Jun 7, 2009

Froot Smoothie

Fruit smoothies are one of my favorite foods. They were probably invented by someone who just couldn't face one more day of Arizona summer. Because even the blazing heat of death couldn't keep me from thinking I had something worth living for if I knew there was a fruit smoothie on the menu.

In a wonderfully simple twist, I've managed to turn fruit smoothies into Froot Smoothies--and into a sweet and delicious way to use up canned fruit. Yes, I said canned fruit.

For instance, open a can of apricots and pour the apricots (undrained) into a freezer zip top bag. Freeze the apricots. Once they're frozen dump them in a blender (or food processor) (you might want to break them up into manageable chunks before you kill your blender), add fruit juice to taste (I used grapefruit and orange medly), then blend until smooth.

We tried it with canned pineapple (and blended it with vanilla yogurt). Both smoothies were delicious--and somewhat thick. To stretch the smoothie out, add ice cubes or more juice or yogurt. I couldn't tell that the fruit I used had been canned, either, so that was a bonus.

Let me know what combos you try.

May 31, 2009

Pan Popped Popcorn

If you want to taste some amazingly good popcorn, may I HIGHLY recommend this method.

You'll need a bag of popcorn. It should look something like this:

Then you need a pan with a lid. I like to use this:

because you can SEE the popcorn popping!

And you'll need enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan (but, just so you know, the more oil you put in, the more greasy and therefore YUMMY your popcorn will taste. I usually make sure there is plenty to cover the bottom of the pan. That's more than enough. But you can be skimpy if you're being health conscious).

Turn the burner on to medium high and drop two kernels into the oil. I leave the lid off for this part. When both kernals have popped, it's time to add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan in one layer. My pan takes about 1/2 cup of kernels.


Then let the pan sit for a bit, then shake it above the burner a bit (to keep the kernels moving around so they don't burn). Continue with that procedure. After a few minutes the kernels will start popping. At that point I shake the pan just above the burner fairly constantly to keep things from burning on the bottom. When the popping slows to a crawl, turn off the heat, shake the pan a few more times till the stragglers have popped, then dump the popcorn into a big bowl.

Sprinkle salt, cheese powder, nuts, or whatever toppings you want onto the popcorn. You could add some butter, but usually the oil has left such a nice flavor I don't add any.

This is a cheap, cheap, cheap alternative to the microwave popcorn, and really, it doesn't take THAT much effort. I can get a decent sized bowl of popcorn out of just a 1/2 cup of kernels.


May 17, 2009

Guest Post: Grandma Erickson's Bread Recipe

This post about bread was sent to me by my childhood friend Sarah. I love that it is a family recipe, that it calls for yeast cake (explanation included), and that the loaves can be referred to as bread without distinction.

the bread before the second rise

the bread baked

The recipe is from my Great-grandma Erickson. The nice thing I noticed about this recipe is that the ingredients are all things that we're suppose to have in our food storage. Also, I have a wheat grinder but no wheat, so I just used regular flour.

Grandma Erickson’s Bread

1 yeast cake

2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)

3tbsp oil

4-5 cups flour

2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix with oil. Mix salt, sugar and 2 cups of flour and beat in the water/yeast mixture until smooth. Continue to add flour until you get a moderately stiff dough, knead until smooth. Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down and shape into two loaves and place in greased pans. Let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

As for the yeast cake. What I understand is it's how they measure/divide fresh active yeast. Anyway, it's equivalent to one packet of dry active yeast, which is what I used. I had to call my mom to figure that one out. My bread baking skills are not much, and usually I kill the yeast when I proof it in warm water. I really have to take the temperature of the water to make sure I'm not going to kill it. Now it's going better. Anyway, it's a decent bread recipe if you just want bread without distinction.

May 16, 2009

Water Water Everywhere

The human body can't last very long without water, as explained by my favorite logo of all time:

So water is one of the high priorities on my list for "food storage."

I bought water containers (7 gallon kind) from Walmart, took them home, cleaned them out with a bleach solution and filled them up with water.

But it wasn't meant to be easy. When the water containers were turned on their sides, as they were designed to do (hence the uber useful reversible cap spout) a steady drip drip drip of water leaked out. I tightened the cap. My husband tightened the cap. Still drip drip drip. So the containers went back to Walmart.

I looked a little harder this time--and I noticed that those very same containers are sold on most food storage websites and even at the Tucson army surplus store. Having noted their propensity to drip, I decided to try another brand.

And the brand I chose also happened to cost a pretty penny. But I figured that there was no way these bad boys would leak. (they also happen to be earthquake resistant, which, although earthquakes aren't an issue where I live, maybe they're sturdy enough to be used as extra chairs at Thanksgiving dinner...)

I ordered 4 (so we could last a few days without running water) (and because my apartment was in no state to receive a wall full of blue water containers). They arrived in a big cardboard box, and good news! they didn't leak. Even when turned on their sides.

Here's the link for the Extra Sturdy Water Containers

Note: the lids are different than the one pictured on the web site. This is what they actually look like:

This is the self venting faucet I bought along with the bung replacement plug (who came up with that name???).

THAT SAID: my husband's parents have the water containers from walmart. They have a HUGE stack of them, and they hold the water fine, cost a lot less, and fill the need.

So I'm not saying you have to spend a fortune to buy water containers--the cheaper ones will probably hold up just fine. I wanted to make sure you were aware of their flaw (at least in the ones I've tried) and give you an alternative. And, so you know, I think the one's I have are going to be a tad tricky to drain properly because of how they are constructed.

So...none of the small time water storage systems (I haven't looked into the water barrels yet) are perfect. Although, if Camelbak made 5 gallon containers with their sweet, sweet logo on them...

May 1, 2009

Guest Post: 3 Month Supply

Today's guest post is brought to you by Amanda from Usandthings. She submitted a list (with commentary) for a three month supply. It's a great starting place for if you have trouble conceptualizing and/or planning a three month supply--and a good way to double check your own list if you're already on the ball in this area.

So, a the provident living specialist in our ward came up with this list for a suggested 3-month supply. [Her name is Liz Dinkelman.] She doesn't suggest that this is foolproof or will feed you for exactly 3-months, no more, no less, it's just to get an idea.

The following is PER PERSON:

36 cans of vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, asparagus, beets, etc)

36 cans of fruit (peaches, pears, oranges, pineapple, applesauce, etc)

36 cans of tomato products (diced, paste, sauce, etc)

36 cans of soups (chicken noodle, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, tomato, etc)

36 cans of protein (chicken, beef, tuna, assorted beans)

18 cans of evaporated milk (18-month shelf life - rotate the cans every month) [I don't know what evaporated milk is for, maybe if I had some sort of food storage cook book, I could figure it out]

6 jars of spaghetti sauce

6 pounds of spaghetti

6 pounds of assorted noodles

2.5 pounds of dried potatoes (potato pearls available from cannery)

3 lbs pancake mix

5 boxes of breakfast cereal

2 boxes of crackers (I'd probably store more... I like crackers. I'd probably store about 5)

2 boxes of stuffing mix

2 boxes of cornbread mix

6 boxes of brownie mix (I like this suggestion a lot)

10 lbs of flour not packaged for long-term storage

5 lbs of rice not packaged for long-term storage

5 lbs of dried beans, peas, lentils not packaged for long-term storage

5 lgs of sugar (white, brown, and powdered probably not each)

3 gallons of juice (probably more if you have small kids. I think we drink 3 gallons of juice per week)

She also suggests to store oil, mayonnaise (does not need to be refrigerated until opened), peanut butter, jam, spices, bouillon, condiments, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, salt cocoa, chocolate chips (essential) parmesan cheese, dried eggs, raisins, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, jello, and salad dressing.

Thanks, Amanda for sharing this with us. If anyone else has a different list, or a formula for creating a list, email it to me. It would be great to have a few versions to get ideas from.

Apr 15, 2009

Powdered Milk REVOLUTION!

My latest find is NIDO powdered milk. If you've lived in the Netherlands or in Central or South America, you may already be familiar with NIDO. It's powdered whole milk. Yum. It tastes just as fatty as whole milk should.

I found it at a Mexican specialty store in Orem, UT and then, I found it at Walmart in Mesa, AZ. Between specialty stores, amazon, and Walmart, I'm confident you can get your hands on some. Beware, though, there are several types of NIDO--and several of the types are nothing more than formula (for babies). Since we're not babies here, I buy the NIDO that is just straight up powdered milk. It's easy to spot because it doesn't have a picture of a baby on the front. [NOTE: If the package is entirely in spanish (or dutch or german or whatever) then the proportions are 3Tablespoons to 1 cup water.]

Powdered milk is almost always skim because fat spoils quickly. That's where NIDO comes in--mix a little NIDO with a little skim milk and you end up with something more like 1 or 2 percent. And, if you need cream...NIDO tastes about as rich as cream does (even though it's not as thick as cream).

Unless you are a whole milk afficionado, you probably won't want to drink NIDO straight--it's VERY fatty (which means, I LOVE it.) I keep my open can of NIDO in the fridge to keep it from spoiling, and the unopened cans are sitting in my pantry. They have an expiration date of 2010, so as long as I use them consistently, it shouldn't be any trouble to rotate through them.

Mar 29, 2009

Matthias' Bean History and Recipes

It's time for our first guest author: Matthias from mmwhitney.blogspot.com. Matthias is an optical engineer, and he has a great wife (who I owe my PhotoShopEditor skills to, THANKS MEGAN!). In this post, Matthias delves into the wonderful world of Beans. His bean experience follows, along with his recipes for some Yummy Beans. I've compiled his recipes at the end of the post. Enjoy.

I bought a big five pound bag of beans once at Costco, and it was great fun. However, I soon learned that five pounds of beans is ALOT. I did the initial boiling in our big pot (about 2 gallons) but then I soon realized that I would have to split the beans between the 2 gal pot and the crock pot, our only large cooking pot type thing. I also added a little bit of oil with the initial boil.

I'm not sure if that was from a recipe I found or if it was ingenious thinking on my part, but it led to a boil over with my super full two gallon pot which subsequently led to my stove catching on fire! Yikes! But still fun! I ended up making a pork and beans type thing by adding ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, onions, hot sauce, and other things (I don't often follow recipes to the T). Also, I used leftover boneless country style pork ribs as the "pork" in my pork and beans.

My most recent bean experiments have been a little bit more controlled, with only cooking about a pound of beans at a time. I roughly followed a recipe from Cook's Country magazine for Smokey BBQ Beans, only I didn't follow the smokey instructions. The recipe strictly calls for:

4 slices of bacon
1 onion
4 garlic cloves
(put these ingredients in pot together to simmer flavors, then add:)

1 pound of pintos, soaked overnight
6 cups of water
(simmer until soft, then add:)

1 cup of bbq sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce

The final step is to put them in an aluminum pan with foil over the top and set them on open coals with a grill full of meat over the top (see crude drawing 1), but I didn't do this step.

Crude Drawing 1

Also, instead of bacon, I used leftovers from a Christmas ham which was a delicious use of our resources. Also we cook with dehydrated onions and garlic for ease, so really, I just boiled the first stuff with the beans for three+ hours until they were tender (I didn't soak overnight) and then added the other good stuff and simmered them until they were the desired consistency. The outcome was a success and even the wife liked them!

My second experiment with beans was refried beans (total misnomer, not only not doubly fried, but not even fried in the first place!). I boiled the beans for several hours until soft (with some onions and garlic for fun), then put them in the blender to "refry" aka smoosh them. I'm told a potato masher works well too, but I don't own one. I had to blender the beans in shifts so that I didn't overfill my blender and make unnecessary mess, but this required clever coordination of more than one pot. Care should taken to add enough water with the beans in the blender and to not over blenderize, unless you want a refried bean smoothie.

From here, I put the bean goo back in the pot with grated cheese, hot sauce, and salt (I added everything to taste) and simmered it until they were the right consistency. Super easy! And we had bean and cheese burritos for the next few weeks as quick meals and snacks. With just the wife and I, we can't eat a whole pound of beans at once, so we freeze them in cool whip containers and they thaw just fine.


Smokey BBQ Beans, Matthias Style
[Editor's Note: The flavor of these beans is AMAZINGLY GOOD! If you like your beans mushy (as opposed to somewhat firm), then boil just the beans and water, then let the beans soak for an hour. Then cook them for 3+ hours in a slow cooker, adding the seasonings to the slow cooker.]
In a large pot add:
Meat (ham or bacon, equivalentish to 4 slices of bacon)
Dehydrated onion and garlic (equivalentish to 1 onion and 4 garlic cloves)
1 lb.pinto beans
6 c. water

Boil those ingredients for 3ish hours.

Add 1c bbq sauce, 1/3 c. brown sugar, 2 T mustard, 1 t. hot sauce
Simmer until beans are desired consistency.

Refried Beans, Misnomer Style
Boil 1lb of beans, onions and garlic (in water) for several hours (until beans are soft)
Put the beans in a blender to "refry" them. NOTE: add water as needed AND don't over blend.

Mix the now blended, I mean, Refried, beans with cheese, hot sauce and salt in a pot and simmer until they are the right consistency.

store extra (cooked) beans in the freezer until needed.