Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

When I think of the New Year, I first think of new beginnings and new goals or resolutions. I don’t usually make a lot of New Year’s Resolutions because it is too depressing when I break them. I do however, like to choose some things – I refer to them as New Year’s Projects – that I want to complete during the year. This way, it is easier because it isn’t something I have to do every day or else I’ve broken my resolution and will never start it again.

This year I decided to choose some preparedness projects that I want to work on during the year. Some things I may have been putting off or just not really thought about doing. I’ve made a list of 10 “projects” I want to complete in 2011 – maybe if I get these done I’ll even add more. (To be honest, I think I have already added more.)

I chose a couple of tough ones – things that are tough for me or that I easily procrastinate. Hopefully I’ll get involved in them this year and wonder why I ever put them off. One of the big projects I finished in 2010 was to organize all my food storage information into one place. It turned out being 3 binders but I love knowing where to find things I have saved for years and never really had a place for.

In my blog this year I’ll be talking more – lots more – about the importance of organization in food storage. There are many different ways to organize but I’ll write some of what has worked for me. I hope that everyone will choose some preparedness projects they want to work on this year. I’d love to hear what you are working on in your preparedness or food storage. I love to hear ideas and suggestions. Also if you have anything specific that you’d like information on I’ll see if I can find it for you. Feel free to leave a message or email me at for any comments or questions you might have. I’d also like to hear what your goals for this year are. Please feel free to share. It is always more fun to work together on any project you are working on.

I will also be redoing my 72 hour kit. If you don’t have one yet or it is out dated, work along with me to get yours put together this year, one step at a time.

We will take an in depth look at some of the food storage suppliers, their products and what sets them apart from their competitors.

One thing I really need to work on is my first aid kits. I have one or two, they either are not fully stocked, or have had things removed and used and not replaced. They are not very strategically placed; need to fix that. How are your first aid kits? Do you have one in your car and in your home and some small ones in your 72-hour kits? We’ll work on that this year.

2011 Preparedness Projects
1) Re-evaluate 72 hour kits
2) Update food storage lists – what I have and what I need
3) Reorganize new food storage recipes and basic food storage information
4) Try at least three new sprouts and use them this year
5) Choose one new item not yet in my food storage and learn how to use it
6) Update water Storage methods
7) Construct some rotating can shelves
8) Try making and using wheat meat this year
9) Try at least one new gardening technique this year
10) Choose some new recipes for my short term food storage and gather ingredients.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to Business

I’ve had a nice little vacation from food storage and preparedness activities but it is time to get back to business. I actually have been doing some preparedness things in the last few days. I have been cleaning cupboards (to make room for new kitchen gadgets) and trying to make an organized place for the foods I’ve dried this year and am now trying to rotate into my daily food preparation. I want them to be easily accessible so I am not tempted to substitute prepared foods instead. I think that organization is the hardest part of the actual food storage thing for me. More about that later.

I enjoy reading other people’s experiences and view about food storage and emergency preparedness. I learn a lot that way and found an article I’d like to share with you today. This article is from Emergency Essentials a preparedness distributor headquartered in Utah. After reading it I was ready to get going again on my preparedness.

The Wisdom of Food Storage

America is the land of plenty; a place of security and shelter for its citizens. Would we ever really need to use food storage here? Research has shown that the average American household has less than a week’s supply of food on hand. This is also the case with the average American supermarket. Without being paranoid or panicked, there are many valid reasons to put extra food away. We are all vulnerable to events beyond our control. But most situations are probably closer to home: loss of power, unexpected or unplanned interruptions of life such as unemployment, loss of income due to illness or injury, or high medical bills due to an accident. Food storage is a form of insurance protecting your family from the unexpected. It is a wise investment for anyone.

Food storage becomes a wise investment when you practice storing what you use and using what you store. Making food storage a life-style rather than a make-do will help you maintain your investment. Food storage that matches your family’s lifestyle is food that more likely will be used. Using and rotating your Freeze Dried Foods and Dehydrated & Dry Foods on a regular basis maintains the original investment and prevents it from being wasted.

It is recommended to always start your food storage program by storing the basics. Grains, legumes, dehydrated milk, sugar, salt, oil, and garden seeds have come to be known as the "basics." Do not underestimate the power these foods have, as they have been shown throughout history to sustain life. It is important to know how to prepare and use the basics, especially ways that your family will enjoy. If you are familiar with the food you have stored, you will be better prepared to use it during times of emergency.

If a person has a year supply of wheat on hand it would be an additional 1374 calories per day. If a person had a complete year supply of basics it would add 2000 calories a day more. It is easy to see the value of storing basics and the variety of fruits, vegetables, and mixes as found in our prepackaged year supply units.

Having your food storage can help you have a greater degree of confidence and security. It is important to do your best to prepare your family to be able to eat no matter what happens to the national economy or your job in particular. This confidence in times of crisis can be a most precious commodity. An adequate food supply for your family is a major part of economic security, and possibly the key to survival.

Food storage helps you become self-reliant as in the case of the first three days of an emergency or providing for your family when you lose your employment. With food storage you are better prepared to endure times of adversity without becoming dependent upon the government. Your family’s way of life may be preserved with proper preparation. Self-reliance is often contingent upon a willingness to work. Work can become a source of happiness, and self-esteem, as well as prosperity. Storing, using and knowing how to produce and prepare food and other items that are essential for life create security and stability for you and your family. If a disaster does occur, and you were forced to temporarily change your normal life style, you could do so with minimum discomfort.

Some people are apathetic about preparedness, often because they aren’t sure what to do or where to begin. They may become overwhelmed at the prospect of a crisis and the responsibility of self-reliance and become discouraged before they begin. Others are frustrated by contradictory advice, not sure whose ideas to follow. Still others do nothing, figuring that if trouble comes, an emergency disaster organization will rush to their rescue. A common misconception that can be refuted is that the government will immediately come to the rescue. When a large population is relying solely upon any organization, it is virtually impossible to provide for specific or individual needs of everyone. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises, "If a disaster threatens your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you. But you need to be prepared as well. Local officials may be overwhelmed after a major disaster, and emergency response personnel may not be able to reach you right away, or depending on the scope of the emergency, at all. What you do to prepare can make a difference."

Preparedness is everyone's job. Not just government agencies, but every individual citizen--should plan ahead for disasters. One woman recently remarked, “I have a half a loaf of bread, a can of green beans, half a gallon of milk and part of a box of cereal in my house. If there is an emergency, the government or my church will come to my aid and I’ll be fine.” What a narrow-minded and ridiculous way of thinking. Aside from the fact that this woman takes no responsibility for her own safety and security, is the fact that the government or a church is not obligated to provide for anyone, even if they could. Being prepared for the unexpected is wise. It provides confidence knowing your family is better prepared to be safe and secure. Families who are prepared can reduce fear, inconvenience, and losses that surround a family crisis or a natural disaster.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving the gift of Preparedness

Here are some ideas for food storage or preparedness gifts from under $5 to $50. I bet you can think of many more. If you have a favorite preparedness gift you like to give, or one that you have gotten, post it in the comments.

Preparedness Christmas gift Ideas:

$5 or under
3 ring Preparedness binder with home and food storage information papers or recipes inside and emergency essentials booklet
5 gallon water jug
100 hour emergency candle
A year’s supply of Salt ( 8lbs. per person per year)
Burn cream
Basic car first aid kit
Emergency poncho or sleeping bag
24 pack water & 1 gallon bleach
Hand warmers
Light sticks
Water proof matches

$6 - $10
Tri-fold shovel for car
Portable toilet lid (fits 5 gallon bucket
Flashlight and extra batteries
First Aid kit
Polar fleece blanket for car (or buy fleece & make it)
Dry bean soup mix
Folding saw
Sewing kit (small portable)
24 pack TP
Extra Batteries

Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Bucket Car Kit (Band-Aids’, emergency blanket, food, flashlight, gloves
Flashlight and radio (hand crank)
Fire extinguisher
Respirator masks
Portable Toilet lid & kit
Year supply of Band-Aids
6 #10 cans of oats
Rechargeable lantern (plug in with batteries)
Year supply of toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste

$21- $30
45 lb. bucket of oats
Food storage starter kit
15 gallon water jug
45lb. bucket of wheat
Portable butane stove
NOAA Radio with batteries
Sleeping bag
Fireproof/waterproof briefcase to store important documents
Solar battery charger
Sanitation kit – port-a-potty lid & bucket to store, TP hand sanitizer, bags shower curtain, rope, cat litter
Year supply of pasta 6 #10 cans pasta

Tent – sleeps 4
Food storage starter kit
Large first aid kit with case
Steam canner
Walter filter
Dutch oven
Propane stove
Foldable ladders for 2nd story fire escape
Extra propane tank for BBQ or portable indoor heater
Laundry gift Tub – clothes line, clothe pins, laundry soap and wash board.

Note: Any food storage items you know they like will be appreciated. More ideas:

Give a years supply of salt with a year’s supply of popcorn and your favorite popcorn recipes.

Everyone can always use storage canisters. Give a canister or two filled with different kinds of pasta, rice or beans with some of your favorite recipes.

Honey is a great gift. Give any size container of honey with the recipe for honey taffy, honey popcorn or honey cookies; or include a jar of homemade honey butter.

Give a can of oats with a plate of homemade oatmeal cookies.

Give each member of the family their own emergency flashlight.

Give a jar of homemade jam or syrup and a bucket of wheat with your favorite bread or pancake recipe.

Give a cute Christmas towel with a year’s supply of hand soap or dishwashing liquid.

Homemade hot chocolate mix is the best! Include some mugs and the recipe for homemade marshmallows.

Warm gloves or mittens, scarves or stocking caps for each member of the family will be appreciated.

Candles and matches are a great gift. Lanterns and a bottle of lamp oil make an excellent preparedness gift.

Personalize the gifts you give to the likes and tastes of those you are giving to and any food storage gift will be appreciated. It may not seem like a very exciting gift to you, the giver, but to someone who is trying to prepare it just might be their favorite gift.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Storing Fats and Oils

One thing that is important to store, is fats and oils. However, it is tricky. I want to present a little information about storing and using these important items.

FATS AND OILS ARE NECESSARY The importance of storing fats and oils should be emphasized because fat contains nine calories per gram compared to the four calories contained by either carbohydrates or protein. This makes fat a valuable source of concentrated calories that could be of real importance if faced with a diet consisting largely of unrefined grains and legumes. For small children, infants and the elderly, they may not be able to consume the volume of food that would be necessary in the course of a day to get all of the calories they would need to avoid weight loss and possible malnutrition.

Fats play an important role in our perception of taste and texture and their absence would make many foods more difficult to prepare and consume. Also, a small amount of dietary fat is necessary for our bodies to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins like A,D,E & K.

THE PROBLEM There is a problem with storing oils and fats for the long term and that is because they go rancid rather quickly. Rancid fats have been blamed in increased rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis and are carcinogenic (cancer causing) so we want to avoid them if possible.

Because of this difficulty in storing fats and oils for any long period of time many books and articles on the subject of food storage make only passing mention of them, or they say nothing at all.

Long term storage of fats may be hard, but it is not impossible. There are some general rules you can follow to get the most life out of your stored cooking oils and fats. Exposure to oxygen, light and heat are the greatest factors causing fats to go rancid.

Unless they have been specially treated, *unopened* cooking oils have a shelf life of about a year, depending upon the above conditions. Some specialty oils such as sesame and flax seed have even shorter usable lives.

THE SOLUTIONS If possible, refrigerate your stored oil, particularly after it's been opened. Try to buy oils in opaque, airtight containers. If you purchase it in plastic, particularly clear plastic, transfer it to a gas impermeable glass or metal container that can be sealed airtight. If you have a means of doing so, vacuum sealing the storage container is an excellent idea as it removes most of the air remaining inside, taking much of the oxygen with it. Transparent glass and plastic containers should be stored in the dark, such as in a box.

Regardless of the storage container, it should be stored at as cool a temperature as possible and rotated as fast as is practical. Oils and fats with preservatives added by the manufacturer will have a greater shelf life than those without them, provided they are fresh when purchased.

If you don't use a great deal of it, try not to buy your fats in large containers. This way you won't be exposing a large quantity to the air after you've opened it, to grow old and possibly rancid, before you can use it all up. Once opened, it is an excellent idea to refrigerate cooking fats. If it turns cloudy or solid, the fat is still perfectly usable and will return to its normal liquid, clear state after it has warmed to room temperature. Left at room temperatures, opened bottles of cooking oils can begin to rancid in anywhere from a week to a couple of months, though it may take several more months to reach such a point of rancidity that it can be smelled.

Darker colored oils have more flavor than paler colored; the agents that contribute to that flavor and color also contribute to faster rancidity. For maximum shelf life buy paler colored oils.

If you want to look into the process of adding your own preservatives to your stored oils, here is a site that presents more information and tells you how to add antioxidants to your oils to store them longer.

THE BEST SOLUTION If you have no particular problem with using it, the culinary fat with the most shelf life as it comes from the store is hydrogenated shortening in its unopened metal or metal lined can. The brand most familiar in the U.S. is probably Crisco (tm), but there are many others. Solid shortening is usually composed of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, but there are some that also contain animal fats. Some brands will also contain anti-oxidant preservatives as well. All other conditions being equal, those with preservatives will have a longer shelf life than those without. It is not possible to say for sure, but it is reasonable to expect an unopened metal can of shortening to have a shelf life of eight to ten years if kept reasonably cool, especially if it has preservatives in it.

I have found that shortening in a cool, dry and dark place keeps a very long time. It would give us enough fats in our diets for our digestive systems to function properly.

ALTERNATIVES Another solution is to store Tuna packed in oil instead of water. Many people avoid this because first, they believe it is not as healthy and second, they're concerned about a shortened shelf life because of the oil. You will have to weigh your personal situation and decide which option is the best for you. I’ve had very good luck storing shortening for a long time. Oil, does go rancid fairly quickly and I used to always buy it in gallon containers but have found that it is safer and lasts longer to buy it in smaller containers when I’m not using it very quickly.

Also remember that other items you may wish to store, such as salad dressings and peanut butter also contain some oils and may also go rancid quickly if not stored properly.

This is a good time to emphasize the importance of a cool, dry and if possible, dark storage room or area for your long term storage items. Many things will store longer than you plan if kept in a cool dry place without constant exposure to light.

Using tortillas made with shortening is a good way to incorporate oil into your diets as well as being an easy and quick meal that can be filled with anything. Authentic Mexican tortillas are made with lard. If you want a truly authentic flavor, you should use lard, too. However, shortening works just fine making tortillas a great storage food.

Homemade Tortillas
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. shortening (or lard)
3/4 C. HOT water (as hot as you can handle it)
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then cut the shortening in with a pastry cutter or with 2 knives. The mixture should look crumbly. If it’s not crumbly, and more resembles flour, you need to add a bit more shortening. Add the hot water and mix with your hands or a fork. Press against the sides of the bowl to pick up all of the dough. If it’s sticking to the sides, you need to add a bit more flour. You should have a nice moist dough that can be formed into a ball. Form the dough into 18 balls, and then let them rest, covered with a damp kitchen towel, for an hour. Lightly flour your working surface, coat your rolling pin with flour, and roll out a dough ball until paper thin. It need not be perfectly round. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, and place the tortilla in the pan. Let it cook until it starts to bubble up, about a minute, then flip it over. Let it cook another minute or so, and place it in between two kitchen towels. Continue process with the remaining balls of dough, and stack them all in between the two towels. Store them in a large Ziploc bag in the fridge to keep them soft. If they do get a bit hard, all it takes is a few seconds in the microwave or in a hot pan on the stove to make them soft and pliable again.

For food storage friendly fillings try any combination of the following fillings: beef TVP, black beans, chili, sprouts, fresh or canned tomatoes or peppers. Try canned chicken mixed with barbecue sauce and topped with sprouts or your favorite beans. Any fresh vegetables, sautéed until tender can be topped with your favorite sauce or seasoning and wrapped in a tortilla. Even pie fillings or thickened fruit can be wrapped or rolled in a tortilla, baked or fried and glazed for a fun dessert alternative.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Old-Fashioned Christmas Candy

When my father was 9 years old, his parents divorced and a few years later, he went to live with an uncle. Actually he lived in an old shed or barn that had a cot and an old stove to keep him warm (I’m using the word “warm” very lightly here). He had a pretty rough growing-up time. However, he would sometimes babysit his cousins and he would make homemade candy as a treat for them. He became very proficient at making fudge, caramels, taffy and other treats. They always looked forward to having him make candy for them and talk about it still today.

As a little girl growing up on the farm, we traveled to town no more than once a week to get groceries. We had milk cows and sometimes chickens; we grew potatoes, hay and wheat, raised beef cattle and had a large vegetable garden as well as a few fruit trees. We had our own milk, eggs and cream, meat, potatoes, vegetables and fruit. We seldom bought bread, cookies or any treats that weren’t homemade. It was an awesome life. We didn’t really have to depend on anyone else for our living. We never wanted for anything, though by today’s standards we didn’t have much.

One of my most fond memories was of my dad making fudge. Not the new mix-it-up-pour-it-in-the-pan-and-you’re-done kind of fudge but old fashioned cook-it-and-beat-it-till-your-arm-feels-like-it-will-fall-off kind of fudge. It was so good. I remember as a little girl, standing and watching him beat and beat the fudge and watching (not always patiently) for it to turn, then waiting for it to set up so we could cut it. We always got to lick the spoon and the pan though and there was nothing better.

As I was making a list of goodies I want to make and share with friends and neighbors this year, I began reflecting on the good times and all the good food (homemade) we had growing up and all the memories it left me with. These memories are the things that really last a lifetime. I don’t remember many gifts I got for Christmas, but I remember making fudge and other candy to give away, singing around the piano, playing games and just the time we spent together.

I started going through my old recipe box looking for recipes for what I call the “Old Fashioned Christmas Candies” and thinking about all the memories they left behind. I’m sharing those here today. If you’ve never pulled taffy with your kids or let them help you make tootsie rolls, or lick the beaters and spoons when you make divinity, you’ll find it’s worth all the mess and extra time to do it. Who knows what they’ll remember when you’re gone!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge
3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. toasted chopped walnuts* (optional)
In a heavy 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking, not stirring, until mixture reaches 235° on a candy thermometer, or until it reaches soft ball stage**. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Let stand to cool for about 1 hour, until mixture comes to room temperature. With a wooden spoon, beat until fudge thickens and loses its gloss. Stir in toasted walnuts and spoon into a buttered 8-inch square pan. Cool completely then cut into 1” squares. Makes about 64 pieces. *To toast nuts, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350° oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Or, toast in an ungreased skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown and aromatic. **To Test for Soft Ball Stage: A small amount of syrup dropped into chilled water forms a ball, but is soft enough to flatten when picked up with fingers (234° to 240°).

2 ½ c. sugar
½ c. light Karo
½ c. water
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
Beat egg whites. Cook sugar, Karo and water to soft ball stage (234º) stirring ONLY until sugar dissolves. Add 1/3 of the syrup to stiff beaten whites beating at high speed while adding. Cook remaining syrup to hard ball stage (248º). Slow add to egg white mixture. Add vanilla, and mix in then beat by hand about 5 minutes or till candy holds its shape. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. If desired, add ½ c. nuts before dropping. Y: about 50

Grandma’s Mexican Fudge
3 c. sugar
1 c. milk
Pinch salt
½ cube butter
¼ c. water
1 c. nuts
Grated peel from ½ orange
Caramelize 1 c. sugar in heavy skillet. Thin and dissolve in 1 c. milk and ¼ c. water. Add remaining sugar and cook to softball stage. (240º) Add rest of ingredients. Do not stir. Cool to lukewarm (130º) and beat till creamy. Nuts may be added at the last minute.

Old Fashioned Caramels
4 1/4 c. granulated sugar
6 c. (3 pints) light cream, divided
2 1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with lightly buttered aluminum foil. Set aside. Combine sugar and 2 c. (1 pint) of the cream in a large, heavy cooking pot and cook over medium low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, cover with a lid briefly to get any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan, or wash down sides of pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the corn syrup and cook to the soft ball stage (240°) or until a small amount dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water. Add another 2 c. of cream; continue to cook and stir until the soft ball stage is reached again. Add remaining 2 c. cream; cook and stir until the soft ball stage is reached again. (Each cooking stage takes about 20 to 25 minutes and can burn easily, so keep stirring). Remove from heat and add the vanilla and pecans (if desired). Pour into prepared pan. Cool completely. Invert pan; peel off foil and cut into 1” pieces. Wrap pieces individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store in covered container at room temperature. Makes about 9 dozen pieces.

Butterscotch Patties
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
3 T. light Karo
3 T. heavy cream
¼ c. water
¼ c. butter
¼ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Thoroughly combine sugars, Karo, cream and water. Cook, stirring till sugars dissolve to very hard ball stage (260º). Add butter and cook to light crack stage (270º). Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla. Drop from teaspoon to greased pan. Y: 18 -1” disks. Cool.

Chocolate Orange Sticks
1 pkg. powdered fruit pectin
½ t. soda
¾ c. cold water
1 c. light Karo
1 c. sugar
2 t. orange extract
Orange food coloring
Mix pectin, water and soda in medium saucepan until foamy. Stir sugar and Karo till well blended in large saucepan. Put both saucepans over high heat and cook, stirring alternately till the foam is gone from pectin and sugar mixture boils rapidly for about 5 minutes. Pour pectin into boiling sugar mixture in a thin stream stirring constantly for 1 minute longer. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in extract and coloring. Pour mixture immediately into buttered pan and let cool for about 8 hours or until candy cools. Cut candy into strips with a knife dipped in warm water. Dip in chocolate. For Gumdrops: omit orange flavoring and add ½ t. oil of cinnamon or cherry or any other desired flavor. Cut into ¾” squares and roll in granulated sugar.

Tootsie Rolls
1 c. honey
½ c. chocolate powder (like Nestlé’s quick)
1 c. instant powdered milk
1 t. vanilla
Cook honey to hard ball stage (255º) Remove from heat; stir in chocolate and vanilla, then add powdered milk and blend well. Pour onto greased cookie sheet until cool enough to handle. Form into balls and roll into a rope the size of a pencil. Cut into bite sized pieces and wrap in waxed paper.

Vinegar Taffy
3 c. sugar
½ c. white vinegar
2 T. butter
½ c. water
Boil till mixture turns brittle when dropped into a cup of cold water. Pour onto buttered platter. Cool and add 1 t. vanilla (white) and pull when cool enough to handle

Honey Taffy
2 c. honey
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. water
Boil to hard crack stage. Add ½ t. salt, and then remove from heat. Pour onto buttered pan. When cool enough to handle, stretch with buttered hands.

Jell-O Popcorn Balls
1 small pkg. jell-o
½ c. sugar
1 c. Karo syrup
Bring sugar & syrup to a boil. Set off heat & stir in Jell-o. Pour over warm popcorn. Covers about a gallon of popped corn.

Peanut Brittle
3 c. sugar
1 ½ c. Karo syrup
1 c. water
1 lb. raw peanuts
2 T. butter
½ t. salt
1 t. soda
1 t. vanilla
Cook sugar, Karo and water together till 232º. Stir in peanuts and cook to 312º. Remove from heat and put in butter and stir till it melts. Mix salt and soda. Add immediately with vanilla to hot mixture. Pour onto greased cookie sheet. Run a knife under it and flip it over once so peanuts aren’t on top of mixture.

Puffed Wheat Balls
12 c. puffed wheat cereal
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. corn syrup
2 T. butter or margarine
1 c. evaporated milk
1/3 c. sugar
Place cereal in large bowl and set aside. In heavy saucepan, bring brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Add butter. Combine evaporated milk and sugar and add to boiling mixture and continue cooking until a soft ball forms when liquid is dropped in cold water (240º on candy thermometer.) Pour over cereal and stir to coat. Shape into 2” palls. Y: about 3 dozen.

Marshmallow Rice Puffs (Easy)
6 c. Rice puffs
50 large or 5 c. mini marshmallows
1 square butter or margarine
1 t. vanilla
Melt butter and marshmallows. Add rice puffs and let set.

Soak 2 T. Knox gelatin in ¾ c. cold water for 5 minutes. Then set over a pan of hot water to dissolve thoroughly. Boil together 2 c. sugar and ¾ c. boiling water, till it spins a thread. Pour sugar mixture over 2 beaten eggs whites beating rapidly as you pour. Beat with mixer and add 1 T. vanilla and few drops food coloring if desired. When it begins to thicken like divinity, add dissolved gelatin and beat with mixer for 20 minutes. (Best to use a Mixmaster or Kitchen aid) Wet refrigerator trays with cold water and pour mixture into trays. Let stand in fridge for 10 minutes or till firm. Cut into squares and roll in chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, coconut or dip in chocolate.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flax Seed: A great food storage item

When I buy something that I think I really need these days, I think twice about whether I could use it in an emergency. That doesn’t mean I go without things I want or need but it means that I always think, “Would this be beneficial in an emergency?” Let me give you an example.

In trying to prepare the things I think my family might need in a time of crisis or with limited resources, I think about how I would do different things. I’ve been using a lot of whole grains lately, and experimenting with different ways of doing things. I read on several blogs how other people do things. One of the big things these days is a small coffee grinder for things like milling flax seed, spices, grains, nuts and etc. I dreamed of being able to walk right into a store and find a non-electric one. It didn’t happen. But with the gift certificate my daughter gave me for my birthday, I got a marble Mortar and Pestle. I love experimenting with it. I can grind up flax seed and all kinds of fun things.

Most grain grinders can't grind flax seed due to it's high oil content. It will gum them up. You can blend them in your blender, food processor, or use a coffee grinder. You may want to find a small grinder which you only use for flaxseed. Try adding flax seed to bread, pancakes, and muffins; it gives them a unique taste. Roasting flax seed and using in bread and granola is also good.

Try adding ground flax seed to homemade bread; it does come out nicer – lighter and moister. Grind just enough to last a couple weeks, and keep it in the refrigerator, along with the whole seeds since oil rich foods tend to go rancid if not refrigerated. Add it to all sorts of baked goods (muffins, cookies, etc.) If you use an excess of whole flax seeds, they may have a laxative effect on you since the seeds are rather sturdy little things to digest. Maybe you want that, maybe you don't. Good to be aware of it. Start with a little and experiment. It is a great addition to your diet to add a little variety. In reading about Flax Seed, I read what one lady said, “I have coronary issues, so I add about 1/4 -1/2 cup flax seed to many of my recipes. It is loaded with those wonderful omega 3's I need for a healthy heart!”

I’m fascinated with the many recipes I’ve found lately that call for flax seed as an egg substitute. Also many recipes using whole grains call for whole flax seed as an ingredient.

Flax seed is high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese, but there are three additional nutrient groups which flax seed has in abundance, and each has many benefits.

Flax Seed is Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids which are a key force against inflammation in our bodies. Mounting evidence shows that inflammation plays a part in many chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and even some cancers. This inflammation is enhanced by having too little Omega-3 intake. Flax seed can be a real help.

Flax Seed is High in Fiber: You can’t find a food higher in fiber - both soluble and insoluble - than flax. This fiber is probably mainly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects of flax. Fiber in the diet also helps stabilize blood sugar, and, of course, promotes proper functioning of the intestines.

Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances that tend to balance female hormones. There is evidence that lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent breast cancer. In addition, lignans may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.

However, flax seeds need to be ground to make the nutrients available (otherwise they just “pass through”) and the flax seed oil alone contains neither the fiber nor the phytochemicals of whole flax seed meal.

Flax seeds store well unless they are milled, then they need to be used up quickly. Because of the oil in flax seeds, they will go rancid quickly.

Flax seeds are found in many granolas, whole grain breads, crackers and cereals. You can throw some in a blender with a protein drink or a smoothie. Stir some into you yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit. Throw some into your pancake or muffin batter (you may need a little extra water) or use it when you make quick breads. Flax seed can be found in health stores or in your local grocery store by the oat bran and other "hot" cereals. If you buy it by the pound it is very inexpensive.

Storing powdered eggs is a good option for food storage but they can be a little pricey. Being able to substitute the inexpensive flaxseed is an inexpensive and healthy alternative. Because of the nutty flavor, flax seed substitution is generally only used in baking: breads, pancakes, waffles, cookies, etc.

You can also use milled flaxseed as an oil substitute (3T milled flaxseed = 1T fat or oil). It is just like using tried it yet pureed beans as an oil substitute, and both work well (1 part pureed beans = 1 part oil).

Flax Seed as an Egg substitute
1 T. milled (ground) flax seed
3 T. of water (amount of water may vary per recipe, but this is a pretty basic measurement).
Stir together and then let it sit for a few minutes so it can become gelatinous. Add to your recipe instead of the eggs.
Note: Flax seed is like wheat flour in that after it is milled (ground) it needs to be stored in the fridge. So after you open a box of milled flax seed, stick it in your fridge. Actually whole seeds can be stored in the pantry until ground.

Here are some recipes which call for flax seed. Try any of your own recipes using whole flax as an addition to the grains or mill it and use it in place of eggs or oil and see what you come up with.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 T. orange rind
¾ c. orange juice
2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ c. ground flaxseed
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 egg
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray or lightly oil muffin tins. In one bowl combine cranberries, 1/3 cup sugar, orange rind, juice and egg. In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, ground flax and ¾ cup sugar. Combine cranberry mixture with flour mixture, just until blended. Fill baking tins half to 2/3 full. Bake 10-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove and cool on rack. Yield: 12 muffins

This makes 2 (12”) pizza crusts
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
4 T. flax meal (ground flax seeds)
2 t.instant yeast
1 t. salt
1 1/3 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 T. liquid honey
Load ingredients into breadmaker and set for "dough" cycle. Roll out into 2 crusts and place onto pizza pans, sprayed and sprinkled with cornmeal, if desired. Brush dough with olive oil and bake @ 400º for 5 minutes. Spread with desired sauce, and then a bit of cheese, meat and other toppings followed by a bit more cheese. Continue baking until crust is done and cheese is melted.

Two-Hour Buns with Flax Seed
1 T. fast rising instant yeast
4 c. flour
1/3 c. ground flax seed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
In a bowl, mix yeast, 2 cups flour and ground flax. In a large bowl, beat sugar, eggs and salt. Add water and stir. Add flour mixture to the liquid and beat until well blended. Add remaining flour as needed and knead well. Let rise 15 minutes. Punch down and let rise again for 15 minutes. Punch down and form into buns. Place on greased baking sheet allowing 2” between buns. Let rise one hour. Preheat oven to 350º; Bake 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack. Yield: 2 dozen 4” buns

Healthy Flax Seed Bread
This health conscious loaf makes GREAT toast & awesome sandwiches!
1 1/3 c. Skim milk
2 T. Olive oil
2 T. Blackstrap Molasses
1 1/2 t. salt
2 c. Whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c. white flour
1/4 c. flax seeds
1 1/2 t. yeast
Mix in your bread machine or as you would regular bread. variations: (These are excellent, and can be added on top of the flour, or wherever..!
1) add 2 Tsp. caraway seed
2) 1/3 cup dried cranberries
3) 2 TBSP wheat germ / or / cornmeal
This is the BEST brown bread recipe I have found.

Healthy Oatmeal Mix
3 2/3 cups of old fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup ground flax seed (your body absorbs more nutrients when the flax seed is ground)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup quinoa
Mix the ingredients in an air tight container.
To cook the oatmeal, mix 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 2/3 cup of water in a large microwave safe bowl. (It puffs as it cooks.) Cook on medium power for 5-6 min. Stir and enjoy. You can also cook on your stovetop. This is a great basic recipe. Eat plain with a little salt and butter, or add a little cinnamon and brown sugar, dried fruit or berries. Y: 18 servings

Lemon-Glazed Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins
Recipe from
Makes 6 -12 muffins
2 ½ c. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ c. sugar
¼ t. salt
2 eggs, beaten*
1 c. buttermilk*
½ c. melted butter or 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ c. blueberries
For the glaze:
½ c. powdered sugar
3 T. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, butter or oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in liquid ingredients, mixing quickly. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, almost to the top of each cup, and bake for 20 -30 minutes, or until golden brown. Wait a few minutes and then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice until it is the consistency of thin icing. Brush each muffin top with about 1 tsp. of the glaze.
*Tip: For a low-fat, low-cholesterol muffin with the same great flavor, try these tips...Instead of buttermilk, substitute 1 c. almond, rice or soy milk. **Instead of egg, make a flax seed "egg." Use 1 T. milled flax seed and 3 T. water. Mix and then let sit for 10 minutes or so (it fluffs), and add to mixture. You can use this as a substitute for eggs in just about any dish

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Short term food storage recipe #9 - Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice or noodles

How are you coming on your 3 month meal supply or your short term food storage as we all lovingly call it? I struggle with it a bit because I buy ingredients, use them and don’t replace them. Rotating and replacing used food items is a must. I don’t have any problem coming up with several good dinner recipes that I want to include in my rotation; I have several of my own and have found many more in the books, “Dinner is in the Jar”, It’s in the bag”, and also “I can’t believe it’s food storage”. Girlfriends on the go” is another great book as is “Dinner is Ready”. If you are interested in one of these books, hurry and talk to Santa before it’s too late to get your requests in.

I’ve talked before about how I love cookbooks. Lots of cookbooks. They make me happy. I love looking at food blogs and more often than not, I find a recipe that sounds really good and can be altered to become a food storage recipe or more correctly a “short term food storage” recipe.

I also find it is easier to think of what I consider “cold weather” recipes for my short term food storage than other recipes. Maybe because soups and stews are more easily adaptable.

If you struggle like I do with your short term food storage, start with 5 of your favorite recipes that can be adapted to food storage and calculate how many ingredients you need to make them each 5 times. Make a list and try to have those ingredients on your pantry shelves by January 1, 2011 (can you believe that is only 1 month?). Then, when we make our New Year’s Resolutions we can start working on more recipes.

Here is one of my favorite quick and easy recipes that adapts well to food storage. I wouldn’t mind having this one a few times a month. Sure beats pasta with bottled pasta sauce 3 times a week! Use fresh ingredients when available but make sure you have the alternate storage items on hand also.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
2-3 c. cooked diced chicken (1 can or bottled chicken breast meat)
4 T. cornstarch
1 t. salt
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. vinegar
1 t. dried onion
2 c. pineapple juice (16 ounces juice)
2 T. soy sauce
1 c. finely diced green pepper (use reconstituted dry pepper if fresh is not available)
2 large cans pineapple chunks
Combine cornstarch, salt, brown sugar, vinegar and pineapple juice. Cook until thickened. Add chicken, green pepper and pineapple chunks. Serve over hot rice or noodles.