Cooking Ideas: Misc

DANDELIONS: Eating Dandelions

  1. Did we eat the flowers....YES, the bigger the flower the better. You want to get them early in the spring.
  2. I did not eat the greens but my neighbor did and says the fresh tender spring greens are best....they get bitter the longer they grow.
  3. I don't know about using the leaves for tea....all the medicinal herb books I have say to use the fresh or dried root for tea.
  4. Yes, you can cook the greens. The Southern way is to wilt them in bacon grease...I would just sauté them in butter or oil and garlic.

DANDELIONS: Deep-Fried Dandelion Flowers

Dandelions are not sour when first picked in the spring. My 72 year old neighbor was delighted when we moved in this spring. She asked if I was going to cook my dandelions and could my children help her gather the buttons for dinner. After I got over my initial shock....I had always thought you just sprayed those weeds to get them out of the yard....I said sure. I guess she assumed that because we sort of live off our place a bit....that we of course ate the dandelions too. After eating my first batch of buttons....I'm going to rope off an area that won't be privy to the dogs for next years crop.

We took the big button....meaning the fully mature only want the really big ones say 1 1/2 inches or bigger. The others can be eaten but take more work. Pick a bowl full. Rinse them off. Dip in beaten egg. Then roll in cracker crumbs...Hi-ho kind taste the best. Then sort of deep fry in a hot skillet...they cook fast so you have to stand right over them. They taste a lot like deep fried mushrooms. We got to share with the little lady next door our dipping sauce....we dipped them in Ranch dressing. She promptly went out the next day and bought her own bottle!

GRAIN: Grains For Breakfast

I usually brown all my grains and then bake them in the oven. for instance, amaranth, quinoa, and others. I heat a skillet up and put the dry grains in and "toast/brown" them by moving the skillet around constantly or using a spatula. they will start popping like popcorn too. then I put them and the water in a pan and put in the oven at about 400 until the water is absorbed. This makes a delicious taste to bland things. You can then use them as a base for vegetarian meals or just eat it that way. Great for breakfast in the winter. Use a little honey on the grains or just as they are. I don't add salt and the browning doesn't need salt.

NUTRITION: Nutrition Data

The USDA knows! And you can know as well, by checking their searchable database on the Internet, at no charge, paid for by your taxes.

To check on foods in general go to: and search the database. E.g., under "squash," one cup of boiled zucchini is completely evaluated at:


Yesterday I made two nice loaves of Vienna bread, oblong loaves with a dense texture and a chewy, chewy crust. Tonight, I took four slices, brushed them with olive oil (which had cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder added), and then toasted them on top of the stove on my cast iron griddle (which would just as easily have worked on a wood stove or camp fire). Good eating.

This week, as a drill, I am not buying anything at the grocery store, every meal comes out of what is in the kitchen pantry, as if the stores were already closed. So far, haven't missed a meal, and haven't been deprived of anything, particularly, although I am eating a lot less meat and being more creative with it. The one ham hock I put in the big pot of beans added a lot of flavor for tonight's meal, we'll finish those beans in enchiladas for supper tomorrow night, so two big meals from one pot of beans, not too bad: that pot of food probably cost less than a dollar, and the two loaves were about 50 cents maximum, and will provide six adult meal serving ("meal serving" defined as Bob and others eat until they are full), plus additional snacks off the bread.

Regarding pets, my cats seem to love macaroni with any kind of highly spiced tomato sauce on it. So while I am buying extra cat food, if push comes to shove they can supplement their diet of mice and whatever with my macaroni, tomato powder, and spices (grin). (I have always wondered why stores don't sell mouse-flavored cat food.)

PRESSURE COOKER: Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans

Soak 1 cup of beans overnight in a pan. Drain; then add the beans and 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of oil into a 4 qt. pressure cooker. Put them on the stove, medium heat, for 10 minutes. Result: Perfect and soft. Great way to go, and only 10 minutes of cooking

RICE: Cook Brown Rice Like Pasta

Here is something I learned about cooking brown rice so it's not all gluey and glumpy.

Rinse the brown rice in a strainer while your pot is heating on "medium" on the stove. Put the rinsed rice in the pot and stir it over the heat for a couple of minutes, toasting it until most or all of the "hissing" has stopped (i.e. the rice is dry or nearly so). Then add the water (3 times the amt. of rice), bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Then drain the "extra" water.

Cooking it like this, more like pasta, helps it to stay separate and's the only way the family likes it :-)

It does take about an hour to cook and about 1/4 cup more water per cup of rice. I just quit buying white rice, and now my kids think brown is best! (Same as I did w/ whole wheat bread) BTW, if anyone's interested, I experimented and learned that brown rice cooks in the crock pot on high in 5 hrs. YUM!

RICE: Cooking Rice Right

We eat rice with almost every meal, many different kinds of rice. They frequently call for their own cooking style, but we have pretty much simplified it to these steps...for each cup of rice, use 2 1/2 cups of water; soak the rice in the water for 30 minutes in a covered pan, then bring to a boil quickly, then simmer for about 40 minutes. (time varies)

We do this with Jasmine, Basmati, mixed breeds (Texmati, Kasmati, Jasmati, etc.) long grain and short grain, white and brown, ...whatever we have.

RICE: More On Cooking Rice

Put water on to boil - a little more than twice the amount of rice. When it comes to a boil, I stir in the rice (or even just pour), cover the pot tightly, and turn the heat *way* down. Cook for 45 minutes. Nice and fluffy. Never had a problem! Anyone else?


Q: I've been canning and now can't get the smell of broccoli out of my kitchen! Help!

A: The Trapper in our area swears by slicing raw onions and leaving them out on a plate to absorb odors. Baking soda will also help. And as a last resort, bake a really spicy cake and maybe that will overpower it. At least your family will appreciate the effort. :)


Have you ever eaten an exclusively wheat-based diet? If you've been eating the typical North American diet, even if you think you've been consuming foods "high" in fiber, you're going to get diarrhea like you've never experienced before. And it will last for days (assuming you continue to eat the wheat). Eventually, your colon will adjust, but in an emergency situation, where water may not be readily available, or may be contaminated, thus adding to the effects of the wheat-induced diarrhea, dehydration is going to be a major, possibly fatal, problem.

Yesterday, I ate three thick slices of whole-wheat bread I made from my wheat. Real whole wheat, not the pseudo-whole-wheat you get at the store. Today, well... lets just say I'm glad the restroom is close by. People who traditionally "live on" tortillas, chapatis:, don't get diarrhea or so-called "appetite fatigue" because their foods have spices, which the basic food plans lack, and because they eat it from infancy, which our children do not. And their diet typically includes chicken, pork, and other inexpensive meats, such as fowl and dog, which contributes to the variety needed to avoid appetite fatigue. Personally, I'd rather get some beef TVP before I put ole Shep on the grill. Seriously, I would advise people to get the basic food storage, then immediately begin to add to it according to their needs and tastes. This doesn't need to be difficult or expensive. A jar of chili powder is 89 cents here. Some basic spices, some beef, chicken, and sausage TVP (a #10 can for $7.75 at Walton's), a little bit each month, and you'll have a much better food plan.

And I want to remind people that they should try eating from their food storage regularly to avoid unpleasant side-effects.


Did you know you can save lots of energy by cooking many things in a thermos. I have cooked beans, wheat and rice in a thermos very successfully. Some beans require 2 heatings but most things only need the initial heating and more time than usual.

For more information and good instructions go to

THERMOS: Saving Money With A Thermos Bottle

By Kurt Saxon

Wheat and rice are the staple foods of billions and, if prepared my way, will fill you up, give you boundless energy; and cost next to nothing.

60 pounds of hard red winter wheat, the highest in protein, minerals and vitamins, averages $8.00 (240 breakfasts at 4 cents each). Brown rice, also higher in nutrition than white, costs $14.00 for 25 pounds. Also 200 servings since rice swells twice as large as wheat. These are bought in bulk at any feed and seed store.

I do not mean that wheat and rice, plain, is what I am asking you to live on. When is the last time you have eaten a potato plain? I am simply suggesting you process all your food in inexpensive, energy-saving ways and eat better than you ever have for less than $10.00 per week.

First the thermos. There are three kinds but only one is practical. Forget the cheap, plastic ones lined with Styrofoam. These might cook oatmeal and white rice but do not have the heat holding power you need. Silvered glass thermoses are fine, but a bump will break them. Also, since you are going to do actual cooking and will use a fork to remove the contents, they will not hold up.

The only practical cooking thermos is the Aladdin Stanley. It is lined with stainless steel, is well insulated and will keep steaming hot for up to 24 hours and holds a quart. It is also unbreakable, with a lifetime warranty. It costs $22.00 at Wal-Mart or can be ordered through any sporting goods store. It would save you its price in a few days. If you have a family, get two or three.

Most foods cook at 180 degrees or more. We are used to boiling, which is 212 degrees, and foods do cook faster, the higher the temperature. But if time is not important, cooking at a lower temperature is even better as most vitamins are not broken down. Thus, if you cook at a minimum heat, you save nutrition.

A great factor in thermos cooking is the saving in the cost of energy. Whereas it would take about two hours to cook whole-grain wheat or nearly an hour to cook brown rice. Thermos cookery takes only five minutes of actual fuel-burning to cook. So you’ll save as much in energy as you spend on the food. imagine the convenience of thermos cookery in camping, which would save on wood, weight of food carried, and no food odors to alert bears or raccoons.

Thermos cookery is also an advantage to anyone living where he is not allowed to cook. There are no cooking odors to tip off the landlord.

First, you need the thermos. Then you need a heat source. If you are in a non-cooking room, buy a cheap, one burner hot plate from your local Wal-Mart, Target, Sears etc. You will need a one quart saucepan. You will also need a special funnel to quickly pour the pan's contents into the thermos, plus a spoon or fork to help the last of the food into the funnel.

To make the funnel, cut off the bottom four inches from a gallon plastic milk container. If you do not buy milk or cannot find an empty container, go to your nearest Laundromat. You will find in the trash receptacle, an empty gallon bleach bottle. Use that the same as the milk container but wash it until there is no more bleach odor.

The first step in thermos cookery is to fill the thermos with water up to the point reached by the stopper. Empty the water into the saucepan and make a scratch or other indelible mark at the water's surface inside the saucepan. This will allow you to put just enough water in the saucepan, as too much will leave food out and too little will give you less cooking water.

Just to test how the cooker works, start with four ounces of wheat. You do not need to buy 60 pounds. You can buy two pounds from your health food store for about $.80 This would give you eight meals at 10 cents each.

In the evening, put four ounces in your saucepan, plus a half-teaspoon of salt to prevent flatness, even if you intend to sweeten it. Fill to the mark with water. (If you have hot water, let the tap run until it is hottest. Tests have shown that less energy is used in using hot tap water than in boiling from cold.) Bring the contents to a rolling boil, stirring all the while. This will take from three to five minutes.

Then quickly, but carefully, swirl and pour the contents into the funnel and help any lagging matter from the pan to the funnel and into the thermos. Cap firmly but not tightly, shake and lay the thermos on its side, to keep the contents even.

Next morning open the thermos and pour its contents into the saucepan. With four ounces of dry wheat, you will now have at least 3/4 pound of cooked wheat and about a pint of vitamin and mineral enriched water. It has a pleasant taste. Drink it.

You can now put milk and sweetener on it or margarine, salt and pepper, etc. If you can eat the whole 3/4 of a pound, you will be surprised at how energetic you feel for the next several hours. An added bonus is its high fiber content.

Having tried the four ounce portion, you might next use eight ounces. This will absorb most of the water. It is unlikely that you could eat a pound and a half of cooked whole grain wheat. You can either divide it and eat the other half for supper or if you are a family man, make it the family breakfast food to replace the expensive brand.

If you have children, get them into the act by fantasizing they are Rangers on a jungle patrol.

For lunch, prepare a few ounces of hamburger or other meat chopped finely, plus chopped potatoes and other vegetables the night before. After breakfast, put these and the right amount of water in the saucepan and prepare as usual. At lunchtime you will have a quart of really delicious stew. Since nothing leaves the thermos in cooking, as contrasted to the flavor leaving stew cooking on the stove, you can understand the better tasting, higher vitamin content of thermos stew.

Lunch and possibly supper should not cost you more than 25 cents if you study the article on the dehydrator. Jerky and dried vegetable stew is good and costs little.

The brown rice dishes could also be either a main course or desert. Brown rice has a much greater swelling factor than wheat so four ounces of rice will pretty much fill the thermos. You can put vegetables and meat in it to cook or try a favorite of mine. It is four ounces of brown rice, 9 cents; one ounce of powdered milk, 10 cents in a large box; two ounces of raisins, 22 cents; one teaspoon of salt; some cinnamon and four saccharine tablets. Cook overnight. This is 46 cents for 1 1/2 pounds of desert.

With some experimenting, you can become an expert in thermos cookery. If you are single and live alone, you could, conceivably, eat nothing except what you cooked in a thermos. But if you are married, and especially if you have children, don't push it. Even with the economy of this system, it's not worth alienating your family. If your wife doesn't like it, challenge her to make the food tastier and think up some thermos recipes. You might also tell her the advantages of thermos cookery.

For one thing, she would spend much less time in the kitchen. What with the expected brownouts, she could do all the cooking in five, ten, fifteen minutes, depending on how many thermos bottles she used. Another important factor is that, especially during the heat waves, the home would not suffer the added heat from the kitchen.

I noticed in I believe the Seventh Generation catalog something similar: it's actually a slow cooker that works on the same principle. You boil the food.... then put it into the cooker. The cooker is non-electric and will keep the food hot up to 14 hours. I may get one to save on my use of propane for those long stewing things. I've also come to appreciate my 6 qt stainless steel pressure cooker for fast cooking....especially beans.