Posts Tagged ‘Angel Food Ministries.’

I Heart Cooking and I Heart Food Stamps Cooking Club!

July 18th, 2011
My, but it’s been a long time since we were all in the Club House! You all have been sorely missed!

Oh, my!  It feels SO GOOD to be back as your humble blogger.  Technology is wonderful when it works and when it doesn’t–well, let’s just say it can interrupt the flow of life! 

Things have been happening at breakneck speed while the blog was quiet...we have so many new members to welcome and thank!  We are working feverishly on an offline cooking class and recipes have been pouring in!  WE LOVE IT ALL!

That we have so many fresh new faces around the Club House tells me that a need is being met.  People who use EBT cards from WIC or SNAP are getting some valuable assistance; those who have food from commodities or a food pantry are looking for help in creating interesting, low cost dishes for their families and those who are frugal by nature are coming to share ideas and offer their wisdom.  It is so wonderful to have all these souls coming together for a common cause!  Thanks, EVERYONE.

The Normanator and I are extremely grateful for Angel Food Ministries.  We feel that we are doubling our food budget dollars by using this valuable service that is open to EVERYONE, regardless of your situation.  They also welcome those EBT cards from SNAP and you can order online.  Point, click, save!

Before we were so rudely interrupted by electronic glitches we were on a rant about BEANS.  While we were down a wonderful recipe arrived at the Club House door by one of our most faithful charter members and I want to share it here.  I am warning you:  IT IS DELISH!

Pork and Bean Cake

Yes, pork and beans; that is not a misprint!  ~Mother Connie

1  15 oz can pork and beans

1  8 oz can crushed pineapple, juice and all

Beat well until beans are pureed.

Add 2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat well for 2 minutes

Add 2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat well.  Pour into large UNGREASED jelly roll pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.

When cool frost with this mixture:

1  6 oz pkge cream cheese

1/2 cup butter

4 cups powdered sugar

The finished product will remind you of spice cake and you will be delighted!

Thanks to KIM for this offering.

Do you have something “beany” to share?  Shoot us an email:   We appreciate you and your ideas.

We will be keeping you all in the loop about the upcoming offline cooking class, so do keep your eyes open for that.  Those of you who do not live in SE Nebraska will have access to some of that information because we plan to video a portion of the presentation.  EACH OF YOU IS CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF THIS GATHERING OF LIKE MINDS! 

Gardens around town are bountiful now; there are some tremendous ideas to share about TOMATOES so if the computer behaves itself, those ideas will be forthcoming.  grin

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly



Black Bean Casserole at the Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 24th, 2011


Here is a Black Bean Casserole that's ideal for your Sunday Best!

Beans have been a major topic this week and a recipe came to my attention for black beans I could not wait to share with you Club Members!  Here it is:

2 cups chopped onion

1 minced cloves of garlic

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup prepared red salsa *The Kitchen Police will not arrest you if you choose green salsa.  Use what you like.

1 fresh pepper-choose red or green or yellow

3 cups cooked black beans

3 cups canned whole tomatoes, juice and all

2 cups frozen corn kernels

salt, pepper to taste

2 cups water

*Prepared in a soup pot as as, you will have a delicious soup.  For the casserole, just prepare as follows:

Add 3 cups cooked pasta.  *The cook gets to decide what KIND of pasta: bow ties, elbow macaroni, rotelli would work well.  Place in casserole dish, top with 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese and bake 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until it is thoroughly heated.

Besides being easy to prepare and easy on your food budget, this would travel well to a pot luck or to a neighbor who might need a meal because of a hospitalization.  It’s appropriate for Sunday dinner when a van load of your cousins  show up at meal time because it’s the end of the month, too!

This casserole is quite filling but you might want a little something sweet to polish off your meal.  This is a rerun; I made up a bowlful this morning and boy was it yummy:

Chia Pudding

1/2 cup white chia seeds  *Black ones work well, too

1/4 cup honey

1 can coconut milk

dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla *or almond or mint or whatever YOU like

Mix together, cover and store in the fridge.  If you leave it alone, the seeds will float to the top and stay there.  You can stir it periodically to mix the seeds, but who has the time for that?  grin

At serving time you can pair it up with canned or fresh fruit or berries as a topping, or serve it as is.

This recipe doubles or triples beautifully, depending on how many toes sit around your table.  It makes a great snack and I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast, as well.

The mail continues to delight us:  and we welcome all the new members who have flocked to the Club House lately.  ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?  (yes!)

If you hold an EBT card for WIC or SNAP or if you are using Farmers Market Coupons; if you have goods from a food pantry or food commodities, this blog is devoted to YOU.  We truly hope we are helping you manage your food budgets in this tight economy.  Maybe you are just a frugal shopper/cook; we aim to help YOU as well!

What’s so interesting is that YOU help US more than we ever could help anybody.  Your support, your comments, your emails, your links, your recipes–this is all so wonderful and we deeply appreciate every one of you.

One of the Club Members popped by yesterday and-bless her heart-she promised to get us the recipe for a BEAN CAKE that she says is amazing.  Well, I’m down with THAT.  Better get my baking stuff out…

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly

Bean Talk at Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 22nd, 2011


If you are talking BEANS, I am hearing BLACK BEANS!

The bean does not exist that Mother Connie does not love.  I recall with fondness the many kettles of White Northern or Navy beans my mother cooked every Monday she washed clothes as she used the old wringer washer!  Bits of bacon or ham went into the bean pot, as did shreds of carrot and pieces of onion.  They soaked on the counter top every Sunday night and when supper time rolled around they were paired up with crusty cornbread!  We could depend on eating beans and cornbread every wash day, which-of course-was traditionally Monday.

SIDEBAR:  Could you live YOUR life, knowing that Monday was always to be laundry day?  END SIDEBAR.

Through the years, Mom often cooked lima beans, even though my dad groaned his displeasure.  She also made baked beans with weiners, back in the bygone days of CHEAP NATURAL CASING HOT DOGS!  And of course, she was big on bean salads of every stripe and color.

Mom talked about a childhood that was-shall we say austere?  She and her sister both remembered being hungry at bedtime on a regular basis.  Wash day was not the only time they saw a plateful of beans!  Grandma did well to have enough dry beans to make meals with, especially because meat-and money and food-was mighty scarce.

Neither Mom nor my aunt were never ill as youngsters, so what little food they did have to eat nourished them well. Mom was 86 when she made her transition…she still had her own teeth!  Maybe mineral-rich beans were all right, after all!

Beans provide color and variety; fiber and texture.  They are a staple all around the world.

My Inbox held a wonderful recipe for chickpeas and grains this morning.  I was thrilled about it until I found out that recipe was not meant for sharing.

SIDEBAR:  HUH?  No sharing recipes?  What’s that about?  And if it is not for sharing, why was it in my Inbox?  NO FAIR! END SIDEBAR.

Let’s just say again that beans and grains make a complete low cost protein and let that stand.  If you and your family favor a certain type of bean and you have a favorite grain, I would strongly encourage you to mix and match and come up with your OWN recipe.

SIDEBAR:  If/When you DO that, feel free to put it into our Inbox for sharing.  The email address will appear below!  END SIDEBAR.

Beans lend themselves to salads, side dishes, entrees and snacks.

Chef Shawn Bucher reminds us that RE-FRIED beans are really “smashed” beans.  I found that comical.  When I read that, my mouth watered and I pined for little tortillas with a dab of re-fried beans, topped with a dollop of sour cream.

Any variety of cooked beans-canned or home cooked-adds interest to stir fry dishes, soups, salads, or even sandwiches.  Have you mashed any beans and used those “smooshed” beauties as a sandwich spread in lieu of mayo or butter?  They can be run through the food processor, along with sandwich meat or eggs and flavored with a dash of vinegar, some pickle relish and a bit of salad dressing, oil, or mayo.  Used this way, they can fill lettuce cups or be a sandwich spread.  This is ideal for lunchboxes!

People who have food commodities are likely to have beans on the shelf in their kitchens.  The same is true for users of a food pantry.  If you have an EBT card for WIC or SNAP; if you have Angel Food Ministries foodstuffs or you are a coupon clipper, you are very likely to have a stash of canned or dry beans around.

On the other hand, if you just like being very careful with your food dollars you are very likely to have a variety of beans to make your home cooked meals interesting and economical.

We are eager to hear from all of you about the way YOU use beans.  Just send your info to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.comWE LOVE MAIL!

We also l0ve having new Club Members!  We have a brand new batch, so treat ’em all with love!  Please make all the new kids feel welcome here.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly

Lotsa Food; Little Cost: Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 20th, 2011


Beans are inexpensive and nutritious!! These are red beans, as any fool can plainly see!



Rice is plentiful, nourishing, and probably sitting on your shelf!

EQUALS: A complete protein!


Ah, but you knew THAT, didn’t you?  And no doubt you are acutely aware that beans and rice are considerably less costly than beef these days!

The problem gets to be that the “end times” – of the month , that is – get to be tricky when it comes to making interesting, low cost meals.  It’s too hot to cook.  It’s too hot to eat but three squares are required every day. Those meals are necessary no matter how tired you are, or how hot is is, or how skimpy your food budget might be!

If you are using public assistance for your food budget you know all too well what the message is.  And you are sick to death of beans and rice, rice and beans.

How about if we re-frame the way we look at rice and beans?  What if we “built” a cool summer salad from rice you cooked and stored in the fridge?

SIDEBAR:  You KNOW how Mother Connie loves to cook once and eat twice..or more!  END SIDEBAR.

You really don’t need a recipe.  You could add some chopped vegetables to your rice: celery, onion, cucumber, peppers, carrots, radishes, zucchini, whatever you like-or whatever the kids will eat LOL.  Then dump in a can of drained beans you picked up for a song with a coupon or what they had at the food pantry.  You might dress the whole thing up with your own “signature” dressing.  Make up something like vegetable oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice; jazz it up with some dried herbs from your pantry.  Perhaps basil, oregano, cumin.  The choice is yours!

Rice is often included in the bundles available from Angel Food Ministries but rice is not the only grain you could use for this.  Bulgar wheat would work.  So would my personal favorite, quinoa.  You don’t need to limit your bean choices, either.  And they don’t have to be canned.  Dried beans, like grains, can be cooked and used as needed by storing them in the fridge.

SIDEBAR:  If you cook dry beans, soak them but do not salt them before you cook them.  If you do, they will cook up hard as stones,  END SIDEBAR.

You can stretch a summer salad like this by adding chopped lettuce to the salad before serving it.  Cutting the lettuce just prior to serving is wise, as shredded lettuce has a tendency to turn brown on the edges.

A simple and inexpensive home made pudding would top off this easy-do summer meal.  Or, fresh fruit would be nice if you are lucky enough to have some!

Next time we can talk about creative ways to add beans to your summer menu!

How do YOU manage combining beans and grains?  We LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from you at  and we thank you ALL for your participation!

There are new faces around the Club House and boy are we glad!  It’s great to have a place to hang out with people who understand where we are coming from.  Those who use food pantries, food commodities, EBT cards from SNAP or WIC-those who are suffering in this terrible economy need to know there is loving support for them.  No judgments.  No sales pitches.  Just an understanding and listening ear and some free advice about keeping food costs at bay.  Not all of us are users of public assistance…some of us just pinch every nickel until the buffalo bellows! grin  And we do love people!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly


Creamy & Dreamy for Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 13th, 2011


Looking yummy…could ANYTHING make this dish more appealing?

It feels soooo good to be back in the Club House with all of you!  Thank you for your patience in the absence of your fearless leader and welcome to all the MANY new Members!

During the break that was mine I had occasion to discover a new product.  Being the daughter of a grocer gives me a healthy curiosity about any new item.  Those of us who stocked shelves greeted new products with delight but shuddered to figure out where anything new would FIT.  We already had more products than shelf space!

SIDEBAR:  Sound familiar?  I know our kitchen cabinets groan sometimes…END SIDEBAR.

The new kid in town is “cooking cream.”  I was suspicious the moment I saw the colorful packaging.  My very first thought was, “And just WHY would I need cooking cream?”

When I did some grocery shopping I looked for the stuff in the dairy case.  Sure enough, EVEN IN OUR TINY TOWN, it sat among the cream cheese and there were 3 flavors.  I looked at the cute package and perused the label.  Yes.  Just as I suspected.  JUNK in that trunk!  Nothing in the ingredient list struck me as necessary to the new “Plate Graph” the USDA just released.

Then I canvassed the pros.  I asked Chef Shawn and Chef Josh what they thought about cooking cream.  I could not hear them laugh via email but their amusement over such an unnecessary product came through loud and clear.  These two are all about good food for little money so they were not shy about saying that we need not use the silly stuff.

So, kids, the bottom line is this:  if you think your dish needs  something creamy, think of sour cream or a home made white sauce, with or without cheese.  Don’t stoop to using non-nutritional, costly packets or cooking cream or anything else commercial.

Our email account has been busy:, for which we are grateful.  WE LOVE MAIL.  We do not love spam. 🙁

Since June is in full swing, our attention is beginning to turn to the offline cooking class!  We eagerly welcome your ideas.  This IS YOUR CLUB, after all!

With warmer weather here to stay we hope you are eating big salads with lots of home grown greens and other veggies from your gardens or Farmers Markets.  Carol has a dynamite suggestion for shopping Farmers Markets…she only shops with ONE vendor.  She and the vendor have a relationship based on loyalty and trust and she gets great value for her food dollars.

Maybe you use food commodities or food from a food pantry…If you are shopping at a Farmer’s Market or using Angel Food from Angel Food Ministries or you are an EBT card carrying user of SNAP or WIC – or if only you love to be frugal and s t r e t c h your food budget dollars as far as possible, we hope this cheery little spot in cyberspace is helpful to you and yours.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

PS:  In case you missed Mikemax’s comment here it is again!  This is VERY exciting news!

“My friend Mary is visiting. Her husband is president and weekly volunteer at a community food pantry in Oregon. She told me about a cookbook a young girl wrote for her Girl Scout Gold Award (similar to Eagle Scout for BSA). It features low cost recipes using products typically available at food pantries. She tested every single recipe and Mary says they are good! She is going to try to get me a copy and I will share the recipes and any words of wisdom therein.”

YAY, Mikemax!  YAY, Mary!  Good on YOU!





Chef Bucher and Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 31st, 2011


Hours of educational fun came right to my doorstep!


Let me begin by saying that I am NOT selling a darned thing and if you were to order something I’d never see a cent.  Now you know this is NOT a sales pitch!

Some time ago, Chef Shawn Bucher and I had a 140 character conversation on Twitter. One tweet led to another and at one point we had a cheery telephone conversation.  He expressed an interest in the Food Stamps Cooking Club and our offline cooking classes.

I was intrigued by his cookbook, First Timers Cookbook and thought it would be a good resource for our classes.  I ordered it, thinking it would be just another cookbook and since I already know how to cook…silly me.  Did I imagine I could not learn another thing?  Foolish, wasn’t I?

When the book arrived I was elated!  Long time Club Members may recall the post I made about it, showing off the copy Chef had signed in his own hand!

I follow Chef Shawn on Twitter and Face Book and of course I “Like” his Face Book page, First Timers Cookbook.  I have become his #1 Cheerleader.  Or at least one of his more vocal fans.

He surprised and delighted me by sending me a 2 disc DVD of his cooking series. I could hardly wait to watch them! I spent four glorious hours watching him show the fine points of table setting, explain tools of the trade, proper use of knives, and tip after helpful tip for preparing every food you could think of.  Besides that, it was eye candy just to see his professional kitchen, replete with granite and stainless steel.  Chef’s charming personality and keen sense of humor shone through, as well.

If you are struggling to think of a shower gift for a bride-to-be or if you have a teenager who would like to learn about food prep, this is really the ideal present.

When I reviewed First Timers Cookbook for my Book Lovers Club they all thought it would be ideal for their grandchildren.  They were pleased as punch when their order came quickly and was so beautifully and simply illustrated.  A good friend suggested she’d like to have some of those DVDs around for spur-of-the-moment gifts, too!  Great idea and no gas guzzling drive to shop!

Users of Angel Food Ministries would be gleeful to have this set; those who depend on food commodities or food pantries will surely benefit.  Maybe several families could pool their money and share a set?  *Sounds like the basis for a Cooking Club, if you ask me, which of course you did not… Those who have EBT cards for WIC or SNAP will surely enjoy the tips and lessons, as well.  If you are holding Farmers Market Coupons, you will learn much and be entertained as well as enlightened!

OK, kids.  Next time we go back to  hard sell mode. grin

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.






Grocery Shopping the Food Stamps Cooking Club Way

May 30th, 2011


Grocery's gotta be done!

Since Mother Connie has been uh, away from the keyboard-alas-it was a delight to find Leanne Ely’s topic in my Inbox this morning!  Here is what she has to say about the never ending job of grocery shopping:

“Six Sneaky Supermarket Secrets

by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Can I beg and grovel? Just a little? Okay, here goes…please, I beg you, never go grocery shopping without a list and plan for what you’re going to buy. Not only will you spend way more than you budgeted for, you’ll most likely forget something that you’ll need to get dinner (or another meal) done during the week. How frustrating is that!

Keep in mind that supermarkets know how you operate and seek to exploit your vulnerability when you walk in the door!

Here is a list of how to avoid supermarket’s costly seductions:

1. Conquering the Entrance: Whenever you first walk into the store you’re always bombarded with holiday specials, seasonal knickknacks, DVDs, or select sale items. Before diving into that mess of temptation and “deals” – evaluate. Do you need it? Surviving the entrance is just the first step. Think of yourself as Indiana Jones escaping a maze of booby traps.

2. Oh – Sale! BUT WAIT: The sales and specials will go beyond the entrance. They extend throughout the entire store. Especially those that have their own frequent customer cards. If it’s not on the list, always ask yourself the same question: do you need it?

3. The Store’s Personal Brand is Always Cheaper… Or is It?: Not so fast! Examine all your options! And do you have coupons? Brand names have to constantly compete and lower prices to go against the store’s label, and more often than you might realize, brand names can be cheaper than the store! Check the price per ounce and do some comparison shopping. Phew, another close call!

4. Produce Doesn’t Need to be Bought in Bulk: What most shoppers don’t realize, is that produce brings in the highest profit margins for grocery stores. And that’s typically the first department you wander into inducing shoppers to buy more produce than they probably need. It’s good to eat your fruits and veggies, but buy what you need and leave the rest. If it’s cheaper to buy a pre-made bag of potatoes than the bulk potatoes, but you only need 2 taters, in the long run, it’s cheaper to pay for only what you need then to have those potatoes growing eyes in your pantry.

5. Let’s Make a Deal: It’s really easy and so rewarding! First, look for coupons and look out for double, even triple, coupon weeks! You will save an incredible amount and beat the system if you can manage coupons and be aware of sales before walking in. If you can buy an item you always need (say canned tomatoes) with coupons that are doubled or tripled, by all means, stock up! This is where penny pinching is fun.

6. Sale or No Sale: Sometimes a coupon and a store’s promise to double or triple it doesn’t mean you should buy it. Any junk food, even if it is only going to cost pennies on the dollar is not worth it. Don’t get caught up in saving for the sake of saving. The food you buy and bring home will end up in someone’s belly. Ask yourself if the food has quality nutrition before you buy. It’s not worth it otherwise.

Go test the grocery store waters and see how skillfully you can avoid those trap doors when you enter armed with your list!”

~Leanne Ely,  C.N.C.

Saving Dinner

Copyright (C) 2011 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.


It is so great to have these tips, particularly if you are users of the EBT card for SNAP or WIC.  If you are users of Angel Food Ministries, you can avoid some of the pitfalls Leanne mentions.  Users of food commodities and food pantries as well as those who just want to rein in their food budgets can benefit from her list.

Even though the posts have not been so forthcoming you dear people are passing the word because there has been a surge in Club Membership!  YAY!  GOOD ON YOU!  I hope you are enjoying the series of cooking tips we send to our new members…the mail indicates you are quite pleased.

You can stuff our Inbox at  Please do; we love getting mail!

Not only was our Email fun; we had a package in the mail recently we cannot WAIT to tell you about!  Stay tuned!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Fast Food-Food Stamps Cooking Club Style

May 23rd, 2011


Better than resaurant food? YOU CAN BANK ON IT!

Another great gift from Mikemax appeared in our Inbox:

What you do when you don’t have time to cook, or aren’t feeling well, can have a huge impact on your grocery bill. At least 3 of our members TODAY are in exactly that boat.

Mother Connie and Carol M are both recovering from surgery. I have to be gone all day today, come home briefly, and leave again. Reasons like these—not to mention kids’ activities—are a prime reason we often succumb to takeout.

I’m not a fan of takeout. If I’m going to spend for restaurant food, I want to be served and have someone clean up afterward. And it’s expensive. Even a trip through a fast food drive-through will cost more, and take longer, than a steak dinner cooked at home. Which would you rather have?

I’m eating out of the bottom of my freezer this month. That means I’m eating the good stuff and the soup bones…there’s nothing left in between, LOL. Tonight, it’s the good stuff.

This morning I spent 5 minutes prepping a bone-in pork loin roast and figuring out how to set my oven so it will come on at 3:30 p.m. and automatically turn off at 5ish. I scrubbed some potatoes and put them into the oven to bake along with the roast.  I didn’t peel them so they wouldn’t turn black.   At dinnertime, I’ll heat up a canned or frozen veggie-or maybe make a salad, if I’ve got the stuff-and put the bowl of leftover applesauce on the table.

That roast, just under 3 lbs., was $1.98 lb. and cost $5.56. It will produce enough meat for two meals for my family of 3 adults. Dinner tomorrow—an equally busy day–will either be roast pork sandwiches or pork noodles made with Top Ramen, green onions and sliced hard boiled eggs—just like the Chinese restaurants used to make.

When I find a good deal on steak, I buy it and freeze it. Used to be, I could occasionally afford T-bones or rib steak on sale, and I’d keep around a few for nights when I couldn’t, or didn’t want, to cook. Prices have gone so high, I’m now buying boneless top sirloin, when I can find it for $4 lb. or less. With a baked potato and salad it’s cheaper than the dollar menu at the fast food joint. Faster, too…and nobody at my house ever complains about a steak dinner.

Now I’m going to turn this over to YOU. I’m curious what Connie is cooking as she recovers from cataract surgery this week. I already know what Carol fixed last night, because I read her blog, but maybe she will repeat here. She’s down to the use of one hand, and will be for awhile. What do YOU cook when cooking doesn’t seem to be an option? How do you handle nights when you’ve got to take 3 kids to a Little League game and there is no time to eat, let alone cook?

Nights like these can make or break your food budget. Let’s share ideas on how we handle them and help each other stay on track.

PS/You can find directions for the Timed Bake feature on your oven in the instruction book that came with your stove. With mine, I first set the length of time I want to cook, then I set what time I want it to come on, and finally I turn the oven dial to the desired temperature. Also, with a big piece of meat—like the pork roast—you can partially thaw it and let it finish thawing before the oven comes on. I’ve put completely frozen meatloaves in the oven in the morning and let them thaw until late afternoon, when the oven came on.  Much faster and safer, too.


Good GRIEF, Mikemax!  You’ve got me drooling!  What have I been cooking?  Actually, when you live in a small town and your life has “issues”  food arrives at your doorstep!  *EG: instead of having eye surgery you wind up in an ER, making every effort to avoid having a stroke.  Or, if you have a paper route and your wife is in the hospital you have TEAMS of people delivering those papers.

So cooking has not been much of a priority for the past number of days.  When Mother Connie is back on top of her game, there will be recipes posted from the goodies that have been bestowed upon us!  We are so blessed.

We  also have been blessed recently to have an influx of  new Club Members, as well!  The newbies have found our opt in box in the upper right hand corner of the blog and the website so they have offered up their email addies in order to receive our series of cooking tips.  YAY!  And we have received lovely messages at  YIPPEE!

If you know of anyone who avails themselves of the EBT card supplied by SNAP or WIC or if you know folks who use Angel Food Ministries foodstuffs or food commodities or have things from a Food Pantry or use Farmers Market Coupons, feel free to share this blog with them.  They may have great ideas none of us has thought of yet and they might share!  Hector Pector!  They might just be like Mikemax and Carol and me-FRUGAL to the core!  They will love what we are doing here.

Let’s all cheer for Mikemax:  All together, now, boys n girls:  HIP HIP HOORAY for MIKEMAX!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.


Spice Advice and Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 9th, 2011


Need Spice Advice? We have it here!

Greetings to all you precious Club Members and Guests!  A GINORMOUS magnifying glass has been pressed into service because your humble blogger has been aching to get back into the game.

Because we are gaining new club members in DROVES-thanks to all the new people who have submitted their names and email addies-it felt important to share with you the information we got today from Leanne Ely, The Dinner Diva from Saving Dinner.

As you  know, we are sending out a series of messages about cooking tips, including spices.  Because of that subject matter we want you to have THIS, too:

“The Ultimate Spice Cabinet Clean Out
by Leanne Ely, C.N.C

How many of us have professed to want to eat healthier, lose weight and get organized? It’s almost as if these three things are the ultimate trifecta! Believe it or not, one of the best ways to do all three of these things is to spice up your low calorie fare with herbs and spices.

But before you can organize your spices, you need to do a quick spice check. I’ve got this feeling we’ve got some OLD, ancient spices sitting in those cupboards! Let’s go on an archaeological dig and see what kind of fossils we can unearth. Here’s how you’re going to know you need some new spices–

You may need some new spices if:

*The date stamp on the bottom of the jar was from when you were in high school:

*The company who made the spice in the first place is out of business. Since 1980!

*The can is rusted and the label indistinguishable-you don’t know what’s in there.

*The label is missing so you smell it to identify it and can’t!

*The smell of the spice smells oddly like the garage on a rainy day.

*You mistakenly grab ground ginger for white pepper and it didn’t ruin what you were making because it had no flavor!

According to the website of McCormick Spice, if you still have spices in a tin can, you know the square and rectangular shaped cans with shaker and spoon out tops, they are seriously out of date-with the exception of black pepper-they have not manufactured the cans in over 15 years!!

The shelf life of spices is as follows:

Ground spices: 2 to 3 years

Whole spices: 3 to 4 years

Dried Herbs: 1 to 3 years

Great rule of thumb to figure out what to keep and what to pitch-if your spice is over a year old, it needs to be tossed. To keep your spices fresh and nice, you will want to buy only what you need and mark the bottom of the container with a Sharpie, indicating the date you purchased the spice.

I love buying my spices at the health food store (they are unbelievably fresh and cheap, because you buy what you need) and discount stores like Wal-Mart (2 for $1.00!). You can always have fresh spices when you get them this way.

Are you ready to spice up your life with some FRESH spices? Old Spice is cologne, not what should be hanging out in our spice drawers. Let’s get some fresh ones this week!

Now that you have all fresh and new spices, be sure and pick up a copy of our Ultimate Mix Ebook to create some spice, soup and sauce mixes of your own!

Copyright (C) 2011 Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

This information will be helpful for everyone who has a kitchen.  It will be of particular interest to those who use SNAP or WIC; for those who get food from a food pantry or those who have food commodities.  Many of our Club Members are simply frugal and careful with their food budgets Users of Angel Food Ministries will benefit from this, too!

Your messages continue to delight the heart of your Webmaster…please keep them coming  at !

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.


Pantry Project by MikeMax for Food Stamps Cooking Club

April 16th, 2011


Home pantries can provide security in lean times...


“*Please be advised that when the cat’s away the mice will play!

Unfortunately, Connie has not left me the Keys to the Kingdom-that is, her blog, so once this goes up, we’ll hear nothing from Connie herself for a week or so. She is having cataract surgery in May and has to give up her contacts next week. No contacts, in Connie’s own words = “No blogging; no email; no reading.  No cooking, NO DRIVING-have not been driving anyway-and whatever else.”

So, before Connie closes up shop here for a few days, let’s talk about my pantry.

Most people who see it have “pantry envy.”  It’s a walk-in closet off of my kitchen with shelves on three sides and room for my upright freezer. We built this house ourselves, and I insisted on it.

Generally, the pantry is full of food. I have a “thing” for food. I grew up in a home where my mother shopped every day for whatever we needed to eat that day. There was never any extra food. If we needed to bring a batch of cookies to Girl Scouts, for instance, we not only had to buy the chocolate chips and brown sugar, but often the vanilla or flour, too. Or butter. Or “all of the above.” Baking thus became very expensive!

I had been married for about 9 months when we moved to Eugene, OR, for my husband to attend graduate school. A few weeks after we arrived–while our cupboards were still all but bare–we had the snowstorm of the century–48 inches in 48 hours. In those days, before electronic cash registers, the stores stayed open during daylight hours, even without power. We had one near enough to walk, because we sure weren’t driving–the town where we lived didn’t even own a snowplow. We didn’t starve. But I swore I would never, ever be without food again.

It’s come in handy more than once. I live in a cold climate now and there are days each winter when I don’t–can’t–leave the house. Years ago-decades, actually!-my husband and I were both unemployed at the same time for about two months, and I was glad to have my cupboards full of food.  I didn’t have a freezer then. Money was tight for us last month so we lived out of the freezer and pantry.

Recently I noticed that my pantry was a mess. Because I have so much room, it can become a catch-all. Stuff like empty jars get piled in there, instead of put away in the garage. There were crushed-up crackers on the shelves. Overflowing plastic grocery bags had found their way to the floor. I even suspected I didn’t have much food left–by my standards, anyway. It was such a mess, who could tell?

Yesterday I started cleaning the pantry. To do the job right would take more time than I have to spare. But, I started straightening up shelves, recycling glass jars, picking up the plastic bags. Eventually, I’ll dust the tops of the packages, vacuum the floor and call it good. I’m about three-quarters done, and I’m shocked by how little food I actually have.

I also found a few things that had to go. Now, I was cooking long before there were dates printed on food packages, so I don’t get too hung up on them. Even I would not open a bulging can of tomato paste with a 2003 date on it! I also emptied some jars of homemade jam that were waaaaay past their prime.

As I sorted my containers, I checked the dates and put the oldest packages in front. I also made a mental note of stuff that was only slightly out of date, and I’ll be using those things in the next week or two. Obviously, if I see or smell anything odd when I open them, I’ll discard them without tasting–but I absolutely do not expect anything like that. Canned goods, stored properly, are good for about 5 years.

I found a few things we don’t really like that aren’t outdated. They are headed to the food bank.

If you are short on $$$ this month, be sure to neaten up your pantry and check what you do have. Chances are, you’ll find the makings for several meals.

I digress for a moment to mention one of my favorite blogs, The Frugal Queen. This one comes out of England, which seems to be a hotbed of frugality. This month she is trying to use up everything in her cupboards without shopping, and she turns out some mighty interesting-looking meals.  I intend to start using up my outdated goods in exactly this way…and if you are low on funds, you might want to, also.

I also need to start rebuilding my pantry. I’ll do it exactly the way I bought the stuff to begin with–by purchasing in quantity whatever I can get for cheap. Quantity might be a case of something. It might be “limit 2.” It’s whatever foods we typically eat and up to a one-year supply.

What kind of deals can YOU expect in the next few weeks?

Think Easter. I’ll pick up an extra dozen or two of eggs. I’m looking for a deal on canned pineapple: .80 to .90 for a 20 ounce tin and I’ll buy a case–maybe two. I’ll put an extra ham in the freezer. And one of the stores here has Del Monte veggies on sale this week for .50 can. That’s a killer deal for the only brand of green beans and corn that I’ll buy. I noticed that I’m going to run out of beans before the fall case-goods sales, so I’ll pick up half a case to see me through.

Cinco de Mayo–May 5–is a good time to stock up on salsa, tortillas and other Mexican foods. While you are in the ethnic foods aisle, look for cellophane packages of spices used in Mexican cooking. They’re fresh, they’re dirt cheap and you’ll be surprised what you find.

The next big opportunity to stock up will be Memorial Day. Think picnics!   Ground beef, buns, chips, condiments and soft drinks will be on sale. This is the time to stock up on ketchup, mustard and relish–and I will.  Pork and beans, too.   Ditto for the 4th of July.

During the summer, when people are canning, you’ll also find deals on sugar. The really good deals are usually “limit 1,” but you will see them often enough that, over the course of a few weeks, you can pick up enough to last all year.

The best grocery deals are in November and December…but I will write about them then.

I shop at a bread thrift store, too. Yesterday I bought 6 weeks’ worth of bread and rolls for a little over $15 and stashed them in my freezer. Note: hamburger and hotdog buns don’t freeze well, so never buy more than you’ll eat within a couple of weeks.

If you rely on food stamps or other benefits, I know it isn’t uncommon to run out of money before you run out of month. Even on a limited budget, you can usually pick up an extra bottle of ketchup, an extra dozen eggs, maybe even a ham–if it is cheap enough. Do this enough times, and you’ll build up a nice little pantry AND regularly eat at the lowest possible price. Try never to run out of anything–like those chocolate chip cookies, it will always cost you more.

Remember that coupons will make your EBT go farther. I mostly buy store brands, but I do use some coupons. If you aren’t currently couponing, give it a try…as long as it saves you money. If it tempts you to buy items you wouldn’t otherwise buy, or to pay more for a brand name, there is no saving.

There is good advice about coupons at Monroe On a Budget.  Too bad nobody around here doubles coupons.  BTW, I have coupons for Dole pineapple if it goes on sale! And if it doesn’t, I already know where I can get Del Monte for .88 can.  This week is probably the only time of year I will see it on sale.”


What would Mother Connie DO without her helpers?  This world is a better place because of the community YOU PEOPLE have created.  Mikemax has been a major player in this community building.  Her wit, wisdom, and expertise are such valuable assets here.  So are the comments from all the Club Members.  We love the emails, too. As you know, emails can be directed to!

Next week will fly by and regular posts should be no problem so do stay tuned after you get your pantry or cupboards straightened up!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly

PS/Those who have goods from Angel Food Ministries; EBT cards from WIC or SNAP; those who frequent food pantries and people who have food commodities; even those folks who are happiest when they can practice frugality-whether they are living on a dime or not-can benefit from the ideas on this blog.  Please feel free to share the information with those who sit in your circle.  If you have not submitted your name and email address for our series of cooking tips and infrequent email messages, we invite you to do so.  And we thank you for your participation in the Club!