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!!