Category Archives: Cooking

Canning, lobster bisque, cooking, strawberry jam, jellies, jams, drying food, freezing food, biscuits

Cabbage Concoction

Do you have an abundance of cabbage this year, but you do not need any sauerkraut?

Why not try my cabbage concoction? Cabbage needs to be sautéed before it can be frozen. Here is a delicious way to preserve your cabbage and make in advance a delicious, healthy entree to enjoy during the cold winter months.

Ingredients include: bacon, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, garlic, salt, and peppers.

You need:

8 pieces of bacon

2 small onions or 1 medium onion

1/2 large cabbage

1 large tomato

4 pieces of garlic, 4 teaspoons of minced garlic can be used if you do not have fresh garlic

2 peppers- bell or hot

1 teaspoon salt

The most time consuming part of this recipe is the chopping. Prepare all the ingredients for the  concoction first. Chop 2 medium sized onions. I used red onions because that is what I had in the garden. I have also used Vidalia onions. Dice the garlic. If you do not have fresh garlic, you can use minced garlic. Shred the cabbage. We used half of a large head of cabbage. Dice one large tomato. Chop the hot peppers or even a green bell peppers; this ingredient is optional. As always I recommend letting the kids help!

Fry 8 pieces of bacon in the frying pan. Remove the bacon from the pan to a small cutting board. Put the onions into the hot bacon grease. If the bacon is lean, you can add up to 4 teaspoons of olive oil. Cook them stirring occasionally and cut up the bacon into small pieces while cooking the onions. When the onions are starting to turn brown, add the tomato and garlic. Stir it a couple times for about 15 seconds then add the cabbage and bacon. Do not forget the salt! After about three minutes add the peppers. Stirring requires caution at first. After the cabbage begins to cook down then it gets easier. Keep stirring until the cabbage is thoroughly cooked. If you grasp the mixture between a metal spatula and a pair of tongs, you can turn the mixture more easily.

Keep stirring the cabbage until all the cabbage is completely mixed. Put the lid on the pan and turn the heat to low. Let the cabbage cook for about twelve minutes on low heat. When the cabbage is thoroughly cooked, turn the heat off and let the mixture cool. When the mixture is cool, place the entire mixture in a freezer bag and freeze it.

In the winter simply remove the cabbage concoction from the freezer and let it thaw. Remove from bag and place in baking dish. Bake it at 325 degrees until warm about 40 minutes.

Fruit Leather Made Easy

Strawberry Fruit Leather made at home!

You need a dehydrator for this recipe.

Use a can of canned pears. This recipe is a great way to utilize canned pears leftover from the previous year’s canning. Open the can or jar and pour the entire contents into a two quart saucepan. Turn the heat to medium high. Stir until the juice starts to simmer. Take a potato masher and crush the pears to make the mixture look like applesauce. You can stop here and pour the contents onto the solid tray that fits on a shelf in the dehydrator. Or…. show your creativity by adding one cup of another fruit to the simmering mixture. Our favorite is strawberries. You can take a cup of frozen fruit, add it to the simmering pear sauce and again apply the potato masher. Keep mushing and mixing until the mixture is uniform. Use fresh fruit if you have it and simmer until it is sauce.

Spoon the mixture onto the solid tray that fits on the shelf of your dehydrator. Be careful not to overflow the tray. You may get a bowl of fruit sauce to enjoy for lunch! Set the dehydrator at 135 degrees, leave it for twenty to twenty-four hours. When you have to carefully  scrape it off the tray and it looks like leather, it is finished. The kids love it. It travels well. Just roll it onto a piece of wax paper and put it in a zippered bag to keep it fresh! Enjoy!!

Carmelized Conundrum

Ever have too many carmelized onions? You do not want to waste them and just throw them away. Here is a new idea for me at least. Find those ice cube trays in the cabinet. Wash them, so they are nice and clean. Fill them with the carmelized onions and put them in the freezer. When they are frozen, pop them out of the trays and into a freezer bag. Close the bag and put them back in the freezer until needed. You could thaw one cube per person and put them on your hamburger to make an onion burger! You can put several in a pot of soup you are making. You could thaw some to have with sausage sandwiches! Keep thinking!!!

Ready, Set, Time to Can Those Vegetables and Fruits!!!

Canning season is almost here. Are you ready? You need a source of fresh vegetables or fruit. Is your garden producing an abundance of fresh vegetables? Do you have a local grower you can buy fresh vegetables from? You need many clean jars. Do you have a supply of new lids? Is the cabinet or shelf clean where you are going to put all of your newly canned treasures?

What about your canning equipment? Is your canner in working order? Do you have funnels, ladles, and a sharp paring knife?

How about spices? Go through the recipes you use for canning. Do you need more pickling spice, cinnamon, dill seed, or salt? If you start to plan now, then get prepared, your 2017 canning season will be more enjoyable and rewarding.

Budget Busters-Buying Hot Drinks

Buying hot or cold drinks on your morning commute can be a budget buster! Stop and think! Want to learn how to save $570.00 per year by changing one habit?

Let us do the mathematics. You can buy one hundred tea bags for $3.00 on sale. If you use one tea bag per cup of tea, the tea costs you three cents a cup. My daughters will use two tea bags for a large cup of tea so that cup of tea costs about six cents. The water from your tap is a negligible expense. The cost of heating a cup of water is also very little money. A cup of hot tea costs $2.00 at the donut shop on your way to work. Times that amount by fifty weeks a year. Take that number and times it by five days a week. The tea for two hundred fifty cups of tea costs seven dollars and fifty cents per year if you make it at home. The same, daily cup of tea, when made by another person costs $500.00 per year.

Now, let us do the math for coffee. A can of coffee at the grocery store is about $8.00 on sale. At times the price can be even less. You are supposed to use a tablespoon of coffee for a cup of coffee. The mathematics for the coffee is a little more difficult. The can we have reads, 210 six fluid ounce cups. We usually drink eight ounce cups. Multiply 210 by six, the product is 1260 which we divide by eight. The mathematics is not perfect but we want to find an approximate amount of how much it costs us to make a cup of coffee at home. The answer to that division problem is exactly one hundred fifty-seven and a half.

Let us say the approximate answer is one hundred fifty. With one can of coffe, you can make approximately one hundred fifty cups of coffee. The coffee to make one cup of coffee at home costs a little over five cents per cup. If you put half and half in your coffee, it is going to cost a little more. A cup of hot coffee at the donut store is $2.39 per cup. If we times $2.40 by five days a week, the product is twelve dollars per week. Times twelve dollars per week by fifty weeks. For that pampered feeling of having someone else make your coffee every day, it costs you six hundred dollars a year. Two hundred cups of coffee made at home costs you ten dollars a year. With half and half perhaps thirty dollars a year. Do you see why there are so many people out there willing to make you a cup of hot “joe” for your morning commute?

If you get up ten minutes earlier, make your own hot coffe for example, you can save yourself five hundred seventy dollars a year. So how much is that feeling like royalty worth to you? Are you going to keep spending or start saving? It is up to you to stop the budget busting habit of buying coffee on your way to work! James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up!”

Budget Busters: Snacks!

Do you have a budget? Are you controlling yourself to stay within the confines of your spending plan? How much of your income is expendable?

Most people, like you and I, are trying to save money. Sometimes we are blind to the ways in which we waste money. The temptation to break our budget is often unnoticed, until we go over our receipts at the end of the month.

Most of us go to the grocery store for much of our food. Since we are on a budget, we watch what we are buying. We may buy less snack foods. For instance buying pretzels instead of potato chips is a healthier choice and you are getting more food for the same amount of money. At our grocery store, pretzels sell for between two dollars and two dollars and fifty cents a bag.

Now, we stop at the pharmacy on our way home from work to pick up a prescription. We are hungry, so we buy a bag of healthy pretzels. That same bag of pretzels is four dollars and fifty-nine cents! Buying the bag of pretzels is a budget buster! You have paid more than twice what you would have paid at the grocery store for the same item!

How can we avoid the pitfall mentioned above? One way is to discipline yourself and just say no to buying snacks on the way home from work when you are hungry and tired. Another way to combat the temptation, is to keep healthy snacks in your vehicle, that you bought at the grocery store when you did your weekly grocery shopping. My family keeps containers of dried apples in our vehicles. If the container is kept closed the apples will keep for a long time. Dried apples do not spoil when exposed to freezing temperatures. We dry our own apples in the fall, when apples are inexpensive.

We also keep bags of granola and pretzels in our vehicles, on which to snack. Small jars of peanut butter that you can dip your pretzels into, turn the pretzels into a more balanced snack by incorporating protein.

To stay in control of your finances, check your receipts at the end of the month. To avoid the budget buster of snacks bought on the spur of the moment, keep healthy snacks with you as you travel.

Vegetable Beef Soup

More and more people are returning to their roots. This recipe is a contribution from a friend, MaryClaire Threston. Her mother, Mary Threston created this recipe many years ago. Her suggestions include using only chuck roast; the pre-cut cubes you can buy at the grocery store are too tough.

You are going to need a large pot for this recipe!

4-5 pounds of chuck roast- cubed
4-5 parsnips
4-5 carrots
4-5 stalks of celery
1 large onion- peeled and diced
2 quarts of crushed, canned tomatoes or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup sugar
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Brown the cubed meat in hot oil using a frying pan. Transfer browned meat to soup pot. Add a quart of water and simmer while preparing vegetables. Wash the parsnips, onions, carrots, and celery. Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces. If the tomatoes are not crushed, then dice them into small pieces also.

Add the vegetables including the tomatoes to the simmering beef cubes. Add the sugar and salt at this time. Simmer for one hour. Taste before serving to see if the soup needs more salt. Remember salt is one of the most important ingredients of soup!

Enjoy good, healthy inexpensive eating and God bless! You can use caramelized onions which may cause the soup to have a smoother flavor.

Abundance of Autumn Apples

Autumn is the time to enjoy cider while watching the colorful leaves falling. Soon winter will be here. Are you prepared?

One way our family prepares for winter is to dehydrate apples. The Pennsylvania Germans call it schnitz. Drying apples in the dehydrator is one way to preserve apples for the winter. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate them in the oven at a low temperature. Be sure to watch the oven. You could keep apples in a basket in the cellar for the winter, but if one goes bad they could all start to rot. Another drawback to eating whole apples in the freezing weather, is you will have a mushy mess if you leave one in your vehicle and it freezes.

In contrast dehydrated apples can be left in a vehicle overnight and in the morning the apple pieces will taste fine, because they do not freeze. Dehydrated apples that are kept in an airtight container will last for many months even more than a year. Dehydrated apples can be rehydrated to make applesauce and apple pies. Schnitz also consumes less space than regular apples. Be wise and do not eat too many at a time because the dried apples have more calories per ounce than regular apples. Schnitz is a healthy treat the whole family can enjoy.

Marvelous Melon Marmalade

Do you have an abundance of cantaloupe?

One way to save some of that sweet goodness to enjoy during the winter is to make some melon marmalade. This recipe is an inexpensive way to preserve the summer bounty of cantaloupe. There is no pectin needed, which makes it less expensive to make than other jams. As anything worthwhile, this recipe takes some time to complete.

Melon Marmalade

16 cups of cubed Cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon

3/4 cup of lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

4 cups of sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

7 one cup jelly jars with lids and rings

In a large pot(6 quarts or larger), place the cubed melon. Pour the sugar and lemon juice over the melon and let it sit for an hour. While the melon is sitting, collect enough jars to contain six or seven cups of the marmalade. Place the jars into a different large pot big enough to hold them and cover them with cold water.

After the hour has passed, turn the heat up to medium high and begin to cook down the cantaloupe mixture stirring continuously. After you have cooked the mixture for about forty minutes, turn on the heat under the jars. Once the jars come to a boil, reduce the heat but keep them boiling for ten minutes then turn to the lowest setting until the cantaloupe marmalade is finished. Add your lids at this time.

When the cantaloupe mixture is thickened so it looks like thick applesauce, turn off the heat. Stir into the mixture a teaspoon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. If there is any foam, scrape the foam off and discard it. Place a jar funnel into a hot empty jar just removed from the pot of water. Scoop up some of the melon marmalade with a ladle and fill the jars to within a half inch of the top. Wipe the tops of the filled jars and place a lid on each one. Tighten on a ring to each jar. Replace jars back into the pot of hot water. Allow jars to cool in pot of water until they are room temperature. After they are cooled, wipe each jar and mark it with the words Marvelous Melon Marmalade and write the date on the lid as well. Put away in a dark cabinet or on a shelf away from sunlight.

Pick Your Own Food

Last winter I paid $10.00 for a bag of frozen blueberries. Because I did not get my kids and myself to the blueberry patch last summer, I had to pay ten dollars for berries! At the local patch where I usually pick, the blueberries are $1.10 per pound. A pound of blueberries is approximately a quart. I encourage everyone to get to your local growers this spring and summer to pick to your hearts content.

Try to harvest and preserve enough for one year. Blueberries are so easy to preserve. You pick the blueberries. You rinse the berries in cold water. You bag them in quart freezer bags and put them in the freezer.

In our area you can pick by yourself: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, cherries, and pumpkins. Explore what is available in your area and then bring in the harvest. Preserve the food and then give yourself a pat on the back for being prepared!!

Food picked fresh at a local grower whether you pick it yourself or they pick it for you is so much healthier for you. Picking food together as a family will draw your family closer together. Remind your children that we are doing this task together to be healthier, to save money, and to spend time together. Your kids may not appreciate it now, but someday they will. Proverbs 6:6-8 reads, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.”