Monday, May 28, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Making Spaghetti From Scratch

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Taking preparedness classes at Honeyville Grain has really expanded my knowledge on cooking with storage.  Learning how to make pasta is one area that I have always been intimidated of, but I have taken several classes at Honeyville and I feel semi-confident that it can be done.  I say semi-confident because I need to practice quite a bit more before I could say I am an expert at pasta making.  

My first experience with making pasta was trying to make ravioli. My kids LOVE ravioli and I wanted to be able to make it from all shelf stable items, including the ricotta filling.  So I set out to make the ricotta, which I have done many times but I used a different recipe, and it took forever, and it didn't want to set up.  
Ricotta filling...NOT working!!
 Next I tried making a pasta for the first time and it just wasn't working.  The dough was too wet and it broke while I tried to roll it out, so I kept adding more flour to it and that didn't help at all. I had a dry, crumbly mess. Once I got the dough rolled out I placed the filling on top and I tried to roll it out with my ravioli rolling pin and that is when the four letter words and frustration hit the fan.  The children were asked to leave mommy alone for awhile.  The little pockets of ravioli were bursting and the filling was popping out, and a lot of the dough was sticking to the rolling pin.  I needed a breather.  It took almost 4 hours to get all this done and I had to throw most of it out.  
I gave up on the ravioli and my girls got to play kitchen with the ruined dough.
 So I was really reluctant to try this again, but after going through a class at Honeyville my confidence was back.  I started simply with homemade spaghetti, which is where I should have started before the ravioli incident.

Lisa Barker, the Honeyville manager, taught the hands on pasta class.  It was so helpful to feel the dough and know when it had enough flour. She took us step by step through the whole process and I was amazed that it really only takes about 30 minutes to have fresh spaghetti for dinner.  After the class I went straight home and tried it again and I am happy to say it worked.  My kids even helped!

The recipe contains simple ingredients and is pretty simple to put together, especially if you have a pasta roller.

This is is my 8 year old learning how to make pasta.  He thought it was really cool to turn the handle and make the dough grow.

Fresh Pasta Recipe from Honeyville Grain
1 1/4 C unbleached flour
1/4 t salt
1 T olive oil
2 eggs

Place the flour and salt in a mound on your workspace.  Create a well in the middle with your finger.  Place eggs and olive oil in the middle of your well.  Using a fork, gradually and gently whisk the eggs, eventually incorporating your flour until all ingredients are stiff but still moist and a dough is formed.  Knead until smooth, but  not sticky or tacky (about 10 min) and then cover with a damp cloth or put in plastic wrap to rest for 20 minutes.  Roll in pasta machine to desired shape.  

I divide my dough into thirds and using one section at a time, start rolling it in my pasta roller.  It will grow quite a bit as it thins out and you will want a manageable piece of dough to work with.  My pasta roller (Imperia) starts out at a number 6 as the widest setting.  I roll the dough once through, fold the dough into thirds in on itself, and roll through the #6 notch again.  Roll through 2 more times without folding.  I move the number notch to 5 and roll the dough 3 more times. (no need to fold the dough in on itself anymore, just roll it)  I do the same all the way to number 1.  Other pasta rollers may have a different number system so check your instructions before beginning.  You want to start rolling the dough through the widest setting down to the narrowest setting. The dough should be thin but workable.  If you get holes or tears just start over at number 6 and fold the dough again into thirds.  Then roll through the machine clicking down a notch every 3rd roll.  I try to have the dough go through 3 times for every notch I turn the dial. 
  It really did help to have the kids working with me.  It was easier if one person turned the handle while another fed the dough through the pasta machine.  
 After rolling the dough, now it is time to make it into spaghetti.  This part was my favorite because it was so simple and yet came out so perfectly!  The spaghetti attachment was already attached to my pasta machine and we only had to move the handle over to the other slot to make it work.  Just turn the handle while feeding the dough through the spaghetti slot, and voila, you have spaghetti.  Once the noodles are cut, sprinkle them with a little flour to keep them from sticking.  You can cook them right away (that's what we did) or hang them to dry and use them at a later time.
My 4 year old was making this batch.  It really is a great way to have your children help in the kitchen.  If you are cooking your pasta right away you only need to boil it for about 2-3 minutes and it's done!  We cooked it for lunch and everyone loved it!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why Prepare??

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"If a whole generation has been raised on convenient fast food, and doesn't have an idea how to cook from scratch, who will teach the children? What kind of family bonding have we lost? Isn't it a little disconcerting to hear family therapists urging families to have at least one meal a week all together? I understand the many directions a family can be pulled. Certainly there are innumerable worthwhile activities that children can be involved. At one point I was driving between activities church, swimming lessons, Judo, etc.. I had 17 "stop and go's" in 1 1/2 hours. It was our busy night of the week. Even then I wouldn't forgo the home cooked meal. I pulled out the one man burner, took the sauce pan and heated tuna noodle casserole and we had a picnic in the 20 minutes between activities. I am not a great cook but with every meal I offer a little of a mother's nurturing, "this is something from me to you with love." I hope my grandchildren will get a home cooked meal"- Crystal Young

Eating dinner while driving the "Mom Taxi".

This quote really hit home for me.  I have 5 children and it is my job as their mother to teach them.  My mom taught me the useful skill of sewing and every time I sew something I think of her.  She also signed me up for 4-H and Girl Scouts, where I learned how to cook, sew, and be a well rounded girl.  I take family dinner quite seriously and we sit down as a family 6 nights a week (my husband and I go out to eat every Friday night).  My personality is to control a situation and when it comes to my kitchen I am very slow to let other cooks in.  I might have a little issue with patience as well :) and it is really hard for me to give over the kitchen to my kids.  I have to bite my tongue when they are learning to measure flour or sugar but I have to let them get comfortable cooking without me butting in.  So....the quote above really got me thinking...have I taught my children how to continue what I have started?  Yes, we have food storage, but what if something happened to me?  Would they know what to do with the buckets downstairs?

My children need to learn along side of me so that they can grow up knowing how to proof yeast, or make yogurt, or fruit leather.  They also need to learn how to garden and how to dehydrate.  My 12 year old was bored last Saturday and so I told her she had to make the weekly bread.  I sat in the other room and gave her the instructions and she did it all by herself.  She was so proud of the fact that it worked, but it was like a light bulb went off in my head,  she needs to know how to use our food storage.  I went through a phase of making all of our food from scratch and I had to laugh at myself when I started learning how to make most of our packaged foods from scratch.  I thought I was learning all these new ways to make food.  Guess what?  The things I was learning have been done for hundreds of years.  I had to retrain the way I thought of food and realize that most meals don't need to come from a box or can.  I grew up in the packaged food era and my mom didn't really cook from scratch.  I am one of six children and it was cooking for the masses and the convenience food was just easier for her. So when I learned how to make yogurt and wheat bread I thought I was discovering such a healthy new way to make our food, but it is how food should be made, not from a package at the store. (if it was the 70's I would probably be a hippie for all the granola and yogurt I make)

  I have been introducing my children to cooking and letting them help more in the kitchen.  I came home tonight from dinner and my girls had made chocolate chip cookies.  (now I need to have them work on the dinner menu)  We need to pass on the knowledge and skills that we are learning so that our future generations can have the same preparedness skill to build upon.  I had to start from scratch when learning about preparedness.  If I can give my children a heads start I will be giving them an amazing gift.  I also feel that if I make preparedness a way of life, it won't seem foreign to them later on.  When they are older they will say "that is just how we did things".   My oldest will tell me that at lunch her friends always want to see what she has because they can't believe that her mom makes bread, fruit leather, crackers, and other snacks.  It makes me smile knowing that my kids don't think of sandwich bread as white, squishy stuff.  They even think it is different that store bread comes sliced.  They are so used to slicing their own piece of bread now.

Bread is a start and I am slowly adding more and more skills to my resume.  One example that helped me to keep going with preparedness was my youngest didn't even know what a McDonald's was.  She saw the play land from the car window and asked me what that place was.  It hadn't donned on me that she wouldn't know what a fast food restaurant was, and it made me happy that she didn't know. (I don't judge where anyone eats, this was my own little happy mom moment)  My family is the reason I prepare, and as a mom it is my job to guide and teach them all the food storage lessons that I have learned, so they can carry it on with their families.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies

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Why is it so easy to whip up a dessert?  And why do I like making dessert so much more than dinner?  (maybe because I am a sugar addict, but that's another post)  This is  a recipe that I make sometimes for my children to eat after school.  It's kind of healthy with the oats in it, right?  They are yummy and simple to make so they get made a lot at my house.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies 
In a saucepan bring to a rapid boil:
1/2 C butter
1/4 C cocoa powder
2 C white sugar
1/2 C milk
Boil for 1 minute, stirring the entire time.

Remove pan from heat and add in:
1/8 t salt
3 C quick oats
1/2 C peanut butter
1 t vanilla

Drop by rounded teaspoon (or cookie scoop) onto waxed paper.  Let dry.  Store in covered container (if there are any left to store)

These aren't the healthiest snack but they are quick and taste so good.  


Monday, May 14, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Baked Chicken in the Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker

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Making preparedness a way of life involves a great deal of cooking for me.  For every meal that I prepare I think of how it could be made without electricity.  The Global Sun Oven and my Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker are my go-to powerless emergency cookers.  I used my Sun Oven about 3 days a week last summer and I became accustomed to making our meals and bread in it, but even though I live in Utah, and we are supposedly a desert, we don't have sun every day.  I need an alternative cooking source for those sunless days.  I found a chicken recipe that my family absolutely loved in the Sun Oven and I decided to replicate it in my thermal cooker.  

Thermal cooking works best when your pans are filled with food or water, like soups, stews, and sauces, and for this recipe I didn't want a chicken soup, I wanted baked chicken.  I solved this problem of needing to fill the whole pan with food with a......
 .....cereal bag!!  That's right a plain old plastic insert from a cereal box.  They make wonderful cooking bags for thermal cooking.  They work great for the Wonderbox as well.  No need to spend money on pricey steam bags.  Just use something that would be thrown away and save some $$.  (the plastic bags also make great fruit leather roll ups)

I started off with my free chicken (you heard chicken...there was a rebate at the grocery store for $10 when you bought $10 or more of poultry)  and cut each breast into fourths.  The meat will cook faster in smaller pieces.  
 I added my spices and oil to the bag and dumped in the chicken.  Give it a good massage and they're ready to go.
The chicken is ready to be placed into the boiling water.
 Place the bag into the water with the edge of the bag hanging over the edge.  (this would work in a pot over an open flame but watch the plastic, Volcano Stove, butane stove, etc. just boil until the chicken is done. The thermal cooker will save your fuel!)  Bring the water to a boil with the lid on.
Boil for 4 minutes (for raw meat) and place into the Saratoga Jacks thermal base.
 The cereal bag will fold nicely over the top of the pan lid.  Close the cooker and wait about 1 hour at the earliest to open and eat.  I made this at 1:38 PM and we ate it for dinner at 5:45 PM.  
 This picture was when I opened the cooker at 5:45.  It was STEAMING hot and I needed a hot pad to raise the pan out of the base.  
 I drained the broth off (I know I know, I should have made mashed potatoes in the smaller Saratoga Jacks pan and made a gravy out of the juices) and served it for dinner.  My kids loved it!  It was moist, juicy, and fall apart tender.  

Chicken Wings (or breasts, thighs, etc)
10 chicken wings (I used 3 chicken breasts)
3 T oil
3 garlic cloves
2 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Add the chicken, oil, and spices into a bag.  Shake to combine.  Place in baking dish and bake at 375 for 1 hour or until juices run clear.  

Sun Oven Instructions
Place all ingredients into a dark enamelware pot with a lid and stir.  Bake for 2 or more hours at 250 degrees or higher in the sun oven. 

Saratoga Jacks or Wonderbox Directions
Place all ingredients into a cereal insert bag or an oven bag and rub until combined.  Place in a pan of hot water, boil for 4 minutes, (boil longer for wonderbox @ 10 min) place in thermal cooker or wonderbox and, "cook" for 2-8 hours.  When using a wonderbox you will need to check the temperature of your food beyond 6 hours to make sure it hasn't fallen below 145 degrees.  If it has you need to reheat it or put it in the fridge.  It is safe to eat if above 145 degrees.  The Sartatoga Jacks thermal cooker will maintain a steady temperature, because of its insulation, for up to 8 hours.

Bonus Material!!!!

What to do with your pot full of  hot, steaming water?  You could use the water to wash dishes, wash your face, clean, make soup, or how about Hot Chocolate!  I thought I was being brilliant and added some of the Morning Moo's chocolate milk powder to my hot water.

We whisked it up and my children were so excited to have some delicious chocolatey milk for dessert.  That was until...they took the first swallow.  I am writing this because I want to be totally honest and....the hot chocolate tasted like our chicken dinner...go ahead and laugh because we all were too!!  I even added more chocolate powder and it still tasted like chicken.
 But guess what???  They ALL drank it and asked for more.  I was laughing that they would still drink it, but because it was chocolate they gulped it down. My son drank 4 glasses full.  So lesson learned, next time I will make a chicken noodle soup out of the boiled chicken dinner water :) (or maybe the lesson learned was my kids will eat or drink anything with chocolate in it)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Water Storage

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 I was watching the news today to see what the forecast for next week was and something the weatherman said caught my attention.  He said that May is generally the wettest month out of the year in Utah and we haven't had any rain showers yet.  No rain in May and that equals a summer of limited water usage.  It was a reminder to make sure my water storage is up to the level it needs to be.  

 I store my water in many different types of containers and also in different locations throughout my home and yard.  I have water bottles in my car kits, 72-hour kits, under the stairs, and in the storage room.  My 55 gallon drums are clearly staying outside while my juice and detergent (yes, laundry detergent bottles are great water storage containers.  Don't rinse them, just fill up and use for cleaning water.  Make sure to label them as water.) bottles are stored in the kitchen and storage room.  I don't want to lose all of my water supply in case of an earthquake by storing all of my water in one location.  

Rinse your juice/soda bottles with a little bleach and fill with tap water. Another myth out there about water storage is that you need to empty your water containers and refill them every six months.  Guess don't need to do that!  The only situation that I would recommend changing the water is, if you have containers that sit in the sun and they go from extreme hot to cold.  But other than that you can leave your water in a container for much longer than previously thought. (yes I know there are expiration dates on water bottles, but come on, water doesn't expire)  If the water needs to be consumed and it tastes stale just pour it between 2 containers to add some air back to it and it will taste better. 

If you have no storage whatsoever, get water today!!!!!  It is simple and in most cases free.  We don't drink soda or juice so I ask at family parties for the empty soda and juice bottles.  It is also a great way to be green and re-purpose an item.

Click HERE  for other posts on water.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Prepare Today Homemade- Italian Herbed Chicken

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Today I had one child at soccer practice, one at cheer practice, one child at scouts then football practice, and the finale was a football game.  Here's the husband is out of town and I have been up since 4:45 AM.  I will be driving from 3:55 PM until 8:00 PM tonight and I knew I would be exhausted.  Everything just seemed to fall on Tuesday and I needed a plan for dinner.  I had heard of Amy & Jack from Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cookers taking their thermal cooker on the road and today was my chance to have "fast food" for dinner with mine.  I made an Italian Chicken with Rice in my Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker (Wonderbox and Slow Cooker instructions below) and it will feed my children whenever they end up in the car tonight.  Having 2 pans in the thermal cooker allows me to cook a complete meal ready-to-go when I am on-the-go.

A great shelf stable recipe too!

Italian-Herbed Chicken
 2-2 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, thighs,and/or legs, skinned (or home canned chicken)  (if using the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces so they will cook faster)
2 C sliced fresh mushrooms (I used 2 cans of mushrooms)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into bite sized pieces *see tip*
1/2 C sliced olives
Clear Gel for thickening.
3 T quick cooking tapioca (I used 3 T or more of Clear Gel to thicken the dish)
1 can chicken broth
1 T dried Italian seasoning

Rice or Pasta for serving. 

 *Tip* Don't drain your canned veggies and use that water instead of the broth.  That will conserve your canned broth in an emergency.  

Saratoga Jacks directions for cooking rice:  
  • 4 C water brought to boil with salt
  • Add 2 1/2 C rice and boil 2 minutes and place in cooker.

Saratoga Jacks Directions:
Combine all ingredients in large pot and bring to a boil for 4 minutes with the lid on.  Boil water for rice in smaller pan, stir in rice, boil 2 minutes, after boiling large pot for 4 minutes place smaller rice pan on top and close in the cooker.  Cook for 4-8 hours in the base without opening the lid(If you use canned chicken you can serve dinner whenever you are ready but with raw chicken you'll want to cook at least 2 hours before serving. Use a meat thermometer test if done)  If you want a thicker sauce add the clear gel until you reach desired consistency. Serve with rice or pasta.

It was good with rice, but it was really good with fettuccine.

WonderBox Directions:
In a pan that fits the amount of food you have, boil all ingredients for 10 minutes.  Place in wonderbox.  Cook rice or pasta to serve with it.

Slow Cooker Directions:
Combine mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Sprinkle with tapioca or clear gel.  Place chicken on top the veggies.  Combine the broth and Italian seasoning and pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3 1/2-4 hours.  Serve over pasta or rice.  
(Please ignore the crazy hair and outfits, it was a run around sports day.)

Can you tell which child doesn't like my food :)

Now I can serve a fast and healthy dinner even if we are on the road.  As Amy of Saratoga Jacks says "It's not what's for dinner, it's where is dinner tonight".  Having a Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker gives me freedom as a mom to have home cooked meals for my children anywhere we happen to be

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hand Crank Bosch Handle

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Preparedness hasn't always been a priority in my life, imagine that, but it has always had a small part.  When I started making food storage a bigger part of my family's life I started making whole wheat bread, and it was my first obstacle.  I call it an obstacle because I didn't have a grinder, or a Bosch to knead the bread, and I was doing it all by hand.  I literally tried and tried different recipes for 2 years before I was consistently making edible bread.  In that two years I received a Bosch mixer as a Christmas present and it changed my life!!  I was able to make my bread quicker and easier than kneading by hand.  Having preparedness in the back of my mind I kept thinking, I love my new Bosch mixer, but if the electricity ever went out I would be back to hand kneading my bread.  I went on Google and searched for a manual mixer to use in an emergency situation, and I eventually found a company that sold an attachment for a Bosch mixer that would allow you to knead or mix without power.  I was beyond excited!  (again doesn't take much)

The store that I purchased my handle from no longer sells them but you can see the handle HERE. They run about $20 but I think that is a very reasonable price to turn an electric appliance into a manual one.  

From the instructions that came with the handle:  
"The hand crank is for use with the plastic bowl or new stainless steel bowl of the Universal or Universal Plus and allows you to easily finish kneading your dough in the event of a power failure.  With the bowl on the motor base, the transmission and motor would normally be engaged.  To avoid the drag of trying to turn the motor while kneading, a spacer is provided to lift the dough hook up above the cross-pin on the drive shaft, allowing the shaft to spin freely.  The Bosch dough hook still kneads very effectively, even when raised up this much (about 1/2")"

This would make a great gift for anyone with a Bosch..Mother's day is coming up..hint..hint. But seriously I love little gadgets like this and it's fun to find them and find that they work!  (this is the bread recipe that I make)
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