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On an Early Autumn Weekend

Oct
3

I’m still in the throes of preserving food–still mostly free produce from the farmers market. The produce has changed from peaches and apples and peppers and tomatoes to all sorts of squash and pumpkins and pears. A bunch of tempting-looking squash recipes have come in on the forum lately, such as squash dessert squares, squash soup, squash muffins, and fruit-filled acorn squash. I’m planning to try some of these out with my box of squash!
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I’m also working on a box of pears, but I won’t get to many of them in time, which is sad because they are really sweet. I want to make this pear and cheddar galette. (Find all kinds of recipes in the Community Cookbook.)

And, I just have to talk about this recipe for making a versatile homemade condensed cream soup mix. It’s made with dry milk, cornstarch, onion flakes or powder, bouillon granules, pepper, and herbs. The recipe suggests thyme and basil or marjoram, but since you’re making it yourself, you can use any herbs you like.

I love this idea. So many recipes use condensed cream soups. Buying soups is expensive, for one thing, and for another, they take up space so I don’t like to stock up on them too much. With my own dry mix, I can store up all I want and never run out as the mix uses basic ingredients. I love anything I can do with basic ingredients, and this is both a money-saver and space-saver, too.

Here’s how I made mine. I like to make big batches and not have to think about it again for a long time. Use the same basic principles of the mix to make your own, your way!

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How to make a Condensed Cream Soup Mix:

For each batch, you’ll need one quart jar and one pint jar to store. It’ll store on the pantry shelf up to a year.

4 cups instant non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken or beef bouillon granules
1/3 cup dry minced onions
2 teaspoons mixed Italian herbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Hot Shot (red and black pepper blend)

This equals 18 cans of condensed cream of chicken or cream of beef soup! Stored in two jars! I’m so excited.

To reconstitute (equal to one 10.5-ounce can of condensed cream soup), combine 1/3 cup mix and 1 1/4 cups water, either using a small saucepan on the stove or a microwave-safe bowl; cook and stir till mixture thickens.

I labeled the jars and noted the directions to reconstitute the mix right on the lid. This batch of cream of chicken mix and another of cream of beef is equal to 36 cans of soup!
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By the way, we’re also compiling gift basket recipes, recipe mixes to fit in a mug, jar, or baggie that are perfect for holiday gift-giving. Like Pumpkin Spiced Apple Crisp Mix, Tortilla Soup Mix, and Herbed Beer Bread Mix. Check it out, and add some of your own if you have more ideas. (Christmas is coming! Frugal gift ideas are in the air!)

I’ve had a hard time getting the rest of my corn husks dried properly with all our wet, gray weather, but I’m about there.
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More corn husk decorating on the way!

In other news, it turns out not all of the “bachelor” ducks are boys, after all. I caught Mr. Duck in flagrante delicto with one of them. And speaking of in flagrante delicto, Boomer’s not getting any. He has an appointment to be fixed. He’s worried. He hasn’t been to the doctor before.
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We didn’t know how old Boomer was when we got him, though he didn’t appear to be full-grown. He’s mature now, so it’s time to get his business handled. Side note: I’m often asked in the comments why my cats aren’t fixed. All of my cats are fixed. I got my first cat when I was 18 and I will have cats until I’m 118. I have never had, and never will have, a cat that I didn’t fix. I get more kittens because I take them in, not because my own cats are reproducing. (Of course, Kitten and Little aren’t fixed yet, but they will be old enough soon and they will be neutered.)

The goat yard is quiet……without Pepsi.
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I don’t know why I feel that way because it’s not as if Pepsi made a lot of noise. He was the shy, retiring sort. But we miss him. Fanta and Sprite have settled in. Sprite is still leery of me, but she almost lets me pet her now. If Fanta tells her it’s okay.
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Fanta is bold and curious, but being a fainting goat is a real disadvantage when treat time comes around. Yesterday, I tossed out some bread. Fanta nosed around, eager for her share. Clover head-butted her and Fanta fainted while Clover made off with the bread. (Later, I brought Fanta some bread secretly and let her have it all to herself when Clover wasn’t looking.)
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Perhaps the real reason the goat yard seems so quiet is because Annabelle has moved down to the meadow bottom. It’s time for the little lamb who wanted to be a dog to grow up into a real sheep!
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Annabelle: “What am I doing here? Where am I? Take me home to the porch. I am a dog!!! I am a dog!”
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I take her cookies in the pasture and tell her she’s gonna love Jack and the sheep if she just gives them a chance and that she can be the guard dog in the meadow bottom if she wants to. Jack could use the help. And I resist the temptation to take her right back to the goat yard because she is a sheep and she needs room to grow in the meadow.

I’m crazy about these blue wildflowers that are apparently crazy about our farm because we have tons of them, filling the banks on the hillside…
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….and bursting along the fencelines.
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The trees are making their slow change in the hills. More color is on the way.
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I hear the hens cluck and the dogs bark and the cats meow and the goats bleat.
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It’s early autumn on the farm and all is well.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on October 3, 2009  

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  1. 10-3
    1:42
    am

    Have you made a mushroom based mix yet? Possible with dried or dried and powdered mushrooms? Really great to hear you spay/neuter everything, sure wish more people did or could. Looking forward to fall foliage pics from your neck of the woods.

  2. 10-3
    3:38
    am

    Looks and sounds like there is plenty to do on the farm and the rewards are great. Love your pics and stories. I have tried some of your recipes. I like getting new ideas which you always seem to have!

  3. 10-3
    4:35
    am

    Like my daughter says OMJ!!!!!!! I use so many condensed soups in my winter cooking at over a buck a can – :bugeyed:
    who knew you could do it yourself?????? thank you!
    Now I know what I’m doing next day off – and Yeah – the mushroom one would be great!!!! :hungry:

  4. 10-3
    5:05
    am

    I love Autumn on the farm….:-) Thanks so much for the soup recipe…I was looking that exact same thing up yesterday….:-)

  5. 10-3
    5:48
    am

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting the soup recipe. Just 2 nights ago I was fretting over the price of cream soups at Wal Mart. I was fretting over a lot of the prices at Wal Mart!

  6. 10-3
    6:10
    am

    I made my mixes up the other day, too! I haven’t reconstituted yet, maybe tomorrow to use as a gravy with a roast.

    So many things going on on the farm……..thank you for the tour :happyflower:

  7. 10-3
    6:36
    am

    You lamb thinks she a dog; our lab Xena thinks the sheep, Marty and Ricky are dog.

  8. 10-3
    7:04
    am

    Thanks Suzanne, I was missing the creatures.

  9. 10-3
    7:07
    am

    Thank you for the soup recipe!!! I love to use cream soups in my cooking. I cant wait to whip up some this week and have it stored for winter soups and stews.

    That is a great picture of boomer. Poor little guy who has to have his operation. One good thing is that he is a boy and and the process is much quicker and easier on boys then girls.

  10. 10-3
    7:35
    am

    Hmm, I’m thinking the recipes you linked were intended to use fall squashes, like acorn, hubbard or butternut, something with orange flesh. The ones you picture are summer squashes (white flesh), at least the green and yellow ones are, I’ve never seen the white ones before. Can they be used interchangeably? You might want to look for zucchini recipes instead.

  11. 10-3
    7:37
    am

    It’s good to see most of the fur family again! Everyone looks so content.
    The homemade condensed soup recipe is such a great idea! thanks!

  12. 10-3
    7:39
    am

    Yes, I understand what you mean. I have some other squashes. The ones pictured on the top of the box ARE summer squashes, you’re right!

  13. 10-3
    7:48
    am

    I missed it. What happened to Pepsi?

  14. 10-3
    8:03
    am

    Great pictures and such great imagery in your writing. I can hear the sounds. Thanks for the recipe.

  15. 10-3
    8:05
    am

    Click on the “without Pepsi” link in the post and you’ll get the whole story.

  16. 10-3
    8:39
    am

    OH Boy…can’t wait to get some jars so I can make these mixes!!! I bet they get used lots and I sure need the room for other things other than soup cans. I made your Chicken and Biscuits the other day DELICIOUS!!!!! We had it again last night and I have some left over that I’m going to try and freeze (there’s only the 2 of us). My hubby says to say ‘THANKS’ for another nummy meal Suzanne…me too!!!

  17. 10-3
    8:55
    am

    I have been making my own cream soup for a while because my little guy has a soy allergy. Unfortunately mine requires cooking and freezing. I like this one better. Maybe I could eliminate the bouillon (which has soy in it) and reconstitute with broth. That would save me a whole lot of time. Thanks for the great idea.

  18. 10-3
    9:43
    am

    Beautiful writing….sort of poetic prose. I read you every day and feel envious that you are young enough to do the things you do. We have a great life here, but I’d like to start again!
    Nell

  19. 10-3
    9:55
    am

    I’m with Nell. Maybe that’s why I’m sitting here crying. You give your animals such a wonderful voice. It is touching!! :D

  20. 10-3
    10:02
    am

    Oh Suzanne, I love the pics of your animal crew. They are wonderful. Being a semi-city girl, I have really miss seeing animals. I have just started a farm on Facebook FarmTown. I think of you and am trying to make it look like I imagine yours being. lol Thanks for all the wonderful imagery you give to us.

  21. 10-3
    10:04
    am

    NICE :sheep:

  22. 10-3
    10:09
    am

    I will definitely be making condensed soup! I am assuming that the 1 1/4 C of water used to reconstitute it makes it into like what’s in the can…the thick condensed version, and even more water would be needed to make it thinner for eating as is? Does that make sense?????

  23. 10-3
    10:21
    am

    :snoopy: :snoopy: Thank you, Suzanne – at last a long-range food thingy that even I could try! I don’t can, cook in quantity, but I do love to make soup, chili and stew in the winter in large batches that I can freeze. Now I can’t wait to get some jars and mix up my own condensed soup mixes!!! And what would you use for a mushroom base? lay out fresh mushrooms to dry them, then crush?

  24. 10-3
    10:41
    am

    Yes, the 1 1/4 cups water makes it as it comes in the can, condensed. You can use it just like that in recipes where you’d use condensed soup. If you want to go on and make it as soup itself, you’d add about a cup of water or milk (as with the recipe for canned condensed soup–you add a soup can-ful of water or milk to make it into ready-to-eat soup).

  25. 10-3
    10:42
    am

    Yes, that’s what I’d think you’d have to do, use crushed dried vegetables. I have a lot of dried squash and I was thinking of making up a vegetable mix crushing some of my dried squash. You can also buy vegetable soup granules and use that in place of the chicken or beef bouillon granules.

  26. 10-3
    11:08
    am

    Somehow you can get even the blossoms on weeds to look pretty.

    I will be making up a batch of this soup for a quick evening meal when it is super cold. I think it could be an excellent start for broccoli & cheddar soup.

  27. 10-3
    1:24
    pm

    The purple flowers are called asters, or sometimes September flowers. I love them too!

  28. 10-4
    1:47
    am

    You can make mushroom soup from the mix very easily. Keep some cans or jars of mushrooms around. When you want mushroom soup, drain the juice off the container of mushrooms. Reserve the liquid. Chop the mushrooms up to the size you want. To the reserved liquid add enough water to make 1 1/4 cups of liquid. Proceed as you normally would. Add the mushrooms and heat until all is hot and bubbly.

    Yes, you can use broth or stock in place of water and bouillon. Less salt and chemicals. You can also use milk for the water.

  29. 10-5
    12:49
    pm

    I love reading about your farm and all your critters. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I miss Pepsi, too. :cry:

  30. 10-11
    2:16
    pm

    I *really* love the concept of this mix, though I have read some not-so-good things about dried milk powder. I doubt it’s much worse than all the stuff in canned soups, though! :>) I linked to this in my weekly roundup, the post is under my name.

    I also enjoyed reading about your animals!

    Thanks!

  31. 11-12
    6:06
    pm

    I have scoured our stores and cannot find Hot Shot anywhere – what can I use for a substitute?

  32. 11-12
    7:00
    pm

    Hot Shot is a blend of black and red pepper, so you could just add them separately (to taste)!

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