Monday, June 30, 2008

Butter Bell Tutorial

I love picture tutorials. I love finding them in blogs. So I decided to do one for a butter bell. Actually it's not a real butter bell, but more of a butter crock. I found it at Dollarama and it's a great way to keep butter fresh and spreadable on the counter. They always have plenty and I would not of known what it was if I hadn't seen it online somewhere. If you use margarine, I'm sure it would also work well, but margarine is easier and cheaper to find in spreadable form than butter is.

First, make sure your crock is nice and clean. Then take the amount of butter you want to use and put it in the top half. It is better to use salted as it seems to keep longer. Oh and don't mind the crumbs as I had just cut bread and banana bread for the kids to put in the toaster while I prepped the butter:

Then you spread it out so that it's somewhat smooth and packed in (maybe do a better job than I did, lol! I didn't let it soften before spreading it out. I also stuck the pack of butter there so you could see that it really was butter). Fill the bottom half about 1/2 to 3/4 full of cold water. Tap water cold is fine.

Then put the top over the bottom. Yes, the butter is upside down but it will not fall down unless it's not packed in very well. It will form a seal keeping the butter fresh. Change the water every few days. Enjoy nice, spreadable butter! Especially on toast right out of the toaster, mmmm! I'm not sure how long it will last as ours usually doesn't last longer than a week since I don't put much, but I have heard that it should keep up to a month.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Banana Bread...meh...

I made some banana bread and muffins this morning. I made some of my usual changes and since the recipe called for nutmeg, I added a bit. Not too much, not even as much as it called for (since I doubled the recipe), but enough that Ethan didn't like them and enough that it kind of overpowered the banana taste. So no more nutmeg for my banana bread!!

Here's the recipe with my tweaks in()

The Best Traditional Banana Bread Recipe

For the purists. A traditional banana loaf recipe with a touch of spice. Feel free to toss a cup of nuts in this recipe. No chocolate for this one as the spice will compete too much.

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, soft (1 cup pear puree for double batch)
3 bananas (ripe) (added one extra per batch)
2 eggs (2 eggs and 1/4 cup flax for double batch)
1 tsp soda, dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla (added extra as we like vanilla)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (did not add)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (this much for a double batch)

  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. Combine and mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Place batter in a greased bread pan (bottom only) or in muffin tins.
  4. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (took longer for bread, but our stove is slow. Muffins took about this long)
  5. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan. Complete cooling on a wire rack
Makes one good sized loaf

Here are a couple of links I found that I really enjoy that I found: (actually, the whole site is interesting with other useful information. As most sites, take some and leave some :) ) This is the blog of the aforementioned site. Lots of step by step recipes that look very good!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Menu Plan starting Sunday

Menu's something I know I should be doing and often fail to. I think with our current food situation it would be to our benefit to start planning what we eat as to rotate everything. We also have a great abundance in our fridge that needs to get used up, so that too :)

So I will cobble together a menu plan for this week starting Sunday. I won't do breakfast as we all have our breakfast preferences. I also may shift things around according to how Mark works. He gets tired of some of the things the kids like to have a lot.

Lunch: salsa salad and bread with jam
Supper: Supper at Dave and Veronica's

Lunch: leftover split pea soup and biscuits
Supper: Baked chicken, corn on the cob and mashed potato

Lunch: Family BBQ at Port Maitland (bring curried pasta salad)
Supper: Church BBQ (bring hot dogs, buns and curried pasta salad)

Lunch: Hot Dogs
Supper: Pork chops and corn on the cob

Lunch: French fries
Supper: Ham, tomato zucchini dish and salad

Lunch: Soup and sandwiches
Supper: Homemade Chili (kids will probably want something different though) and biscuits

Lunch: Baked chicken quarters, mixed veggies, rice or potatoes
Supper: Homemade Pizza

Now as always, this is subject to change and I will change it as we go to reflect what we actually had. Sometimes I just plain don't feel like making what I have planned or there may be protests about what I am going to make. But I am going to try and stick to it the best I can :)

Freezer Fun!

I'm going to write about this here since I sometimes wonder if people are getting tired of reading about food storage in my main blog, lol!

We got a second freezer last night! I can never again complain that we have nothing to eat, lol! It may just take some time and preparation, but I plan to really take advantage of our new situation.

I spent some time sorting the freezer out this morning and boy, were there some treasures! A gallon of organic milk! (yay! Our favorite. It's one of the few things I can really tell the difference between conventional and organic) Raspberries, yum! Chicken strips. Our poor turkeys stuck on the bottom. Tons of ham, chicken, bacon, hamburger I forgot about, hot dogs galore, tons of veggies and on and on.

I am dividing the different types of food into bags. I have a bag of single type frozen veggies, a bag of mixes (like California, winter, peas & carrots, ect..), a bag of hot dogs, chicken, ham and so on. I tried boxes and baskets, which were hard for me to get a hold of and shopping bags break. So I'm using some of our reusable shopping bags since they have handles, can hold a lot and are flexible.

Even if I don't buy anything for a while, we'll be good. I was thinking of buying a side of beef (actually a quarter), but I think it will just be too expensive. It would be about $900 for 300 lbs of hanging weight, which works out to under 200lbs of meat. First of all, that's a lot of meat! Second, that's a lot of money and a lot per pound. I'll keep buying the store stuff and try not to think about where it came from, lol! When Emin's has another side of pork sale, I think I will take advantage of that. $99 for a side of pork is much more doable and a greater value. Plus Mark likes pork products a lot better, I think.

So I'll probably be busy sorting for a while. I also want to keep a list on the freezer of what we have and keep track of what we use. That way we will no longer have any lost food.

I also plan on making lots of freezer meals. That way when I don't feel like cooking, I can just pop something out of the freezer and we have something good quick! I just need to find a day where I feel like cooking large quantities of food ;)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yummy Food Links

I want to post some blogs that have yummy things in them. Mine is probably not really up to par but I'm always looking for ideas :)

Pioneer Food (from the Mormon Pioneer Trek west)

Not necessarily recipes but this is extremely interesting about the time line of American food :

Some of my commonly used Recipe sites:




Rachel Ray

I know there are tons more out there but I mostly wanted to add these for safekeeping and potential future use :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Veronica brought me some nice fresh strawberries around noon time so I decided to make some yummy strawberry freezer jam to go with our delicious fresh homemade bread. I found this on the Canadian Living site and decided to share. I am just letting it sit with the pectin and first amount of sugar but I'm sure it's going to turn out great! Even if it doesn't, it will still be good for strawberry shortcakes or as a sauce for ice cream or a million other yummy things :)

BTW, this is a picture of my bread and jam...yummy!!

Strawberry Freezer Jam

By The Canadian Living Test Kitchens

Here's a preserve that kids love from our August 2004 "Perfect Summer Preserves" collection. Invite them to help make this no-cook freezer jam using light pectin crystals.

Servings: 6 cups (1.5 L)


    8 cups (2 L ) strawberries, hulled
    1 box (49 g) light pectin crystals
    3-1/4 cups (800 mL ) granulated sugar


In large bowl and using potato masher, crush strawberries, 1 cup (250 mL) at a time, to make 4 cups (1 L). In small bowl, whisk pectin crystals with 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the sugar. Add to strawberries and stir to combine; let stand for 30 minutes.

Add remaining sugar and stir until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour into six 1-cup (250 mL) airtight containers, leaving 1/4-inch (5 mm) headspace. Cover with lids. Let stand undisturbed at room temperature until set, about 24 hours. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 8 months.

Family Bread

I used to visit a lot. She has a lot of great ideas, recipes and frugal menu plans, even if they don't exactly work cost-wise here. I have made this before and decided to make some today. I wasn't able to get to the bread store, so why not. The differences I made were I used 1.5 cups of 12 grain cereal and 1.5 cups of flax meal and a little more water and maybe some more flour. It made 3 loaves and 2 pizzas for me. It's not done cooking yet but it sure smells yummy!

BTW, the commentary is all from the website, not mine :)

Family Bread
  • 4 cups warm tap water (not hot)
  • 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder (instant powdered milk)
  • 1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 packets or 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup melted margarine or oil
  • 12 cups (approximately) white or whole wheat flour or a combination

The first thing you need is a big bowl or clean dish pan to mix this up in. Mix the water, dry milk powder and sugar in the dishpan or bowl. Add the yeast, sort of sprinkled on top. Allow the mixture to sit until the yeast dissolves some, this will only take a couple of minutes. Add the salt, margarine or oil, and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until it gets too stiff and then dig in with your hands. When the dough is in a nice cohesive ball, turn it out onto a floured kitchen table or counter. Or if you are using a dish pan, you can just leave it in there.

Now start kneading the dough with all of the love you have for your family. Press the dough and send big love vibes into it. Stretch the dough and impress all of your compassion and generosity into it. Remember why you love your kids, and your spouse and your mom or you dad, and just put it all into the dough. Knead it like this for a full ten minutes. Add more flour if you need to as you go along.

Coat the dough with oil, about 2 tablespoons of it, and put it into the bowl or dishpan. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and let it set in a warm place to rise for about an hour or so. It should double in bulk. It may take up to two hours on cool days, or in the air conditioning, so be patient.

Punch down the dough by literally pressing your fist into the center of it. Divide the dough into 4 equal lumps. Coax them into loaf shapes and place them into large (9 by 5-inch) well oiled loaf pans. If you don't have enough loaf pans, use casserole pans or cake pans, or whatever. Cover the dough with a cloth or more plastic wrap and let it rise again. It should take less time for the second rising. When the dough is risen up enough, bake the loaves at 350° for 40 minutes.

You can tell the dough is done if you turn it out of the pan and thump the bottom with your finger. It should make a dull hollow sound. If it doesn't sound hollow, put it back into the pan and cook it some more. Makes four loaves.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Simple Lasagne?

I came across this recipie and I want to try it:

I love lasagna but it's so time intensive to make. I usually end up chopping up tons of veggies, making an awesome sauce and so on, which means I never make it. If I can get the ingredients together I think I will make this sometime this week.

By the way, the oatmeal cake was a hit! I served it to anyone who visited and they loved it. It vanished so fast I never got a chance to take a picture, lol! I will definately make it again :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pasta Salad

Mark is really tired of pasta. We have tons of it. Then I found out he was just tired of all the pasta sauce. No problem! Let's jazz up that pasta with different things. The kids can eat up the pasta sauce :)

Curried Pasta Salad

This is not really a recipe but general instructions as the amount would vary since you may want a single serving or enough for a potluck meal.

Cook a pot of pasta of choice (any kind would do. I've used shells, gemelli, fusilli, macaroni and more. Here's a list of different dried pastas :) ). Drain and rinse with cool water and put in a bowl. Add cubed ham and vegetables of choice. Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, celery, zucchini and whatever else you enjoy are good choices. The more the merrier. Make a dressing of either mayo (light is best) or a vinegrette (vinegar and sugar with a spash of oil) and stir in curry powder to taste as so it's not overwhelming but tasty. Toss everything together in a big bowl and serve chilled, although it is nice warm too.

This is good for using up leftover pasta and vegetables. It's also nice to keep in the fridge as it tastes better after the flavors have a chance to mingle for a while.

yum yum!!

Oatmeal Cake

Ok, I had a ton of trouble finding a recipe for an oatmeal cake. They were all the same! A cake with broiled coconut topping. I wanted something different that had items I keep in storage for something different as a dessert. Mine is still in the oven but here is what I have done (and am doing)

Oatmeal Cake

1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

Combine these 2 items and set aside to cool

1 large baby food bottle of peaches (about 1 cup of puree)
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
generous squeeze of molasses
1/2 cup sweetening equivalent of stevia (could just use 1/2 cup white sugar)
1 egg

Mix these items well. Add in:

1/4 cup ground flax
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
a few shakes of salt
1/2-1 tsp nutmeg

Mix well and add in oatmeal. Stir until everything is well mixed. Bake in a 350 preheated oven for 34-40 minutes (the original recipe says 8x8 pan but I accidentally put it in a 9x13 pan, which would need less baking).

This is the original topping recipe:

  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
But I am thinking of trying coconut milk mixed with icing sugar. I have a dented can that needs to get used up. I don't know if the kids would go for actual coconut. I will update with a picture and what I did about the frosting :)

Edit to add: The cake came out DELICIOUS!! It was a welcome change from the usual chocolate or vanilla. It was dense and moist and oh so yummy! It tasted like raisins would be in it but oddly had the texture of raisins in it. My nutmeg was organic and I think that made a difference (I never thought it would). My frosting didn't turn out; it was more of a glaze so next time I may try what was given (instructions are to mix ingredients, spread on cake and broil until coconut is browned). I put a bit of canned frosting on the kids pieces and Ethan asked for a second piece....with no frosting! I couldn't believe it! Definitely a must make again, maybe muffins next time :). I'll take a pic tomorrow if I can find the camera batteries.