How to Make Garlic Powder

Cured garlic has a limited shelf life and even the softneck variety we grow each year is punky before the next harvest. A few years ago we decided to learn to make garlic powder to preserve the garlic we grew and make it last until the next season. Garlic powder is quite easy to make if you have a few tools.

garlic chopper
food dehydrator

1. Break open the heads and peel each clove.
2. Slice or chop the garlic into thin pieces. A garlic chopper speeds this up a lot.
3. Spread on dehydrator trays. If you don’t have the screen inset to keep the pieces from falling through the slots, line the trays with paper towels or parchment paper.
4. Turn to the lowest setting. You don’t want to heat/cook the garlic. Chopped or minced garlic may dry faster than sliced.
5. Check after four hours and see how things are progressing. Swap trays around if necessary so they are all drying at the same rate.
6. Keep checking every few hours until the garlic is dry. It will be crisp and not rubbery when drying is complete.
7. Put a small amount in the blender and pulverize. Pour the resulting powder through a stainer to remove any larger granules. These granules are good to use in chili.

Store the dehydrated garlic pieces in glass canning jars with tight fitting lids. We only grind a small amount at a time. Freshly ground garlic is more potent and less likely to cake.

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Chicken Pie with Biscuits

This dish is a favorite in our household and is a wonderful way to stretch one chicken into two meals. Served with a salad, this recipe yields six servings.

Chicken Broth
4# chicken, whole or cut up
7 cups water
1  large stalk of celery, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Add all ingredients to a pan and heat to boiling. Skim foam, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour or until thighs reach a temperature of 180 degrees.
Remove the chicken and strain the broth. Measure the broth. There should be about 6 cups. If there is less, add water.  Divide in half.
Remove the bones and skin from the chicken and discard. Cut the into bite-sized cubes. Divide the cubed chicken in half.
Put half the broth and half the chicken into a storage container and freeze.
Drop Biscuits
1 cup all purpose flour
½ Tbls sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup shortening
½ cup milk
Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like crumbs. Add the milk and stir. Set aside.
Chicken Pie
2 quart baking dish
Cubed chicken
3 cups chicken broth
1# frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3 Tbls butter
1/3 cup flour
½ cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the thawed vegetables in the bottom of the baking dish and top with the chicken.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and mix until lightly browned. Add the broth and whisk until smooth. Heat to boiling. Add the milk and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Pour into the baking dish.
Drop biscuit dough on top of the chicken mixture.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and the biscuits are light brown.

Saving Big on Coffee

We’ve tried different strategies to save money on our favorite morning beverage. It usually means being willing to switch to whichever brand is on sale. We tried the off-brand and it was met with resistance. Some people are amazing shoppers and can manage to get 10 cans of coffee for $1.00 by combining coupons with sales on double coupon days. Sadly, I’m not adept at using these strategies and admit to not being good at searching for coupons. Our rural grocery store won’t double the value like stores in bigger areas will. We have no Aldis or Costco. If you have not mastered the whole coupon scene or live in an area of few store choices, read on.
Last week, I noticed something new. On the bottom shelf of the coffee aisle, there was a silver foil bag labeled Restaurant Blend. It contained more ounces for less $ than our usual brand. It was worth a try. I took it home and poured it into a plastic Maxwell House canister that hadn’t made it to the recycle bin. The taste test proved that this coffee was a great deal stronger than what we were used to. Now we use 1/2 the amount of coffee to water. Instead of the usual 6 scoops for 6 cups, we use 3 scoops for 6 cups. Savings on top of savings, and we all like the taste.

How to Make Yogurt

It is not difficult to make good-tasting yogurt with very few ingredients and supplies. I do this to offset the expense of the wholesome, non-homogenized milk I buy from a local dairy. It makes superior yogurt and is cheaper than the brand I usually buy at the grocery store.

Crockpot (doesn’t have to work)
Heating pad
Thick towel
Stainless pan or double boiler
1 qt. milk
2 Tbs plain yogurt
Containers for yogurt (canning jars, custard cups with lids etc)

Some directions recommend sterilizing the equipment. I never do but just practice normal cleanliness. I use a digital thermometer with a probe; it is my favorite kitchen item.

Set up your yogurt incubator by putting the heating pad in the crockpot and turning it on. Be sure the yogurt containers you have chosen will fit inside with the lid on. Put the lid on and cover with a towel to keep the heat in. 

Warm the milk to 185 degrees and hold at that temp for 10 minutes. For thicker yogurt, hold for 30 minutes. Milk must be monitored closely and stirred often so that it doesn’t burn. Milk doesn’t burn as easily if it is being warmed in the top of a double boiler.

The milk must now be cooled to 110 degrees. Put some ice water in the bottom of the kitchen sink and set the pan in it. Keep a close eye on the thermometer while stirring the milk.

When it reaches 110 degrees, add 2 Tbs of plain yogurt and stir.

Pour yogurt into containers and nestle them in the crockpot. Replace the lid and towel.

Mild yogurt only needs to incubate for four hours. The longer the yogurt remains in the crockpot after the four hour incubation period, the tangier it will become. Ideally the temperature in the crock should be between 108 – 112. This is where having a thermometer with a probe comes in handy. The temperature can be monitored from outside and the heating pad control adjusted up or down.

Holding the milk at about 185 for 30 minutes did improve the consistency. This is quite a bit thicker than the yogurt I’ve been making.

It is very tasty plain, or with some honey for sweetening. Yogurt is an important ingredient in the quick and easy breakfast I eat almost every morning.

Don’t forget to reserve enough yogurt from this batch to start another.

Linking up to: Make Your Own! Monday , Learning the Frugal Life

Paid Endorsement Disclosure: I may receive commissions/revenue from affiliates or advertisers for endorsements, recommendations, and/or links to products or services from this blog. It doesn’t change the cost to you and helps offset expenses on this frugal homestead.

How To Stop Wasting Food

 Clipping coupons, shopping sales and buying in bulk are excellent ways to save on the grocery bill. All these money-saving efforts are pointless if you are throwing food away each week. Despite our best efforts to use up leftovers, containers get shoved to the back of the refrigerator only to be discovered on garbage day. It is the small amounts of leftovers that are most often wasted. There isn’t enough for another meal, and the food is forgotten. With proper organization and planning, you need never waste food again.

Items You Will Need
Single serving storage containers
Freezer tape

Freezing and Using Small Amounts of Food
Freeze small amounts of the entree in single-serving containers. One night every couple of weeks can be Buffet Night when these single servings are warmed up. They also make handy lunches. Our family consists of three adults who are all on different schedules. We each can select what we want for dinner before leaving for work, and it is thawed and ready to heat when we get home. Easy and balanced when served with a salad. Use a larger container to freeze small amounts of leftover vegetables. These can all be added to the same container to make tasty additions to soup or stew. Freeze stale bread together in one large freezer bag. When there is enough, make bread pudding.

Label the Containers
Frozen meals can be hard to identify without a proper label. Freezer tape adheres to frozen containers better than masking tape. A felt tip marker makes dark letters that are easy to read at a glance. Place the tape label on the side of the container rather than the top, so it is easy to see when the containers are stacked. Remember to date the label and print in easy to read block letters.

Which Freezer?
It is best to keep leftovers in the refrigerator freezer where they will not get lost in the jumble of a large freezer. They are also easier to access and are more likely to be used before they  suffer freezer burn.