Strawberry Cake

There is almost nothing about this cake that could be construed as ‘healthy’.  In fact, it’s so unhealthy that I rather regretted the fact that the only eggs I had were far fresh and locally grown, and the only strawberries I had were organic.  If you’re going to be unhealthy, you might as well go for broke.

It’s super, super sweet.  Set your teeth on edge cotton candy sweet.  So it’s sure to be a hit with your kids, and I must confess that there are times when this is exactly what I crave.  I don’t have it more than once a year, and really, not even that often.

Here’s the recipe in all its chemical, storebought laden, sugary deliciousness.

1 package white cake mix
3 tablespoons flour
1 3 oz pkg strawberry Jello
1 cup of oil
1/2 package of strawberries (10 oz frozen in their own juices is what I usually use)
1/2 cup water

Mix these ingredients all together and blend well.  Pour into greased and floured 13 X 9 ” cake pan.
Bake at 350 F according to the length of time recommended on the back of the box.

Ice with this gooey, dripping, sugary delicious icing:

1/2 cube softened butter
remaining package of strawberries
1 box powdered sugar (I usually end up using more.  And sometimes I add a little bit more strawberry jello powder just to make it thoroughly poisonously good)

Mix these ingredients together with a mixer until smooth and and a thoroughly improbable shade of pink.

Frost the cake.

I like leftover frosting on graham crackers.
Or with a spoon.

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Hamburger Skillet with Orzo

This recipe is based on the autumn sausage skillet recipe here. I had to improvise a lot because we were having company who do not eat pork, and I did not have several of the other ingredients. So here’s what we had on hand:

This picture was taken just before adding the sweet potatoes:

Hamburger Orzo Skillet
Four sweet potatoes, sliced, tossed with olive oil, roasted in the oven under the broiler until golden around the edges and soft in the middle.

2 pounds of ground beef and plenty of ‘sausagy spices.’  I used:
Marjoram, thyme, cardamon, garlic, fennel, nutmeg, a dash of red pepper, sage, and I didn’t measure things, I just tossed a bit of this and a bit of that.
Fry this with two diced onions and a cup of chopped celery.

When ground beef is mostly done, add:
2 cups of pineapple juice,
1/3 cup of molasses
2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Amino Acids or soy sauce
Stir well, simmer, taste.
Add about a teaspoon of dry mustard
add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and stir while it all heats through.

Add the sweet potatoes when they are cooked through.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

Stir in about four to six cups of cooked orzo (best if you can manage to just undercook the orzo a bit, and let if finish cooking with the meat and liquid)

Serves about 15, with enough leftovers for people to take to work for lunch the next day.

Verdicts: All the adults liked it. Some of the children thought they wouldn’t like it, but then they ate it anyway and some of those had seconds.
Some of us thought it would be better without the sweet potatoes, and about the same number thought it would be a sad deprivation not to have the sweet potatoes in it. I like sweet potatoes, but I was one of the number who thought they just didn’t work in this dish.
It kind of reminded me of Hamburger Helper Oriental- I don’t even know if they make that version anymore, but it used to be my favorite back in my teen years. This was better, of course, but the flavor was similar.

Linked at Frugal Fridays

Linked at Designs by Gollum

Linked at the Tuesday night Supper club

Posted in frugal, main dish, meat | 2 Responses

Autumn Sausage Skillet With Orzo

I like this picture because you can still see the steam rising off the top of the food. I liked the food because it was tasty and flavorful. “Flavor” is not something JennyanyDots like to have in her food, but I thought it was delicious. The sausage was a mite spicy, even though it was supposed to be mild. But still, it was quite good.

Autumn Sausage Skillet
Four cooked sweet potatoes, diced into bite sized pieces- set aside.

1 1/2 pounds of mildly spiced Italian sausage, cut into bite sized pieces- fry these with one diced onion and a cup of chopped celery. (you can make meatballs with your sausage, which is what the original recipe called for, but I didn’t bother)

When sausage is mostly done, add 5 or six medium apples, peeled and diced. Add the sweet potatoes, 2 cups of orange juice, 6 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, , a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and stir while it all heats through.

Serve over rice or noodles (we had it with orzo).

Serves 10- if you need it to serve more, increase the vegetables and/or make it more like a stew.
For stew: Add about 1/2 a cup or more of water or broth to the pan. In a separate bowl mix 1/2 cup of water with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. When the cornstarch is mixed well, add the water and cornstarch mixture to the saucepan of sausage and sweet potatoes and cook over medium heat until it’s thick and bubbly and the cornstarch has cleared.

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Welsh Tea Cakes

I’ve been asked for the recipe for these every time I’ve made them.  This is a handy recipe to keep around for unexpected guests because it is so quick and easy to throw together.  We’ve also served it for tea those times we remember to have tea parties.

2 cups flour (we use whole wheat)
3/4 cup sugar (we use sucanat most often, but white or brown both work)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup currants or raisins (or other chopped fruit.  I don’t care for raisins, so I do not generally add them).
1 egg
milk, to be measured with the egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
 (if you grate you own fresh nutmeg it will be marvelously fragrant and delicious)

Combine dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse corn meal.  Stir in dried fruit.  Beat the egg in a one cup measure and beat lightly.  Add milk, making enough egg and milk to make 1/4 cup.
Pour into flour, stir with fork and make a soft dough.  You may need a bit more milk, depending on humidity conditions, the runniness of your egg, the consistency of your flour. 
Knead lightly half a dozen times.  Flour your counter or pastry area (I use a marble slab)  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into rounds, OR save time and use the same trick we use for biscuits- toll the dough out right onto your greased baking sheet, then take a pastry wheel or pizza cutter and cut these into squares and diamonds.

Bake at 350 degrees on a lightly oiled cookie sheet until slightly browned (ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of your cookies).

Rather than cutting these with a pastry cutter, I mix the dry ingredients into my food processor, add the butter using the blade that fits down inside the bowl of the food processor, not the disc- it’s usually called the ‘s’ blade.  I cut the butter in using that, and it takes me ten minutes from start to finish to have the dough ready to put in the oven. 

My Bosch doesn’t have the right blade, it only has discs. I bought a small food processor with the chopping blade second hand for about ten dollars.  I use it for these cookies, pie crust, and biscuit mix and consider it very worth the cost and the space it takes on my shelves.

If you’re really in a hurry, make them stickier than usual and have drop tea biscuits:

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Crockpot Chicken Adobo

Crockpot Chicken Adobo
–3 to 5 pounds of boneless chicken
–1/4 cup soy sauce (we use Bragg – Bragg Liquid Aminos)
–4 cloves garlic, chopped
–1 tsp black pepper
–1/2 tsp salt
–1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (can use regular white)
–4 bay leaves
–1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
–1 yellow onion, sliced in rings
The Directions.
* Combine chicken, salt, pepper, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and vinegar and freeze.

To cook, thaw bag of chicken.

*Slice the onion in rings, spread them out in the crockpot, top with grated carrot, top with bag of chicken mixture.

*Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. This is done when the chicken is cooked through and has reached desired tenderness.
bone-in chicken for four hours will be completely done and falling apart.

Low-carb: leave out carrots or substitute grated turnips or kohlrabi
Use Bragg’s liquid amino acids

Posted in crockpot, main dish, poultry | 3 Responses

Whole Wheat Bread

This whole wheat recipe is very simple and only takes about three hours from start to popping in the oven. I made one or two mistakes along the way, but I’ll advise you on how to improve the final product. The dough is very, very soft and tender, which will make those who prefer white bread more likely to like this recipe.

1. Skip this step if you are using store bought flour. We start with whole wheat berries, which I buy through our buying club. You can find out more about how to find a buying club in your area here.
I grind them in my whisper mill, which whispers about like an airplane taxiing down the runway.
Organic wheat berries and yeast are two ingredients I find much cheaper through the co-op. If you are going to bake much bread at all, you need to find a good source for bulk packages. Those dinky little packets of single measurements of yeast are going to kill your budget. Seriously, you are paying a ridiculous amount of money when you buy the little packets.

So, grind your flour.

2. Measure your flour and set it aside. You want about 10-12 cups. I like 100% whole wheat, but if you didn’t grind your flour, but buy it ground from a store, you can use all white, or mix it half and half. You should not usually use 100% store bought whole wheat flour, it gives your product a bitter taste (storebought flour has been sitting on the shelf, which makes whole wheat flour get a bitter taste as the oils go rancid).

3. Get out a very large bowl. Then add:
# 4 1/2 cups warm water (just barely hot to the touch)
# 3 packages active dry yeast- OR 3 scant tablespoons of yeast from a jar or 1 pound foil package (we store ours in the freezer)
# about 1/3 cup of honey
# 5 cups whole wheat flour

4. Stir this gently, and then leave it alone (perhaps cover your bowl with a towel) to ‘sponge’ for about thirty minutes. The dough should look light and slightly bubbly-a little like the top of a pancake just before you flip it, or a little like a sponge (those small air bubbles), which is why this step is called ‘sponging’.

5. Now stir in:
# 5 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
# about 1/4 cup of honey
# 3 teaspoons of salt
# 4 -5 cups whole wheat flour
I added 2 eggs to mine because I thought it would be richer. I don’t think it was necessary after all, but aren’t those bright yolks pretty? We buy our eggs from friends who raise them. The Equuschick barters for hers, she trades vegetable scraps and so forth for eggs each week.

6. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Dough will be very soft and sticky. Now comes the tricky part. You want to add just a little less flour than you think you’re going to need. The key to good whole wheat bread is usually NOT to flour the board or your hands. I oil them, because whole wheat dough with too much flour makes a really hard, chewy, bread that tastes more like flour than bread. It’s not good.

But this is a very sticky dough, so you need both flour and oil. Add a couple more cups of flour to the dough and to your countertop, dump the dough out and knead in the flour- your hands will be incredibly sticky and you’ll have as much dough on them as you do on the counter. Add a bit more flour, knead some more, and when the dough is still pretty sticky, but starting to pull away from the counter (it still won’t be smooth), oil your hands well, and also the inside of the bowl, and gently knead the dough (push down with your palms at one end, fold the opposite end towards you, push down that end with your palms, fold the opposite end toward you, and repeat, basically roll one end of the dought over towards you, knead, roll again, like a conveyor belt) into a smoother, but still soft and slightly sticky ball of dough. Put the dough in your greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough with oil (this keeps it from drying out). Cover with a clean dishtowel or napkin. Let rise in a warmish place until doubled (about 30 minutes).

7. Now shape the bread. If you want loaves, you punch the dough down again, divide it into thirds, shape the loaf and put in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. When I make loaves I use my fingers to press down the dough along the pan edges on all four sides- this helps give it that nice ‘loaf’ shape that is higher in the middle. If you want rolls, skip ahead to step 8. If you’ve shaped your bread into loaves, go to step 9.

9. Cover the loaves with a dish towel and leave it to rise until dough has topped the pan by about an inch. Depending on your yeast and humidity conditions, this will take between 1 – 2 hours.

8. I didn’t want loaves, I wanted rolls, so I shaped them accordingly:

I shape my rolls by picking up a biggish handful, quickly shaping it into a very rough log- more of an oblong, really. Then I squeeze the dough through a circle made by my thumb and forefinger, pinching off each roll and placing the roll pinched side down on a greased pan, then squeezing off another roll, and then another. If your hands are bigger you can probably get four or five rolls from an oblong, I get three.
This dough is already going to make really soft bread, and you make rolls even softer by putting them on the pan so their sides are just touching. My batch was softer still because I used white winter wheatberries instead of red. I prefer the heartier taste of red, but most people prefer the more delicate flavor of the white berries.

10. For loaves: Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 1 tablespoon of melted butter when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

For Rolls:

Because I was using the white wheat, I think my rolls would have done better if I had used jelly roll pans, with sides. As it was, they are good, but the outside rolls fell off the pan and they spread out a bit more than I would like.
Let rise about an hour and then bake at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes.

11. Pull away a roll, cut in half, OR slice a chunk of loaf (using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion), slather with butter, eat, chewing slowly and savoring the soft, tender goodness of freshly baked whole wheat bread.

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Tofu ‘Sour Cream’

This is useful recipe for those who are allergic to dairy products:

Tofu Sour ‘Cream’
Makes 1 cup
1 cup of tofu, drained
1 Tbsp. olive oil (or other oil)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white rice vinegar (or apple cider, though it will have a stronger taste)

Put all ingredients except the oil in your blender. When this mixture is smooth, gradually add the olive oil for the creamy texture.

You can use this in baking.

To give it a cultured flavor, blend in a teaspoon or so of miso.

Posted in condiments and substitutions, frugal | Leave a comment

Substitute for Golden Mushroom Soup

A friend sent me this recipe a few years ago. It’s not exactly frugal, unless you live in a small town where nobody carries golden mushroom soup on a regular basis and you have a sudden craving for a recipe that calls for it.

Hunter’s Sauce with Mushrooms #84564
recipe by PanNan

This sauce is also known as sauce chasseur. It’s a nice brown sauce with
mushrooms. I sometimes substitute this sauce when the recipe calls for
golden mushroom soup.

2 cups

25 minutes 10 mins prep

2 tablespoons minced onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 cup left over home made beef gravy (or brown gravy/brown sauce made from a
packet such as Knorr’s)
2-5 drops maggi seasoning (or other flavor enhancer like Kitchen Bouquet, or
even Worcestershire sauce)
salt and pepper

Saute onions in butter until very tender.
Add mushrooms and saute additional 2- 3 minutes.
Add wine, simmer, and reduce by half.
Add tomato puree and gravy and simmer for 5 minutes.
Adjust seasoning to your taste with Maggi (or the other flavor enhancer you used), salt and pepper.
You can also add your favorite herbs to this sauce.

Posted in condiments and substitutions, soup | Leave a comment

The "Kids Can Love Liver" Recipe*

This recipe from The More With Less Cookbook makes it easier to appreciate the taste of liver, or at least to disguise it if you don’t naturally appreciate the taste.  I used to make it all the time.  Once, back when we were in our twenties and had the young singles from church over all the time (twenty of ’em at a time) so they felt relaxed enough to drop in on us at dinner time unannounced, one of these young drop-ins sat down with us and ate half a plate of liver before he realized that’s what he was eating.

I don’t remember if he was able to finish or not once it dawned on him that he was eating liver, but he did say, “I gotta hand it to you.  That’s the most liver I have ever eaten without knowing it was liver.”=)

So, as I say, I used to make liver very regularly- a couple of times a month, probably. I did this not because I like liver, although I do, but because it was cheap and we needed to be really frugal. I like eating liver, but I do not particularly enjoy cooking liver, as it’s slimy and icky to work with, and the way I cook it is kind of tedious. So, our oldest two children, having been with us through the hardest poverty days have had a LOT of liver. The younger five children have had it far less often, until recently when we scored a lot of liver from some grass fed calves.

Here’s one of two ways I make liver:
Cook up a bunch of bacon- I don’t do strips, I cut up the bacon with kitchen shears and fry it.

Meanwhile, slice the liver into narrow strips no more than half an inch wide.  Back in the poverty days I did not have kitchen shears and I had to do this with a fork and a sharp knife.  Shears definitely make this a less disgusting job.  If you can get to it while the liver is still partially frozen it will be much easier to cut.  Drain it- either on a plate of paper towels, or put it in a colander, rinse, and then roll up in paper towels or a brown paper bag and squeeze a bit.
Shake it up in a bag of flour and seasoning salt. If you add some cornmeal it will be even better.

Remove the cooked bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, placing it on a plate paper towels or a brown paper bag to drain, but leave the fat in the pan.

Put the liver strips in the pan of bacon grease (I use tongs because I cannot stand to touch it if I don’t have to), fry until golden brown, flip, fry again. They should not fry more than 7 or 8 minutes, possibly less, depending on how thin your slices are (and the key to this is to have very narrow strips of liver so they will be overpowered by bacon and coating).  Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon, gently shaking excess oil back into frying pan, then place the liver over the pile of cooked bacon.

Meanwhile… slice an onion into rings. When the liver is all cooked and draining on paper towels or brown paper bags.

Now fry the onions in remaining grease (you may need more oil).

Combine all, serve with ketchup. The liver strips can also be a finger food.

*the key to making sure your kids do love liver is to introduce them to it early, very early, and to serve it regularly.

Posted in main dish, organ meats | 1 Response

Onion Cheese Loaf, quick bread

I used to make this when we wanted a nice bread for open faced sandwiches, but didn’t have time for a yeast bread to rise.
You can make one loaf in an hour, or you can make muffins in about 20 minutes

Preheat oven to 350

finely mince 1/2 cup of onion, set aside

Mix together:
2 cups flour (we use freshly ground whole wheat)
1 T. sugar- you can use brown or turbinado. 
1 T. baking powder
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. sea salt

Use a pastry blender or two knives and cut in:
1/4 cup of butter or bacon grease until the mixture looks similar to corn meal

1/2 cup shredded cheddar or swiss cheese
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Stir lightly.

Whisk together:
1 cup milk
1 egg

Add milk and egg mixture to the flour and cheese mixture and stir with a fork.  It’s a quick bread, so you just want the dry ingredients moistened, not smooth. 
Pour into greased loaf pan

Sprinkle the minced onion you set aside earlier over the top of the batter
sprinkle with paprika

Bake one hour

It seems to me this would be a good candidate for a soaked grain recipe, and I’d like to try that version later.

From The More With Less Cookbook, with a couple minor adaptations

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses