Archive | July, 2011

Why all the information on the back of the recipe cards?

26 Jul

I got a question from a reader that I thought I’d share in case anyone else wondering about the same thing:

Q:  I was wondering if you could explain or show the back of one recipe card. I am having a hard time understanding what the back is for and why would you need it if then front recipe shows what you need.

Thanks for asking!  You can see an example of what I’ve named my “ingredient summaries” in the planning pages section (a drop down tab if you look under “Create Your Own Book” at top).  There are four main reasons why I’ve included these on the backs of my recipes:

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My Kind of Wonder Bread

22 Jul

Print the instruction card!  Making Bread in a Wonder Oven

I love my wonder ovens, I have two of them, and beyond just having them around for preparedness sake I’ve used them a lot in every day life to cut down on heating up the kitchen and as a time saver.

Definition of a Wonder Oven (also called a Wonder Box):

A Wonder Oven is a heat retention cooker whose underlying mechanism lies in it’s two “bean bag” type pillows (filled with styrofoam beads) to hold whatever temperature steady for many hours.

The insulating properties of the Wonder Oven means it can keep food at a high cooking temperature for hours, or inversely keeps cold foods cold and frozen foods frozen.  This means that you use a fraction of the energy/fuel that you normally would’ve needed to cook or possibly save frozen items from being wasted in a power outage!

Getting One for Your Preps

There are two ways to add this wonderful tool to your preps:  sew one for yourself, or order one already made.

To make one for yourself you can sew the pillows (here I made mine from some old table cloths) or buy them (information below).  Often, online patterns are difficult to interpret due to the large dimensions of the pattern.  If you’d like a paper pattern mailed to you free of charge, email your request to me at  I mail patterns out once every 2-3 months.

You can buy the styrene beads via this online retailer! 

Also, here’s a quick cooking guide I’ve put together for you with many of the basic rules so you can get cooking! (Link below)

Cooking with a Wonder Oven

Each wonder oven has two pillows — one that’s larger which fits under the pot and one that’s smaller that fits over it.  The pillows (mine are much more loosely filled than some other styles of Wonder Oven Pillows, some are able to stand on their own without a container) are used inside an 18 gallon plastic container in order to keep them snuggly surrounding the pot I’m cooking with.

Wonder Oven Cooking

I use my wonder oven all the time. I make bread in it as well as many other things.  With two wonder ovens, the other night I cooked chicken in one and some potatoes in the other for dinner. I left them all day to cook and never had to worry about burning.  One of the things I love best about it is the food is ready to go when you are and it never burns!

Here’s a list of some of the things you can make using a wonder oven which you’ll find here on the blog (visit this archive to find all the recipes):

  • Bread
  • Soups
  • Any dish requiring a simmer time
  • Whole grain cereals (Steel Cut Oats)
  • Tamales
  • Lasagna
  • Small cuts of meat
  • Rice/ Grains
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Muffins
  • Quiche

In this post I’ll be demonstrating how to make some of the most excellent bread in your Wonder Oven.  I think you’ll agree,  it’s probably the most moist bread you’ve ever tasted!  Plus, kids love it because it bakes with out any crusts.  From a preparedness perspective, I love it because knowing this method (and having the tools) means I can make bread for my family even if my sun oven isn’t operational due to cloudy skies.  This without using any more fuel than is needed to bring a pot to boil for 10 minutes.

Another reason I love it?  Food can be left for hours “baking” without any worry of it burning.  The bread made below was baked (or more appropriately “steamed”) for 6 hours. At a minimum, it takes 2 hours to bake, but I’d had a very busy day this particular day and didn’t have time to pull it out of the Wonder Oven until later in the evening. Still, I ended up with perfect bread.

Bread Containers

There are a couple of containers you can choose from in order to bake bread in your Wonder Oven.

The first is using large 46 oz juice cans. I’ve found that due to their tendancy to rust I have to replace them fairly often.  Another disadvantage is that they are very light weight which means that you have to be ready to secure the cans so that they don’t tip over in the boiling water.  Using juice cans turns out nice rounded loaves which when sliced are about the size of a hamburger bun. The advantage to using the cans is that you can get started making bread without purchasing anything more than a couple large cans of juice.

After using it quite a bit I realized I wanted a more permanent container for making bread than the juice cans because the cans have a tendency to rust after a few uses.  At first I found a tall cylinder shaped pot with a lid, an ‘asparagus steamer’, which worked quite nicely but was very pricey. Rather than having two juice cans of bread, the one larger pot bakes two loaves worth of dough at once.  It makes a bigger loaf; when done, I cut the bread in half and serve in large semi-circle slices.  Even though it holds more dough I’ve never had a problem with having to increase cooking time as compared to the juice can method.  As long as it cooks a minimum of 2 hours it’s been fine.

**UPDATE:  an all around better Wonder Oven bread container (because it’s so much more affordable) is a 3.5 quart Bain Marie pot.  This sized pot will hold two recipes worth of dough (same as the asparagus steamer you see below) – or – (2) two quart containers may be used in the same way you see the two juice cans below (one recipe in each pot).  This Stainless Steel Bain Marie Pot (purchased w/ lid separately) is available for the 2 quart pots.  You can also find many different sizes of bain marie pots at restaurant supply stores.  Read my review of these containers here in this post for more details.

How to make “wonder bread” (using a Wonder Oven)

Using Juice Cans

Use your favorite recipe for any kind of bread. Mix up the dough and let it raise once (if that is what your recipe calls for) and then after pushing it down for the first time put it in a 46 ounce juice can that’s been greased (I use Pam). Fill two cans about half full with dough and put them in a larger sized pot with two large Mason jars filled with hot water in order to keep the cans from tipping over into the water. Fill the pot with warm water (I do this in the sink), about 2/3 up the can. Let the bread raise until almost to the top. Very carefully (as not to make the raised dough fall) remove the cans and cover the top with a pre-greased piece of tin foil or the original lid (if you have a Pampered Chef can opener to initially remove the juice can lid with the lid will fit nicely on top and can be used over and over again). Put an elastic band around the tin foil or lid (so that the water doesn’t get into the bread). Put the lid on the large pan and bring the water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Put immediately into the Wonderbox and “bake” for 2 hours.

The great thing is that you can leave it for as long as you need to without worrying that it will overcook. This batch today that I did (pictured) was in the Wonderbox for a total of about 6 hours but like I said before 2 hours would be the minimum.

The bread slides easily out of the cans, nice rounded loaves which then make slices close to the size of a hamburger bun. They have no crusts (which my kids love), and are the same texture as regular bread although much more moist. You just have to taste it, it’s “wonder”-ful!

Container choice #2:  an asparagus steamer

Same directions as above excepting that you can use double the amount of dough and you don’t need to secure the lid with a rubber band before boiling.  I prefer using this container.

A Bread Recipe We Like

This is just a recipe I pulled out of a cookbook one day but we’ve stuck with it for a while and we like it.  Really you can use any bread recipe and have good results.

Wheat Bread

1 T yeast
2 T sugar
2 cups very warm water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 T oil
4 c. flour (1 1/2 c. wheat)

Mix thoroughly until soft and smooth. Rise 25 minutes until it doubles in size. Punch down. Makes two loaves.

A couple other points:

★Be sure that when you get to the boiling stage that you remember to put the lid on while it’s boiling because it’s important for the lid to get really hot.

★No peeking during the cooking time in the oven!

★The only thing I have not had good results making in the Wonder Oven is cake–I can’t get that one to work.

To buy :

If you or anyone you know would like to buy the pillows, I have a friend who makes them and ships them as a business. Her web address is

Step by step pictures:

Juice cans

The asparagus steamer that I use

Mix up the dough

Allow the bread to rise once in the mixing bowl and remember to
grease the cans before putting the dough in them.

With your bread containers half filled, fill the larger pot with warm to hot water and
allow the dough to rise again, 25-30 minutes.
Allow the dough to rise until it’s almost to the top of the cans.

Remember to grease the insides of the lids or foil.

If you’re using juice cans, carefully remove
each can from the pot and place the lid/foil
and elastic band on each.

Bring the pot to the stove to boil for 10 minutes with the lids on.

Place the pot into the Wonder Oven to bake for atleast 2 hours.

The bread will slide out easily.


Introduction Video #5: keeping track of my inventory

15 Jul

In this video I show the system I use to keep track of my inventory.  This system works for me because it’s so simple and easy to use!

Also, I want to let you know that next Tuesday, July 19th, I’ve been  invited to be a guest on an internet radio show on the Preparedness Radio Network.  I’m going to be talking in detail about creating a food storage cookbook and some of the things I’ve learned as I’ve gone through the process of testing out recipes on my family. It will be happening at 1:00 pm central time and the link for the show is:

At the end of the show we’ll be taking questions for anyone who’d like to call in– I’d love to hear from you!