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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gleaning Your Own Neighborhood

A short post on Gleaning.  Gleaning is the process of collecting the end of the harvest that no one else wants.  We went to a friends farm this weekend (thank you Bonnie) and they had so many apples still on the trees.  It got me thinking about my own neighborhood and how much food goes to waste just rotting on the ground.  Bonnie was nice enough to let us pick as many apples as we wanted and my girls got the benefit of the filberts (hazel nuts) that had fallen beneath the tree.  Bonnie explained to us that they can never use as many apples as they grow and have asked people in their church to come pick as many as they want.  Unfortunately, no one wants to come pick them.
When I got home I started looking around my own neighborhood and was shocked to see how many people have apples rotting away.  I am sure that when I ask, they will be more that happy to have my family come pick them, it will cut down on their clean-up.
I am drying the nuts in their shells and will have a family adventure in hulling and roasting them this weekend.  I am making and canning apple butter this weekend as well.  I will take pictures and post the recipe when I am done.
My friend Fawn and I are making the laundry soap, probably on Saturday and we will let you know how that goes.  Should be a rash of good posts next week!!!  Enjoy your day and think about the money you can save in your own neighborhood by gleaning and canning.  Free is a very good price!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Adventure in Bread Making

Here's my story: I had bought a forty pound bag of flour at Costco ( I think it was around $7.00), not because I needed that much, just because I was in a hurry, needed some and did not want to make another stop.  Ever do that? So here I was with all this all purpose flour, what to do with it?  Make bread and save some money right?  Well, all the recipes I found wanted bread flour.

In the past when I wanted home baked bread, I bought the frozen kind from the store, or a loaf of warm french bread.  Both are more expensive and not that good for you.  I searched and searched for a really easy recipe that could fix all of that for me and found one at for Amish Friendship bread.  With some tweaking, ended up with something really good and versatile for my family.  Of course it had to be fast too and this one is. Give it a try and see what you think.  My family is now upset if they don't get their bread fix at least every other day.  This recipe makes two big loaves, so I freeze one to use one the next bread fix day.  This means this takes me about 20 minutes prep time every four days, easy peezy, I can do that!

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/3 cup honey (you can use white sugar, but we are trying to get it out of our diet)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (I use bakipan fast rising instant yeast)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups all purpose flour (you can use bread flour or wheat if you prefer)



In a large bowl, dissolve the honey in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast makes a creamy foam.

Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. (I do this whole process in my mixer with a bread hook, it goes fast).  Dough may come out a little sticky due to the honey, but will firm up when you knead it.  Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth (It just takes a few kneads to do this). Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

This is a great all purpose recipe, use for rolls, pizza crust or even knead in garlic powder and herbs (I use Italian seasoning) and shape like a French bread loaf on a oiled cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rise.  This makes a great alternative to heavily buttered French bread and tastes great.  Just eyeball the amounts like you do on your regular garlic bread and you will have a great loaf!  Enjoy and keep me posted on how it goes for you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Well Here we go!!!

Hello everyone.  I decided to start a little blog about my adventures in Zombie proofing my home.  Now I know everyone is saying, "What?  Zombie proofing your home????".  Yep!
There are a whole lot of sites out there that talk about what to do in a disaster, how to store food in the event of one and all that jazz.  What this blog is going to be about is the fact that The Zombie Apocalypse is already here... sort of.  I look around my neighborhood and many have lost their jobs and are living on one income, some are surviving on just unemployment.  The economy is recovering they say, but they also say it is a jobless recovery. I lost my job two years ago and unemployment is gone!  We are making due with one income.
Prices are going up and so I have been researching how to save money and posting my discoveries on Facebook.  There seems to be some interest, so I am starting this blog so I can easily share what I am learning with all of you. I will be posting recipes mostly, but as I research, who knows what all I will find!
So far we have done a whole lot of gardening, I have learned to bake, we have learned to can (Mark really likes canning too) and my next adventure to keep out the Zombies is laundry detergent making!  I will post later to tell you how it went and the discoveries I made along the way.  So follow my blog and join in the discoveries!
In the meantime here is a recipe I made up for all the green tomatoes that seem to be out there with nothing to do.  I am also including one to use the salsa.  Try them and see what you think.  I would love to hear your feedback.


3 large onions (white, yellow or sweet)
1 large red onion
4 cooked, skinned and seeded Anaheim peppers (more if you like it hotter)
10 pounds tomatoes (I used all the tomatoes from my neighbors and ours too, so a combo of different types and filled an 8 quart stainless steel pot two inches from the top)
2 tablespoons chili flakes
2 tablespoons salt
½ cup lemon or lime juice (I used lemon)
8 cloves garlic
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped

Add everything to the pot stirring occasionally until it comes to a boil, turn down and simmer for 20 minutes.  Pack right away, I used 9 pint and a half jars leave 1 full inch of head-space.  Can in your pressure canner at ten pounds of pressure for 45 minutes!

Green Salsa:

Same as above with these exceptions; I use 2 jalapenos and just one tablespoon of chili flake; I just use the yellow onions and omit the red.  I also cook this for about 40 minutes instead of 20 before canning.  This is a great salsa by itself, but you can also take your already canned jars and pour into your food processor, blend until smooth and use it to make enchiladas or Mexican chicken casserole (See recipe below).  You can of course freeze this instead of canning.

Disclaimer:  Please do your research on canning times as they will vary with elevation and jar size.  Canning times are important in the prevention of bacteria that can cause botulism.  Follow the canning directions that come with your pressure cooker carefully.

Mexican Chicken Casserole

4 boneless skinless chicken breast cooked and chopped into bite size pieces (this is great for leftovers too)
1 can cheddar soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans black beans
1 small package frozen corn
1 pint and a half size jar of green salsa (or same amount of store bought)
2 cups cheese of your choice (already shredded Mexican blend or Colby jack works well)
6 taco size flour tortillas
Olive oil to coat baking dish

Pre-heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl mix together chicken, both soups, black beans and thawed corn.  In a 9X13 oiled baking dish lay four of the tortillas to cover the bottom and sides of the dish.  Add half of the mixture over the tortillas, spread evenly.  Top with half the salsa and half the cheese.  Add two more tortillas to cover the top and repeat.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes and check.  It is done when cheese is melted and ingredients are bubbling!  Serve with sour cream and hot sauce.

We ate this for two nights and we are a family of four with healthy appetites.  Enjoy!