PUTTING FOODS by is a task usually associated with the harvest, storing up for winter. The phrase conjures up row upon row of mason jars filled with green beans, tomatoes, strawberry jam and plum preserves.
Suppose, instead, you had spent the summer like the grasshopper and had no provisions put by because you chose to play outdoors.
And now, with winter here, you realize you have to do something about the rising cost of food. You are desperately in need of a quick fix to keep the weekly grocery bills for your family of four from rising well into the three figure mark. But there are no vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh-from-the-garden green beans or sweet, juicy strawberries, and there are no plums at all.
Even so, you are in luck. Some of the most expensive items on the grocery budget are the elaborately packaged, highly processed products that have come to be called convenience foods. They are the food-stuffs that are usually a combination of many ingredients, some of which have nothing to do with taste or nutrition. Often the "extraneous" ingredients are there to provide long-term preservation and to improve the coloring and texture, or to mask the substitution of cheap ingredients for expensive ones.
So if you are really anxious to make your food budget go further, you might want to start a new custom of putting by foods that cost much in the supermarket and offer little in return. You can make them when it is convenient and store them in the cupboard as you would any commercially prepared convenience product. You will not need to add preservatives, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, stabilizers, artificial colors or artificial flavors. Since you will be using top quality ingredients, all the natural flavor and color will come through without any assist from the laboratory. Your homemade convenience foods won't need fortification with vitamins or minerals either. Nor will you have to worry about the amount of salt they contain. And the foods that are not ordinarily prepared with sugar, ecept when mass produced, won't contain sugar. The amount of sugar in products that require sugar will have the minimum necessary for good taste. Since you will not be subjecting these products to extremes of temperature (storage in an unheated and un-airconditioned warehouse for six months), you will not have to worry about their shelf life. They will last as long as you are likely to have them -- six, eight, 10 months.
Using top quality ingredients should make these homemade convenience foods more expensive. But it won't. You aren't paying for fancy wrappings, and you aren't paying someone $6 an hour to make the things for you.
Putting these kinds of foods by may be something you want to make a permanent part of your cold weather pursuits when others are glued to the television, watching football, basketball or hockey (choose one). ZESTY BARBECUE SAUCE (Makes 2 cups) 1 cup finely chopped onion 3 tablespoons salad oil 2 cups tomato sauce 1/4 cup cidar vinegar 1/4 cup lemon juice 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons prepared mustard 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 bay leaf, crushed 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
Saute onion in hot oil until tender. Do not brown. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken.Cool and pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in refrigerator.
Use as you would any barbecue sauce to grill poultry, beef, pork; mixed with ground beef to make a barbecued beef or just as a sauce spooned over roasted or broiled meats.
The best-known commercial brand of barbeque sauce lists as its first ingredient corn syrup, followed by distilled vinegar, tomato puree and salt. It is thinned with water. It also contains aritifical color and flavor. It gets its body from the powdered cellulose it contains. You may remember powdered cellulose from a certain high-fiber bread.
If you want to make your homemake barbeque sauce go further, do what the manufacturers do: thin it with water. BROWNIE MIX (Makes 8 cups mix; enough for 3 8-by-8 inch pans) Keeps 4 to 6 months 4 cups sugar 2 cups unbleached flour 1-2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa 2 teaspoons salt 1-l/4 cups vegetable shortening
Put sugar, flour, cocoa and salt in large bowl and mix until ingredients are evenly distributed. Cut in shortening with pastry blender, two knives and/or fingertips until mixture is like cornmeal. Place in tightly-sealed container and store in cool, dry place.
To make brownies:
Beat 2 eggs with 1 teaspoon vanilla to blend well in mixing bowl. Measure out generous 2-1/2 cups brownie mix; do not pack down. With spoon, beat mix into eggs until batter is smooth. Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup coarsley chopped pecans or walnuts. Grease and flour 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan. Spoon in batter and spread evenly. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean. DO NOT OVERAKE. Cool in pan and cut in squares.
Note: Can be baked in 9-by-9-inch pan, but brownies will be thinner. Bake only about 20 minutes. To make a brownie crust: Combine 2 cups of mix with 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon vanila extract. Mix thoroughly. Grease an 8-or9-inch pie plate well. Spoon mix into pie plate and press against bottom and sides with fingers that have been moistened with water. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 mminutes. The sides should be well baked, the bottom still soft. Remove from oven and push down bottom to flatten.
Cool and fill with choice of ice cream, using about 1 quart.
Note: You can flavor the crust with other extracts besides vanilla. In place of 1 teaspoon use 1/2 teaspoon mint, rum or orange extract. BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES (About 4 to 4-1/2 dozen 3-inch cakes)
Keep 8 months or longer. Some nights you just don't want anything fancy at all. Buckwheat cakes and sausage or eggs is more than enough. Of course, they are also good for brunch. 1 cup light buckwheat flour 1 cup unbleached white flour or whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons sugar %?1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all dry ingredients together and place in tightly covered container in cool, dry place.
To make buckwheat cakes: 1 heaping cup mix, 1 egg, separated, 1 cup sour milk* or buttermilk, 2 tablespoons melted butter. Combine the mix with the egg yolk, melted butter and sour milk. Beat the egg white and fold into batter. cook on hot griddle or in heavy skillet that has been lightly greased. You will need to grease the griddle lightly every now and then, depending on how well seasoned it is. Brown pancakes on one side; turn when edges begin to brown and bubbles form on surface; bake until golden on second side. Serve with butter and maple syrup, sausages, nitrite-free bacon, eggs, etc. Makes 20 pancakes. *To sour milk: 1 cup milk at room temperature. Place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar in bottom of 1 cup (or larger) measure. Fill the cup with milk to 1 cup line and stir. Let stand 5 minutes until it clabbers; i.e., a curd forms. BULGUR PILAF MIX (Makes about 5 cups; 1-1/4 cups mix makes 4 servings) Will keep 8 months to a year 4 cups bulgur (cracked wheat) 1/4 cup dried parsley 1/3 cup minced dried onion 2 teaspoons dried savory Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix ingredients together and store in airtight container in cool, dry place.
To use: Combine a heaping 1-1/4 cups mix with 2 cups of water in saucepan. Eason to taste with salt, if desired. Bring to boil; lower heat so mixture just simmers, cover and cook until water has been absorbed completely, about 20 minutes. The same seasonings and ratio of seasoning to grain would make a good white or brown rice mix or a buckwheat groats (kasha) mix. Cooking the rice calls for the same proportion of ingredients and the same technique. Cooking the groats calls for mixing the dry mix with a slightly-beaten egg first and cooking over medium heat until the egg has been absorbed by the groats and the mixture is dry. Then the same procedure for finishing the cooking is followed. CORNBREAD, MUFFIN, ETC., MIX (Makes 10 1/2 cups mix) Keeps 6 months 4 cups unbleached flour 4 cups yellow cornmeal 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup baking powder 2 teaspoons salt 1 cup vegetable shortening
Combine dry ingredients; stir well. Cut in shortening with pastry blender, two knives or fingers. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place. MUFFINS (1 dozen medium) 2 1/3 cups cornbread mix 1 egg 1 cup milk
Beat egg and milk together lightly. Stir into mix. Do not beat out the lumps. Mixture should be lumpy. Grease 12 medium muffin cups. Spoon mixture into cups, filling them up 2/3. Bake in preheated 425-degree oven 15 to 20 minutes. CHEESE-ONION CORNBREAD (8-inch square bread) 2 1/3 cups cornbread mix 1 egg 1 cup milk 1/4 cup chopped onion 1 cup coarsely shredded sharp cheese, like cheddar
Beat egg and milk together. Lightly stir into mix. Do not beat out lumps. Stir in onion and cheese. Grease an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan. Pour in cornbread batter and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Cut in squares to serve warm.
Bread can also be made plain, without onion and cheese. Batter BREAD (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) (6 to 8 servings) 3 1/2 cups milk 2 1/2 cups cornbread mix 4 eggs, separated 2 egg whites
Scald 2 1/2 cups milk. Combine mix with 1 cup remaining milk. Gradually add mix-milk mixture to scalded milk and cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is a thick mush. Remove from heat. Stir in 4 yolks, one at a time. Beat 6 whites until stiff, but not dry. Fold beaten whites into cornbread mixture. Grease a shallow 2 1/2-quart casserole and spoon mixture in casserole. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes, until crust is golden. Cornbread PIZZA (6 to 8 servings)
Would this be described as southern Italian-American? 1 1/2 pounds ground beef 1 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1 1/2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce 2 teaspoons pure chile powder* 1 teaspoon oregano Salt and pepper to taste 2 1/3 cups cornbread mix 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Brown meat; pour off fat. Add onion, green pepper and garlic and cook until onion is limp.Stir in tomato sauce, chile powder, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Prepare cornbread mix, using proportions in muffin recipe (1 egg, 1 cup milk). Spread batter over bottom and sides of greased 12-inch pizza or tarte pan. Spoon beef mixture evenly over batter and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust around sides is well-browned.
*Pure chile powder is not a combination of spices; it is from the chile only. But use a sweet mild one, not hot. FRUITED RICE (makes about 8 cups mix) Will keep 6 months 4 cups enriched white or brown rice 4 tablespoons instant minced onion 5tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon instant beef or chicken or vegetable bouillon powder 1 cup dried apricots or apples 1 1/2 cups raisins 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts or blanched, slivered almonds Pepper
Combine ingredients and store in airtight packages or containers in a cool, dry place.
To prepare: For four servings, combine 1 cup stirred white rice mixture with 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups water, depending on how soft and moist you like your rice, plus 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, undiluted, and salt to taste. Bring to boil; reduce heat so mixture simmers. Cover and cook until liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
In place of water and orange juice concentrate, substitute 2 1/4 cups orange juice. Makes 4 cups fruited rice. For brown rice, soak the rice mixture in the liquid in which it will be cooked at least one hour before cooking, all day long if desired. Then cook according to directions.
This seasoned rice mix has the distinct advantage of being free of monosodium glutamate, salt and other unpleasantries. If you want salt in yours; add the amount you want. POT-TO-PLATE STUFFING (makes 20 cups) keeps 6 months 5 tablespoons minced onion 5 tablespoons dried parsley 7 tablespoons dried celery 5tablespoons dried basil 5teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon turmeric 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1teaspoon dried minced garlic, optional Salt to taste 20 cups soft bread crumbs from 22 ounces of bread
Put seasonings in blender; blend to powder. Place bread cubes in large bag and add seasonings to bag. Shake bag and stir so seasonings stick to bread cubes. Lay bread cubes in shallow trays in single layer and allow to dry on the counter for a couple of days, until bread feels stale. Store in plastic bags or plastic containers, tightly closed, and use as needed. Shake up from bottom before measuring out.
To make 3 cups stuffing, in heavy-bottomed pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine. Stir in 3 cups stuffing until coated with butter. Add 3/4 cups boiling chicken, vegetable or beef broth or water until mixture is moistened. Cover and allow to cook over lowest possible heat about 5 minutes, until stuffing is very hot.
Stuffing can also be baked in the oven after it has been sauteed in butter and liquid is added. Cover and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Notes: If you use a salty stock to make the stuffing, you may prefer to keep the mix unsalted and adjust seasonings after cooking. That way anyone who cannot eat salt will also be able to eat the stuffing if cooked in water.
The amount of liquid used depends on whether you want a moist or medium-dry stuffing. You can alter the amount of liquid to suit your taste.
Allow 1/2 pound stuffing per pound of bird when using to stuff. SHAKE IT AND BAKE IT FOR PORK (makes about 2 1/2 cups) Will keep 6 months 1 cup yellow cornmeal 1 cup cornflake crumbs 1/3 cup instant minced onion 3 tablespoons parsley flakes 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon instant minced garlic 1 tablespoon basil 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Salt to taste 2 tablespoons oil
Combine all dry ingredients and stir to mix evenly. Stir in oil and mix until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place. To use: Pour about 3/4 cup of mix into plastic bag for 8 pork chops. Moisten chops with water and shake off excess liquid. Add a few chops at a time to bag and shake to distribute coating evenly over drops. Pork may be cooked either of two ways:
Bake on rack in shallow pan in preheated 425-degree oven, 30 to 35 minutes for 1/2-inch-thick chops, turning once; 40 to 45 minutes for 1-inch-thick chops.
Saute in a little oil in skillet until golden brown on both sides. Use about 1/4 cup oil for 8 chops.
No MSG, no artificial color, no sweeteners, and it tastes much better.