Monday, November 4, 2013

Being Prepared In A New Town

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Moving to a new town has many uncertainties, especially with regards to emergency preparedness.  I moved from Salt Lake City where my neighborhood had an emergency plan, and plenty of CERT members, to a small town where I wasn't certain what the emergency plan was.  So, I was really excited (doesn't take much) when I saw a sign for a preparedness fair in my new town.  It wasn't a huge fair, but it had all the basics, and I was really looking forward to finding out what my new community had  in place for emergencies. 

 At the entrance to the fair were my local firefighters, police, search and rescue, and EMS crews. It was a great display of trucks!!

 Inside the high school were several preparedness booths, including Maralin Hoff, the Earthquake Lady.  If you ever need a great preparedness speaker, she is amazing and fun!!  (Utah only)  She spoke to my old neighborhood and I wrote a post, but it didn't transfer to my new blog format.  You can see the first part of that post HERE.



There were also companies like Nitro-Pak, Emergency Essentials, Wise Food, etc. 

 
And one of my favorite companies.....Goal Zero!  Powerinapinch.com  was selling all kinds of Goal Zero products.  If you are in the market for a solar generator, flashlights, lights, etc.,  this is the company to research.  I personally own a Goal Zero generator and it works so well to charge phones, laptops, video players, mp3 players, and other small devices. I highly recommend their products.



And this fun little product is called the Turbo Toilet.  It is a brand new product from The Backside company, it was very well made and folded down to just a few inches wide, and then popped up when you needed to use it.  It's always exciting to find new products, check out their site HERE.

I wish I had had more time to attend more booths, but I had to pick up my kids from their after school activities.  But I did pick up quite a bit of information on being prepared in my new town.  And that made my short visit to the preparedness fair worth it!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ever Wonder What Products Are Best of The Best.....

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I have a favorite food storage website.......


myfoodstoragecookbook.com, and I have learned so many things from Megan.  She comes up with the most inventive ideas when it comes to using food storage.  Her latest post is one that should be read by everyone.  It is titled "Food Storage Products That I Buy", and it is chock full of her recommendations for the best food storage products on the market today.  And, she isn't sponsored by any of these companies, so you know her reviews are unbiased.  And I have to say, I agree with everything she reviewed!

Check out Food Storage Products That I Buy, from myfoodstoragecookbook.com.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tailgating With The Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker

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The Saratorga Jacks Thermal Cooker has been a favorite preparedness item, as well as an everyday cooking appliance, of mine for awhile now.  I have mentioned it once or twice before on the blog. ;) I haven't been blogging as much as before I moved, but I still practice what I preach, and I use my food storage and preparedness items almost daily.  Now that fall is here, I am cooking more often in the slow cooker, and those recipes work so well in the SJ Cooker.  My son plays football and when he has away games, we are driving at least 30 minutes to the closest game.  This also happens right in the middle of the dinner hour. 

Well, the Saratoga Jacks cooker has come to the rescue again and we have had warm, yummy meals on the road.

 I made minestrone soup and we ate it with crusty sourdough bread.  One of the other football moms was walking by and she said it smelled so good!  It WAS good and so much cheaper, and healthier, then stopping by a fast food joint. 



The soup was piping hot and was STILL warm after I closed it up and drove home.  My son ate some when he got home from the game and I didn't even have to reheat it.  I also noticed something and I am not sure if it's the stainless steel pan or what, but I stored the soup in the fridge over night, and when we ate it for lunch the next day the noodles hadn't absorbed the liquid.  Usually when I make this soup we store the leftovers in a plastic container.  I always have to add more chicken broth the next day, and the noodles are kind of soggy.  I had to test my theory and try a different soup.  I made chicken noodle soup and stored it in the SJ pan in the fridge.  For two days it sat in there and the noodles didn't soak up the liquid.  This makes me wonder what is really wrong with the plastic that we are using.  So, along with just loving my SJ cooker, it is also a great way to store soups in the fridge.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have To Have a Sense of Humor

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Today was one of those days where nothing seemed to go just right.  There was quite the thunderstorm going on outside as I was going about my morning routine, when I literally turned the shower on, and the power went out.  No big deal, it should come back on, yeah right, it wasn't in the cards for today.

After about a half hour I decided on plan B.  I needed to get my kindergartener off to afternoon school so we made a simple lunch, and got her already for school.  Her favorite thing to do is watch a show on her ipod while she eats.  (don't judge, she is the youngest and is used to constant noise and chatter from her siblings, and she doesn't find my conversation interesting, so she gets to watch a little something before school) Well, her ipod wasn't charged....of course....so I ran and got my Goal Zero generator.  
 
This is an example of how handy a Goal Zero is when it is fully charged!!

Yup.....it wasn't charged either. So.....she watched a video on my laptop, that was almost dead.  We made it through lunch and now it was time to leave.  

Funny thing when the power goes out....you find many things that are used on a daily basis, without a thought about electricity.  The garage door!!! (and I also learned that not one of us has a house key on our key rings.  If I hadn't been home when the power went out, I would've been locked out of the house.  We just never transferred those keys over when we moved in.)

My 5 year old found it really fun to help lift the double garage door so the car could get out.  It was a learning experience for her, and a workout for me, because she didn't know that is was possible to lift the door without power.  When we got to school there wasn't any power either.  One of the other moms said that the other 2 towns close by didn't have power as well.  That was when I figured it was going to be awhile before the power came back on.  

For 1 1/2 hours every afternoon I have free time with no children at home.  Usually I vacuum, or clean the kitchen, or run errands, and sometimes you may find me watching a show, in peace and quiet, or catching up on my social media.  But guess whose phone was almost dead? No catching up on social media today, so I swept the kitchen with a broom from the garage.  I REALLY need to purchase a broom that is a designated inside broom.  The floors needed to be cleaned and the vacuum couldn't be used, so I did it the old fashioned way.  I know, a lot of people still use a broom, but I like to vacuum my wood floors, so this was the slower, less convenient way to clean, for me.  

Since my Goal Zero unit wasn't charged I set it up in the backyard with the solar panel to charge.  The sun had come out after the heavy rain storm so I took advantage of it, for about 5 minutes.  I'm not kidding, the clouds rolled in minutes after that solar panel went up.  I didn't want the unit to get wet so I brought it back inside.  It was 2:00 by now and I figured I wasn't going to get power anytime soon so I took a shower. It felt great to be clean, but I have really short hair and it needs to be dried with a hair dryer so I don't scare little kids.  This is where pure genius comes into play.....I towel dried my hair, applied my hair stuff, and then used my round brush and a magazine to dry my hair.  I should maybe patent this idea.....I rolled each section of hair with the brush and fanned it with the magazine.  This is one time I was grateful for thin hair. It actually worked, and minus the cramp in my thumb from fanning, I was excited that I looked like I did my hair today.  I sprayed it with hairspray, and I KID YOU NOT, the power came on the second I walked out of the bathroom. It was pretty funny and I had to laugh it off.  But I really wish I had someone home to take a picture of the magazine hair dryer, it would have made this post so much more interesting.  But I guess I now have a way to do my hair without electricity.  (Maybe I should invest in some curlers of some sort.)

I immediately plugged in my cell phone and my Goal Zero unit so they are charged.  And I learned from experience, again, to have my Goal Zero unit fully charged at all times.  

Utah has been having the craziest weather lately.  Take a look at this photo.
That.right.there.is.a.tornado!!! In Utah!!!  I live in the mountains outside of Salt Lake and I couldn't believe it!  I am from Ohio and grew up with tornado safety, but this caught me off guard.  Thank goodness it never touched the ground because we were in the car and my son was outside at his football game.  Crazy!!!  So now I can add tornado safety to our family emergency preparedness plan.  

But today is now bright and sunny and we have power again.  All 5 of my children got to experience 3 1/2 hours of school with no electricity.  It was a good learning experience.  And I feel calm knowing that my county is prepared for disasters.  I attended my county's preparedness fair just last night, and they really know what they are doing.  I am working on a post so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Recommended Reading- Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock

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While scrolling through facebook the other night, I came across a video by Caleb Warnock, all about winter gardening.  


I found it fascinating and I ordered both of his books, The Forgotten Skills of Self-Suffidiency and Backyard Winter Gardening, from amazon. I have actually attended a class that Caleb taught at Honeyville, and loved listening to him speak, but I never purchased his books.  The books are very interesting from a historical standpoint, but the information on gardening is why I bought them both. 

Just like in the video above, I really want to try using cold boxes to have fresh greens all winter long.  The books are full of colorful photographs and tons of information on gardening, chickens, history of the pioneers in Utah, etc.  There are even a few recipes included.  I felt these books were good enough for me to share with all of you!  I highly recommend adding both books to your preparedness library. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Food Storage Week In Review

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I thought that I would share a few things that I did this week that either used my food storage, or added to my food storage.  

There was a situation this week in my neighborhood that was highly inconvenient, but also a great lesson for all of us.  Thursday night I received this note on my front porch.

 
What!?!?! No water!?!?! We got this notice at 8 p.m. the night before the water was going to be shut off for 8 hours.  I was really aggravated that I would not have water for that long with 5 kids, my sister, and her 2 children.  What a fun vacation for her! It was my sister's last day visiting at my home and she was planning on doing her laundry all day Friday before leaving.  Plans changed and she madly did her laundry that night.  My brilliant sister also suggested we fill up all the tubs with water so we would be able to flush the toilets the next day.  So we did this.....

All the kids took showers and we filled all the tubs.  My sister lived through Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and is a pro at not having water.  This experience also reminded me that I need to fill up my 55-gallon water barrels.  We emptied them to move and I haven't gotten around to filling them.  I see a project for this weekend!

While my sister was visiting we also did a little experiment.  My neighbor gave us an abundant supply of garden lettuce.  We couldn't eat it all and, using my foodsaver, sealed the extra in a mason jar.  I took a picture today of the jar in the fridge and as you can see, 2 weeks later, it is still edible.  I see only a small amount of browning starting on some of the white edges.


I have seen lettuce stored this way, but I have never tried it myself, and I am sold on it!!  It is a great way to extend the life of your garden and have fresh salads all the time.  Think of all the combinations you could make for lunches at work or school.  Just take some dressing on the side and shake to mix before eating!  I would place carrots and other veggies on the bottom of the jar before the lettuce and then seal.  Fast, healthy lunch options!!

Here are a few other random things that I did this week:

I made "fruit" snacks out of some very large zucchinis that my sister gave me from her garden.  Click HERE to see the post and recipe on making fruit snacks out of zucchinis.
 

For the most part, I like to make my own household cleaners and I needed to make more of my granite/glass cleaner.  We clean almost everything with this solution.
 

Whenever I need spices I head to Winco and purchase them from the bulk section.  They are so affordable and I have never doubted the quality!  I spent $28 and refilled my garlic powder, cinnamon, onion powder, cumin, ginger, curry powder, huge bag of dutch processed cocoa powder, and chili powder. To keep them all fresh I used my foodsaver and sealed them in glass jars.  And since I had my foodsaver out I sealed my freeze dried cheese in jars as well.  I had opened the #10 can and I didn't want the cheese to spoil.



This is just a sampling of how a typical week at my house is.   I really wanted to cook in my sun oven for my sister, but we had crazy thunderstorms roll in almost every afternoon. There is always a small part of preparedness going on in my home. From small beginnings come great things. - Proverb

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Culinary Water Shortage in Utah

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It's summer and it's HOT right now!!  Hot may even be an understatement.  And when it's hot we all need lots of water!!  But right now in Lehi, Utah the city is on an 'extraordinary water conservation measure'.   Residents have been asked to not water their yards, especially with culinary water.  In situations like this we all have to ask:  Do we have enough water stored??


There are many ways to store your water and I suggest having water stored in small containers all they way up to the very largest containers available.  Smaller water bottles can be tossed into 72-hour kits or for a grab and go situation, and the very large water tanks are great for a bug-out-in-place situation.  Like the situation in Lehi, you could spot water your yard and gardens with your stored water.  I would like to think I could let my grass go, but after all the work of putting in a vegetable garden, I know I would use my water for that first.

My friends at Preparedness Plus Products LLC, have let me know of a great deal on their larger water tanks right now, and I want to pass on the savings to all of you!! For most of us, now is the time to secure our water storage!!  Don't hesitate in this area of preparedness!!!!

Preparedness Plus  Products LLC water Tank Offer: 

Due to the severe culinary water shortage in Lehi and in other cities throughout Utah and across the United States, we are offering a special sale on all of our water tanks.  In addition, through the end of July, 2013, we are offering FREE DELIVERY on all tanks delivered in Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, southern Cache, and southern Box Elder counties.   

All of our tanks have a 10-year warranty to be free of any defects in materials or workmanship.  The valves and fittings have a one-year warranty.  These warranties are on conditions of normal use.  The warranty does not cover abuse.  Tanks are built to 13 lbs per gallon so they will hold up under the shock of something falling on them (earthquake/hurricane).  Tank walls are approximately ¼” thick.  The 185 gallon and 250 gallon tanks have a 12-sided design which adds to their strength and rigidity.  The 250 gallon tank has two recessed strapping points to strap it to a wall; the 185 gallon tank has one recessed strapping point to strap it to a wall.  The valves are recessed so they will not accidentally break off.   The 250 gallon and 185 gallon tanks have a spring- loaded, vented lid.  This keeps bugs and insects out, but also lets the water flow freely when drawing water out of the tank.  All tanks have two heavy duty brass ball valves, one at the very bottom and the other offset to the left from the bottom value and up 22” from the bottom.  Tanks are built of food grade polyethylene plastic, which makes them safe for drinking water even when stored in direct sunlight.  The material used in our tank is FDA approved for potable water, and exposure to the sun will not make it unsafe to drink.  The water has a UV8 rating, which means it will not degrade for 8 years in direct sunlight exposure.  Even if the material does degrade, it will not cause the water to be unsafe for consumption. 

Although the tanks come in various colors, we recommend the darker colors as they block sunlight, which slows the growth of algae and bacteria in the tank. 




185 gallon natural color water tank        Reg. $349.00    Special $295.00
30” wide x 68” tall; 60 lbs

185 gallon granite or blue colored water tank    Reg. $365.00    Special $315.00
30” wide x 68” tall; 60 lbs





250 gallon natural color water tank        Reg. $420.00    Special $359.00
30” wide x 86” tall; 85 lbs           

250 gallon granite or blue colored water tank    Reg. $479.00    Special $379.00
30” wide x 86” tall; 85 lbs





500 gallon natural or black colored water tank    Reg. $629.00    Special $520.00
49” wide x 67” tall; 110 lbs       

500 gallon granite or blue colored water tank    Reg. $649.00    Special $548.00
49” wide x 67” tall; 110 lbs






1500 gallon natural or black colored water tank    Reg. $1065.00    Special $925.00
88” wide x 75” tall; 220 lbs

1500 gallon granite or blue colored water tank    Reg. $1135.00    Special $995.00
88” wide x 75” tall; 220 lbs

To order tanks, check on availability of desired color, and to schedule delivery, please call Mindy at Preparedness Plus Products, LLC, at 800-588-5412.  Also visit www.preparednessplus.net.   
      

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker Cake Pan

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Since moving 6 months ago, I haven't had many chances to shop at Honeyville Grain in Salt Lake City.  Although I have kept a running list of items that I needed, I didn't have a chance to shop until yesterday. Honeyville was having a 15% off everything sale and I was ready to shop!!  While perusing the aisles I saw two new products that got me really excited!!  They were stainless steel pans and a trivet made for the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker.  



I have tried many times to bake in my thermal cooker with no luck. Now there is hope!! There were two pan sizes to choose from, the round cake tin, and the oval bread tin.  I chose the round cake tin because it looked like it would take up more space in the cooker and wouldn't allow as much air space as the oval shape.  That is totally my observation and I have no clue if it's true, but I went with it :)  You'll also notice the trivet that I purchased.  That allows the pan to stay up out of the water so your food won't turn out mushy. 

Cute little cake pan!!
See how it will fit into the stainless steel cooking pan!
 
I can't wait to try this out!!
If you aren't familiar with the Saratoga Jacks Thermal cooker I'll quickly go over it for you.  The idea of the cooker is to boil food for 2-4 minutes, depending on a raw meat dish, just veggies, or dehydrated foods, then closed in the thermal base the food will "cook" inside.  The thermal base is not electric, the heat retained from boiling the food will slow cook the meal.  This is great from a preparedness standpoint because it saves precious fuel in times of emergency.  I have made soups, meats, muffins, applesauce, and even kept my cold dishes chilled,etc.  Click HERE to view all my previous posts on the Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker.  And click HERE to visit the Saratoga Jacks website.


I must also say I was disappointed when I opened the cake tin box and realized there were no instructions included.  Thank goodness for the amazing Lisa at Honeyville.  She explained how to use the cake tin in the cooker.  Once the trivet and cake pan are in place, you only fill water up to the bottom of the tin, or else the food will not cook through and be mushy.  I would have thought I had to fill the water up the the edge of the cake tin lid, but there was nothing included with the cake pan explaining how to use it or even how full to fill the pan with food.  I am not sure how much cake batter or bread dough to use in the tin.  It'll be a trial and error kind of experiment. I think I have some more questions for Lisa!!

*Update: Amy from Saratoga Jacks contacted me and filled me in on all the cooking instructions.   
Add far as making a cake with the round cake pan.
-The round cake pan you purchased was designed to hold ONE box cake... any box of cake mix will work.

-Spray the stainless steel pot and the inside of the lid first.
-Mix the cake mix exactly as the instructions on the back of the box say... except subtract out 1/4 cup of the liquid.
-And add a tablespoon of flour.
-Pour the batter into the oiled stainless steel pan... clamp lid on. 

-I put the trivet into the thermal cooking pot... and fill with water to about one cm... above the top of the trivet. Set the cake pan on top.
-Place the lid on the cooker... and boil for 20 minutes and transfer to thermal base.
-The cake is ready in about an hour and a half. ..but as always... I have left it in for longer... and pulled it out hot and perfect hours later. 


The round pan produces a cake... similiar to the size of a wedding cake topper.
Delicious and moist!
I have done all sorts of different cakes in it.

When you bake bread...
It only needs a ten minute boil... once the dough has risen.

The oblong loaf pan... is exactly 1/2 of one loaf of bread...
So about 25% of a standard Two loaf recipe... will fill one of those oblong loaf pans.


I'll have to report back when I try out the new cake tin! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The All American Sun Oven Newsletter- June Edition

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The Global Sun Oven company sends out a free newsletter once a month entitled, Every Needful Thing.  It is full of emergency prep information along with Sun Oven tips and tricks, and of course, Sun Oven recipes.  In the June newsletter I found this tip too good to not share.  


 Use your Sun Oven as a wonderbox cooker!!!!

From the June issue of Every Needful Thing....
Use Your Sun Oven® as a Food Wonder Box
Sometimes the best laid plans, like cooking in your Sun Oven®, get messed up. We
were all set to bake pork chops in our Sun Oven®. The oven had been preheated to
250 degrees on a partly sunny day. Previously skillet browned chops, placed in a
graniteware pan over sliced, raw sweet potatoes, were on their way to the oven when
we noticed that our partly sunny day had become a much less sunny day. We put the
chops in the Sun Oven®, left it for about an hour, checking from time to time. The
weather deteriorated, so we closed the oven reflector and took it inside, leaving it
closed until dinner time. When opened, the potatoes were soft and the chops were
“melt in your-mouth” tender. What a concept-use your SunOven® as a wonder box.
A Wonder Box is a heat retention cooker. Once you heat your food to boiling,
place it in the insulated cooker. It will keep your food at cooking temperature for
hours. This can be done with gas cookers outside as well as starting food on your
stovetop. The other night, we prepared old fashioned oatmeal and cracked barley in
coconut milk for breakfast, just bringing it to a boil. Into the Sun Oven® it went.
Next morning all we had to do was add some warm milk, stir and eat.



I thought this was a great idea for all those cloudy days.  I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but whenever I set out my Sun Oven, the clouds roll in.  Now I have a back up plan if this happens again!!  For all other questions and for a great collection of Sun Oven recipes check out their website HERE!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Food Storage In A Bottle

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While shopping the other day I noticed these 3L water bottles.  

 What is so cool about them is they stack!!!


They would work great for storing dry goods, beans, rice, wheat, etc.  Throw in a oxygen packet and they are good to go!

This is a view of the bottom to show you how they stack.  They are 3 liter bottles and they were only $1 at Walmart.  I also saw them for $.78 at my local grocery store.  Totally affordable and then you are also only drinking water to empty the water bottle and not soda!! I am always asking family for their soda bottles because I don't want to drink the soda or pour it out.  I haven't blogged for awhile, life has been CRAZY, and when I saw these I had to post about them.  They are a great idea for water storage, but also for dry goods and I was so excited.  (doesn't take much does it :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Soup In A Bag" Review

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One of the benefits of having a blog is meeting new friends over the internet in the blogoshpere.  Megan, from My Food Storage Cookbook, is one of my food storage blog friends.  The reason her website caught my eye was her amazing food storage recipe organization.  Her recipes are organized into several catagories, cross referenced, color coded, so at any given time she knows what recipes her family eats and what she needs to shop for. If there was an emergency and she had no power, Megan can look at her recipe book and can see exactly which recipes are for a Wonder Box, or cook top, etc. It really is a great system for rotating and using your food storage!!  Plus, she shows you how to make your own recipe book with instructions and videos!  She is also truly inspired when it comes to finding new ways to prepare and cook every day food by using your food storage and shelf stable ingredients.  I have learned so much from her website. Take a look at My Food Storage Cookbook and you'll see why I was so impressed with her organization and recipes. 



Megan had a giveaway for the book "Soup In A Bag" and I was lucky enough to win a copy in return for reviewing a few recipes from the book. The concept of "Soup In A Bag" is a cookbook collection of soup recipes that use all dehydrated and shelf stable ingredients that can be stored together, in a bag or jar, to have on hand for food storage emergencies, busy nights, etc.  I selected a few recipes, spent one day dehydrating ingredients for the different soups, another afternoon making up the recipes and sealing the soups in mason jars using my Foodsaver. I made four different soups from the book and my family let me know which one was their favorite one.  

Check out my review HERE and watch Megan's website for reviews from the other giveaway winners all week.   

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thrive Life Butter Powder

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There are a few foods that will make or break a recipe when it comes to food in #10 cans.  Powdered cheese, butter, sour cream, eggs, etc. will be different from one company to another, and that will determine the outcome of a dish. I usually don't mind using a generic version of grocery store foods because I don't see a big difference in quality, but I have learned, by trial and error, that there is a big difference between the many food storage companies out there today.



One example is butter powder.  I really don't like to mention company names when I don't like a certain product, so I am just going to say that I have 3 different butter powders at my house right now that I don't like to use in my cooking.  They have an obvious non-butter taste and don't even smell close to real butter.  I have read on several blogs that Thrive Life has a really good butter powder.  I finally broke down and paid the $25.49 + shipping and ordered a #10 can of it.  I am so glad that I did!!!!  

The first thing I noticed right away when I opened the can is it smelled like butter.  It was light in color and not a fake yellowy color.  I mixed a small amount with a little bit of water and it reconstituted into a buttery spread.  It spread onto bread so easily and tasted good too!  It won't make a cube of butter but if you need some butter on your toast, this would work!!  I have since made brownies and cookies with the butter powder.  The brownies worked great and I couldn't taste any fake buttery flavor at all.  But the cookies were another story.  My one complaint for butter powder from all companies are the reconstituting directions!!!!  There are none for baking!!  I want to know how much water I add to the butter powder for say, 1 C of butter in a recipe.  I tried looking online and I couldn't find anything.  So if any of you know, please send me in the right direction :) That is how I messed up my cookie recipe.  It called for 1 C of butter, so I added 1 C of powder to my bowl and slowly added water.  I added too much water and then had to add extra flour.  I couldn't ever get the batter to form a cookie dough, so I baked it in a 13x9 pan and we had cookie brownies.  It still tasted good, but I need to research the water to powder ratio some more.  Again the "cookies" tasted like they should without an off taste that I noticed with other butter powders.

Out of the several butter powders that I have used I highly recommend Thrive Life's Butter Powder.  Click here to see more information.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Prepare Today Homemade: Oatmeal Pancake Mix

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I have been on a mix making kick lately and this recipe for Oatmeal Pancake Mix has been on my pinterest food board for a little while now.  My two oldest children get up for school and leave before I get up and one of them will "forget" to eat breakfast many mornings.  She claims milk makes her stomach hurt, so I have been trying to think of things she will eat instead of cereal.  This may sound easy, but this child is incredibly picky.  I don't usually give in to a picky eater, you eat what I prepare, but I feel so guilty when they go to school without having eaten anything!!

I found this recipe for Oatmeal Pancake Mix from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and I couldn't wait to try it out.  It has had rave reviews from so many people that I decided to give them a try.  



I followed Mel's directions exactly as she explained, but I used powdered eggs and buttermilk powder instead of the fresh variety.  And I may, or may not have, switched the powdered buttermilk measurements and added 1 C of powdered and 1/4 C water instead of the other way around.  Sheesh, it's always something with me and cooking!! I think I salvaged the mistake and cooked up 38 pancakes.  I was going to just make the mix and 1 batch of pancakes, but I figured, since I had everything out already I may as well cook up the whole batch.  The pancakes are light yet hardy!  They will keep you feeling full until lunch for sure!! Next time I make them I will add ground flax seed and maybe some chia.  They will be delicious with some peanut butter slathered on top and hopefully make it easier for a certain daughter to grab her breakfast and go.

Click HERE to get the recipe.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Great Utah Shakeout 2013!

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Today in Utah was the statewide shakeout.  At 10:15 a.m. the entire state took cover for 1 minute in an earthquake practice scenario.  My four older children were at school during this time and my husband was at work, 45 minutes away. My 5 year old and I were at home and we practiced where we would go if we were upstairs and then again downstairs.
Can you see the little girl under the clothes?  We chose the closet to hide in upstairs.

 
We chose to hide under the kitchen desk downstairs during the Shake Out.



Do you all have a family emergency plan? I moved about 3 months ago and I realized that my family needs a new emergency preparedness plan.  

For my family's plan we need to:
  • designate a new meeting place outside of our home
  • designate a new meeting place outside of our neighborhood and make sure the whole family understands how they will get to the meeting place.
  • create a new plan if a disaster happens during the day when only mom and the 5 year old are at home.  How will the kids get to the meeting place?  How will dad make it home?  
  • Update all car kits.  My husband drives quite far for work and would have to walk up a canyon to get home.  Does he have what he needs in his vehicle and at work?
  • Then we need to actually practice our plan during the daytime but we also need to have a run through when it's dark.
  • I also need to replace the shoes and flashlights that I had under our beds in our old house.  This will proctect us during the night from glass and other fallen objects.
  Click HERE for more information on earthquake information and having an emergency plan.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Using My Food Storage: Soup In A Bag (Jar)

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Today I ended up with several uninterrupted hours and I found the perfect project to tackle. I recently won a giveaway on Megan's blog, Myfoodstoragecookbook.com, and I received the book Soup In A Bag.  I needed to review a few of the soups and in my few uninterrupted hours I made several jars filled with dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.  When I reconstitute them I will have almost instant soups.  I made them in an assembly line type of process and it really helped that I could get out all of the ingredients, make the jarred meals, seal them, and get them put away, without children interruptions.  I love to look at the jars all finished and ready for a busy night when I can pull out a jar, heat up some water and have dinner ready in minutes. 
 
 One of the recipes called for dehydrated rice and tomatoes and I needed to dehydrate them before I could make jarred soup mix with them, but I had all the other ingredients to make Carrot Yam and Potato Cheese soup mix.  I sealed the jars with my foodsaver and they are good on the shelf for at least a year.  

This is a great book if you want to make your own Soups In A Bag or jar.  The author uses mylar bags and jars to preserve her soups, but you can choose which way works best for you. Find the book HERE


Monday, April 15, 2013

Prepare Today Homemade: Homemade Butter

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In times when food storage may be our sole source of food, dairy foods will become few and far between, unless you have a cow.  I know that I could give up quite a few foods, but cheese and butter are two that I am not going to let go of quietly.  Cheese can be found in many forms for storage but butter is a little trickier.  Butter powder is available and works for baking but sometimes you just want some creamy goodness on a piece of bread!!!  There is a way to make butter and it is very simple to make. My sister was making us dinner the other night and the soup recipe called for cream.  We used my Gossner's shelf stable cream in the recipe and we had about a half of box leftover. I was lazy and was just going to throw it away, but my sister was appalled and she told me to make butter.  It really isn't hard so I don't know why I didn't just get out the mixer and make the butter in the first place.

 Let me introduce you to Gossner's Shelf Stable Whipping Cream.  While it is great for dessert it also whips up into butter in about 2 minutes!!! For times when the grocery store isn't an option, or if you don't have a friend with a cow, this stuff is gold!! 



Fresh Butter from Whipping Cream
1 container Gossner's shelf stable whipping cream
stand mixer

Mix cream in mixer until a liquid begins to separate (that's the buttermilk) from butter.  Watch carefully, don't let it mix too much or it will ruin your batch of butter.  Save or drain off the buttermilk and rinse the butter in cold water until water runs clear.  The buttermilk will cause the butter to go rancid so make sure to rinse the butter well.   Store the butter in a container in the fridge.  You can add salt if desired.

It spreads just like butter and I think the taste was much better then the butter from the store.  It tasted so fresh! The butter can also be made with a manual mixer for times of no electricity. I bought the whipping cream at Honeyville in Salt Lake City. It isn't available on their website but you can purchase it HERE online.  It also lasts much longer then the expiration date.  I have used it a year past the date with great results. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Using My Food Storage: Making Mixes

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My goal when grocery shopping is to stock up when an item is at its lowest price point.  This way I am getting the most bang for my buck.  I usually can keep my pantry stocked using this method but lately I haven't been able to find brownie mixes for under $1.00.  I  know it isn't that difficult to make brownies from scratch, but my children usually want them after dinner and I don't want to mess up the kitchen again getting all the baking ingredients out.  So my goal for today was to mix up a big batch of brownie mix and only make the big mess one time.  Now we have a container of brownie mix that will make at least 7 batches of 8x8 size pans.  

I am not a huge user of  homemade mixes, but there are a few that make my life a little easier.  I use the book "Make-A-Mix" for most of my recipes and mixes. The brownie mix has always sounded so good, and....
...the brownie mix can be used for more than brownies too!!!  How about chocolate chewy cookies, Texas sheet cake or Brownie Alaska. These all sound so good, can you tell I really love dessert!!!  (Click HERE to view a previous post I wrote on making mixes.)

The original recipe calls for melted butter and eggs when you mix up the brownies, but I food storagized the recipe and used powdered butter and powdered eggs.  If I was a math whiz I would've figured out how much to add to the dry mix, but I freely admit math isn't one of my talents, so I just added it in when we mixed up the batch of brownies.   It worked great and the brownies cooked up fluffy and looked just as brownies should.  Although as I type this I remembered that I totally forgot to add the vanilla in.  I had "help" making this (my 5 year old was mixing) so I can blame it on that :)


My other new find that I am using all the time is chalkboard contact paper.  This may be too crafty for some of you but stay with me.  I bought the chalkboard contact paper, chalk paint pen, and a cute punch out stamp on amazon.com and I have been labeling everything.  It started with my flour and sugar canisters and now I am labeling my food storage containers.  What is so wonderful about the contact paper is it is removable and the chalk pen ink is erasable!!!!  

 All the items in the picture (not the container) were purchased on Amazon, but I assume craft stores would carry these supplies as well.  When the brownie mix is all gone I may want to fill the container with corn meal, and all I have to do is rub the chalk ink with a damp paper towel and rewrite the label.  I am in love with this stuff!  I even made labels for my dehydrated food...
My dehydrated food jars will always be changing depending on what I am dehydrating and the labels are so easy to change.  Plus I can peel off the contact paper label so easily if I need to water bath or pressure can with these jars.  Maybe I am a little to excited but this has been so fun to do!  And I am not usually a crafty person, but I like to be really organized and this system really makes the pantry look put together. 

Here are our brownies made from a mix using butter and egg powder.  They are definitely more of a cake-like brownie, but we did add chocolate chips to our batch and that helped to make them more fudge-like.  (and I had no idea how to reconstitute the butter powder.  I probably did it wrong and so the brownies aren't that fudgy )And I don't know if it is me or the butter powder but I can totally taste it, even when it is cooked.  I have heard great things about Thrive's butter powder so I may look into trying that brand.  For the next batch I will make them with real melted butter and see if I can taste the difference. And as I was putting this in the oven I mentally smacked myself because I could've made this in the sun oven today, it was so sunny outside.  Next time....

I'm sorry that there is no mix recipe in this post, but I highly recommend buying the Make-A-Mix book for all of the recipes in it. I just wanted to give you all an example of what I do daily to use my food storage.  This may inspire you to do something today with your storage!!  If you would like a brownie mix recipe, I found this one on pinterest and it seems to be really popular.  CLICK HERE  to view it. 
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