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Just wanted to let all of you know I’m still breathing – thank you for staying with me!

The last few months have been chaotic, to say the least.  Our lives have been turned topsy turvy, but it has not been an altogether unpleasant experience.  :D   I find myself smiling often and thinking of how God uses the unexpected things to shape and mold us in ways nothing else can.

I have become the primary daytime caregiver for our 6 month old great-nephew.  He was a surprise, but has been such a blessing to us.  Keeping him has been one of my life’s greatest joys.  :D  I am worn out, but incredibly thankful for the opportunity to take care of this little one.

We have teenage nieces and nephews who keep us busy along with our own kiddo  – our home seems to be a constant hub of activity.  The drama at times makes me wonder if they are in a race to see who can make my hair turn white the fastest.  LOL

Even though I am not able to post often, I do try to reply to questions as they come in.  I’m glad this blog continues to be useful to those who need it.

God bless you all!

Arksoaper

I have firsthand info on this, so be forewarned. There is a pumpkin shortage looming.

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/11/19/libbys-pumpkin-shortage-stymies-thanksgiving-tradition/

Some of the grocery stores in Hot Springs already have bare spots where the canned pumpkin used to be, with signs saying there will be no more available until next harvest.

If you have not yet stocked up on canned pumpkin and you use it even semi-regularly, this would be a good time to put it back if it’s still available in your area!

Yes, this is a personal testimony. LOL

I baked up a storm on Wednesday. I made two pumpkin pies first, and there’s always a small corningware dish of filling leftover that we bake and get to enjoy.

I pulled the pies and extra filling out of the oven. Kiddo grabbed a fork and dug into the extra. I was expecting a “YUM” from him, but instead I heard “YUCK”. He said it was AWFUL!

I took a bite myself and couldn’t believe it – it WAS awful!!!!!

I FORGOT TO PUT THE SUGAR IN THE PIES!!!!!!!!! 😛 😛 😛

In all my years of baking, that’s one mistake I’ve never made before.

Disgusted with myself, I decided to set the pies on the front porch for tossing later. (We live in the country, and nobody cares what we do with our leftovers. LOL)

As I was setting the second pie outside, I had a strong urge to throw that pie into the yard! I can’t explain it other than that – all that kept coming to mind was an urgent “THROW THE PIE IN THE YARD!!”

So I did. LOL

Kiddo thought I’d lost my mind. He even called Hubby at work and told him, and he also seriously questioned my mental state. I told Hubby I’d clean it up later, but I felt like the pie needed to go in the yard, so that’s what I did. 😛

About an hour later, I looked outside and there was a momma dog in our yard eating the pie. She was EXTREMELY thin, but was obviously nursing puppies.

It slapped me in the face then – the Lord KNEW I was going to leave the sugar out of those pies, and He KNEW that dog was hungry. That’s why the Lord prompted me to throw the pie into the yard – I wasn’t crazy after all! 😀

What a humbling experience today has been! I didn’t understand why I was supposed to throw that pie (although I felt a LOT better after I did – LOL!!!), but God used my mistake to feed a starving animal.

I wound up setting the second pie into the yard so she could eat it too (which she did, after initially running off).

I am still just amazed and humbled – God cares about EVERYTHING in our lives, right down to baking mistakes, and can turn it into something good.

Lesson learned – even when it doesn’t make sense, trust God – He knows what He is doing. 🙂

I’m still here!

Thought I’d post a quick update. I’m still here – our lives have sorta been turned upside down recently (not in a bad way🙂 ), and I am behind on things like blogging! I do miss you guys greatly, and will try to post when I can.

I was thinking recently that if it came down to it, we could survive on one meal a day for one year – if we HAD to.

So…I sat down with a legal pad and my recipe file and made a list of 30 meals that could be eaten each month, then calculated the the amount of ingredients needed.

Please keep in mind this is ONLY a general idea – it could be supplemented with fresh garden produce, eggs from your chickens, fresh meat, etc.   It also assumes you keep regular supplies in your pantry (such as sugar, flour, spices, baking powder/soda, etc).

This is just a starting point.  I hope it will give you some ideas!

*******************************************************
(Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist – I am a mom. The following list is a STARTING POINT and would need to be supplemented with food from a garden and also hunting. This is only given as an example and is not intended to be anything stated or implied other than a springboard for ideas. Nutrition information was not calculated. This was an example for a family of three.)
********************************************************

Food for one year – one meal per day

1)  Chicken Alfredo 12 jars alfredo sauce

12 pkgs fettucine noodles

12 cans chicken

2)  Breakfast (biscuits:  flour, sugar, baking powder, shortening, salt, milk) 12 pkgs bacon
3)  Tacos (lettuce, cheese, taco sauce) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 pkgs taco seasoning

12 pkgs taco shells

4)  Chicken Enchiladas (sour cream, cheese, milk) 12 cans cream of chicken soup

12 jars enchilada sauce
12 cans chicken
12 pkgs flour tortillas

5)  Chicken & Dumplings (biscuit mix or homemade) 12 cans chicken

24 cans chicken broth (or ckn base)

6)  SPAM / Mac & Cheese / Veggies 12 cans SPAM

12 pkgs mac & cheese

12 cans green beans (or other veggies)

7)  Beef Stew (rice) 12 cans carrots

12 cans potatoes

12 cans beef

8)  Bean Burritos (cheese or cheese sauce) 12 pkgs flour tortillas

12 cans refried beans

9)  Spaghetti (hamb optional /Parmesan cheese) 12 jars spaghetti sauce

12 pkgs spaghetti noodles

10)  Canned Ham / Rice / Veggies 12 cans ham

12 cans corn (or other)

11)  Red Beans & Rice (rice, dried beans, seasoning, cornbread mix/milk/eggs) 12 pkgs kielbasa

24 pkgs cornbread mix

12)  Meatballs w/Mushroom Gravy / Mashed Potatoes (flakes) / Lima Beans (dried) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 cans cream of mushroom soup

13)  Hamburgers / Nachos (chips, pickles, homemade bread) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 cans cheese sauce

12 cans rotel

14)  Chicken Spaghetti 12 cans chicken

12 pkgs spaghetti noodles

12 cans cream of chicken soup

12 cans cream of mushroom soup

12 cans cheese sauce

12 cans chicken broth

15)  Chili Macaroni (spices, dried beans) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 pkgs macaroni pasta

12 cans tomatoes or sauce

16)  Chili Dogs (homemade bread) 12 pkgs hot dogs

12 cans chili

17)  Potato Soup (potato flakes, bullion cubes/ckn base/OR broth, cheese, powdered milk) 12 cans cheese sauce

24 cans chicken broth (?)

18)  SPAM, Mac & cheese, Veggies 12 cans SPAM

12 pkgs macaroni & cheese

12 cans green beans (or dried beans)

19)  Putanesca (parmesan cheese) 12 cans Putanesca

12 pkgs spaghetti noodles

20)  Gnocchi (potato flakes, powdered milk, eggs) 12 jars sauce (spaghetti/alfredo)
21)  Fried Rice (rice, soy sauce, spices veggies) 12 cans/jars meat (chicken, SPAM, etc)
22)  Pancakes & Sausage (syrup, flour, eggs, baking powder) 12 sausage chubs
23)  Chili (spices, rice, dried beans) 24 pkgs hamb meat

24 cans diced tomatoes OR sauce

24)  Chicken Pot Pie (biscuit mix or homemade, ckn broth or base, powdered milk, spices) 12 cans chicken

12 large cans mixed veggies

25)  PB&J  Sandwiches, hummus (dried chickpeas / homemade bread) Peanut butter

Jelly

26)  Hearty Beef & Beans (dried pinto beans, biscuits) 12 pkgs hamb meat

12 cans tomato sauce

12 cans vegetables

27)  Homemade Soup (dried beans, asst canned veggies, cornbread) 24 pkgs cornbread mix (or meal)

12 cans tomato juice

12 pkgs hamb meat (optional)

28)  Oatmeal
29)  Grits
30)  SOS (homemade bread, powdered milk) 12 pkgs hamb meat

Shopping/pantry list:

60 – Chicken breast
24 – Cream of chicken soup
24 – Cream of mushroom soup
at least 36 (or equivalent) – Cheese sauce
24 to 36 – SPAM
48 – Tomato sauce
88 to 100 – Hamburger meat
12 – Tomato juice
48 pkgs – Cornbread mix (or make from scratch)
6 – Peanut Butter
6 – Jelly
12 – Large cans mixed vegetables
12 – Sausage chubs
24 – Spaghetti sauce
36 – Spaghetti noodles
12 – Alfredo sauce
12 – canned beef
12 – kielbasa or beef smoked sausage
12 – Fettucine noodles
12 jars – Putanesca
12 to 24 – Rotel
24 (minimum) cans – Green beans
24 (minimum) cans – Corn
60 cans – Chicken broth (OR use bullion OR chicken base)
12 – Hot dogs
12 – Canned chili
12 – Canned ham
12 – Refried beans
24 – Flour tortillas (or make homemade)
12 – Bacon
18 – Enchilada sauce
12 – Taco seasoning
12 – Taco shells (or make homemade flour tortillas)
12 – Parmesan Cheese
12 – Macaroni noodles
24 – Macaroni & cheese (packaged)
12 to 24 – carrots (canned)
12 to 24 – potatoes (canned)

Basics onhand:

Spices (basil, oregano, chili powder, paprika, cumin, Cavender’s, etc)
Flour
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Salt
Sugar
Shortening
Powdered Milk
Dried beans
Rice
Potato Flakes

Just thinking about chicken & dumplings takes me back to my mother’s kitchen.  This is comfort food at its finest, and is extremely cheap to make.

Now this Southern girl doesn’t like NOODLES with her chicken when it’s supposed to be dumplings.  They are totally different critters.

True Southern dumplings are like puffy pillows of biscuit goodness draped in a piping hot broth with bits of chicken.

Is your mouth watering yet?

There is an art to making good dumplings – you will get better at it the more you make them.  The broth should not be at a roiling boil or your dumplings will fall apart.

On the same token, if your broth is not hot enough, your dumplings will fall apart.

I like to use chicken breast that I have pressure canned (you ARE canning chicken when it’s on sale, right?).  The broth is flavorful and the chicken is tender.  Open a can, make your dumplings, and you’re ready for supper!

Variations instead of chicken:  squirrel or rabbit – any mild flavored meat.

For this recipe, you will need approximately 3 quarts of chicken broth.  (I use 1 quart jar of canned chicken breast/broth plus 2 additional quarts of water with about a tablespoon of chicken base.)

Put this in a large stock pot (5 or 6 quart will do) and bring to a slow boil.

This dumpling recipe can easily be halved or doubled depending on how many you need.  The below amount feeds three of us with enough left over for lunch for two.

To make your dumplings, mix the following together:

3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Cut in 6 tablespoons butter with a fork or pastry blender.

Add 1 1/2 cups milk – you may need a little more/less depending on humidity. GENTLY stir together. Be careful not to overwork the dough – it will make your dumplings tough.

The dough should not be a sticky mess. You should be able to handle it without having gobs of it stick to your fingers.  If it’s too sticky, add a little bit of flour.

Put a piece of waxed paper on your counter – it makes clean up easier. Pat the dumpling dough out into a rough rectangle. Cut into small rectangles with a butter knife dipped in flour (they should be about 1 1/2″ long). Let the dough rest while the broth comes to a slow boil.

Drop several pieces of dough (7 or 8 ) into the broth at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. The dumplings will expand as they cook. Cover the pot partially with a lid.

Check dumplings after 3 or 4 minutes, and gently turn them over with a slotted spoon. Cover with lid again.

Check dumplings after another 3 or 4 minutes and test for doneness. (Scoop one out into a bowl and cut it in half. If it’s still doughy, it isn’t done! Put it back into the broth and cook for a couple more minutes.)

Have a large bowl or dish ready to hold the dumplings as they are cooked. You have to do them in batches, and it will take a little while to do.

When serving, scoop out some of the chicken with a few dumplings and pour some broth over the top.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Ummmmm, ummmmm, GOOD! 😀

I heard on the news last night that the DNC has taken out an ad calling Americans dissatisfied with the government “angry mobs”.   Apparently, if you disagree with what comes out of Washington, you have no right to protest.

Pardon me, but the last time I checked, America WAS still a free country.

Has it ever occurred to these people that folks are MAD?

I know in our own community, there is an overwhelming sense of frustration at our elected officials for not listening to their constituents.  People are tired of having bailouts, handouts, stimulus, and everything else shoved down their throats and told they have to like it.

Funny that when Bush was in office and people protested his policies, it was a different story.  At that time, they were just “peaceful protests”.  It appears we have a double standard on our hands.

The DNC claims that the Republicans have paid people to go to these town hall meetings and shout, yell, or otherwise be disruptive.

I am not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat, so take that for what it’s worth.  I consider myself an Independent.  The Republican party has not paid me to feel the way I do, and I happen to AGREE with what people are saying in these town hall meetings.

More often than not, I find myself yelling at the television over the stupidity coming out of Washington.

My personal opinion is that folks in Washington are so out of touch with middle class, mainstream Americans, they have no idea why we should be upset.  They claim they are doing what they are for “the good of the people”.

Hogwash.

Ask your representative what laws we have that give them the right to force these policies on us.  Ask them if they are willing to go on the national health plan they are proposing.  Ask them if they can live on what the average national salary is and live in a home that is on the national average as well.

They aren’t willing to do any of that.

That’s the point.

They want to tell us how to live, but are not willing to abide by the same rules themselves.

And this new Cash for Clunkers plan?  What are they going to do when folks start defaulting on these loans they’ve taken out?  This is a BILLION DOLLARS of our tax money being spent on this program.

How higher does the deficit have to go before it is enough?

The bottom line is this – people are frustrated.  Many of them have lost jobs.  Many are facing homelessness.  Most of us have lost something in this economic downturn.

We are tired of Wall Street executives getting OUTRAGEOUS bonuses with our tax dollars for a job they have NOT done well.

We are tired of Senators buying new airplanes for themselves because they don’t want to fly coach with everyone else.

We are tired of  “too big to fail” when regular businesses who make bad decisions are forced to close or go into bankruptcy.

We are tired of flooding our representatives phone lines begging them not to vote for things only to be told they will vote “for what seems best to them”.

In short, we are tired.

We are tired of not being listened to.  We are tired of being told that this administration “inherited the problem”.  Sorry folks – unemployment is worse now than it was in January.  It is officially your baby – you rock it.

We are frustrated.

We are average people.

We are all races, creeds, and colors.

Daring to speak out against what we know is wrong?

What did you really expect?

People can only be pushed so far before they start to push back.

Elections are coming in 2010.

I will personally vote for ANY candidate other than who our current incumbants are, just to get them out of office.