Waiting-for-Payday Recipes: Poor Man’s Soup

So awhile ago, at a local $1 a bag church rummage sale I bought a recipe box filled with some thoroughly aged recipe cards.  The box was taken over by my son’s marble collection until its ultimate demise.  The cards are crammed into my already exploding cookbook shelves.

Today’s soup comes from those, so unfortunately there is no know cook that belongs to these fantastic, frugal, old recipes.

Poor Man’s Soup


1 soup bone ( I have used the big ham bone from easter dinner for this.)

1 cup dried Peas (whole or split are fine)

2 cups Tomato chunks (though a puree might work just fine)

1 cup Celery, chopped

1 cup Potatoes, diced

1/2 cup rice, uncooked

1/3 pound Beef, ground

1/3 cup Onion, chopped

Basil, pinch

Salt and Pepper to taste.


Soak the beans overnight.

Simmer the soup bones in about 2 gallons of water for several hours.

Add the beans and simmer for another 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry beef and onion.

Add beef and onion, along with the rest of the ingredients to the soup and simmer for one hour.

Remove the bone.  Serve hot and freeze the leftovers for another time.

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Homemade Bread: Easy–With a Few Hints and Tips

Fresh, homemade bread — just 30 minutes in the kitchen. A few hints and tips through the process make it a snap. No need for bread pans.

Surprised? Most people are. It takes about 20 minutes to mix, 90 minutes of hanging around doin’ nothin’ and around 40 minutes to bake.

There is a recipe to try, but the tips throughout apply to any yeast dough, your family loaf to Philadelphia Sticky Buns.

Let the adventure begin:

I will give you my my messiest recipe card and we will work through it together.

Hang in there and make some coffee.

Basic Family Bread

Ingredients: (don’t worry there is a little bit of room for play here)

2 cups of water

1/3 heaping cup Non Fat Dry milk — Don’t have any? Check the tips below

3 Tablespoons Sugar

1 packet of Active Dry Yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons from the jar)

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

3 Tablespoons Oil ( Your favorite is fine. Out? See tips below)

6 cups flour (approximately, more on this later)


We will discuss both with and without a mixer. Without is just a better workout for your arms.

1. In a nice large bowl or mixer, blend 2 cups of the flour, non fat dry milk, sugar, yeast and salt.

2. Heat more than 2 cups of water to 110 – 120 degrees F. (Can anyone give me the Metric for this whole post?)

No thermometer? Think cozy, hot bath water. I take mine to 125 then measure the 2 cups from that precisely. It cools as you measure and pour.

3. Pour the water into the dry ingredients and mix for two minutes.

Yup, time it. Or you probably won’t do it long enough or way too long

4. Add the oil and 1 more cup of flour. Mix at a higher speed for two minutes.

By now it really should be smelling like bread.

5. If you are using a mixer, switch to the dough hook. By hand, take a deep breath.

6. Add enough flour to make a nice dough.

What the hell is a nice dough?

This is the step that keeps most people from trying to bake bread themselves. My mother says, “until it pulls away from the sides cleanly. It’s okay if the bottom is sticky” I’ve heard people say, ” it should feel like the jiggle on the back of your upper arm.” More accurately, it should feel like your earlobe. I’m not kidding. That is the best indicator of the proper consistency. It will vary with the humidity in your kitchen, so add the flour by feel.

Moving on.

7. Knead it for 10 minutes. Yup, set a timer. If you are working by hand, this is where you decide to skip going to the gym.

8. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled.

What the F*&#?

Now, now there will be none of that. Let me explain.

Cover the dough with a clean dishtowel and place it in a quiet, draft-free place to rise, like a cold oven, microwave, little corner somewhere. This can take anywhere from… maybe 40 minutes to …hm… an hour.

How do you know when it has risen enough?

Gently poke the dough with the second knuckle of you index (pointy) finger. If the dough springs back a bit, recover it and let it rise longer. If the dent stays, it is ready.

9. Punch it down. ( yes, punch) one quick punch and it will deflate.

10. Dump it onto a lightly floured board. Sprinkle flour on the clean counter and smear it around.

11. With a rolling pin, roll it into a big rectangle about 1/4 of an inch thick. The point here is too remove any large bubbles. Yes, you may stab them with a knife if you need to.

12. Starting at any edge, roll up the dough. Obviously, one way will give you a chubbier loaf than the other. It can be as long and thin as your sheet pan can hold or kind of thick and chubby. your choice.

13. Place it on a lightly greased sheet pan. (cookie pan)

14. Paint the loaf with oil and gently with a nice sharp knife cut some slits in the top. Optional.

Un-nescessary, but I like this step. The oil helps to achieve a softer crust. The slits will open up and just look pretty.

15. Cover it and let it rise to doubled again.

Yes, I know, but your in the home stretch now. This rising time is usually around half the time of the first one. Again, check it by the dent method mentioned above.

16. Uncover and bake the darn thing in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. ( a medium oven)

Yippee, you’re almost done. Try not to drool as that smell overtakes your home.

17. The timing… my recipe says 40 minute, but sometimes its faster. You bread is ready when you knock on it and it sound hollow.

Remove it and give it a moment to cool slightly before you cut into it or else it doesn’t cut as nicely.

You did it! I’m so proud of you. The first time is by far the worst.

Additional notes:

No non fat dry milk?

Substitute regular jug milk for the water and non fat dry milk. This may affect how much flour you need, but you know how to judge that now. Earlobe, remember?

Flour: I use whatever I have. Whole wheat, unbleached, bleached, “bread flour,” part whole wheat, part regular, whatever. Just not self rising.

To eliminate any bug issues, when you bring flour home, put it in the freezer for 24 hours. No one ever seems to know this tip. Weird.

Out of oil? Substitute and equal portion of butter, margarine, bacon grease… get the idea? Let it partially melt as you heat up the water and toss them in together.

Yeast- if you end up baking all your own bread, either look into buying yeast from a baking/restaurant supply (WAY less expensive) or learn to make sour dough. Another post perhaps.

If you messed up your first loaf, so what? Try it again. You’ll get it. It’s a practice thing.

What to do with messed up or stale bread:

bread crumbs


French Toast

Wisconsin Strata

Bread Pudding

Cream Dried Beef on Toast

Egg Goldenrod

The folks at Well Preserved make Creamed Peas on Toast, although I suspect Dana is taking over with my suggestion of beloved edamame (soybeans, ) instead.

Okay, time to move on to Philadephia Sticky Buns!

Please feel free to ship any questions, if I was at all unclear. All comments are welcome.

Did any of that help?

Canning: Where to Start

If cooking is an art, then preservation is an an extension of that art. It tastes great, but will it last? Can you cook something to perfection now and enjoy it to the same extent in one year?

Two basic fears go alone with canning:

1. You will die due to botulism.

2. The pressure canner will blow up and that will be your demise.

The resolutions here are this. Follow the directions, pay attention, and don’t waste your money on a crappy canner. Read reviews. Do your research. I am a bubble head and no one has died yet.

It’s easier than you think.

Let’s begin.


a good book about canning (see bottom)

canning jars



stock pot ( for most fruits, sauerkraut and tomatoes)

pressure canner ( for low-acid foods like veggies and meats)

Note: With out the lid, a pressure canner is a stock pot.

Nice, but not essential:


Jar wrench

Jar lifter (like giant tongs shaped esp. for cans)

tomato sieve

So the jars can be found at the supermarket, Walmart, Target, Kmart, online, etc. If you have eyes like a hawk, watch for them on places like Freecycle or the freebie pages of Craig’s list

Same for the pressure canner, although more thought should go into this investment.

Pressure Canner Considerations:

Seal or no seal:

Personally, I prefer the no seal. seals wear out. I don’t want to discover the seal finally died, while my garden harvest rots, waiting for the new seal.


If you are familiar with pressure cooking, you will probably be fine without the gauge, watch the weight rock. If you are unsure, a novice or like the security of being able to read a gauge get a canner with one.


Small : 15- 16 quart canner – will generally hold 10 pint jars or 7 quart jars.

Pros: lightest available, good if your out of shape or have a bad back or canning for two. Take note: A pressure cooker is a very small canner. It might not fit quarts jars, but the little jars should fit.

Cons: small means less canning at once. When you see the unbeatable price for a bushel of peaches at the farmer’s market, it will take you a while to produce all your little Xmas gifts of Spiced Peach Jam.

Medium: 21-23 quart canner – will process about 19 pint jars or 7 quarts.

Pros: You can still lift it. It will process about twice as many pint jars, due to extra headroom

Cons: Getting heavier… You can still only process 7 quart jars at a time

Large: 30 qt. – will process 19 pint jars or 14 quart jars

Pros: you’ll be done soon

Cons: the price is really climbing now as is the weight. Think about it. Full– the filled jars alone will be like lifting 3 and a half gallons of milk. Oh and don’t forget the water in which they are boiling and the canner itself.

Giant: 41.5 quarts- are you insane?

Call in the Marines cause you are not going anywhere with this one filled by yourself. I inherited one. It barely fits in the bathtub. Yes, that is the only place I can fill it. Unless you like running pots back and forth forever. Also, your gonna have to wait for this beast to cool on the stove.

The beast does, however, hold 32 pint jars or 19 quarts.

Canning alone? I wouldn’t go bigger than the medium unless you’re very strong or like a lot of running around and waiting.

Canning with a partner? I still wouldn’t go bigger than the large. Unless you are wealthy and very strong.

Recommended Canning Books:

Ball Complete Guide to Canning by Kingry and Devine — popular, but not one of my favorite

Preserving Summer’s Bounty — focus on stuff you grow

Putting Food By — considerate of the small batch cook

Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving by The US Dept. of Agriculture — That’s right from your government. Wow! The basic textbook. Afraid to can? This will keep you from blowing things up or poisoning anyone. How, why and basic recipes. Click here to read the information online for free

Preserving (1981) Time-Life Books — My favorite is out of print so you may have to dig. Fantastic step-by-step pictures. Interesting recipes. I guard it with a carving fork and a 10″ Wüsthoff.

Holy Toledo! Thanks for reading all that. I need a nap, before I check how the maple sap is flowing. But that is another advenutre.

Maybe, I’ll go daydream at Well Preserved and drool at their pictures.

What would you like to try?

What will your first adventure be?

Waiting-for-Payday Recipes: Eggs Goldenrod

As the economy gets worse, we look to the recipes of our grandmothers. Another Great Depression classic, I offer you Eggs Goldenrod.

Back when everybody and their neighbor kept chickens, eggs might have been one of the few protein sources a family might have.

Since my backyard flock is laying like fiends again, it is time for an egg recipe.

While we will not be winning any food competitions, we will fill 4 hungry tummies with a delicious comfort food.

Here we go:

Eggs Goldenrod

1. Make a roux


6 Tablespoons of butter or margarine

6 Tablespoons of flour

Melt the butter, whisk in the flour. Bubble together over a low flame until the starchy smell goes away. It should smell like buttered popcorn, when it’s ready.

2. Turn it into a cream sauce by slowly adding:

Low budget version:

A 12oz. can of evaporated milk

1-1/2 cup of water


High budget version:

3 cups of milk

3. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add 9 to 12 sliced hard boiled eggs.

5. Serve over a piece of toast.

Garnish: Reserve the yolk from two of the eggs and put through a garlic press or rub through a sieve. Sprinkle over each plate.

Others in th Waiting-For-Payday Comfort Food series:

Egg Drop Soup for the Hungry

S.O.S.–Creamed Dried Beef on Toast

Marinated Chickensuper beginner recipe with just 2 ingredients

Bread Puddinga stale bread comfort food

Hoover Cakes — an empty cupboard snack

Roux Tutorial – for the beginner

Here’s a link for Creamed Peas on Toast from Well Preserved

This week, at my house, we are having home grown edamame …creamed on toast.

So what protein can you serve creamed on toast?

The Fresh Chef: Adding Soft Fruit to the Garden

Adding fruit to your garden, can be surprisingly simple. Don’t worry. Even apartment dwellers can add fruit to their container gardens. And, frankly, I think fruits are a heck of a lot easier to grow than most vegetables. So dig around on the internet and let’s add some fruit.

Last year, through my own clerical error we planted 75 raspberries, 50 strawberries, 16 blueberry bushes, 9 currants, 6 gooseberries, 5 GOLDEN Rings! 4 elderberries and a partridge in a pear tree all in one week.

Okay there wasn’t a partridge in a pear tree… the mini orchard is this spring and it will be 4 ducks not a single partridge. What in tar-nation is a partridge, anyway?!

Sorry. (Ahem)

We planted like mad and even used work lights in the strawberry patch to plant after my husband got home from work at midnight.

Here’s a better way.

1. Know your hardiness zone.

Click here if your unsure.

2. Decide what you want.

Soft fruit:

Strawberries- click here for container gardeners

Cranberries-no bog needed

Lingonberry- no need to travel to “that Swedish store with the blue and yellow sign.” Make your own lingonberry jam .. or chutney to go with pork chops. Oh my!

Blueberries- high bush, like the ones in the store, low bush, sweeter like found in the wild

Huckleberries- close relative of the blueberry

Raspberries – a container post to come on these

Blackberries- there are some thornless choices, dig around

Elderberries – for the jam or winemaker

Gooseberries- thorny, thorny, thorny- delicious. You know how they tell you to plant nasty bushes under your windows to prevent break- ins? These are great. Oh, plus they prefer a little bit of shade.

Currants- oh, what I wouldn’t give for one of those little lemonade flavored white ones right now?!  Partial shade tolerant and very hardy.

Sea Buckthorn- hardy enough for zone 3-9. Super high in Vitamin C. Nobody is getting Scurvy with these around.

Aronias- another super high Vitamin C, super hardy choice

Serviceberries- allegedly taste like blueberries, never tried them. Another high in what? yes, Vitamin C. So when the trains stop shipping you your orange juice…

Goumis- okay, I have no idea what on earth that is except that I believe it is a more southern fruit

Blue Honeysuckle- zones 2-8. Yeah that’s pretty darn hardy.

3.Place your order soon.


I’ve had success with Pense Nursery — a family run farm with super prices, knowledgable and great service. But, they don’t have any of the odder choices.  They lovingly ship the healthiest plants I have ever seen.  This operation is small. Call in the evening to place your order, give them a chance to come in from the fields.  They offer more than is on their site so ASK.

Raintree Nursery– healthy plants, informative catalog plus they have all the fruits on the list and more. I have no clue about the service other than delivery because I never called

Nourse — just the basics, wonderful charts to help you choose, will pleasantly answer all my moronic questions. Someday, I will take a pilgrimage there.

Do you own research, but get your orders in.
Everybody is gardening this year.

4. Just remember to make sure you don’t have them all delivered at the same damn time.

So what do you want in your garden?

Honeybees, anyone?

How about Mason Bees for pollination?

Filet Mignon for $3.99/pound

There is a secret to getting this fantastic price. Most trained, working chefs have the skill but lack the timing. You can have both.

Every savvy cook should know how to handle large quantities of meat.

No kitchen should be without “Cutting-Up in the Kitchen: The Butcher’s Guide to Saving Money on Meat & Poultry” written by Merle Ellis. Published in 1975 by Chronicle Books.

Hm… new and used for 1 penny a copy…guess where.



The bag was the size of a king sized pillow and I could just barely heave it onto the counter. This moster bag of steaks contained contained: Porterhouse, New York, Filet Mignon, Chateaubriand, just to name a few.

At $3.99/pound, it sure as hell wasn’t staying in the store.

What was wrong with it?


“There must have been something wrong with it,” you insist.

Nope. Off the truck this very morning.

There was, however, a twist. Inside the bag were two uncut Short Loins.

That’s it. Two massive slabs of uncut, boneless beef.

By Friday afternoon, any possible skilled, professional chef bought their meat hours ago. And tomorrow? They will be standing there for the fresh stuff off the next day’s delivery. By 5, the meat cutters ran out of time and have gone home.

What do they do with it. Sell it at remarkably reduced prices.

This is where you finally win over the store, but you must have some skills and eyes like a hawk. Not that you could miss a pillow of beef.

The average home cook has no idea what to do with gigantic slabs of meat.

Oh, this is where you save the really big bucks, dear reader.

The book covers knife choice and sharpening, tricks of the trade, how to cut beef, lamb, pork, veal, poultry, stockpot, carving, sausage, preserving and freezing.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing is a more valuable skill in the kitchen.

Get the book. Learn the skill. Lend it to absolutely no one!

So the next time the co-op says,” anybody want a side of beef?”

You reply how?

The Fresh Chef: Corn–Even Better Than You Knew

Oh, I’m sure you have had decent corn from the supermarket or really good corn from the farmers’ market, but the flavor that comes from a parking space sized plot of home grown corn? Unbeatable!

The people to whom you serve it will become your slaves. Well, not slaves (politically incorrect,) but you can surely get more favors from them.

Here’s why:

There is an old saying. Something along the lines of “walk to pick it, run to cook it.” As soon as corn is picked, the sweetness starts to turn starchy. Run to that pot!

If you want to serve the best there is, you have to grow it yourself.

A $3 bag of seed will provide so much corn that that just 4 stalks pay for the whole adventure. Not enough room? Oh, really? See link below.

Last summer I couldn’t find my 6 yr old. After a bit country hollering, I found him sitting in the corn patch happily nibbling an ear of corn.

“Uncooked corn? Gross!” you say.

Ah, then you have never had it that fresh.

You can have:

Sweet corn

Super sweet corn

Popcorn– a Ridiculously HUGE savings over buying the microwave kind and tastes so much better

Field or dent — if you want to make your own fantastic cornmeal or feed your backyard animals. This is also the category under which most ornamental kinds fall.

The biggest problem: Once you grow it, you will hate the taste of store bought.

Later, I will have more info on the kinds and how to choose.

Now,I have to bake our bread. Shall I make a loaf for you?

How are you gonna grow your corn in a garden the size of a parking spot?

Click here for: A Ton of Garden, A Tiny Space: Three Sisters– Corn, Beans and Squash

A Ton of Garden, A Tiny Space: Three Sisters– Corn, Beans, and Squash

Note: 3/9/09 Click here for the Planting Guide on this.

Next week, I will be posting a series on container vegetable gardening. What plant to put in what pot.  So,  come back and join me at my potting table.

If you have a 12’x 12′ plot of healthy soil, you could try planting the Three Sisters– Corn, Beans, and Squash.

What? Your soil isn’t healthy? Or worse, you have no idea? Don’t worry we’ll get to that.

Why are they called the Three Sisters?

Sisters?– they work together in the garden.

As the corn shoots up, the bean vines climb the corn stalks. The beans offer nitrogen to the hungry roots of the corn.

You plant prickly viney squash in between rows to discourage the raccoons from robbing your corn. They hate the feel of prickly viney squash on their feet.

Plus, the corn offers just a bit of shade to the squash. They all work together.

Three? — well, ’cause we can count, of course.

You will grow:

65 corn stalks — with varying ears of corn depending on the variety you plant.

130 bean vines –keep them picked and you’ll have a nice amount.

12 squash plants- again depends on the variety you plant. Still, that a lot of squash

Remember those numbers are the plants, not, for example, how many bean pods you will harvest.

You are going to be rolling in food! And talk about local?!

Too much? Fear not. We will discuss storage in nice easy steps, when the time comes.

I will try to add a little planting chart to this later tonight. We will see. It depends if my little guy falls asleep before the next century or if my head pops off first.

Oh for CH$%&^…..

3/9/09– Well, I never did get there that night. Click here for the Planting Guide on this.

Essential Cookbooks for Kids

Note: 3/23/09 — Welcome parents and educators. Hope you enjoy this. The Essential Gardening Books for Kids, which is a far more descriptive post, is now available, too

Don’t forget to check the freebie category at the right for free seed offers.

–Neighbor Nancy

Back to our regularly scheduled post:

I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. My first “job” as my mom’s assistant chef was performed while standing on a sturdy, barn red chair at the side of the chopping block.

As a bibliophile, I feel the need to own a gazillion cookbooks.

Here are my favorites for the young cook:

Better Homes and Gardens: Junior Cook Book for the Hostess & Host of Tomorrow— reprint of the 1955 original– also, a good gift for the older chef that may have used it as a kid

Easy Bake Party Planner — Easy Bake oven recipes

The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Children’s Cookbook

The Spatulatta Cookbook — look for it in the scholastic book papers sent home from school

Rookie Cookie Cookbook

Just for Kids

Usborne Farmyard Tales Children’s Cookbook

Alpha-Bakery: Children’s Cookbook & The Rainbow Bakery: A Color-Full Adventure Children’s Cookbook — send for these two in the mail. Look for the form on Gold Metal Flour.

Curriculum based cookbooks:

Book Cooks: Literature-based Classroom Cooking — for K-3rd grades. I believe there is another one for older students, also. Hm… not sure. You’ll have to dig.

The Little House Cookbook — the cooking adventure inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series. A personal favorite … I have worn through two copies growing up.

The Pooh Cook Book –the cooking adventure inspired by A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh”

Perhaps, another time I will give a more in depth review of each in turn.

Why should kid cook?

Getting-by Together: Little Kitchen Helpers

What can they do?

Find out with Coach Trish’s Blog article “Kids in the Kitchen

Have fun!

Dig in with Essential Gardening Books for Kids

Do you have a favorite childhood cookbook?

Getting-By Together:Little Kitchen Helpers

If you really are not used to cooking all your own meals, it can be a little tough at first. Let it be an adventure, take others with you and be prepared to laugh at your mistakes.

I always just assumed that everybody knew how to cook everything. Well, forgive my ignorance.

The reason I can cook? I helped my mom, who created everything from oatmeal bread to sticky buns, yogurt to ice cream, chicken stock to stew, cottage cheese to cheese cake. She looked at the kitchen as our own adventure in chemistry and mathematics.

By eight years old, I could double or divide any recipe in my head.

By encouraging my brother and I to “make ourselves useful,” she got help in the kitchen and we learned so much.

Check out Coach Trish’s “Kids in the Kitchen” for an idea where to start your little one.

I’ll be back shortly with my a list of my favorite cookbooks for the very young and the young at heart novice.

Begin your kitchen adventure today!