Why I Can…

People often ask me why I can food.  My first response is always because I can.  Seems simple enough but really there are other reasons. I like growing our own food but since fruits and veggies don’t grow year round, I need to can what we grow and don’t eat right away.  I have a large family and I buy in bulk to help with the cost.  That means sometimes I need to can the excess for another time.  Then there’s the convenience factor.  For example the other day everyone was home for Spring Break.  We all slept in late but needed to get moving to head out the door.  Since it would be hours before we could eat another meal we needed something substantial  to fill our bellies.

So, I pulled out potatoes I had canned from our garden harvest last summer.

last summer's potatoes

last summer’s potatoes

I melted some coconut oil, chopped some fresh green onions, and put in the potatoes with some seasoning to brown.

In the skillet

In the skillet

Because the potatoes were pre cut and precooked in the canning process, by the time cooked the sausage, gathered fresh eggs and cooked them, they were ready.  I also heated up some pancakes I had made earlier in the month and froze.

In 20 minutes we had a hot satisfying breakfast and were soon on the road to enjoy our day.

quick easy breakfast

quick easy breakfast

 

Advertisements

Potato, Chicken, & Leek Soup

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to leeks.  I had no idea what to do with them, but they came in a basket of fruits and veggies we got through Bountiful Baskets.  So, I went through cookbooks and did an internet search.  I found a recipe that sounded good and I since I had all the ingredients, I went for it.  It was a hit and the Mr. declared leeks his new favorite vegetable.  Yesterday was a very cold and windy and therefore perfect to make the soup (again).   Each time I make it, I change up little things as this seems to be a great base to experiment with.  Here’s what I did this time.

Ingredients:

  • 4 leeks
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 lbs potatoes cubed
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups freeze dried chicken or you can use fresh cooked shredded chicken

Directions:

  1. Cut leeks lengthwise, separate, wash well.  Use only the white and pale green parts, chop.  Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper.  Cover and let saute for 10 minutes.  Check often so they don’t brown.
  2. Add water, broth, and potatoes.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are on the soft side.
  3. To make the soup creamy use a blender or stick blender.  If using a conventional blender remove about half of the mix and puree in the blender until smooth and return to the pot.  If using a stick blender, just immerse it in the pot and blend away until creamy.  (I used both methods and find both work equally as well…the stick blender is just quicker and easier to clean)
  4. Add chicken, Italian Seasonings and crushed red pepper and more salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer until the chicken is rehydrated (if using freeze dried) or warmed up (if using fresh)
  5. Served with some warm bread or rolls….yum.

potatoleeksoup

*Adapted from Simply Recipes

Home Made Instant Blueberry and Cream Oatmeal

It’s very easy to make.  It tastes good.  It’s affordable.  It’s not full of preservatives.  Did I mention it tastes good?

What You Need:

  • 1 Cup regular oatmeal (quick cook is not necessary) **
  • 1 TBSP coffee creamer
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • about 24 freeze dried or dehydrated blueberries

Combine oats, creamer, sugar, and salt into a food processor

 

Give it a quick 3 or 4 pulses to break up the oats and blend ingredients together.

Pour into a resealable sandwich baggie and add freeze dried or dehydrated blueberries.

Label and it’s ready to go.

To eat: 

Add about 1 cup boiling water, more or less to suit your preferences.  Stir and eat when you aren’t going to burn your mouth.

This makes a quick breakfast on a school morning or even when out camping.

 

** I suppose you could use quick cooking oats.  I find the long cooking regular cheaper and by chopping them up in the food processor they cook just as fast as the quick cooking oats do.

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Bread

I decided to play with my standard whole wheat bread recipe and substituted canned pumpkin for the milk in equal amounts.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

The bread turned out really good.  It was moister then normal as well as very filling.  Once slice was more then enough.  I will play with this a bit more because I think adding a little cinnamon will only enhance it.

On A Roll With My Breads

Twice a week I make bread for our family.  This is the bread we use with meals, for sandwiches, or whatever.  I use the same basic recipe but try to liven it up sometimes, because even I can get bored doing the same thing over and over.  On Monday I tried something new and the results turned out well, so I thought I would share what I did.

First I used my own basic bread recipe and let it go through it’s first rise.  When it was time to punch down the dough, I divided it into 3 parts on a flour dusted counter.

One part of dough divided ready to roll out.

I rolled it out fairly thin but didn’t go wider then my bread pan.

Dough rolled out no wider then the bread pan.

Next, I added a filler to each loaf.

Dough with garlic butter.

Dough with cinnamon.

Dough with oatmeal.

Next step is fairly easy, just roll the dough up.

And place in your bread pan, seam side down. Add additional toppings if you prefer.

Let rise again.

Bake.

Enjoy.

One thing we did notice on the garlic bread.  Due to the butter content in the spread, the rolled part didn’t stick together as it was rising.  While this would be a problem for a sandwich bread, we enjoyed unrolling it while eating it.  The other breads did not separate.

Canning Turnips

My brother-in-law “threw out some turnip seeds to see what would happen.”  The result was astonishingly large turnips, which he just left in the field after eating a few.

We gleaned a lot of them.  They are sweet when raw and extremely tasty when cooked.  We stored several boxes in the cellar, but also decided to can up lots of them.  It took 2 days with 2 canners (as one was cooling down the other was heating up)

and we netted 43 quarts of processed turnips.

I think we are good for now.

Soup Challenge – Week 4

Can you believe we are already on week 4 of our soup challenge?  Time is going by so quickly.  This week I bring you what I will call Throw It Together Taco Soup.  This really is a fly by the seat of your pants recipe, so adjust accordingly to your tastes.

What I used:

Water

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb ground turkey

1 small onion

1 can vegetarian refried beans

1/2 cup taco seasoning (equivalent of two premade packages)

1 can of corn

1 can of black beans

1 can of tomato sauce

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 slow cooker or crock pot

 

What I did:

First things first, I chopped the onion and cooked it with the ground beef, turkey, and refried beans.  After draining off the fat, I put the mix in the crock pot, added enough water to cover it, then added all of the other ingredients listed.  Once stirred, I set the lid on the crock pot, set it to medium and walked away from it.  Eight hours later, I made some home made tortilla chips and we sat down to a wonderfully hot and hearty supper.

—-

Reviews:

  • incredibly easy to make
  • affordable
  • 6 out of 6 thumbs up

 

And when ice is falling from the sky, it’s really nice to have an easy and warm soup to heat things up.

First

Soup of the Week – Week 3

Our Soup of the Week is “survival soup”.  It is a very easy soup to make if you have the ingredients on hand.  This one can be made if the power is out, you are camping, you are busy running the kids to and from football practice all day, or you just don’t feel like cooking.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s still a healthy soup.

 

Ingredients we used:

Provident Pantry Freeze Dried White Chicken

Provident Pantry Freeze Dried White Turkey

Provident Pantry Freeze Dried Super Sweet Corn

Sweet Peas

Mushrooms

Onions

Egg Noodles

Water

salt and pepper to taste

Fill large pot about halfway full and add about 2 cups chicken, turkey, or some of both, about 2 cups or so of corn, 2 cans of drained peas, 2 cans of mushrooms and bring to a boil.  This will also re-hydrate your freeze dried meats and vegetables so you might need to add more water.  When the water comes to a rolling boil, add noodles and cook as per manufactures directions (in our case, we went about 8 minutes).  Add any salt or pepper to taste. (This will feed a large family with leftovers so adjust your amounts accordingly)

Once the noodles are cooked, serve up and eat a steamy bowl of soup that is still healthy, hearty, and very quick to make.

Again, this is great if the power is out as long as you can heat water (which you can do outside using an Eco-Zoom stove like I showed here.  It’s quick and easy for those times when life is running you ragged but you still need a quick meal for the family.  Or, even if you are not feeling well and still need to get dinner on the table.  Honestly, I think it took longer for us to photograph everything then it took for us to cook the meal.  Enjoy.

Oh, here’s a quick look at the freeze dried corn and chicken before adding to the soup:

And then after a few minutes in water:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reviews:

  • 7 thumbs up from the family
  • warm and good on a cold and chilly night
  • filling
  • easy to make

 

 

 

Soup of the Week — Week 1

Cooler temperatures mean warm, hearty meals.  This season I want to challenge myself (and you) to create a different soup each week.  No set rules, no set day, just one different soup each week.  If you try one of my recipes be sure to let me know how you like it (or don’t like it).  If you create your own recipe, please share more about it so we can maybe try it too.

To kick of the challenge, this week is just your tomato soup.  When I was a kid, my mom loved that white and red label soup that was “mmm mmm good”.  I hated it.  We’d have it quite often though as it was affordable, quick, and easy.  As I grew older, I tolerated the soup and found myself feeding it to my family for the same reasons.  With as many people as we have in our family, and prices of food going up, I was finding that it wasn’t so affordable or quite so filling.  However, tomatoes are really good for us.  Considered both a fruit and a vegetable they are full of antioxidants, are good for the skin, lower cholesterol, help with hypertension and diabetes, and the list goes on.  So I was in search for a great home made tomato soup recipe.  I think I found it.

Remember, I cook for an army so you may have to adjust your amounts accordingly.

3 quarts tomato puree

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion diced

1/2 large green bell pepper diced

2 stalks of celery diced

2 cloves crushed garlic

6 cups water

3 to 4 tablespoons dried oregano

2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

In large stock pot, melt butter and cook onions and peppers until the onions are translucent.  Add tomato puree, celery, garlic, oregano, and water.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook.  I had mine cook for several hours (I supposed you could move it to a slow cooker at this point and just forget about it).  If you want a chunky soup, leave it as it is, but my kids thought it would be similar to eating warmed up salsa, so I used a stick blender to totally blend everything together to make it creamier.

** As it is, you could just stop now, can it up and use it later.  (Ball Blue Book would recommend this type of soup to be done in a pressure canner, 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes for quarts)  When ready to eat follow to the next step adjust milk accordingly (I’d estimate about 1/4 to a 1/3 a cup of milk per quart but you’d have to play around with that a little bit).

Add 2 cups of milk and stir well.  Let simmer until ready to eat.

I added freshly made whole wheat croutons and fresh queso blanco (white cheese) to balance it all out.

Normally my family will eat 2 or 3 bowls of that store bought  soup and still feel hungry.  Only 2 people went back for seconds and all the rest declared themselves quite full.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overall Review:

  • thumbs up from all members of the family (that’s always a good thing)
  • taste was far superior then store bought canned soup and much more satisfying
  • cheaper to make (average store bought can costs about $1.00.  Our family needs about 8 or 9 cans then add in the cost of the milk).  Even if you bought a #10 can of tomatoes  at a bulk store, you would be saving roughly $6.00.
  • healthier  since you know exactly what you are putting in there and if you grew it in your garden, exactly where it all came from