September is National Preparedness Month.  Each week this month I'll post a weekly challenge of something simple you can do, with no money at all if that's where you are.

We should be prepared for what?
Emergencies. Job loss.  "Eventualities"... like that earthquake we've been told to expect someday.  Illness.  Unavailability of water because somebody broke a water main.  Power outages, long or short.  You name it.
Life.  

Here's a quick overview of some good recommendations for Personal or Family Emergency Planning

Items to consider may include:
•Three-month supply of food that is part of your normal daily diet.
•Drinking water.
•Financial reserves.
•Longer-term supply of basic food items.
•Medication and first aid supplies.
•Clothing and bedding.
•Important documents.
•Ways to communicate with family following a disaster
.

See providentliving.org for more information.

WEEK 1 CHALLENGE:
Create a family emergency contact plan and share it with your immediate family so everyone knows what to do, where/who to call or text, who will be your out-of-state contact, what are the emergency plans at your kids' schools, workplace, how to get people back home... 

The link below has a simple form you can use, and the second page of it has cards to fill out with the info you need, for you or your children to carry.

http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Family_Emegency_Plan.pdf

Will you accept the challenge?  I'd love to hear what you did.



 
 
Mmm.... bacon, eggs, and toast!   

Or not.

Toast:
Pound cake, sliced and toasted.  Then buttered.

Eggs:
The white:  I used some quick frosting  (1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tbsp. melted coconut oil, a bit of vanilla, and enough milk-- any kind-- to let it softly hold its shape.)  Other options include nearly-melted commercial vanilla frosting, stirred sour cream, stirred vanilla yogurt, or stirred Greek yogurt.
The center is a dried apricot, plumped in hot water for about 20 minutes, then blotted dry and shaped by hand to look more round.  I stuck a whole almond inside to make the 'yolk' stand up better.
To make the 'yolk' look more wet, I brushed it with a little bit of corn syrup.

Bacon:
Today I found some natural fruit rolls that I'd not seen before.  I bought some, and found that rather than being the smooth, flat rollup I expected, it was full of different thicknesses in the stripes the machine put down.  This enabled it to pull off in strips to eat.  And it resembled bacon!  One roll yields about four  1 1/4" wide strips, which I cut using a pizza cutter.   Make them ripple a bit when you put them down.
 
 
This is meat-free, dairy-free, and in the photo above, also made using gluten-free pasta.  Its rich and creamy taste would never make you suspect there are so many 'normal' ingredients missing.  You will not taste the avocado, and surprisingly, it doesn't even make the sauce look green.  It adds richness along with those healthy, satisfying fats.  
If you used canned chickpeas, you'll have about one cup extra; you can either stir those in with the pasta, or save them for another use.
If you don't have an avocado, or don't want to use one, omit it and increase the chickpeas to three cups instead.

12-16 oz. pasta, cooked according to directions; save the cooking water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked chickpeas- or use 2 cups from two (14-oz) cans, drained
one 6" sprig fresh rosemary, or 1-2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 medium avocado, peel and pit removed
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, or 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.

In a blender, combine 3 cups of the pasta cooking water (may also use the water drained off the cans of chickpeas), chickpeas, rosemary, red pepper, avocado, and lemon juice.  Blend on high until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp. salt), and stir in parsley.  
Pour over pasta and toss to coat.  
If the sauce is too thick, add water 1 Tbsp. at a time until it's the consistency you like.  


 
 
To make cookie pops like the photo above, set the unbaked cookie on top of a craft stick before baking the cookies.  Be sure to cover at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches of the craft stick; press down gently on the dough.  

This recipe makes about two dozen, 3" round cookies.

Soft Sugar Cookies
1 stick butter (1/2 c.), softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/3 c. buttermilk, kefir, OR sour milk (add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to fresh milk to make 1/3 c.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream the butter with sugar; beat in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Combine baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour; stir in to the other ingredients.  Grease or spray a cookie sheet.  

Put half the dough on a flour-sprinkled counter top.  Sprinkle a little flour on top to prevent your rolling pin from sticking, then roll about 3/8" thick.  Cut out with cookie cutters or canning jar rings.  (I used a ring from a regular-sized canning jar.)

 Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on size and thickness, until  light golden brown on edges and underside.  Cool completely; frost with your favorite frosting if you like. 

This recipe also makes a great base for a Cookie Pizza.

To make the rose leaves, sprinkle some sugar on a flat surface, roll a gumdrop flat, a little bit at a time, flipping the gumdrop often so it stays coated with sugar as it flattens.  Trim with a knife or scissors.
 
 
I've been thinking about some things lately.
More.

It's part of our nature to want more. 
We can focus on getting more stuff, more attention, more money... 
but those are for earth-life only. They stay behind when our mortal frame returns to dust. 

The Lord offers more than that. More than the whole world holds and offers: "all that my Father hath" (D&C 84:38).  More friendship.  More family love.  More light.  More learning.

More than we can fathom. How much more?

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. 2:9)

Brigham Young explained, "To finite capacity there is much which appears mysterious in the plan of salvation, and there is an eternity of mystery to be unfolded to us; and when we have lived millions of years in the presence of God and angels, and have associated with heavenly beings, shall we then cease learning? No, or eternity ceases. There is no end. We go from grace to grace, from light to light, from truth to truth.”

What else?

"We have more friends behind the veil than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life; and then we shall go on from step to step, from rejoicing to rejoicing, and from one intelligence and power to another, our happiness becoming more and more exquisite and sensible as we proceed in the words and powers of life."
–(emphasis mine), Journal of Discourses, volume 6, pgs. 342-349

May we always work for the kind of "more" that  makes us 'more' useful in God's hands and gives us more happiness.  Real happiness.

 
 
Do you feel completely inept when it comes to making pie crust? Here's a recipe you'll love! You can even make it in the microwave instead of the oven.

Impossible Pumpkin Pie
(This pie makes its own crust)

2 c. pumpkin puree
3/4 c. sugar
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk 
½ c. Bisquick (or ½ c. flour plus ½ tsp. baking powder)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened 
2 eggs 
2 tsp. vanilla 
2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ½ tsp. each ground cloves,
ginger, and nutmeg)


Beat all ingredients 1 minute in a blend on high or 2 minutes with hand beater. Pour into greased pie plate. Bake at 375 about 45-50 minutes or till knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a flat, heatproof surface (not on a wire rack).

Microwave instructions: place on an inverted (microwavable) dinner plate on medium high (70% power), rotating pie plate 1/4 turn every 5 minutes (unless you have an automatic turntable- then use that). Cook until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 22 to 32 minutes.

 
 
Pumpkin Roll
Makes 18, 1" slices.  

4 eggs                                                                          
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin                                                             
1 c. flour                                                                    
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon                                                            
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
3/4 tsp. nutmeg                                                              
½ tsp. salt
1 c. chopped nuts, optional

Beat eggs until well mixed.  Gradually add sugar; this should take about two minutes.  Beat on high for another two minutes, until sugar is mostly dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale lemon-colored..  Stir in pumpkin.  Fold in flour, baking powder, spices, and nuts.  Grease and flour a 12x18" cookie sheet with 1" high sides, OR line it with parchment and grease the pan sides..  Spread batter in pan and sprinkle with nuts.  Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, or til the cake springs back when pressed gently in the center.  Remove from oven.  While cake is hot, flip cake over onto a kitchen towel sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar.  Holding one of the wide sides of the cake, very carefully roll it up with the towel, cinnamon roll style. When cool, 2 to 4 hours later, unroll slowly and spread with cream cheese frosting.  Roll the cake again, without the towel!  Slice and serve. 

You can make this ahead of time and freeze it for later use.
If you don't have a 12x18" pan, but have a 10x15 pan, cut the recipe in half.  The batter will not be as deep in the pan, so bake a few minutes less.  (Mine took 12 minutes.)  Roll as above, but hold a narrow side as you roll it up.  This will give you one 10" wide roll.

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
(the 1-1-1-1-1 recipe)

1 stick butter (1/2 c.), softened
1 c. powdered sugar                                                     
1 Tbsp. lemon juice OR water or milk (lemon accents the zing of the cream cheese)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, chilled and cut into 8 cubes                                          

Combine butter with powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Add cream cheese, one cube at a time, beating until smooth after each.  Once they're all incorporated, beat another minute or until frosting is fluffy.
 
 
Here's a simple way to make a frosty cape for an Elsa costume.  My daughter and I are delighted with how it turned out:  so dainty and elegant!  You'll need one full-size sheet of paper, a can of white spray paint, and fabric.  For my 6-year-old's costume, I bought 1 1/3 yards of 60" wide nylon tulle, pale turquoise color.  Sheer nylon tricot or sheer chiffon would also work, and be less prone to ripping.  (No, ours has not ripped yet.)

Lay out the fabric and fold in half lengthwise, so it's 60" long and half the width you bought.  Cut 4-6" wide scallops along one narrow end.  

Fold the paper and cut out a simple six-pointed star.  Mine was about 4" across.  I reinforced the paper (now my stencil) and helped it lie flat by running 2" wide packing tape in a square around the snowflake.

  Spread the fabric on top of something clean that you don't care if paint gets on.  Darker colors under will make it easier to see the white paint.  In my case, I spread this on the lawn; we have a frosty decoration on it until next mowing!

Spray into your stencil, focusing on the center first, then spraying the points.  Continue until you have all you want, occasionally stopping to wipe excess paint off the stencil (the grass was good for this, too). 

Once the snowflakes are sprayed, 'frost' the edges and scallops of the cape by spraying along the edges.  

With some silver glitter glue or silver sparkle paint, draw on the snowflakes. Add some smaller ones made with only the silver.    Let dry completely.
 
 
We have one peach tree, a fairly early variety.  The little thing produced itself proud this year; we kept thinning, and thinning those peaches throughout the season, fearing the weight of the ripened ones would damage its fairly young form.   We still got somewhere around 1 1/2 to 2 bushels of ripe ones.  Most of them were preserved as rolls of fruit leather, with many more eaten fresh, made into creamy smoothies, or baked into this favorite coffeecake, which we serve as breakfast food.  I got the recipe when I was nineteen and in college, from a friend my age who also loved to bake.  She ended up living in the same apartment complex and I, and we shared several food-related experiences.  She and I drowned our boy-centered troubles one night by staying up late, crying with each other's stories, and consuming an entire cheesecake.

But back to the peaches...
There's nothing like biting into a warm, juicy peach fresh off the tree... or a tree-ripened peach from wherever you can buy them.  If you're not so fortunate, you can use either fresh, frozen, or canned (and drained) peaches for this, but the best flavor- as you'd expect!- will be from using the freshest, sweetest, juiciest peaches you can get.  

Peachy Pecan-Streusel Coffeecake
Cake:
1/2 c. butter, softened 
3/4 c. sugar (1 cup if you like things very sweet)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sour cream or yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sliced peaches

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter or spray a 9x13 pan; set aside.  Cream together the butter and sugar; beat in the eggs.  combine all dry ingredients, add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream and vanilla.  Beat just until smooth.  Spread batter in prepared pan.  Arrange peach slices over batter.  Combine the streusel ingredients and sprinkle over peaches.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean (no batter clinging, only crumbs if anything).  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Streusel:
1 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon


 
 
Santa Rosa plums are dark on the outside, often with a bluish hue that rubs off, ruby-colored inside, and explode with sweet juice when you bite into a fully ripe one.  They are apparently highly prized, which is nice for me, because my 3-in-1 plum tree is about half Santa Rosa.  They tend to ripen pretty much at once, which means we have only about a two-week window for eating them fresh, and need to be quick about canning, drying, making jam, or otherwise using them.  

Gelato usually uses milk instead of cream, and sometimes fewer egg yolks, as well.  If you use whipping cream in place of the milk, you'll have plum ice cream instead.  You can triple this batch if you really, really want to pull out your ice cream maker, but this smaller batch can be made using a high-speed blender. It's lightly sweet, with just enough brightness from the fruit, and full of flavor.  And yes, you may use other types of plums.  The color may or may not be the same, though, depending on the variety you use.  If you can't have eggs, you could thicken the milk with 1 Tbsp. cornstarch instead, but it won't be as creamy.

One pound of plums can mean anything from 4-10 plums, depending on their size.  If yours are small, ping-pong-ball sized, you'll need about ten.  If they're big ones, 2 1/2" across or so, you'll likely need only 4-5.  Either way, the goal is to end up with about 1 3/4 c. puree.

Santa Rosa Plum Gelato
Makes about one quart

1 lb. Santa Rosa plums
1/8 tsp. almond extract, optional but delicious!
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. whole milk, divided (dairy-free options include almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk)
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 c. sugar

Wash plums and remove stems.  Remove pits; you'll to cut them out.  Drop the pitted plums into a high-speed blender, add almond and vanilla extracts, and blend until smooth.   Pour into two empty ice cube trays.  Pour 1/3 c. of the milk into the blender and swish it around to get more of the puree; pour this into the ice cube trays as well.  Put them in the freezer.

Combine the two egg yolks, salt, and the sugar in the unwashed blender.  Heat the remaining 2/3 cup milk in the microwave for 1 minute, until steaming.  Meanwhile, turn the blender on to beat the yolks and sugar.  With the motor running, pour the hot milk in a thin stream into the yolks.  Once it's all in, increase speed to high, and run about two minutes, until the custard thickens slightly.  It will begin to coat the blender sides with a slightly thicker, opaque coating, and the mixture will steam quite a lot.  

Pour the custard into a container with a lid; refrigerate. Wash the blender; there's not much more unpleasant to wash off than dried egg yolk!

3-4 hours later, pull both the now-frozen puree and the now-chilled custard out.  Pour the custard into the (washed!) blender, add the puree cubes, and blend, using the plunger handle to get them to mix.

The gelato will be a soft-serve consistency.  If you want to be able to form round scoops, pour in a container and return to the freezer for another 1-3 hours.