Archive | July, 2011

Why all the information on the back of the recipe cards?

26 Jul

I got a question from a reader that I thought I’d share in case anyone else wondering about the same thing:

Q:  I was wondering if you could explain or show the back of one recipe card. I am having a hard time understanding what the back is for and why would you need it if then front recipe shows what you need.

Thanks for asking!  You can see an example of what I’ve named my “ingredient summaries” in the planning pages section (a drop down tab if you look under “Create Your Own Book” at top).  There are four main reasons why I’ve included these on the backs of my recipes:

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My Kind of Wonder Bread

22 Jul My kind of Wonder Bread

Print the instruction card!  Making Bread in a Wonder Oven

This is a post I did (on another blog) about a year ago– it’s a step by step guide on how to make bread in a wonder oven!  I love my wonder ovens, I have two of them, and beyond just having them around for preparedness sake I’ve used them a lot in every day life to cut down on heating up the kitchen and as a time saver.

Definition of a Wonder Box /wʌndə(r)/ /bɒks/

(also called a Wonder Oven):

A Wonder Box is a heat retention cooker. After you bring your food to a boil (so it is heated throughout) using any number of heating methods, you remove it from the heat source and quickly place the pot inside the Wonder Box.

The insulation of the Wonder Box slows heat loss, keeping food at a high cooking temperature for hours.  This means that you use a fraction of the energy/fuel that you normally would’ve needed to cook!  Inversely, the Wonder Box can also be used to keep cold foods cold and frozen foods frozen.

The key to the Wonder Box’s magic are the styrene pellets which it’s pillows are filled with–they act as excellent insulators. You can sew the pillows yourself (I made mine from some old table cloths) or buy them (information below).   If you’re going to make the pillows, a fabric store is the first place to check. You can also look for a second hand bean bag chair and use the pellets from those. Another option is the UPS store, I’ve heard of someone who found styrene pellets there.  Each Wonder oven has two pillows — one that fits under the pot and one that fits over it.  After getting your pillows all you need is an 18 gallon plastic container (I got mine at Target for $5).

Wonder Box Cooking

I use my wonder box/ wonder oven almost daily. I make bread in it almost exclusively, I have two Wonder Boxes and the other night I cooked chicken in one and some potatoes in the other for dinner. I left it all day in the wonder oven and never had to worry about it burning– that’s one of the things I love best about it: the food is ready to go when you are! In addition to rice, beans, root vegetables, oatmeal etc. you also can make some of the most excellent bread in your Wonderbox — seriously the best bread ever and kids love it because it bakes with out any crusts. All of this without using any more electricity than you need to bring a pot to boil for 10 minutes and it can be left for hours without worrying about it burning. The bread I have pictured below was “baked” for 6 hours. I’de had a very busy day that day and didn’t have time to pull it out of the Wonder Oven until later in the evening. No matter though, I still ended up with perfect bread. Love that!

Bread Containers

There are a couple of containers you can choose from in order to bake bread in your Wonder Oven.

The first is using large 46 oz juice cans. I’ve found that due to their tendancy to rust I have to replace them fairly often.  Another disadvantage is that they are very light weight which means that you have to be ready to secure the cans so that they don’t tip over in the boiling water.  Using juice cans turns out nice rounded loaves which when sliced are about the size of a hamburger bun. The advantage to using the cans is that you can get started making bread without purchasing anything more than a couple large cans of juice.

Another alternative container in which to “bake” (or steam) the bread in is a tall cylinder shaped pot with a lid which I’ve found sold in higher end kitchen supply stores (Williams Sonoma) called an ‘asparagus steamer’. This container works great in that I don’t have to replace my container anymore due to rusting and it’s heavy enough that it won’t tip over in the water pot. Also, the weight of it’s lid is enough to stay put while baking so I don’t have to remove it from the pot to put an elastic band on it .  It holds two loaves worth of dough –so it makes a bigger loaf– when it’s done I’ll cut the bread in half and serve in large semi-circle slices.  Even though it holds more dough I’ve never had a problem with having to increase cooking time as compared to the juice can method.  As long as it cooks a minimum of 2 hours it’s been fine.

**UPDATE:  an all around better container option is   This Stainless Steel Bain Marie Pot (purchased w/ lid separately).  You can find them at restaurant supply stores.  Read my review here in this post for more details.

Making the better “wonder bread”

Using Juice Cans

Use your favorite recipe for any kind of bread. Mix up the dough and let it raise once (if that is what your recipe calls for) and then after pushing it down for the first time put it in a 46 ounce juice can that’s been greased (I use Pam). Fill two cans about half full with dough and put them in a larger sized pot with two large Mason jars filled with hot water in order to keep the cans from tipping over into the water. Fill the pot with warm water (I do this in the sink), about 2/3 up the can. Let the bread raise until almost to the top. Very carefully (as not to make the raised dough fall) remove the cans and cover the top with a pre-greased piece of tin foil or the original lid (if you have a Pampered Chef can opener to initially remove the juice can lid with the lid will fit nicely on top and can be used over and over again). Put an elastic band around the tin foil or lid (so that the water doesn’t get into the bread). Put the lid on the large pan and bring the water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Put immediately into the Wonderbox and “bake” for 2 hours.

The great thing is that you can leave it for as long as you need to without worrying that it will overcook. This batch today that I did (pictured) was in the Wonderbox for a total of about 6 hours but like I said before 2 hours would be the minimum.

The bread slides easily out of the cans, nice rounded loaves which then make slices close to the size of a hamburger bun. They have no crusts (which my kids love), and are the same texture as regular bread although much more moist. You just have to taste it, it’s “wonder”-ful!

Container choice #2:  an asparagus steamer

Same directions as above excepting that you can use double the amount of dough and you don’t need to secure the lid with a rubber band before boiling.  I prefer using this container.

A Bread Recipe We Like

This is just a recipe I pulled out of a cookbook one day but we’ve stuck with it for a while and we like it.  Really you can use any bread recipe and have good results.

Wheat Bread

1 T yeast
2 T sugar
2 cups very warm water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 T oil
4 c. flour (1 1/2 c. wheat)

Mix thoroughly until soft and smooth. Rise 25 minutes until it doubles in size. Punch down. Makes two loaves.

A couple other points:

★Be sure that when you get to the boiling stage that you remember to put the lid on while it’s boiling because it’s important for the lid to get really hot.

★No peeking during the cooking time in the oven!

★The only thing I have not had good results making in the Wonder Oven is cake–I can’t get that one to work.

To buy :

If you or anyone you know would like to buy the pillows, I have a friend who makes them and ships them as a business. Her web address is

Step by step pictures:

Juice cans

The asparagus steamer that I use

Mix up the dough

Allow the bread to rise once in the mixing bowl and remember to
grease the cans before putting the dough in them.

With your bread containers half filled, fill the larger pot with warm to hot water and
allow the dough to rise again, 25-30 minutes.
Allow the dough to rise until it’s almost to the top of the cans.

Remember to grease the insides of the lids or foil.

If you’re using juice cans, carefully remove
each can from the pot and place the lid/foil
and elastic band on each.

Bring the pot to the stove to boil for 10 minutes with the lids on.

Place the pot into the Wonder Oven to bake for atleast 2 hours.

The bread will slide out easily.


Introduction Video #5: keeping track of my inventory

15 Jul

In this video I show the system I use to keep track of my inventory.  This system works for me because it’s so simple and easy to use!

Also, I want to let you know that next Tuesday, July 19th, I’ve been  invited to be a guest on an internet radio show on the Preparedness Radio Network.  I’m going to be talking in detail about creating a food storage cookbook and some of the things I’ve learned as I’ve gone through the process of testing out recipes on my family. It will be happening at 1:00 pm central time and the link for the show is:

At the end of the show we’ll be taking questions for anyone who’d like to call in– I’d love to hear from you!


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