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Saturday, July 31, 2010


Why pay high prices for expensive store mixes when you can make your own and thus control the quality, protect the nutrition, and serve tasty foods that don't cost much money? Not to mention, they are time-savers. This page has recipes for various common mixes that you can do for yourself. 

Basic Biscuit Mix
8 cups whole wheat flour (or 4 cups whole wheat flour and 4 cups white flour, or 8 cups white flour)
1/3 cup baking powder
1 cup oil
4 teaspoons salt

Mix dry ingredients, add oil, mix thoroughly until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Biscuits from Basic Biscuit Mix
2-1/2 basic biscuit mix
2/3 cup milk

Add milk to biscuit mix, stir thoroughly, roll out, cut into biscuits (a mason jar makes a nice biscuit cutter, press the mouth of the mason jar into the dough). Bake in a 450 degree oven about 12 minutes until done. Variation: brush with milk before baking. For cheese biscuits, add � cup grated cheese. For cheese-garlic biscuits, besides the cheese add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Easy Very Tasty Biscuit Mix Coffee Cake Recipe
2 cups of biscuit mix
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup water (or milk.)

Biscuit Mix Coffee Cake Topping
1/3 cup of biscuit mix
1/3 cup brown sugar
� teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. . Grease a 9 inch round pan. Mix the cake ingredients together, pour evenly into pan. Sprinkle the topping onto the batter carefully. Bake for about 20 minutes. Let cake cool before removing from pan. 

Hearty Soup Mix
Mix together 3 cups green split peas, 3 cups alphabet macaroni, 1-1/2 cup rice, 2-1/2 cups pearl barley, 2-1/2 cups lentils, 4 cup dry minced onion. Combine all ingredients so they are evenly distributed, store in an air-tight container. For 6 to 8 servings of soup, add 1-1/3 cups mix to 6 cups water and 1-1/2 tbsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Add 2 sliced carrots, 1 or 2 stalks celery (chopped), 1-1/2 cups cabbage (shredded), two 15 oz cans of tomato sauce, 1 24 ounce can of vegetable juice cocktail, or equivalent amounts of tomato sauce, and cooked meat (if desired). Simmer 20 more minutes, until vegetables are cooked. 

Chicken Flavored Rice mix
Mix 4 cups long-grain rice, 4 tablespoons instant chicken bouillon, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp dried tarragon 2 tsp dried parsley flakes, 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir until evenly distributed, store in an air-tight container. To make 4 - 6 servings, mix 1-1/3 cups chicken- flavored rice mix, 2 cups cold water, 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Or cook rice with seasonings in chicken stock.

Dry Onion Soup
Mix together until evenly distributed: 4 tsp instant beef bouillon, 8 tsp dried minced onion, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp Bon Apetit seasoning. Makes the equivalent of 1 package of dry onion soup mix. Use to flavor dishes or reconstitute for soup. 

Basic Muffin Mix
Mix together: 8-1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cream of tartar, 1-1/2 cups dry milk, 1 tbsp salt. Cut in 2-1/4 cup oil until evenly mixed. Mixture should look like cornmeal. Put in a large airtight container. Makes 13 cups of mix; should be used within 10 - 12 weeks. You can substitute whole wheat flour for all or part of the flour. Increase baking powder to 5 tablespoons for whole wheat. Raisin muffins from mix: 2-1/2 cups mix, 1 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. butter, � cup raisins, � cup water, 1 egg. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Combine mix and sugar, cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add raisins. Beat egg and water together, stir into dry ingredients just until mixture is moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Spoon batter into greased medium-size muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Makes 8. 

Hot Chocolate Mix
Mix together: 4 cups dry milk, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa, 2 cups sugar, � tsp salt, 1 tsp instant coffee (optional). Use 1/4 cup mix per cup of hot boiling water. Makes 20 cups total: Store in an air tight container. Variation, add 1 tsp instant coffee to mix.

Taco Seasoning
Mix together: 2 tsp instant minced onion, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp chili powder, � tsp cornstarch, � tsp crushed dried red pepper, � tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 12 tsp ground cumin .Store in an airtight container. 

Homemade Burger "Helper"
Mix together: 2 cups nonfat dry milk, 1 cup cornstarch, 2 tbsp onion flakes, 1/4 cup chicken or beef bouillon powder, 1 tsp each dried basil, thyme, black pepper, parsley, garlic powder . Store in an air-tight container. (Developed by Colorado State
University Cooperative Extension )
Recipes using Burger Helper (each serves 4 to 6) 

Chili Tomato Mac: Brown some ground beef or turkey and drain fat. Add one cup water, 1-1/2 cups uncooked macaroni, 2 cans chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp chili powder, � cup of Burger Helper mix. Cover & simmer 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender.
Hamburger Stroganoff: Brown some ground beef or turkey and drain fat. Add 2 cups water, � cup Burger Helper mix, 2 cups uncooked egg noodles, stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Top with � cup sour cream or plain yogurt. Serve immediately.
Hearty Potato Casserole: Brown some ground beef and drain off the fat. Add 3/4 cup water, 6 peeled potatoes (sliced very thin), one cup of cooked peas and carrots and � cup plus 1 tbsp. Burger Helper. Cover and simmer 20 -30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Uncover, stir, and cook until excess water is evaporated.
Skillet Lasagna: In a large skillet, brown ground beef, drain off the fat. Add � cup Burger Helper, 1 chopped onion, 2 cups water, 16 ounce can of tomato sauce, 3 cups dry noodles and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring until thickened. Top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese five minutes before serving; turn off heat, stop stirring, and allow cheese to melt. Courtesy of Colorado Cooperative Extension http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/
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10 Pathways of Just & Sustainable Lifestyles

10 Pathways of Just & Sustainable Lifestyles

1. Nurture blessings and hope in your own life and in the life of your community. Promote solidarity and cooperation. Don't leave the anybody behind for the wolves to devour.

2. Grow some of your own food. Plant fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and other perennial food crops. Preserve heirloom varieties of plants and animals. Buy as much food as possible from local farmers and local processors. Encourage schools and churches to start gardens. Avoid meats, eggs, and poultry from the giant hog, feedlot, and chicken house "Confined Animal Feeding Operation". Look for local meats produced with sustainable and humane practices. Do your part to help develop a local food system.

3. Use energy frugally. Walk, take public transportation, or ride a bicycle wherever possible. Super insulate your dwelling and avoid air conditioning as much as possible. Use less stuff, use less energy, have more money.

4. Practice personal detachment from material goods. Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, make do, do without. Patronize the aftermarket in places like swap meets, thrift stores, and flea markets. Avoid new stuff as much as possible, don't buy new clothing made in sweatshops, limit your consumption of resources, including water.

5. The borrower is the slave of the lender. Flee the bondage of debt. If you must borrow money for education or housing, pay it off as quickly as you can, make extra principle payments on loans. Never finance frivolous consumption with borrowed money on credit cards.

6. Learn many things. Practice many skills. Teach others.

7. Accept responsibility for your own life, but understand your interdependence with others and the importance of community. Be aware of your environment and how your lifestyle impacts the community and world you live in and other people. "What I do doesn't matter" is a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about doing wrong. Watch out for dangers and disasters that may be ahead, and act in advance to mitigate the impact of such events. The Bible says, "Remember the time of hunger in the day of plenty." The time to build the cellar is before the tornado hits. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

8. Avoid big box corporation stores and franchise chains. Buy from local businesses and if possible earn a living and spend your money outside of the corporation dominated globalized economy. Organize cooperatives and start small businesses to replace unsustainable globalized business structures. Keep your money in a credit union.

9. Support political and voluntary initiatives that promote sustain-ability and resilience, such as public transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, small farms, decentralized economics, balanced government budgets, and local markets.

10. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Don't attempt too much at first. Set goals and meet them. Be willing to start small, or it is likely you will never start at all. But beware of procrastination.


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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homemade Root Cellar

Consider burying a galvanized garbage can in the ground to create your own "root cellar." The root cellar keeps potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, and apples through the winter. Bury the can upright with 4 in. or so of the top protruding above ground level.


Place the garbage can on a well-drained site, and make a ditch so surface water will be diverted and not run into the container. Make sure the can has a good lid, and cover the lid with straw. Over the straw put a waterproof cover of canvas or plastic.

Put veggies and fruits in perforated polyethylene bags. Root crops like beets, carrots, and turnips should not be put into storage until late fall. Don't store carrots near apples because the apples give off gases that make the carrots bitter. Avoid bruising veggies to prevent rot. Also, I don't recommend sweet potatoes for the "root cellar" because the dampness causes them to decay.

How to Grow Potatoes in a Trash Bag

How to Grow Potatoes in a Trash Bag

Growing potatoes in a plastic bag is a fun way to get children interested in gardening. And it is an almost foolproof way to grow potatoes.
  • Time
    Several Months
  • Price Range
    $1 - $50
  • Difficulty

In this Project you will:

Step 1: Prepare the Seed Potatoes

About a week before planting, place seed potatoes in a warm spot. When the sprouts that form are about 1/4" to 1/2" long, the potatoes are almost ready to plant. Cut large seed potatoes into chunks about 2" wide. Each piece should have at least two sprouts. After cutting the seed potatoes, let them sit at room temperature for two or three days.

Step 2: Prepare the Bag

Use a pair of scissors to cut several drainage holes in the bottom of a 30-gallon black plastic trash bag. Roll down the sides of the bag and fill about one-third of the way up with potting soil. Place the bag in an area of the garden that receives full sun.

Step 3: Plant the Potatoes

Dust the seed potatoes with agricultural sulfur to protect against fungal diseases. Plant the seed potatoes by burying them, eyes pointed up, about 2" deep in the soil. Water well.

Step 4: Add More Soil

When the potato plants get about 6" to 8" tall, it is time to add more soil and straw to the bag. Add enough soil so that just the top few leaves poke through the dirt. As the potato plants grow, continue to unroll the bag and add more soil. Keep the potatoes well watered but not soggy.

Step 5: Harvest the Potatoes

One clue that the potatoes are almost ready to harvest is that the leaves will yellow and the foliage will die back. At this point stop watering and leave the potatoes alone for two or three weeks so that their skins toughen up. To harvest, slit open the side of the bag to release the potatoes.