Monday, September 19, 2011

Dehydrating Tomatoes For Tomato Powder

As the tomato season draws to a close for us here, many of us are busy canning. Making homemade spaghetti sauces, salsas, pizza sauce, tomato sauce, paste, juice, soup. Those are all wonderful ways to store up food for the winter, but I also like to have dehydrated ones for making tomato powder.

I wash and then cut the tomatoes. This first batch I sliced removed the seeds. There was a little over one cup of tomato dices and I placed them on parchment paper on a baking sheet, sprinkled a little sea salt on them and placed in the oven at 175 degrees F. I do not use any oil on these when they are for making tomato powder. I started them with the door propped open. This is good in my area today as the outside temps are getting chilly.

Half way through the process I peeled the tomatoes off of the parchment paper and flipped them. Most of them came free from the paper fairly easily but some stuck a little bit.

They are starting to get dark. A taste of a piece showed me that the tomato flavor gets more robust as it dries. They dried dark brown and they snapped in half rather than bend.

The tomatoes should be thoroughly dehydrated so that there is no moisture left and I put them in a grinder. I have a Magic Bullet blender and I use that with the whipping/grinding blade to make powder.

I started with a overly full cup of chopped tomatoes and ended with 1/8 of a cup of tomato powder at a fraction of the original weight. I would say it took about 9 hours from start to finish, but my furnace never came on the whole time. I really would have liked to have the oven completely full, but I used what I had.
You can store this powder in either glass jars or plastic baggies. Keep away from humidity and light. It stores a long, long time. The amount of time depends on who you ask and the condition you store it in and if it was completely dried before you ground it.

The uses for tomato powder are endless and if you are camping and cooking in the wilderness it is just a great flavoring to have!

You can mix it right into bread dough with a little basil for a flavored bread.
You can mix a small amount of water to some powder, add Italian seasoning, some garlic and onion flakes for a pizza sauce, or you can forget the water and just sprinkle stuff right on the dough, and if you are out camping don't forget the freeze-dried cheese and mushrooms or a stick of pepperoni for toppings and you can have pizza.
For a stew you can add some powder in with some thistle and cattail roots along with your favorite small game, a little salt and if you have onion and garlic great, if you have some dried hot peppers, even better! Wild game can taste, well, gamy and spices can cover that up fairly well.
Sprinkle a little bit over bacon and eggs in the morning.
Use a little in a sandwich, you get the flavor without the mess of a raw tomato.

Tomato powder is a easy to make, warms the home on a chilly day, is a lightweight addition to a survival pack and is a great way to store your garden tomatoes past winter when you run out of canning jars.

I hope you find this helpful.

Thank you for stopping by
Dee Dee

Friday, September 16, 2011

Left Over Pork Roast to Pot Pie - Part One

Last night I cooked a pork loin roast in the oven at 275 degrees F for a couple hours until the thermometer read 150 and let it set before slicing what we would eat for the meal.
I had more than half of the roast left, so today I took a casserole dish with a lid and put the remaining roast in there with the leftover whipped potatoes. I put that in the oven at 250 degrees F and let it roast for a few hours.
 Always place the fat of the meat on top!
The only seasoning I used was sea salt. 
As the roast cooked the juices mixed with the potatoes and created a gravy.
I added one cup of hot water and two chicken bouillon cubes until the cubes dissolved and then added that to the pork and continued to cook it. After the meat became flake apart tender I removed the layer of fat from the roast and flaked apart the roast. If the gravy is not thick enough I can add some more whipped potatoes or a small amount of instant potatoes to thicken it up.
This becomes a wonderful bass for a pork pot pie and at this point it is gluten and lactose free, which is amazingly good and it does taste creamy. For lactose free don't use butter or milk in your whipped potatoes. An alternative is chicken broth and maybe a little bit of rendered chicken fat. Many instant potatoes do use powdered milk so watch the labels.

Tonight everyone was in a hurry here so this was poured over buttered bread. There is a name for that but I can't repeat that here. Tomorrow if time permits, I will add some carrots and peas and make a pie crust dough to make pork pot pies. I am hoping to have enough left over to freeze a few pies.

Pie crusts can be made gluten free by using non gluten flours such as rice and potato flours. To make a lactose free crust, use lard or bacon grease instead of butter.

I have no problems with gluten or lactose so I use butter, milk and flour in many of my recipes unless I have family coming that is sensitive, then I try to adjust for them.

I can also imagine this would be absolutely delicious with some fried cabbage in egg rolls though I am sure that would not be a truly ethnic tasting experience.

You can use beef or chicken as well if you prefer and get similar results. But if you use a beef roast use either beef stock or bouillon instead of chicken.

Hopefully I will be back tomorrow with the pie making! Tomorrow is already a busy day.

This helped keep the temperature of my house very cozy on the chilly day. 

Thank you for stopping by.
Dee Dee

Monday, September 12, 2011

Make a Fishing Can

Being fairly poor and having four little children to raise, my parents did not have it within their budget to buy us all fishing poles, reels, tackle and bait, even though it would put food on the table.
My mother had learned many frugal things from my grandparents and one of those was how to make a fishing can.

She used smaller coffee cans to fit our little hands better, but I am using the larger #10 size cans as I have a surplus of those,

 and where she used an old wooden broom stick for the handle I am using a wooden rod from a closet.
You could even use a small branch for the handle.

When using a regular can opener, the point where the lid last separates usually leaves a sharp burr.
On a hard surface, like concrete, hammer that burr down.
If it still feels sharp use a metal file.
Then take a nail and make a hole near the edge. Pound this over a piece of scrap wood.
This also makes a sharp edge that will need to be pounded and filed.
There it is.
Measure the inside of the can and mark the wooden rod just less than the can so that it can be cut and nailed inside the can like this...
Now all that is left is to tie your fishing line through the hole on the edge and wrap the line around the can. Put your hook or lure on it and you are set to go fishing, that is after you get some bait. Worms, grubs and crickets are great for catching pan fish.

To cast out, hold the line close to the bait or float, toss out underhand and point the bottom of the can in the direction the bait is going, this makes some of the line around the can unravel. To reel in just wrap it around the can.

I keep the plastic lid for the can so that when I am traveling to my fishing location I can put the hook inside the can and span the lid on so the line doesn't unravel.

We caught many pan fish with these. They are good for dock, boat or river fishing where you don't need to cast far to catch fish. I have even brought in a decent sized Northern Pike with this. The fight can be tricky at times as a big fish can snap your line if there is too much tension.

Another plus to the fishing can is that you can transport it very easy by car or have a smaller one for your back pack. You can keep some of your gear inside it as well or small containers of worms or crickets for bait.

I have seen people use pop or beer cans to fish but they don't have a handle or the other advantages of  this fishing can.

Where I live children under 16 don't need a fishing license so this is a great way to get them outside and they are so happy when they catch fish!
Remember to teach them to keep only what you will eat, to respect other people fishing near by and never leave garbage in or around your fishing spot. Leave it cleaner than how you found it. That can help hide a good fishing spot as well.  If it doesn't look like anyone has been there some people think there may be a reason no one fishes there.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful.
If you do, please share it.

Thank you for stopping by.
Dee Dee

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches and Croutons

When I was a teen and had been living in the cities for a few years I took a trip with my mother to visit my Grandparents. After a 9 hour car ride we arrived tired and hungry.
My Grandmother lived through the Great Depression and learned to use and reuse everything so that nothing went to waste. It turned her into a packrat, but that is another story.
When we got to their home my Grandmother graciously asked if I would like a tomato sandwich. "A tomato sandwhich?" I thought. "Really? What about some bacon and lettuce to go with that?"
I politely declined. Inside I don't think I was so polite.
I had grown up somewhat poor compared to others but nothing compared to those of the depression era, and that is something that I realize now as something that could seriously affect my children more than me if another collapse happens.
I am pretty sure they too would choose to starve for awhile.

Years later I saw a TV show where someone was serving cucumber sandwiches and I instantly thought about my Grandma. There had to be some reason these sandwiches would attract the attention of TV writers. Then a few years later I was visiting my husband's Aunt and she was about to have a party for her garden club.
She was at a loss as to what food to make.
There she was in the kitchen with a pile of cucumbers straight from her garden on the kitchen counter and a few loaves of bread in her freezer, and it hit me.
I told her that I would make cucumber sandwiches. It was a risky move.
She was excited at the idea, though it was something that she had never had.
The only problem was that she didn't have any salad dressing. Not even ranch.
However she had made some coleslaw dressing and had some extra in the fridge so I decided to try that.
Now I wish I had her recipe for that because it was amazing!
The sandwiches were a big hit!

So here I am to bring back the cucumber sandwiches and make some croutons for salad later.

Pretty simple stuff here!
Cut off the crust of the bread and dice for croutons.
Peel and slice the cucumbers.
Put coleslaw dressing on the bread and place the cucumbers.
Slice in quarters. They are best as little sandwiches!
Take your cubed bread crust and add a pad of butter. Use the heel of the loaf while you are at it for more croutons. I know many people discard this but they really shouldn't!
Mix the butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle lightly with a season salt of your choosing. Or get creative and use a cheese powder or tomato powder with a little basil.
Place in the oven and set for 300 degrees F. Once the oven reaches 300, turn the oven off and leave the door shut for at least one hour. Then try a crouton. If it is crunchy all the way through it is ready. They should not be as hard as store bought croutons, but they should not be soft inside.
Let cool completely. I am not sure on the storage of these yet since we used them up on salad before dinner. I know that if you put them in anything too soon they will get soggy and with butter on them they should go in the fridge or freezer.
After you try this you may never buy croutons again. 
If you leave the seasonings off you can have your own bread crumbs for stuffing or crab cakes.

These are comfort foods and for good reason. When you are so very hungry any food will comfort that pain. Grandma knew this and her children lived it. A tomato sandwich, or fried gizzards, or cucumber sandwiches can bring you back to a time when things were hard and you were grateful that your tummy no longer hurt. 

I hope you found this to be helpful.
Please share with others if you did!
Thank you for stopping by.
Dee Dee

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mystery Yarn and Rolling a Ball

Every now and then I get a free bag of yarn from someone that has partial skeins or rolled balls that are too small for big projects and they have no labels so there is no way to get more, and some of the skeins that do have labels are so very old that the yarn is no longer available.

This is a ball from one of those bags.
Let me start by saying, if you are going to roll your yarn into a ball this is not how it should be done. This yarn was rolled really tightly and what happens is that the yarn looses some of it's elasticity.
When rolling your yarn hold a few fingers under the strands as you are winding the yarn and when you turn the ball to roll in a different direction move your fingers so that you are always winding over your fingers. This gives the yarn space to relax and keep it's elasticity.

Since I am one that doesn't like to see things go to waste I will use this yarn anyways.
This yarn is soft and fine, I would guess a fingering weight which is perfect for baby socks. Baby socks take such a small amount of yarn as do baby mitts so that is what I am making with this.
I also have a few other mystery rolls so I will be using those up on similar projects.

Baby socks are great beginner socks to make and scrap rolls are sometimes the best yarn to use when learning how to knit socks. They are small and very portable and you can make a pair in a day or two.
I used a US size 1 set of 4 double pointed needles. Once you get accustomed to the small size the work is not so hard. Knitting two stitches together can be a little tricky but being able to complete something fast is good for your confidence.

When it takes a month or two or three to make a blanket or sweater you can start feeling like you will never finish it. Take a break and make some socks or mitts. If you don't have any babies in your family, wash them up when you are done and donate them to either hospitals or food shelves.

Or do as I am and make them for the Grandbabies you so look forward to but that your children continuously deny you.

Baby mitts are thumbless and are helpful to keep newborns from scratching themselves.
You can make them just like socks minus the heel.

I know I have been in sock mode here for awhile, but it is just a really good thing to be able to make and I like to do some finish-quick projects every now and then. I really encourage all of you to take the time to explore what you can do!

Thanks for stopping by.
Dee Dee

Universal Yarn - Classic Worsted Tapestry Yarn Review.

I bought this yarn from a specialty yarn store in Minnesota, called "all about YARN" for $8 per skein. 
It is 75% Acrylic and 25% Wool and it is made in Turkey.
It is machine washable and dryable.

The neat thing about this yarn is that when you make socks or mittens, it makes a pattern like some of the socks made in Nordic lands.
I had hoped that since I bought two skeins that both socks would have been more of a match with the  patterns but that was not the case. Another disappointment was finding the yarn was broken in one skein and had a sloppy knot in the second one.

On the positive side, this yarn was incredibly easy to work with and very fun to watch the pattern as it developed in my work. It really made the knitting seem to go faster. I would recommend this yarn especially for beginners. It is easy to unravel or back up stitches as well as to pick up dropped stitches or correct mistakes. This would be a perfect yarn for practicing those skills.

For long socks, these are pretty cute! I made them for my youngest daughter who said while modeling them here, "Hurry up! These are hot!" It was warm here last night, I am just hoping they are nice and toasty cozy in the winter time for her.

Thank you for stopping by.
Dee Dee