Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Be Hungry, Be Foolish" - Dairy Free Rice Krispies

Steve Jobs chose to close his remarks at the 2005 Stanford Commencement exercises offered this counsel: "Be hungry, be foolish."  I agree.  Hunger is a good thing.  Too often we are afraid of it.  Too often we deny our children the growth of knowing they can be hungry and they won't die.  Too often we never develop an appetite for something greater than the next meal.

Schooling our appetites is part of our purpose on Earth and sometimes it requires we do more than just "go hungry: we have to be hungry - for knowledge, for discipline, for charity.   This requires that our stomachs learn to be hungry as well.  For Steve Jobs that meant he lived out of vending machines off loose change for six days a week, and once a week walked seven miles for a good meal.  No one would argue that Steve Jobs achieved success.  The road there required he be hungry. 

On the Home Front:
"Mommy, isn't this the best day of your life!" My five year old was sitting on the counter stirring the noodles.  I smiled back with an uncertain, "Yes?"  He clarified, "Because we've never cooked this before!"  I chuckled out loud.  We were cooking ABC pasta for a special "mac and cheese" dish.  Roger, the five year old, was cooks helper and he requested mac and cheese.  The special noodles made our day.

Group Hug - Good smells from cooking dinner evoked a group hug in the kitchen as all three children 7, 5, 2 grabbed my legs and waist to say "Thank you Mom!  Your the best Mom!"

Food Tips:

We made Rice Krispies without butter or margarine.

6 cups marshmallows
2 TBS canola oil
6 cups Rice Krispies

Melt the mini marshmallows in the oil that is just enough to cover the bottom of the pan
Add the cereal, stir until well mixed, Put in pan to cool.  Enjoy.

Old Flour
I opened some flour that had been stored in the original 5# paper sacks inside a five gallon bucket for a long time. (I took it off a friend's hands when they moved- I have had it 18 months- it has been stored for maybe 5-10 years. The flavor was okay but the flour was dry.  It was so dry that the brownies crumbled like sand.  The next batch of bread that I made with that flour took 1/3 again more water.  (Original recipe called for 4 cups water I added 1-1/2 cups more water for the same dry ingredients.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Preparation an Divine Truth

Preparing is a truth.  To be happy we must prepare.  We prepare ourselves for the day by showering, eating breakfast, taking a moment to pray.  We prepare ourselves for the week by going to church, pondering on the upcoming responsibilities, and our direction in life.  Any good sales person or parent will ask what our hopes and dreams are and if we are headed that way.  Long term planning and setting goals for life determine what we do today.

Mealtimes are no different.  If we are wise each day we are executing a plan - preparing.  If we are not short sighted we will do more than just fill stomachs for the next three hours, we will be preparing the current meal while thinking of the next meal and at the same time by cutting salad greens, putting a dish in the crockpot or preparing a triple batch of the current meal for extra freezer meals. 

As we shop, we are prudently looking for sales, buying extra, preserving food for times of want ahead.  Preparation becomes a way of life as one constrains the desires and impulses of the moment for a long term benefit. 

This month (September 2011) my goal is to live life and blog our day to day with these principles in mind.  There is no overt monetary restriction, no challenge to only use what is on our shelves, I will prepare meals according to what we have on hand, the sales we encounter, the time restrictions of our family and the appetites to satisfy. Let's see what benefits we enjoy as we prepare for family mealtimes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Without appology - Intestinal Fortitude

For three days my children have enjoyed a big pot of baby Lima beans, pinto beans, read lentils, split mung beans, and brown rice flavored with dehydrated onion, crushed tomatoes, garlic, Mrs. Dash, and salt.  The dish tasted delicious but by the second day I felt a little badly when the children came home from school and beans were all they could find to eat.  The older children were ravenous and ate it with great relish commenting "This makes my tummy feel so happy."  One seven year old refused to eat the beans until I held her on my lap and gently persuaded her to take one bite, then another.  She ate a full cup one bite at a time while sitting on my lap.  My mother's heart was doubly rewarded knowing my sweet child had eaten a healthy meal that would stick to her bones while enjoying a special bonding for a few minutes.  I had to question myself, "When was the last time you got the hold this child without competition from other children, the laundry or the next errand?"  Thank goodness for mealtimes.

The willingness of the children to eat just beans with bread and butter for lunch, dinner, breakfast, after school snack/dinner, and dinner again made me hope that maybe they are developing a little "intestinal fortitude."   This is the quality to do what is unpopular, and may appear unpleasant, what at first one may not want to do but after doing feels the greatest reward: a sense of accomplishment and well being.  Often intestinal fortitude is required if we are to serve and love others in our family or community.  I count it an honor to develop such strength in my family even if it is little by little around a dinner table.

Thursday September 1, 2011
Breakfast:  oatmeal
Lunch: mixed beans
Dinner: Mixed beans/ Fresh hot bread

Friday September 2, 2011
Breakfast:  beans, bread and butter
Dinner: beans with tortilla chips

Saturday September 3, 2011
Breakfast: blueberry muffins, beans
Lunch: rice pudding (that did not get prepared before breakfast)
Dinner: **Italian chicken over biscuits** This was an absolute hit from Family Circle magazine.

2 pounds chicken thighs ( I used 1 quart bottled chicken cubes.)
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash -original.)
3/4 tsp garlic salt (I used diced garlic browned with the onions.)
1/4 tsp black pepper (I left it out.)
1 large onion ( I put 2 in and doubled all spices.)
1 large can diced tomatoes ( I put in three cups diced tomatoes.)
1 cup chicken broth ( I used the juice in the bottled chicken.)
2 TBSP tapioca (I used tapioca purchased at the Indian Store - 2 pounds for $4.00)
1 can cannellinni beans (I used 1 cup red lentils, could also use pinto, navy, or mung bean)
1/2 cup sliced black olives (I left these out.)
1/2 cup fresh basil torn into small pieces ( I used 2 TBS dried basil.)

Brown onions and garlic, add all other ingredients.  Let it simmer while preparing biscuits.  Prepare a double batch of biscuits (I baked two batches - one for dinner tonight and one for cream of tuna later and also measured out another double batch of biscuits putting the dry ingredients in a gallon size bag in the freezer ready to add the eggs and water.  Doing a little preparation while I'm already in the kitchen goes a long way in feeding out family on the run.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

"I am my mother's daughter" - Creating New Recipes

The 18 year old read the recipe - "Almond paste, we don't have it, but I'll make it."  Not to be deterred she proceeded to bake Almond Sandwiches with a bit of ingenuity and creativity.  We ate the cookies with relish the flavor was divine, the presentation left a lot to be desired but we will work on that next time.

For dinner I used the spices of a favorite Indian dish to make a sauce with pork cubes to put over our baked potatoes.  It was a hit.  Traditional spice mixes like a Sloppy Jo flavoring, a taco flavoring, an Indian Aloo Gobi, a Mexican Mix or an Italian favorite can all be used with totally different base foods to create a new dish.  Base foods may include potatoes, rice, beans, gluten extracted from wheat flour, paneer (yogurt cheese) or a meat - pork, chicken or beef.  Foods to add in can vary according to what is on hand: onion, green pepper, red pepper, mushrooms, asparagus, okra, peas, soy beans, etc...

Tonight's base sauce: (coming tomorrow morning)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Mom You're the Greatest"


The two children with me clamored for a treat - they had been in the car for 2 hours and it was dinner time.  Fruit snacks, a shake, "McDonald's -I'll even eat the onions" the 9 year old said.  I didn't want to be an old grump and just say no, nor a wimp and just say okay; I wanted to give them an opportunity to deny themselves and delay gratification.

I offered the choice "fruit snacks now or ice cream with everyone when we get home?"  They both immediately voted for ice cream at home.  I was pleased to let them have a couple small scoops while the leftover pizza was heating.  They could have another scoop when they had finished their supper and had some red pepper for salad.  As my 5 year old boy stirred his ice cream, he looked up with a twinkle in his eye "Mom, you are the greatest!"

For storage I purchased 18  containers of a margarine blend on sale at $.70 each.  The total was $12.60 with a nutritional value of 20% Vit D, 10%  Vit A,  10% Vit E, 35% B6and 20% B12.  It tastes excellent and should last us a year.  We have gone weeks without any butter spread so we will be grateful for a small ration if I don't get to add any other butter for a while. 

I also noticed a sale on 6 inch red peppers at $.60 each. My garden is not doing well so I purchased eight - three packs which will hold in refrigeration for several weeks.  Peppers also freeze really well so I can dice the red peppers for additions to potato skillets, pizzas, and soups throughout the year.  The peppers are an excellent source of Vit C so they are critical to a balance food storage.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Salmon lettuce wrap

Salmon Salad hits the spot on hot summer days.  This is recipe created while the troops were panting for food on a scorching July day a couple of weeks ago.  We relished it in a leaf lettuce wrap.  My camera is in the repair shop - can't wait to post some pictures when it is returned.

1 can salmon bones, skin and all but drain the liquid (save to put in scrambled eggs later)
1 can water chestnuts drained and diced into small chunks
3 ribs celery diced into 1/4  pieces
2-3 TBS Miracle Whip
1 TBS Shrimp cocktail sauce

Mix everything together.  Place 1/2 cup into a rinsed lettuce leaf.  Fold and eat.  This dish is an excellent source of Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Breakfast:  Rice pudding made on the stove top
Lunch: Leftover chicken soup
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Teriyaki

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harvard Magazine Review - Building Convenience

Waging war on the societal trends that are pulling 49% of American's food budgets into restaurants has become one of my mantra's in this blog.  The article "Restaurants Rampant" in Harvard Magazine July-August 2011 reiterates the dilema in which we find ourselves.  Why are we as a nation in the middle of a famine and overfed at the same time?  There is no food to be had at home so statistics indicate that families eat out.  The fast food or "professionally cooked" food is void of nutrients, high in fat and sugar and addicting.  Starving for family togetherness and a Mom in the kitchen, Americans eat and eat.  No wonder we find ourselves in an "obesity epidemic."  All the associated health risks of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer along with juvenile deliquence and divorce trot along side this stampede.  It is time to stop, evaluate the direction of our lives and preserve what is most dear: family.  One of the most compeling places to start is at the family dinner table.

Harvard Magazine reports "A Grand Presentation" is the big marketing tool of many restaurants nowadays like the el Bulli on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona. Chef Adria spends six months a year just planning how to turn regular ingredients into "pyramids" or making "ravioli transparent." I feel to the contrary, a man and a hungry child don't want "phoo phoo food" as my husband calls it.  They simply want homemade food cooked and served in a wholesome meal.  A guest in our home this week observed, his mother never cooks; if there is food, they never sit down and eat together, and they never have a prayer over the food.  I fear this is the norm in too many homes across America.  We are in a nationwide famine for homecooking.  As cooks we need to overcome our fear of not making it "just right."  There are a thousand recipes and a thousand cooks in a thousand homes and a thousand restaurants.  Who is to say our way is not the perfect way for our families.  Create your own signature dishes.  Let them flop or soar.  One only fails, if he "fails to try again."

If convenience is demanded by your family's lifestyle, then create convenience - homemade.   Here are some dishes that help me throw a meal on the table in minutes with minimal preparation:

  • 4 Week Bran Muffins (in the refridgerator)
  • Pancake Mix with all dry ingredients, dry milk, etc.. ready to add water, eggs, and oil
  • Muffin Mixes (modified with less sugar, half whole wheat, more nuts etc..)
  • Biscuit Mix (Grandma's recipe only all the dry ingredients and butter cut into the mix, just add the water)
  • Whie Sauce Mix - use in cream soups, a-la-king recipes, cream gravies over biscuits, etc..
  • Oriental Stir Fry mix Beef or Chicken in quart jars in the fridge ready to make a delicious Terriyaki Sauce in 5 minutes
  • Frozen cookie balls individually frozen on a cookie sheet then stored in a large freezer bag or box just like one can buy except that I control the cost and the ingredients.
  • Frozen pie crusts
  • Frozen waffles - Once a month I make a double batch and freeze the leftovers.  It is enough for 2-3 more meals.
  • A few freezer meals like upside down spaghetti, chicken enchiladas or linguini-a-la-Anne (not too many because these take a lot of valuable freezer space for frozen meat, margarine, fruits and vegetables.
  • Once a month cooking with the family of Granola, Crisp Topping, or homemade noodles.
  • Spice Mixes like Taco and Sloppy Joe customized to our families palates and stored in one meal size foil packets that eliminates dragging all the spices out every time we cook.
  • Menus that build off the basics that will last 30 years ensures that I always have something to eat on hand: rice, wheat, beans
  • Pressure cook and bottle meat and beans for homemade convenience.
  • Simplify recipes and pick recipes that don't require hours of step by step preparation.
  • Bottle/freeze fresh garden produce for later use - eliminating another trip to the store.
  • Leftovers.  I nearly always prepare enough food to last at least one more meal.  That enables me to relax for a cumulative 3 days out of 6 and do no cooking - just reheating.  Everyone in the family loves the easy.  These meals are sometimes frozen and sometimes refridgerated but never wasted.
  • A few pioneer favorites like bread and milk that are simple, wholesome and enjoyed by all.
  • Crock Pot breakfasts and dinners once or twice a week save more hours in the kitchen.
  • A menu or a plan for the week and the month avoids the biggest obstacle of all: deciding what to eat every day.  These decisions are hard if procrastinated until 5:30 when the gang has to be at soccer practice at 6:00 -  All too often McDonalds will win.
As for me and my house, I am waging a war to protect what I hold most dear a chance to look at my husband and children across the dinner table every day and reaffirm that we are connected.  We choose a "feast" physically, socially, and emotionally over the famine in the land.  We are happy.

Hats off to followers, Megan and Steve, for creating their own "Food Storage Recipes."  See Megan's blog at for more ideas.

Today: Breakfast: Spinach omlet with leftover mac and cheese and hot dogs for those too timid to try something new.
Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup (added more spaghetti noodles broken to small pieces to the leftover broth from yesterday's chicken soup with egg drop noodles)
Dinner:  Chicken Teriyaki with broccoli, celery and almonds over rice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Filling the freezer - "I want solid food"

My 13 year old son wandered into the kitchen prowling through the refridgerator and opening the bread drawer.  I suggested leftover cake, cookies and milk, ice cream in the freezer?  "Oh, no!" he said.  "I am sugared out.  I want some solid food."  I chuckled under my breath when he pulled out the one bowl of leftover black beans.  He heated them for 10 minutes - they have been in the fridge for 4 days - and relished  eating black beans with tortilla chips.  That is soul food.

This last week I have bottled 19 quarts of chicken (Tyson chicken breast was on sale a couple of weeks ago.  It is the cheap, tough breast that doesn't taste the best grilled or fried but when diced and pressure cooked, it is great and for $1.50 per pound, it is worth it.)

We also cooked and froze 40 pounds of ground beef.  It was 80% lean to begin with but after browning the whole 40 pounds in a large stock pot (you could use a roaster) I rinsed it with hot water saving the drippings.  I let the fat come to the top of the drippings, skimmed it off and bottled 4 quarts of beef broth.  The meat that was then 99% fat free, I bagged in quart size freezer bags with meal portions of about 3 cups for our family.

Blueberries were on sale for $1.00 a pint.  I bought 24 pints, rinsed each pint, transfered the pint to a quart size freezer bag and into the freezer the blueberries went.  The children will enjoy blueberry muffins for at least 24 weeks of the year.  Not bad!

I intended to also freeze strawberries at a $1.00 a pound but they got eaten far faster than I could freeze them.  All in all it has been a good week to get the food supplies restalked.

Preparing for a Fair - Pecan Pie

Next month on August 27th our Community will host a Preparedness Fair.  We are preparing to do a food storage display.  Today we practiced making Pecan Pie with beans!  The recipe calls for less sugar than a normal Pecan Pie recipe.  Depending on which version we compared it to we used between 1/3 to 1/2 less sugar.  The beans added a protein source making the pie delicious!  I could have eaten a whole slice when sith a regular pecan pie it is so sweet and sugary that 1-2 bites is enough. 

Here is what we tried:

Mock Pecan Pie

1-1/2 cups cooked. drained Pinto beans (or you can use white beans if you don't have pinto)
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs, beaten (3 T dry egg powder+1/3 cup water)
1-1/2 t vanilla
1/2 ts sea saltif desired
1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or more to cover the top of the pie)

Cream the sugar, butter egggs, and beans (If you are using powdered eggs you don't need to mix the dry egg powder with water first - just put the dry egg powder in with creaming and add the water withthe vanilla, which is the next step).  Add vailla and salf.  Pour into a 0 inch unbakd pie shell.  Sprinkle the chopped pecans over mixture.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes more.  Pie is done when knife inserted in center comes out clean. 

Monday July 18th:
Breakfast:  Ham scram with fresh bread and butter
Lunch:  Ham sandwhiches on fresh hoagie rolls baked for breakfast.
Dinner:  Take and Bake Pizzas and homemade cheese pizza, fresh cucumber slices and watermelon

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good manner perserve Family

My daughter smiled in disbelief and showed me the  letter rumored to be read "Round the world" from a mother in law that dared to offer some constructive criticism of her son's fiance.  We agreed that the world is in sad shape when some one has to be given this little piece of advice:

When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

Read more: Worst Mother-in-Law Ever: The Letter Read ‘Round the World!

Personally, I thought how quickly neglect of good table manners can destroy family relationships.  Selfishness is rampant in today's society.  We see it  in the form of eating on one's own time schedule, eating what one pleases, eating as much as one's greed can allow with complete disregard to others at the table.

A family's chief function is to love and support each other.  This requires sacrifice - mothers and fathers sacrifice sleep and personal time to feed and care for children.  Children learn to share.  Everyone in the family learns to fore go some personal comfort for the benefit of the whole when we cook , clean, and live together. 

I resolved to invite more careful observance of Table Manners in our home.  I want my daughters to start off on the right foot with their mothers and fathers in law.  Families are of what Heaven is made.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let the Summer Begin!

Okay, so we have enjoyed a family trip and one week of down time since school let out.  It has been nice to sleep in, eat whenever and whatever was quick and easy, relax and play more than we worked.  A dose of "unstructured time" is in my opinion a vital part of being a child and savoring the moment.  But enough is enough and now is when a mother's heart is most excited to have her children home for the summer.  Time to structure our lives of our own free will not because we have a school schedule to whip us into shape. 

I thought I would start with set meal times.  This will add a little stress to my day because I will have to be dependable with breakfast at 7:00; lunch at 11:30 and dinner at 6:00.   The compensation will be the children will know these are the times the kitchen is open and if they don't make it to the right place at the right time, they will be hungry.  There will be no more calling and pleading to come to lunch from all corners of the yard and house.  I hope children will learn to be a little more responsible. Even my mother heart wonders if that is really possible.  I may be naive, but I am desperate enough to try.

We will follow with swim time, play time, movie time, reading time, piano practice time, school time, sewing time, and chore time.  I doubt every activity will fall on every day but both the children and I will be relieved to have a plan, eliminating the "free for all" that has been happening this past week.  I know of one mother who wrote and produced an play every summer including every child in the neighborhood.  It is in moments like these that mothers shine and life is good.  It is hoped that children also learn intrinsic motivation through the satisfaction of accomplishment.  There is nothing that is quite as satisfying as reaching a goal one has set for himself.  Cheers to summer!

Posted in Recipes :  Dilled Chicken with Penne Pasta

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Senior Recital - Is it worth it to Bake?

My almost five year old has been waiting all week for the day we get to listen to the recital and then eat cookies.  This morning he bounded out of bed, "Do we get to eat the chocolate eclairs today?"  He would not forget carrying them in the house after the shopping trip and he was ready for the party.  Then we started baking miniature brownies in the small muffin tins.  The aroma filled the house with more of an invitation than he could resist.  He asked to have a brownie, when denied the privilege he asked for the beater.   When Dad said, "Yes," he chimed "You're the best Dad ever!"

We didn't bake everything for the recital, but what we did bake created anticipation for a special event for a member of our family. Was the hassel of baking worth the positive bonding between siblings or the compliment to Dad?  You bet it was.

Breakfast today: Cracked wheat/oatmeal hot cereal with milk, raisins and walnuts
Lunch: Macaroni/tomato with wheat gluten protein chunks instead of hamburger (see the  Wheat gluten post and pictures)
Dinner:  Hot bread and milk with whole wheat bread, butter and salt

Monday, May 2, 2011

Captive Audience - Frozen cabbage

My son sat at the kitchen bar and talked. I put applesauce fruitcake dough in muffin tins.  I smiled and occasionally got to respond affirmatively.  An awareness dawned, "He must enjoy just visiting - knowing that I was going no where until the muffins were baked.  He could talk and talk without fear of being ignored, blown off by distractions that come with motherhood or simply left alone.  I was all his  -captive at 6:15 in the morning,.

For dinner we made punjabe potatoes with cabbage (probably has a different name with cabbage!)
Today's experiment came when we pulled the cabbage from the freezer.   In putting groceries away, somehow one whole cabbage was put in a bread sack and put in the freezer!  I've had this happen to celery that inadvertently was put in the freezer, but I was not sure how to negotiate the cabbage dilemma. So after thawing on the kitchen counter for 2 days, I chopped it all into small squares and fried it with a little oil.  We added potatoes and spices.  The steamed (once frozen) cabbage cooked beautifully. 

Breakfast: leftovers
Lunch: applesauce muffins and milk
Dinner: punjabe potatoes, green salad

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Lord's Compassion - They shall "eat and be satisfied"

The Lord's Compassion was evidenced every day with the children of Israel.  Daily, manna was provided and when the people complained God provided meat and water.  There were many people who refused to be nurtured by the Lord and asked to go back to Egypt where they knew they could eat at the hands of their oppressors.  They would never be allowed to cross the Jordan where milk and honey flowed freely.  Their children who would be born in the wilderness and be raised with a dependence on the Lord would realize that privilege.

I wonder if we must be willing to realize that everything we have comes at the hands of God.  He feeds us from day to day nurturing our bodies and our souls.   Then out of that humble reality God asks the Israelites to remember those who want and extend the mercy they have received at His hands to others: "and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee..."  (Deuteronomy 14:29)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Inflation - Prepare in order to Give

If anyone is not quite convinced that storing food is important, maybe he needs to get outside himself a little.  The people hit hardest by inflation are the poorest in our communities.  I am thinking of the Paralyzed Veterans, the elderly, and the homeless.  If the few bucks one has buys less and less then there is less and less to eat and live on.  If we as citizens, realize that this Great Country can only remain great if the federal budget is brought under control then, we too as Great Citizens will step up to the plate and provide for those in need.  A wise friend summed it well when he said the needs of the poor need to be met by the neighbor, the local community/church  then the state and finally the federal government.  I feel a personal need to make sure I have more on hand to provide the basics.

The Mormon Church just increased prices at their storehouses - 11 to 49% depending on the item.  This is unusual because the church has such large stores that small bumps in the economy are usually ridden out.  For these large price increases one has to think that inflation is hitting as a result of the large deficit spending of the last two years.  To substantiate that trend gas is predicted to be $5.00 a gallon by memorial day.  The dollar is weaker and prices are increasing to compensate.  Preparing is literally a day at a time and the time is now.

Bountiful Baskets -- "I'm the bread maker"

The question was asked whether I think Bountiful Baskets is a good idea - I say yes.   From what I have read at and from talking to those who have used the Co-op the fresh produce is aways good, the variety is like having Christmas delivered to your house each week or every two weeks and I like the whole viewpoint that the smaller growers are able to market their produce at greatly reduced prices.  Getting 20-25 pounds of produce for $15 is a good deal in most places.  Right now this Co-op is in TX, AZ, UT, CO, WY, ID, MT, WA, OR, and OK.  I sent an email asking if Omaha could be a delivery as well - We'll see what can happen if we link arms an use creative ways to buy and sell wholesome food.

My 9 year old daughter helped me make bread last week.   She was so pleased with herself and the delicious bread she exclaimed, "you can be the cook all summer, but I'm the bread maker."

We moved 40 cubic yards of mulch this week.  I made a large batch of chicken soup with rice and a large batch of applesauce muffins.  This helped us have food when we returned indoors after moving wheelbarrows for hours.  It is nice to have a meal when you need it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cooking outdoors - "Mommy you are the Best"

Last week a heavy spring snow fell.  The snow made perfect snowmen that lasted for only half a day before melting.  As we planned the day, I gave instructions to build a fire in the portable fire pit, get the marshmallows and make some hobo dinners for lunch.  As the planning concluded, my 6 year old threw her arms around my neck and said,"You're the best Mom."   I marveled, how could cooking over the fire be such a special event for her?

Once our hobo dinners of polish sausage, a slice of chicken breast, potatoes and carrots were pulled from the coals, the reaction of one or two children was a little more reserved "This is burnt."  "Do I have to eat this."  For fire cooking by my standards, it wasn't burned.  I took a deep breath,  smiled and said "Yes, it will build intestinal fortitude.  Eat and Relish every bite."

On another front I was thinking of Japan - what would I do if there was no water, no electricity, no gas and a lot of rubble?  One option open is to cook with fire.  In fact there are cultures all over the world who cook over open fires every day in heat or cold.  I made a mental note to build more fires and learn to use my dutch oven. 

Breakfast:  yogurt with granola, carrot sticks and celery sticks, fresh fruit of choice
Lunch:  sandwiches with fresh bread
Dinner:  Mashed red potatoes, sausage gravy, green beans, cabbage/apple/walnut/raisin salad, milk

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting Started/ Getting the Job done

In less than 6 weeks during the summer of 2010 I felt like we had accumulated enough food to keep us alive for three months - if meagerly.  For the remaining 6 weeks I would be saving money to buy a hand grinder, and adding more variety to the menu.  The first week we pretented to not have anything on our shelves.  I bought household cleaners, personal  hygene items, spices, and a few staples: rice, flour, and wheat.  a few chicken breasts were the only meat I had for a week.  We made a big pot of chicken soup with rice and made it through the week.  Even this exercise was valuable because hungry children can be fed for very little with a savory soup that has very little meat in it.

Some lessons I learned:

1)  Dedicate a percentage of your meal budget to fresh milk, eggs, and produce.  The rest of your food money goes to  buying shelf stable items and supplies.   Some people who tried to buy a months supply of shelf stable food last summer, found they were lacking fresh foods and by the end of the month they were disenfranchised.

2)  The more money available to buy groceries at once the better.  Our food storage drastically improved when the pay check began coming once a month instead of every two weeks.  The purchasing power of $400 is better than $100.  More foods can be purchased in bulk and at the best price per ounce.

3)  Share and co-opt to get the best price then divide it if you are single or have a small family.

4)  Buy what you eat.  One man I know will not eat anything but a frozen burrito.  He is perfectly happy with those.  I would encourage him to buy frozen burritos and hope the electricity doesn't go with his job.  Storing 90-270 burritos (planning on 1 a day to 3 a day) is not prohibitive.  It would fit in a small freezer and he would be prepared.  Then I would work on learning how to make burritos from flour and beans.  These are long term storage items, the basic ingredients of a bean burrito.  The long term storage items require no freezing and could be cooked over a fire if in dire straights.

Which brings me to tomorrow's post - building a fire and cooking on it.

Wheat versus Pasta

An excellent question was raised "Why buy pasta when homemade whole wheat pasta can be made?  Is there a nutritional benefit to the whole grain noodles?"  The nutritional content on a box of lasagna noodles indicated 25% folate, 20% niacin, 15% riboflavin, 30% Thiamin, 10% iron and 7 grams of protein.  I feel this is good nutritional content - granted the pasta has been fortified and has non of the  fiber that would be found in the whole wheat.  I love home made noodles, I love home made whole wheat noodles but the practicality of the matter is that I don't make time to make my pasta.  It takes a little more effort than turning on the mixer to mix bread.  If one has a pasta maker, the process is faster to whip out beautiful spaghetti noodles, flat lasagna noodles, or linguini.

There is storage that is 1) emergency 2) short term - 3months or so 3) intermediate 1-2 years and 4) long term lasting 10-30 years.  I use all these products all the time - the long term storage items are whole kernel wheat, rice, corn, oatmeal, beans.  I store tons of these items in plastic buckets with oxygen packets.  I rotate them a bucket at a time.  The intermediate items I don't store as much - like pasta.   I watch for the sales and then stock up.  These items can also be used in multiple dishes.  I try not to store too many things that can only be used in one main meal - for instance taco shells.  Our family doesn't eat enough hard tacos to make it worth while to store more that  3 boxes of shells.  (That is a generous 3 month supply for us.)  I found they taste stale when I was forced to eat them during our three month adventure.  So wisdom is necessary when planning convenience into the menu.  The Goal is to have enough of the foods that your family normally uses on hand to last three months.

Week Four

It was decided to not buy anything this week but a gallon of milk and use all the rest of the produce left over this coming week.   For one person we spent  $110 for the month  while preparing generous, well balanced meals.

This is the process by which we build our food reserves.  Last summer I started with 25 pounds of rice in May.  That sack lasted me all three months.  In the first 4 weeks peanut butter, tuna and potatoes all came on sale.  Those supplies lasted me 6 months.  Under normal use, buying a case (12) jars of a sale item is often enough to last a long time.  The expense is usually 10-20 dollars.  (This amount of money can be found easily in skipping a couple of fast food meals or eliminating the potato chips, pop, cookies or even ice cream (if one absolutely has too!)

Shopping List Week 3

Foods that are still on hand from the last two weeks shopping (As is teh case each meal isn't using all of 2 vegetables or 1 fruit exchange):

cabbage, broccoli, carrots, spaghetti, potatoes 5-7, rice, 4 eggs, tuna, beef, sausage, 1/2 bag beans, chicken - 1 breast

bananas (6-10 servings)       $   2.5
apples (13 count in 2#bag)       1.60
spinach tossed green               1.50
canned tomatoes                     1.40

bread(16 slices)                       2.50
cereal (1 box)                          2.40

milk (1gallon)                          2.20
yogurt plain 24 oz                     2.50

Investment foods

raisins   (11 servings)               3.00
walnuts (16 ounces)                 6.00

This list demonstrates how even one well planned list can give  3-4 weeks worth of food.  We can have the foods that we normally eat in our homes.  We can have more than one week's worth of food on our shelves - including our refrigerator shelf.  Each week we expand the staples that we have on hand to add variety to any number of dishes.

Shopping list Week 2 for One Person

Starting with very limited food on hand, we purchased some basics last week that represented all food groups and began building reserves.  This week we will spending less than $30 and expand the variety of menu possibilities.

Produce:(on hand from last week broccoli, cabbage, lettuce)

oranges (10 servings)                                   $ 2.50
apples  (3# for 10 apples)                               1.30
carrots ( 2 # - 10 servings)                               1.60
tomato canned 2-3 servings                              1.40

Starch: (on hand from last week: oatmeal, potatoes, rice already on hand)

pasta 16 servings                                            2.00
bread ( 16 slices)                                             2.50


milk (1 gallon)                                               $2.20

Protein: (ham left over and chicken left over)

beans ( 1 pound - 14 servings)                           1.70
sausage (1 #)                                                 $2.25
beef ( 6 small steaks
          that can be cut in half for 12 servings)   $5.60
tuna 1 can 2-3 servings                                 $  .70

Investment Items:  (These are long term shelf stable and now we an make stir fry- broccoli beef, chicken or sausage and with a carrot/broccoli/cabbage.  Thicken the juices in the bottom of the pan with a teaspoon of corn starch.  Add soy sauce for flavoring.)

soy sauce                                                        $1.40
corn starch                                                      $1.50

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sacred Dinner Hour

This week friends and I were comparing schedules to find the best time to contact each other.  Powerfully, I was reminded that I am the defender of our home.  As I reviewed my friend's availability,  she could be reached after 9 a.m. any time except 5-7 pm, "the sacred dinner hour."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


What does 230 pounds of pasta look like?  How can it be stored?  Here is a picture.  It fit nicely on two shelves in the food storage room.  I will leave it in the original packages.   I calculated the amount we would need if we ate 5 pounds a week (which is generous).  For 10+ people this pasta will probably last more than one year.  The total pounds of pasta is counted in the grain group with rice, wheat, corn and oats.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Healthy Eating - A meal plan

Dieting is a bad habit.  Sensible meal plans that balance food groups, provide a wide variety, and allow for versatility and use easily accessible foods sustain family life and good individual health.  Good health in turn saves money and increases happiness because we feel like enjoying life.

The Goal for every meal:

2 Fruits
1 vegetable
2 Carbohydrate exchanges
2 protein exchanges - 1 egg, 1 oz meat, 1/4 cup nuts, 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 milk (For adults it is recommended to have 16 oz/day - I recommend 6 oz liquid at every meal.)
1 fat

If there are food sensitivities, milk intolerance, diabetes, heart health issues, this meal plan can be modified, substitutions made and either low fat or high fat choices within food groups.  The caloric range can be from about 1600-2400 depending on whether high fat meats and milk are used and the fat exchange is eliminated.  A good way to cut calories further if desired is to just eat 1/2 a meal for one of the three meals in a day.  Meal exchanges can be carried to snack times (save a fruit and a vegetable for snack or only have 1 protein exchange with the meal and the other at snack time).

I think a raw foods diet is hard to maintain for long periods of time with small children but I do feel that as much as possible fresh fruits and vegetables need to be served at each meal.  Bowel heath, heart health, the antioxidants for anti cancer health, etc.. all improve.  Combined with whole grains and legumes for protein sources, good health is maintained.  High protein diets such as P90X, Atkins, Zone, etc.. can yield results for weight loss quickly.  Long term, more plant sources for proteins need to be used (beans) to make these diets wise.  My personal preference is moderation and variety.  So I try to serve 2 oz of meat at each meal.  Legumes of some sort at least once a day (1 ounce on salads, as chip dip or a main dish).  The goal is to have fish twice a week, beef twice a week, and fill in with a variety of nuts, chicken, cottage cheese, etc..  Foods that can be in two groups (PRO and CHO or dairy) change according to my need in the day.  Sometimes I need more protein so another glass of milk suffices as a protein not a dairy.

Shopping List

To meet nutritional goals of the above diet plan, here is a suggested shopping list.  The cost of this list was $51.00 - not Nebraska prices.  So adding or subtracting $5 would give an estimate of food costs in the US.  Depending on  where the shopping is done, food items could be substituted within a food group.  I chose these items based on price and nutritional value along with how long they would store.  This first week I opted for a large shank ham because it would be used to flavor beans, as sandwich meat, breakfast meat and in potato skillets.  Ham adds lots of flavor and is versatile besides providing over 30 portions 3 ounces each which were diced and frozen.

bananas (6 gave 12 servings)            $ 1.40
butternut squash  (3 cups)                  2.40
cabbage (12 wedges)                          1.50
broccoli (6 servings)                            2.00
lettuce green leaf (8 servings)             2.30
whole tomatoes (2-3 servings)             1.40
oranges (8 gave 16servings)                 3.50
10# potatoes (24 potatoes)                 2.60
oatmeal non-instant (30 servings)        3.00
bread (16 slices)                                 3.00
1# black beans dry                             1.70
shank  ham                                      11.60
frozen boneless chicken breasts           6.50       (2.25 pounds)
eggs 1 dozen                                      1.40
molasses 12 oz jar (on pancakes)           3.20

Servings Yielded from the above Shopping List

If a person purchased the above list of groceries, these are the approximate number of servings
provided from each major group of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrate (CHO), dairy, proteins and fats.

Fruit: 28/ a goal of 21 servings per week
Vegetables: 34/ a goal of 21 servings per week
CHO: 70/ a goal of 42 per week
Dairy:  128 oz/ 126 oz liquid milk to drink per week
Protein:  80/ of a goal of 42 oz a week
Fats: 96/ of 21 servings a week added fat in added butter/margarine

If a person strictly followed portion sizes, in this first week of grocery shopping we have accumulated 4 weeks worth of butter, 2-3/4 weeks of fruits and vegetables, 2-3/4 weeks of CHO and 2 week's meat that will be further extended in next week's groceries.  Week by week we will increase our stores, eat nutritiously, and gain control of finances.  :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Land of Milk and Honey

My husband and I are studying the Old Testament together.  This week we read Numbers 14 where Joshua has to reassure the people that God wants them to eat milk and honey.  He wants them to have the richness of the land.  He wants them to prosper.  I wonder if sometimes we feel like God wants us to suffer and so we fail to take advantage of the opportunities we have when we have them - then it is too late.  God wants to prepare us to meet challenges like those in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami; He wants us to prepare for unemployment; He wants us to prepare for rising oil prices and world turmoil.  Preparing is a process that takes faith.  The preparation had to occur on a daily basis.  Yesterday I felt I should stop by one grocery store - not knowing exactly what I was stopping for - I stopped.  They had just cleared the produce racks and I stocked up on apples and bananas for 1/2 the price.  With the savings I bought some quinoa flour to try some gluten free baking.  I marveled, God does provide for us, He will prepare us for times to come and He will fortify us to make it through the challenges we face one day at a time. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Training Dogs and Children

My Dad spent three months in the mountains herding sheep when I was two years old.  He spent the summer training a sheep dog.  That dog could round up a whole herd of bulls and push them down the field with one voice command from my Dad.

I had to chuckle when I read this months Readers Digest article "Sit, Stay,Whoa!"  Certainly dog trainers have more consistency than the crowd offering child rearing advice.  My favorite grains of wisdom were to leave the pup with its mother for at least 28 days or the equivalent of 6 months in human years.  To remove a pup from its mom sooner spells "disaster."  Commands need to be short and start early.  In an interesting study pups trained to be Guide Dogs for the Blind when started at one year 20% were successfully trained.  When the age of training started at 5 weeks the success rate went up 90%.

Come to think about it, my Dad employed one command in rearing children that may have had it's origin in dog training.  I personally think it quite effective - no long reasoning sessions, no reverse psychology, no threats, just a command that meant "No, Stop That, Danger!"  His command was SSSST!  We learned, almost subconsciously, to obey immediately.

Breakfast today:
Oatmeal/Cinnamon Bread
left over Rice Pudding, Ham Scram, and Chicken Supreme

Lunch:  Leftover Stew from Sunday's Pot Luck Social (Chunks of pork tenderloin, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and hamburger - precooked and frozen.  Simmer together until vegetables are tender.  Season with salt, pepper, onion salt, herbs de provence or Italian flavoring.)

Dinner: Chicken breasts with Bow tie Pasta and Pesto, Steamed Cauliflower and Broccoli, Cabbage/ Ramen Noodle Salad.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup -

Broccoli Cheese Soup

For a celebration, I bought a requested meal of Broccoli Cheese Soup from a restaurant for my daughter.  She was delighted.  It would have cost $40 dollars for 3/4 of a gallon.  I decided to make a gallon at home to feed the family while my daughter enjoyed someone else's cooking.  The homemade soup passed the taste test.  This recipe uses all items in my food storage.  The cost was less than $5.00 for the whole gallon. Victory again!  Thank goodness.

1 gallon water
2 cups white sauce mix
2 cups cheddar cheese ( or flavors you like - 1/2 pizza cheese and 1/2 cheddar)
2 TBS Parmesan cheese
1 can canned milk
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cups steamed chopped broccoli

I used broccoli pieces from our garden last year that were harvested after I cut the main head.  The little flowerettes that kept sprouting - I kept cutting, steaming for 3 minutes and freezing.

To avoid lumps, blend 2 cups white sauce with two cups of the water first.  Mix with the gallon of water as it is heating.  Stir constantly because it will burn easily as it thickens and heats.  Add all other ingredients.  When the cheese is melted and the broccoli heated, serve. Delicious.

White Sauce mix:
2-1/3cups non instant dried milk /4 cups instant dried milk
1 cups flour
1 cup margarine

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fortitude - a Parental Must

This post has been milling in my mind for weeks.  Time to get at it!  Amy Chua is a Chinese mother who wrote an article entitled "Why Chinese mothers are Superior" for the Wall Street Journal published 8 January 2011.  The world has been in turmoil ever since.  Asian parents hate and resent her portrayal of Chinese parenting.  Western mothers are defensive.  Leaving the controversy, I find much to be said for the reasons behind the "stereotypical successful" Asian student: Asian Mothers are "in the trenches" with their children.  She clearly shows how Mothers Matter - mothers can "prepare their children...for the future by letting them see what they are capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away."  The methods are debatable and up to each individual parent but of little debate is that when Mothers care enough - it "requires fortitude." Too many parents from the western mindset have shown that mothers matter as well by their absence in aiding a child to be the best he can be.  They blame society, peers, or teachers for less than stellar performance  instead of taking responsibility.  Too many legislators and school personell want to create another program instead of expecting the best of our parents.

Last week we arrived home from the grocery store at 4:30, the children were starving and snacking on yogurts I had just purchased as they ran in and out of the kitchen searching for food - there was nothing else available to eat.  Hungry and exhausted myself, I fought a mental/emotional battle and decided I would be strong and I would try even though it would have been nice to call in a pizza or send someone out for hamburgers.  I threw some macaroni into water to boil.  In the next 15 minutes I decided what to do with the macaroni, cleared the kitchen, put groceries away and started setting the table.  My six year old ran into the kitchen, peered into the pot "What are you cooking. Mommy?"  Seeing the macaroni she exclaimed  " Oh! macaroni and cheese! I love macaroni and cheese!  I love you Mommy."  She hopped down, ran away and miraculously, the foraging in the kitchen ceased.   A calm prevailed and I prepared macaroni/ hamburger/tomato  (my from scratch version of hamburger helper).  We enjoyed a wonderful family dinner.  That is fortitude.  

Apple Muffins

This is an Applesauce Bread recipe that I make into muffins.  I often substitute pumpkin for the applesauce for variety.

2 cups shortening (melted butter, margarine, or oil.  If using oil the amount can be cut to 1-1/2 cups for a lower calorie version.)
1-1/2 cup white sugar
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs (increase to 6 if trying to boost nutrition)
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp salt
2 tsp  each vanilla and almond flavoring
8 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 cups applesauce

2 cups raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc..

Top with Crisp topping and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Bake ahead of time and freeze or make batter and refrigerate ready to bake fresh.

Granola Bars

This recipe for Granola bars was emailed to me.  It is the best combination I have tried.  The children like lots of chocolate chips but I make them with lost of different add ins with wonderful results.  These are soft and chewy.

4-1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup melted butter
1 cup honey
1/3  cup brown sugar

Optional add ins for better nutrition or flavor

1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup wheat germ
2 cups chocolate chips
2 frozen and then thawed bananas

Mix all the ingredients.  Bake at 300 degrees for 18 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Do not over bake.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vegetable Shortage

The newspaper reported a freeze in Mexico killed 60% of the vegetable crop.  Since most of our fresh vegetables come from Mexico this time of year, the market impact is significant.  Wholesale prices for a case of tomatoes rose from $21 to $64.  I am taking the hint.  I am planting a garden and bottling tomatoes, freezing green peppers, and increasing my reserves.  We can enjoy healthy vegetables from home preserves until the prices stabilize.

A webnar broadcast that teaches gardening skills and features 18 webcasts with an average length of nine minutes each was recommended to me. The innovative gardening techniques will encourage anyone to try.  This is inspiring enough to provide a living for homeless in Chicago and create beautiful, efficient living space in St. Louis helping people live without government aid.  It is worth a peek.

Breakfast: Rice pudding
Lunch: granola bars/ apple muffins
Dinner:  homemade Pizza

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snowed in - What are the Basics?

One third of the nation was buried in snow and ice last Monday.  We reveled in the excuse to stay home and make a memory.  We started with a candle light dinner on Monday night - spaghetti, homemade French Bread, lettuce salad, and eggless chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Tuesday morning the challenge was to prepare pancakes that had been on request for several weeks with no eggs.  Again I pulled a couple of frozen banana's, thawed them in the microwave, added 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 cup extra flour (for a recipe that called for 2-1/2 cups of flour.)  They were delicious and stayed together.

Deciding what to store:

As an exercise in deciding what would be best to put in food storage, look at the ingredients in these basic foods:

Sandwich bread:
water, yeast, sugar, flour, salt, oil

Dinner rolls:
milk (can use water), yeast, sugar, flour, salt, oil or butter

Pizza crust:
water, yeast, sugar, flour, salt, oil

French Bread:
water, yeast, sugar, flour, salt

Pie Dough:
flour, butter, water, salt, sugar

Naan (Indian bread)
water, yeast, sugar, salt, flour, flavoring of choice (onion, garlic, almond)

Water(milk), yeast, sugar, flour, oil, salt, Butter to roll between layers of dough

Irish Soda Bread:
buttermilk, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, eggs, Additives as desired (raisins, caraway seeds, etc)

Flour, salt, oil, water

Chapati (Indian tortillas
flour, water, salt, oil

Unleavened Flat Bread (Passover style):
Milk(or water), Flour, salt, butter, eggs yolks

Four, baking powder, salt, butter or margarine, egg(optional)
flour, butter/margarine, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs

Flour, (eggs), water,  salt ( if the pasta is to be dried use water instead of eggs) olive oil can add flavor

If our shelves have Flour, water, oil, salt, sugar, yeast,  baking powder, and baking soda, butter or margarine... In most any combination, our children won't go hungry.

Using 45 minutes

Last Saturday I had 45 minutes to do cooking before the mad dash began-our whole family would be coming and going in different directions for the whole day.  I started onions frying for Joe's Potatoes; pork tidbits frying for pork fried rice, and water boiling for diced potatoes (turned into hash brows the next morning.)  While these items were browning, I peeled 10 pounds of potatoes - scraping off the cut and dark areas while leaving most of the skin intact (most of the vitamin C is in the skin and if the restaurants can serve potatoes with skin so can I).  I cut 5 pounds of the potatoes in rounds and diced 5 pounds to boil.  By the time I was finished peeling, the onions and pork was ready for the next ingredient.  I added the potatoes to the onions and water to the pork.  I added water to yield the finished amount of rice that I wanted then added to rice:  6 cups of cooked rice needs 6 cups of water and 2 cups of regular rice.)  I added spice, salt and pepper and turned the pans off leaving the raw ingredients to cook in the hot water on stove top while we were away before lunch.

When I returned, the house smelled wonderful and I felt an instant security that food was ready.  My husband and a couple of children were there sampling the goods.  The morning had been a success.  I finished the pork fried rice by adding some garlic paste, ginger paste and soy sauce.  Leftovers from that 45 minutes preparation would feed us over the next few days with a lunch of fried rice to put in the freezer for next week as well (yes it was a lot.)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting the Best Deal

Buying food without spending a premium is a skill that comes with practice.  To start build a menu that uses basics instead of ready prepared or boxed mixes.  The difference in cost between a box of au gratin potatoes and au gratin potatoes from scratch is  enough to  pay for two meals.

Secondly list the ingredients that you use most frequently.  Track the high and the low prices on these items.   I have one friend that carries a list of maybe 50 items that she regularly buys with the best prices she can find on a regular basis (non-sale).  Then when she is in the grocery store she can double check  the current price and compare between stores to help her make a good choice when buying.  Sometimes sales are not really sales.  For instance, 4/$5.00 may be higher than regular price at a different store.  If it is a good sale, buy double what you normally use.  Slowly the shelves fill up.  The same strategy can be employed with coupons.  Know what is a good deal and what is not.

On items that go on sale seasonally, buy lite through the rest of the year and save for stock up when that item comes on sale.  Flour is such an item.  The best time to look for loss leaders is between November 15- December 25.  Potatoes are a loss leader around the first of October, the end of January, and again the last of May/first of June.  Frozen Salmon and fish are on sale through Lent.  In most cases the Loss Leader sales are better than road side stands, restaurant supply, or regular grocery store prices.   Although all of these venues may be the bast route to take in any given area.  (In WI maybe the wholesale outlets are the best place to buy produce in bulk and split it up.)

Price out the price per unit (ounce or for Toilet paper it is the square) to make sure that you are comparing apples and apples.  Frozen vegetables are packaged in 12 ounces and 16 ounces.  Don't be fooled by a lower price for a lesser amount.  Here is also where one can determine if buying in bulk is effective or not.  Sometimes it is more expensive.

Don't worry if you don't always get the best deal if the bulk of the menu is built on the basics the cost per meal will most often be lower than eating out or buying boxes.  A regular price potato is $.30 per pound ( $.50-or higher for large bakers).  I counted the potatoes in a 10 pound sack and found the  average to be 10 cents per potato on the most expensive end.  Serving a meal where the main portion of the meal only cost 10 cents per person is still a very good deal.  Spice that potato with some onions, chili flavoring or butter and to give a delicious simple meal.  Rice is the same - an inexpensive way to build a delicious meal out of a long term shelf stable grain.

Be creative and know the sources, say a prayer and you'll find the price that is right for you.  I loved reading the story of a mother who always said a prayer before going into a store.  Inevitably when she entered she would hear over the speakers that a particular item would be on special for just the next hour.  She thanked God for leading her to that store at that time.  Those items were ones that she needed but had even forgotten to put them on the list to shop for them.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011


A year has passed since our family completed a challenge to stay out of grocery stores for 90 days.  Two days ago when the teenagers suggested we stock up on items for food storage, I knew they had internalized the lesson.  Preparation yields comfort and security.  I also realized a mother's pay off when her children learn a lesson that will protect them for life.  Mothers Matter.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Empty Shelves in Georgia - Indian Potatoes

The stark grocery shelves in Georgia this week serve as a reminder to each of us that we need to prepare.  I almost feel guilty posting on Sunday until I remember that it is God's purpose to keep body and soul together.  This week I reviewed the story of Joseph sold into Egypt.  God prepared him to be in Egypt during a time of plenty so he could offer life saving food to his family during the times of want.  Each of us must prepare.

Our family bought potatoes last October when they dropped to 10 cents a pound.  We have eaten these potatoes for 3-1/2 months.  We have 6 weeks more storage of fresh potatoes.  We have enjoyed them mashed, baked, fried in potato skillets, Indian potatoes (recipe follows), and in soups.  It cost less than $20 for a 20 week supply for our family of 10.  Potatoes have 45% per serving of the RDA for Vitamin C if the skin is included in the meal.  This is a smart investment if the climate allows for storage.

The 25 pounds of rice that we purchased for $7.00 in the summer lasted easily 3 months with heavy use. We use rice under stir fries, gravies and curry soups; in soup, in chicken and rice dishes cooked in the crock pot and oven, in rice pudding, in jambalaya, pork fried rice and meatballs...

Flour dropped from $2.00 for 5 pounds to $.80 a 5 pound bag.  We bought a years supply of white flour.  We put it outside when temperatures were below freezing for 2-3 days.  This killed any larvae that may have been in the packaging.  Flour will store well if frozen for 48 hours and put in water proof containers.

Celery dropped to 20 cents a bunch at Thanksgiving.  I bought 8 bunches.  We are still enjoying the celery in soups.  It is still crunchy.

We have enjoyed a couple of turkeys from Thanksgiving sales, 80% lean ground beef has been on sale for $1.68 per pound.  I brown 10 pounds at a time, drain the fat and rinse the meat with hot water unless I am cooking to add calories and flavor. I freeze the browned meat in meal size portions.  For people with severely restricted diets due to allergies or intolerance's, the fat and flavor are needed.

Chicken hind quarters purchased for 40 cents a pound are prepared the same way: boiled, boned, and frozen in meal size portions.  The broth from boiling the chicken is used in a big pot of soup.

Other loss leaders over the last few months have allowed us to have all the cottage cheese we wanted; pasta, cake mixes, and pineapple tidbits to last over a year.

Our homes are the most reliable place to have food stored for times of need.  It takes minimal amount of cash to buy and store what one uses on a regular basis.  Buying on loss leaders and using what one has allows families to store what they normally eat.  The more variety in a "normal diet" insures greater flexibility in times of need.

Here is a recipe that our family really enjoys.  Originally this is an aloo gobi recipe from the Internet.  At an Indian restaurant, we found this dish to also be served with cabbage instead of cauliflower. I've modified the spices so it is not hot.

Indian Potatoes (for 10)

2 Tablespoons of oil
5 pounds potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch squares
1 small head of cabbage cut into wedges and halved again (or 1/2 head large cauliflower)
1 Tablespoon fresh ground ginger (purchased fresh in a jar from Indian store)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
1/2 cup water

Put oil in large pot, add cabbage or cauliflower cut into large floweretts
Add potatoes.  Stir frequently.  Add spices and water.  Stir.
When potatoes are almost tender, I turn off the pot, cover the pot, and let the whole mixture steam.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Expecting Miracles and Conversations

This Holiday Jesus's first miracle caused me to smile at the vision and power of Mothers.  Jesus's mother comes and makes him aware that they have run out of wine.  Jesus makes large jars of water turn to wine.  The guests acclaim the best wine was saved for last.  Guests at the party are blessed, Jesus's mother is relieved and for the first time the public becomes aware of Jesus's power to perform miracles.  Could Jesus have done such marvels if his mother had not first expressed faith in Jesus and second had not asked Him to intervene?  Most miracles come as a result of asking.  Mothers have special interest and can ask with a sincere heart.  God will answer such prayers.


We made a large pot of soup the ratios were:
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can cut green beans
1/3 pound ground beef (already browned and in the freezer.)
1/2 cup raw macaroni added to the mix
1- 1/2 cups (or 1 can) water
2 bullion cubes
salt and pepper to taste

While my four year old sat and ate his soup alone this morning, he posed the dilema,
"Mom, I have to find a girl."
"A Girl?"
"Yea, the right girl to marry."
"Oh, how are you going to do that?"
"I don't know," with a really worried tone.
"Do you think God wants you to have the right girl? May be you can pray and ask him to help protect the right girl for you."  

Such innocent conversations are shared spontaneously over a bowl of soup/simple meals.  I cook to have such conversation.  

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Resolutions

Our homes are the soul of our country.  The moral character of our citizens is directed in the ebb and flow of conversation around the dinner table.  To strengthen our homes, our communities and our nation it would be prudent to retrench to a lifestyle that requires 1) cooking from scratch, 2) sitting together for mealtimes, 3) nourishing relationships of friends and family, and 4) building our own strength to carry out such a plan.

This holiday my 18 month old helped me roll out gingerbread men.  She was grabbing the little boys scrunching them into a handful and plopping them on the baking sheet as fast as she could.  I was desperately trying to roll, cut out, and get those gingerbread boys on the sheet before she could pull them off.  It was chaotic.  Just as I was ready to scream, I had to laugh.  My baby was loving the moment.  She was in the center of the fun.  I had to re-evaluate.   The goal was to build a memory and a pleasant feeling of holiday cooking with my baby, not to produce a perfect gingerbread boy.  I smiled and gave her a compliment.  Success had been achieved.

For New Year's Eve (We ate all evening as we watched the New York ball drop and other festivities, played games, and watched movies at home.)

Cream cheese ball with crackers
Vegetable tray
M&M's and chocolate mint cookies
Shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce
Twice baked potatoes
Banana's Foster with Ice Cream
Chips and dip