Recipes

I’ll never buy hot cocoa mix again…

My girlfriend and her son have arrived, and we’re settling in for a good visit through the end of next week. This morning we took a little pre-hike – a test hike, so to speak – down to the creek in the horse pasture.  This afternoon our plan is to take a longer hike into the Rattlesnake Recreation Area north of town. But in the process of checking out the creek, Kyle managed to get himself half soaked. The water here is cold. It’s always cold from mid-winter to mid-summer. Poor Kyle learned that the hard way. Boots, socks, pants and gloves were soaked through.

So we got him back up to the house, and of course that was a perfect reason to drink hot chocolate!

I’ve been out of hot cocoa mix for a while, so I decided what better time than the present to test out a batch of mix from the Mix-a-Meal cookbook. I will never use processed, store-bought mix again. So simple! So rich! So delicious!  I’m sold…

To make yourself a giant batch of hot cocoa mix to get you through the long hard winter, combine:

  • 9 cups instant dry milk (or 4 ½ cups regular dry milk)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder

That’s it!  Mix it all together in a big bowl, then transfer to the canister of your choice to enjoy all winter long.

To make a cup o’ cocoa, use 2/3 of a cup of the mix to one cup of hot water. Dollop some whipped cream on top, or drop in a few mini marshmallows, for some added oompf and you’re good to go!  (If using regular dry milk, as opposed to instant, use only 1/3 cup of the mix to one cup of water.)

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Gastronomy

I’ve been stuck in a quagmire of books about experiences and, even more so lately, cooking. Or more appropriately: eating. Not really cookbooks, per se, but books that include recipes as well as narrative about the author’s life and her relationship with good food. I recently finished “The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)” by Robin Mather. I had brushed past the title several times since it came out in 2011, but didn’t purchase it for my Kindle until this latest spat of business trips. So many parts of the title really appealed to me, and the story of the author’s life changes resonated deeply.

It’s funny how books inspire. I haven’t had a proper television in well over a decade – nearing 13 years, thank you! – so ideas often come to me by way of the written word.  As my life changes start to inch nearer and nearer, I’m finding that my inspiration has gone wild. I’ve always said that if I can imagine something in my mind’s eye, then it will come to pass. If I just can’t picture it, then it’s probably not meant to be. My future is beginning to present itself to me in Technicolor.

My dear sweet sister has been known to refer to me as a “food snob.” Believe it or not, that’s a title in which I hold much pride. Although, I prefer to simply call it being a “Foodie.” There is nothing snob-tastic about enjoying the very best of gastronomic pleasures. But food has always been of great interest to me – everything from food storage and beautiful pantries filled with Mason jars, to the pungent spice of a garden in full bloom, to the delicacies of Austrian Patisseries and rustic homemade breads. I love everything there is about food!

As my life morphs into a new and unfamiliar form over the next several months, my income will be greatly diminished until I can establish a new way through the economic world. But that certainly doesn’t mean my likes and dislikes will take a back seat to Hamburger Helper and Kool-Aid. Far from it. I’m blessed with a pantry inspired by the good Mormon women of the world (I’m not a Mormon – I just play one in the pantry), with heaps and piles of raw ingredients that will combine themselves into anything my little heart desires. With a few choice purchases of good local milk and eggs, and perhaps a splurge of artichokes or avocado every once in a while, I know that I will be able to continue in my present custom of eating the best our world has to offer.

In fact, I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I’ve begun making lists of the different foods that I love – everything from fresh tortellini to bruschetta to hearty soups to Indian cuisine to pierogi, and a million dishes in between. I’m an appreciative fan of ethnic foods from around the globe. Armed with a few good recipes and an internet connection, I believe I will be able to establish my own personal world-fusion restaurant to satisfy my every gastronomic fancy. Without breaking the bank!

I’m also looking forward to sharing my triumphs and failures with you along the way.

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Quick Recipe for your Holiday Weekend

I found this (basic) recipe on Kitchen Stewardship, but did some alterations to take out the wheat and change it up a bit…  This is also a good way to use some of your bulk grains – I ground up some of the oat groats I packaged a couple weeks ago to make the oat flour.  I had quick-oats on hand, so no need to flake my own.  🙂

Homemade, Wheat-Free Granola Bars

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (REAL maple syrup – not pancake syrup)

Cream these together with a mixer

Add:

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1+ tsp of vanilla (I like a little extra)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 4-1/2 cups of quick oats

Mix together until thoroughly blended.

Hand mix in some extras to taste (no more than two cups total) – you can consider dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, cocoa nibs, etc.  I used mini chocolate chips and slivered almonds.

Smoosh the whole concoction into a lightly buttered 9×13 pan – smoosh it down good so they stick together. Don’t be afraid to use your hands – just wash ’em good first. After all, this is HOMEMADE!

Bake for about a half hour on 325 degrees.  You may need to go a little longer or shorter, depending on your oven.  Watch for when the top is nicely browned.  The original recipe called for 15-20 minutes.  I had to put them back in the oven this morning because they just weren’t cooked enough and basically fell apart because they were too soft.  Mighty tasty, but not hand-eatable.  🙂

Don’t try to cut into bars until completely cooled.  You could probably even stick it in the fridge for a while.  Should make about 20 bars – equivalent to FOUR boxes of store bought granola bars, but much healthier and WAY cheaper!  Keep in an air tight container until all gobbled up!

Enjoy!

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On an unrelated note.  For the longest time I’ve been getting about 10-20 daily reads on my blog.  I’m not sure what happened this past week, but I’m suddenly getting 50-100 reads daily!  Woo-Hoo!  So welcome to all those who are new!  If there’s something you’d like me to cover, by all means let me know!

Happy Memorial Day to all our veterans, firemen and police officers – Thank you for your service, and for putting your lives on the line so the rest of us can live a safe, secure life of freedom.  Love ya’s!

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