Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nun's puffs

Nobody knows just how these got their name; but they are heavenly. Fluffy,buttery, and just slightly sweet; they are a real treat. 

 To make these sweet little treats you will need only a few basic ingredients

Nun's Puffs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon sugar
Honey or jam  for serving

Preheat the oven to 375

1. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, then add the milk. Bring to a boil
2.. Add the flour all at once stirring with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a ball. Set this aside to cool for 5 minutes.
3. While this is cooling, generously grease 12 standard size muffin cups.

4. Add the eggs one at a time stirring after each addition until incorporated into the mix.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups
6. Sprinkle the sugar over the tops of the batter
7. Bake in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown and puffy
8. serve while still warm with honey or jam.

This is the dough as it formed in the saucepan, before the eggs were added.

 My daughter was helping.  You can see that she got a little too much sugar on the tops of the puffs before they went into the oven.

The finished puffs as they came out of the oven.

Happy baking.

Winter grilling! good for the soul

    The other night I got a hankering for a grilled steak. Lucky for me, our grill is out back and under the patio where there is a bit less snow.  I  brushed a couple inches of snow off the grill  and lit her up. Even in the cold weather BBQ/Grilling lifts my spirits. There is just something about it. I enjoyed myself looking out over the white winter wonderland that exists in my backyard. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

when disaster strikes

How prepared are you? What if disaster strikes? Power outage? Earthquake? Hurricane?  Tornado? Injury?  Do you have a 72 hour emergency kit? Do you have a first aid kit? Do you even know where your flashlight is?

I come from a place where emergency preparedness is a big deal. We talk of it in our church, and in our community. We want our neighborhoods prepared for what ever comes our way. It is nice to know that there is a plan in place for the community, but putting a personal plan in place is equally important.
© Ruthrgb | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos 

Where does one begin? I would suggest a flashlight and a first aid kit. Then you can move on with a 72 hour emergency survival kit. Once those things are in place, then you can move on even further with a more detailed plan. I have included some links at the bottom of the post to help you get started on a 72 hour kit. 


We have moved on beyond the basic 72 hour kit. We have worked hard on creating a years supply of food on hand. It is fun to see our store room grow. Sometime it seems to be so overwhelming, but it is nice to know that we will be able to survive when the worst happens.

How much is a years supply of food you ask?

for one person to survive you would need in a basic storage

300 pounds of grains  This could include wheat, flour, rice, corn, oatmeal, barley, pasta etc.

60 pounds legumes This could include soybeans, pinto beans, red beans, lima beans, lentils, nuts, peanut butter, nuts  etc.

75 pounds of dairy products  This could include powdered milk, canned milk, evaporated milk, cheese

60 pounds of sugars This could include sugar, honey, jams and jellies,  jello.

20 pounds of fats or oils

8 pounds of iodized salt

Water as much as you can store. We have about 40 gallons per person.

These amounts are for EACH PERSON.  Just multiply it out for each member of the family. You could survive off of this amount of food for one year, but it would get boring.
 If you add a few more items you can make a larger variety of dishes.
baking soda
baking powder
dried whole eggs
 These items really open  up the baking part of it. When you add;
canned fruits and vegetables
dried fruit and vegetables
canned meats
spices and condiments
garden seeds
you will be able to not only survive, but thrive.

Where do you begin? 

1. I know people who have had great success with buying a bit at a time. Each shopping trip they buy one or two items to store for later use. It is a great way to begin on a budget.

2. For those who want to buy it all and be done with it; there are several companies that provide that service. Whatever you choose you have to begin now.  

There are many resources available to help out. I have listed  a few here below to get you started.

72 survival kits

make a 72 hour kit video version

shelf reliance food storage systems

emergency essentials

allisons's pantry

new life on a homestead blogger and self reliance specialist, distributor of Thrive food products

Begin right now with that flashlight. Find it, make sure it has batteries and put it  in a safe place that you will be able to find it again when needed. NOW GET TO IT! YOUR SURVIVAL MAY DEPEND ON IT! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

How do you whole grain?

We hear it over and over. Eat more whole grains.  The typical American diet is nearly void of whole grains. What little bit of whole grain goodness is put onto our food is so over processed that it could hardly count.  How does one incorporate more whole grains into the diet? If you are like most, you buy a package that says "whole grain" on a big banner on the front of the package and give yourself a pat on the back for choosing whole grains. 

I have been one of those people. I have bought the food thinking I am doing good for myself, but are you really?  I was watching a cold cereal commercial. they were talking about their cereal being so good for you. "It looks like whole grain." They showed a whole grain kernel and then compared it with their cereal flake. "see the seam" They had an oval shaped cereal flake with a food coloring seam painted on it to make it look more like a whole grain kernel. "Who are they kidding";  I thought to myself. At one point I would have believed it. I would have bought the product. I have moved on beyond that now.

                                                            © Janpietruszka | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

I am reading the health claims on the packages of food less and less. It is because I am buying less of it.  I am shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. I rarely go down the center isles. I am buying whole grains, good oils, vinegars,  fruits, vegetables, and good dairy products as the main parts of my diet.  The last little while I have incorporated more and more whole food goodness into our family diet. More of the food we have been eating around here are just like nature made them. We keep a fruit bowl handy for snacking. We keep the Vegetables in the line of sight.  I have started writing posts about whole grains. I have several more posts in the works. I am learning how fulfilling a meal of whole grains, fruits and veg can be.

There are some real challenges in whole food eating in this country. Sometimes you feel like a fish swimming upstream. Obtaining whole food is one of the first challenges. I am very lucky because I have a great grocery store close by that has great deals on produce. My favorite produce manager is in that store. They have started carrying bulk food items in the bins. I can buy the whole grain items on my list along with the fruits and veg to go with it. They also will special order things if you request it. How about you? Can you get whole grains and whole fruits and vegetables? Will your store special order items for you?  There are some great Internet resources for obtaining good whole  foods. I will link some at the bottom of the post.

Once you obtain good food then you have the challenge of preparing it. It has been a real learning curve for me as I have been learning and discovering new foods and flavors. I have several cookbooks that I have on hand that I use. One of my favorites is a two in one that I picked up about ten years ago and I am just now really using it. "Greene on greens and grains" by Bob Greene;  it is a wonderful guide going into details about choosing whole foods and how to prepare them. It is a great resource.

I can't believe it had taken me this long to really get going again. I started about eight  or nine years ago. I was single then, and I could gag down any whole grain thing I managed to cook. I then met my dear husband. I wanted to show him my love by cooking all the things that I knew tasted good. I did not want to run him away with my strange new whole grain eating.  We were soon married and it has been good with him by my side.But all my so called  "good" cooking has made us fat. I have been loving my family to death. I don't want to be another statistic. I know we need to make the changes, so we are working on finding recipes for whole grain foods that taste good that we can incorporate into our family life. It has been fun and sometimes a bit hard to do. We are making a move to better health one dish at a time.

Although it seems like alot at first. It can be done. There are many resources out there to help you in your quest for whole food I have included links to a few below.

whole grain posts in this blog

bountiful baskets   A produce co-op. This is available in many of the Western states.You can also sign up to host a co-op location near you. I have used this service before and It was well worth it. You get about $40 of produce for $15

azure standard  I have not personally used them, but I hear great reviews from others about this company. They will deliver whole grains to your door.

Dr Weil cooking with whole grains  A great resource for whole grain cooking

mother earth news whole grain guide  A great resource page

whole grain gourmet the name says it all

Chef Brad  I have been watching his cooking show "Fusion grain cooking"  It is a great place for beginners.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Beyond January: New Years resolutions part 2

If you missed it, below is the link to part 1
Beyond January, New years resolutions part 1

So we are past the middle of January nearing February. So many new years resolutions have come and gone. It began with a desire to change. How do you move beyond the desire to actually making the changes? Maybe you have started the change. How do you keep the momentum going?

For me I have to say that I hate goal setting. Sitting down and saying to myself "OK what do I want to accomplish, and what do I have to do daily to get there" is way over the top for me. I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. Planning and then following through are not my strong points. Those people that plan out everything in life make me crazy. I see it is important, I am trying, but really do I need to write it all down?  I have been to classes, I have listened to seminars, I have read the books. They all seem the same. Write it down, make a plan, break the big goal into daily chunks, put these on your daily to do list. Follow the list etc.  So I did it this year. I made goals and wrote it out into a daily list.

Now I have it all on my"official to do list".  Yuck!!  I feel trapped and bogged down by this infernal list. I know I need to do it, and now I have written it down. I feel pressure to do it. Such drudgery, I can't live like this. I've done it for  over a week, but it sucks!  So, back to the mental list of things I should do. There is not a  physical list weighing me down staring me in the face. I know what I need to do each day (it is all there on my mental list)  Somehow there is always something that sounds much better than those things on the list. There are many things that get pushed down the bottom of the pile, someday I will get to it but not today. (any of this sound familiar yet).

I have found that the physical list of things to do everyday does nothing for me only make me very angry and depressed. Some people love to have that  list and love to check things off, they thrive on it. Yeah for you if you have found this works for you. This is not me. I am a bit more like my son. I thrive on a challenge. This year I am done with the "to do list" way of goal setting and planning. I am trying a new approach. The challenge! I have a list of things that I am challenging myself to accomplish. Somehow if I challenge myself to get it done and take it off that stupid to do list and I get excited about actually accomplishing it.

For the next month
#1 The challenge is to do 30 minutes of Yoga every day.
#2  The challenge is also to do a 30 minute workout daily.
#3 As for my eating, choose a fruit or vegetable for my snack.
#4 It is a challenge to find 10 minutes for me to read everyday but I am doing it.
#5 develop better relationships by being a better friend. One project a month (for example I called a friend and invited her over for lunch last week) 

Give me a challenge. Tell me that I can't accomplish it. I will prove you wrong.
This attitude has prevailed in my life. When I have accomplished things, it has been because others have told me that I couldn't do it. I turned it around this year and challenged myself. It has empowered me. It has created new energy and a fire that I think will carry my goals forward into the future.  A change of attitude made all the difference this year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Make your own mustard

Making your own mustard is very easy. I made some as Christmas gifts. My sister in law loved it. She hails from Russia and has been very disappointed with American mustard which "lack mustard flavor". My mustard packed a punch, but was very tasty.  Those who ate it really enjoyed it.

To make mustard you need only a few ingredients

1/2 cup mustard powder
6 Tablespoons mustard seeds ( the darker seeds tend to have more kick)
3 tablespoons of vinegar (experiment with different flavors here) I used balsamic and cider vinegar in mine
1/2 cup warm water
1-2 teaspoons salt
any additional spices you want (garlic, onion, tarragon, sugar, just to name a few)
Turmeric  may be added for a more pleasing color.

                                                                                                                         © Oleg_ | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

1. cover the mustard seeds with water and soak them until they can be easily crushed (1-2 hours)

2. process the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle or a food processor until desired grind is achieved  I processed mine fairly fine. I did leave some texture to the seeds I like it a bit grainy, yet I do not like whole seeds.

3. Place in a clean container and refrigerate for about 2 weeks

4. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

5. Enjoy on your favorite sandwich or other food.

There are three great advantages to making your own mustard.
1. It is economical. It costs just a few pennies to make.
2. You can control what goes into it. Commercially prepared mustard can have too many added things in it. (preservatives, and natural flavors etc).
3. It can be very yummy for your taste buds.

Go ahead try it, you will never go back to plain old mustard again.

For some interesting reading about natural flavors, I have included some links below

the truth about natural flavors
natural flavors/ not so natural

shared at beyond the peel keep it real thursdays

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bulgar a how to guide

Bulgar what is it?  For many areas of the world bulgar is a staple of life. Bulgar is nothing more than wheat berries that have been cleaned, par-cooked, dried/toasted, and cracked into smaller pieces. For many it is confused with cracked  wheat which is just what it's name implies; wheat that has been cracked open. The two; although looking alike, cannot be interchanged. (Cracked wheat takes an awful lot of cooking to become edible.)

"Bulgur has been called by many names. The Roman word for it was cerealis; Israelites called it dagan. Other Middle Easterners called it arisah, which is how it was referred to in the Bible. Biblical scholars translate arisah as "the first of the coarse meal" and, according to Biblical archeologists, was a porridge or gruel prepared from parboiled and sun-dried wheat. The word bulgur itself has various iterations: burghul, burghoul, balgour and boulgur, to name just a few."  (taken from

© Shahinkia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

What do you do with Bulgar?
Salads, soups, pilafs, stuffing, breakfast cereal, and as a meat extender are some of the most popular ways to use bulgar.

There are 4 basic ways to prepare bulgar

1. Non pre-soak method
1 cup bulgar
2 1/2 cups liquid
cook in a covered saucepan over low heat until all the liquid is absorbed about 20-30 minutes
remove from the heat and let stand covered for an additional 10 minutes the grains will dry out and will easily fluff with a fork

2. Hot pre-soak method
1 cup bulgar
3-4 cups boiling liquid
let stand 40 minutes or longer
drain through a cheesecloth and squeeze out the extra liquid

3. cold pre-soak method
1 cup bulgar
3-4 cups water
let stand for 2 - 21/2 hours
drain through a cheesecloth and squeeze out the extra liquid.

4. Boiled method 
1 cup bulgar
3 to 4 quarts water
bring to a boil reduce heat and boil 20 minutes
 drain the bulgar in a strainer and press the grains dry with the back of a spoon before serving

Once the bulgar is soaked or prepared, you can use it in a variety of dishes one of the best known is tabbouleh salad. In the United States it is most often used as a meat extender or made into a pilaf. Below are some links to bulgar recipes. 

New York Times bulgar recipes

We did an experiment where we made our own bulgar. It was quite easy and the children loved helping to grind the toasted grain. 

To make your own Bulgar

1. place whole wheat kernels in a pan
2. add cool water to cover by about 2 inches
3. bring to a boil
4. turn of the heat and let the wheat sit for about 2 hours
5. drain off the excess water
6. spread the wheat in a thin layer on a baking sheet
7. dry in a 200 degree oven for 6-8 hours until dry and crisp
8. crack the dried wheat to desired size using a hand grinder, blender, or morter and pestle.

The kids really had a great time making the bulgar, and I got to use my new mortar and pestle that I got for Christmas. It was a fun experiment for all of us. Getting the children involved in the preparation of food is a great way to help them experience new foods.  I hope that you and your family will enjoy a new recipe made with bulgar.

© Winterling | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

shared at keep it real thursdays

Thursday, January 10, 2013

making perogies

Perogies, Yum. For those of you who have never had them they are  a polish dish somewhat similar to a ravioli. They are typically filled with mashed potato and onion. Many times they have cheese included. They are most often browned in a hot skillet with butter after being boiled. They can be found in the frozen section of many grocery stores, but it is easy to make your own.

The recipe I used was quite simple

for the dough
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter softened
about  1 Tablespoons warm water

mix the ingredients together in a bowl until it begins to come together in a ball
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead into a ball working it until it quits sticking to your hands. cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (can be held for 2 days)

Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness
cut with a glass or a 2-3 inch round  cutter
Place about 1 Tablespoon of filling  (see below) on one half of the dough round
fold the other half over the top and pinch the edges to seal.  be sure to seal tightly so the potato mix does not leak out
can be cooked right away or can be refrigerated a day, or frozen up to 2 months
makes about 20 perogies

To cook perogies drop in a large pot of boiling water and let cook until they float to the surface about 6-8 minutes (8-10 if frozen)  It is typically served with sourcream,  sauted onions, and sometimes bacon.


I used leftover mashed potatoes from a previous meal. I added finely chopped onons sauted in butter and grated cheese

3 baking potatoes peeled and boiled until tender then mashed or ran through a food mill or potato ricer
1/4 cup finely chopped onion sauted in 1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup shredded cheese
salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Beyond January; New years resolutions part 1

How are your new years resolutions going? It has been a week, have you forgotten them already? I found one survey that said half of the people said that within a week they have forgotten that they even had a a new years resolution; another eleven percent say their resolutions last a week or less. another twelve percent say they last until the end of January. If you last past Valentines day you are among the elite. What is it about the new years resolution?

I thought it was a good idea to go along with several of my friends who's new years resolution is to have no new years resolution at all. I seems like such a stupid thing to make new years resolutions and then to forget them nearly as quickly as they are made. I have fallen into that trap many times. There us such a feeling in the air. I couldnt't escape, I could not get over those feelings; feelings like, "Why set yourself up to fail with all the others? This is stupid! Why bother; I make the same resolutions year after year.Why go along with the crowd, I don't want to give into pressure and make a resolution that I know I won't keep, but this is what we do. You are a failure if you do not even attempt to make a new years resolution. Come on, you have to have some kind of goal "  and  those thoughts go on. I have always fought back with thoughts of "I will make my resolutions later on in the year when I am more sure about it, and the hype has calmed down."

This year I knew it, I could not pass it off until later.  after all, putting it off til later It is just an excuse to not make new years resolutions. It has not worked in the past. There are some changes that need made. I have been gearing up mentally for months. I just needed a little nudge, I think that New years has given me the push to go forward. Now I am off and going on a resolution, how do I keep the momentum going. Check back next week as I share more thoughts about taking the new years resolution to the next level; going beyond January.

As an added note. I will be reading over Money saving mom's blog series "21 days to a more disciplined life". I began into the series as she was writing it. Things changed for me and I did not make it through the series. I remember that she has some great advice.

21 days to a more disciplined life blog series