Refilling Nespresso pods

Just a quick filler post while I sip coffee... and was thinking about it.

My favorite coffee right now is the Vertuo Nespresso. 

I tried the 'foil' lids you use when you refill a Nespresso pod with your own coffee - I like them!

  • I empty the collection basket from the back of the machine, and cut off the foil top.
  • After washing, let them dry completely.
  • Using foils that had been purchased as well, I refill each of the pods and apply the foil top make them 'new' again.
  • The coffee brewed this way tastes much better than refilled k-cup pods!

Doing this, I can use up the ground coffee and the coffee beans I have in the pantry. I will be able to do this until my package of foils are gone.  At that point I'd have to decide whether to invest in more foils (about $10 I think?) - I really don't want to spend any money though.  






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Tonight's dinner was chicken and black bean soft tacos

No photos, because I was in the kitchen, my cell phone was in the office and I just didn't feel it was important to get it just to take a picture of some cooked chicken with black beans.  

Dinner:  Chicken and Black Bean Soft Shell Tacos

  • Chicken - precooked breasts and thighs, and food sealed for the freezer a couple months ago
  • Black Beans - canned
  • Seasonings - from the pantry.
  • Salsa - homemade canned (recipe posted on the site numerous times over the years, see right side bar)
  • Lettuce
  • Sour Cream
  • Tortillas - from the freezer.

I did not put any cheddar cheese out tonight and it apparently wasn't missed.  Nothing was said anyway.

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Using my same 'daily bread' bucket from the fridge, I decided at the last second to make pizzas for dinner last night. 

If you are brand new here, check on the side bar for the many mentions in the past 2 months of my 3/4 ingredient, artisan bread that I make everything out of now.  It's just 3 cups flour, 1/2 - 1 t yeast, a teaspoon salt and 1 or 2 t sugar, mixed in a bucket with 1 1/2 - 2 cups hot water, topped with a lid and put in the refrigerator to use within the next few days.  

The dough in the bucket is the perfect amount for 2 pizzas.  The first one was a typical pepperoni pizza, using pepperoni from the freezer, homemade pizza sauce (I posted about a couple weeks ago), mozzarella cheese from the freezer (getting low but not out yet!), and the last of the green olives in a jar in the fridge.  Topped it off with parmesan cheese also already in a container in the refrigerator.

The 2nd pizza, one of my favorites but improvised with what we had on hand... my Greek Feta Pizza.

I have 1 container of feta left in the freezer, and so I opted to use some on this as it's totally worth it.  When this is gone I'll switch to the food storage freeze dried feta cheese.

I've been posting about this pizza for literally about 15 years now!  If you've missed it, here is the original recipe, which I always improvise in one way or another.

Greek Feta Pizza

1/2 c mayonnaise
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c crumbled feta cheese
1 - 12 inch pre-baked pizza crust, homemade crust
1/2 c oil packed sun dried tomatoes
olive oil (or oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
1/4 pitted Kalamata olives,, chopped or sliced
1 t dried oregano
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dry
1/2 small red onion, sliced into rings

Heat oven to 450.  Mix the mayonnaise with garlic and 1/2 cup feta.  Spread this over your pizza crust or over 2 or 3 thick flour tortillas.  Top with tomatoes, olives and oregano.  Bake until heated through.  Toss the spinach and onion with about 1 tablespoon olive oil or if you have it - oil from the sun dried tomatoes.  Tops the pizza with the spinach mixture and the rest of the 1/2 cup feta.  Return to the oven for about 3 minutes.   Slice and serve!

I used my 'daily bread' dough from the fridge for the crusts.
I like to mix about 1/2 cup homemade pizza sauce (from food storage items and posted recently) in with the mayonnaise and I don't use sun dried tomatoes (I don't like them and don't keep them in our pantry or food storage).

Unfortunately I found I'm completely out of frozen or fresh spinach.  I had the very end of a salad mix in the fridge, which I found about 4 spinach leaves in, so I pulled them out and used those. 

Lastly, I still have a bit of mozzarella in the freezer. 


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Feta Pasta bake - but a ricotta version



Tonight's dinner was so, so good!  It's something I make often but not usually from food storage.  My normal would be a baked feta pasta dish but opted to use some homemade ricotta I had in the freezer from last week.   

The baked cheese pasta dish didn't use a recipe but went something like this...

3 cans diced tomatoes, drained
olive oil
fresh minced garlic
homemade ricotta cheese
red pepper flakes
pasta - cooked and tossed with a bit of butter
salt and pepper

On a foil lined baking pan, drizzle some olive oil.  Add the tomatoes and garlic.  Place the feta or ricotta in the center, drizzle with more olive oil.  Sprinkle with oregano, red pepper flakes and basil, salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 for about 35 minutes or more until the tomatoes are roasted through and cheese is getting golden.

Mash it all up if you wish - or leave it all in whole pieces if you like that better.  I do a bit of both.  I use a stick blender to blend about 1/3 of the sauce to thicken it.   Pour over pasta of choice and serve with homemade bread.

I'm also going to add the homemade cheese 'recipe' although I didn't actually use a recipe for it. 

Very similar to my homemade yogurt, except I didn't have any fresh plain yogurt as a starter, and ended up using citric acid crystals and making cheese.  I do make homemade cheese fairly often, but I've always used fresh milk - not milk powder.  I'm happy to report the whole milk powder worked pretty well.  It was a soft ricotta like cheese, which I salted to taste and then froze until today.

I actually added the cheese to the pan and went into the oven while it still frozen.  :)
The Cheese

1-2 t citric acid crystals mixed in 2 T milk
1 quart water
1 1/2 - 2 cups dry whole milk powder - I used Nido

Use a 1 quart container of whatever style you wish but it's easiest if it has some sort of lid.
Fill it about half way with water, add the citric acid/milk mixture and whisk or mix briefly, then add the powdered milk.  Shake, whisk or blend until smooth.  Fill the rest of the container up to the 1 quart line.  Put the top on or cover it well, and let it set for about 12 hours someplace fairly warm like an oven with a light on or, I put mine on a heating pad set to 'low' and cover with a dish towel.  You can also speed up the process by heating your milk on the stove until it starts to get tiny little bubbles around the edge, but it doesn't burn, scorch or boil!  You take it off the heat, add the citric acid (or use about a tablespoon of vinegar or even lemon juice) - stir, and as it starts to curdle, you continue with the next step.

Sprinkle salt to taste, mix and then place it in the center of a piece of cheesecloth, and bundle up.  Hang so the liquid can drain out and let it drain for an hour until all the liquid has drained off.  Squeeze a bit, form into a round and refrigerator or freeze until needed.



 Into the oven........ the cheese was still frozen as I didn't know I was making this for dinner until... I was.



Out of the oven.  Could have gone longer, but it smelled so good and I was getting so hungry!

Using a stick blender to blend about 1/3 of it to thicken... then onto the pasta! 

I randomly grabbed a box off the shelf - it was rotini this time.
Served with the homemade bread made earlier today.

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It was a 'make flour' kind of day today


After stocking up on a lot of flour for holiday baking this year, I still had quite a bit to use up since I didn't do as much baking as I thought I would.  I've been using that since Christmas, but today I finally was getting low enough I could get some hard white wheat out and grind some fresh flour.

I had about 10 lbs. of wheat berries here in the kitchen pantry.  After grinding the fresh flour, I went ahead and mixed it with the white flour I had left in the flour buckets.  

I was grinding hard white today.  I also have soft white wheat in storage and some hard red as well, although I don't use that as much.

Freshly ground flour........





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Just another photo... of just another loaf of bread.... from my daily bucket I keep in the fridge (3/4 ingredient bread)


No kneading or shaping on this guy, he was just a shaggy dough tossed into the bread pan

... and give us this day, our daily bread.

Once I started to make this version, I haven't made any of my 'regular' breads or rolls since. 

And here is the bread I've mentioned...  all you need is 3 ingredients (I like 4 because I add a little sugar to the yeast) and a bucket or container with a lid.

The original version is one I posted back in November, 2019 that would make 4 - 1 lb. loaves. (Linked)
Since then, it's evolved into a smaller, more simple version I just kind of throw together.

When I first made this it was in a bowl and it was the 3 ingredient version without sugar for the yeast.  It evolved into the bucket with a lid version that I do add 2 teaspoons of sugar to.  I'm not sure if it's the bucket or the sugar or the fact that I normally bake it in a bread loaf pan for our daily bread, but it's now a loaf that keeps easily and wonderfully for 2-3 days if it lasts that long - and doesn't lose texture or get crumbly and is still soft and delicious.


Simple Artisan Bread
Bucket Version

3 cups flour
1 t yeast
1 t salt
2 t sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water (sometimes up to 2 depending on the day, the flour, the humidity, etc.)

(Usually I toss in a teaspoon or two of sugar, once in a while I add a tablespoon of egg powder to the dry ingredients, other times I've added a couple tablespoons of olive oil - it's a pretty easy and friendly recipe to mess with.)

Pour the dry into a food safe bucket or container with a lid.  

Mix the dry a little bit, then pour in about 1 1/2 cups hot water.  Stir.  

If it's too dry, add more water.  Too wet, add a couple more tablespoons flour.  Just stir it together until it's a shaggy, somewhat gooey, wet dough.  Now you loosely put the lid on top, let it set on the counter for a few hours until you want to use it that day or put the lid on and pop it into the refrigerator for a day or two until you want to use it.  Don't knead it.  The gluten forms from the time it sits.

About an hour or two before you need bread of some type, pull it out.  Dust enough flour to make it into whatever you want (round, rolls, pizza dough, bread, garlic bubble bread, etc.) If you have time, try to let it rise in a warm spot for about 45 minutes and bake it the way best for whatever you are making but usually it will be a preheated oven at 375 for about 35 minutes.

Using the same bucket, just put another 3 cups flour, a teaspoon of salt and about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of yeast back into the bucket, add a cup or two of hot water, stir, and put it back into the refrigerator for the next day.




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The taste test continued with cereals.... and how I longer term store them in mylar


If you missed the first cereal taste test (one winner, one loser) it is the post just preceding this one.   Out of these cereal options above (one with a 2021 best by date and the other two with 2022 best by dates) they were... ALL WINNERS. 

Yes, they were all fresh and tasted great with good textures.

So it was time to longer-term store them.  I do this with mylar and an oxygen absorber.

Food quality mylar bags
An oxygen absorber
An old hair straightener to seal the bags



Since it would be rare for us to want cereal for breakfast, I sealed them all back up (I kept one from yesterday in the cupboard though for all of us to use this week/next week) and they are all back into the 2-3 year storage pantry.  Breakfast cereal or tasty dry snack... I'm good to go. 









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Cereal in Food Storage - two taste tests done last night

Important Notes:

We are not a 'cereal' eating family.  It's for two reasons really.  First, we aren't 'breakfast' people and second, we normally are a zero sugar family and have been for years.  

When it came to stocking for 'just in case' days, I knew if it were truly a situation that were eating from our pantry and storage, we would be happy to have breakfast items, and wouldn't care if they had sugar in them.  As a matter of fact, eating stored food items probably would mean we would be happy to have a 'special' item once in a while.

So while were not a breakfast family nor a sugar family, I was once-in-awhile picking up some cereals or other items I saw that looked new or fun or I thought we might use in the future.  

Now, I KNEW and I KNOW most cereals DO NOT STORE WELL.   Not in their original wrapping for sure, but even in other circumstances, the quality or taste might change (even if they are SAFE to eat... again, it's a taste or texture thing).




Remember this one?

 In 2020 (I think) The Elf on the Shelf Candy Cane Cookie Cereal was released.  It looked fun and I thought The Little Ones might like it as a special Christmas time cereal so I bought it as well as the Sugar Cookie version.  

Although we opened the Sugar Cooke Elf on a Shelf version, we never opened or used the Candy Cane Cookie version.

The best by date on this one was December 2021.  That means it's only just 2 years past 'best buy' and I was hopeful that the sugar in the cereal might have helped the grains in the cereal pieces keep their flavor.  It also has mini dried marshmallows, which I thought would still be firm and crunchy.

They weren't.  And the sugar didn't help the grains in the cereal.  Even though the cereal box was unopened and the inner bag was completely sealed tight, their bags and seals are not as air tight as say, a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber.  

The grains had started to change flavor to that old going-off taste.  The marshmallows were not crisp any longer and were squishy. 


The second taste test was the Kellogg's Special K 'Blueberry with Lemon Clusters'.   Same "best by" date of 2021.

I actually liked this one on the rare occasion I would eat cereal, and one of our daughters absolutely LOVES this one. I think I originally had 4 of these in the 2-3 year pantry but within the first year had given 2 of them to that particular daughter as they got really hard to find in the stores (Do they still make these?  I don't know since I don't buy or eat cereal).  

Opening this one, I thought for sure it would be terrible because it's primarily large flakes that would have gone 'off'.  But surprise... not bad!  It wasn't 100% but the change in taste was so slight that it was hardly noticeable. 


I started to read a book before bed, and found myself grabbing this box and snacking on the dry cereal by the handful while I was reading.  I'm going to keep this one 'out' and we'll be happy to eat it this next week or so.

Two more 'surprise' fun cereals from Dunkin Donuts to come next in the 'taste test' series. 

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Food Storage Mashed Potatoes (including butter powder)

My previous post mentioned I would serve some sort of potato with the mushroom roast for dinner.  I opted for mashed potatoes, using some of the mashed potato flakes from storage.  I made tonight's mashed potatoes with not only dry potato flakes, but dry milk powder (whole milk) and dried butter power that is old enough all the dates are rubbed off and I'm pretty sure this company doesn't even sell these pouches anymore but they do still sell the #10 cans.  The butter powder is vacuum food sealed air tight between uses so even though it's years old, it's still fresh and perfect and works great.

Food Storage Mashed Potatoes
This makes 4 servings

2 c water
2 T whole milk powder (I use Nido)
2 - 3 T dehydrated butter powder (we love buttery potatoes, I used 3)
Salt and Pepper
(Optional:  I added some garlic as well)
1 c mashed potato flakes

In a bowl place the milk and butter powder, add the water.  Heat in the microwave or heat in a pan on the stove until boiling.  Remove from heat and stir in potato flakes with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper.  (If it's too thick just add a couple more tablespoons of hot water and keep fluffing with a fork until it's the consistency you like.)









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Roast with Dehydrated Mushrooms

Tonight's dinner is in the instant pot, on the slow cooker setting.  It's a mushroom roast and I'll be serving with potatoes, either home canned or mashed from stored potato flakes.  The star of the show however is the mushrooms.  Our family loves mushrooms cooked with our roasts but obviously mushrooms from the store go bad within days so storing them means you have to choose one or more options of storing longer term.

We store mushrooms in 4 different ways.  

The first, obvious and one we don't actually store too many of are canned from the store.  I may have some still in my 2-3 year storage but they are never my first choice.

The second way we store them is freezing.  Because they go bad so quickly, I have always immediately sliced the whole mushrooms or used sliced mushrooms from the store and put them into a food sealer bag and popped them into the freezer.  This is my primary way of using and storing mushrooms on any given day - when not using food storage items.  It ensures I always had fresh mushrooms on hand for pizza, sauces, roasts, soups, etc.

Third:  Freeze dried.  Expensive, but we do have some cans of freeze dried mushrooms in storage.  Freeze dried is the most expensive option to purchase but the quality and flavor and texture is awesome.

Fourth and last, dehydrated!  And that's what I used today.


This is my regular container of dehydrated mushrooms that lives in my kitchen pantry at all times.  I would always restock it when it got low (although of course I'm not restocking it now that we are using food storage and not buying anything at the grocery store). 

To make them, simply slice your mushrooms or buy store bought sliced and place them on the dehydrator trays.  Dehydrate until they are dried out of all moisture but still pliable.  Place into a jar with a lid and let them set for a week or so, shaking them and letting the moisture left in them equalize out.  Check for no excess moisture left in them, mold, etc.  When you see they are still dry and loose, you can make sure they are sealed tightly and start to use them as needed.

No need to rehydrate before use except if you want to use them pizza.  I add them to the dishes directly and they soak up the liquid/water/broth as they cook.  To rehydrate them for things like pizza, just toss them in a bowl of hot water and let them soak for 10-15 minutes or even overnight.  You can drain off the liquid and use them as you would fresh.

Everything thrown into the slow cooker...


1 can cream of celery soup
onion powder
dehydrated mushrooms
dehydrated or fresh green onions or onions if you wish
2-3 teaspoons beef base or bouillon
1 soup can of water 
1/4 c dry red wine or even balsamic vinegar (optional)
salt and pepper

Slow cooked about 6-8 hours or until it's fall apart tender.

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Homemade Chicken Soup with Noodles - (after cooking and de-boning leftover turkey and freezing it and the broth)

Tonight we had homemade Chicken Soup for dinner but the afternoon was spent doing this... simmering a smoked turkey to get food sealed bags of cooked turkey to use for future meals and broth for the same.

This was a great deal at the store after last Thanksgiving - a whole smoked turkey that went down to about $5.  It went into the deep freezer at the time.  I brought it out at some point and roasted it to heat it through (because they are already precooked by the smoking process) and we had it for a meal but it was wrapped tightly and put back into the deep freezer until I had time to do exactly what I did today.

I filled a pot with water and put the whole turkey in.  Brought it to a boil and then reduced heat to let it simmer a few hours until it was completely heated through again and falling apart.  Removing the turkey to a large pan, I strained the broth, saved about 4 cups for our soup and bagged up 12 cups into food sealed bags for the deep freezer. 

I de-boned the meat, used some for the soup and food sealed the rest and froze them for future meals. 

I've posted the soup recipe before but it's quick and simple so here it is again...

Homemade Chicken Soup with Noodles

2 chicken breasts, or equivalent (dice, cube, shred, etc. uncooked is fine if you have time to cook the soup longer)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cans water
1/2 a stick of butter (4 oz)
pepper to taste
Pasta (noodles) of choice, uncooked

In a crockpot or soup pot place the chicken and water along with the can of soup, butter and pepper.  Cook for about 5-6 hours on low in a crock pot slow cooker or about 2-3 hours on high; or cover and cook on the stove until your chicken is done and you can shred/cut it.  Add the noodles about an hour before serving time in the slow cooker or about 15-20 minutes prior to serving if cooking on the stove.  If you had the pasta too early it will get huge and mushy.  




I've tried 'doctoring' this up and honestly it's really good just as it is.  If you must add 'something' a little parsley for color or some tiny diced bits of carrot but I don't like any of the typical herbs or spices added to this one.  It seems perfect just how it is.





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Canned Cheese From Storage: one good, one, meh

December 2021 dated

Last night's dinner were burritos and nachos.  I had pulled a small food sealed bag of shredded cheddar out to use, but I also remembered single cans of cheese in the 2-3 year pantry and I wanted to get those tested/rotated and used up so I decided to open and 'test' them.

Both were the same brand, but one is cheddar and the other white cheese. Both bought at the same time and both have the same 'best if used by' date of Dec. 2021.  (Not an 'expiration' date - remember - if the seal is good, they are good.  The quality taste or color may change with time but they are perfectly good and safe to eat). 

First I opened the aged cheddar.  It wasn't the bright orange color, and had faded to a more white color.  That's fine, because cheddar is actually white and the orange/yellow color is an additive so it may have faded.  It looked perfectly fine and the seal was good but the initial taste test brought out a taste of... tin can.  I could certainly taste the can flavor had permeated the cheese sauce. 

That one went into the trash.

I expected the same thing with the second can so I opened it quickly, only to find it was still the same off white color it always is, had the same texture and looked and smelled the same as a brand new, fresh can off the shelf.

Taste Test:  no discernible flavor of the tin can taste the cheddar sauce had.  This one was pretty much still 100% in color, taste and texture.  I used it for the burritos and the nachos. 

Granted, processed cheese sauce isn't my 'go to' normally, because I don't like the chemical taste of processed cheese foods - but I had picked up a few random cans on one of my previous shopping trips over the past few years strictly for the 2-3 year storage pantry, so it was nice to get a chance to use them up. 

The last time I opened one of them to test for use was in July and it had also been the cheddar cheese sauce version - and I didn't use it as it was a darker burnt orange color at the time so I just threw it out.  We weren't living on food storage at that time and I was just randomly opening it to 'test' and use it up to rotate it out if I could. 

Interesting that the aged cheddar cheese sauce is now 0 for 2 but aged differently; one turned a dark burnt orange, the other faded to almost white.  Neither were used.  But the Queso Blanco white cheese sauce has been perfectly fine. It apparently stores better for longer term.

December 2021 dated


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Split Pea Soup and Homemade Artisan Bread in a Dutch Oven

Today I glanced through the kitchen pantry, brainstorming ideas for dinner.  I spied a bag of split peas. Like most of the country and Canada right now, it's freezing cold, so split pea soup seemed like a delicious idea. I just had to make sure I could make it from our food storage items.

Store Items and Substitutions.....

Split Peas... check.
Water, ok.  Salt and pepper, yes.  Dried Marjoram, yes.
Onion... yes!  I still have a handful in the onion bin - one was starting to sprout, so he gets used for sure.
Ham hocks or meaty bone.  Sigh.  No.  But I do have ham deli meat in the freezer and I know I have Spam in the long term storage! 
Celery, potatoes and carrots?
I have that large #10 can of dehydrated celery (I previously posted about) bought in 2012. 
I don't want to use up my canned potatoes as they are going quickly and I really had no idea we'd be using them in 2024.  I do have mashed potato flakes and dehydrated potato hash browns in storage though!  Mashed flakes will do.
Carrots?  Yes.  Thanks to 10 lbs. fresh carrots that someone couldn't use and gave to one of my young adult daughters, who also couldn't/wouldn't use them, she had brought them to my house last month and I gladly accepted them.  I have fresh carrots! 

A basic recipe, repeated in similar versions in almost every church cookbook or organization cookbook you find.  Tiny differences in the water amount (2 quarts or 3 quarts) and the celery, potatoes and carrots could be anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cup.  Other than that, pretty much the same.  And then just add 1 cup of cooked ham or pieces at the end.  I also added 1 T chicken base (bouillon) since I didn't have ham base and I didn't have a ham bone to add a lot of flavor.

One thing I did DIFFERENT this time... made it in my Instant Pot!  I will gladly do this every time from here on out. After rinsing and going through the split peas I did NOT precook or boil them.  I put them in the instant pot with 2.5 qt. water.  Added the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the ham and the mashed potato flakes.  Sealed it and set it to pressure cook for 30 minutes. Let it set for 5 minutes before releasing the seal.  Added the diced/chopped spam (ham) and stirred enough about 3/4 cup mashed potato flakes to make it thick and creamy, the way we prefer it.

While it cooked I used my 'daily bread' from the fridge to plop into a round on parchment and heated my Dutch Oven inside, while I preheated the oven to 400.  Popped the parchment paper and dough right into the pot, put the lid on and baked for 35 minutes.  Turned the oven off, took the lid off, and left the bread in for another 10 minutes, then removed.

The bread dunked in the soup for dinner tonight was so very comforting, warm and delicious.



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Garlic Bubble Bread



I have posted how I started to keep a container in the refrigerator of a basic Artisan Bread Dough so I can bake daily bread to stretch our food storage meal options. 

One of the posts:

Starting with the flour/salt/yeast bread idea, over the past couple weeks I regularly started to add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to the mix as well.  Every day I use it to make a bread round, sandwich loaf, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, etc.   Today I was in a rush doing a hundred things but I made sure to grab the bucket and toss it out on a floured surface and cut it into smaller pieces.

To each piece I dipped them into a bowl of butter, garlic cloves and garlic salt.  The butter used was another pint can of home canned butter from my 2-3 year pantry, canned in the fall of 2020.  (Delicious!).  I didn't put any parsley in because I was literally rushing to get this into a bundt pan as fast as I could as I had far too many other things to do that were more important than our daily bread (sad but true).  It rose in the pan while Mr. Husband and I had to run an important errand and get some paperwork.  When we got home I popped it into a hot oven to bake while I went on to the next important task we had to get done.

And here we are... the fruit of my (not very much) labor.  Garlic Bubble Bread.

Bread Dough
Melted Butter
Garlic, minced
Garlic Salt

Dip pieces of dough into butter, place in a bundt pan.  Let rise to double.  Bake at 375 about 30 minuets or until golden brown and done.  Turn out and serve warm with dinner or with a dipping sauce.

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Auguson Farms Vegetarian Taco Meat for Super Nachos and Soft Tacos


I'm sitting here eating a big plate of 'super nachos' as I type this and they are so so good.  And I am guilty of judging this product before trying it... and I stand as 100% wrong. 

Let me explain.

This is a #10 can I bought when I very first started to buy long term food storage.  It was 2012.  Since it was 'long term' it went into storage.  Fast forward to 2017/2018. I was planning a 2 week cross-country hiking/camping trip and ordered freeze-dried food for the trip. One of the things I ordered and used was a 'vegetarian taco flavored meat'.  It was awful.  So awful it wasn't even edible.  Because of that I had been dreading trying this food product in our long term storage. 

I was wrong. The *other* vegetarian taco meat I had tried was from a different brand.  I thought they would all be the same.  They are not.  I opened this one today, and it is so very good that I have no qualms whatsoever in eating it.  It is very, very good!

Auguson Farms Vegetarian Taco Flavored Meat

2 cups water
1 cup vegetarian taco meat
2 T oil (I used avocado)
1 T soy sauce or liquid aminos

Heat the water in a pan on the stove.  Add the oil and liquid aminos or soy sauce to the water.  When it comes to a simmer add the vegetarian taco flavored meat.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and it will rehydrate, using up the extra liquid and become a texture just like regular ''taco meat' that you are used to.  (See photo). 

Serve as you would taco meat.

*I went ahead and added a little bit of cumin, chipotle, chili powder and onion powder. Not much, but some...which really enhanced the taco meat flavor for 'make-it-yourself' Mexican dinner.  

Mr. Husband made soft tacos out of it and I found myself snacking on it with round tortilla chips until I was able to make a full plate of 'super nachos'.  I added a can of corn from the pantry to the mix.  Serve with flour tortillas, chips, taco shells... however you would normally use taco meat.

After simmering at a low boil for just a couple minutes....  taco 'meat'.

I kept snacking on it with chips from the pantry until I could make a proper plate of super nachos. 




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Crispy Oven Baked Chicken with Diced Potatoes

Ugly photo but it was taken super quick with my cellphone.  It is what it is.


So nice we did it twice!  Last night I raved about the pork chops I threw together at the last second that were incredible.  And so easy.  We easily could have had them again tonight but instead, I took some boneless chicken thighs out of the deep freezer to thaw, and then ended up using the same seasonings on them - so, similar but not exact.

Finished them off with some home canned diced potatoes.

Oven Baked Crispy Chicken with Diced Potatoes

Boneless Chicken Thighs (or thin boneless chicken breasts, or pork chops)
Parmesan Cheese
Crushed parmesan crisps (like a chip/cracker but are just cheese crisps sold in the snack aisles for low-carb/keto)
   OR use panko or breadcrumbs or even crushed corn flakes or heck, even rice krispies
Spices like Garlic and Woodfired Garlic, onion powder, etc.
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 and place a cast iron pan or other dish in it while it preheats.  Add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  I used avocado oil.  

While the oven pre-heats, sprinkle the chicken thighs or breasts with your favorite spices.  I used Kinders Woodfired Garlic and a Garlic Jalapeno mix.  Spread about a tablespoon of mayonnaise on each pork chop. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as you like.  Top each with crushed crumbs of choice. 

When the oven is ready and the pan is hot, remove the chops/chicken to the hot pan.  The pan should be 400 just like the oven and it should sizzle.  Cook about 35-40 minutes or until done (thin sliced pork chops cook a little quicker so about 25-35 for those). 

You can add potatoes to the pan to cook with it.  If using fresh, dice them, toss in a bit of oil and add to the pan with salt and pepper.  If you using home canned potatoes (as I did) they are already cooked so if you like them crispy and golden brown add them at the start of cooking.  If you want them to to be heated through but not crisp or golden, add them the last 15-20 minutes or so. 

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Incredible Crispy Oven Baked Pork Chops

Half of a cold, leftover pork chop from the refrigerator - the only photo I could get!

Meal made from freezer and pantry items this time.

It was 3:30 pm and I had to get something planned for dinner.  I knew it would be pork chops of some sort as I took them out to thaw earlier but other than that, it could go any way.  In the end, these were incredible and will be made again very soon (probably within about 3-4 days).  SO good.  And so easy.  

Crispy Oven Baked Pork Chops

Pork Chops
Parmesan Cheese
Crushed parmesan crisps (like a chip/cracker but are just cheese crisps sold in the snack aisles for low-carb/keto)
   OR use panko or breadcrumbs or even crushed corn flakes or rice krispies
Spices like Garlic and Woodfired Garlic, onion powder, etc.
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 and place a cast iron pan or other dish in it while it preheats.  Add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  I used avocado oil.  

While the oven pre-heats, sprinkle the pork chops with your favorite spices.  I used Kinders Woodfired Garlic and a Garlic Jalapeno mix.  Spread about a tablespoon of mayonnaise on each pork chop. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as you like.  Top each chop with crushed crumbs of choice. 

When the oven is ready and the pan is hot, remove the pork chops to the hot pan.  The pan should be 400 just like the oven and it should sizzle.  Cook about 25 minutes or until done.  Golden crispy and so, so good. 

I served with a broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mixture from the freezer. 

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Homemade Tomato Soup

Mr. Husband had surgery yesterday and today I was determined to make some sort of hot, healthy soup for dinner.  I was craving tomato soup and it just so happens our regular, go-to tomato soup is perfect for using food storage items because it uses canned tomatoes and canned milk anyway! 

We've been making this one for years and it's a favorite.  You can play with the amount of onions a bit, and you can add extra tomato if you wish.   This is awesome with evaporated milk but you could use cream or half and half if you wished.  I've made it in the past with regular milk as well although I used a little more flour to thicken.

Homemade Tomato Soup

5 T butter
1 T oil
3/4 c sweet onion, diced

3-4  cups worth of fresh tomato puree (approximately) or crushed or pureed tomatoes in a can - 28 oz.
1/2 t dried basil or about 1 teaspoon fresh, diced
3 T flour
1 3/4 - 2 cups chicken broth (bouillon, homemade or canned)
1/4 t baking soda
2 T sugar
12 oz. evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and basil. Simmer about 10 minutes. 

Combine the flour into the broth and whisk or beat with a fork until smooth.  Add to the soup, stirring constantly. Simmer on low 10-15 minutes.  Add the baking soda, sugar, milk and salt and pepper.  Heat through and serve.


*Note:  If you are using fresh tomatoes, plunge them into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then into cold water and slip the skin off before chopping up and adding them to your blender to puree.  If you are using canned, diced tomatoes you have the choice of blending them smoother OR leave them chunky for a soup with body.  If you are using puree from a can, no need to use a blender at all.







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More photos of my canned butter


In my earlier post you may have caught the fact I used canned butter in one of the recipes.  I thought I would touch briefly on that because it's January 2024 - and I just used butter canned October 2020 and it was still just as perfect as the day I canned it. 

Here was an earlier taste test I did as well in June of 2022:

Reposted below....



In October 2020 I canned butter.  I did a follow-up taste and post in May 2021 and at that time I was thrilled with it.  Absolutely thrilled.  I did another taste test in February of 2022 - at the 18 month mark, it was again... absolutely wonderful.  Just perfect, sweet cream butter.  

Here we are in June 2022... this October will be 2 years.  I haven't used much of the canned butter because it was part of my 2-3 year storage for 'hard' or 'harder' times.  I knew it was coming... and it looks like it's coming up pretty fast.

So... was my home canned butter still holding up?

Oh yes!

Tonight I opened one to use at dinner and it was just as perfect as the day it was canned. 

Once opened, I use a plastic lid on the canning jar.

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Food Storage Edition - Scrambled Eggs with Cheese and Toast


Tonight we are having burgers for dinner - with homemade buns from my daily bread recipe I keep adding to each day I make a new loaf of some sort of bread.  This morning was scrambled eggs with cheese and toast made from homemade bread. 

The eggs are the first time I've used this product.  It's not 'whole egg powder' but a scrambled egg mix; the difference is this mix has milk and oil already added to the mix (according to the ingredients list I checked).  This can was one of those 'first cans I ever bought' items back in spring of 2012.  Generally speaking it is fine - I think the only thing worth mentioning is they may have been a little bit grainier than fresh scrambled eggs.

I think generally speaking I like making our scrambled eggs out of regular 'whole egg' powder - adding our own butter, cheese, etc. (whatever we want).  BUT in the circumstances where you don't have oil, butter or even any form of milk or cheese, this is a good choice.  Camping, hiking, etc. come to mind.   We will use it and add bacon, sausage, cheese, etc. as well as salt and pepper but I'll also be cooking with it.  Things that use egg, milk and oil like cakes, pancakes, bread, etc. will be great with this powdered egg option.




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Sausage Gravy with Biscuit Bread made from the Pancake Mix #10 can

One of my favorite 'comfort food' breakfasts, sausage gravy and 'biscuits'. 

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Brown about a pound of sausage (or as much as you want - amount doesn't matter)
Flour -  When brown, add about a 2 teaspoons of flour per pound-ish 
Garlic Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste - but a little heavy as it's a main part of the sausage gravy
Milk of any form;  dry milk, evaporated milk with some water added, half and half, cream, reconstituted milk, etc.

Brown the sausage in a skillet or pan - using some oil, shortening or bacon drippings to start it out if it's a bit dry.  When brown, sprinkle flour over the mixture and work in with your spatula for about a minute.
Add milk/cream of whatever style you are using or have.  Adjust as thick or thin as you like your gravy.  Bring it to a boil, and be prepared to add a little more or add water to thin because the flour will start to thicken the gravy when it hits the boiling point.  When it's as thick/thin as you like, add garlic salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over biscuits.

One or two teaspoons flour per pound (or so) of sausage

Mix it as you bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat

It will suddenly start to thicken as it hits the boiling point.  Add more milk or some water to thin if you need to.

Serve with biscuits, or in this case the bread I made using the long term storage "pancake mix" - posted about a couple days ago. 

The 'bread' is basically just a crumbly biscuit in bread shape and I had some left, so I made this sausage gravy to day for breakfast to use up the bread.  We have a bit left yet (because we also have our daily regular bread for sandwiches and toast) so tomorrow I may use it for a cheese and egg biscuit or similar. 




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Chicken Tetrazzini (with photos and thoughts on the vegetarian 'fake' chicken bits from long term storage)



I mentioned last weekend I brought out the very first cans of long term food storage I had ever bought, when I had no idea of what to do, how to do it, or what we needed.  I just knew I wanted to start to seriously dive into food storage as we had just moved into our new home 1000 miles away and had to start from scratch.

My first-ever purchase included a kit that had vegetarian beef, vegetarian chicken, vegetarian ham and vegetarian taco meat. I had never actually HAD soy based 'fake' foods before so I thought it was a great deal as it was so, so cheap.  Well, luckily I quickly realized I wanted to invest in 'real' meats and not fake soy stuff... but for the record, I have these on hand and last week I brought them out of long term storage and am now finding ways to use them.

Because these were long term, I didn't open them to try them at that time, but a few years later I had bought freeze dried meals and pouches for one of the cross country camping/hiking trips I made with one of my daughters.  We had the imitation taco meat on that trip and it was... horrible.  Awful.  Disgusting.  So bad that neither of us could eat it no matter how hungry we were, and we ended up throwing it out.  

Because I know how terrible the fake 'taco' meat was on that trip, I was really dreading using the fake meats this month, but I took a deep breath and opened the 'vegetarian chicken'.

Oh wow, what a happy surprise upon first opening... it wasn't terrible.  

It looked nothing like chicken - freeze dried or otherwise - but when I grabbed a few crunchy fake chicken pieces and tasted them, they were... actually pretty good.  Not chicken really, but more of a crispy 'snack' with a faint chicken taste (?).  I brought some to my husband.  He tried them and said they reminded him of the corn based snack "Funyuns" with an onion flavor.  I mostly tasted a chicken flavor similar to the "Chicken and Biskit" crackers I recall my Mom buying when I was little.



The instructions say to rehydrate them 2-to-1 with water.  I decided to rehydrate them with real chicken, by cooking them all together in my instant pot - making ready to go 'cooked chicken' for other recipes.  Some people buy the rotisserie chicken from membership warehouses to keep on hand for quick "cooked chicken" recipes but when I've done that in the past, I can taste weird chemicals or strong 'odd' flavors so I don't actually buy or use those anymore and always make my own homemade. 

I just cook chicken breasts or thighs in my instant pot with some salt/pepper and sometimes other seasonings then package them in food sealed bags for the freezer. 

This time I mixed layers of my chicken breasts with the vegetarian 'chicken' pieces from my food storage.



Here is what it looked like when it was done.  I was just getting ready to shred it all and food seal it for the freezer... but was using some of it for dinner tonight as well.




Tonight's dinner was Chicken Tetrazzini - and improvised with food storage items.  


Chicken Tetrazzini

1/2 c chopped onion
1 stick butter
1 t flour
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 c chicken broth
1 c half and half or cream or milk
1 small jar diced pimento
3-4 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1/4 c Parmesan
8 oz. spaghetti, cooked
2 c cheddar, shredded 

Saute' the onion in butter.  Add the flour, salt and pepper.  Cook 1 minute, add in the soup, broth, half and half and pimentos.  When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.  Drain spaghetti and place in a 9X13" pan.  Cover with chicken, sprinkle with parmesan.  Pour the sauce over all and stir a bit to blend evenly.  Sprinkle top with cheddar and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until bubbly.


I had 1/2 of a large, fresh onion for this one that needed to be used up, and used a can of my home pressure canned butter to saute' it.  The can of soup came form my short term storage pantry and the broth was made with cubed bouillon with water.  I still have heavy cream in the refrigerator so I used that this time (although later I'll be using evaporated milk or powdered milk) and I left out the pimentos as I haven't stocked any of those and we never miss them.

The chicken was the mixture from my instant pot of fake vegetarian chicken from my long term food storage in the #10 can, cooked with a package of real chicken breasts and then shredded/chopped.  The spaghetti was from short term food storage and I decided not to use any cheddar as it's not needed, is mostly for color and I just sprinkled a little more Parmesan on instead.

*This was SO SO GOOD.  Seriously.  5 out of 5 stars made from food storage items.  No complaints at all and I'd be happy to even serve this to guests.  We had it with some of my homemade bread (making each day as I've posted before) from my no-knead, 3 ingredient refrigerator recipe.  If you have fake vegetarian soy 'chicken' to use up in your food storage, this is an excellent way to do it.  If you don't have real chicken to cook it with - it doesn't matter.  This recipe is one you could rehydrate it with water and then use in this and it would be so, so good!  No worries.


The butter was home canned this time instead of from the freezer.  I use both right now.  This particular one was canned in 2020.  Still just as perfect and 'fresh' as ever.  When/if I don't have any butter options, I would saute onions or rehydrated dried onions in an oil or even water, and then sprinkle butter powder over the hot spaghetti or mix the butter powder into the sauce to get a butter flavor (but never try to reconstitute butter powder and use it to cook or saute' because it won't work).

The fake chicken mixed with a little bit of real chicken, on top of the pasta in the pan

The sauce poured on top, blended a little and extra Parmesan on top - ready to go into the oven

Straight from the oven, hot and bubbling.  I let it sit about 10 minutes, it thickened up perfectly and was OH SO GOOD.


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