Showing posts with label economic tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economic tips. Show all posts

Making Your Own Biscuit and Pancake Mix

>> Saturday, April 24, 2010


There are reasons for buying pre-made mixes like Bisquick and Jiffy and there are reasons for making your own baking products. Cost is certainly a factor in most cases. In the long run you can make batches of this homemade mix for cents compared to boxes of pre-made mixes but in my opinion the self sufficiency you get from being able to make the mixes, control the products that go into your recipes and the quality is very important.

I love using a quick mix like this for so many items. My favorites include pancakes, baking powder biscuits and quick breads. There are many more yummy things to use your quick mixes for like dumplings, pizza dough, pot pies...and the list goes on.....

Biscuit and Pancake Mix

6 cups flour (try mixing all purpose and wheat)
3 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening

Combine the flour, baking powder, powdered milk and salt and stir until well mixed. Using a pastry blender or two knives cut in the vegetable shortening until coarse meal.

Put in sealed bag or container, date and refrigerate for up to six weeks. Makes 8 cups.

To make drop biscuits add 2 cups mix and 1/2 cup milk, mix and drop onto cookie sheet, bake 8-10 minutes.

Cutout Biscuits do the same as drop biscuits except turn out on a lightly floured surface and gently knead 10 times, roll and cut out.

Pancakes use 2 cups mix, 2 large eggs and 1 cup milk, mix and griddle.

Scones use 2 cups mix, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 eggs 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, preheat oven to 425, stir mix and sugar, beat eggs and cream into mix until dough forms, turn out on lightly floured surface and knead 6 times, roll out and cut into 1/2 inch thick scone rounds (or shape of your choice) don't knead again. bake for 10-15 mins. Try adding chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruits, cheese or whatever takes your fancy to the mix. Cinnamon would be good!

To make dumplings just make like drop biscuits and drop small spoonfuls into hot broth.

A good tip is to look up Bisquick recipes and just replace with this mix. One of my faves is to make taco meat and line the bottom of a rectangle pan with the meat. Top with the mix and gently press mix into meat, bake until done. Cut into squares and then top with cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, onions or whatever you like on your tacos. It is awesome. Happy baking.

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Making Your Own Cake Mix

>> Thursday, April 22, 2010

We all have opened a box of cake mix for easy prep and easier time management and most of us have tried our hands at the art of homemade cake baking as well. Some people can not tell the difference between the two and some people will swear by one or the other. I myself love both. I have a few different places where I am going to need to take a cake over the next few months. I could just purchase a cake mix or look up a recipe but this time I am going to make my own cake mix and then turn it into several different types of cake. Here is what you need to do this....


Homemade Basic Cake Mix

This can mix can be stored for 12 weeks and makes about 16 cups. Use it to create other cakes such as chocolate, spice and so on.

8 cups all purpose flour
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups (1 pound can) vegetable shortening

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir until all the ingredients are well blended.

Add the shortening and using a pastry blender or knives cut the shortening into flour mixture until it resembles very coarse crumbs.

Place the mix in airtight container or bag, date and store in cool, dry place or fridge for 10 to 12 weeks. I am going to use a mixture of cake flour and whole wheat flour that is made for baking. I am also going to use a mixture of splenda and sugar. From looking at the basic recipes you can use 2 eggs, 1 cup milk or water, and 3 1/3 cups of the mixture to make a cake and add what other spices and flavors work for you. You could replace the water with fruit juice (pineapple?) or butter with applesauce? The sky is the limit. Try your hand and see what comes out....I doubt your family will have an issue taste testing your ideas. Happy baking!!!

Now what? Make this chocolate cake.....

3 1/3 cup basic cake mix
9 table spoons cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Combine cake mix, cocoa, and half the milk and beat. Add rest of milk, eggs, butter and beat some more. Poor into baking sheets (pans) and Bake at 375 until comes out clean about 25 mins.

Don't want chocolate well then how about a spice cake?

5 cups basic cake mix
1 1/4 teas. each of nutmeg, cinnamon
1/2 teas cloves
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 eggs

How about adding some apples or carrots to this? The sky is the limit. Don't want water us milk or butter milk. No butter try applesauce.


Let me know how this turns out if you try it.

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Homemade Products: Cereals

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010


Cereals are not just for breakfast anymore. I use them as a quick lunch or dinner and even as a snack. They are great for putting in a baggie for fast snacking.

My friend Denise has a great granola recipe that you can see by going here. There are many granola recipes out there but I found Denise's to taste very good.


Let's talk oatmeal. How many of you purchase instant oatmeal for the ease? You can easily make your own to dsave money and give your family a quick meal with the best products you put in the recipe. Try out this recipe for oats that is sure to please and you can make it your way.

Oatmeal mix recipe: Combine in a large bowl 6 cups quick cooking oats, 1 1/3 cups dry milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Add one cup of dried fruits and or nuts. Like more fruit add some in, don't like the spices then leave them out. Dry milk is a little pricey but remember you can use it in a lot of other recipes. A quick tip on dried milk a long time ago I worked with a lady who had six kids and they just could not afford milk (imagine how much milk they would go through?) She used to make dry milk and then take a gallon jug putting half the dry milk and half the reg milk to cut down on the price.

How about Toasted Muesli for a great start to the day? I am going to make this for a snack for sure. Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 and in a 15x 10 baking pan 2 cups old fashion oats, 1/4 cup sunflower kernels, 1/4 cup sliced almonds and bake for 10 to 15 mins or until almonds are golden. In a large bowl combine 1/3 cup chopped dates, 2 tablespoons oat bran, and stir to coat the fruit with the bran. Add the toasted oat mixture, and 1 cup bran flakes, 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ, 1/4 cup raisins, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir to gently combine. Place in an airtight container label and date. makes 3 1/2 cups (7 servings)

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Homemade Products: Laundry Soap


I have been making my own laundry soap for a couple of years now. I have mostly made the liquid form up until recently. It is very easy and after many recipes I found the easiest one for me. Some is just trial and error until you find a mix that works for you. The recipe for the dry laundry detergent is as follows:

Laundry Soap: 1/2 Cup soap flakes (grated soap bars), 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup washing soda, 1/4 cup borax, 1 clean 16 oz plastic container. To make lightly grate the bars of soap, mix all together and store in tightly sealed container. Use 1/2 cup of mixture for each load of laundry.

Tips for this recipe: one bar of Ivory soap equaled 1/2 cup, 3 bars to a pack so I tripled the recipe. I just sat down and hand grated the bars it is very easy and use the fine grate. You can use any type of bar soap. If you like more smell then use a heavier scented soap. My grandmother loved to use Zest because it cleans like crazy and she used it as a spot remover too. I use ivory because it has a clean smell. I have no issue with my dry skin or sensitive skin using these products. Washing Soda is different then baking soda and can be bought on line. Around here I have only found it at Meijers in the laundry aisle. It is about 2-3 bucks a box.

If you want a homemade Fabric Softener try this recipe: 1/2 cup vinegar poured into the final rinse cycle or dispenser. The smell fades away and it leaves your clothes soft and is more gentle on the clothes then regular softeners. I have used it and it does work however I like April fresh and it doesn't bother my allergies so I stay with that vice.

The Liquid Detergent go here to a previous post I had on this recipe. (I found you can use ivory dish detergent in place of bar soap or ivory hand soap)

Want to see what you can use these products to do? Click on the links: vinegar, washing soda (explains what washing soda is...), baking soda and borax

Homemade laundry soap will NOT suds up like regular laundry soap. Do not be alarmed by this it is still working it just doesn't need additives to suds. I like the ease of the dry soap a scoop in the machine as it fills up and you are good to go. I like the liquid but it is a little messy most people call it gloop because it looks like that but it works well too.

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Homemade Products: Lotion

>> Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am really hyped about this lotion. I made the body butter last week and it has been working great but is a little harder and I do like a creamy lotion. I found this recipe and I just whipped up two batches in less then 15 mins. LOVE IT! Keep in mind that the ingredients you buy can be used for many, many other things and so your investment over time is minimal. Let me give you the actual recipe and then I will break it down into what I did and how it turned out for me.

  • ½ cup distilled water
  • ½ cup oil (I usually use olive, almond, macadamia nut, or grape seed) 1 TBS liquid lecithin

You can experiment from here by adding essential oils, combining other oils; you can steep beneficial herbs into your water before you add your oil, etc. . .

Here is a nice winter lotion to get you started:

  • ½ cup distilled water
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 TBS lecithin
  • 6-8 drops of geranium oil
  • 2-4 drops Myrrh oil
  • 400 IU Vitamin E oil (1-2 open capsules)

Geranium oil is good for supporting balance and rejuvenating dry skin conditions and for wrinkled and matured skin. Myrrh is a gentle oil that is effective in replenishing moisture.

Vitamin E oil is an excellent antioxidant and helps to protect the skin as well as a nice preservative.

Blend all ingredients in the blender either on whip or cream. You will have a nice creamy firm lotion. Add more water to make a lighter lotion. Store in the refrigerator in hot climates or store in a cool place. Shake well before use.

Enjoy your lotion. Hopefully this little recipe will inspire you to become creative!


OK lets break this down. Water-I read online that using distilled water is better because of the chemicals (chlorine) in tap water. We have well water so I just used that but remember the shelf life of homemade lotions is less then preservative store bought ones.



Vitamin E I bought liquid soft gels from dollar general for $6. This was cheaper then most stores. You can use the Vitamin E for lots of things and actually take it as a supplement. Cut the end off the capsule and squeeze out the liquid.



Liquid Lecithin is a pure vegetable substance. I found it at the Vitamin world for 4.99. Get the small bottle it will last forever.



Oils- I used Almond oil and jojoba oil. I made two batches and on the first batch used the almond only and on the second batch I mixed the two oils. You can use all types of oils. When they say olive oil they are talking about pure cold pressed olive oil not extra virgin.



(geranium, myrrh, orange, lemon, lavender and more are essential oils you can find in the tiny jars at health food stores and more. Here is the website for the place I get mine for a fraction of the price at health food places. You can also get the lots of other ingredients there and oils as well. Swanson health products )



I had geranium oil so I did use that in the first batch and substitute jojoba oil for the myrrh oil. I found the geranium oil a little over powering, it smells fine but just not me.



The second batch I used orange and lemon oils because I love citrus smells and it was perfect. Just make sure the scents you use won't bother your skin or others if giving it away.



The whole thing was as easy as could be. Put all the ingredients in a glass bowl and mix with a hand blender. I have a blender that you can put a whipping setting on so I did that. It took only a few minutes on low/high and I had a nice creamy lotion.



Don't forget to get containers to put your lotions inside...I was at Walmart today and they have containers in the travel section. These are perfect. I used a funnel to get my lotion in the container and I was done. Remember to keep your lotion in a cool place out of the sun and direct light. It should last you a couple of months. I am so happy with the outcome of this lotion.



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Homemade Products: Healthy Home Remedies

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that most colds/flu are viral and no pill can help anyway. These home remedies are to help make you feel more comfortable as you struggle through the aches and pains of winter. They are not meant to replace a doctors advice.


Winter oh yes Winter. The house is stuffy and so is your nose. The cost of health care is rising and so is the products we need to get well. I know my husband and my cobra health care has finally run out and we just can not afford to go to the doctor. There are coupons out there for buying cough syrup, decongestants and more but this year I purchased some simple staples to keep on hand to see if we could heal ourselves more organically. Keep in mind that if you are on medicines as I am you don't want to mix other chemicals with your meds (store bought stuff) so I am always willing to try something new. I also HATE taking any more pills. I take enough in a day as it is. So here is to your health and never actually needing to make any of these products.

Essential oils are expansive and you want to make sure you use real oils. My friend Sara told me about a great online site that I ordered from and I now have a lot of my oils on hand for cleaning and wellness for a fraction of the price at the store. Oils should be stored in cool, dry, place and they last a long time. I also got my oils, Shae butter, cocoa butter, aloe Vera and more from here.

Electrolyte Drink for Diarrhea: If diarrhea persist for more than 24 hours seek a doctor. 1 cup apple juice, 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, juice from a lemon or lime. In a pitcher combine apple juice, water, salt and lemon. Store in Fridge. Drink throughout day to maintain hydration and balance of electrolytes.

Chest Rub for Colds/Bronchitis: 30 drops of massage or oil (almond, jojoba, avocado) 5-10 drops of eucalyptus or wintergreen essential oil. In small bowl mix the carrier oil with the essential oil and rub on your chest. Cover your chest with a cotton towel or flannel and place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of flannel and snuggle under blankets.


Another Chest Rub: 12 drops eucalyptus oil, 8 drops essential oil, 4 drops peppermint oil, 2 tablespoons almond or olive oil. In small dish, mix all. Rub on chest and cover with a warm, damp flannel (warm in microwave) and leave on until warmth fades. Don't burn yourself!!

Cough Suppressant Medicine: 1 large onion finely diced, 2 cloves garlic finely diced, 2 tablespoons diced fresh ginger and honey. In small saucepan, combine onion, garlic and ginger. Add honey to cover and cook for 30min on very low heat. Mash together and let cool. Store in clean jar with tight lid in fridge. Take one teaspoon every 15 to 30 mins.

Steam cough Relief: 4 cups water, 2 drops thyme oil, 4 drops eucalyptus oil and 2 drops hyssop essential oil. In saucepan over medium heat get almost boiling, pour into a bowl and add oils, hold your head over the bowl about 8 inches above water and drape a towel over your head. Keep eyes closed and breath deeply until water cools.

Gargle Solution: This old fashioned gargle will make your throat feel much better and costs little. 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 quart warm water. Combine and shake well, gargle with 1/2 cup as often as needed.

Herbal Inhalant: 1/4-1/2 teaspoons rock salt, 2-4 drops peppermint oil, 2-4 drops eucalyptus oil, 2-4 drops wintergreen oil. Put the rock salt in bottle of small glass jar or bottle and add oils. Carry with you and sniff as needed to open clogged nasal passages. (I usually don't have rock salt but I would probably just use sea salt to see what would happen) Can you imagine what this might look like if you pull up to someone driving and sniffing? LOL...Bet it works well.

Decongestant Salve: Give that blue/green bottle a run for its money. 4 ounces olive oil, 1/2 once of each peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, 1/2 wintergreen oil, 1/2 grated beeswax and 4 drops tincture of benzoin. In the micro using 30 sec intervals heat oils, add beeswax and tincture of benzoin and stir until melted. Pour into clean jar with tight top and allow to cool. Put under your nose or chest as needed keep in cool place for up to two weeks.

Drops for Earache: If your kids have ear problems keep this on hand. Doctors don't like to give medicine for earaches anymore so try this one. 1 clove garlic crushed, 2 tablespoons fresh or dried mullein flower 1/2 cup almond or olive oil. Combine garlic and mullein flower then cover with the oil and seal the top, shake to blend. Store in cool, dark place and shake daily. Make sure herbs are under the oil for two weeks then strain and store in fridge. To treat earache let the oil come to room temp or run under warm water and dispense 2-3 drops with eye dropper, massage in ear to help the oil make its way thru the ear canal.

Fever Spray: Spraying pulse points (wrists, behind knees, jaw) with this soothing solution will bring down a fever quicker then any pill. It feels good too. 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/4 cup witch hazel, 3 drops peppermint oil, 2 drops lavender essential oil. In clean spray bottle combine, shake and chill in fridge. Spray on pulse points. Avoid mouth/eyes.

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Homemade Products: Salad Dressing

>> Sunday, January 17, 2010

Salad dressing. Remember back when we were little and there were just a few choices? Thousand island, Italian, Russian/french? Now that Ranch has made it way on the frontier you also have every variety known to man out there. What is in those convenient little bottles? Well a bunch of fat and chemicals to preserve it. Now I know I am guilty too there is nothing like dipping a chicken nugget in a creamy ranch or slathering some honey mustard on a snack and all that is fine when you are at a restaurant but what about when you are home and you have access to the healthier stuff? Well here are a few recipes to get your started.

Butter Milk Dressing Mix: This mix is easy to make and stores in the fridge for a month. 4 1/2 cups butter milk powder, 1 1/2 cups freeze dried chives, 1/2 cup dried dill crumbled, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup dry mustard. Whisk together until well blended. makes 7 cups

Butter Milk Dressing: 10 tablespoons of butter milk dressing mix, 1 cup warm water, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt. Whisk together until blended, let sit at room temp. for an hour then stir until well blended. Makes two cups.


Ranch Dressing Mix: 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dried minced onion, 1 tablespoon dried, crumbled parsley, 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder. Put in small air tight container and shake to blend can be stored in cool dark cupboard for up to a year. Makes 6 tablespoons.

Ranch Dressing: 1 container Ranch dressing mix, 1 cup mayo, 1 cup buttermilk. Blend well and refrigerate leftovers, Makes 2 cups.

Orange and Almond Dressing: 3 tablespoons orange juice, 4 tablespoons almond oil, 2 table spoons oil (olive, canola etc), salt and pepper to taste. Combine and whisk before using. Stores for up to a week in air tight container. Makes 1/2 cup.

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Homemade Products: Cleaning Products (freshners, polishes and mold)

>> Saturday, January 16, 2010


There are so many coupons available these days for air fresheners. You can get fa breeze, Lysol, candles, glade the list goes on and on however there is one thing you get in these products you didn't bargain for and that is chemicals that can be breathed into your body. Yes they can be cheap, easy and convenient I won't deny that but I can honestly say I have not missed them in my home in the past several years. My allergies love the scented fresheners that I make and I don't have to worry about the harmful chemicals.

The recipe in the Homemade book is as follows: 12 oz spray bottle, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 25 drops of essential oils and 1 cup distilled water.

My recipe is pretty easy I get a spray bottle (I bought color ones for the bathrooms) and I put in water from the tap (we have well water). I add 20 to 40 drops of a couple different oils. I like the citrus smells and I tend to like it more overpowering. I would recommend labeling it for people who don't know what it is however in my house every one knows its use. Everyone loves it. In the bathroom you can give a few spritzes and it is heavenly. In the house a couple of quick sprays takes the smell out of the living room and kitchen. It dries quickly because you should but it on the mist setting.

Remember you can add a teaspoon of baking soda as well. Using tea tree and lavender oils have disinfectant agents as well.


Furniture Polishes

Lemon Oil Furniture Polish: 1 cup Olive oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1 clean 16 oz spray bottle. Combine and shake well. Apply small amount to soft flannel or cloth and apply evenly over wood surfaces. Use clean cloth to buff and polish. Make a fresh batch when you want to do furniture again.

NO Fuss Furniture Polish: 1/4 cup boiled linseed oil, 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/8 cup whiskey, clean 16 oz spray bottle. Combine and shake well. Apply small amount of polish to clean soft cloth and wipe on. No need to buff: the dullness will evaporate with the alcohol.

Mold & Mildew Removers

Spot Mold and Mildew Remover: 1 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons borax, 4 cups hot water, 16 oz spray bottle. Combine and shake well. Spray on surfaces and wipe off mildew or mold. This spray will help to keep more from forming. This works great on window sills, cabinets, bathrooms and other surfaces.


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Homemade Products: Cleaning Products

>> Thursday, January 14, 2010


General Housecleaning Recipes

I have been making my own cleaning products for the past few years. I love the fact that I can breathe when cleaning, it doesn't tear up my hands and hurt anyone or anything in my house. I find that I mostly use baking soda and vinegar for just about everything. I know a lot of people don't like the vinegar smell but I now associate it with clean!!! Here are some recipes from my new Homemade book that might interest all of you. I am going to break these down into sections and add a few new ones over the next few weeks. Here are some General Household cleaners.

Basic window and Glass cleaner: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2/3 gallon water container to mix it and spray bottle to put small amounts in. This will do a lot of windows. (Hint I just take a spray bottle and put part vinegar and part water and then use everywhere in my house) You can also make a super window wash by adding 1/4 C rubbing alcohol.

Citrus Disinfectant: Peel one orange, lime or lemon and add it to 3 cups white vinegar in a quart jar, store for 2 weeks, strain peels and you have a cleaner. You can also put in a small bowl and deodorize a room.

Tough Multipurpose Cleaner: 1 1/2 pints water, 1/3 c. rubbing alcohol, 1 teas. clear ammonia, 1/2 teas lemon juice, 32 oz spray bottle. combine and shake well.

Like the smell of Pine Sol? Pine Floor Cleaner: 1/2 c soap flakes (grated bar soap) 1/4 cu washing soda (I get mine from meijers) 1 cup salt, 2 c. water, 2 teas pine oil, 1 cup white vinegar and 1-16 oz plastic bottle. In sauce pan on low heat combine soap, washing soda, salt and water stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool slightly, add pine oil and put in bottle. Use the vinegar in half bucket of water to rinse the floor.

These are all good cleaners and I like the basic ingredients and you can add essential oils to most to get the desired smell. I often use baking soda to clean all parts of the kitchen and bathroom. If I need a scrub I make a past with some water and soda. I honestly use my water vinegar mixture with a couple of drops of liquid soap on everything in my house. I will add more recipes for cleaning over the next few weeks. Happy Cleaning.

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How do you do your oatmeal?

>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The winter winds will soon be knocking on your door. You want to lose some pounds, you want to get the kids off to school with a full stomach and a warm but quick breakfast...well oatmeal to the rescue. The winter months bring many coupons and sales for oatmeal as well so you can really scoop on the savings and make a cheap, easy meal. It's not just for breakfast either. Think of a busy day of running around, the snow is falling and you make oatmeal with a table center piece of options to put in the oatmeal. Finish it up with some wholesome milk or a smoothie and your family will be full and satisfied. So the next time you see instant oats, old fashioned oats or steel cut oats on sale with a coupon in hand plan a breakfast, lunch or dinner for cheap.


Growing up I had oatmeal on special occasions...we were not a breakfast family. We had it cooked on the stove and we poured milk over it and had brown sugar too. I still like it with brown sugar but I also like raisins, dates and nuts too. But there are a million different ways you can eat your oatmeal and here is a site to help you do just that! Some of them seem off the wall but you know...if you like it and it is good for you...go for it. When I saw this site I thought...well we are always looking for new recipes, and economic eating...here you go.


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Pie without the crust? I don't think so...

>> Friday, September 25, 2009


I went back to my local Shelton's store and got another bushel of apples for $4.99. I also got a peck of gala apples to mix with the Paula Red's for the applesauce. The applesauce was super easy. I don't have a special mill or anything. I peeled, cored and sliced the apples. I have no idea how many I used, maybe 1/2 bushel. I used a big stock pot and added about 2 inches or so of apple juice (I used simply apple juice). Start the apples and juice cooking to get the apples tender. After they start getting really hot and tender put them on low with a lid and let them simmer until done. I added about a cup of cinnamon sugar. (this was special raw sugar that had Cinnamon on it). I took a hand held blender and blended away. My daughter likes it with little bits of apples so I blended until I had the consistency I wanted. Taste test .....we had several bowls to make sure we got it just right. SMILE. Let it cool some and put in your freezer bags. Very easy you can't go wrong.





Those were only $2.69 a peck. Last night I did some research on the pie crusts and found that freezing pie crusts are a simple way to have them on hand. I can't stand store bought pie crusts. Here is the recipe I found to make a good old fashion crust. Once you get them into the disc size then you wrap them in wax paper and saran wrap, then put them into a Ziploc bag to pull out the night before you want to make the pie. I figured I might as well get all this done and have all the pie makings at hand or else I wont use up all the apples I am freezing.

My goal this week is to get all the pie crusts done, wrapped and frozen. Tonight and Sunday I will be working on finishing up the apple pie filling, applesauce, plain apples and pumpkin puree. I have a few more zucchini left in the garden that need to be shredded up as well. Other then that I believe I am done with the canning/freezing portion of this years food.

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I have learned this year about making my own food, canning/freezing, gardening and more.

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Canning and Freezing....more stuff UPDATED

>> Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Update on all my work today. The carrots and celery came out fine. I loved using my dicer to do the work. I also got this handy new peeler and I will never go back to using a hand held peeler again. Here is a picture of the peeler. It cost $5.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It fits in the palm of your hand. Sweet!

Here is a picture of the apple pie filling. I can not tell you how good this tastes.
There was a bit of a mess
up on the recipe amounts. I used 4 quarts (16 cups) of apples. I used two cups of sugar. Other wise I used the same amount they recommended for most everything else. I used freezer bags and so I mixed the apples and filling together before putting in the bags.

And you can also see the carrots and celery I bagged today as well. I have lots more apples to do tomorrow and will post an update on applesauce.


We have a local store called Shelton's here where they have produce at rock bottom prices, specials and locally grown fruits, veggies, and more. Depending on what you are looking for you usually get pretty good prices on seasonal items. Today's trip was a good one. I was able to get a bushel of Paula Red (Love that they are named after me...LOL) for $4.99. I got bulk carrots for a couple of bucks. Celery at .89 each, plums so cheap it was unbelievable and fresh cantaloupe for $1.00 each. I also got bulk walnuts (shelled) for $3.99 a pound, some smoked Cheddar cheese, eggs for .99 a doz and discounted bagged lettuce that date is 5 days away. I picked ups some other produce and milk as well.

My plan is to take the carrots and celery and freeze them in portion bags for cooking. Here is the thing with carrots and celery. I never have them on hand when I need them and canned mixed veggies are too salted and not used enough to take up space on the shelves. I love to make stews and pot pies during the winter and this will make for easy recipes this winter. For the prices I got I can't pass up the opportunity to stockpile some fresh produce. You can not can carrots unless you have a pressure cooker so I will be freezing mine. Go here to see how to do it.

From what I can see raw celery should not be frozen and it is recommended that it be steamed or boiled first. It doesn't have a long freeze time, (3 months) so I will make sure I use up what I do freeze before the end of the year.

I also will be freezing and canning my apples. I am going to make apple pie filling and will be making applesauce a bit later this next week or so. I will probably just have some bags of apples around for muffins and such as well. I plan on dicing part of the apples so the small size will already be ready for me to use.

I also got some mushrooms for a good price so I will be trying out the homemade mushroom soup and freezing some of that as well. My friend, Denise made it and said it was good.

So I have a lot to do in the next few days so I had better get to work and not let my good buys go to waste. I will post some pictures of all my hard work later. I truly feel this is all worth the effort, to help cut costs, eat healthier, have the produce on hand and make great food whenever I want to make it.

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Pumpkin Puree

>> Saturday, September 19, 2009


This was easy as pie, no pun intended. Above is the picture of the pumpkin puree. When I do it again, I will cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces which will be easier to handle. I cut the small pumpkins in half and they are HOT when they come out so it would be easier if the pieces were smaller. Go here if you want a recap of how to make/freeze your own pumpkin.

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Making Stewed Tomatoes or Spaghetti Sauce

>> Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How do you make your stewed tomatoes? Denise and I were having a conversation the other day about making tomato juice, sauce and more. We discussed that sometimes parts of the tomato goes to waste. I am sure there are better methods where you can use the juice, and the other parts but for us beginners and for ease of use the way I am about to show you has been the easiest for me when making stewed tomatoes. My Lasagna Garden is about done but I found a wealth of tomatoes from a close source and so the tomato canning/freezing continues.

The first thing you want to do is remove the skins because they become hard and yucky in when cooked. To do this boil a big pot of water and drop some of the tomatoes into it for 45 sec to 1 min. to blanch. If you have time making a big X on the bottom of the tomato can help to peel but I found that you really don't have to do so. I use tongs and grab the tomato out of the boiling water and place it in a bowl full of cold water. Most places will tell you it should have ice in it but I have found that using cold water from my tap has been fine. Place the tomato in there and then place more in the boiling water. Grab the ones out from the cold water and place in another bowl. And then just keep repeating until all your tomatoes are blanched. It takes only a few minutes. Below is a picture of what the tomatoes will look like when you blanch them. Notice the skins are coming off.
Now is the really messy part. I sat at the kitchen table and had a cutting board, a sharp knife, a clean bowl and a bowl for the discarded parts. Yes I find I use a lot of bowls. Being very careful because it is slippery peel off the skins and take the knife and core or cut off stem. Then cut in half (small) or quarters (bigger, rounder). Take your fingers (or a core scoop, fingers worked better) and just scrap out the seeds and take the harder whitish flesh with it. That doesn't break down in cooking.
This Roma type tomato is an easy tomato to de-seed. Below you see what a bigger, rounder tomato will look as you de-seed it.Once you have your tomatoes all done then comes the fun part. You get to really get dirty. You can use a potato masher of any other type of masher if you like and I do use those as I cook but for this first part you just stick you clean hands in the tomatoes and squish away.
Try taking a picture while squishing tomatoes....:). Once you are done squishing then put them into a pot and cook down. I put them on the lowest setting and slowly let them simmer apart. Stir every once and awhile and continue to break the tomatoes down with a masher if you don't want any chunks of tomato left. My family doesn't like the chunks so I break it down as much as I can. After you get the consistency you want you are ready to can or freeze. I made mine into spaghetti sauce and here you can see the product about an hour into the cooking. I will let this simmer for several hours and then cool slightly before I freeze it this evening.
A quick note. If you find you don't have enough tomatoes to make sauce then you can use what you have and add a few cans of tomato sauce. I did that with my first few batches because I didn't have enough tomatoes ripe to make a batch to freeze.

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Making your own Cream of Mushroom Soup

>> Monday, August 31, 2009

Today my friend Denise and I were discussing our canning/freezing over lunch. Our goal is to get as much "natural", "organic" and "homegrown" food/produce stored for winter. I told her I saw a recipe for cream of mushroom soup and after much searching I found it. This may be a lot better for cooking with because there is less salt and processed items in it...here it is if anyone wants to give it a try.

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Canning Tomatoes and Peaces

>> Saturday, August 29, 2009

I am exhausted. I decided to go ahead and can some tomato juice. This was messy but overall pretty easy to do. I just cored them and used my vadalia chopper to chop them up. You put them into a big pot and cook them down. Then you strain them, put the juice in the jars and give them a water bath. Sound simple and it was but it is time consuming and messy. Several times I thought to myself Tomato Juice from Aldi's is cheap and easy but at least I have organic, good juice to make some chili this winter.

I also stewed some tomatoes. These I did the same as above except I blanched to peal the tomatoes then de-seeded the tomatoes, then put them into a big pot and simmer crushing them as they heat up. Then can as normal. You can use this to make sauces, chili, soups and more.

Then....I ran to the store for more jars and started in on the peaches. I blanched as I did the tomatoes to get the skins off, them pitted them and put them through the vadalia chopper. I got the perfect consistency for making jam. Here is the recipe I followed.

The jam is finishing up in its water bath and I am tired! I still have peaches left over and I wanted to make and can peach pie filling but need to find some thing called clear gel to use instead of cornstarch. If I cant find it tomorrow (walmart didn't have it) then it will just have to be canned/frozen peaches.

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Time to freeze some more fruit

>> Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How are all of you doing on freezing or canning your summer produce? I have done fairly well with all that I have gotten this year. So far I have frozen zucchini both shredded and finely grated for sauces. I have frozen spaghetti sauce and fresh blueberries.

My friend Denise has been doing a great job of getting her produce put up this year. She has frozen and canned: blueberries, cherries, strawberries (I believe) and she has canned tomatoes, peaches, made some jellies and is working on some pickles. Good job Denise.

I plan to go get some farm fresh peaches and freeze some this week. Not too many but enough that I can make some fruit crisps this winter. Go here if you want to see how to can/freeze peaches.

This freezing and canning works great for fresh foods. You know what you are eating. You know where it came from and is economical in the long run. I have never canned before. I used to watch my mom do it every year. We had a huge basement growing up and had shelving that was like a grocery store. My mom canned tomatoes and we never used store bought. My dad (he did all the grocery shopping) stocked the shelves with food that he got on sale. He was a coupon man and whenever we needed something we just went downstairs. I have no space to put any canning I would do. I do have a big deep freezer in the garage. I would love to can but just don't know where I would put it.

Leave your stories of gardening, canning and freezing good or bad so we can all hear your great stories.

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Tomatoes...What are you going to do with yours?

>> Thursday, August 6, 2009

All of us gardeners have tomatoes that are just ripening or you are getting more than you can handle right now. What are your tomato plans?

I made some great meat sauce with my first tomato harvest. I plan on freezing the rest of my tomatoes in various ways. Here is some sites that can help you decide how to use your tomatoes. You can make tomato sauce, paste, spaghetti sauce or just freeze the tomatoes to use as needed.

If you are new to freezing or canning or just need to brush up on your knowledge then these sites are helpful as well. It showed me how to quickly blanch the tomatoes to get the skins off, how to cut and de-seed the tomatoes. There is step by step instructions on how to make all the different tomato options.

Spaghetti sauce go here.
How to freeze tomatoes go here.
How to make tomato paste go here.
How to make tomato sauce go here.

Remember that you can freeze or can the tomatoes. I plan on freezing them. I might try and can a few just to see but no sure because freezing is so easy.

Here is the meat sauce I made. I prepared the tomatoes as they suggested. I blanched them, peeled the skins, cut in half took out pulp and seeds. Put the tomato in a strainer and squeezed them. In the mean time I browned hamburger in olive oil and garlic paste. I also salted and peppered it. I then added my cheese grated zucchini. No one can even tell it was added to the browned beef. I added the tomatoes, and canned tomato sauce (of course didn't have any of my own at this time) so used what garden tomatoes I had and canned sauce. I added a bit of parsley, thyme, more pepper and some sugar. I slow cooked it on the lowest setting for about 2 hours and it was really good. The actual amount of everything is going to very for every person. So experiment and have some fun. I don't like bay leaves or basil so I never add them if I can avoid it.

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Lasagna Garden and Grandpa's dinner

>> Sunday, July 19, 2009


This is the first harvest of green beans and the second for zucchini. I put the beans and cut zucs in a zip lock steam fresh bag with some butter and pepper. Zapped it for a bit and gave it to grandpa with a smoky griller sausage and a zucchini muffin. Grandpa is easy to please and the veggies didn't go to waste because we would not be home to eat tomorrow.

I am enjoying the harvest so far. Something satisfying about picking and cooking within the same 15 Min's.

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Where do you get your meat?

>> Saturday, May 9, 2009


I get the majority of my meat from a local Amish butcher. I know where the meat comes from, I have been shopping there for over 19 years and I never have to worry about the quality of the meat. Where do you get your meat?

Now days there are issues with grass fed beef, free range chickens, pork and so on. Whether you shop at the local market or your local butcher be prepared to ask questions if you are concerned about where your meat comes from. I ran into my friend at our local butcher today and she was inquiring about buying a hog. I told her I would go halves with her. If buying is bulk is an option for you then you may want to find someone to go halves with you or let them know you are willing to split with someone that might be interested. The great thing about the butcher or asking for special things at the supermarket is you might get a deal that wasn't advertised.

My family used to be hog farmers. Today there are many who are worried about swine flu...please don't give up on pork, the flu is not passed by eating pork and farmers lives depends on the market.

Many books talk about cutting back on sausage, bacon and such because of the chemicals added but when you buy locally it is fresh and often smoked without the added chemicals.

I am not a huge pork person or a big time beef person but I like to know when I do cook up my meat I am getting the best price and the best product for my family.

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