Thursday, April 29, 2010


I just found a wonderful post all about herbs in your garden.

I just made tomato soup using basil and oregano from my garden.  It is so delicious!  If you haven't started planting, hop to it!

Check it out the post HERE.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Right now I am using powdered milk daily, several times daily.  Putting myself on rations has been good for me.  I am finding out where I have stored way too much and where I am perhaps short.

Other good information I have gained, is that. as short as we feel we are financially, we are doing better than we were 25 - 32 years ago.  Back then I wouldn't have cut a hot dog up in our omelet this morning and I would have used re-hydrated TVP that had been saute'ed in bacon grease.

I always go looking for new information when I return to using my supplies.  It's impossible to have too much information, at least in this department!

Today I am gleaning all I can from this website on EHow.COM .  Check it out HERE.

Little Side Note  - - I have always mixed my non-instant powdered milk in  blender.  I bought this little gem to make baby food and other small blending jobs.  Since it had a smallish traditional blender top, I sent my big top over to my single daughter and her roomies.  Little did I know that this top would allow milk to slosh everywhere!  I really don't need any help in the messy dept.

Yesterday I decided to try the way that my mom always blended flour and milk or water for gravy.  

I put half the water in a gallon jug, added all the powder needed to make a gallon of milk and shook it for a while.  Let it sit to allow any lingering lumps to get soggier.   Shook it a little more and its the best blending job I've had.  No powder sticking to the sides or lid.  Definitely the way to go for me from now on!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are You Rotating Your Freezer Storage?

I have been digging deeper in my freezer and finding a few items that would reach out and grab me if they could . .  you know kind of like those funny little items in the back of your fridge growing fuzz, feathers, and unmentionable stuff that polite people don't mention.

Fortunately, I have been pretty determined to keep everything labeled, including a date.  I am finding that the date isn't always a good indicator of the condition of the food.  In the previous post, I made Guacamole out of an avocado that I tossed in there last summer, just in its own skin. It was fine.  Tonight I took out some turkey that frozen in November.  There was no frost in the bag or any dry looking spots.  It had a little bit of an "off" flavor to it.  So out came the pot and in went the seasonings to simmer and make it tasty again.

Though freezing may not be the way to store most of our food, it is a wonderful invention which enables us to enjoy the fresh flavors of summer and autumn, so be sure to keep a good way of rotating it as well.

I had a huge chest type freezer for years and the bottom was impossible to rotate the foods in.  I ended up using five gallon buckets to sort everything, preferably with handles for lifting out.  After covering the bottom of the freezer, I created a second layer of buckets on top.  The top ones were so much easier to lift out of the way than the long baskets that came with the freezer were.

Because of change of circumstances and my family shrinking (growing up and leaving home), watching other's freezers quitting on them (mine was even older than any of their's, YIKES!)  I decided to down size and get an upright.  I found it no easier to keep organized for rotation and boy howdy did it hurt when something fell out on your toes!

So I spent several weeks looking for just the right size baskets to organize and act as "drawers".  It's working a lot better.  Now I can pull out a manageable weight to go through and find what needs to be used.


GUACAMOLE- - Pantry Substitutes in Red

1 - avocado, frozen (this one was about 6 " long)  of course a fresh one is even better
2 -  medium tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes)
1/2 t. crushed red chili pepper (or red chili powder)
1 t. minced garlic (1/2 t. garlic powder)
2 T.  minced onion  or  1/4 c. chopped gr. onion
(1. t. onion powder)
3 T. lime juice (lemon juice is OK, just not as tasty)
1/2 t. salt
**2 oz. cream cheese, softened (If using an avocado that was in the freezer, it will have the translucent appearance like you see in the next picture.  The cream cheese give is a creamier consistency and more normal appearance)

1.   I took this picture and then almost immediately changed it into a better shaped spaghetti bowl. I mash the avocado and cream cheese with a fork, stirring and mashing until it is very small chunks.  You can use a food processor if you would prefer a smoother consistency.

2.  Dice the tomatoes.  These are about 1/2"  - 3/4" in size.  Closer to 1/4" will disperse through the mixture better than this did.  :-)

Now is the time to add your garlic, onion, lime juice, salt and crushed red
chili peppers.

  Mix it really well.  Before you add more salt, try it on a chip.  Most have a lot of salt on them which will make a difference in the taste as you are munching!

  1. Now put the kids to bed or send them home with their parents.
  2. Find a good movie.
  3. Put your feet up.
  4. Enjoy!!
Little side note:  When I was growing up Guacamole was smash an avocado and mix it with some Mt. Pass Taco Sauce, the whole 4 oz.  can.  Salsa hadn't been thought of, especially in the big old jars like it comes now.  Mom loved it when I grew up and started to get serious with kitchen experimentation! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This was Sunday dinner.  It all came from my pantry, every bit of it, nothing from my freezer.

I took dehydrated peas, peppers, potato dices, carrots, and minced onions (forgot the celery).  Left them soaking while we were at church so they would be ready to go when we got home at noon.  The jar has chicken that I canned last summer when there were such good sales on meat for BBQ's.  You can also use canned chicken from the store.

Seasonings:   Salt, pepper, fresh rosemary (from my own garden so it counts as pantry, right?), thyme, chicken broth powder.

Can you tell that I hardly ever cook from recipes?  To decide how much
of the rehydrated veggies I needed, I drained them, scooped them into the dish I was going to make the pot pie in.  I ratio was able to decide what ratio of each veggie I wanted as I went.  I left some room for the sauce later.  then I dumped them into another dish until I was ready for them.  I dried the dish out before I put the crust into it to prevent sogginess.

I made a crust for two pies, rolled out half and lined the dish with it.
I put it into the fridge to get good and cold while I fixed the filling.  I went ahead and rolled out the other half so it would be ready to lay finish the pie when the filling was done.  Cover it so that it won't get dried out.

I dump the chicken out into a wide spaghetti bowl.  I went through it to remove all the bones and cartilage.  Save the broth,  it adds wonderful flavor!   Yes, that is my kitchen trash at the bottom of the picture.  I have the trash can in a cupboard where I work all the time.  I find it a great step saver.  I can drop anything that needs to be disposed of without moving, gotta love it.

***(When I am processing fresh veggies, this is where I do it so that I can just push the scraps off the counter into the trash.  Don't worry, I am working on a chicken coop and compost box so I don't waste any of that good stuff!)

After deboning, dice up by cutting across the grain of the meat.

I like to brown any canned meat that I use.  It firms up the texture and brings out the flavor.  This time I used a little olive oil that I added minced garlic to the bottle for flavor.  It has a very subtle flavor.  This also when I added the minced onion, still dry, to brown and let the flavor mix with the meat.

Now is the time to mix in the cream soup.   HERE is the post I did for cream soups.   This actually directed you to Chef Tess's blog which is HERE .  I made this in the pan with the chicken and let it simmer gently to let the flavors mix well, then added the veggies.  Heat through, it will help it cook faster in the oven.

So how much soup do you need?  I put enough in
to cover the veggies really well.  then add a bunch
more.  it tends to thicken more and somehow sauce
disappears.  I have learned to add it until the veggies are absolutely swimming in that sauce.  When you scoop it out, there will be plenty to drown the crust if you would like  . . and we like.

Take the crust from the fridge, pour the filling into it.
No dawdling here thank you very much.  Get that baby into the oven before the bottom crust has a chance to get soggy.  This is where I had to add more sauce this time, the skillet wasn't big enough.

Cover the pie, pinch the edges good, trim the excess, poke some vent holes in the top crust and throw it in the oven!

This one took quite a while to bake since it was so deep.  We all love lots
of the warm, gooey, drippy, yummy filling.  I had to turn the oven down to finish cooking the inside without burning the crust.

It was a lovely sight to behold . .  but did I get a chance to take a picture, NO!  Hungry kids and  grandkids dug into it before I could grab the camera.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

I did a little measuring, after the fact.  This was a 2-quart casserole dish.  The recipe for a 2-crust pie was just about tight for the crust. It served 4 very hungry adults and two pretty hungry boys with some left-overs for my hubby to take for a meal at work.

My 9" X 13" rectangular pan is about 4 quarts to the top.  I make about 3quarts worth of filling when I use that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I've had these chilies around for awhile and finally decided to get them out of the way . . . . without wasting, of course.

  • Take the stem off and dump out the seeds if you don't want to preserve the "heat".

  • Put them in a pan, barely cover with water.  Simmer with a lid on them until they seem to be softening and rehydrating, in a manner of speaking . . .  nothing will soften those skins  :-}

  • They will gradually lighten in color.  When the "meat" (insides) of the chilies seem to be nice and soft, I let the liquid evaporate down a bit so that the resulting slurry will be more concentrated.  Watch it carefully.

  • Dump the whole mixture into the blender or food processor.  Blender will do a better job. 
  •  After breaking it down thoroughly, strain it into a bowl.  You will need to keep mixing it in the strainer to get the good stuff on down through the strainer.  
  • Be patient if you want to get most of the goodies.  you may have to remove the skin and seeds once in awhile to keep it flowing!

  • I made the goodies into cubes and froze them so that I can just take out how many I need  each time.

My freezer is getting pretty full of these little baggies full of goodness that make food storage special!

The Enchilada Sauce is following  this post . .  or at least it will in a few minutes!  If I try to put too much into one post, I mess it up every time  . . .  sigh - - - - 

RED ENCHILADA SAUCE . . . . the actual sauce, not just the red chili . . .

Guess who forgot to take a picture of all the ingredients!  I'll do that in a bit and add it.  For now, here we go!

  • First get out your favorite chunk of lard from your fridge.  Hmm, did you read that right?  Yes, you did.  You can store lard in the cold or just on the shelf, since we live in such hot country, I choose to keep it in the cold., in that little compartment in the door that is kind of worthless, now it isn't!  My mom always used shortening and I also have been known to use bacon grease.
  • Back to business, melt about 1/4 cup in your 2-3 quart pan.  Just melt it, don't need to make any smoke  . . .  that was for my benefit.

  • Next add 4 T. flour and mix it with a whisk, or whatever is handy.  I never used a whisk until a college roomie how great they were.  I usually keep mixing and cooking it until the mixture has started to brown a little.  It adds a nice little toasty flavor.  

  • Next it is time to add the 4 cups of liquid.  It can be beef broth, water (kind of bland), or if you are planning to make it very mild, you can use some tomato juice (small can of tomato sauce + water) to give it more color.  Mix and cook until it has made a lovely smooth creamy sauce.  If you need, add more liquid. 
  • Add your seasonings:  red chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, pinch of each  cumin and oregano, salt.   You can also add browned ground beef at this point if you would like a quick easy way to make a large amount of enchiladas.

  • Start layering in your casserole or baking pan.
  1. Coat the bottom of the pan with sauce.
  2. Add a layer of tortillas or if you want to use them up, all those annoying little crumbs in the bottom of your corn chip bag.  Sprinkle grated cheese (ground beef if you want and haven't added it to the sauce).
  3. Add some more sauce and continue to layer ending with sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  It may vary, depending on how deep they are in the pan.


So here we go for making Chili Stacks.  

  • Pour about a cup of hot chili over the chips.  Sprinkle on some
  •  grated cheese.  If the chili is leftover like mine, this is where 
  • you nuke it to heat it up.

  • Here is your ooey gooey yumminess.  At this point it's time to sprinkle all kinds of goodies over the top.  
  • Salsa,diced tomatoes, chopped onion, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, corn, cilantro.  What ever floats your boat! 

Monday, April 12, 2010


Earlier today, I mentioned Chili Stacks.  I just figured everyone knew what they were.  After doing a google search on the internet, I realized that what I was talking about isn't on any of the normal recipe sites.  I have some yummy Chili that my daughter-in-law brought over for me.  I will make Chili Stacks tomorrow and post the pictures.

Can you tell that I am a born and raised soutwesterner?  I mean, come on, everyone has made chili stacks, right?

I also made red enchilada sauce from whole dried red chilies.  Will post that tomorrow as well. It turned out so good.  It's been quite awhile since I made the sauce this way. 

It will probably be in the evening . . . going to have ankle biters a-a-a-a-ll day, through supper.

Let's Go Camping!!!

I have a friend named Terri.  she is such a goofy nut and we always have had so much fun.  Well, this year she is the camp director for the girls at church.  She and I have been talking about ideas for feeding the girls that week and I finally decided that this is a good idea for my little "hobby" here.

  • I will be posting some good ideas for when you want to go camping with your families.  
  • Many of these ideas will also be handy for if and when you may be facing some of the disasters that we have been watching over the last few years.  We never know when we might lose our power.
  • How about just saving bookoo bucks while on vacation?  We have always traveled with our camp stove handy and had great hot meals at many rest areas or scenic view spots while traveling.  Make sure you have a camera handy.  We have gotten some pretty funny looks from other travelers when doing this.  The looks range from, "Are you guys nuts?" to "Hey, why didn't we think of that?" and to "Why don't you do that?" from kids to their parents, while they are eating their dry PBJ's and mushy apples. 

First ---- I would like to bring back on old post making omelets in baggies dropped in boiling water.  This is a great way to give each person some control over what they are eating.  Big deal to teenagers!  I have moved the post to follow right after this one.

Next - - - - Let's try an idea that Terrie's assistant, Breck, gave her.  How many of you love to make chile stacks.  You know, where you put chips in a bowl, pour hot chile beans over them, sprinkle on some cheese, a few chopped green onions, maybe some diced tomatoes, some sour cream . . . .  sound good?

Here is how to make STACKS IN A BAG!

I'm using some posse stew since I made some this morning, we are empty-nesters and I really don't need to have too many leftovers around the house!  I do, unfortuantely love my own cooking, well most of the time, I do.   The more leftovers, the more I munch and I do have to get that last 30 lbs. off or my little bitty doctor will give me stink eye again when I go back in.

To make the Stacks in a Bag: 

  • Have each person choose their favorite chips.  This is a great way to make others feel like they have some say in what they are eating, good PR, you might say.  
  • Open the top, fold down a little if you can to make it stand open better.

  • Have 2-3 paper napkins in your hand to insulate when you put the hot chile into the bag!
  • Put the "chile" over the top of the chips.  

  • Now you can sprinkle a little cheese & other goodies on the top 
  • Stir it up good. 
  • Chow down!

With all the wonderful salad mixes available now, you can have a wonderful meal in no time.  Now I am such a skin flint, it can be hard for me to buy those salad mixes.  But when traveling, I have realized that it is so much cheaper than going into a restaurant that I can make myself do it. 

Talk about quick and easy clean up!  I loved it today because I have several other posts I am trying to get on here. 

Remember to check out the omelets in a baggie following this post.  I am making several at once this afternoon so that I can give you a better idea how long it takes to cook when several are in a pot.  Just in case it takes longer.  (OK, then I don't have to make breakfast each morning the rest of the week.  All I will have to do is warm one up add a little cereal or toast and have a nice hot breakfast in a manor of minutes .   ;+D  Gotta love it!


My sister-in-law emailed this to me and I thought, "Hot Diggity Dog!  May I say, easy!!"  I tried it this morning and it was a really yummy, fluffy omelet!  Wish I had known this one when I was cooking for lots of picky girls up at summer camp . . . way easy way to satisfy everyone.

  1. Have everyone write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.   ( I have since discovered that you can use a sandwich bag and it works just fine!)
  2.  Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them. 
  3. Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. 
  4. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake.. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.
  5. Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes [we did 15 minutes]. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water. (I put mine in before the water was actually boiling.  Lifted it out a couple of times to squish ingredients around.  Mine was done in about five minutes.)
  6. Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed. (I dumped mine out and rinsed the bag immediately.  It looks very clean, but will keepin the fridge door for future use . . .  I know cheapskate) 

Straight from the pot.             My omelet.                Everything is better with salsa!!       


KUMQUAT CHICKEN - - - - - With an Update (at bottom of post)

COMMITMENT:  I have the hardest time trying a new recipe and not messing with it, some how.  I decided that this time, I would do it exactly as it was written, no matter what.  Ah yes, the best of intentions paves a certain road, and mine has several layers of paving.  I found that I didn't have some of the ingredients!  So here we go.  I had to use a little of my Yankee (from a half southerner) initiative to make do.

Kumquat Chicken


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of catsup
  • 1/4 cup of cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks with juice
  • 8 or 9 sliced kumquats, seeds removed

I never have brown sugar in my cupboards.  I have been using white sugar and molasses since my single days.  Just add 1 T. molasses to a cup of sugar and you have it!  I also didn't have any green peppers right now.  Just red and orange ones which are sweeter, so I  used an Anaheim Chile pepper, trimmed the seeds and veins really well, there is no heat that way.  I did have pineapple chunks, but they were so large compared to the tiny little kumquat slices that I decided to cut them down to tidbit size.


  1. Kumquats are very unusual. The flesh is tart/sour and the rind is sweet. They are small and have two seeds that are quite bitter.
  2. Place chicken in a casserole dish.
  3. Mix all ingredients and pour over the chicken.
  4. Cover with foil.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles.
  7. I think this could be adapted to slow cooker by setting it on low for 8 - 9 hours.

It's 9:00 pm, so I opted for the crock pot method.  Knowing me, I will have a wonderful, if not strange breakfast! 

I had the hardest time not adding a little ginger and soy sauce, but then 
I would have gone Asian. I will have to add finished pictures tomorrow 
and let you know how good it is

Well, I didn't cover the slow cooker with a towel like I usually.  That helps the cooker cook hotter and this time would have helped the meat at the top of the crock cook through.  That also helps cook foods quite a bit faster.

Anyway, I ended up putting the chicken in an over dish and finished it up in the oven.  Lesson learned, even if I will be cooking it on low all night, cover it or use high!

I did enjoy this dish, OK I confess, I did add a little soy sauce when I ate it.  I did resist the ginger.  It is a little "rindy", I quite liked it.  My husband seemed to enjoy it, but didn't dive back in for seconds.  My 4-year old grandson said it was "Yummy, but now can I have some cinnamin toast?"   Take that as you may.