Thursday, May 29, 2008

What do we already have/do?

I decided to drop the "adventures in" because it makes for really long titles and sometimes, quite frankly, it comes out kind of awkward.
Thing is, I have been looking at other people's blogs quite often regarding food storage and self-sufficiency, and I have been really impressed. While I am not in a situation where (at least that I know of) I could even raise chickens legally, there are many people who may not have stocked up in terms of bags of rice who do raise chickens and more. We have a garden. We have raspberry bushes that usually do well every year. We have started to stock up on items (like rice) that would not be found in our garden. And here's a scary part: I have started to try to use the "emergency" food we have so that I won't be trying to learn how to use it in an emergency situation.
Let me say that I love rice and beans when cooked properly. There are so many ways to have rice and beans because of the variety of beans and the variety of methods of preparation. So I went in search of rice and bean recipes, both in recipe forums and in blogs.
My first effort was kind of disastrous. (Let it be known that I blame myself, and not the recipe and /or author of said recipe.) I was apprehensive anyway, because the one time I remember trying to cook rice and beans, it took, as I recall, a couple hours longer to actually cook the beans than I had been told or expected, and if memory serves, even then I think I scorched them.
I soaked the beans overnight, sauteed what needed sauteeing, and sat back to wait. I must say that they smelled delicious. I had company come in while they were cooking, and they remarked on that . They are more experienced in the cooking of beans than I, so I asked them about the amount of water that was still there, etc., and they gave me pointers. I cooked the rice. I covered the rice with the beans. I served the dish to the family. I put the wonderful smelling concoction in my mouth, and....blehhhh. Bland to the point of, well, nothing really says it better than blehhhh. My husband, who probably didn't want to discourage me, gave the meal about a 5 on a scale of 1-10. He ate it. I ate it. The children had frozen pizza later. Rice and beans:1 Me:0
So I tried again the next week. The original recipe that I was following is found here:
How I actually made it differs somewhat. I wanted to know, for emergency purposes, what would be more efficient in terms of soaking. My first venture required overnight soaking. This recipe called for boiling and soaking for an hour, allowing for same-day preparation. I did boil the beans, but I wound up soaking the beans for much longer before doing the sauteeing because I was afraid that the cooking would take longer than expected (once bitten) and nothing would be ready for dinner. That was the first change. The second change was that I used all dried spices or equivalent powders (I didn't add parsley) because I figure that would be what I would be using in a "have-to-use-the food-storage" situation. And the third change was that I fried Spam (figuring that unfortunately, I would not have access to wonderful bacon in hard times) in the pan before adding the spices. I thought that would render a lot more grease for the sauteeing, but alas, it was not so. I wound up adding olive oil , scraping up the bits of Spam left in the pan to mix with the spices. I had worried so much about the beans being sufficiently covered to soak that I had added hot water after boiling, so I had enough bean soaking water without having to add extra water.
The rice took longer than 15 minutes to cook (probably 20-25 if memory serves), but I just watched it, and it wasn't so long that I started to worry about it. I baked it. I served it. And the majority of the family liked it. My husband gave it a 6. When I reminded him of the previous 5, he upped it (I think to a 7) because it was, as he said, "a keeper."
I now have at least one recipe I can turn to for rice and beans. I know that I can make an edible dish with those two basic ingredients, and I have to tell you, this dish makes hearty portions and is filling. I saved enough for lunch for me the next day, because, as I said, I am a rice and beans fan. I forgot to mention that I saved the fried Spam in the refrigerator, and then heated it up in a separate pan when I baked the rice and beans. No reason to waste it, right? :)
One thing that became abundantly clear to me when baking beans is that they tend to, in my humble experience, take a lot of water to prepare. Everyone knows that water is vital, but having enough for cooking should be part of the consideration for storage when planning for the possibility of times getting really tough.
Official tally: one for me, and hopefully many more to come. If I can amass more recipes/experience, it will lessen the chances that I would have to make/eat the same dish every day. I can only imagine that it is much easier to learn how to do these things now, when frozen pizza is an option, than it would be to make do with unfamiliar supplies in an emergency.
I should write these things down, but here is what I believe the final tally to be: somewhere right around a dollar for the pinto beans, and less than 3 dollars for the Spam. I tend not to add in the price of the spices (though vital) because they tend to last and last, so really not that expensive overall at all. I'm sure it probably would taste better as originally written, but I wanted to make a practice run, as it were, with food storage.
Much thanks to the original poster of the recipe above. As for me, I will continue to try to add to my recipe collection. I would love to hear any suggestions/recipes that have worked for you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Adventures in...figuring portions, etc.

Well, using my best source (aka Mom), if you have no food storage in your house today, and decide to get a 25 lb. bag of beans and a 25 lb. bag of rice tomorrow, you will have approximately:

Beans 325 3/4 cup servings of beans (13 servings per pound)

Rice 300 3/4 cup servings of rice (12 servings per pound)

Pasta of any variety will give you 8 decent servings per pound.
Wheat will make a loaf of bread per pound--you will need other ingredients as well, and learning how to make bread is something that I need to do. If you have an easy recipe that you're willing to share, please leave it! :)
Probably everyone has heard about the price of rice and wheat going up. What I was not aware of until earlier this year is that there is a type of stem rust called UG99 that was discovered in Uganda in 1999, hence the name. It did not stay in Uganda, and it is spreading to other countries on the wind. I read about it in these articles:

and other places,and it affects oats and barley as well. What it comes down to for me is this: It may be difficult to afford wheat now, but if this rust hits the crops, there may be none available to buy at any price.
Just a couple of notes--1. Please google UG99 for yourself and find out more about it from sources you know and trust. I cited the two articles above because I thought they were informative, but I really don't know about the publications themselves, and I realize you have to be wary on the internet. I remember reading a blog where someone told the author some really negative information about a source that was used, and the author had no idea about said information. I would never knowingly cite such material. Believe me, if you look, you will find a lot of information on UG99.
2. One of the kind people who left me a comment made a great point, and I hope that she doesn't mind that I echo what she said. The things I have learned and continue to learn about food storage and that I write about here I have learned from wiser people than me. I am just trying to share them with others.
There are so many reasons that someone might need food storage--disaster, unemployment, the economic situation in general, or even something like UG99. Isn't kind of comforting, though, that there are that many servings in 25 lb bags of beans and rice?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Adventures in food storage...the sugars

I could have been more clear on my last post and told you that the link provided there to is a list about the length of food storage times. I always like to know how long food is expected to keep.

Well, we're on group 5:

Group 5: Sugars
Granulated sugar 40 lb.
Brown sugar 3 lb.
Molasses 1 lb.
Honey 3 lb.
Corn syrup 3 lb.
Jams or preserves 5 lb.
Powdered fruit drink 6 lb.
Flavored gelatin 1 lb.

And just for fun, the final group:

Group 6: Miscellaneous
Salt 8 lb.
Dry yeast .5 lb.
Baking soda 1 lb.
Baking powder 1 lb.
Water 14 gal.

As a final note, on the bottom of our list is the following: "Fruits and vegetables in any form would enhance the nutritional value of this diet."
Group by group, or a pound at a time, this food will add up to survival supplies if we find ourselves in a situation that we need to use them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Adventures in food storage...the milk group

I recently learned great news about this group, here:,11666,7797-1-4222-1,00.html. There are other items listed here as well, but I was thrilled when I found out that powdered milk would last this long! And without further comment, group 4:

Group 4: Milk group
Nonfat dry milk 14 lb.
Evaporated milk 12 12 oz cans

I have known about the necessity of food storage for as long as I can remember. I have grown up hearing the counsel of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know about resources, such as , that it provides. That is why I am writing about this in my blog--to let other people know how to prepare for hard times. I have a lot of work to do, like increasing my food storage, and learning how to use it. I hope the information I list helps someone else.
I don't want my children to go hungry. And I don't want anyone else's children to go hungry either.

Adventures storage--fats and oils

OK, on to group 3.

Group 3: Fats and Oils
Cooking oil 5 q.
Shortening 2 q.
Mayonnaise 1 q.
Salad dressing 1 q.
(mayonnaise type)
Peanut butter 1 q.

I would like to stress that my understanding of these food storage quantities is that they are for survival portions. Anything in addition to these would be gravy ( quite possibly literally... :).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Adventures in food storage...the legumes

Did I not mention that on the list of food storage items that there are actually 6 groups? No? Well, I should have. The second group is the legumes.

Group 2
Dry beans 45 lbs
Dry lima beans 2 lbs
Dry soy beans 2 lbs
Dry split peas 2 lbs
Dry lentils 2 lbs
Dry soup mix 7 lbs

This makes it so that you can kind of look at food storage acquisition in steps, and just get it little by little. Sort of like the hypothetical conversation with oneself of "I can't buy 45 lbs of dry beans today, but maybe I could manage 2 lbs of dry lima beans..." In any case, some is better than none, and adding little by little can get the job done.

Adventures storage--the grains

We've been working on our food storage. We went to a while ago now, (to give credit where credit is due) and found out what we would need for 12 months to feed our family. It has been so long now that I can't remember if we counted our children as adults or not, but dividing the amount they told us for the various foods by the number of people listed, (and rounding up--wouldn't you always like to have more than less in an emergency situation?) at least what's below will give people an idea of what one person would need to have to survive for a year. Today, we'll start with the grains.

Group 1: Grains

Wheat 153 lbs
Enriched white flour 16 lbs
Corn meal 28 lbs
Rolled oats 40 lbs
Enriched white rice 68 lbs
Pearled barley 4 lbs
spaghetti or macaroni 34 lbs

I told my mother that I didn't know what to do with pearled barley, and she said throw it in soups. It is interesting that 25 lbs of spaghetti, when bought in a box in bulk, doesn't take up that much room--found that out recently.
I am posting this because I hope that everyone will get at least some food storage together. Step by step, everyone can do it!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Adventures in technology

Wow, my first post! I just took a class last night on how to set up this blog. With an amazingly smart and patient instructor, among the things I learned are:

--I am absolutely no good at typing on a "flat" keyboard. The computers available at the class were a lot more advanced than mine is. I still don't know if the first password I submitted was rejected because it was unacceptable in some way or because of my typing skills.

--I should have been thinking in advance about the name of my blog. Had several "not available" choices before I was able to sneak in the oh-so-handy "too" and finally move on.

--I have the dubious skill of making two copies of a saved draft without any effort on my part! One has to wonder just how often that will happen when I actually post a post...

--Just what is required to add comments to other blogs--I have been looking up recipes and reading book blogs and just generally enjoying other peoples' blogs without expressing any appreciation for their efforts.

--I probably need practice with the set-up portion of this whole adventure, what with so many choices in text, font, etc. So please bear with me--if anyone ever actually finds this blog... :)