Friday, May 27, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Leftovers and Boxes

Last night we ate leftovers and packed.  A lot.  Today is the day we head up to S.L. via Heber City.  We have tickets to Day Out With Thomas (Kimball is going to go nuts!).  Tomorrow we take possession of the new place.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Chili

Can you believe it?  I forgot to photograph dinner again.  Jeeze, where are my priorities?  It's not like I'm moving or anything.  Oh wait, I am.

Here is what I threw in the crock pot yesterday at about 1pm:

1 pound ground elk, browned
4 T. dehydrated onion
1 t. garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1/4 c. jalapeno jelly (whatever was left in the jar)
1/4 c. diced jalapeno elk salami
1 c. frozen corn (whatever was left in the freezer)
2 T. chili powder (whatever was left in the jar)
1 t. cumin

I cooked on high until it was bubbly, then I turned it to low.  We ate it with cornbread.  I thought it was okay. I've made better chili before.  But I loved using up a bunch of things so I don't have to take them to S.L.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Butter Update

You might recall my little tirade about butter some weeks ago.  I thought I would let you know how things are going.  We have just over five weeks left and I have a pound and a half of butter.  That's 6 cubes, people!  Based upon the former rationing, I should have about 10 cubes.  So what happened to those extra 4 cubes?  This carameled popcorn I made for FHE might be the first clue.

What We Ate for Dinner: Leftover Turkey

Can you believe it?  It totally forgot to take a picture of dinner.  Even after six weeks of photographing my food, it still doesn't feel very natural.  In any event, we ate turkey tacos last night.  My mother-in-law sent me a package of fat free whole wheat tortillas before she left town.  I love having something new to plan a meal around.

After dicing the turkey, I heated it in some bottled salsa.  To that I added some of my homemade yogurt to make it a little creamy.  I also heated a can of black beans with some garlic salt and cumin.  Add a little rice and then put the burritos together.  They were delicious, even without cheese.

Although I didn't take picture of dinner, I did take pictures of a freezer meal I also made with the leftover turkey.  It's a take on one by the Pioneer Woman you can find here.  I made only half a recipe because I used my homemade cheese and didn't have enough for a full recipe.  But no worries, a half recipe will feed the family.  When I've made this before there were lots of leftovers.

Here is what I did:

1 1/2 c. broken whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
1 1/2 c. diced turkey
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 T. dehydrated peppers
2 T. dehydrated onions
1 c. diced homemade mozzarella
1 c. hot water from the spaghetti mixed with 1 chicken bullion cube
1/2 t. seasoned salt
2 small pinches cayenne pepper

I mixed all these ingredients in a bowl and then dumped it into a Ziploc plastic container.  I love to freeze casseroles in these.  When the time is right, I just pop it out into an oven dish and bake.  I topped things off with the rest of my homemade cheese, diced and sprinkled on top.  I can't wait to try this!

I have enough turkey to make one more freezer meal.  I am thinking about a pot pie with the left over gravy.  (That small 5 lb. turkey made 4 meals!  Not bad!)  The leftover potatoes are going on top a shepherd's pie.  All three of these freezer meals are going to help out next week during the big move!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Turkey

Yesterday I stuck the boneless turkey breast roast in the crock pot.  I didn't even bother to defrost the thing.  I love turkey that doesn't require planning the day before.  I also added a cup of water so there would be plenty of juices for gravy.  The potatoes were instant and the green beans were frozen.  Everything tasted awesome!

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to make Mozzarella: Practice, Practice, Practice

Yesterday was Sunday.  So we ate grilled cheese and tomato soup.  The cheese was homemade as was the bread.

I have now made cheese 6 times--three times with store bought milk, once with raw cow's milk, once with raw goats milk and this last time with powdered milk plus raw cow's cream.  On the 6th time it came out PERFECTLY.  So that must mean I am ready to explain the process.  But keep in mind I am an amateur.

I think of cheese making like an art.  You might have a little talent, but it's practice that separates the good from the great.  I plan on continuing to practice.  Perhaps one day my successes at cheese may outweigh my failures.

I have, however, learned a thing or two about milk.  First, you cannot make cheese with ultra-pasteurized milk.  The high temperatures used in ultra-pasteurization kill everything in the milk making curd formation impossible.  My previous failures may have more to do with the milk than anything else.  I had a hard time getting the curds to form with the store milk.  Although the milk I used was not ultra-pasteurized, it may have been heated too high anyway.

1.  Pour one gallon of milk into a pot as pictured above.  (If you use powdered milk plus cream, the total amount should equal one gallon.  I removed 1 1/3 cups milk and then added 1 1/3 cups of cream.)  Also prepare your rennet with 1/4 tablet in 1/4 c. non-chlorinated water.  Prepare the citric acid by dissolving 1 1/2 t. in 1 c. non-chlorinated water (use 2 t. if using powdered milk and cream).

2.  You will need a thermometer that can read between 80 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  The candy thermometer I had wouldn't work.  In the picture you can see I rigged a paper clip to hold the thermometer I got with my cheese making kit.  I also recommend getting a good skimmer to stir.  You will need to stir things gently and one of these can really help out.

3.  Pour in the citric acid and gently distribute throughout the milk with the skimmer.

4.  Heat the milk to 90 degrees (88 degrees for raw milk).

5.  Remove from heat and stir in rennet.  Gently distribute throughout the milk with skimmer.

6.  Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

7.  Check to see if the curds have formed.  The curds should be custard like and the whey a clear liquid.  You might need more time here.

8.  Cut the curds.  Here is a picture after I cut the curds and moved the around a bit.

9.  Heat the curds and whey back to 105 degrees.  Skip this step if using raw milk.

10.  Gently stir the curds for 2-5 minutes.  The longer you stir the harder your cheese will be.

11.  Use the skimmer to scoop your curds into a microwavable safe bowl.  This can be seen in the next picture.  Drain off the whey without pushing down too much.

12.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Put on rubber gloves.  These you will need so you can handle the hot cheese.  After 1 minute in the microwave, drain the whey and fold the cheese into one mass.  You can see this in the next picture.

13.  Add 1 tsp. cheese salt.  You can stretch the cheese if it's hot enough, if not 30 more seconds in the microwave should do it.  Drain whey and stretch until soft and shiny.  The longer you stretch the harder the cheese.  Shape the cheese into a log or balls or just a large mass.  Apparently you can braid the cheese, but I have not tried this.  (Really, braiding cheese?)

14.  Submerge in cool water for 5 minutes, then add
ice.  Cool for 10 more minutes.  You're done!

So all my cheeses (the ones that have worked) have been really soft.  But soft mozzarella is good.  I have some left over from the grilled cheese yesterday.  I am thinking of trying it in a casserole.  I wonder how that will turn out . . .

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Elk Lo Mein

I am calling this dish Elk Lo Mein.  I wanted to use up the rest of the cabbage from the salad on Friday.  I might have used chicken for this dish had it been available, but what I had was ground elk.  The sauce was from the Mix-A-Meal Cookbook.

This may be my favorite mix from this book.  It's a combination of sugar, cornstarch, onion soup mix (another mix in the book), onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger and black pepper.  To it you add water, vinegar and soy sauce.  It make a sweet Asian-y sauce that is really good with noodles, any kind of meat and veggies.

I was a little worried that it wouldn't be so good with ground elk, but Bryce loved it and Kimball asked for thirds.  In addition to the cabbage, I used up my last real onion and some more of the carrots from last week.  It made a ton of left overs.  Bryce liked it so much he said he could eat it for two days straight.  He just might have to.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Mother's Day Gift

I keep meaning to post my Mother's Day gift, and I keep forgetting.  Bryce got me a strawberry plant and a raspberry plant.  I am a terrible gardener, so I really hope I don't kill them.  I also hope that all this cold rain doesn't hurt them either.  They are both supposed to be hardy cold climate plants, so perhaps the rain in good.  See, I don't have a clue.

What We Ate for Dinner: Chinese Chicken Salad

My friend, Jessica, gave me a head of cabbage a few days ago.  It was a kind gift for those of us who are fresh veggie deprived.  I was so inspired I broke out those last two chicken breasts and made a Chinese chicken salad.  I threw in some of the carrots from my grocery binge last week and the green onions came from my mother-in-law who was going out of town.  I topped the whole thing off with rice sticks and a yummy dressing.

Rice sticks are rice noodles that have been fried in hot oil.  It makes them puff up.  They are crispy and crunchy and make a nice addition to a Chinese chicken salad.  Fried won ton wrappers are also nice.  I didn't have any of those.

To make the dressing, throw all the following ingredients into a blender.

1 orange peeled
1 t. lime juice
2/3 c. red wine vinegar
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. soy sauce
3/4 c. canola oil
2 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
1/3 c. honey
2-3 T. sesame oil
2 T. sesame seeds (mine were black, which is why it looks like there are ants in my salad)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week 6 Roundup: What we ran out of

Today marks the halfway mark for my grocery abstinence.  I'm still feeling pretty good about things.
  • Apple Juice, again.  After drinking all our commercial apple juice, we started in on the home canned apple juice in my parents' basement.  Some of this was "spiced" with cinnamon.  Kimball seemed to like this just as much as the plain.  We have also downed all the plumb juice, which is surprisingly delicious.  Perhaps I will juice more of them in September--or whenever plumbs are ripe.  When are plumbs ripe?
  • Dry mustard.  I used the last of this on the venison stir-fry.
  • Lime juice.  I used up the last of this in the salad dressing we are using tonight.  I will post it tomorrow.
  • Chocolate syrup.  Well, we would have run out of this if I hadn't purchased a new bottle last Friday.
  • Chocolate chips.  I might have eaten them as a snack.
  • Canned crab.

What We Ate for Dinner: Lemon Pepper Crab Cakes

These would be so pretty if I had some nice green salad to put next to them.  They look so lonely on the plate.  But alas, my lettuce is not yet ready to eat.  The crab cakes, however, were delicious even without salad.

Here is how I made them.

2 cans crab (6 oz. each)
the rest of Fiona's bread crumbs--about 1 1/3 cups
2 eggs
1/3 c. mayo
2 t. Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients together and form into patties.  Grill until each side is brown.

I ate these with some homemade Winger's sauce.  Kimball chose check-up,  I mean ketchup.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

It appears that I have been taking pictures for who knows how long without an SD card in the camera.  So the only picture I have of the jam is what it looks like completed in my freezer.

This was a super easy way to make jam.  It only has 4 ingredients.  I made this with my friend, Jessica.  We quadrupled the recipe and split the proceeds.

5 cups rhubarb, sliced into small pieces
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 c. juice (I used a tart grape juice made from the vines out back.  It was all I had.)
1 small pkg. strawberry Jello

Combine first three ingredients and let sit for about an hour.  Bring to a boil and stir while boiling for 12 minutes.  Add Jello and then place in freezer containers.  Yield: about 5 cups.

We ate this for lunch today.  It's super sweet.  But who doesn't love Jello?  And, my friends, here is another reason to keep Jello in food storage--with a little fruit and a lot of sugar, you get jam.  I have a feeling you might be seeing more rhubarb recipes because that is what is growing out back.

What We Ate for Dinner: Strawberries with a side of Planning

I now have two days of dinners to post again.  I feel like I am falling behind in everything.  Perhaps this is what change and moving does to a person.  It slows down everything non-essential and speeds up everything else and soon our heads are spinning.  In any event, all I can think about is moving, and packing, and where I am going to put everything in our new place.

I am also contemplating making more freezer and quick meals so that we will have some things ready to take with us.

Here are the meals I have come up with that I can still make without going to the store:

  • asian meatballs (already prepared and in the freezer)
  • chicken enchiladas (already prepared and in the freezer)
  • shepherds pie (potential freezer meal)
  • stir fry with elk and green beans
  • crab cakes
  • lentil soup
  • eggs and hash browns
  • instant lasagna (this is one of those food storage/camping meals)
  • chili
  • ham and spinach scalloped potatoes (potential freezer meal)
  • turkey breast (perhaps with potatoes and gravy?)
  • chinese chicken salad (I think we will have this tomorrow)
  • pork chop and stuffing
  • homemade hamburger helper
  • spaghetti
  • venison stew
  • black bean burgers
  • chicken fried steak
  • tuna casserole

P.S.  Yesterday, Kimball ate strawberries.  All 4 pounds are now gone.  I also shoved some leftover uglies in his mouth while he was watching garbage trucks on youtube.  That is all he wants to watch lately.

P. P. S.  We spent Tuesday evening at my in-laws again.  I made us a chicken pot pie similar to this one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: A Big Hunk of Change, I mean Cheese

You may have noticed that I didn't blog yesterday.  We had a very busy day looking for a place to rent in the Salt Lake Valley.  I think we found something that will work for us.  And the landlord will let me bring my chickens!  What could be better?  I'm going to be an urban farmer!

It will be interesting to see how my little experiment of no grocery shopping goes while trying to move.  Let's just imagine that the emergency or disaster that I am pretending to simulate is causing my family to move.  I don't want to have to eat out so I am going to try and move some of my easy meals into the new place with some kitchen stuff ASAP.  The nice part is that the kitchen stuff is in storage and I will still have my mom's stuff in Mt. Pleasant to use down there.  It just may work.

P.S. On Sunday, we had grilled cheese and tomato soup, of course.  We used the rest of the homemade cheese for the sandwiches.  They were pretty delicious.  We ate them before I could even take a picture.

P.P.S.  Last night we ate with my in-laws.  I offered to cook and made us a stir-fry with chicken, frozen veggies and rice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Venison and Quinoa

I tried a new recipe last night.  It was from a book my friend gave me called Recipes to Lower Your Fat Thermostat.  Now, I am not one for diet cookbooks, but this one has a lot of recipes for beans and the bread recipes call for whole wheat flour so I have really enjoyed reading this book.  (I read recipe books in bed at night.)

I had to tweak the recipe a bit, but I liked how it turned out.  Here is what I did:

1 lb. venison steak sliced
2 T. soy sauce
2 t. vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 t. dry mustard
1/2 c. water

Marinate these ingredients in the fridge for 1 hour.  Then saute them in a hot skillet, including marinade, until steak is near done.  Then add:

1 can tomato soup
1 c. green onions sliced
2 c. broccoli
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1/4 c. water mixed with 1 T. corn starch

Cook until the broccoli is tender.

I served this over quinoa cooked with some chicken bullion.  It tasted delicious, but the venison was though.  I don't expect venison to be anything else, so it was fine.  I bet it would be better with elk.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Pizza!!

I had this great stir fry all planned and then I got vetoed by Kimball and Bryce, who both wanted pizza.  The trick was that pizza necessitated my making cheese.  I was reluctant because I had made it three times before and only succeeded once.  That is a terrible batting average.  I didn't want to screw it up again because this time it was with our precious raw milk.  (You can't make mozzarella from powdered milk unless you add cream).  But, when the boys want something, the boys usually get it.

I will give you the short version of the cheese sage and just say that it was successful.  Cheese making is more art than science and I am still struggling to find some talent buried deep inside.  In any event, the cheese was great.  Very melty.

Given our lack of fresh ingredients, the rest of the toppings were questionable.  We had some Canadian bacon that I had frozen for just this purpose; that was tasty.  In place of pepperoni we used Derek's jalapeno elk salami; it was way too hot for me.  I had some green onions from a trade.  The peppers rehydrated from diced peppers.  The pizza sauce was the sauce I mentioned here.  And the pizza dough I mentioned here.  I need to find a better sauce for pizza.  It was ok, but too chunky.

Baby Food and Cheating

We made it five weeks with my only food purchases being a carton of yogurt and a boneless turkey breast (which is still in my freezer).  Yesterday I fell off the band wagon and it was the baby food that threw me over the edge.  A baby can only live so long on broccoli, strawberry-applesauce and yogurt.  I am sure I could have dragged it out longer.  But, yesterday, I stopped being sure I wanted to.  Sure a bit of pride was at stake.  And I feel like because I said I would do something I should do it.  But the health of my baby was at stake and so I succumbed.

The real problem was that once I made it to the store and saw that strawberries were only $2.99 for two pounds, I decided everyone needed a treat.  Here is what I came home with:

For Stanford: 30 jars of baby food and two boxes of cereal.
For Kimball: 4 pounds of strawberries, bananas and syrup.
For Bryce: Ice cream, chocolate syrup and carrots.
For  myself: Marshmallows (for Rice Krispie treats!) and soy sauce.

Soy sauce, you are thinking?  That is a treat?  Well, we are dangerously low and soy is a basic ingredient in a lot of recipes I like to make.  Now that I think about it I should have got a can of coconut milk.  What was I thinking??  Shoot!  I have been craving this curry recipe.  I would even throw in my last two chicken breasts if I only had that coconut milk.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait until Stan runs out of food again.

By the way, Kimball ate an entire pound of strawberries himself as soon as they were clean.  It was the perfect treat for him.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Blue Jello

Bryce is up in Salt Lake again.  I didn't feel like cooking last night.  So we ate blue Jello jigglers.  Kimball was fascinated.  I must have mixed it very vigorously because it was foamy on top.

Lots of food calculators recommend storing Jello.  We don't eat it that often, but it was fun to have around yesterday.

We also ate leftovers.  See, I did feed my toddler something other thing sugar.  At least I did yesterday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How I made my Buddy Burner

I have a vague memory of making one of these when I was younger and I've been wanting to recreate it for months.  I just needed a can opener for the vents, some wax and an excuse to do it.  Having acquired the formerly absent tools, this blog has provided the excuse.

1.  Cut a door on an empty #10 can.  I used Cutco scissors.  (Bryce was so proud--both of me and the scissors).

2.  Punch vents in the back of the can with a can opener.

3.  Cut cardboard to the height of tuna cans.  Roll the cardboard and fill the cans. 

4.  Place wicks in between the cardboard near the center of the cans.

4.  Melt some wax.  I did this in the microwave.  The wax is sometimes available in the grocery store with the canning supplies.  Wax used to be used to cover jams and jellies.  While such a technique is no longer recommended, you can still get the wax next to your pectin.

5.  Fill the tuna cans with wax.

There go you go.  I can't wait to try this.  It seems a pretty cheap fuel source for cooking, especially for cloudy days when a solar oven is not an option.  I read one website that said you can use a tuna can as a cake pan and an additional #10 can on top to make an oven.  I will be sure to post the results.  

What We Ate for Dinner: Fiona's Lemon Pepper Bread Crumbs

I decided that Fiona's bread crumbs should be used in something fancy.  Well, fancy-ish.  I pulled out a pork chop, deboned it and cut it into five small pieces.  Then is pounded them thin between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Next, I assembled the breading stations.

Each piece got dipped first in flour, next in egg mixed with a little water and last the bread crumbs.

Then I fried those puppies up.  I didn't really fry any puppies.

They were delicious.  Even Kimball liked them.  He did what any reasonable two-and-a-half-year-old would do: he dipped them in ketchup.  Or as he says--"check-up".

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What I did with Fiona's Broccoli

The tops got stuck in a freezer bag for use in a future meal.

The bottoms got boiled and blended into baby food.

Thanks again, Fiona for the trade.  We will all enjoy the broccoli, especially Stan.

What We Ate for Dinner: Gruel and Cornbread

Gruel.  That's what Bryce told me the soup looked like.  And he had a point.  I made black bean and ham soup. The black beans turned the broth the color of gruel.  However, Bryce changed his tune when he tasted it.  The soup had so much flavor thanks to the ham bone.  Here is what I stuck in the crock pot yesterday morning:

1 ham bone
3 cans black beans with broth
1/3 c. dehydrated onion
1/4 c. dehydrated celery
4 cloves garlic
1 t. coriander
1 sprinkle of red pepper flakes
enough water to cover the ham bone

It simmered on low all day.  An hour or so before we ate I pulled out the ham bone.  I diced all the meat and put that back in.  I tossed the bone.

I made cornbread to go with it.  And for good measure I made honey butter from our homemade butter.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Making Butter from Cream

I'm not sure this could be any easier.  The hardest part was skimming the cream off the top of the milk.

1.  Place cream in mixer.  Turn mixer on.

2.  Mix at a high speed and wait for it.

3.  Wait for it.

4.  Wait for it.  (I confess there was a point that I thought it might not happen.  My friend I got the milk from told me that if there was any milk in the cream it wouldn't turn to butter.  I thought I might have been a poor skimmer  . . . but . . .)

5.  Butter!  I tossed the water that was produced, technically "buttermilk."  However, buttermilk today is a fermented skim milk and not really the same thing.  I didn't salt the butter, but I suppose I could have.  I worked out a little extra water when I put it in a jar.  Bryce thinks this is the best butter he has ever tasted.

Loot from my trip up North

It's good to be home after such a nice weekend.  We really enjoyed our time with Bryce's parents.  But I always love to come back to my own kitchen--and my own projects.  I have lots of blogging to catch up on.  And I need to make some bread since we are out.

We were lucky enough to bring a few things back with us without even going to the store.

  • 3 oranges, 2 apples, broccoli, and some lemon pepper bread crumbs.  My best friend Fiona was kind enough to trade these for some of my cheese sauce mix.  She also threw in a bag of Mother's Iced Animal Crackers, but those did not last long enough to make it back.
  • 1 bag of very veggie salad mix, 2 tomatoes and 4 sticks of string cheese came to us by way of exchange.  Fiona's cute sister Laryssa gave them to us for another jar of cheese sauce mix.  However, none of these items made it home with us.  Kimball gobbled up the cheese sticks and the salad and tomatoes became our contribution to a Mother's Day meal.  
  • 1 ham bone, a pound or so of spiral sliced ham, 5 pounds of small red potatoes, more venison and elk and a #10 can of potato pearls.  All this came from my in-laws.  They are always so generous.  The ham was from our Mother's Day meal.  I have to say that it was one of the best hams that I have ever eaten.  It was so moist, not dry at all.  I have big plans for the bone and left over ham.  
With family, kind friends and a few trades, we might just make it through 8 more weeks of no grocery shopping.  But we still have a long way to go.


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