Sunday, February 10, 2019

Super Easy Basic Recipes

Here are some recipes for some basic staples we use frequently. These recipes were adapted and customized from many different sources and our own experience. You may copy and adopt these freely, no license or permission required. You may credit me only if you wish.

I'm posting these recipes all at once because I'm about to undertake a 3 month bicycle journey across the US to talk with people from coast to coast from San Francisco to Boston about oceans, plastic, climate change, and kids. For more about this ride please see My wife was not up for this long a ride and needed these recipes while I'm traveling :-)

Super Easy Syrup

We use this basic syrup on pancakes, waffles, and to make granola.

1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar (white or unrefined)
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon maple flavored extract

Bring the water, sugar, and molasses to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Take off heat and stir in the maple extract. 
Let cool until no longer hot.
Store in a sealed glass mason jar in refrigerator (needs refrigeration since it does not contain preservatives like store purchased varieties). Usually good for a month or two.

Super Easy Granola

1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded or chipped coconut
3 cups rolled oats
1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt if none of the nuts are salted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil (olive oil preferred) + oil for sheet pans
1/2 cup syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the raisins.
In a small 1 qt bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients. 
Mix together both mixtures in the large bowl.
Pour dollop of oil on each of 2 sheet pans and spread evenly
Pour mixed ingredients onto the sheet pans. Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir with plastic spatula to loosen from sheet pans, cool, mix in raisins, and transfer to storage containers. 

Super Easy Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup

We love ice cream but hate the plastic or plasticized cardboard that commercial ice cream and chocolate syrup come in, so now we are making both ourselves! We did buy an ice cream maker ( and cringed at the styrofoam it was packed in, but it makes hundreds of gallons of ice cream 2 quarts at a time preventing hundreds of single use ice cream containers that are trash.

The recurring trash we currently are left with:
1. The plastic tops from the reusable Straus Family Creamery organic heavy cream and milk bottles we buy
2. Plastic cocoa powder pouches. Once 16 oz pouch is good for about a gallon of chocolate syrup

Everything else is reusable or recyclable: 
The Straus Family Creamery bottles get returned to the store for reuse.
Recyclable vanilla extract container (we buy the quart size clear artificial vanilla - much cheaper than real and close enough in taste for our uses).
Recyclable sugar & salt paper packaging.

We bought a 2nd ice cream freezing container so we can make 2 batches of ice cream back to back and reuse our mixing bowl and utensils without washing them. This results in about 1 gallon (4 quarts) of ice cream.

Super Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups (1 pint container) organic heavy cream
1 to 1.5 cups organic milk
2/3 cups organic granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whisk or stir all ingredients together in mixing bowl until sugar is dissolved. (I pour the milk into the pint heavy cream container to wash it out a bit and to use that container as my measuring “cup” -- filling it about 1/2 to 3/4 full).
Pour into ice cream maker following its directions.
Let churn for ~20 minutes, will be soft serve consistency.
Transfer to reusable container. One batch almost fills two 1 quart plastic containers.
Store sealed in freezer. Use within a month or two.

Super Easy Chocolate Syrup

1 cup organic cocoa powder
1 cup organic granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt (if desired). Whisk in the water and whisk over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly.
Continue boiling 3 – 4 minutes. The mixture may still be thin (it thickens more once cool). 
Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Cool.
Store syrup in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator. The syrup should keep, refrigerated, for about a month.

Dog treats

We used to buy our dog treats but we switched to making our own to eliminate plastic bag and container waste. We do still buy our dog food in large 30 lbs plastic bags but are searching for a place to buy dog food in bulk in our own containers. We reuse the dog food bags as strong waterproof bags to carry stuff in our steel bicycle baskets. Turning them inside out makes them all white on the outside plus the little grease still stuck to the bag is then on the outside and the printed cleaner side is on the inside. These bags are tough and by folding over the tops and clipping with a binder clip they keep everything dry even in a heavy rain -- almost as good as expensive camping dry bags.

Treat recipe #1 below is very fast for mass production. #2 is somewhat slower but gluten free.

Super Easy Dog Treats


Makes about 3 liters (~1600) treats.

5 cups whole wheat flour
4 eggs
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz can)
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Stir together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. 
Add a little water if needed to make dough workable, but dough should be dry and stiff. 
Roll dough into a rectangular ~1/4-inch-thick sheet on a large floured surface.
The sheet should end up being about 20"x20" or so, no need to be exact.
Using a rolling pizza cutter slice into narrow strips about 1/2" wide.
Then slice again at right angle to cut into 1/2" squares.
Using large rectangular metal spatula, transfer sliced dough onto 2 large cooking sheets - no need to separate but needs to be single layer.
Bake in oven until crisp, about 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container (freeze what you cannot use in a few months).
You can break the treats apart after baking them or as you use them.

Super Easy Dog Treats


Makes about 1.5 liters (~400) treats

2 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon granular chicken bullion
1 egg
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil to grease sheet pans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Add 2 cups oats and bullion to medium mixing bowl. Using big spoon mix well. Mix in water and egg.

Using big spoon press to 1/4-inch thick sheet on inside of mixing bowl. Let stand a few minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile pour dollop of oil and spread evenly on 2 cooking sheets.

Using 2 tiny spoons, scoop tiny portions of mixture onto cooking sheets (ours are usually about 1/2 inch in diameter)
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container (freeze if you need to store for longer than a couple months).

Given my experience with recipe #1, it is possible that #2 could be done in the same fashion using a pizza cutter but I have not tried this yet -- the dough is wetter & stickier for #2.

(updated 2020/02/07 with improved mass production instructions)