Homemade potato chips

I would love to take credit for this fun discovery but I researched it on u-tube.  I never do anything exactly the way I read/see how to do things but my  chips turned out great.  My picky 91 year old mom with dentures even enjoyed them ALOT!

I often have a sandwich for lunch and had been wanting some Lays potato chips for weeks but they weren’t on sale (2 for 4.29) so I didn’t buy any.  I bought a bag for 2.88 at Walmart.

While eating the chips, I was looking at the 10 ounce bag and thinking about that price of 4.29 for 10 ounces versus the 3.99 for my last purchase of a 5 pound bag of potatoes.

So, I peeled the medium sized potato and then thin sliced it with the potato peeler.  You could also use a grater that has the slicer.  I knew there was no way I could thin slice the potato with a knife.

Then you want to wash then really well with cold water to remove the starch.    One guy said to refrigerate for an hour.  Just peel the potato slices into the bowl of cold water and rinse a few times.  It worked just fine.  Make sure you thoroughly dry the potatoes.  Water in grease can splatter.

Let your oil heat up in a frying pan.   I used vegetable oil but another person suggested canola oil.  I used the setting between high and medium.   Drop one thin potato in the oil and if it bubbles up around the potato, drop more in.  I just cooked one thin layer at a time.  I didn’t flip them over but pushed them down a few times.  Once you see the edges turn a little brown, remove the chips.  It took less than 2 minutes, I believe.

Drain on paper towel to remove excess oil.  Salt or add any spice you prefer.

 One medium sized potato made enough chips for at least one person and maybe two, unless you are a big eater.  Lol. They were delicious warm.  

Disaster Prepping or Hurricane Season

Well, hurricane season is upon us and remembering the rule ” a gallon of water per person per day” got me thinking.

I am a frugal person in a lot of areas in my life and buying a gallon of water for each person for three days was about $9.00.  That is for drinking.  And to be safe, I want to buy enough for a week…thus, $21 more or less.  Store in a dark, cool place. You could refrigerate one and then after using three, purchase more.  It is good to rotate your food and water.

But that isn’t water for washing dishes, brushing teeth and bathing.  In a real emergency, we might need that on hand, just in case.

I started saving my juice bottles and filled them with water and stored them away, too.  My mother drinks a lot of prune juice, I love orange juice and my husband is a big fan of tomato juice.  That is at least three containers a week.  You could also save your two liter soda bottles or recycle your gallon water bottles.

I also store 2 one gallon containers of chlorine bleach with my (juice) water bottles.  I read that  16 drops of bleach will kill germs in water and I think I would do that as a precaution even if I were washing dishes or brushing my teeth with the bottled water I filled myself.

I have also ordered some long term storage food that keeps for 25 years….enough to last for a week or so.  It is dehydrated/freeze dried so it needs water, too.

I was given a butane cooking stove (like for camping) that I can use on my kitchen counter for making a pot of coffee with my glass percolator and even heat a can of soup, etc.

A gas grill with a burner on the side would be great, too but I haven’t purchased one of them, yet.  I plan to make that purchase at the end of the summer when the grills go on sale.  We aren’t much for grilling out so it isn’t a priority for us.

But, the best thing to do, since long term storage foods can be costly is to get a plastic tub and fill with emergency foods.  That way it will be easy to move with you if you have to relocate.

The most important part of your emergency food/water storage is to rotate the items.  Make sure you put foods in the tub that you and your family eat on a regular basis so you can rotate it out.

I would suggest cereal/oatmeal, dried fruit or canned fruit  for breakfast.  I have the long term storage milk which by the way, Augason’s Morning Moo is very tasty.  Canned hams that keep for years are about 3.29 for a pound at Walmart.  Also, a good breakfast food if you are fortunate enough to have eggs to go with them.  You can also buy dehydrated eggs.  Who knew?

As far as drinks go:  powdered milk, coffee, kool-aid with sugar for the kids, lemonade packets that you add to a bottle of water is great.

Soups are handy for lunches and even ramen noodles though I haven’t eaten them myself.  A can of soup (like sirloin tips with vegetables) over a bowl of rice makes a filling meal.

Canned potatoes and vegetables are easy to rotate out.  I love the candied yams so I keep a good supply of them.

As far as meats go, just look down the isle at the grocery store and look for as many meats that your family will eat.  Variety is great. We like the ham and the roast beef in gravy.

ALWAYS check expiration dates.  I write on top of the can the month and year with a marker so it is easily readable.

It may seem like a lot of trouble but if you have an emergency, you will be glad you took the time to prepare.  Running to the grocery store at the last minute may mean you will forget important items as well as the cupboards may be bare at the grocery store right before a hurricane.  We couldn’t find the small butane bottles for our stove before hurricane Arthur came our way this year.

I remember the horrible pictures of the disaster when Katrina hit Biloxi/New Orleans.  I can only imagine how awful it would feel to lose your home and then to not even know how you were going to get food for your family.

One last suggestion, add some comfort foods to your emergency food storage.  Hot chocolate, hard candy, chocolate and perhaps gum will add a little joy to your lives.

One last thing: flashlights, batteries, matches and a first aid kit are essential to feeling really prepared.

Good luck and be prepared.


Best Cupcake Icing Ever

You can have professional tasting cupcakes with the Wilton Decorating Icing that is sold in Walmart in the cake decorating section of the craft department.  This icing can be colored with food coloring and it is great.  My sister, Bonnie puts the icing in a pastry bag and using the decorating tips makes little stars all across the top of the cupcake.  So cute.  The best part is the taste.  Yum!

i haven’t figured out her recipe for the cake which is always moist.  I have read on YouTube that putting an envelope of pudding mix makes a moister cake.  I love all the cooking tips on YouTube, don’t you?

Have fun baking.  And Bonnie, open a bakery.  Your cakes are beautiful and so tasty.

Deciding on your retirement location

My husband I are in North Carolina taking a turn caring for my 90-year old Mom.  It is quite a change for us to be away from our chickens and our two acres out in the country but we feel good about being with Mom and making her latter days of her life happy.

To be honest, I cried a lot when I first moved here.  I just missed my life that I had been living for 17 years out in the country with just me and my husband.   It is always difficult when you add another person to the mix, even when you love that person dearly.  Kind of like when you have a child.

I am around my relatives now which includes three sisters and one brother and nieces and nephews as well as Mom.  There are family gatherings, outings on my sister’s boat and meals with family at our home here.  Plus, one of my daughters (NC) and my only son (Washington, DC) came to visit.  I am hoping to see more of them since it is a lot closer for them to visit.

So, even though we had a lot of peace and quiet in Florida all by ourselves, there are things to consider as we get older.

If my husband passed away, I would be without any of my family down there.  It is difficult enough when someone passes away but then to have to uproot your life and move, wow, that would be really hard.

So, this time taking care of Mom is our trial period to see if we could be happy living in NC instead of Florida.  We are in a condo so no yard to care for which appeals to my husband, I think.  But seriously, if I were to live here permanently, I would have to have some property where I can have a few chickens.

Even though I am 64, we found some part time work that gives us something to do and some extra money.  If it weren’t for that, I probably would have looked for some volunteer work to do.

So, when the time comes for us to make changes in our living location, we are going to be deciding whether to stay in NC around my side of the family or move back to our property in Florida. At times I feel in limbo. Not necessarily a place I like to be so I am focusing on having fun with my family and enjoying this time with Mom.

Favorite Small Appliances

I was previously married and my ex-husband loved to buy gadgets.  He loved to cook so most of them related to the kitchen which is good.

My best buy ever is my Salad Master pots and pans.  I bought them in 1980 after some persuasion from my ex-husband.  The thought of spending $800 for them was one reason I was fighting his desire to have them.  But they have been great.  I got all sizes of pots and pans as well as an electric skillet and grater with a lot of attachments.

My mom use to buy a new set of pots and pans every couple years spending around $100 each time.  I know she spent way more than 800 dollars during the same 30 years.

So, one of my favorite small appliances is my electric skillet.  I love to put the meat in the skillet on low and let it cook for hours and make it so tender.   My Salad Master electric skillet is great because it is actually submersible so it is easy to wash.

I think my second favorite small appliance is my griddle.  Great for cooking big meals especially.  You can cook a bunch of bacon or sausage and then wipe it off with a paper towel and cook your pancakes or french toast.  It is really great for cooking a bunch of pork chops or you can cook your steaks on it.  I have a gas stove and I put my steaks in there but I have used the griddle.  I don’t use my griddle every day but I thoroughly enjoy it whenever I do use it.

I love my Hamilton Brew Station coffee machine, too.  The coffee doesn’t seem to get as strong when sitting.  You don’t have a coffee pot that you remove and pour.   You just put your cup under the ledge and push and fill your cup.  The pot turns itself off after two hours, too.   I believe you can get these coffee pots for about $30 bucks though there are some more expensive ones, too.

My microwave is also a much needed part of my kitchen though I don’t really cook with it.  I use it as a bread keeper most of the time.  I make popcorn, heat items and melt butter in it on a fairly regular basis.  Warming up meat in a microwave tends to make it tough.

Some people are afraid of gas stoves but I LOVE mine.   If the electricity goes out, you can always light the top burners with a match and still be able to cook.  I also like that I can tell if it is on low, medium or high easily and you can switch from one to the other faster than electric.  When you turn the gas off, it is off quickly.

I have never gotten into using a crock pot though I have had a couple of them during my homemaking years.  I don’t like the smell of meat cooking in it.  Silly, I know.  But I have been told cooking beans in a crock pot is great.  I recently starting cooking beans for my husband and actually learned that I like them, too.  Well, some of them anyway.  When you take all that time cooking beans and then forget about them and burn them, it really sucks.  I have only done that once and don’t intend to let it happen again.  I heard a crock pot will keep that from happening.

Well, these are my favorites that have been with me over my past 45 years of homemaking.  I have tried many others but they are either stored away or given away or sold at yard sales.  These small appliances have proven to be the most valuable for my everyday life.

Dividing Buns To Freeze

I love a bargain better than anyone I know.

At Winn Dixie, they had buy one get one free buns.  So I bought one hamburger and one hot dog bun.  Well, with only two of us I realized they would go bad before we used all of them so I decided to freeze half of them.  I took one layer of hot dogs (4) and replaced it  with one layer of hamburger buns (4).   Then I froze one pack and put the other in my bread box (microwave, lol).

I freeze my loaves of bread, too, especially if they are on sale.  The bread is so fresh when you take it out of the freezer and let it thaw.

I keep saying I am going to start making homemade bread.  I have all the ingredients but still no food thermometer.  I don’t trust myself to tell temperature for the water for the yeast without a themometer.  Plus, I don’t need to gain any more weight and I know how great bread tastes fresh from the oven.  Yum!!!!

Now, if I could just get that upright freezer I have been looking to buy.  I will need it if I am fortunate enough for my garden to flourish this summer.   Canning is in the future, too.  I hope.

Older cars and renting cars

Since my husband has retired and we have been traveling more, we have considered buying a new car to ensure we won’t have a break down a long way from home.  We have been ripped off in the past when our car broke down…transmission….and we were five hours from home.  Staying in a hotel, eating out,  renting a car to get home, renting a car to get back to pick up our car and then later finding out the work was not done correctly and having to put it in our local repair shop and paying the entire amount of repair work over again.  That sucked.  Plus, we were there during a hurricane which made matters even worse.

So, in deciding about buying a car, we discussed the financial costs as well as our personal safety.  Going in debt for a new car would increase our debt for 3 to 5 years by at least 350 dollars more than likely.  That is certainly a drain on  a person’s income.   We are perfectly happy with car which is a 98 Blazer that is in great condition as far as appearances.  We have to put some money into her which always sucks but even if we have to put $2000 a year, that is still better than a $4200 yearly bill of car payments.  New cars can break down on you and they still need routine maintenance just liek our older model car, too.

So, we opted for renting a car when we are going on trips that far exceed our AAA towing distance of 200 miles.   We rented a car to go to Humble, Tx for 17 days and it cost right at $400.   If the car broke down, we knew we just had to call the dealer and they would bring us another car.  It was a worry free trip for me.   If we take 3 trips a year…which most would not be for 17 days….more like 5 probably, we still feel the advantage is there.  We are not obligating our income for years.  If we feel we can’t afford to rent a car, we stay home.

Plus, you aren’t  putting all those miles on your car which depreciate the value of your car.  If your car is newer, this could make a lot of difference for those trade-in values.

When we rented the car for the 17 days, we knew we had to be at our daughter’s house at an appointed time for them to catch a plane.  We were house sitting and dog sitting for five days and they then returned home and we spent time together.  They were depending on us.  Our car breaking down could have endangered their Christmas plans so it was nice to know, we could call the dealer if we have a problem with the car and they would bring us another one.

Our SUV car is perfect for around town and it gets 20 miles to the gallon so it is not too bad.  When we rented a car, we got 39 miles to the gallon with the Nissan Versa so that really saved us money on gas.   Plus, it is nice to drive different kinds of cars just to see how you like them for a future purchase perhaps.  We are really wanting a Versa now because the car was roomy enough for us and our luggage and the seats were comfortable which is important on long trips.

Cold water to remove blood stains

I don’t think I knew this when I was young.  Thinking everything comes cleaner with warm soapy water, being young and dumb, I made this mistake with blood stains.  So, for you young women, especially with kids with boo-boos, use cold water to remove blood stains.

I remember a day in high school when I wore a white skirt.  Math class ended and a nice young man told me I had blood on the back of my skirt.  I wanted to die.  I am sure my mom washed this stain out for me and other than the embarrassment, never gave it another thought.  We take a lot of things for granted when we are growing up and have a terrific mom at home taking care of us.

As my children grew up and left for college, I realized I hadn’t showed them many of the things that I did every day for them.  They called me often at first and occasionally now to ask how to cook something or some other tidbit they couldn’t remember how to do.

My daughter, Bonnie has just bought her first home and is going to plant a garden and is interested in canning and chickens and all sorts of things I actually have knowledge about.  So they do still need me!  Yea

Army of Syrups

You know I love a bargain, especially on food.  A few years ago, Winn Dixie had Miss Butterworth syrup on sale, plus I had coupons (which is rare for me) so I ended up getting each one for 75 cents and they normally sold for almost $3 each.  I think I bought 8 of them.

My daughter, Bonnie came for a visit and when opening the cabinet noticed my battalion of Butterworths.   She teased me about it for years.  Recently she sent a picture of two bottles of NyQuil and commented that she was starting her army.

Flat Bacon

During a phone conversation with my sister today, I was also cooking breakfast.  I love to share my tips with her because she always makes me feel so good about the things I share with her.  We are a lot alike….energetic and happy the majority of the time.

So my bacon kept curling up and I don’t own a bacon press so I use to cut the edges that were curling up to relax the bacon and it would lay flat.  Problem with that is you can damage your pan with the knife.  So what I do now is take a pair of SCISSORS and cut through the curled edge that is already up in the air.  Then I press it down with my spatula and the bacon is then lying flat and cooks evenly.  I hate over cooking my bacon just to get the white fatty part cooked.

This works great guys.  I also love having an electric griddle to cook my bacon and pancakes.  They only cost around 20 dollars.