Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Preps in Review and 2011 Goals

I can't believe how quickly 2010 went by. I thought it would be interesting to evaluate my prepping progress over five areas.

INFORMATION:
  • I probably made the most progress in this area. I had zero knowledge of or interest in preparedness at the start of the year. Now I have read on the subject extensively and I feel comfortable with many of the most important preparedness areas. I feel confident in my knowledge of food storage, but not so much in areas like defense and alternative energy.
  • I made efforts to preserve my newly gained information. I have an enormous preparedness binder with lots of information printed off and organized. I collected numerous food storage and garden vegetable recipes and have another binder for that.  
  • Hubby Dear backed up our computer on SOS Online Backup. We also have several flashdrives with important items copied onto them.
  • I made an emergency binder with essential documents for our bug out bags (BOBs).
Speaking of bugging out...

SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS:
WATER AND FOOD:

FIRST AID/HEALTH AND HYGIENE:
  • We have first aid kits in several different places, from my purse to our BOBs.
  • We stocked up on items useful in a pandemic, such as N-95 masks and nitrile gloves. I've already been very glad to have the gloves on hand (no pun intended) during our family's bout with stomach flu over Christmas.
  • We've begun to stockpile toilet paper and OTC medications.
That's quite a bit accomplished in seven short months.

My Goals for 2011:
  1. Get a full year's worth of food storage.
  2. Buy an electric grain mill (finally).
  3. Continue to develop our gardening skills. We're converting our vegetable garden to a square foot garden. Hopefully we'll get enough cherries, raspberries, and blackberries to can and freeze this year.
  4. Can a wide variety of garden produce.
  5. Further develop our water storage and purification abilities. This could include: getting a Berkey filter, storing pool shock, mapping out nearby natural water sources, and installing rain barrels.
  6. Deepen our store of first aid/medical supplies.
  7. Lose weight and get in shape - both Hubby Dear and I.
And finally...

    8.    Start saving towards our home renovation that will include the installation of a woodstove.

Whew! That sounds like a lot. Hopefully we can accomplish all of these.

How have your preps come along in 2010? Do you have any big plans for 2011?  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Month Seven in Review and Month Eight Preps

Month Seven:

This month of my Prepping Plan featured a few bumps, namely on the grain mill front.

I bought a lot of food storage-related items this month. I have another 100 lbs of beans, 90 lb of wheat, and lots of odds and ends like drink mix. My food storage buckets seem to have multiplied all of a sudden. I wasn't aware that I had this many.


Buckets galore but we need so many more

I also bought a couple of packs of Can Organizers, which made neat work of one of my cabinets. I learned how to can meat and found out it wasn't so scary after all. I also made a first aid kit out of an Altoids tin for my purse.


Tall, dark, and handsome
Month Eight Preps:

I feel a lot of pressure to complete my food storage ASAP because the specter of high inflation looms ever larger, so next month will also be focused on that area. If I can get rid of some of the junk in my storage room, I plan on buying a nifty Shelf Reliance shelving system. It should really help maintain FIFO (first in, first out) when it comes to my canned goods. I also plan on buying a few more items to fill my shiny new shelves.

The weird thing about these Shelf Reliance organizers is that they don't come with a shelf across the top. That's too much space to waste so I'm going to figure out what kind of wood I need to buy and get Hubby Dear to cut a piece to serve as a shelf.

I also plan on getting a P-Touch labeler so that I can create neatly printed labels for all my storage containers. I've always wanted one of those, so I'm pretty excited about that purchase. That's it for Month Eight.

Do you have any preps planned for next month?


Coming Soon: 2010 in Review and Goals for 2011


Monday, December 27, 2010

The Can Organizer: A Review

I have a cabinet in my kitchen where I store several different types of canned goods - diced tomatoes, canned soup, chicken broth, etc. It's very handy to have these frequently used items stored near my prep area, but observing the rule of FIFO (first in, first out) is a pain. The cabinet is fairly deep and wide. Things tend to get out of place very easily and before you know it, the newly acquired items are mixed in with the older ones.


Before

After learning about The Can Organizer on the Food Storage Made Easy blog, I decided that this could be the solution to my problem. I bought the "Pantry" sized organizers, which are 22-1/2" deep. According to the company, each one would hold 13 Pie filling, 16 Vegetable,18 Soup, or 39 Tuna-sized cans.

They come as flat pieces of cardboard like this:

And assemble into this.


You load the cans in the top and they roll to the bottom of the organizer. When you need to use your food storage, you simply take a can from the bottom and the remaining stock rolls down, making FIFO a snap.  

Whoever came up with this design is an evil genius. They're a genius in the fact that it is pretty nifty that you can make a can rotation device out of one sheet of cardboard. Why are they evil? Because that sucker is frustrating and difficult to put together. The instructions that came with it aren't terribly helpful. I couldn't make them out at all. Hubby Dear watched this video a couple of times


and was able to figure it out eventually.

There was one big problem, though. On the website, the can organizers are described as 5" across. They are 5" measured from outside to outside, but the inside dimensions are more like 4  1/2". That means that my extensive store of Campbell's Chunky Soups would not fit. I was pretty unhappy about that. I had a few Progresso canned soups that I had bought on sale which fit, but Hubby Dear balks at the idea of changing his favorite soup brand just so I can use the can organizers.


Too big for The Can Organizer.   Sniff.


All of my other canned goods in this area worked, though. Want to see the finished product?

After

I would recommend The Can Organizer if you have the patience to learn how to assemble them and if you store mostly smaller cans. Cans larger than 4 1/2" tall or extra wide cans (such as 29 oz. cans of fruit) will not fit. I should also mention that shipping was expensive but my order was shipped promptly and arrived quickly. I was not displeased with my purchase, but I also wasn't motivated to buy more of them. I think I'll invest in another solution for my can organization needs. But more about that next month.

The Can Organizer is available for purchase at  http://www.thecanorganizer.com/

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to the few, the proud, the readers of my blog. :) (Merry Christmas to the Marines and the other branches of the service, too.  Thank you for all you do.)

I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend and take some time to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. My family has spent the past few days decking the halls with bouts of vomit, so I'm not sure how much fa la la la-ing we'll be up to. The stomach flu isn't very festive...

Merry Christmas! (If you haven't read this post on the Rural Revolution blog, check it out.)





And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.    John 1:14 (KJV)
                                                                                          

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Post Should've Been a Review of an Electric Grain Mill...

I don't have one of these. Grrr....
If you have been following my Prepping Plan, you might have noticed that I was planning on getting an electric grain mill this month. My Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe works very well and it only takes about 7 minutes of cranking to get enough flour for a loaf of bread, but let's be real. I have four kids, I homeschool, and I have other uses for my time. If I'm going to regularly grind grain, I really could use an electric mill.   

After I posted about my experience with my hand mill last month (read about it here and here), the president of a certain big name grain mill company emailed me and offered me a very nice discount and some freebies if I would try out and review their electric model here on my blog. I was surprised and delighted. The mill was actually the one I was planning on buying, and the discount would enable me to buy it this month.

Well, the grain mill company didn't follow through on their offer and, as a result, I still don't have an electric mill. Now I have to buy a different type of grain mill just so I can thumb my nose at this company. I'm looking at getting a Nutrimill, unless that company decides to play with my emotions, too.

What are your experiences with electric grain mills? Do you have any recommendations or know of ones I should avoid?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Using Your Food Storage: My Favorite Pizza Recipe

I've been making a lot of homemade pizza recently. Having lots of baking ingredients on hand really does inspire me to cook from scratch more often. My family loves this. My waistline? Not so much.

I've experimented with several different pizza recipes and here is our family's favorite. It is FABULOUS! The crust is hearty, yet crispy, and the sauce is flavorful and doesn't make the crust soggy. This recipe isn't hard, but it is a little "fussy" compared to some recipes out there. Trust me, every step adds so much to the end result.

Different types of yeast
This recipe calls for instant yeast, but if you're like me and buy yeast in bulk, you might only store active dry yeast. No worries! It is simple to switch in between types of yeast.

If your recipe calls for 1 t. instant yeast --> substitute with 1-1/2 t. of active dry yeast

If your recipe calls for 1 t. active dry yeast --> substitute with 3/4 t. of instant yeast

People generally say that active dry yeast should be dissolved in warm water before being incorporated into a dough.  The warm water does jumpstart your yeast. If you let your yeast/warm water mixture set for 5 minutes and make sure it gets bubbly, you'll insure that you only use lively yeast.  Here's a secret: you don't really have to do that. I keep my yeast in the freezer and it stays perfectly fresh. I may have to add a little rising time to my dough if I don't dissolve my active dry yeast first, but it otherwise works fine.



Sheet Pan Pizza, originally published in Cook's Country Magazine

DOUGH:
Cooking Spray
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1-3/4 cups water , heated to 110 degrees
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 envelopes instant or rapid-rise yeast (4-1/2 teaspoons)  OR about 5-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt

SAUCE AND TOPPINGS:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves , minced
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or use 2 t. dry or freeze-dried basil)
Salt
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Whatever meat or other toppings you like. How about a jar of home-canned ground beef, seasoned to taste?

1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn off oven. Grease large bowl. Evenly coat rimmed baking sheet with 1/4 cup oil.

2. Combine water, sugar, and remaining oil in measuring cup. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, yeast, and salt on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium-low and slowly add water mixture until dough is uniform in texture, about 3 minutes. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic, and place in warm oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. (If you substituted active dry yeast for the instant yeast, it may take another 5-10 minutes to double.)

3. For the sauce and toppings: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Cook garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer until reduced to 3 cups, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and season with salt.

4. On lightly floured work surface, use rolling pin to roll dough into a rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet and stretch dough to cover pan, pressing dough into corners. (I am lazy and usually just press the dough into the pan.) Brush dough with remaining oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set in warm spot (not oven) until slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

5. Remove plastic wrap and, using fingers, make indentations all over dough. Sprinkle dough with 1 cup Parmesan and bake until cheese begins to melt, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and spoon sauce over pizza, leaving 1-inch border. Bake until sauce is deep red and steaming, 7 to 10 minutes.

6. Sprinkle mozzarella and remaining Parmesan evenly over sauce your choice of meat/toppings and bake until cheese is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

So delicious!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Giveaway Alert!

Honeyville Farms is giving away three combo packs of freeze-dried products: one fruit combo, one veggie combo, and one potato combo. In order to enter, all you have to do is head on over to the "Cookin' Cousins" blog between now and Monday evening and leave a comment. Good Luck!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is Food Storage This Year's Furby?

A Furby
Do you remember the Furby? It was the hot toy of the Christmas of 1998. At that time, I was a newlywed, in college, and working part time as an extremely inept customer service rep at a department store. Shoppers came to blows as they competed for the few Furbys we had in stock. One of the highlights of the store's employee Christmas party was a chance to win one of three Furbys. I remember thinking that was extremely lame and didn't understand all the fuss about them. Twelve years later and now a mom to four children, I get "Furby Mania" a little bit more.

It seems like there may be a bit of the same sort of mania building in our country about food storage.

First, I read about Mountain House freeze-dried food rationing on The Survival Mom's blog. Then, I tried to order a few Superpails of wheat, navy beans, etc. from Emergency Essentials. Emergency Essentials is my go-to source for bulk supplies of wheat and other staples that I cannot buy in my area. I haven't found any place cheaper, especially when you add in the cost of buckets, mylar bags, and O2 absorbers. (I get rice, flour, pinto beans, and sugar at Sam’s Club and then package them myself, which you can read about here.)

I took a look at EE's Superpail page and lo and behold - nearly all of the products had a little yellow square displayed next to them, meaning they were backordered. I then checked out Walton Feed's website. Walton Feed looked like they had most things in stock, but they were going to take 4 weeks to ship them to me. (I got my October order from them in about a week.)

The next 15 minutes of my life were spent in a full-on freak out. Was a wide spreading food shortage approaching? I was willing to blow this month's budget and spend our last dime on kidney beans and freeze-dried beef stroganoff, if I could only find them in stock. I called Hubby Dear at work and demanded that he take the rest of the week off and drive me to Utah or an LDS cannery, whichever was closer. He muttered something vaguely reassuring before telling me he was busy and had to get back to work. How dare he be so callous about something so important, I huffed.

Twenty minutes, some deep breathing, and a handful of peanut butter M&Ms later, I regained my composure and began to think more clearly about the situation. I have been prepping for less than a year. There could be some sort of cyclical or seasonal shortage of food in the food storage industry that I was unaware of. Or perhaps something dire was indeed happening.

This article on the SHTFplan blog explains a lot about what’s going on.

It sounds like the shortages and backorders are being caused by rising demand from people like you and me. The food storage companies are struggling to keep up with the amount of orders now, but Mountain House anticipates the shortage will resolve by February or March of 2011.

Those of us who haven't finished our food storage are going to have to be patient until supply and demand balances back out. Is preparedness becoming the new "in" thing? Will it be a fad that will quickly be discarded like an old Furby? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially if good economic times come back.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

It's cheap, it's compact, and it's easy to store. You can buy a few boxes of the ingredients and have clean clothes for years.  It's even mostly "green". Here's how I made my own laundry detergent.

There are several different recipes for laundry detergent floating around out there, but here are the ingredients for the one I chose to use:

Borax, Washing Soda, Fels-Naptha Soap and Oxi-Clean (Billy Mays would be proud.)

The first ingredient is Fels-Naptha laundry soap. I hear that this can be tricky to find. Strangely enough, I was able to find this in our small town grocery store! Our grocery store doesn’t consistently carry boneless skinless chicken breasts, but by cracky it has Fels-Naptha! As an added bonus, Fels-Naptha can also be used as a remedy for poison ivy.  It will strip the poison ivy oils right off your skin.

The second ingredient, which can also be challenging to find, is Washing Soda. This is not quite the same as baking soda. I also was able to find it in my grocery store but I was prepared to order it online via Lehman's. Alternatively, you can make washing soda by cooking baking soda on the stove or in the oven. If you homeschool like we do, changing sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate counts as a chemistry lesson, an added bonus!

The third and fourth ingredients are common: Borax and Oxi-Clean. Obviously, Oxi-Clean isn't exactly old-fashioned, so you will not find it in every laundry detergent recipe. Some recipes stick to just the first three ingredients or add baking soda instead.

How to make it: Most recipes call for grating the soap and melting the whole lot of ingredients together to create a liquid detergent. You end up with a 5 gallon bucket of slimy goop. That’s A) too much work and B) yet another 5 gallon bucket for me to trip over, so I decided to go for powdered detergent. I grated the soap and made sure my pieces were tiny. Then I mixed it with the other ingredients. I made a triple batch, which I calculated to be enough for roughly 158 loads.




When I did the math, this homemade laundry detergent cost me roughly 7 cents per load. The Tide HE detergent I had been buying at Sam’s Club costs about 20 cents per load. If I had skipped the Oxi-Clean, the savings would have been even greater. But does this stuff work?

Yes, it does. I have a front-loading HE washer which means I need only a small amount of HE-friendly (ie. low-suds) detergent. This detergent fits the bill. I found that 2 tablespoons of the detergent does a great job getting my clothes clean. The freshly washed clothes smelled faintly of the Fels-Naptha (a pleasant scent), but the scent faded quickly. I don’t like my laundry to have a strong smell, so that is a plus for me. All in all, I’d say this is a successful experiment.


Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap, shredded and pulverized
1 c. washing soda
1 c. Borax
1/2 c. Oxi-Clean

Mix together thoroughly. Add 1-2 T. per load for an HE washer, more as necessary for a conventional washer.

If you try it, let me know how it works for you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Canned Chicken and Ground Beef...and Lived to Tell About It

I did something recently that had intimidated me for the longest time: I canned chicken breast and ground beef. For some reason, canning meat has always seemed mysterious, difficult, and possibly dangerous. After all, it was only this past summer that I used my seriously vintage (60-70 years old and going strong) pressure canner for the first time and canned green beans from our garden. I made Hubby Dear check and double-check that I was following the directions correctly so that I didn't blow up my kitchen. We survived and my canning confidence grew exponentially. Yesterday I threw caution to the wind and stepped into the world of canning meat.

Folks, if you have been holding back on canning meat for any of the reasons I listed above, stop! Canning meat is so easy. In fact, chicken breast is the easiest thing I've ever canned, period. It really couldn't be simpler. Here's how to do it.
  1. Pack your jars with chicken. I trimmed and sliced chicken breasts into large chunks and placed the pieces in clean canning jars. A pint jar will hold about 1 lb of chicken. Maintain 1" headspace. (For those new to canning, that means fill the jar with meat up to 1" from the top of the jar.)
  2. Chicken packed into jars
  3. Pour hot water into the jars over the chicken. Some people skip this part. A couple of my canning books said to add water, and I followed their advice.
  4. Free any bubbles and adjust water to maintain the 1" of headspace. Run a plastic knife or bubble freer around the edge of the jar a couple of times. It was amazing just how many bubbles were trapped in the jar. I had to top each jar up with water to keep the headspace at 1".
  5. Using the bubble freer to release any air from the jars
  6. Clean off the jar rims with a damp paper towel. I had chicken gunk all over the rims of mine. If you don't take the time to clean the rims, your jars might not seal properly.
  7. Place boiled lids on the jars, tighten rings to "finger tight", and can it!
Ready to can
Put 2-3" of water in the bottom of your canner and then load your jars in. Put the lid on and allow to heat. Once you see steam exiting the top of your canner, start timing. The steam needs to exhaust for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, I shut the petcock (the vent where the steam exits - this controls the pressure in the vessel) and watched until the pressure in the canner reached 10 lb. I have a dial gauge canner. You might have a weighted gauge canner which is different. Check your manual for instructions specific to your model. Process at 10 lb of pressure for 75 minutes. If you are at an altitude higher than 1,000 ft above sea level, you will need to check a canning reference for adjusted times/pressures.

  6.     Check every so often to make sure your canner maintains 10 lb of pressure for the full 75 minutes. 
          You might have to adjust the temperature on your stove. It takes remarkably little heat to keep the
          canner going.

  7.    After the 75 minutes, turn off the heat. When the pressure reads zero, open the petcock. I wait a
         couple of minutes before I open my canner, just for insurance. Open the canner lid AWAY from
         you and remove the jars. They are still very hot, so be careful.

  8.    I let the jars rest on my counter undisturbed for at least 12 hours. My jars and lids were a
         bit greasy and schmutzy, so I put some white vinegar on a kitchen towel and wiped them clean.

   9.     Label jar with the contents/date canned and enjoy! For best quality, use within a year.


The finished product

Canning ground beef is very similar, but there are a few differences.
  1. You need to brown your beef ahead of time.
  2. 5 lb of ground beef, browned and ready to be canned
  3. Put the browned beef in clean, hot, canning jars (a pint holds just under 1 lb of cooked ground beef), reserving 1" headspace, and pour some boiling water up to the 1" level. 
  4. Freeing bubbles from the beef and water
  5. Free any bubbles, adjust headspace if necessary, wipe rims, etc. The remainder of the process is identical to the chicken. Process for 75 minutes at 10 lb of pressure.  

Et voila!

What's the point?

Why should you can your own meat? Well, if you like to eat meat, you'll definitely want to have some on hand if you're living off your food storage! I know Hubby Dear gets grumbly if I feed him too many vegetarian meals in a row.

Does home canning meat save you money? Here's what I found:
Sam's Club chicken
5-13 oz cans of "Member's Mark" chicken at Sam's Club - $9.98, not including tax. When I add in our crazy-high local taxes, it came out to 15 cents per ounce.

Vs.

7 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts - 14.05 + tax
12 pack of pint jars with lids - 10.69 + tax

I added in tax and prorated the cost for the 7 jars I filled with chicken. It came to 18 cents per ounce. If I hadn't had to buy any canning jars or lids, it would have cost me only 13 cents an ounce.

If you get a crazy good deal on chicken and have a ready stock of canning jars, home canning meat will indeed save you a few pennies.

What about the taste? 

I don't know! I haven't tried it out yet, but I've heard great things about home canned meats. I'm going to do a blind taste test of my home canned chicken vs. the Member's Mark chicken I have in storage and I'll post the results.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Three-Month Supply Menus

Three months of meals from your pantry
Food storage can seem really intimidating when you're getting started, especially if you start off with the notion that you need a full year's supply of food, stat! I think the way the LDS Church recommends their members go about establishing their food storage makes a lot of sense.
  1. Make a 72-hour emergency kit. Have enough food, water, etc. on hand to get you through a short-term emergency and be ready to get out of dodge, if necessary. In other words, create a bug-out bag. See how I made ours here. I would do things a bit differently now that I know more about it, but they are not a bad start.   
  2. Build up a store of three month's worth of your regular, everyday foods.
  3. Get one year's worth of long term storage items such as wheat, oats, beans, etc.
Today I'm going to share our family's plan for our three months of "regular" meals. To do create our plan, I used Food Storage Made Easy's Excel document. I also did a lot of Internet research. The sites I found most helpful were Prepared LDS Family (check our her Three Month Supply Menus) and Everything Under the Sun. Hopefully it will help you all with your food storage plans if I share an outline of our plan here on my blog. First, my requirements:
  1. It must be completely shelf-stable. Nothing frozen or fresh allowed. Most people count frozen foods towards their three month supply, but I felt like I had to make everything shelf-stable. I spent a lot of time collecting shelf-stable food storage recipes from a variety of sources. The majority of these recipes do not require an oven, so I can cook them on my gas stove, on a grill, over a fire, or whatever I have during a grid-down scenario.
  2. They must use common storage foods. Lots of rice, beans, and lentils. Nothing terribly exotic. All meats are either canned, freeze-dried, or home canned. (I'll be posting about more about my canning adventures later this month.)
  3. Meals must resemble food we would eat. To be honest, very few of the meals I have planned out below are exactly what I would normally serve my family. I use a ton of fresh and frozen ingredients and like to have a wide variety of sides,etc. served with my meals. But I did take into consideration my family's habits and tastes. For example, the only thing we eat for breakfast at our house is cold cereal. I would be lying to myself if I planned all of our breakfasts to be oatmeal. My menu may not consist entirely of "regular, everyday" food, but it's all stuff that's not too far from what we normally eat.
  4. We need variety. I don't want to repeat the same seven meals over and over.
So, with these things in mind, here are my menus. Each category should add up to 90 days of food.

Breakfast Menus

• 69 x Cold Cereal, Reconstituted Dry Milk, Carnation Instant Breakfast with Reconstituted Dry Milk
• 9 x Oatmeal made with dry milk, rolled oats and raisins, Carnation Instant Breakfast with Reconstituted Dry Milk
• 6 x Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins, Carnation Instant Breakfast with Reconstituted Dry Milk
• 6 x Apple Spice Muffins, Carnation Instant Breakfast with Reconstituted Dry Milk

Lunch Menus

• 12 x Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Canned Fruit
• 6 x Macaroni and Cheese, Canned Fruit
• 9 x Canned Vegetable Soup, Bread and Butter
• 9 x Canned Chicken and Noodle Soup, Bread and Butter
• 6 x Rice Salad, Canned Fruit
• 6 x Cream Red Beans and Pasta Salad, Canned Fruit
• 6 x Lentil Stew, Fruit
• 9 x Pancakes
• 9 x Cowboy Delight, Fruit
• 6 x Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Fruit
• 6 x Indian Lentils, Rice, Fruit
• 6 x Spaghettios

Dinner Menus

• 3 x Fried Rice, Fruit
• 9 x Spaghetti, corn
• 3 x Quick Beef Chili and Corn, Biscuits
• 3 x Beans and Rice with a Bam, Green Beans
• 3 x Pineapple Chicken, Rice
• 3 x Chicken a la Queen, Corn
• 3 x Chili Mac, Green Beans
• 3 x Curry Beef on Rice
• 3 x Chicken Creole, Fruit
• 3 x Chicken Corn Soup, Bread and Butter
• 3 x Vegetarian Chili, Corn
• 3 x Italian Chicken and Bean Soup
• 3 x Chicken Alfredo
• 3 x Puerto Rican Beans and Rice
• 3 x Beef Stew, Biscuits
• 3 x Chicken Delight
• 3 x Chicken and Rice Casserole
• 3 x Chicken Fricassee
• 3 x Goulash, green beans
• 3 x Beef and Beans, Biscuits
• 3 x Homemade Rice-a-Roni, Fruit
• 3 x Shepherd’s Pie
• 3 x Taco Soup, Bread and Butter
• 3 x Tamale Pie
• 3 x Bean and Lentil Pilaf, Fruit
• 3 x Chicken Little Soup
• 3 x 15 Bean Soup
• 3 x Beef Soup

Snacks

• 9 x Granola Bars
• 6 x Fruit snacks
• 6 x Graham crackers
• 6 x Hot Cocoa
• 6 x Popcorn
• 6 x Brownies from mix
• 6 x Chocolate chip cookies
• 6 x Oatmeal cookies
• 6 x Apple Crisp
• 9 x Crackers
• 3 x Homemade Wheat Thins
• 3 x Skookie
• 6 x Pudding or Apple Sauce Cup
• 9 x Dried Fruit
• 3 x Snickerdoodles

Served with
• 48 x Fruit Drink (ie. Tang-like substances)
• 36 x Apple Juice

---------
My Three-Month Supply menus can easily be sized up so that I have a year's worth of menus. Here are the changes I'll make:
  • I will rely more freeze-dried/dehydrated foods to avoid the shelf-life/rotation issues of canned food. Use freeze-dried corn, green beans, chicken, etc.
  • My three month supply uses a lot of meat. I may have to eliminate some of the chicken meals in favor of more rice and beans.
  • I don't plan on storing 1 year's worth of cereal, crackers, etc. 
  • Storing survival seeds are a must! We'll need to grow our own food for long-term survival as well as to break up the monotony of our diet.  
So there it is! I hope this is helpful and I welcome your questions and comments.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Mommy Must: A First Aid Kit for My Purse

There have been several times that I have wished that I had a mini first aid kit with me. The instance I remember most vividly was the time that Mini Me scraped most of her epidermis at the over-priced parent trap that is Sesame Place. I tried to clean her up as best I could, but wasn't very successful in stopping the bleeding (or the screaming, for that matter). Thankfully, a kind stranger handed me a couple of bandaids, saying, "I'm a teacher and so I'm always prepared with a first aid kit." It dawned on me then that a first aid kit would be a pretty smart thing to put in my purse.

That incident happened in July 2009. I made my first aid kit today. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.

This first aid kit is NOT meant for wilderness survival situations. It is NOT meant to get your family through TEOTWAWKI. I have a more extensive first aid kit in my car and even more first aid materials at home. This is a small, light kit that will easily fit in a purse and cover the minor first aid situations moms face on a regular basis.

I had read about people creating first aid or survival kits and putting them inside Altoids tins.



I thought that was a great idea. An Altoids tin is fairly strong, holds a bit, and will certainly fit in any purse I carry.



Contents:
  1. Medication dosage instructions printed on card stock. 
  2. Band-aids in several sizes
  3. Alcohol Wipes
  4. Tweezers
  5. Dermabond. This is basically sterile Super Glue and is useful for closing some types of cuts.
  6. A couple of packets of triple antibiotic ointment
  7. Individually packaged medications, including: Children's Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Pepcid Complete, Tylenol, Advil, Benedryl and Aspirin.
I tried to come up with the easiest, most space-efficient way of packaging each medicine separately. I found these baggies in the crafting section of Wal-Mart.



They are 2" x 3" in size. 1" x 2" would have been even better, but this was the smallest I could find. I labelled each baggie, rolled it up, and stuck it in the Altoids tin with everything else.


I originally had some cough drops that I wanted to put in the tin, too, but unfortunately they didn't quite fit.

Viola! Whether Hubby Dear gets heartburn or Mini Me has another one of her klutz-capades, I'm prepared. Mostly.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This counts as food storage? Yep!


The stores are full of baking supplies at bargain prices. If you haven't done so already, why don't you pick up a few extra items? Many baking supplies are great for short or long term storage. Imagine being able to whip up some chocolate chip cookies when TSHTF. Doesn't sound so scary now, does it? ;)

In an upcoming post, I will share my menu for my three month supply of meals from food storage. Many of the snack and breakfast items in my menu use tasty stuff like what is pictured above.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"I can't believe it would happen here." Really?

You probably heard the news about the attempted bombing in Oregon. A Somali-born, naturalized US citizen named Mohamed Osman Mohamud plotted to blow up a car bomb at a tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, OR. As I watched the news coverage on Sunday morning, I was struck by the comments of several of the "people on the street" that were interviewed. They all said something to the effect of, "I can't believe it would happen here."

I couldn't believe my ears. Really? People think they are safe from terrorism just because they don't live in one of the top five metropolitan areas in the US?

In case you forgot, this happened in OKC.
Maybe those people interviewed had forgotten the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. Last time I checked, OKC wasn't exactly vying with New York City for population bragging rights.

Check out this quote from the same CNN article I linked at the top of my post:

           Officials said Mohamud also stated, "... it's in Oregon;
           and Oregon like you know, nobody ever thinks about  it."                                           


The terrorists are catching on to this head-in-the-sand mindset, and you can bet that this failed terrorist attempt in Portland will not be the last. Thank goodness the FBI intercepted this jihadist lunatic before he hurt a lot of innocent people.

This kind of thing can happen, even in places like Orgeon or America's Heartland. Wake up, people!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Month Six in Review and Month Seven Preps

Did you think this past month seemed to fly by? I can't believe November is already drawing to a close. I also am astonished that I've been actively prepping for only seven months. I've learned so much and accomplished quite a bit.

RIP oil lamp chimney
Month Six of my prepping plan was a doozy. I had a humbling experience with primitive technology, bought a bunch of freeze-dried and dehydrated items for my food storage, stocked up on the necessities to have lighting during a power-down scenario, as well as accomplished the other items in my plan for this month.

In the negative column, I'm still not doing very well with adding in exercise, unless you count using my new grain mill. Hey, it does make me break a sweat! Also, the glass globe/chimney on my oil lamp met a premature demise when I was dusting it yesterday. This goes to show that A) I need to have some back-up chimneys on hand with my other supplies and B) My contention that housework is evil does have a basis in fact.   
 
Month Seven:
  1. Continue to build food storage basics. Perhaps take advantage of holiday sales and stock up on items like spices, chocolate chips, canned pumpkin, etc.
  2. Buy some ground beef and chicken breast and pressure can it. Conduct a taste test and see how my home-canned meat fares vs. store bought canned chicken. 
  3. Create a first aid kit for for my purse. I'm thinking of making one in a Altoid tin.
  4. Buy an electric grain mill and put it through its paces.
  5. Begin the process of organizing some of my canned food storage for easier rotation. I'm going to try out and review one of the can rotation devices on the market.
  6. In the category of "Hope Springs Eternal": Exercise 3x per week.
Do you have any prepping plans for December or are you consumed with Christmas purchases and preparations?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pre-TEOTWAWKI Shopping List

Image from yourfamilymoney.wordpress.com
Do you follow The Survival Mom's blog? If so, you probably read her recent post called "Survival Shopping at Costco". She tested out James Wesley Rawles' contention that it is possible to do a last ditch, pre-TEOTWAWKI stock-up at Costco.

Now, we don't have a Costco anywhere near us and Sam's Club is pretty far away. Depending on what I think is about to go down, I may not be comfortable going or sending Hubby Dear on a shopping expedition an hour or two away. But we do have a couple of grocery stores, a farm supply store, and a mini version of Wal-Mart in our town and we can find a lot of useful items there. That's assuming, of course, that nobody else gets the same idea and strips the stores bare before I get there.

The problem is keeping a clear head in the chaos. I'd like to think that my preps will help me be cool, calm, and collected, but the truth of the matter is I tend to freak out. Not to mention the fact that I'll have four kids with me and shopping with my crew is always an adventure. And Hubby Dear? He's more likely to be cool and calm than me, but he's also pretty clueless. He did read One Second After, reads my blog, and listens to me blather on about preparedness, but it's just not his thing.

So what I did to combat these problems is make several copies of Lisa's Pre-TEOTWAWKI shopping list. I put a copy in my Preparedness Binder and one in the glove box of each of our vehicles. If Hubby Dear or I decide that something is about to go down, we'll use our secret codeword  (Read Alas, Babylon, anybody?) and be ready to do some guerilla shopping.

Of course the best thing to do would be to get completely prepared ahead of time so we don't have to fight the local yokels for the last package of Charmin. It's unlikely that we'll have a few days' notice before the End of the World, anyway.

 Download Lisa's shopping list here. It's a good tool to help you make sure you've got all the bases covered.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tattler Canning Lid Giveaway

Kendra at New Life on a Homestead is giving away a bunch of Tattler reusable canning lids. Haven't heard about Tattler lids? Well, read this and this. Regular, one-use lids have always seemed wasteful to me, and if you are in a survival situation, you definitely won't be able to run to Wal-Mart and pick up some more canning lids.

I've been wanting to try these out and I'd love to win this giveaway. If I can't win it, I'd love one of my readers to! It's easy - head on over to Kendra's blog and leave a comment on the post about this giveaway. Good luck!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Using Your Food Storage: The Best Cornbread Ever

Moist and wonderful! It has a cake-like consistency.
Warning: If you like your cornbread dry, gritty, and tasteless, this is not the recipe for you. If you like moist, sweet, scrumptious cornbread, however, do I have a treat for you!


This is the best cornbread recipe I've ever tried. My family decended upon it like a horde of locusts and quickly ate it all up. OK, I might have given them a little bit of help with that! This is a fabulous, easy recipe that uses a bunch of commonly stored ingredients plus some that have food storage substitutions.


Eggs - Add dry egg powder in with the dry ingredients and put the additional water in with the wet ingredients. See your can of dry eggs for specific amounts.


4 T powder + 1 c. water = 1 c buttermilk
Buttermilk - I rarely buy buttermilk since most recipes I use it in only call for a little bit of it. One option is to make sour milk. Take 1 cup minus one tablespoon of milk (fresh or reconstituted dry) and then add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Stir it up and let sit for 5 minutes. You could also use buttermilk powder, a great product that stores practically forever in the refrigerator.

Butter - I think the butter is key to this recipe's moist texture. I keep a bunch of butter in the freezer so I always have some on hand. I'm pretty sure that substituting oil or powdered butter wouldn't work. Canned butter, on the other hand, is a possibility. Have any of you tried that before? Some people can their own butter, but I'm going to side with the USDA on this one and stick to commercially canned butter, available here. I plan on picking up some commerically canned butter and cheese at some point and I'll review it on my blog.

You must try this cornbread! It's heavenly served for dinner with chili or a hearty soup or even nibbled on at 2 AM in your PJs. Not that I know anything about that...

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread, by Bethany (The same Bethany of refried bean fame), posted on allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs (Or dry eggs)
1 cup buttermilk (Or sour milk or dry buttermilk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Inflation is coming, or rather, is already here

I don't watch Glenn Beck regularly. My personal political beliefs are a curious mixture of moderate, libertarian, and (occasionally) apathetic. Glenn Beck could very well be telling the truth about massive left wing conspiracies, etc. but the way he delivers his message makes me uncomfortable. I don't cotton to pontification. I prefer to hear both sides of the issue and make my own conclusions. The more I learn, however, the more Glenn Beck makes sense.

I did find yesterday's show interesting. After being tipped off to it by The Survival Blog and The Survival Mom, I tuned in and listened to his segments on inflation and food storage. I didn't think he gave very much useful information on food storage (he should have let Lisa, The Survival Mom, talk more!), but I appreciated his explanation on why we are going to experience inflation.





I sat on Hubby Dear and made him watch this with me. I've been trying to explain this kind of stuff to him but I'm notoriously bad with numbers and mathematical explanations. This did a better job.

If you've been shopping for groceries recently, you've probably noticed prices spiking on certain items. It sounds like we could very well be in store for more of this. This makes me want to buckle down even more and get my year's supply of food ASAP. I think more and more people are going to pull their heads out of the sand and realize food storage is only prudent.

The time for preparedness is now. If hyperinflation comes, the consequences for ordinary Americans will be huge.

What is the state of your food storage? If inflation goes nuts, how do you think your family will cope?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Tip: Stock up on Exam Gloves

This box of 200 gloves was $10.87 at Sam's Club
People are quite blase about H1N1 these days, but do you remember the frenzy in 2009? I have to admit that I was one of those who freaked out because A) I was pregnant and hormonal  B) Hubby Dear is in health care and regularly "brings his work home" and  C) I was a prepper and didn't know it yet!

I don't know about where you live, but the stores here quickly sold out of hand sanitizer and face masks the moment H1N1 reached our area. I unsuccessfully searched our local stores for those items and cursed myself for not being better prepared.

I've already got the hand sanitizer and masks in bulk and this month I added another pandemic/SHTF must - exam gloves. Think of all the uses these gloves have. Any time there is the chance you will come into contact with a sick family member's body fluids, you should use gloves. I can bring myself to do any number of gross things (clean up vomit, dispose of a dead rodent, etc.) if I have gloves on. And if the kids get really bored, they can blow them up into balloons.

Hubby Dear told me that I should remind you all that these kinds of gloves are not sterile. If you were, say, putting in stitches, performing surgery or delivering a baby, you would ideally have individually-wrapped sterile gloves. Keep that in mind when you need to take out Great Aunt Ethel's gallbladder post-TEOTWAWKI. ;)

Another thing to remember is that gloves come in several sizes. I bought size medium, which is the perfect size for me. It also works OK for Hubby Dear. I don't know about all brands of gloves, but these came with a sizing chart on the back. Hubby Dear works with people who wear anywhere between size small and size 2XL so you really need to make sure you check sizes before you buy a ton of gloves.

Sizing chart on the back of the box

Like most items you store, there are some storage considerations for gloves. Just like your food storage, they need a cool, dry place away from light.


Pick some gloves up the next time you go to the store. You might be very glad you did.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventures in Whole Wheat: My first home-ground loaf of bread

I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I've made bread since I was a teenager, but this is a definite first - 100% whole wheat bread made from flour ground by my own two hands. After I figured out my grain mill issues, I jumped right into a recipe for EZ Whole Wheat Bread from Crystal at Everyday Food Storage.

First, I milled just over two cups of wheat berries into 2 3/4 c. flour. It took me 7 minutes to grind it with my new Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe and it definitely gave me an upper body workout. Just another reason to get in shape!


Hand-ground flour made from hard white wheat

Next, I mixed together all of the ingredients for the bread in my Kitchenaid mixer, including this array of #10 cans:

Potato Flakes, Dry Milk, Vital Wheat Gluten and Hard White Wheat

This recipe includes vital wheat gluten, potato flakes, and vinegar as dough conditioners. They're supposed to help make the bread fluffy instead of a heavy brick.

My mixer took care of the kneading for 10 minutes or so while I cleaned up my kitchen. Two days of grain mill experiments had left it dusty and with a sprinkling of broken pieces of china. (Don't ask.)


Kneading the dough

The dough was heavy and gummy in texture when I set it aside to rise. After one hour, it was doubled in size

First Rising

and ready to be shaped into a loaf.



One more rising

Risen twice and ready for the oven


and then 25 minutes in the oven produced this golden beauty.


Ready to eat!

We usually eat Sara Lee 100% Whole Wheat bread, so my family is already accustomed to whole wheat bread. This was similar in many ways but definitely better.

Where's the butter?

It had a nice, light texture. Those dough enhancers worked their magic. I was worried what the texture would be like when I felt the dough after it was kneaded, but it turned out great. It sliced well and would make wonderful sandwich bread. Compared to the store bought bread, it had a sweet, fresh, "clean" taste and was very filling.

The only problem was that there was a slight gritty bite every so often. I think we still need to work on wearing down our mill's stones and that problem will go away.

This recipe is so tasty and easy that I can see myself making it often... after I get an electric grain mill.

If you haven't found Crystal's site, check it out. You will find her recipe for EZ Whole Wheat Bread here and her YouTube video demonstration here and here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Big Slice of Humble Pie: Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe Review Redux

After I posted my less than stellar review of the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill, I had this nagging feeling I was doing something wrong. All those great reviews of this product from numerous sources just couldn't be wrong, could they? I went back and read through my research, looking for any clue as to why my grain mill wasn't producing much flour.

I got the clue I needed from this four part series of YouTube videos.

I watched David (one of those YouTube preppers who regularly cracks me up) assemble his Wonder Mill.

Check. Did that right.

I watched Dave start grinding wheat and getting copious amounts of flour.

Huh?

I paid close attention and then smacked myself in the head. Hubby Dear and I are officially idiots. Wanna know why?

We had been turning the handle in the wrong direction!! You're not going to get good results if you don't use it properly! I don't even want to admit how long we worked on that mill yesterday. We are s-t-u-p-i-d.

In our defense, the owner's manual doesn't say what direction you should turn the handle. (Clockwise, for fellow hapless grain millers). I guess I should be glad we're getting the kinks worked out now instead of during TEOTWAWKI.

Mostly I just feel dumb.

Hubby Dear getting the job done
Hubby Dear ground a cup of wheat into fine flour in.......three minutes. I cranked through the remainder of the 1 lb "break-in" wheat and I'm fixin' to grind some more for some bread.

In summary, my review of the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill is now completely positive. It is sturdy and it does work - if you use it correctly!