Saturday, August 30, 2008

Safely Gathered In: Weekly Roundup 8/25-8/30

Want What You Have has a great post on making your own spice packets by buying more common spices in bulk and mixing them to make packets like taco seasoning etc,.

I enjoyed the post on You Are What You Eat by The Obsessive Shopper. I actually like having an organized meal schedule, but sometimes what I'm planning on making for dinner just doesn't sound good, so it's a great idea to have a "favorites" menu with recipes close on hand. Maybe a list of your 3-Month Supply meals, because you'll always have ingredients for those on hand!

The Happy Housewife has a good article on things you can do to pinch pennies! Put the extra money towards food storage! She didn't say that, that advice is directly from me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Food Storage Friday: Bean and Rice Soup

I tried another recipe from the Provident Living brochure here it's where I got the alfredo sauce from. Unfortunately, this one needed a bit more work. It took me two tries to get it where I would actually eat it. So here goes.

Ingredients: Pinto beans (these are actually left over from last week's refried beans, so already soaked and cooked), powdered milk, whole wheat flour, taco seasoning, salt and water.

And oil. Add some oil to a large pan and warm it over medium heat.

When it gets warm, sprinkle your flour over the top and let it cook for a minute, don't stir yet. We're basically making a roux with the oil and flour. Like when you make homemade mac and cheese, or gravy. It starts to smell like homemade bread for a minute. Yum.

Stir it together and let it cook for another minute.

Add the powdered milk and the water

Add the cooked beans, you could add as many beans as you wanted, I added the minimum amount because I already had them prepared.

Add the seasonings and the rice now. At this point the soup is REALLY thin. That's why we're adding rice. It will soak up a lot of the liquid and make it a more hearty meal.

It becomes a lovely brown color and starts to smell super good. That's the taco seasoning. I love taco seasoning. I add it to everything. The soup Hannah shared on Wednesday--I put taco seasoning into that too.

Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to simmering and cover. Let it cook for about 3o minutes.

It comes out to be a delicious, thick soup, almost like a dirty rice. Serve it with lots of chips. So yummy. And if you're rotating--lots of sour cream and shredded cheese! Oh boy.

Bean and Rice Soup
adapted from All is Safely Gathered In "Cream of Bean Soup"

1-1/4 cups dried pinto beans
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
6-1/4 cups water
3/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 tsp salt
taco seasoning packet
1 cup rice

Rinse and soak beans overnight or using the quick soak method. Drain, rinse and cover the soaked beans with water. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 1-2 hours or until the beans are tender. You could also cook them all day on low heat in the crockpot. When the beans are done, drain them and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add oil and warm over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the warm oil and let sit for one minute. Stir together to make a paste. Let cook for one minute. Add the water and the powder milk and stir until combined. Add beans, rice, and seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with chips.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Water Purification

(Most of this information is straight from a Red Cross pamphlet that I have.)

In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis. If you are not certain of your water's purity, be sure to treat it before using it for drinking, food preparation, or hygeine.

There are several ways to purify water. No way is perfect, and often the best solution is to just use a combination of methods.

Below are a few easy purification methods. These methods will kill most microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals. Before purifying your water, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towl or clean cloth.

Boiling. Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.

Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water. If you still don't like the taste of your water, go ahead and add powdered drink mix, if available, or add a pinch of salt to sweeten up the taste a bit.

Disinfection. You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners.

Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

The only agent used to purify water should be household liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used (Iodine is not as effective as bleach, but it is better than nothing. However, bleach is so cheap and easy to store - get some!).

While the two methods described above will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes that resist these methods, and heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals.

Distillation. Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

A few tips from wikihow.com:
Both bleach and iodine work much better in warm water.

A person needs at least a half gallon of water per day to survive, sometimes more (children, nursing mothers, people who are ill, and when the weather is hot, everyone).

Use purified water for brushing your teeth.

Water that's collected through condensation (such as from plants or soil) needs to be purified. The process of condensation leaves some sediments behind, but unless boiling temperature is reached, parasites and other harmful substances may still be in the water.

A few warnings:
Commercial filters made for tap water remove basic minerals to make it taste better. They do not remove parasites or other threats that are removed through in water treatment facilities. Check the label to be sure what you're getting.

People with thyroid problems should check with their doctors before using water treated with iodine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pantry Recipe: Taco Soup

This recipe is unbelievably easy, delicious, and just perfect for a food storage dinner.
Ingredients: onion powder, canned tomatoes, canned chicken Great Northern Beans, black beans, kidney beans, corn, taco seasoning (not pictured) and salsa.

Like we've been saying all month, beans are extremely versatile. Whenever I make this bean soup, I just grab whatever beans I have on hand. Today I used black beans (I always use these), Great Northern Beans, and kidney beans. I also like to use pinto beans or chili beans (probably in place of the kidney beans).

So, here we go:
Grab a pot.
Pour in your canned tomatoes.....

And corn....
And beans... (some beans need to be drained, others do not. Just look at the label. I did not drain the black beans, but I drained both the pinto beans and kidney beans because I wanted a thicker soup, and the salsa & tomatoes add enough water for me).

And chicken.

Next, add the salsa. The salsa makes this soup a bit spicy and gives it a little kick. If you'd rather not have spicy soup, just add another can of tomatoes.

Add the onion powder and taco seasoning. Now, throw it on the stove and let it all simmer together for about 30 minutes. You could also throw it all in the crock pot and let it simmer all day - YUM! The thing I like most about this meal is that it can feed a huge crowd without much extra effort at all - just open a few more cans! If you like a thinner soup, add some chicken or vegetable broth (or water and boullion cubes). This recipe can also easily be vegetarian if you leave out the chicken.
When were are eating this meal on a regular night, I use frozen chicken breasts, and I serve it with shredded cheese and sour cream. Even if we didn't have those extras (i.e., we were truly living off our food storage), it still tastes delicious. Don't forget the chips!
Bean Soup
1 can black beans
1 can Great Northern beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can tomatoes
1 can corn 3/4 cup salsa
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
Combine all ingredients into a pot and simmer for 30 minutes. (Or, combine it all into a crockpot and simmer).
Note: this recipe can also be made with dry beans. Simply cover all your beans with a few inches of water and soak for a few hours, or overnight. Then rinse the beans and use normally!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday - Week #3 for the 72-hr kits!

This week for your 72-hour kits, gather flashlights and batteries. Ideally, every person should have their own small flashlight (and a set of batteries), but if you can't do that, make sure there is at least one for every 2 people. Remember, you should already have one in your car kit, so that counts for one (and if you have 2 car kits, you've got 2 down!).

And since that's pretty easy, we'll add one more thing for the 72-hour kits: copies of personal documents. Keep everything in one folder (and in a parent's kit). You should have copies of birth certificates, ss cards, wills, patriarchal blessings, insurance card copies, etc. If you feel uncomfortable storing this in your 72-kit, still compile this folder but keep it wherever you feel comfortable. Just put a little sticky note in (or on top of) your kit to remind you to go grab it before you dash out of the house (if that's what happens!). There will be other things on this sticky note as well that we'll be "adding" to our kits later (a shovel, for example). It would also be a good idea to send a copy of this folder to a trusted family member (or friend) - someone who lives far enough away that they wouldn't be effected by the same weather disaster that may hit your home.

How is your 3-month supply coming along? Ever since Abs shared her
Crockpot Oatmeal recipe, I've been wanting to add dried fruit to my supply. I don't normally like oatmeal but that meal looks great! I think I'd love it with dried apricots and craisins.

And finally, how is your bean storage coming along? Next Tuesday we're starting something new for the longer-term storage, so I hope you've been able to gather at least some beans this month. Tomorrow I'll be sharing a bonus recipe - bean soup. It's so delicous and unbelievably easy to make.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Inspirational Thought

"Provident living requires us to develop proper attitudes—a willingness to forego luxuries, to avoid excess, and to fully use what we have—learning to live within our means.

Unrestricted by programs and projects, bricks and mortar, the Lord’s real storehouse is indeed in the homes and the hearts of His people. As the members of the Church follow the counsel to become self-reliant, they represent an immense pool of resources, knowledge, skills, and charity available to help one another. This storehouse, the Lord has said, is “for the poor of my people, … to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven.” (D&C 78:3–4.)"

Robert D. Hales, “Welfare Principles to Guide Our Lives: An Eternal Plan for the Welfare of Men’s Souls,” Ensign, May 1986, 28

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Roundup - Powdered Milk

WiseBread has a great article detailing many different uses for powdered milk!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Food Storage Friday: Refried Beans

There's lots to read today. We have a guest post appearing on Totally Ready today, so go check it out. Actual post is here.

We also have a guest post called "Top 5 Food Storage Mistakes" over at Light Refreshments Served.

And here, we'll be making refried beans.

Ingredients: Pinto Beans. No joke. And water. And salt and pepper. But really. It's just like opening a can of refried beans. Only it takes longer. And it tastes SO much better.

The reason why dry beans are cheaper than canned is that the prep work for canned beans has been done for you already. With a little bit of work and planning ahead, you can use dry beans which are economical and easier to store.

The first step is to rinse them. Think of them as vegetables that haven't been washed. Fill up a pot/crock pot with water, just covering the beans and swirl your hand through the beans a little. Just to loosen any dirt and check for stones. Sometimes little stones sneak in, and they don't taste so swell. So get your hands in there and feel around.

Drain the water and fill it up again. Covering the beans with a few inches of water. Let it sit overnight while you sleep. This is the soaking phase to rehydrate the beans. There is a quick soak method if you forget to soak beans the night before, those instructions are on bean package.

When you wake up in the morning go check on your beans. The water level will be lower and the beans will be larger having soaked up water. Now they are the size of canned beans.

Drain and rinse your beans and dump them back into the crockpot. Cover with fresh water and turn the crockpot on low.

Who cleans the outside of the crockpot? Not me, obviously. To make sure the beans get done all the way through, I start them in the morning and keep them on low all day. You could also cook them over the stove top for a much shorter cook time, or cook them in the crockpot over a higher heat. I never do it that way because I'm lazy and would rather put something in the crockpot and walk away.

Leave the beans alone. They don't need spices, they don't need to be stirred. The only thing you need to do throughout the day is make sure there's enough water. Sometimes if the water level gets low, you'll have to add some. Other than that, leave it be. Seriously, that's the whole point of a crock pot right?

When it gets closer to dinner time, check on your beans. They should be swelling and splitting. Pick a few out and try them. They should be soft and not grainy at all. If they are still a little hard, turn up the heat for a while.

If they are soft and ready, pull a couple of cups into a skillet. Bring mostly the beans and just a little water. As we mash them, liquid will come out of the beans.

Unless you have a large family, you will only need half of the beans you prepped for this meal. Only put into the skillet the amount you are going to eat for that meal. I measure it by how many cans of refried beans I would use for that meal. Usually we eat two cans of refried beans for the four of us. So I add to the skillet about four cups of beans and a little liquid. The rest of the beans I put in tupperware in two cup amounts and freeze. This is an important tip that I learned recently from a friend, don't mash the beans and freeze them, freeze them in this state after the soaking and cooking. Then when you want refried beans, you can pull a tupperware out of the freezer, defrost, and fry it up. Then it will be much fresher and taste like you made it that day!

So after you've divided up what you'll be eating and what you'll be freezing, turn back to the skillet on the stove. Over medium heat, start mashing the beans with a potato masher. Since the beans are soft this is not hard work. If there is a lot of liquid, then bring it up to simmer and the heat will thicken the beans.

Once you've done a good mash on the beans, add some salt and pepper. I also add chili powder, season it up according to your taste. Be careful on the salt, start with just a little and go up if you need it. It seems to me that these beans don't need a lot of salt. I ended up adding more pepper to these, and more bean liquid from the crockpot because I put too much salt in. Be careful with that salt.

I'm lucky. Because I married a man that is not picky about food. Really great considering when I got married I could only make german pancakes and taco salad. However, Mountain Man doesn't like lumpy refried beans. But if that's all I have to take, I can do it. So I puree my refried beans after I mash them. Just to make them more palatable for the Mountain Man. But it doesn't affect the taste, just the consistency.

And these ones, according to him, could have been pureed more. But anyway, you're done! In a food storage situation where I had no fresh ingredients, I would serve this with salsa (on top or mix it in) and chips or tortillas (all of those are great food storage items, especially the salsa).

A great recipe for cooked pinto beans is here at The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The recipe is great plain, or you could mash these beans up and serve as refried beans as Hannah does. In a food storage situation you would leave out the bacon. I've tried it and they still taste great.

While rotating your food storage, this is how we eat them. Yum.

Homemade Refried Beans

1-16oz pkg dried pinto beans
chili powder, optional

The night before, rinse the beans, then cover them with several inches of water in a large pot or crock pot. Leave out overnight.

In the morning, drain and rinse again. Cover with fresh water and place in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. Check to see if the beans are done by tasting for softness.

Remove four cups of beans and a little liquid to deep skillet on stove top. Freeze remaining beans with a little water, discard majority of water. Mash beans in skillet over medium heat. Let simmer to thicken. Add seasonings to taste. Puree if desired.

Serve with salsa and any other toppings.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Water Storage Methods

Water storage will be the topic of discussion for the next few Thursdays!

Water is more important than food. After 3 days without water, the kidneys stop functioning and the damage is irreversible, even with present day technology. At least 1.5 gallons per person, per day for drinking, food preparation and hygiene should be stored with your emergency supplies. For example, 84 gallons of water should be stored for a family of four for two weeks.

Today I'll go over some methods for water storage. Next week, we'll talk about purification.

There are several ways to store water:

1. Gallon jugs. They can dissolve over time. Water can also pick up the odor of the initial contents, or bacteria could grow if the jugs are on completely cleaned before filled. While this is an option for water storage, be cautious if you decide to go this route. Do not use milk cartons.

2. Soda Bottles. Also known as pop bottles :). You will need lots of these, but they store well. Only use shatterproof (plastic) bottles. Don't use glass containers.

3. Mylar Bags (5 gal). These are great for storage, but weigh approximately 40 pounds when filled with water.

4. Barrels. These come in 5, 13, 30, and 55 gallon containers. They are great for long term storage. When filled, they are not easily moved. However, if they are clean when filled, the water will remain pure. If you store them outside (or any bottles for that matter), leave head room for freezing.

5. Metal containers. NEVER use these for water storage.

6. Swimming pools. This also includes hot tubs. Always view your pool as "backup" water only. Keep dry chlorine on hand. You should also have chlorine testers available if you intend on using pool water.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's Tuesday Again! (Week #12)

How are you coming on your 3-month supply? Hopefully you are not letting that food just sit there - eat it and rotate it! If you are having trouble figuring out how to rotate your food, check out our series for some options. Don't forget to replenish what you are eating (on top of buying new items for it).

What kinds of beans are you gathering for your longer-term storage?

And finally, did you gather the backpacks for the 72-hour kits? If you haven't, there are other alternatives. You can store your kits in a big tupperware bin (or 2), or rolling suitcases, or duffel bags. The reason we suggest backpacks is because sometimes in an emergency, you may have to evacuate on foot, and backpacks are obviously the best choice in that case. However, if you want to start out by just storing everything in bins for now, you can do that too. The most important thing is that you are putting it together.

This week, gather one change of clothes per person. Don't forget underclothes, and keep your climate in mind. Also, gather one set of scriptures per family. One of those inexpensive paperback Book of Mormons would be perfect.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Spiritual Thought

“The best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary. … “We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)

“To Men of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 58

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Important Message!

Hi Readers!

First off, thanks to EVERYONE who reads and follows our blog. We also know that many of you have added our blog link to your own blogs, and we are so flattered. Thanks for the support you've given us so far. We are really enjoying this blog, and we are especially enjoying the fact that we're becoming more and more prepared. We hope you're having as much fun as we are.

Anyway, this past Wednesday I posted about "How to 'Can' Dry Products (Bottling)". I have known of a few people who bottle this way, and it has worked for them. However, it has come to our attention that this method is not recommended. I have done a little extra research, and apparently it's not safe to use this method for "wet" products (meats, etc.) because the heat of the oven does not properly kill bacteria. I have yet to find more information about bottling our dry products (like we wrote about), but until I can find more information to back up my method, I feel uncomfortable promoting it.

I have pulled the post off our blog for the time being; hopefully we can find some more information about this. As soon as we find that it's safe, we'll put the post back up.

Sorry about that! I know many of you were excited to try out this method. It seemed to work great for me, but please don't try it at home until we know that it's 100% safe!

Have a great weekend! I don't know about you, but I have some backpacks to gather up!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Food Storage Friday: Crockpot Oatmeal

I know I promised bean recipes, and believe me, I have those coming out my ears (we eat a lot of beans). But I'm hanging with my mother-in-law and she said "Hey, I have a great recipe for your blog!" So we made it and here it is. (More beans to come!)

We used steel cut oats for this recipe, but you can use regular oats. Quick cooking oats would cook too...well...quick, so don't use those.

Steel cut oats are cut smaller, and they have more of a nutty taste/consistency.

First spray your crockpot with a cooking spray, this will make cleaning a little easier. And you could definitely make this over the stove in a half hour or so, but there's something so nice about waking up in the morning and knowing that breakfast is already made.

Add the water

And the powdered milk. And you could use regular milk, but you can't taste a difference when it's cooked.

Add the oats. Nice action shot huh? It's a lot easier to take pictures when you aren't the one making the food.


Cinnamon (Doesn't my mother-in-law have a beautiful backsplash?)



And your own personal assortment of dried fruits. We used golden raisins, but craisins would be delicious too.

The dried apricots is really what makes this delicious. What a great food storage item to have on hand.

My mother-in-law is cool, she doesn't use a knife. I'm pretty sure I would cut off my fingers.

Add the apricots and then turn the crockpot on low to cook slowly overnight.

If you want nuts, add those when you serve them. Walnuts or toasted almonds are delicious.

Crockpot Oatmeal

8 cups of water
2 cups of powdered milk
2 cups of oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tsp nutmeg
1 Tsp salt
1 cup raisins/dried cranberries
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
Nuts, optional

Combine all ingredients, except nuts, in the crockpot. Cook on low heat overnight or for 8 hours. Eat!