The Secrets of a Mason Jar

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John Mason invented the Mason jar in 1858 for canning and preserving perishables. I bet he didn’t know that over the next 155 years that his creation would be used for everything from craft projects to starting a fire. That’s right, as long as you have a little bit of water, a handy Mason jar and direct sunlight, you can start a fire. Power outage or natural disaster? With a few basic supplies and a jar, an emergency oil lamp can be created in just a few minutes. If your emergency kit doesn’t have a Mason jar or two included in it, take the time to add these little life-savers to your necessities.

Luckily today’s urgency is only the usual what’s for breakfast dilemma. Again, enter the Mason jar. It’s been trending for awhile, but using jars to prepare meals is genius. Clearly, they are perfect for storing beans, pasta and other dry (or liquid!) ingrediants. If you make the effort to experiment a little, you will find literally hundreds of ways to easily prepare recipes for any meal of the day.

Last month, I talked quite a bit about daytime snacks and quick lunchables. With all the summer activity, I am focusing this month on quick, healthy breakfast ideas. With a bit of preparation and a supply of half-pint jars, you’ll be on the road in no time with a rig full of happy hearts and satisfied stomachs.

A few weeks ago, I pulled out 6 half pint jars and buttered the insides. Meanwhile I took 8 eggs and some milk/creme and beat with a fork in a bowl. In each of the jars, I put diced ham, onion, sharp cheddar cheese and a dash of salt/pepper. In a few of the other jars, I added bell pepper and mushrooms. Finally, I poured the egg mixture equally among the jars about 2/3 full. After baking them on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, I set them aside to cool. Later, I put lids on these eggs-in-a-jar and put them in the refrigerator.

The next morning, as everyone was hustling and bustling to get on the road to our next destination, I microwaved each jar for 60 seconds and set them out with a spoon and an orange juice for each hungry hooligan. It was a great start to the day and seemed to stick with everyone for a better part of the morning.

A few days later, I experimented with summer porridge. I lined up 6 half-pint jars on the counter. Inside each, I poured old-fashioned oats (not the instant kind), milk, greek-style yogurt and a bit of honey. Mixing it up was easy by putting on a lid and giving it a few shakes. Then I customized each one with different fruits (applesauce, peaches, strawberries, and raspberries) and stirred together with a spice here and there. In one jar, I added cocoa and diced bananas. In the last one, I added maple syrup instead of honey and a handful of blueberries. After sitting overnight, these were perfect for breakfast on the go! The variety fit everyone’s different tastes. Let me also note that the whole “summer porridge” name was a huge hit with my crew and was all they needed to try it. And we all know that’s half the battle – getting them to try something new.

After scoring 2 out of 2 for healthy breakfast creations, I decided to test a recipe I seen a few months ago for Monkey Milk. Again, I knew the name would be the bait for this all-new jar treat. It’s simply a layer of banana milk (bananas, milk, honey) frozen in the bottom of a half-pint jar. After the yellow milk layer is frozen, you add a chocolate layer (dark chocolate, milk, dab of sugar) and freeze again. After setting these out in the morning, my monkeys were slurping up this healthy treat and I was the hero for that day. Little did they know the slushy treat was packed full vitamins and minerals.

Somewhere along the line, I found screw-on plastic lids for the jars that were perfect for storing in the refrigerator or freezer. They were easy for my kids to use and great for saving a portion for later.

So there you have it. My latest secrets in a Mason jar that keep my crew satisfied in the mornings. For this Road Mom, starting the day with the first meal rotation already in motion is a huge time saver and even more importantly, gets our crew started off on the right side of the rig.

Note: Check out our Recipe Box for jar recipes and ideas.

Special Note: This article was written by Diary of a Road Mom for Fulltime Families Magazine. Visit their website at www.fulltimefamilies.com for more information and to subscribe to this monthly resource.

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