Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pumpkin--Not in a can

My aunt and uncle have been in the foreign service for almost 20 years.  It is fun to hear about all the amazing places they have lived.  But, it is also fun to see the perspective that the United States is a pretty amazing place too!  Several years ago, they were "home" doing a training in Washington, D.C. before they went to their China post.  We were living in the DC metro area at the same time, and we had such fun together as their youngest kids are the same age as our oldest ones.  One autumn day we all went the pumpkin patch and I loved watching all 6 of their kids scout out their perfect pumpkin.  As it was the first Halloween they had celebrated in the states in several years, my aunt planned a fall party and when we showed up, it was so festive!  8 big Jack-o-lanterns met us, carved into amazing faces.  We also ate soup out of hollowed-out mini pumpkins on a table topped with black plastic bags and fall leaves.  A few days later, they left for Bejing, but just before they went, my aunt told me to turn all the jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin bowls into puree.  I had never heard of doing that before, but we did it, and we have done it every year since!  And it was amazing!  Here's how it is done:
  • Wait to carve your pumpkin until no more than 3 or 4 days before Halloween.  After it is carved, keep it in the fridge as much as possible.
  • Cut up your Jack-o-lanterns and bake the pieces on a cookie sheet at 375* for an hour.  Let it cool.
  • Scoop pumpkin out of skins and puree with a blender (or mash with a potato masher) until smooth.
  • Freeze 2 cups of pumpkin in ziplock bags (or process in jars using a pressure canner).
  • Use your pumpkin to make pies, bread, muffins, pancakes, etc.
As an extra treat, make salted pumpkin seeds after you gut your pumpkin.
  • Remove seeds from as much of the pumpkin strings as you can (sometimes rinsing the seeds helps).
  • Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray and arrange seeds in a single layer. Spray the tops of the seeds with a light mist from the baking spray and sprinkle the seeds with salt.
  • Bake at 400* until seeds are brown (anywhere from 5-20 min, depending on the size of the seeds).
I challenge you to use your Halloween pumpkin in a way you haven't before!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ah Nuts!

As a 5 and 6-year old I would overhear my grandma talk about making candy.  In my little mind, I imagined packages of Now & Laters, Skittles, and Milky Way candy bars all packaged up; and I wondered how she did that!  By the time I was about 10, I realized that making candy meant fudge, caramels, divinity, and hand-dipped chocolates.  This realization came when she invited us kids to help her "make candy" by dipping chocolates.  I had never seen anyone melt chocolate and use fondant, nuts, and caramel like that before.  It was amazing!

So whether you are into making your own candy, or just buying yummy nuts, raisins, or already-made chocolate; this month's stake bulk order is for you!
Money is due to me by OCTOBER 22.  Order forms are in the RS binders (and a few are going around Primary and YW), but you can also email me your order.

NUTS--2 lb bags
Raw shelled Walnuts $18
Raw shelled Almonds $17
Raw shelled Cashews $23
Raw shelled Pecans $21
Roasted Salted in shell Pistachios $20
Shelled roasted salted Cashews $23
Shelled Roasted Salted Mixed Nuts $23
(These nuts prices are higher than you may find in other bulk storage places, but there are several differences.  The walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pecans have not been fumigated with Bromide which preserves their nutritional value.  The walnuts have not been soaked in chlorine.)

5 lb box $13

CANDY--1 lb bags
Milk Chocolate Turtles $19
Milk Chocolate Almost Clusters $19
Milk Chocolate English Toffee $19
Dark Chocolate Turtles $19
Dark Chocolate Almond Clusters $19
Dark Chocolate English Toffee $19
Solid Carmel pecan Log Roll (3/4 lb roll) $17

You can email orders to me ( or give me the form.  Make checks payable to RaeLyn Stoddard.  Questions?  Call/Txt me at 760-224-7217.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


When we lived in Aurora, Co (elevation 5471 ft), a family from Northern California moved into our ward.  The brother asked my husband what we plant for our winter garden in Colorado.  Jeff just stared at him, not quite knowing what to say....  We could only grow our garden from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Our "summer garden" was the same as California's "winter garden."  We wondered what it would be like to be able to plant year-round.  Little did we know then that soon we would be living it!  Hurrah for So Cal!
Hopefully you have your garden spot all prepared (I'm still working on  mine) because the WINTER GARDEN Season has begun!

According to Mr. Ledgerwood, the best things to plan in October are:  Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Cauliflower, Endive, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mustard, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Rutabaga, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Turnip, Collards, Favas, Winter Zucchini.


(um, can anyone tell me what Kohl Rabi and Favas are?)

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Twice a year, we have the opportunity to learn at the feet of our prophets and apostles.  I am so looking forward to this weekend!

Since Conference happens regularly twice a year, at exact 6-month intervals, this is a great time to do a couple of quick preparedness things.

(1) Replace the batteries in your Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors.  These little gadgets are designed to save lives...if they are working properly.  The best price on 9-volt batteries I have found is the Amazon Basics 9 Volt batteries, 8 for $10.  At the very least, you can avoid that annoying "chirp" that seems to happen at the most inopportune times!

(2) Replace your drinking water.  Whether you have a 55-gallon barrel or old soda bottles full of water, this is a great time to dump and fill it up for an emergency.  Water is essential, we can only live 3 days without it!  Aim for 14 gallons per person.

Enjoy Conference Weekend!

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Getting a three-month supply of food is one step our church leaders give us to become self-reliant. I admit, this can be overwhelming. I have often thought, "I have to get 3 MONTHS of food in my home? I don't even know what we are having for dinner tonight!"

There are a few approaches for gathering your 3-month supply. All of us are different, so no two supplies are going to be the same. Hopefully one of these resonates with you.

 (1) Figure out 30 recipes you could eat from your shelf. Times the ingredients by 3 and, over time, get enough canned goods to always have 90 meals ready to make in your house. I highly suggest that you choose meals that your family really likes, not just meals that can be made from items on the shelf. I have done this method a couple of times. It does work well, but please choose meals that you will eat (and enjoy!), for rotation's sake. Once upon a time I planned for that one recipe that no one in my family really likes...yah, tuna and noodles is still in my pantry. It becomes cat food when no one tells me that the meow mix ran out 2 days ago.

 (2) Buy a little extra each time you go to the store. If 3 cans of tomato sauce are on your list, buy 6 instead. Need a bag of powdered sugar? Buy 2. If your family loves Stove Top Stuffing year round, stock up on 10 boxes while it is on sale for Thanksgiving. Do you usually buy treats for your kids' lunches? Hit Wal Mart or Target the day after Halloween and score 3 months of lunchtime dessert for HALF OFF! (or use that chocolate as a 3-month--or 1 day--supply of personal stress-relief, either way it's a bargain).

Set a budget on how much can be spent on storage items. If you have a good idea of what you buy anyway, use that budget to buy a little extra when it is on sale.

 If you still don't know what to get, some ideas of non-perishables good for storing are: pasta, canned fruit, canned vegetables, beans, honey, muffin mixes, baking powder, vegetable (or olive) oil, ketchup, popcorn, granola bars, cold cereal, etc.

 And, it is good to think about non-food items that you know you will need: toothpaste, laundry soap, feminine supplies, soap, paper goods, cleaning supplies, vitamins, etc.

 We are counciled not to go crazy or beyond our means to obtain a 3-month supply. By doing things bit by bit, it adds up!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Did you know that September is National Mushroom Month? Well, I just brought that up for trivia, but it is also NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH. This has got me thinking a little bit. On a hot day in May 2014, 9 separate fires were burning in San Diego County. I remember looking out of my window at a very large plume of smoke thinking it was very close. It was. We thought we better voluntarily evacuate, so I packed my 6 kids, 1 dog, enough clothes for overnight, all my finished quilts, a box of vital documents, 1 gallon of milk, a box of Cheerios, and as many photographs as would fit in my Toyota minivan. We headed to a friend's in San Marcos and spent the day there while my husband was home monitoring the fire. We returned later that night when that particular fire had quieted down. Later I realized that where we lived was actually under mandatory evacuation. I didn't know because we don't have a home land line and no one knew our phone numbers to tell us. The next day, I registered our phone numbers with the reverse 911 service. If you do not have a home land line, I encourage you to register your cell phones and/or VOIP service so you can be notified and receive instructions in case of an emergency. (The important button is at the bottom of the article). Here in San Diego, our biggest natural disaster threats are fire and earthquake. Do you have a plan for your family? This Week for Family Home Evening, I challenge you to talk with your family about where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. Please tailor this to your specific family needs and location. Always assume phone coverage is not available. Some questions to consider are: Where do we meet if we cannot get home or our home is not safe? What items do we need to take quickly in case of an evacuation? Where would we go for an extended evacuation (2-5 days). What food and WATER would we need if we need to leave home? What food and WATER would we need if we need to shelter in place (stay home)? What would our pets need? How fast would it take us to get everything we need to get out? Half the battle is preparedness. Having a plan can save time, property, and lives. A sample of family disaster plan outline can be found at:


In another lifetime (when we had one child), our family was asked to stay with a family in our ward while the parents went to Europe for 2 1/2 weeks. There were 5 kids, and they were awesome. Before they left, the mom showed me where the cold cereal was. I was shocked, there must have been 30 boxes. The thing that shocked me even more was that by the time the parents came back, I think it was just about gone. Cold Cereal is way expensive, and to be honest, not that great here's a few ideas for breakfast, food-storage style! Granola: Buy it, or make your own (if anyone out there has an amazing granola recipe, I would love to have it! leave it in the comments! Oatmeal: Add cinnamon and cut up apples, diced peaches, nuts, raisins, craisins, any fruit your family loves! Cracked Wheat: A nutty taste--I love it with honey 6-grain rolled: Gives a variety of whole grains with the texture of oatmeal--Probably my kids' favorite 9-grain cracked: Gives a variety of whole grains with the texture of cracked wheat Muselex: An oatmeal-y texture with raisins and nuts When we started using whole grain for Breakfast, I would bribe my kids by saying if they ate 4 days of "whole grain breakfast," they could have any cold cereal they wanted on Friday. At first they picked the sugariest, yummiest ones they could get their hands on. Over time, they went to more the raisin bran/corn flakes type, until today when I have a few kids who don't like cold cereal at all (but a few that still beg for fruit loops). WinCo Grocery Store (Located in San Marcos or Temecula) is a great resource for these awesome breakfast items. They have all of them (and more!) in their bulk section, so the cool thing is that you can get a little bit of each and see what your family likes. I picked up some cracked wheat the other day for $.46 a lb. I think I can make breakfast for a week with just a pound or 2! If you find something you love, you can order a big bag or box from WinCo and store it at home so that you never run out. Sprouts also has some of these in their Bulk Section. Think of what you can save by eliminating most of that cold cereal! And, these are all grains, so they fall under that "store 400 lbs per person--it's not all just wheat! This week's challenge: Try one or 2 types of "Hot Cereal." Find one that your family will eat at least once a week. Tell me about your experience!