Friday, October 31, 2014

Sneaking Dehydrated Veggies Into Dinner

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Dehydrating foods is one of my favorite ways to have food storage.  But sometimes I forget I have jars of it in my pantry.  This is just a quick tip that I used the other night for dinner. I added dehydrated spinach to my pizza sauce before spreading it on the dough.  I'm probably the last person on the planet to figure this out, but I figured I might as well share. 

I simply crumbled the dried spinach in my hand and stirred it into the sauce.  No one knew it was there!  Plus it added a subtle flavor to the pizza that I really enjoyed.  I also love sneaking all that extra nutrition from the spinach into the foods we normally eat.  It was a busy night when I made the pizza and it was a grab-n-go type meal.  A few of my kids were eating it in the car on the way to an activity.  So the pizza with the spinach was dinner and a veggie all in one!  This is just one more way that I use my food storage in everyday living.  Think of all the other dehydrated foods that could be powdered, in a food processor or blender, and then added to soups, stews, sauces, etc. You'll become known as the sneaky chef! Well, if anyone finds out that you're sneaking veggies into their dinner :)   And once you're done with the spinach, sealing up the extra spinach for use later on is so simple using a food saver.  Click here to see how that worksSimple, easy, quick ideas that use my food's a win!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Easy No Knead Artisan Bread

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Say you're in a situation where you have no electricity and you want to make bread.  Well, first you'll need to manually grind your wheat, then mix it all up, knead it by hand, (have you kneaded bread for 15 minutes?....not the easiest job) let rise, and then bake the bread over the fire, in a Volcano stove, or in a Sun Oven.  This is quite labor intensive! Kneading alone would have me making flatbread a couple times a week.  Have you ever tried out your manual wheat grinder?  It takes quite a bit of energy for a small amount of wheat flour. The girls over at shared a really cool bread recipe.  It makes a loaf of artisan style bread with no grinding of flour, no kneading, and needs no electricity to bake.  I wasn't sure I  believed their claims. So I HAD to try it out!!  

Look what the final product was!! I don't know why I was so shocked that it worked, but I was.  I couldn't believe how easy this was to make.  Here's how I did it.....

First of all I followed the recipe from exactly as they explained it.  Click HERE to see the recipe.  

The first step takes the longest, but doesn't involve any work on your part.  Crazy, right?!  
 The night before you want your bread baked, you need to mix up the ingredients.  It takes 12-18 hours for the dough to rise.  That's the longest part of this recipe, but it just sits on the counter and does it's thing.  Here's what you do:  stir together 3 cups of white flour, 1/2 t yeast, 1 3/4 t salt, and 1 1/2 cups of cool water.  It should be a sticky clump of dough.  Stir it well and then cover with plastic wrap. 

Then let the dough sit for 12-18 hours to rise.  This picture was taken in the morning after sitting for around 12 hours.  

Once the dough has risen for 12-18 hours turn it out onto a floured surface and let rest, covered, for 30 minutes. You may have to scrape the dough out of the bowl to get it into a ball shape.  I folded the dough into itself a few times to get it to stick into a ball shape. 

 Once it's fully rested, place the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and then into a round Sun Oven pan, that was heating up in the Sun Oven.  You can see my bread baking in the Sun Oven out in my yard.  

After about two hours, I took the lid off of the pan and let the bread "brown" for about a half hour.  I did mist it with water to help it brown a little.  Bread cooked in the Sun Oven doesn't get brown like in a conventional oven.  My oven hovered around 300° the whole baking time.  When the half hour was up, I took the bread out and was a little worried.  It almost looked like it wasn't cooked, but it was, and it did have a slightly hardened crust. 

I sliced up the loaf for dinner and was very excited that it worked so well.  It had a definite sourdough taste to it, so be prepared for that.  It isn't a strong sourdough flavor but definitely not a typical white loaf of bread.  It is great to know that even in a stressful, emergency situation that I could make bread for dinner without having to grind flour and then knead it by hand.  Now my next goal is to make this with wheat flour!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eton Radio and Smartphone Charger

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It's amazing what you can find in your 72-hour kits when you go through them.  Remember my funny story, click HERE if you missed it. We found many outgrown items, like diapers and baby formula, and I also found an old manual cell phone charger.  After looking it over I decided that it could almost be called a vintage piece of technology :)

This manual cell phone charger was purchased about 8ish years ago when I had a basic flip phone, and smart phones were few and far between.  The adapters in this kit wouldn't even fit the newest flip phone we had in our junk drawer. And with the smartphones we now own, I needed a new cell phone charger.  

After doing a google search I decided to purchase the eton hand turbine AM/FM/Weather Alert Radio.  What sold me on it was the USB charger on the back of it. It will charge both my Android and the Apple phones in my household. Plus, I can plug it into my Goal Zero unit for charging!  It has a radio, a flashlight, headphone jack, clock & an alarm clock, and is compact enough to fit into almost any backpack, car kit, etc.  Plus it helps support the American Red Cross. 

To charge a smartphone, plug the phone charger into the USB port on the back of the unit. The power from the internal battery will dump the charge to your device.  Once the eton battery is dead it will stop charging your phone.  The hand crank can also be turned to charge the phone, but I imagine that would take forever.  

There are several ways that the internal battery can be charged.  The solar panel on top of the unit, the hand crank, and the USB port.  The first time that I charged the unit I used my Goal Zero unit and the USB port and was fully charged in about 2 hours.  But you can use the hand crank or the solar panel as well.  If the unit has a low battery, turn the hand crank for 90 seconds you will have 5-7 minutes of radio time with the volume on low, or 20 minutes of the flashlight available.  Fully charged you will be able to listen to the radio for 3-4 hours with the volume on low. Using the USB adapter it will take approximately 2 hours to charge. To fully charge the unit using the solar panel it will take 10 hours.  

I purchased my eton radio from Amazon for around $50, but there are other websites that sell them. Click HERE to view the eton website.   Technology changes so quickly these days but I am hoping that this unit will serve its purpose for a while.  So use my mistake as a reminder to check your food storage and 72-hour kits for outdated items.  I don't want anyone to have to say "if I only had taken care of this while I could" in an emergency!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Many Uses of Vinegar

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Vinegar is quite the versatile liquid.  It's used in cooking, cleaning, first aid, and it's green! Not green in color, but it's a safe, non-toxic way to clean your home.  Because of how versatile vinegar is, I feel it is one of the most important items to have stocked in your food storage.

I have a few favorite ways that I use white vinegar in my home.  Years ago I found  some easy "recipes" for cleaning, and they were so easy to make, because who wants to spend all day making cleaning solutions. These mixes are so simple, you'll be thinking that making homemade cleaners should be more involved, but that is the beauty of using vinegar.  Simple and easy!!!  We have also been conditioned to think that if a cleaner doesn't smell toxic, it isn't sanitizing.  Vinegar, when sprayed along side with hydrogen peroxide, will sanitize surfaces.  Yes, vinegar has a smell, but it won't harm your lungs like bleach or ammonia.  It dissipates after drying.

 Wood Floor Cleaner/Window Cleaner
The ratio is 2/3rd's white vinegar to 1/3rd water.
I marked my spray bottle on the side with black lines so I know where to refill it when it's gone.  
Add a few tiny drops of Dawn dish detergent.  
Shake before using.
Use on glass, wood floors, laminate floors, stainless steel appliances, etc. Wipe surfaces dry with cloth or paper towel. Use a microfiber mop on floors.

Disinfectant Spray
Fill one spray bottle with white vinegar
Add a spray topper to a hydrogen peroxide bottle.
Spray both onto counter top surface. 
Let sit for one minute before wiping.
Wipe with paper towel or cloth towel.
It doesn't matter which is sprayed first.  
Overtime it will also become less effective when mixed together in a spray bottle.
But when applied using two different bottles it will sanitize surfaces. 

Other Uses For Vinegar
  • This idea is for a situation when we are doing laundry manually.  Have a spray bottle of vinegar on hand and use it to refresh your clothes.  Doing laundry by hand will be tough, so to stretch the time between doing laundry shake clothes to free loose dirt and debris, hang up the clothing, spray with vinegar. Once dry, the vinegar will have deodorized the clothes and you can wear them awhile longer before a deep cleaning is needed.  The vinegar smell will dissipate after it dries.
  • Use a mixture of vinegar and a small amount of water to clean blinds and shutters.  Place an old sock on your hand, dip into the vinegar mixture and run your hand over the blinds or shutters. 
  • Place a bowl of vinegar on your kitchen counter  overnight to absorb the smells from cooking dinner.   
  • Add a small amount of baking soda to your drain and pour in vinegar.  This will bubble and clear out small clogs in the drain.
  • Spray straight vinegar onto weeds around your garden.  It will kill them! Be careful not to spray the plants that you want to keep alive :)
  • Run a cycle in your dishwasher with vinegar in the detergent cup.  It will clean and refresh the inside of your dishwasher, especially if you have a stainless steel interior. 
  • Add a cup full of vinegar to your rinse cycle when doing laundry.  It breaks down the alkalies in the detergent. 
  • Spray your fruit and veggies with vinegar and then hydrogen peroxide, let sit, rinse with water. This will remove unwanted pesticides. 
  • Spray a mixture of water and vinegar on a sunburn to soothe.
  • For minor kitchen burns. Run cold water over the burn for a few minutes, then place a cloth that has been soaked in one part water to one part vinegar, place on burn to soothe.  Repeat as necessary.

The ideas above use white distilled vinegar but there are so many other uses for other vinegars, like apple cider vinegar. The internet will fill you in on all those benefits.  But my love for vinegar in everyone's food storage is because it has an almost indefinite shelf life and it's cheap!!!  Everyone can afford to store vinegar.  Stock up the next time you head to the store!  Plus it's so liberating to skip the cleaning aisle. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

72-Hour Kits and What Not To Do!

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Knowledge is power...only if you apply that knowledge to your goal.  I know a lot about 72-hour kits and what to put in them.  But maybe not so much about updating them :)

This weekend was the semi-annual General Conference for members of the LDS faith.  This conference is held in April and October of every year.  Many of us use the bi-yearly time to change out batteries in smoke detectors, inventory our food storage, and change out our 72-hour kits.  It's funny that April and October seem to come around a lot faster then we think.  I swear it wasn't that long ago that I had gone through all of our 72-hour kits.  But the proof will show you......that wasn't the case.  

Case in point #1

 My daughter said that even if that was all there was left to wear, she couldn't fit into it.

Case in point #2

 My son is 11 and I'm pretty sure he doesn't wear diapers anymore.  It was hard to take a picture because we were laughing so hard!

Case in point #3

 This child is 18 and had a coat that fit my 6 year old.  We were laughing really hard by this point.  I could hardly take the picture when she zipped it up.  She laughed and said at least she would be partly warm if she had to wear it.  haha!!

Case in point #4
My 6 year old had a bottle and baby formula in her kit.  She would probably have fun drinking out of the bottle, but the formula not so much. She didn't even have a toothbrush in her kit like the rest of us. She didn't even have teeth when I made her she is losing her front teeth. 

How did I not go through these kits in the last 5 years?!?!?!  I did move a year and a half ago, but still, I'm a slacker.

 This was most of the expired food from all 7 of our kits.  It was mostly yucky. The smells...I can still smell them.  My kids added new clothes, in the correct sizes, in their kits, and I have a list of things to buy to bring them all up to date. I think that these kits were not on my mind because I feel that an evacuation in my area wouldn't be likely, it could happen, but not likely.  So I probably put the thought of updating them out of my mind. Having a 72-hour kit, or grab-and-go kit, or a bug-out-bag is a smart thing to have though. I'm not saying that they aren't important. No one knows what the future will bring and it's always a good idea to be prepared for whatever may come our way.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


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The news lately is filled with the words ebola and enterovirous. They are both diseases that are causing trouble for many people.  As I was listening to the news the other day, they were discussing the family in Texas, whose father has ebola, and mentioned that the family was quarantined for 21 days in their home.  They are not supposed to leave their home for 21 days!

Could you, right now, stay in your home for almost a month and have everything required for a normal, every day routine??

Think of all the items you use every day.  From fresh foods all the way to toilet paper. Do you have at least 3 weeks worth of food and supplies?  

 Before A Quarantine....

  • Always have at least a month's worth of food in your home. (I highly recommend a three-month supply, but we'll start with 1 month)
  • Water storage will also be necessary. Make sure you have a few cases of water on hand.
  •  Hand sanitizers, lysol, bleach, Clorox wipes, etc.  Whatever your choice of cleaner is, store it!  I would recommend not using sponges, but have paper towel, or small towels that you can wash in hot water.  You don't want to spread germs, you want to kill them.  This is also your first line of defense before getting sick!  Wash your hands often!
  • Have a few simple meals ready to go and store all the ingredients together.  If the cook of the family becomes ill, it will be handy to have meals ready to cook, stored all together.  
  • If your family becomes ill, think of foods that would be comforting, and kind of bland.  Crackers, soups, applesauce, jello, pudding, ingredients for smoothies (freeze-dried and dehydrated fruits are great for smoothies), liquids like Gatorade, water, and juice.  Remember the BRAT diet: banana, rice, applesauce, toast. (and when I say "ill" I mean a flu or other sickness, not ebola. If you feel you might have ebola or enterovirous please go to the hospital)
  • Whatever over-the-counter meds you use should be stockpiled in your home.  If you have children, you'll need children's medicine, adults need the adult strength.  Think of cold medicine, fever reducing, pain relieving medicine, etc. 
  • Do you have ice packs, heating pads, or a hot water bottle?  They can go a long way in helping someone feel better.
As you go about your day tomorrow think of all the things you use, and eat, and drink during your day.  Do you have at least a month's worth of each item?  If not, make a list of all the items you're in need of, so you can start shopping and begin adding to your stockpile.  Your friendly neighbor may become not so friendly if you have to quarantined.  They will be very wary of becoming infected.  Take the time to prepare for your family today!  You can't count on someone being there to help you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Butter Drought

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Butter is one amazing food.  Cooking without butter would leave our plates really dry and flavorless.  I'm no Paula Deen but I do love butter in my cookies, quick breads, and on top of baked potatoes.  Have you seen the price of butter at the grocery store lately?!?!  It's almost $4.00 a pound!  That is crazy!  Last fall I bought butter for $1.50 and that was a stock up price.  I saw butter for $2.97 at my grocery store and I bought all I could.  This is a good reminder of why we need to prepare.  Inflation!!  Buy food now while it's affordable.  

*remember to have a back up (or two) for your fresh foods*

Usually I have about 20lbs of butter in my freezer and it is enough to get us through until the next sale at the grocery store. About 2 weeks ago I was down to my last pound of butter.  I didn't worry because I figured a sale was just around the corner.  But, no sale came.  Meanwhile, to get us through the butter drought, I made some butter from shelf stable cream that I had in my storage.  Shelf stable cream is my first choice for spreadable butter.  It's delicious and tastes like fresh butter.  We wanted to savor it though, and so it was only used it for toast.  Click HERE to see how I made the butter. Even though it's delicious, it would take a lot of shelf-stable cream, to make butter, to use every time I needed it for a recipe.

 Powdered butter is my go-to option if fresh butter isn't available.  I still wanted to bake and so my second choice for shelf stable butter is Thrive's butter powder.  I LOVE Thrive's butter powder.  You can read how I taste tesed it HERE.  I was able to bake cookies, make mashed potatoes, pumpkin muffins, and even a cream sauce for macaroni and cheese, and it all worked. It is a really amazing product.  I highly recommend it! Sign up for their emails and buy a can when they have a sale.  (A #10 can is around $28.00 right now on and a #10 can equals 24 sticks of butter. Which makes it around $4.60 a pound. I have only purchased my powdered butter when it was on sale to lower my price per pound. )

I am hoping that my butter drought will be over as soon as the holidays are here.  Most baking supplies will be on sale in the next few months.  But if the demand is high and supply is low....our price at the store will skyrocket.  Food storage isn't just for the end of the world. 
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