Category: Recipes

Everyday Miracles

I used to have a website named that where I would post all the little miracles (if you can call God things little) and it is funny because lately that is mostly what I am posting here. Because that is where we are and what God is doing.

This morning is the perfect example. Per usual I got up before the family. When I was preparing my oatmeal I looked around the kitchen and realized the shelves were really bare. I had realized this yesterday and pushed it to the back of my mind because it always leads to panic. I like to keep a well stocked pantry and have been stocking up, knowing we would be entering hard times. I keep telling myself we have plenty–which we do. Lots of noodles, a freezer full of meat, veggies in the deep freeze, and lots of teas on the shelf plus some bulk ingredients in the stairwell overflow including coconut milk, dried coconut, and peanut butter from the Van Slykes. However, we are out of raw milk and eggs and fresh veggies which means the fridge is nearly empty. The kitchen pantry is looking just as bare– all the nuts are gone, as is all the tuna and canned green beans (Shamus’ favorite). We only have 4 cans of that wonderful blessing of coconut milk left and I have to remember to go ahead and use it since God provided it for this time and not for a later time. So, I cleaned up the shelves a bit while my oatmeal cooked, forced myself to recognize the shelf above the stove full of jars of chai seeds, noodles, dried beans, and oatmeal and all the other foods that are hidden away (the stuff in the overflow, the deep freeze (including lots of flour) and prepared chickpeas–which reminds me, today I should make hummus.

I took my time eating and praying, spending time in God’s word (He has me in Isaiah) while I ate my oatmeal and drank my tea. I was lamenting that I have all this wonderful dried coconut and no ingredients make anything with it (other than to eat it straight or with a peanut butter spoon, which will happen anyway) and how quickly we have gone through all the coconut milk.

Then I moved all the food from the overflow pantry to the shelves where we keep foods for immediate consumption. I do better when I can see what we have and see we have plenty. Later I plan to make up some foods so that there are prepared foods for the family to eat (I am thinking some crackers and tortillas on which to eat the hummus and peanut butter would be good and alleviate some of the complaining that I heard yesterday.) Now the kitchen feels fuller and I can see that we have plenty. I know some people like all their stuff hidden away but I like mine where I can see it–because then I can remember that we have it and know exactly where it is. I am definitely an out of sight out of mind sort of person. 🙂

coconutAnd on to the everyday miracle. I was still trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with all this dried coconut since He obviously provided it. I figured maybe if I put in a search for tahini and coconut I would come up with something. Then I sat down at my computer, opened Facebook and Mandy was talking about the expense of coconut milk yogurt. I decided to check to see if there was a recipe out there–which I was sure there was. I was not thinking of my dried coconut at this point, just looking for a recipe for myself–figuring that would be a good use of one of the cans of coconut as well as for her since homemade is so much cheaper than bought. It was at that point that I found this recipe for coconut milk yogurt which linked to this recipe for making coconut milk from dried shredded coconut! And I was amazed again by what God had done because, in case you didn’t remember, I mentioned that we were out of raw milk. It was the perfect weather to go get it yesterday but I didn’t and couldn’t because we didn’t have the money for the drive or for the milk when I got there. I was so disappointed because I was sure God would provide it somehow. So here is the coconut He provided through the Van Slykes coming to the rescue again. I am really overwhelmed with His provision and how He manages to do it differently every time. What an amazing God.

While I was writing this the UPS guy brought another package from the Van Slykes– The First Hebrew Primer Third Edition, which is pretty cool and not only should help me with a potential art project I am working on but should make things interesting around here. 🙂

Now I am off to make coconut milk and hummus and put some dough to soak for tortillas and crackers then I will check out this book.

Of Light and Soup

We read The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread
a year ago and loved it.  And since that time Rachel has been trying to come up with the perfect soup.

You see I am not a fan of soup.  I don’t enjoy canned and seldom make it from scratch.  Rachel on the other hand has decided that since she can’t eat any canned soup (except for Trader Joes Black Bean and their Split Pea Soup–both of which she loves but aren’t the type of soup she really wants.)  And so, she has been making soup (not from recipe just experimenting) and after much trial and error and many variations she has come up with a soup that all of us love.

Rachel’s Soup

Fresh or frozen veggies (sometimes chopped finer than others but all smaller than for a stir fry about a cup or so veggies total)

  • carrots
  • peppers
  • celery
  • onion

Noodles (egg noodles are best but rice or potatoes are good)

about a tablespoon Bragg’s liquid amino (best soy sauce ever)

dried or fresh, about a teaspoon each but adjust to taste

  • onion powder
  • onion flakes
  • garlic powder
  • chives
  • parsley
  • black pepper

3 cups water

Simmer only until the starch is cooked through.

This is also excellent with drops of bread dough on top, cooked like dumplings,with sandwiches, or whatever you like to eat with soup.

The best part of this is that Rachel developed it on her own, because she wanted to, and it is good soup.

Blueberry Pie

The kids have been collecting blueberries from our blueberry bush all summer, and now that it is full they have been freezing plenty.  Yesterday the kids picked enough blueberries for 2 blueberry pies so of course we had to make some.

We started with the pie crust recipe from my great grandmother’s recipe book–the only pie crust that ever works well for me.  Read on for the whole recipe.Read More

My domestic day

So I spent all day baking instead of painting I like I planned.  It was nice and cool and I needed to make bread, and if I am going to make bread and have the oven on anyway then I may as well go ahead and bake as much other as I can think of.  The kids and hubby got 10 dozen cookies, a cake, bread, and 2 loaves of quick bread, not to mention a crock pot of beans and some confetti rice* for dinner out of it so they are happy.

I got a self portrait doodle out of it so I am happy.  (As I mentioned to Jonatha–hubby suggested that I looked like a 1950’s housewife in one of those awful ads: “Use our wonderful baby soap, with full lye” or Eat our wonderful health food, now with more Lard.”–I think I look more like a gypsy or some weird bohemian chick, especially since my hair is done in multiple braids, not cornrows but close enough.)

In the meantime my large house painting is laid out and ready for me to start on, I have a small but full page  doodle in the works, the bills are paid, made plans with mom to drive down to the Trader Joes 45 min away on Wednesday, the laundry is sorted, the kids folded and put away the 4 baskets of laundry that have been  soaking up the stink in the basement, and Issac and I fixed the crack in the tub so now we can take showers again (the lack of a non-leaky tub is the very reason why my hair has spent the last week up in mini braids, well that an how easy to care for and cool they are,) AND I managed to stay home meaning I didn’t use gas.  It has been a productive day.

*We call it confetti rice though I believe it is different than what most people think of when you say confetti rice.  I am all about quick easy meals–cereal and fruit is perfectly acceptable in our household.  My confetti rice is quick and easy and everyone LOVES it, and and I love it because it is cheap:

1 can tuna with olive oil (you can use the broth version, I don’t but you can.  Plus, if you don’t do tuna you can leave it out or use real honest to goodness meat, or if you don’t buy meat because it is too expensive but want some protein in their you can throw in some TVP which I do occasionally though hubby won’t eat it if I do.):))

2 cups leftover rice (in this case it was aborio, but whatever you have)

2 cups mixed soup veggies, frozen (you can use whatever frozen or canned veggies you all like, my kids like the little soup ones and I HATE canned veggies unless they are green beans)

garlic and onion powder and salt to taste (I like lots of onion and garlic powder and a little bit of salt)

Fry all of it together until warm.  Do not, I repeat, do not cook this until the veggies all turn brown.  Ick.  The kids won’t eat it, and that is just gross.  No, you have to just get it warmed up so everything is bright and colorful–kids LIKE colorful food whiich is goo dbecause it is MUCH healthier when the veggies have their color.

Give the picky eater a small sample and insist she come to the table and eat the sample up before going back to her game.  Picky eater will finally taste it then ask for seconds.  Eat it up while still hot.  The end.

Frugal Friday: cheap candy

Okay, I know real candy is fairly cheap.  However dye/preservative free candy (which is what my kids require due to food allergies) is NOT cheap.  My kids don’t get candy too often–maybe a package a month if I buy it–but that is still $5 for candy.  So, instead I have done some research into candy making and have come up with some cheap alternatives. (Some of the linked recipes I adapt to suit our needs.)

Read More

Baking soda/vinegar shampoo recipe

I have had so many people email me about how to do this that I thought maybe I had better just post it here.  You can read about our experience with it here.  The “recipe” is as follows.

I fill a jar with baking soda and water–making a paste (I store the jar plus a squirt bottle full of vinegar in the shower).  I use that to scrub my hair then rinse with water.  Afterwards I pour vinegar over my head (upside down so it doesn’t get in my eyes) and rinse again.

I have super thick long hair and it takes about 2 Tbs regular shampoo for me to cover my hair.  I have found that the same goes for the baking soda paste:  2 Tbs baking soda/water then a cup or so of vinegar.

I buy a huge bottle of white vinegar at Sam’s club and it lasts me 6 weeks or so.  The thing is that you can wash it less often as well which is also better for your hair.  With regular shampoo I have to wash every other day or so or it gets greasy–this way I can go as long as 5 days without a hint of grease, not to mention no longer needing styling products for my very frizzy wavy hair.  I can now let my hair air dry –I comb it as soon as I get out of the shower and either braid it or pull it back in a low pig tail until it dries.

I know some people who have done this and have had time when their hair got dry or flaky.  Someone mentioned using a bit of brown sugar in the mix to keep the flakiness away.  I have also, in the past, used an egg mixed with some olive oil every 2 weeks or so which deep conditions your hair (leave it on for 3-5 minutes.)  You can also use a fruit smoothie on your hair to condition and clarify (same ingredients you would put in a smoothie–fruit, yogurt, honey–awesome for your hair and also  makes a great facial mask.  One thing that I do is use mineral oil to keep my skin from drying out (I have it in an old Skin-so-soft bottle) –after I rub this into my skin I run my fingers through my hair which seems to keep my hair from being so static-y and lets it dry less frizzy.

You can find lots of recipes for homemade body care products on the Dollar Stretcher.

Update as of June 3, 2009: We are still using this and have made some changes for the better which you can read about here.


Frugal Cookin’ Carnival

Update: I guess I should mention that our meals are mostly vegetarian. I do buy my husband lots of cheese and pepperoni but other than cheese, eggs, honey, and yogurt we don’t buy much in the way of animal products. It is just plain too expensive, plus I HATE cooking meat. Also my husband and I and one of the kids have a severe allergy to poultry and all of us can only eat hormone/antibiotic free–so unless someone gets us a deer we go without.

I don’t pre-plan meals, I make up a slew of things on Sunday and we all eat what we want of it when we want–especially since each has some things they can’t or won’t eat. That said they eat healthy foods because we don’t have junk in the house and they have seldom had junk food in the first place. So, I adapted this slightly to suit our family-instead of divided up into individual meals it is divided into parts, just like the list of foods the kids has of what they can have for each meal. Also I buy everything in bulk which makes figuring out individual things a bit iffy–for instance I buy organic oatmeal and flour in 25# bags and use organic dry milk for yogurt, organic noodles in 10# bags, and buy yeast in 5# bags–almost all of it is organic due to our eldest’s food issues. The following foods are what the kids and I will eat over a week (my husband eats when he is hungry–usually cheese and pretzels and pepperoni or calzones if I make them) , each Sunday I make some new bulk foods (last week it was calzones, cookies, muffins, and bread, this week it is pot pie, granola, granola bars, bread, and soup. and lots of yogurt and yogurt cheese–Regardless of how they mix and match things each meal comes in at about $1 a person, usually closer to $.60 a meal.) Some of the recipes I have already posted here or at my previous site, Gracedbychrist.com.

Breakfasts and snacks:

  • Homemade granola with honey and flax seed— 1 cup –$.15
  • homemade plain yogurt (the kids add jam sometimes)–1 cup $.16
  • eggs — 3 $.50
  • homemade bread –2 slices (total loaf is $.50 to make so I am estimating the two slices of bread would be $.10)
  • homemade jam (I like the recipes linked here.)–1 T on this I am really not sure since I used what I had to make it–maybe $.10 since it used raw sugar and bought berries?
  • soy milk (bought at Sam’s Club)–1 cup $.29
  • homemade granola bars (see recipe below)–2 bars–$.34
  • oatmeal–1/2 cup $.09 plus 1/2 cup soy milk $.15


Lunches and Dinners:

  • noodles with margarine or cheese–1 cup plus 2 slice cheese $.15
  • noodles with veggies and sauce (I use Bragg’s, with some onion powder and garlic for flavor and whatever veggies I have on hand or I cook noodles in reheated homemade veggie soup which is essentially the same thing)–1 cup $.20
  • salad with nuts and cheese–1 cup plus 1/4 c nuts and 1 slice cheese $.80 (this will be cheaper soon as we have lettuce coming up–this is my normal meal most days.)
  • fruit salad (mango, banana, grapes, pears, plums) with nuts–1 cup $.70
  • mini veggie pot pies–2 muffin tins worth $.10
  • homemade vegetable soup (recipe below)–2 cups $.08
  • peanut butter with homemade jelly sandwiches –1 sandwich $.60
  • eggs– 3 $.50
  • frozen veggies with sharp cheddar cheese–1 cup $.60
  • mini cheese calzones (pictured below: all they are is some bread dough cut in a square with filling then fold up the sides to meet in the middle and bake)–2 for $.30

Recipes below the pictures.

Homemade Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese

To make the yogurt bring milk to almost a boil to kill bacteria or use warm water to reconstitute powdered milk, allow to cool, combine about1/2c yogurt to 1/2 gallon milk–allow to sit covered on top of stove in glass container for 6-8 hours. You can then make yogurt cream cheese by straining it in cheese cloth.

Vegetable Soup

We just fill a pot with water and throw in all the veggies we have available–including but not limited to:

potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, onion, pepper, plus kidney beans–occasionally I throw in texturized vegetable protein but not usually. To this I add garlic powder, onion powder, and Bragg’s Liquid Amino to taste. I cook it until all the veggies are softened but not squishy. I usually freeze half of it and put the other half to be cooked with noodles for a casserole type dish or as filling in pot pies.

For the pot pies I strain out most of the broth and use my grandmother’s pie crust recipe for the crust. I use muffin tins to form the potpies, bake them until just before they turn golden then freeze them in a container. I also make a few large pot pies to freeze in individual containers for quick takeout meals.

Homemade Granola Bars

Keep in mind this is to taste–everyone has different things they like in granola bars, I like mine slightly chewy with lots of nuts and raisins.

Combine equal parts granola +whatever dry ingredients you like with liquid sweetener and nut butter, For example I use almonds, raisins, peanuts, carob chips with granola and mix them with an equal amount wet ingredients: peanut butter, honey, and maple syrup. If it is too sticky add more dry ingredients. Mix well then flatten into a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Bake at a low temperature for several hours (I usually keep it at 200 degrees or so for a few hours then I cut them and refrigerate them in the pan.) This is not an exact science and some come out stickier than others but the kids and I like variety. 🙂 They are not quite equal to bought granola bars but the price makes it well worth it–especially since no matter how much I make the kids will eat them all before they go bad.

Homemade Granola Bars

Most of you know that my oldest can’t eat foods with dyes or preservatives not to mention several other commonly occurring foods (like apple, citrus, and cinnamon. ) Yet she LOVES granola bars. She has two kinds she can eat both of which are VERY expensive.

We already have a favorite granola recipe and I finally found a granola bar recipe that the kids all like and which is adaptable (which is very important to someone like me who rarely measures and uses only what is on hand.)

I didn’t measure for this but it is easy to “eye”.

Ingredients:

Dry oatmeal or other dry grain (roughly 4 cups)

rice cereal-we use an organic one but you could use whatever crispy rice cereal you like or use nuts or more oatmeal instead (About 1 cup)

A tablespoon or so of oil–you can use margarine or butter instead

honey or maple syrup (about 1 cup–more to tast–the goal is to make the consistency right so if you like sweeter add more honey or maple syrup and less peanut butter)

Peanut (or almond or cashew or whatever nut butter you like, you can substitute date here) We used Almond butter–about 3 cups of raw.

Raisins (optional)

The goal is to make a glue-like substance to keep the dry stuck together. In our case the dry was about 6 cups and the wet/sticky was about 4 cups. I threw it all in the food processor until it all started to clump together–not a solid ball, just slightly. I would add slightly more wet next time as these were not as chewy as I would like. I think the consistancy you are looking for is about that of pie dough.

We then flattened it all into a pan, cut it into slices, then baked at 375 for about 15 minutes. The kids are VERY happy with it so I call it a hit. (They also loved it uncooked–which you can do by refrigerating the bars for a couple hours. We lost a whole rough due to nibblers.)

In the search I found several highly adaptable and more specific recipes to try–I was looking for recipes that did not include butter or corn syrup–I want HEALTHY. This website had the best list and if you are nervous about trying my halfway recipe I would suggest heading over there, these recipes are much more sure of themselves.