Sunday, September 30, 2012

GMOs, Helpful, Harmless, Harmful or Horrific?

Man has used selective breeding to get the characteristics he wants in plants and animals for hundreds of years, with some good and some harmful changes to the plant or animal in question. Some pure bred animals tend to have known issues. For example, Pomeranians were bred down from the Spitz, a Greenland/Lapland sled dog. If breeders are not careful a common malady of the Pomeranian is luxated hind patellas (dislocated back knees).

Our fruits, vegetables and grains have been selectively bred for hundreds of years to render larger yeilds, deeper, brigther or unusual colors, and probably better taste as well.

So now scientists have taken it a step further by using gene splicing methods from biotechnology to create genetically modified organisms--mostly plant foods. Is this just selective breeding taken one step further, or is this something more ominous?

I personally think there may be unintended consequences--perhaps insidious changes that add up to something...not quite right? I need to learn more about it, so I'm going to do some reading, the following books except the second (which I have already purchased for my kindle reader) are on my wish list. In the meantime, what's your take on GMOs? Helpful, Harmless, Harmful or Horrific?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Beef Jerky in the Dehydrator

A few days ago, Mr. F came in in a huff about the price of beef jerky escalating to over $8.00 a bag.  I don't know where he was buying it or how much was in the bag he wanted, I just know he was upset as he considers jerky and sugar to be his only vices.  I won't comment on that....but anyway, I surmised it was time to break out the dehydrator again.

So, after buying some, lean, pre-sliced, over-priced beef from Walmart, I asked Mr. F what flavor he'd like, to which he responded: teriyaki. Lucky for him, I happen to have some excellent teriyaki sauce in my fridge right now--found it at Costco not too long ago.

I proceeded to follow the instructions in Mary Bell's "Complete Dehydrator Cookbook" and sliced the meat in one inch pieces, removed any fat visible and marinated it in teriyaki sauce, along with a little salt, pepper and powdered garlic. I chose to marinate the meat for 24 hours in the refrigerator, of course.
The next day I put the beef strips in the dehydrator at it's highest setting, which for my Excalibur is 155 degrees. I only made enough for a little more than two racks of jerky, I'm sure I'll be making more next time. To avoid drips in the bottom of the dehydrator I put a rack on the bottom slot with a fruit leather maker thingy on it.

After 24 hours and quite a bit of interest from both my dog and my daughter's boyfriend, the meat had become jerky. At this point, I put it on a jelly roll pan and put it in the oven at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, because I am paranoid about food poisoning.  Food science researchers maintain that microorganisms are effectively killed when meat reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or 167 degrees F. for 20 minutes or 200 degrees F. for 15 minutes. I don't care.  If the internal temperature of meat has not reached 165 degrees, I am not touching it to my lips.  No, I don't do sushi.   
Next I put the jerky in air tight storage. I had a stroke of...I don't know if you'd call it genius....I guess, a good idea popped into my head as I was getting ready to put the jerky into Food Saver bags. I was wishing I had some of those silicon packets they use for moisture control when I thought--RICE! We used rice just the other day to dry out my daughter's cell phone after she had dropped it in the toilet. I've also used it to keep salt from clumping together in the salt shaker during high humidity and it works wonderfully. I added a little less than a teaspoon of rice to each little bag I filled with jerky.  I ended up with four bags which I stashed in the freezer where they will be good for at least 6 months, probably longer, but I'm sure they'll be eaten long before then.  Homemade jerky can be kept in airtight containers at room temperature for about one month.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I love everything about autumn! Found this via Pinterest and thought it was cute so decided to share the full sized version here. The site where it originates seems okay. Welcome Autumn

Click here to getImages &
Welcome Autumn Pictures - Pictures

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. The urges you to learn about preparedness for several different natural disasters at or Check your state at to see if there are currently any disasters happening. I was surprised to find 10 active disasters in our state, mostly fires at this time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Dehydrate For Food Preservation?

Because 20 lbs of Walla Walla sweet onions now fit into two, 1 quart canning jars, and they will stay good for up to one year, maybe longer. If you know anything about Walla Wallas, you know they are delicous but don't last long in the pantry.

The flavor of these dehydrated Walla Wallas is close to the flavor of French's French Fried Onions--the ones used in that popular holiday green bean casserole. 

Plums to Prunes, Chicken to Dog Treats

Several years ago my sister-in-law gave me some plums from her mom's trees and I made a bunch of plum butter. I was going to give it away for Christmas, but it just didn't make it that long, it was so good, we ate it all before Christmas! Recently, my older daughter and her husband moved into a rural rental that has several Spanish Plum trees, along with a few apple and pear trees. So with visions of plum butter dancing in my head, I merrily picked a few pounds of plums and brought them home to process.

Problem was I was still working at my temp job for the last three days of the project so I didn't get to them for four days. Although they seemed very ripe when we were picking them, most of them kept fine in the fridge for that time. Even so, I didn't want to waste them--I wanted to get them processed--so I decided it would be less effort to dry them instead of can them. I didn't want to drag out my canner and all the equipment. Hopefully, I can get back to my daughter's place in time to pick more plums for plum butter.

In the meantime, since these were small plums, all I had to do was wash them, cut them in two, pit them, then put in the dehydrator skin side down for 12-15 hours. The dehydrator is making my house smell lovely!

A few years ago I got my husband an Excalibur food dehydrator along with Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook so he could make his own jerky. Hasn't happened yet but probably will soon as he came home yesterday ranting about beef jerky going up to $8.00 a small bag. I've used the dehydrator several times, and I have to say it's worth it to spend a little extra money on a dehydrator to get the square layout, fan, temp control, and high temp.

At any rate, I don't know if dehydrating the plums into prunes was actually any easier or not, because it took at least 45 minutes to get them all pitted. But once that was done, they went straight into the dehydrator and now sit there being turned into prunes. Of course after the fact, I looked on to see if there is such a thing as a plum pitter, and there is. If the prunes turn out good, I would like to get a pitter, but after watching a video and reading reviews on, I have not found one that is satisfactory yet. If anyone can point me in the right direction for that, I'd be grateful.

Since I already had the dehydrator out, I decided to take a left over chicken carcass and get the remaining meat off of it to dehydrate for my doggies. I had been giving them commercial chicken jerky treats, but learned about dogs getting sick and even dying from chicken jerky treats made in China. Needless to say I was quite concerned for my dogs for several days after I quit feeding the commercial jerky to them, but all seem to be okay. Dodged another bullet on that one!

All I did was make sure the chicken pieces were no larger than a quarter inch thick. Since the chicken has already been cooked, and the dehydration will further eliminate or greatly reduce any microorganisms, I processed it at the same temperature as my plums, 135 degrees. If you are doing this for human consumption, I would suggest using 145 degrees minimum. Food science researchers maintain that microorganisms are effectively killed when meat reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or 167 degrees F. for 20 minutes or 200 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Mary Bell has more on how to dehydrate meat safely in the book you see below.

Finished Product:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ultra Fast Meals challenged us on Facebook to come up with 12 easy meals for those times when we just don't feel like cooking, and "there is nothing to eat". What I found out about this subject, is that I am way too good at it--probably because I've had a lot of practice! It only took me a few minutes to think of the following meals:

  • (canned) bean and bacon soup and cornbread from a box or mix
  • (canned) tomato soup and grilled cheese
  • (canned) alphabet soup and grilled cheese or Texas toast
  • boxed macaroni and cheese, add 1 can tuna and 1 can veges, any type, or serve canned spinach on the side
  • tuna helper
  • biscuits and gravy with canned biscuits and packaged gravy (just fry some sausage)
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Nalley stew with cornbread mix or canned biscuits
  • chili and white rice
  • chili and packaged cornbread
  • chili and nacho chips
  • chili dogs
  • hot dogs and sauerkraut
  • Little Smokeys, brauts or Kielbasa and sauerkraut
  • packaged red beans and rice
  • "Cottage Pie" made with Nalley Stew and instant mashed potatoes
  • individual microwave omelets in large ramekins, add any cold cuts available (cheese, ham, turkey, lunch meat of any kind)
Feel welcome to add your favorite meals in the comments.  I will keep adding to this page too and it can be a resource for us when we need inspiration.