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.