"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Homemade Biscuit Mix

Food costs have been steadily increasing for the last several years and are expected to continue to go up, up and away.  With more and more families finding that their grocery bills are increasing $100, $200, sometimes even $300 a month without buying any more than they used too, many people are scrambling for ways to cut food costs.   Making at home and making in bulk is one way to do just that. 

A family of four will, on average, spend about $700-$900 a month on groceries.  A family of 6 will spend an average of $1,200 to $1,500 a month.   By homesteading (raising our own, growing our own, making our own, canning our own, and freezing our own) our family of five, soon to be six, spends an average of only $200 a month on groceries.  $1,000 to $1,300 less a month than most other families our size.  That's not including the costs we save on other items we make ourselves like soaps, detergents, clothes, even some furniture.  Even small steps towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle can be well worth it.  

So what's the homesteading tip for today?   Making your own biscuit mix!  Replace store bought mixes like Bisquick and Jiffy for a much more economical homemade mix.  The recipe I use makes biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins, some breads, cake and more all from one convenient mix that takes only a few minutes to prepare. 

What you'll need:
1. A large bowl
2. An air-tight container
3. All-purpose flour
4. Sugar
5. Non-fat, dry milk
6. Salt
7. Baking powder
8. Vegetable shortening
9. Sifter
10. A food processor or pastry cutter

The mix:
 Sift 6 cups of flour, 1 cup non-fat dry milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup baking powder, and 2 t. salt into the large bowl and stir to mix.

 Add 3/4 cup shortening and either grind in a food processor (my preferred way) or cut in with a pastry cutter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

 That's it.  Store it in an airtight container at room temperature or, even better yet, in the fridge for as long as it takes you to use it.  Simple. 

Some things make with it:

Preheat oven to 425°.
Mix 2 c. biscuit mix with 1/2 c. water.  Stir well.  Turn onto floured surface and knead just a few times.  Roll or pat to desired thickness (I generally use about 1/2 in.)  and cut with a biscuit cutter or lightly floured glass.   Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. 

1 c. biscuit mix
1/2-2/3 c. water
1 egg
1 T. vegetable oil

Beat together egg and water.  Stir together egg/water mixture, biscuit mix and oil just until moistened.  Cook on a hot griddle.   Makes 18 3-inch pancakes. 

2 c. biscuit mix
2 eggs
2 T. vegetable oil
1 1/4 c. water

Mix the same as for pancakes.  Cook in hot waffle iron.

Oat Muffins:
1 c. biscuit mix
1/2 c. rolled oats
2 T. sugar
1/3 c. raisins
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. water
2 T. melted butter, margarine or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine dry ingredients and raisins in a bowl.  Combine egg, water, and oil in another bowl and then stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Spoon into 6 well-greased muffin cups.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Makes 6 large muffins.

Raisin Cinnamon Bread:
3 c. biscuit mix
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
2 t. grated lemon rind
1 1/4 c. raisins
1 egg
1 c. water
2 T. melted butter, margarine or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325°.  Combine biscuit mix, sugar, cinnamon, lemon rind and raisins in a bowl.  Combine egg, water and butter and stir into dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.   Turn into well greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Turn onto a rack to cool. 

Quick and easy cake:
1 1/3 c. biscuit mix
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Combine egg, water and vanilla.  Stir 1/2 of liquid mixture into dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Stir in rest of liquid mixture and beat 1 minute longer.  Turn into greased and floured 8 in. cake pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until done.  Allow to cool before frosting. 

Goodbye 2012

The last year was interesting to say the least.  Nationally we watched the economy dip and turn on it's own roller coaster ride.  We paid $4 or more a gallon for gas at times (I can still remember my parents complaining for paying nearly $.75 a gallon in the late 80's, early 90's).  We saw turmoil in  Europe and the Middle East.  We dug deeper into our pocket books to pay for groceries and healthcare premiums.  We suffered through a crazy election cycle and we are, if we're smart, bracing ourselves for dramatically increasing costs in every area from healthcare to groceries to buying a car.   We also cheered for our athletes in the 2012 Olympics, lost our beloved Twinkies, and saw communities pull together in the aftermath of a hurricane. 

Here at home we suffered through droughts and storms.  Some harvests were bumper crops, others offered almost no yields at all.  We made a major move.  We spent warm days outside on the porch swing.  We received help from family and friends and we gave help to family and friends.  We started to new construction, we welcomed new life, we hunkered down and we held our heads up.   It's crazy how much can happen in one year.   As far as quality goes, 2012 wasn't a terrible year.  I've seen much worse but I've also seen much better.  My New's Year's resolution this year are to do everything I can personally to make sure 2013 is spectacular.  I hope to head to church more, spend less, work even harder to show my family how much they mean to me and spend more time on things I really like to do.  

God Bless, everyone.  Have a wonderful New Year!