Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Whole Wheat Sweets

One of the best ways to introduce whole wheat foods to your family is by making treats utilizing whole wheat flour. Here are a few delicious recipes to try:

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Bars
1/2 c butter or margarine
1 c oil
2 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 c whole wheat flour
2 c quick oats
1 c nuts
1 c chocolate chips

Cream together margarine, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Place in 9x13 cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles
1 c shortening, butter or margarine
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 T sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together 1 1/2 c sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, cream of tartar, salt and soda. Add to sugar mixture and mix well. Roll into approximately 1 inch balls. Combine 2 T sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough balls in cinnamon/sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Slightly flatten. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c softened butter
1 c peanut butter
1 1/4 c honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Blend butter until smooth. Add peanut butter and blend again. Add honey and blend again. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Roll into balls and put onto ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork dipped in cold water to flatten and make a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven. Remove from pan immediately and cool.

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

For the topping:
3 T whole wheat flour
3 T all purpose flour
3 T unsalted butter, chilled
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 c chopped pecans
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar

For the cake:
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 c lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
8 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/3 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9X13 inch cake pan. Make the topping: Combine the two flours in a medium size bowl. Cut in the butter with a knife, then blend with a pastry blender until the butter is totally incorporated into the flour. Add the cinnamon, pecans, and brown sugar, mixing well with your fingers. Set aside.

Make the cake: Combine the two flours with the salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside. Place the two sugars with the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the egg and continue to beat until light. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with three batches of the buttermilk. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. Serves 12.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Cake
2 c wheat flour
1 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp cocoa
1 c applesauce
1/2 c oil

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add applesauce and oil ad beat well. Pour into ungreased angel food cake pan or 9X13 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Frost your favorite icing or serve hot with whipped cream.

Source: Traverse Mountain 1st Ward Pantry Cookbook

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Financial Preparedness: Downsizing Preparedness Guide

With the current bleak economic environment comes downsizing. Every day, companies announce new job cuts. Now is the time to plan for a job loss. Here are some tips which will help you prepare for a layoff.

DO NOT conduct your job search during work hours or with employer-owned equipment. U.S. Employers have the right to monitor anything you do with company assets (computer network, computer activity, e-mail, etc.) This is a quick way to get you fired.
  1. Develop and enhance your network. Actively network with professional organizations and colleagues in other companies. Make efforts to increase your visibility inside and outside your company. Publish articles and/or make presentations at professional organizations.
  2. Be professional at all times. Don't burn any bridges at your current company. Speak to mentors within the company and line them up as references. You never know when someone you worked with or for may be in a position to hire you at another company or in a different position within your company.
  3. Sharpen your skills, learn new ones. Consider how your skills may translate into other jobs or fields.
  4. Update your resume and keep it current.
  5. Quietly do housekeeping at your current job. Often, after a layoff, people are given very little time to clean out their offices and remove personal belongings. Make sure you have a copy of your contact list at home, remove all personal files from your computer, take/send home copies of work product you want to keep, remove important possessions, locate copies of your performance appraisals and other personnel records.*
  6. Build your emergency fund and create a post-layoff budget. Immediately stop unnecessary spending and begin living on a barebones budget.
  7. Develop an exit strategy. Look into severance packages and what you may be able to negotiate on your way out the door. Create an agenda for discussion with the boss or human resources department. It's a list of all the things they could do for you on termination. Have it ready in your desk, because you never really never know when you'll be notified about your layoff. People being laid off are often provided with "outplacement" services - which includes career counseling, resume services, etc. Several weeks, or months, of vacation or continued salary will be helpful. Do not do anything extravagant with a severance package you may receive. It may take you as long as six months or more to find a new job.
  8. Always look for new career opportunities. Even if your current job feels comfortable and secure, you never know when your dream job may become available. Keep your resume updated and make sure that the right recruiters have your phone number. You should always have a passive job search in progress. That way, you’ll always enjoy a steady stream of job leads and you’ll have a head start on landing your next position if you get laid off. This may sound like obvious advice, but few people truly take it seriously until it’s too late. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. When the layoff rumors start buzzing, goose your passive job search and get a little more active about exploring your options.
  9. Investigate your health insurance policy. Be clear on what your health plan covers, and figure out how much it would cost to extend your employer’s group insurance coverage through the federal program COBRA. Be aware that you would have to pay both the employer and employee shares of the premiums which can be costly but at least you’d get to keep the same coverage. Investigate independent insurance plans if necessary.
  10. Prepare a reference list. Create a list of people who will serve as references for you "just in case." If someone has had an opportunity to see you at work and views you favorably, ask if they will be a reference for you. Ask supervisors, managers, colleagues, co-workers, and even subordinates. Then, ask for their personal contact information so that you can stay in touch after you or they leave your current employer. Get approval from as many people as possible because there will be attrition as time passes.If someone doesn't agree or seems reluctant, don't use them as a reference. They could hurt your next job search if a potential employer calls them.
  11. Be cautious about using company assets for personal reasons. Stop using the company e-mail for personal messages to family and friends outside of the company. Be mindful of what is charged to the company credit card, etc. If there is a layoff pending, someone viewed as "abusing company assets" for personal use may be at greater risk than other employees.

*"Be careful about removing anything that the company would consider to be owned by the company, anything that would be 'proprietary' to the company, or anything that would compromise their business and your future (like customer lists, proposals, patent applications, financial reports, etc.). Note that, unless you've made other arrangements in advance, your employer probably 'owns' what you have created at work. They also own your office computer and the office supplies you use. Use your own judgment and ethics, but be careful. If something is marked 'company confidential,' leave it alone. Former employees can be, and are, sued for violating agreements. They can even be accused of theft. If you aren't sure, call an attorney outside the company. You don't want to become a "criminal" in the process of preparing for your next job search." - Susan P. Joyce,


Monday, January 12, 2009

Provident Living: Practice Thrift and Frugality

"Practice thrift and frugality. There is a wise old saying: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges. Frugality means to practice careful economy." - Elder James E. Faust

I love this quote and it is particularly apt at the moment considering the economic times in which we live. Here are some more ideas to help you "practice thrift and frugality."
  • Buy things used. Many things at our house were either free (from the side of the road or something someone was going to throw out) or purchased from a newspaper ad, a garage sale, a thrift store or e-bay and they're just like new but were a fraction of the cost of new items.
  • Eat out less. Making food from scratch is the cheapest way to go. Even if you buy pre-packaged food or easy prep meals at the grocery store, they will almost always cost less than buying even the most inexpensive meals from a restaurant.
  • Find free entertainment and recreation. The library is a marvelous resource with books, movies and fun programs for kids and book clubs for adults. Borrow books and movies from your friends (just remember to return them.) Form your own book groups, exercise groups and sports teams. Get out old instruments you played as a teenager and form a musical ensemble, find a tennis partner and play at the free tennis courts around town. Form playgroups for your children. Explore local parks.
  • Use your skills/talents to barter for other services. My mom used to barter piano lessons for dental checkups. I know someone who does taxes for dance lessons. Talk to your friends and neighbors. You might be surprised what hidden talents and skills they have to share.
  • Don't window shop. Make a list and stick to it. I often find myself at a store purchasing things I didn't realize I "needed" until I saw them. Don't go shopping just to look at things. Most people don't have the discipline to look and not buy. They end up spending money or make themselves miserable wanting what they can't have.
  • Throw away your catalogs before you look at them. If you don't see it, you won't need it.
  • Stay healthy. Exercise, eat right, keep the word of wisdom and you will save lots of money in health care costs.
  • Drink water. Forget soft drinks and juice. Stick to nature's best thirst quencher and you'll have more pennies in your pocket.
  • Cook large amounts of food in advance and freeze it. This allows you to save money by buying food in bulk, fills your freezer full of convenience food and will save you the cost of going out or buying prepackaged food. I can't tell you what a lifesaver it was having a freezer full of pre-made meals after I had twins. I probably would have had the pizza and Chinese restaurants' numbers memorized had I not taken the time to prepare meals in advance that I could just pop in the oven.
  • Maintain the things you have. Change your car's oil, rotate tires, change your furnace filters, fix leaky faucets, repair ripped clothing, etc. All these things will save you a great deal of money over time.
  • Sell things you don't use anymore. My friend took her kids' clothes from last year and sold them on e-bay for a hefty $600.00 (and she only has two kids.) You'd be surprised what people will buy from you if you make the effort to sell them. Go through each room in your house and decide if you really need items there. You'll be amazed at how many things you'll find to sell.
  • Eat less meat. It's expensive and there are lots of delicious meals that don't require meat.
  • Wash your clothes less frequently. Many clothes can be worn more than once and still be clean.
  • Consider your housing situation. Smaller is often better. You may not need all the house you have now. Plus smaller means less cleaning, right?
  • Save on transportation--take a bus, use mass transit, ride a bike, carpool, telecommute or only keep one car. If you get creative, you may find ways to save money.
  • Turn down your thermostat in the winter, and raise it in the summer. I'm not saying be uncomfortable, simply adjust it slightly so it's almost unnoticeable. You'll be surprised how much you can lower your energy bills by wearing warmer clothing in the house in the winter and keeping it slightly warmer in the summer.
  • Try designating a spending-free day or spending-free weekend on a regular basis. Cut out all incidental spending for a day or weekend. If you do this consistently over time, you'll soon have more money to rub together.
  • Use cash to purchase things. On average, people spend 30% more when they use a credit card instead of cash.
  • When you get unexpected money or a windfall, don't spend it on something extravagant or unnecessary! If at all possible, save it.

Cooking with Food Storage: Potato Pearl Recipes

I have a lot of potato pearls from the church's home storage center. My husband loves potato pearl mashed potatoes but I really don't care for them, preferring the garden variety of potatoes (but I'd eat them if I was really hungry.) Now I'm excited to find two recipes for things that I do like using potato pearls. I thought you might enjoy them as well!

Potato Pearl Bread
5 c milk
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c potato pearls
2 T salt
2 T yeast
9-11 c flour

Microwave milk until hot. Place shortening, sugar, salt and potato pearls in a large bowl. Pour hot milk over shortening mixture and stir until potato pearls are dissolved. Cool. Add yeast. Mix in enough flour to form a soft dough, then knead 6 minutes. Cover and let rise. Form into loaves and place in four loaf pans. Let them rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Potato Rolls
2 pkg. yeast (5 tsp)
1/4 c warm water
2 c milk
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
1/3 c potato pearls
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
8 c flour (approximately)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Scald milk, sugar and shortening and set aside. Mix potato pearls with hot water to equal one cup. When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, mix with potato water, yeast, eggs and salt. Add about 8 cups flour. Knead until smooth and elastic. Raise until double. Punch down, roll out 1/2 inch thick. Cut in 3 to 3 1/2 inch circles. Fold in half, pinch edges together. Place on greased cookie sheet. Raise until double (approx. 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Roll out Potato Roll dough (see above) into a rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, nuts. Roll dough up into a roll and pinch the seam closed. Cut in 1 1/2 inch slices. Place in grease 9x13 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Other Ideas for Potato Pearls:

  • Use as a side dish of mashed potatoes.
  • Use to thicken soup, stew or gravy by simply adding a handful to your dish and stirring until dissolved.
  • Use as the crust for shepherd's pie or other similar casseroles.

Source: Traverse Mountain 1st Ward Pantry Cookbook

Cooking With Basic Food Storage: Bulgur Wheat Recipes

Bulgur Wheat
Wash Wheat in cool water and discard water. Simmer wheat in excess water until all water is absorbed and wheat is tender. Spread wheat evenly on cookie sheet or shallow pan and dry in oven at 200 degrees until very dry so that it will crack easily.

Wet surface of dried wheat slightly and rub kernels between hands to loosen and remove chaff. Crack wheat in moderate size pieces, using a mill or grinder or leave whole.

This processed bulgur, when thoroughly dried, is easily stored and may be used in many wheat recipes. If the recipe calls for cooked wheat or bulgur, simply boil in water for 10-15 minutes--it will approximately double in volume. It makes an excellent meat extender when used in meat loaves, meatballs, chili and recipes where rice is used. Soaked overnight in salt water, it may be added to yeast bread recipes to give a nut-like taste.

Buttermilk Bulgur Bread
1 pkg. dry yeast
1/4 c warm water
3 T honey
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 c fine-ground bulgur
1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp coarse (kosher) salt
2 c whole wheat flour
2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 c buttermilk, warmed

Place the yeast in a large bowl. Cover with the water, and let stand until the yeast begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the honey and tomato paste, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the bulgur and buttermilk; let stand 20 minutes. Stir the butter and salt into the bulgur mixture. Then stir in the whole wheat flour and about 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 15 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; punch it down and divide in half. Roll and pull each half until it resembles a loaf of French or Italian bread. Sprinkle a baking sheet with water, cover loosely with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a sharp knife, slash the surface of the loaves 4-5 times, then brush them again with water. Bake until crisp and hollow sounding when tapped with your finger, about 25 minutes. Cool on a rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Chicken and Tomato Salad
1 c bulgur
1 c chopped, seeded, peeled tomatoes (about 2 medium)
2 c boneless, skinless cooked chicken pieces
3 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh mint
3 T red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bulgur in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine the cooled bulgur, tomatoes, chicken, basil, mint and garlic. Lightly toss, then add the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4-6.

Bulgur Beef Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1 c basic bulgur
1 large onion, diced
2 cans tomato soup
1/2 c catsup or tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T parsley flakes
1 tsp celery flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese

Saute meat and seasonings with onion. Combine bulgur with meat mixture, soup and catsup. Pour into casserole. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Source: Traverse Mountain 1st Ward Pantry Cookbook

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Make maple syrup from your food storage

Here's a recipe I discovered for maple syrup made from food storage. After all, we all need something yummy to put on our pancakes and waffles!

Homemade Maple Syrup

4 c sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

2 c water

2 teaspoons maple flavoring (or vanilla)

Mix the water and sugars in a pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the flavoring. Cool and pour into container. You do not need to refrigerate the syrup.

Preparedness Quotes

"When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, 'We can’t afford it, even though we want it!' or 'We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!'" - Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2009 General Conference

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.

"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."
- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley

"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.

"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust

“We live in a most exciting and challenging period in human history. As technology sweeps through every facet of our lives, changes are occurring so rapidly that it can be difficult for us to keep our lives in balance. To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.”- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1995

"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson

"Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …

“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …

“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …

“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.” - Elder L. Tom Perry, October 1995 General Conference

“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375

“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8

"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson

"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36

"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.

"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball

“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball"/>


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