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Meals that can be prepared in advance for busy days.

Also: An $80 garden cart and toothbrush rugs

We homeschool and like to take a break between units to write new lesson plans and figure out library books. It is a good time to clean house and bake and get some meals into the freezer, and perhaps do some things I don't normally have time for.

Baking in advance

Today was a baking day and my first grader and I did a lot with bread, yeast and measuring. We made two casserole pans of rolls, cinnamon rolls, three French breads, two packages of pizza roll-ups (using a French bread dough), a quadruple recipe of pumpkin muffins to freeze, bar cookies, and a batch of ravioli which gives us three meals in the freezer plus a meal with homemade noodle leftovers. About everything went into the freezer except the bar cookies and cinnamon roll samples. Janice Smith sent in the recipes in a back issue of Countryside and her bread recipes are really good (74/4:16).

I like to put meals in the freezer too, for busy days. Usually I just try to make an extra or larger recipe of whatever I'm making for lunch (our main meal) so I can freeze one for later. I have friends that set aside days just for cooking to fill the freezer and make life easier on busy days. Having our main meal at lunch and my mornings busy with school ... sometimes I will prepare most of a meal or even cook it the evening before and just heat it up the next day. That comes in handy on days I know I will be gone the next morning and it makes it easy on my husband to get things ready, putter around the house on his projects and babysit for our children ages one, two, four and six.

Another way to speed up some special recipes is to do the tedious work all at one time and pack it away finished until the time to use it in the recipe next time. I have a great granola recipe that calls for a mix of dried fruit and nuts - any kind and amount totaling four cups. I usually cut and chop enough for three or four recipes and measure the four cups into plastic containers, label them and store them in the back of the 'fridge. They are ready when I need them.

Recycling

We recycle as much as we can and have accumulated a lot of plastic containers I use to store bulk foods and freeze things in. They also make nice playthings in a tub of water or sandbox or for rock collecting. Extra lids are good for stencils that hold up when cut, or spacers, coasters, places to rest stirring spoons, etc.

I re-use bread bags (some my own, some friends and neighbors save for me) to bag and freeze my breads, cookie dough, our butchered chicken pieces, and even selling produce. In the last year I lined up two families at church to buy my extra produce. I plant more than I think I will need anyway and that way I earn some extra that goes back into seeds and trees, or for buying Christmas gifts for the kids since those extras are not in the budget. It really helped me out last year with a new baby and less time to prepare vegetables in quantity. I could get them picked (like beans) but didn't have to do up several five gallon bucket that same night. I could get done what I could and pack the rest up to sell. Nothing really went to waste that way. We weren't flooded with beans, lettuce, squash ... at one time.

An inexpensive garden cart

I have wanted a garden cart for long time, but they were so high-priced. Well, I got to checking local lumber/ hardware type stores and they had them for right around $100 (still high, but better). Then we got a catalog from Northern Hydraulics and they had kits: you just supply the plywood (gotten locally, cheaper, and no shipping cost). The price was closer to $80 including the shipping for the larger model. When we put it together I would like Joe to build me a removable door on the other end too, to keep cukes and stuff from rolling out and maybe something so I could set in another plywood piece to make a shelf above to carry more. And, maybe we could put a nail on the outside to hold a pencil and notepad enclosed in plastic to write yields on when I actually pick it.

Canning

I have been doing canning more and more every year and I always run out of jars. I haven't even started using a pressure canner. I do over 200 quarts of grape juice since I get grapes free and I buy cases of peaches and pears. I also do relish and bread and butter pickles, jams, jellies, whole tomatoes, pizza sauce and tomato puree (my equivalent of plain all-purpose tomato sauce). My home is always open to unwanted canning jars. Since I always run out, I do freeze a lot of things like applesauce, rhubarb sauce, sweet cherries, blueberries, cream, homemade butter and buttermilk for biscuits. I also freeze what wouldn't be worth wasting a canning lid and heating water on, such as the last one and a half quarts of tomato sauce from the batch.

Help wanted

I would like to pressure can some of our homegrown chicken. I would like some ideas of how to cook it up once it's canned since I've never done it to use that way.

I also save fabric - denims and cottons mostly. I made my son a denim bedspread. I need to put a back on it, but I don't plan to fill it since it is pretty heavy already. I plan to use more denim to make some picnic table cloths and cloths to sit on in the yard, for the kids to carry out and picnic on or under. Making the "fort" is still a big thing at our house.

Rugmaking

Rugmaking is also an interest. I have made a few toothbrush rugs that are so easy to work up. You rip the cotton material and join it as you go by snipping a hole at the end of the piece you're using and putting another piece with a hole on through that one. It sort of knots the materials together. The toothbrush was the old toothbrush handle with the hole in it and the brush part cut off. The end near the brush was filed to a point and the hole made a little larger to feed the fabric through. It's used like a big needle, threading and wrapping a series of stitches along a piece of material called a runner. There is no sewing each row together. It's all tied in as you go and just sewed at the end. It makes a thick heavy rug quickly using scraps! Our fabric store carries patterns and a toothbrush too (so you don't have to make your own). The patterns are under the title of Aunt Philly's Toothbrush Rugs. An address on the back of mine is P.O. Box 36335, Denver, CO 80236. So far I have seen patterns for rectangle, square, round, oval, and baskets.

There is also a pattern that uses rug canvas, a large needle and fabric scraps cut in one-inch strips. You can make a rug basically by doing a cross-stitch or needle point stitches. Sounds better than cutting a bunch of little pieces of yarn to use. They can be made into pot holders, wall hangings, placemats, rugs, etc. This pattern is in Rags to Riches Rugpoint Rag Rugs. I'm sure an inventive Countrysider could do this without a book. Get some rug canvas and make up your own design or just use up your scraps!

Some recipes:

Ravioli

Filling: 1 pound grated farmer's cheese

2 pounds ricotta cheese

Parsley

3 small eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Dough: 6 regular (med.-lg.) eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup warm water

6-8 cups flour

Mix dough: Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness (pretty thin). Cut out circles with a wide mouth jar. Fill with one tablespoon of filling and crimp edges with a fork in a semi-circle. Cook in boiling water ten to 15 minutes. To save for later meals freeze raw on cookie sheets. When frozen, bag into meal-size portions and store in freezer. Cook before eating. Mix up favorite sauce.

Hints: Do one at a time as dough shrinks some. I dampen an edge with water before crimping.

Cheesey Garlic Bread

Cut one of the French breads lengthwise or use buns split in half. Toast them a little under broiler then spread with butter and sprinkle on a little garlic salt. Next sprinkle a small amount of grated parmesan and romano cheese topped with a mix of grated mozzarella and cheddar (proportions depend on your taste). Pop it back under the broiler and enjoy when melted.

Cowboy Beans

Recipe from a neighbor. I changed it some and we like to double this.

Brown one-half pound hamburger with one cup chopped onion. 1/2 pound bacon (fry and drain fat, optional with us) 1/2 cup catsup 2 teaspoons vinegar 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 cup white sugar (I use 1/4 cup) 1 can each of pork and beans and lima beans (or great northern), and kidney beans

Bake 40 minutes at 350 [degrees]. Serve with grated cheese.

Winter Day Bean Soup

I found this in another magazine and we like it a lot.

2 cups mixed dried beans (use a big variety like great northern, navy, black, garbanzo, split peas, pinto, red, etc.) 2 tablespoons salt 2 quarts water 2 cups diced ham or slices smoked sausage 1 large onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 28-ounce can tomatoes (or two quarts whole) 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Rinse beans; place in large kettle. Cover with water, add salt and soak overnight.

Drain. Add two quarts water and meat.

Simmer 2-1/2 to three hours. Add onion, garlic, chili powder, tomatoes and lemon juice.

Simmer 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper if desired.

Sausage, Green Beans and Potatoes

1 pound smoked sausage, cut up 1 quart green or yellow beans 6 potatoes, peeled and cut up in chunks Salt to taste Water to cook in

Simmer on stove 45 minutes to one hour. Eat.

Quick and easy, and a good way to get green beans into kids.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Gnizak,, Mary
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:1773
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