Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Tuesday (Week #18)

It's Tuesday again! Hopefully you gathered your infant & feminine needs last week. We had some great comments and suggestions about that one - some people said that they store cloth diapers, since those don't really come in sizes. What a great idea! We also know that some people were able to get deeply discounted backpacks, too. If you are still looking for some, it might not be too late.

This week, gather some candles and matches (or a lighter) for your 72-hour kits. Candles are great because this way you don't have to use your flashlights for an extended period of time and use up the batteries (unless you are using wind-up flashlights or something similar). Tea light candles are fine, and you can buy them in large bags. You may also want to get some little tea light holders, as well. They will secure the candles a bit better, and the candles are also a bit brighter if they are surrounded by glass.

If you are still trying to plan your three-month-supply, we hope our recipes are helping you out! Don't forget to plan side dishes to go along with them. Many of our meals already include veggies and meat, so I like to have a side dish of canned fruit or applesauce, so I also stock up on these.

This month is almost over - we hope you've been able to get some wheat!!

Tomorrow we are going to show you step-by-step how to build an oven. This way, even if you are without electricity, you can still prepare our food storage recipes. On Thursday we'll also be sharing another food preservation method. And, of course, Friday will be another yummy food storage meal. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Motivational Monday

“In reviewing the Lord’s counsel to us on the importance of preparedness, I am impressed with the plainness of the message. The Savior made it clear that we cannot place sufficient oil in our preparedness lamps by simply avoiding evil. We must also be anxiously engaged in a positive program of preparation. The Lord will not translate one’s good hopes and desires and intentions into works. Each of us must do that for himself.”

Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 8

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Safely Gathered In Weekly Roundup: Preparedness Lessons and Beans!

Some of our readers have pointed out great posts to share today:

Debbie's family had personal experience living on their 72 hour kits and food storage during Hurricane Ike. Read about what they learned here.

Check out The Simple Dollar for his post on Surviving a Natural Disaster. Disasters are 'no respecter of persons.' Think ahead and prepare!

Biblical Womanhood has a post about living on beans for a week! Go check out some great ideas for how to use beans in cooking.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Food Storage Friday - Pancakes

We realize that we've shared a ton of dinner recipes with you so far, and just a few breakfast foods, so today we're going to make pancakes with pantry items only!

Here are your ingredients:

whole wheat flour (it was ground a few days ago and been kept in the fridge), white flour, white sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, powdered milk, and water.

Combine all your dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon).

Next, make a "well" or bowl in the center of your dry ingredients.

Meanwhile, prepare your milk. I added 1/3 cup powdered milk to 1 cup of water to make 1 cup of milk.

Pour your wet ingredients into the "well".

Combine the wet and dry ingredients.

There you have it, pancake batter!

Pour about 1/3 cup onto your griddle and cook like you would cook normal pancakes. Serve with Homemade Syrup and enjoy!

Pantry Pancakes (makes 5 pancakes)

1/2 cup (plus 1 Tbsp) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 - 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c milk (1 c water mixed with 1/3 c powdered milk)

Combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon) in a bowl. Make a "well" in the center, and pour in your vanilla and prepared milk. Mix. Pour 1/3 cup of batter per pancake. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Food Preservation Series: Pressure Cooking

**I have made a few changes--forgot a few steps! Eek!--check for the changes in red.

Please forgive all the technical difficulties I've had during this post. You may have to stand on your head at some point to see the pictures at the right angle.

In today's post we're going to cover canning green beans using a pressure cooker. Pressure cooking can be a little intimidating because technically if you did it wrong, you could blow up your kitchen. But if you are careful and do it right, there's no problem. Some people wonder why you should even bother with pressure cooking because it can be dangerous. Good question. There are certain vegetables that can only be preserved using a pressure cooker (like green beans) so if you want to preserve those you have to use a pressure cooker. But it's definitely not a must for the food storage-er. (We have to come up with a better name for us food store-ers.)

First things first is the prep work. And the first prep work you have to do with a pressure cooker is with the actual pressure cooker. You need to take your pressure cooker to your county's extension service and have it tested. Since every area has different altitude and every pressure cooker is different, the point of pressure to which you'll be aiming for in your cooking will be different. DON'T try to pressure cook to the pressure point I use here. It probably won't work--and it may blow up your kitchen (I'm not joking). You have to have your pressure cooker tested specifically for your altitude and your specific machine...thing. How was that for technical?

You may be wondering what an extension service is. Well, it's a program from your state university. Specifically the agricultural division, and there should be one in every county in your state. (You can google search for your specific one, but there isn't a search engine for all of them since each state has it's own univeristy). Each county has information specific to that particular state. They can tell you what types of plants grow best in your area, test your soil for you to see what nutrients you should add for a productive garden, etc. And they can test your pressure cooker and give you your exact pressure point. This is turning into a novel.

Once you get that done, here's where the dirty work starts.

Prep the beans by snapping them.

Basically just snap off the little tops and the bottoms from each bean. You can use your hands or scissors or a knife, whatever is convenient. But get comfortable, for the amount of beans you'll need, you'll be snapping for a while. We did a grocery bag full at this sitting.

If you have extra long beans, snap them in half after you snap the ends.

You'll be able to fit more into your jars this way.

Make sure your jars are all nice and clean.

Now bring your snapped beans over to the sink and rinse them.

And drain them, and rinse them again. You want to get them really clean. Obviously.

Now start stuffing the beans into the jars. Really stuff them in there. Push 'em down, try to get as many in as you can!

You can use one of these funnel things if you want.

Top it off with a teaspoon of salt. Some people say it matters which kind of salt you put in, some people say it doesn't.

Fill up your pressure cooker with water, just an inch or so above the raised floor, so about 3-4 inches total.

Like so.

Have a pot of simmering water on to fill your jars of green beans with. Be careful, it's hot.

Put your lid on and a ring and screw it on tight.

Put your ready jars in the pressure cooker. The water level will rise as you put more jars in to about halfway. You will put seven jars in the cooker, six around the edges and one in the middle.

Like so.

Put the lid on and secure it. This is important because the pressure built up inside the pot is what seals the jars.

Make sure your steam vent is open. It will be different on whatever model you use, but make sure it's open so that steam can escape. This is important.

Turn the heat on high and let it go. Just kidding. This is one thing that you have to babysit. No running to the store, no folding laundry in the other room. You have to stay right next to this thing.

Okay, what you are looking for now is visible steam coming out of the pressure cooker via the little steam duct. When the steam starts to come out, set the timer for ten minutes and allow the steam to escape for ten minutes before proceeding to the next step. As the steam starts to escape, check to make sure that it is only escaping from the steam vent. If there is steam coming from under the lid, then the rubber on the lid did not seal, and you need to stop and start over again.

After the ten minutes have elapsed, close your steam vent and trap the pressure inside.

Now you need to start watching your pressure measurer thing. Wow. I impress myself sometimes. You are looking for the number your extension service gave you. It's measured in pounds per inch if anybody cares.

When it gets to that number, set a timer for 25 minutes. It needs to process at that particular pressure point for 25 minutes to make a seal on the jars.

Now don't think you can run off now, because you definitely can't. You have to keep your pressure point at that same point for the entire 25 minutes. It shouldn't go up or down. (Definitely not up though, talk about a bomb).

The way you control this is through the heat. If it's getting above your pressure point, turn down the heat, if it's getting below the pressure point, turn up the heat. This is one of the reasons why pressure cooking is dangerous because you can't just take off. You have to constantly babysit it, with no interruptions. Sure you can do the dishes, but really no leaving the room. You probably don't want to try this with little kids running around.

Once your timer goes off, the process time is over but DON'T open the cooker. The pressure is still at your specific pressure point. Turn off the heat and let your pressure come back down to zero. It must be at a zero before you open it. Remember, kitchen exploding.

Once the pressure is down to zero, open up your steam vent. If a lot of steam escapes then it isn't ready to be opened. If no steam comes out then open up your cooker carefully (and away from your face) and remove your beans. You're done! At least until the next batch.

Notice the color difference between the unprocessed beans (the bright green ones) and the processed beans.

So, pressure cooking is a lot of work. But it's doable, and those green beans sure are good in the middle of the winter!

Check out this website for more information. It would be a good idea to try pressure cooking with someone who's done it before the first time around. Then you could borrow their pressure cooker! Maybe ask a grandparent to show you how. You may be surprised at how much your grandparents know about preserving food. Make it a point to ask them to teach you so that knowledge doesn't get lost. And above all else safety first!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pantry Meal: Wheat Cereal

More wheat! No grinder necessary! This recipe is super easy, and I was surprised at how good it was. My husband and baby both gobbled it down. The three year old was more skeptical. But she's three.

The ingredients are wheat, salt and water!

Add the wheat to your crockpot

Followed by the water

And the salt, sheesh, that flash is BRIGHT!

Cook on low heat all night long. I put it in around 10:30 pm or so and turned it off around 7 am.

This is what I found in the morning, plenty of water left.

All the wheat kernels were soft and juicy.

But this would be pretty bland on it's own, so be sure to add sweeteners.

We treated it like oatmeal: brown sugar, raisins, applesauce and cinnamon. Pretty darn good coming from wheat.

Wheat Cereal
adapted from "Simple Recipes Using Food Storage"

1 cup wheat
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt

Cook ingredients together in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with brown sugar and applesauce, or milk and honey. About 4-1 cup servings.

Note: Be careful as you introduce whole wheat into your diet. It can really regulate your digestive systems if you get what I'm saying. Maybe have a wheat something or other once a week until it's not a novelty.