Oct 152008

Kitchen Fun with Carol

New ebook is on its way!
carol2007We have selected the recipes and are in the final stages of proofreading the new ebook. It has been fun! I went through over 130 recipes that were posted on the message boards. I have been testing recipes for the past two weeks. My family and I have enjoyed all the new flavors. There are several recipes that the family has requested be added to the winter menu since they enjoyed them so much. Several of the soup and sandwich recipes will also be added to our lunch menu. We’ll be announcing the winners in November. I hope you love the recipes as much as my family does.

Power outages and freezer cooking
After Hurricane Ike blew through Texas in September it headed straight for my house in Ohio. It was hard to believe what we were seeing. I stood out in the winds with my neighbors (silly, I know). It was strange. We are used to severe thunderstorms but this storm was just constant 70 to 80 miles per hour winds with no rain. The roof was damaged. The gazebo and swing were ruined. But those are just things and I am happy that my family and neighbors made it through the storm without injury.

After the storm between one and two million people were without power. Some were out for almost a week. We were lucky. Our power was back on within one day but many of our friends and family were not that lucky. One of my friends was without power for almost 2 weeks. Our freezer was still full from our last cooking day so everything in our big freezer was still frozen. The food in our side by side was beginning to defrost, especially the ice cream which my teenagers willingly ate! My sister-in-law was without power for several days. My mother and father-in-law, who live near us, were out of town during the storm. After a day we decided to “rescue” the contents of their freezer. It had been about 24 hours and you could tell that some of the food was beginning to defrost.

Has this ever happened to you? All of the local news stations were giving tips on what to do with the food in your freezer when the power goes out. Here are some of the tips that I heard:

  • Leave the freezer door closed. If the stand alone freezer is full or almost full it should keep for at least 24 to 48 hours (24 hours if the freezer is half full and 48 hours if the freezer is full). If the power is out less than 24 hours, leave the doors closed for another 24 hours before opening again. Some conditions can affect this time frame:
    • High room temperatures (over 85 degrees)
    • Freezer is not at zero degrees or below when power went out
    • The freezer is only partially full
  • Food still containing ice crystals is generally safe to refreeze. The flavor and the quality of the food may suffer.
  • Throw out any food that has reached room temperature (or more than 40 degrees) for two hours or more. Test the temperature with a digital food thermometer. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Never taste food to determine if it is safe to eat. And you cannot rely on appearance to odor to determine if food is spoiled. Use a thermometer and test the temperature.

Here are some great web sites with information on what to do with your freezer and refrigerator during a power outage:

Contest Winners

Guest Newsletter Contributor and Freezer Cook of the Month Winner
This month I would like to welcome Theresa Diulus as our guest newsletter contributor and our Freezer Cook of the Month. Theresa is from the Houston, TX, area. She was affected by the Hurricane Ike just as we were in Ohio only to a much greater degree. She was evacuated during the storm and returned home to refrigerator and freezer full of spoiled food. Here is the story of what happened after her return:

Jr30DayGourmetWe had just gotten back from evacuating and had very little fresh groceries and no freezer food or refrigerator food due to the power outage. The grocery stores around here were just beginning to open and low in stock of everything and had no refrigerated items. On our way home I had stopped a few hours away and picked up groceries including some ground turkey. When we got home I had got word about the food drive and the need for pasta for some of the badly hit areas in Seabrook and Kemah that was organized by a local PTA. I don’t typically have jarred sauce on hand. I did have cans of tomato paste and sauce and all the necessary ingredients to make a quintuple batch of the Zippy Spaghetti Sauce (from The Freezer Cooking Manual), though. I threw it all in the slow cooker while continuing to clean up our house. Our 10 year old “Jr. 30 Day Gourmeter” helped me assemble 6 pounds of pasta and Zippy Spaghetti Sauce for delivery. Our 12 year old daughter and my husband helped actually deliver the food. It’s another way to utilize the 30 Day Gourmet way for the service/quantity ability to benefit others instead of being for once a month cooking. Another great advantage of this great method don’t you agree?

I definitely agree! What a great way to take a bad situation and make it a positive one. There were so many stories in the news about neighbors helping neighbors. People hosting cookouts to share the food they had on hand. People with electricity helping those without. Let’s hear more from Theresa:

PictureTheresa100808My name is Theresa Diulus and I started with 30 Day Gourmet back in 1997 after seeing Nanci and Tara on the Home & Family show. I was instantly hooked after seeing them demonstrate their straw sucking vacuum sealing technique! I must admit I now have a Food Saver. Back then I was a first time mom to Kylie who is now 12. Our family has grown to include Macy (10), Luke (8) and Justin (6). Freezer cooking has been such a God send to me over the years and the methods I’ve learned from 30 Day Gourmet are ones I always use. I’ve bought all the editions over the years and have given the books as gifts many times considering it a gift of time if someone actually takes advantage of what 30 Day Gourmet has to offer especially the newsletters and website. I should also mention that I LOVE to cook and bake.

Let me share with you how I’ve extended my freezer cooking beyond our family. I was the PTA Teacher/Staff Appreciation Chair at our children’s elementary school for the last 2 years and therefore responsible for organizing 4-5 meals per school year for the teachers and staff of close to 70. Traditionally it’s been food ordered from a restaurant. I decided to try to make most of the food myself for 2 reasons: to save PTA money and for the experience (I had joined a personal chef association requiring completion of a food safety management course). My first year as Chair was actually the school’s 30th anniversary so I decided to try to do something every month ranging from a “Patriotic Portable Picnic” lunch the week before school started to a “Caramel Apple Coffeehouse” breakfast in September to an “April Shower of Cookies” where I delivered a different gourmet style cookie every week during the month of April. The cookies, muffins, rolls, lasagnas, pastas, chicken, you name it, pretty much EVERYTHING I made was made ahead and frozen so I was able to deal with all of the last minute details of the events and have great food. The feedback I received was that they loved the homemade food! And most meals averaged $3/person!!!!! I have to say that I had the BEST group of volunteers that helped me setup/serve/cleanup and one who took over the last lunch last year when a medical emergency with my son prevented me from doing it.

What a great story and a great way to use the 30 Day Gourmet method of cooking for more than just your own family! If anyone is interested in being a guest contributor, click here to send me an email. 

Bonus Recipes

The bonus recipes this month are from Theresa’s “Rodeo Lunch” menu that she served at her PTA gatherings. These recipes would be great for a football tailgating party or a fall hayride with friends and family. Enjoy!

Theresa’s Tips:

A lot of the recipes are my own originals created for the themed events. As a result, I have found they make great “Gatherings” and “Potluck” recipes. Put your Turkey Chili in individual thermoses or a slow cooker, place your Cornbread Muffins in some napkin lined baskets and set your Texas Sheet Layer Cake out and see how long it takes to disappear! If your serving space is limited, serve your chili in mugs or Styrofoam cups and use the muffins as toppers (picture chicken pot pie style). The great thing about all of these recipes is that you can stretch them if you need to by adding more toppings to make the chili go farther (people love Fritos!), cutting muffins in half and cutting the sheet cake into brownie size pieces.

PieceOfTXSheetCake100808Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Layer Cake is always a favorite dessert – it’s chocolate, it’s great for crowds, it’s easy to make. This version is adapted for a half sheet pan available in a double pack at Sam’s Club. I added a secret ingredient to bring out the chocolate flavor – it might add a kick to your step, too (although you can use decaffeinated!). Serve with or without pecans depending on your crowd.




CornbreadMuffins100808Theresa’s Cornbread Muffins

I came up with a Cornbread Muffin instead of bread because I thought they would look prettier to serve and they wouldn’t need to be cut up. If you freeze these in a single layer, remove them, wrap them in foil and place them on top of your hot slow cooker en route to your tailgate and they should be thawed and warm by the time you arrive at your destination!




TXTurkeyChili100808Theresa’s Turkey Chili

February in Houston can actually still be cool so I thought Turkey Chili would be something different than BBQ. You may laugh at turkey instead of beef in Texas, but I had to honor all religious and dietary preferences of the staff and poultry was the only acceptable ground meat. True to other Texas chilies, this has no beans in it. We heated up beans, though, and offered them as a topping along with cheese, sour cream, onions, Fritos, jalapenos and hot sauce!

Closing Comments from Carol

I hope everyone enjoys the Rodeo Lunch recipes. Next month I will share some of winning recipes from the new Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites ebook.Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!Have fun in your kitchen!


Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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