.

Raspberry or Orange Creamed Honey
Melt 2 quarts honey and cool to room temperature. Add ½ pint (1 cup) creamed honey. Stir well to combine. Let this mixture sit until it turns to creamed honey – about 2 weeks.

Take out 1 cup and set aside. (This is your starter. You will save 1 cup of the mixture – before you flavor it – to use in your next batch of creamed honey in place of the ½ cup of creamed honey you used the first time.)

Pour the honey you mixed, minus the 1 cup you set aside to save, into separate containers and flavor each according to your taste, using flavored extracts; start with a small amount of extract until you get the flavor you like. We like Raspberry and orange the best. I want to try some chocolate honey but I have not done it yet. I also think almond honey would be very good. Experiment and see what your favorite is!

Homemade Mustard
½ c. dry mustard
½ c. white vinegar
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper
2 T. white sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten
In a heavy saucepan combine mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Beat egg yolks into mixture and stir until thickened. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Cool at room temperature and store in the refrigerator.

Homemade Ketchup
1 28-oz. can tomato puree
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 T. brown sugar
½ c. cider vinegar
1 c. water
Pinch cayenne
Pinch celery salt
Pinch dry mustard
Pinch ground allspice
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 of a fresh jalapeno, stemmed and seeded (Optional)
Yield: about 4 cups of ketchup
In a blender or food processor, blend tomato puree, garlic, onion, and brown sugar. If you like a spicier ketchup add the jalapeno pepper. Blend until smooth. When mixture is smooth, add vinegar and water. Blend again until smooth. Pour into a heavy kettle. Whisk in spices, adjusting the spices you use to your personal preferences. As the ketchup cooks, taste periodically to adjust the seasonings. Remember the ketchup will “cook down” and the spices will become stronger as it cooks. Cook over medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it starts to boil, lower the heat to about medium, just until it will hold a simmer. Simmer, uncovered about 1 hour stirring occasionally. You have to be the judge of when your ketchup is ready.

To test what your ketchup will be like when it’s chilled, stick a small plate in the freezer for about 15 minutes. When you think your ketchup is done, put about a teaspoon on the cold plate. Stick it back in the freezer until the ketchup is cold. Then, taste it and see if you’re happy. The consistency of the ketchup on your plate represents about how the entire pot would be once it’s chilled. If you like it, take the pot off the heat. If you want it thicker, simmer it for another 5-10 minutes, then do the cold plate test again. When you’re happy with your ketchup, take it off the stove. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Cool it to room temp on the counter, then bottle and refrigerate. This can be bottled and sealed in jars if you wish.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Wheat Meat Roast Beef

The more I read and study about the possibilities of wheat meat, the more thankful I am for this amazing grain. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful and useful things in nature that are not only versatile but also healthy. Wheat in and of itself is an amazing thing.

I am also very grateful for those who have gone before me and studied and perfected some of these methods of using basic grains in so many different ways. This is not only a wonderful thing for anyone who may at some point have to live for a time off their food storage, this is also an awesome thing for those who for one reason or another cannot use or eat much meat but still like the taste and idea of eating meat and all those things which go with it.

To make roast beef from wheat meat, we use the same exact method of making wheat meat (gluten) that we have used in the past posts to make ground beef. There are three different methods for making roast beef. I will explain all of those today and you can file them away to experiment with when you have the time.

Roast beef made from gluten needs to be sliced paper thin and served with a sauce. When cut in strips it can be added in casseroles or Stroganoff, just before servings. Cubes can be cut and heated in barbecue sauce; for best results make sure they are no larger than a pair of dice. Here are the three methods:

1.Cloth Sack Method: Make sacks or tubes of clean muslin 2½” in diameter and 5” long. Pack full of washed, raw gluten and tie the ends securely. Place in a pan and cover with a broth made of 4 T. beef soup base to each 2 quarts of water. This involves a long, slow simmering process. You can do this on the stove top or use a crock-pot if you wish, or even in the oven at 350º. You will need to simmer it for 6-8 hours or overnight. When this is cooked well, it will have the chewy texture of beef. To achieve a chewier texture, it can be placed on a greased cookie sheet and dried somewhat in a 300º oven for about 30 minutes. You can experiment to see how you like it best.

2.Foil Method: Form the washed raw gluten into 2½” x 5” rolls. Roll tightly in foil. Simmer in water to cover for 2 hours. Unwrap and drop into boiling broth made from 4 Tablespoons beef soup base to 2 quarts water. Simmer 6-8 hours, or overnight.

3.Greased Tin Method: Fill a well-greased 1 lb. can half full with raw washed gluten. Make a broth of 4 tablespoons beef soup base to 2 quarts water and cover the gluten to a depth of 2”. Lift the ball of gluten to assure the broth reaches all sides. Place in a 350º oven for 3-4 hours until broth is nearly all gone. Remove from tin.

Here are my personal thoughts on these methods. The cloth sack method is the easiest. It may seem like more work to make the muslin bags but they are easy to make and can be washed and reused. Plus it is easy to make up several bags at one time for future use. They can be tied with string which makes for a simple way to wrap the beef.

To make roast beef in one of these ways, it is important to have plenty of beef soup base or beef bouillon stored as well as muslin, string, ingredients to make gravy or other sauces that you might want to serve with it. Lots of spices will make your serving possibilities more innumerable.

Experimenting with wheat meat is relatively inexpensive. Try some and see if you can make it an season it to your liking. I'd love to hear of any experiences in making wheat meat roast beef. Give it a try and see what you come up with!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday

I love this time of year. I love visiting the farmers markets when I can, the fruit stands and the grocers who carry local fresh produce. I only have one problem and that is that there is so much fresh goodness available that it is hard to do everything I want to do at once. I have found a few ideas that help to get everything done at once; dry some while you are canning the rest or blend some to make jam, jelly or salsa. Whatever you do, don't let the season pass without preserving some for the winter months ahead.

I'm not a great advocate of freezing fresh fruit unless you can use it up fairly rapidly because after about 3 months you loose some of that fresh goodness. I do like to freeze some peaches occasionally in small containers for lunches or to heat for ice cream toppings, smoothies or cobblers. I like having some canned peaches on the shelf as well as some of my favorite peach jam, which is quick and easy to make.

I also like canned pears but many people don't. One of my favorite things to do with canned pears (because I had children who had texture issues) was to open them and blend them to make pear sauce or chop them to make pear bread. I also loved using the canned pears in my favorite set salad, "Hidden Pear Salad". I'll post the recipes for these below.

I've been drying strawberries for snacking or to add to cereals, snack mixes and even muffins. They are even great chopped into pancake or waffle batter. I also freeze some in 1 c. portions for smoothies and my favorite fruit pie. I also freeze raspberries and some blueberries the same way, but just enough that I can use up. Many fruits can be frozen using the ICF (individual quick frozen) method if you plan to use them in jams or jellies or even some pie filling recipes. This makes it easy to wash, remove stems and spread them on wax paper and freeze, then measure and put in baggies until you are ready to can them.

Twice in the last month I've needed a quick dessert to take to a friend with a birthday, a new baby or the loss of a loved one. I have loved having frozen fruit in my freezer to throw a pie together in no time. I'll share the recipe for this delicious pie.

Tomatoes are in abundance right now. I love making the chili sauce I recently posted but even more I love slicing and drying the tomatoes. This is a quick way to preserve them. They are great in recipes or just plain. Try them with a dip served like a chip. They have so much flavor. I also love canning stewed tomatoes. They can be eaten straight from the bottle with a little salt and pepper or sugar, used to make a fresh salsa or added to any soup or stew. They are so delicious.

Corn is just starting to come on here. I freeze enough for a few meals but general use the rest in fresh corn salads, eaten off the cob or bottle some corn relish which I have posted before. I want to first share the easy pie that I love to make (AND EAT) and is a great way to share your fruit with friends and neighbors. I'm including some of my other recipes that use these fresh fruits in different ways.

Take advantage of all the harvest goodness that you can. It's a shame to let it go to waste.

Berry Cheesecake Pie
2 vanilla wafer pie crusts
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. cool whip
1 pkg. raspberry or strawberry Danish Dessert
1¾ c. cold water
1 c. frozen sliced strawberries
1 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. frozen raspberries
Whipped cream
Blend cream cheese powdered sugar until smooth; stir in cool whip. Divide evenly and spread over the bottom of the two shells. Combine Danish Dessert and cold water. Bring to a full boil and boil 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in frozen berries. Cool slightly; Pour over cream cheese layer. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream around the edges (looks very pretty) or on individual slices of pie.

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

Peach Jam
15 c. peaches, crushed
15 c. sugar
5 packages orange jell-o
Boil peaches and sugar 10-15 minutes. Add jell-o. Stir until completely dissolved. While mixture is boiling, bottle and seal. Water bath 10 minutes.

Hidden Pear Salad
1 can or bottle (16 oz.) pears, liquid drained and reserved
1 pkg. (3 oz.) lime jell-o
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ t. lemon juice
8 oz. cool whip (or 1 envelope dream whip mix)
In a saucepan, bring reserved pear liquid to a boil. Stir in jell-o until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature till syrupy. Puree pears in a blender. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and lemon juice until fluffy and smooth. Add pureed pears and mix well. Prepare whipped topping (if using Dream Whip mix) or use cool whip and fold in cooled Jell-o. Pour into a jell-o mold or a quart dish. Chill overnight. Y: 6-8 servings

Pecan Pear Bread
1 c. sugar
½ c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
¼ c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. soda
½ t. salt
¼ - ½ t. cardamom
½ - ½ t. cinnamon
1 ½ c. chopped peeled pears
2/3 c. chopped pecans
½ t. grated lemon peel
Combine sugar and oil. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to sour cream mixture and mix well. Stir in pears, pecans and lemon peel. Spread batter into a greased 8x4x2” loaf pan. Bake at 350º for 65-75 minutes or till toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely. Y: 1 loaf.

Stewed Tomatoes
10 c. chopped tomatoes (about 18 medium)
1¼ c. chopped celery
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
½ c. sugar
2 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 T. salt
Scald and peel tomatoes and chop as fine as desired. Put onion, celery and peppers in small pan with a little juice from tomatoes. Boil about 10 minutes and add to tomatoes along with sugar, tomato sauce and salt. Bring to a good boil and boil about 5 minutes. Put into hot bottles and seal. Process pints and quarts in boiling water bath.

Tomato Sauce from dried tomatoes
1 c. tomato pieces
1 c. water
In a pot, combine tomato pieces and water. Let sit for about 15 minutes until dehydrated. Use in any recipe calling for tomato sauce. Y: 1 1/3 c. tomato sauce