There are lots of fresh foods you can store without needing a freezer, canner, or fridge.  I haven't built a root cellar, but discovered that different places in my yard, garage, and house have the right conditions for several of these foods.
Potatoes are happy on my bare garage floor until late January. After January they have to be moved up 1-2 feet, onto the cement stairs, to avoid freezing. Same with onions. Apples are better in the garage on the workbench, which is a couple feet off the ground and a few degrees warmer (but still cold). Pumpkins are happy in the basement or in a dark closet, off the floor so they avoid moisture. Carrots and parsnips are fine to leave in the ground, covered with a pile of dead leaves or a thick layer of straw if I want any hope of digging them during the winter. Otherwise they can be dug in spring, after the winter cold has made them sweeter.The link below is a 5-page handout from the University of Wisconsin which lists types of foods, their ideal storing temperature and any necessary humidity, expected length of storage, and plans for creating your own root cellar.

What will you store this year?

How about this for a new side dish?  I love rosemary and olive oil. Or butter.  Or both.  :)

This recipe showed up at my house this week in a save-the-farmlands newsletter, of all things.  (I'm all for saving farmlands, but how about nixing the property tax instead of government paying them subsidies?!)  And since my live rosemary died over last winter and there's a bottle of rosemary essential oil in my cupboard, I adapted it to use that.

You can substitute about any squash you have on hand that is a similar size.  Or use something large, like half a banana squash or pumpkin, or kabocha squash, etc, but if you do, then double the amount of other ingredients except rosemary oil.

Caramelized Butternut Squash with Rosemary 

1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs rosemary or one drop of rosemary essential oil (better if you have a 1 ml bottle, then use  two of those tiny drops) on top of the butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds.   (You can wash, roast, and salt these, just like pumpkin seeds.)  Put the squash cut-side up on a baking tray.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt.  In each natural 'bowl' where the seeds used to be, add 1 Tbsp. butter and a rosemary sprig.  EXCEPT:  if using rosemary oil, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and add the drop to it.  Pour half into the cavity of each squash half.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.

Remove from oven and pull off the foil; let cool until you can handle it.  Scoop out the flesh.  

Heat the last 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over med-hi heat.  Once melted and hot, add the cooked squash.  Gently toss until some parts become caramel-y brown.  Serve hot.

NOTE:  the photo shows the squash as it comes out of the oven, not after being scooped out and browned.  If you want it browned from the oven, do this instead:
When tender, pull off foil and brush the last tablespoon of butter over the cut edges.  Return to the oven and turn on the broiling element.   Broil, checking every minute.  (I am not kidding.  Seriously check every minute!)  If your baking tray is on the middle rack in the oven, this will probably take about 3-4 minutes.  If the tray is up high, close to the element, it might only take 1 minute, maybe 2.

Do you have too much zucchini?  

You could give it away.  Or shred and freeze it.  Or puree it and then freeze.  (I prefer pureeing & freezing because it maintains the same texture when thawed. It hides better in zucchini bread and soup, too.)


dehydrate it and turn it to powder.  

It takes very little space to store it this way, and it's easy to use.  Mix 2-3 Tbsp. of powder with enough hot water to equal one cup- for one cup (8 oz.) of puree.

Try it in Lemon-Zucchini Bread or Curried Zucchini Bisque (creamy soup).  Mmm.

See this post for how to best store the powder.

Who couldn't use another recipe for zucchini right about now?

This year I really HAVE seen cardboard boxes with a "FREE ZUCCHINI" sign written in permanent marker, along the side of the road.
As you can see, this we're not talking about zucchini CAKE... these are tender, flavorful pan-fried morsels, related to crab cakes.  Without the crab.  There's an endless variety of ways to make these, this particular batch has a Southwestern flair, served with a creamy cilantro-scented Lime Chipotle sauce.    We had them for dinner last night and had leftovers.  They would make a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken or beef, but I served them as a meatless main dish.  
This afternoon about 4:00 I suddenly remembered them again- and promptly finished off the last couple of them for a snack.  YUM! (Actually, I took a couple over to a neighbor, who immediately asked for the recipe.)

This is a pretty big batch, I think it made about eighteen 3-inch cakes.  Feel free to cut the recipe in half.  You can always make the full batch, though, and freeze extras.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes to reheat and recrisp, or toast in a toaster oven.  See below for the recipe.

I got a plainer version originally from, though her version was tweaked from one on TheLife'    
Neither one of those used corn.  I like it for the sweet flavor it adds, along with some non-squishy texture, but you can certainly leave it out.  If you do, you'll only need 2 eggs.
Feel free to add in different spices, use different kinds of cheese (the original used Parmesan, in half the amount), or serve with different sauces.  Ranch dip would be delicious.  So would honey mustard.    I intend the next batch to resemble crab cakes even more- I'll add Old Bay to them, a little finely-grated onion, add maybe a teaspoon of honey for a hint of sweetness, and serve with tartar sauce.
Southwestern Zucchini Cakes

1 lb. zucchini (3 small)
1 cup corn kernels (I used canned, then drained them well)
1 c. shredded mild white cheese (I used Havarti 'cause I found it for $2/lb)
2 Tbsp. salsa if you have it around  (OK without but good for color)
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or other crumbs- bread, cracker, gluten-free, etc)
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
3 medium to large eggs, beaten
3-4 Tbsp. cooking oil 

Shred the zucchini on fine or medium holes.  Grab a handful, hold it over a plate or bowl, and squeeze hard to remove excess liquid.  Put the squeezed zucchini in a mixing bowl, and repeat with all the zucchini.
Stir in the corn, cheese, salsa, bread crumbs, salt, and chili powder.  Taste and add more of whatever you think it needs.  Stir in the eggs, cover, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.   (You can skip this step, but this gives the mixture time to bind together, as the egg soaks into the crumbs.  This makes them much easier to form and flip.  While it chills, make the sauce below.)
Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbsp. oil to it.  When oil is nearly smoking, scoop 3-4 Tbsp of the zucchini mixture into the pan, then flatten to about three inches across.  Repeat with as many as will fit in the pan with about 1" between them.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip over.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden.  
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan before starting the next panful.

Makes about 18.   Serve warm or room temperature.

Creamy Chipotle Sauce (adapted from America's Test Kitchen)

Note: Chipotle is smoked jalapeno pepper.  I don't have any on hand, so I came up with a similar flavor  with what I DID have, though it wasn't nearly as hot.  If you like more heat, add a little cayenne or red pepper flakes.  If you happen to have canned chipotle around, use 1-2 tsp., minced, in place of chili powder and Liquid Smoke)

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sour cream (I didn't have this, either- use plain yogurt, or like I did, thick kefir)
1-2 tsp. chili powder (to taste- my kids were happy with just 1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or one minced clove fresh garlic
2 drops Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 drops lime essential oil if you have it

Stir together.  Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
Makes about 1/4 cup.

If you double the recipe, you can have leftovers to change into a fabulous salad dressing: Thin down with a little water or lime juice.  Salt and pepper to taste.
SO... is there a difference between those big pumpkins that are cheaper, and the littler, "Sugar Pie Pumpkins" that are 3 to 10 times the price?

Yes, there is.  The smaller ones are varieties selected for smooth, dense, creamy flesh, with a higher sugar content.  The bigger ones are still good for eating, but usually have a higher water content, and often have stringy flesh.  When I make pumpkin pie using the small sweet ones, I can get away with using only 1/2 cup sugar per 2 cups puree.  If I use the bigger ones, it tastes best if I use the 3/4 cup sugar called for in the recipe.

How big of a pumpkin will you need for one pie?

A very small one.  If you're including the peel in your puree, there will be almost no waste from your pumpkin- only the stem, seeds, and stringy center will be taken out.  (Remember to rinse, salt, and roast those seeds!)  You'll get almost two cups of puree for each pound in your pumpkin, when prepared this way.  Two cups will make one 9" pumpkin pie.  That means a 5-pound pumpkin will yield enough puree for FIVE pies.   And if you use your 25-lb jack-o-lantern?......  Luckily, pumpkin puree freezes well!  My favorite way to preserve it now is by making pumpkin powder.  Less space, no freezer burn, and no electricity required once it's dry.

If you're using big pumpkins, you can still end up with dense, smooth puree if you know how to handle it.  Clean, chop, and steam, boil, or microwave the pumpkin until tender, then run it through a blender or food processor, adding water only if it won't blend without it.  You could use a potato masher, but it won't get rid of the strings.  When it's smooth, you can either use it as-is (which is thinner than usual), or let it sit in a colander lined with cheesecloth or paper towels.  Let it drain at least 1/2 hour.  The water drained off has vitamins in it; use that in pancakes, smoothies, or whatever else occurs to you.  Any winter squash can be used in pumpkin recipes.  I've eaten "pumpkin" pies made of kabocha squash, spaghetti squash, and Hubbard squash.  The spaghetti squash was a lot more watery (drain that liquid off!), and if only mashed, not pureed, the texture resembles coconut cream pie (in fact, there's a recipe for Mock Coconut Cream Pie that takes advantage of this!)  Hubbard and kobocha are both dense, creamy, and sweet, and only required the 1/2 cup of sugar that I use with sugar pie pumpkins. 
Do you have summer squash and tomatoes coming out your ears?  This is a delicious way to use quite a bit of that summertime produce- zucchini and yellow squash baked with caramelized onions and sweet roasted tomatoes.  You can use 2 lbs of any summer squash, but the green and yellow here are pretty together.

Normally a dish like this would be soupy, since these high-water-content vegetables lose moisture as they cook.  These are salted while raw; the salt draws out water.  This makes a big difference.

Two 6-8" long zucchini equal about one pound.

Vegetable Gratin
1 lb. zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb.  yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4" thick
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (3-4 large ones), sliced 1/4" thick
2 medium onions, halved then sliced thin pole to pole
3/4 tsp. black pepper
5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp. dried)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

Toss zucchini with 1 tsp. of the salt; put them in a colander over a bowl.  Let stand 45 minutes or until at least 3 Tbsp. liquid drains off.   Put the tomato slices on paper towels or a dish towel, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt; let stand for 30 minutes.  Put another towel or paper towels on top of the tomatoes to press them dry.  Pat squash dry with a dish towel or paper towel. While the vegetables are all draining, brush a 9x13 pan with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, set aside.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook, stirring once in a while, until onions are caramelized: soft and dark golden, 20-25 minutes.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and thyme.  When the zucchini is drained and patted dry, toss the squash with half of the oil mixture.  Spread the squash along the bottom of the 9x13 pan.  Arrange onions on top, then put tomatoes on in a single layer, overlapping if needed.  Drizzle the rest of the garlic oil on top.  Bake about 40-45 minutes, until tomatoes start to brown on the edges.  Increase oven to 450 degrees.  Make the topping, below, and bake 10 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.  Sprinkle with basil and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 slice white bread, shredded or crumbled (food processor or blender works well)
2 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (1 cup)
2 shallots, minced (1/4 c.- or use a mild onion)
Stir together.

Cherry Tomato Salad

4 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-3 Tbsp. balsamic or other vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. chopped or torn fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 c. shredded Asiago or Parmesan (or use a cubed mild cheese, up to 8 oz)
2 slices good-quality bread, cubed (optional to use, and best if stale)
1/2 c. halved olives

Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and put them in a colander or on some paper towels.  Let sit 30 minutes to drain juices.  Pour them off (great added to salad dressing, soup, or cornbread batter).  Toss all ingredients together, add salt and pepper to taste. 
To meld flavors and soften the bread, it's best if it sits a couple hours in the fridge; or serve immediately.

Here's the next bit of the book.    Have you had enough time to look through the other sections yet?

- apple crisp for one (or more!), other flavors of Crisp, no-baked Cheesecake, lowfat New York style cheesecake, Pudding/ Cream Pie filling and variations.
Fruits and Vegetables- dressed-up green beans or other vegetables, the 'creamy' salad family: Coleslaw, carrot salad, Waldorf salad; ways to cook vegetables and flavors to add, how to steam-saute vegetables; roasted winter squash, green salad ideas, fruit salad ideas.
These make great little gifts.  I gave these out during the holidays, when most people are short on time and have had enough 'goodie plates'.  If you want to give them something extra, also include a bottle of syrup (homemade or storebought) or a couple different mixes in a basket.

 Back on 10/27/2010  I wrote a post on making vegetable powders.  Here's one kind you can make- pumpkin powder! The recipe below uses it to make some fragrant, fresh pancakes.   You can also adapt any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree.  I've made pumpkin pie with the powder, and it turns out great.  1/3 cup pumpkin powder plus enough water to give you one cup is all it takes to make a cup of pumpkin puree.  Most recipes won't require rehydrating the pumpkin first, either.  Just mix everything together, and the powder will rehydrate while it cooks. 

This mix is just a really large batch of "Foolproof Pancakes" (also from the 10/27/2010 post), made so you only need to add eggs and water.

Pumpkin Pancake Mix

½ cup coconut oil (shortening works too, but I don't use it)
1 ¼ c. brown sugar or raw cane sugar
¼ c. cinnamon
1 ½ c. pumpkin powder
3 c. powdered milk
1/4 c. baking soda
¼ c. salt
13 c. flour ( ½  wheat, ½ white)

Mix together the coconut oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir in everything else.  Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  Makes about 20 cups.

To use it,  combine  1 1/3 c. mix, 1 egg, 1 cup water.  You'll get about 15 batches this size from the whole mix.

I made up a smaller bag with 2 2/3 c. mix, which is 12 ounces if you like to weigh things.  The instructions to use the whole bag is to add  2 eggs and 2 cups of water.

My bigger bag has 4 cups mix, about 17 ounces, and mixes with 3 eggs and 3 cups water.  For a ready-made label, click here.

* * * * *
The amount of pumpkin is based on using roughly 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree for a 1-cup-of-flour batch of pancakes.  So if you don't have pumpkin powder, omit that ingredient, use just under 1 1/4 cups of mix, 1 egg, 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin puree, and reduce water. 

To make pumpkin powder, first wash (but don't peel) the outside of a pumpkin.  Scoop out the seeds.

The seeds are great themselves.  I find them easiest to separate from the stringy fibers by putting them in a bowl of water.  Pinch the seeds off into the water.  Dry them for a couple weeks and save them for planting in next year's garden, or roast them with a little oil and salt.

Trim off the stem and the blossom end.  Slice the pumpkin lengthwise into pieces about 2" wide.  If you steam them now, the pumpkin will dehydrate in about half the time, and have a mellower, sweeter flavor.  Let cool enough to handle, then cut them about 1/4- 3/8" thick crosswise. 

Lay the thin pieces in a single layer on a dehydrator try, or on a windowscreen laid down in a hot car, or on a cookie sheet with the oven on lowest setting... whatever you have.  When crispy-dry, put the pieces in a blender and puree until powdered.

This 5-lb pumpkin dehydrated down to just under 7 ounces, which measured 1 1/2 cups.  Not a bad space saver!  It takes just 3 Tbsp of this powder to equal 1 cup of puree, after adding water.

Use it in anything that calls for pumpkin; you don't even need to rehydrate it first: just add the right amount of water and powder.  Try Pumpkin Shake!  Or how about a gluten-free, dairy-free Pumpkin Cheesecake? Pumpkin Pie?

A rainbow of dehydrated vegetables: from left to right:  tomato powder, pumpkin powder, yellow squash powder, and dried & crumbled greens.

(originally from 3/4/10)

Today the information is from two Internet sources:

Here’s a link to Bishop Keith B. McMullin (Bishop for the whole church) speaking on Family Home Storage:,11677,1706-1,00.html   click on TV icon in upper right corner of page. It’s about a one-minute clip, and very good, simple advice to listen to.

At there is a good post on a three-month supply- starting it, using it, maximizing shelf time, replacing it, advantages of having it. 

And just a note: remember the email about storing vegetables without a ‘real’ root cellar?  Yesterday (March 3) we ate butternut squash from last year’s garden, it was delicious!  I kept it, along with a couple pumpkins and a giant zucchini, in a dark basement room.  They’ve been just been sitting on top of a couple food storage buckets; I learned a couple years ago that they spoil quickly with moisture, so they can’t sit on a cement floor. They’ve stayed about 65 degrees there, so it requires nothing unusual.  One pumpkin got dropped a month ago, bruising it, so one side has started to go soft.  Maybe we’ll have pumpkin pie tomorrow, to use it before it spoils.  The other pumpkin is still perfect, and the zucchini, well, now there’s an interesting experiment.  It really is big, about 18” long, and bigger around than my hands can reach.  It sat on my counter for about a month, until I decided it might as well go downstairs to see what would happen.  It has blanched.  It slowly lost its green color, now hardly any is left, but it’s still firm.  I’ll let you know how it cooks up.

How’s your food storage coming?  Are you finding the joys in shopping from your own pantry?  Is it saving you trips to the store?  Mine is a great blessing to me and my family.  I love feeling that we could weather whatever economic storm comes our way.   This is also the third month on the three-month challenge.  If you’re not 2/3 of the way there, don’t panic or give up, just start.  If you are that far or more, go look at your shelves/freezer of food and admire your work, and thank the Lord for it.


Spreadable Butter
2 cubes butter, softened
1 c. oil, use olive oil if you like
¼  tsp. salt

Beat butter until smooth; while beating slowly add in olive oil, then salt.  Pour in whatever size container you want it in; store in refrigerator.   Make any quantity you like- you’ll always use equal amounts of butter and oil, and some salt for flavor.

Snow Ice Cream

1 cup milk, evaporated milk, or cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla or other flavor
6-8 cups fresh clean snow (6 c. if heavy, wet; 8 if powdery)

 Mix together milk, sugar, and vanilla.  Pour over snow.  Mix well and eat right away.
You may substitute a can of sweetened condensed milk for the milk and sugar- tastes good, but costs more.

(originally from 8/5/10)
Do you have garden produce yet?  Or are you seeing it at farmers' markets?  We got the first yellow summer squash of the year yesterday.  This is exciting!  Unfortunately, we don’t have zucchini at all because one of my little people stepped on the plants just as they were coming up.  I replanted, but didn’t water well enough that first week…

Fortunately, I still have frozen zucchini from last year.  I used to shred it and freeze it in quart bags, which was the proper amount for a double batch of my zucchini bread, but didn’t like how it thawed.  It separated into water and strings of fiber.  That’s kind of baffling to cook with.  There’s a much better way-  puree it! Chop the zucchini into chunks small enough to fit down your blender, and buzz until smooth.  A bonus is that the texture of your baked goods will be smoother. 

Our favorite recipe to use it is Lemon Zucchini Bread.  It has a little more flavor if you use fresh lemons, but is still good using bottled lemon juice and dried lemon zest.  Or use your lemon-zest-sugar, (find it in the archives under 'homemade orange seasoning', in the Spices or Seasonings category, right. And FYI, Zucchini bread, since it’s a ‘quick bread’, is simply a variation on the muffin recipe.   To see for yourself, go look at the 'Anything-Goes' Muffin recipe.                                          

 *  *  *  *  * 
Now, for the thought of the week- a First Presidency message from 1984, reprinted in the Ensign last year as one of the ‘classics’- “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance”.  Or, ‘what does self-reliance have to do with eternal life’? Think about it: Is food/money/water storage a suggestion or a commandment?  This article has something for any of us to work on- whether you haven’t started, are a little ways into it, making a lot of progress, or have built up all your reserves.  I HIGHLY recommend re-reading the whole article, below is a condensed piece of it:

 “Since the beginning of time man has been counseled to earn his own way, thereby becoming self-reliant. It is easy to understand the reason the Lord places so much emphasis on this principle when we come to understand that it is tied very closely to freedom itself.

Now, I wish to speak of a very important truth: self-reliance is not the end, but a means to an end.

Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35 tells us there is no such thing as a temporal commandment, that all commandments are spiritual. It also tells us that man is to be “an agent unto himself.” Man cannot be an agent unto himself if he is not self-reliant. Herein we see that independence and self-reliance are critical keys to our spiritual growth.  Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well.  If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.

The key to making self-reliance spiritual is in using the freedom to comply with God’s commandments.”

For the whole article, which I know can bless everyone’s life,  go to The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance at

If using fresh lemons for this recipe, you'll need two. 

Lemon-Zucchini Bread

1 lb. zucchini or other summer squash (4 c. loosely packed, or 2 cups pureed)
¼ c. lemon juice*
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest, OR ½ tsp. lemon extract, OR 1/8 tsp (16 drops)    lemon essential oil
2 c. sugar
½ c. oil
3 eggs
3 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 c. chopped walnuts, optional

Place lemon juice, zest, sugar, and oil in a bowl and beat.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in flour and baking powder, then add zucchini and nuts.  Pour into two greased and floured 9x5 loaf pans.   Or use three 8x4 pans.  Bake at 375 degrees about 50 minutes (40 for 8x4 pans) or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Wrap or bag when completely cool. The flavor is even better the next day.

See the blender-mixing-method here.  

 *An acceptable substitute for lemon juice in this recipe is 1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider vinegar is better but not necessary) and a little bit extra lemon zest, extract, or essential oil.