Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Everyday Home Storage-Ensign Article

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I found this great article in the March Ensign (an LDS monthly magazine) all about making food storage a part of our everyday lives. 

Making home storage a part of our everyday lives can seem daunting and expensive but this article has great ideas on how to have a home storage on the smallest of budgets.  If you don't get the Ensign magazine or would like to print out this article...CLICK HERE.  It had great ideas on how to establish a home storage and also on facing adversity.  

I can personally testify that my family has received both spiritual and temporal blessings from following the counsel of our Prophet. No matter what your financial situation is, you can prepare by taking home storage step-by-step.  "Home storage is not an event, it is a process."  And if it feels like nothing is going your way, have faith, pray, and the Lord will bless you!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Black Bean Quinoa Salad

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Black beans and Quinoa-a perfect pairing!!
Honeyville Grain has introduced me to a whole new world of grains.  Quinoa has been popular for a little while now, but I have just recently jumped on the quinoa train.  I took a class at Honeyville that introduced me to many new grains that are so incredibly healthy for us.  Quinoa has a really high protein content and is actually a complete protein. (great for vegetarians!!) I was always kind of nervous to tastes quinoa because I thought it was going to be kind of like oatmeal, but I was so wrong.  It is soft and only a little bit chewy, kind of like rice.  It has a mellow flavor and all of my children ate it for dinner.  
 Black Bean Quinoa Salad
1 t oil
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
3/4 C uncooked Quinoa
1 1/2 C broth
1 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne
salt & pepper to taste
1 C corn (canned, fresh, or frozen)
2 cans black beans rinsed and drained (I only used 1 can)
1/2 C cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro. 

I also made some Naan bread (or Indian fry bread) to go along with the quinoa.  It was chewy, warm, and delicious.

 Naan Bread

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 t instant yeast)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. (I used my bosch to do the kneading) Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off 16 small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rest for a few minutes.  Preheat your oven to 475 degrees with a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.  

Dough ready to be baked in the oven.

Form each ball into a 6" circle using your hands to form the circle.  Place a few circles into the oven on the pizza stone.  Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the dough has a few dark spots, and is slightly puffy.  Remove from the oven and rub with butter. 

My kids loved the bread!!  And I have a new love of Quinoa!!  Plus it was so quick to get dinner on the table.  I will be adding a few more quinoa recipes to my family's meal plan!! 
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Manual Washing Machines & Long-Term Dairy Storage

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The title may seem odd, but that is what my life was all about the past few days.  It was a time of experimentation with food storage theories, and also a household mini-disaster where my emergency preparedness came in handy.  I took a class at Honeyville Grain last summer taught by a sister team, Afton & Jenee, and they had some interesting ideas on how to preserve eggs, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese. (click HERE to see that post) I tested some of their ideas and so far so good!!  I also had a slight disaster when our washing machine died.  Of course the minute we can't do laundry all my kids were insistent they HAD to do laundry right now!  

One of the ideas that I learned in that food storage class last summer is if you store your yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese containers upside down in the fridge they will stay fresh for months.  I may have taken this too literally, but I wanted to make quiche for dinner the other night and it called for cottage cheese, and lo and behold look at what I found in the back corner of the fridge....
 The date I used this in our dinner was February 22, 2012....seven months after putting this container in the fridge, upside down.  And you know what?? We are all alive today to tell you that turning your containers upside down WORKS!!!  I was convinced that just because my washing machine was broken that we were all going to be up all night with food poisoning and I would have no way to wash the sheets :)  But I was almost doing a happy dance when I opened the container and smelled it and it was exactly like fresh cottage cheese from the store!!  (I also have a post on storing cheese and eggs on the shelf for next week, so stayed tuned for that one!)

Now onto the mini-disaster...my washing machine broke and we are now waiting for a new one to be delivered (in maybe a week).  I have a potty-training 3 year old who goes through 3-4 pairs of underwear a day. (she's 3 so don't worry about her being embarrassed, maybe in 10 years :)  And of course she is now out of clean underwear and I was very close to buying new ones when I remembered my manual washing machine.  
Notice the pull-up and no pants :) They were all dirty.
 I have had a manual washer in my storage room but hadn't put together the whole contraption.  Today was the day we put it together and used it!  
We first drilled a hole in a gamma lid.
See how it all fits together.
I added a few drops of detergent and the clothes.
We started with the lid on but it was actually easier to use the suction of the plunger with the lid off.  My 2 youngest LOVED this job!!
 I drained and rinsed the clothes in the same bucket and wrung them out and then we dried them in the dryer.  What really caught my attention was how much water I would need to do laundry every week.  We used a 2 liter bottle and counted how many it would take to fill the bucket to be able to do a load of laundry.
 It took four 2-liter bottles to fill the bucket half-way with enough water to wash 6 pairs of child size 4 pants. And that was only to wash, more water would be needed to rinse the clothes.  I have quite a bit of water storage but I am adding to it everyday now!!  We had fun washing the clothes in a bucket but it was actually kind of hard.  It hurt my hands to hold the plunger after awhile and after ringing out the clothes my hands were so dry from the detergent.  I am working on  making a clothes ringer out of buckets, but I had to do it with my hands.  The bucket also doesn't hold that much.  My son is 8 and it held 4 pairs of his pants and we left the lid off the bucket to move them around with the plunger.  My 12 year old did her laundry in the bath tub and used the plunger.  I actually think that was a better way to do a large load, but it was hard on her back to bend over for that long.  (Imagine my back after doing that) 

We learned so much from doing this simple task of washing our clothes in a bucket.  I can also watch for food sales and stock up on sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs, and cheese and have the knowledge to be able to store them for months, while saving my family money!!  Learning NOW before a disaster is what I think is so important!!  Don't wait for an emergency to try out your sun oven, or porta potty, or manual washer.  You'll deeply regret not learning skills now when you have the time and energy to do so.  

(Click HERE to view a previous post on washing clothes without electricity)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Creamy Tortilla Soup

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I have been searching the Internet for new slow cooker recipes to use in my Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker,  and one of my favorite sites is called 365 Days of Slow Cooking.  Karen, the author, cooked in her slow cooker EVERY day for 1 year and blogged about it.  She currently has a new cookbook out and still blogs about her slow cooker adventures.  I love slow cooker recipes because they work so well in my Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker

My husband and I have date night every Friday night and I usually let my kids make their own dinner, but I decided that I am going to try a new dinner in the thermal cooker every Friday.  My kids can open it and serve themselves when they are hungry.  This Friday I made Creamy Tortilla Soup from 365daysofcrockpot.com.
This recipe was mostly canned goods, with only a few ingredients from the fridge.  In a situation where refrigeration wasn't available I would have used garlic powder and lime powder (dehydrated lime that had been powdered in the blender).  I would also leave out the cilantro in an emergency, but you really need it if you make it for dinner.  The cilantro makes this soup!!

I boiled my ingredients in my thermal cooker pans, stacked them and put them in the base, but the slow cooker will work perfectly. 

 Creamy Tortilla Soup (from 365daysofcrockpot.com)
1/2-1lb chicken breasts (I used a bottle of home canned chicken)
1 C chicken broth
1/2 C picante or salsa
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 t lime juice
2 garlic cloves
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 t cumin
1 C corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 C chopped red pepper (I didn't add this, my kids aren't that adventuresome yet)
1/2 C or more of chopped cilantro 
tortilla chips
sour cream

Place chicken, broth, salsa, tomatoes, lime juice, garlic, cream of chicken soup and red pepper in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Remove chicken and shred with 2 forks.  Add the chicken back in and then add cumin, cilantro, and corn.  Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.

For the thermal cooker I brought the chicken through black beans to a boil for 3 minutes and placed it in the cooker. I added the cilantro when it was finished and let everyone decide if they wanted cheese and sour cream.  It was so yummy with tortilla chips.  Even though I was going out to dinner I kept "tasting" this soup.  It was so good!! The only thing I may change next time is the corn.  My kids aren't really into eating corn lately but other than that this soup is a keeper!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Long-Term Produce Storage...Kind of...

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A few weeks ago I posted about growing green onions on your windowsill and I am still doing this, and the onions are growing for the 3rd time since cutting.  I was seriously so excited when I found that it worked.  Well, this week I found a new tip that I wanted to share.  It is a way to preserve your celery and have it last at least 4 weeks.  

Photo of wrapped celery from 3monthspreparation.blogspot.com
If you wrap your celery in tin foil before placing it in the fridge it will last for weeks, and  it will still be fresh and crisp when you pull it out!!  This is where I learned this from.  Crystal Young, the blogger I learned this from, also stored broccoli for weeks wrapped in tin foil, and heads of lettuce too!!!

Crystal is a Christian mother of 10 and she decided to feed her family from her food storage for 3 months without going to the grocery store.  They didn't go to the store (except for more baby formula and her husband's deodorant) and she cooked all her meals and snacks from scratch.  She also blogged about her success' and failures at 3monthspreparation.blogspot.comI sat and read through her 90 day challenge for 2 hours last night.  I was inspired by her words and motivated by her skills!!  Crystal has such wisdom and faith and sees God's hand in all she does for her family.  I strive to have the faith of someone like her.  

There are so many ways to save money and to live frugally and I am still learning everyday.  I get so excited to learn a new trick and I hope you find them useful too!!

Update:  After 2 months of growing the same green onion bulbs they seemed to stop producing.  I started with new bulbs and they are shooting right up.  I'll keep track of how long the next batch lasts. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade - Cream of Broccoli Soup

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I have felt really bored with my family's menu lately and so I have been going through some cookbooks trying to find some new ideas.  One of the books that I am trying to use more often is called "The Everyday Gourmet" by Shari Haag.  She uses all shelf-stable items to create gourmet meals.  These aren't your typical beans, wheat, and rice meals.  I decided to try Cream of Broccoli Soup and it turned out thick, creamy, and perfect for a cold winter day.

 This picture doesn't do this soup justice.  It really was a little more green from the broccoli, but either way it was really good.

This soup requires a cream sauce mix and I didn't have any on hand and it donned on me that I had the dry ingredients to make a mix.  I tell ya, I really am very literal and thought I needed to buy a white sauce mix. So when I googled white sauce mix I realized I had everything to make it :)  See I am still learning everyday :)  I shared the recipe on Saturday, click HERE to get the recipe.  

 The recipe calls for dehydrated broccoli but I used the Honeyville Freeze Dried broccoli and it worked great!!  It costs around $15 for a #10 can but they do have case lot sales and that is where I got it for about $13.  It looks, tastes, and cooks just like real broccoli!!!

Cream of Broccoli Soup 
From "The Everyday Gourmet" by Shari Haag
2 C dried or freeze dried chopped broccoli
2 t dried diced carrots
1 T dried onions
2 t dried mixed peppers
2 T all-purpose flour
6 C water
1 1/2 C white cream sauce mix
1 bay leaf
1 t dried parsley
1 t ground thyme
6 whole pepper corns (I didn't have these and I just used regular black pepper)
dash nutmeg
3 eggs (3 T egg powder + 6 T water)
1 C thick milk (1 C water + 1/8 C powdered milk)  I don't really know why this is called thick milk because it is really a smaller ratio than making milk from the cannery from powdered milk, which is 1 C milk + 3 T powder.  I just added it as called for in the recipe and it turned out.  

In a medium saucepan, add the broccoli, carrot, onion, peppers in a touch of oil. (Watch it carefully, mine burned)  Heat on low and saute for 1 min.  Sprinkle with flour and stir.  Add the water and white sauce powder.  Stir well.  Add the bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and pepper corns.  Using a whisk, stir until all ingredients are well mixed .  Cook 30-40 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Using a stick blender, puree the soup.  (pour in batches in a blender if you don't have a stick blender).  Then add the nutmeg, eggs, and thick milk.  Stir and serve.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4-6.

Serve with some warm, crusty artisan bread for a delicious, gourmet meal!! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Provident Pantry-Homemade Mixes

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One of the biggest tips when you are trying to save money is to make your own mixes from scratch instead of buying the prepackaged ones from the store.  Just the other night I needed a white sauce for a cream of broccoli soup I was making and I remembered a book that I have called "MixA-Meal" by Deanna Bean & Lorna Shute.  This book is full of mixes like the white sauce mix, a roll mix, banana bread, biscuits mixes, etc.  Having these on hand will save you time and money.  You can find the book at amazon.com, Honeyville (SLC store), and other retailers.  I think it is really worth the little extra time to buy flour, sugar, powdered milk, etc. in bulk and put a few mixes together. 

This is the white sauce mix that I made the other night.

This is all you need to make a white sauce mix.
White Sauce Mix
4 C powdered milk (non-instant from the cannery, if you use the instant from the grocery store you need double the amount of non-instant so 8 C in this recipe)
4 C flour
4 C dehydrated butter or margarine powder
2 t salt

Mix all and store in an airtight container.  To use:  1/2 C of white sauce mix and 1 C hot water and whisk over medium heat until thick.  Stir constantly to prevent scorching.  

Use this mix for soups, chowders, scalloped potatoes, white gravy, creamed veggies, chicken a la king, etc.  

I found a great blog that has many recipes for making mixes.  Everything from seasonings and soup mixes to pancake mixes.  Click HERE to see it! Find which ones work for you and try one out.  I recommend you try a half batch first in case you don't care for it.  I made a tortilla mix once and it didn't turn out so well and I had made a whole #10 can of it!  What a waste of money!  So definitely try it out in a small batch first. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Pumpkin Cookies

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I love pumpkin and I'll eat it in almost anything, but pumpkin cookies are my favorite.  I buy canned pumpkin in the fall when it is the cheapest so I can bake pumpkin bread and cookies all year long!

 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C brown sugar
1 C pumpkin
1/2 C oil (or 1/2 C pureed white beans)
1 t vanilla
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt 
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger
1 C chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl combine the brown sugar through vanilla.  Stir until combined.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, and combing.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Place by tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  Cool for 1 minute before moving to a cooling rack.  Makes 3-4 dozen.

I have no idea where I found this recipe.  I had it written in my Better Homes and Garden cookbook on the cookie index.  It is similar to the pumpkin cookies that you find at the grocery store.   

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Create Your Own Dinner In A Jar

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 A full pantry on a budget, that's one of my goals with this blog .  I was so lucky to be able to attend some classes this week at Honeyville Grain  and I learned how to have convenience, save money, and have simplicity when planning your food storage.  (you should really check out the classes they have at Honeyville!!!  They are free and you learn soooo much!!! I swear I don't get paid to say all this,they really are just an amazing company!!)  The first class was taught by the creators of the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker.  I have mentioned them once or twice on this blog ;)  and I really love their product.  But to see them in person and hear them talk about how they have used their cooker was really motivating to use mine more often.  The other class, Meals In A Jar, was taught by the store manager Lisa, and she showed us all how to save money, have quick meals, and even have our husbands and kids cook dinner!! Both of these classes made me think of how much money you can save and also have meals ready for an emergency.  I couldn't wait to share what I learned with all of you!!

The idea for dinner in a jar isn't new but Chef Tess of cheftessbakeresse.com (Stephanie Peterson) has a great set of recipes and ideas for making 7 meals x 52 of each for a year's supply to have on hand in case of an emergency.  Don't think of having these meals just for an emergency like a disaster.  
  • Think of all the times you are running late and your family wants dinner.  If you had a meal in a jar you could call home and have your children or husband boil some water and pour in the contents of the jar and dinner would be done by the time you got home.  
  • Have you ever been asked to take a meal to a neighbor?  Dropping off a meal in a jar would allow them to easily cook the meal at their convenience. 
  • Are there nights that you are so exhausted that the thought of making dinner is almost too much to handle??  (My hands are high up in the air!)  Knowing that I had a variety of meals ready to make (NO take-out!!) in just minutes would definitely create more harmony in my home!!  
  • Have you all seen the many dehydrated meal-in-a-bucket companies that sell a "complete emergency meal kit" for mucho dinero??  Now you can make your own meals and know exactly what is in them, and also know that your family will eat them. (because you have tested them first before making 52 of them, right??)  Please don't make a whole room full of jars before you have tried them out on your family.  It saves no money by having food no one will eat!!

Lisa, the store manager at Honeyville, demonstrated how to make the meals in a jar and then cooked one for us.  It honestly only took about 20 minutes from start to finish!  Once you have all the ingredients on hand, it is just a matter of layering the food into the jars and sealing them.  She uses the Foodsaver to seal the jar.  Remember when layering your food in the jars to always have the powdery ingredients towards the bottom so they aren't sucked up into your Foodsaver hose.  Chef Tess has some amazing recipes on her site and Lisa cooked one for us called "Baked Ziti".  This is one recipe that I personally have in my storage.  I am a vegetarian but my family is not and this recipe was easily converted using tvp ingredients.  My family will eat the tvp but I won't eat the real stuff so it works out :)

You can see all the ingredients layered in the jar.  This jar would feed my family of 7 (with little kids and only 1 teenager).  It would probably feed 4-5 adults.  This is the recipe that I used to make the jar above.

Chef Tess' Saucy "Baked" Ziti with Sausage and Mushrooms
Put the following in a quart jar (use wide mouth funnel):
2/3 C Honeyville tomato powder
1/3 C Honeyville dehydrated onion 
1 T Chef Tess Italian Seasoning (available at Honeyville but regular seasoning will work too 
1/3 C Honeyville freeze dried sausage or sausage TVP 
2/3 C Honeyville freeze dried hamburger or beef TVP
1 C Ziti (3 oz) (I used elbow noodles in mine because that is what I had on hand) 
1/3 C Honeyville freeze dried mushrooms
2/3 C Honeyville freeze dried Mozarella cheese (in a baggie)

After layering you can add an oxygen absorber and close the lid or use a Foodsaver with a jar attachment to seal the jar.  The jar is good on the shelf for 5-7 years.  Attach the following 'to use' directions to the jar.  Directions:  Place contents of jar (except for the cheese) in a covered skillet or pot with 4 1/2 C of water.  Simmer 15-20 minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thick.  (Solar Oven 30-40 minutes covered)  Place the contents of the cheese bag in a bowl and spray lightly with cool water, not warm water or your cheese will be glumpy mess.  Sit for 5 minutes. Uncover cooked pasta and top with cheese.  Cover again and allow cheese to melt, about 5 min.

See!!!  How easy is that!!!???  Think if you got your whole family or a group of friends and you had a meal in a jar party!! It would be fun and you would walk away with meals for your family!  Honeyville would love to have you come in and have your group too.  Then you wouldn't have a mess to clean up at your house.  Honeyville carries everything you need and you could show up with some friends and get your food storage done at the same time. Just an idea if you have a group of people that would like to make meals like this. 

Do you know what gadget goes perfect with a meal in a jar?  Yup...the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker!!!  Since all the food in your jars are dehydrated you only need to boil your food for 1 minute and then place in the cooker.  It will be hot and ready for up to 6 hours!!  Amy and Jack Loveless (the creators) taught a class at Honeyville and they were so fun!  They told stories of traveling with their cooker and how they even fed other hotel guests when there was a water main break and the hotel had no food.  I have talked about the Saratoga Jacks before, click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE to view my previous posts.  The cooker just fits perfectly with the jarred meals and also with saving money because you are conserving fuel in an emergency. (use the butane portable stove to cook the food)
I wanted to share this jar of muffin mix with you too!  My sweet neighbor (I have the most amazing neighbors!!!) gave this to me for Christmas and I keep it right next to my jarred dinners so I can have muffins with one of my meals!!  There are so many meals you can store in a jar and you can convert many of your own recipes into a jar recipe.  There is a cookbook called "Dinner Is In The Jar" that has great recipes and also labels to print out for the jars.   It is available at Honeyville and online.  This post ended up really long (sorry) but think of all the ways that having your meals ready to go will save you time and money.  There will be no more excuses as to why you stopped at the drive-thru again!!
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