Monthly Archives: June 2012

Simple Cornbread

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Quick breads are types of bread that rise quickly, without the aid of yeast. Banana bread, biscuits and cornbread all fall into that category. Cornbread is a simple bread that requires absolutely no kneading and from start to finish takes about 30 minutes. Make an extra batch and use it for stuffing the next day. This version requires ingredients that typically most people have on hand on a consistent basis.

INGREDIENTS:
1 c Flour
1 c Cornmeal
1/2 c Sugar
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1 c Sour Cream
1/4 c Milk
1/4 c Canola Oil

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and crack the 2 eggs into it. Whip the eggs and then mix with the dry ingredients. Mix in sour cream, milk and oil till combined.

Grease a 9×9 inch pan and dust it with cornmeal.

Pour the batter into the pan and shake it until it is smooth. Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes.

The end result is a very light and fluffy cornbread.

Cornbread goes well with just about any main dish, not just chili.

I hope you give it a try, let me know how it goes.

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National Parks VBS

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Monday is only 2 days away and this year’s Vacation Bible School will be traveling to the National Parks. I get to work with the preschool aged kids this year and my room is the Bear Cave. I take absolutely no credit for the creative ideas, I just put up what I am given. Once again, Suzanne has outdone herself.

WELCOME

Can’t have anyone getting lost, now can we?

Welcome to the lodge, the home base for the 2s and 3s.

I taught them the Crazy Moose Song….

Snuggle up to the fire.

Have some juice with Fred the Moose.

Step outside the lodge and come on over to the Bear Cave. When the lights are out a blacklight will show the stars and bugs scattered around this cozy den.

ssshhhhhhh The bears are cozied up for a nap.

The little cave was a cardboard box and we covered it in brown paper that had been crumpled up. We set the whole thing no 2 chairs.

They really loved learning Going on a Bear Hunt.

Look carefully and you might see a bird or two perched high up on the rocks.

Even the caribou like to watch the cubs as they play.

Here are the main sites that the kids get to see, a different one each day.

Next is the Wilderness Survival room.

Here is the auditorium where we have opening and closing every day.

This year’s mission project is to build a hanger for a new church and purchase donkeys and carts for local pastors in Africa.

For the Volunteers

A staff room was available for everyone to take a short break.

The teen volunteers had their own room to relax if they wanted to go.

Here is the Glacier Expedition.

We learned about Paul and Silas in jail.

Come see the kindergarten rooms.

Someone in town found the moose at Costco and word quickly spread, that is why you it in several rooms.

This is the Pre K room.

Little Bear Country

Follow the tracks to the Wildlife Refuge.

And finally the Trail Challenge.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

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A friend was telling me once that she needed something to make for her Sunday School class that was easy and cheap. She had never heard of the Impossibly Easy Pies from Bisquick. I discovered them several years ago and my family loves having them for Brinner (that is breakfast for dinner). Feeding a family of 5 with teenagers, the original version of one pie simply does not cut it. So I developed this slightly different version that feeds more people and you probably have most of it already. It travels well, just cover the dish with tin foil.

INGREDIENTS
1 c Bisquick
2 c Milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 Tbs Dried Parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 c + 2/4 c shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 c diced Ham or 1 lb cooked and diced bacon

Whip the eggs and then add all the milk. Mix in the parsley, salt, pepper, Bisquick, 1 cup of cheese and the ham.

Grease a 9×13 inch pan and pour in the batter. Place into a 400 degree preaheated oven. If using a dark pan, go ahead and reduce it to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes until it looks set. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out almost perfectly clean. If the toothpick is really wet, return to the oven and check in another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and return to the oven until the cheese has melted.

When I make this for dinner, I usually open up a can of fruit to go along with it.

Happy cooking!

TOOL OF THE WEEK: CANNING SUPPLIES

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If you have any intention to can anything this spring and summer, you need to get prepared before the produce is ready. The items below will be listed according to what you plan on putting up. Freezer jam does not require the same tools as green beans. If you are new to canning, I highly recommend starting with freezer jam as it is one of the easiest things to make and requires the smallest investment.

FREEZER JAMS AND JELLIES
1. Freezing containers: The goal is to freeze the jam in a way that allows the least amount of air to come in contact with the food. You can find containers that are specifically designed for this purpose made of plastic. Another option is to use a regular canning jar and lid.

2. Sanitizing: If your water is set to a proper temperature of at least 120 degrees, you may use the dishwasher to sanitize your containers. Another option is a large pot that allows enough water to be added so as to completely submerge the glass jars. While a jar lifter sounds frivolous, it is something you really want to invest it. They are only a few dollars and are well worth the money.

A Water Bath Canner, is basically a giant pot.

3. Pot: You need a pot that will hold the ingredients for a given batch of jam and allows room for the foam that appears on top. Some recipes allow you to cook the ingredients in a crock pot for several hours.

4. Mashing: There are several ways to mash your fruit. You can cut with a knife, which quickly become tedious. An immersion blender and potato masher can help the job along. A juicer makes quick work for jellies while a food mill really crushes the fruit.

5. Pectin: While not all recipes call for it, using pectin is the best option for beginners IMO. This is what causes your jam or jelly to set up. There are 2 types, powdered and liquid. Make sure you know if your recipe calls for a specific type before you begin.

6. Pouring: A ladle works the best and used with a canning funnel prevents spills and keeps the rims of the jar clean.

Pictured is the Funnel, Jar Lifter, Magnet Wand and Spatula.

7. Timer: It does not matter what you use, but recipes are very specific in how long a jar should be processed. This varies not only due to the size of the jar, but what you are canning. Too long and your food becomes mushy, too little and you risk spoilage.

8. Storage: Jars should be stored in a cool, dry and dark space.

PROCESSED FRUIT

1. Lids: In addition to all the items above, you must have brand new lids, this is NOT an option! While you may reuse the bands as long as they are in good shape and not rusted, the lids MUST be new or you risk not only losing your food when the jar is processed, but the food will spoil on the shelf Often with the jar lifter comes with a stick that has a magnet on the end. This is used to remove the lids from a hot pot of water after they have been heated. Personally, I use a fork, but give it a try to see if you like using it. Once the jar has completely cooled, the bands may be removed for storage.

Make sure you purchase the correct sized lids! The traditional size jar has the mouth that tapers to be smaller than the body of the jar. A wide-mouthed jar is about the same size as the jar itself. The lid is the flat part that sets inside the band. It covers the mouth of the jar and has a rubber compound that seals the jar shut. The band is the separate piece that is screwed onto the jar.

2. Canner: There are specific pots designed to hold jars being processed. They include a wire rack that is placed on the bottom while the jars rest on the rack. They are also tall enough to hold the larger sized jars.

The jars rest in the wire rack and the handles allow for easier removal and placement of the rack. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars.

3. Cooling: Towels are needed to rest jars on while they cool down. While you never want to put hot jam into a cold jar, you don’t want to put cold fruit into a hot jar either. When a sanitized jar is resting it is placed upside down on the towel. Use towels that are smooth and not fuzzy, you don’t want the fuzz getting into your jar before being processed. Good potholders are also a must. You will also want 1 specifically to wipe the rims of your jars before you place the lids onto the rim.

4. Containers: Only use jars that were designed to can in such as Ball brand. You can use old jars however you must be very careful to examine the rims for ANY nicks. Even if it is a small nick do NOT use it for a hot water bath as it can prevent a seal with the lid and lead to spoilage.

Choose the size and type of jar according to what you are putting up. A jam or jelly is typically done in a half pint sized jar. Peaches on the other hand usually are done in a quart size and a wide mouth jar makes packing neatly a little easier.

5. Plastic Spatula: These are often sold with the funnel and are very important to get the air pockets out of the jar before sealing. They are placed against the side of the jar, and lowered to pop the air bubbles. This step cannot be skipped or you risk leaving air in the jar which leads to spoilage.

VEGETABLES AND MEATS
1. Cooking: A steam pressure canner is not the same as a pressure cooker used to cook a meal. In order to process vegetables and meat safely you must use a pressure canner designed for that purpose. You can use an old one, however you should take it in to be checked before using. The gaskets can become old and cracked and the pressure gauge may become inaccurate. The gauges can be tested at your local cooperative extension office and readjust them. Improperly canned food will lead to a mushy end product or spoilage.

Pressure Canner

Canning can be lots of fun and is a great way to save money on your grocery bill. However, the rules MUST be followed correctly as spoiled food is unsafe food and can put you into the hospital. There are many sites you can find old ways of canning that are no longer recommended methods to use, such as baking jars in the oven. If you ever have questions about a method, contact your local cooperative extension office and they can put you in touch with expert canners who can help you. Your best source of a recipe is the current Ball Blue Book as it only promotes those current methods proven to be safe.

Table decorations: 4th of July

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Boo loves to do food demonstrations at the fair. There is one in particular that requires you to decorate a table and create a menu for the entire day. You must prepare 1 item off that menu (which must be nutritionally balanced).

For the table-scape, Boo began with a red tablecloth I have used at Christmas time. The plates and cups were all purchased at the Dollar Store. The red pitcher was a Wal Mart find. Because the table stays up the entire week of fair she went with fake flowers, also purchased at the Dollar Store. The caddy (which held napkins and silverware) was a kit made at the local Home Depot clinic for kids and she painted it white with red stripes and blue stars.

Because we get very hot in the summer, dehydration is a concern in Smallville. The drink is Sprite which has no caffeine, which naturally dehydrates. The ice cubes are red and blue Gatorade. As they melt you are replacing your electrolytes.

Dessert consisted of strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. Slice the tops off the berries and then slice the berries in half. Arrange 5 pieces in the shape of a star. Fill the center with whipped cream and sprinkle blueberries on top. Vanilla ice cream works as well if you want something cold.

Stars and Stripes Dessert

As the hostess, Boo dressed the part with a shirt and hat bearing the flag.

I hope this inspires you to do something festive this year with the kids. Let them come up with their own ideas and you might be surprised at how creative they can be.

Traveling Files

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At Girl Scout meetings I found that it was becoming difficult to remember which girl took home paperwork, who left theirs behind on the table, which girls were present at a given meeting and to bring forms for new girls. My solution was to create a hanging file system that I could easily carry to every meeting.

I have about 8 hanging file, one for each level and category. In the back I keep extra folders.

Hanging files and folders for each level and category.

The file in front has a folder for all paperwork I need to send off to Council and a folder for my co-leader.

First File

I have a hanging file for every level. If you only do a 1 level Troop then you can divide folders by patrols. There is 1 folder where I keep forms girls fill out when they earn a badge at home.

Level Files

Information that girls need for Troop positions are kept in a separate file. This includes thank you cards, stamps, notebook, treasurer’s report and activity forms.

Troop Positions File

In the back are the folders for me. I have all the paperwork i need for new girls and parents. I always keep catalogs, even outdated ones. If nothing else they give parents a good idea of the uniform items I describe in the Troop handbook. I also have a folder to hold papers we use at meetings, or extra copies I have made of something. I go through this folder every few months and get rid of outdated items.

Other Folders

In the very front of the box I keep a notebook. When girls arrive they sign in on a new page. I used to use individual sheets every month but this is much simpler. After a meeting I can quickly job down what was accomplished and can reference it if there are any questions about who has earned a badge or missed an announcement. I have “sign here” stickers i place on papers that go home and need to be returned. There are fliers about Girl Scouts I can hand out. The protective sleeve holds sheets for every level that describe all the awards girls can currently earn at a given level. This is a great tool to show parents as well as the girls.

I sort all papers before meeting day and put them into each girl’s file. This way I do not have to remember who has what. Each girl or parent is responsible for checking their own file when they arrive or leave. Girls bring 3 ring binders they can put the papers in to take home. To make that easier I prepunch all papers for them.

The file is on a small table by the door. On the same table is the notebook the girls sing in on, as well as sign up sheets for future events/field trips and our dues can.

Please let me know if you have any questions!!

Knots Checklist

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KNOTS

LEVEL I

Overhand Knot

LEVEL II

Square Knot – tying 2 pieces together

Clove Hitch

LEVEL III

Bowline – noose that does not slip on the pole

Taut Line Hitch – a knot that slides

LEVEL IV

Sheep Shank

Slip – temporary noose/lasso

2 Half Hitches – secures the end of rope (extra holding power to another knot) often used to pull something

Half Hitch

Timber Hitch

Fraps

Sheet Bend – tying 2 ropes of different diameter

Whip rope ends

Burn Rope Ends

Types of rope