Wrangler Mama’s Pantry Tip #1: Powdered Milk

I am constantly amazed at the things I do in the kitchen that other people find amazing — things like making pizza from scratch, baking bread, or even baking anything not from a mix or pre-made dough.  (Not that I don’t use mixes too, but baking from scratch isn’t that hard.)

Because of this, I’ve decided to reveal some of my secrets, little at a time.  They are things I’ve learned over time that keep me from having to dash to the store, or worse, the drive-thru, because I can’t make a meal or snack.

Without further ado, here’s my tidbit for today:  keep powdered milk on hand.  When you find that the regular milk is gone, you can still make your baked oatmeal, pancakes, or whatever it is that you needed a bit of milk to make.  I also like to buy canned evaporated milk when it goes on sale (around the holidays) for the same purpose, though powdered milk is much cheaper.

To use powdered milk in a recipe, simply add the dry amount with the dry ingredients.  The basic rule of thumb is that 1/3 cup powdered milk + however much water brings the level up to one cup = 1 cup milk.  So if I am making something like pancakes, where you can kind of use common sense for the amount of liquid, I just add the powder in with the flour.  If I were baking something that required more precise measurements (like a cake), I would mix up the cup of milk ahead of time to make sure I had exactly the right amount of liquid.

You may wonder how it tastes.  I cannot tell the difference when I use it for baking.  I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore, so I can’t really tell you what it tastes like when mixed up to actually drink.

This brings me to another point: if you or your family doesn’t drink cow’s milk on a regular basis, that is all the more reason you should have powdered milk on hand if you like to use it to bake.  You don’t have to worry about it going bad before you can use it.  I’m sure it expires eventually, but I don’t know when.  Some people like to keep their powdered milk in the fridge to help it stay fresh, but I have recently started keeping it in the cupboard and nothing bad has happened.  I figure if the grocery store can safely keep it out in the bulk bins, then it should be safe unrefrigerated at my house too.

Happy Baking!  I welcome any suggestions for tips you might want to hear me talk about.

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I am so glad we are do-it-yourselfers.

Batman came down the stairs yesterday and said, “I used to always wonder how my dad knew how to fix so many different things. Now I understand.”
I love our house. But it is in serious need of HELP. The second Batman starts on one thing, something else breaks.
Example: our washing machine went kaput the other day. Batman has been trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. He went upstairs to take a shower before going to bed. The handle for the shower faucet broke.
Another example: Batman took some paneling from the inside of our house to replace some rotted boards on the outside of the house. (They don’t make the same boards that they did in 1947 anymore!) When he went to put drywall on the inside where he had taken the boards, he discovered that there are rotten studs that will have to be replaced first.
I haven’t seen the movie The Money Pit. Maybe I should. Or maybe I should have before we bought the house.
Sometimes the repairs seem like an avalanche and all we have is shovel.
Excuse me while I go paint the railing.

My Baptism Story

It’s been about 15 years since I decided I wanted to follow Jesus.  For most of that time, I also believed that the Bible taught that believers should get baptized as an outward symbol of the death and resurrection that has taken place in their heart.  But I never followed through with that belief.  Why?  Well, when I first came to this belief, I was 16 and I had gone off to a Christian camp.  My family was attending a Lutheran church, and they did infant baptisms there.  I had been baptized as a Catholic baby.  So there wasn’t really an opportunity, and I don’t think I ever really considered the issue much.  As I returned to the camp every summer to work, there were opportunities to get baptized in the lake.  I really liked the idea, but at the same time I felt like, at the very least, my parents and brothers should be there.  So it never happened.  When I went to Bible school (held at the same camp), I blame reading too much Dietrich Bonhoeffer for my indecision over whether I should be baptized (since I had already been baptized as a baby).  Instead of talking to any of the great Christian leaders there, though, I simply pushed the issue aside in my mind.

Recently, several years later,  the matter of baptism weighed on my heart every time someone got baptized at church.  But it was mostly older kids (age 10 or so) or new adult believers who were getting baptized.  Even though I already knew the answer was “Yes,” I still kept wondering, “Do I really need to be baptized? I’ve already been a Christian for half my life!”  I admit part of it was pride.  I didn’t want people to think I was a new believer!  I’d had 15 years of “experience,” after all!  I deserved “credit” for that, didn’t I?  I knew that those thoughts were ridiculous; still, they were there.

Then my new friend got baptized — along side her 9-year-old daughter.  She had pretty much the same story as I had, having made the decision to follow Christ a long time ago.  I thought, “Is that going to be me a few years down the road?  Am I going to have to explain to my daughter that I just never bothered to get baptized?”  I decided it was about time to put my insecurities aside.  Then Batman squeezed my hand.  “I need to get baptized,” he whispered.  And so we did — we got baptized together a few weeks later.

For those of you who have never been in a church for adult baptisms, it is really a simple process.  Our church has a baptismal pool built into the floor at the front of the church.  When it is not being used, they put down flooring to cover it up.  Our pastor goes into the pool first, explains what baptism is and why our church practices it, and introduces the person about to be baptized.  Then he or she comes into the pool and he asks them if they have accepted Jesus Christ and their Lord and Savior.  Then they say “yes,” because why else would they be standing in a pool in shorts and a t-shirt while everyone else is dressed up for church?  The person can choose to share a little with the congregation, or they can pass on that opportunity.   The pastor says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” and lowers the person into and back out of the water.

Then he prays for the newly baptized person.

Then the wet, but happy, person can go get dressed and sneak back into the church service.

What came as a surprise to me was how much this made me feel like a part of the church family.  People stopped to congratulate and hug us.  But the warm welcome didn’t end at the conclusion of church that day.  We have since had our kids dedicated during a service and officially become church members.  Those things, along with baptism, were all things that I never really thought were important.  I figured as long as I was trying my best to grow in my walk with Christ, why was  a ceremony or adding my name to a roster at all important?  But now, when I am on the church grounds for whatever reason, I feel very much at home.  I never before felt UNwelcome, so this feeling was a surprise to me!  This shift was almost imperceptible, but it is there, and I am glad for it.

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