Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making self-rising flour

I found this on this blog and to make sure that I don't ever lose it I thought I would post it to my blog, too.

Make Your Own Self-Rising Flour
Take 1 cup of flour, add 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tbsp. of baking powder. Mix all ingredients. This can be used in any recipe that specifies self-rising flour.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't Get Behind in FS

Food Storage Ladder

I often think of my food storage preparation by envisioning a ladder. As best I can I place the rungs in the most likely to occur order of events. This helps me to prepare for every needful possibility.

I start at the bottom and think of the things that I would like to have on hand if there was only a temporary, regular shift in our life like that of a job loss. An emergency that took our funds and forced us to shift focus, like medical bills or car repairs would be another example of the bottom rung. These kinds of emergencies would mean that I could still use all my freezers, refrigerators, stoves, appliances, electricity, have running water, etc. I just would like to have as much on hand as possible so that we could live on the comforts to which we have grown accustomed.

The second rung on the ladder is to prepare for a power outage. Still a normal inconvenience that happens in regular life. Whatever the case may be that caused the power lines to be down temporarily, I would like to know that I have the necessities to still feed my family without a stove, keep the house warm, running water (in the case of an electric well-pump), and have a way to keep my frozen food frozen.

The third rung on the ladder is a natural disaster like earthquakes and tornadoes. Many times we are forced to evacuate during natural disasters and so my ladder should also include Faith to prepare me for events that would cause my preparation to be outside of my own house. I would find that circumstances requiring that I leave home will be the ideal time to be thankful for our 72-hour kits.

When the disaster allows me to stay home I still must be prepared for inconveniences that are caused by them. Perhaps the grocery stores are down, electricity and water are interrupted. Maybe the rumbling of the quake or the proximity of the tornado caused all my foods that were canned in glass jars to break. Whatever the case may be, I would like to be prepared. Do I have alternate energy sources, water storage, ways to heat my home, and a source of food other than total reliability on home-canned foods?

The fourth rung on the ladder is a water outage. Perhaps this is more than a minor inconvenience, like a drought. Am I prepared to take sponge baths, cook and serve with dishes and utensils that do not need washing, and be excessively frugal with stored water? Concerning all of my dehydrated foods, did I use them first while I still had water available so that when it came to this rung I had foods in my pantry that didn't require so much water? Perhaps I have canned beans instead of relying on those that need to be soaked. This is not the time to put pressure on my food storage plans by requiring an unreasonably large reserve of water. I would like to maintain my water for hydration and sanitation.

The fifth rung may have even been combined with one of the previous rungs, or may only now be an issue. Most likely the grocery stores are no longer available. I know that during major natural disasters, even for those folks who were not directly effected, find that the grocery stores are not available for miles. Am I prepared to be self-sufficient when I have no back-up by quickly running to the store to grab something I overlooked in my preparations?

The sixth rung means that I have none of the previous rungs and now even the garden is off limits. For some reason the ground isn't producing food for us and we have no fresh produce to enjoy or to replenish our stock. This is when wheat grass juice and sprouts will be a life-saver, so long as I can water them. Most of all, I will be gratefull for the life-sustaining foods that the Church has counceled me to store and have a 30+ year shelf life. Now, I must utilitize the remaining storage to its fullest potential. Do I know how?

Finally, we reach the seventh rung. This is where my total reliability is on the Lord. My obedience and preparation beforehand will now allow me to have the faith that I have done all I could and now it is up to my Heavenly Father to provide for me and my family. If he chooses to do so through leading us to a source of food that I may have been unaware was available, or to provide us with manna or quail, then this is the time for miracles. Once I have done all I can, it is no longer in my hands. It will be the time that I must rely wholly on the faith that I have followed the counsel to prepare in every needful way and to have gotten my house in order, which includes the faith that we will be taken care of in the time of great need.

That is my Food Storage Ladder. I hope that as you obtain your food storage that you keep in mind the various rungs so that you are not caught unaware and can be prepared in everything you need physically, mentally and spiritually.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Recipes - Dinner

This is where I will compile the recipes in my menu that I have previously posted.

Tamale Pie
1 pk Tamalis, Ray's Tamalis (Frozen) Large (I use about 1-2 per person)
1 Can Hormel Chili Chunky with Beans
1 can Hormel Chili No Beans
2 Cups Cheese, Monterey Jack Cheese (3 oz)
1 small onion
Put tamalis in a pan smaller than 9x13. Cut off wrappers from Tamalis. Pour all cans over top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 35-45 mins at 350 Degrees, or layer in the crockpot and cook for about 2-3 hours on low. After cooking, top with onions.

Chicken Salad
2 Cans chicken Breasts (I use part of my cooked whole chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1/2 Cup Mayo
1 tb Mustard, Grey Poupon Dijon
1/4 Cup dill pickles
1/4 Cup Celery
1/4 Cup Grapes
1/2 Cup Apples
to Taste Garlic Salt
to Taste Pepper, Lemon
1/4 C almonds, Blanched
1 stick Crackers, Club
Chop dill pickles, apples, celery and grapes. Break up chicken and then add
mustard, pickles, apples, celery and grapes. Mix well. Then add mayo until it is the desired consistency Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well agian. Serve on any type of bread or lettuce for salad, sprinkle with almonds. I serve with club crackers. (I don't measure when making this, so these are all estimates.)

Boucher Soup AKA Farm Grove Shaker & Herb Soup
1/2 Cup Butter
2 Ts Basil Leaves
2 Ts Marjoram
2 Large cloves Garlic
3 sticks Celery
1/2 med Onion, Chopped
3 chicken Breasts (I use some of my cooked whole chicken)
1 can diced Tomato
1/2 Cup Chicken Base, Knorr LeGout and about 4-6 cups water
1/2 pk homestyle Amish Noodles
1 Ts Salt
Melt butter in a large stock pot. Cook herbs, onion, garlic, celery, and chicken in butter until vegetables are slightly tender. Add stewed tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to low boil and cook until meat is tender. Taste and adjust salt. Add sugar to taste. Add egg noodles and cook until noodles are tender, stirring often. Add more chicken stock is stew is too thick. (We use Knorr condensed chicken base from GFS market. A jar of this concentrated base lasts a long time and give more chicken taste without adding high levels of salt. Be sure to check the label and buy the product that lists “chicken” in the list of ingredients FIRST and salt second.)

Teriyaki Pasta with Chicken
6-8 oz Linguine, cooked and drained
2 tb olive Oil
2-3 chicken breasts (I use from my cooked whole chicken)
1 Can Pineapple tidbits or chunks, drained
2 carrots, julienned, but like matchsticks
1 1/2 C Broccoli Florets
3/4 C Teriyaki Sauce (Use the thicker type that is like a glaze)
Boil water, begin cooking linguine. Chop carrots and broccoli (I used a bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower). Place in bowl with drained pineapple. Chop up chicken breasts into bite-size pieces). Heat large skillet or wok with oil in it. Add chicken. Stir fry for 3-4 mintues. Remove from wok, put into clean bowl. Add bowl of vegetable ingredients to wok. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Re-add cooked chicken, also teriyaki sauce and stir fry 1 minute. Drain linguine, toss pasta and chicken. Mix together and serve hot.

Irish Beef Stew
1/4 C olive Oil
1 1/4 lb Beef, Stew
6 Clove Garlic
6 Cups Beef Stock (I use boullion cubes or left-over stock from pot-roast night or a combo)
2 Cups Apple juice
2 tb Tomato Paste
1 tb sugar
1 tb thyme
1 tb Worcestershire Sauce
2 Bay Leaves
2 tb Butter
3 lb Potatoes, peeled, but into 1/2-inch pieces
1 largae onion, Chopped
3 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-Inch pieces
To Taste Salt
to Taste Pepper, black

Saute' beef before adding to crock pot and cook over night.

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, apple juice, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes.

Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)

(This recipe originally called for guinness beer and fine red wine. I substituted both for the apple juice.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Month of Dinner Plans

My menu begins as follows: I make a whole chicken at beginning of week, use carcass for making homemade broth to use for a soup of the week (some of the soups will not be shown on the Dinner Plan because they are for lunches). The chicken itself is evenly divided by the number of meals with chicken that week and reserved for those recipes - home cooked chicken makes all the difference in the dishes taste. Otherwise, I prefer Knorr condensed chicken base from GFS market for the broth or soups. A jar of this concentrated base lasts a long time and give more chicken taste without adding high levels of salt. Be sure to check the label and buy the product that lists “chicken” in the list of ingredients FIRST and salt second.

The pot-roast broth is reserved for making a dish of rice later and also as part of the broth for the veggie soup.

I also have fruit with every dinner so that no matter if I move the dinners around to suit our schedule I know there's always fruit. If we had to use the menu for emergencies some adjustments would need to be made, one I would move the fruit to breakfast.

Note: The reason there is Mac & Cheese with Tamale Pie is because my family doesn't care for the first and I for the latter. I don't care for okra, hence the green beans in combination - dh has a freezer full of Okra!

M-Whole Chicken, Potato, Peas, Peaches
T-Tamale Pie, Mac & Cheese, Okra, Fruit Cocktail and Corn Casserole
W-Chicken Salad Sandwiches made with grapes, crackers, sprouts
TH-Boucher Soup, rolls
F-Teriyaki Chicken, Corn, Pineapple
S-Sandwiches or Hamburgers, baked beans, potatoes, applesauce
S-Irish Beef Stew (made day before or in crock-pot ready for Sunday)

M-Chicken Stir Fry, Herbed Rice Pilaf, Oranges
T-Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Smoky Tomato Soup
W-Chicken and Rice, peas, applesauce
TH-Cabbage and Kielbasa, Hominy , Peaches
F-Lumpia, fried rice with peas, egg drop soup, peaches
S-Spaghetti and Meatballs, garlic bread, pears
S-Crockpot a pot roast, rolls, applesace

M-Beef and Potatoes Mix, Green beans/okra, pears
T-Mongolian Beef (pineapple, broccoli, noodles, corn)
W-Chili, cornbread/crackers, onion, cheese, peaches
TH-Chicken Rice Pilaf, Peas, Oranges
F-Pork Chops, Hominy, Applesauce, Green Bean Casserole
S-Quick Chicken Cacciatore, Garlic Bread, Peas
S-Tacos and Cornbread Sald (using left-over corn casserole set aside from first week)

M-Easy Chicken Lasagna
T-Salmon Patties or Sardines, Mac & Cheees, Fruit Cocktail
W-Stroganoff, green beans/okra, peaches
TH-Veggie Soup, Rolls, Oranges
F-Chicken and Pineapple, green beans/okra, rice
S-Green Pepper Stuffing, Corn, Applesauce
S-Sloppy Joes (crockpot version) Buns, Hominy, Fruit Cocktail

Seal a Jar with a FoodSaver!

I absolutely loved seeing this youtube video. This started my creative juices flowing so fast that I just had to get my own FoodSaver. That I did! I've dehydrated shredded and cubed zucchini, tomatoes, bananas, shredded cabbage, lemons, and apple peels so far. Then, I sealed them into either canning jars or reused jars from applesauce. I've been so excited. I will be putting some zucchini and the apple peels into the blender (separately, of course) and making zucchini powder and apple powder to add to foods throughout the year. I've also learned that I can cut cherry tomatoes in half and dry them, then rehydrate them through the winter and use as fresh! That is so exciting. To realize how many cherry tomatoes I've purchased after having watched a faithful cherry tomato plant abundantly producing tomatoes go bad because I couldn't use them fast enough. No more. From now on, I'll be drying ALL of them for use all year round.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Menu Planning

In my last post I had mentioned my painstaking efforts to create a 6 week non-repeat menu. I'd like to take a moment to share more about that and the transition into my more current menu. I've never been the cook in the family. My husband was blessed with terrific cooking skills and has served us masterpieces that I believe belong in a 5-star restaurant. He is, what I consider, an actual cook. I'm a recipe follower. He can go into the fridge, freezer and cabinet and put something terrific and tasty together in no time. Somehow, rules of the trade don't apply to him, either. He can take a steak straight from the freezer to the grill and it will taste great and be plenty juicy. I, on the other hand, have to follow a recipe in exactness. Only after I've tried it once will I begin making adjustments. No recipe - then, I can't cook.

I still remember the day the daunting realization came that for the rest of my life I would need to figure out what to eat for at least one to three meals a day. It was such a heavy load to see before me the need for education, preparation, creativity, and the implementation of all those meals. That's an average of sixty-five thousand seven hundred meals (60 years x 365 days x 3 meals a day) that I would be responsible for providing for my family and me. I had no idea where to start. I didn't know how to cook anything but macaroni and cheese from a box and a grilled cheese sandwich. Circumstances in my life forced me to learn a tiny bit of food preparation, but certainly not enough. My daughter thought all meat was called chicken. Which I don't understand since most of the time we had Hamburger Helper. Once married life allowed for me to stay home with my daughter, I began my quest to learn how to cook. It was a slow, painful, burnt and oftentimes an unpleasant adventure.

For many years I was be a wanna-be cook in the family and would plan out a few meals and make them. Then, I would run out of ideas and lose interest. It was back to my husband at that point. Poor guy! Then, last summer I was on one of those fad low-carb diets and was so hungry it finally motivated me to focus on menu planning a month's worth of meals that I've always dreamed of creating. So, instead of eating, I made a list of all our favorite foods and dishes. Even if it was something we only ever ate when we went out to eat or visited someone who made it for us... it was added to the list. I then tried to combine sides properly with main dishes. I messed that up a lot and appropriately adjusted throughout the year. I advise against having rice AND potatoes in the same meal, or beef stroganoff with mashed potatoes are some examples for my need to adjustments.

Next, I created a blank calendar to begin placing my foods into the appropriate days. I labeled the top of each day with a certain group. For instance, all Mondays were chicken, Tuesdays were Mexican, Wednesdays were oriental, Thursdays were Italian and so on. I did this because one of the complaints I would get when I did cook was "can we have something other than chicken tomorrow?" This way I was sure to spread these types of foods throughout the month evenly.

I spent the winter using this menu, improvising, modifying, and changing it all together. Then, my daughter started showing signs of being lactose intolerant and by June she had her gallbladder removed. Between the two she has to stay away from cheese, milk and excess fat. I really had to change the menu plan. Remember, it was full of favorites that we would find outside of the house at our favorite restaurants. Those didn't happen to always be healthy. They all either had cheese or some sort of initial frying of some sort. I was also hit with raising food prices. I had to change the plan.

As I explained in a previous post, I was shopping and realized I needed to know more fully what an entire month consisted of. I had been shopping weekly up to that point. So, I sat back down and revised my menu with the following considerations. I needed to reduce the frying, take advantage of our new chicken farm with chicken meals throughout the week made from one whole chicken cooked at the beginning of the week (I wish I had thought of that before - I've been spending lots of money on boneless, skinless chicken breasts), cheese can either be omitted or reduced for my daughter's sake (I don't generally use milk 'cause we don't drink it and I don't like it), food storage alternatives could be arranged, I could store many of the items on my shelf, grow it indoors, or preserve it from my garden's harvest are to name a few ideas I was keeping in mind this time.

I plan to post this menu soon. I think I'm close to finishing it. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Where to put food storage

Once a Month Shopping

The rising food prices have forced my hand to be more frugal. For the past many years I have been very careless, unconcerned, and wasteful with both my food choices, food preparation, and food use. I would go shopping every week and make it a goal to stay within $100. Each week it would be challenge to meet that minimum. I would mostly fill my cart from the produce section and that was an expensive route, especially considering how much would go bad from being forgotten about, and what was the most damaging were the impulse purchases. Many times I would forget about them and find them in a cabinet somewhere and wonder how to incorporate them into our meals.

A few months ago during my weekly grocery trip a thought came to my mind of how helpful it would be to know exactly what it is that I need every month and to purchase it all at once. That way I would know how much should be allotted for my food budget, I wouldn't waste food, waste fuel, and I would be more organized. Then, a few weeks later at church, we were counseled the same thing. I immediately got started.

Since during the year previous I had painstakingly created a 6 week menu for my family it was easy to make adjustments for our new eating plans and current habits. Now that we raise chickens for meat and eggs, I wanted to include a lot of chicken meals. I arranged my menu to allow me to cook a chicken at the beginning of the week and create 3-4 meals from that chicken and a soup using the broth I would make from the carcass. I was also considering food storage alternatives and ways to preserve as much of the ingredients from my garden's harvest as possible. When I was finished with this new plan on paper, I took my list to the store. I was nervous when I was checking out because this cart was heaping full of food. As I anxiously awaited the final cost for a month of food for my family, expecting to hear $350 or more, I was extremely relieved when I heard $178.00! What!!!!! Only $178.00. I used to struggle to maintain $100 per WEEK! That's how wasteful I had been. I know this amount will go up a bit this next month because I had not included breakfasts and I had a few lunches not yet figured out. I don't anticipate that costing much more. So, I'll be happy to maintain our food budget between $225 to $250.00 for a month.
I'll update my progress when my menu is more complete, which hopefully will be soon!