Prepper Book Festival 13: The Made From Scratch Life

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: August 24, 2021
Prepper Book Festival 13: The Made From Scratch Life

Something happened in the fifties and it was not good. With the advent of mainstream television, homemakers learned about ready to eat foods and convenience products designed to make their lives easier. It made no matter that many of these products, ranging from TV dinners to laundry and cleaning products, were toxic brews of preservatives and chemicals.

Although I have always been inclined to cook from scratch, make my own cleaning supplies, and embrace the proverbial do-it-yourself mentality, it wasn’t until one year ago, almost to the date, that I stopped supporting the big corporations and Madison avenue that were pushing unhealthy products my way. I became a made-from-scratch advocate and my home became a chemical-free zone.

The Made From Scratch Life | Backdoor Survival

With that introduction, I am thrilled to introduce the first book in Prepper Book Festival #13, The Made From Scratch Life by Melissa K. Norris. If her name sounds familiar, it is because she is my home canning guru as well as a homesteading blogger. She is also someone who embraces sustainability and a healthy living lifestyle while working outside the home, writing, and raising a family. As far as I am concerned, she is super-woman.

The Made From Scratch Life is chock full of goodness. In it you will learn how to grow and preserve food, save money by being frugal where it matters, and my favorite, improving your overall health and well-being with natural cooking and cleaning methods.

Today I share an interview with Melissa plus I have three copies of her book up for grabs in a giveaway. Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway.

An Interview with Melissa K. Norris, Author of The Made From Scratch Life

Tell me about your book. What is it about?

It’s the story of my journey to a healthier and more unprocessed life, from the kitchen, to the garden and barnyard, and really, the story of returning to my roots, using more of the methods my grandparents and great-grandparents used, which in turn becomes a manual to living a modern homestead life.

What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?

I didn’t do a lot of research, most of it was the telling of the things my husband and I have been doing on our homestead for over 16 years, but some of it was also passing down the things I learned from my father, who learned it from his father, a reaching back to past generations.

How long did it take to write?

It took me about a year to write, but generations worth of wisdom I feel fortunate enough to get to pass on to others.

Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?

That the simple things in life truly are the best and most precious and that we all can live a made-from-scratch life, one step at a time.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I believe in putting God first, followed by family. The relationships and memories we make with people are what will stand the test of time. I believe there’s value in hard work and a job well done, a satisfaction that’s good for the soul and meant to be shared with others. And I believe everything just looks better in a Mason jar, from the food I eat, to my skin care, and a bouquet of wild flowers from the yard.

As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?

I think that’s where I differ from a lot of preparedness/survival people. Our self-sufficiency is a way of life, we raise all of our own meat and we eat from our food storage and we’ve been seed saving in my family for generations. When hours get cut at work or an unexpected bill or storm comes up, we know we’ve got food in the pantry, because winter is not just the months on a calendar. At the same time, if a friend or someone needs help, we can step up to do so. My dad lived through the Great Depression and hard financial times, when what you ate was what you’d put up, but it didn’t create stingy people. It created people who lend a hand to help out a neighbor.

While we are prepared in the sense of having skill sets, knowledge, and food storage, the most important preparedness plan or aspect we have is our faith in Jesus. The fact is, we’re all going to die, you can’t escape that, but I know where I’m going when I die, and to me, that is the most important preparedness plan anyone can have. Like I said, I’m probably not you’re normal prepper or survivalist, I believe in having those things put in place, but I’m at peace with my faith first.

What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?

My first prep—step would be getting up a small food storage stocked with basic items. Having a well stocked pantry and learning how to cook from it will serve you in so many aspects, one it’s more frugal, two it’s more healthy because if you’re cooking from basics you’re not using a bunch of processed convenience items, three even if nothing does ever happen, you’re money and time investment won’t go to waste, because you’ll be using it in your everyday life.

What movie do you think gives the best portrayal of what could happen?

Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of doomsday movies, instead, I much prefer to read history and non-fiction accounts of people who have gone through survival situations. I’m actually reading the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series to my daughter and there’s a lot of surprising valuable information on survival in those pages, even though they’re meant for children.

Do you have plans for another book?

Yes, I’m actually at work on the second book right now, tentatively titled the Modern Women’s (or Guy’s) Guide to Old-Fashioned Living, which build upon a lot of the elements in the first book, from herbal medicine, to growing your own medicine cabinet, and of course, lots of old-fashioned from scratch cooking recipes!

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

That I’m incredibly grateful to share the wisdom I’ve been fortunate enough to learn and glean and to pass it on to other’s in hopes that it will help them in the ways it’s helped me and my family.

The Giveaway

Melissa has reserved three copies of her book in this newest Book Festival Giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific Tuesday with the winners notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winners must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

Note: Due to customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.

The Final Word

Getting back to the fifties, did you know that it was during that period that Swanson introduced TV dinners, Cheez Whiz hit the market, and Sweet ‘n Low promised to keep us slim and trim? Guess what? On a whole,we are less healthy and fatter than ever.

Of course, the 50s was also the era of rock and roll, Elvis, the civil rights movement, and the migration to suburbia. Alas, that is a topic for another time.

I don’t know about you, but having lived through all of that, and beyond, I yearn to live a simpler life. The Made From Scratch Life book is a welcome addition to my preparedness bookshelf.

For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival #13: Books to Help You Prepare.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider following our Facebook page.

Spotlight: Made From Scratch Life

Do you long for simpler days? Do you wish you had the time to offer your family home-grown meals? Does your heart cry for a quiet place in this fast-paced world?

Blogger and homesteader Melissa K. Norris inspires with practical and easy methods to help you cook from scratch, garden, preserve your own food, and see God’s fingerprints in your everyday busy life. You’ll learn how to

  • Plan, plant, and harvest for eating and preserving
  • Troubleshoot common gardening problems with natural solutions
  • Improve your family’s health with natural cooking and cleaning methods

Whether you live in the middle of the asphalt jungle or on the side of a mountain, you can experience the pioneer lifestyle and start your own homesteading journey. Because when you surround yourself with things made from the hand of God, you can’t help but see Him.

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A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.

Survival Medicine Handbook 2016

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87 Responses to “Prepper Book Festival 13: The Made From Scratch Life”

  1. The simplest DIY I use is using lemon essential oil to remove labels & sticky stuff instead of something like Goo Gone. Works better, smells better, and is better for you to be around.

  2. It’s been years since my wife and I have made anything from scratch. A book like this will help us get back into that way of life.

  3. Firstly, open any cupboard or closet in my house and you will find mason jars filled with any variety of things! Hubby says I single handedly keep the industry in business! Here is my tip…of course we all keep our dried beans in mason jars, but I also keep a mixture to make refried beans so that I can make it from scratch without the fat and chemicals that come from the canned products. I sort and wash dried pinto or red beans. When dry, I grind them ( same way you do your wheat), and add a mixture of dried chilies, cumin and chili powder. This stays shelf ready for more than a year. I take out the desired amount, add twice the water to beans and simmer 15-20 min. Wallah! Healthy, from scratch ” refried” beans!

  4. We use a lot of rice. Whenever we make rice, we make a large batch and freeze the extra in ziplock bags. Then when we need rice, we can quickly thaw the quantity we need without having to cook it first. This is handy because brown rice can take 45 minutes to an hour to cook.

  5. I like to use essential oils in my cleaning products. Usually, distilled water, a bit of Dr. Bronner’s soap and a few drops of oil go a long way!

  6. I LOVE this book! I’ve be following Melissa for quite some time now. I preordered the book ASAP when the notice was up that we could. I have not regretted it at all. I have dividers in it for quick access, hi lighted and made notes throughout. Not only is it a good resource, but I enjoy the stories and testimonies she shares throughout the book. I will be purchasing her next book without hesitation.

    • Her faith is what drew me to her in the first place. She’s bold, and I love it. Too many are afraid to live their faith out loud in the ‘prepping’ community. I don’t consider anyone LIVING a homesteading life as a prepper though.

  7. We make alot of things by scratch. Laundry soap, dishwasher soap, things like taco seasoning, onion soup mix for cooking, etc. The list is too long to post here!

  8. Great ideas and information. Lots of stuff to learn from our grandfolks and from earlier generations gone by.. and it’s kind of fun to spend time making things
    and creating something useful.

  9. I started collectng neccessary books in my teens, not knowing they’d be so handy for the times we’re living in now & yet to come. The Foxfire books, electrical, plumbing, my girl scout book, floors, fences, of course cookbooks ( now I have my grandmother’s), and many more how-to(s). I learn best by doing repairs, cooking, sewing, or anything else with a book at hand. Usually, I do most things wrong the first time and have to redo, but this has also helped me to do it correctly thereafter. I could say I’ve learned best by my mistakes. My dad always said ” If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all.” He was THE master at whatever he decided to delve into, and was the go-to for my town’s folk (he was even the lead on building our school by hand, and made my wedding dress, with the state paper publishing an article about it).

    I prefer nonfiction, historical, biographical, and how-to, with a rare nonfiction thrown in, and everyone of them are ratty; written in, marked, highlighted, dogearred, spilled on, spines broken. Living on a fixed income now, I have to budget carefully toward a new month. I hope to add Melissa’s book to my stack of well used books soon. It’d be nice to wear her book out too.

    Gaye, even though you’re moving away, I’ll still consider you one of my Washington gals. Yall Be Blessed and Be Safe.

  10. My tip is to use old sheets torn into strips to tie up your tomato plants. They are wider and do not damage the vines.

  11. I do most of the cooking in my house, and my wife and I love biscuits, so when I make a batch, I make it a big one and freeze many before baking to just plop in the oven the next time we want them.

  12. I freeze leftover fruit bits – tops of strawberries, orange peels, etc – in ice cubes. Whenever my garbage disposal needs a freshening, I grab a couple and toss them in. The cubes help clear any junk buildup around the blades and the peels tend to any smells.

  13. I love to make things from scratch. I really love having my own mixes like for Ranch dressing, Taco seasoning. I really love to make Gifts from the dry seasonings for family and friends. Its also a way to show children where they come from. I let them make them so they are using measuring spoons and cups and learning about different spices and the various ways they appear. IE Dried, Fresh, crumbled, crushed.

  14. Wouldn’t it be something if Melissa and Tammy started doing seminars for women (and, maybe…men!) in the churches?! Getting people started in these skills and mindset, I mean.

  15. I meant Melissa and Gaye. But I’m also connect with Tammy Trayer, so, that’s where “Tammy” came from. Hey, why not all three?!!!

  16. I like making two things. A concoction of honey, thinly sliced lemon, and shredded fresh ginger that I use for colds, sore throats and coughs (kept in the refrigerator). The other is a “thieves” vinegar infused with rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and organic orange peel. I can use it as a salad dressing ingredient, a health “tonic” during cold season, and in a pinch – a disinfectant. Both are “easy peasy” to make and very effective in their uses.

  17. I got my 15 acre Farm and it is perfect for me to relax and fish in the pond and then, Work – Work – Work! Your website is the best!

    Cheers! RM Sutphen

  18. I make most meals from scratch and either just make it up or follow a recipe (if its new to me). My tip is to plan the week’s menu items with simplicity and flexibility in mind. One of my favorite recipes: Grilled broccoli salad – 1 large stalk broccoli trimmed to bite size. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 1 small red onion, cut in half, rub with olive oil. Place broccoli on a foil lined pan and place on grill. Put onion on grill. Keep an eye on both and stir/turn as needed. When both are done, chop onion and put onion and broccoli in a bowl. Add about 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved. Toss with 2-3 tbsp rice vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional).

  19. Unfortunately my wife and I do not cook from scratch however we both realize this is a big problem and we need to learn how to do so. This book would be of great assistance.

  20. We try to cook from scratch most days. One of my kids favorite meals when they were growing up is something my mother called Slumgullion. We cook up some ground beef,drain the grease add a couple of cans of minestrone soup and a little bit of elbow or small shell pasta and a bit of water to a pot. Simmer over med-low heat till all the noodles are tender, serve with shredded cheese and sour cream on top in a bowl. It’s one of the meals I believe my mom had when she was growing up in the Depression, my grandmother would make.

  21. The closest I can come to a “made from scratch” recipe entails killing, processing, and eating the game and fish that I go after whenever I can. I love hunting elk, deer, rabbit, quail and dove and fishing for trout especially is something I really enjoy. Wild game is low in fat and very nutritious, certainly a lot better than the processed meat in the grocery stores.

  22. Cooking from scratch takes quite a bit more space than the “convenience” way of cooking. I live in an RV and every inch has to pay its way. It’s amazing how many different things you can make from the basics! I am really enjoying the homemade journey. Thanks for all you do, Gaye!

  23. I was born and brought up in a poor family in a communist country. My parents did pretty much everything from scratch. We could not afford to buy fancy products, and, to be very honest, in a communist country the offer was not very ‘fancy’either.
    I learned from my father how to repair things around the house, build, cut and prepare pork, chicken, lamb and what to make from the last piece of meat, skin or bone. I learned the ‘secrets’ of the kitchen from both my parents, sewing, knitting, tailoring from my mother. I even know how to make carpets.
    We make bread in house – I have a recipe that gives you a wonderful bread without effort and without modern gizmos, in a very short time.
    However, I will always be happy to learn new things.
    So… looking forward to read a copy of the book.

  24. My mother taught us all how to cook and the vakue of freah food, I did not encouter reday made foods until I was in college. I prefer made from scratch. AN taught my son to cook, just as my other did.

    • My mother bless her did not like to cook but the only convenience food in her cupboard was canned peas for once a month tuna casserole.We always ate all the peas fresh off the vine before they could ever get into a jar. we made all cakes and desserts from scratch as well 100s of jars of green beans and tomatoes . and my mother grew broccoli before any one else did. My friend and I are so thankful we grew up with hard working mothers who taught us many of the old ways.

  25. I have always done a lot of from scratch, because that’s the way I was raised. I’m old enough to have been raised in the era convenience foods were popularized. My folks used some, but with six kids a little income, many foods were scratch made! My grandmother was a great cook, mom was so-so, I have learned to be one out of necessity between kids and income. I’ve been really interested in these kind of books and learning more about it.

  26. I remember helping my grandmother make homemade rootbeer from sassafras root when I was little. She’s 100 now & I must get that recipe from her! It was so good! Excited for this new recipe book. Thanks for the fun giveaway!

  27. The main things that I cook from scratch these days are casseroles and crockpot meals. I had a great homemade wheat roll recipe but I’ve misplaced it. 🙁

  28. We make our own laundry soap by mixing one box of borax, one box of washing soda, one large box of baking soda and grating in 3 bars of fels naptha soap. It’s usually best to mix this outside so the powder doesn’t choke you. I mix up a bunch and put in recycled coconut oil jars and use 1 to 2 tbsp per load. Cheap to put together and goes a long ways.

  29. I love the pleasure of being more self sufficient and making things from scratch the way I was raised.Perhaps a little more time consuming in some ways but I love knowing what I am using, cooking and giving with love to my family and friends.
    Really enjoy all of your posts and the info I have received from you and the links provided. Thank you!

  30. Not sure how healthy this is, but we make homemade applesauce using locally grown apples (purchased by the bushel seconds or worse quality.) We add sugar to sweeten it, and one batch will get cinnamon while the other is left plain. The fun part is we can cook it down further to make apple butter, then we take some of the apple butter and put it in the dehydrator (using silicone or bamboo sheets) to create apple leather. Much healthier than store bought fruit rollups (is there actually fruit in those things?), but still pretty sweet for anyone watching their sugar intake…maybe we’ll try a batch of applesauce with no sweetener and see how that goes.

  31. One can never have too much knowledge when it comes to old-time, common sense skills! Would appreciate adding this to my collection

  32. I don’t have a recipe tip but I will say if you have someone like your mother, grandmother, aunt (or even male members of you family) still in your life that make things from scratch learn all you can from them or maybe an elderly neighbor that grew up in a different era . Wish I had when I was younger and they were still around.

  33. Magic Cloths clean your windows with just warm water! They are truly Magic.

    Thank you very much for this giveaway! You are so generous!

  34. Cooking is the main thing that I do from scratch. I would love to have this great resource for living a more self-sufficient life. It is very refreshing to see that Melissa has her priorities straight.

  35. Always use fresh produce first. After that, keep a food inventory by the age of the item to use the oldest things first. Rotate, rotate, rotate!

  36. Soup: chop your veggies & saute in a little oil for a couple minutes. Add salt, pepper, and a little thyme. Cover with broth & simmer ’til tender. Add beans & leftover pasta if you have them. Delicious, nutritious, and cheap!

  37. To help with nausea, I made a mixture of about 1/4 cup olive oil with about 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract. When we have a stomach ache, dab it on pulse points and on a tissue to sniff as needed. I also use this to help combat migraines, using the same way.

  38. Just what I need right about now. With eating paleo due to allergies and sensitivities, we are on the path to cooking everything from scratch. Thank you.

  39. When I need a quick pick me up and I mean quick–few seconds, and don’t have time for a cup of coffee, I just open either my essential oil bottles of peppermint or eucalyptus (my smaller bottles) sniff with alternate nostrils, it perks me right up, like a burst of energy.

  40. Breakfast Hash:

    Several strips of bacon, cut into pieces and browned.
    2 cups of Southern style hashbrown potatoes, or potatoes cut into small chunks
    2 cups of frozen whole kernel corn
    6 eggs
    1 to 2 cups of shredded cheese
    Pepper to taste

    Brown and drain bacon. Add potatoes and corn, cover and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are just past crunchy. Break the eggs into the pan and stir thoroughly. Cook until the eggs are done, stirring regularly. Add the cheese. When the cheese starts to melt, stir continually until all cheese is melted.

    Serves two hungry folks. Can be topped with hot sauce, salsa or ketchup or just eaten without any extra toppings.

  41. The best made from scratch item is compost it’s no cost, easy to make, really hard to screw it up and the benefit is tremendous.

  42. It’s difficult for my daughter (29) to understand that spices are actually grown and that spice blends start as individual spices. For example, Pumpkin Pie Spice includes Cloves, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg. She has no understanding of the origin of Cinnamon. I wasn’t much better until a few years ago!

  43. One of the issues I have about cooking from scratch is keeping fresh food fresh for a longer period of time. I have found some of these tips to be helpful:


  44. My Aunt, who is 82 years old, has put up dozens of jars of tomatoes, green beans, etc. this summer for herself and her son, who is a survivalist of the first order. Their cellar has shelf after shelf of well-organized, colorful vegetables and other supplies which keep them independent and healthy. They live in rural Northern New York where the weather can be unpredictable and dangerous for travel and their efforts provide them security.

  45. rather than get whatever the latest kitchen gadget is, invest in good quality knives, a sharpener, and a large wooden cutting board.

  46. I have pretty much always cooked from scratch like my mom and my grandmother. Even tho I worked outside the home and still do when my kids were at home I used Sunday for cooking meals for the week so that dinner could be served at a reasonable hour. Even tho I grew up in a family that canned food from the garden, my hand in it was working in the garden and helping prep for canning since the pressure cooker rattled and shook and us kids were shooed out of the kitchen in case it blew. Bought a big pressure cooker this year and realized that I don’t really know how to can anything. Did the author of this book happen to write one with instructions on canning?

    • Mick,
      There’s canning recipes in here and instructions. I’ve also got quite a few on my website //

      I’ve also got a free video series that shows how to use the pressure canner and covers canning safety here with 3 other self-sufficiency videos that you might find helpful //

  47. Hope I win this book, but if not I think I will buy it anyway… looks like something I would enjoy reading and using Melissa’s tips and tricks.

  48. Got the book a couple of days ago and immediately read through several chapters. It’s a keeper in my library!

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