Sunday in Iowa...

 The Neon Cow Over the Moon 
used to located above Wigg's Country Store,  an independent convenience store in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and before that the location was The Milky Way Dairy where the sign originated.  It has been mounted on the wall in the Smokey Row Coffee Shop in downtown Oskaloosa.  My husband remembers going to the Milky Way when he was a preteen.
The original sign was mounted inside a large convex dark blue quarter-sky above the building.
The Milky Way was a popular stop…even a Russian farm delegation got a newspaper write-up in July of 1955.
“At Oskaloosa, the Soviets couldn’t resist the offerings of the Milky Way Dairy Bar when they stepped out into the 90-degree heat. A. V. Tulupnikov ordered a three-scoop sundae covered with chocolate and marshmallow syrup and topped by a cherry The sundae was titled “Idiot’s  Delight.” NT W. Gureyev tried a similar concoction known as a “Tummy Buster.” “It’s wonderful,” both said smacking their lips. Tulupnikov said Russia has state ice cream stalls. But he conceded there was nothing like the Milky Way Dairy Bar." 

Winter Canning 2022

Clockwise, Top left:  Chili, Ham and Bean Soup, Spit Pea Soup, Corn Relish

I’m starting my winter canning today, actually, by canning some more chili for the pantry.  I bought some ground beef for $2.97 a pound, what I actually paid in 2020 too, and I have all the other ingredients in my pantry.  I also have frozen corn I want to use, so I’m going to can Corn Relish. 

Looking at my freezer and my pantry inventory, I am also probably going to make Split Pea Soup and Ham and Bean Soup because I have some ham shanks I want to use and I have less than a case of each soup on hand and soup season isn’t over yet.

This gives me a chance to use some jars that would have stayed empty until late summer canning, and I’m replenishing my pantry.

I also usually can chicken and hamburger during this season, but I have enough on hand already canned to last this year, 45 half pints of chicken and 24 half pints of hamburger mix.

Small Recipes...Homemade Biscuit mix Cheesy Onion Biscuits – Two Biscuits

I love my Homemade Biscuit Mix from a Martha White recipe.  I use lard and self-rising flour to make the mix and always have some in the refrigerator.  It’s perfect for making just a few biscuits that I bake in my toaster oven…here is my version of cheesy onion biscuits that makes only 2 nice biscuits plus a scrap biscuit…for the cook, of course! 
What I have discovered with the mix is that I can weigh out my mix, and add a tablespoon of milk for each ounce to make just the amount I want.  No leftovers, and they bake quickly in my toaster oven.  Perfect for eating with soups or main dish salads.
I have put the mix recipe at the bottom of this post.                    
                  Cheesy Onion Biscuits – Two Biscuits
  2        tablespoons  chopped onion
  2        tablespoons  shredded cheddar cheese
  3        tablespoons  milk
  3        ounces  Martha White Homemade biscuit mix
Place onion in a small microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until tender. In a small bowl, stir the cheese and onion into the Homemade Biscuit Mix. Stir in milk with a fork just until moistened.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. Pat or roll out into a rectangle 2” x 4”; cut into two biscuits with a 2” cutter.  Press scraps together in to a patty the same thickness as your biscuits.
 Place the biscuits and scrap biscuit 2 in. apart on a baking sheet; greased or lined with parchment.
Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
In a toaster oven, try 425°.
Martha White Biscuit Mix
                        1 QUART MIX
  1           pound self-rising flour -- sift first (4 cups)
  4          ounces  lard or shortening -- 1/2 cup
Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender or food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature (If using shortening).  Refrigerate if using lard.
Mix will keep well up to 4 months on the shelf if using shortening or in the refrigerator if using lard. 
Recipe weighs 20 ounces; 1 cup recipe weighs 5 ounces.                                

Sunday in Iowa...

 A Winter Barn 
belonging to a neighbor of our son between Columbia and Melcher-Dallas, Iowa  
Most of central Iowa got 8-12 inches of wet, heavy snow that started in the morning here and lasted most of the night.  

$avings $aturdays...Using Up Our Old Pantry and Freezer Items

1942 Armstrong Flooring Advertisement
 This year I am starting the first three months by using the oldest things in my pantry and freezer and only buying fresh milk, eggs, produce and maybe a “hot deal”.  I have spent the last year using up items we don’t use a lot or that have gotten too expensive so my pantry has less infrequently used items and more of what we use all the time.  It’s also easier to keep track of.

Some of my pantries..
Clockwise, top right: 2009, 2010, 2015, 2022

I'm a firm believer in the "pantry principle", I shop to restock my pantry and freezer with basics and good deals and cook from the pantry and my freezer instead of shopping for a weekly menu.
I don’t take an big inventory of my pantry anymore…every time I use something, I count the quantity still left on the shelf and check it against my spreadsheet inventory when I take off the item I use.  My husband is excellent about telling me when he uses something; he often leaves a scrap of the wrapping with the item name on it by my computer so I can take it off the inventory.
I keep an organized list of the things I regularly buy, along with the last price I paid for the amount I bought.  What I have added to that inventory spreadsheet for the last several years is a column that calculates how much of each item we have used.  I transfer the yearly amount we have used to my next year’s spreadsheet.   This information helps me focus on buying amounts we will actually use and also what needs to go on the menu.
I usually keep just staples like baking supplies and canned goods in my food pantry in quantity.  I only stock one extra of condiments, oils, and things you wouldn’t absolutely need in an emergency…just enough to not force a trip to the store just for that item.  I store the oldest items in front; boxes of like items help in this effort.
You may also want to start keeping track of what you throw away - what can you do to eliminate that waste?
Treat your household as a "business" - and become a better steward.

Small Recipes...Homemade Biscuit Mix Cinnamon Twists

Somebody absconded with a donut hole!  
Here’s a simple treat made with my homemade biscuit mix recipe from the Martha White Southern Sampler cookbook.   If you don’t put all the cinnamon-sugar on the plate for dipping, you can save any you don’t use for cinnamon toast, if you have any left, that is!    I use my doughnut cutter to make fancy twists…you can cut them out with a biscuit cutter and use bottle cap to cut the center, or just leave them round without twisting for that matter.   My doughnut cutter is 2 3/4" across with a 1 1/4" inch center cutter.                
I can make a very small amount with no waste and no leftovers…perfect.  You can even cut this in half and have just enough for 1 person!  I weigh my mix to ensure success every time.    
                             Cinnamon Twists
     1/4    cup  milk
  4           ounces  Homemade or purchased Biscuit Mix (a scant cup)
  1 1/2    tablespoons  butter -- melted
     1/2    cup  sugar
     1/2    teaspoon  cinnamon
Preheat oven to 450°.  Melt butter in shallow sauce dish in microwave.  Prepare cinnamon-sugar to taste in custard or glass measuring cup; spread some of it in a paper plate, adding more to the plate as needed (save any unused leftovers for cinnamon toast). Line with parchment or lightly grease a quarter-sheet pan (12 x 9") or a cookie sheet.
In small bowl, combine milk and biscuit mix with fork just until it pulls away from the side of the bowl; let set in bowl 4-5 minutes.  Knead dough lightly 8-10 times on a floured board.  Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness into a square that will make 4 biscuits with your doughnut cutter.  Cut into rounds with the floured doughnut cutter. 
Dip each biscuit into melted butter, then into mixture of sugar and cinnamon.  Twist once and place about 1 inch apart on baking sheet or line with parchment paper.  Dip the centers the same way.
Bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes.
Remove to rack for a few minutes; serve warm.
Makes 4 small treats…about 2 servings.

Martha White Biscuit Mix
                        1 QUART MIX
  1           pound self-rising flour -- sift first (4 cups)
  4          ounces  lard or shortening -- 1/2 cup
Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender or food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature (If using shortening).  Refrigerate if using lard.
Mix will keep well up to 4 months on the shelf if using shortening or in the refrigerator if using lard. 
Recipe weighs 20 ounces; 1 cup recipe weighs 5 ounces.                                
                        TO PREPARE 5-6 BISCUITS:
  5       ounces  biscuit mix
  5-6 tablespoons  milk or buttermilk (3/8 cup)
Preheat oven to 450°, toaster oven to 425°.  Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment.
Add milk to mix.
Stir with a fork only until dough leaves sides of bowl.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured board; knead gently just until smooth, about 10-12 times.
Roll out to ½  inch thickness.  Cut into rounds with a floured 2 inch cutter.  Turn over when placing on baking sheet.
Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield:  "1 quart" of mix

Sunday in Iowa...

 This is a Synder ST600-C   
a three wheeled motorcycle!  
It was in a vacant lot located just outside tiny Taintor, Iowa   
It is a real curiosity, you never know what you'll see in rural Iowa.

$avings $aturday...Not Last Week!

 Just in case anybody out there thinks that Iowa must be a place where food prices are miraculously low, you only had to look at the grocery ad from our local Fareway store for December 22-28, 2021.  This is one of our lower price stores, but we were in sticker shock when we looked at the prices for beef and seafood!
$45 for 2 pounds of shrimp, almost $40 for a pound of lobster tails (notice the 4 ounce portions in the small print).  That’s $197.80 for an 11 pound case of snow crab…with a $25 gift card as a bonus.
$16.99 a pound for a 5-7 pound beef tenderloin…that’s about $85 for a 5 pound bag.
You can see we are in Iowa, as anything pork…ham, sausage, tenderloin or boneless pork loin are very reasonable.  A 5 pound boneless pork loin is about $15 not $85.
The biggest advantage at this store is they will cut and wrap your meat to any size package ready for the freezer and it doesn’t cost you any extra.  They will slice your boneless pork loin into chops and wrap them in 1 or 2 chop packages…while you wait, for instance.  The savings on freezer wrapping can be substantial.
I’m not sorry I have my freezer filled with only sale price meat, seafood and poultry.  
Shopping to replace those items this year may be a minefield.  I see more beans, soup and casseroles in our future.
Our coffeetime farmer friends tell us that meat lockers around here are booked up until nearly the end of 2022 for butchering farm-raised livestock and game like venison.