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On an Early Autumn Weekend

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On October 3, 2009 @ 1:05 am In Country Life,Daily Farmhouse Journal | 32 Comments

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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!

Annabelle: “What am I doing here? Where am I? Take me home to the porch. I am a dog!!! I am a dog!”

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…

….and bursting along the fencelines.

The trees are making their slow change in the hills. More color is on the way.

I hear the hens cluck and the dogs bark and the cats meow and the goats bleat.

It’s early autumn on the farm and all is well.

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