Saturday, August 13, 2005

Saving Money in the Kitchen and other thoughts

I teach a ladies’ Sunday School class and we’re currently studying Proverbs 31 together. This week’s lesson reminds us that a godly woman is thrifty. As part of my preparation for this lesson, I referred to a book I once purchased for $1 at a used-book sale. It’s called How to Pinch a Penny Till it Screams. In the first chapter, the author, Rochelle McDonald, lists 12 guidelines for thriftiness, and one of these is not to buy something if you can make it yourself more cheaply. That reminded me of some of my favorite recipes for things I make rather than buying.

Years ago when money was really tight, there were a lot of things I made myself -- yogurt, mayonnaise, French salad dressing -- that I don’t do anymore. But I do still make specialty mixes like taco seasoning mix, ranch dressing mix, zesty Italian dressing mix, and onion soup mix. I find that these mixes are often called for in various recipes, and they can be quite expensive. So I thought I would share those recipes here.

1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/4 cup chili powder
2 Tablespoons salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
Mix all together well and transfer to an airtight container such as a small tin or jar. For each pound of ground beef, use 3 Tablespoons mix and 1/2 cup water. Add to the browned beef. Bring to boil; cook & stir 2 minutes.

3/4 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon celery seed, optional
Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. When a recipe calls for onion soup mix, use 5 Tablespoons mix for each envelope of soup mix called for.

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
In small bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container. For each packet of ranch dressing mix called for in recipe, use 1 Tablespoon of this mix.

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each: pepper. oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sweet red pepper flakes
Pinch of paprika
Mix all together. Whirl in blender if a finer texture is desired. This recipe equals one envelope zesty Italian salad dressing mix. It may be doubled, tripled, or whatever quantity you need to make.


I‘m preparing for lunch guests after church tomorrow. We’re keeping it simple... raw veggies, chips and dip for starters while the hamburgers and hot dogs are grilling. With the burgers and dogs, we’ll have purchased potato salad. For dessert, ice cream with brownies and homemade fudge sauce.
The brownie recipe is the best I’ve ever had. It came originally from my pastor’s wife, and I still want to give her credit for this great recipe even though I’ve changed a couple of things.

1 cup flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
2 scant cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl beat together the remaining ingredients. Sift in the flour mixture and stir it in thoroughly. (Some people will add 1 cup chocolate chips here.) Scrape into a greased 13x9” pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or just until done. Don’t overbake or you’ll lose the fudgy texture.

And the hot fudge sauce recipe is also a “best-of-the-best”. Made in the microwave, I found the recipe in Cook & Tell, my favorite cooking newsletter.

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cream, evaporated milk OR regular milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place butter and chocolate in a 1 1/2 qt. microwave-safe casserole or bowl. Cook 2 minutes on High. Stir in cocoa, sugar, cream or milk, and salt. Heat 2 more minutes on High. Stir in vanilla. If necessary, cook another 30 to 60 seconds on High, or until no longer sugary.

Have fun with these ideas!

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