Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Baking Items in Your Food Storage & Our Favorite Hot Chocolate Recipe!

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In November I love to stock up on baking supplies because they go on sale for Thanksgiving. This will continue throughout December so watch the grocery stores for great deals on all of the baking ingredients and spices that you use.  Once you have your food storage basics of wheat, water, beans and rice, there is not much you can do with those items without adding spices and leavening ingredients. Spices tend to sell for a great price point this time of year.  Now is a perfect time to take stock of the spices you have in your cupboard and shop for the ones you are running low on. 
As you purchase your baking items you'll need to rotate them into your pantry at home. Keep a sharpie close by and when you bring your groceries in your house mark the date and place them behind the older item in your cupboard. (remember FIFO- first in first out) That way when you do need to see the expiration date, it will be easy to see and you won't have to search for the teeny, tiny date printed on the food. 
Another way to save money on baking supplies is to be able to tell when their life span has expired. There are several ways to test leavening agents to see if they still work.
Yeast: Add a spoonful in warm water along with a pinch of sugar. It should bubble in 10 minutes. Store yeast in the freezer for indefinite storage. I haven't had yeast go bad since doing this. I use instant yeast and I just add it straight from the freezer to my recipes and it works great.
Baking Powder: Add a pinch in warm water and stir. It should bubble immediately.
Baking Soda: Add a pinch to vinegar or lemon juice and it should bubble immediately. Store baking soda for cooking as well as cleaning.
Other items to store:
  • Another baking item that I keep on hand is Cocoa powder. It has an indefinite shelf life!! 
  • During the week I want you to pay attention to the Spices that you use for cooking. Maybe even jot them down. Could you go a whole year without purchasing more? As bigger sales come upon us in the next couple of weeks look for the spices that you use and buy at least one extra. I know a lot of basic items seem palatable when sprinkled with the right spice.
  • Did you know that you can substitute Unflavored Gelatin (Knox brand) for eggs when you are baking? (1 oz of unflavored gelatin=12 t of gelatin=12 "eggs") To use it in baking use 1t of gelatin + 3 T cold water+2 T hot water=1 "egg".  I store powdered eggs in #10 cans. I love them because they are pasteurized and you can lick the batter without risking salmonella poisoning. You just add the powder egg to your dry ingredients and then the water to your liquids. I save my real eggs for boiled and scrambled dishes.
Along with colder weather and the holidays, my children LOVE hot chocolate. This is our favorite hot chocolate recipe. I whip up a big batch and store it in an airtight container. The kids know how to make it by themselves and it save a lot of money on the pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes. Plus it uses all food storage pantry items.
Hot or Cold Chocolate Mix
(from Cookin' With Food Storage by Peggy Layton)
3 1/4 C. powdered milk
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 t salt
Mix all in a big bowl and store in an airtight container. To use stir 1/2 C mix with 1 C. boiling water. Stir to dissolve and chill if you want cold milk.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Prepare Today Homemade- Easiest Muffins EVER!

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Self-Reliant Saturday Recipe

 We are a family that loves a good muffin.  We eat them for dinner about 3 times per week.  Muffins are pretty simple to make, but sometimes getting all the ingredients out on a busy night is just too much for me.  I do try to bake a double batch to freeze but I don't always remember to do that.  I think I have found my secret weapon to make muffins quick and SO easy!!  I thought cake mix cookies were easy to make, this recipe is even easier!

You may have heard of the 2 ingredient pumpkin cookies, which include a box of spice cake mix and a small can of pumpkin.  You mix and bake, so easy!  Well, I thought why couldn't that dough also be made into pumpkin muffins??  And guess what?  It worked and the whole family loved them!

  In the fall the grocery stores will generally have spice cake mix for a great price.  Last year I stocked up on them because we really like pumpkin cookies made out of it.  Having all the ingredients on hand added to the simplicity of this recipe. In the picture I used only half of that can of pumpkin because it is the bigger can.  The recipe only calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin. 

 Mix the cake mix, pumpkin, and a few chocolate chips and you have muffin batter!!!  And with no oil or eggs, these muffins are a low-fat option for dinner.  They do have sugar from the cake mix, but not nearly as much as when I make muffins from scratch.

Pumpkin Cake Mix Muffins {or Cookies}
1 box spice cake mix
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 C chocolate chips

Mix the cake mix and pumpkin together with a hand mixer, add the chocolate chips and divide into 12 muffin cups.  (I had extra batter and I made about 8 mini muffins too)  **Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes.   They could also be baked in a sun oven or volcano stove in a situation without electricity.
**I live at an altitude that I need to follow the high altitude directions and my cake mix said to bake the cake mix at 375°.  If you are below 5000ft you might need to adjust the temperature to 350°.

To make cookies:  Mix as directed above and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

And if you need a dessert idea, we made these tonight and they were so good and again....only 2 ingredients!!!  Click here for Pumpkin Brownies!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Food Storage Frame of Mind

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I have had many people tell me over the last few years that they don't have food storage because it is just too overwhelming to deal with.  I have thought a lot about that feeling and have wondered why I don't feel that way about food storage.  I came to the conclusion that I make food storage a way of life and not a one time obstacle that I have to overcome.  Just like we shouldn't diet, but make eating healthy a way of life, food storage should be a lifestyle. I believe in having food storage for emergencies, BUT I truly believe it is a principle of provident living.  " personal and family preparedness should be a way of provident living, an orderly approach to using the resources, gifts, and talents the Lord shares with us. So the first step is to teach our people to be self-reliant and independent through proper preparation for daily life." -Victor L. Brown, Ensign 1976

So, how do you make food storage a way of life??  There are MANY ways to store food and rotate food storage.  This is what I do and it's what works for my family.  It may not be right for your family but there might be a few things you could try out.

  • Have a meal plan that includes easy to prepare recipes.
  • Know what ingredients you use on a daily basis and keep those in stock at all times.
  • Watch the grocery sales and know what "a stock up price" is for every item you use in your recipes. Don't stress out about this....it took me a few months to know what a good deal was, but after some practice of comparing prices I know off hand what the low prices are.
  • Have freeze-dried or dehydrated equals to the fresh produce you like to eat.  They come in handy a lot more then you think they will.  They are worth the price and cook up almost like the fresh counterpart.
  • Make pantry meals that only use shelf-stable foods in your pantry 1-2 times per week.
  • Rotating food becomes easy when you are eating what you store.   
  • Learn to bake crackers, fruit leather, snacks, breads, etc. to save money and also to use food storage basics.
  • Store long term items in a proper bucket or mylar bag to prolong their life. Nothing is more frustrating then knowing you have food, opening it to use, and find it has become rancid.      
  • Be patient with yourself!!  I have a system down and know which foods I make every week.  I make granola bars, bread, and snacks on a regular basis.  It becomes natural and stress-free after a few times of making a recipe.  Give yourself time to learn something new.  
  •  Plan and grow a garden year after year.  I have only had small gardens and I really don't know what I am doing, but it gives my family fresh food. I feel that we spend time together as a family, and it really helps with our food budget in the summer.
  • I don't have foods that will only be used in a "SHTF" scenario.  I use all the food in my storage all the time. Some of my dehydrated foods don't get used as often, but they do get used, and when I store them properly they last a long time.
  • Learn to can and preserve.  There are so many times I run out of chicken in the freezer and open a bottle of canned chicken to save dinner.   
  • Add beans, tvp, and veggies to sauces, meat dishes, and casseroles.  It extends the amount of food your serving, and it uses your food storage.  There is also the added nutrition when you are sneaking veggies into dinnerCooked wheat can be added to many meat dishes and no one will know it's there.   

There are so many ways you can implement food storage into your daily life.  Keeping food storage in the back of my mind all the time I see things that maybe wouldn't have caught my eye otherwise.  While shopping, keep your eyes peeled for clearance and discount items that will work for your family.  I have come across many items that I would have passed up if I hadn't been in a prepper frame of mind ;) 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Rotate That Food Storage!!

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I have been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks.  My mother was in a car accident two weeks ago and suffered a head trauma and was in a coma for a week before passing away.  I have been spending time with family for her funeral and then also taking the time to clean out her home.  It was a shock and I am still dealing with the reality of it all, but we had such a special time together as a family.  

My mom was always the one to be obedient and this showed in how she always had her food storage.  While cleaning out her kitchen we found many #10 cans of food from the LDS Cannery.  In fact, those dried apples from the cannery sustained us through many hours of cleaning.  But along with edible food storage that we found, there were many items that were long expired.  

Today's Self-Reliant Saturday tip is to ROTATE your food storage!  I am all for long-term food storage, but this is pushing it.  It is 40 years old. 
Anyone for some really old celery??
 But I love that she wrote the date on the can because there was no other date printed on it.  That is tip #2---write the date of purchase on your cans.  It makes rotating much easier :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Living Wills & Health Directives

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Being prepared isn't something that is always for some future event.  There are no guarantees that life will be smooth sailing.  Trials and accidents happen to all of us.  But are you prepared to deal with the trial when it happens to you?

From a tragic accident that happened this week in my family, I want everyone to know how important it is to have a Health Directive, "Living Will" Declaration filled out.  None of us want to think that this will happen to us, but life changes...literally...in an instant. And there are so many decisions that need to be made beforehand.  If my mom did not have a health directive filled out with her health care wishes made known, it would've made a horrific situation even more stressful.  Please be prepared with your healthcare wishes known for those in your family who will be taking care of you in an emergency situation.  It is stressful enough to have to deal with an accident, but to not know how to treat someone medically according to their wishes, will be too much for even the strongest of us.  

Keep all vital records and paperwork together in a binder or file folder. Looking for paperwork is almost beyond mental ability when you are in shock from learning about an accident.  Have all information in one location to you can access it and also be able to grab and go in an evacuation type event.  Click here for a previous post on vital record storage.  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Food Storage Experts

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Water purification, Dutch oven cooking, solar cooking, how much wheat to store, gardening, living off the grid....it can all get a little intimidating and that leads to frustration.  Just keep slowly adding to your food storage and emergency preparedness. Pray to know what you need to work on for you and your family. There's no need to be stressed out over food storage :)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-Healthy Meal In A Jar

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Many food storage fanatics love the meals in a jar concept.  They are simple to make, save time and money, and are a great option for cooking without having to plan an entire meal.  I came across a very healthy freeze-dried camping meal that makes a great meal-in-a-jar recipe.  (click here to see the original recipe) 

Healthy Chicken & Veggies with Couscous
1 C freeze dried chicken pieces*
1 C whole wheat couscous
3 t chia seeds
1 1/2 C freeze dried mixed vegetables
3 t dried onion flakes
1 T + 1 1/2 t bullion of choice (or 1 1/2t Shirley J bullion)
3/4 t EACH dried thyme, sage, parsley 
3/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t pepper
3/4 t salt (or less depending on your taste)

Layer all ingredients into a quart mason jar. (wide mouth is the easiest to make jarred meals in) Shake gently to allow settling so all ingredients fit in.  Place canning lid on and seal with a food saver jar attachment, or place an oxygen absorber in the jar and tighten with the canning lid and ring.  Serves 4-6 people. Shelf-stable for 3-5 years.

Reheating Instructions:
Make sure to label each jar with recipe name and cooking instructions.  Boil 4 1/2 cups of water in a pot.  Pour in jar ingredients and stir.  Turn off heat and allow to sit at least 10 minutes.  

*to make vegetarian use 1 C TVP or leave out the chicken all together.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chicken Update--Our Broody Hen

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The chicken adventure has been going pretty smoothly.  We even went out of town for 2 weeks and the girls seemed just fine with their babysitter. But the day after I got home, one of the hens insisted on sitting in the nesting box and hogged all the eggs in there.  I looked it up online and it seems that Hawk Eye is broody.  She thinks she has to incubate her, or anyone else's egg.  We purchased our hens to be layers, so to have one hen that won't lay an egg because she wants to sit on them 24/7 was a problem.  Back to the internet I went, and searched for a solution.  The solution from several sites was to put Ms. broody Hawk Eye in chicken jail. 

 The goal is to keep her from sitting on comfy shavings.  She spent all of day one by herself, but we let her back in the coop for sleeping.  During the day we gave her some alone time in the backyard as well to encourage foraging for bugs, etc.  She was really freaked out and paced back and forth along the main coop at first, but we didn't cave in to her begging, and she calmed down and acted like a non-broody hen.  After her night in the coop she was again hogging the nesting box and so she is currently in jail again for today.  The main problem was all of our hens like to lay in one specific box and they were picking on Hawk Eye because she wouldn't move.  This also lead to less egg layers.  It's a whole chicken drama! Using the chicken jail remedy, Hawk Eye should be cured in a few days, but she might not lay an egg for a week or so after.  Kind of a bummer!  But even though there has been drama and we are learning by trial and error, they are so fun to have and my kids really enjoy taking care of them.  I am also glad that we are learning all about chickens now and not in a survival situation.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- I Can't Afford Food Storage

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It's all about PRIORITIES. As with most things in life that we can't seem to get to, or finish, it's all about how important it really is in our lives.  Maybe take a minute and reprioritize the things you feel are most important in your life, and see how to fit food storage in.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Prepare Today Homemade- Chickpea Nuggets

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This is a recipe re-post from 2011 and it is still one of my favorite ways to use Garbanzo beans!! Enjoy!

I know that title sounds a little weird, but go with me on this one!  They are really good!  For those that don't know I am a vegetarian and I am always looking for more ways to incorporate beans into my family's diet.  This recipe made great "chicken" nuggets for my kids and a great salad topper for me.  You have to try the honey mustard dipping sauce (or as a salad dressing, yummmmmy!!), from a previous post HERE, with your nuggets!  We have been dipping everything in this sauce, from these nuggets to sweet potato fries, and as a salad dressing.  (my next experiment is to make it with yogurt to try to cut the fat out)

Chickpea Nuggets 
(from blog.superhealthykids.com)  Makes 15-18 nuggets depending on how large you make them
1 can chickpea (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
1/2 onion
1 t parsley
1 clove garlic
1 egg
1 t cumin
1 t salt
dash pepper
1 t lemon juice
1 t baking powder
1 C bread crumbs
1 T oil
To be honest I threw it all in a food processor and gave it a whirl until it was smooth.  (my kids won't eat chunks of onion so it had to be pretty smooth)  

There are two ways to bake these:
Stove top:  heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan.  Shape the "dough" into nuggets shapes and pan fry until golden brown on each side. We cooked them this way and loved them!

Oven method:  Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes, turning over half way through the baking time. I would have baked them this way, but my oven isn't working right now.  :)

My older kids ate them up, but my 3yo (being totally truthful here) gagged on them :D  She does not like the texture of beans and so I guess this was too much for her.  I whipped up a salad using greens from my garden, some craisins,strawberries, the honey mustard sauce, and the chickpea nuggets on top.  My kids asked for this two nights in a row for dinner!
  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Prepare Today Homemade- Applesauce in the Saratoga Jacks

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This is a yummy recipe re-post from 2012....it's easy and smells sooooo good....I hope you enjoy it!

Applesauce in the Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker is simply delicious!  I have made it several times and my kids love it!  I also made it for a class I taught at Honeyville Grain and they loved it too!

 Cutting up the apples is the hardest part of this super easy recipe.  The spices and sugar slow cook with the apples and it smells like Christmas.  My kids kept thinking I was baking something for them and it was the applesauce.

 Just like all the other Saratoga Jacks recipes I boiled the apples for 2 minutes and also had the smaller pan boiling.  The apples didn't quite fill the larger pan enough, so the smaller pan used up the air space.

 After slow cooking for several hours the apples were ready to be mashed.  I wish you could smell this picture because it smelled just like the holidays.

My daughter used a potato masher and smashed the apples into applesauce.  You could also use an immersion blender.

 Applesauce
3lbs (8-9) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2" chunks (dehydrated or freeze dried also works!!!)
1 C apple juice or apple cider
2 T sugar, plus more to taste
pinch salt
2  (3") cinnamon sticks or 1/4 t ground cinnamon- optional but so good!  (remove sticks before mashing)

Combine all ingredients in the larger Saratoga Jacks pan.  Bring to a boil with the lid on for 2 minutes.  Also fill the smaller pan with water and bring it to a boil.  After 2 minutes place the pans together and put into the cooker base.  Cook for 2 or more hours.  When apples are soft, mash using a potato masher or immersion blender.  Add more sugar or apple juice if desired.  Serve warm, room temp or chilled.  Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

*This recipe was originally for a slow cooker and would work just as well.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Travel Medicine Bag

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Traveling with five children I need to be prepared with several kinds of medicine.  Mostly for "what if", but I would hate to need a fever reducer in the middle of the night in a hotel.  

 My trip medicine bag is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.  I used a plastic zipper bag that a set of twin sheets came in.  I added adult and children's medicine, and also basic first aid.  We are renting a beach house and you never know what is supplied until we get there.  So I have band-aids and neosporin just in case.  Last year we needed both so hopefully now that I came prepared we won't need them :) Don't let the unexpected illness, sunburn, headache, or fever catch you off guard.  Pack a medicine travel bag for your family!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday -- Learning From History

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Today is July 4th, Independence Day here in America, and with this holiday comes quite a bit of history.  There is a lot to learn from those whom have passed on before us and hopefully we take the time to learn these life lessons from our ancestors.  

 "Church history teaches many lessons about personal preparedness"  

"Lessons From Crossing The Plains"
  • When we ignore preparedness counsel, we can expect unhappy consequences
  • Protect against nature (sun, cold, snow, wild animals, sickness)
  • Be accident cautious (falls, burns, children wandering off, carelessness, knife injuries)
  • Protect against discouragement (maintain good health, don't be afraid to ask for help, make friends with like-minded people)
  • Be creative and adaptive in difficult times (let the wagon bumps turn cream into butter)
"Lessons From the Pioneer Famine of 1868"
  • In times of dire food shortages, we should be willing to share our personal food storage with others
  • During times of famine we might choose to fast more often to provide for the needy
  • When the course of our normal life is disrupted, it helps to fill free time with constructive activities 
"Lessons From the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake"
There were 120 Church members, missionaries, etc in the city at the time and they wrote about  how they survived the quake.
  • Have sturdy shoes and durable clothing nearby in case of a sudden nighttime emergency
  • Have fire extinguishers in our homes
  • Have emergency water on hand in sturdy, non-glass containers
  • Have minimal cleaning items, such as moist towelettes, toothpaste, deodorant, face towels, and even small bags of detergent
  • Have emergency food as we have been taught
  • It is important to have 2-3 meeting places where family members can find each other in case disaster strikes and family is scattered
  • Be prepared to leave cherished belongings
  • Ignore wild rumors that spread in panics and don't pass them on
All of these ideas, and more, are from an article written by William G. Hartley in the October 2001 Ensign, "Sturdy Shoes and a Waterproof Tent". Click HERE to read the entire article.     

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chicken Coop Remodel

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If any of you have daughters, then you know how girls can become kind of feisty in close quarters.  I have four daughters and I totally understand girls needing their space.  I have learned that our chickens are the same way in their tiny coop.  They were getting on each others nerves and picking on each other.  These girls sure are high maintenance...haha....we've only had our hens for about two weeks and they are already getting a home remodel.  We felt bad that they were all cooped up in the small area under their nesting boxes so a new wing was added to their coop. (pun intended)  

This is the original structure. 

We turned it 90 degrees and added on to the back side.  It will give the hens 8 more feet of play space plus a sandbox to bathe in. 

 As you can see they will have a much bigger area to roam around in.  I wish we could let them out in the yard all day, but we decided that we didn't want to deal with kids stepping in chicken poop. 




My husband added chicken wire to the sides and top of the new structure. And the girls were ready for their new home.


Don't mind the blankets on top of the house.  It was over 90 degrees today and they girls were hot.  They were all back in the smaller original coop crowded together.  The minute I covered the top and gave them shade they came back out.  




They LOVE the sandbox!  The hens have been playing, bathing, and scratching in it all day.  We used cleaned construction sand for their sandbox. 


We love learning about the chickens everyday and the hens are much happier with their new space.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Kitchen In A Box Add-Ons

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A few weeks ago I made a kitchen in a box to keep with my 72-hour kits.  Click HERE to view that post. I had most of what I needed for my kitchen on the go, but I did need a few more items that I have since added to my box. Have you made a kitchen in a box for your 72-hour kits?



These are the items that I added to my kitchen in a box:
  • pancake spatula
  • travel size bottle that I filled with dish soap
  • sponge
  • matches
  • spice container (it's a tackle container from the fishing section of Wal-Mart and it was on clearance for $1.96)
  • And one more stack-able container to hold the new goods 

Monday, June 22, 2015

First Aid Inventory

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Taking inventory of my first aid kits, yes many random kits, has been on my radar for a few months.  I have quite a few smaller first aid kits and a box of random wraps and bandaids that needed to be organized and useable for the whole family.  

This is what I had accumulated over the years.  It isn't pretty and I had no system of knowing what was in the bag or box.  At least it's labeled first aid, right? 

I ran across this fishing tackle box at Wal-Mart for around $39.00 and thought it would make a perfect first aid box. What I loved about it were all the different compartments. 
 After grouping all like items together I started organizing all my first aid items into my new box. On the right and left side of the tackle box are two white smaller boxes with compartments that fit my bandaids and antiseptic wipes perfectly.  They are easy to locate and open. When you need a bandaid, you usually need one right now!

In the top of the box I placed all the gauze pads, triangle bandages, sterile cloth bandages, eye bandages, 2" gauze pads, tape, wraps, ice packs, liquid skin, flashlights, scissors, tweezers, and our first aid books.  

Here she is all filled up with all my first aid goodies.  I have heat packs, hydrogen peroxide, a burn kit, more wraps, vapor rub, antiseptic cleanser, emergency splints, etc.  I removed the original plastic organizers that fit into the middle section to be able to fit in all my larger items. I managed to fit all the basic necessities (I'm not doing surgery here) and I now know exactly what I have on hand.  The daily cuts, scrapes, burns, and minor breaks could all be taken care of at home.  I do have a tourniquet but I would only use that in an extreme emergency. I am sure there are many items that I need to add to our kits, but I feel so much better knowing I organized all of this and that the box is in an easy to find spot.  Now, here's to praying I won't need to use it anytime soon :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Promoting Self-Reliance

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I belong to an amazing Church that promotes self-reliance, and also helps those in need while also teaching them how to be self-sustaining. 

Click HERE to view more of the Humanitarian work done by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Backyard Chickens--A New Adventure!!

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We did it!  We've wanted chickens for a long time and we finally got it to all work out.  It's self reliance and fun all rolled into one exciting adventure. I am not what you would call an animal person and I didn't think I would really enjoy the chickens as much as I have. 


But they have such fun personalities and are so entertaining to watch. We have 6 hens that are about 1 years old and lay eggs, and 2 younger ladies that are only about 4 months old and will hopefully start laying in September.  


My husband said we shouldn't name them but I couldn't help it, they are too cute.  My children each picked a hen and named her and my husband even got in on the naming.  From the top left going clockwise the white chicken is Felicia, Tilly, Hawk Eye, and the bottom left is Dory Escape.  That is pronounced Es-cop-pay, like Dory says it in finding Nemo.  She was the first chicken to escape so her name is fitting.  We also have a Coco Moco, LaVone, Francis, and Honey who aren't pictured.  They have been laying eggs and getting to know our family.  They are fun and kind of therapeutic to be around.  Right now they are enclosed under their nesting boxes, but we hope to have a larger run for them soon.  We have quite a few predators in the area and are nervous about letting them roam the yard just yet.  But the best part is......

 Aren't they beautiful!  My kids get so excited to check for eggs all day long.  It has been a fun summer adventure so far. We are learning as we go along so I'm sure I'll be posting about "the girls" more often.  But this has been a great lesson for our family in becoming a little more self-reliant.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Regrow Your Produce

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This is a quick tip I learned several years ago.  There are several kinds of produce that can be regrown in your kitchen and garden.  They include green onions, celery, lettuces, and those funny roots that grow on your potatoes.  I have regrown green onions many times.  Click HERE to see how I have grown green onions in my kitchen.  It is beyond simple to regrow other foods as well and this week I decided to try celery and romaine lettuce.  

Simply cut off the bottoms of your celery and romaine and place them in a shallow bowl of water.  Literally in a day the romaine will start to regrow.  The celery is on the left in the picture and it takes a little while longer to sprout again.  I can now plant them in the garden and hopefully they will grow into a full size plant!  I can't wait!! Simple, fresh food storage!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kitchen In A Box-- An Emergency Essential!

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Before we get to the kitchen in a box, let me give you a little background on why I made one.  If you have read the blog for awhile you know what a big fan I am of the Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker. The thermal cooker is great for emergency preparedness BUT it is also one of my favorite kitchen appliances to use daily.  Click HERE to view a post on the thermal cooker. I have had fun experimenting with the thermal cooker but it is always helpful to have a cookbook to guide me along.  Cindy Miller has recently published a brand new thermal cookbook called "Let's Make Sense of Thermal Cooking".  (click here to see her website


It is a gorgeous cookbook with color photos, spiral bound binding, and so many helpful tips and tricks to use with the thermal cooker.  There are also recipes that will help you gather and use your food storage.  She has recipes for grains, beans, pastas, meat, and veggies.  It is the most complete book on thermal cooking to date!! I highly recommend you own this book if you own a thermal cooker or wonderbox/oven.

I have attended several classes taught by the owners of Saratoga Jack's thermal cookers, Amy & Jack, and they are always so organized with everything they need to cook, and demonstrate the thermal cookers. Amy calls it her kitchen in a box.  I always thought it was a great idea for them because they travel and teach so often, but I never really considered making one for myself. While reading Cindy's book she writes about using a kitchen in a box as well when she teaches, but it also is part of her 72-hour kit.  When I read that I felt prompted that I really needed to have one of these kitchens in a box for my emergency kits.  

It really just makes sense to have all the basic cooking utensils in a grab-n-go type container.  What was I planning on using in an evacuation type situation to cook our food in our 72-hour kits?  I really hadn't thought this through very well.  The kitchen in a box is very easy, and inexpensive to put together. 


If you have a Wal-Mart or Dollar Store near your home you can find everything you need for your own kitchen in a box.  Wal-Mart had most items for around .88 each.  I bought a stack-able plastic container (in the office supply area of Wal-Mart) and it was the perfect size to fit the longer spoons.  I really want a stack-able container that has separate layers that snap together, but this will work until I can save up for that.  This is what I included in my kitchen in a box.  It isn't finished quite yet, but I found the basics. 

  • kitchen scissors
  • can opener
  • jar opener
  • vegetable/fruit peeler
  • complete set of measuring spoons/cups
  • small knife with a cover
  • large stirring spoon
  • smaller wooden spoons
  • cutting board (found in the camping section)
  • whisk
  • two dish towels
  • plastic gloves
  • sanitizer 
I wanted the absolute basics that would allow me to make a meal on the spot without having to make-do with a utensil that wasn't proper for the job.  I still need to add:
  • spices
  • spatulas
  • pancake turner
  • camping pots
  • hot pads
  • cleaning scrubbies and soap
  • grater
As you cook your next meal, think of what you use the most to get the meal prepared.  Make a list of these items and keep a look out for them at the store.  We are all different and cook differently, but I think we all use the basic measuring cups and knives. 

My kitchen in a box now sits along side my butane stove and fuel.  They are ready to go with our 72-hour kits.  These along with my thermal cooker will allow me to prepare and serve meals to my family in any situation.  The days following a disaster will be filled with chaos and making meals will be a huge stress for everyone.  But preparing beforehand and knowing that you have a 72-hour kit, food, and a way to prepare the food will give you peace of mind.  
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