Monday, December 28, 2009

Mom's Fudge

Ok, not strictly food storage. But so, so, sooooo worth sharing. Seriously, this fudge is the best:

Mom's Fudge

Bring the following three ingredients to a boil.
Then boil 8 minutes at full boil, stirring constantly:

1 tall can (12oz) evaporated (non-sweetened) milk
5 cups sugar
1/4 lb margarine or butter

Remove from heat and add:

3 small packages chocolate chips
1 pint marshmallow creme
1-2 cups chopped nuts

Pour into buttered pan. Chill and cut into squares. Makes 5 pounds of fudge.

I remember helping to make this fudge when I was a kid, and when the recipe says you need to stir constantly, it means constantly. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I don't believe I have ever made this on my own, because regardless of what the original source is for this recipe (which was being made when my mom was a child), my source has always been my best source: Mom.

That includes this year, when we got an unmarked container of fudge in our Christmas package, which, when I saw it, caused me to say to my husband something like ,"This has to be fudge!" This exclamation was followed by rapid opening of said container, the contents of which led me to say, "Yes, yes, yes!" while putting my arms in the air in the classic gesture of victory. Yes, this fudge is that good. Thanks, Mom!

Sadly, there is only one piece left now. I call dibs. If I can get to it first... :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day--Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's happening in your area?

I know that it's the season for collecting money for the less fortunate, but this year there seems to be an especially high number of good causes to which one can contribute. And more pressure to donate, as well.... Are you seeing a greater need/greater number of causes where you live?

--There is the traditional food drive for the food bank at the schools, and in the newsletter sent home people were asked, if not exactly, to the effect to send canned food according to what they felt they could afford. There was even one evening when school children came around caroling for donations for the food bank. And the drive isn't over yet....

--There was a collection in one part of the school for coins that could be used to buy shoes for children who need them. I don't remember this being collected for at this time of year--seems to me it was collected for closer to the beginning of the school year in years past, but I could be wrong. Or there could just be greater need this year...

--There was a collection at school for money to give books to children who couldn't afford them. It happened not too long ago anyway, so I'm figuring it was a collection for the holiday season.

--At least one class took up a collection for a child (identity unknown to the children) for clothes/ gifts for Christmas. This was just before they started the food drive, where there are rewards/incentives/contests for bringing in whatever numbers of cans of food...

--Not exactly my area, but when I was down in Utah over Thanksgiving, it seemed like there was a huge number of businesses with signs saying that they were a food drop location. I found it kind of alarming that there was so much indication that there was a lot of need for food assistance...

What does this have to do with food storage? I hope that everyone that is still in a position to do so can put away a few cans of food/bags of rice/cans and/or bags of staple foods so that they can be more self-sufficient if a personal/more widespread emergency occurs. If someone who doesn't currently need assistance finds him/herself needing such assistance, there might not be anywhere to go, because it appears that resources are spread pretty thin already. Seems like only yesterday that they had the scouts out collecting food...

I wish I could give credit, but as someone mentioned on one of the blogs (that I cannot seem to relocate) that I read while I was blog-hopping, this could be a really good time to stock up in terms of baking goods because they're on sale for the holidays. The coupons really do make a difference--I used a coupon today for some cans of broth that made it possible to purchase them 2/$1.00, while in the store the sign said you could get 3/$2.00. I use broth in one of my rice and beans recipes, which I modify somewhat, and hey, it would add flavor to just plain rice if that is what is available.

One last thing, please check out this article over on Preparedness Pro. You may see that in the comments to the linked article on that post that some people don't believe that there will be a food shortage. In my opinion, it won't matter very much in the long run why you need the food if you need the food, but there is definitely reason to be concerned if the article on a large food shortage is even partially right.

Hey, whatever the motivation is that people need to get some food storage in is good with me. I hope no one ever actually needs it, and that they just find that they don't have to go to the grocery store for a really long time and can use food money for other purposes. And it appears, according to all the collections and food drops around, that if one person doesn't need it, there are others who do....

Friday, December 18, 2009

A new modem later...

Yeah, it's not the only reason there have not been blog posts lately, but needing a new modem is one of the big ones.

Turns out my sometimes love/hate relationship with technology was not the cause of the internet spottiness which I mentioned in the last post, but the fact that we needed this very vital piece of hardware. Of course, this is something that can only be determined by one of the internet providers showing up and confirming that there is indeed something wrong, so it wasn't fixed immediately. Once we asked for help from the provider, however, we were pretty much helped immediately, which was impressive, and the problem is fixed now...

Hope to get more info on here quicker now...and if you're still reading, thanks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Adventures with bread dough...

I haven't been posting much, but I did try something new last week and then our internet service became very, very spotty--so spotty, that, for example, I was able to post a comment that someone left, and then unable to post a reply. Hopefully the service will hold up for the duration of this post. Ah, the suspense of it... :)

Anyway, not too long ago I was at a youth activity where they were making "pizza bombs". Basically, they took bread dough that originally looked like rolls, flattened it, spread pizza sauce, added toppings like cheese and pepperoni, and took a second flattened piece of dough to cover it. Then they pinched the edges of the dough together to hold the toppings in, and marked their individual pizza bombs with food coloring so that they would know whose was whose once they emerged from the oven. They turned out well. I asked the person who supplied the dough if it was homemade, and was told that it was Rhodes dough. So I wondered if I could do pizza bombs with my homemade rolls....

Well, the pizza bomb experience took place before Thanksgiving, and at Thanksgiving, I made the roll recipe I now usually use (this one) and asked my best source (Mom) what she thought of using it to make the aforementioned recipe. She pretty much indicated that it would be better if I used a more basic recipe, since those rolls are pretty dense, so I mentioned I might use the bread loaf recipe I usually use, (this one) and let it rise into the loaf, only to tear it apart when it was done rising and make it into a tasty pizza delight....

And that's what I did. As a matter of fact, when I was in the middle of constructing the pizza bombs, I told my husband that I should be taking pictures for this blog...but he was helping and I had spaghetti sauce (our mini pizza sauce of choice) on my hands, and then we were eating them, and then they were gone...and then there was nothing to take a picture of, and so it goes. Sorry. But I will comment on how this experiment went....

---The pizza bombs were a success and were labeled a "keeper", which means that the likelihood that they will be made again is very high.

---Although the dough seemed pretty thin when rolled out and painstakingly pinched together, when it was baked until brown, it was pretty dense. This made it really filling, but so much density kind of made the toppings harder to find.

---Even though I was careful pinching the edges together, there were still at least some cases where the fillings made their way out of the bombs before they were removed from the oven. They still tasted good though, and took less time to bake than the loaf form would have at the same temperature....

Now I will probably try to come up with new fillings so that we can make different kinds of "bombs" in the future. Spaghetti sauce stores easily, as do olives, which we also used. It didn't take much cheese or pepperoni per bomb, and so there are few ingredients to use, and as mentioned, the bread part of it made it filling. I don't consider pepperoni to be a long-term storage item, so it's back to the drawing board to make a more food storage friendly recipe, but variety with your basic bread dough has to be a good thing, right? Maybe something with canned chicken or Spam would work out when I try this again... :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

A couple of experiences....

Got back from Utah, where we spent Thanksgiving, and we were able to gather a few more items for storage--dehydrated corn, toilet paper, clothes from the cousins for my children, who are growing, growing, growing. All good things. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Of the two experiences I referred to in the title, one happened before Thanksgiving, and one happened after:

--Within the last little while, our car has had difficulty starting. Although it was fine once we were actually able to get it to start, it was a worry that almost every time the driver sat down, there would need to be multiple attempts to get it to catch. One day I was unable to get it to start at all, and we were no longer able to deny that professional intervention was needed for whatever the problem was.

My husband was able to get it started, and took it in to be repaired. The car works great now. Thing is, right before Thanksgiving, we got a receipt in the mail from the business that my husband took it to. Not so unusual, I guess, although my husband had already received paperwork when he paid for the repair. The unusual part was found at the bottom of the receipt, where a personal note, handwritten, (which I don't have in front of me, but I think this is close to, if not verbatim) was included:

"Thank you for your business in these hard times."

I had never seen anything like this, but I thought a lot about this. The place where my husband took the car to be repaired is not the "usual" place that someone might think to take it--he took it to a car dealership where they sell cars, but also have an automotive repair shop. What with the economy the way it is, it seems difficult to imagine that people are lining up in droves to buy new vehicles, and perhaps there is even less this year at this time because of certain programs that were in place earlier. Whatever the case, it just reminded me of how hard it is almost everywhere right now. My husband pointed out that when you need a vehicle repair, you don't really have much choice about repair if you need the vehicle--I said yes, but you do have a choice as to where to get the repairs done....

The other experience happened Saturday, when I ran into the local national chainstore to pick up a few things. It was very quiet, something that came up when I went to check out. I said that I expected it to be busier, and the cashier replied that she did too. Then I said that maybe it was just that people were still out of town for the holiday, and she said that that would be a good reason. And then she said something along the lines of, " I hope it's not that no one has money to buy anything."

This stuck with me because it seems like a cashier would have a pretty good idea of how business was going, and if the amount of shopping being done was something to worry about. If you haven't started any food storage, or need to add to your food storage, please do so as you are able. Little by little it all adds up, and chances are that more choices with lower prices are available today than will be tomorrow, since prices just seem to go up and up. Just something to think about (and hopefully do) with the economy the way it is.....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

There's a lot to be thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday--best wishes to you and yours!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Got rice?

If not, you might want to read this article, which talks about the price of rice going up, up, up. The weather is a factor, and the news already isn't looking good if you like to eat rice--so this may be motivation to get a little (more) in storage if you are able...

On the bright side, if you have an Albertson's near you, you may want to take advantage of the deal they have on potatoes currently--10 lb. bag for $.88, limit 2 bags, and you have to have an Albertson's card. I would call if you haven't seen the ad to see if your particular Albertson's is participating in this deal--20 lbs of potatoes for less than $2.00 may make the extra effort worth your while. Haven't gotten mine yet, so hoping they're still available when I get there. If not, I have relatively recently learned about the wonder of at least asking for a raincheck.... :)

Hope everything is going well with everyone. Not too much to report here that's new--just hope everyone is getting what they can into storage. Little by little, everything counts. And don't forget the rice....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why practice is important....oh, and 2 bread recipes

Well, I haven't had that much to write about lately--still working on stocking up and actually just storing what we have properly. Except for the fact that I have been trying to increase my number of food-storage-friendly recipes, and have been concentrating on bread recipes--the mostly flour, oil, salt, etc. variety. I have had mixed results....

So, good news first--I found a "keeper" recipe for fried bread here. Highlights:

--After adjusting the temperature of the oil, the bread just got prettier and prettier--the final pieces were something to behold.... :)

--Even the more "well-done" pieces were readily eaten....

---There were varied levels of enthusiasm, but there were no left-overs, and an agreement that the recipe should be repeated in the future. (Granted, I would not make this too often, but I do think that in the midst of appetite fatigue this might be a welcome exception to the menu....It requires quite a bit of oil, as well as not being at the top of my "most healthy foods" list. But it does taste oh-so-good... :)

Um, yeah, so on to the second bread recipe, which made me realize (again) how vital it can be to try a recipe before an emergency strikes...

I found the following recipe in a family recipe collection, and we got it from a family friend, E.W., many years ago. I don't know if E.W. originally got it somewhere else, but E.W. is our source, so E.W. gets the credit here:

Angel Biscuits

5 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
2 tbsp water
2 cups buttermilk
1 package dry yeast

Sift together flour, sugar, soda, salt, and baking powder. Cut shortening into dry ingredients. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add with the buttermilk to the flour. Mix well. Turn out on a floured board. Roll 1/4 inch thick. Cut out. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Ah, pretty straight forward. Except, although I added the phrase, Cut shortening into dry ingredients for your benefit and recipe convenience, it is not included on the recipe card copied into our recipe book. Nowhere to be found. So, I had done everything else, ( I used milk with a tbsp. of lemon juice per cup to substitute for the buttermilk) when right before I was going to turn out the dough onto a floured surface, something in my brain clicked, and I thought, "Didn't it say something about shortening?"

Why, yes. Yes, it did. And I did enough baking when I was a kid (nigh these many years ago :) that my next thought was that I probably should have cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. And here I stood with the sticky mound of dough in my mixing bowl, and cutting anything into it didn't look too promising. A cup of shortening with nowhere to go--my thoughts were that little pockets of shortening would show up in the biscuits like chocolate chips, if I proceeded at all.

The most dominant thought, though, was: "5 cups of flour! I just wasted 5 cups of flour!" So I decided to call my best source (Mom) to see if this little adventure was in any way salvageable. My first inclination was to say no, but there were still enough echoes of "5 cups of flour!!" to make it worth my while to find out.

Except, my best source was not available for comment. By home or cell phone. At least not at first. By about the fourth attempt, contact was made. And she suggested that I try to add the shortening now and see how it worked out. She also pointed out that experienced cooks would know to add the shortening to the dry ingredients, so that it was understood and not added to the directions.

Yeah, not so much understood here. But I decided to continue, and cut the shortening in using two knives (many thanks to whomever included this tip on their blog, because it works really well if you don't happen to have a pastry cutter handy--don't remember for sure where I read it, but the gratitude is there) and the shortening disappeared into the massive mound of dough.

Rolled it out. Cut the biscuits out. And baked them.

The results (surprisingly more positive than the previous information would lead you to believe) :

---Very flat biscuits emerged from the oven, and although they didn't rise very much, they were mostly very well-received.

---No wads of shortening masquerading as "biscuit surprise", for which I was grateful. They were a lot sweeter than I was expecting, but perhaps I should have been expecting it when I remember that the recipe does call for a cup of sugar...that "experienced cook" thing again, I guess.

---They were eaten heartily the first night. They were used to dip in gravy from crockpot chicken the second night. And they were mostly gone the third night. So they are a "keeper". I'll keep looking for a more salty version, partly because I prefer saltier, but also because it's always good to have options and variety....

From what I hear, these biscuits are supposed to rise pretty high, and will do so if not handled too much--if you want them lighter, avoid too much handling/rolling out, etc. (Yeah, I rolled that dough out several times, thus adding to the "flatness" of the final results...)

So it's kind of embarassing to relate how little I knew, but if it encourages anyone to practice their skills before an emergency, it's worth it. I can just imagine how (much more) upset I would be if I wasted that much flour when there was probably no place to replenish it easily. I might have finished the batch anyway, but it was definitely a plus to be able to contact someone with more knowledge (thanks Mom!) when a question arose, and that also might not be an option in an emergency. We might have only those in our household, or just ourselves, to turn to in an emergency situation. Better to get the questions out of the way before an emergency situation--less stress, and hopefully, smoother sailing. Or lighter biscuits. Whatever the case may be.... :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you

Thank you to all veterans and their families, past and present. Posting this late, but the gratitude is always there for those who serve/have served in the armed forces.
Happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, November 2, 2009

More great information from a comment

After my last post, Bellen left a great comment which I've been granted permission to use as a post, and which provides valuable information and tips for being better prepared for emergencies. I've said it before--there are many times in which there is more information in the comments than I put in the posts, so be sure to read the comments! With many thanks to Bellen, here is the information:

Now for the food storage - back to the old adage of 'store what you eat and eat what you store'. I store and use dehydrated eggs, butter, milk on a daily basis. Truly can't think of a single day that I don't use something from my food storage. And, of course, replennish on my monthly storage shopping trip.

Besides just the food, practice what you will be cooking on. Almost daily we use a solar oven (works like a crock pot for us), at least once a month we use our one burner camping stove, and the grill - well I've done everything from breakfast bacon & eggs, to grilled cheese for lunch and dinner's a no-brainer. Just to be sure - it came in handy when we had no electricity after a major hurricane 5 years ago - we ate at home, neighbors had to drive 20-30 miles to a restaurant that was open.

Find one pot meals you like - chicken & dumplings from canned chix and homemade bisquick. Did you know you can bring spaghetti to a boil, turn off heat and cover and it will be done in about 15 min? Have done this on the grill and the camping stove - so you can make spaghetti with sauce, mac & cheese or tuna casserole.

With kids it can be an adventure - try some Scout recipes over a grill or open fire - toad in a hole or biscuit wrapped hot dogs (Spam or Vienna sausages if using storage food).

Good luck in your prepping!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A little bit is better than none

Of course, when it comes to food storage itself, every little bit that you can get in will be helpful, a can, bottle, bag, or box at a time. In this particular case, though, I'm referring to information.

Yesterday I was ironing near the front door while one of my children was reading out loud. (Kind of an unusual situation, but hey, ironing boards are portable, and in this case it turns out that the emergency was all about location, location, location...) All of the sudden I heard a whooshing sound that sounded really close to the house. I asked one of my children to look out the front window and see what was making that sound. The answer was "the wind". However, when I looked out the window from my vantage point, I saw no movement in the trees. My second thought was that it was a street cleaner, because it sounded more like water.

Then I got smart and actually opened the front door.

Water was spurting everywhere from a water fixture right next to the front porch, and it wasn't pretty. And, though my technical expertise limits my description to calling it a "water fixture", you may recall our experience nearly a year ago when my expertise on water valves increased by necessity, though fortunately gushing water was not a part of the equation. Add to that the fact that a couple of months ago we had a family night where we talked about the water valve by the street and actually taught our children how to turn off the water in an emergency among other emergency information, and things turned out better than they would have otherwise. I sent a child out with the water key to turn it off (glad to see that a lesson learned was a lesson remembered :) and I was relieved to find that the water stopped immediately.

We went back in, and I was soon informed (read: immediately) that there was water leaking into the basement. I was soon outside emptying out a window well with a bucket. It did not turn out to be a big deal, since we were able to deal with it so quickly.

If I had not been in the front room, I would not have heard the water problem, and it would have been more time before we found out about the water in the basement as well. The way it turned out was a real blessing for us. After I was done bailing water, I called my husband and told him what had happened.

Turns out that the "water fixture" has something to do with the sprinkler system, and a line burst because it hadn't been cleared before freezing temperatures had set in. (This is an odd occurrence because my husband is very good at this sort of thing and has even cleared lines on other property for other people, but there it is.) So when he got home, he dealt with the sprinkler system and turned the water back on. That was nice.

If I had had more information, I could have dealt with the sprinkler system as quickly as my husband did. However, even though my information consisted of "water fixture", I did have enough information to deal with the immediate emergency and to tide me over until someone with more information could help me.

This reminds me of food storage as well, in that I don't have all of the knowledge that I need/would like to have when it comes to emergency situations, but when it comes to food, I do have some. I know how to make some "emergency meals" (which I try to work into my regular meal rotation occasionally) and how to do some basic breads, etc. I know how to use my basics to some extent--rice and beans, flour, oil, etc.--but need to learn more. The plan is to be even (much) better prepared before an emergency hits, but I have some information. You have to start somewhere, and sometimes I get worried that people don't start at all on their food storage because there is so much to learn. I hope people get some grains and/or other basics in, even if they don't know how to use them yet, so that they have something to work with before there's a food shortage. It's more ideal to be an expert with your food storage, obviously, but if you know how to make a few basic dishes with foods that can last long-term, you will be much better off than if you don't have anything at all. After all, you and your loved ones may be your only resource when an emergency first hits. Surviving on a few dishes may not be ideal, but it is surviving. And if there are people to help you after an emergency strikes, it will be a better situation if we have our own resources to share and/or learn with.

Oh, and the other thing this reminds me of is the necessity to clear those sprinkler lines before they freeze.... :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here's a treat

Just not the kind you can hand out on Halloween. But hey, everyone loves a little treat now and then, and it gets better when the ingredients are basic. Oh, and did I mention the recipe is easy? I present to you:

Peanut Butter Fingers

Cream together:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 unbeaten egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend. Stir in:

1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats

Press into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden. Sprinkle with 1 6- oz package of chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes. Spread evenly.

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
Drizzle over cookies. Cool and cut.

I don't know who came up with this recipe, so it's hard to give credit, but thank you, peanut butter finger inventor. At the risk of shocking someone, we got a little lazy last time we made these at our house, and we skipped the topping and dived in after the chocolate chips were spread evenly. We somehow managed not to feel deprived..... :)

Our pumpkins are probably going to get carved tonight, regardless of their irregular hues. I'm sure some of them will make it into the freezer as puree as well. Those of you who may have missed my great adventure last year in finding pumpkin recipes may be interested in this one for pumpkin bread that I posted then. It's always good to take something that takes up so much room in the garden and make it take up room in the freezer.... :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

The camera is back (plus more about pumpkins)

For wonderful information, for the whole process from growing to preserving pumpkins, check out the comments on my previous post. Thanks to Kristen, Anonymous, and Stephanie--another case of me finding out about things I didn't know I didn't know from my internet friends!

My husband found a cord that works with our camera, (hurray!!) so without further ado, a look at some of this year's pumpkins--

I would put this gem in the "green suits me so I'm not planning on changing anytime soon" category:

Then there is, as there was last year, a candidate for "most likely to be ripe in time for use as a jack-o-lantern" category:

And finally, there is the "we will keep you guessing" category, as in when will these little buddies be ready for harvest (if ever, in the case of the one on the left)... :

Ah, well. We have a few more, but these are the ones that made it into the photo shoot. Just glad the camera can be used with the computer again, and that it is highly likely that we will end up with more pumpkin puree in the freezer eventually....

The sure thing about this post is that there is valuable information in the comments left on my last post. If you have questions about pumpkins, be sure to check them out--you'll be glad you did.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Info, request for info, and links

Well, sometimes you find out what you wanted to know in your own backyard. Or, in my case, in your driveway.

I mentioned the question I had about the uniformity of pumpkin color to one of my friends, and was informed that the way they get pumpkins to ripen is to separate them from the vine. Once the pumpkins are no longer attached to the vine, they will turn orange. Not the exact words of my friend, of course, but that's what I got from it.

Ah, mystery solved.

Now, on my previous post, I also received a comment asking about preserving pumpkin, other than freezing it. I don't know of any other methods, so I'm putting the question to the people who have helped me in numerous ways in the past--the readers. If you have any alternate methods to preserving pumpkins, could you leave it/them in a comment? It would be greatly appreciated.

And, since I am not going at the pace I would like to be in adding information/recipes/tips to my emergency notebook, I am going to go against what I usually do (try something out and then blog about it) and simply give you the links to the blogs/posts where I plan to go next in my food storage adventures, because I think getting the information out there is much more important than having a "surprise" in my blog posts. There is a gold mine of information out on the internet on how to use food storage, but it won't do me/you/us any good if we don't have a copy of it somewhere, and ideally, to have tried it out before an actual emergency. I'm planning on putting the recipes/info in my own notebook within the next couple of days, and probably won't actually try them out until after that. So again, why wait?

---Check out Today While the Sun Shines if you prefer to have a plan laid out week by week for gathering storage. There are also a lot of recipes and helpful information--- a lot of which still needs to find its way into my emergency notebook.....

---Check out this post on the Harried Homemaker. I know which mixes I'm going to try first, but there are 13, so maybe your favorites will differ from mine. I think I actually used the words "gold mine" in a comment I left on this post--hey, if the shoe fits... :)

---And if you are looking for really basic and easy (two of my favorite words when it comes to food storage) you might want to look through the archives of Safely Gathered In. I now need to try out cooking my frozen chicken for other recipes like this, among other recipes and tips. Sometimes you may already have your own methods for doing something, but hey, it never hurts to have a plan B, C, D, etc. Especially if they turn out to be easier/more energy efficient/name the advantage here....

And, from sad experience, I know that what is on the internet today might not be there tomorrow or next week, so it really is necessary to have a copy in good old pen/pencil/computer ink for your own use. You never know when a blog might close down or the electricity might go out, among other things.

Oh, and when I actually make the recipes I find at these sites, you can still act surprised--and not just at how long it has taken me to get to them... :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

I guess I got the "non-uniform" variety...

Now that the corn stalks, etc., are out of the garden, we have a much better view of our pumpkin patch. Some of the pumpkins are quite rotund. Some are rather orange and some are rather green. Some look rather like they will not be ready for Halloween. Or ever.

I would venture to say that none of them look remotely like the pumpkins piled up at the local national chainstore or various other locales in the vicinity. I know the pumpkins stacked up and for sale are all individual, and different sizes, and have their own pecularities. Here's the thing, no matter their size or individual personality quirks, they do have something my pumpkins do not: they are all orange and they are all ready for harvest. At the same time.

So, how do the pumpkin merchants do it? I'm not really worried about it-- I figure we'll be able to get plenty of pumpkin in the freezer and have jack-o-lanterns out for Halloween. I'm just wondering if it's a matter of seed variety, the climate, the location of the pumpkin patch relative to other plants, or if there are specialized pumpkin farms where they keep the pumpkins in specially shaped cages from the time the seeds sprout.....

Just kidding on that last one. :) Hope everyone is having a great pumpkin harvest.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sometimes it's all about the source

When one of our children heard that we were having boiled potatoes as part of our dinner last night, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm expressed. When it was further revealed that they were potatoes from our own garden, there was a mad rush to tell another sibling that we were having potatoes from our garden (!!!!). Yeah, it's hard to put that kind of excitement in writing. And yes, sometimes it's all about the this case our backyard.

We were fortunate and blessed to have had a good harvest from our first-time potato planting. We just used the garden, but it you look at this post over at Preparedness Pro, you'll see how to make the most of 10 lbs of potatoes (the comments are informational as well) using tires. And in this post over at Nova Scotia Preppers, you will see a first-hand account of how successful a tire garden can be, and if you search further back in the blog, the process is given in detail. Ahhh--and those blogs even have pictures....

If you haven't tried growing potatoes, I strongly recommend trying either a garden or tire space--lots of results for a little investment, and they sure are tasty. And anyone who helps will be glad to try the results of their labors. After all, consider the source... :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's that time again...

At least it should be--it has been awhile (toooo long) since I've updated my 72-hour kits, but the aim in our household is to update them in April and October. Time to renew this aim... I was reminded of this when I went by the Harried Homemaker website, where she is having a giveaway of Nature Valley products. I haven't tried the nut clusters, but have put Nature Valley granola bars in our kits because they have great expiration dates and they're tasty. Not in it to win, but you may like to swing by and enter, and hey, a reminder about 72-hour kits is always appreciated. Long-time readers of this blog may remember that I'm a big fan of products with far-in-the-future expiration dates..... :)

In other news, we should have perhaps checked our potatoes before, say, yesterday, seeing as how we do live in Idaho. Um, yeah, our potatoes are plentiful and huge, and we are very happy about it. Hope they taste as good as they grew. One of my children came running in when I came home from being out and told me one of the potatoes looked like a turkey. When I saw the gargantuan spud that had grown in a really unusual shape with plenty of unusual features, I understood the comparison. Our other potatoes are not quite as unusual, just larger than I expected. Wish our camera connecting cable would allow us to post pictures....

Also have a healthy number of beautiful cucumbers, and our pumpkins are coming along nicely. It's all good. And for the most part, the timing is great because it turned colder today. Now to figure out how to use all of the produce before it becomes unuseable.....not a bad problem to have. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Glass and wood don't mix....

Given that:

---The wood is placed in such a way that it keeps the glass-fronted door of a wood-burning stove from closing entirely. But hey, it almost closed, and it would have been fixed before the wood was actually lit.....


--There is an incredibly helpful and observant child in the house, who passing by said situation decided to pull the handle down on said door, causing the said wood to make contact with said glass.....

Resulting in a popping sound, which although muffled, was nevertheless ominous enough to cause immediate discovery of the fact that the glass on the door was splintered.

The good news:

---The glass stayed in the door, and there were no splinters out and about on the hearth to worry about.

--We didn't need a fire that day.

--It only took a couple of days to get it fixed, and the incident did not take place in the dead of winter or the middle of a quarantine.

Yeah, in a case like this, glass and wood don't mix. Don't try this at home. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Log time, do see...

As in, the back of our garage is now full of aspen wood for the winter. It's a good feeling--and thankfully, not a bad smell, because as my husband was pointing out yesterday, even the vehicle we were riding in smells like aspen wood....

We didn't get it in at the season's lowest price, although we did call earlier this summer and got no call back. However, we called back much later, and ended up getting it at $10 above that price/cord, which was still $25 less/cord than I remember us paying last year. Still an expense, but it did cut our utility bill last year, and it helps clear out dead wood wherever the gentleman acquires it, so hopefully it's a good deal for all.

We now have a bunch of canned meat and reusable canning materials sitting in our store room, thanks to my best source (Mom). And hence more peace of mind when it comes to my 3-month supply when it comes to the protein part of it. Still need more supplies/variety, but little by little the shelves fill up....

Unless, of course, you are actually using your storage, which we have been doing, and hence need to stock up on some of the supplies when/if they go on sale. That's definitely one of the advantages of having storage--the ability to wait for a better price. Hoping that happens for, oh, say, Dinty Moore Stew sometime soon.... :) We don't have shepherd's pie (the recipe for which I mentioned with some other recipes here) that often, but it's pretty popular and very very very easy.

I have had my eye on some other recipes recently that I will hopefully get to soon--usually making mention of my intention to do so provides additional motivation to do it sooner. Too bad the lip on our woodstove is disappointingly small--will have to also look at different alternative ways to actually cook our food while we keep warm to the smell of aspen.... :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years later

When it comes to September 11, it never seems like words are enough.

On September 11, 2001, my husband came home from work specifically to put out our flag before we even knew who was responsible for the terrible attacks on that day.

This year, a child who is too young to remember September 11, 2001 helped my husband display our flag. We are teaching our children what the meaning of remembering September 11th is all about.

We will never forget.

Monday, September 7, 2009

One of those one-day sale specials...oh, yeah, that's today

Received an e-mail from my best source (Mom) yesterday that there is a one-day sale today at Hancock Fabrics where a bunch of stuff is on sale for really good prices. She sends out Emergency Prep e-mails to a group of people, and she is down in Utah, but there was one thing that caught my eye, that made me find out if we had a Hancock Fabrics near enough to merit a visit, and then go find out if that particular store was having the same sale. Those who read this blog regularly may be surprised to learn what that special was....

A Janome Sew-Mini for $39.99, which is regularly priced at $59.99.

And guess what? I now own one, along with some brand-new scissors that were also on sale at a spectacular price. I figured, what could I do with sewing if I had no scissors? I actually almost didn't buy them, but there you go, and I wouldn't have looked twice if they hadn't been on sale. (Sticker shock is an ugly thing...)

For those who don't know, to say that I don't like sewing and that I have issues with it would be pretty much a massive understatement. I haven't sewn for years, but it's one of those skills that would be really really helpful in emergency situations, as well as just plain old useful to be able to do, so I have decided to try it again....

For those who decide to go in search of a Janome Sew Mini, (please call your particular store and see if they have it if you have any questions about it--gotta hate a wild-goose chase) may I share something that I learned from my brief but profitable experience there this morning:

--Janome is not pronounced Janome with a long o, silent e (or n-e-m-e-s-i-s, if your feelings about sewing are akin to mine) but rather Janomeeeeee. I found this out when I asked if they had any left, and the staff person who was helping me asked another employee about it. Nothing like showing and not telling---glad she was nice enough not to act like she didn't know what I was talking about.....

Anyway, I still have the sewing machine that my mother-in-law was kind enough to give me nigh these many years ago. There is a manual with it, so I may try working with it, if it still works, one of these days. However, if I am going to mess around with a sewing machine and potentially cause damage, I figure it's better to do so with a bargain-priced machine.

To those of you who are already accomplished sewers, I tip my hat. (Well, I would if I had one, but you get the idea.) I am seriously impressed. I'm just glad that sewing machines can't read, and I may be able to convince this sewing machine to be my f-r-i-e-n-d, instead of that other thing I spelled out earlier.... :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Don't let "Dorito dogs" happen to you....

Well, at least not unexpectedly....

My husband went camping on Friday a distance from home with our children that would be old enough to enjoy the experience. The experience was enjoyed, though not entirely without its glitches...

The good:

---Those who have been reading this blog for awhile may remember that we purchased a tent last year for emergency purposes. This was the first time it had been used outside of our backyard, and reportedly everything went well.

The not-as-good:

--My husband left home without the hot dogs they had been planning to cook over a campfire. Hence, there were hot dog buns, Doritos, juiceboxes, and the makings for s'mores. But no actual hotdogs. What to do?

Well, in this instance, there were "Dorito dogs" for supper. My children liked them a lot, actually, so taste and appetite fatigue don't figure much into this particular experience. Nutrition does (please don't tell me what's actually in hot dogs--I like them and don't really want to know... :) in terms of protein, though I figure one night of "Dorito dogs" isn't going to hurt anyone, and we don't eat that many hot dogs around here anyway--they are more of a campout treat. What really struck me was the thought, what have I forgotten in terms of food storage?

I know what I need more of, (stored fruit comes to mind) but is there anything I just have actually forgotten about, that would lead to some really weird substitutions if I didn't have it long-term? Doritos aren't a long-term storage item for us, but if we had some in storage they would be a comfort food, and we do have some comfort foods in storage, though there is probably room for improvement in that area as well. (Could there ever be enough comfort foods in storage? :)

Is there anything you have forgotten about? Personally, I think it's time for me to check the store room....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Things are tough all over...

Apparently even in the schools.

Was surprised recently to find out that there was a request for donations on top of regular school fees. I know that the people in schools work really hard with fundraisers, etc., to get "extra" money, but I don't recall ever having a straight-out request for donations sent home. Granted, at this point the "extra" money being requested was not a requirement, but a bit disheartening all the same.

And money needed for any other use doesn't go into food storage/emergency preparation supplies...

On a related subject, there is a collection going on to gather supplies for children who may not have been able to acquire everything they need for school. Since I knew about this beforehand, I was able to get some extra "generally-needed-in-just-about-every-class" supplies for said collection at the really cheap back-to-school sales. Now to get the stuff to one of the announced collection sites before the collection ends this week. Things can be tough all over, but when we help where we can, things can be a little easier...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How does your garden grow?

Well, as for ours, it's a bit of a slow go, but today we had:

--Some corn on the cob, which was the same kind of anemic as the stalks that it grew on, but what there was of it was tasty. Just little ears this year. Some of the stalks grew but forgot/refused to produce ears, so a little disappointing. Ah, well, hoping for better results next year...

--Some green beans straight from the garden patch. They were pretty tasty, and there are still some left, so no complaints here.

The potatoes are not yet ready, but they are easily the most-anticipated crop this year, at least for me. One of the children mentioned the pumpkins--I rarely pay attention to them because they do pretty well all by themselves every year--but I will have to go check out how they are doing. Raspberry season is basically over, which is always sad, but the bushes did a great job of producing this year.

Lamenting the fact that the cord to the computer is having a problem, and thus we are unable to put pictures up currently, but hopefully we will have that figured out soon. My posting numbers have been anemic lately, but hopefully I will get back in the habit of doing new (to me) food storage/emergency preparedness things sometime soon so there will be something to post about... hope all is well with everyone, and that all of your gardens are putting out a huge harvest!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Corn on the cob would have been nice...

But if you want corn on the cob, you have to get to the farmer's market in our community earlier than we did today. We did manage to get some blueberries and peaches, though. There was also flavored honey available, and we were given a bottle of the raspberry variety. So it was a good day to buy locally--but then again, isn't it always? :)

In other food storage news, I got a call from my best source (Mom) earlier this week, and apparently there is a great sale on meat at Macey's this week. Unfortunately, we don't have a Macey's grocery store in our vicinity, so she made me an offer I didn't want to refuse--she offered to can some for me. If you live in Utah, (I don't know how widespread Macey's grocery stores are) you might want to give your local store a call and ask about their meat prices. If memory serves, beef (of some roast variety) was $1.79/lb at that point, and chicken was $1.49/lb. It is my understanding that the beef sale is over, but the chicken sale continues....

So, she's going to do/has done all the work, and we are going to pay for the meat and canning supplies. This is absolutely a great deal for us, and will increase our meat storage (at this point mostly consisting of canned chicken, and Spam) in a wonderful way. (I just realized that we do have some tuna, but that is not my favorite canned meat...) I have been using my food storage supplies in my current meal rotations, so more storage is even more appreciated.

So, a huge thanks goes out to my best source. We were talking about the meat prices, and a question came up: Why is the meat so inexpensive? This was not the frozen variety, but the fresh, boneless, skinless variety of chicken. The idea was brought up that maybe they are killing the chickens in large numbers because they can't afford to feed them. You gotta love low prices, but sometimes the reasons behind them could be worse than paying a little more...

In non-food storage news, I've been stocking up on extra school supplies at the really inexpensive prices that come along this time of year. I'm thinking if/when there is a quarantine due to a flu pandemic, a new box of crayons may raise morale a little bit when no one is allowed to go anywhere--and pens, pencils, papers, etc. are always helpful, quarantine or not.

Personally, I'm planning to use my Fred Meyer coupon from last Sunday's paper (expires today) that has canned vegetables at 3/$1.00. Limit 6, but 6 beats none. :) Just hope there are 6 cans there---procrastination is really not a pretty thing....

Friday, August 7, 2009

A challenge, and fuel preparedness

Already mentioned this on my other blog, but there is a Food Challenge over at Preparedness Pro. Started on the 1st of this month, and runs all month long, and is basically a challenge to stop shopping for necessities for a 2 week period. Just in case you are interested, the clock's a-tickin....

We went out recently into the wilderness (alright, it was a campground, with a firepit, but it was aways away from home, and wilderness sounds so much better when you're telling a story :) and cooked an outdoor meal. It was prompted by a requirement for an organization that one of my children is participating in, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Since it was sort of short notice, I ended up going to the local national chainstore for supplies. Some of the things I learned from this experience:

--Buying campout supplies on short notice, when everyone else is out buying similar items for campouts/reunions/ insert weekend activity of your choice here is not my idea of a good time. Would definitely not want to be out trying to gather supplies in an actual emergency situation. Already knew that, but having a real-life reminder can be a really good thing...

---My husband and child planned the meal (the child was involved in the planning as part of the requirement being fulfilled) and I took the list. One of the items on the list was charcoal briquets. I spent time wandering around the store looking for charcoal in places I thought it was likely to be, or for an employee to supply me with such information, before I found someone who informed me it was in the home and garden section. If you have to wait until the last minute to purchase items, (it would be wonderful to purchase all of your emergency items in one shopping trip, but one's expenses don't always permit such a shopping trip) you would do well to know where the items are located and at least take care of that portion of the mad rush....

---Know ahead of time which kind of fuel you will be needing for heat, cooking, etc. When we got to the campout location, my husband took out some wood (left over from our last winter's wood storage) and left the charcoal in the car. I asked him why charcoal had been on the list, and he said that it was in case the cooking facilities at the campground required charcoal, and not wood. Since it was just basically a firepit, we used the wood. So know ahead of time what you will be using for your purposes, or just plan for every and anything....

*Bug spray would have been handy. The mosquitos only really seemed to be interested in me, however...
**Glad we carried in water to put the fire out.

So now we have charcoal, which we really should have had before. Need to get some more in, just for variety and options if/when it's needed. Cooking out can be fun if it's planned, so I guess it can be fun to cook out even in an emergency if we do the planning now, and not so much on short notice....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Procrastination does not pay, or the importance of using an emergency notebook

Well, I could post about the paprika/cream of chicken soup/canned chicken recipe that I made last Tuesday, I think it was. Or I could talk about the importance of printing out /and or writing down recipes/info/tips that you find on the internet when you find them.

Oh, right. My procrastination doesn't leave me much choice, because the recipe that I made last Tuesday, I think it was, was on a blog that when I went to go find it this morning had been removed. And I don't think I ever printed it out because that recipe was posted in like June, and it was going to be there forever, right?

The blog was The Emergency Preparedness Bug, (sorry I can't link to it because it is no longer there) and the recipe was easy to make. It was more appreciated by the adults than the kids in the family. They liked it well enough, however, that we would try it a couple more times to see if it would be more appreciated with further exposure--those who have read my earlier posts may remember that rice and beans were not wildly appreciated when we first introduced them, and we eat them regularly now...

The good news is that the recipe was adapted from a Campbell's recipe that the author had linked to, so if I look hard enough I may be able to salvage something from it--I just loved the adaptation on the blog. Pictures and everything. I didn't use peppers, but I would have put the recipe in my notebook as it was posted, if I had written it down....

Ah, Preparedness Bug, I miss you. Please avoid the mistake I have made, and write and/or place printed copies of pertinent information in a notebook. If you haven't started one, I highly recommend it. You may need a written copy of whatever information you are seeking because of power outage, evacuation, or hey, someone just might close down their blog...

What a difference a week makes....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Following a long tradition...

on my blog of having people leave great comments, as well as just plain old linking to other people's blogs when they post wonderful preparedness information, I present the following:

A huge thank you to Stephanie in AR, from over at Sooner or Later, for leaving this link from Down to Earth about making oil lamps in a comment on my last post. That looks like something I could do, and will probably try it soon. An oil lamp has been on my list of "things to have for emergency preparation" for a while now, and if I can do it like this, it will be crossed off a lot sooner. If you are interested in making your own oil lamp, you should check that link out....

Well, things are growing in the garden---the corn, as my husband says, looks "anemic" in terms of height, and in comparison to some corn fields we saw over the weekend, but hopefully we'll get something more out of the crop this year. The potatoes look like they are doing alright, but having no comparison because it is our first time growing them, we will just have to see. The beans look like they are doing well, and the pumpkins, a family favorite, appear to be on track. Time to think about late season planting, if memory serves--and to actually plant whatever we decide on very, very, soon....

Hope everyone is having a great summer--and that if you have a garden, that it's growing well!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fair is fair...

Long-time readers of my blog may recall when I wrote this post on how companies were shrinking amounts of food in their packaging but keeping the price the same. Just found this article where at least some companies are increasing the amounts of food but keeping the price the same. Gotta love more instead of less...

Even though I don't know many (if any) people who consider Doritos survival food, being able to stretch your "normal" food budget may also lead to stretching the amount you are able to spend on your food storage. I wrote about less for your money, so writing about more for your money only seems fair--and as they say, fair is fair.... :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gotta love alternate uses...

I have oil olive in my food storage because it is my understanding that it's good for you, and can last a nice long time. So it is already one of my staples, and makes my rice and beans taste better. What I love, though, is finding that one of the things I am already using in one way could potentially be used in other ways, because making life easier is not always just about the food...

Found this article on multiple uses of olive oil, and from there went on to read this article on multiple uses for vinegar. Have to admit that I was more interested in the article on the vinegar, and need to get some in actual storage because I already use a lot of it for cleaning, and it doesn't stay on the shelf very long....

The comments on both of these articles are also intriguing (um, yeah, there are sooo many that I did not read all of them for both articles, and by the time I have written this, there may well be even more) and in at least one instance, a commenter speaks against one of the uses listed and offers an alternative. Makes for interesting reading, and if they actually work, you gotta love alternatives for things you already have in storage when there's an emergency. Some of these pointers will most likely find their way into my emergency notebook, with the hope that they won't ever be needed in an emergency....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some tips are so good...

That they deserve their own post. A huge thank you to Kristen, from over at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, left this comment on my last post about frybread:

"Anyway, make sure you keep your oil consistently hot while making it and it won't seem as greasy. Put a kernel of popcorn in the oil and when it pops, it's hot enough. Continue to put kernels in periodically if you are frying on the stove and don't have a handy electric appliance."

I didn't have a consistent heat, (although the oil was obviously hot) because I switched it from higher to lower temperatures as I cooked when I thought the temperature was off in some way. Hope I can use this information to my advantage the next time I try frybread--I do think that extra oil in the bread was a problem....

Thanks again, Kristen! I highly recommend her site because it is full of great recipes and she makes cooking look easier than I generally think it will be--gotta love easier...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Variety in the bread thing

For some reason when I was talking to a couple of friends recently, the subject of fry bread came up. I had fry bread with chili a long, long, time ago, but it was so good that I remember it I was interested in knowing how to make it. What I learned from this conversation was that you could just take regular bread dough, after it has risen, and instead of baking it in a loaf, just pull off balls of it, stretch them thin, and deep fry it. If I were to do this, I would be using this recipe, which I would give very high ratings for ease and success of outcome.

Ok, there are at least two problems (for me) with this. One, I am of the mind that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, so why would I want to potentially mess up a perfectly good loaf that is ready to go into the oven for an experiment that may or may not work out? And two, I had never deep-fried anything in my recollection. So the possibility of it not working out was actually pretty high.

So I went to a cookbook and found a recipe specifically for this sort of adventure. Powdered milk was involved (yay, dairy group!) and other non-yeast items that would be available in a food-storage only scenario. No rising, no waiting. So I heated the oil.

The plus side was that nothing caught on fire. The not so plus side is that I do not have a natural talent for making fry bread. The bread came out edible (and at least once in pieces) and was served with chili. Mixed reviews, but pre--ttty sure they would have been higher if the bread had come out lighter and less grease-laden. Practice, practice, practice, as they say. And since this was first attempted in a non-food-storage-only situation, we had some chips on hand as a backup. (Canned chili is one of our 3-month storage items (that we still need to get more of) and sometimes we just put it on top of corn chips with cheese and olives for a main dish. Since I made the frybread, the chips are on hand for another day....)

Gotta love a bread adventure that doesn't burst into flames and leaves tortilla chips in its wake. :) Hey, if you have any tips, would love to hear them--recipes and information are always welcome...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hit the garage sales lately?

Went out to see one of the garage sales in the neighborhood mostly because there appeared to be a lot of clothes for sale. Didn't buy any clothes, but in terms of emergency preparation did come away with:

--A sewing kit. If you have read my blog, you will most likely remember that sewing is not high on my list of fun things to do. In fact, the gentleman who sold it to me asked if I sew, and I said, no, but I should, and this might help motivate me... I haven't even gone through it all yet, but already am impressed with what I was able to purchase with $3, such as multiple spools of thread, patches, what looks like what I think is called the "foot" from a sewing machine (that little doodad that the needle goes up and down through) etc. In fact, I asked if that was part of someone's sewing machine, and he wasn't concerned about it, so it came home with me. Anyway, never know when a needle and thread that you can easily locate will come in handy...

--At another garage sale picked up a humidifier, to come home and keep the one we already own from being lonely. I asked if it worked and was assured it did. Needs to be cleaned up a bit, but may come in handy in the case of a pandemic, since I have read/heard/found out that having a second humidifier is recommended in that case. Cost me $3, which is quite a different price from buying one new. I know, because I occasionally check out them out, only to decide that a second humidifier is too expensive to purchase at this time....

--A flashlight for $1 that is larger and sturdier than some of the ones we currently own, and which takes a large battery that I will have to track down so that we can use it. Not much to say about that one, but having light is a definite plus in case of a power outage....

I would love to put pictures of my purchases here, but the cord that allows us to transfer pictures from our camera to the computer is apparently being temperamental, so no go. If the technicalities get worked out, more pictures will be nice.

I did look around to see if I could purchase something like canning supplies, but no such items were available this week. Have you checked out the garage sales lately? I haven't in a long time, but sure am glad we did today.... :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This, that, and the others

Well, it's mostly been a little of this, a little of that on the food storage front. For example:

--Went out and found salt at $.50/box and bought a few to put in the storage room. Ever since I read Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank, and the survivors were running out of salt, I've always wanted to make sure I had some in storage. Speaking of books, my turn came for One Second After at the local library, but I ended up returning it before I got further than a few pages. I'll have to request it to be put on hold again--I think I have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Even though I didn't even get to the "after the EMP hit" part, I could already see some of the problems the characters were going to have after it hit. It was interesting reading, but I pretty much expect the hardships that will come to the characters are going to be intense and unpleasant...

--Have stocked up on some more Spam, which is currently $2 at the local national chainstore. So versatile, with such a far-away expiration date, and I actually use it regularly. What a winning combination.... :)

--A while ago, we offered to store some food for some "others" whom we would be basically unable to turn away if an emergency hit. We had asked them about food storage, because we pretty much wanted to know what the situation would be if there were a crisis. The original attitude was essentially that they would go and buy something from the store if such a situation arose. Well.... So we discussed it, and since they don't have much room for storage, we told them if they bought some supplies, we would store it here. They did buy some food storage, and that food storage sat in our house in a few buckets marked clearly as theirs for a little while. They have since asked for it back, saying that they want to rotate it. Thing is, as I understand it, they will take it back sometime soon, but there won't be anything returning here for storage.

To be fair, my understanding is that they do have some storage at their place, though I don't know how much, and there are even other "others" in the area that would probably help them in the event of an emergency. Maybe it's just me....when it comes to food storage, my basic mode is more more more. I can at least say I tried to urge them to be prepared as possible...

Well, that about wraps it up at the moment...sometimes it's all baby steps, but even baby steps are progress....

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July!

I'm grateful to live in such a wonderful country, where we have so much freedom. As they say, freedom is not free, and my thanks goes out to the members of our armed forces and their families, past and present, for their part in helping to keep that freedom intact.

Land of the free, and the home of the brave--Happy Birthday, America!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Emergencies don't come when you expect them

I heard a story recently that haunts me still, and I expect will continue to haunt me. I hope I don't mess up the details--my impression was that this event happened quite awhile ago, and this account is according to memory, with no intentional errors or disrespect:

In a rural area, there was news that some local members of the community were killed while driving a wagon over the train tracks. Everyone in the surrounding area knew the people who died, and everyone knew about the place that they crossed.

The people who died also knew about the dangers of crossing the tracks. They had done it for years, and knew that it was necessary to exercise caution because a train could hit them. They had crossed for so long, however, that they didn't exercise caution this time. Maybe when they first started crossing the tracks they did, but as time went by, and nothing bad happened to them, they let their guard down. When the accident happened, they weren't worried enough about something bad happening to take the precautions needed in order to cross the tracks in safety.

An investigation was made into the accident, and at one point the driver of the locomotive was interviewed. They asked him if he thought that the people who died saw him coming. He answered that yes, they did see him coming. When they asked him how he could be so sure, he replied, "I saw the looks on their faces."

Just like the people who were crossing the tracks, we have been given plenty of warnings that we need to have emergency preparation items and food storage in place. The nature of the emergency, whether it be natural disaster, job loss, disruption in the food supply, pandemic, or personal financial issues is at best secondary. The result of any of these or other emergencies is the same: if we don't prepare, we are going to be in trouble.

The thing is, like the people in the story, we go along and we hear the warnings, but for many, many, many of us nothing has happened---yet. Hopefully it never will, but it is more likely that there will be sometime when you/I/we will need to use the emergency preparations we have put into place. Please get all the food storage and emergency preparation items that you can gather, within your means, into order as quickly as possible. I have gone over many of the possible scenarios where emergency supplies could be needed in past posts, and most likely will continue to do so in future posts. You/I/we need to prepare now, while we can.

Some people may think about current events and think, well, the pandemic hasn't done what they said it would do. The economy isn't as bad as some said it would get. My job/company/position is secure. I have savings. This isn't tornado alley. You get the idea. Looking back on your/my/our reasoning for not preparing when we see the emergency upon us will not do any good. The actual reason we need to use our supplies doesn't matter--in the end we need to be prepared to provide water, food, shelter and security for ourselves and our loved ones, regardless of the particulars of the situation.

I still have work to do, so I don't write this as a perfectly prepared person. Exactly because I still have work to do for me and mine, the help I can give to others will be limited. Consider it cyber-begging if you will, but please, do what you can to get prepared in terms of water, food, shelter and security emergency supplies.

I don't want to be haunted by the looks on the faces of those who are not prepared when an emergency is upon us, and they have no safe way to get through it. Prepare now so that you can safely navigate through an emergency. At best, you will have no emergency, and can use your supplies at your leisure. But if you end up needing your emergency supplies for an actual emergency situation, you'll be glad that you heeded the warnings.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Progress is good

Um, yeah, not sure which exact strawberry I took a picture of last time, but some of the strawberries are getting more and more red, and that's nice progress to have. Hopefully we'll get to them after they're ripe and before the birds do...

Also making progress, this time in the backyard, one of our potato plants:

There is now also additional space in our garden, in which has been planted more beans, more corn, and some cucumbers. It all adds much, we'll find out at harvest. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

A small percentage of something is so much better than a higher percentage of nothing

In a conversation I had with a salesman, it came up that at times, he has to reduce the price of what he's selling in order to get the business and make the sale. Reducing the price of the item(s) he sells lowers his commission. He then said along the lines of, " A (lower) percentage of something is better than a (higher) percentage of nothing." He's so right. That saying has emerged in other conversations, but I was thinking about how it applies to food storage.

If you are like me, I like to have things done. That's why, for a longer time than I care to admit, I put my food storage on the shelf and walked away. I didn't want to use my food storage. If I used it, I would have less, right? So I put it there and felt pretty good about the numbers, but had very little to no idea about what I would do with it if a crisis hit. Rice and beans were good in theory, but didn't make an appearance on the dinner table until I decided to get serious about the actual preparation of food storage. Practical application trumps the dream of self-sufficiency any day.

Back to the percentage thing--I'm pretty sure that those concerned with being prepared for emergencies (you have no idea how much I wish that meant absolutely everyone) would like to be 100% prepared. Well, ummm...the bad news is that in my personal opinion being absolutely prepared for everything is not possible. The good news is that you can be absolutely prepared in some areas, though. And that's where the lower percentage of something undeniably beats a higher percentage of nothing.

I think that sometimes, people think they will do things all at once, and usually the time for that will be sometime in the distance future. They may think that they will save up for an entire year's supply of food, when they could just purchase needed items little by little---they want the 100% prepared version, which, since it is not in their hands, is essentially 100% of nothing.

Personally, I think that a smaller percentage of something in our possession, even if at the beginning it only amounts to a three-day supply of food, is far superior to having nothing on hand. Set goals for yourself if you are just starting out, and don't let food storage overwhelm you. You can get a 3 days' supply to start out with, and chances are, rice and beans won't even be on the menu at that point. Then move on to 3 weeks. Then to 3 months. Then to 3 years. (Yeah, I was just checking to make sure you were paying attention--would love to have 3 years' supply on hand, but still working on that year goal....)

There are still things that I need to work on. Here we are in June, and I still haven't completed my inventory and worked out a system that works for me where that's concerned. Part of it is just that I don't think about that particular aspect of it enough. I haven't worked enough on the 3 month supply as opposed to long-term storage. We all have our areas that we need to work on (hey, if I'm alone on this, be kind :) but we can up our percentages if we set realistic goals and work on them. And it is that we might not be able to do tomorrow, so we better do it today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

(Green) Strawberries

Well, everyone in Idaho knows we have been having a good rain season here--raining, raining, and did I mention raining? We really need it, so no complaints here. I just kind of forgot to go out and take a look at the strawberries until someone in another state mentioned theirs. So I went out and hurray, the strawberry plant pictured above is progressing in my front yard. Somewhere amidst the flowers that are also in my front yard. Gotta love strawberries---or at least know someone who does...

Sometime in between the rain showers the corn, pumpkins, cucumbers and beans have been planted. It still is pretty cool out, so hoping we get a better harvest than last year.

Not much to post about--recently purchased some more soap (hand and dish) for the storage, as well as the occasional additional can of Spam and the like. Still increasing the size of the garden for planting later.

Changing the subject entirely.... I have heard about EMPs and need to do more research on them. Over at Preparedness Pro Kellene Bishop is doing a series on them, (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 are up as of this writing) so you might want to check it out. I know that I link a lot to other blogs and websites, but just trying to share what I've found---knowing where to find the information is sometimes half the battle. I had already put in a request at the local library for the book, One Second After , before I saw this series, so I wouldn't be surprised if I posted something about them sometime....the more we know, the better prepared we'll be.

Monday, June 15, 2009

HSBA anyone?

I'm just wondering if there is an Heirloom Seed Buyers Anonymous (HSBA) out there. If so, I might have to consider joining....

Thanks to MatthiasJ from over at Kentucky Preppers Network, who left the following comment on my last post, where I made clear the fact that I didn't understand the designation "organic" when it came to buying seeds:

"Heirloom seeds are specific breeds of plants that have been passed down that are good quality. Non-hybrid means you can reuse the plant's seeds to grow more plants. Organic seeds have to come from organically grown crops to be certified organic. "

I do not recall ever having bought seeds of the organic variety, but it's good to know. I thought that heirloom seeds and non-hybrid seeds were the same thing, so that I could use seeds from the resulting plants for future planting. Still hoping that's true, since on Saturday I found a veritable jackpot of heirloom seeds at a hardware store. So why the talk of an HSBA? Well, the seeds, for the most part, were kinds I probably wouldn't have bought except that I was on an heirloom seed buying spree...

For example, previously I would not have looked twice at this particular variety of cucumber:

I do not recall ever having seen yellow cucumbers before, or even knowing that they existed. Cucumbers in my experience are long and green. But like I said, these are heirloom seeds...

I did get some heirloom seeds for corn, but I also got the following seeds for planting crops I had not even thought about, like this:

and this:

Mostly I wouldn't have thought about these particular kinds of seeds for various reasons, such as the fact that I know that some of them aren't that kid-friendly (speaking for my children only...ahem, cough, cough, pepppersss, cough) or I'm just not familiar with cooking with them (rhymes with begchant) or the aforementioned factor that I didn't know that they existed. (Mentioned the round yellow cucumbers to my best source (Mom) and she said something like, "Oh, yeah, those are good." Makes you wish knowledge was hereditary...) Doesn't mean that I can't use them and learn all of these things. I may try some of these this year. Or save them for later to add to my garden variety...

Thing is, we already have enough seeds for this year, but as Carl from Wisconsin mentioned in his comment on my last post, heirloom and non-hybrid seeds can be hard to find and/or really expensive. Good luck on your quest to find the seeds you need/want, and if buying heirloom seeds is an addiction, I'm sure my husband thinks I'm a candidate for HSBA.... :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adventures in seed buying....

Well, went out some time last week to purchase more seeds. What I found out:

---Apparently, there is a difference between "organic" and "heirloom" seeds. Since I was lookng at a single brand at the time, the most striking difference I was able to detect was the difference in color on the packaging.... :) Well, I did manage to purchase the last heirloom package of pumpkin seeds that I saw, and that was truly what I was after, so mission accomplished.

---The seeds I saw that were marked "organic", "heirloom", or otherwise were remarkably well labeled by that company. Otherwise, labeling was hard to impossible to find. There were the occasional packages that were clearly marked as hybrids, but if memory serves, for the most part there was some kind of name or number on the package, and no indication of whether the seeds were hybrid or not. There was plenty of information on how, when, etc. to plant the seeds, but no indication if the resulting plants would have seeds you could use to grow the same kind of plants next year. Either they have a code I just plain don't understand, or they don't feel it necessary to share such information with the general seed-buying population. When I give them the benefit of the doubt, it is probably just a case of me needing to find more information...

---Just because someone is working in the gardening section of a store, it doesn't mean that they know if seeds are non-hybrid or not either. Asked someone there, and they had no idea, making me feel better about myself information-wise, but also leaving me unclear on whether or not the cucumber seeds I was purchasing were exactly what I wanted. Oh well. We can grow cucumbers this year, but I'll have to look elsewhere for non-hybrid seeds for storage.

Do you have seeds? When I saw the packages from the company previously mentioned that were clearly marked "heirloom", I actually picked up a couple of seed varieties that we don't usually grow just so we would have some on hand. I don't know if we will end up using them this year, but it's good to have them and not need them than the other way around. (Seems like I've written that before. Quite possibly more than once... :)

We got our corn and beans in in between rain showers, but still have quite a ways to go to finish planting our garden. Hope everyone else's gardens are prospering....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Alleviating the self-inflicted guilt trip: made some recipes

Ah, yes--it was a good weekend for using evaporated milk. Oh, and finally getting around to using recipes from the sites I already posted about. This blog can be a good motivating factor--I said I'd get around to it, but it seems like I get around to it more quickly when I've already mentioned it...

On Friday we had a breakfast dinner, so I made this coffee cake recipe from over at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. For the milk I used evaporated milk (with lemon juice), which made me feel even better about the whole adventure. I kept thinking I should get up earlier in the morning to make it for actual breakfast, but alas, it didn't happen. However, given the positive reception it received, I can see that happening in the future...

For dinner on Saturday, we had creamy chicken enchiladas, the recipe for which is found over at The Prudent Homemaker. Used evaporated milk, as directed. Also used cheese, which I don't have in storage, but I could have if I were to use this process detailed over at Preparedness Pro. (There's also a chicken enchilada recipe in the post for the process link that I will likely try in the future. You know what they say about variety... :) The thing I need to work on next is to learn to make my own tortillas, so that it is truly a food storage recipe that I can just make anytime. Always something more to do....

Both of these recipes were labeled "keepers", so into the emergency notebook they go. Thanks very much to the Harried and Prudent Homemakers and the Preparedness Pro for the information. Now I just have to work on getting the supplies in so that they can be part of my 3-month supply menu rotation. Slow but sure....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will work for food

Ok, not exactly a direct exchange. More like working at a local farm and being given the opportunity to purchase produce at a really good price. And not exactly me, like the post title implies. More like (ok, exactly like) my husband doing all the work. But hey, fortunately for us this food storage thing is a combined effort.

Last night my husband went and worked on a local farm. It was a volunteer effort, and they were boxing potatoes. When he came home he had a 50 lb box of potatoes that he bought for $10. So now I have a 50 lb box of potatoes that I need to store downstairs and use before they get soft or grow so many eyes I'm afraid to go into the storeroom. Hmmm....or I could just use them. Thing is, we like baked potatoes, but not so much the heat it takes to bake the potatoes in the summer. Guess I'll go in search of a good potato salad recipe, or crockpot recipe, or hashbrowns....something. That's the thing about potatoes--so versatile. :)

And hopefully I'll have reason to use fresh potatoes more often than just baked, because we got ours planted. (This is the part where I should probably leave out the fact that so far they are the only thing that we have planted, due to recent weather....but we will remedy that soon.) I have instant potatoes in storage, but growing our own will hopefully allow me to put something back in the storage room instead of only taking things out. That's the plan, anyway. Sending good thoughts out to the potato portion of the garden....

In case you missed it, on my last post MatthiasJ, from over at Kentucky Preppers Network , left this link on preparing a 3 month supply for College Students. Excellent ideas that apply to anyone who is preparing, really, and the ideas are low cost. Double plus.

Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker also left some good ideas that aren't complicated. The 3 month supply doesn't have to be fancy, but hey, if you can make it fancy, more power to you.... :) I go for simple myself.

Thanks to them and everyone who leaves helpful and encouraging comments. Now I'm just hoping that I'll get more potato ideas in comments this time.... :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

3 months, 12 weeks---either way it's a lot of storage

Ok, having confessed my shortcomings in the area of emergency cooking sources, I will now mention something I've actually made progress on--the 3 month supply. I don't remember where I originally heard the idea, but it makes sense--make a menu rotation of meals you would normally eat in a 7 day cycle, and then make sure you have the ingredients to make the meals in that cycle 12 times. So far I have only been focused on the dinner portion of the menus.

When I started this blog, my primary concern was getting prepared long-term, especially to learn how to use the food items that would last long term, really long term, like wheat and beans and rice. I wasn't really focused on the 3 months worth of food that we would normally eat--after all, I already knew how to prepare the stuff we were already eating. Thing is, I need the stuff we are already eating to work as conveniently as possible in an emergency situation, so I have been working some of the long term items into our menu rotation, as well as making new dishes with storable items that my children would like. I have mentioned a lot of these before, but the links may be helpful to those who haven't seen them before---I tried to use a lot of food storage items last week and this is how it looked:

--Rice and beans, recipe here. This is now a pretty stable member of the menu rotation, but the uproar if there is no Spam involved (the way I modify it can be found in this post) is to be avoided if at all possible. :) This is definitely one of the meals on the 7 day cycle. I can use long term ingredients for the most part, but that's a lot of Spam to store up....

--Canned soup and rolls, roll recipe here. Ok, the roll recipe wouldn't be my first choice in an emergency situation because of some of the ingredients, such as butter, but I have now practiced enough that I can make this beginner's bread recipe that truly takes long term food storage items, and that's what I plan to do, so soup and bread is another meal on the 7 day cycle. That makes 2...

--Shepherd's pie, the closest recipe to which can be found here, but I just use two ingredients--the stew covered by instant mashed potatoes, and baked at 400 degrees. (Gotta love the recipes on the back of the Dinty Moore Stew cans. :) After all, the whole point of food storage food for me is simplicity and a low number of ingredients, so this really works out for my criteria. A delicious dish that allows me to chalk up #3...

---Spam fried rice, the recipe for which is found here. Only this time I substituted canned chicken for the Spam, and corn for the peas, and like before, used chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni. Not very colorful, but tasty enough, and enjoyed. Ah, number 4....

Four food storage meals in one week is pretty good for me, and the fact that nothing was said about it being food storage is a definite plus. Do I have enough for 12 weeks worth of meals for the 4 recipes I have mentioned? Ummmmm, uh-uh. No. Unfortunately not. But I am working on it, little by little.

I have other food I could make, like the two other bean recipes that I have posted about in this blog, but I am always looking for more variety when it comes to my 3 month supply. I have a few other recipes in mind (some of which can be found on blogs I have mentioned previously) that I haven't tried yet, but need to get to. Here's my question to you--what are the meals in your 3 month plan? I'll be sharing my other choices as I get to them. I may only have a partial menu cycle at this point, but it's better than no menu cycle at all. If you haven't started yet, just add one recipe at a time....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How ready are you?

I have this feeling that I will never feel quite "ready" for an emergency. Case in point:

On Sunday the electricity went out in our area for about 15 minutes. This caused me, then and now, to:

--wonder, now that the cold season is basically over, at least for a few months, how exactly I would cook food if the electricity stayed off. We do have some wood left from the winter season for our wood stove, but it has a very (disappointingly) short "lip" for cooking purposes, which until we figure out how to use it more effectively, basically limits what we can cook to whatever we can fit into something the size of a soup can. I guess there would also be whatever recipes we could find in terms of tinfoil, camping out kind of dinners, but remember, the electricity, and hence the most helpful source of recipes-- the computer-- was out at that point... (We do love our woodstove, though, and are very grateful to have it!)

---wonder exactly what condition our grill is in, seeing as how we don't usually grill for fun and haven't used it in a long time. We have some fuel for it, but it would add to the stress if a major overhaul was needed before we could start cooking on it. Move that one up higher on the list...

---wonder why I haven't put together a cardboard box oven according to the directions given over at Safely Gathered In, and practiced at my leisure with it until I was comfortable using it any old time. Move that one up higher on the list, too....

---wonder just exactly how handy the little "wood gas" stove ,that my best source (Mom) sent up with my dad when he delivered water barrels, actually is. From what I understand, it "double burns" in effect, since it burns the smoke from the woodburning. Gotta love two for one :). She got it in a group order from Grant Johnson, who has a website with pictures here. (If you are interested in a group order, you can contact him at grant@ I actually called my mom to get this, as I didn't see it on his site. Hey, I'm not selling it, and neither is she, but it seems like a really cool product. ) I'm going to blog about it--soon-- once I open it up and take pictures, etc., but my understanding is that it takes very little fuel (twigs, etc.) and is very fuel efficient and effective. Planning on using this soon, but it definitely was not part of my plan on Sunday--but are emergencies ever really part of anyone's plan?

Well, I hope your answer to the title question is that you are more prepared than I am. Nothing like 15 minutes of power outage for no apparent reason to make me really take stock of how I'm going to cook with my emergency supplies. We would have been able to cook some way, somehow, but now I know ways to prepare so that such a situation would be easier.....