Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sun Oven Fruit Cobbler

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The kids are out of school and the craziness that has been my life over the last 9 months has slowed to a less-crazy life.  Time is on my side for a moment and I thought I would bake a little something in my Global Sun Oven. (click here to read more on the Global Sun Oven) It has been over 90 degrees where I live and that always makes me want to cook with my sun oven.  The sun oven doesn't need the summer heat to work, just the sun, but the heat makes me want to cook outside and not inside my house. (click here to see how the Sun Oven saved my Christmas dinner)

Apple cobbler sounded like a yummy treat, but this recipe is very versatile and other fruit will work as well.  Because I have to change every recipe into a food storage recipe I started off with dehydrated apples from the LDS Cannery, and boiled them in some water to speed up the rehydrating process.  

 I boiled 2 cups of dehydrated apples, 4 cups of water, a dash of lemon juice and 1/3 cup of sugar for about 5 minutes.  It was as easy as that and after draining them I poured them into a greased dark metal pan.  The dark cookware is a good option for sun oven cooking.  It keeps the heat inside the food, where as shiny metal, or glass pans, will reflect the heat outside of the oven.  

To save cleaning another bowl I melted the butter in the same pan that the apples cooked in.  The flour and brown sugar were added to the butter and honestly it was hard not to eat it straight from the pan!! 

Once the crumb topping was mixed well I sprinkled it over the apples and it was ready for the oven. 

The sun oven was preheated for about 20 minutes while I put the cobbler together and when I put the cobbler in, it had reached 375 degrees.  Cover the dish and bake for 2 or more hours. If you aren't familiar with the sun oven you will have to make sure the oven gets turned towards the sun as the day goes on.  A good way to make sure the position is correct is to check the shadows on either side of the oven.  If they are even on both sides of the oven, the oven is correctly facing the sun. I actually forgot about the cobbler cooking and it was in the oven for a little over 3 hours, but what is so great about the sun oven is that most dishes won't burn.  Food stays warm and ready to eat when you are ready!

This cobbler was delicious!!  Kind of warm on a hot day, but I loved that it was made from dehydrated apples.  I'm adding it to my food storage recipe binder. 

Fruit Cobbler
2 C fresh fruit (apples and berries work best) OR
2 C dehydrated apples
1/3 C sugar
1/2 t lemon juice
1/2 C butter
1 C flour
1 C brown sugar
If using dehydrated apples:  place apples plus 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until soft.  Remove from heat and drain.  Stir in the sugar and lemon juice.  Pour into greased baking dish. 

If using fresh fruit: mix the fruit with the sugar and lemon juice and pour into greased baking dish.

In a saucepan pan melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in flour and brown sugar.  Stir until well mixed.  Sprinkle over the apples in the baking dish.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the crumb topping. Cover the dish and bake in a preheated sun oven for about 2 hours. To cook in a conventional oven bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Making Yogurt With Acidophilus Tablets

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Making yogurt is a skill that will save you money and also allow you to make several other things, like cream cheese or sour cream, out of plain yogurt.  I have been making yogurt for a few years now and I have tried many different ways and have found what works and doesn't work.  I started making yogurt with regular milk from the grocery store but milk started to get expensive so I switched to using powdered milk.  For a yogurt starter I have tried regular, plain yogurt, dried starters, and even a forever starter that gets used over and over.  They all worked but my goal was to be able to make yogurt without having to use a refrigerated starter.  I do keep plain yogurt in 1/2 C measurements in the freezer, but that will still be a problem if there wasn't electricity.  My husband has always laughed at the fact that you need yogurt to make yogurt, but I think I have found a way around needing refrigeration for a starter.  One of my favorite websites is  and that is where I learned about acidophilus three billion.

Acidophilus Three Billion is a probiotic that aids in digestion, but it is also the live cultures needed to make yogurt.  Instead of using plain yogurt with live cultures, use the acidophilus tablets instead.  (I bought mine on Amazon, but health food stores should have it too) Take note that the incubation period for the yogurt will be quite a bit longer, like 18-24 hours, before it starts to firm up.  Normally, with a plain yogurt starter, I would get the yogurt started in the morning and it would be setting up in the fridge by dinner time.  I made yogurt with the acidophilus and started incubating at 9am and I let it sit until about 10am the next day.  It wasn't bitter, like yogurt can get, it just took longer to set up.  I also made the yogurt in my Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker and that was a great option if I didn't have electricity.   I usually use my yogurt maker, and I'll have to try my next batch with my tablets to see if the yogurt comes out any differently.  

This is how I make yogurt.  You will notice that I don't heat up my milk and then let it cool. If you are using powdered milk you can skip that step.  If you use regular milk from the grocery store you will need to heat up your milk to 180 degrees and then let it cool to 100-110 degrees before adding your starter.  Don't let it cool to under 100 degrees or the starter won't "start".  It will stay in kind of a hibernation state.

Start by putting 3 3/4 C water and 1 C powdered milk into a blender.  Blend until combined.  Allow a few moments for the frothy milk to settle to the top.  You can scoop it off at this point and discard.  I add 1/3 C sugar and 1 T vanilla flavoring to my yogurt unless I am planning on making sour cream with it.  My children really like a little sweetness and flavor to their yogurt. I used to give them honey to mix in but the yogurt would get runny and they wouldn't eat it.  If you really don't care to use the sugar you can try a sugar substitute.  

Pill Crusher that I bought on

Using a pill crusher, crush 3 acidophilus tablets and add to a little of the blended milk.  Add it back to the blender and just stir to combine.  

Pour the milk into a clean, warm quart jar.  This recipe makes enough yogurt for one quart.  (I fill my mason jar with hot water while I make up the yogurt.)

There are several ways to incubate your yogurt but I decided to try my Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker.  If you don't have one try a small cooler or wonderbox.  Just make sure to have little or no air space around the jar.  I filled my cooker with the hottest water I could get out of my faucet, which was around 125 degrees.  Anything hotter will kill your starter.  After 8 hours I did switch out my water for hot water again.  The yogurt won't set up if it is too cool either.  Try to keep it above 110 degrees.  Don't let all of the temperature info scare you away from making yogurt.  It really isn't as hard as it may seem.  

Here is my yogurt after about 24 hours of incubation.  It is now in the fridge cooling off.  I tasted it and it was smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough.

Powdered Milk Yogurt Recipe
3 3/4 C warm tap water
1 C non-instant powdered milk (milk from the cannery)
2-4 T plain yogurt with active cultures OR 3 Acidophilus tablets, crushed
1/3 C sugar
1 T vanilla

Combine the water and powdered milk in a blender or use an emulsion blender.  Scoop off the foam.  Add the sugar and vanilla and blend.  Add the starter to a little of the milk from the blender and stir to combine, then add back to blended milk.  Use a spoon and stir gently to combine.  Pour into a warmed quart mason jar and incubate.  Wrap tightly in towels and place in a cooler or use a thermal cooker.  Fill the thermal cooker with hot tap water and place mason jar inside.  If using a yogurt starter your yogurt will be ready after about 8 hours.  Place in fridge and allow to firm up.  The thermal cooker can take up to 24 hours.  I checked it about every 8 hours.  

I filled my jars with warm water to heat them up.

Now you can have yogurt anytime, even in an emergency.  The cooling of the yogurt after incubation could be done with a cooler that has been buried under ground (with the lid open at the top) or in cold storage, but that is a whole other post :)

Click HERE to view another post on how I made yogurt in my yogurt maker and even how I made yogurt cream cheese :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Food Storage Teacher/Mother's Day Gifts

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One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of preparedness!  I leave no one safe from my preparedness gift giving.   I give preparedness gifts to my friends, family, and also as wedding and baby shower gifts, instead of gifts that may be unused.  (I am not saying you aren't prepared if you get a preparedness gift from me, I just love to help everyone get prepared) I have given cookbooks, wheat, #10 cans of mixes, #10 cans of dehydrated fruits and veggies, water containers, and meals in a bag (which make great shower gifts for newlyweds and new moms).  Last year my children gave their teachers, secretaries, and principal buckets of wheat that they could keep in their storage or use to make blender wheat pancakes without a grinder.  

 I found these great little buckets at the Honeyville Grain store in Salt Lake City and I filled them with wheat.  

 On one side of the bucket I added the saying "We hope you have a sa-wheat summer".

On the other side of the bucket I added a recipe for Blender Wheat Pancakes.  The teachers LOVED them and thought they were quite unique.  This would make a great gift for your child's teacher, or even for a birthday/Mother's Day, or a gift for family, friends, or neighbor.  Maybe it will spark their interest in preparedness and get them going :)

Blender Wheat Pancakes
1 C milk (1 C water + 3 T non-instant powdered milk)
1 C wheat kernels
2 eggs
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T oil

Place the milk and wheat in a blender and blend on high for 4-5 minutes or until smooth.  Add eggs, oil, baking powder, and salt and blend until mixed.  Don't over mix. Pour batter directly from the blender onto a hot griddle.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Storing Complete Meals

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Here's a question:  Do you have cans of food in your storage that you don't use? Do you have a case of pasta sauce, but no pasta to go with it?  

The answers to these questions will matter one day when you are hungry for a spaghetti dinner but you only have pasta sauce. If you buy a case of spaghetti sauce you will need to store pasta and maybe grated Parmesan cheese and a vegetable, or fruit, to round out the meal.  Every time you purchase a food item, make sure you are storing all the other items that round out that meal. 

I don't like to have food in my pantry that will only partly make dinner.  I like to have all the ingredients on hand to make a complete meal.  I have found a system that works to have complete meals in my storage. I started out by writing down all the dinners that my family enjoys, then I listed every ingredient needed to make those meals. Now I have created a shopping list, and I know exactly what to buy, and have on hand in my pantry at all times. The list is what works in my food storage plan....I always know what ingredients I need to have in my storage.  This also works for building my 3-month supply of food. I have 5 weeks worth of dinners planned, and if I multiply each item by 3 I then have enough for 3 months worth of meals.  It keeps my meal plan organized in a way that I'll have all the ingredients on hand to make many different meals, without having to go to the store for last minute items. (click here to see my recipe binder)

My ingredient list that becomes my shopping list.

  1. I have 5 weeks worth of different dinners planned out with side dishes.
  2. I wrote every ingredient on a piece of paper to make each meal, including the side dishes.
  3. The ingredient list now becomes my shopping list.
  4. Multiplied by 3 (to equal 3 months worth) and I now have enough food to make a meal every night for 3 months!
  5. I know how many cans of chicken broth I need to make those meals and also how many cases to buy at the case lot sales.  
  6. COMPLETE MEALS!  I am now storing all the ingredients to make complete meals. Including the side dishes, which include muffins, quick breads, veggies, and fruits.  

It doesn't matter how many meals you have planned out.  I just happened to have 5 weeks worth of recipes that we really like to eat.  Start with one week's worth of meals it that is easier for you.  Multiply your 7 meals by 13 to have 3 months of food storage. There are roughly 13 weeks in 3 months, so if your plan only has 7 different meals in it you'll multiply by 13. Then begin shopping for those ingredients. 

 What If I Want To Eat Fresh Produce....

While we all love to have fresh produce as our first choice when cooking, you'll need to think of a back-up if those fresh items become unavailable.  For longer-term storage of fresh produce, think of dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned items to fill in for fresh ingredients.  Give freeze-dried foods a taste.  There aren't many that I wouldn't eat.  Fresh dairy is also an area that we don't want to be without.  Freeze-dried cheese, powdered butter, canned butter, and powdered milk are also an important item to have in your storage. 

Back to complete meals....

Once you have your ingredients in your storage you can make many meals with them.  But even with careful planning like my example above there may be times that you''ll have to know how to cook something you would normally buy at the store.

Let's take a look at a breakfast example: 

If you make pancakes, french toast, or waffles, do you have the ingredients to make syrup?  Or have freeze-dried or bottled fruit as a topping?  Do you know how to make the bread to have the french toast?  Do you have all the ingredients to make bread?  

Meals need to be broken down this way. Yes, you may have bread in the freezer as part of your 3-month storage, but if you were in a situation where the grocery store wasn't an option anymore, you'll need to know how to make bread.  Think of all the items that you buy at the grocery store.  Do you know how to make a homemade version of them?  Go through your menu plan and see if there are items that you buy that could also be made at home. Even if you plan on buying them as your 3-month supply, there may be a time when that isn't an option anymore. Here are a few of the things that I know how to make at home instead of buying at the store.
Of course there are many things that you can be bottled.  Grow a garden and save more money by making your own spaghetti sauce, canned fruit, applesauce, salsa, pickles, etc.  Think of how self-reliant you could be! No more running to the store for something for dinner. It's my goal to be that way someday.  As you're shopping, and adding to your storage, always think of what you are purchasing and how you're going to eat it.  It does no good to have 50 cans of tuna, but no mayo, pickle relish, and a bread recipe with all the ingredients on hand to make it. Plain tuna from the can would get old really fast, I promise :)

Monday, February 1, 2016

When The Furnace Stops Working

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It never fails, the snow falls, the temperature drops (I'm talking like -18 in the mornings), and the furnace stops working.  I kept hoping that it would magically kick back on but I had to call a repair man.  Unfortunately he couldn't make it to my home for 2 days.  This was a prime time to open up the Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater. 

There were several things that I learned while using this heater...
  1. It works very well and we didn't need to sit too close to feel the warmth.  It kept my kitchen comfortable.  It sat about 6ft away from the kitchen table and we could all feel the warm air.
  2. I went through the small propane tanks pretty quickly.  I used 3 of the canisters, with the heat setting on high, in the 2 days that we used it.  I didn't have it on constantly only when we were cooking and eating meals, but in an emergency I would definitely ration the propane for essential heating only.  
  3. It didn't smell and was quiet to use. I also need to store more D batteries to be able to use the fan option on the heater.  That really did heat the room faster.
  4. The heater didn't like to light when I turned it on.  I had to clean the small wick piece every time I turned it back on. 
It was nice to know that this heater worked and that it kept us warm.  In a true emergency situation I would be using this heater in a smaller room (ventilated).  My kitchen is very open to every other room in the main floor and the heat wouldn't be keeping us all warm.  I would have to hang blankets and close off the larger areas of the house to keep the heat in one area.  I would recommend this heater and I also recommend trying it out before you actually need it.  Unlike my example of waiting until we were freezing to open the box :) 

Find this heater online, in big box stores, and emergency preparedness retailers.
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