Magic Mix Gravy
When we think of holiday celebrations, what we most cherish about them are being with family, and eating good food. And I want to be able to provide the best food possible. Unfortunately, that may not always be the most fresh and the way I would prepare it under normal conditions. Like our topic for today.
I like to make my gravy from the drippings of whatever cut of meat it is that we’re having. Add a little water if necessary, salt, pepper, and flour, and cook as usual. I loathe those envelops of gravy mix or the canned stuff.
But there will be times when I can’t just pull a roast out of the freezer, like, because there hasn’t been any electricity for months, and we still want to have as normal a Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve or Easter dinner as possible. Here’s where Magic Mix comes to the rescue again. It’s not my first choice for gravy, but it’s a good second. Make the basic gravy below, scaling the quantities to fit your group (as written below, those amounts will serve 4-6 people), and then add desired seasonings.
Magic Mix Gravy (basic)
1 cup broth or 1 cup water added to meat drippings
1/2 cup Magic Mix
salt and pepper to taste
Beef Gravy Seasoning options
1-2 drops Kitchen Bouquet, (for color)
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2-1 teaspoon onion powder
Chicken or Turkey Seasoning options
1/2-1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Bring broth or water and drippings, to a boil over medium-high heat. Add magic mix, stirring continuously until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in additional seasonings, if desired.
Cream Soups and Recipe Replacements
All of the recipes below are for making the condensed versions of these soups. They do not substitute perfectly volume-wise for a can of condensed soup. You’ll have a little extra left over. It’s never been a problem for me; I’m usually making gravy or sauce for a casserole with it. If you are making soup, remember that you still need to add an additional “can” of water or milk, about 11 ounces, to make soup. None of us around here eat chicken, celery, or mushroom soup as a stand-alone, so I can’t comment on how the DIY and store-bought versions of those compare. But I think the tomato soup is very good.
Cream of chicken condensed soup
1 cup Magic Mix
3/4 cup chicken broth (canned, liquid from canned chicken, or bouillon)
Put Magic Mix in saucepan over medium heat and add the broth, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat. Optional: add up to a teaspoon of parsley, and/or a pinch of onion or garlic salt.
The following cream soup mixes do not get used as frequently around here, but it’s still very handy to be able to make them when needed, instead of having the store-bought versions taking up shelf space. And they’re real and fresh and not full of ingredients with vague names. (Modified food starch, autolyzed yeast extract? What are those things, anyway?)
Cream of celery condensed soup
1 cup Magic Mix
3/4 cup water
1 cup of dehydrated celery, reconstituted (use excess reconstituting water as part of the 3/4 cup water above)
pinch celery seed
Put Magic Mix in saucepan over medium heat and add the water, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat. Stir in celery, celery salt, and parsley. Optional: add up to a teaspoon of parsley.
Cream of mushroom condensed soup
1 cup Magic Mix
1 can mushrooms, 4.5 oz, undrained, plus 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dehydrated mushrooms rehydrated in 1 cup water
dash onion salt
1-2 drops Kitchen Bouquet, optional
Put Magic Mix in saucepan over medium heat and stir in liquids, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat. Stir in mushrooms, onion salt, and Kitchen Bouquet.
Cream of tomato condensed soup
1 cup Magic Mix
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon parsley, optional
Put Magic Mix in saucepan over medium heat and stir in tomato sauce, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened, then remove from heat. Stir in seasonings.
Note that this recipe does not contain any sugar, whereas high fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient in Campbell’s cream of tomato condensed soup. Some people really miss the added sugar; I like the soup better without it.
I have been making yogurt for years. It’s very easy to do with dry milk powder; and for some reason, it doesn’t actually taste like powdered milk. You have the health benefit of getting those natural live cultures into your system, which is a huge plus when you’ve got to take antibiotics. And you don’t need any special equipment–just some kind of thermometer and a crockpot, or thermos, or cooler, or oven, or even just warm towels or blankets. Oh, and you need the yogurt starter, either commercially prepared yogurt, yogurt you saved from a batch you recently made, or a freeze-dried starter .
For best results in achieving the kind of yogurt you want, begin with a commercial brand whose plain flavor you do like. The various bacteria used to culture yogurt impart their own subtle flavor to the yogurt. Truth be told, there are zillions of recipes for making your own yogurt all over the ‘net. And most of them are going to tell you the same three things:
- The yogurt you use for a starter has to have live cultures in it.
- In general, the longer the incubation time, the firmer and the tangier or tarter the yogurt.
- If you want thicker yogurt that isn’t so tart, you’ll need to strain your yogurt through cheesecloth or muslin or a coffee filter.
Some of the less commonly known aspects of making yogurt:
- Most commercially produced yogurt has had the whey pressed out of it to make it thicker.
- Or it has had a thickener like pectin or gelatin added to it.
- Homemade yogurt is almost always going to be thinner than store-bought yogurt.
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
8 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups dry milk, more or less, depending on the brand used and the desired thickness of your yogurt
1/2 cup plain yogurt with cultures
Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 cup cold water and let sit 10 minutes. Then whisk in the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Using a wire whisk, stir dry milk into 3 cups cool water and blend very well. There should be no lumps. Stir in 4 cups boiling water and the cornstarch-gelatin mixture. Let cool until the temperature reaches 125 degrees. Put the 1/2 cup of yogurt starter in small bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the milk mixture. Then add the yogurt mixture to the milk mixture and stir very well. Pour into jars to incubate.
Now you’ve got all kinds of options for incubating your yogurt. For years, I incubated my yogurt in a warm (not hot!) crockpot, turned off, and covered with towels. A lot of people make yogurt in a cooler with warm water poured in to maintain the temperature at 115-120 degrees, adding warm water as necessary, and that is probably going to be the best option in a grid-down scenario. Incubating in an oven with the light on is popular, and some people can set their ovens to 115 degrees, so that works also. And that is what I did, because first I want to make good yogurt, and then I will work on being able to make good yogurt without electricity.
Yogurt usually incubates 4-12 hours, with 6-8 hours being the most common. Yogurt can even be left longer; it just becomes firmer and tarter with time. Do not disturb the yogurt while it is incubating. When you reach your desired firmness, carefully move it to the refrigerator. Be sure to set aside some yogurt to start your next batch. Most yogurt-making aficionados say that subsequent batches must be started within ten days. I’ve waited 10-14 days without any problem. After this time, the bacteria diminish in their ability to make culture yogurt. However, the yogurt itself is still fine to eat. In fact, properly refrigerated, it should be good up to 45 days.
If you wish to make flavored yogurt, add those ingredients after your yogurt is done incubating. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use your yogurt to start your next batch.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas on how to better incorporate dry milk into your food storage program for your family. Dry milk is an essential component of most any food storage program, but it is neglected or ignored because most people have not learned how to use it. Buy yourself a bag or two today and get started trying some new recipes. These recipes will not only ultimately save you time and money, but they will increase your peace of mind in knowing that you can provide nutritional, delicious food for your family in a crisis.
Editor’s Closing Note: This article is a compilation from J.R.’s Prep School Daily  blog. Because of its length, it was be posted in three parts. It was re-posted with permission.