Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Comforts of Home

Instinct tells us all is well if we smell something cooking.  One of the biggest anxieties is the fear of no food, or no shelter.  This week I kept life simple with soups and fresh bread but it was amazing what  even savory onions browning on the stove added to the "glad to be home" feeling of the holidays.

Wednesday: Baked potatoes

Thursday:  Fresh white bread, pineapple, and milk for supper.  Holiday Stuffing for the party I attended.
The Stuffing was made of 9 cups cubed fresh bread, 1/2 cup butter, 1 large onion diced,1-1/2 cups diced celery, 2 tsp thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 cup cranberries all mixed with 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup.  Brown the celery and onions in the butter.  Mix all ingredients together with sauteed onions and celery.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Friday:  Joe's potatoes.  Potatoes were on sale the first of October again.  We stocked nearly 300 pounds for our family.  They are being stored in open totes in the garage.  I also bought a large bag of fresh onions.  Many onions are 4 inches in diameter.  To use the onions and potatoes before they rot, dishes like "Joe's Potatoes" are fantastic.  Brown 2 large onions cut into circles in 1/2 cup butter.  Add 7 pounds peeled, sliced potatoes (in rounds).  Cover with enough water to just barely submerge the potatoes.   Cook until potatoes are soft to a fork.  Salt and pepper.  The potatoes brown with the caramelized onions and thicken the broth as it boils down.  This dish is a Depression Dish that my grandpa would often make to feed his eleven children.  Savory onions helped assuage the lack of meat on their table.

Saturday:  Macaroni, taco flavored ground meat and tomato sauce were added together to make a variation of macaroni/ hamburger/ and tomato dish.  The children assembled all the ingredients while I went out.  They ate it all.  It must have been delicious.  I start with the macaroni-  measuring1/2 the volume that I want in the end.  So to serve 8  people 1/2 cup servings each, we needed 2 cups of macaroni.  We added 1 pound of meat, about 3 cups of crushed tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recipes are Refreshing

My thirteen year old walked in from a stressful day at school, picked up a recipe book and made custard.  I was oblivious to his project until I saw the creamy yellow pudding cooling in a bowl of ice water.  Cooking is relaxing for him.  He is not afraid to try new methods.  This custard did not set before he ate it but he has tried something I have yet to do.

Over the summer when the raw ingredients in our house were flour, sugar, milk and eggs, I made flan for the first time.  It was great fun, felt elegant but didn't use any "exotic" ingredients.  If one is a little afraid of cooking there is no better way than to read a recipe book.  I like books that are from country cooks or small towns.  These recipes are delicious, most of the time from scratch and simple.

Breakfast:  Baked Potatoes for some and leftover pasta for others with milk
Lunch/Dinner:  Chicken noodle soup - I started the chicken boiling after breakfast, peeled carrots, and chopped celery at noon, chopped the boiled chicken while the carrots were boiling in the same water the chicken had boiled, added curly egg noodles, flavored it with bouillon cubes and a little salt.  The soup served the family for lunch and dinner.  (It was ready and savory on a cold winter night.  I could take two of the children shopping with a clear conscience).

It's my turn! and Progressing in the kitchen

The six year old asserted that she could the tomato sauce for dinner.  She turned over a small trash can and started stirring the crushed tomatoes.  We added salt, basil, and garlic.  "This is good."  she said,  "But we had a lot more to do."  She went to the spice cupboard and pulled lemon pepper, brown sugar, a secret ingredient or two and began stirring.  The siblings came to taste test.  More salt was added and more sugar.  She proudly tasted the finished sauce.  We poured it over rigatoni and bow tie pasta, added grated mozzarella, some cream cheese, and Parmesan and stirred it all together.  Served with a green salad, dinner was great because we were all together around the table feeling like everyone had contributed.

18 months
My babies are nearly always close by me.  So they are often on the kitchen counters while I am peeling carrots, mixing bread, or cracking eggs.  Almost from birth they are in the kitchen.
5 Years
My children start cooking by frying eggs.  At a young age (5) they can manage cracking the shell, the results are ready to eat quickly and the possibilities of what an egg can do are limitless.  They start with a basic fried egg, then scrambled, then sunshine up, then over easy, then they create an omelet.  Each egg is eaten with relish because it is their own creation.

8 years 
Somewhere in this age range  the children graduate to creating their own hamburgers.  In my recipe collection I have the prized "Brent's Burger"  that lists the special spices he added to his burger.  It was a little too hot - too much curry but it was his and delicious.

11-13 years
Cookies are a great way to get familiar with the kitchen, a mixer, teaspoons, tablespoons, fractions and tasty products.  Everyone in the family applauds the cookie maker.  My husband could make eggs when we got married.  Then he started making cookies, now he can make caramel from sugar and water, and delicious cream cheese cakes.  Cookies were the gateway to kitchen confidence.

Then menu Monday the 13th of December:
Breakfast: oatmeal blender pancakes
Lunch:  leftover potato, carrot, beef stew
Dinner:  Pasta with tomato sauce and green salad.  Dessert  cookies from the Holiday Cookie exchange at school.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Family Ties

The power of hearing kind supportive voices who will encourage a person to surmount challenges is incalculable.  This is the power of family committed to one another.  Individual family units, extended family, church family, the friends who become family, communities that pull together, and a nation unified in goodness:  these are the units that capture the power of family.  If we didn't come from a nurturing home, we can create one.  If we don't have siblings to encourage us, we can find them at church.  If we don't know how to speak with love and encouragement nor how to build an environment that puts sparkles in children's eyes, we can find others who are so dedicated and model our lives after theirs.  Life has its challenges, God has intended for us to for us to face them together.   It is this strength that motivates mothers and fathers to forget themselves and create a home full of  peace and joy.  It is the collective strength of many such homes that fortifies a nation against troublesome times.

Breakfast:  Leftover fried Rice and bagels
Dinner:  Taco soup with hominy ( 1 pound ground beef flavored with taco favoring out of the freezer, 4 cups tomatoes diced or paste, 2 cups ( 1-15 oz can) hominy, with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp onion powder or 1/2 cup chopped onion.)

A Birthday Celebration

The children woke to the savory smell of onions browning for a potato skillet with extra fancy bagels in honor of our daughter who was turning 15.  Given any opportunity to go out on the town, invite friends for a party, play games or watch a movie, she chose to have a family party.  She said "My family really are my best friends."  So we stayed home most of the day.  The younger children went shopping for gifts while I baked a Hummingbird Cake (delicious banana cake base), made pork fried rice and steamed carrots and broccoli.  With an extra large helium balloon wishing a Happy Birthday! in the center of the table the festivity was complete.    We made a great memory.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Taming the December Circus

If there is any time of the year that has the power to stitch families together, it is this magical season.   The first snow flies and the children exclaim "This is the best day of the year!"  It is also the time when homes are most at risk.  I was shocked to listen to a friend describe her instinctual dislike for Christmas and Easter because that meant the grown ups would be drunk and the children ignored.   As an adult these scars of childhood still bleed each holiday.  The only way to find healing is to create new memories, new associations, new traditions.

It doesn't take an alcoholic home to leave the children desolate of family togetherness.  The shopping, the parties, the seasonal concerts, the ball games all crash with speed this time of year.  If not on guard, dinner is each man for himself as he comes and goes.  Children are thrown a fast food sack or a box of macaroni in the rush.   Exhaustion sets in and the magic of the holidays is reduced what can be purchased.

So, for this holiday, we are on guard.   As a mother I am going to create enticing aromas in my home every day.  Make a point to sit down together to read, sing, and eat.  We are creating memories of joy, peace, and love.  These are the threads that weave hope for future generations and give meaning to life.

Breakfast: pumpkin bread and leftover taco soup with hominy (this was soo delicious last evening we can't leave it alone this morning).
Lunch:  Canned Salmon and noodles, green beans and milk
Dinner:   A freezer meal of Upside down spaghetti while my husband and I went out on a date.

Thanksgiving Tradition

The magic of the Holidays starts with Thanksgiving.  I knew we stuck gold when the children ran in the kitchen to discover that we were rolling out pie dough.  Each clamored to make his own special pie.  We rolled out pumpkin pie shells, apple pies and cherry pies.  We baked shells for lemon meringue, chocolate silk and a special pie just to remember my grandmother, mincemeat.  Thanksgiving starts weeks ahead when I purchase the staples on sale: potatoes, carrots, frozen peas, flour, eggs, pumpkins, real butter and even cranberry sauce.  But the week proceeding Thanksgiving is the best time for sales on celery, olives, oven bags, water chestnuts,  other specialty items and of course, the turkey.  We buy an extra turkey for the next holiday and count our blessings.

Thanksgiving is a time to relish each other.  This often means that children learn to forgo their own special preferences during this celebration.  Maybe they can expect singular treatment on their birthdays but Thanksgiving is not a time to allow preferences to force the kitchen to become a short order restaurant.  Thanksgiving is a time to preserve family traditions, create memories of being together and that often requires sacrifice.

The HOW:

Our "Thanksgiving Dinner" is jotted down on a sheet of yellow card stock in my recipe book.  We check and recheck the list when we are shopping, cooking, and setting all the food on the table.  We still have flexibility to add dishes, try new recipes and introduce new favorites but we have the framework all written and it saves a lot of stress to have the Tradition recorded for use year after year.

The pies and sometimes the rolls have to be made the day before to free up the oven for the turkey Thursday morning.  We also make all the salads the day before:  drain the fruit for a fruit salad, make the Hawaiian and cranberry jello, make a seven layer salad (it stores 3-4 days better than a pain green salad), and do the prep fro a relish tray.  Thanksgiving morning we are baking turkey, mashing potatoes, steaming carrots, heating the stuffing (assembled 2-3 days ahead of time from fresh homemade white, wheat, and cornbread and put in a casserole dish), heating green beans and setting a table with butter plates, cranberry sauce, garlands and goblets.  The festive aromas and pretty tables make the eyes of the children glitter with joy.  Every one (except the babies) goes without breakfast so they have an appetite worthy of the meal.    When we do eat, we are really grateful to have food, friends and family with whom to share.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bread and Little ones

Cooking with little children can be messy.  The trick is to make them feel included without letting them destroy the kitchen.  One way my grandmother and mother kept us occupied was letting us make our own little bread creations while they cooked the rest of dinner.  We sometimes made loaves or sometimes put blobs of dough together to form shapes of animals or plants.  We baked our creations and relished the hot snack.  The kitchen experience let us feel warm and cozy beside our mother while keeping us out of trouble.

One loaf of bread:

1-1/4 cup water warm
1 TBS yeast
1 TBS sugar
2-1/2 cups flour (part white, part wheat or all one type)
1 tsp salt
1 TBS oil or butter

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add flour to make a dough that is not sticky when poked with damp fingers.  Freeze the whole batch if desired. Make scones, form a loaf, roll out sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon for cinnamon rolls, roll out into wreath shapes or snip with scissors to create a braided look,  form dinner rolls in crescent shapes by rolling a triangle, or cutting the tops of the roll, or making Parker house shapes out of circles folded and pressed together.  The possibilities end with ones imagination.  Making bread is family fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unemployment and Spaghetti Sauce

Last week a large crane truck stood in our driveway.  The men hooking tethers commented that as of this week there will be a $2600 fine to touch a tether or a hook if one has not been certified.  For construction crews fines of $500 per ladder are levied  if they leave ladders standing while going to lunch.   In Wyoming when I was a girl these risks came with responsibility.  The individual was trusted and empowered to make the smart choice.  It seems like we cannot think for ourselves any more.

What does this have to do with food and cooking?  Such regulation destroys companies yeilding unemployment.  Unemployment creates hunger.  Hunger breeds fear which further feeds government intervention.  Rarely does the government step back and empower people.  Standing on my driveway I thought I would rather be unemployed than enforce such regulation.  The question quickly surfaced "Would I let my babies go hungry?"  With a calm assurance I answered, "I am prepared.  My children have food."

Cooking at home from scratch is not as hard as one may imagine if you have never seen a mother or father prepare meals.  Almost all of the everyday meals are prepared in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.     Spaghetti Sauce is such an example.

The process is - open a can or bottle of tomatoes, add spices, add precooked frozen ground beef or meat of your choice, heat.  Serve.  While adding spices to the tomatoes, noodles are cooking.  The pasta sets the time restraint.  In 20 minutes or less, dinner is ready.

The advantages of making your own tomato sauce is that it empowers one to use the same sauce in lasagna, pizza, macaroni/hamburger/tomato dishes or a Goulash variation. Upside down spaghetti can easily be frozen, Calzones can be dipped in the tomato sauce minus the meat.  Serving a tomato base dish twice a week can easily be stretched 3-4 weeks without ever duplicating a meal.

Tomato Sauce is also a great place to govern ones health.  Bottled tomatoes  are a full of licopenes that are anti cancer agents.  Made at home sodium can be half what is in grocery store varieties.

My daughter took great pride in being the chef in creating this Spaghetti Sauce recipe.  Try it and create your own favorite combination.

1 quart tomato (crushed, diced or blended whole tomatoes from the garden)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chives (I don't often add this - She does, but she warns - not too many.)
a shake of black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp basil

Other spices and add ins may include oregano, dehydrated or fresh onions, mushrooms, hot peppers or  bell peppers.  If I am using home bottled tomatoes that are very juicy, I add 2 TBS of cornstarch to thicken the sauce enough that it will stay on top of a pile of spaghetti.   I make this in quantity (4 quarts at a time) and do once a month freezer cooking.  It is a great feeling to have an upside down spaghetti in the oven when returning from an afternoon in the car retrieving children or running errands.

Upsidedown Spaghetti 

Cream cheese (8 ounces)mixed with grated cheese (1/2 cup) sour cream (8 ounces)
Cooked spaghetti (1 pound)
Top with Spaghetti sauce  


Monday, October 25, 2010

Fruit Leather, Applesauce and Assembly Lines

Strawberry apple fruit leather sounded delicious to the 17 year old.  "Maybe we should make some as incentive"  she chimed.  Applesauce is a great base to any flavor of fruit leather one chooses to make.  As the end of apple season nears we are scrambling to bottle as much as we can.  The process is simple.  Wash and quarter the apples leaving the seeds and skins.  Cut out any bruised or worm eaten parts.  Boil until apples are soft (15-20 minutes).  We have a Victorian Juicer that extracts the applesauce and spits out the skin and seeds.  The apples we are using require no extra sugar but one can add cinnamon and/or sugar to taste.  Applesauce can be made without a juicer by mashing the apples or pushing them through a strainer.  Do what works.

The key to success in canning fruits and vegetables is setting up the assembly line.  Create enough steps to give each capable child a job.   Some responsibilities can be doubled up, some eliminated, what matters is that the job is done and everyone feels a part of a successful operation.  For the applesauce we all picked together in the orchard.  Someone sorted nice apples from worm eaten apples.  Another washed apples filling bowls of clean apples for others to quarter.  The Quartered apples were dumped in the boiling water by Mom and 20 minutes later the cooked apples were removed from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.  We reused the water for the next batch.  Another child turned the auger and punched the soft fruit through the machine.  (If the manpower is short or one parent is canning, these two jobs can be combined.)  Jars can be washed, lids boiled and the canner tended.  

We mixed 1/3 cup strawberry jello with 2 cups applesauce, spread it on a fruit leather round and turned on the dehydrator.  When I was a child we put the fruit sauces on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 100 degrees for 6 hours or spread the fruit sauces on clean plastic in the hot sun.  Some delicious combinations with the applesauce include pineapple, fresh strawberries, peaches, apricots, cherries and plumbs.  The goal is to find fruit for free by growing it or asking to harvest unwanted produce.

Teamwork and a sense of responsibility to the community in this case the family are built by canning food together.  There is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to eat the from labors of the team.  Besides it is just good.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Dinner

The hustle and bustle of preparing for Sunday dinner rivaled the Christmas Season in our home today.  Orders were given to put the butter on a plate, retrieve the baked potatoes from the oven, slice the pork roast, and place the green salad on the dinner table.  A teen age daughter was making peanut butter cookies, and the 13 year old son wanted dinner rolls.  He would have to make them if he wanted them.  So above the din I was giving directions for a simple batch of rolls (the same recipe as bread with a little more sugar and white flour)  He complained, It's too much work."  At that, I pointedly asked, "Did you say it was too much work?  Get the mixing bowl."   He proceeded to make the rolls.

"4 cups warm water" in the direction of the Dinner rolls.
"Now stir the apples for apple crisp," to the little help next to me.
"3 TBS yeast and 1/2 cup sugar" again over my shoulder to the first time bread maker.
"Could someone put the sour cream in a decorative bowl - not the 5 pound carton," called to the person who set the table.
"8 cups of flour and use the one cup measuring cup.  The four cup measuring cup won't fit in the canister."
"1 TBS salt and 1/3 cup oil or butter if the rolls are to be deluxe," concluded the roll recipe.

"Now sprinkle cinnamon on the apples and top them with this crisp topping mixture and into the oven.  You're finished making apple crisp."

Crisp Topping:  1 cup flour, 1 cup oats, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup butter cut into the dry ingredients until it is the size of green  peas.  I like to make a large batch (4X) and put it in a gallon size bag in the freezer to make Crisp dishes quickly and easily.

Finally the rolls were mixed and I formed a cookie sheet of quick little buns that raised while we ate.  The dinner rolls were a great snack 1- 1/2 hours after dinner had been cleared. Undaunted, we sat together, we ate together and laughed and cried a little as we talked about the future husbands and wives of each of the children.   The feeling of excitement, anticipation and family at Christmas Dinner isn't much better than a Sunday Dinner together.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dinner Tables and Budgeting

Originating in Government accounting the budget outlined the "balance sheet of the actual income and expenditure of the past year, and an estimate of the income and expenditure for the coming year."  Another definition referred to the "amount of money needed or available for a given purpose."  The Family Dinner Table is where we budget more than just money.  We budget components or our family relationships.  We evaluate our spiritual,  mental and emotional ties.  We see where we are lacking and budget to meet that need.  We budget our time.  We budget our energies.  We budget our resources.

It is a novel idea that as our society becomes increasingly affluent, money ceases to be the chief budgeting catalyst.  Very often it is time, or energy that is limiting our lifestyle choices.  If for extended periods our energies are the only constraint, our health will begin to fail.  If money is the only reason we don't do something, then when money is plentiful is the activity approved without constraint.  Let us make more budget controls in our lives.  Let the Family Dinner Table be a chief budgeting tool.  If any activity will interfere with the family dinner hour, it is overextending our family budget.  The goal is to balanced budget sheet.   At dinner we can see each other face to face, perceive body language, hear with our hearts and serve with our hands.  In a literal sense we pass the salt, serve the food, refill drink glasses and learn to see and perceive needs of our loved ones gathered around the table.  We can learn of schedules, appointments, and opportunities for each member of our family.  For example if a child wants to have friends over to play, we discuss as a family the time constraints, the mode of transportation, the proposed length of visit, the planned activities, the food required, and the benefit to friendships versus the expenditure on family relationships.  We can budget our time and resources to meet appropriate needs.

Dinner tables can work magic in adhering to a budget far beyond money.  We need to set a budget on the amount of time we socialize, the amount of time we use  electronic media, the degree to which we use any good thing.  Children need to see parents use constraints not because they have to but because it is the right thing to do.  Do we only stop spending money when there is no money to spend?  Is the only time we stop yelling at each other when there is no one with whom to yell?  Is the only reason to cook at home when we cannot travel to a restaurant?  Do we buy on sale whether the items are needed or not?  Constraining ourselves to prioritize family dinner hour because it is the right thing to do will balance the budget in a multitude of areas.  Our families are our priorities.  Our children are our greatest treasure.  Our marriages were created to protect families.  Let us do the right thing and protect our children, our marriages and our families.  Let us govern our homes wisely.  Lets eat together.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Making Pizza

Thanks for the encouragement. Please forgive the delay.  Integrating into three school districts, two falls sports and four children in Susuki violin along with the usual piano times six children, laundry and grocery shopping for ten makes posting difficult but I am aware each day and sending mental encouragement.  I hope that mothers and fathers who feel overwhelmed by schedules, inadequate because of low self esteem, or simply at a loss because of lack of knowledge will make family dinners a priority.  There is no compensation for the unity that comes as we feed each other socially, emotionally and physically.

Last months we made Pizza.  I assigned the 8 year old to make the dough, the ten year old volunteered for the sauce and the six year old relished the pleasure of preparing the crumb topping for the apple crisp.  The results were astounding.  The food was wonderful but the compliments that flew and the glowing eyes that spoke "I did this!" and the sheer pleasure of squishing the butter and the sugar and flour together made the experience priceless.  We price compared a 12 inch pizza on sale for $3.30 (I've also seen them for $2.25 at the discount stores) with a homemade version.  Our homemade pizza with  1 cup of real cheese per pizza cost about $2.30.  Our homemade meal  was well worth the effort to watch the growth in our family.

Pizza Dough ( out of  Betty Crocker's Cookbook 1978)

1 package dry yeast ( 1 TBSP)
1 cup warm water (Baby bottle warm - slightly warm on the wrist)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour  ( can be white or wheat or mixed)

Pour water into bowl, Add yeast, sugar, flour, salt and oil.  Mix.  That is all.  We let it sit while we grease a stone, an old glass turntable from a microwave, or a cookie sheet.  Then we roll it to desired thickness of crust - thin or thick.  It raises a little as it bakes.  Crispier crusts are made in hotter ovens (425 degrees F) on stones or glass.  Bake for 12-18 minutes depending on toppings.

Tomato Sauce in the next post-

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mothers and Fathers

Every parent knows they cannot raise their children with out help.  Acutely aware of my own failings and weaknesses, I am grateful for family mealtime because of the opportunity it affords.  Today I am grateful for another excuse to pray.  As we offered thanks for our food, I petitioned God's intervention and aid in behalf of my children.  Three meals a day give me three more chances to approach the only Being who will be able to make a lasting difference.  Thank goodness for meal times.

The HOW:

Today I taught the children that rice triples its volume.  One third cup raw rice yields 1 cup cooked.  We cooked three batches of differing amounts but the same ratio 1 part rice 3 parts water.   The rice boiled, the girls stirred periodically.  When the water had all disappeared we turned off the stove and covered the pans.
We served the rice as 1)the starch under hamburger gravy, 2) rice pudding for breakfast the next morning, 3)  Spanish Rice for the next Dinner and 3)leftovers for Breakfast the next morning.
Then on Thursday evening we made a stew out of the leftover hamburger gravy.   The week flowed smoothly with food prepared ahead that everyone loved.

Rice is a food storage basic.  Twenty five pounds lasted the whole 11 weeks when combined with our normal diet this summer.  It is a grain of choice for people suffering from allergies and costs less that $.03 per serving.  Cooking rice is a basic skill everyone should feel comfortable doing.

Spanish Rice:

onion. chopped
onion powder
chili powder
chopped celery
tomatoes (sauce, diced or fresh diced)

Ratios are about 3 cups rice (already cooked)
1 pound browned ground beef
1 small onion
1 tsp onion powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup dice celery

Methods: Brown the ground beef in a little oil, add onion, celery, green peppers until meat is down and onions are clear. Add tomatoes and spices.  Stir on stove top of put in casserole pan and heat through.  This dish freezes well.  If starting with raw rice add three cups water with one cup raw rice then add browned meat and spices.

Other possible flavorings:  bacon, green peppers, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar


Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day - Accepting Risk

Good parents help their children accept risks.  It is a risk to go to school, to say "Hi" to a stranger, and to try a sport never before attempted.  Our nation has reached its greatest heights of success because of brave individuals, teams, a communities that wanted to take a risk starting a small business, introducing a new flavor of ice cream, or a new way to market a hamburger.  So on Labor Day when we celebrate the working citizens of America, I will celebrate those who take the chance to be successful even if it mean giving up the security of a guaranteed paycheck.  I will celebrate parents who create safe ways to for their children to take risks in their homes.  This builds creative and self assured individuals.

Today, our family ate at a Mongolian Grill that allows each person to not only pick the meats, vegetables and pasta's in his stir fry but it also lets the patron pick the flavors in which to fry the mix.
My children have enjoyed trying squid, tofu, baby corns, and a flavors as basic as a sweet and sour to a garlic hoisin sauce.  The adventuresome  have made both terrific and awful creations.  If it doesn't work then starting over is permitted.  The not so eccentric can assemble a simple version of Ramen noodles, but if he wants to eat, every person has to create and take a risk that it will taste good.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dinner tables, Family and God

Feeding our families as we sit together around a meal table glorifies God as a real presence in our lives. Through 2010 our family completed two food challenges: one to stay out of the grocery store for three months and one to live off only the food I could buy for less than $50.00 per person per month. This last month was a challenge of it's own to move - albeit only a few miles- and still put a meal on the table. All of these challenges have given me pause to ask why? Why go to the effort to cook, to sit down together, and to eat home prepared food? The answers are many but surprising to me is that the main reasons we put food on our shelves to use in our homes on a daily basis are to nurture relationships with people we love. Those relationships are strengthened by the sacrifice necessary to cook, the work required to prepare and provide food and the ensuing feelings of love that flow when our hearts are in the right place. These fundamental benefits reaffirm that there is a God and that He loves us. In an atheistic paradigm, humans only sacrifice to preserve themselves not out of a desire to nurture a relationship with a child, husband or wife, or friend that we want to share forever.

These next few months posts on this blog will continue to be more of the why along with the how. I will attempt to start at the beginning to teach the very basics of cooking.  I will teach and post what my six, eight, and ten year old daughters are learning as they cook with me.  For many of you who never had a mother who cooked - here is an example of what goes on at our house.  Each house is different and each mother or father is different.  Food preferences are different so the biggest lesson to learn is there is no right or wrong way to prepare food in your home.  Gourmet chefs follow specific methods and I am not a gourmet cook.   We are going to try and enjoy one another as we feed our bodies through creative adventures in the kitchen.   On discouraging days I will remember that God loves to Create and the relationships we create as we prepare dinner only further His greatest objectives on this earth.

Thanks for patience and support - until tomorrow.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 82 Friday The Last day of this challenge

I am quitting early. Tomorrow we go on vacation. I have learned what I wanted to know from this challenge. It is entirely possible to live on $50.00 a month per person at the same time building reserves and building a supply of food in our homes. I spent $21.00 for milk and produce then $32.00 for more staples yesterday. Total for the month =

If I were to be generous and say we saved between $300.00 and $400.00 a month the last 3 months (If a normal budget were $100.00 a month per person), that would represent a $900.00 to $1,200.00 saving in just three months. That much money could go a lot of places in a new household. Even if a family only lived this frugally three months of the year, that is a significant savings. It could pay for Christmas, a washer and dryer, a vacation, bills, and accumulate for a down payment on a home. It requires a lot of discipline and a desire to stick to a goal but it is possible. More Americans could use that fiscal discipline to get their finances in order, to build their storage, and to give their children a legacy of Success. Where there is a will, there is a way.

I'm signing off for now having conquered the question "How can I afford to buy food to stay on my shelves?" In future posts I hope to answer the question "How?" Just how does a person cook from scratch nearly 24/7? How does one find the time and How does one ______ ( cook rice, macaroni, hollandaise sauce, Alfredo, muffins, etc...) Let us be willing to learn, to broaden our experience so that we need not fear. Thank you for all the support and insight everyone has shared along the way.

Day 81 Thursday Final Thoughts

Day 80 Wednesday Final Lessons

Day 79 Tuedsay

Again friends going the extra mile provided a what served to be our dinner - fresh peach pie. It was absolutely divine and the only thing ready to augment bread and butter for dinner. Thank you.

Day 78 Monday Render Service

On Saturday I took 15 minutes to help our new neighbors weed their flower beds. That service was returned with a gift of Zucchini bread. The delicious bread fed our family breakfast today.

Day 77 Sunday

Day 76 Saturday

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 75 Moving Day

Grandma purchased cold cereal, a vegetable platter, bread and paper ware. We had paper ware on the counter but the extra food we'll gladly eat. I made rolls for sandwiches today and if we were living of the virtual shelves we would have been eating a lot of ham and turkey sandwiches. I have not made pizza. With Grandma's extras we won't need to. The fresh fruit is proving a wonderful snack round the clock. And al is well.

Day 74 Breakfast party

The college age children cooked a big breakfast treating us all to chocolate milk, orange juice and bacon. The staples that were used from the virtual shelves were flour and oatmeal for pancakes, ham, eggs for scrambled eggs. All the extras I would not have purchased but they are preparing to wind up their summer and wanted a splurge. It created a great memory and lots of leftovers for the next two days.

Day 73 Sales

The big purchases today were 2 lugs of peaches and 1 lug of fresh bing cherries. The peaches were on sale for $.39 cents a pound and the cherries for $1.00 per pound. Total: $31.00. The children are loving eating all the fresh fruit they want - it is cheap and if not eaten will go bad. If I weren't moving, I would bottle this fruit at these prices. So far so good on getting bread made and meals ready. It was a relief to have a friend bring in dinner tonight. We were gone for hours tying up loose ends on the new house and it was nice to have a meal to throw in the oven. Grandma also came to help so she made salad for a side. It is wonderful to have back up kitchen support.

Day 72 Baking on the Side

We successfully made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and snacks yesterday and today we made a large chicken soup, started thawing a ham from the freezer that I bought on sale at the end of April for $9.00. Other receipts for he last 10 days are $45.00 fresh produce, $21.00 produce and milk on Monday, Crystal light, deodorant, and ice cream bought by the man in the house totaling $32.00, two cans tomato sauce off the real storage shelves costing about $5.00. Total $112.00. Total on month:

Day 71 Fresh fruit

We served Honey Dew melon, blueberries, and French toast for breakfast. the melon and berries were a dollar a piece divided between 10 people makes $.20 per serving. The french toast cost .05 per slice plus about .05 cents of eggs and milk per person. Total cost of the meal $.30 for a gourmet place to fresh fruit and French toast.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 70 Moving - Difficulty of Living Without

The stakes are up. We are moving to a new home 10 minutes away the end of this week. The whole house is in boxes or being sorted. How am I going to feed 12 people, do laundry for 12 people, sort, pack, go to the dump, donate to the second hand store and still stay in budget? These times are when the reality of convenience makes it simple to eat out, to order in pizza, and to do whatever needs to be done to maintain sanity. I cannot cope that way and stay in budget. This will take a plan. As long as there is food to eat, we will be happy staying at home - if there is nothing my husband will offer to pick something up and I will say yes.

Plan: bake cinnamon rolls, cookies, and muffins along with plenty of bread and hoagie buns with 1/2 white flour. Freeze several Pizza crusts so we can make a pizza in 5 minutes.
Leftovers: Make a chicken soup to last half the week.
Shop: get mozzarella cheese and more tomato sauce this week so we can have pizza. Don't forget carrots and celery for the chicken soup.

We are out of chicken breast, out of potatoes, out of carrots.... Why do people intentionally live without supplies in their homes? I hate it. I really dislike not having a choice of all the food I want on my shelves. This exercise has plainly taught me that I never want to live this way again. I like having dried milk and all the flour and wheat I could ever want along with all the extras. Rationing and planning and going without every week is draining. We are making progress on building the virtual supply - the food I can store on only $50.00 per person but it is slow. If I took $100.00 per person, building reserves would go much faster. Being prepared is so much easier.

Day 69 Sabbath - Feeling Hungry

The last two days any time someone looked in the refridgerator, they saw milk, salad dressing, mustard, and a jar of picked jalepeno peppers. There have been no leftovers. If they missed the meal, they were hungry. I thought this whole exercise is more for me as a parent to be disciplined enough to let consequences fall. It is difficult. I would rather fix food. The absense of food gives room for a particular kind of gratitude. The children and my husband are hungry enough to eat anything.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with toast. (I bought 5 dozen eggs this week. It is nice to have all we want to eat.)
Lunch: Navy beans cooked with a ham bone in the pressure cooker. We spread the flavored beans on the whole wheat rolls. One child thought that this dish was unappetizing and would not eat. But my husband and other children were hungry enough to venture a try. They liked it and declared it good.

Dinner: Aloo Gobi with the last of the potatoes and cauliflower, chicken fried rice (boiled rice, fried chicken, celery, and some scrambled eggs with lemmon pepper and salt), steamed broccoli from the garden, brownies from scratch and ice cream. Everyone was full, there were leftovers, and my husband washed all the pans and dishes. Bless his heart.

Brownies cookie sheet size:

6 eggs
4 cups sugar
2 cups margarine (butter is preferred)
2 TBS vanilla
2 tsp salt
3 cups flour (can be whole wheat)
1-1/2 cup Nuts (optional) I left these out - nuts are not on the virtual shelf.

Day 68 Bananas

Saturday morning began with a large batch of banana, oatmeal muffins. The bananas that I bought last week were half price ($.20 a pound) so I got a lot of them. It was wonderful for the children to eat as many of them as they wanted for a couple of days but they soon were too ripe. I put the remainder in the freezer. It is nice to be able to pull them out now and use them to flavor baked goods or substitute for eggs in crepes, cookies, or cakes. Today we made snicker doodles with no eggs. They turned out great.

Lunch: Birthday Luncheon!!! We finally got everyone to be home for one hour together! We had brownie cake with ice cream to celebrate. Presents and a great time just visiting and laughing.

Dinner: Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake). Some children did not appreciate this meal and went hungry.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 67 The Lack of Preparation

Pondering today what I would feed the children, wondering how I would stay on this tight budget, trying to come up with another day's meals led me to conclude that many would have difficulty living off basics because

1) They don't know how to budget.
2) They don't know how to make do with what they have.
3) They don't know how to cook what they have.

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: One son fried fish, the others had peanut butter on bread again.
Dinner: Fish baked with potatoes and carrots.

Day 66 Avoiding Fast Food

The day was a busy one. We were in the van away from home or in between from 10-5. The first 4 hours were spent shuttling children every 20 minutes between piano, summer school, swimming, home, and helping a friend move. It was a perfect day to grab a burrito or a burger. Here is how we managed to avoid fast food:

The first two hours of the day I made phone calls and scheduled appointments. I ground wheat by hand while on the phone. Enough flour was produced to make a couple of batches of bread, and cookies over the next two days. I made a batch of rolls and for lunch the children ate peanut butter on fresh wheat rolls and I quickly threw a turkey sandwich together for the older children. (Turkey lunch meat was on the grocery list this week ($2.50 per pound regular price). The sandwiches worked well - we had food on the go and avoided the temptation to eat out.

Dinner: Fish baked with potatoes and carrots.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 65 Birthday Meals

Happy Birthday to my third daughter. We will have our family together for only two more weeks this summer. I love having a full house. The desire to spoil them all with great meals and "homey" memories is great. This challenge to stay in a tight budget and be disciplined while building storage is - a challenge. What will I do today to make this child feel special?

We served cantaloupe and rice pudding for breakfast. I made it milk free with eggs, water and sugar. It was okay.
Lunch: Pigs in a blanket - two full packages of hot dogs wrapped in biscuit dough made without eggs and with water instead of milk.
Dinner: Her favorite - Spaghetti with broccoli from the garden.

There was no time for a real celebration today when all the family could be together.

Day 64 Paper Towels - Desperate for Dinner

I was reading an article in magazine in the doctors office last year that was giving suggestions for saving money durring the recession. It was refreshing to read something really practical: paper towels are an extra. Do without. Use old rags and throw them out. As a child we never had paper towels. Now they are almost a necessity. We simply are spoiled and it is nice to be reminded that this luxury is one we can live without.

Breakfast: Cottage cheese and toast with delicious bread my husband made last night. (He used the electric mixer. But he made bread and did a fantastic job!)

Lunch: Peanut buter and jam sandwiches, macaroni and cheese

Dinner: It is the end of the "grocery" week. I am trying not to go to the store and desperate! I am tired of trying to come up with something again and again while rationing the same ingredients! Sooo here is what I did tonight: Browned 1/2 pound of sausage, 1 package of hot dogs, one small onion and 5 small potatoes pealed and sliced in bite size pieces; boiled rice (or one could use a rice cooker), and steamed another head of cabbage, the inside stalks of celery leaves and all, and 4-5 carrots. We mixed aout 6 cups of rice with the meats added salt and served plates of steamed vegetables and the rice mixture. Everyone loved it and went for seconds until we ran out. Success!

Day 63 Building Storage Review - Stir Fry

This challenge to build storage on an extremely limited budget has taught me: 1) That money should not be an issue to being self reliant. Families that are most financially strapped should be eating from food groups that have the longest shelf life, feed the family most nutritiously, and are the easiest to store. These foods are also the cheapest: oats, flour, beans, rice, and wheat. 2) Many foods that we are accustomed to can be sacrificed. We have lived with out ketchup, sour cream, corn starch, chicken and beef bouillon, canned vegetables, disposable diapers, many cleaning agents, paper towels, and variety. It is driving me crazy - just a little. Nevertheless we are surviving just fine. The children are not complaining too much. And my confidence is increasing. I made a gravy tonight without bouillon and no one knew. Being able to sacrifice is the foundation of any progress. No one develops a talent without sacrificing time to practice, no one builds a successful business without sacrificing some comfort at the beginning of the investment. Building home storage requires sacrifice to be useful. If one just takes excess funds, buys a large storage and puts it away to be used someday, the greatest benefits are forfeited.

Breakfast: Lumberjack pancakes with white flour
Lunch: Leftover pasta casserole
Dinner: Chicken Stir fry made with a head of cabbage from our garden! carrots, and celery steamed together and chicken breast cut in 1 inch pieces browned. Then for the sauce for the stir fry: 4 cups water, 1 TBS salt, 1 TBSP lemon pepper thickened with 1/4 cup flour mixed with 1/2 cup water. We layered rice, vegetables mixed with meat and then poured sauce over the top. The family loved it.

We are out of dog food. He is eating rice mixed with leftovers and dried whole wheat bread mixed with leftovers until I can get to the store to buy dog food.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 62 Sabbath - Raising a Disciple

Raising a child that is a Disciple depends on the child's ability to discipline himself. This morning as I planned one sausage patty per person, 1/2 cup orange Juice per person and a large slice of French Toast, I felt a little badly. Part of me wants to put a huge platter of all you can eat sausage and gallons of orange Juice on the table. The responsible adult in me reasons that I could not serve that much fat even in delicious sausage and more than 1 cup of orange juice simply creates expensive urine. Soon after that thought my mothers intuition whispered that I would not want my children to eat 4-5 sausage patties just to satisfy an appetite. I want my children to stop themselves from eating unhealthy proportions of any food no matter how good it tastes. I remind myself I am in the business of raising children to be disciplined. Parents set an example of good discipline by teaching proper proportions and serving sizes. In some cases those rations are governed my budget constraints but in many where finances are not so tight parents forget what their objectives are in raising children.

I want my children to be able to sacrifice their own wants for the good of their families and communities. I want them to govern themselves instead of letting appetites rule. I marvel at God's grand design that allows us to deny ourselves and give to the poor. He wants us to learn these principles in our homes. I want my children to love God and to love our neighbors as themselves. I want to raise Disciples.

Dinner: Messy lasagna (curly noodles with all the cheese, meat and tomato sauce and spices) This casserole was given to us as leftovers from a church dinner. Salad on the side.

Snack: Root beer floats a la Dad who loves the Children to look forward to Sunday's to have ice cream!
Cinnampn toast for bedtime snack. Some children had bread and milk.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 61 Insisting on Nutrition

The morning began at 4:00 as I scrambled 7 dozen eggs and made 4 dozen cinnamon rolls for a Sea Scout Breakfast. The menu was breakfast burritos, "mountain man potatoes," cantaloupe, and orange juice. The scouts made their own hoagies with a choice of toppings including lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onions, and peppers. It is refreshing to have an adult plan a menu that is healthy for the teenagers instead of allowing themselves to be coward by pressure to "fix what they will eat." The vegetables serve to hydrate physically active growing bodies and provide lots of vitamins and minerals. The protein helps to stabalize blood sugars and protect children from hunger through out the day. Being the adult in charge means we carry the charge to be responsible. If we model good behavior, our children will more likely be responsible as well.

Breakfast at Home: toast and eggs
Lunch: Peanut butter Sandwiches with deviled eggs
Dinner: Pork chops, buttered rice, salad that Grandma prepared with celery, carrots, peppers, kidney beans and coleslaw mix (delicious)

Day 60 Food to make life easier


My daughter is giving me a sad story about not having real food. So I went the extra mile this morning and served hash browns with sausage, scrambled eggs, and toast with orange juice. All the children were sleeping as I prepared breakfast. It was reinforced that a little enticement in a good breakfast is surely more effective than a stern "Get Out of Bed!"

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: a pizza - the crust was frozen from the last time we had pizza. I topped it with leftover tomato sauce and mozzarella just as Mr. Young and I were heading out the door on a date. It is nice to have a quick meal in the freezer.

Day 59 Exercise - Shopping

For the record I kept track of the physically active things I did all day: Walking the dog, mopping the floor on hands and knees, pulling weeds for 20 minutes, mowing the lawn, swimming with the children, 60 minutes of water aerobics, vacuuming for 60 minutes total, running stairs to put laundry away. The total time was 4 hours and 20 minutes. I did not get to grinding wheat or mixing bread and we did only half the vacuuming but it was a new way to put "flow" into the day. Exercise invigorates. It was easier to do all the routine chores if I thought it was adding to my physical activity log for today.

Shopping: I feel great about today's purchases. It is a new week to buy produce. I spent $40.00 on milk, eggs, cantaloupe, spotted bananas at half price, jams, honey, baby wipes, grapes, and then $15 on shampoo, toothpaste (on sale) and 24# of margarine at $.39 per pound. This is the big storage purchase this week. This will last for 6-12 weeks depending on how many cookies we make. Butter is our bread spread of choice and when it is on sale, I will put a case or two in the freezer. It will last for months and it is a comfort to have.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with whole wheat kernels
Lunch: Peanut butter sandwhiches
Dinner: Chicken, Sausage and Rice

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 58 Miracles, Miracles, Miracles

While washing dishes my youngest son said three times, "This is my bestest day. I am so happy." When asked why he said it was because he was helping me wash the dishes. He gave me a big hug. Hugs are wonderful.

The neighbor children opened the refrigerator door at 4:30 pm and reported "There is no food to eat." Everyone was hungry and prowling around the kitchen. I was making bread. They had taken turns grinding wheat. It was a novelty for them to see the seed and then the flour and soon they could eat the bread. An hour later, I hear several feet rush up the stairs, "What smells so good?" "Fresh bread!" "Yumm" Everyone fixed a piece of bread with margarine some with honey. Everyone came back for thirds and fifths.

Breakfast: Rice pudding - made with boiled rice, cottage cheese and sugar ( 4 cups hot boiled rice, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon on top) Miracle #1

Lunch: Navy bean soup with carrots, and celery with 1 cup of tomato sauce, salt, lemon pepper, and basil. Delicious and filling. Cherry pie for dessert (Gift from a friend.) Miracle #2

Dinner: Black Bean Veggie Burgers. Fresh hamburger buns. This is the first veggie burger I have ever made. They tasted good. The children didn't eat them too well because they were so full of bread. Recipe was in a diabetic magazine purchased at the checkout. 15 oz black beans, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 2 large egg whites ( I omitted), 1 cup bread crumbs ( I put in 1/2 cup flour our bread was too fresh to crumb.)1/2 tsp garlic, 2 stalks green onion ( I used 1/4 cup yellow onion) Good. Miracle #3

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 57 Company

We had company for breakfast so I served fried eggs on toast then sent them on their way with breakfast chops, canaloupe, and Snickerdoodles. (I decreased the eggs from 2 to 1 to help conserve the eggs.)

Lunch: The last half of the watermelon.

Dinner: Homemade cheese pizza with a Bread Salad on the side. After looking on, I decided that a "bread salad" consisted of cubed dry bread, salad greens, vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, green pepper, celery, and olives all tossed in a vinaigrette.

Day 56 Celebrating

We celebrated Independence Day with a BRUNCH of waffles smothered with whipped cream and topped with blueberries and strawberries. Breakfast was a regular bowl of oatmeal but Dinner was Dad's favorite: pork chops, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and a large fruit platter of watermelon, cantaloupe, and blueberries. It was delicious. We had fresh bread for a late night snack.

I went shopping today and secured diapers and toilet paper. A six months supply of baking powder,baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, dryer sheets and garbage sacks also made it on the cart. The box of 320 garbage sacks cost 5.7 cents each versus the 8 cents each in the small box of thirty that I have purchased the last two months. Saving over half the cost of one sack is a real victory and most of all a relief to have a supply on the virtual shelves. Lemon pepper, a three months supply of Cascade, I also bought two large pork loins and cut them into packages of 3 roasts, 2 pork chops and 2 meals of breakfast steaks. Bulk sausage was also on sale so I got 3 pounds to stretch through out the month. It is nice to have more variety in meat. Expenditures: Sams $113.00, Meats $34.87, More Fruits- $11.01, Diapers $14.63 Total for month to date $220.51

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 55 Independence Day

It is the Sabbath and Independence Day. I marvel at the irony God created when He brought forth this great country. We fought and continue to fight for Independence. The only way we achieve independence as individuals, families, communities and nations is to be ever watchful of each other. Nourishment and encouragement as we strive to achieve independence are critical to success. Without each one of us loving our neighbor as himself, the pull to relenquish independence for dependence on the government, on Mom and Dad, on willing neighbors, and well meaning community organizations is too great and too many of our populous fall victim to feeling they deserve help from others. In all our actions we should be helping move ourselves, our family and our friends to more self reliance. This is true love for oneself, our neighbor, and the God who gave us life.

Parents who are still housing and feeding adult children for years have failed to preserve our nation's Independence. State governments who grow the welfare class have failed to declare Independence. National policy that stymies free enterprise and individual initiative by taxing and regulating fails to preserve Independence of its Citizens.

Today is Independence Day. Let us recommit to striving to be more self reliant, free ourselves of debt and dependence on others to provide food and shelter. At the same time let us reach out to someone who needs a helping hand. We will do the jobs that need to be done pleasant or not, We will offer judicious help. We will nourish the growth of the individual by teaching new skills, and providing access to resources enabling them to help themselves. (Education, freedom from bondage of debt and addictions, sometime a meal that offers HOPE.) Thus we become all that God wants us to be. We preserve the Independence of the Human Soul to magnify His God.

Day 54 Resourcefulness

Saturday 3rd of July

I had to smile at the resourcefulness of my three daughters today. They left home for all day as Sea Scouts without sack lunches then discovered the only money between all of them was $1.98 in the glove box of the car. Their solution was a loaf of French Bread (.98) and a pint of blueberries (.98). The food served well as a lunch for three!

Breakfast: Fried Eggs and toast, cantaloupe,
Lunch: Peanut butter sandwiches
Dinner: Aloo gobi - an Indian dish of cauliflower and potatoes and spices. I will have to "buy" cardamon, turmeric, and ginger from my real storage shelves for this dish. I can serve it every week my husband likes it well enough. The cost per serving potatoes 5# - $0.65, one small head of cauliflower $1.40 and spices (?.20) for a total of about $2.25 for a family of 10 for one meal.

Day 53 Shopping


I managed to shop for milk and fresh produce. I also grabbed napkins and paper plates for the fourth. Prioritizing the spending this month is tricky. On our virtual shelves we are out of shampoo, hand soap, baking powder, toothpaste, diapers, dog food, cinnamon, oil, baking soda, toilet paper, dishwasher soap, garbage sacks, and bread sacks. We have 25# black beans, 20 # white beans, 15 # oatmeal, 10# rice, 20 # white flour, 20 # salt, 20 cans of tuna, 6 jars of peanut butter, 5# frozen white fish, 12 # frozen chicken breast, and10# chicken quarters.

Lunch: Fried Fish and steamed cabbage with a carrot sticks
Dinner: We enjoyed cantaloupe with ice cream and fresh white bread (I didn't have the time to grind wheat.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 52 Balancing the books

Thursday July 1st! Pay Day! We are drinking a lot of ice water. Time to balance the books. Fast Food on the trip(18.00), Pizza ($25.00), Walmart on the trip ($28.00), Total=$608

Breakfast: Potatoes with beef and mozzarella cheese
Lunch: Egg salad sandwiches with leftover boiled eggs
Dinner: Cassoulet with navy beans, pork, chicken, carrots, celery, and a little tomato sauce.

Day 51 No Imagination

No milk, no eggs, no cheddar cheese, no tomato sauce, no bread, ......NO IMAGINATION! What are we to have for dinner?
I finally decided on chicken salad with celery in a lettuce leaf bed. The lettuce came from a friend's garden. It was delicious.

At 8:30 my son came home hungry for MEAT. We fried chicken breast and boiled potatoes. I went to bed.

Day 50 Doing What Needs to be Done

Tuesday - I feel a personal victory - We did not buy any disposable diapers for the trip. I managed to stretch the eight diapers I had for the driving time in the van. The days on vacation I used cloth. We made it!! My daughters think it is gross and not socially acceptable to brag about this victory. I am braver now and I am not afraid. I know how to make it through the night using cloth diapers without soaking the baby's bed. Beth Streeter Aldrige in "A Lantern in Her Hand" made the poignant observation that the tough pioneer woman whom everyone called to do all the "dirty jobs" had no more special skills than anyone else on the prairy. She just did what had to be done. Others didn't want to sacrifice or do what was uncomfortable so they called someone else.

This is intestinal fortitude - it is doing what needs to be done. Washing a cloth diaper in the toilet requires a little intestinal fortitude. With all the modern conveniences, we have lost some guts. To many Americans are too soft to do what needs to be done.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 49 Driving Home

We had boiled eggs with salt, bread, and crackers but two hours in the reod we bought more produce, salad dressing, bagels, croutons, and licorice to help us through the 14 hours driving home. But by 8:30 pm everyone was starving. I had to consent to ordering 4 small pizzas, regardless of my budget concerns.

Day 48 Sunday

Sunday Dinner - we took a cajun potatoes salad to share.

Day 47 Parenting Experiences

We made pancakes for breakfast. For lunch we ate the leftover baked potatoes, with chili and a hot dogs, and dinner was served at a family gathering. The celebration was a 50 year Anniversary party for the parents of 12 children. Each of the 12 shared a memory and or experience with his parents. The advice was precious to me. Here are some of the take away points:

1) Don't be afraid to discipline.
2) Allow children to experience the consequences of avoiding responsibility and teach them that responsibilities don't go away even when the job is disliked. (The dishes waited until the child realized running away didn't solve the problem.)
3) "Don't let Christ die in vain, repent today."
4) Keep your bearings - know where you are in the world and in life and in what direction you are heading. The small day to day decisions will get you to end destination if you keep your eyes on the goal.
5) Listen twice as much as you talk.
6) Support individuality.
7) Soap with cayenne is sometimes appropriate when fowl language is brought home. Men can keep there tongues in check even when doing the plumbing, working on cars, or watching a sporting event.
8) When bad language erupts, quietly asking "Did you have to use all that to tell me the problem?"
9) Intervene in the lives of children and do what's best for them even if it means locking horns with the school.
10) Teach children to hold their tempers, "What will it take for you to understand that you cannot act that way. If I acted that way toward you, I would be put in jail for months."
11) Play a guessing game at the dinner table to start discussion. "I am thinking of a scripture." Children ask yes or no questions until they have guessed the scripture. The family then discusses the principles therein.
12) From their example I know that rites of passage are important. Whichever girl was turning 16 was in charge of the kitchen all summer. She cooked for hired hands and the family. The oldest girl clear down to the youngest fulfilled the task. Each child carried the same summer responsibilities as a vote of confidence more than as a hired hand.

Day 46 Traveling

We left at 6:00 am for a 12 hour trip after 5 hours of restless sleep. The baby is feverish. I am at the end of the month, over budget and going on a trip that will require two full days in the van with only bathroom stops when we get gas. I packed baked potatoes, homemade granola bars, fresh wheat bread, butter, a little ranch dressing, apples, oranges, carrots, celery a 5 gallon cooler of water and we were off. The children did well all day. The thirteen year old was hungry after 30 minutes on the road. He looked at the potatoes and said, "Well, I'll wait a little, they'll taste good after a while." Bless his heart, he is patient. By 6:00 pm everyone was hungry for hot food having snacked on the available fare. I bought $18.00 of cheeseburgers with three small orders of fries. They tasted delicious and helped us make it through the last 1-1/2 hours.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 45 As Queens Ride By

Stories set a culture in our family to reinforce values my mother wanted teach. I need this story. Let me be a Queen today.

John and Jennie Mungrove had eager plans when they married and took over the old farm. But their great faith dwindled as the first years passed. John worked later and later in the evenings. Jennie took more and more of the heavy tasks upon her own shoulders and had no time for the home and children. They were no further on and life had degenerated into a straining helpless struggle.

One hot afternoon, Jennie was loading baskets of tomatoes to take to town when the children came running to tell her there was a dressed-up lady at the kitchen door. Wearily, she followed the children back and saw a woman in a gray tweed coat that seemed somehow to be a part of her straight, slim body. A small gray hat with a rose quill was drawn low over her brownish hair. She was not a young woman, but she was beautiful. An aura of eager youth clung to her, a clean and exquisite freshness.

The stranger in turn saw a young woman, haggard an weary. Her eyes looked hard and haunted. Her calico dress was shapeless and begrimed from her work.

Stranger (smiling): How do you do? We ran our car into the sake of you land to have our lunch and rest for a while. I walked on up to buy a few apples if you have them.

Jennie (grudgingly): Won't you go in and sit down? I'll go and pick the apples.

(5 pages more when I have time to post)

Day 44 The simple Things

Today, my son received three stitches in the bridge of his nose. While waiting in the emergency room, he asked for three things: Chocolate milk, apples and bananas. I smiled. It is nice to have him be pleased with simple things. We have apples and get bananas regularly (they just disappear so fast that he thinks we don't have them!) The chocolate milk is a specialty item mostly because Dad is always the one to bring it home. Lesson: if we deny ourselves of constant indulging in wants, our wants remain simple and are easily gratified. We are most content and happy.

Breakfast: Ham, cinnamon toast, milk
Lunch: Salads with lettuce, chicken, great northern beans, celery, and Thousand Island dressing (three of the children opted to make oyster soup rather that eat the salad. - oysters are not on the virtual pantry so I know another item to prioritize when restocking.

Dinner: Baked chicken quarters that had been marinating the last 24 hours and bagel rounds with strawberry jelly. (The potato salad didn't get finished in time for everyone to eat it. Left over Root beer for a drink.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 43 Work

Today as I ground flour for more good whole wheat bread, I mused over the "just why are you doing this challenge?" My upper body was getting a "nice warm glow" from the steady turning of the handle. I thought this an extra bonus to making bread - I get to sweat a little. Instantly the phrase that states "by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread" ran through my head. It gave me a little comfort to think I was following directions given by God himself. I also thought that of all the character traits I want my children to develop, learning how to work has to be one of the top. If a man can work, he is honest, he is most often humble, he develops a sense of compassion, he is never bored, he is always in high demand. A hard worker is successful.

Growing up that meant that we learned to "report." Mom would say "We have work to do." and for the next 3-4 hours (occationally and 8 hour day even as a ten year old) we would get an assignment, do it, go back to report "job done," and get another assignment. We were expected to keep coming back until released. Learning to work went beyond doing daily chores. "Work" meant doing more than they everyday dishes and laundry (those are maintenance and real work puts a family ahead). We were taught that as long as anyone in the home was working, we should all work. After I got married, it took a while for me to learn to fold clothes by myself. It seemed that it should be a team effort. I love seeing a pile of sand, river rock or mulch in someones yard. That means I can go help. That is an opportunity for team work. Team work is fun.

We also learned that work means a person gets hot, thirsty, tired, sometimes hurt with smashed toes or blisters. Discomfort is just part of the job, no complaining. Working gives team members a chance to visit and philosophize and solve the world's problems along with our own. I must say that since I have run out of money this month and I decided that rather than buy dishwasher detergent, we would wash dished by hand, I have relished the few minutes to be side by side my young daughters and hear of their dreams and dilemmas. I think we will continue to wash by hand. This morning the 6 year old reported with a glow in her eyes, "I'm drying the dishes." I love that glow! I love being part of a winning team. I love my children to feel part of a winning team.

Living within a budget, cooking from scratch, being self reliant, learning to sacrifice for the whole, are all reasons our family is completing this challenge. It is well worth the effort. I am not just being a frugal nut, I am building character that will serve many people beyond our own family for generations.

Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: Navy beans and ham soup with fresh whole wheat bread
Dinner: Cold bread and milk. Break homemade whole wheat into bite size pieces, cover with cold milk, top with a 1/2 tsp sugar. Eat. It is a poor man's cold cereal. It is delicious. It was so hot and I had set chicken to marinate, boiled another five quarters, and cooked the beans. I was tickled to have a cold dinner that required no preparation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 42 The Longest Day of the Year - Expenses this week

It is the longest day of the year. I feel like I've been awake for 24 hours. Luckily it is not the hottest day of the year due to huge thunderstorms that came through last night. I am exhausted and it is easy to lose resolve when too tired. Today I went to the store to buy fresh produce and milk for the last week of the month. I should have lettuce in the garden but I don't. I'll have to rely on friends who have been more proactive in gardening. Receipts since last week:

$5.80 for 20# chicken quarters, $5.00 for 5 large cantaloupe, $5.00 for ice cream and root beer for Father's Day, $17.61 Milk, $10.00 Milk my husband bought at 10:30 p.m., $3.60 Fruit Drink, $35.24 for milk and produce, $4.55 lettuce,cabbage and tomatoes.

Total for month: $537.61 Over budget! I will surely be glad when the tomatoes and peppers start producing (I included those starts in the grocery budget in May.) I should have done better in the gardening to say in budget this time of year.

Breakfast: leftover spaghetti, or potatoes with breakfast hamburger patties and ketchup
Lunch: Ham and cheese sandwich or peanut butter sandwiches
Dinner: Fried chicken, green salad, potato casserole with white sauce
Snack: The children finished off the ice cream from Fathers's Day

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 41 A Great Love Story

Father's Day is exciting. Husbands and Dads make the world go round. Breakfast was a simple ham scram with toast because it is one of His favorites. Lunch was a little later at 3:00 p.m. We served a simple spaghetti, green salad with fresh tomatoes and homemade thousand island dressing, homemade fresh french bread with olive oil/minced garlic and tomato paste for dipping. For dessert we had root beer floats. Both the nineteen year old son and my husband were prowling around the kitchen smelling the bread baking when they asked what we had to put on the bread. "Is there any margarine or something?" "No. We have olive oil with garlic in which to dip our bread." My son gave me a huge bear hug and squealed "Yes!"

Thank the Creator for men who are or will be fathers. Pleasing them are the some of the sweetest moments to live for.

Thousand Island dressing:

1/2 cup salad dressing (like miracle whip)
1-2 hard boiled eggs chopped finely
1/4 s dill pickle chopped finely
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup milk

Mix and serve. My mother made this dressing as the standard house dressing of our home. My husband loves it. I rarely fix it because ranch dressing wins the vote of most of the children. It is nice to fix a delicious dressing out of basics in our home.

The french bread dip is a take off a dip offered at one of the best Itallian restaurants in town. They serve roasted whole garlic which the patron mashes in olive oil with a light tomato paste. It is fantastic. During the last 90 day challenge, I learned that topping for bread is critical when trying to live off one's shelves. We ran out of frozen butter and I didn't have any olive oil. It was painful. The beginning of May for the first shopping trip of this challenge, I bought a small jar of olive oil for $3.00. We do not feel deprived when we can eat gourmet Itallian foods like this. Today was a perfect day to celebrate Fathers with some of Dad's simple favorites.

Day 40 That was the best lunch!

My son took two ham and cheddar cheese sandwiches with him to work. He came home and exclaimed "Mom, those were the best sandwiches! I don't know what it was but it was soo good!" I felt badly because I didn't have any lettuce to put on them but it was a token lunch. I made a mental note that if I was ever feeling down and needed a compliment, I should make a lunch for my sons.

Breakfast: Oatmeal made by the man of the house!
Lunch: Black bean burritos with homemade tortillas
Dinner: Au-gratin potatoes with ham and a lettuce wedge

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 39 Building Responsibility

I believe in letting children learn and gain experience early. I have never owned a baby gait, a play pen, a baby swing, or portable crib. The more time babies are allowed on the floor the stronger they become, and hence more independent and I think capable. (I have a motivating factor they are all very heavy - pushing 20 pounds by 3 months -and so I hold them at 3-4-5 months until my arm is sore and put them down on the floor.) Nearly all of our children have walked by 8-1/2 months. (One baby took until 11 months to walk.) I encourage them to climb stairs and to then learn to go down backwards on their tummies as soon as they learn to go up the stairs. By age four the children take great pride in frying their own signature eggs. And they make some good eggs. Some are scrambled with all sorts of seasonings, some are fried until stiff. All of the eggs are delicious and eaten with great relish because the children made them on their own. That means I am letting them cook on a gas stove with hot pans. No one has ever sustained a burn from the stove. Soon after the stove, is learning how to cut with butcher knives. I teach them how to recognize the sharp side, how to cut while keeping all body parts out of the way, how to walk with a knife, knives can cut on chopping boards, and safe use of knives when others are around. I think that education is far preferable to ignorantly grabbing a knife and pushing down of the cutting edge because no one has taught that knives have a sharp side and a dull side. Kitchen skills do wonders at increasing self confidence and real skill levels.

I have never had anyone cut themselves with a knife. Hopefully, we never will have a major accident! I like to think in the Wild West nearly every household had guns. Everyone was taught gun safety as a matter of life. The mature and responsible man was honored because an irresponsible man may shoot his gun when he was feeling angry. Responsibility was expected to ensure a safe society. Even today, we can build a safer society by teaching our children how to act wisely.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 38 Authority - Who has it

I must say I listened to conservative talk radio today and the tone in the nation seems ready to explode with opposing views on how government is supposed to uphold rule of law. One term that peeked my interest was "authority" and who has the privilege to use it. The word "authority" is one I understand. In order to be effective, authority has to come from the right source. (Trying to power a gas lawnmower with an electric cord doesn't work.) I believe that the answers to the nation's greatest dilemmas lie in each person recognizing that it is the people - each of us that has the authority to govern our lives. We have agency. We can chose who is going to be responsible for our health, our need for food and shelter, the use of our resources. If we live a healthy lifestyle, we will not need nor choose universal healthcare. If we have food in our homes, we will not need nor choose welfare. If we live providently, we will not need nor choose bankruptcy protection. We have the power to govern ourselves. No government will succeed in governing a people that has relinquished all personal responsibility.

The oil spill may be bad but if personally affected, I would hope that rather than take a handout, I would opt to start over. I would ignite the American spirit that drew the revolutionaries, the early immigrants, and still draws the world's most talented minds to come to the United States. The ideology that teaches "Give me nothing and I will make something of my life" is still the strength of this great nation. The belief that each person has God given authority to claim life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I heard the Constitution is no more a governing document. On a national front it appears so to me. But on a personal front I can live those laws that give me authority to govern myself and teach my children likewise.

In application, this food challenge is at a critical two weeks. I cannot afford to buy the 25 pound sack of fruit drink. I will pay for the 6 gallons of orange drink as if I had purchased a crystal light or other fruit drink mix. This should cost $3.50 or so. That frees $20.00 to use for milk over the next 13 days. My husband also forbid the use of baking soda dish washer soap. So rather than give in and buy $3.00 worth of dishwashing soap, I opted to wash by hand. I have plenty of Palmolive from the register rewards cash purchase. I can choose to conserve my cash for milk and fresh produce. I can stay in budget. My husband said, "It is only two dollars!" And it is only $2.00 but that represents .4% of my grocery budget. Yesterday the front page of the paper disclosed a family declaring bankruptcy because of 15 million dollars of debt. The monthly overage on their personal expenses was $3,000. If I did the math right, that means that $3,000 represents .02% of the total corporate debt declared. If .02% can make an impact, one purchase of dish detergent representing .4% of the budget, can make a difference. Somehow if a person is making a sacrifice in the food he eats, it is easier to save on the things that really cost more and have fare greater impact on the financial health of a family. (Changing insurance deductibles and being wise in the purchase of cars and homes affects more dollars than deciding to have homemade tortillas or commercially made tortillas.)

I am not going to buy anything I can do without for 13 days.

Breakfast: Whole wheat pancakes again with grape syrup. The eight year old was pleased to tell me she could do the syrup - she acquired another skill this morning.

Lunch: Two fresh cantalope. Bread and butter and leftover fish for those who wanted.

Dinner: Birthday Dinner of baked BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes with more cantaloupe and a TALL chocolate cake with SPRINKlES. I made a spumonie filling to top the cake instead of traditional frosting. Recipes in the morning.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 36 Baking Soda

Most the budget will be used this month keeping up with what the children pull off our real shelves. I have to purchase Fruit Drink, cocoa, and honey. These are items that I don't have in the virtual pantry but the children are using. At least this challenge is helping to set priorities on purchases that matter to the children. I will also buy Baking Soda in bulk at Sams because we need dish washing detergent, toothpaste, household cleanser, and a substitute for baking powder to name a few uses. Baking Soda is a basic item. It can be used for dozens of household chores including managing swimming pools. My Dad taught us we could use it to brush our teeth. He put a little jar of baking soda mixed with salt by the sink and we would dip our wet toothbrush in to cover the tip with powder. It is sour! This is a survival technic and not one I will make my children do but if it helps us stay in budget for two weeks.....

My ranting about Governments staying in budget is coming home this month. After buying 25 pounds of Fruit Drink at the Home Storage center and the other items we will have less than $20.00. I am stubborn. We can endure anything for 14 days.

Breakfast: Whole Wheat Pancakes! with a fried egg and milk (to bring the protein to about 20 gms.) We ground the wheat (2-1/2 cups) with the hand grinder in less than 10 minutes. The children were entertained and kept on grinding. I loved it. We made "grape syrup" by watering down a little grape jelly. It was good.

Lunch: Leftover chicken and rice dishes, refried beans, and Fruit Drink. Especially delicious was the leftover BBQ sauce and chicken broth that I saved from Monday's dinner. We poured that sauce over the rice and heated it stove top.

Dinner: It was sooo hot that we were happy to have tuna sandwiches with watery Fruit Drink.
Snack: Chocolate milk (My husband went shopping for milk for the baby and a few extras came home to the children's delight.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 35 Whole Wheat Bread - Mom I love this Food

The wheat grinder came. We ground 8 cups of flour in about 30 minutes for our bread recipe. It looked a little course but I let the dough sit on the counter for an hour to soak up water to help the gluten develop. The bread was moist, good texture, and delicious. It is the first whole wheat bread we've had in 35 days! (Maybe that is why I have lost 6 pounds - no whole wheat bread to eat!) We'll see how diligent we are to grind flour nearly everyday.

Breakfast: Raisin Bran with whole milk. The children finished the box and asked if that was all. Two boxes are necessary to feed my family. So even at a sale price it would be a minimum of $3.80 including a half gallon of milk. It would be cheaper to cook 10 potatoes and a dozen eggs for $1.50 than serve cereal.

Lunch: Fresh wheat bread topped with refried beans and cheddar cheese. I called this a "Pioneer meal." The older children ate it but the younger ones looked wary.

Dinner: Herbed Chicken recipe from the recipes posted last week. I left out the parsley and used the spices I had: garlic and onion with salt instead of bullion. The children liked the rice. Interestingly the child that said, "Mom, I love this food." also had been very productive through the day practicing the piano, reading, pulling weeds, spelling, etc... Because she felt good about herself she was inclined to feel good about dinner as well.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 34 Phase two - Inventions in the Kitchen

Somewhere in the world of mass production and assembly lines, we've lost too many would be creators. It is evidenced in the kitchen when too many are afraid to try. They are afraid to try new combinations, spices, or even recipes that have all the improvising taken out. As a result we have lost confidence in ourselves and a sense of self or pleasure in being different. If our dish doesn't taste the same as the canned version or McDonald's Big Mac then it isn't edible. This is wrong thinking. We need to capture again the aura of "Grandma's cooking," our own signature dishes and tastes that leave a rich heritage of memory and pleasant associations. The movie "Ratatouille" is a prime example of the magic that carries a person back to a childhood fairy tale in one simple bite. It is risky - and exciting! (At least that is my personality!)

Today we did two things that were new for me. One we baked Oatmeal bread. I substituted oatmeal for half the flour in my traditional bread recipe. I had to add 2 more cups of white flour to make the dough not sticky. We ate scones for breakfast then baked loaves. They were soft and light with a little texture from the oatmeal. Good.

Lunch" Tuna sandwiches with dill pickles

Dinner was the other experiment that tasted great. I baked quartered carrots, red potatoes, peeled russet potatoes, and cabbage wedges layered under white fish fillets. To flavor I added olive oil and minced garlic. The garlic was layered mainly on the vegetables and the olive oil spread on the fish. After phase one when I ran out of butter and had no olive oil, I learned that olive oil was a must for my shelf. I bought a small jar the first week of phase two.) Our large roaster pan baked for 1 hour at 350 degrees until the potatoes were tender to a fork. Everyone thought it smelled great. They were anxious for dinner to be set. The flavor was wonderful after adding salt at the table.

Once again this blog has given me opportunity to learn something new. Lesson: create an artificial challenge, name the handicap, and practice. Success is waiting.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 33 Spiritual Dividends

My Father was killed in a ranching accident at the age of 53. He left four children still at home. Of the legacies he left, one I will never forget is his example of offering a prayer of gratitude over his food every time he ate. Often he would eat after the family had eaten so he would warm his plate and sit at the table. He bowed his head and paused to offer a silent petition for nourishment, strength, and gratitude for the means to procure this food and the hands that had prepared it. This simple example speaks volumes to my soul now as I complete this food storage challenge.

God gives us food to assuage our hunger. God also gives us food to teach us how to work, how to be a team, how to have love for each other, how to exercise patience, how to have faith, and how to pray.

The spiritual lessons I am learning as I try and feed my family on a limited budget, with limited spices and foods are far more poignant than the victory of putting another meal on the table. Yesterday one of my children exclaimed "Why can't we go to the store and buy whatever we want. I am tired of living off a budget!" I smiled. Limiting our budget is working. I want my children to learn discipline. We have had ice cream and pop and cookies. We are not suffering. We have plenty. We have nothing about which to complain. I hope each of my children choose live on a budget all their lives. I hope they learn to find joy in the sacrifice for their benefit as well as the benefit of others.

God wants us to love our fellow beings. Love means providing earthly sustenance as well as spiritual nurturing. If our own families have food, clothing, shelter and education, we have the opportunity to give. Our favorite charities have less than a three percent overhead. Where we can, 100% of our donations go directly to relieve the wants of the poor. Such commitment to the needs of others in this world is my greatest aspiration for my children. Is it worth living off my shelves to teach them this? Yes. Is it worth getting up at 6:00 a.m. to bake bread to save a dime so my children learn compassion through our example? Yes.

Now, my formula may not be everyone's formula but cooking family meals is an excellent way that God has prepared for us to learn these values. May we find a way to live a legacy of faith, diligence, and gratitude for those who will come ofter us.

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken and Dumplings in the crock pot
Dinner: Baked BBQ chicken with mashed potatoes and cantaloupe. This meal seemed simple because I only served one fruit. The cantaloupe is a good source of Vitamin A and C. So I let myself be happy with simple.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 32 Bowel Health

Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables are recommended for good bowel health. Good bowel health means that a person is having at least one large soft bowel movement every day. ( I had to smile at a 1940's health text used for elementary children that specifically enumerated this fact and then expected them to take responsibility for their bowels by eating right not relying on a medication.) Living on white flour is like living on white sugar. That is probably why I only lasted one day before I bought a #25 bag of wheat even though we had no grinder for the challenge. (My nice electric grinder is taking a break so that I can act like I was starting from scratch.) Stools are 1/3 the size they used to be when I was eating 3-6 servings of whole wheat bread throughout the day! I am amazed at the difference in bulk. The fiber provides fodder for good bacteria which help to clean the bowel. A clean bowel is at decreased risk for cancer induced by rotting spots of stagnant feces. Regular bowel movements with high fiber also pull excess fats from the digestive tract. Food high is dietary fiber like oatmeal help to pull cholesterol and fatty deposits from the circulatory system. This helps improve cardiovascular function. The high fiber found in whole grains also helps to regulate blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood stream. That means energy is sustained through out the day. Combining all these factors decreased risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes means a significantly healthier individual. And in my opinion - I have heard some data indicating ADHD is improved by diets lower in sugar - psychological health is also improved. I feel there would be less depression if people would eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. More hope and energy would fill the world. The work required to prepare them is half the therapy. I am excited to get the hand grinder to start using whole wheat flour. Until then, the 25 pounds of oatmeal will be our staple for whole grains.

Breakfast: Fried Potatoes and ham
Lunch:Leftover Spanish Rice, bread and Peanut butter
Snacks: apples
Dinner: Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs

Week of June 8-15 receipts - Inventory

Total Spent Month to date: $453.81
Receipts this week: Omaha Home storage: $36.20 (bans and oats), Sams $35.68 (cheese, flour, garlic), Aldi $38.29 (Milk, eggs, fruit), BNSave $3.65 (milk, cereal coupon) Wheat Grinder $67.00

Inventory as of Saturday June 12 9:00 a.m. : Wheat 15 #, White Flour 45 #, Oatmeal 24 #, Rice 15 #, Black beans 25#, White Beans 25#, Chicken 27#, Hot dogs 6 packages, Hamburger patties 2 meals, Fried Hamburger 1-/1/2 pounds, Sliced Ham 5 #, White Fish 10#, Tuna Fish - 37 cans, Peanut Butter 7 - 18 oz jars, Cheddar Cheese 5 #, Shredded Mozzarella 5 meals of toppings (pizza), Jelly 1 jar, Sugar 15 #, Salt 20 #, Potatoes 75 #, Carrots 10#, oil 1 quart, Minced Garlic 48 oz,

I missed the sugar sale $.30 pound; the price is back at $.44/pound. I may not stock up on sugar unless the price falls again.

Need: baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, plastic wrap, baggies, drier sheets, hand soap, shampoo, toothpaste, rubbing alcohol for window cleaner....

I bought a box of Raisin Bran because I had a store coupon. The price was a 1.49 a 20 oz box. The manufactures coupon wouldn't work because I only had one box. Is it a good deal? It will last one meal, require a half a gallon of milk ($.80) totaling $2.30 for our family of 10 mouths. If I diced 6 potatoes ($ .30) and fried 12 eggs ($.70), the whole family would be fed for $1.00 with a significantly better source of protein. The cereal was probably not the best choice.

I feel our supplies are significant considering we have been building for 4-1/2 weeks. So far we are in budget - If I can make $45.00 last for 18 more days. This is requiring nerves of steel. For those of you who have survived unemployment, $45.00 is a fortune.

Day 31 Friday:

Breakfast: potatotes frided in garlic, toast, milk
Lunch: Tuna fish sandwiches, ice cream with fresh mulberries
Dinner: Spanish Rice - 2 cups rice boiled in 6 cups water, 1 small onion browned, 1 pound ground beef, 1 TBS chili powder, 1 TBS cumin, 1-1/2 tsp salt. The rice took 20 minutes to cook. Total preparation 25 minutes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 30 Yea! One Third of the way!! Rice Flavorings

Rice can be flavored in many different ways. Here are recipes for a few:

Chicken/Tarragon Rice Mix
4 c. uncooked long grain white rice
4 TBS instant chicken boullion
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried tarragon
2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp white pepper

Dill-Lemmon Rice Mix
4 cups uncooked long grain rice
5 tsp grated lemon rind
4 tsp dill weed or dill seed
2 tsp cried chives
2 tsp salt
8 tsp instant chicken boouillon

Spanish Rice Mix

4 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 TBS chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

Creamy Herb Mix
4 cups uncooked long grain rice
1/4 dried minced celery
2 TBS dried thyme
4 TBS instant chicken bullion
1/2 c instatnt dry milk
1 TBS dried marjoram

Herb Rice Mix

4 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 TBS dried onion flakes
1 TBS dried thyme
1-1/2 cup dried mushrooms, chopped
1 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS dried parsley

To Cook Rice Mixes:

Use 1 cup rice mix, 2 cups cold water and 1 TBS butter or margarine or oil. Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and cook 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Day 29 Wednesday - Wheat Grinder

Breakfast: Ham, leftover rice pudding
Lunch: Toast with peanut butter and jelly
Dinner: Pizza with mozzarella, hamburger, garlic breadsticks

We ordered a hand wheat grinder today. I do not have a hand grinder so it will be a good addition for emergencies. We researched hand and electric grinders and also looked at coffee grinders. As a child I remember my Grandmother using a large coffee grinder with which she cracked wheat for "mush." The setting must have been difficult to change because we were instructed not to change it. It was the perfect coarseness. No one has served mush like Grandma's mush. She had a completely different grinder for wheat flour with which she made bread. This hand grinder may produce flour too coarse, it may be too difficult to use, it may take too long to make enough flour for our family, but I need something with which to grind flour so we will start somewhere.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 28 How much food is Realistic?

For one person to have a three month supply basics that last 20-30 years, it is recommended to have -- 100 pound of grain (including rice, wheat, oats, flour, canned corn, flour, etc...), 4 pounds dried milk, 15 pounds of legumes(beans and dried peas), 15 pounds sugar, 2 pounds salt, and 3 pounds oils and fats. I now have a months of use under my belt so I can weigh these suggestions with what I know our family is using. I am going through 1 bottle of oil a week that is 1 quart and 1 pint, a little less than 25 pounds of white flour a week, less than 5 pounds of salt a month, about 10 pounds of rice a month, along with 60 pounds of fresh potatoes as an alternate starch. We could use more pasta's but I have not purchased them yet.

By the end of this challenge I would like to have: 25# oats ($7.60), 50# rice ($15.00), 200# wheat ($46.40), 25# pasta($25.00) 25# dried milk ($35.40), 25# beans ($14.50), 25# white beans (14.10), 25# salt ($3.00), 60# sugar ($22.56), 35# oil ($18.00). Total $201.60. Is it possible? We are eating about $50.00 per week in fresh produce. Household supplies also need to be renewed, a wheat grinder purchased and possibly a mixer. This may be too aggressive but for 10 people, it is a start and we have a net $750.00 left in July and August (prorated to end mid month). To date, we have oats, beans, salt, sugar a little rice and wheat.

My long term goal is to have a 15 months supply of food on hand while constantly rotating 3 months worth of food with fresh produce (like potatoes).

Breakfast: Ham, toast, banana muffins, milk and orange slices
Lunch: Chicken stir fry over rice, ice water
Dinner: Macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. (Macaroni cooked from scratch velveta cheese added) Apple crisp baked in the crock pot.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 27 Cutting back

The national government is in debt, spending more and more, and threatening to raise taxes to pay for ever increasing appetites. The State Government has a budget shortage. The city government has a budget shortage making it impossible to meet pension and health care packages for city employees. The solution being suggested is to tax. Spend and tax is the only course of action most governments know. Even in our homes high debt doesn't stem the tide of buying more on credit. It seems no one knows where to cut. This blog is trying to show a few effective ways to cut so one can save money at the same time prepare for the time when these governments will fail in meeting the uncurbed demands from a greedy public. Sacrifice is an absolute prerequisite to "getting ahead." We sacrificed ketchup for the first couple of weeks. There is still no sour cream in the refrigerator. I have only one can of corn in the "virtual pantry." I sacrificed the canned goods sale last week to buy meet instead. (And we are still alive!) The first two weeks we had rice, a little chicken for flavor and the ingredients for bread. We stayed in budget, we are healthy, we are grateful, and we are living honestly. To buy groceries on credit without knowing where the money is going to come from next month if there is no money this month is naive and irresponsible.

These governments infuriate me. I will eat rice and beans indefinitely rather than cut our charitable donations if they continue to tax. One may wonder why our family would undergo such a challenge to live on a limited budget. 1) May be it is because that is the only way to feed 10 children. No. It is often easier to eat restaurant fare especially when they do the pans and dishes than eat at home. 2) May be we have special diets that require cooking from scratch. No. There are no dietary restrictions in our family for medical reasons. 3) May be our religion specifies cooking from scratch. No. Our religion does encourage provident living and getting out of debt. There are no specifications on how we should do this. 4) May be our budget is so tight that this is more reality than "virtual." No. We smile when our children ask why we can't buy something. We explain that the smart millionaires keep people guessing. This challenge to live off a limited budget, provide for the wants and needs of the family, buy a grain grinder and a mixer, and put food on the shelves is a daunting task. It is also one small realm that I can control. The greater the national debt the more tight I want to be. Instinct tells me it is time to prepare.

Breakfast: Rice Pudding with polish sausage cut in small pieces and fried. The sausage smelled wonderful enticing the children out of bed while augmenting the little protein in the rice pudding.
Lunch: Leftover Chipolte burrito, Potato and bean casserole, apples and milk.
Snack: Ice cream
Dinner: Chicken, rice and black beans layered over a tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes, ranch dressing, and olives. (I decided it was time to buy 25 pounds black and white beans, and oatmeal from the Omaha Home Storage Center - best prices for these items).
The children liked the dish. Even the 4 year old who had complained that he didn't want the "salad" on top, ate the filling hungrilly when offfered just the beans and rice without the lettuce or tomatoes.
Snack: Ice cream