Do-It-Yourself Crackers

Pioneer Crackers

4 cups flour (white or whole wheat)

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup shortening

2 cups buttermilk, yogurt, or cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients together and form dough into ball. On a floured surface, roll out a small portion at a time until very thin. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cut into desired shapes. Place pieces close together on greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until edges begin to brown (approximately 10–15 minutes). Remove from oven, turn crackers over, and bake again (about 10–15 minutes more) until crisp and dry. Cool on rack.

Wheat Thins

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

1/3 cup oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

Mix dry ingredients. Emulsify oil in blender with water and salt.

Blend liquid mixture into dry ingredients, kneading as little as possible. Make smooth dough, then roll as thin as possible (no thicker than 1/8 inch) on unoiled cookie sheet. Perforate with tracing wheel (used in sewing to mark patterns) or knife to mark size of cracker desired, but do not cut through. Prick each cracker a few times with a fork. Sprinkle lightly with plain or seasoned salt. Bake at 350 degrees until crisp and light brown—about 20–25 minutes. Break apart when cool. Karine Eliason, Glendale, Arizona

The Family That Writes Together

Someone suggested a family “journalist of the week,” and the idea has caught on in our family. Each week one family member takes his turn keeping the family diary; at family home evening he reads his entry, and the rest of us help him add important items that have been left out. He then signs his name.

Some members of our family do not keep personal journals, and this gives them a chance to record their own versions of our family history and to learn the value of record keeping at the same time. We hope this will be a training ground for younger family members to develop journal-keeping skills.

With its samples of the individual handwriting and viewpoint of each family member, our journal is most interesting. It has already become a family treasure. Wanda West Badger, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Meatier Issues

What shopper has not wondered why steak sells for $2.50 a pound when a market steer is worth only 52 cents a pound? The answer is found in the simple saga of a beef from hoof to table. And such information can help you be wiser in your purchase of meat.

Dr. Leon Orme, chairman of the Animal Science Department at Brigham Young University, explains that when a 1000-pound choice beef is slaughtered, approximately 40 percent of the animal’s weight—head, hooves, hide, and tallow—is waste. To break even, the meat packer must sell 600 pounds of meat for the same amount he paid for 1000 pounds. This hikes the price up to 86 cents a pound.

The 600-pound carcass is then cut into saleable portions. The bone and excess fat constitute nearly a thirty percent weight loss of the 600 pounds, so a 1000-pound beef yields only 420 pounds of closely trimmed retail meat. And the half side of beef that is ready for your deep freeze costs $1.25 a pound. By way of analogy, Dr. Orme explains that shoppers pay a per-pound price for bananas or oranges and then throw away the peel. The price for the edible portion is actually much higher, but they don’t think about that. With meat, the “peeling” is done before purchase, and the price reflects it.

Obviously, cutting, packaging, and labor costs boost the price again. And if the retailer sells a less tender chuck roast for $1.19 a pound, he must make up the difference on the more desirable cuts of meat, such as fine steaks, sirloin and rib roasts. This accounts for the higher price of steak.

The best way to get your money’s worth is to know the meat you purchase. Tender cuts, coming from the parts of the animal that have had the least exercise, are more expensive. Tender roasts include standing rib, rolled rib, rump, rolled rump, and sirloin tip. These should be cooked with dry heat—roasted uncovered, at 250°–300° to avoid shrinkage and keep in the juices. The drippings will taste better, too, without the burned flavor from higher-temperature cooking. Tender steaks for broiling include club, rib, T-bone, porterhouse, sirloin, and filet mignon.

The bone configurations—T-bone, rib bone, and sirloin bone—help to identify the tender cuts; the seven-bone and round bone indicate less tender cuts. Fat marbling through the meat indicates tenderness and juiciness; but muscle bundles (connective tissue) indicate a less tender cut. If the bones are red in color and porous, the animal was young when it was slaughtered and the meat will be more tender; if the bones are white and flinty, the animal was more mature.

Less tender roasts or steaks should be braised—cooked with liquid in a covered vessel at a low temperature for a long period of time. These include round roast, rump, sirloin, chuck, flank steak, and short ribs. Brigham Young University, Public Communications Bulletin

Threading the Needle

An easy way to thread yarn when tying a quilt is to make a loop from regular sewing thread and pass this through the eye of the needle. Insert the yarn through the loop and pull the loop and yarn back through the eye. Presto! The needle is threaded. Lana Floyd, Lithia Springs, Georgia

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mary W. Garlock