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Thursday, June 11, 2009


I thought maybe since I am encouraging everyone to become more independent and learn some new skills I should share some.
One skill I think is really important to learn is cooking and some basic baking.Both of these can save you money,put your home grown food to good use and tends to bring a family together.There are many books out there to the point where a novice might be dazed by it all. Don't panic,take some time to read through some books,look on line and find a starting point you are comfortable with.Both Chance and I come from a long line of excellent cooks,Chance was a chef for many years and I was both a baker and a line chef but we both started out with some very simple things. Like us you can start out simple and go as far as you like.Mastering some easy dishes will encourage you to keep going.Never feel like you have to make these crazy many ingredient,hours long,odd ball foods.Learning to make what you and those you are feeding like is the important part.
I make a big pot of soup once a week.Learning to make soup uses up bits and handfuls of meat,veggies,grains and whatever else you may have.Since I find it impossible to make a small pot we end up with lots to eat with little cost.I don't have any set recipes for the soups I make.I just look at what I have and think of soups we like and make the soup based on that.I know that is not helpful to a beginner but I am trying to encourage you to just wing it. With soup you can easily do that,it can be fairly forgiving. Maybe read through some recipes for some ideas to wing it from or use the recipe until you get the hang of it and then do your own.
I have a copy of a Westinghouse cookbook that my Mom used growing up.When I first moved out I had copied down some of the recipes she used all of the time,then she loaned me hers for a bit.I finally found my own copy at an Estate Sale for $1.
My Mom and now myself don't use most of the book, mostly the Breads and Quick Breads section.The rest I use to compare ingredients,times and temps. Mom told me to never use the Cake section unless I needed a brick to use as a door stopper.I have followed her lead on this one,gladly.
One of the recipes I use often is the Baking Powder Biscuits.I like to make something nice to go with dinner when we have soup,it makes me feel like I am making more of a meal for the family.I have made them with whole wheat,spelt and white wheat flour and they always come out light and get gobbled up.The book calls for shortening but I use butter since I don't cook with shortening.You can do this replacement with most recipes with no differences. I thought sharing my biscuit recipe would maybe get some of you started on trying some easy starter baking.

Baking Powder Biscuits from the Betty Furness Westinghouse Cook Book (1954 edition)

Preheat oven to 450F

2 Cups Flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons Soft Butter or Shortening
3/4 Cups Milk (if you want to make Drop Biscuits use 1 full Cup of Milk)

Sift dry ingredients together.I don't have a sifter so I just use a fork to mix it up a bit.Place Butter or Shortening in to bowl,using your fingers work your choice of fat into flour mixture until it looks like cornmeal.Go fast doing this,over working Biscuit dough makes them tough.Add milk stirring only long enough to combine the ingredients.
For Cut Biscuits : Turn dough out onto a floured work surface.Quickly knead this just for a couple of turns.Now roll out to 1/2 inch thick.No rolling pin? No problem,you can use a smooth sided glass or simply pat the dough out.Now cut them out,again you can use a glass to do this or even a canning jar ring.If after cutting you have a pile of scraps pat/roll them back out and make some more biscuits.Place on cookie sheet or even a 9X13 baking pan.Bake for 10-14 minutes depending on your oven.You are looking for a golden brown bottom and maybe a pale golden top. It should make around 12 biscuits.
For Drop Biscuits: This is the way I do it,I admit I like things to go quickly on week nights. Instead of rolling the dough out place spoon fulls onto a GREASED baking pan.I only stress the grease because you don't have to for the rolled ones.Same baking temp and times.
**** You can add a couple of Tablespoons of sugar to the dough and make ShortCakes or a quick type of Cinnamon Rolls,just roll out the dough brush with some melted butter sprinkle on about 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar with 2 teaspoons of Cinnamon mixed in.Roll up,slice into 1/2 inch slices,place on greased pan.Bake at 425F for about 15 minutes or untill golden.
I add to the table a plate of sliced cheese,some jam,butter ,pickles and maybe fresh fruit.All of this with hot soup and fresh biscuits make a light meal that we enjoy.And my boys don't know it is one of my budget meals.
The garden is growing still and quietly.Today I noticed the raspberries are ripening.All of the men here will be gone to Scout Camp soon,I'll freeze the raspberries until then and make jam while they are gone.I'll need plenty to do while they are gone it will be just us girls home,the dog,the hens and me.With the token male Toby Cat.

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