Friday, April 29, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday - Meal Idea and Tip of the Week


The tip for this week is to gather as many recipes using food storage as you can. You may not have time to try them all, but if you ever have to live on your food storage, you will have recipes to help you use it and enjoy it. There are many resources that have recipes using food storage, some are awesome and others not so good. The thing is that you never know until you try them if you and your family will like them.

There are many different variations for using all the food storage items we have talked about. My favorite food storage recipes are the ones that someone has already tried and recommends. The most important part of this tip to gather recipes is to get them on paper, not just on your computer. You want them printed out and filed in a binder where you can access them even if you have no electricity.

Several months ago, Jodi and Julie at www.foodstoragemadeeasy.net asked for recipes using not only food storage but using shelf stable items. This makes a difference because so many of our recipes that use food storage, also use items that need to be refrigerated or have a short shelf life. These ladies wanted to gather recipes that were tried and true and use ONLY items that you can keep on your shelf as part of your food storage.

We were asked to submit our favorite recipes and told that all the ones that were accepted would be included in a book they were putting together and that everyone who submitted a recipe would get a copy of the book. I sent in three recipes and all three were accepted. Now here is the good news; Jodi and Julie at food storage made easy decided that rather than just give the book to the ones who had recipes in it, they would make it available to everyone for download. We were also encouraged to share it with all our friends. So, today, I’m sharing this book with you. I hope that you will visit the site and download the recipes to your computer and/or print the recipe book to put in your recipe binder.

They will continue to add a few more recipes and pictures of the recipes as they are submitted. This is an awesome resource and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. I still have to submit the pictures for 2 of my recipes so they will be added soon, but I can tell you that I found some really fun recipes there and I know you will love adding them to your collection.

To download the recipe booklet go to http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/fsme/docs/SHELF-STABLE-RECIPE-BOOK.pdf
A great big huge thank you to Jodi and Julie for all their hard work!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Canning Cheese!


Are you a cheese lover? I am. I don’t eat a lot but I sure use a lot in my cooking. Many of my favorite recipes use cheese. This has always bothered me as I was working on food storage because I knew I couldn’t store cheese. In fact, I always told my husband, jokingly of course, that if we ever knew in advance that a calamity, disaster or other catastrophe was about to happen, I would run to the store and spend my last dollar on cheese. Not very practical, I know; not to mention not very likely.

I know you can actually buy cheese for your storage. You can get the little cans of cheese (I think they come from Australia?) but they are not cheap, even though I understand they are pretty good. You can buy #10 cans of dehydrated cheese for around $45 a can, which I know would be wonderful but is quite an investment. Then there is that wonderful powdered cheese. Hmm what will we do with that? And of course, most practically of all, you can make cheese, even with all that powdered milk you have stored. In some future posts, we will learn how to make several different kinds of cheese.

However, I learned recently that it is possible to can cheese. I was so excited when I read this. It was like a little ray of sunshine to me, because storing cheese has been on my mind for so many years. When I first read this, I will admit I was skeptical. I’ve heard in the past of other items that people say it’s okay to can and then you find out you can’t do it. I decided that I would find out from some of the people who have done it. I contacted several people who have canned cheese and found out that it works well. They all told me the same thing which is that some will tell you it isn’t safe. The reason they say that is because they have never done it so they can’t tell you how to do it and that it is safe. It is like the FDA; they don’t endorse a product until it has been tested. However, the people I talked to all said that they do it and have done it for several years, (two of them for more than 5 years each) they feel completely confident canning and eating the cheese.

So here is the deal; I am going to tell you how I am canning cheese. I’m excited to do this after checking with several who have done it successfully. If you want to try this, feel free. I’m not making any promises about how you will like it or how long it will keep, I’m telling you how to do it if you wish. If you don’t feel that you want to do it, it’s up to you.

One thing you should know before you start. If you don’t have an outlet where you can buy cheese or if you can’t get it on sale, this might not be something you want to try. If you live close to a creamery or a dairy outlet where you can buy discount cheese or cheese ends , or if you have coupons or can buy it on sale, then this may be something that you want to try; if so, I hope you are as excited about it as I am.

Second, I did my first 2 batches of cheese in half pint jars because I have a small number in my family to feed. Also, if we were living without electricity, I wouldn’t be able to refrigerate the cheese once it was opened, so smaller jars would mean less waste. If you have a larger family you may want to do pints. Also I believe using half pints or wide mouth jars would allow you to get the cheese out of the jar easier.

You can use Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, and Cream Cheese! Wouldn’t it be exciting to buy cream cheese on sale and can it for when you want it? I’m trying that next.

This information on canning cheese is from Jenny at Frontier Freedom.Here is the procedure:

1. Sterilize clean wide mouth pint jars or wide mouth half-pint jars in a 250º oven for at least 20 minutes. You’ll process the cheese in a boiling water bath for awhile, this probably isn’t necessary, but I like having the jars hot when I put the cheese in.

2. Sterilize new canning lids according to package instructions. I let them simmer in water about 5 minutes, and then keep them in hot water until I need them. (You can do this step after you get all the jars filled with cheese, while you are waiting for the cheese to melt.

3. Now I cut up the cheese, if it’s frozen you can crumble it and pack it into clean, dry pint jars. If you are in a hurry, you could grate the cheese but I don’t think it’s necessary. Then, place the jars (without lids) on a rack in a boiling water bath canner, to which you have already added some hot water. Do not put the lid on the canner while the cheese is melting. You want the water to come about halfway up the jars. Any higher and it bubbles into the jars if it gets to boiling. Then, as the cheese melts, I add more cheese kind of pressing it down into the jars, until the cheese fills the jars to within about ½” of the top.

4. When all the cheese is melted, remove the jars from the canner, wipe the rims very well, and seal the jars. One thing I should mention, as the cheese melts, you may notice a little oil rise to the top of the jars. DO NOT remove the oil. Once the cheese hardens again, it will be reincorporated with the cheese.

5. Next proceed with a boiling water bath for 40 minutes. When ready, remove jars from water with a jar lifter. Leave undisturbed until completely cooled. Check to make sure all the lids have sealed before labeling and storing.

Jenny at Frontier Freedom says, “We’ve eaten cheese that I canned like this several years earlier and it was delicious. It tends to get a little sharper, which I like. It doesn’t melt as good as fresh cheese, but when you’re in the bush and don’t have fresh cheese, it’s more than acceptable any way you’d use fresh cheese! During the winter, we usually keep cheese stored in buckets outside so it stays frozen. But, like meat, come springtime with the warmer temperatures, I start canning.”

There are 2 ways to remove the cheese from the jars. You can place the jar in a pan of water (loosen the lid a bit first), and then place that pan in another pan of boiling (or hot) water. This melts the outside of the cheese and will help it slip out of the jar. But, it also heats the cheese, which may or may not be desirable. I usually just run a knife between the cheese and the jar. Sometimes the cheese will slide right out, but usually I have to sort of cut and pull it out in chunks. *I removed the cheese from a jar I had canned and it mostly slid right out. You can also cut it in chunks and take it out.

Here’s what Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home said about how she cans cheese: “You won’t find this one in a canning manual, but I experimented and found something that works for me. One day I was canning tomatoes while whacking a chunk of cheddar cheese for lunch. Mmmm, I wondered. Tomatoes are acid. Cheese is acid. So I cut up cubes of cheese, sitting a wide-mouthed pint jar in a pan of water, on the wood stove. Slowly cubes of cheese melted and I added more until the jar was full to within half an inch of the top. Then I put a hot, previously boiled lid on the jar, screwed down the ring firmly tight and added the cheese to a batch of jars in the boiling water bath canner to process. It sealed on removal, right along with the jars of tomatoes. Two years later, I opened it and it was great. Perhaps a little sharper than before, but great. So I started canning cheese of all types and, so far, they’ve all been successful. To take the cheeses out of the jar, dip the jar in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, then take a knife and go around the jar, gently prying the cheese out. Store it in a plastic zip lock bag.” — Jackie

Canning the cheese did not take long. I did 2 batches of 12 jars each on one day and it was really quick. Other than cutting up the cheese, most of your time is spent waiting for the cheese to melt (and adding more cheese to the jars) then waiting for the cheese to process. I canned just mild cheese but am going to do Mozzarella and Cream Cheese next. I loved doing this and seeing the jars of cheese on my shelf!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Important Documents


For some reason this was one of the hardest things for me to get done in putting together my 72-hour kits. Maybe because it didn't involve shopping, who knows? However it is a very important part of the kit assembly.

It is a must that you make copies of all your important documents and put a copy of each in your kit. If, for any reason, your home or files were destroyed, you would need a copy of everything; from insurance papers, to identity information as well as bank and credit card numbers and details.

You may have copies of these documents stored on a computer, in the home of a family member or elsewhere, but because of the unknown circumstances of the emergency you are facing, those other copies may become inaccessible or may take too long to get copies of.

Below is a list of some of the documents you need to copy for you kits. There may be more or less than this, depending on your situations. Go through your files and check for other information you might need to copy.

How are you coming on the money (cash) for your kits? I recently read that not only do you want to have small bills, but also some coin such as quarters for vending machines etc. You never know exactly what you’ll need, but cash is always important to have immediate access to; don’t ever depend on using a credit or debit card. Also remember, if your bills are too large and the vendor does not have change, you may be out of luck.

If any of you have any ideas of different things you have done in your kits, how you’ve packed them or unique things you have added, let us know. We are all looking for a better way to do things.

Legal Papers and Documents to Copy
Birth Certificates
Marriage License
House Mortgage
Vacation Home / Property Ownership
Automotive Ownership
Motor Home Ownership
Trailers, Snowmobiles, Boat Ownerships
Wills
Jewelry Appraisals
Drivers Licenses
Home Insurance Policies
Auto Insurance Policies
Medical and Dental Insurance Information
Bank Accounts

Friday, April 22, 2011

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


Gas prices are crazy. It really is frustrating that there is nothing you can do about it. How much does it cost you to fill up? I know you’ve heard $5 gas by Memorial Day and it isn’t supposed to stop there.

Tip of the week: Drive less often. Sound impossible? One woman named Brandy tells how she did it. “There is no reason that you have to go to the store every week. By careful shopping of sales, you can save money on gas in trips to the store. You can save the time you would have spent standing in line and driving to the store and back. Can you use a couple of extra hours a week? Try going to the store only once or twice a month, when the sales are at their lowest, and stock up then. Fill your car. If your pantry is well-stocked, you won't run out of things. A trip once every month or even every couple of months can fill your shelves, if you fill your car when you go each of those times.

To get yourself in the habit of going less often, try buying 2 weeks of milk (watch the expiration dates), eggs, etc. Get some fresh fruits and vegetables for the first week, and some that will be good for both weeks--things like apples, carrots and potatoes. The second week, eat canned and frozen fruits and vegetables (along with whatever other fresh things you have left). If you have a garden, it can help fill in the gaps. Eventually, try lengthening the amount of time between shopping trips.

Brandy has a website where she also tells how she went about procuring her food storage and a meager budget and how she managed to live on it for over 2 years with little or no income. It’s a very interesting and inspiring story. I loved reading it and even read it to my husband. She has lots of good ideas. Here is the link if you’d like to read it. http://theprudenthomemaker.com/LivingonourFoodStorage.aspx
This week the recipe of the week is for saving money on meat. Karen from Utah says she has been substituting wheat berries for part of her meat in ground beef recipes for years. This is her recipe for Wheat Berry Taco Meat. She said, “I almost always have cooked wheat berries in my fridge. I throw them in soups and salads and with pasta sauces.” She says you can adjust the amount of berries that you mix with your meat until you feel comfortable with it; start with a little and gradually increase over time. She also said that her recipe for taco meat varies, this is just a basic recipe, but sometimes she adds other seasonings or a package of taco seasoning mix. She also adds a tomato sauce mixture to this to serve over chips for a good taco salad, adding black beans, corn and tomatoes or whatever she feels like that particular day. Thanks for the recipe, Karen.

Wheat Berry Taco Meat – Karen B. from Utah
1 lb. ground beef (Substitute 1 pint ground beef)
2 cups cooked whole wheat berries
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
Brown ground beef and drain fat. Stir in the cooked wheat berries and spices. Serve with tortillas and toppings such as lettuce, cheese, sour cream, olives and onions. For burritos: add reconstituted freeze-dried refried beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and other fresh toppings as desired and roll up. Serve over crushed corn chips with black beans, corn, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and Ranch Dressing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Egg rolls from food storage?


Several years ago, a friend wanted me to go to a Chinese food cooking class with her. Let me just say up front that I really didn’t want to go. I don’t love Chinese food, mostly because of some of the weird ingredients. Now not to offend anyone, I just had never had Chinese food when I was growing up.

When I was in high school, we traveled around to several tournaments and competitions and because the upperclassmen always got to choose where we ate, it was always Chinese. It soon became obvious to me that I either had to learn to like Chinese or be very hungry. I always ordered fried rice and chicken egg rolls. So adventurous, I know. Skip ahead to the adult and adventurous me.

A few years ago I enrolled in some computer classes and traveled with three other ladies about an hour away to attend these classes. The three of them had talked in advance before they picked me up, about where they wanted to have lunch. Yup, Chinese. Every week for 8 weeks. Luckily I discovered that I could have sweet and sour chicken with my egg rolls and fried rice. I also discovered that I really love egg rolls, as in serious egg roll love.

So it was with reluctance I attended the cooking class. (These classes were before I discovered sweet and sour chicken.)I figured I could handle a few samples and maybe even learn how to make better fried rice. What I didn’t expect was that we would learn how to make egg rolls. That got my attention, especially the fact that we were making the egg roll wrappers from scratch as well.

I’ve bought several different kinds of egg rolls over the years but they were often tasteless or too chewy, though occasionally they wouldn’t be too bad. Now I have over the years made egg rolls a couple of times but I always hesitated to make them because it was always a big deal to get the oil out and fry them and not have them turn out greasy.

I recently bought some 6” egg roll wrappers thinking I should make egg rolls again. I wanted to bake them this time so I searched through all my recipes and read up on how to bake egg rolls, and finally combined 2 recipes and made the best egg rolls I’ve ever had. Modest, I know. I loved that these were baked instead of fried, which was a big plus for me. I kind of expected them to not be as crunchy because they were baked but the crunch was perfect. I froze the leftovers and have heated them for lunch a few times (almost every day since I made them) and they are really good reheated as well.

The, the point of this long story is that I was thinking how nice it would be to make egg rolls from food storage. So I tried it. It worked great. I have shredded cabbage and carrots and dried onion and celery as well as soy sauce in my pantry and they all worked great. The food storage egg rolls I made had canned chicken in as well it tasted great.

So if you are looking for a fun new food storage recipe, this could be it. Here is the recipe for the chicken egg rolls. I used a leftover chicken breast from a Honey Baked Chicken recipe (going to try some leftover Café Rio sweet pork in the next batch). I’m including the egg roll recipe I used as well as the recipe for the homemade wrappers, though you can buy wrappers if you want to save a step. If you love these as much as I did, you may want to dry some vegetables for your storage so you can include this meal to you food storage menus. (You just need to reconstitute the veggies before putting the egg rolls together if you are using dehydrated veggies.)

I also made a quick sweet and sour sauce for dipping. I tried to find the simplest sauce recipe I could using food storage items and this one was great with the egg rolls. The easy sauce recipe is at the end of the post.

Baked Egg Rolls
½ c. Chopped onions
½ c. Celery, diced fine
1 clove Garlic, minced
4 – 5 c. Shredded cabbage
1 ½ c. Grated carrots
¼ t. dried ginger (or more, fresh if you have it)
2 T. cornstarch
1½ T. water
1½ T. soy sauce
1½ t. veg. oil
2 t. brown sugar
Fresh ground pepper or cayenne pepper for more heat
1 c. cooked chicken finely diced (one chicken breast, seasoned)
Egg roll wrappers
Water to seal wrappers
Non-stick cooking spray
Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray; add the first 3 ingredients. Sauté a minute then add cabbage and carrots. Cook and stir over medium heat until vegetable are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add diced chicken. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, oil, brown sugar, ginger and pepper until smooth; stir into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes; remove from the heat. Spoon ¼ c. of chicken mixture on the bottom third of one egg roll wrapper; fold bottom up and fold sides toward center and roll tightly. Brush top corner of wrapper with water to seal. Place seam side down on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Spray tops of egg rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 425º 9- 11 minutes, until wrappers start to brown. Turn egg rolls over and bake another 9-10 minutes or until egg rolls are lightly browned and slightly crispy. Watch carefully the last few minutes of baking time. Serve with dipping sauces. Y:16-20 egg rolls

Egg Roll Wrappers
2 c. sifted flour
¾ c. cold water
1 egg
½ t. salt
Combine all ingredients with a fork and stir till the flour is moistened. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minute. Roll out on a well-floured board, 1/16” thick and cut into 6” squares. The thinner the wrappers the better they will be. To make egg rolls, place the square of dough with one point facing you and one point facing away from you, like a diamond. Put ¼ c. filling on lower third of dough. Fold up bottom corner over the filling. Fold in both sides then roll up, tucking edges in as you go. Dip fingers into water and put on top edges on either side of the top point and finish rolling up. Bake or deep fry in hot oil.

Easy Sweet and Sour Sauce
½ c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
½ c. vinegar
1 T. ketchup
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add vinegar and ketchup and bring to a boil, stirring well. Mixture with thicken and become clear

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday – Hygiene Supplies


This week is Hygiene week. We are gathering products to help us with our hygiene needs. This is where the little travel size bottles and tubes can come in handy in buying supplies for your kits. I did find, however that a travel size tube of toothpaste cost as much as a regular small size tube. Of course, if you have any sample sizes or complimentary bottles of shampoo, hand soap etc. those work great too.

One idea that I read about that I thought was fun was a mini hygiene kit for each family member’s pack. These are made either in an old make-up bag, you can use the zippered bags meant for pencil and school supplies, Ziploc baggies or anything like that. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

Any liquid items should be inside Ziploc bags to prevent leakage. Always assume the worst when packing your kits and make sure everything is protected against any kind of accident.

One note about bar soap: This is an important thing to have in a hygiene kit but most bars of soap really smell. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless it makes everything else in your kit smell or taste like soap; then it is a terrible thing. I’ve heard people say that when they opened the kit intending to eat the food and rotate in new foods, they had to throw all the food out that wasn't in cans because everything tasted like soap. Luckily they weren’t using the kit in an emergency and left without food. It is a good idea when purchasing your bars of soap if you are buying them, to buy unscented soap so that it doesn’t make any of your food in your kits taste like soap. The problem is that even by putting the soap inside baggies, the smell and taste can still penetrate your food. If possible use unscented soap or put it in a different bag than your food kits are in. The soap in your kits will not need to be rotated so it may be worth it to spend a little more and get unscented soap for your kits then you don’t have to worry.

An even better idea is to put your soap in a different bag than any of your food or snacks. I saw one idea where there was a family hygiene kit packed separately in a fishing tackle box or cheap tool box along with the matches, pocket knife, first-aid kits and various other things. If you separate the soap from the food stuffs you can use the complimentary soaps you get at hotels or just save some partially used bars of soap for your kits. The most important thing is keeping the soap away from your food.

Here is a list of things that you want to include in your hygiene kits. You can add items or take away what you don’t think you need, but in general the hygiene items take up very little space.

Suggestions include:
Bar Soap, Unscented if possible
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Combs or brushes
Pony tail bands or clips for hair
Deodorant if desired
Hand Towels or wash cloth
Packet of anti-bacterial wipes per person or larger pack if doing a family hygiene kit
Kleenexes or Handkerchiefs for each person
Hand sanitizer
Nail clippers or file
Tweezers (optional if you have tweezers in your first aid kits)
Shampoo (Optional)
Chap Stick or lip balm
Disposable razor (optional)
Sunscreen
I really don’t think that everyone in an emergency will be sitting around washing their hair. And as gross as it would be to not brush your teeth for 3 days, it wouldn't kill you. As long as you have something to sanitize your hands with, you could probably go without these. (But really... who wants to??) These items are so small and light that it's almost insignificant the amount of space and weight they take up. So, just add them. Think of how much better you will feel after brushing your teeth, even if your whole body is dirty. If it happens that your emergency lasts longer than 3 days, you’ll be glad you are prepared.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Milk Alternatives


Isn’t it funny how we sail through life not thinking much about the things everyone else struggles with because we are so busy coping with our own struggles. You hear all the time that someone is Lactose Intolerant, or can’t eat gluten or is allergic to a certain food but we don’t really think much about it until it until we have to cook for them or it happens to us. Then it is a whole different story. What hits home the hardest is when you realize that you have to adjust your storage items to fits the special dietary needs of someone that has intolerances or allergies. Simple things like throwing together a casserole with cream of anything soup and noodles, suddenly becomes complicated.

The idea that so many things contain milk or wheat which you must not use can really boggle your mind. There are alternatives that provide easier solutions when it comes to these things. There are many different kinds of grains that can be used in place of wheat and thankfully also several alternatives for milk allergies, especially in cooking. Today I’m going to include some recipes for milk alternatives.

First of all, I know that storing almonds to make almond milk isn’t very practical, at least not for long term storage but let me also say that if I were an Almond farmer, I would live on almond milk and drink up all my profits. It is delicious and fun to make and if you have lots of almonds at your disposal, you could have endless possibilities. So, for all intents and purposes, the almond milk recipe is technically not a storage recipe but just for fun. You have to make almond milk at least once before you die.

Homemade rice milk is more practical though probably not a favorite for drinking straight, but it is a great substitute in recipes that call for milk or powdered milk. Shelf stable rice milk is available to buy, but pricey to store too much and would require lots of storage space; more space than I have. However I know a lady who uses homemade rice milk in her oatmeal and in fruit shakes and many other ways she would use regular milk, and is glad to be able to do it. If this is an option for you, you might want to consider storing a little extra rice.

Soy milk is also a good alternative. It isn’t hard to make thought it takes a little extra time. As we have talked before, soy beans only have a storage life of about a year or a little longer depending on your storage temperature and conditions. This is, however, also a great milk alternative. Here are some recipes for all three.

Almond Milk
¼ c. almonds (30-35), blanched
2 c. cold water
1-2 t. sugar or sweetener
½ -1 T. vanilla
Ice cubes
Fruit (optional)
Blend almonds and cold water till smooth in a blender. Add vanilla and sweetener. If desired add ice and fresh fruit and blend till smooth.

Rice Milk
1 part rice
4 parts water
Vanilla to taste (optional)
Cook rice and water together until rice is fully cooked. Cool slightly; add to a blender and blend well till as smooth as possible. Strain mixtures several times through cheesecloth.

Homemade Soy Milk
One-half pound of soy beans will make about one-half gallon of milk.
There are two different methods for making soy milk. Read the instructions and decided which you would like to try, or maybe you’ll want to try them both.

Step One: Inspect the soybeans; remove any damaged, cracked, or discolored soybeans then wash thoroughly. Use one of the two methods below to prepare your beans:

Method #1:
Soak beans 24 hours, change water once in a while. Rinse beans after soaking, and rub them in your hands to loosen hulls. Proceed to Step Two.

Method #2:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ t. baking soda to the water as it boils. Add 1-2 cup soybeans to the boiling water. Blanch for five minutes. Drain the soybeans and rinse with hot water. Bring another 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/8 teaspoon baking soda to the boiling water. Place the soybeans in the new pot of boiling water. Blanch again for 5 minutes. Drain the soybeans again and rinse with hot water. Proceed to Step Two:

Step 2:
Measure beans, use 1 part beans to 3 parts water. Put 1 cup beans in blender and add 2 cups water; puree as fine as possible then pour this mixture into large pan, rinse out blender with the other 1 cup water. Repeat this process until all beans have been blended. Bring water to boil and simmer for about an hour, strain this mixture through cheese cloth or any porous cloth. Let drain and then squeeze as much more “milk” out as possible. You now have Soy milk. Add salt and sugar to taste. You may also add chocolate or vanilla. Simmer the soy milk with all the added ingredients for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Homemade soy milk can be served hot or cold. After the initial serving, however, soy milk should be refrigerated if it is not going to be entirely consumed in the same day. Homemade soy milk can generally last about 5 days when refrigerated.

Now, after your milk is made, what you have left in the cheesecloth is the “grits” or paste ; this is called Okara and can be used in different recipes, such as cakes or cookies; for example add ½ c. to a 2 loaf recipe of banana bread and you can’t even tell but it adds extra protein. It can be added to meatloaf or any ground beef recipe to boost the protein. It takes on the flavor of whatever it is mixed with although it is visible in some mixtures such as meat sauce for spaghetti. Ounce for ounce Soy has more protein than meat and is a staple in a Vegan diet.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Soybeans


I have not thought much about Soy beans for a while until lately I ran across some notes I took in a class I attended where we learned to make Soy Milk and also Soy Meat. I had forgotten how excited I was to come home and try some of these things I had learned. My first attempt was to make soy meat. My kids were young at that time and I made “chicken patties” out of the soy and served them with potatoes and gravy and they didn’t know they were not eating chicken. My husband knew because I told him (I was too excited to keep it to myself) but I expect he would have known anyway. However, being the good sport he is, he ate it and said it wasn’t too bad. That was pretty high praise from an adamant lifetime meat lover.

I also tried making soy milk and I can’t remember what the verdict on that was except that I made chocolate milk for the young ‘uns and they drank it down. But you know, how it is with chocolate – it makes almost anything edible.

Farmers refer to the soybean as the nearly perfect crop. Soybean plants aren’t fussy about how much water they get most of the year. And by simply spreading its leaves to the sunlight and going through a couple of chemical steps, the soybean plant takes nitrogen from the air and uses it to make protein. Crops such as corn, wheat and barley can’t do that trick; they have to get nitrogen from expensive fertilizers.

Soybeans were a food staple in chine about 4000 years ago but didn’t become popular in the US until George Washington Carver discovered their great potential. Nature has pack the soybean with double the percent of protein found in beef, 3 times the percent found in eggs and 11 times the percent in fresh whole milk. Oil from soybeans is very low in cholesterol. Nutritionists say that the soybean is a near-perfect food.

Soy Beans are quite versatile. Their storage life is shorter than regular beans because of their high oil content but they really do make a great meat substitute for anyone who wants to use them as a meat substitute or a meat extender. The milk would also be valuable to anyone who is lactose intolerant or for use in cooking if milk were not available or scarce. We will discuss making soy milk in another post. If you have TVP in your food storage, then you are already using dried soybeans.

I believe learning to use and store some soy beans will be a benefit financially as well as nutritionally; especially to anyone with special dietary needs. They are a very versatile food because they have many different uses. This is one of those things you need to try now, rather than waiting until there is an emergency to try it. I’ve never been a tofu lover, but if you are, you can also make your own tofu. There are several other ways to use soy beans as well. If you use soybeans or have them in your storage, let us know what you do with them.Here are some recipes for you to try.

Soy Patties
2 c. soybean pulp
2 c. cooked brown rice (white rice works too)
2 T. vegetable fat
1 onion, chopped fine
½ T. soy sauce
½ t. salt
Garlic or sage for flavoring
½ c. bread crumbs
To make soybean pulp: Soak beans in water for at least 3 hours. Boil in water for 15 minutes. Drain. Mix beans thoroughly by pounding or in a blender with enough water to puree into a stiff paste.
To make patties: Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs together. Shape into patties. Roll in crumbs. Bake I a greased pan at 350º until brown or warm in a frying pan. Serve with gravy or barbecue sauce if desired.

Baked Soy Meat Patties
2 c. soybeans
6 c. vegetable broth, chicken broth or water
2 T. oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large onions, diced
1 carrot, grated
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, minced fine (optional)
1 t. sea salt
½ t. oregano
½ t. garlic powder
½ t. basil
½ t. parsley
6 T. soy sauce
2 c. cooked brown rice
Soak soybeans in water to cover overnight. Boil soybeans in a pot with vegetable stock or water for about 2 1/2 hours or until thoroughly cooked. Preheat oven to 400º. Lightly grease a skillet and sauté garlic cloves, onions, carrots, celery and green pepper until soft (about 5 minutes). Using a spoon or similar utensil, mash the soybeans in a mixing bowl with the brown rice. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly.
Form the mixture into patties using your hands. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Bake patties in preheated oven for 30 minutes, then serve. *Turn patties halfway through baking time.

Soy Meat (Ground beef substitute)
1 lb. mashed soybeans (Soaked 3 hours and mashed)
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 eggs or egg substitute
1 T. salt
1 t. garlic
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil
Mix all ingredients together. Spoon into hot oil in frying pan. Cook on medium heat for a few hours turning occasionally until brown and crusty. Use in place of ground meat. Add spaghetti sauce and serve over noodles or use in any casserole dish calling for cooked ground beef.

Friday, April 15, 2011

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


I’ve been doing a lot of baking and cooking this week. I’ve tried a couple of fun recipes can be made with fresh ingredients or with food storage and I’ll be posting those next week. I think it’s the spring fever that is doing it. It’s been too wet and windy to spend much time outside but I’m enjoying the idea that maybe spring is going to come soon. I’m sure many of you are already thinking gardening; I’ve been planting some herbs that I hope will grow well so I can have fresh herbs in my recipes. I’ve been rather lax about trying to grow many herbs – not because I wouldn’t like to, I just have not gotten it done. Maybe this will be the year! I think that vegetable gardens will be a beautiful sight this summer. I hope all your gardening plans go well also.

The tip of the week is a fun one too. One of my challenges, now that I’m cooking for two, is to cut down recipes. Seems like I am forever trying to cut a recipe in half or thirds to avoid waste. One of the biggest problems with that is when I need a can of beans. I have a lot of recipes for salsas and salads not to mention soups that call for a can of beans. I’ve been known to change my mind about making a recipe because I didn’t want to open a can of beans to use just a part of a can. Here is a great tip that will be of help to me and hopefully you as well.

Did you know that you can prepare dried beans in your crock pot? This is so handy and cheap! It is under a dollar for a pound of dried beans and you get several cans worth of beans. All you have to do is cook them and put 1 2/3 cup portions into a bag (and freeze) for whenever you need a can of beans. It is so simple and there is very little hands on time. First sort the beans and pick out any that look bad or any little rocks. Rinse them very well.

Next, put your beans in the slow cooker and cover the beans with water and let them sit overnight (with the slow cooker turned off). In the morning dump the bean water, rinse your beans and put them back in the slow cooker. Add water until the beans are covered- plus several inches extra. Cook on low for 8 hours and dump the water.

Bag the beans in 1 2/3 cup portions (a heaping ¾ c. for a half can) and freeze them. Now you have beans ready whenever you need some. So easy and a great way to save some money without much work. *Note: If you want to be able to pull out just a few beans, spread them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, plastic wrap or a silpat and freeze before bagging, then it is easier to pull out a handful of beans or however many you want to use without having to thaw the bag first. Important note: This does not work for kidney beans. They release some sort of toxin and need to be boiled hard instead of cooked slow.

The recipe this week was sent to me by Gayle P. from Utah. It is a fun casserole recipe that looks delicious and would be great served with a fresh green salad made with fresh veggies. I guess you can tell I’m anxious for some fresh garden produce. Thanks for sending the recipe in. Still would love more recipes if you have some you want to send.

Easy Lasagna Casserole – Gayle P.
1½ c. Freeze Dried Ground Beef (reconstituted), or 1 pint canned ground beef
¼ c. Dried Chopped Onion, reconstituted
1¾ c. Chunky Salsa Tomato Sauce
1 t. Italian Seasoning
2/3 c. Dehydrated Fat-Free Milk, reconstituted
½ c. Water
½ c. Cream Cheese
¼ t. Minced Garlic
1 t. Dried Parsley Flakes
2 c. Cooked Medium-Width Noodles
½ c. Plus 1 T. Freeze Dried Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, reconstituted
Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a large saucepan with olive oil flavored cooking spray and brown meat and onions in it. Stir in tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, water, and cream cheese. Add garlic and parsley flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cream cheese melts. Stir in cooked noodles. Pour noodle mixture into 8"x 8" baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Spread meat mixture evenly over noodle mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella. Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Year's Supply on $5 a Week


Have you seen the food storage plan called, “A Year's Supply on $5 a Week"? This program has been circulating for quite a few years and should now be changed to read $10 a week. The premise is that you buy the recommended items each week spending $5-$10 a week and at the end of the year you will have a complete supply of food for 2 people. So, for every 2 people you are storing food for, you add another $5-$10 a week. At the end of the 52 week period this is what you’ll have:

500 pounds of wheat
180 pounds of sugar
40 pounds of powdered milk
12 pounds of salt
10 pounds of honey
5 pounds of peanut butter
45 cans of tomato soup
15 cans of cream of mushroom soup
15 cans of cream of chicken soup
24 cans of tuna
21 boxes of macaroni and cheese
6 pounds of yeast
6 pounds of shortening
12 pounds of macaroni
500 aspirin
1000 multi-vitamins

This should be enough to sustain 2 people for 1 year. For every 2 people in your family, add $5.00 more and double or triple the amount of the item you are buying for that week.

This is an interesting concept. If you are just starting out you may want to try this. If you have some or most of your basics, you could amend this plan to additional food storage items each week. My only problem with this is that you miss out on many important food storage items such as rice, beans, and oil, and have included things that you may not need such as aspirin and boxed macaroni and cheese. There are no canned vegetables or fruit. Notice that this list does not include things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies

However, this just may motivate you to really do something each week and we all know what happens when you really start working on your food storage: you get excited and become committed to getting a really good food storage.I am going to include the basics of this program with a few suggestions of my own.

First: Get an old wallet or zippered make-up bag or coin purse and decide how much you are going to spend each week. If you are storing for 2 and can afford it I would do $10. Add an additional $10 for every 2 members of your family. Put the amount in the purse each week and the change that you get back also. There will be some weeks when you spend more and some when you spend less.

Second: Be diligent. Put the money in every week even if you don’t purchase the specific items that week. Don’t borrow from the cash stash for other things.

Third: Keep a running list of things that you want to purchase that may not be on this list. When you have purchased all the things on your list, you can then work on getting the other things on your list. You may want to include dehydrated foods as well; add them to your list.

Fourth: If possible, speed up your preparations; instead of taking one year to complete, spend $20 per week, and accomplish it in 6 months, or $40 per week, and accomplish it in 3 months.

Fifth: Anytime you use something that you have purchased for you supply, replace it immediately. It is very easy to use it up as you go and not have much more when you finish than you did when you started.

Sixth: Try this! If not as it is written, write your own $5 - $10 a week plan and see what you can get this next year. Maybe you have most of your basic items and want to work on dried or freeze dried foods. Maybe you have lots of canned goods but not many essentials like wheat, beans, rice, pasta etc. Come up with a plan of your own. I'd be interested to hear what kind of a plan or goals you set up for your own situation.

Week #:
1. 6 lbs. salt
2. 5 cans cream of chicken soup
3. 20 lbs. sugar
4. 8 cans tomato soup
5. 50 lbs. wheat
6. 6 lbs. macaroni
7. 20 lbs. sugar
8. 8 cans tuna
9. 6 lbs yeast
10. 50 lbs. wheat
11. 8 cans tomato soup
12. 20 lbs. sugar
13. 10 lbs. powdered milk
14. 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
15. 50 lbs. wheat
16. 5 cans cream of chicken soup
17. 1 bottle 500 multi- vitamins
18. 10 lbs. powdered milk
19. 5 cans cream of chicken soup
20. 50 lbs. wheat
21. 8 cans tomato soup
22. 20 lbs. sugar
23. 8 cans tuna
24. 6 lbs. shortening
25. 50 lbs. wheat
26. 5 lbs. honey
27. 10 lbs. powdered milk
28. 20 lbs. sugar
29. 5 lbs. peanut butter
30. 50 lbs. wheat
31. 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
32. 10 lbs. powdered milk
33. 1 bottle 500 aspirin (if you use these)
34. 5 cans cream of chicken soup
35. 50 lbs. wheat
36. 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
37. 6 lbs. salt
38. 20 lbs. sugar
39. 8 cans tomato soup
40. 50 lbs. wheat
41. 5 cans cream of chicken soup
42. 20 lbs. sugar
43. 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
44. 8 cans tuna
45. 50 lbs. wheat
46. 6 lbs. macaroni
47. 20 lbs. sugar
48. 5 cans cream of chicken soup
49. 5 lbs honey
50. 20 lbs sugar
51. 8 cans tomato soup
52. 50 lbs. wheat

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Ponchos & Emergency Blankets


Is anyone else sick of the rainy, damp spring we are having so far? Not much sunshine here lately and it's getting old. Maybe, just maybe, the lack of sunshine has made me a little bit grouchy lately. It started right after we had that one really nice day, and then it snowed 6" a day or two later. Oh well. Water is good, as long as it stays where it should. I know if the temperature warms too fast there could be trouble; deep trouble.

All this rainy weather has me thinking about rain ponchos. They are a must for your kits. If you don’t have any ponchos for your family you can get them almost anywhere. Any emergency supply distributor will have them and I have seen them in some Wal-mart stores and even on occasion in a dollar store. They are very inexpensive, and take up very little space. They are about the size of a 3x5 index card and about ½” thick when they are packaged but open to a full size poncho. They are not fancy but will keep you out of the rain and dry if you happen to be caught in a rainy situation. They are one size fits all but are easily adapted to fit anyone. Grab one for each family member’s kit.

Another thing that is a good idea to have in your kit is an emergency blanket. These too are very inexpensive, about the same size as the ponchos when packed up and will keep you warm. They look like a big sheet of tin foil, but can be used for covering yourself or bedding or whatever. They will insulate you and keep you warm and dry. These too, should be easy to find almost anywhere.

In a situation where there is cold, windy or wet weather, wrapping up in an emergency blanket will lock your body heat inside and keep you warm and dry. If you would rather, you can buy an emergency sleeping bag which is about the same size but works on the same principle except that you can crawl inside of it, like a sleeping bag, and stay totally insulated, warm and dry. They cost a dollar or two more than the emergency blankets, usually $3- $4, but are a great addition to an emergency kit. I think that these just might have innumerable uses during an actual emergency.

If you have other members of your family or friends who are also preparing you can go in together and have any items such as these shipped in a group order for much cheaper. Check out the camping section of your local Wal-mart or Target. It’s always fun to see the various items that are now available.

I'm still collecting recipes for our Food Storage Friendly Meals. If you have one that you'd be willing to share, email it to me at preparedness365@gmail.com or if there is something specific you'd like a recipe for let us know that too and I'm sure someone can come up with something.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Going Bananas!


Today I’m drying bananas and I want you to try this. Wait, wait…don’t hang up! Seriously if I were the one reading this post, I’d skip over it because I do NOT like dried bananas. Okay, if it were the only thing I had to eat I would eat them, but I wouldn’t like it. There is a method behind all this madness though.

I love banana bread. Maybe it is because when I took 4-H it was the very first thing I learned to make. Maybe it is because when I buy bananas and we don’t eat them all up, I make banana bread with the last 2 or 3 and maybe it tastes so good because I know I didn’t waste those last few bananas (I HATE to waste). Whatever it is, I really do like it. Even stranger is the fast that I still use the same recipe that I used when I was 10 years old. I’ve tried others, but this one always turns out and is easy to make.

There really is a point to all this banana talk. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I would miss fresh fruit if all of a sudden I couldn’t buy it anymore or it wasn’t available to buy. I could get by without fresh bananas, although I do crave a good banana occasionally, but I would really miss my banana bread.

In thinking about this I decided I really needed some dried bananas in my storage, not to eat but to rehydrate and use in banana bread. This is one of those things that is really easy to do, doesn’t take much time and I’m sure I’ll be glad I did. Here is how I do it:

Drying Bananas
Slice bananas ¼” thick
Dip in pineapple juice, lemon or lime juice
Lay on your dehydrator sheets (you can grease sheets lightly if you like, I use the mesh inserts that came with my trays)
Dry 8-12 hours until desired dryness.
Cool a banana slice completely to test for desired dryness.
Dry pack or vacuum seal for later use.
*Note: My recipe for banana bread calls for 2 bananas. I counted the slices when I was drying them to see how many to put in each pouch when I dry packed them. I figured it is about 25 slices per each medium-large banana in your recipe. More or less, doesn't really matter, that is just a guide I use so that I can use one pouch per batch of banana bread.

If you have had dried bananas before that you have bought, you will notice that these do not get hard and crisp like those (you can dry them a very long time if you want crisp). The reason that they are not crisp like the bananas you buy is because they are fried. In oil. Then dried. Hmmm maybe that is the thing I don’t like about dried bananas is that they are fried. In oil. Just seems wrong to me.

These bananas that I am drying are to use in banana bread. Not snacking; but you can do as you wish. I dried mine overnight and they were still a little soft but there was no moisture in them. They are ready to seal and save until you have a banana bread craving. Then, just pour boiling water over the dried bananas and let them stand 10 minutes, or until soft, drain and mix in your bread as usual. If you don’t have a favorite banana bread recipe, here is my very favorite of all time. If you use powdered butter, eggs, milk and lemon juice, this can be made totally from your food storage. Sans the nuts. Oh yes, I will miss my pecans in almost everything I bake. I do try to keep extra on hand at all times but man, are they expensive now!

BANANA BREAD
1 cube butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 large bananas, mashed
1 ½ T. milk
1 t. lemon juice
¼ t. salt
½ t. soda
1 ½ t. baking powder
2 c. sifted flour
1 c. chopped nuts
Whip butter & sugar together. Add eggs & beat well. Mash bananas with lemon juice and milk. Add bananas to butter mixture. Add flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir in nuts & mix well. Bake at 350º for 45-55 minutes in 2 small loaf pans (7½ x 3½”). Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. When done it will pull away from sides of pan. Test with a toothpick in center for doneness.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Breakfast Cookies – A Fun Food Storage Recipe


I used to make these many eons ago when my children were small. They are made with lots of healthy ingredients and can be refrigerated or frozen. I always freeze them because they never get really hard and thaw quickly. It is fun to have some of these cookies to pull out for a quick breakfast.

The recipe calls for them to be sandwiched with peanut butter or cream cheese but this time I tried a couple of different fillings and loved them. The cookies are healthy as well as being delicious and you can tweak the recipe to fit the tastes of your family. I used raisins in the cookies (which I didn’t always do years ago and added some mini chocolate chips to some – which was a fun change. For the filling I used homemade strawberry cream cheese on some and Nutella on the rest. Can I just say that I want to be buried with my Nutella. It is so good and made these cookies even yummier. Peanut butter is good too.

Here is the recipe for the cookies. It makes 8-10 sandwich cookies and I doubled the recipe since I was freezing them anyway. I love having something quick to eat for breakfast since I’m not much of a breakfast person. But a cookie for breakfast is a whole other story.

Good Morning Cookies
¼ c. butter
½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. applesauce
1 egg
½ c. rolled oats
1/3 c. bran
¼ c. dry milk
¾ c. whole wheat flour (use any flour combo you want to)
½ t. soda
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
¼ t. ground cloves
½ c. raisins (opt.)
¼ c. chopped nuts
Mini chocolate chips (optional)
Combine butter and sugar, mixing till creamy. Mix in egg and applesauce until well blended. Add remaining ingredients. Stir in raisins and nuts. Spray a baking sheet with Pam or use a Silicon baking mat. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-3” apart. Spread dough so each cookie is about 2” across. Bake at 375º for 10 minutes or until set. Cool on rack. Use flavored cream cheese, peanut butter or Nutella to make “sandwiches”. Refrigerate or freeze. Y: 8 large sandwich cookies.

Since it is strawberry season you can also make your own strawberry cream cheese and it is wonderful. If you have not done this before you should do it soon. It’s great on bagels as well as in these cookies. I love this recipe for Strawberry Sauce from “Our Best Bites” and we eat it on everything from ice cream to waffles and pancakes and several different desserts. Now that I use it to make the Strawberry Cream Cheese, I love it even more!

Homemade Strawberry Cream Cheese
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 c. Strawberry sauce (from Our Best Bites) (I used between 1/3 & ½ c.)
Blend until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Refrigerate.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday and Tip of the Week


The rising cost of fresh vegetables is sad. Who doesn’t have lots of lots of recipes that use fresh tomatoes and peppers? What about fresh limes? So, what do you do? Do you not buy them? Do you just ignore the price and buy them anyway, if you can get them and even though the quality may not be very good? Do you go without something else so you can afford them?

One blog I was reading suggested substituting canned tomatoes or salsa in your recipes using fresh tomatoes as much as you can. Maybe you are already doing this. I know we had salsa instead of fresh tomatoes in our “American Tacos” last night. No it isn’t the same but its okay. I don’t think $3 tomatoes taste that good anyway.

Another benefit of this is that you can begin to see how storing canned tomatoes and salsa will convert some of your regular dishes to food storage dishes. Not sure what we’ll do without lettuce, but some things can’t be helped, I guess.

This week’s tip is to see which dishes you can convert to food storage recipes with the use of canned tomatoes or salsa. Maybe some of you use dried tomatoes in the place of fresh. If you do, I’d love to hear about it. When you find some recipes that you can convert, email them to me and we’ll all try them. One thing is for sure; everyone can benefit from some more food storage friendly recipes.

One of our readers wrote this to me: “Pam--I have actually made bruschetta out of canned tomatoes before when I had French bread but didn't have roma or garden tomatoes and wanted to make a snack for the family.” Jeri B. – Arizona

Here is a recipe for that. You can tweak it to your liking and maybe this will make us not miss fresh tomatoes quite so much.

Bruschetta - Adapted from recipe by Sue S.- Arizona 1 Can petite diced tomatoes, drained (keep a little of the juice on it if you'd like) or diced tomatoes from the garden
A few shakes of dried basil or fresh if you have it in the garden
A few light shakes of garlic powder or to taste
A few shakes of balsamic vinegar
A few shakes of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine drained tomatoes, basil, garlic powder and a few shakes of vinegar (to your taste). Add Salt and pepper. Spritz French bread slices with olive before broiling. Top with tomato mixture and serve immediately. *I think any fresh herbs, chopped and added would also be a wonderful addition.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lanterns and Lehmans!


I can’t believe I have done 175 Blog posts and have not mentioned one of my favorite suppliers of, well, just about anything related to preparedness. If you have something you need to procure and have not been able to find it, this is the place to go. I love Lehman’s! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Lehman’s they are located in Amish country and have things you haven’t even thought of. Anything that relates to doing things the old fashioned way, from butter churns to cook stoves to lanterns and everything in between. They even have things you didn’t know you needed; so many kinds of kitchen and other gadgets you’ll be amazed and what you find that you didn’t know you needed. You can find them online at www.Lehmans.com and can shop online or they will send you a catalog. I have to admit, I have spent hours and hours browsing through their catalog and looking at all the amazing stuff.

I’m always glad when spring comes and it starts getting warmer (slowly) and the days begin to get longer. I really don’t like to be cold and I don’t like to be in the dark either; at least not when my eyes are open. I remember as a child having a power outage (yes we did have electricity when I was young) and my mom would pull out the emergency candles and light them until the power was back on and they’d be stored until we needed them again. We didn’t have a lot of outages and never for very long but there were always candles.

I love candles but I would feel very unsafe using them for an extended period of time, especially if there were young children around. They don’t last too long, don’t give off very much light and would be dangerous to carry from one room to another. But, they are definitely better than nothing.

A few winters ago, it seems we had severe weather and lost power several times. We have oil lanterns that we keep for emergencies. During one of these outages, we decided to see how much light they gave off. We have a buffet in our dining area that has a mirror on the back and so we set the lamps on that and found that the mirrors reflected the light making it seem even brighter. We were able to read by the light – although with my eyes I probably want to read too long but we could see well enough to read. I guess that is probably the ultimate test.

We have not only several oil lamps but replacement wicks, mantels and a couple of extra chimneys as well as lamp oil. I do have some candles as well but I think over an extended period of time, lanterns would be our primary light source. All of the oil that we have purchased is “Ultra Pure” oil and safe to use indoors.

One thing I have noticed in my research of preparation items is how things have evolved over the years. Preparedness stuff has become much more high tech and that is good and bad. It is more difficult to find a good old oil lantern with extra wicks, mantels etc. than it used to be. So many Solar lanterns instead which is great but I don’t want solar for my main light source – seems like forever since we’ve seen the sun here. I not only want to have the equipment that I need but extra replacement parts that I may not be able to get when I need them. I’d much rather have them and never use them than need them and not be able to get time.

As I’ve been working on my blogs this week I am amazed at the waiting period to receive preparedness items from most suppliers. Some will give no guarantee as to when your order will be shipped and others are promising a minimum of 6-10 weeks before shipment while many items are listed as “temporarily out of stock”. If there is anything you have been putting off getting don’t wait any longer. Get it on order as your receiving time may be several months in the future. Lanterns should be on you MUST HAVE LIST. Chose the lanterns you want; just be very careful about buying the ones that are under $10 and cheaply made. I am not promoting any brand but I really like the Aladdin brand lanterns, like the one in the picture above. You need to feel save when you use them. As they always say, “You get what you pay for”! Check them out at Lehmans.com., or any other preparedness supplier. Don’t think you need lanterns? Read the following article:

Oil LampsBy Marlene Affeld - September 23, 2010

Brass and glass oil lamp
Avoid calamity by being prepared for home emergencies. Power blackouts are common in most of the United States. Brownout or blackout from an excessive drain on the power supply; devastating tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards take down power lines; and lightning knocks out transformers. Wise homeowners prepare in advance for the disasters they can anticipate. An adequate water and food supply, emergency shelter and medications are absolute necessities in any survival kit. Many home owners maintain a supply of old-fashioned oil lamps to provide needed lighting in an emergency.

Types Of Oil Lamps
Used for centuries in cultures around the world, there are literally thousands of different oil lamp designs and sizes. Brass, copper, stainless steel, glass and ceramic have been crafted by lamp artisans into unique lighting vessels. Since 2000 B.C. people have used oil lamps in stables, palaces, ships, factories and homes. Modern homeowners have a choice of styles designed for safety and function.

Hanging or Wall Oil Lamps
To light the interior of your home during a power outage, hanging oil lamps with downward reflectors will cast light into the darkest corners of a room. Since they are hanging, there is no danger of them being knocked off of a table or dropped. Brass or copper hanging lights are available in sizes from 10 to 22 inches. The metal and glass design is very attractive. Wall lamps made of metal and a glass globe have reflectors/wall protectors that radiate a warming light. Antique enthusiasts love vintage lamps, but quality replica lights are available at home supply or hardware stores for a reasonable price. Fill your lamps and make sure the wicks are properly installed to ensure operation during an outage.

Commonly Used
Although some homeowners may stock oil lamps for use in an emergency, they are widely used daily around the world. People who do not have an adequate source of electric power, those living off the grid and groups such as the Amish who do not believe in the use of electricity count on the light provided by oil lamps to conduct their daily lives. They are an attractive, safe and cost effective replacement for candles.

Approved Lamp Oils
Use only clear lamp oil. Dyed or colored oils burn poorly, clog the wick and may damage or stain the lamp

Lamp Usage Warnings
Never use liquid candle wax, gasoline, paint thinner, wood alcohol, diesel, turpentine, mineral spirits or white gas in any type of wick lantern. You should never use aviation fuel. Anti-freeze additives in the fuel can be fatal if inhaled.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

72-Hour kit Wednesdays - Toilet Paper & Personal Items


Last night before I went to bed, I was making a list of the things we have done so far in our kits since the beginning of the year. I’m still catching up on a couple of things I need to replace or add to my kits, including some medication that should be included, so I guess this inventory is for me as much as anything. I’m going to try and do that this weekend. I don’t know why it is so easy to put this off. It seems sometimes that everything else comes first.

Today we are going to add some personal items. Gather personal feminine products for any females in your family and also a roll of toilet paper for each kit. These should be stored in Ziploc bags to keep them dry. Get one roll of toilet paper for each member of your family. The rolls can be smashed flat to fit in your kits better. These will be invaluable if you need to use your kits; one thing you DON’T want to be without.

There is so much talk on the internet lately about things that could possibly happen – earthquakes, floods, shortages, astrological events etc. – and I really feel the need to get everything I need as soon as possible. I realize more than ever now how important 72-hour kits are. Having done it once, I realize that having to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice could happen to anyone. 72-hour kits are the very best way to be prepared and avoid panic if that happens. I can guarantee that if your kits are ready to go (in a place where they can be grabbed in an instant– along with any other emergency supplies you need) you really will sleep better at night.

I read the experience of a woman who had felt for a long time that she needed to get her kits made and everything in order but kept putting it off. Her family did have to leave in the middle of the night because of rising waters in a river nearby and she said, “I stood there in the middle of my kitchen thinking ‘what should I take’ and crying because I knew I had been having these feelings for a reason and had done nothing about it. I felt so guilty.” Her family survived fine but her home was flooded and it took months for things to get back to normal. She did state though, that after they were home again, the first thing she did, even before starting to clean the mud from her basement was order the things for 72-hour kits.

These are the things we have put together so far:
Backpacks, rolling suitcases, trash cans, buckets or other containers
A Flashlight for each person – light sticks if desired too
A change of clothes for each person
Medication
Cash
Ziploc baggies
Sleeping bags or bed rolls
Individual first-aid kits
Small hand crank radio
Tools – folding shovel, hatchet or axe, etc.
Foods for breakfasts for 3 days per person
Foods for lunch and dinner for 3 days per person
Necessary folding stoves to heat food if desired
Snacks
Drinking water for kits – for drinking, washing and cooking
Feminine Products
A roll of toilet paper for each person’s kit

How are YOUR kits coming?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Alternate Uses for Beans


I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a long time and just have not gotten around to it but last night as we were having dinner, I knew it was time. I had made a different chicken recipe than I’d used before and salad and a vegetable and I made a side dish from Quinoa. Up until this point, I had only used Quinoa for breakfast.

When I put it on the table my husband just looked at it. Then he started really looking at it, like there was something crawling in it. I asked him if he knew what was in it and he asked, “Does this have beans in it?”

At this point I started looking at him funny – obviously there were no beans in this. What was he thinking? Then he just looked at me with a silly grin, laughed and said, “I’ve been reading your blog!” I guess that explains it all!

Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little obsessed with beans but I am continually finding more things that you can do with them and with the skyrocketing food prices lately I’m thinking we will see beans on the table more often.

Here are some of the things beans can be used for:

BEANS FOR COOKING:
BEANS FOR SPROUTING:
BEANS FOR FLOUR:
BEANS FOR BUTTER:


We’ve talked about cooking with beans and touched on sprouting a little and will talk more about that in the future but I want to talk about bean flour today. If you have beans stored and aren’t using them that much, bean flour is another way to increase the nutrition in your foods. If you are in to grinding your own wheat for flour here are some facts about replacing some of your wheat flour with bean flour:

• Any dry bean can be ground into flour using a hand or electric mill. Read your instructions carefully, some specifically say you cannot use beans in them. Super nutrition can be added to any commercial dry mix (cakes, cookies, muffins, breads) by adding a few tablespoons of bean flour to the dry ingredients, then adding extra liquid as necessary.

• Bean flour can be whisked into boiling water and seasonings to make an almost instant soup or thickener.

• Bean flour can be used in any recipe calling for flour by replacing up to 25% of the wheat flour with any variety of bean flour (instead of 2 cups wheat flour, use ½ cup bean flour and 1½ cups wheat flour). The bean flour combined with the wheat flour creates a complete protein for those cutting out or down on meat. The best part is that no one will ever know they’re eating beans!

•White beans or fava beans have a milder taste, making white bean flour or fava bean flour suitable for use in most recipes calling for white flour. Substitute 1/4 of the white flour for bean flour.

•Bean flour made from kidney, pinto, garbanzo, chana dal or black beans has a stronger flavor and is more suitable for inclusion in meat loaf or when making vegetable patties or vegetarian loaves.

•Bean flour can be whisked into soups and stews, adding flavor and goodness. Bean flour can also be used to thicken these dishes. Beans are being studied in relation to disease prevention in humans-and the results are promising. Scientific studies are uncovering the health benefits of eating beans. Nutrition research has revealed that dry beans are low in fat and high in fiber, making legumes an ideal food choice.

•Add bean flour to thicken gravies and sauces, and you increase the nutrition and make your dishes virtually fat-free. Bean flour of any kind also makes an excellent "instant" creamy soup base. No more soaking, boiling, mashing, and blending those beans to make thick, creamy, rich-tasting soups. Simply grind some dry beans, add water, and cook for 3 minutes. Add your own pasta, vegetables, or other beans for a quick, healthy, homemade soup. These 3-minute soups can be made in the microwave or on the stove top.

Bean Grinding Tips:
To grind beans, first sort them and check for dirty beans or rock pieces. You may want to place the mill in a kitchen sink and fill hopper with beans. Cover with kitchen towels to reduce bean dust, and leave a hole to stir beans as they go into the milling chamber. Small seeds like peas and lentils will not need to be stirred. Large beans like lima will need to be cracked in a blender or food grinder before grinding to a flour. Clean the sponge filter after each hopper of beans.

Make sure your grinder is okay to grind beans. I know many people have a small hand grinder that they use only to grind beans and corn just because they want to use their wheat grinder just for wheat. After grinding, store flours in resealable plastic bags or other food storage containers and refrigerate or freeze if possible. Flours last about six months at room temperature. After that time, a bitter aftertaste may start to develop.

Using beans to replace Shortening or Margarine in recipes:
• Method 1: Mashed white beans replace fat cup for cup in recipes. Mash until consistency of shortening (can use blender). Replace in recipes cup for cup. (Example: Recipe calls for 1 cups margarine, use 1 cup mashed beans.) Liquid may be added to adjust the consistency. Mashed beans do not keep long in the fridge, so freeze them.

• Method 2: Grind beans in your wheat grinder. Store in air-tight container. Replace fat in the recipe cup for cup. You will need to add more liquid since the ground beans will be part of the dry ingredients.

Important Information:
I need to post some information with a warning about beans. I hope that this does not affect your use of beans as they are a valuable food and important storage commodity. You just need to be aware that some beans are dangerous, IF EATEN RAW![Raw red beans and raw red and white kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (the lectin Phytohaemagglutinin) that must be destroyed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes.]

I see no reason to eat raw beans. Even if you are grinding the flour you would not eat it without cooking first. Just be aware that if these varieties of beans, and this is not all beans, just the ones mentioned above, are eaten without cooking they can make you sick.

I hope you will try some bean flour in your cooking and baking. Experiment and see how you feel about the bean flour in your recipes or used as butter substitute in your baking. I’m already sold on using white bean flour as a thickener in soup or in place of canned cream of chicken soup in recipes. I’d be interested in hearing any of your experiences or having you share any recipes that you have tried using these methods.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homemade Crackers


I really like crackers. I’ll eat ALMOST anything on a cracker. I don’t eat a huge amount of crackers, but sometimes one or two is all I need to satisfy my salt craving, or sugar as the case may be. I decided a long time ago that if I couldn’t go to the store and buy crackers occasionally, I’d be a sad girl. It was at this point, years ago, that I started searching for recipes for homemade crackers.

Many years ago I made wheat thins. They were pretty good but I lost the recipe. I’ve made graham crackers and they were good; especially when I used the crumbs to make a couple of our favorite desserts. But since the days of my first homemade wheat thins, the art of making crackers has risen to a whole new level. There are some pretty fun and unusual recipes out there.

I had read a lot about Rainforest Crackers. There are several different recipes I love the diversity in this recipe. These delicious crackers are chock full of seeds, nuts and craisins. They are made in a 2 step process so they take a little longer but they are definitely worth the extra effort. The recipe did not call for the hazelnuts to be chopped but I thought they would be better that way. Do what you want.

The Peppery Cheddar Crackers were very easy and fun to make. I believe that the secret to good crackers, regardless of whatever kind you make, is to make them quite thin and then not over bake. I do remember as I made the wheat thins that some of the crackers around the perimeter of the baking sheet browned more quickly and had to be removed before the inside crackers were done. I also love the addition of kosher salt, which is something we didn’t use years ago, we just used regular salt. I also love the Real Salt added to any cracker; I really like that salt in anything.

I’m including 2 different recipes for wheat thins. They are different and I thought they both sounded good. I’ve had the one recipe tucked away for a long time but the second is from “King Arthur Flour” and it includes lots of baking notes and suggestions. I think here again, the possibilities are endless for different seasonings and spices. I loved the idea of adding vanilla and/or honey to crackers. I want to make some crackers and mix in finely ground almonds for a different taste. I think that would be a good addition also.

Here are several cracker variations for you to try:

Cranberry Hazelnut Rainforest Crackers
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 T. flax seeds
2 T. sesame seeds
1 c. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. dried cranberries ("Craisins")
1 t. salt
½ c. hazelnuts
¼ c. brown sugar
2 t. baking soda
2 c. soured milk or buttermilk
¼ c. molasses
Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir the milk and molasses together. Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients. Turn into 4 small greased loaf pans...or 6 mini-loaf pans. Bake at 350º 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from pans; cool to room temperature on baking rack. Wrap loaves in foil, or put in sealed container overnight. Preheat oven to 250º. Slice the loaves as thinly as possible- 1/8” – ¼” thick. Lay slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper...you need several pans. Bake at 250º until crisp (about 45 minutes, depending on how thick your slices are). Cool; store in sealed containers for up to 3 weeks.

Peppery Cheddar Crackers
Perfect little cracker for a soup or salad lunch.
8 oz. cheese - finely shredded (white cheddar, Swiss or Colby Jack)
½ c. butter
1½ c. flour
¼ t. freshly cracked black pepper
¼ t. sugar
Sea or Kosher salt for sprinkling
In a large bowl place the finely shredded cheese, butter, flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 40 minutes. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Should be coarse textured and not sticking together. Use your hands to form it into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350º. Slice the roll into ¼” slices (or roll into balls and flatten, or roll the whole thing into a square and score before baking). Place on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden and set. Y: 20 crackers.

Wheat Thins
Recipeland.com - good with dips, cheeses, spreads, etc.
1½ c. flour (all-purpose)
½ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. sugar
¼ t. salt
2 T. butter (at room temperature)
2/3 c. milk
salt (or other dried herbs and seasoning) for sprinkling
In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter and mix until you have a coarse meal. Slowly blend in the milk just until you have a dough that will hold together. Divide the dough into 2 pieces for rolling. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/8” thick. Sprinkle with salt and roll over lightly with the rolling pin again. Cut the dough into 2×2” squares. Poke each square several times with a fork. Transfer squares to an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 325º 20-25 minutes, until crackers are golden brown.

Homemade “Wheat Thins”
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook
1¼ c. whole wheat flour (can use spelt flour, whole wheat or white whole wheat)
1½ T. sugar (or honey)
½ t. salt
¼ t. paprika
4 T. butter
¼ c. water
¼ t. vanilla
Salt for topping
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and paprika in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it in thoroughly, using your fingers, a pastry blender, a mixer or a food processor. Combine water and vanilla; add to the flour mixture, mixing until smooth. (Note: If you use honey, just mix it in with the water.) Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper. For crackers, I would HIGHLY recommend using a baking stone, or at least parchment paper or a Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat. I roll the dough right out on the stone or mat and bake them. That way I don’t have to worry about rumpled crackers as I move the fragile dough. People say, “Those are homemade?” because my crackers have perfect shape and are so delectably thin. Divide dough into 4 pieces; keep the other pieces covered while you work with one at a time. Lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin and roll the piece of dough into a large rectangle, which should be at least 12” square when trimmed. Keep your pin and the surface of your dough evenly floured. Flip the dough frequently to keep it from sticking, but too much flour will make it difficult to roll. Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as you can get it without tearing, at least 1/16” thick. Trim the dough to even the edges and use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the piece into about 1½” squares. Transfer squares to a prepared baking sheet; you can crowd them together, as they don’t expand while baking. If you roll them on a stone or silpat, you can skip this step, which seriously cuts down the time and failure stress of making homemade crackers! Sprinkle the squares lightly with kosher salt, if desired. Poke the crackers with a fork to make them look even more like the “real” thing. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Save the scraps under plastic wrap and reroll them all at once just one time. Bake crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, 5 to 10 minutes. If some of the thinner crackers on the edges brown too quickly, remove them and return the remaining crackers to the oven to finish baking. These crackers bake quickly, so watch them closely – even 30 seconds can turn them from golden brown to toast! Are they done? You want them to be almost crispy, but not totally breakable to deem them “done”, because they will crisp up a bit as they cool. You’ll learn after a tray or two the difference between “too soft” “done” and “oops”. They’re still tasty when they’re soft, just not so cracker-y. Remove the crackers from the oven and cool on the pan or on a plate; they cool quickly. These crackers will stay crisp for many days, but are best stored in airtight containers. UPDATE: For extra crispy crackers, If you have space and baking stones to suffice, simply turn the oven off with the crackers still inside. They’ll crisp up as they cool down.

Flax Seed Crackers
¼ c. flax seed
¼ c. ground flax seed
1½ c. all-purpose flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
4 t. margarine or butter, softened
½ c. skim milk
In a bowl of a stand-up mixer, add flax seed, ground flax, flour, baking powder, salt and margarine or butter. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough. (You can also mix the dough by hand.) Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 325º. Divide the dough into quarters. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out very thin to a rectangle (1/16”) thick. Cut into 2½” squares. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. Bake 20 minutes until crisp and golden. *Try one of the following different variations:
Onion: add 1 T. powdered onion soup mix.
Cheese: Add 1 c. grated cheddar cheese.
Italian: 1 T. oregano and 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese.
Yield: 24 crackers

Cheese Rounds
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 t. sugar
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients well (with your hands, a mixer, or a wooden spoon; it doesn't matter); form the dough into rolls 1” in diameter; wrap the rolls in plastic, smoothing them out by rolling them again once they're wrapped; and freeze until needed. At that point, preheat the oven to 350º; slice the (still-frozen) dough into rounds about 1/8” thick. Bake them on ungreased baking sheets for 10-12 minutes, or until they begin to brown.

Lavash Crackers
Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
1½ c. unbleached bread flour
½ t. salt
½ t. instant yeast
1 T. honey
1 T. vegetable oil
1/3 to ½ cup (3-4 ounces) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for topping
In mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, honey, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full ½ cup water, but use it all if needed. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should be 77° to 81, and be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough, satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight immediately after kneading.) Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper-thin sheet about 15 x 12”. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax; lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors. Preheat the oven to 350°F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.). Be careful with spices; a little goes a long way. If you want precut crackers, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the crackers being to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough). When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers.

Here’s a quick and easy homemade cracker recipe that tastes just like saltines. Often it ends up being cheaper to buy them at the store, but its fun to make them every once in a while. The taste is great and you can control the amount of salt (if any) you put on them.
Basic Saltines Crackers
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
½ t. baking powder
¼ c. butter
½ c. milk
1 large egg
You will also need a large mixing bowl and and a fine sieve to make your crackers. Sift flour, salt and baking powder and place into a large mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into small chunks and “cut” into the flour until it reaches a grainy consistency. Add milk and egg and knead until it becomes a stiff dough. Roll the dough out really thin. Cut the dough into squares. Prick little holes in crackers with a fork; bake in a 400º preheated oven for about 10 minutes.*Tip: If you would like to make round crackers and don’t have any cookie cutters, just use the rim of a small glass or cup. Dip the rim into a little flour first and then you can cut your crackers.If you like salted crackers, sprinkle the uncooked crackers with a little bit of coarse salt.

Parmesan Herb Crackers
1 stick unsalted butter
3 ozs. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. all-purpose flour
¼ t. kosher salt
1 t. chopped fresh thyme
Place butter into the bowl of your electric mixer and mix it until it becomes creamy. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese (or use already grated Parmesan). Add cheese, flour, salt and thyme to the butter and mix until it form a ball of dough. Place a long piece of plastic wrap on your work surface and place the dough ball in the center of one end. Form the dough into a log and roll it up in the plastic. Place the log into the freezer for 30 min.(this makes it easier to slice.) Remove from the freezer after 30 minutes and cut the log into ¼” thick slices. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350º preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday -Meal Idea and Tip of the Week


This week’s tip is just a head-up on availability of food storage items. I received a message yesterday from Mountain House which supplies #10 cans as well as pouches of freeze dried foods. In January they were contacted by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) about their suppliers and distributors for their freeze dried foods. Apparently, FEMA has contacted many of those (if not all) distributors and are buying up everything they can.

At this time, there are no #10 cans of freeze dried foods available from Mountain House. Some of the pouches are available still, however. When asked if and when the #10 cans would again become available, they simply stated not in the near future and it is “totally unpredictable when we will again have them available.”

Here is their statement of the reason for this buying: “The purpose of this Request for Information is to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations.”

I don’t know about you, but this is a scary thing to me. One can only speculate why FEMA is buying up everything they can get their hands on but even scarier is the lack of availability to the rest of us.

I am not sure what other distributors have available as I have not contacted them or heard anything from them. If you still need to get some #10 cans of freeze dried foods for your storage, you may want to check around now to see what is available from different suppliers. I suspect that the situation may get worse before it gets better.

I certainly do not want to create any kind of panic or rash buying, just letting you know that if you are interested you may want to check it out. As far as I know, this “shortage” only affects freeze dried foods in #10 cans. If I receive any more information I will certainly pass it on.

The meal idea this week is one that was suggested by one of our readers. The actual recipe - itself is from the Make A Mix Cookbook ladies (two of my favorite cookbooks ever- I know I have mentioned them several times) Karine Eliason and Nevada Harward.

This isn’t necessarily a food storage recipe but could be made into one using canned tomatoes or salsa, canned chili and homemade tortilla chips. I think this would be a fun recipe (especially for kids) for anytime. It would make a fun picnic food with prepared taco meat or chili in a thermos (or from Wendy’s) and small size bags of chips. If you have not had these before, they are called walking tacos because you open the bag of chips, add the other ingredients and eat it right out of the bag – no dirty dishes to wash. Thanks Jeri for calling this one to my attention.


Walking Tacos - Karine Eliason and Nevada Harward.
Start with a 1 - 1¾ oz. bag of corn chips (Doritos, Sun Chips, Fritos, etc.)
Cut the bag open at the top of the bag. (I prefer to cut off the side of the bag…it makes a bigger opening to work with.) Squeeze the bag to crush the chips.
Cook up some hamburger with a package of taco seasoning mix. (I do this ahead and freeze it in 1 lb. (2 cup) packages…one package will make 4-6 Walking Tacos.)
Then add the warm hamburger mixture to the bag of crushed chips; hold bag closed and shake to mix meat with chips.
Add traditional taco toppings to the bag…cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced olives, diced avocados, salsa, sour cream, etc. Shake or stir with plastic fork.
After you have eaten it, just toss the package into the garbage…no dishes!
Variation: Use Fritos in the bag and top with chili and cheese. (I used a small container of Wendy’s chili…it made two.)