Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Pantry Basics – Homemade Mixes October 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 9:08 pm

I love the convenience of a quick to use mix. Problem is that most in the stores are either expensive if you use them often or have too much sodium and other ingredients that are not good for us.  My solution has been to simply make my own.

A family favorite is a pancake mix. I make it as we need it, but you can assemble the dry ingredients into a jar and label for later use. Just label with or have a recipe card handy with the liquid ingredients that need to be added later.

Pancake Mix

1.5 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.25 – 1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients into a smooth batter.  Dry fry on a hot griddle, flipping once.

Makes about 8 pancakes.

Vegan Substitutions – I use almond milk in place of cow milk and 2 Tbsp flax seed meal + 6 Tbsp warm water in place of eggs. Just mix the water and flax seed meal into a cup and let thicken a minute before mixing it into the batter.

Variations – The kids love it when I as a shredded zucchini with a bit of seasonings. I fry up small 3″ diameter rounds. They taste like zucchini bread.  Other favorite addition is fruit.  Recently, I had a bit of fried apples on hand. I chopped it up, added apple pie spice and the kids loved them as much as cookies.

Hot Chocolate Mix

This is a recipe that I make each year. Usually end up making two batches during the cold weather seasons.

25.6 oz. box of powdered milk
6 oz. powdered coffee creamer
4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups cocoa powder
1 lg box chocolate pudding mix

Mix well and place into a large container.  Use 2-3 Tbsp mix per cup, or to taste.  The addition of the pudding mix makes a big difference in the final product.

Variations – use flavored creamers instead of plain.  For a peppermint cocoa, finely crush peppermint candies and add to the mix, to taste.



To Him That I Have Given a Little October 24, 2013

Filed under: faith,family,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 12:37 am

Over the past 2 days, I have been thinking about the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30).  Ironically, our young daughter gave me a wonderful example of this parable.

In the parable, three men are given talents (coins) by their master.  Each one is expected to be wise with how they use the talents given to them.  One used his talents in a way that increased them. The second lost talents due to poor judgment. The third hid his talent away and the master later took it from him as a result of him not using the talent given to him.

This year, an apple in our yard finally bore enough fruit not only for us to enjoy but to share as well.  In the 12 years that my husband has lived here, it has never produced a harvest like this. It has been a blessing.

As I was preparing applies for canning, our 7 year old daughter asked me not to throw away all of the seeds.  When I asked why she wanted them, she replied that she wanted to plant the seeds. I explained how long it would takes to grow a tree from seed, but she was adamant about it. She tools me that the Lord blessed us with the apples and she didn’t want to waste the blessings.  She saved 12 seeds and we planted them in a container.  They now are in a kitchen window where we can keep close watch over them.

In our daughter’s eyes, those seeds are a way to provide supplies not just for our family. They can also provide for other families as well. She has taken a blessing that we received and is using it to increase the blessing in the future.

As a prepare to remodel the front room in our house, I look around and have to all myself why we still have so much.  We don’t have a lot by other people’s standards, but we do have more than we need.  I notice it each time I have to clean a room. I ask myself, why do we still have this stuff?  Sadly, we fall victim to what is comfortable.  Items that we have owned for a period of time and never used, we are certain we will suddenly need if it is gone.  So, we hang onto it.  In reality, if it hasn’t been needed within six months, then you probably don’t need it at all.

We are being poor stewards over the blessings we have been given if we allow this attitude to prevail.  We get overwhelmed as we keep hanging on to stuff. We no longer enjoy the blessings.  On the midst of thus, we don’t feel the Lord putting out a blessing onto us.  Why would He?  If we are not good stewards of what we already have, why would we be blessed with more? 

It takes rooms to train ourselves to purge the unnecessary things. As a society, we learn early the idea of “he with the most toys wins.”  Learning the difference between want and need are critical, but often not taught to children.  As adults, we have to learn this. Not only for ourselves but to be able to teach out to our children.  If we do not, is it any wonder that so many are growing up with a sense of entitlement? 

In the center of all this is the thought – is the Lord willing to bless those who show no gratitude for what He had already given them?

Something to ponder….


Pantry Building October 20, 2013

Filed under: cooking,home canning,pantry building — ourprairiehome @ 1:22 am
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This week, I have made serious dent in my pantry building efforts.   I gave myself budget of $70  to spend on the pantry. Here is the results.

First stop was to a store called Warehouse Market. I love buying canned veggies there because they always have the lowest prices.  I loaded up the cart with 6 flats of vegetables.  These included 2 flays each of whole kernel corn, green beans, and green peas.  A single flat holds 12 cans.  In other words, I bought 72 cans of vegetables at 58 cents each, totaling $41.76 for the veggies.  Next, I went to the produce area and bought a 50# sack of russet potatoes for $11.99.  The temperature is cold enough now in our unheated pantry that the potatoes will last the winter without sprouting or going bad.  Total cost at Warehouse Market was $53.75.

On the way home, I had an idea. Since I was under budget, I stopped at the Dollar General store and bought 8 bottles of tomato juice for a total cost of $14.80. 

Once I got home, I used the bottles of juice to make a doubled size batch of my homemade tomato soup.  Once put into jars for canning, I had 8 pints for my husband to take on the truck for meals on the road and 8 quarts for the pantry.

After all the food was purchased, the ending total was $68.55.  I was $1.45 under budget. Just the vegetable purchases alone gives me several months of meals for my family of four. The point that I am trying to make is that anyone, even those on a meager budget, can afford to stock their pantry.  Add to this a supply of pasta, rice, dried lentils and beans to really expands your pantry storage.

There is only one downside to having this type of pantry… have to be willing to actually cook and not simply heat up convenience foods. 


We Have Apples…..Finally October 17, 2013

Filed under: home canning,homesteading — ourprairiehome @ 8:00 pm

The tree has been in the yard for about 12 years according to my husband, but due to pests and birds, we never had a harvest from it.  This year, we did something different.  We found an organic spray that we used in spring to prevent the pests.  We should have sprayed it more than the one time, but we didn’t think about it again after that first time.

We now have a tree overloaded with Winesap apples!  So many in fact that I am canning them for pie fillings – or pancake topping if my family gets to the jars first.

What a blessing it will be come winter to open up a jar of apples from our own tree!  Buying the tins of pie filling is just too pricey at the store.  They are also way too sweet depending on the brand.

Now, I just need to find a way to keep the family from snacking on the jars of apples too quickly!  LOL    Never though I would have THAT problem.



Winterizing October 7, 2013

Filed under: cooking,family,homesteading,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 9:31 pm
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This week, my beloved husband is taking his vacation.  We are spending it winterizing the home and fixing his pickup truck.

First up is getting the new propane line put in. We had copper lines but they needed replaced due to damage. Instead of using copper again, we are installing black pipe.  It goes in so much easier and the cost of the pipe is less than half what we paid a year ago for the copper. 

Next comes covering windows with plastic. This works great, especially on the older windows of the homestead.  I am adding a little more insulation as well to the bathroom. It is one of the rooms set to be remodeled. I am adding insulation around the old window where cold air can seep in.

Another winterizing project is preparing a firewood crate on the porch so I will have a ready supply of dry, seasoned firewood for the wood burning cookstove. We took the chainsaw to be sharpened this morning so that we will be able to tackle cutting the wood later this week.

Fixing the pickup is going to possibly be an all day job.  We bought it from a neighbor and our needs a could of minor things done. One being to put on a new steering column and wheel.  That will take the longest. The rest is simple stuff like checking it over well and possibly giving it a tune-up.  We want to get out working to be used as a second vehicle. He is trying to get a local truck driving job and will need the truck.

Ongoing winterizing projects that I have include crocheting winter gear. Hats, mittens, slippers, shawls, etc. all need to be made. The nights are getting cool enough that crocheting is being done more often.

I found on a free setting pattern website the instructions and patterns for making a fleece cape with hood in both a child and adult size. It has the option for no hood as well. I am considering making the cape for both my daughter and I using fleece on the outside and a different fabric inside. Made to be waist length, it would be warmer than a shawl when on outings.

In the upcoming week, I am going to be canning winesap apples from our tree. I plan to make pie filling as well as apple butter.  Might even use a few apples to make stewed apples to go with dinner one night while Joe is still home.

Of all the seasons, autumn has always been my favorite. I enjoy the winter preparations. I always look forward to that first day when I can use the wood cookstove to make our meals. I love having a stock pot of a soup or stew simmering on the stove all day. With a simmer plate under the stock pot or dutch oven, I use it just like a slow cooker.

I guess the nostalgia never wears off.  This is definitely one of my favorite parts of our lifestyle.