Monday, December 8, 2008

Five Minute Coffee Mug Cake

4 tablespoons self-rising flour
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips (if desired)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add all dry ingredients (except chips) to the mug and mix well with a fork. Add the egg, mix VERY well. Add the milk & oil & vanilla extract, mix well. Fold in chocolate chips (if using them).

Put mug in the center of your microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high (1000 watts). Cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed, this is normal and it will go back down.

Allow to cool a few minutes and enjoy. Top with icing or chocolate syrup if desired. You can dump it out onto a plate or in a bowl if you like. This makes enough for two people or one big generous serving for you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Homemade Plum Wine

We found a huge amount of wild plums this fall and after filling my cabinets with wild plum jelly, I used some more by starting a batch of this wine. The recipe calls for regular plums, but it appears to be working well with wild plums.

Easy Plum Wine

3 1/2 pounds ripe plums
4 pounds granulated sugar
1 package yeast
1 gallon boiling water

Wash plums and pour on boiling water. Stir and mash with wooden spoon. Leave for ten days. Remove mold carefully. Strain off into another bowl and add sugar, yeast and stir. Cover and stir daily for three days. Bottle and store - ready in six months, better after nine!

Homemade Grape Wine

I've got a batch in the crock right now - here's the recipe for anyone who would like to try some.

Homemade Grape Wine

3 pounds black grapes
3 pounds sugar
1 ounce yeast
1 gallon water

Crush grapes by hand and set aside in the fermenting vessel. Bring the water to boiling point and pout in sugar. When the water reaches boiling point again and the sugar is dissolved, but off heat and pour sugar liquid over grapes. Allow mixture to cool, sprinkle yeast on top. Stir in, cover with plastic wrap tied in place with a string. Ferment 14 days, strain and bottle.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

From the Wild

Now that fall is upon us, don't forget to tap into the things that nature provides in the wild. In our area, chokecherries, wild grapes, buffalo berries and wild plums are free for the picking in many wooded areas. Be sure to obtain permission from the property owner before investigating or picking, and use internet sources to verify the identity of the berries you find before eating! Many of these make delicious jams, jellies and syrups!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Homemade Brown Sugar

I haven't tried this one yet, but ran across it on another blog. I don't know that I would use it all the time, but it's good to know that there's an option if I need brown sugar in a pinch.

Mix together 1 cup white sugar and 1to 2 tablespoons molasses. Use 1 tablespoon molasses for light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar.

Homemade Seasoned Salt

3/4 cup salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix and store in airtight container.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Homemade Instant Stuffing Mix

This recipe can be used to make your own mixes for use at home or as put in a quart jar, decorated and given as a gift.

3 1/2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons dried celery flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons chicken boullion granules
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sage

For home use combine all ingredients in ziplock bag or airtight container and store.

Go give as gift, put bread cubes in quart jar. Combine seasonings well and place in small ziplock bag. Seal and decorate jar. Attach seasoning packed and instructions with a ribbon.

To use: Place 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons butter and seasonings. Mix in pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, then toss with fork. Serve.

Homemade Shake & Bake for Pork

1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup flour
4 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
4 pork chops

Mix dry ingedients together in large ziplock bag. Add pork chops and shake to coat. Bake covered at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

Great Icing Recipe for Sugar Cookies

I found a simple recipe for Sugar Cookie Icing on this blog:

I drizzled it over the top of some Amish Sugar Cookies and it was delicious!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Missouri Mix

The University of Missouri Extension has a page dedicated to the recipe for this mix and the recipes that can be made with it. Visit: for this information. This mix is a homemade Bisquick-type mix that can be made very inexpensively.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chicken Stuffed Potatoes

Click Here for this creative potato recipe.

Creative Ways to Cook With Spam

At one time Spam was a household staple - an inexpensive way to incorporate meat into the family's meals. Click HERE to learn more about cooking with Spam.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dill Pickle Pinwheels

We can't make these enough of these for our family gatherings. We've actually experienced a bit of sibling rivalry to get to the tray before they're all gone! Click HERE for the instructions.

Secret Dogs and Burgers

Can't face one more barbecued hotdog or hamburger? Try these ideas to turn summer barbecue regulars into something special.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is an easy version of an old family favorite. Click HERE for the instructions.

Vinegar Use #16

Dot or douse a bee sting or mosquito bite with vinegar to relieve itching.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Teaching Farm Safety

What a serene atmosphere - cows grazing on green pastures - fields of golden wheat waving in the breeze - row after row of tall green corn. This would seem to be the most quiet and peaceful lifestyle imaginable, but this is often not the case. Read more HERE.

Vinegar Use #15

To keep car windows frost free, coat windows the night before with a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water.

Easy to Grow Annual Flowers

Are you spending your winter evenings perusing a stack of seed catalogs? Maybe you're surfing the internet for garden plans for that favorite place in your garden. Whether you're a "pro" or just a beginner, annual flowers are a perfect choice to bright your landscape and to bring beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds to visit. Click HERE to read more.

Planting Annual Flowers

Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in the span of one growing season. They come up in the spring, grow, flower, set seed and die after the frosts in the fall. Although the term "annuals" is generally used to refer to flowers, most vegetables, grains, and some herbs are also considered to be annual plants. Click HERE to read more.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vinegar Use #14

Polish car chrome with full strength vinegar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vinegar Use #13

Fish scales can be removed more easily by rubbing with vinegar 5 minutes before scaling.

Restaurant "Copycat" Recipes

Billions of dollars each year are spent dining out in both fast-food and upscale restaurants. Their specialty dishes beckon us to spend our hard-earned money. But wait...put those keys away...put your credit card back in your pocket...there's a better way! Click HERE to find restaurant copycat recipe resources.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Starting a Butterfly Garden

This growing season share the joy and wonder of nature with your children by creating a Butterfly Garden. Children are naturally attracted to the bright colors and fluttering wings of butterflies. They also love digging in the dirt, planting flowers and watching their garden grow. Click HERE for more information about starting your own Butterfly Garden.

Vinegar Use #12

Brighten fabric colors by adding 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vinegar Use #11

Clean piano keys with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and wring out as much as possible. Wipe each key gently, drying with a soft cloth as you go. Leave keyboard uncovered for 24 hours after cleaning.

Moon Gardens

A project that I've read about and am planning for the upcoming growing season. Click HERE to read more.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Raising Healthy Children in an Unhealthy World

Fast food is promoted constantly on television. Many companies use toy " prizes" to market their unhealthy food to our children. "Biggie" meals and "super-sizing" encourage not only children, but adults as well, to overindulge in unhealthy sized portions. Click HERE to read the aticle.

Vinegar Use #10

Eggs will boil better when you add 2 tablespoons vinegar before boiling - it keeps them from cracking.

Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks

Click HERE for a quick and easy breadfast idea.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dog Biscuit Recipes

With the recent scare regarding contaminated pet foods, I am even more concerned with the contents of the food and treats that I feed my dogs. Although a little time is involved, making your own dog treats insures that you know just how and with what they are made. Click HERE for recipes.

Baking Tips and Advice

Using quality ingredients, following the recipe closely, and measuring accurately are very important aspects of baking. There are, however, a number of tips than can add to the taste of your baked goods, or can simplify the mixing or baking process. Click HERE to read article.

Vinegar Use #9

Deodorize small spaces (inside lunch boxes, car trunks, foot lockers) by soaking a piece of white bread in vinegar and placing it in the closed space overnight. Smell should be gone by morning.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Making the Most of Leftovers

"It's good food - don't throw it away - there are starving children in Africa!" I hear those words coming out of my mother's mouth every time I have leftovers from a meal. I always wondered just how she thought one might get our leftovers to Africa to feed those children! Click HERE for ideas for using leftovers.

Vinegar Use #8

Shine silverware or jewelry by soaking in 1 cup white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons baking soda for 3 hours. Rinse with cold wate rand dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Click HERE for a delicious recipe for Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Vinegar Use #7

To speed up a slow drain, pour a half cup of salt followed by two cups of boiling vinegar down the drain. Flush with hot water, then cold water.

Frugality: Not a New Concept

Frugality is not a new concept. There was once an era when being frugal was considered to be quaint or virtuous. It was considered wise to practice frugality before it became necessary - to put something away “for a rainy day”.

October 29, 1929 - Black Tuesday - began a decade long era of depression. People lost their businesses, jobs, and homes. More than 15 million Americans (one-fourth of the total workforce) became unemployed. Sugar, gas, coffee, tires, and many other items were rationed. Coupons or stamps were issued for a family’s allotment and when that supply was gone, there was no more until the next ration was issued.

Money was scare, goods were scare, and “Use it up - Wear it out - Make it do - or Do Without!” became the normal way of life. Children of the era grew up in a time that produced an environment of frugality that they took with them into adulthood.

Nothing was wasted. Bits of string were tied together, wound into a ball, and put away for future use. Gifts were always unwrapped with care so that the paper and ribbons could be carefully stored until the next year. Egg shells were crushed and incorporated into the garden soil.

Frugality abounded in the kitchen. No meat was ever left on the bones of a chicken or turkey, and every ham bone met it’s end in a pot of soup beans. Ketchup bottles were propped upside down and even rinsed out in an effort to use every last drop, usually in a meatloaf or a pot of spaghetti. Plastic bags and containers and even aluminum foil were washed and reused.

Clothing was handed down between families and through the children in the family. It was remade to fit the new wearer, patched to last longer, and when no longer wearable, what was still usable was cut into pieces to be made into a quilts or woven into rugs. Runs in nylons (for those fortunate enough to have them) were stopped with a dab of clear finger nail polish and larger holes were mended with matching thread. Cotton and wool socks were more standard apparel and were stretched over light bulbs and the holes darned to make them last longer.

The still good parts of bed sheets were made into pillowcase - worn pillowcases became kitchen towels - worn kitchen towels became dishcloths or handkerchiefs. Printed cloth feed sacks were made into clothing while plainer flour sacks were made into underwear.

A pair of bib-overalls sold for only 99 cents a pair, and a pair of work shoes for only $2.98 a pair, however it was not unusual for a man to work for only 50 cents a day at that time. Thus, he would work for four days to buy one pair of overalls and one pair of shoes.

In comparison, today we are predominantly a “throw-away” society. Things are used once or until they malfunction, and are then thrown out. Expensive homes and luxurious automobiles are commonplace - as are the payments that come with them. Most families depend on two incomes to meet their expenses and pay their debts. Loss of even one income can be disastrous as many have no reserve, no “emergency fund” to fall back on in such circumstances.

Frugality is still a virtuous practice, and one that should be implemented in all American households. We should develop the desire to live without those things that are extravagant and excess, and to appreciate and care for the things that we have, if for no other reason than to create savings for times of need.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vinegar Use #6

Clean your dishwasher by running a cup of vinegar througthe whole cycle once a month to reduce soap build-up on inner mechanisms.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vinegar Use #5

Relieve dry and itchy skin by adding 2 tablespoons vinegar to your bath water.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The History of Pepsi-Cola

Click HERE to read the history of this popular soft drink.

Vinegar Use #4

To clean out your washer and it's outlet hoses, and to get rid of soap scum - once a month pour 1 cup vinegar into washing machine and run through normal cycle (without clothes).

Friday, January 25, 2008

How to Make Perfect Meringue

Click HERE for a "never-fail" meringue recipe.

Vinegar Use #3

To grow beauiful azaleas, occasinally water plants with a mixture of 2 tablespoons vinegar to on quart water (azaleas love acidic soil).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The History of Ketchup

Click HERE to read the history of America's favorite condiment.

Vinegar Use #2

Brighten wood paneling by mixing 1 pint warm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 4 tablespoons white vinegar in a small container. Seal container and shake to mix thoroughly. Apply to paneling with a clean cloth. Let it soak for a few minutes then polish with a clean, dry cloth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vinegar Use #1 (the first of many)

Bring your carpet back to life by brushing with a broom dipped into a solution of one gallon of water and one cup of white vinegar. No rinsing needed.

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

2 1/2 cups flour
1 package yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/2 to 1 tablespoon oil

Mix a little sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 10 minutes until yeast gets foamy. Pour into large bowl. Add flour, salt and oil and combine. Knead 6 to 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest 20 to 30 minutes. Lightly grease pizza pan. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place dough in pan and pat out to fit pan. Make thicker around edges. Prebake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Spread on toppings. Bake 10 to 20 minutes longer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Click HERE for my recipe and complete instructions to make this delicious treat!

How to Make Sourdough Bread

This Sourdough bread is cheap and easy. Click Here for my favorite recipe and detailed directions.

Leftover Soup

How often have you looked at all those plastic containers of leftovers in your refrigerator and wondered just how many of them would qualify as a science class experiment? You’ve saved that last bit of green beans or roast beef with good intentions of being frugal and using them up, but a month later….well, they’re still there!

I have the solution for your dilemma! A healthy and easy meal made from all those leftover odds and ends. A quick meal that takes only minutes to prepare, yet costs almost nothing.

Your first step will be to empty the unidentified contents of all those containers down the garbage disposal. Wash and sanitize them and put away in the cabinet.

You will now start fresh with a large freezer container with a lid that will fit into the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. A plastic ice cream bucket or large plastic coffee can will work well. You will be taking the lid off an replacing it when the container is frozen, so it should be sturdy enough not to crack at cold temperatures.

From now on, whenever you have bits of meat or vegetables left over, you will place them in your freezer container. Leftover tomato soup or sauce can also be added, as can broth or clear gravies.

When your container is full, defrost in microwave just enough that you can get the “block” of leftovers out of the container and place in a large pan (a 6 quart dutch oven works well). Heat on low until completely thawed, then bring to a simmer on medium heat. Your “Leftover Soup” is now ready for the finishing touches. Season according to your own taste. Depending on the contents of your container, you may wish to add a few fresh ingredients such as some diced onion or celery or tomatoes.

We consider our “Leftover Soup” to be our free meal of the month, as all the ingredients would have otherwise most likely went to waste. It has also come in handy when we need a meal in a hurry, or when the cabinet is somewhat bare just before a grocery shopping trip

Monday, January 21, 2008

Knitted Dish/Wash Cloths

Knitted dishcloths are an easy and useful item for the beginning knitter to make. For the experienced knitter, they are a great way to try out new stitches without committing to a large garment. Since the project is small, it can easily be carried with you to work on away from home. Generally made from 100% cotton yarn, such as Lily Sugar ’n Cream, knitted dishcloths are durable and machine washable. These cloths can also be used as wash/face cloths.

1) For a very basic dishcloth, cast on 40 stitches with size 8 knitting needles and cotton worsted weight yarn. Knit 40 rows in garter stitch. Bind off and weave in yard ends.

2) Another very simple dishcloth is knit diagonally. Using size 8 needles and cotton yarn, cast on 4 stitches and knit 1 row. For the row 2, knit 2, increase in nest stitch, knit 1. For row 3, knit 2, yarn over, knit to end of row. Repeat row 3 until you have 45 stitches on your needle. For the next row, you will knit 1, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit together, and knit to end of row. Repeat this row, decreasing each row until 5 stitches are left. To finish, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 1 and then bind off the 4 stitches and weave in the yarn end.

3) For a ribbed dishcloth, cast on 46 stitches with size 8 needles and cotton yarn. Rows 1 and 2, knit across. For every row until the last 2 rows, *knit 1, purl 1; repeat from * across to last 2 stitches, knit 2. Last 2 rows, knit across. Bind off and weave in yarn ends.

These cloths make great gifts. A small basket with some baby bath products (baby wash, lotion, powder), a cuddly towel and a couple of pastel knitted cloths makes a great gift for a baby shower. A plastic dishpan with some pretty dish towels, a couple of potholders, and some dishcloths knitted in colors to match is a great for a bridal shower or housewarming gift. Include a couple in a gift bag with shower gel, bubble bath, and a scented candle for a relaxation package.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Crockpot Barbecue Chicken

1 lb. frying chicken, cut up and skin removed
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken, making sure sauce glazes all pieces. Cover. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Beer Bread

This is great to use for a bread bowl with a spinach dip!

3 C. self-rising flour (this is the key: the flour must be SELF-RISING)
½ C. sugar
1 12-oz. can or bottle of beer (a light beer will yield a light bread; a dark beer will produce a heavier, more flavorful bread)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add beer. Mix dough until all dry ingredients are incorporated; dough will be sticky. Pour dough into greased bread pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 min or until lightly browned. Brush your loaf with butter when it first comes out of the oven. Break into pieces and serve with dips and spreads.

Homemade Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the ingredients and use as you would baking powder.

Cooking Tips

For quick and handy seasoning while cooking, keep a large shaker containing 6 parts salt and 1 part pepper handy.

Lettuce leaves dropped in simmering soup will absorb excess grease. Remove saturated leaves before serving.

A small amount of baking soda added to gravy will eliminate excess grease.

After flouring chicken, chill for one hour. The coating adheres better during frying.

If you have oversweetened a dish, add a little salt.

A few drops of lemon juice added to simmering rice will keep the grains separate.

To keep water from leaving a lime deposit on the bottom of a double boiler or steamer, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the water.

If you have overcooked your potatoes and they become soggy, sprinkle powered milk instead of regular mild along with butter, salt and pepper. Makes the fluffiest whipped potatoes ever.

When making yeast dough, cover it with aluminum foil instead of a tea towel. it makes it rise faster.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Guide to Food Recipe Substitutions

How many times have you started to make a recipe and discovered that you didn't have all of the ingredients? It isn't always handy to run to the store for a single ingredient, and there isn't always a friendly neighbor nearby who can spare the ingredient you need. Below you will find a number of recipe substitutions that I have learned and used in my many years of cooking.

Baking a cake and don't have an egg? Use a dollop of mayonnaise (salad dressing will work as well) the size of an egg. There is no change in the taste or consistency of the cake.

Make this homemade substitute for condensed milk: Blend in blender - 1 cup powdered milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup boiling water and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Store in the refrigerator. For recipes, use the same amount as in a can or whatever the recipe calls for.

Run out of powdered sugar? To powder sugar, blend 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in blender at medium speed for 2 minutes.

In place of 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice and add enough milk to make 1 cup.

If you don't have unsweetened chocolate (the kind that comes in squares), use 3 tablespoon cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine for each square needed.

If your recipe calls for cake flour, for each cup needed, use 7/8 cup sifted all-purpose flour and add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to the flour and sift 4-5 times to blend. This makes a very light flour ideal for cakes.

In place of 1 cup self-rising flour, use 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoons baking powder.

Out of baking powder, for each teaspoon needed, use 1 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Check also the appendix sections of your cookbooks. Many have lists of ingredient substitutions as well as other general cooking information.

Best Homemade Cleaning Products

Many times, I have left the store ranting about how much money we spend on cleaning products. Why should it cost so much to be clean?

This question brought me home to my computer and I began to "google" for safe and inexpensive alternatives to expensive commercial cleaners. I found that many can be made from common household products and are much less harmful to our environment.

I first found these recipes for window cleaner: Window Cleaner (#1) - Measure 3 tablespoons ammonia and 1 tablespoon vinegar into a sprayer bottle and fill remainder with cool water. Add a drop of two of blue food coloring to duplicate commercial cleaners. Window Cleaner (#2): Put 1 pint alcohol and 1 tablespoon liquid detergent in a gallon jug and fill with water. Put in spray bottle.

I also ran across this recipe for Kitchen Cabinet/Woodwork Cleaner/Polish: Mix one-half cup turpentine, one-half cup boiled linseed oil, one-fourth cup denatured alcohol and one-fourth cup white vinegar. Mix and use to wash off dirt or just as a polish. This is a little smelly for daily use, but I did use it on some woodwork in an older house and it did a wonderful jub of cleaning.
For cleaning really dirty white socks, I found White Sock Stain Remover: Mix one-half cup bleach and 1 cup automatic dishware soap with 1 gallon water. Soak overnight to do it right. Launder as usual.

There were also recipes for a number of home remedies such as these two for Sore Throat Gargle: #1 - 1 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and a dash red pepper. Mix and gargle. #2 - One-half cup warm water, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda. Mix all together and gargle for sore throat. For Poison Ivy - Mix 2 tablespoons Boric Acid and 2 tablespoons powdered alum in a pint of boiling water. Dip cotton in solution and put on poison several times a day. For Sunburn - Brew strong tea and place cooled teabags on areas of severe burn. Sponge tea onto burn periodically. The tannic acid in the tea helps to draw the heat out of the burn preventing blistering. (We've used this one a lot - it really works!)

I found the vinegar will clean just about anything and is actually recommended to clean laminate wood floors. A cup of vinegar added to your dishwasher once a month will help keep mineral deposits from your water from accumulating on the racks and moving parts.

Next time, before you run to the store for cleaning products or medicinal items, check some of these sites for alternatives: