Sunday, January 30, 2011

Batter Bread to the Rescue

Batter bread, sometimes called spoon bread, is a variation on kneaded bread. If you like the aroma and flavor of fresh baked bread but don’t want to knead, then these Batter Bread Recipes are perfect for you. You can use a mixer or even stir the batter by hand using a wooden spoon. No other working or folding of the dough is required. Batter breads are faster to make than kneaded yeast breads.

Batter breads are made just like Quick Breads, with two differences. First, yeast is used instead of baking powder or baking soda, and second, the batter is beaten for several minutes so the gluten has time to form. Make sure you don't let the breads rise too long, or the structure will collapse. Follow the instructions carefully. If you have ever baked a cake or made muffins, you can make these breads.

You will have the same delightful aroma when baking batter breads as you do when you make other yeast breads, but the crust will not look as smooth as kneaded bread – it doesn’t affect the taste just the appearance - and the texture is usually a little more open. But the taste is still great. They are better when fresh-baked and best eaten the day they are baked. However, they are a great accompaniment for soup or stews and quick to stir together to add to a meal. The leftovers are great toasted.

Batter breads often contain different grains, sometimes whole grains, herbs or spices or flavors. They are a fun option to try and a great way for kids to begin learning to bake bread. They can be baked in any shape or type of pan; bread pans, cake pans, casserole dishes, pie plates, coffee cans, muffin tins, or other oven-proof dishes may be used. Fill containers half full to allow space for rising. They make fun “mini loaves” for kids to make or just to eat, and each person can have their own little loaf served with their meal.

Another fun option for batter breads is to serve them with herbed or flavored butters or spreads. They are great dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar too. These recipes are a fun alternative to kneaded bread. Personally I think the biggest selling point for me with batter breads is the flavor. I love the addition of herbs and spices and if you add dipping the bread or a special spread to go with it, I’m there. Add in the ease of preparation and I’m all over it. I think everyone should have their favorite batter bread recipe, a sort of go-to recipe for when time is tight and you want a homey tasty option. You can make these in your bread mixer if you want, but all you really need is a bowl and a wooden spoon and you are ready to stir it up.

Here are some different recipes for batter breads from a white bread to multi-grain with several other options thrown in. If you try the tomato pesto batter bread, it is awesome with the Pesto from Sam’s club and I didn’t even think I was a pesto person!

Four-Grain Batter Bread
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. to 2 3/4 c. white wheat flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/ 4 t. baking soda
4 1/2 t. yeast
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. oats
Grease two 8½ x4½ pans & sprinkle with cornmeal. Mix 2 c. all-purpose flour and 1½ c. wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, yeast in large bowl. Heat milk and water until very warm; add milk mix to dry ingredients. Beat with mixer on low until incorporated, then beat on medium for about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ½ c. wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, and enough of original whole wheat amount to make a stiff batter. Divide batter between pans and round tops as needed. Sprinkle with cornmeal and cover to rise for about 30 minutes or until batter is about 1” below top of pans. Bake at 400º for 25 minutes until light brown in color. Remove to wire rack and let cool.

Rosemary Peasant Bread
1 packet dry yeast (or 2 1/2 tsp)
2 c. warm water
1 T. sugar
2 tsp salt
4 c. flour
1-2 tsp. fresh Rosemary plus more for topping
Olive Oil, Corn meal, Melted butter and salt
Dissolve yeast in the warm water and sugar. Add flour, salt, and 1-2 tsp Rosemary and stir until blended, do not knead!! Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size. If using a bread mixer, leave the dough right in the mixing bowl with the lid on to rise. Remove dough; it will be sticky. Put oil on your hands for shaping the dough. Shape into 2 rounds on a cookie sheet lightly coated in oil and sprinkled with corn meal or shape on your Silpat. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam. Let it rise another hour. Brush each round with melted butter; lightly sprinkle with more Rosemary and kosher salt. Bake at 425º for 10 minutes, then 375º for 15 minutes more. Cool slightly, then cut into slices or tear chunks apart and dip in a bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For lower elevations add 1¼ c. additional flour.

White Batter Bread
This recipe makes 1 large loaf or divide in half 2 for smaller loaves. Reduce baking time if making smaller loaves.
4½ c. White Bread Making Flour
2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 pkt. yeast
1 t. bread enhancer (optional but will improve cell structure if used)
1 T. oil or softened unsalted butter
2 c. warm water
Add the water sugar and yeast to a small bowl and stir until dissolved. Place half the flour in a large bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients and whisk together to ensure an even distribution. Add yeast mixture and oil to the flour and mix well for 3 minutes. If hand mixing mix for 5 minutes. Add remaining flour and mix for another 3 minutes (5 minutes if by hand). The mix should have the consistency of a thick batter. Cover the bowl with plastic and put in a warm place until the batter has doubled in size, approximately 30-60 minutes. Knock the mix down by stirring with a spoon and then pour into a large well greased baking tin. Cover the tin with plastic and place in a warm place until the batter has again doubled in size. While the batter is rising pre-heat the oven to 425º. Once the batter has doubled, place it in the center of the hot oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When bread is done, the loaf will sound hollow when thumped. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

Herb Batter Bread
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (2 ¼ t.)
2 c. very warm water
3 T. sugar
1 T. salt
2 T. shortening
1/2 t. each; dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil (If you're using fresh herbs, the equivalency ratio is about a teaspoon of dry to a tablespoon of fresh. The flavor is more concentrated in the dry so you need more fresh)
4-5 c all-purpose flour
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixing bowl; stir until dissolved. Stir in sugar, shortening, herbs, 2 c. flour and salt. Beat about 3-4 minutes or until batter falls in "sheets" from the spoon. Beat in enough remaining flour to make stiff batter. Cover, let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 40 min. Stir down; turn into greased 9x5x3" loaf pan. Let rise about 20 minutes. Bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes. Remove from pan and cool before slicing. You can make this in your bread mixer if desired.

Favorite Batter Bread
1 ½ c. water (120°-130°)
1 T. Vegetable oil or Shortening
3 ¼ c. Bread Flour
½ T. Salt
1 ½ T. Sugar
2 ¼ t. Active Dry Yeast
Butter as desired
In large mixer bowl, combine 1¾ c. flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water and shortening or oil to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, gradually stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes.
Stir down batter with a spoon. Spoon batter into a greased 8” x 5” bread pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until batter reaches tops of pans, 20 to 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan immediately; place on rack. Brush with butter; cool before cutting. You can substitute Instant (fast-rising) yeast for Active Dry Yeast. Y: 1 loaf

Tomato Pesto Batter Bread
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 T. sugar
¼ c. warm water
¾ c. milk, heated in saucepan
½ c. pesto (Sam’s club has pesto that is to die for)
2- 3 c. flour
½ t. salt
¼ c. finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 T. melted butter
Combine yeast, sugar, water, and milk in a small bowl; mix well and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. In a large mixer bowl, combine 1 c. flour and the salt; add yeast mixture, pesto and sun dried tomatoes. Beat till combined, then beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Add enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Cover dough and let rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375º; heavily grease a 2 qt. casserole dish with unsalted butter or solid shortening. Stir down batter then pour into prepared pan. Let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from pan and brush with melted butter; cool on wire rack until warm before slicing.

Cheese Batter Bread
From Taste of Home
1 pkg. (¼ oz.) active dry yeast
1 c. warm chicken broth (110° to 115°)
2 T. sugar
1 T. butter
½ t. salt
½ t. poultry seasoning
1 egg, beaten
3 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1¼ c. finely shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Onion salt, optional
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm broth. Add the sugar, butter, salt, poultry seasoning, egg and 1 c. flour; beat until smooth. Add 1 c. cheese and remaining flour; stir for 1 minute. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Stir the batter down, about 25 strokes. Spread evenly into a greased 9”x5” loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and onion salt if desired. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and Tip of the week

This week's tip involves onions, but not so much for cooking. Check this out and see what you think. The reader submitted recipe this week is for homemade cream of chicken soup. This looks really good and I will definitely give this one a try as I have heard so much good about using bean flour. I’ve been curious to try it and now I can. I can also see lots of uses and variations for this. Thanks, Marie!

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup Marie C. – New Mexico
1 c. Navy bean flour (or use lima beans or garbanzo beans)
4 c. water or milk (Or use reconstituted powdered milk)
1 T. chicken bouillon
1/8 t. pepper
¼ c. dehydrated onions or 1 small onion (optional)
Grind dry beans in a wheat grinder. About ¾ c. beans make 1 c. flour Add other dry ingredients to bean flour. Stir ½ c. water or milk into bean flour until well mixed; add rest of the water or milk and heat in a sauce pan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the boiling point, it will thicken. Boil for about a minute. If too thick, add a bit more water or milk until soup thins to proper consistency. For more flavor add additional bouillon, garnish with parsley flakes. We like this as a sauce served over chicken and pasta or as a gravy over mashed potatoes or Hawaiian Haystacks or just use it as a substitute for canned cream of chicken soup in any recipe. My kids love it straight! Y: 4 servings.

The tip of the week about the healing power of onions, comes from an email I got. Maybe you got it too! I thought with it being flu season and all and there being so much sickness everywhere you look, it was worth a try. If I get as sick as some friends have gotten this past few months I will certainly try some of these tips. Nothing to lose. Also there is some good info about onions in there too. Read it and see what you think. I’d love any feedback about onions that you may have heard.

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people, there was a Doctor who visited many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it, and many died.

The doctor came upon one farmer, and to his surprise, everyone in the household was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different, the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn’t believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one, and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work... (And no, she is not in the onion business.)

The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around your home. If you work at a desk, place one or two in your office or under your desk or even on top somewhere. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year, and we never got the flu.

If this helps you and your loved ones from getting sick, all the better. If you do get the flu, it just might be a mild case...Whatever, what have you to lose? Just a few bucks on onions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now there is a P.S. to this, for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know about the farmer’s story, but I do know that I contracted pneumonia, and needless to say I was very ill. I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion. Put one end on a fork, and then place the forked end into an empty jar placing the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs. Sure enough, it happened just like that the onion was a mess, and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

This is the other note:

I have used an onion which has been left in the fridge. Sometimes I don’t use a whole one at one time, so I save the other half for later. Now with this info, I have changed my mind. I will buy smaller onions in the future. I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, makers of mayonnaise. Mullins is huge, and is owned by 11 brothers and sisters in the Mullins family. My friend, Jeanne, is the CEO.

Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.

The guy who gave us our tour is named Ed. He’s one of the brothers. Ed is a chemistry expert and is involved in developing most of the sauce formula. He’s even developed sauce formula for McDonald’s.

Keep in mind that Ed is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed’s answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.

"It doesn’t t even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it‘s not really necessary." He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the quintessential picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

Ed says that when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the ' victim ' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it’s not the mayonnaise (as long as it’s not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It’s probably the onions, and if not the onions, it’s the POTATOES.

He explained, onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion. He says it’s not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

It ' s already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!)

Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you’ll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put it on your sandwich, you ' re asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

So, how’s that for news? Take it for what you will. I (the author) am going to be very careful about my onions from now on. For some reason, I see a lot of credibility coming from a chemist and a company that produces millions of pounds of mayonnaise every year. Also, dogs should never eat onions. As their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

Please remember it is dangerous to cut onions and try to use it to cook the next day. I t becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Customizing Your Long-Term Food Storage

Everyone who has ever worked to build their food storage knows that there are certain guidelines that are helpful. We know the basic items suggest to store and what stores well, but what we don’t often understand is that each family’s food storage should be customized to them. If there are certain foods your family won’t eat, don’t store them. However, don’t give up trying to get them to like those items.

Years ago I had a friend who really wanted to work on her food storage. She asked me to help her get started. I suggested she start with the basics, wheat, beans and legumes, water, salt, honey, and etc. I will never forget her reply. “My family won’t eat beans or wheat and they don’t really care for honey if they can taste it. We only use minute rice because it’s quicker, but we like pasta okay.” Whenever I talk to someone starting their storage I always think about my friend. Most of her family is raised and on their own, which is good because she doesn’t have to store food for them. However, she still doesn’t have much food storage; some canned vegetables and soups and she stalks up on sugar and flour and some case goods every fall, but that’s it. Big surprise here, her kids don’t have food storage either. I really hope she never regrets this.

Economic times are tough and more and more married kids with children are having to move back in with their parents. It is not uncommon anymore to see 2 or more families sharing a house to make ends meet. Food storage isn’t just “something we should do when we get more time and money” anymore. Food storage should be a way of life.

I recently read an article about customizing your food storage to your family and learning to live off of it. I really liked this article because she tells how they live off of their food storage, rotating it as they go, and have a 2 year supply on hand at all times. That is awesome! I have decided to share this article with you today in hopes that you can get some new ideas on successfully building and maintaining your own long term food storage program. There are some of her favorite recipes included in the article.

Cooking from long-term food storage By Jackie Clay

All self-reliant families know they should have at least a year’s worth of food and essential supplies stored up in a large pantry. Unfortunately, actually eating from long-term food storage conjures up images of consuming endless tedious, tasteless meals of boiled rice and beans. You know—“survival” food.

But this is not how my household works. If I were to serve such meals, there would be total rebellion. After all, we’ve had at least two years’ food stored for twenty years, and we eat daily from this food. We are not martyrs, and we do not eat tasteless food in order to be “healthy.” Instead, we eat three meals a day from good tasting, comforting, and healthy food, much of it home-raised, home-grown or harvested from the wild. With a little practice and imagination, any family can quickly learn to produce meals, drawn from your food storage, that draw rave reviews from family members. And you do not need to spend hours in food preparation time either.

Buying for long-term food storage A lot of problems arise when a family purchases foods they are not used to eating, and are not is not the time to begin eating such “survival” food. When you’re stressed out, worried, and depressed, you need a lift, not countless meals of boring, tasteless food.

Take stock of the foods your family really likes. Then build your storage pantry on these preferences. Just about anything you regularly eat can be included. One notable exception is hamburgers and cheeseburgers. You can home can hamburgers, by lightly frying tiny patties, then stacking them into wide mouth jars. I do a few, just for novelty, layered with finely chopped onion. When ready to use, refry them, adding cheese if desired. They’re good, but aren’t the same as the regular hamburgers the family is used to.

Have your family go through the supermarket with you and take notes as to what interests them, even if you have not cooked it before, or recently. You need variety in your long-term storage foods. Meals are like buildings. They need foundation blocks like potatoes, rice or beans, but also windows and doorways like fruits, meats, vegetables, and spices.

Choose the foods carefully, taking into consideration those you use daily or would use, if you had the time....and had no alternatives. Two frequently overlooked items are shortening/margarine and eggs. And make sure there are plenty of opportunities for “goodies,” such as cookies, pies, puddings, Jell-O, etc.

Introducing the family to seldom-used staples There’s a definite place in a long-term storage pantry for such staples as dried beans and rice, but instead of buying all navy beans and white rice, consider that there are over a dozen varieties of beans and perhaps six varieties of rice available, each with its own unique taste, texture, appearance, and uses. In our pantry, I have many kinds of beans which we use: navy, red kidney, pinto, Anasazzi, black, and several varieties of Native American beans that we grow at home. You might include a couple of limas (which our family just does not like), cowpeas, Great Northerns, or others. Then try a few really good recipes and gently ask all family members to try just one small serving with a meal they love.

Work your way into beans. Don’t just cook up a huge pot and insist everyone eat them for a meal. You can “sneak” beans into meals by mashing cooked pintos in with taco filling, putting a few mashed beans in a layer of casserole, or into a hearty vegetable stew or soup. Old-fashioned baked beans complete with ham or bacon chunks, molasses and catsup will usually do the trick on a cold winter’s day.

When cooking from a long-term storage pantry, learn to buy or home-can meat in smaller cans and jars. This allows one to use the meat as flavoring and texture to a meal, making a little go a long way, and not give the impression of “making do” or “surviving.” A couple of examples that we regularly use are Oriental Chicken Fried Rice and Tamale Pie. I never have leftovers. The same with rice. Few people like a big plate full of steamed white rice. “I don’t like rice!” is the usual comment. My answer is get to know rice and all its uses.

Perhaps the easiest way to interest a family member in rice is to serve Oriental fried rice, complete with little chunks of chicken or pork. Spanish rice is another interesting way of introducing rice into a meal. The point is to introduce staples gently into meals, before called on to use them every day.

The use of ethnic meals is a great way to introduce a family to basics, as most less-wealthy nations have fabulous recipes, using cheaper staples as the base for meals. You can learn to do wonders with corn flour and corn meal, beans and chilies, rice, vegetables, sauces, and bits of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. I quickly learned that America is one of the few nations in the world where meat is used as the foundation of a meal. (We had adopted two older children from India and three from Korea, as well as sponsoring a family of nine from Vietnam.)

Such goodies as homemade pizza are always hits at home, especially in an emergency or hard-times situation. Key ingredients, such as pepperoni & mozzarella cheese, are in few long-term storage pantries. If one has their own dairy animal, the cheese is a snap, and dry-cured pepperoni lasts for months without refrigeration under cool, dry conditions. I also have canned chunks of pepperoni and am going to try mozzarella cheese too. But without these options, pizza is still a definite “go”.

But we’ll miss fried foods! I think one of the things a family misses most, living totally from a long-term storage pantry, is simple fried foods. Now this can have an upside, as well as a down. The fewer the fried foods consumed, the better health we enjoy. But, honestly speaking, some fried foods do a lot to boost our morale during rough times.

Now, of course, if a family has their own garden, which a self-reliant family should have anyway, they will have abundant potatoes, fresh or in the cellar. If not, you can fry up a batch of canned potatoes, from time to time, or make potato patties out of leftover mashed potatoes (adding two beaten eggs to hold them together). There are also dehydrated and freeze-dried hashbrowns that are quite good.

One satisfying, simple recipe we enjoy from our pantry is fried tuna patties. This provides meat, as well as satisfying an occasional craving for “fried food.” Roast beef hash is another “alternative” fried food. Unless fresh meat, either home grown or wild, is available, there will be little fried meat available.

One of the home storage pantry’s best capabilities is providing quick, nutritious soups and stews at quick notice. These include those using pasta and noodles, as well as the more traditional. One of our favorites is homemade noodles, cooked with chicken broth. You can use store-bought noodles, but there is absolutely no comparison in taste or texture. And noodles are very easy to make, only taking a few minutes once you get the hang of it. Even “mistakes” are very edible.

Breads - Don’t forget the staff of life. Breads provide an endless base to home meals, unlike their tasteless plastic wrapped cousins from the store. On one camping trip, we made an entire meal out of a crispy, fragrant loaf of French bread, without a dab of butter.
Breads can be made of varying flours for entirely different tastes, textures, and appearances. Aside from the “normal” white flour from the store, one can, and should, grind their own grains, producing a wide, wonderful, array of fresh flours. This produces a wholesome taste that most folks have never even dreamed of.

As all grains store much longer as whole grains, it is wise to stock up on these grains and grind the flours as you need them. Some suggestions are red and golden hard wheat for bread, soft wheat for pastries, flour corn for cornmeal, hominy corn for corn flour, buckwheat for pancake flour, rye for rye and pumpernickel bread, and rice for Asian cooking.
You will find that when you are cooking solely from the long-term storage pantry under times of duress, just the milling of the flour and baking of bread will bring peace and contentment to the whole family.

While “plain” bread will probably be most often used, stretch your creativity by expanding to more “exotic” breads such as pitas, tortillas, and sweet rolls, both for taste and variety. Most use about the same simple ingredients, and with just a little variation you can create a whole spectrum of tastes and possibilities.

One of our favorite breads is a versatile quick roll recipe. This recipe makes soft, tender dinner rolls, but also free-form breads, hamburger buns, sweet rolls, and coffee cake with little change.

Tips for cooking from home storage Cooking from a long-term storage pantry is easy, basic, and very fulfilling. But it is not something one learns to do overnight. It’s sort of like gardening. The time to learn to garden is not when the trucks stop hauling food to supermarkets and there are acute food shortages. It takes time to get into the rhythm of gardening, learning what works, what does not, and how to do the most work with the least effort.

When a person plunges into cooking solely from home storage, they are quite often frustrated by “all the hard work,” the poor results from their cooking, and the lack of enthusiasm from family members. Sort of like when a new young bride begins cooking for her husband for the first time. The results are often ho-hum.

Try taking one day a week, at first, to practice cooking out of your storage pantry. Ease into it with a few of these recipes; they are easy and basic. Then expand to others, found in some of the books listed below. Mennonite, Amish, Mormon, and Seventh Day Adventist cookbooks usually provide a good start for comforting, tasty meals with basics, as these religions stress commonsense preparedness and good family eating from basic, healthy ingredients.

It’s well to mention at this time that it makes good sense to develop a small garden, at least, and learn to forage for wild foods (which are great tasting, by the way), while learning to cook meals from the food you have stored. Fresh foods are a very welcome change to dehydrated and canned, and they not only taste great, but provide extra nutrition, which could conceivably be lacking in a few long-term storage foods.

Likewise, if it is at all possible, develop your own source of fresh milk, eggs, and meat. Grandmas all over the world raised a small flock of chickens, even in town. It’s funny that the U.S. is one of the few countries where this is not common today. Remember that variety is truly the spice of life; cultivate all the variety you can in your family’s diet.
You’ll find you get into the rhythm of this type of cooking easily. And you’ll quickly develop time-saving ways of doing things. For instance, it didn’t take me long to decide that if I ground a week’s worth of grains I truly saved time, and cleaning of the grain mill, and I always had the grain I needed on hand conveniently.

I can honestly say that it takes only minutes longer per meal to prepare a great dining experience from my pantry than it does to rip and pry plastic wrap from something that appears to be food. And it makes the whole family feel great. We believe in living, not just surviving!

Old-fashioned baked beans
2 c. dry navy beans
¼ c. ham or bacon flavored TVPs or canned ham
½ c. dehydrated chopped onions
8 T. molasses
4 T. honey
1 T. dry mustard
3 T. vinegar
½ c. tomato sauce
¼ c. catsup
Sort beans; soak overnight in water enough to cover. In the morning, drain beans, discarding water. Place beans in 6-quart or larger heavy pot with 12 cups water and simmer, covered for just long enough to get beans tender (older beans require longer cooking). Drain and discard water. In a 3-quart or larger casserole, mix beans with other ingredients and bake at 350º for 1½- 2 hours, adding water if necessary to keep beans from drying out. Serve hot with fresh whole wheat bread for a comforting, hearty meal.

Oriental Chicken-Fried Rice
2 c. cooked white rice, cooled
½ c. finely diced onions (you may substitute dry)
¼ c. rehydrated freeze dried or air dried green peas
1 c. rehydrated shredded carrots (or fresh)
¼ c.oil or shortening
1 T. peanut butter
½ c. chopped cooked chicken
2 T. soy sauce
2 eggs, equivalent in dehydrated egg powder
Spices to taste, including garlic, turmeric, hot pepper
In a large, heavy frying pan, heat oil. Add rice, onions, chicken, and carrots. Stir frequently with spatula until rice begins to lightly brown. Add peanut butter (no, it doesn’t taste “weird”), soy sauce, peas, and spices. Continue stirring while flavors mix. As rice mixture appears to be done, quickly add beaten egg mixture and continue stirring with spatula until egg is cooked. Serve at once with soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or hot mustard sauce.

Tamale Pie
½ c. cornmeal
½ c. white flour or freshly ground whole wheat flour
¼ c. honey or white sugar
¼ c. shortening
1 egg (equivalent in dry egg powder, rehydrated)
1 c. rehydrated dry milk (+ or -)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
½ c. cooked hamburger (I use home canned) or beef TVP
2 c. tomato sauce
½ c. dry chopped onions
¼ c. dry chopped green peppers or chili peppers
2 t. mild chili powder
¼ c. dry sweet corn or ½ cup canned corn
Mix first eight ingredients well, making a medium batter (not runny or not stiff). Then in medium sized cast iron frying pan or 8 x 8 cake pan, mix the last six ingredients well, then top with cornmeal batter. Bake at 350º until top turns golden brown. Serve hot with cold salsa.

Homemade pizza
2 c. flour
½ t. seasoning salt
¼ c. olive oil
2 t. dry yeast
1 c. plus warm water
Mix dry yeast and 1 c. warm water. While softening, mix other ingredients in medium bowl. Add softened yeast and enough warm water to make a soft, but not tacky, ball of dough. Work dough with hands, greased with a small bit of olive oil until elastic, then set aside in bowl, covered, for half an hour to rise. Oil baking pan with liberal olive oil, press out dough with hands. Prick dough with fork every few inches to avoid bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees until just barely done. It will not be browned but will lift easily from pan when picked up with a fork at corner.
1 c. thick tomato sauce
1 t. brown sugar
1 T. rehydrated green peppers
1 T. dry onion
¼ c. chopped olives
¼ c. sausage TVPs
1 t. oregano
¼ t. garlic powder
½ t. basil
1 c. mozzarella or ½ c. dried grated parmesan cheese
Spread tomato sauce evenly on baked crust and sprinkle brown sugar, green peppers, olives, and spices on top. Top with cheese. Bake until cheese is barely golden brown and bubbly. This is yummy, and it is much in demand at our house. As a bonus, there are many variations including making a double batch of crust, using the second dough to be formed as bread sticks, which can be brushed with tomato sauce, herbs, and sprinkled with cheese and baked at the same time as the pizza. The bread sticks, dipped in a warm herbed tomato sauce, make a great addition to the steaming pizza.

Fried tuna patties
2 cans light tuna, drained
1 c. crushed dried bread crumbs
¼ c. dehydrated onion flakes
3 eggs, rehydrated equivalent
½ t. lemon pepper
Flour to coat patties
Oil to fry
Mix drained tuna, bread crumbs, egg, onion flakes, and lemon pepper. Divide into golf ball-sized portions, pat into patties, dip both sides in flour. Heat oil to medium heat and gently place patties into frying pan. After one side is done, turn and finish cooking. This is a quick and easy alternative to “fish sticks.”

Roast Beef Hash
1 pint (16 oz) canned roast beef (or wild meat)
½ c. rehydrated onion flakes
1 quart (32 oz) canned potatoes, drained well
oil to fry
Grind meat, potatoes and onion together with hand meat grinder. Heat oil to medium heat in large frying pan. Slide hash into pan, being careful not to spatter. Arrange the hash in a shallow layer, covering the bottom of the frying pan. Allow to cook, turning and stirring with spatula. Add seasonings; finish frying to preference, and serve. Popular condiments include salsa and catsup. Hash makes a satisfying one-dish meal. Leftovers are great for breakfast with scrambled eggs.

Homemade Noodles in Chicken broth
1½ c. flour (either freshly ground whole wheat or white
¼ t. salt
2 eggs, reconstituted or fresh
Place flour in mound on board, making a nest or well in the center of the mound. Pour eggs into nest. Beat the eggs with a fork, gradually bringing the flour into the mix. Work the dough into a ball with your hands, picking up only as much flour as it takes to make a stiff, but workable ball. Knead the dough for about five minutes. It should not stick to the board. If it seems too moist, add a little more flour; if too dry, dampen your hands and knead longer. Divide the ball into quarters. Cover three and reserve one to work with immediately. Lightly sprinkle board with flour and roll out dough, pulling it into a uniform thickness oval. Make it as thin as workable and let rest in a warm, dry place. Repeat with other three quarters. When all dough is dry, but not stiff and brittle, roll like a jelly roll, cutting into desired thickness with a sharp knife. You can then either fluff out to separate and then carefully hang to dry or lay it flat to air dry for an hour. Pour a quart of chicken broth (or use dry chicken granules to make a broth) into a large pot. Add diced, canned, or freeze dried chicken meat, if desired, as well as onion, carrots, and spices as wanted. Bring to a medium boil, then carefully add noodles, simmering just long enough to make them tender. The flour on the noodles provides natural thickening. You’ll get raves for this simple, yet satisfying meal.

Basic whole wheat bread
Heat 4 cups milk (rehydrated dry or fresh)
Soften 4 T. dry yeast in ¾ c. warm water
Add ¼ c. honey to warm milk, along with 1/3 c. oil or melted shortening
Add 2 t. salt and 2 eggs.
Beat well, then as milk cools to lukewarm, gently add yeast.
Add about 14 c. fresh whole wheat flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each. When nearly stiff, mix with hands, incorporating just enough flour to make an elastic, workable ball of dough. Don’t stop if it’s sticky, and don’t get it too stiff. Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes. Grease a large mixing bowl, place ball into bowl, and grease top. Pull ball out and put back in, greased top up. Cover with a warm, damp kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until about double. Knock down and let rise again. Divide into 2 or 3 loaves and place into greased bread pans. Preheat oven to 350º. When loaves are nearly doubled in size, place in oven and bake for about 35 minutes until tops are golden brown. Grease tops with margarine to soften. Enjoy the best bread you’ve ever tasted.

Half-time spoon rolls
Dissolve 2 t. dry yeast in ½ c. warm water, and set aside.
Combine 1/3 c. shortening, ¼ c. of sugar or honey, 1 t. salt with ¾ c. hot milk (reconstituted dry or fresh). Cool to lukewarm by adding ½ c. cold water. Add 1 egg (or equivalent reconstituted dry) and softened yeast. Mix in 3½ c. sifted flour. Cover in same bowl, letting rise in a warm place till doubled. Stir dough with greased spoon. With an ice cream scoop (works easiest) dip sticky batter into greased muffin tins, filling half full. Let rise and bake at 375º until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush margarine on top to soften nicely. I promise raves from this one. And you can modify it easily. With the addition of just a little more flour (about ½ c.), the dough will be firm enough to handle lightly, which makes forming hamburger buns on a greased cookie sheet easy, or forming into caramel rolls, cinnamon rolls, or coffee cake.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

72-hour kit Wednesday – Medications

This week for our 72-hour kits we are gathering a 72 hour supply of medication for any member of the family who has special dietary or medical needs. In the event of a serious emergency, it would be a disaster to leave without medication. This includes any inhalers, pills, diabetic supplies or anything that any member of your family could not be without for a few days. This will of course be rotated in and out of your kit every 6 months (more often if you feel it is necessary). Especially think of special needs of babies and toddlers; whether it be thinking ahead on an extra size of diaper (they grow pretty fast and it would be a shame to have the wrong size diapers in your kits), or just what you would want to have for them in an emergency. Include anything that you wouldn’t want to be without for several days.

We had an earthquake here last night. Every time something like that happens, especially in the middle of the winter, not to mention in the middle of the night, I feel so unprepared. My mind races, thinking about what all I would grab if I had to leave my home for any reason. I have found that when something like this happens, that gives me just a little scare, I think better. I have a tendency to go thru certain scenarios and ask, “What if?”

This is certainly the best way to plan. Imagine what you would take if you had to leave. Is everything you need accessible? Would you have everything you would need for 3 days or more? What things could you not get along without? Does anyone in your family have special needs that only you can prepare for? Would you be able to keep warm? Do you have food prepared that you could take with you? Have you made an emergency plan as a family? Do you have some money put away just in case? Lots of things to think about.

This week’s 72-hour kit challenge has a three parts to it:

#1: Gather those medicines or special needs items and put them in your kit.

#2: Start saving a few dollars a week and putting it in your kit for an emergency. The amount is up to you although a minimum of $100 is one amount that has been suggested. If we save a few dollars each week, in small bills,(and you do need to have small bills)then at least we’ll have some cash just in case there is an emergency that takes us from our homes and we can’t get to a bank or don’t have any cash on hand. We may need gas, a place to stay, or other emergency items and if we were without electricity, your credit card may be useless. We will talk about this more in the upcoming weeks.

#3: Grab some Ziploc bags to have on hand as we put our kits together. I mostly use the gallon size but some quart or sandwich size bags are helpful to. They are not a must but they are one of the best tools for making your kits.

I’ve mentioned before that we lost our home in a flood several years ago. It has been a long time since then but I still occasionally think of things I could have done. We didn’t have a very long notice to evacuate and I kept telling myself, everything would be okay and we’d come home, the next day at the latest, and find everything as we left it. It was the next day before the water receded and anyone was allowed back in to the city. Even then there was still a lot of water and the roads were full of debris. Meanwhile, I had my baby during the flood, 3 weeks early, and was in the hospital, totally helpless. All communication was out, there was no gas available, no stores selling food and to buy gas or food you had to drive at least 75 miles around the flooded area to get supplies. Our home was destroyed and very little was salvageable.

Even to this day I think about things I could have grabbed and taken with me. Yes, they are just things, but some were pretty precious to me. The point I want to make is not that things are so important, but that being prepared is essential. We all want to believe the time will never come when something happens but if we are prepared and nothing happens, that’s great. If we aren’t prepared and it does, we sure will feel bad thinking that we could have done so much to prepare.

If you have not started your 72-hour kit yet, get on it. It’s a little thing but it could save your life until help comes. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for those you love.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Peanut Butter Please!!

A favorite storage item is Peanut Butter. Kids love peanut butter and jelly and overall it is a pretty healthy snack. How is peanut butter for storage? These days there are some choices. Regular peanut butter or peanut butter powder. Here are some facts about storing and using each, beginning with regular peanut butter in the jar.

Peanut butter can be kept up to six months after opening. Unopened jars can be stored up to one year in a cool, dark location. Turn the container upside-down occasionally to help redistribute the oils and prolong shelf life. That said, it really is important to store peanut butter in the coolest place you can; it will extend shelf life. I have had peanut butter that has been kept in a very cool, dark place stay good much longer than a year.

Second, peanut butter is high in protein, fiber and micronutrients. The high fiber helps regulate blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and colon-rectal cancer.

Peanut butter is about 24% protein by weight making it a good source of protein. It is a good source of Vitamin E (one of the most powerful antioxidants shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases), Vitamin B3 (Niacin- a water-soluble vitamin that aids in the recovery of cell DNA damage thus protecting from cancer; it also provides protection against Alzheimer's disease). Peanut butter has large amounts of beneficial minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium (not as much as bananas but still a significant amount), copper and calcium.

Many people avoid peanut butter because of the high fat content. One thing to keep in mind though is that most of the fats contained are monounsaturated, and have been shown to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. This effect is compounded by peanut butter containing polyunsaturated fats, which in turn help raising the "good" HDL cholesterol; making peanut butter a very good cholesterol regulator.

One of the most interesting nutrients found in peanuts is Resveratrol: this is a natural antimicrobial agent, produced by the peanut plant, found to ward off potential pathogens (bacteria, virus and fungi). Resveratrol is actually believed to be the cause of the French people having a lower risk of cardiovascular disease despite their diet rich in fats. Resveratrol provides anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties to the body.

Peanut Butter also contains p-coumaric acid, which combats oxidative stress (a syndrome believed to cause some neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases). Studies have found that women who eat least 1 ounce of nuts, peanuts or peanut butter each week (one peanut butter sandwich) have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones. Also, peanut butter contains much higher quantities of antioxidants than apples or carrots. All things considered, peanut butter contributes to a healthy diet.

Another alternative is to store peanut butter powder. Peanut butter powder will not store as long as wheat flour. However, sealed with oxygen absorbers, plan on a storage life of 4-5 years at a stable temperature of 70º. It will keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. One lady stated that because of the high amount of peanut butter her family consumes, she decided to try the powdered. She mixes it with a little olive oil and honey or agave nectar. Her family loves it and she said it has the deep taste of roasted peanuts and she will never buy commercial peanut butter again.

Dehydrated Peanut Butter Powder is an excellent substitution in any recipe that calls for peanut butter. It is easy to make and is a good source of protein. A #10 can of the powder makes about 89 2-Tbsp servings. The advantages of peanut butter powder is that it is peanut butter without all the fat. It stores well and is easily substituted in recipes as well as eaten like regular peanut butter. It works great for baking; add to recipes in powdered form or easily make into peanut butter. It is far less expensive than buying reduced fat peanut butter, and it is much healthier.

Here are some endorsements from peanut butter powder users:
“I add a drop of oil, pinch of salt & dollop of Agave nectar. My family didn’t know it was powder! My husband said he didn't recognize brand taste, but thought it was great! So good with celery! After mixing powder up, keep refrigerated because it has no added preservatives. Yea!”

“For dieters, the peanut butter powder has a third of the calories and fat of normal peanut butter -- and no added anything! You can even control the sodium, which is wonderful. As far as taste, it is very peanutty. I like it reconstituted with milk instead of water, for a little more flavor. Works great in baking! Gives baked goods a delightfully peanut taste without all the sugar."

“I use a tablespoon or 2 mixed in with a protein shake to add a little extra protein and to add the peanut butter flavor. It’s good stuff. I also mix it with some powdered honey, a great snack - instant peanut butter & honey - for spreading on toast, bagels, crackers or even sandwiches.”

Here are some recipes using peanut butter powder or try it in some of your own favorite recipes.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 ½ c. dehydrated Peanut Butter Powder (Reconstitute before using)
½ c. Sugar
1/3 c. Shortening
1 ¼ c. Flour
½ t. Baking Powder
½ t. Salt
½ c. Brown Sugar
3 T. Dried Eggs (Reconstitute before using)
2 ½ t. Baking Soda
1 t. Ginger
½ c. Water (for peanut butter powder)
Mix peanut butter, shortening, sugars, egg, and water in bowl until creamed. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Roll into 1 1/2” balls and flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Rounds
3/4 c. Butter - Softened
½ c. Peanut Butter Powder (Reconstitute before using)
1 c. Sugar
½ c. Brown Sugar
1 t. Baking Powder
½ t. Baking Soda
2 Eggs (Reconstitute before using)
1 t. Vanilla
1 ¼ c. Flour
2 c. Rolled Oats
1 c. Chopped Peanuts OR Chocolate Pieces
In large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer until well blended.
Add sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda; beat until blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in as much flour as possible with the mixer then stir in remaining flour. Stir in rolled oats and peanuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool.

Peanut Butter Waffles
1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 c. Fat-Free Milk
½ t. Salt
2 t. Baking Powder
2 Eggs, Beaten
¼ c. Honey
½ t. Vanilla
½ c. Peanut Butter Powder (reconstituted)
1 ¼ c. Water
Combine flour, dehydrated milk, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, honey, vanilla and peanut butter. Mix in water. Add egg mixture to milk mixture and stir until smooth. Bake on hot, oiled waffle iron. Variation: Peanut Butter Pancake: Use the same recipe, but use 3/4 cup of water instead of 1¼ c. of water.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins
1 ½ c. Flour
1 c. Instant Oatmeal
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1/4 t. Maple Powder or 1 t. Maple Extract or 1 t. Maple Flavoring
3 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Salt
1/3 c. Peanut Butter Powder (reconstitute)
1 c. Milk
1 Egg
2 c. freeze dried Banana Slices (reconstituted-Mash after reconstituting)or use fresh bananas
In a large bowl, combine flour and oatmeal. Mix brown sugar until no clumps. Add maple powder (if using liquid form add with milk), baking powder and salt. Mix until well blended. In another bowl, combine peanut butter, milk (liquid maple flavor, if being used), egg and bananas. Mix well. Combine peanut butter mixture with oatmeal mixture until oatmeal mixture is just moistened. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.

Peanut Butter & Brown Sugar Oatmeal
2 c. water
½ t. salt
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
¼ c. dehydrated Peanut butter powder (reconstitute)
2 T. butter or margarine
Bring water and salt to a boil in medium saucepan. Add oats and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar, peanut butter and butter or margarine.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pressure Canning Beef Chunks

Learning to can beef chunks was a fun experience. I put it off for quite a long time, pondering the best way to can it. I must have canned it in my mind 30 times before I actually got up the nerve to try it. I am so glad I did.

We had part of a beef in our freezer that we weren’t eating. Lots of steaks with not a lot of meat on them. Lots of roasts that had quite a bit of fat on them. Some were good, some not so good. Every time I opened my freezer, which as I have mentioned before is an ancient vessel, I would look at that meat and wonder what I was ever going to do with it. There was so little meat on the T-bone steaks that it would take several just to feed us a meal. I cringed just thinking about all that I would throw away. It wasn’t great meat, nevertheless, it was meat and I knew I had to do something with it.

Let me just skip to the ending of this long story to say that after pressure canning the meat it was awesome. Tender and delicious, easy to use and so handy to have on the shelf. I must say I wish I had done it much sooner instead of just thinking about doing it. It was hard for me to believe that this was the same meat that I had dreaded cooking before.

Watch for sales as you shop. Often, if you find beef you want to can and tell the butcher you want to buy a large quantity, you can get a better price. It's worth checking and watching the sales.

Here is the process I use. Considering my situation, if you are buying meat to can or have some you want to use, just get it done. It was very easy to do. In one day I had enough meat canned for many meals.

I did the steaks first. Thawed them in my sink overnight, as many packages as I thought I’d have time to do. In the morning, I cut the meat from the bones and removed any fat. My cats were a happy crew that day. I cut the meat in chunks and put it in a large kettle with a little water. After all the cutting was done, I cooked the meat, stirring it until the pink was gone and it was just starting to cook up.

I canned the beef chunks in quarts and pints using a beef bouillon cube in each bottle I used a slotted spoon to remove the chunks from the broth. If your meat is lean and you wish to save the broth, you can put it in jars and can it also, adding a beef cube to each pint or quart as well. (If canning the broth it helps to refrigerate broth overnight and remove fat in the morning before canning.) When the jars were filled almost to the neck with beef chunks, I filled each jar with boiling water, wiped the jars and put new flats and rings on. They are then ready to process in a pressure canner as per instructions, processing at 15 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

With the roasts I canned, I cooked some in crock-pots, some in my roaster oven and some in my regular oven. I did about 10 roasts at a time. It was a big job but so good to have done. I roasted them until they were starting to get tender, cut or shredded the meat removing any bone and as much fat as possible. You can also cut the roasts in chunks and cook with a little water in a large kettle till pink is gone. Fill the jars and process as above.

This meat will be very tender and is great in stew or soup, ground up with pickles, celery and onion for sandwich filling, used in stroganoff, quesadillas or any casserole. Here is a fun, quick meal using your canned beef chunks. If you don’t have home canned beef chunks use leftover roast beef and prepare as directed.

Beef Taquitos
1 bottle beef chunks, drained
Choice of sauce – Taco sauce, barbecue sauce or pizza sauce
1 c. shredded cheese, your choice – cheddar, pepper jack, or mozzarella
Flour or Corn Tortillas
Kosher salt
Butter or olive oil flavored cooking spray
Preheat oven to 425º. Use a silpat or spray a baking sheet (line with foil for easy cleanup) with cooking spray. Shred beef until there are no large chunks. Combine beef with your choice of sauce (basically just enough to moisten your meat, you don't want it runny)and mix well; stir in cheese. Heat tortillas one at a time in the microwave (put between slightly damp paper towels if desired) until soft and pliable, about 20 seconds. Fill one tortilla at a time with about 3 T. meat mixture down the center of the tortilla. Roll tortilla as tightly as possible and place seam side down on baking sheet. Fill remaining tortillas. When all tortillas are filled and on the baking sheet, spray tops of tortillas with cooking spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake 15-20 minutes or until tortillas start to get brown and crispy on the edges. Serve with leftover taco, barbecue or pizza sauce or with Ranch dressing. *Note: these freeze very well. Bake them as directed; cool any leftovers completely and wrap individually in saran wrap and store in Ziploc freezer bags. To reheat, microwave until heated through or heat in the oven.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Menu Idea and Tip of the Week

It’s Friday again already and time for another reader submitted recipe. This is so fun reading your ideas about your favorite recipes using food storage. Please email any recipes you would like to share to . I’ll include your first name and where you are from when I post your recipe. I know you all have recipes that use food storage in them so email them to me and everyone can increase the usage of food storage in their baking. If you have a food storage tip or even a preparedness no-no, send those too.

One of the readers here told me that she loves taking regular recipes and converting them to food storage. We should all look at some of those ideas as we increase or food storage preparedness. Feel free to send any recipes that use food storage items. They do not necessarily have to be a main dish, but can be a beverage, side dish, bread, breakfast idea, snack idea or of course desserts. Any recipe that you like and use will be appreciated by the rest of us.

Tip of the week: Prices on everything are climbing at an alarming rate. Some things are going up faster than others but expect your food budget buying power to decrease a lot this year. One of the things that is increasing in price and has for some time is aluminum foil. I have tried to store as much foil as I can because I think it is a great storage item. You can wrap food in it and cook over hot coals. Use it to line Dutch ovens or make a cardboard oven with it. In an emergency it would be invaluable for many uses. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the heavy duty foil, although some of that would be good to have too, but any foil will be a handy thing to have. You will probably never see it on sale but know it is cheaper in the big box stores than the grocery stores and whenever you can afford a box or two, do it. You’ll be glad you did. We will go over some uses for foil in a later post.

This week’s recipe is a cornbread recipe with a variation. It looks so good. I hadn’t thought of using cream corn in my cornbread but I plan on trying it soon. I may need to stock up on a few more cans of cream corn and even the chilies too.

Food Storage Friendly Friday Recipe of the Week submitted by: Megan M – Utah

Cornbread with Creamed Corn
2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 t. kosher salt
¼ c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 c. canned creamed corn
2 T. melted butter
2 T. canola oil
Preheat oven to 425º. Place a 9 or 10” cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat. In a bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, sugar, baking powder, and soda. Whisk together to combine well. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn, whisking together to combine thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture and stir just to combine. If the batter will not pour, add more buttermilk to the batter. Swirl canola oil in the hot cast iron skillet. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until the cornbread is golden brown and springs back upon the touch, about 18-20 minutes. Notes: This was the best cornbread I have ever made. I used stone ground corn (Bob's Red Mill). It is essential to preheat your skillet. For one batch I added a small can of diced green chilies with the creamed corn. That was excellent too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Black Beans - Learning to love black beans!

Black beans have certainly increased in popularity over the last few years. They have become a staple for many, used not only for their flavor and to add a southwestern flair to meals, but also as a meat extender. They are healthy as well as inexpensive. Black beans can be one of the main ingredients in any dip, adding other ingredients such as corn, tomatoes, avocados, salsa, chilies or anything else you like. They are a great addition to soups or chili. Black beans have certainly earned the reputation as one of the most versatile beans you can use. They are healthy and can be added to lots of meals. A great way to teach your kids to like beans.

Black Bean Tips:
Freezing: My favorite tip for using black beans is to soak them overnight, cook 1 ½ - 2 hours till tender. Drain and cool the beans. Spread on a baking sheet or tray on waxed paper or and freeze till firm. Store in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. Take a few out whenever you wish to add to any dish or salad. You eat more beans because they are already cooked and ready in just a moment. They are a great way to make the meat in your favorite dish go farther.

Chili substitution tip: To use black beans in your favorite chili recipe, substitute half the kidney beans for black beans.

Money-Saving tip: 1 lb. (2 c.) dry black beans cost about $.77 (at Winco). Much cheaper than buying by the can. If you freeze them they can be used in any amount, for example added to a salad, without having to use a whole can and maybe throw some out.

Black Beans Cooking Tips & Cooking time tips:Sort beans to be sure there are no small twigs or stones that might break a tooth. Depending on the age of dried black beans, they could take 2 hours or longer to cook. Fresher dried beans will contain more moisture and cook in less time. Pre-soaking black beans overnight will significantly reduce cooking time. Cover with 2” water and allow for expansion in the container. Drain and cover with fresh water before cooking.
Quick-soak method: cover beans with water, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 2 hours. Drain, cover with fresh water and continue cooking. The beans may prematurely break up with a quick-soak method. Use the overnight method for dishes where it is essential the beans stay whole, such as salads and relishes.
Do not add salt or acidic ingredients such as lemon, vinegar, wine, and tomatoes until the beans are finished or nearly done cooking. Adding earlier can cause the beans to toughen.
If additional water is needed during the cooking process, use boiling water rather than cold water.

Equivalents and Measuring tips:
Amount of beans in1 can of black beans = 1 2/3 cups
1 cup dry beans = 2 ½ – 3 cups cooked

Today we’ll share some recipes that use black beans and some ways to incorporate them in your cooking and maybe even baking. These recipes are a great way to introduce black beans to your family and learn to use them on a regular basis.

Lawry’s Burrito Casserole
1 lb ground beef
1 2/3 c. cooked black beans or 1-15 oz can black beans
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1½ c. water
1 (1.4 oz) package Lawry's Chimichurri Burrito Casserole seasoning
8 flour tortillas
1 ½ c. shredded Mexican Cheese blend
In a large skillet brown your ground beef over medium high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
When the beef is browned, drain the fat off. Add cooked black beans or drain and rinse canned black beans and add them to the browned beef. In a small mixing bowl, or glass measuring cup mix together water, tomato sauce, and Lawry's seasoning packet. Pour 1 c. red sauce into beef and bean mixture. Stir to mix. Fill each tortilla with some of the meat mixture. Troll up. Lay in a 9x13” pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with other 7 tortillas. Pour rest of red sauce over the top of the rolled burritos. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or till heated through and cheese is melted. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes green onions and sour cream, cilantro or avocado if desired. Yield: 8 servings *Note: these freeze well. Make and roll burritos. After topping with red sauce, cover with foil, label and freeze. Thaw before baking, top with cheese and bake as directed.

Jenny’s Crock-Pot Aztec Chicken
1 2/3 c. black beans + ½ c. cooking liquid or use 1 can black beans, undrained
1 can whole kernel corn – drained
1 jar salsa
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. cream cheese
Garlic Powder
In a crock-pot, layer beans, corn, ½ jar salsa, chicken breasts and remaining ½ jar salsa. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. At the last half hour, cut up chicken and stir in cubed cream cheese. Stir occasionally till cheese is melted. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Black bean brownies (gluten free)
1 2/3 c. cooked black beans or substitute 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 T. vegetable oil
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. white sugar
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
Nuts, optional
Note: For a healthier recipe substitute the oil with 3 T. unsweetened applesauce + 1 t. coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish. Combine black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, sugar, and brown sugar in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas with lime dipping sauce
3 large chicken breasts
1 ½ c. water
1 T. canola oil
1 envelope Fajita Seasoning mix
1 2/3 c. cooked black beans or substitute 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. corn
1-2 c. shredded Cheese, Mexican blend or cheddar
8-10 flour tortillas
Put chicken in a crock-pot sprayed with cooking spray. Mix seasoning packet, water and oil; pour over chicken. Cover and cook for 4 hours, or till done. Shred chicken and return to crock-pot. Simmer for 1 hour longer. Spray a skillet with cooking spray; over medium heat, lay a tortilla on the skillet. Cover half of the tortilla with some chicken, black beans, corn and cheese. Fold over the other half of the tortilla. Heat until the cheese has started to melt. Flip it over and let the other side of the tortilla get heated; melt the cheese completely. Cut in wedges; serve with lime-sour cream dipping sauce.
Lime-sour cream dipping sauce
1 T. lime juice
¼ c. sour cream
¼ c. mayo
1 ½ T. grated lime peel
Blend together sour cream, lime peel, mayo and lime juice until smooth.

Black bean soup
¼ c. chopped onion
W garlic cloves, minced
1 T. olive oil
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried oregano
½ t. chili powder
2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce
1 2/3 c. cooked black beans or 1 can drained and rinsed
1 c. beef or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 T. lime juice
1/6 t. hot pepper sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: Sour cream, tortilla chips or strips, cilantro, shredded cheese
Sauté onion and garlic in oil till tender. Stir in cumin, oregano and chili powder. Sauté 2 minutes longer. Add tomato sauce, beans, broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in lime juice; simmer 10-15 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf and add salt, pepper and hot sauce. Garnish as desired. Y: 2-3 servings

Black Bean Cola Chili
About 3 cups dried black beans soaked overnight
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup cola soda (Coca Cola, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper)
About 3 c. chicken broth
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. chili powder, or more to taste
1 t. kosher salt, or more to taste
Garnish: sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro, lime wedges
Place black beans, chopped onion, and garlic in a large heavy pot. Add cola, chicken broth, and enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until black beans are tender, about 1½ - 2 hours. Remove 1½ cups of the black beans and place in a blender with lime juice, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and salt. Puree the mixture and return to the pot of black beans. Stir to combine. To serve, garnish with dollops of sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, and lime wedges to be squeezed into the soup at the table. *Note: if you wish to add meat, add 1 lb. cooked and crumbled ground beef or sausage after you puree’ the beans and heat through.
Yield: 8 servings

Black Bean Salsa
1 2/3 c. cooked black beans or 1 can black beans
1 1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed or 1 can corn
1 can petite diced tomatoes (With or without chilies)
1 c. finely diced celery, optional
1 green pepper chopped
¼ medium Red onion chopped
½ c. Italian salad dressing
1 diced avocado (optional)
Drain beans & corn. Mix all ingredients. Add Avocado just before serving and do not store salsa with avocado. Serve with tortilla chips. Y: 6 c.

Black Bean Burgers
3 cups black beans, prepared
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 T. plus 1/2 c. chunky salsa for topping
1 t. cumin
1 t. onion powder
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. Tabasco sauce
Soak beans overnight. Cook 1 ½ - 2 hours until soft. If using canned beans, drain liquid from 2 cans beans. Mash beans, add ingredients mixing well together. Form into patties and cook on a skillet over the stove in a little oil, or on the grill. Be careful when flipping so they won't fall apart. Cook on a grill over low heat for 3 minutes on each side or until they develop the crust you want. Top with salsa or other toppings.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesdays - A change of Clothes

One thing that is a must to include in your 72-Hour kits is a change of clothes for each member of the family. Depending on the circumstances, the clothes you are wearing maybe wet, torn, filthy, inappropriate for weather conditions or depending on your situation even just plain inadequate.

Consider your climate when choosing extra clothing. Most people can’t afford to put a whole change of regular clothes, Levis, and shirts, good sturdy shoes and etc but here are some ideas.

First, if you have extra Levis, shirt, sturdy shoes etc that you can include in your kit, great. Just make sure that they will fit children or others in 6 months to a year’s time. Some choose to include sweats for each family member. These are pretty inexpensive, especially this time of year when they start to go on clearance in many stores. If you are worried that sweats would be too warm in a summer disaster, throw in a t-shirt. However remember nights are cooler most everywhere and you may be sleeping in these clothes.

Some people opt to change out the clothes in their kits every 6 months for the season ahead. If you wish to do this, go for it. With my luck, I’d forget the put the colder season clothes in and then I’d need them. Personally I think sweats can be adapted to almost any season by cutting of sleeves or pant legs if necessary. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you include a full change of clothes for each person right down to the underwear.

I’ve heard people say, it’s only for 3 days; we’ll make do with what we have on. Just remember, it is a 72-hour kit but not necessarily a 72-hour disaster. And if it is a disaster of any magnitude, what you have in your kit that you don’t need, will certainly help someone else out.

Choose good sturdy shoes if you can, unless you know for sure that each person will be wearing good sturdy shoes when a disaster hits. Also at least one pair of sox for each person is a must and a pair of gloves also. Stocking caps and other items to keep small ones warm (and big ones too) will always be appreciated in cold weather.

Don’t forget the baby or toddler who may need diapers or more changes of clothes than everyone else. If you keep a well stocked diaper bag that you can always plan on being ready to go in a moment’s notice that would be great.

Begin gathering what clothing you can now and make sure to do it for everyone in the family. On lady said, when I rotate every 6 months, I remove the clothes that the kids might grow out of in another 6 months and replace them so they can wear them before they outgrow them and replace them with clothes that might be a smidgen too big. Good advice.

As you start to collect clothing for your kits, you’ll get a feel for what you need. Remember, in a disaster no one is going to care what you are dressed like so don’t be too worried about fashion. Comfort and warmth is much more important.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pressure Canning Ground Beef

This is one of the best things you can do to save both time and money. I put off canning ground beef for a long time because first, I thought it would be hard, and second, I’m pretty fussy about the meat I eat. When I did finally can ground beef, I did it in a big way. I started with about 15 lbs. which ended up being about 15 pints canned then did another batch that was bigger than the first. I had quite a bit of ground beef in my freezer that I wanted to get out of the freezer and use up. Besides, my freezer is older than dirt, well 2 years older than me, and I didn’t really trust it but it is still going strong.

Watch for the Lean Ground Beef to go on sale. Extra lean ground beef was on sale in the store where I shopped this weekend for $1.99 a pound which is a great deal. I like to use pint jars because 1 pint holds about 1 lb. hamburger, but if you use more than 1 lb. at a time, can it in quarts. I might mention here that you don’t have to can the extra lean ground beef. If you cook the meat in a kettle with some water and rinse with very hot water as described below, you will get rid of most of the fat.

Decide ahead of time how many pint jars your pressure canner will hold at one time and calculate how many pounds you can process at a time. Wash canning jars; keep on a tray in the oven on low while preparing ground beef. If you have a large enough kettle you can cook 10 lbs. or more at a time. Cook beef in a little water, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Cook and stir until the pink is gone.

Drain ground beef; be sure not to pour the greasy water down your drain! I also like to rinse the cooked beef with very hot water to get rid of any extra fat that may be lurking in there. This is more important to do if you are canning beef that is fatter. Put a beef bouillon cube in each pint jar (This is optional but I love the flavor it adds) and fill with cooked ground beef. Pour boiling water in each jar to the bottom of the neck of the jar. Wipe off jars well; add flats (which have been kept warm in a pan of water on the back of the stove while you were preparing meat. Screw on rings and you are ready to go.

Following directions in your pressure cooker manual exactly, put jars in pressure canner, add water (mine suggests adding 2 T. white vinegar with the water to avoid rust stains which I always do) and put the lid on. Process exactly as your manual suggests. Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.

When processing is completed and pressure has dropped, remove jars, wipe good with a hot soapy dish cloth, label with contents and date. Make sure to put on the label that it contains 1 lb. ground beef. Canning ground beef make take some time but it is definitely an easy project and you’ll love having canned ground beef on your shelf all cooked and ready to go. You find that Taco salad, sloppy Joes, chili or many other dishes are just a few minutes away from your table when the beef is already cooked. It frees up your freezer for all those extra ready-to-eat-meals you want to make ahead of time and the other good deals you find and can stock up on!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and Tip of the week

Thanks to all who have submitted their favorite food storage friendly meals. Each Friday I’ll be posting a meal that is shelf stable and has food storage friendly ingredients. I’d also like to post a tip each week to either help save money on your food storage or to give an idea that might help in your preparation. Keep sending your recipes to me at and I’ll post one each Friday. If you have a tip that has helped you save money or prepare better or more efficiently, send those in too. We’ll keep posting recipes as long as you keep sending them. From time to time I may make a request for a certain type of recipe. The more we send in the more we can help each other prepare and have a variety of meals at our fingertips. I appreciate your participation.

Tip of the week: One of the things I have included in my preparedness that I feel very strongly about is Thermal Underwear. We live in a very cold climate and have a long, cold winter (this winter being one of the coldest in a long time). I’ve found some thermals that I really like. The best time of the year to buy them is about right now as they are being cleared out of the stores for other items. I bought some tops last year in January for $3.00 and under. Check it out. My favorite brands are Cuddle Duds for women and Terramar Polypropylene for men. I’ve found the Cuddle Duds at JC Penney and Sam’s Club and a cheaper brand by the makers of Cuddle Duds at several other places. The “real” Cuddle Duds brand are the best and warmest I’ve found so far. The Terramar brands are also found at Sportsman’s Warehouse as well as some other sporting good stores that carry warm weather clothing. They also make thermals for women and children which are awesome. They are a little more expensive than the cheap brands you find in Wal-mart but well worth the investment. Here is their website:

One thing I think I have mentioned before but is worth repeating is this cold weather tip. If you are ever outside or have been outside and are preparing for bed or just to warm up, change your clothes, all of them right down to the skin. Your body temperature will go up more quickly because your skin warms up faster if you remove the clothes that trap your body oils against your skin and keep you from getting warm. This is a great tip and it really works! It is especially important for sleeping outside and staying warm.

Food Storage Friendly Friday Recipe of the Week submitted by: Jeri B. – Arizona

Burritos in a bowl

Cooked rice
1 can of black beans. I heat them in the juice, then strain them with a slotted spoon or (you can use cooked dried black or pinto beans as well)
1 pint of canned ground beef or taco meat (Beef TVP is a great substitute)
Ranch dressing to replace sour cream if you'd like
Dehydrated cheese if you have it or fresh grated cheese if you have it
Layer ingredients in a bowl.
Optional: Use Homemade Flour tortillas and make your burritos in a tortilla.

Speaking of Ranch Dressing: here is a recipe for a Buttermilk dressing that is similar to Ranch. It is not totally shelf stable (it has mayo and buttermilk) but you can make your own buttermilk and if you have mayo on your shelf you are good to go!

Buttermilk Dressing
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 t. parsley flakes
1/2 t. dried minced onion
1/2 t. salt
dash of freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed or dried minced garlic
Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors. Cover and refrigerate and remaining dressing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Epsom Salt - Do you have some?

Being prepared for the unexpected is a major part of food storage and preparedness. One product that is a great one to have on hand is Epsom Salt. It is useful for many things in everyday life as well as the little unexpected things that catch us off guard. I’ve just lately begun to learn about all the benefits of Epsom Salts. In fact, I had some in my cupboard for years and never used it. It's great to take the soreness out of cuts and punctures, infected injuries on hands and feet too. I've used it twice just in the last two weeks on an injured finger and a nasty cut. I'm a believer!

Epsom salts have amazing health benefits! Here are 11 ways to use Epsom salts, including a relaxing bath, a face scrub and a hair volumizer. It’s also a miracle cure, helping to get rid of splinters and reduce swelling of sprains and bruises. One ingredient really does fit all!

Soaking in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Epsom Salts was good for relaxing muscles and drawing toxins from the body, Epsom Salts—made of the mineral magnesium sulfate—are also a sedative for the nervous system.

When magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin, such as in a bath, it draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles, is a natural emollient, exfoliates, and much more.

11 Wonderful Ways to Use Epsom salts:
1. Relaxing and sedative bath: Soak in warm water and 2 cups of Epsom Salt.
2. Foot soak: Soothe aches, remove odors and soften rough skin with a foot soak. Add 1/2 cup of Epsom Salt to a large pan of warm water. Soak feet for as long as it feels right. Rinse and dry.
3. Soak sprains and bruises: Epsom Salt will reduce the swelling of sprains and bruises. Add 2 cups Epsom Salt to a warm bath, and soak.
4. Splinter remover: Soak in Epsom Salt; it will draw out the splinter.
5. Face cleaner: To clean your face at night, mix a half-teaspoon of Epsom Salt with your regular cleansing cream. Just massage into skin and rinse with cold water.
6. Homemade skin mask: Apply the mask to damp skin. For normal to oily skin, mix 1 tablespoon of cognac, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of non-fat dry milk, the juice of 1 lemon, and a half-teaspoon of Epsom Salt. For normal to dry skin, mix 1/4 cup of grated carrot, 1 1/2 teaspoons of mayonnaise and a half-teaspoon of Epsom Salt.
7. Skin exfoliator: Massage handfuls of Epsom Salt over your wet skin, starting with your feet and continuing up towards the face. Have a bath to rinse.
8. Remove excess oil from hair: Epsom salt soaks up excess oil from hair. Add 9 tablespoons of Epsom Salt to 1/2 cup of oily hair shampoo. Apply one tablespoon of the liquid to your hair when it is dry; rinse with cold water. Pour lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar through the hair, leave on for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse.
9. Remove hairspray: Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of lemon juice, and 1 cup Epsom Salt. Combine, cover and let set for 24 hours. The next day, pour the mixture into your dry hair and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then shampoo as normal.
10. Hair volumizer: Combine equal parts of deep conditioner and Epsom Salt; warm in a pan. Work the warm mixture through your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse.
11. And Last but not least a recipe for your Own Spa formula!
This wonderful bathing mixture help to relieve soreness and aching joints and muscles. Soothing and relaxing, Healing salt crystals draw out impurities from your body and deodorize, too! With many of the healing properties of a seaside spa, this formula is perfect for the day after a strenuous workout, or for any time you need a little healing time-out.
1 cup borax
2 cups Epsom Salts
½ cup coarse sea salt
¼ cup baking soda
¼ cup white clay
½ cup dried lavender
10 drops lavender essential oil
1. In a large bowl, mix together the borax, salts, baking soda, and clay, then mix in the dried lavender, stirring with a wire whisk.
2. Scent the mixture with the oil, mixing well with the whisk. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave overnight to fix the scent.
3. In the morning, thoroughly mix again and package in jars, zip-seal or muslin bags, or envelopes.
To Use: Add ¼ to ½ cup healing salt crystals to a tubful of warm water.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

72- Hour Kit Wednesdays – Let there be light!

Did you get your containers for your 72-hour kits this week? That is a good hurdle to be over. I love using the backpacks I got each person for their clothes and other personal items we’ll store. I use the duffle bags for food and misc. other items. I might note here that if your backpacks or duffles are larger than most, you may not need more than just one for each person, my duffle bags were pretty small – but cheap. Your choice.

One of the most essential items to have in a 72-hour kit is a flashlight. Get enough for every person in your family to have one in their own bag. I think the flashlight idea is essential, not only for light but for comfort – especially for any of us who might be scared of the dark, or maybe more specifically, what’s in the dark. My choice of flashlight for my kits are the flashlights that you shake and they produce light – no batteries needed. Have you seen them? Here is how the work; when you shake the flashlight, a magnet passes through a metal coil which, which induces voltage in the coil generating electricity. Simple as that. No need worry about batteries going bad and having battery acid eating through everything in you kit. Who would worry about that? Me! They are not real expensive either, you can expect to pay between $5 and $8 on and they are available at preparedness or sporting good stores as well.

If you wish to use battery flashlights you already have, rather than buy new ones, just remember you will need to change out the batteries every 6 months just to be sure they are safe and strong should you need them. You’ll probably also want to have extra flashlight bulbs too, just in case.

Light sticks are also a fun item to have in your kits. If you were ever in a situation with no power and in the dark, light sticks have a 12 hour life when opened and that would allow some light for a nervous child to get them through the darkest part of night. These are available at Emergency Essentials as well as Wal-Mart or sporting good stores as well.

Having experienced a cold and dark power outage ourselves just this week, and waking up to no light or heat at 3 am with a -2º temperature outside, I will say the first thing you think about is finding a flashlight or other source of light. You really can’t do anything till you find a way to see. Then you can think about all the things you wish you’d done to prepare for an outage. Grab some good flashlights for your kits this week and you’ll be one step closer to being prepared for anything.

Sharing your Food Storage Friendly Recipes: Yesterday I posted a request for recipes that are food storage friendly that you would like to share with us. The response has been awesome. I will now post your recipes on Friday's our new Food Storage Friendly Recipe Day each week. If you have not submitted a recipe yet, be thinking. The more recipes we can gather for our short term food storage, the happier we'll all be. And if you have sent some in and find more you'd like to submit that's great too.

Remember any recipe is awesome. They don't have to be for main dishes, maybe for a side dish, bread, vegetable or whatever you wish or even if you have a special way of doing something that you'd like to share, send them in.

Recipes, comments or suggestions can be sent to me at I look forward to hearing from more of you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inventory Organization and Sharing Favorite Food Storage Meals

We talked earlier this month about organizing your food storage and using inventory sheets to evaluate and make a plan. I'm including a couple of sheets to add to your food storage binder. One is an inventory for food and non-food storage inventory compliments of Marie Ricks. Print off some of these pages and begin your inventory or as the case may be, your food storage wish list.

The second sheet below is just a list to print off and begin making your list of short term food storage meals.

I'm also reprinting the link to the food storage calculator from just to make it easier to see how much you need to store for your family. Click on the "food storage calculator" link on the middle of the page and you can save this calculator to your computer and update the totals or recalculate at any time. This is a great tool!

Share your favorite short term food storage meals with us. You can email the recipe to me or leave it in the comments section and I'll post it in another post, or simply mention that you have a recipe you'd like to share and I'll contact you for the recipe. The best way to increase your short term or food storage friendly meals is to share with others. Hopefully we'll have lots of shared recipes here to help us all increase the variety of our food storage meals.

Copy and paste the list below to create a list of your family’s favorite “food storage friendly” meals for short term storage. Fill in your favorite meals and keep the list in your new food storage binder. Your next step will be to write down EVERY ingredient you need to store to make these meals and multiply by the number of times you will need to make these meals to have a 3 month supply.

Food Storage Menu List

Monday, January 10, 2011

Canning Chicken

I love having canned chicken, already cooked, ready to go on my shelves. I have so many recipes I can use it in and continually find new recipes that are easily adaptable to canned chicken. With canned chicken on your shelves it is so easy to compile a list of food storage recipes using chicken for your short term food storage.

If you have a pressure canner it is very easy to can your own chicken. If you don’t I’ll also include instructions on how you can freeze your cooked chicken and the chicken broth for your favorite chicken recipes.

This is a good time of year to buy chicken for canning. I prefer canning chicken breasts – boneless and skinless – because it is easier and I like the meat. However, you may wish to can mixed dark and white meat or any combination thereof. You can also buy the whole chicken or any combo of chicken parts and cook, remove meat and can.

Here are the basic directions for canning both the chicken meat and the broth, which you will also love having on hand. I’m also including the recipe for frozen chicken mix and frozen chicken broth that is great if you have freezer space. This is a great idea to have chicken and broth ready to go for your favorite recipe. It is also a good way to take advantage of sale prices you may find on chicken. However just a suggestion: Start hinting to Santa now that you want a pressure canner for Christmas next year…He may have to start saving his pennies now!! I’m also including my favorite recipe using canned chicken. Having the chicken cooked and ready to go makes this a quick dinner favorite.

Home Canned Chicken
In a large pot on the stove, cook chicken with water to cover the chicken,until done. De-bone if necessary and cut into small to medium size chunks. (If using chicken breasts you can either cut the meat into chunks before cooking or after it is cooked.

While meat is cooking warm clean jars on a baking sheet in your oven, on low heat. Keep canning flats warm in a pan of hot water on low on your stove top. When chicken is cooked and cut up, add 1 chicken bouillon cube to each pint or quart jar (you can add 2 per quart if you wish). Fill with boiling water, (NOT the broth it was cooked in) leaving 1” headspace per jar. Wipe jars, add canning flats and rims.

Follow your pressure canner directions exactly. Process pints for 75minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 13 lbs. pressure (15 lbs. if using a weighted canner instead of one with a gauge).

For broth:
Take reserve broth from cooked chicken and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Skim off fat, reheat and pour into jars leaving a 1” headspace. Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes at 13 lbs. pressure (for gauge canner) and15 lbs. pressure (for weighted canner).

Remove jars from canner when pressure has dropped completely and wipe with a clean dishcloth, label with date and store.

Frozen Chicken Mix
11 lbs. chicken (any combo of white and dark you wish)
4 quarts water
3 T. parsley flakes
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 t. salt
½ t. pepper
2 t. basil
Combine all ingredients in a large kettle. Cover and cook over high heat until water boils. Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove from heat. Strain broth and refrigerate until fat can be skimmer. Cool chicken, remove any bones or skin and cut into chunks or pieces. Put into 6 freezer containers or freezer bags or use a food saver and freeze. After removing fat from broth put into 6 more freezer containers or jars leaving about ½” headspace at the top. Seal and label containers; freeze. Use within 3 months. Y: 6 pints chicken and 6 pints broth.

Cheddary Chicken Pot Pie
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. milk, divided
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
¼ c. chopped celery
¼ c. shredded carrots
¼ c. grated parmesan cheese
½ t. salt
3 c. cubed cooked chicken (or 1 pint cooked chicken, drained)1 pkg. (10 oz.) Frozen chopped broccoli, cooked & drained
1 egg
1 T. oil
1 c. buttermilk complete pancake mix
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
¼ c. sliced almonds (optional)
Combine soup, ½ c. milk, onion, cream cheese, celery, carrots, parmesan cheese & salt. Cook & stir till mixture is hot & cream cheese is melted. Don't boil. Stir in broccoli and heat through. Pour into ungreased 2 qt. baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine egg, oil & remaining milk. Add pancake mix & cheddar cheese, blend well. Spoon over hot chicken mixture. Sprinkle with almonds if desired. Bake uncovered at 375º for 20-25 minutes or till golden brown. Y: 6 servings