Saturday, March 31, 2012

How Much Should You Grow??

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Early spring garden is planted!!

Spring is here, the snow is behind us (fingers crossed) and that means it's time to get out in the dirt and plant a garden.  I am relatively new at the whole gardening thing, so I am not an expert, but I have had some success in my square foot garden.  (If you don't know what square foot gardening is click HERE for more info)  Gardening is just like everything else in the preparedness world, you need to try it before the emergency.  You need to have seeds properly stored and also know how to grow the seeds in your area. 

There are companies selling seeds that have been sealed in #10 cans, and that is a great option if you want a backup plan.  But you need to be purchasing non-hybrid seeds and using them.  You need non-hybrid, or heirloom, seeds or else you won't be able to extract the seeds for the next year's garden.  Storing your seeds in a Mylar bag in the freezer will extend the life of your seeds for years!!!!

Have you ever thought about how much food our ancestors of past had to grow to sustain their families?  They worked to live everyday.  If the day comes when we don't have grocery stores and farms we may need to grow the food our family eats.  No matter how much food storage you may have, it will eventually run out and you'll need to grow your food.  Supplementing my current food storage with fresh garden food is important for learning how to garden, saving money, and eating healthy food. Gardening is food storage and we have been counseled to grow a garden.  I found a great chart on the Amounts of Vegetables To Be Grown & Preserved to feed a family of 4 for 300 days.  (the other 65 days it is assumed you'll be eating fresh food out of the garden and not need a canned option)

The blog where I found this chart is no longer available and I found the information so valuable that I printed it out last year and I am so glad that I did because I wouldn't be able to do that now that it's gone.  

Amounts of Vegetables To Be Grown & Preserved
(For a Family Of 4 Persons)
The information is a starting point for garden planning with home preservation and cooking from scratch 3x's a day. Food preservation needs are individual and no one can determine your family's specific requirements except for you.  The estimates below are based on a 1/2 C serving 4x's a day for 300 days.  The other 65 days the family will eat fresh produce from the garden.  Canning, freezing, dehydration, salting, fermenting, and pickling are all ways to preserve your food.

Type of Veg.      Pounds to Raise      Quarts/Pints to Preserve
Beets                      30lbs                           12 q/24 p
Broccoli                 75lbs                           48 q/96 p
Cabbage                 150lbs                         40 q/80 p
Celery                    75lbs                            30 q/60 p (dehydrate too)
Carrots                   120lbs                          30 q/60 p
Cauliflower            30lbs                            10 q/20 p
Green Beans             175lbs                         85 q/170 p
Green Peas             100lbs                          25 q/50 p
Green Peppers        50lbs                           25 q/ 50p 
Lima Beans            90lbs                           24 q/48 p
Onions                    125lbs                         25 q/50 p
Potatoes                 500lbs                          400lbs dry storage
Pumpkin                40lbs                            16 q/32 p
Spinach                  90lbs                            35 q/70 p
Summer Squash     200lbs                         40 q/80 p
Sweet Corn            150lbs                          40 q/80 p
Tomatoes/whole     250lbs                         100 q/200 p
Winter Squash       200lbs                          40 q/80 p
{Katherine Grossman Granny Miller}

This information really opened my eyes to amount of food I would have to grow to sustain my family.  It is a great starting point but I really hope the time never comes where I will have to grow that much food.  I always romanticized the life of Little House On The Prairie and I wanted to live with Laura Ingalls on her farm, but actually living it would be a reality I don't think I really want to do.
I mentioned above that I use the square foot garden system and so far it has been relatively simple and the harvest last year was a great start for me.  
 You can find this book almost anywhere books are sold and it is my garden bible until I get my gardening legs and I know what I am doing. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Lemon Chicken With Orzo

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Every once in a while I try to act like I can cook.  I freely admit that I am no chef :) I love to bake and most things that I make with sugar come out every time I make them.  Dinner on the other hand, does not always come out as planned.  This recipe made me look like I knew what I was doing and my husband even said that it was good!

Lemon Chicken With Orzo
1 lemon (you'll need the juice and zest)
2-3 chicken breasts
1 1/2 C Orzo pasta
1/2 C sour cream (powdered sour cream works here)
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
2 tomatoes (I used 2 Roma tomatoes)
5-8 basil leaves

Roll your lemon several times with the palm of your hand to warm it up and get the juice flowing. Zest the lemon and save it for later. Cut in half and squeeze the juice over the chicken.  Let it marinate for 20 minutes.  

While the chicken is marinating bring water to a boil and cook the orzo according to package directions.  Drain.  

Grill the chicken.  I used our George Foreman grill so I can grill indoors.  When done place on plate and cover with foil.

Mix the sour cream, Parmesan, garlic, olive oil, salt, and the zest of the lemon.  Pour over the orzo and stir.  Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped basil.  Stir gently.  Serve with the chicken sliced on top.  (I served it on the side) Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Make-A-Mix Cookbook

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Do you know what I love about taking a preparedness class??  I get so motivated to do something!!  Yesterday I took a Mix A Meal class at Honeyville Grain and I felt inspired to make a few of these mixes for my family.  I feel that preparedness is personal and is different for everyone, and you need to pray for guidance and inspiration for your family.  I have felt promptings during classes, at the store, at a garage sale and when I follow those promptings I find the items I purchased were meant for me to use in making preparedness that much easier. 

After the class I returned home to find a delivery from and it was my new Make-A-Mix cookbook.  Don't get it confused with the Mix-A-Meal cookbook and class that I attended at Honeyville.  Both books have the same idea, making mixes in bulk to save time and money.  I have an original copy (1978) of the Make-A-Mix book and I wanted the updated version, so when it showed up on my doorstep yesterday it was confirmation that I needed to make some mixes. Click HERE to see a previous post on the old book.

The updated Make-A-Mix cookbook.
 This is what I did today and I can't wait to save time making dinner this week!!
I am not going to publish the recipes because that would infringe on the rights of the authors, but I suggest you either look this book up at your local library or order one from Amazon.  It will save you time and money!!  The book starts off with how to put the mixes together and then gives you recipes for using the mixes. (the mixes last about 12 weeks)  This is what I plan on making with my mixes above.

Hot Roll Mix
-French bread
-Crescent rolls
-Hamburger Buns
-Pizza Crust
-English Muffins
There are many more but those are the ones I want to try first!

Quick Mix
-Crispy Breadsticks
-English griddle scones
-Morning Muffins
-Quick pancakes
Many, many more recipes in the book!

Corn Bread Mix
-Corn Bread (I have several meals that I need corn bread for)
-Corn Dogs

There are 328 pages of recipes and ideas and I can't wait to implement them into my daily cooking.  I'll do almost anything to make dinner time easier and I hope these mixes are the way to go!!

Hot Rolls from the Hot Roll Mix
 Here are my rolls for dinner tonight using the Hot Roll Mix. They were delicious!!  

Rice cooked with onion soup mix.
I also made some of the "best rice ever", according to my daughter, using the Onion Soup Mix from the Mix-A-Meal book.  The owners of the book allowed me to share this recipe.

Onion Soup Mix
2/3 C dehydrated onions
1/2 C beef bouillon (I used Shirley J's)
1/2 C dehydrated butter or margarine (I used Honeyville's powdered butter)
2 T cornstarch
2 t onion powder
2 t parsley flakes
Mix well and store in an airtight container.  Use in any dry onion soup recipe.  About 1/3 C equals one packet of Lipton soup mix.

Onion Steamed Rice
1 C rice to 3 C water
2 t onion soup mix
Cover and steam 20 minutes or  until rice is tender.  (I used my rice cooker and did 2 C rice, 3 1/4 C water, and 4 t onion soup mix)

(click HERE to view a  previous  post on the Mix-A-Meal cookbook)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Safer Emergency Candle

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It doesn't take much to excite me (especially when it comes preparedness items) and when I saw this new emergency candle I knew I had to have one.  I am all for having an emergency plan, but you need to have a backup plan and a backup plan to your backup plan.  I like to have options for my emergency preparedness and when it comes to lighting I feel you need to have several different ways to light your home, tent, car, or wherever you may be bugging out.  

Meet the newest member of the lighting family, the Safer Emergency Candle
 The Safer Emergency Candle is a great way to have a compact, lightweight light source. A major selling point to me is that if the candle gets tipped over is puts itself out.  Each packet comes with 5 float cups, 100 wicks  (candle wick burns +/- 10 hours).

The instructions are quite simple....

Fill a small glass half-way with water.
Add no more than 1/2" of oil.  I used Canola oil.
Place the wick into the plastic cup.
Add the plastic float cup into the glass.
And light!! 
 If the glass gets tipped, the water will put out the flame.  I have 5 children and in an emergency I would feel at peace knowing my kids wouldn't be burning our home down. I would not leave the candle unattended but it is an added safety feature. 

The Safer Candle is also very cost effective.  This is from the Safer Candle website:

Convenient and far less expensive:

A package of Kevin’s Kandles costing MSRP less than $ 9.USD and contains sufficient supplies to create 100 candles. Factoring in the average cost of vegetable oil in North America will provide the consumer with 100 - 10 hour candles for less than 20¢ per candle. There is no other candle on the market at this low price. It is conceivable that you, as a consumer would only require one package in your lifetime. If the consumer decides to use these candles instead of traditional candles in a non-power failure situation as a means to improve their safety – so much the better.

I'm sold!  I thought these little packets of wicks and float cups were such a great idea.  I have lanterns, candles, flashlights, and now a Safer Candle pack.  Check out the Safer Candle website to order.

I even tested the brightness of the candle.  Don't mind my kids' bathroom (please) but is the only room without a window and I did this test during the day. I could see this working really well with 2 or 3 on my kitchen table and we could have enough light for meals.  So, if you would like another option for your lighting storage this may be the way to go.  I lit the candle just before dinner and it has been burning for over an hour and I haven't noticed any difference in the size of the flame.

Honeyville in Salt Lake was kind enough to let me have this packet of Safer Candles to try out. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Muffin Mix

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A great way to save time and money when making meals is to use mixes.  If you purchase ingredients in bulk and use them to cook your meals you are saving money.  If you make mixes with your bulk ingredients you are saving time.  I use mixes for pancakes, waffles, white cream sauce, cakes, and now muffins.  

I like to make muffins with my dinners because I can sneak in whole wheat flour, ground flax seed, chia, fruits, and even pureed or dehydrated veggies.  Plus I know my kids will eat at least the muffin for dinner.  Our dinner rule is you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.  They get to eat what I make for dinner, nothing else. They have to try at least one bite of everything.  They usually always will eat a muffin, or two.  

This is the old cover, it has since been revamped.

I found a cookbook from 1978 called "Make-A-Mix Cookery" and have really liked the recipes in it.  My family really loves the pancake mix from this book.  They cook up so fluffy and thick.  So I thought I would try the muffin mix and it turned out pretty good.  I still need to tweak it with filler ingredients but it is a good base for adding on.  

Shortening powder is the way to go with mixes!!
Freeze-dried fruits are perfect for muffins!!
 Muffin Mix
8 C flour (I need to experiment more with whole wheat)
2/3 C sugar
1/3 C baking powder
1 T salt
1 C shortening powder

In a large bowl combine the ingredients and mix well.  I use a whisk to get it all mixed up.  Makes about 10 cups of mix.  I keep mine in a #10 can in the fridge because of the shortening powder and it should last at least 12 weeks. (see comments below if you want to add powdered milk and egg to your mix)

Use the mix to make many kinds of muffins.  I made the Melt-In-Your-Mouth Muffins from the cookbook. 

2 1/3 C muffin mix above
1 C milk (1 C water + 3 T powdered milk)
1 egg (1 T powdered eggs + 2 T water)
Combine the above ingredients and stir.  Add in 1/2-1 C dried or fresh fruit.  Fill muffin pans 2/3 full and bake in 400 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

"Muffins" in my thermal cooker using the muffin mix.

The possibilities are endless with what you could add to these muffins.  Apples, bananas, cheese, apricots, pineapple, jelly, etc.  I used this mix to make muffins in my Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker. Click here to see that post.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Muffins In A Thermal Cooker

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I try really hard to make preparing a lifestyle.  I usually find something to do everyday that relates to preparing.  Some days it is a big project, like cooking outdoors, or sometimes something small like picking up a few items at the store.  Either way I like to always try new things and find what works for my family.  I have been using my Sartatoga Jacks thermal cooker and have been experimenting with new recipes.  One of my goals is to be able to make bread in the thermal cooker, and it is definitely a trial and error kind of project.  

One of my favorite food storage websites is and it is where I find inspiration for cooking with a thermal cooker.  Megan is the author and she uses a wonder box to cook in (click here to view more on a wonderbox) and it is the same concept as the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker.  I have been trying to cook bread in my thermal cooker for awhile now and Megan has, what I think is, divine inspiration because she finds the coolest gadgets to use in her wonder box for making bread. She made muffins using Dredger Cups from Sur La Table instead of soup cans. (that I had been using which are ok, but they get rusty really easy)  A Dredger Cup, I think, is used for shaking powdered sugar, etc onto food.  I just went with it, and I'm still not sure what is really is :)  Click HERE to see more info on Dredger Cups. What makes these so amazing is they are stainless steel, reusable, rust-free, and fit so well into the thermal cooker.  
They are only about 3 1/4" high, so pretty small, but I could fit 5 into the thermal cooker.  
The lids of the Dredger Cups are a wire mesh so I put tin foil on top of the lids to keep the moisture out.  They are just tall enough that the small thermal cooker pan fits right on top to fill in the dead air space.  Thermal cooking only works well when the pan is full of warm food or water.
I mixed up a batch of blueberry muffins (click here for that recipe) and I have a secret that will make your muffins come out cooked and not mushy.  When thermal cooking, the moisture isn't released from the food because it is all enclosed, and sometimes the food comes out mushy.  The secret is to use less water in your recipe.  In this recipe I used powdered shortening and powdered eggs.  Normally I would add water to my recipe to reconstitute these, but I only added the 1 C of milk called for in the muffin recipe and no water for the shortening and eggs.  The dough was really thick and I wasn't sure it was going to work but it did!!  Every time I have tried wheat bread in my thermal cooker it has come out slightly mushy, so I was so excited to see the muffins come out fully cooked sans the mush!!  You'll have to play around with your recipes but I think 1/4-1/3 C less water should work.
I sprayed the inside of the cups with cooking spray and filled them about 2/3rd's of the way full.  I placed the wire mesh lids on and then covered them with foil.
Place the cups into the pan and fill with warm water to about the bottom of the Dredger Cup lid.  Bring to a boil for 10 minutes!!  This gets the food warm enough to cook the muffins.  Place the lid on the pan while it's boiling so it gets warm too.  My lid went on after the picture was taken.  I stacked my thermal cooker pans (the smaller pan was filled with boiling water) placed them in the thermal cooker and "cooked" the muffins for 3-4 hours.
I opened mine up at the 3 hour mark because my dinner was ready and they were perfect!!!  You may be wondering how I got muffins out of a bunch of cylinders but watch....
They come out in a loaf and....

You slice them into "muffins"!!!  I cut each loaf into 4 "muffins" and my kids gobbled them up with butter and jelly.  I was really was so excited that this worked!  I can't wait to try wheat bread again using the less water method. This same method works in a Wonder Box as well.  My trial and error with using a thermal cooker just keeps proving to myself that NOW is the time for trial and error.  Even in an emergency I don't think my family would eat soggy, mushy bread and muffins, but I have figured out what works now.  Don't wait any longer!!!  Find a food storage project that you have been putting off and try it today!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade-Chicken Cashew Pasta Salad

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This is one of those go-to recipes when I don't know what to make for dinner.  It is easy to make and it's one of my children's favorite meals.  It is a perfect summer salad because you don't have to heat up your kitchen. 

 Chicken Cashew Pasta Salad

12 oz small macaroni
2 chicken breasts, cubed (we also love this with 1 can of tuna)
2 C halved red grapes (or freeze-dried grapes)
2/3 C chopped green onion (great way to use the ones growing on your windowsill
2 C chopped apple (dehydrated apple works too, just toss in, no need to rehydrate)
1 C mayo
1/2 C coleslaw dressing
1/4 C milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 C cashews

Cook the pasta according to package directions and rinse with cold water.  Mix the chicken, grapes, apple, and green onion in a bowl, add the cooled pasta.  Stir together the mayo, coleslaw dressing (I actually just use a little bit more mayo and about a T of sugar instead of the coleslaw dressing) Pour dressing over the pasta mixture and stir until combined.  Cover and chill before serving.  Add the cashews just before serving.  (keep nuts in a mason jar and seal with a foodsaver to keep them from going rancid.  The freezer works as well)

Ok, this picture is totally gross!  A blob of fat laden mayo on top of pasta...BUT.....

...Have you tried this mayo yet??  It is made with olive oil and it only has 3g of fat per serving.  I feel so much better serving this to my family than regular old mayo. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Through His Servants....

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Through his servants, the Lord teaches us the pathway to happiness and safety.

I know of nothing of great importance that has happened in the world that the Lord through his prophets has not advised the people of beforehand, so that they have not been left in ignorance of what was to develop, but could plan their lives, if they would, to their advantage...

The case of Noah is in point.  He was commanded of the Lord to build an ark in which the righteous might be preserved from the flood which was to come.  Noah built the ark and preached repentance to his generation for a period of one hundred and twenty years, thus fully warning them. The people, however, were so wicked that they failed to heed the warning.  Having their agency, they chose evil rather than righteousness.  The rains descended, and the floods came, and only Noah and his family of eight souls were saved.  All had been fully warned, but because of their wilfulness and their refusal to repent they were drowned.  {see Moses 8:13-30}

-Teachings of the President of the Church:  George Albert Smith pg.60

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Quinoa Fried "Rice"

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I have found a great new way to eat quinoa.  I had some leftover quinoa from dinner the other night and I needed to make fried rice to go with our Lo Mein and remembered I had the quinoa in the fridge.  I substituted it straight across for the rice and it was really good!  It was even better the next day for lunch.  The flavors had really blended and it was delicious.  I don't really follow exact measurements for this recipe, so feel free mix it up.  If I can't mess up a recipe then you will all be fine :)

Quinoa Fried "Rice"
3 eggs scrambled
2 carrots chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped (I used 2 T dehydrated onion)
1/4 C butter
2 garlic cloves
2 C quinoa (or rice) cooked
Soy sauce to taste

Saute the carrot and onion in a skillet with a little oil for a few minutes. Add the quinoa and scrambled eggs and stir gently.  Add the butter and garlic and stir until butter is melted.  Add soy sauce and stir.  If it seems too dry you could add a little broth.  I added about 1/4 C of broth when I added the quinoa.  Once it is all combined and heated through, it is done!

I actually like this better than the black bean and quinoa salad that I made before.  It went really well with the chicken Lo Mein that we had for dinner and even my picky husband said it was good.  For him to say it was good means it really was good :)  Usually I get an "it's ok", so "it's good" was high praise.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shelf Stable Cheese

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Last week I did a post on how to store cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt for much longer than the expiration date tells you. Click HERE to view that post.  
My Tillamook cheese in my storage room.

I also promised I would write a post about keeping cheese on your pantry shelf.  I learned this trick in a food storage class at Honeyville Grain last July, in the same class that I learned about the cottage cheese.  
In July my grocery store had these Tillamook cheese blocks on sale for $2.99  (with a $1.00 coupon) and I bought about 10 of them.  I was too chicken to set them all on the pantry shelf, so I started with only this one block.  You'll see in the first picture that I kept the cheese in an old baby wipes box.  I did this to keep any unwanted guests from partaking of my cheese.  (I have never, nor do I now have any kind of bug or rodent in my storage room, knock on wood)  I have read on other blogs that around 7 months the cheese gets very sharp so I thought that 8 months would be a good time to try my cheese out.  
The cheese was still a hard block of cheese and there was a little bit of liquid in the plastic.  It smelled kind of sharp but looked and felt just like a regular block of cheese.  
 You can see the liquid that separated from the cheese in this picture.  The cheese cut just fine and would shred just as well.  I ate a bite and it was totally edible!!  It wasn't too sharp and it would make a really good grilled cheese sandwich or a great topping on top of a casserole.  I will definitely be using the cheese in my meals this week.  I was surprised that it wasn't too sharp and that it wasn't moldy :)  I am sold on keeping Tillamook cheese on my pantry shelf.  Remember that you can't do this with any other brand of cheese, it isn't packaged the right way to do this.  This is another great way to save money by purchasing an item at its lowest price and being able to store it for a long time without refrigeration.  Most cheese has a long expiration date, but this would help in a time of little or no refrigeration.  If I was smart, I would buy smaller packages of cheese so we wouldn't have to use 2lbs of cheese at one time and not have to waste all that cheese without a refrigerator.  I may be a food storage nerd, but I love trying out these food storage tricks and it is so fun to find out the results!!
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