A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Posts tagged “survival

After Work, Let’s Eat and Watch the Cardinals Win Again!

100_9558It is a busy morning getting hubby off to work, my daughter off to school, and myself off to work as well.  So this means making breakfast for every one, making lunch for my daughter and I (where hubby works they serve lunch), so I thought to insure a 100_9560relaxing evening (which I will definitely need) I’ll just get dinner going too.

100_9561All I do is throw in about 6 cut up carrots and 5 potatoes in chunks, and two nice pieces of chuck eye into the crock pot.  I add some minced garlic, some dehydrated onions, cut up sprigs of chives, salt, pepper, about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and a whole can of beer.  It feels kind of weird cracking open a beer at 8:00 a.m. then going off to work in a church, but hey!  I throw the can in the recycling bin, put the lid on the pot, turn it to LOW, pet the kitty good bye and take off in my trusty old ’78 Ford pick-up

100_9575Working at a church is one of the most exciting and enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had.  You wouldn’t think it could be but there are many facets involved in running a church.  The team of wonderful people I work with help manage these facets with  knowledge, kindness, patience, and love…and I love and trust each of them beyond measure.   I’m one of two secretaries at our church and Friday is the busiest day dealing with some of those facets plus making sure the Sunday bulletin and all of its information for the service are put together with several hundred copies printed before 10:00 a.m.

With its dozens of ministries and hundreds of people who turn to the church for help and answers, I never know what to expect  when I answer the phone.  Often it’s just a member needing to know another member’s phone number, or what time the such and such meeting is, but sometimes it is a person who needs someone to pray with or a person who needs help with a personal problem.  There are even some times when it gets weird.  Angry and desperate people can be very unpredictable but even those people need a place to turn.  A church is a good place. 100_9566

There is a graveyard adjacent to the church with graves from as far back as 1843 and occasionally I get a call from someone looking for an ancestor to fill in their genealogical gaps.  This is my favorite part of the job. Since our church is 170 years old there is a lot of exciting history to which I have access allowing me to answer some of those questions or at least guide people to a place they can get more information. Church records are a great source for birth names and dates, marriages and deaths of whole families.  It is very satisfying work exploring the old files and helping locate someone’s relatives from the 1800’s

So, after a long day of connecting people, meeting deadlines, dotting I’s and crossing T’s, I’m so glad I decided to make dinner before I left the house.  When I come home, hubby and daughter are waiting for me with the table already set.  All we need to do is thank our dear Lord for what he provides and tuck on in to a bowl of delicious stew.  The meat  and vegetables are so tender, it only takes a spoon to cut everything up, and of course drink the tasty broth.100_9574   On a cool October evening this ready made meal does a great job warming us all up inside and out.  Now we’re ready to relax and watch the Cardinals play some NLCS baseball.


Snow Storm And Living Off Stores

A great snow storm is headed our way so I thought having been a Girl Scout and a Scout Leader I would but those skills to work by being prepared…I earned my camping and cooking badges and have always taken the motto and the promise to heart.  I thought I might practice those skills tonight by living off of foods we’ve had in storage.  We have many dehydrated foods that can be re-constituted if need be.  Tonight I prepared some favorites of au-gratin potatoes, fresh baked bread and frozen pork chops.  This meal was delicious and we have plenty more put away to get us through the approaching storm.

49582I don’t want to be caught up in the grocery store frenzy either and by baking bread, we will have both good food and something fun to do.  I’ve stocked up on milk so that is covered, and also, since Easter is coming, I’ve purchased plenty of eggs already.  We now have no reason to go out among the frantic shoppers who must grapple for that last loaf or gallon, and check out in what I like to refer to as the “panic aisle”, because we were prepared long49584 before the storm.

This evening I wanted to use some of my dehydrated ingredients to make potatoes au-gratin with other vegetables all of which have been stored since 2009.  The chops have been in the freezer for about a month, and the bread was made from flour with which we have rotated use from storage under a day bed set in a little nook in the basement that is the perfect height for five gallon buckets.  We’ve done this for years.  Quite a few fit under there and they are all full of things we might need if this storm gets really bad or maybe just if we run out of something in the kitchen pantry.  All we have to do is shop from under the bed.

49588So to make this meal, I put a good handful of potatoes in a pie plate, some dried tomatoes, onions and green peppers also were sprinkled in for added taste and nutrients,  I shredded some Co-Jack and Parmesan cheese, poured 49590milk and a little cream over everything until they were completely 49591submerged then dotted a bit of butter around, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and put it in a 350° oven.  The oven was already warm because I had baked some bread just before and it made the house smell lovely.  The potatoes took about 50 minutes to become bubbly and browned on top and in the last fifteen minutes I started the chops which were now completely thawed, bones 49593removed, and in a skillet, I pan seared them with a little olive oil and spices on both sides.

49594For the last five minutes I turned off the fire, put a lid on them, and gave them a while to rest.  When the potatoes were ready, I removed the chops 49595to a plate and let them rest a bit more under a foil tent while I made a little gravy with the drippings in the pan.  Flour, spices, salt, pepper and water is all I needed for that.  Suddenly everything came together and we found ourselves eating a beautiful meal together.

49597It was amazing how much flavor the potatoes had.  It was as if they were sliced just an hour before.  You could never tell that they had been hanging around the house for the past four years because they were stored well.  Same with the vegetables…the onions, tomatoes and peppers though they were very well cooked, tasted terrific!  If I could, I’d love to have a dairy cow because the milk, butter, cream, and cheese didn’t hurt the flavors in this dish a bit.  You can bet I’ll be looking into ways to store dairy products in the future because that is the only thing I haven’t figured out how to store.  It is so good when it’s fresh, I just never considered any other way to slice cheese or spread butter.  Maybe during this snow storm something will come to me.  I’m open to suggestions.  In the meantime, to all my Mid-West friends, get ready to put your scouting skills to work:  “Be prepared” and take care.

More Dehydrating

As I have posted before, dehydrating is a great way to store food.  When you dehydrate, you only take out the water…all of  the flavor and most of the nutrients stay in the food.  This week there was a great sale on green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  These are things that I use a lot in my cooking…especially in cooking stews and soups.  Stews and soups are the foods that are really easy to make, and great to prepare when the weather is not the best.  In the summertime I hope to have food from the garden on hand that won’t need cooking.  Even so, the surplus from the garden with all its fresh flavors can be dried and stored as well.

We have a snow storm coming our way just now and besides stocking up last week, we have dehydrated several bags and trays of  mushrooms, onions and green peppers to use another day.  Dehydrated foods last far beyond the shelf life of regular canned items, decades beyond even.  To do this we have sterilized mason jars with lids,  and a special attachment that hooks to our Food Saver vacuum bagging system.  It cost about 25 dollars but is worth a lot more because we can seal up food that we purchase on sale that ten years from now will be maybe ten times the price.

49422The mushrooms we dehydrated cost us 69 cents per container, and the onions were on sale for 79 cents per bag (7 medium onions in each).  We use a lot of onions so roughly a dime an onion is a great deal.  Having them ten years from now because we dehydrated and stored them at that price seems even better.

49436So you might see that purchasing vegetables and even some meat when there is a really good sale makes for some super savings in the future.  It also takes up so much less space  storing these foods when you take out the water.   We  love to store food this way and store lots of vegetables from the garden this way, food on sale from the store, and food that our relatives have hunted and shared like deer meat.  I’ve posted on how to dry deer meat and beef before, also how to store vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, apples, also herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil.

In this photo you will see four containers of mushrooms in one Mason jar, also a bag of onions in one jar as well.  You could fit at  least three pounds of dehydrated meat in one jar, and a whole two bags of  frozen broccoli in one as well.  Ten green peppers chopped and with the stems and pith removed can fit into an 8 oz jar…yes, this is ten chopped green peppers we can preserve up to 25 years!  At any time we might toss a portion of these jars into a soup or stew and enjoy all the flavor it had on the day we dried it.  People all over the world have been doing this for thousands of years!

If you ever try to dehydrate apples, good luck getting them in storage.  They are so delicious that we can hardly help ourselves from eating the whole batch.  I think that they are  the best treat of all from the dehydrator.  A close second is corn and the tomatoes are third I think.  Corn makes a great crunchy snack and tomatoes are great when baked into bread and bagels.  We’ll have a tons of snack food some day if  stores can’t provide fresh veggies for what ever reason…snow storm, power outage, or the proverbial “Zombie Apocalypse” .  We’ll be OK by having prepared  just a little beforehand.  Anyone can do this if they put their mind to it.

There Is A Right Way To Cook Deer Meat!

49385There are a lot of folks out there that refuse to, never have, or hate to eat venison.  I hope to drum up a few converts with this entry.

The first things most anti-venison folks say is that it tastes gamey and everyone says “You have to know how to cook it”.  Admittedly there some parts that have a strong liver flavor and need special preparation but if I were to introduce a skeptic to this kind of meat, I would prepare them a piece of tenderloin prepared as follows.

49386First the meat should come from a reliable hunter who knows a good meat processor/butcher.  A reliable hunter will remove the entrails (full of it’s waste) promptly after bringing the animal down.  If this is not done quickly it will taint the meat.  This is true of any meat product from the field, stream, or store.

Now that the gross part is out of the way, I would skip this  information for the benefit of the previously mentioned skeptic.  With a couple of steaks of tenderloin sliced to a thickness of 3/4″ I heat up the skillet with a spot of olive oil, I place the small steaks (these are butterflied) in the skillet and season them with a good bold steak seasoning.  They get a nice searing on both sides (about 3 minutes on each).  It is not usually wise to add liquid while cooking steaks but I did add a mere splash to cool the pan and keep the brown juice from going black and charred.  This will be my gravy later.  The water was just enough to evaporate very quickly in the high heat.

49387I removed the steaks to a plate to rest and shut off the fire while I prepared a mushroom gravy.  I added another dash of 49388olive oil to the pan of brownness, and quickly added sliced mushrooms, about 3/4 cup of  water, salt, and pepper, then turned the heat back on medium high.  I mixed a tablespoon of flour with another 1/4 cup of water until it was perfectly smooth and poured this into the broth and mushrooms.  This took about two minutes to  thicken and make a lovely rich brown sauce to pour over  the steaks.

Since my husband skeptic was at work, Julia, who had a snow day, and I ate these deliciously tender steaks for breakfast (you gotta do something different on a snow day, right?).  This was not a bad meal for any time of the day, and with the cost of about four mushrooms, a pinch of spice, and a handful of flour, I’d say it was pretty budget friendly.  My brother in law was pretty friendly in giving me the best part of the deer as well.

I have a few more steaks in the freezer to whip out on my dear (deer) skeptic some day…maybe it will get his attention when he sees these pictures on the computer wallpaper…he he.

49390There IS a right way to cook deer meat!

Bacon Potato Green Bean And Tomato Soup

You don’t have to go to a soup kitchen for free soup…at least I didn’t have to today.  I just went to my trusty old refrigerator and cleaned out the leftovers.  In there I found all the ingredients in the title of this entry, added a few spices like minced garlic, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of salt.

The green beans were already cooked with onions and bacon which seasoned them nicely.   The potatoes were left over boiled and peeled russets, and the tomatoes were from a partially used can of Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilies… plenty of  heat and flavor there.  I added a splash each of cream and milk , mashed it all together with the potato masher, heated it in the microwave, and this lovely and delicious soup was the result.  Just what is needed on this cool day.49345

Storing Up Meat For Winter

In the old days folks had to store up food for the winter in order to get by.  Drying meats, storing things in root cellars, utilizing the freezing temperatures, and canning got 48998them by before modern refrigeration.  Drying meat from larger game was and is a great way to store meats for people all over the world in any climate.

My brother in law is an avid hunter and has acreage deep in the woods of Missouri.  He purchases his deer tags every year and is always successful bringing in a few each year either during bow season or gun season.  My brother in law got a couple of deer to process and freeze this year.  He is a generous man and shared with us several packages of venison tenderloin, the deer version of fillet mignon.

48993Yesterday I thawed a package, made two steaks that the kids and I shared for lunch and with the rest I sliced it very thinly, gave it a good salting, added some 48995teriyaki  sauce, soy sauce, and steak sauce…just enough to coat the meat well…about a tablespoon of each.  I let the meat sit 48996in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes then broke out the dehydrator.  The meat soaked up most of the marinate which is what I wanted, and I laid the meat out on the trays, set the temperature for 95°, and let it do its magic overnight.  Just before bedtime, I turned the meat over to allow the other side to get thoroughly dry.  I probably didn’t have to do this but my gut told me to do so anyway.

Well, today I shut off the machine (a Harvest Maid dehydrator which a few years ago we got off Craig’s List for $15) and removed the perfectly dry jerky.  My son and I gave it49005 a taste this morning and it was absolutely delicious!  It gives bacon a run for the money as it is much leaner, full of protein, and just as tasty.  My husband though, doesn’t agree.  He doesn’t like deer meat at all!  Some folks just plain don’t like it.  I don’t understand it.  One can’t expect it to taste like beef because it is an entirely different animal, but to each his own.  Being a native Missouri girl, where deer are abundant, even to the point of pesky, I’m glad to enjoy this ecological, economical, and natural source of food.

Dried meat stores for years especially if kept out of the elements.  We’ve got a gadget that attaches to our vacuum sealing machine (Food Saver) that hooks by hose to the lid of a wide mouth Mason jar and vacuums out the air in the jar.  This will help this jerky store for years and years.  I hope to put up more of this in our stores but it will take a lot of will power because this stuff is sooo good!

The Perfect Cup Of Coffee

The little coffee filter of the Keureg machineAs you all may read in previous posts, I’m likely the world’s worst java junkie.  I have at least three coffee making machines and I’ve recently acquired a Keureg machine that really makes a great cup of coffee…but just one cup at at time.  That’s probably a good thing for me and I have found that “Newman’s Own” is my favorite kind that comes in the little K-cups.  Since I’m also the world’s worst cheap skate, I don’t go out and purchase them unless company is coming or unless I find a really good sale.

My Three Amigos

My Three Amigos

I have taken to grinding my own coffee from whole beans for my morning cup.  Freshly ground coffee is the best.  The machine is conveniently set to be ready right when I wake up.  The trouble there is, that the Keureg machine has a tiny little basket that needs cleaned between each cup and

Two heaping tablespoons makes one pot

Two heaping tablespoons makes one pot

it seems to take a good amount of coffee for that one cup…almost the same amount my little six cup Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker used to make.  It really tastes great though, but since it was a

Fill it to the top and let her drip

Fill it to the top and let her drip

gift, I feel like I’m cheating on my Keureg by making coffee any other way.  With the K-cups coffee is ready in less than a minute, and it is always freshly brewed.  That’s the best part but the owner’s manual is as big as the TV Guide, and the machine takes up a good bit

Now that's a cup of coffee

Mmm…the warm yumminess

of counter space.  I love it and I love and adore the people who gave it to me, but I’m afraid this is just too fancy of an appliance for me.

Though I claim to be this Diva, I really lead a simple lifestyle.  I make most things from scratch, I own one dress and a suit (I’m all about the blue jeans), I drive a 1978 Ford F-150 ( runs like a top and the oil is just as amber as you please), I hate and dread going shopping, my dishwasher is on the fritz and I don’t care (I’d rather do them by hand anyway.  It’s faster and I do a better job).  I don’t even wear make-up unless I’m going somewhere special, and the best darn coffee comes

Easy to clean too

Easy to clean too

from an old beat up coffee pot my grandmother used and I inherited.  It was made by the Enterprise Aluminum Company of Massillon Ohio in the 1930’s (an era I’m fascinated by).  It’s called the Drip-O-lator.  No filter is required and all one needs to do is boil about two cups of water.  In five minutes the water is boiled and the dripping is done.  There are five tiny holes in the upper reservoir that allow the water to drip at just the right rate.  In the end, three cups of the most delicious coffee I’ve ever tasted is ready.

With the holidays and company coming and going, I’ll use this lovely Keureg.  I’ll purchase a big box of Newman’s Own K-cups but after they are gone, I’ll probably put this expensive and lovely machine away.  I’m really the only one in the house that drinks coffee (and I probably drink enough for the five of us), but I’m finding it hard to adjust to modernity of it all.

The old ones are much easier to work on

Not too pretty but “Ol’ T-rusty” runs great