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May 2010 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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May 2010 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

IN THIS ISSUE:

*Story: Scratchin’

*Kitchen Extra: Homemade Onion Soup & Dip Mix

*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: Not Too Promising

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: Are You Kidding?

*Recent Highlights: Chocolate Cream Facial Mask, Hanging Baskets, Tea Muffins, and More

*Sneak Peek: Summer in Italy

*Blast from the Past: My Real Garden

*Newsletter Sponsor:

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*Story: Scratchin’

It’s not just a hobby. It’s a way of life.

Scratchin’ (cooking from scratch) is addictive. The more you scratch, the more you wanna scratch. People start scratchin’ for all kinds of reasons — to save money, to save the planet, to save their health. Cooking from scratch is almost always cheaper. It spares the environment from all those boxes and packages filling up the trash, not to mention distribution impacts. Cutting out preservatives and other additives along with controlling salt and sugar contributes to better health. It’s also challenging, creative, and fun.

And time-consuming.

That’s where scratch mixes — your own homemade convenience products — come into play. The deeper I go into cooking from scratch, the more I value my homemade mixes that save me time and let me make it from scratch at the same time. Scratchin’ doesn’t have to be a full-time job. In fact, you can cook from scratch even if you have a full-time outside job. It just takes a little planning. Have a mix day once a month! Or have a mix evening. If you have scratchin’ friends, you can even get together and make it a party.

To plan a mix day:

1. Make your lists! You need a list of everything you plan to mix up, and a list of all the necessary ingredients (which will mostly be staples). Be sure to calculate how much you need of each item for how much mix you want to make. Don’t forget your containers, and go re-useable wherever possible. Glass canning jars, repurposed glass jars from store-bought items, plastic containers or plastic baggies all work. Even plastic baggies can be re-used time and again. No wasting! Remember that some mixes make great gifts, so plan some special jars and ribbons or raffia or other special treatments for mixes you intend to give away.

2. Plan your storage space. Where are you going to put your mixes? The refrigerator and freezer can extend the shelf life of some mixes. Others do just fine in the pantry. Rearrange and reorganize before your mix day to prepare a place for everything you intend to make.

3. Go shopping. Bulk is best when shopping for your staple ingredients. If you have an Amish bulk store available, that’s a wonderful place to try first. There are also bulk whole foods outlets in most areas. Sometimes you can even “shop” in your own pantry or freezer for your own dried goods from your garden. (Plant more herbs this year to get ready for next year’s mixes!)

4. Print out all your mix recipes and set aside your time, a day once a month, a few hours every few weeks, whatever suits your schedule.

5. Plan the day’s meal around a crock pot or similar no-fuss dish so you can devote your kitchen time on mix day to mixing.

6. Make a 3 x 5 or other type of small card with the instructions for using each mix. If you use 3 x 5 cards, you can hole punch the corner of each card and put the cards on a ring or tie with a ribbon. Hang your stack of cards in the pantry from a hook or nail, or store in a handy drawer in the kitchen. Whenever you’re using a mix, you can just grab your note cards and go!

7. Wash all your glass jars and plastic containers. Clear the kitchen table and counters.

8. Line up all your supplies and ingredients plus any small appliances needed such as food processors or blenders. Throw all the cats out for the day. (That one might not apply to everybody.)

9. Start mixing! The better prepared you are, the faster it will go. Most mixes can actually be put together in a matter of minutes. You’ll be surprised how you can zip along packing mixes when you have everything prepared and lined up. It becomes an assembly line in which you can make multiple batches of numerous mixes in a matter of hours.

10. Store everything away in the places you’ve cleared for them and clean up! Enjoy your crock pot dinner and savor the sweetness of your accomplishments!

You can find some of my favorite homemade mixes here.

And you can find even more mix ideas here.

What are you waiting for? Go scratchin’!

*Kitchen Extra: Homemade Onion Soup & Dip Mix

Speaking of mixes…. Homemade onion soup and dip mix is the latest hankering I had to add to my mix repertoire. I made a recipe request at Farm Bell Recipes and within a matter of hours I had a great new mix at my fingertips from CindyP. (Looking for anything in particular? Make a recipe request at Farm Bell Recipes. Ask and you shall receive!)

See the original posted recipe here for the handy print page!

How to make Homemade Onion Soup & Dip Mix:

1 cup minced onion
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons beef bouillon
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried celery

Combine all ingredients, mixing well, and store. I made a recipe and a half to fit just right in a pint jar.

About 5 tablespoons of mix are equal to 1 – 1.25 oz package.

To make dip, combine 5 tablespoons with 1 pint sour cream. For other dishes calling for onion soup mix, use about 1/4 cup mix.

See All My Recipes

*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: Not Too Promising

Another seriously tragic revelation.

It’s been a busy spring here at Stringtown Rising Farm, with more attention to fencing and other animal needs than the garden, which is showing its sore neglect and here it is nearly the end of spring. I’m considering a total revamp of garden plans this year. We plan to get our free produce from the farmers market again this year, so mayhap the home garden will focus on what we grow best here, a few tomatoes and green beans and a couple other veggies with a bigger focus this year on growing a great big herb garden. I’ve never had enough space for herbs, so maybe I can turn this garden disaster around into an herb palooza.

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: Are You Kidding?

There is NO question about it.

It’s this lounge chair. Is it summer yet?

*Recent Highlights: Chocolate Cream Facial Mask, Hanging Baskets, Tea Muffins, and More

Have fun deciding Do We Call the Babies Dickens or Chucks, see Clover fall to my Biscuit Power, and prepare to be impressed (or something) by Boomer’s Magnificent Find. Find all my farm animal stories here.

Save money with my Homemade Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix, explore The Mystery of the Butter Bell, and Have Your Tea and Eat Your Muffin, Too. Don’t miss a thing in my kitchen! Get all my recipes.

Enjoy an Afternoon at the Old Farmhouse, a A Slow Sunday in May then see our flooded country road in Not So Fast. See all my country living stories.

Dig into the past with me and A Box of Baby Blankets, celebrate spring by Bringing Green Inside, and treat yourself to a Chocolate Cream Facial Mask. Browse all my posts in crafts.

It’s garden time! I haven’t checked much off my Spring To-Do List, but I did make some pretty Hanging Baskets and nail down the mystery of The Orange Boosh. Be sure to see all my garden stories.

*Sneak Peak: Summer in Italy

Now that I have my new Italian kitchen (pasta maker, pasta drying rack, and ravioli maker), I’m eager to try out my new toys. My cousin picked up all of this for me at the thrift store for a total of $25!!! If you’ve gotten a pasta maker recently, or are just thinking about getting a pasta maker, watch me learn — and try your hand at pasta with me!

*Blast from the Past: My Real Garden

Yes, indeedy, I’ve been faking you out all along and this — THIS!! — is my real garden, not the mess I’ve been showing off.

Okay, okay, not exactly. Get the down and dirty in My Real Garden.

***

Know a friend who would enjoy receiving the Chickens in the Road newsletter? Send them over to Chickens in the Road and tell them to sign up with the newsletter link in the sidebar or send them this handy link.

And, always, feel free to forward this newsletter!

Thank you for your comments, your support, and just for being there. Here’s hoping to see you on the Chickens in the Road Forum (make friends, have fun, come join us!) and every day on the farmhouse blog!

Love,
Suzanne

*More Handy Links:
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What are you fixing for supper tonight? Browse the goodness at Farm Bell Recipes — your cooking community!

*I’m giving away a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving once a week (sometimes more!) so don’t forget to watch the blog for The Ball Blue Book Project days.

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