Categories
Cooking and Food Health

Best Healthy Cornbread Recipe

It’s a cold ‘un out there today! My husband works outside so we’re fixing one of our favorite meals–chili and cornbread. My chili is a thick one, made with browned hamburger, pinto beans, black beans, a diced onion, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, a little homemade salsa and seasonings like chili powder, cumin, and garlic. If you soak your beans overnight and let the above ingredients simmer about 6-8 hours, you’ll have a thick, hearty, stick-to-your ribs meal. Perfect for a cold day!

Our cornbread recipe is a tweaked version of one we got from the back of a Bob’s Red Mill package of wheat germ. Instead of making it into the corn muffins for which it was intended, I double the recipe and put it in a 9×13″ pan, and substitute the white flour the recipe calls for, with freshly ground spelt flour. And because we try to avoid most corn products (because conventionally grown corn contains GMOs), I get organically grown popcorn from our neighbor’s CSA farm, and grind it into cornmeal. Mmm! We love this stuff…

Whole Wheat Corn Bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and grease a 9×13″ pan. Recipe may be halved for a 8×8″ square dish. And, if you’d rather make it into muffins, it should make about 24 muffins.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (we like Spelt berries, freshly ground), if you prefer, you could use white flour, or a mixture of the two.
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs, beaten (nothing compares to our own home-raised organic eggs!)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 TB sugar (best is “evaporated cane juice”, if you can find it!)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (buy “aluminum free”)
  • 1 tsp. salt (sea salt is wonderful!)
  • 2 cups milk (we love us our raw cow’s milk!!)

Stir together flour, wheat germ, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. Combine egg, milk, and melted butter; add all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; batter should be lumpy. Transfer batter to greased 9×13″ pan, and bake at 400*F for 20-25 minutes, till lightly browned on top. Serve warm, of course! (it’s especially good with organic local honey on top!)

(FYI–the pic above is a freebie from morguefiles, not my own, just trying to add color to the post! My own chili and cornbread look quite a bit different…)

Categories
Cooking and Food

Homemade Yogurt

I’m always looking for great breakfast alternatives to cereal. Typically, our breakfasts consist of our own organic scrambled eggs and fresh fruit, occasionally muffins, blender waffles, or baked oatmeal. But homemade yogurt is a real treat–it’s easy, and I love it. We use raw whole milk in ours, and Activia yogurt for starter. Not all store bought yogurts are equal, by the way. Be sure you check the wording. It should say “CONTAINS” active cultures, not “MADE WITH” active cultures. If it was simply made with active cultures, then those cultures were killed off in the pasteurization process, and it won’t work for making homemade yogurt. You need those live good bacteria for good health, and for good yogurt!

This recipe works best with whole milk, but I’ve scoured the net for variations, and you can use lower-fat content milk with this method. For it to be nice and thick, however, you should add one packet of unflavored gelatin to the mix after stirring in the yogurt with active cultures. It seems that some have been successful mixing non-fat milk powder in as well. FYI–I have not tried adding in gelatin or powdered milk–so experiment at your own risk there!

Here’s the recipe and how-to’s. It makes around 2.5 quarts–but it won’t last long if your tribe likes it as much as mine does!

Homemade Yogurt

  • 8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk–raw, or pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized.
  • 1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain or vanilla yogurt (You need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)
  • frozen/fresh fruit or jams for flavoring
  • thick bath towel
  • crock pot

**Note: This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a stay-at-home day so you can monitor your yogurt.

  1. My crockpot holds 4 quarts. Plug in your crockpot and turn to low.
  2. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.
  4. When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.
  5. Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.
  6. Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened—it will not be as firmly thick as store-bought yogurt, but it still has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt. And differing batches might have varying results. I’ve never had a batch mess up, but I’ve had some yogurt that was better added to smoothies than eaten with a spoon!

Chill your yogurt in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. You’ll want to save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

To serve, blend in your favorite fruit, either fresh or a tablespoon of jam per serving. We have access to fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, so these are our favorite additions. We usually just pull  out a container of homemade organic freezer jam and stir a little of it into our yogurt. Mmm! You could also just add a little honey. Voila!

Categories
Cooking and Food Family

Labor Day Pizza

Labor Day is here, and with it, wide open windows and highs in the 70’s! And we’re LOVING it. After all, July’s never-ending line up of 105+ degree scorchers is still very much alive in my memory! Whew. Dare I hope fall is really arriving? Happy dance!

My little girls celebrated by digging out their jackets, and raking up a huge leaf pile. After about a hundred leaf-splattering dives they came inside for hot cocoa and marshmallows! Ahh…the rosy cheeks of fall!

There is something about billowing curtains and chill temps that fires up my creativity. That and my oldest daughter telling me that home-made bread was a must on this day. So out came the grain mill and the prairie gold wheat berries and my favorite pizza dough recipe, which doubles up nicely for rolls or buns, and we got to work. Pretty soon my younger girls were rolling out individual pizzas and adding their favorite toppings, and in the end, we had a delicious pizza lunch and since I doubled the dough recipe, we’ve also got buns for supper. We’ll cut them open, butter the insides and grill them on the griddle, then serve them with bacon and cheesy fried eggs! Mmm! Mine will have fresh basil leaves on it as well…are you hungry yet? *wink*

Here is our favorite pizza dough recipe, it’s easy, FAST, and a real joy to mold around in your hands…just add a little olive oil to your hands first, and fall in love!

Pizza Dough

  • 2 packages of yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 cups flour (I use 100% whole wheat home ground flour, you can also use half whole wheat and white flours)
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 2 tsp sugar.
  2. Pour into a mixing bowl with remaining ingredients.
  3. Knead (I have a dough hook attachment to my mixer, that’s what I use, and it doesn’t take but 4-6 minutes of kneading for this recipe)
  4. Let rise in a greased bowl, in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Punch down, and use for pizza crust, or let rise again another 20 minutes and make into rolls or buns.

Sometimes we make pizza pockets instead of pizza…those are fun. Roll out chunks of dough into circles, and fill half the circle with  your favorite pizza toppings: hamburger, onions, black olives, cheese, etc. NOTE: NO SAUCE! It will leak out the edges. Fold your circle of dough over and crimp edges to seal. Make a slit in the top for steam to escape and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, and serve with sauce for dipping. We love these.

Happy Labor Day!

Categories
Cooking and Food Family

Homemade Ice Cream, Anyone?

Finally.  After almost 18 years of marriage, we have become the happy consumers of our very own homemade ice cream! We were so excited about a month ago, to stumble upon a used-maybe-once White Mountain 6 quart ice cream maker–hand crank, even! JUST the machine we have always wanted, but could never afford! God is good, He must have realized how much we LOVE ice cream! *wink*

I don’t know what we love more. The fact that we’ve got such a terrific way to use up our raw organic milk, cream, and farm fresh eggs, or the satisfaction of yet another family pastime…sitting in the shade of a warm almost-summer evening taking turns at the crank. Or, the awe on my children’s faces after 23 minutes of cranking…as we all hold our breath and lift the cannister’s lid, can it be…YES, WOW, thick, perfect ice cream!

Oh boy.

My mouth is watering.

It’s sure hot in here.

I’m so glad we picked up more ice at the grocery store the other day!

HUBBY???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are our two favorite recipes, so far. ;O) Care to share yours in comments? I’m looking for a fresh peach ice cream recipe if you have one!

Strawberry Ice Cream (one bowl of this is NOT enough)

  • (2) 3 oz strawberry jello dissolved in 2 c boiling water–cool
  • 4 eggs beaten**
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. cream
  • 1 qt milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • (2) 12 oz strawberries (or 3 cups chopped berries), thawed (add last)
  • milk to fill cannister to 3/4 full

Vanilla Ice Cream  

  • 4 eggs well beaten**
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • Vanilla extract (may also add a little lemon juice or extract if desired)
  • 1 qt cream
  • 2 qt milk
  • May add 1 large box instant vanilla pudding for flavor

Again, add milk till your cannister is 3/4 full, crank and enjoy!

My only other tip, is that it is a lot cheaper to go to your local feedstore and pick up a 50 lb sack of livestock salt, rather than “rock salt” from the grocery store. Works just great!

I think ice cream is a must on these 96 degree days, don’t you?

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Bonnie, for sharing her recipes with me!

**Special note, we don’t cook our eggs…since they are fresh as can be from our own chicken gals, and no danger of salmonella…if you are using store eggs, you might need to find a recipe with cooked eggs…fair warning!

Categories
Cooking and Food Family

Love your family with Baked Oatmeal!

Joy fills my heart every morning, knowing my days have purpose. There is no more fulfilling job in this world, than that of wife and mother. God has been so gracious to allow us to raise our family 100% ourselves. What a blessing!

I love waking up before the kiddos, our open bedroom window carrying in a fresh breeze and birdsongs, the nanny goat’s merrily tingling bell, the happy neighing of baby colts–all beckoning me outside while it is still blessedly cool!  I check the indoor/outdoor temp, making sure it’s still cooler outside than it is inside, and leave the house with its billowing curtains, preferring instead, my great big tree-shaded hillside with its billowing leafy branches and the white rope hammock that has found its two tree stands for the summer.

But first things first…the laying hens need me to fling their barn door open so these gals can scritch-scratch and forage the day away, and hubby and I must amble down the driveway and beyond the grain bin to move the two field pens full of young chickens to fresh green pasture. Once fed and watered, the Cornish-cross broilers and little layer chicks release me to some quiet time in the hammock with God’s word and my handy Bible pen. I can rest easy for a while, knowing that one of my family’s favorite breakfasts is in the oven.

Baked Oatmeal w/dried Cherries

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries (we love dried cherries in this!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F (175*C)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries (or cherries). Spread in an ungreased 9×13″ pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve with milk in bowls.

We are a family of five, and can easily demolish three-fourths of this filling dish. But we have country life appetites going for us as well!

Do you love the life God has given you? He can fill your cup to the brim and over with love for your husband and children, and joy as you live for their well-being. Just ask Him.

According to Titus 2, we women are to be teachers of *good things*, keepers at home, loving our husbands and loving our children…obedience in these things m’dears, brings lasting joy!

Categories
Christianity Cooking and Food

Easy Baked Salmon

Friday mornings are usually reserved for Bible study luncheons with my parents. With our hectic schedule, we haven’t had any semblance of regularity with our studies, but it worked out today! Dad taught on Matthew 24, regarding the signs of the end. Riveting stuff, as we see it come true all around us. We followed our study up with one of our favorite treats: Baked Alaskan Salmon. Wow. We absolutely love this recipe, so it’s about time I shared it here at the blog!

I always double this, and go heavy on the spices and cracker crumbs. But here is the original recipe.

Baked Wild Salmon Fillets

  • 4 salmon fillet
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 1/2 of an onion diced
  • 1 cup (or MORE)  cracker crumbs (we like Back to Nature cracker rounds)
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon

Preheat oven to 350″F. Blend seasonings together and rub into fish. Roll seasoned salmon into the cracker crumbs, packing the crumbled crackers onto the fillets. Put in 9×13″ glass dish. Sprinkle each fillet with diced onions and drizzle with lime or lemon juice, about 3/4 TB per fillet. If you have crumbs leftover, go ahead and add them to the dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes and dig in!

These were AMAZING with fresh steamed garden asparagus, tossed salad and homemade Texas toast! My mom likes to bring her double burner cast iron griddle and a loaf of French bread, which she and the girls slice and butter (real butter all the way, man!) both sides, then grill on the griddle. Ta-da–Texas toast, and is it ever delicious.

Fun way to round out the family time: Quiddler. If you like word games, such as Scrabble and Boggle, you’ll love this one.

Why not schedule a Bible study luncheon of your own?

Categories
Cooking and Food

Cheesecake Gifts and Recipes

In early December, my friend Kim called with a brilliant Christmas gift  idea. She needed to borrow my springform pan to carry it off.  Why? Because cream cheese was on sale for .59 cents a package! And because cheesecakes make such delectable gifts! With her springform pan and mine, she could save a lot of time baking two at a time. So we both stocked up on cream cheese and got busy!

But here’s the *brilliant* part. Kim and I both used totally different *base* cheesecake recipes and found that we could tweak the basic recipe by adding specific variations to the filling. This way we could bake 4 different cheesecakes, with our different add-ins, and be able to cut each one in fourths, producing cheesecake “samplers” to give away. In the end, I gave out several cheesecakes that were each divided into four options: Chocolate, Mini-chocolate chip, Raspberry Swirl, and Plain. Fun! And they looked so pretty in the professional cake boxes we got at the Cake Supply Store for .69 cents each. While you are there, they also have white cardboard cake circles for .39 cents apiece. Handy items, I highly recommend them!

This is a gift idea that can be given away fresh, or frozen, as cheesecakes do freeze very well. I opted to give mine away fresh, but told each recipient to stash it in the freezer if they wanted to save it for a later date.

I’m so kicking myself for forgetting to take pics! Here is the Cheesecake Factory recipe I used, with instructions on how to pull off the variations I mentioned above.

Added bonus–this Cheesecake Factory Filling recipe always makes enough for a test batch…so have a glass dish on hand (or another cheesecake pan!) and make a smallish cheesecake with the extra filling to keep for the family to try!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake Filling

Graham Cracker Crust: 2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs, 1  1/3 cups sugar, 1 stick melted buttermix together, and press in bottom and up sides of 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes.

Filling:

1 1/2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cheesecake Directions:

1. All the filling ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer set on low (keep the setting at low during the entire mixing process).

3. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until creamy.

4. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg.

5. Add flour, vanilla and lemon juice, mix well.

6. Add the sour cream and beat well.

7. Pour cream cheese mixture into the springform crust-lined pan.

8. Place on the top rack in the middle of a 325 degrees preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes.

9. When time is up turn oven off, prop open oven door and leave in oven for one hour.

10. Remove from oven and let cool then refrigerate for 24 hours.

Important tip : A cheesecake should season. The wait is worth it. The flavor ripens and becomes enriched.

Okay here’s what I did for variations on this theme:

  1. Chocolate Cheesecake–add 1/2-3/4 cup cocoa powder, or more to taste!
  2. Mini-Chocolate Chip Cheesecake–add the entire 12 oz package mini-chocolate chips to the filling!
  3. Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake–heat one cup raspberry preserves slightly, and add half of it to the filling. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, and then drop dollops of the preserves around on the filling. Swirl it in with a knife.

Bake for the same amount of time as you did for the plain cheesecake, and enjoy! We also made a Raspberry Swirl-Mini-Chocolate Chip cheesecake and it was just amazing. Ten thumbs up by the five people that live here!

Deborah Vogts also has a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Chip Cheesecake–the crust alone is to-die-for–as you can see in the picture.  Check this lovely author’s blog out for more delicious recipes!

Deborah Vogt’s Delicious Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Crust:cheesecake
2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/3 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In medium mixing bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, coconut, sugar, baking cocoa. Add melted butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom and partially up the side of a 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar, and then add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Fold in miniature chocolate chips. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes until center is nearly set. Turn off oven and allow cake to cool for an hour. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Let cool completely and then refrigerate overnight. 16 servings.

Categories
Cooking and Food

Great Dip Recipes for the Holidays

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was going to have to post some recipes from the October Writer’s Retreat I attended. Here are some goodies for you! More to follow!

Julane’s Corn Dip

  • 2 cans Mexicorn
  • 2 bunches green onions ( or one regular onion, diced pretty small)
  • 1 can chopped green chilis (can use chopped jalapenos if you prefer–but it does make it hot!!)
  • 1 cup real mayo
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated cheese ( Julane recommends  sharp cheddar or the taco seasoned kind)

Drain corn.  Chop onions.  Add mayo, sour cream, chilis and cheese. Mix well and chill. SO EASY!!

And SO good!!

Julane’s ESPINACA Dip

Julane says her boys would eat this like soup if she’d let them!! Just watch that your crock pot doesn’t get too hot and scorch the cheese!

  • 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese
  • 4 oz. Velveeta cheese
  • 1 cup whipping cream (or heavy cream if you have your own)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
  • 1 sm. onion diced
  • 1 small pkg frozen chopped spinach, (thawed)
  • 1/4 c. chopped jalepenos, with juice (I use the canned chilis because we don’t like it quite so hot when kids are eating it–unless your kiddos have really “tough” taste buds)

Place cream cheese, Velveeta cheese, whipping cream, milk and Ro-Tel in a crock pot on medium to high heat. While cheese is melting, dice the onion and add to crock pot. Add chilis (or jalapenos, juice and all) and add spinach that has been well “squeezed” of any moisture (want it as water free as possible). Reduce heat on crock pot and cook about two hours.

These sound like great appetizers to have on hand prior to your holiday feasts! We’re going to try them out on New Year’s Eve!

Enjoy! And treat yourself to a visit to Julane’s blog, Inspiration From the Commonplace!

Categories
Christianity Cooking and Food

Tips for Bake Sales

bake sale 1.1Family and friends have been anxiously awaiting this post since mid-November! Not because they need the vital information I’m going to share for hosting a successful bake sale, but rather for the glory this post is going to give to God for the great things He hath done!

A friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer in July.  This homeschool mother of 7 and her husband have had a rough year in all areas, and then along came this cancer diagnosis. In an effort to *do* something helpful, our homeschool group decided to host a bake sale. Here’s what I learned in the process!

PRAY hard!

Hosting an outdoor bake sale in November isn’t the most *brilliant* of plans, but that’s what we did. Here in the mid-west, November weather is typically pretty blustery. The week leading up to the bake sale was chilly, but not too bad. However, the forecast for the Friday of the sale, was downright awful! Everybody called to let me know that Friday was going to be miserable, hands down. But what can you do when you’ve got ads out everywhere, and all the radio stations have been announcing this fundraiser for days?

You pray, that’s what you do. And it helps to have a 13 year old in the house reminding you that God is a miracle worker. I told all my girls that we were packing a change of clothes to take along, because we would probably get soaked…with a forecast of 100% chance of rain, and 30 degree temps…don’t you think it prudent to plan ahead a little? But my daughter kept chiding such plans…”Oh ye of little faith, Mom!”

So we kept baking, baking, baking…and praying, praying, praying!

Involve the Kids!

bake sale 2This tip deserves its own spot in the post. Being homeschoolers, each family had children coming along eager to help. One family had the awesome idea of making costumes! They came with the cutest sandwich board type costumes–one of a cupcake, and another of an M&M cookie. Another family had a chef’s costume, and another donated a banana costume (banana bread, anyone?). We had a line of around 20 children clowning around attracting business for us. Those costumes did the trick!

One of the boys threw in a pogo stick for extra credit. Now THAT got people’s attention!

Enlist help!

This goes without saying, but I thought I’d better say it anyway. Mass email your support group, being sure to call the ones who aren’t online and try to get an idea of what items they are bringing to the sale. You don’t want to end up with four tables of brownies, for instance. Well, maybe you do–especially if a moment of chocolate is necessary for the morale of the troops on sale day.

We shared around the following jobs:

  • Decide on a good location for your sale, and work out all the details. Staples graciously allowed us to use their parking lot free of charge.
  • Get ads in the local newspapers, and call/email the local radio stations with a public service announcement to make sure news of the fundraiser reaches as many in the community as possible. Do this a week or two in advance. In our case, the radio stations gave a free blurb every day leading up to the bake sale, and then really pushed it for us on sale day. The newspapers gave us a free “story” spot due to the sale being a fundraiser.
  • Make flyers to put around town at the local businesses!
  • Make signs to put up at big intersections on sale day!
  • Make colorful neon poster board/cardboard signs for the kids to hold to attract traffic and passersby on sale day. (It’s a good plan to make plenty of these, and bring extra poster board and permanent markers along to make more if necessary. Wind and rain–and kids!–can wreak havoc on the best of signs!)
  • Get two (at a minimum) canopy tents for your sale, and make sure you have weights to anchor them down at all four corners. In addition to this, buy two or three shower curtains and rings to attach to the back of the tents to provide added protection from wind and rain. The rings will clip along the upper tent poles perfectly, and the shower curtain can be clamped at the bottom corners to the tent legs. Works great!
  • Do you want to raffle an item off to make a little more money for your recipient? We raffled off a homemade quilted denim throw. Just be sure to have tickets and a ticket jar on hand!
  • Have a jar on hand for donations, and tape a picture of the recipient to it so buyers will know where their money is going. They may want to donate additional funds directly to the family, or a medical expense account. So be prepared with that information.
  • Round up however many tables you will need to display your culinary works of art!
  • Be sure to let the home bakers know how you want the foods packaged, and whether or not to price their items.
  • Be prepared with a money box and however much change you think you’ll need on hand. Many people start out with $50 in ones, fives and about $15 of that is in quarters.

Pricing or Not Pricing?

On the subject of pricing, initially we price-checked what pies, rolls, breads, cookies, etc were selling for at local grocery stores. We wanted a good idea of what the public would be willing to pay for the same items–of the homemade variety.  We asked our contributors not to price their items, thinking we would make up a pricing sheet or board that would cover everything in generalities. However…

The day before sale day, we decided–after much prayer and weighing out the pros and cons–to not price anything. Talk about a leap of faith, but we felt impressed that we needed to let the Lord pour out His blessings on this sale, and that pricing things would only limit our profits.

So we made it a “donation only” bake sale!

Sale Day Arrives! Drum Roll…

Okay. So we were ALL praying that God would give us great weather, right? Well, the local farmers must have been praying for rain, because the night before the bake sale the wind howled, the skies erupted and the rainwaters gushed! However, morning arrived and we loaded our Suburban full of baked goods in only a slight misting of damp! All the way to the bake sale, we watched the sky. Incredibly, it looked fairly clear above the city! We arrived at the Staples parking lot along with several other families, and got both of our canopy tents set up with no wind or rain or damp at all! God is SO good!

In fact, besides being chilly, the weather that whole morning was great! We had a ten or twenty minute shower mid-morning, but other than that, it was truly a miraculous answer to our prayers! We had two moms that really planned ahead for “miserable” weather, one brought a cooler of hot chocolate and cups (which we and our customers guzzled freely!) and the other brought a bag of ponchos for the kiddos out holding signs. She also brought a gigantic pot of hot chili, cheese and crackers for those of us working through the lunch hour! (I’m telling you, these ladies are the ones you want for friends when the going gets tough!)

Around 1 p.m. the wind came up, and the radar was warning of major rain moving into the area by 2 p.m. Sure enough, it moved on in! Still we held out, and people stopped by, feeling sorry for us, I’m sure! Many of them told us they wouldn’t have stopped except for the children lining the sidewalks by the road.

Soon we caved into the weather around us and started tearing things down. We were cold, but happy! Off we went to a friend’s home to count money and see if the day had been the success we hoped for!

The End Result

bake sale 3Doing the bake sale on a donation basis made our job so easy. Most people didn’t ask for change, so we had them directly deposit their cash and checks into the donation jar we had on one of the bake sale tables. We did come prepared with change, but would have only needed maybe $20 worth of quarters, ones and fives at the most.

90% of our customers responded SO generously to our “donation” bake sale.  We had people buy $50 worth of foods, and pay for it with $150! One guy paid $30 for a pie…and the stories go on and on. Yes, some people got away with a steal, but the generosity of others more than covered those instances.

Our bake sale might have made $300-$400, had we priced every single thing. We were hoping to make $500 which would cover two chemo treatments for our friend with cancer.

But guess what? Back at the house after the sale, we just kept counting and recounting the money because we could hardly believe our eyes!

On a Friday, a day that everyone expected to be absolutely miserable (and indeed, it turned into an awful, miserable day after 2:30 p.m.)…God must have pulled out all the stops because we ended up making exactly $1,500!

Yes, $1,500! We immediately called our friend, the one we were raising funds for, and told her the good news. She was blown away. Finally she was able to speak and she said,

“I have 3 months of chemo left and $1500 is the exact amount I need to finish paying for them.”

Wow. Of course God knew this need, and knew how to meet it. It was our privilege to be His toolsl! Especially as many of us were a little bit skeptical about how much money we could make off of a bake sale in the first place.

In spite of our misgivings, we turned the end results over to God–weather, profits, getting a late start planning, etc. We decided ahead of time, no matter what happened, we would praise Him. And He sure blessed our socks off!

Luke 6:38 says,

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

That is sure truth to take to heart in times of need. Not necessarily referring to money, but also to love and service, and sharing whatever talents God has blessed you with. We all have something He wants to use for His glory!

And while you’re at it, NEVER underestimate God!

Categories
Cooking and Food

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Here is my friend’s famous pizza sauce recipe, as per yesterday’s  request by “fellow midwesterner”!

First of all, to make pizza sauce, we start with tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce (taken from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving)

  • 45 lbs of tomatoes (paste tomatoes thicken up the best)
  • bottled lemon juice

Wash tomatoes; drain. Remove core and blossom. Cut into quarters; simmer 20 minutes in a large sauce pot, stirring occasionally. Puree tomatoes in a food processor or food mill.  Strain puree to remove seeds and peels.  Cook pulp in a large, uncovered sauce pot over med-high heat until sauce thickens, stirring to prevent sticking. Reduce volume by one-half. Add 1 TB bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 TB to each quart jar. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 35 minutes, quarts 40 minutes, in a boiling water canner.

Okay. Once you have your tomato sauce, you can use it to make pizza sauce for the freezer! That recipe follows, but first:

***Be sure to read this paragraph!***

Notice that this pizza sauce recipe can be made with either store-bought tomato sauce plus tomato paste, or home-canned tomato sauce. If you use home-canned, make sure your home-canned sauce is thick by using paste tomatoes, and/or lengthening the time you cook your tomatoes before canning. The longer they cook, the thicker it gets, but your volume is also reduced.  So the following recipe assumes you will use store-bought sauce and tomato paste. If you use home-canned, thicker sauce, then you can eliminate buying tomato paste from the grocery store and use approx. 41 oz of home-canned sauce. If your home-canned sauce is not very thick, you may add the 12 oz can of tomato paste to it to thicken it, and keep to the 29 oz of tomato sauce. Hopefully that was clearer than mud.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

  • 1 can (29 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 TB Italian seasoning
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seed, crushed (optional–fennel seed has a unique taste, we don’t like it much)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sugar to taste (start tasting at 1-2 tsp)

We also add a little marjoram, basil, thyme–all of these taste good in Italian dishes. Play around with the spices that your family appreciates, and leave out the ones they don’t.  You may also leave the sugar out. We think it plays down the tangy-ness of the sauce.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine tomato sauce and paste. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cool. Pour into freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Freeze for up to 12 months.

This recipe also may be canned following the Ball’s Blue Book of Preserving directions for “seasoned tomato sauce” which says to add 1 TB bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 TB bottled lemon juice to each quart jar. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 35 minutes, quarts 40 minutes in a boiling water canner.

This super yummy pizza sauce is extremely good with the following recipes:

Homemade Pizza Pockets

Homemade Pizza Dough