Saturday, January 31, 2009

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

my kids love instant oatmeal

ok, i do too...

but have you ever looked at the ingredients? can you pronounce all those? even a healthy food like oatmeal, especially the instant with flavors will be full of preservatives and additives. some of those additives might have a good purpose, like vitamins. but it seems to me that it would be wiser to get our vitamins either in foods that they naturally occur in or in a straight up vitamin form. a lot of people are preferring to avoid sugar nowadays and replacing with artificial sweeteners. just my opinion, if sugar is bad for you, don't eat sugar! don't replace it with something that has been created in a lab, for pete's sake! every sweetener that has been developed has shown to have side affects like cancer, except splenda. but i won't buy splenda either. it is made from sugar, yes, but do you know what else? chlorine bleach - ick! so instead, i am choosing to limit my white sugar consumption to a minimum or use something natural instead, like honey.

that being said... this recipe does call for sugar. i have not tried the turbinado sugar yet, but intend to with my next batch. i would use honey, but since it is a dry mix, it would be difficult to incorporate.

so, i just love this cook book for that very reason!


it is full of ideas for pre-made mixes, but non will include unusual preservatives or additives. pancake mix, hot roll mix, taco seasoning, spaghetti seasoning and many more. there is even a second edition that has a great teryaki refrigerator mix. the book was originally published in 1978. it appears that amazon now has listed an updated version.

Oatmeal Mix
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
3 cups rolled oats.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder salt and white sugar. Stir in brown sugar. Mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in shortening until evenly distributed. Stir in oats and mix well. Put in a large airtight container. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks. Makes about 9 cups of OATMEAL MIX. (use to make Oatmeal muffins, Oat Pancakes, Oatmeal Cookies, Carmelita Oatmeal Bars, Fruit Bar Cookies, Peach Blossom Desert from Make-A-Mix)

i found their recipe to be too doughy and not oaty enough. so after some experimentation, this is what i have come up with:

sarah's instant oatmeal mix

10 cups quick oats
2 cups butter flavored crisco
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tbs salt

using a food processor or mixer, encorporate the sugars, baking powder, salt and crisco. place all of oats in a large mixing bowl. using a large, flat wooden spoon or hard edged spatula, combine and cut crisco mixture into oats until mixed thoroughly. add desired fruit flavorings**

**fruit flavoring suggestions
apple cinnamon:
3 cups of dried apples, chopped to bite size pieces.
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional - 1 cup dry milk for a creamier texture

bannana and cream:
3 cups of dried bannana chips, chopped in food processor to bite sized pieces
1 tsp orange peel (available in bottles with McCormick spices)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dry milk

tropical cranberry:
2 cups dried sweet cranberries
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 tsp orange peel
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dry milk

combine flavoring ingredients. add to oatmeal mix. store in airtight container and use within 10-12 weeks. makes about 3 gallons (think ziplock bags)

to serve, measure about 1 cup of mix and 1 cup of water, microwave for 1 minute, stir and enjoy.

these ended up being a great stocking stuffer for relatives at christmas, in pint canning jars.

Steak and Potato Soup

The original recipe, I guess I should say, the inspiration for my actual dish, came from the Oct/Nov 2005 older issue of Cooking Pleasures Magazine. You can find the original recipe in entirety on the CCA website here. *It was named Beef and Mushroom Soup in the magazine and included tomato paste and brandy.

Sarah's "Steak and Potato Soup"

1 1/2 lb steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
Oil for frying
1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms **
2 cups hot water
4 cloves minced garlic
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 stalks of celery with tops, chopped
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 bay leaf
2 cans beef broth
2 tbs butter
3-4 yukon gold potatoes (about 1-2 lbs)
1 tsp salt
1 tbs onion soup mix

Place dried mushrooms in bowl of hot water to rehydrate for about 30 minutes. Save the water for the broth. Cook garlic, onion, celery and button mushrooms in butter until tender. Strain dried mushrooms and chop. Add broth and reserve mushroom liquid to vegetables, add bay leaf, heat to boil and reduce to simmer for at least an hour. The longer you simmer, the thicker and richer the broth becomes. In separate pan, fry slices of steak over medium-high heat to sear the sides. Add steak to broth for at least 30 minutes. 30 minutes before serving, add potatoes salt and onion soup mix and cook until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.

**Dried Mushrooms are found in the Asian food aisle of the grocery store, generally on the top shelf in a 1 or 2 oz plastic bag. They are great to keep on hand for soups as they are very flavorful. Fresh porcini and shiitake mushrooms are expensive and the flavors are good but don't seem as concentrated, as is with the dry. I was just reading that dried shiitakes are commonly used in Chinese medicine and are high in iron, protein and fiber, so get a bunch and serve them often!

I had made steak earlier in the week, intentionally making more with the thought of this soup. I still sliced and seared the meat, as it will become more tender in the soup (falling apart).

*I do not necessarily endorse CCA or Cooking Pleasures magazine. I have found some great recipes through them and they provide product recommendations for some of the newer gadgets and even ingredients sometimes. Most of the recipes are complicated and/or time consuming AND tend include unusual or gourmet ingredients. The subscription is a little pricey and ultimately leads to seemingly endless harassment to become a lifetime member for several hundred dollars, which will in turn get you a great cookware set and the 6 issues a year for life, supposedly. I might consider it if I didn't already have good cookware. I have said no on many occasions over the phone, email and through the mail, but I continue to be solicited over a year from the last subscription. If you are looking for a good cookware set, this would be a great way to acquire a quality set at a discount.

what shall we have here

welcome to my recipe blog!

i have something of a reputation for providing tasty victuals on a regular basis and hope to share the love. i wish i was more precise in the way that i work, so that it might be easier to reproduce for those who are stricken with the cooking-phobia. my apologies for that. i tend to find a recipe and change it before i have made it even once the exact way. i haven't figured out if that is arrogance or creativity. if there is a source to share, i will make efforts to include the source and original recipe in addition to my altered recipe and you can try either.

i would very much appreciate any feedback and comments.
if you try it and hate it, let me know.

if you try it and love it, let me know.

if you try it and it is too difficult, let me know.

if you are just a voyeur and just checking it out, let me know.

(i really like comments, can you tell?)

well, here we go! bon appetite!