a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Equivalents: Have you ever needed to know how many smooshed bananas are in a cup....plus more

There are 3 smooshed bananas in a cup
What about the number of teaspoons in a packet of active dry yeast?

Or how many graham crackers are needed to produce 1 cup of crumbs?
Or how many cups do you end up with when you grate a pound of cheese?
Or many other equivalents?

Ponder no more!

  • YEAST: 1 packet active dry yeast = 2-1/4 teaspoons
  • GRAHAM CRACKERS: 14 graham cracker squares = 1 cup fine crumbs
  • CHEESE: 1 pound cheese = 4-1/2 cups grated
  • CORN FLAKES: 3 cups corn flakes = 1 cup crushed
  • SALTINE CRACKERS: 28 saltine crackers = 1 cup crumbs
  • BREAD: 3 slices bread = 1 cup crumbs
  • CHOCOLATE WAFERS: 19 chocolate wafers = 1 cup crumbs
  • VANILLA WAFERS: 22 vanilla wafers = 1 cup crumbs
  • NUTS: 4 ounces chopped nuts = 1 cup
  • CHOCOLATE CHIPS: 12 ounces chocolate chips = 2 cups
  • BUTTER OR MARGARINE: 1 stick butter or margarine = 1/2 cup or 1/4 pound
  • MARSHMALLOWS: 10 miniature marshmallows = 1 large marshmallow
  • OATS: 1 pound rolled oats = 4-3/4 cups
  • FLOUR:1 pound flour = 3-3/4 cups
  • GRANULATED SUGAR: 1 pound white sugar = 2 cups
  • BROWN SUGAR: 1 pound brown sugar = 2-1/4 cups, firmly packed
  • POWDERED/CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR: 1 pound powdered sugar = 3-1/2 cups
  • EGG YOLKS: 1 large egg yolk = 1 T + 1 tsp and 12-14 egg yolks = 1 cup
  • EGG WHITES: 1 large egg white = 2 T = 2 tsp  and 8-10 large egg whites = 1 cup
  • EGGS: 1 large egg = 4 Tablespoons
  • EGG SUBSTITUTE: 1/4 cup egg substitute = 1 egg
  • CHICKEN: 3 pounds cooked chicken = 4-1/2 cups chopped
  • CHICKEN BREASTS:1-1/2 pounds chicken breasts =3 cups cooked and chopped
  • CHOPPED MEATS: 1/2 pound cooked boneless ham, beef or turkey = 2 cups chopped meat
  • RICE: 1 cup uncooked white rice = 3 cups cooked white rice
  • PASTA: 1 cup uncooked pasta = 2-2/3 cups cooked pasta
  • HERBS: 1 tsp dried herbs = 1 T fresh herbs
  • LEMONS: 1 lemon = 2 to 4 T juice and 1 tsp grated rind
  • ORANGES: 1 medium orange = 6 to 8 T juice and 2 to 3 tsp grated rind
  • BANANAS: 3 medium bananas = 1 cup mashed
  • CHERRIES: 1 pound cherries = 2-1/2 cup pitted
  • RAISINS: 1 pound raisins = 2 cups
  • TOMATOES: 1 pound tomatoes = 1-1/2 cups chopped
  • SPINACH: 1 pound fresh spinach = 12 cups fresh or 1-1/2 cups cooked
  • ONIONS: 1 large onion = 1 cup chopped  
  • ONIONS: 1 pound onions = 3 cups chopped

'til we eat again
           Simply, Gail

Thursday, December 15, 2011

#11 What If . . . Putting Together a "Grab-N-Go-Bag" or. . .

  • backpack 
  • duffle bag
  •  wagon
  •  fisherman's vest
  •  5-gallon bucket  or
  • whatever works for you

It is likely that sometime you'll be in a situation*  where immediate help of some kind will be needed over a wide-spread area. 
    *Earthquake *Flooding *Tornado *Wildfire *Act of War. . .

It usually takes three days for official assistance to arrive. That could be a life-threatening or, at the very least, miserable 72 hours!

A Grab-N-Go-Bag is a quick and reasonably priced "insurance" for each member of your family. And, just like any other type of insurance, hopefully it will never be needed.

The toughest part of assembling a 72 hour kit is deciding what items are ESSENTIAL.

It would be much easier if we could know what the emergency will be, the time of year, whether we are confined to our home or whether we have to leave our home and area, and if we have to leave---will it be on foot or vehicle. We have to do the best we can without that knowledge.

Please be up to the challenge and prepare now because "when the time of need has arrived---the time of preparation has passed."

I, and many places on the Internet, can give you things to consider and suggestions but the deciding is up to you---and your individual family situation.

Things to consider

  • Your family situation---ages, health, specific needs if any--- 
  • Physical abilities of the different members of the family --- how much can each carry/will some need their supplies carried or, will someone need to be carried---
  • Does your household include infants or elderly or pets---

Suggestions for Basic Bare Minimum Food to SUSTAIN one person for 72 hours: 

  • Water! A MINIMUM of 6 liters  is recommended
  • Tang powdered drink  -- 1/2 cup (divided into two servings)
  • Instant Oatmeal* -- two packets
  • 2 granola bars
  • Cocoa mix -- 1/2 cup (divided into two servings) or 2 packets
  • 1 single serving stew or pasta with "pop top" lid
  • 10 sticks of chewing gum
  • 9 pieces of hard candy
  • 1 single serving can of beanie-weenies or similar with "pop top" lid
  • 3 fruit roll ups
  • 2 envelopes single serving noodles
  • 1 one-ounce package raisins
  • 2 one-ounce packages of beef jerky
  • 3 plastic spoons
  • 1 package matches
  • 4 snack-size zip lock bags for divided Tang and cocoa mix
  • wing stove or similar to heat water and fuel for same 
Menus using above
Day 1: Breakfast: Tang, oatmeal, 
            Lunch: Beanie Weenies, 1 fruit roll-up
            Dinner: 1 granola bar, 1 beef jerky, hot cocoa
            Snacks: 3 pieces hard candy and 3 pieces gum
Day 2: Breakfast: hot cocoa, 1 granola bar
            Lunch: soup and raisins
            Dinner: stew/pasta, 1 fruit roll-up
            Snacks: 3 pieces hard candy and 3 pieces gum
Day 3: Breakfast: Tang, oatmeal
            Lunch: soup
            Dinner: 1 beef jerky and 1 fruit roll-up
            Snacks: 3 pieces hard candy and 4 pieces gum
  • The above menu requires 2 liters of the bottled water.
  • Save and reuse the Beanie Weenie can to heat other foods if no other container is available.
  • Mix 3/4 cup water each with the Tang and hot cocoa mixes.
* Homemade Instant Oatmeal packets
     3 cups quick cooking oats - divided
     snack-sized zip-lock baggies
  1. Put 1/2 cup oats in a blender and blend on high until powdery. Set aside in a small bowl and repeat procedure with an additional 1/2 cup oats. If you are using a food processor you can do the one cup of oats in one batch. 
  2. Into EACH baggie, put the following ingredients: 1/4 cup un-powdered oats, 2 Tablespoons powdered oats and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
You can make a variety of flavors, if desired, and store the filled baggies in an airtight container.
To serve: empty packet into a bowl. Add 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir and let stand for 2 minutes. For thicker oatmeal use less water, for thinner, use more water.

Note: I often eat commercial instant oatmeal by just tearing open the package and stirring in a little room-temperature water to the consistency I want--it works fine!

Variations are limited only by your personal tastes and your imagination. Artificial sweeteners can be used in place of sugar if desired, although I would recommend it for the 72 hour kit unless real sugar is a dietary problem. The measurements are what you add to the above recipe for each packet.
  • Sweetened Oatmeal - 1 T sugar
  • Brown sugar-cinnamon - 1 T brown sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Apple-cinnamon - 1 T sugar, 1/4 tsp and 2 T very finely chopped dried apples (I use a blender)
  • Raisins-brown sugar - 1 T packed brown sugar and 1 T raisins
  • Health Nut - 2 T wheat germ, any type
  • Fruit and Cream - 1 T powdered non-dairy creamer and 2 T finely chopped dried fruit
  • Confetti - 1 tsp decorative cake/cookie sprinkles
  • S'More - 6 mini marshmallows and 1 T milk chocolate chips
  • Cookies 'n Cream - 1 crushed Oreo (or similar) cookie and 1 T powdered non-dairy creamer
  • Exploding - 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp 'Pop Rocks' candy. (This one is fun for birthdays and other celebration days)
 Homemade (civil defense recipe) survival ration bar 
Each bar contains 1000 calories and will provide sufficient food for a one day ration.
2 cups whole grain cereal (oatmeal or wheat flakes)
1 cup white sugar
2-1/2 cups powdered milk
3 T water 
3 T honey
1/2 of a 4 ounce package of orange gelatin

Combine first three ingredients and set aside. Combine honey and water and bring to a boil. Add gelatin, stirring until dissolved and then add to the dry ingredients.

Mix well, adding up to 3 more Tablespoons water as needed. Shape into four 1-inch thick bars. Dry in 200 degree oven for two hours. Turn over and dry another 2 hours. 

Make sure the bars are completely dry so they will not sweat and mold. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then wrap again in aluminum foil, and store. They should keep indefinitely. They can be eaten dry or cooked with about 2/3 cups water.

After Christmas I will continue with other items to consider for your 27 hour kit.  

These would be a fantastic Christmas gift for your loved ones, a great start in preparing for a New Year. Please consider getting started now because. . .


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Replicating Specialty Pancake Syrups --- Coconut, Caramel, Apple and. . . Jello!?

Looking to dress up simple  pancakes and waffle-type foods simply and cheaply?
There are many specialty syrups  available ---
all at specialty prices!!! 
Most you can easily replicate at home.

Note: Use very large pots for the first two recipes because the baking soda initially foams up and expands.

Coconut Syrup
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
In large pan combine first three ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in coconut extract and baking soda. 

Confession: This next recipe is officially called "Buttermilk Syrup" but a name like that can discourage many. It's "subtitle" is rich and caramel-like which I find much more appealing.

Caramel Syrup
6 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups sugar 
3/4 cup buttermilk*
1-1/2 teaspoons corn syrup
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In large pot, combine the butter or margarine, sugar, buttermilk* and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once at a rolling boil, boil and stir for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.While continuing to stir constantly add the baking soda and vanilla.

* If you do not have buttermilk, you can add 1/4 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk and let sit for 5 minutes to sour it.

Apple Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups apple juice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice.
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter or margarine.

I can't personally vouch for this next one but I have to admit it is intriguing. Here are the comments from the contributor--- "I should say first that this is a real working recipe. It might seem like a child's experiment, but I'm 52 years old and have used this for many years. . . You might consider cutting the ingredients in half if you're only serving a small group. This syrup doesn't store well -- it becomes too thick over time. . .Enjoy as many flavors of pancake syrup as there are flavors of gelatin with this easy recipe. "

Jell-o Pancake Syrup
(12 servings) 
1 small box flavored gelatin
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
Combine the gelatin, sugar, cornstarch and water together in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Pour into pitcher and let cool until syrup thickens slightly. Serve over pancakes or waffles while still warm.

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#10 What If . . . MORE SUBSTITUTE INGREDIENTS---when the grocery shelves are empty!

There may be times when, although  the store shelves are full, your personal pantry is out of an ingredient.

Continuing the series to prepare you for a time when the store
shelves are empty and you have to get by on what you have on hand.

This post continues with substitutions, beginning with a guide for substituting natural sweeteners for refined sugar in recipes (from wholefoodsmarket.com).

Substitutes for one cup of refined white sugar

  • 1-3/4 cups confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar) for each cup of sugar. Do not reduce liquid in recipe.
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar. Do not reduce liquid.
  • 1 cup Turbinado sugar. Do not reduce liquid.
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup. Reduce liquid in recipe by 3 T.
  • 3/4 cup honey. Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.
  • 3/4 cup barley malt or rice syrup. Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup
  • 1-1/4 cups Molasses. Reduce liquid by 5 Tablespoons.
If you need _________ you can substitute _________
  • 1 cup brown sugar ----> 1 cup granulated sugar + 2 T molasses
  • 3/4 cup cracker crumbs ----> 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted ----> 7/8 cup all purpose flour, sifted (which is 1 cup minus 2 T)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar ----> 1 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cornstarch, blended until very fine
  • 1 tsp lemon peel ----> 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup ----> 3/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup of molasses ----> 1 cup of honey
  • 1 cup light corn syrup ----> 1 cup sugar and 1 cup liquid*
  • 1 cup honey ----> 1-1/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup liquid*
* may be water or whatever other liquid, i.e. milk, cream or juice the recipe calls for.
  • 1 cup margarine or butter (for cooking or baking) ----> 1 cup hard shortening or 7/8 cup vegetable oil + possibly a bit of salt.
  • 1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate ----> 3 T. cocoa powder + 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 square (1 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate ----> 1 oz unsweetened chocolate + 4 tsp sugar
For 1 cup white flour substitute any of the following:
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 7/8 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup corn flour                                       
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup barley flour
  • 3/4 cup rye flour
Corn Syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
dash of salt
In a heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium heat. Stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover pan and cook 3 minutes, just to reduce crystal build-up on the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook, stirring often to "soft ball stage" or when you drop a little from a spoon into a glass of cold water and it drops to the bottom of the glass in a soft ball. Cool the syrup completely and store in covered container at room temperature. Makes about 2 cups. Use within 2 months.

Whole-Milk Substitute for Baking and Cooking
This recipe makes one cup of whole-milk substitute to be used in baking and cooking. You can adjust the portions according to the amount of milk you need for your recipe.

Combine 1 measuring cup water with 1/3 cup powdered milk. Stir well to dissolve all the milk powder. Use a blender or mixer for best results. Add 1 T oil or about 2 T melted butter after the powdered milk mixture is well blended. Mix or blend the mixture thoroughly. The oil replaces the amount of fat removed from the milk during the drying process. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude . . .

. . .by making the most with what we already have --- no matter how little that may seem. And, some thoughts on being happy no matter what your current situation.

  • The key to real wealth is being satisfied with what you already have.

  • In most cases, for most people, most of our things are just "stuff" and we could do without most of it. 

  • Things that used to be considered luxuries are now considered not only necessities but -----absolute necessities.

  • No matter how little you have, if you are reading this on a computer or a cell phone or any other piece of electronic gadgetry, you are among the wealthiest in the world. If you can read, you are among the wealthiest. 

"To be alive, to be able to see, to walk...it's all a miracle. I have adopted the technique of living life from miracle to miracle." Arthur Rubinstein

Then I met a Man
I once had no food to eat
Then I met a man who had no teeth
I once had no shoes to wear
Then I met a man who had no feet

When you’re down on your luck
and you just spent your last buck
There’s always someone else
who has it even worse

I once had a mirror on the wall
Then I met a man
who was lucky after all. --- Selected verses from a folk song by Earl Vickers 1995

While there are "things" we cannot change, we can choose our attitude in every situation. 

The following is a challenge, written by John Hilton III and Anthony Sweet, and taken from the Youth section of our Church magazine, the Ensign.

Take A Gratitude Challenge
Let's not just talk about counting our blessings --- let's do it!
Make a list of 100 things you are thankful for. If that sounds like it is too many, try this.
  1. Write 10 physical abilities you are grateful for.
  2. Write 10 material possessions you are grateful for.
  3. Write 10 living people you are grateful for.
  4. Write 10 deceased people you are grateful for.
  5. Write 10 things about nature you are grateful for.
  6. Write 10 things about today you are grateful for.
  7. Write 10 places on earth you are grateful for.
  8. Write 10 modern inventions you are grateful for.
  9. Write 10 foods you are grateful for.
  10. Write 10 things about Jesus Christ that you are grateful for.
During this most wonderful time of the year, and always, please realize and remember 

                      The best things in life are not things

I am Simply, Gail