Wednesday, June 29, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - A Comprehensive List

I’m so glad to have my 72-hour kit updated. It really isn’t hard to do but it nags at you until it gets done. Today I am posting a comprehensive list of all the things we have put in our kits over the last 6 months. This is mostly because I want to be able to look at the list, see if there is anything I need to rotate in or out of the kits, any batteries I need to check and anything else I need to add.

I will keep this list with my kits and put a date on it every time I make changes or do rotation. I think this will help remind me to keep it updated, use the food and add new as well as rotating medicines every 3 months.

If you are just starting your kits, you can use this list to check to make sure you have all the basics that we have covered on Wednesdays since January. Please leave a comment if you have any additions or other ideas.

72-Hour Kit Checklist
1. Backpack, duffle bag, rolling suitcase, 5 gallon bucket with lid, large garbage can with wheels or any combo of the above.
2. Flashlight – one for each person and light sticks
3. A change of clothes for each person – consider the seasons
4. Supplies for babies and infants
5. Medications – Ziploc bags for your kit – Start saving Cash for your kits
6. Sleeping Bags – one for each person
7. Individual first-aid kits for each person; a larger kit for one of the adult kits
8. Hand Crank Radio
9. Tools - Camping axe, shovel, pocket knife
10. Breakfast foods
11. Camping stove or no cook foods
12. Lunches and dinners
13. Drinking water
14. Snacks
15. Toilet paper & feminine products
16. Ponchos & Emergency blankets or sleeping bags
17. Hygiene supplies – Soap, Toothpaste & Brushes, Hair bands, Deodorant, Tand towel or wash cloth, anti-bacterial wipes, Kleenex or handkerchiefs, Hand Sanitizer, Nail clippers or file, Tweezers, shampoo, chapstick, razor, sunscreen
18. Important documents
19. Matches (Waterproof in a waterproof container)
20. Toilet Facilities
21. Gloves and hand warmers
22. Ground cover and garbage containment supplies
23. Supplies for children – games & treats, etc.
24. Cash – Small bills and some coin

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cooking With Charcoal - Using a Dutch Oven

We have talked about cooking with charcoal before, using a foil-lined box oven. Here is another method, probably the most popular method of all, cooking with a Dutch Oven.

Anything you can cook in your oven or crock pot, you can cook in a Dutch oven. Whether you want a meal of chicken and potatoes, pot roast and potatoes, chili, or even pizza, a Dutch oven does a great job! It is great for baking biscuits and rolls, desserts and pies and even breakfast. I’ve even baked cookies and made French Fries and doughnuts. And to repeat my favorite saying, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

All you need to do is practice and have confidence. Lots of the Dutch oven cooking that goes on is done using charcoal briquettes. This makes it easier to estimate temperatures which results in better meals.

Here is a hint that has helped me know how many briquettes to use when adapting recipes from my oven to a Dutch Oven: Take the size of your oven such as 12” then double that number to 24. This is the number of coals to start with to reach 350º. Put 10 under the oven and the rest on top. Each additional coal placed on the oven adds about 20º. For baking put most of the heat on the lid. For frying, put most of the heat on the bottom.

I am not a great Dutch Oven Cook but I do have some Charcoal stored so I have another option in the event of a power outage. I also have some favorite recipes that I cook in the Dutch Oven. Any food storage recipe that you have for your oven or stove top can be adapted to a Dutch oven.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to make in the Dutch Oven. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite things to make in a Dutch Oven and how often you use your ovens.

Dutch Oven Barbecue Meatloaf
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 c. milk
1 ½ t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2/3 c. chopped onion
½ c. finely chopped green pepper
3 slices bread, crumbled
2/3 c. grated raw carrot
2 lbs. Hamburger, lean is best
1 can Coke or Pepsi, caffeine free or regular
1 small bottle ketchup
Mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper & bread until mushy. Add onion, carrots, peppers & hamburger. Mix well and form into a loaf. Place in a hot Dutch oven. Mix 1 can coke and 1 bottle ketchup. Pour over meatloaf and cook about 1 hour or till done. Baste occasionally and serve with extra sauce if desired. This sauce also works on ribs, pork chops, steak or chicken.

Mountain Dew Dutch Oven Chicken
½ lb. bacon
1 gallon zip-loc bag with 1 cup flour
2 chicken breasts
2 potatoes
2 carrots
1 large onion
1 can Mountain Dew soda (Used caffeine free)
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat Dutch oven by setting on bed of coals.
Chop bacon into 1” pieces.
Dice vegetables.
Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise.
Fry bacon in Dutch oven until crispy.
Remove bacon from Dutch oven but leave grease.
Shake chicken breasts in baggie of flour to coat.
Cook in bacon grease to brown, about 5 minutes, turning a couple times. Pour vegetables, bacon, and Mountain Dew on top of chicken. Cover with lid and cook at 350° for 45 minutes with ¾ of coals on lid. Using tongs or a fork, lift chicken breasts so they are resting on top of vegetables. Sprinkle cheese over the chicken. Cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1 can (20 oz.) Pineapple Slices
1 c. brown sugar
1 cube butter
1 cake mix (yellow, pineapple, butter or white)
The ingredients listed on the box to make the cake batter
Line Dutch Oven with foil. Melt butter in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Mix cake mix as directed and pour over pineapple. *Note: use pineapple juice as part of the liquid in the cake mix. Cook using about 8 briquettes on bottom and the rest on top. Bake 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your oven. (For a very large oven use more pineapple or double all ingredients.

Sloppy Joes
1 ½ lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 ½ c. tomato juice
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. flour
Hamburger Buns
Brown meat, onion & celery together in Dutch oven using 20 coals on bottom. Drain grease. Add tomato juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Remove enough coals from bottom to achieve a simmer; let simmer a few minutes. Stir together flour and sugar and stir into simmering meat mixture. Cover and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Serve on buns. Y: about 6-8 servings. *Recipe can easily be doubled.

Taco Soup
2 lb hamburger
1 onion
2 t. garlic, chopped
6 t. dry chicken bouillon
6 c. water
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
8 oz mild cheddar cheese
12 oz. bag Fritos or Doritos
Brown hamburger, onion and garlic in Dutch oven. Drain grease from hamburger if it was not lean. Add bouillon, water, tomatoes, dry mixes, corn, and beans. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve into bowls lined with chips and sprinkle cheese on top with extra chips on the side. Y: 8 servings.

8 frozen hash brown patties (or enough to line the bottom of your Dutch Oven)
4 c. shredded cheese
1 lb. cubed ham (2 c.)Or cooked sausage or bacon - your choice
7 eggs (Add more if using a larger oven)
1 c. milk
½ t. salt
½ t. dry mustard
I like to line the Dutch Oven with Foil and Spray the foil with Non-Stick Cooking Spray. Put hash brown patties in bottom of Dutch Oven. You can also use diced (loose) hash browns, sprinkled in the bottom of the oven about 1/2 - 3/4" thick. Sprinkle with cheese & ham. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt & mustard and pour over patties. Cover & bake 350º for 30-40 minutes depending on the size and temperature of your oven. Uncover, bake 15 minutes longer. *If using a larger oven, adjust all ingredients.

Friday, June 24, 2011

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

Since I said that I was going to be posting more recipes and uses for Whole Wheat, I’ve received several recipes using Whole Wheat. Thank you to those who have sent them in. I hope we get a lot more so we can all increase the amount of whole wheat we are using in our recipes. Send any recipes or ideas to I’ll still be posting any food storage recipes that you send in also as well as the ones I’ve already received. I know we can all use more recipes that are food storage friendly.

One thing I have learned in the last year or so is that the more you incorporate food storage into your cooking, the healthier it is. I believe that many people who are very health conscience in their cooking are already using food storage and don’t know it. As I have mentioned in the past, food storage has and does get a bad rap. You can almost see some people turn up their noses when you mention food storage to them. I know that there are some really bad food storage recipes and ideas but there are also some good ones too, so if you have some of those good ones, email them to me.

The tip this week is one I got from a friend. She said she never buys baking powder anymore because it all contains aluminum. She makes her own and I think this is a great idea. I changed the kind of salt I use for the very same reason so why not eliminate aluminum from baking powder as well. Here are her instructions.

Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
This recipe makes 1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. corn starch (if your are storing the baking powder – omit if you are just adding to a recipe)
Mix baking soda and cream of tartar together until well combined and use immediately, or, add cornstarch to make a batch to have on hand.

This week’s Food Storage Friendly Friday recipe is from my friend Jeri B. in Arizona. She says with this basic salad recipe you can tweak it to fit your family’s tastes. It would also be fun served with homemade tortilla chips. Thanks for the recipe, Jeri.

Corn And Bean Salad
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 small shallot, diced finely or some rehydrated diced onion
1 can petite diced tomatoes (optional) drained or undrained, your choice
1 T. balsamic vinegar
½ T. olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Just a little Sugar to taste
If you have lime juice or fresh limes you can switch out the limes for the vinegar. Stir all together. Drain tomatoes if you wish. You can also add some cooked pasta if you like. Spice up with dried or fresh herbs to your liking.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grandma's Million Dollar Pickles

I have been painting my living room this morning and the only good thing I have to say about painting, is that when I paint I have lots of time to think. This morning I thought a lot about my Grandma. She was born 132 years ago tomorrow. That is crazy to think of. I loved her so much and spent a lot of time with her when I was growing up. Thankfully we always lived close to her and in her later years she came to live with us for awhile. But the thing I remember most about her is going to her house as a child. When I stayed with her she would fix us a “little lunch” as she called it. Sometimes it wasn’t even lunchtime but it didn’t matter to me. She could make a meal out of almost nothing and it seemed like a feast to me.

One of the most valuable recipes I have of hers is her sweet pickle recipe. I love these pickles so much that to this day I cannot eat one without thinking about her. These pickles take a long time to make but they are oh so worth the effort. They are made in an old fashioned crock, I have used wide mouth gallon jars and they work fine. These pickles involved quite a process but are worth every second that it takes to make them.

I would like to share her recipe with you today because she is on my mind. I have to make these pickles this summer if I don’t do anything else. I hope you’ll try them too.

About 50 small sized cucumbers, washed good. (No bigger than about 1-1 ½” in diameter –leave the tiny cucumbers about the size of my index finger whole)
Make a brine of water and salt that is strong enough to float an egg. Just keep stirring the salt until an egg will float in the mixture.
Pour over cucumbers in large non metal container. Let stand 2 weeks with a cloth over top and a weight holding cloth cover in place. Check periodically to make sure cloth isn’t getting musty. Change the cloth if needed. After 2 weeks, wash cucumbers well and cut into 1” slices. Make a solution of 1 T. powdered alum and water to cover. Let cucumbers remain in this for 2 days. Wash again, and let drain till dry. Make syrup of:
1 quart vinegar
2 qt. sugar
2 blades of mace or ½ t. ground mace
2 sticks cinnamon
1 T. whole cloves
Bring to a boil and pour over cucumbers 3 mornings in succession. On the 4th morning put in sterilized jars and pour hot liquid over and seal. Note: Use the same syrup each day; just bring to a boil each day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Ideas for Kids

If you have children you know that they are the ones who will be the most affected by a disaster. They will have the hardest time if things become unsettled or unfamiliar to them. When you are planning your kits keep in mind that children’s kits need some extra thought as to the things they might need or that will make things easier for them.

If they need a binky, bottles, a blanket that they sleep with, etc. make a note that attaches to your kits to remind you to grab a diaper bag or special blanket in the event you have to evacuate!

Here are some fun ideas for things you can include to keep them entertained if you happen to have an emergency. You know what your kids special interests and favorite things are, so be sure to include some in their kits. Here are some ideas.

Store these items in water proof containers. A plastic bucket is ideal for this. Make it accessible to your emergency kits. Add any other items you think would make things easier for children during an emergency.

Suggested Items:
1.Books & Magazines
2.Paper, Coloring Books, and Activity Books
3.Felt Tip Markers, Colored Pencils, Scissors
4.Notebook and pencils
5.Small Games
6.Children’s card games
7.Small toys
8.Any Hard Candy
9. A soft ball or tennis ball
10. A small soft doll or stuffed animal
11.Children's Vitamins, Pain-Reliever, Cold Remedies, Band Aids, & First-Aid Cream
12.Creative Game List (Below)
17.Wooden Blocks
19.Metal Washers

This is a list of games that children can play out of everyday items.

Clothespins -
1.Drop in a bottle
2.Pitch at a target
3.Clothesline relay

Wooden Blocks -
1.Print letters on cubes. Roll cubes to spell words. First one to complete 10 words wins.

Marbles -
1.Roll them at a target
2.Toss them in a box
3.Old Fashioned Marble Game

Metal Washers -
1. Toss them into numbered cups.

Paper Cups -
1.Tossing Games
2.Blowing Relay
3.Telephone (made with cups and string)

Paper Plates -
1. Toss through a wire coat hanger

Straws -
1.Marble Blow Relay
2.Bean Relay

Spoons -
1.Carry Ball
2.Flip Beans at target
3.Carry Cotton Balls

Feathers -
1.Feather Volleyball: blow feather over string or net
2.Toss them at a target
3.Blow them over the line relay

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Ten List

There are a lot of important things to keep in your food storage. What is the most important is a bit subjective for each person and each family. So here is a top 10 list, compiled by Cynthia Grayson. Decide which of these are important and make your own top 10 list so that you will always have those items on hand. Evaluate what you already have on hand and add to it.

1. Water- Having enough water in your long term food storage is very important. Water is not only for drinking but cooking and personal hygiene as well. Make sure you have plenty of water for everyone in your family and your animals as well. Bleach bottles are a great place to store water, just a little bit of bleach will keep your water safe for use much longer than storing water alone. The best, most leak proof bottles for storing water, are those specifically intended for that purpose. The square, heavy duty water storage jugs (5 gallon) are great. Do not store water in empty milk jugs – they will disintegrate over time.

2. Grains- Items such as wheat, flour, rice, and pasta are great items to store. Some of these items, if stored properly, can last up to 30 years! These are staples in most daily diets so it only makes sense to have them in your food storage as well. Make sure you store the same types of food you eat on a regular basis; this will assist you in not getting sick from eating things you aren’t used to eating.

3. Fats- Don’t let the name fool you; these are an important part of your diet and are necessary for your long term food storage. What you choose to store from this list may vary but here are some ideas, peanut butter, salad dressing (great for adding flavor to anything you are cooking not just salads), shortening, vegetable oil, and mayonnaise. All these items on the list are great for cooking and changing up your everyday recipes. Try using them in some of your meals now so you will know how to use them in your food storage.

4. Drink mixes- I am not the biggest fan of water so having drink mixes is a must for me. Get a variety of mixes so that you can have a variety of drinks. Mixing up what you have to drink will allow you to not get bored of plain old water. If you are a cocoa drinker store some instant cocoa that you can mix with some hot water.

5. Spices and seasonings- Don’t forget your spices! Adding different spices to your meals will give you the ability to change things up. No one wants to eat plain oatmeal for breakfast EVERY day, add brown sugar one day and cinnamon the next. Having a variety of items to “spice” up the mundane will keep everyone happy, even the kids!

6. Candy- Just because you are storing food in case of emergency doesn’t mean you should forget the comfort foods. Children will love you if you keep some sweets around and you know that it’s a must for you too. Hard candy is a great item to store but look into canning some of your extra Halloween candy. My sister did it and it lasted 8 months and tasted great! Remember that most hard candy will soften and melt – as in become gooey- if any moisture gets into it. Make sure it is packed air tight.

7. Legumes- That’s right, you may not love beans and peas but having them in your food storage will allow you to have a well balanced diet. These can give you protein when you don’t have enough meat and also provide fiber for your diet.

8. Cooking essentials- Don’t forget some of the items you may take for granted like sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and yeast and canned milk. These are all items you will need to have on hand for turning that flour you are storing into something your family will eat. While you are at it don’t forget powdered milk! It’s a must for food storage! Think about that oatmeal with just water on it! Even in emergencies you don’t have to live without your comforts, just plan ahead!

9. Multi-Vitamins- Even if you make sure to store the best foods and you make sure you are eating a balanced diet having multi- vitamins around will allow you to make sure your body is getting the nutrients you need. One excellent way to store nutrients is with a “green drink” or nutrition supplement. There are so many to choose from but some really great ones offer tons of nutrition that would help maintain optimal health despite undesirable conditions

10. Cooking supplies- Let’s say you are in an emergency and you lose power, how are you going to cook all this amazing food you have in storage? Make sure you have cooking supplies like a camp stove with extra fuel and some matches. Also think about pots and pans, even if you grab them from your kitchen make sure you have some available to you for cooking. Think about silverware and the other utensils you use every day when you are cooking and keep some of those with your food storage.

These 10 items are only an over view of the things I keep in my long term food storage. Do some research and see what else you should store but make sure that whatever you store is items you and your family will eat and enjoy. As far as how much of everything to store you can read my last food storage post about how much food to have in your long term food storage.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Canning Dry Beans

It is a common misconception that food storage cooking is not convenience cooking. Many people feel they don’t have the time to use food storage because it takes longer. There are several shortcuts to using food storage in your cooking and this is one of my favorites. This is a money saver as well as a time saver.

I always tell myself that I am going to use more beans because I really love them and also because the more you eat the more your body adjusts to any adverse affects beans may have on your digestive system. People who eat beans on a regular basis claim that the affect that beans have on their system is really minimal.

However, I sometimes forget to soak them or don’t have any cooked beans in the freezer or excuses, excuses…excuses. Canning beans is easy to do and eliminates many of the excuses we can come up with. I have canned baked beans with ham, baked beans with sausage, ham and bean soup with ham and plain navy beans to use in recipes. I really wanted to can some beans that I could use in chili, Navajo tacos, or any other recipe that I might find.

Canning the beans is easy to do if you have a pressure cooker. I’m including the recipe for canned beans along with a recipe for a spice mix that can be used in chili, tacos, rice, refried beans or salsa. It’s a fun and versatile mix that is great to have on hand. I bet all of us have recipes that we could use this mix in. I have a great burrito recipe I’m going to try it in and see how it works.

You can use any variety of dried beans in canning beans. It’s your choice. If you like pinto beans, can some of those. Maybe kidney beans are your favorite. I might even try a mixture of kidney, pinto and black beans just for fun to use in a fun chili recipe I have. Here is the seasoning mix recipe and instructions for canning your beans:

Chili Seasoning Mix
Use to season chili, refried beans, taco meat, or Spanish rice. Multiply by 4 and store in gallon container. This is a great recipe and you can use it for so many things. It is very good. For the tomato powder, use canned tomato powder or make your own by using dehydrated tomatoes and blending into powder.
1 c. tomato powder
1½ c. dried veggies (dehydrated onion, celery, and peppers, in equal portions, mixed and chopped in the blender and then add some garlic powder or dried garlic to your taste)
½ c. chili powder
3 T. cumin
1 T. salt
Chili Beans: Add ½ c. mix to a quart jar of cooked beans topped up with water and add ¼ cup beef TVP or taco TVP or cooked hamburger
Taco Meat: Add ¼ c mix to burger and sauté until brown (add a little water if needed).
Rice: Add ¼ c. mix to cooked rice with ½ c water
Refried Beans: add ¼ c. mix to 3 c. mashed beans
Salsa: Add ¼ c. mix to 2 c. homemade salsa

Canning Dry Beans at home
Select mature, dry seeds. Sort out and discard discolored beans and any rocks. An average of 5 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 3¼ pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints--an average of ¾ pounds per quart.

Place dried beans in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18hours in a cool place. Drain water. Cover soaked beans with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon salt per pint or 1 teaspoon salt per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with beans and cooking water, leaving 1” headspace. Adjust lids and process as listed below.

For Dial Gauge Pressure Canner:
Pints: Process 75 minutes
Quarts: Process 90 Minutes
If your altitude is:
0-2000’ - process at 11 lbs. pressure
2000-4000’ – process at12 lbs. pressure
4000-6000’ – Process at 13 lbs. pressure
6000-8000’ – Process at 14 lbs. pressure

Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner:
Pints: Process 75 minutes
Quarts: Process 90 Minutes
If your altitude is:
0-1000’ – Process at 10 lbs. pressure
Above 1000’ – Process at 15 lbs. pressure

Friday, June 17, 2011

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

The recipe suggestion this week is from and was sent in by one of our readers. This is a fun recipe to take camping and easy to prepare, but it can be served anytime. Check it out!

Fractured Tacos
Homemade chili or canned chili, heated
Tortilla chips or Fritos
Optional toppings for tacos:
Shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Chopped onions
Sliced green onions
Pickled jalapeños
Sliced black or green olives
Sour cream
Put a bed of chips in the bottom of a bowl and top with chili. Then top with the topping ingredients of choice. *A good way to use up all of the broken chips that no one will eat.

It seems like lots of different fresh fruits and vegetables become available at the same time. Although it is fun to have such a variety of different fresh fruits and veggies available at the same time, it can be a little bit of a struggle knowing how to store them, especially if you do your shopping for a week or more at a time. Once you get home and try to find a place for all that goodness, it can be a little frustrating knowing where to store what. The best tip I ever received was to store things like the grocer does. If it is in a cooler at the store, store it in your refrigerator. If it’s on the shelf it may not need refrigeration if you have a cooler area. A root cellar works great for many fresh fruits and veggies if you have one. Here is a more comprehensive breakdown of where to store what!

In the refrigerator, keep . . .
Apples away from strong-smelling foods, so they won't absorb odors. If the fridge is jammed, you can also store apples in a cool, dark place.
Beets in the crisper; lop off greens before refrigerating and use them in a salad or cook like spinach and other greens.
Berries in a warmer zone of the fridge, unwashed, in a dry, covered container.
Broccoli in the crisper.
Celery in the crisper.
Cherries unwashed, in a plastic bag, in a warmer zone of the fridge.
Corn with husks on, in a warmer zone of the fridge.
Grapes unwashed in a plastic bag or their plastic clamshell, in a cool zone; remove spoiled grapes, a bad one can spoil the bunch.
Green beans in an airtight container in a moderate zone; don't snap off ends until they're ready to be used.
Leafy greens in the crisper. Keep washed greens in a plastic bag lined with a clean cloth or paper towels; loosely tie top of bag to maintain moisture.
Melons, when ripe, in a warmer zone of the fridge. Wash the outside of a melon before cutting to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Mushrooms unwashed, in a paper bag, in a warmer zone of the fridge. Never store in plastic, which traps moisture and leads to slime.
Peppers in a plastic bag in a warmer zone of the fridge. Leave whole, and unwashed.
Yellow squash/zucchini in a plastic bag in a warmer zone of the fridge. Leave unwashed, and use within 2-3 days of purchase.

Outside of the refrigerator, keep . . .
Avocados in a brown-paper bag; add an apple or banana to the bag to accelerate ripening.
Bananas in a fruit bowl on the counter.
Citrus fruits, lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit in a cool dark place. If it is too warm, store in the fridge if they start getting soft.
Onions in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place. Store them away from potatoes, since they can absorb the potatoes moisture and spoilage-inducing ethylene gas.
Stone fruits, including nectarines, peaches, apricots, and plums, in a brown-paper bag at room temperature to speed ripening. Refrigerate once ripe.
Potatoes in a cool place, away from light. Don't refrigerate, since the moisture will encourage sprouting.
Tomatoes always at room temperature but not in direct sunlight.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vegetables for Food Storage

When I first started working on food storage, I was mostly concerned about wheat, powdered milk, honey, beans, salt and water. I was pretty focused on the basics and not really concerned with anything else.

Over the years I have started to think more about vegetables and fruits in my storage. Imagine what it would be like to live off your food storage and only be able to have vegetables or fruits a few times throughout the year. Pretty nasty I’d say.

There is a lot of talk about how healthy wheat, beans and the other basics are but still, I can’t imagine being deprived of veggies, especially fresh veggies. Now I know that ideally, we have stored garden seed and will grow our vegetables, and we have canning supplies to can our vegetables but seriously, if I have to survive on what I can grow, I’m in big trouble.

As I have pondered this over the years, I’ve read tons of information on storing vegetables. One article that I read recently suggested buying a can of vegetables per person for every other day, or for every third day, for children. That’s a good idea – in theory - but in reality, that is 183 cans per person per year or 1100 cans for a family of 6. This same article also suggested buying 1 can of fruit per person per year to store. Nice thought right? That is another 2200 cans of fruit. Is that crazy or what?

Maybe the person who wrote that was thinking that was only for 6 months or less, I’m not sure, but still I can’t even imagine it. I don’t know about you but, I’d need a much bigger house. I can’t even fathom trying to store that much fruit and vegetables. There is a way that makes more sense to me.

I love the idea of drying fruits and vegetables for food storage. If you have not tried this, you seriously should. Not only is it more practical but the amount of space dried food takes up is minimal compared to canned food. I know many people have stored dried vegetables in #10 cans and that is great. Anything to incorporate vegetables into storage is a winner with me.

I have experimented with many different variations of drying. I have probably spent as much time reading about how to successfully dehydrate as I have actually doing it. I know there are other methods that may work as well or even better than what I post here. I want to have the different methods and processes that I have used cataloged here for reference in the future. If you have recipes or ideas you have used, feel free to share. Here are some basic instructions for different vegetables and how to dry and store them and some different ways to use them.

One important thing to remember: Almost any dried vegetable can be ground to powder and used to add extra flavor and nutrition to almost any sauce or soup. *Important: Dry pack or vacuum seal any dried product for long term storage or it will lose it's color and texture.

Asparagus – Wash, cut off woody stems and remove tough skin. Cut stalks into 1” pieces. Dry tips separately. Blanch in boiling water 3-5 minutes or steam blanch for 5 minutes. To use, rehydrate and serve as usual or pulverize dried asparagus into powder for use in sauces or soups.

Beans (Green) – Wash, snip off ends, remove string if necessary and cut into ½ to 1” pieces. Steam blanch beans for 3-5minutes. Dry until brittle and no moisture remains. Green beans will toughen when placed directly in boiling liquid. When adding to soup or stew, turn off heat, add beans and let stand at least 5 minutes (maybe more). Beans will swell and lighten in color. Resume cooking Beans will fully rehydrate as the cooking completes. Use as a vegetable in casseroles or add to soup or stews.

Broccoli – Trim broccoli head, remove yellow bud clusters, cut florets from stems. Peel tough outer skin from stems; cut stems crosswise into ½“ pieces. Water-blanch stems 2-3 minutes or steam-blanch stems for 3-5 minutes. Dry florets and stems separately. Interesting note: Broccoli leaves can be washed and dried then ground into powder and used for flavoring like celery powder. Use broccoli (rehydrated) in cream soups or as a vegetable side dish with cheese sauce or lemon juice or butter and salt and pepper. To rehydrate: Add broccoli to water or chicken broth and let sit for at least 1 hour. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Prepare soup.

Cabbage - Remove outside leaves and core. Shred cabbage; steam blanch 2 minutes. (Cabbage can be dipped in lemon juice for 5-10 minutes to help retain color, if desired. Spread on trays and dry until crispy. Rehydrate in hot water; use in soups, stir-fry or egg rolls.

Cauliflower - Wash and trim well; cut into florets. Steam blanch 4-5 minutes. Spread on trays and dry. Pulverize or rehydrate for use in soups or stews. Pour hot water over cauliflower and soak 5-10 minutes. Cook as desired. Great in Cheesy Cauliflower soup

Celery – Slice or dice celery. Spread on mesh lined trays and dry several hours until no moisture remains. Use in soups or stews in place of fresh celery. Dry celery can also be blended to make celery powder. Combine equal parts celery powder and your favorite salt to make flavorful celery salt.

CarrotsShredded – Peel and shred carrots. Immerse in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Immediately immerse in ice cold water. Drain well; spread on mesh lined trays, dry 4-6 hours until brittle. Use in soups, carrot cake or as an addition to casseroles. Carrots can be blended to make carrot powder to add extra nutrition to any dish. To rehydrate, pour boiling water over carrot shreds, let stand a few minutes. They will lighten in color; use as desired. Carrots can also be sliced or diced and dried in the same manner. Carrots toughen when added directly in boiling liquid. When adding carrots to a soup or stew, turn off heat, add carrots and let stand at least 5 minutes. They will swell and lighten in color. Resume cooking. They will fully rehydrate as the dish finishes cooking.

Corn – Using frozen corn, spread on trays and dry until brittle, about 6-8 hours. To rehydrate: In a saucepan, combine ¼ c. dried corn with 1 .c. hot. Let sit 10 minutes for corn that has been blanched during the drying process or frozen corn, or 30 minutes longer for corn that has not been blanched. Bring corn to a boil and cook 3-5 minutes. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Drain; add salt and pepper and butter to what is now ¾ c. cooked corn. Prepared as desired or add to soups or stews. Corn toughens when added directly in boiling liquid. When adding corn to a soup or stew, turn off heat, add corn and let stand at least 5 minutes. It will swell and lighten in color. Resume cooking. It will fully rehydrate as the dish finishes cooking

Cucumbers – Peel and slice cucumbers. Dip into lemon juice to prevent darkening. Spread on trays; sprinkle lightly with salt or seasoning salt or any favorite seasoning and dry until crisp. Eat like chips or serve with dip.

Mushrooms – Clean well, slice, place on trays and dry. Dry the stems and caps separately as they will dry at a different rate. These store well and rehydrate quickly.

Onions – Onions can be dried if you have an abundance. Peel, slice or dice; spread or lay on trays and dry until brittle. Place dryer in an out of the way place to avoid the strong smell.

Peas – Using frozen peas, spread on trays and dry until they will shatter, about 4-6 hours. To rehydrate, cover with boiling water, let sit 15 minutes, use as desired.

Peppers – Wash and dice. Spread on trays and dry until brittle. To rehydrate, soak in hot water until soft or add directly to stews and soups.

Potatoes Slices – Peel and slice potatoes ¼” thick. Separate slices and rinse thoroughly to remove all the starch. Immerse in boiling water for 4 minutes. Immediately put into very cold water. Drain well and lay slices on dryer trays and dry until brittle when broken. About 1½ cup slices (loosely packed) will equal 1 large potato.

Potatoes-Shredded – Peel potatoes and shred or grate. Flush potatoes with cold water until all the starch is gone and the water runs clear. (This is the most important step, if starch remains in the potato, they will go dark when you dry them.) Immerse in boiling water for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately immerse in icy cold water; repeat in more cold water until potatoes are completely cool. Cover with cold water and add 1 c. lemon juice. Let potatoes sit in the lemon juice mixture for 45 minutes. Drain well. Spread on drying trays (with mesh liner or lined with nylon netting) and dry until brittle and no soft potatoes remain. Rotate trays if desired.

Spinach – Wash spinach leaves well. Remove any tough stems or damaged leaves. Spread on trays and dry till brittle. To use: grind into powder to add to soups or sauces or pour boiling water over leaves and let sit about 5 minutes. Cook as usual.

Tomatoes – Wash and remove core. Slice thin onto paper and let some of the liquid drain from slices. Lay slices on dehydrator tray and dry until slices are brittle, turning once during the process. To use, crumble into soups or stews, pulverize and use as tomato powder or use to make homemade sundried tomatoes in olive oil. Crumble dried tomatoes into softened cream cheese to make a great spread. Add onions or peppers if desired. To add tomatoes to a salad, put small pieces in the salad dressing to rehydrate.

– Wash and slice (for larger zucchini, halve, remove seeds and peel if skin is tough). Dip slices in lemon juice to retain color or for Soy chips, dip slices into a mixture of 1 part soy sauce and 2 parts water and soak for3-5 minutes. (Try substituting Braggs Liquid Aminos for the soy sauce for a healthier version without all the salt. Arrange slices on drying trays and dry 4-8 hours until crisp. Store in airtight container.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Tips

We have been working on our kits for 5 months now and should have them all ready to grab quick in an emergency. Depending on where you live, what your biggest disaster threats are (even though no one really knows for sure) and your climate factors, your kits have to be personalized to meet your needs.
I am posting a tip list this week so we can each evaluate our kits and see if we have forgotten anything that we might wish we had remembered. One of the greatest tips I ever received about a 72-hour kit was given to me by a friend who used to be a Civil Defense Specialist. He brought his 72-hour kit to show us and it was in an old Army Duffle Bag. As he starting pulling stuff out I know my mouth must have dropped open because I was astonished at all the things he pulled out of that bag. I remember asking if we needed all those things in our kits and his reply was, “You are the only one who can answer that.”

He then went on to explain that the best way to find out if your kit is really ready to go is to try it out. We need to rotate our kits every 6 months anyway, so his suggestion was to choose a weekend and a scenario and use nothing but what is in our kits. Whether it’s a camping trip or just and outdoor adventure in the backyard with the kids, live out of that kit for three days and make a list of what you needed that you didn’t have and then add it. He added that one family he knew planned a fake emergency and learned a lot about what they would need in the event that emergency really happened.

After our kits are complete, one of the hardest things to do for me is to remember to rotate the food, medicine and anything else that might need to be checked. I chose a date in the spring and in the fall, 6 months later, to do the rotating. Choose any days that will be easy for you to remember. Don’t be afraid to add extra items to your kits if you want. If there is something your family really likes or needs, make sure to pack it in.

Here is a list of good tips for your kits. If you have any other thoughts, experiences or ideas please feel free to share.

72-Hour Kit Tips:
1.Pack soap and smelly foods like jerky, or gum separately.
2.When you get new glasses put a set of old ones in your kit.
3.Duct tape is very handy for many things
4.Can opener in ever kit
5.Purification kit
6.Unscented soap is good
7.No pop-top cans
8.Old shower curtain liner make great ground cover for bedrolls
9.Remember things like candles, gas lighter extra butane can, flashlight with spare bulb and batteries, a sharp locking pocket knife, gel hand warmers, water purification tablets (or non-scented bleach/chlorine -which can be used as 2 teaspoons to around 10 Liters of water and mixed, then left to stand minimum 30 minutes), new boot socks and Army/Outdoor mess kit. I also pack tinned baked beans, canned tuna, meat paste sealed in small jars, sealed crackers, boiled sweets (candy) and biscuits (cookies), as well as instant soup portions. Don’t forget water – remember we CAN survive on just ONLY water for 2 weeks, without it, we could die in 3 days.
11.Undergarments (several)
12.Rain Coat/Poncho
13.Blankets and Emergency Heat Blankets (that keep in warmth)
14.Cloth Sheet
15.Plastic Sheet
20.Water-Proof Matches
23.Pen and Paper
25.Pocket Knife
27.Personal Supplies
28.Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
29.Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc. Warning: Scented soap might "flavor" food items.)
30.Personal Documents, Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)
31.Insurance Policies
33.Infant Needs (if applicable)
34.Update your 72 Hour Kit every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that: all food, water, and medication is fresh and has not expired; clothing fits; personal documents and credit cards are up to date; and batteries are charged.
35.Small toys/games are important too as they will provide some comfort and entertainment during a stressful time.
36.Older children can be responsible for their own pack of items/clothes too.
37.You can include any other items in your 72 Hour Kit that you feel are necessary for your family's survival.
38.Some items and/or flavors might leak, melt, "flavor" other items, or break open. Dividing groups of items into individual Ziploc bags might help prevent this. Use a bag sealer/vacuum packer if you have one.
39.Winter clothes for extreme temps, gloves, hats, masks, extra socks etc.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Emergency Checklist

Here is a quick survey you can take to see how prepared you are for an emergency. Can you answer YES to each of these questions or do you need to work on them for your home? If you are like me, chances are you may have skipped over some of the harder ones. If you find ones that you have to answer no to, then make a goal to change the no to a yes before the month of June is over!

Emergency Preparedness: Preparedness Survey
1. Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?
2. Does your family know what to do before, during and after an earthquake or other emergency situation?
3. Do you have heavy objects hanging over beds that can fall during an earthquake?
4. Do you have access to an operational flashlight in every occupied bedroom? (use of candles is not recommended unless you can guarantee there is no leaking gas- flashlights are safer and quicker!)
5. Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet against broken glass?
6. If a water line was ruptures during an earthquake, do you know how to shut off the main water line to your house?
7. Can this water valve be turned off by hand without the use of a tool? Do you have a tool if one is needed? Is it where it should be?
8. Do you and everyone in your family know where the main gas shut-off valve to your house is located?
9. It you smell gas, do you know how and would you be able to shut off this valve?
10. Gas valves usually cannot be turned off by hand. Is there a tool near your valve?
11. Would you be able to safely restart your furnace when gas is safely available?
12. Do you have working smoke alarms in the proper places to warn you of fire?
13. Do you have Carbon Monoxide alarms?
14. In case of a minor fire, do you have a fire extinguisher that you know how to operate? Would family members or babysitters know how to use it?(The fire department will test yours for free)
15. Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?
16. Do you have a functional emergency radio to receive emergency information?
17. If you and your family had to evacuate your home, have you identified an outside meeting place?
18. If an emergency lasted for 3 days (72 hours) before help was available to you and your family would you have sufficient food?
19. If an emergency lasted for 3 days (72 hours) before help was available to you and your family would you have the means to cook food without gas and electricity?
20. If an emergency lasted for 3 days (72 hours) before help was available to you and your family would you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?
21. Do you have access to a 72-hour evacuation kit for every family member?
22. Are your kits easily accessible?
23. Would you and your family members be able to carry or transport these kits?
24. Have you established an out-of-state contact?
25. Do you have a first aid kit in your home?
26. Do you have a first aid kit in each car?
27. Do you have work gloves for every family member and some tools for minor rescue and cleanup?
28. Do you have emergency cash on hand? (During emergencies banks and ATM machines are closed- remember small bills.)
29. Without electricity and gas do you have means to heat at least part of your house? (Think of how to cover broken windows)
30. If you need medications, do you have a month's supply on hand?
31. Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?
32. Do you have a supply of food, clothing, and fuel where appropriate: For 6 months? For a Year?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Preparing for an Earthquake

I am a worrier by nature. I was born that way and I don’t suppose it will ever change. I have learned over the years, however, that even if there is nothing you can do to fix or prevent something you are worrying about, it does help to do everything you can do to prepare for it.

One of the things that we can do nothing about is an earthquake. With most storms and many disasters there is at least a little warning but with an earthquake, the only warning is another earthquake. There is no area where you are safe from an earthquake. An earthquake can happen anywhere at any time. There are a few things you can do to prepare the best you can for an earthquake.

The following ideas were put together by a preparedness specialist. As I have read through this several times, the thought has come to mind that there are a few little things that will help you worry less and be more prepared if and when that earthquake comes, and maybe be safer at the same time.

This is a checklist of sorts. As you read it, make note of any changes that you need to make in your home to be more prepare. My friend’s mother in was a California quake a few years that happened during the night. I heard tell how she had to crawl over broken glass on her hands and knees in the dark to find shoes and her glasses, and how the large picture frame above their bed resulted in shattered glass all over them. That experience has helped me reevaluate a few things in my home.


1.Store water and food supply
2.Organize a 72 hour portable emergency kit.
3.Bolt down or provide strong support for water heaters and other appliances.
4.Consider earthquake insurance
5.Make sure your important papers are in order and easily accessible

1.Stay calm.
2.If you are indoors, stay inside and find protection in a doorway, or crouch under a desk or table, away from windows or glass dividers; avoid masonry wall (brick) and chimneys (fireplaces.)
3.Outside: stand away from buildings, trees, telephone and electric lines.
4.On the road: Drive away from underpasses/overpasses; stop in a safe area; stay in the vehicle.
5.In an Office Building: Stay next to a pillar or support column or under a heavy table or desk.

1.Check for injuries. Provide first aid.
2.Check for safety - gas, water, sewage breaks; check for building damage and turn off interrupted utilities as necessary; check for building damage and potential safety problems during aftershocks, such as cracks around chimney & foundation; check for fires.
3.Clean up dangerous spills.
4.Wear shoes.
5.Tune radio to an emergency station and listen for instructions from public safety agencies.
6.Use the telephone only for emergencies.
7.As soon as possible, notify your family that you are okay.
8.Do not use matches or open flames in the home until you are sure there are no gas leaks.
9.Don't turn light switches off and on. Sparks created by the switch contacts can ignite gas fumes.
10.In public buildings, follow evacuation procedures immediately and return only after the building has been declared safe by the appropriate authorities.

1.How, where and when to turn off electricity, gas and water.
2.First aid.
3.Plan for reuniting your family.
4.Plan and practice a family drill at least once a year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

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

This spring has been a very hard one for most everyone everywhere. If you have not been affected by an earthquake, tornado, severe rain storms, high winds and twisters, wild fires, mudslides or flooding you are in the minority and probably know people who have. It is far from over.

The fires are still raging in Arizona and threatening many homes and businesses as well as power lines. Flood waters are still raging and forcing many from their homes as well as leaving lots of destruction in the water's paths. Life will never be the same for many people. What a sad state of affairs. I just heard yesterday that much of the potato seed planted in Washington state has rotted in the ground. Many farmers in the Midwest are just now able to plant crops, much later then usual. Many, many acres of farmland are in terrible shape with some still under water. I don't need to tell anyone how bad things are in places.

I've had conversations with a several people from various locations who tell of not only the destruction that has taken place recently but of the bleak outlook for the future. Crops in many areas will be smaller or nonexistent this year, meaning shortages of many food stuffs. Higher gas prices, both in the fields and for the trucking industry, will drive all prices up in the food that is available.

One report I heard this past week stated that the availability of food, both fresh and canned or frozen, will sharply diminish by fall. This statement was made with a postscript which stated that "we don't want people to panic, but..." I don't know about you, but that really scares me.

The tip for this week is just to take a look at your shelves. Make an estimate of how long you could live on what you have in your home, this very minute. Decide on what you really need, not the frills, to make your situation better and stock up as best you can now. If you are growing a garden, plan to take advantage and can everything you are able to get from your garden. Watch sales and stock up on things you need. If you are not working on your food storage yet, it's time to start.

I decided to choose one area where I need to improve and work on that until I feel better about it. I am trying to use more whole wheat. I'm making bread, something I have not done as much of since becoming an empty nester. I'm making more rolls and my hamburger and hot dog buns. I figure that anything I can do to become more self-sufficient is a good thing.

I have just about printed all of the Food Storage Friendly Recipes sent in by readers. If you have more, please feel free to email them to me at I would now like to focus for awhile on Whole wheat recipes, either breads and rolls or any recipe using whole wheat. If you have favorites or a good way that you use whole wheat in your cooking, send your idea or recipe to me and I'll print it. Thanks to all who have sent recipes.

Today's recipe comes from one of my faithful friends in Arizona. Jeri has sent me so many good recipes and ideas for using food storage. She loves learning to use it in all of her recipes and has even sent me recipes from her friends. I have enjoyed getting to know her better as we have chatted through emails and I appreciate the input and ideas she has sent. Thanks, Jeri.

Shepherd's Pie – Jeri B. Arizona
1 can of green beans
1 pint of hamburger
1 can of beef gravy
Minced dried onions
Garlic salt to taste
mashed potatoes made with water and/or dried or canned milk and from potato flakes for topping
Cheese (optional)
Layer green beans, hamburger, onions and gravy in casserole. Put mashed potatoes that have been made out of milk, potato flakes and water (and butter or use some olive oil) on top. Bake at 350 until hot and starting to brown on top. If I didn't have butter I would use a little olive oil on top. And if I had dried cheese stored, I would use some cheese on top. Canned French's fried onions make a good topping also, but I would put them on the last 3-5 minutes of baking only.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Using MORE Whole Wheat – Whole Wheat Pasta

I’m a creature of habit. I do things the same way over and over. Then, when they are done I ask myself why didn’t I use whole wheat in this bread or why didn’t I make Whole Wheat Waffles this time? The answer is simple I need to make it a habit to use more whole wheat in my cooking. I hope everyone else is doing better than I am. Some of my posts in the near future will feature recipes that use more whole wheat. I need to actively search for ways to use more Whole Wheat. Maybe if I have to post about it, I will do it.

What are your favorite ways to use whole wheat? Do you always make whole wheat bread or half and half bread? Do you grind your whole wheat fresh every time you make it? Do you freeze your ground whole wheat flour after you grind it so that it is ready to use? I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to use more whole wheat in your cooking. Hopefully someone will inspire me to “get with the program” and use some of that wheat on a regular basis!

I’m a pasta lover. I love it in salads, soups or just with sauces on it. I love to throw in some veggies anytime I make pasta and use various sauces.

Have you ever eaten homemade pasta? It is to die for . . . so much better than the kind you buy at the store. I have a pasta machine that makes it so much easier to make pasta but you definitely don't need one. It is easy to make and you will love the results. Here is a recipe for whole wheat pasta using your fresh ground whole wheat flour.

Leave a message and tell me if you make your own pasta. Do you use whole wheat flour as part of the flour? What are your favorite ways to eat pasta? Do you have a favorite sauce recipe?

Homemade Pasta
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
½ t. sea salt
4 eggs
2 t. olive oil
Stir together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt in a medium bowl, or on a clean board. Make a hollow in the center, and pour in the olive oil. Break eggs into it one at a time, while mixing quickly with a fork until the dough is wet enough to come together. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is stiff and elastic. Cover, and let stand for 30 minutes to relax.

Roll out dough by hand with a rolling pin, or use a pasta machine to achieve the desired thickness of noodles. Cut into desired width and shapes. Allow the pasta to air dry for at least 15 minutes to avoid having it clump together. To cook fresh pasta, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until desired doneness. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. It will float to the surface when fully cooked. Drain, and use as desired. *This makes a big batch of pasta.

Friday, June 3, 2011

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

The tip this week is a picture. I was so inspired when I saw this picture of a water storage rack built by John Stock, that I had to share it. These are 55 gallon drums of water stored 3 high in his garage. He built the stacking shelf, notice how much space that saves. He attached a spout to them for easy use. They water their lawn with the water once a year then, refill the containers with fresh water.

What a great idea! I think this would be a great project for anyone who wants a better idea for storing water. Notice how convenient the barrels are to use as well as how little space they actually take up stored this way. This second picture shows how easily they could be constructed to hold your water storage.

Now I just need to talk my husband into building one of these. They really don't look too complicated and I think the amount of space this would save would be well worth the time to build it.

The recipe of the week is another great dessert recipe. It was sent to me by Megan M. from Utah. She said that the idea of using beans in brownies is not a new idea. Her mom did this year’s ago. Megan said that her Mom would always wait to tell people that the brownies had black beans in them until they had tried them and commented on how good they were. Everyone was always surprised to find out what the secret ingredient was. She said her Mom would always “brag” about the fact that one of these brownies has the same amount of fiber as a slice of whole wheat bread. Thanks for sending the recipe, Megan.

Mom’s Dark Fudge Brownies
1 (15-ounce) can unseasoned black beans (If using dried beans, a 15-ounce can is about 1 2/3 cups of beans. Just soak beans overnight, cook 1 cup of dried and measure out 1 2/3 cups. You will have a little extra.)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon light butter
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rich cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a 9x13” pan with nonstick vegetable spray. Place the beans in a colander and rinse thoroughly under running water to remove "slime"; set aside and drain. Place the chocolate and light butter in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. In a food processor or blender add the drained beans and 2 egg whites. Blend or process until smooth. Make sure beans are smooth (like frosting) or you will taste them in the brownies. In a large bowl combine the bean puree, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and the remaining egg whites. With an electric mixer, beat until well combined. Mix in the melted chocolate. Pour the brownie mixture into a prepared pan. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the brownie batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the brownie pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Growing Herbs Indoors

Being able to supplement your food storage items with fresh herbs that enhance and give variety to foods is a bonus. I think of eating beans and wheat every day or a few times a week and it does not seem that appetizing. However, being able to change it up and add different herbs and spices, sauces or gravies makes it seem much more appealing.

I have not been very good at using a lot of fresh herbs in my cooking. Not having a place to have a garden limits what I can do, and makes it easier to make excuses. However I still love buying fresh herbs and experimenting with flavors and sauces in different dishes I make. I realize that having an indoor herb garden is a possibility and can add lots of variety to any meal. My goal is to use more fresh herbs. This year I’ve started an indoor herb garden in little pots. Not a big deal yet but still a way to learn to grow and use more fresh herbs in cooking. I can guarantee a few fresh herbs will make any food storage meal tastier.

I’m probably the only one who doesn’t do this. I’ve studied to find out which ones grow best indoors and I came up with this list put together by Kendra from I am using this as a guide to help me get started. I copied this list to keep handy as I try to become an expert herb grower. Good luck to me! Let me know of any successes you’ve had or things you have learned in the process.

Here’s a list of common herbs that do well growing indoors. Keep in mind that a south facing window is best, but if that’s not an option for you you’ll need to put your plants in a widow that gets at least SIX hours of good sunlight for most plants.

1. Parsley - Parsley is a slow grower. It takes anywhere from 2-5 weeks for seedlings to emerge. To help seeds germinate more quickly, soak the seeds in warm water for up to 24 hours before planting. Parsley grows well in any good soilless potting mix. Plant it in a pot at least 8” deep as parsley has a long taproot. Make sure the pot has a hole in the bottom of it for proper drainage; you may want to add some small pebbles or something into the bottom of the pot to help with this. Parsley likes bright morning light, and needs at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. It does not like the cold, so keep it back away from chilly windows in the winter. Make sure to water evenly, as this plant does not tolerate irregular watering well. Do not let the potting mix dry out. Parsley will last for up to two years, and then you’ll need to plant more seeds.

2. Chives
- Chives are easy to grow from seed, and do well in any good potting mix. Simply press them into the potting soil and water. Once the seedlings emerge, keep them evenly watered. If the tips of the plant begin to yellow, it needs more water. Chives need full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Rotate the pots every few days if the plant begins to lean toward the light. Divide the clump every 2-3 years and re-pot in fresh potting mix. To harvest, snip leaves with a pair of scissors two inches from the base of the plant.

3. Oregano - Oregano can be unpredictable when grown from seed. It’s best to buy a plant to start. Pot oregano in sandy, well drained soil. It is recommended to mix equal parts good potting mix and sharp sand (or use a cactus potting mix). Once established, it is easily killed by over- watering; be sure to have adequate drainage and keep in mind that this plant is drought tolerant. Oregano needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Divide the plants every 2-3 years, and re-pot separately. Harvest the leaves once the plant has reached 6 inches tall. Be sure to leave stems at least 2 in. above the soil when cutting. Dries well for storage.

4. Thyme - Sow seeds shallowly, keep soil moist until seedlings emerge. Germination within 1-2 weeks. It’s recommended to plant thyme in sandy, well drained soil. Mix 2 parts good potting mix with one part sharp sand or perlite (or you can use a cactus potting mix). Water well, then allow the top 1 in. of potting mix to dry out before watering again; approx. twice a week. Thyme needs at least 6 hours a day of good sunlight. Turn the plant for even growth when you notice it leaning toward the light. Harvest sparingly the first year. Snip bunches as needed, leaving 3 in. of stem above the soil. Thyme dries well and freezes well in freezer bags.

5. Rosemary - Plant in good draining potting mix; same as for Thyme. Be sure the pot has adequate drainage. Do not overwater! Only water when the top 2” of the soil’s surface feels dry, but be careful not to allow it to dry out completely. Rosemary needs at least 6 hours of direct light per day. Turn the plant as needed when you notice it leaning toward the sun. Rosemary plants are susceptible to powdery mildew. You may need to take it out of the kitchen (a high humidity room) if this becomes a problem. You can also treat the plant with an organic fungicide. Harvest above a stem joint, never cutting more than a third of the plant at a time.

6. Basil - Grows easily from seed. Cover seeds with 1/4″ soil, water well. You should see seedlings emerge in about a week. When the seedlings are about 6″ tall, pinch off the tops to promote more leaf growth. Plant in same potting mix recommended for Rosemary and Thyme. Water thoroughly, then allow the top 1”of the soil to dry out before watering again. Basil enjoys an occasional mist of room-temp water for humidity. Requires 6 hours of good light per day. Turn as needed for even growth. Harvest leaves from established plants once a week. Cut a leaf as needed, or a stem above a pair of leaves. Pinch off blooms as they appear. Basil dries or freezes well for longer storage.

Okay, that’s a good start, right? Here are a few other herbs to consider planting indoors as well:
Winter Savory
Lemon Balm
In general, fertilize herbs with a low dose of water-soluble fertilizer which promotes leaf growth (not blooms) about every two weeks. You can also feed your herbs by adding one tablespoon of fish emulsion to a gallon of water and using this every time you water. Rosemary, thyme, and basil benefit from a spoonful of crushed eggshells added to the soil. If whiteflies, aphids or other pests become a problem, you can spray the plants once a week with a soapy solution made from 1-2 tablespoons of a mild soap dishwashing soap to one gallon of warm water. If the plants begin to discolor, decrease the amount of soap used in the solution, or discontinue use. Make sure to wash the leaves off before using them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

72 Hour Kit Wednesday – Staying Dry & Garbage containment

All the rainy and wet weather we have had in the past few MONTHS reminds us how unpredictable the weather can be. We have a tendency to think that it can’t snow in June or be hot in April. This reminds us that the weather can do anything it wants. Now to prepare for the unpredictability is the trickiest part.

For any of those of you who are campers you know how important it is to stay dry. No one likes to be wet and cold and even being wet and hot is a sticky situation that can lead to not only irritability but illness as well.

One thing that we really need to include in our kits is a ground cover to keep us, our clothes, bedding and everything else dry. Ground cover is not tricky. Almost anything works. Large heavy duty garbage bags, cut to form a flat piece of plastic are suitable for putting under sleeping bags to protect from the damp. One of my favorite ground cover ideas is to use your old shower curtain liners for ground cover. They are relatively inexpensive to begin with but after you have used them in the shower and replaced them with new ones, they are virtually free. Never throw away a used shower curtain liner. They make not only good plastic sheets for ground cover to put in your kits but great drop cloths for painting, crafting, or hundreds of other things.

So, it doesn’t matter what you use, but get some plastic sheeting, garbage bags, shower curtain liners (used) or whatever and put them in your kits for ground cover, a makeshift shelter from the rain or whatever. It isn’t a bad idea to include some string or twine in case you have to make shelters or improvise to keep yourselves from the wind and rain or even just from the morning dew. Who knows what uses you’ll find for your plastic?

Another thing you need to remember as you pack your kits is that wherever you end up in the event of an emergency, whether you are at a camping spot or just in an evacuation area, you will need to have a way to contain your garbage and a place to put all of your waste. Throw in some extra large garbage bags so that you can keep your messes contained and removed when the time comes.

How are you coming on gathering cash for your kits? Remember the amount you want to have depends on the number in your family. The suggested amount of $100 in small bills is just a suggested amount. You may not need it at all and then again you may need cash to buy gas, food or emergency supplies. We’ll be wrapping our kits up soon so keep working on your cash stash.