Thursday, April 30, 2009


We're giving away another Cansolidator Pantry from Shelf Reliance! These are a great way to keep your cans organized and ready to use. Both Abbie and I have one, and I can't really speak for her, but I love mine and I'm hoping to get some more in the future.

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is comment on this post, answering the following question:

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to food storage? Is it motivation? Storage space? Money? Lack of organization? Let us know! Hopefully if something really stands out for many people, we can address it here on the blog and we can help out.

One comment per person, please. The giveaway ends Friday night at midnight EST, and a winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org. The winner will be announced on Saturday.

Shelf Reliance specializes in emergency preparedness and food storage. Thanks to Shelf Reliance for sponsoring this giveaway!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pandemic Preparedness

If there's anything Abbie and I don't like, it's making people feel the need the panic.  With everything that's going on in the world right now, there's still no reason to panic at all, but there are precautions that everyone can take to protect themselves and to feel more prepared.

Providentliving.org has some great resources about pandemic preparedness planning.  Take a few minutes to read through the information there, and educate yourself and your family about it.  

The Center for Disease Control also has some good information.

Again, there's no need to panic or feel scared.  Don't rush to the stores and buy everything in sight.  Keep yourself educated about what's going on, and do what you need to do to protect yourself and your family.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Tuesday!

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your emergency car kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the car kit is complete, we'll be putting together 72-hour kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the car kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your car kits, add a few diapers for your child and some feminine products.  These are items you should already have in your home, so they should be really easy to gather up and add to your box.  Additionally, add an umbrella this week.  You can find umbrellas that fold up very small and are perfect for something like this.

How is your three-month supply coming along?  I love having frozen foods as part of my food storage, but please don't rely on them for your core three-month supply or your longer term storage.  If you lose power for a significant period of time, your frozen storage will be completely wiped out.  Check out our food storage recipes for some easy and delicious meals that use only non-perishable items, and consider storing the ingredients for these meals in your food storage plan.

We're still gathering rice this month for our longer-term storage.  Again, check out our recipes to see what you can make with rice, using all non-perishables!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Inspirational Thought

“The world would take people out
of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of
people, and then they take themselves out
of the slums. The world would mold men by
changing their environment. Christ changes
men, who then change their environment.
The world would shape human behavior, but
Christ can change human nature.” 

~President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Q&A #10

Every once in a blue moon we will post some questions that readers have asked with some (hopefully) good answers. Please be patient as we try to answer all your questions. More questions? Email us!

Previous Question and Answer Posts

Other Informative Posts:
All About Oats
All About Beans
Let's Talk About Wheat
All About Rice
All About Rice Storage

I have a question about storing water in my emergency and car kit. Especially in the car, it gets really hot where we are in the summer. I have heard it isn't safe to drink out of bottled water that has been hot. Is this true? Is there something else I can store my water in for the car.

I did a little research (aka google search) and came up with a few things here or here or here
and it looks like the FDA stands by it being safe to drink. But there are a few things you can do if you feel strongly about it. First of all, there are different types of plastic water bottles (you'll have to look at the links because I can't remember) that leach less chemicals than others. So when you are buying bottled water you can check to make sure you are getting the right kind. Also, it's best to keep the bottles out of direct sunlight, so if you have a cover for your trunk, or just want to lay a blanket over the top of you water you can do that.

Here's my opinion, if leaving water bottles in the heat was super dangerous, there would be a warning on the water bottles. But there's not, so I don't worry about it. BUT drinking warm water isn't necessarily refreshing, so although I keep a case of water in my trunk during the summer (yes a whole case!), I also NEVER leave my house without three bottles of ice cold water (for me and my two girls). If I'm going somewhere for a long time, and it's going to be really hot, I'll fill up my cooler with ice and stick some water bottles in it. But when it comes down to an emergency situation, I'm just happy to have water, hot or cold.

Remember, your car kit is for emergencies. But you can always plan ahead when you know you'll need water, and during the summertime it's easy to get dehydrated, so take a cold water bottle around with you and save your car kit water for when you forget!

I am keeping my emergency backpacks in the garage, where it also gets hot in the summer. Any idea there?

I keep my 72 hour kits in my guest room because it's too hot in the garage in the summer. When I have guests come I move them into my room. It's inconvenient but that's all.

I inherited wheat in a bucket from someone else. I have no idea how old it is and what the temps were in the past homes.

Yikes! I have no idea. Is it properly packaged? Wheat properly canned (with oxygen absorbers) will last for 30 years. Without, it is only 10-15 years. This guy has a lot of information on that subject. If it were me, I'd make something from the wheat and see what it tastes like. The older it is, the less nutritional value it has, but I don't think (OPINION) it would make you sick. Please don't sue me if you get sick.

Does anyone know how to can dried beans once they have been cooked.

Cooked beans must be canned using a pressure canner because of their low acidity. Check with your local extension service to see how long and at what pressure, because that varies with your altitude.

Cooked beans can also be frozen in ziplock bags or tupperware containers. Whenever I cook up beans, I make a big pot and then freeze them in 1.5 cup servings (about one can). Then the morning I need them I just take them out of the freezer to defrost.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Food Storage Friday: Italian Bread Bowls

I know I said I wasn't going to do anymore soup stuff. But bread is okay all year long right?

I will rescind my anti-soup threat if I get cantaloupe this year in my garden. Rachael Ray makes an awesome chilled cantaloupe soup that I'm dying to try, and produce grown in your own garden is totally food storage friendly.

Anyway, in our bread bowls we have: flour, yeast, salt, vegetable oil, cornmeal and warm water (not pictured)

Put the warm water, oil, salt and a couple cups of flour in your mixer

Mix it up a little.

Then add the yeast and a little more flour and mix.

While the mixer is running, continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides and the bottom of the mixer. At this point, leave the mixer on for five minutes.

Spray a bowl with cooking spray

And when your dough has finished mixing

Put it in the bowl (they call me Captain Obvious).

Cover your bowl with a clean dishtowel and place in a warm oven. My oven has a 'warm' setting (about 200 degrees F.) and I preheat it to 'warm' then when I'm ready to put the dough in, I turn off the oven. I don't want the oven to get too hot and cook the dough.

Oh, and make sure your dishtowel doesn't hang down too low and touch the heating elements.

Because it will catch on fire.

While the dough is rising, grease two cookie sheets and sprinkle them with cornmeal.

When the dough has doubled in size (about 45 minutes or less in a warm oven), pull it out and punch it down.

Separate the dough into 8 mini loaves

and shape them into round balls

Let them raise in a warm spot (like in the sun by a window) until doubled again--about an hour this time. I cover them with dishtowels to keep the dough from drying out.

When they've doubled in size, pop them in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. If you are rotating and have access to eggs, you can brush the tops with a beaten egg and a little water, for a shiny crust.

This recipe makes great bread (2 large loaves if you want) or to use them as bread bowls, slice off just the tip top of the roll.

Carefully pull out most of the bread inside

and eat it, honestly, the best part.

Fill the 'bowl' with hot soup and enjoy!

The best part about this recipe, is that you can use a canned soup, or a dried soup powder (rehydrated) and still feel like its a great home cooked meal.

Italian Bread Bowls
recipe courtesy of Anna M.

2 Tbsp instant yeast
2-1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
7 cups flour
1 Tbsp cornmeal

Combine water, salt, oil and 2-3 cups flour in the mixer. Mix together. Add yeast and more of the flour. Mix and then with the mixer running, continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides ad bottom and is not too sticky. Knead in mixer until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.

Cover and let rise in warm oven until double, about 45 minutes. Punch down and then form into 8 round loaves. Place on a cookie sheet that has been lightly greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until double in a warm place, about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. To use as bowls, carefully slice the top off and pull out the center leaving at least 3/4 inch sides of bread in bowls. Fill with hot soup and serve immediately.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Square Foot Gardening

(image courtesy of FrugalDad.com)

Remember last week I told you all I was going to do all my gardening in containers this year? Well... that's not true. I mean, I WAS planning on doing all my gardening that way, but then the weekend happened. My in-laws came into town, and my father-in-law built me a square foot garden! I was so excited, and I'm really looking forward harvesting all my wonderful fruits and veggies this year.

Square foot gardening is a good option for many people. It's great for me because the soil in our yard is so sandy, and we didn't do a compost or anything this year so it would have taken a LOT of work to prepare our plot. With a square foot garden, all we had to do was buy some soil from the store and use that - no mixing into our current dirt, no worries about too much sand or clay, etc.

There are lots of websites out there that are dedicated to square foot gardening. Check out SquareFootGardening.com, which is an excellent resource. My father-in-law used the step-by-step directions here at Frugal Dad to build my square foot garden last weekend. It turned out great!

My square foot garden ended up being 6' x 4', and I planted some tomatoes, herbs, peppers (red, green, jalapeno), some peas, squash, and a few melons to try out. What are you planting in your gardens this year? What type of garden are you doing?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your emergency car kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the car kit is complete, we'll be putting together 72-hour kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the car kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your car kits, add a change of clothes for each of your children, and for yourself if you want to. It doesn't have to be much - just shorts and a t-shirt is fine. To be honest, I'm only going to add a change of clothes for my 2-year-old. There are many reasons why she might need to change her clothes, but I don't think it's worth the space to store clothes for myself.

How is your three month supply coming along? I know this doesn't exactly qualify as "three month supply", but PLEASE make sure you are storing at least 2 weeks of water for everyone in your family. Water is SO important and should not be neglected in your food storage. For more information on water storage, check out our water series by clicking on "Water" under our topics column (bottom right side of the web page).

We're still gathering rice this month for the longer-term storage. Get what you can!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspirational Thought

“We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour,
each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we
allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves
to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to
perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever
value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In
selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way,
making the most important choice we will ever make."

Benjamin Franklin

Friday, April 17, 2009

Food Storage Friday: No-Bake Cookies Revisited

Hi, Brittany here. I know a no-bake cookie recipe has already been posted (aka Coconut Macaroons, I believe), but this is my favorite recipe. Best of all, it does not include any butter or shortening. The original recipe calls for butter, but I have made it a bajillion times without any and have found that the peanut butter replaces the need for the additional fat.

My only regret in sharing this recipe is that it may cause all of us to gain a considerable amount of weight should we be in a "pantry-eating only" dilemma . . . but they are a fairly healthy dessert choice, so I really don't feel too guilty.

Ingredients: rolled oats (you can use instant, but I prefer old-fashioned), milk (make powdered milk--sorry I have fresh pictured!), cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla, peanut butter.

Mix 2 c. sugar and 2 T. cocoa in saucepan. Add a dash of salt and 3/4 c. milk and stir well. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes on medium.

It will look like this.

Next, turn off the heat and add 1 t. vanilla and 3/4 c. peanut butter. Stir until it's smooth.

In the meantime, in a separate large bowl pour 3 - 3 1/2 c. oats. Add the cocoa peanut butter syrup and stir well.

NOTE: Sometimes I add more or less oats, depending on how dry or wet I want the cookies to be. These turned out to be a little too dry for my taste, but that didn't keep me from eating them.

Shape into balls and put on wax-paper lined pan. Refrigerate until hardened. (Or, if you're like me, you ate as you went along and didn't mind that they were too hot.)

They're not much too look at, but they taste pretty darn good going down.

No-Bake Cookies

2 tbs. cocoa
2 c. sugar
dash of salt
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. peanut butter
3 - 3 1/2 c. oatmeal

Mix cocoa, sugar, salt, and milk in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes on medium.

Turn off heat and stir in vanilla and peanut butter.

Add cocoa peanut butter mixture to separate bowl with oats already in it. Mix well and drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.

Makes approximately 18.

Refrigerate until hard and enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gardening in Containers

Many people just do not have the time or resources to plant a traditional garden. Take me, for example. I'd love to have a garden like Abbie's, but my husband and I have literally not had one free day this spring to dig up and prepare our soil (that's what happens with a third year medical student for a husband... he's never home, but when he IS, it always seems to be raining!). Anyway, I would normally just do it myself like I did last year, but this time I'm way to pregnant to even think about working that hard.

That's where gardening in containers comes in. It's exactly what it sounds like - planting your things in containers right on your porch! I did some of this last year and plan on doing it again because it's so easy. It's ideal for people who don't have much of a yard, or just don't have good soil. That's another reason I don't like to plant in our ground. Our soil is made up mostly of sand, and I just don't have the patience or know-how to fix it right now.

Anyway. I was going to have my container garden all finished for this post, with pictures and everything, but with vacation last week and the rain we've been getting, I just haven't had the chance yet. I hope to get it all done this weekend. But it's really easy, I promise!

According to About.com, there are many different types of vegetables that are suitable for container gardening: cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, green onions, leaf lettuce, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes. Just be on the lookout for key words like "bush", "compact", or "space saver". Any seeds with these words should be suitable for containers.

You can use pretty much anything for your containers. I used large plastic round bins, but you could also use flower pots, wire baskets, window planters, etc. Whatever you decide to use, though, just make sure there is a hole (or several) at the bottom for water drainage. Size of the container is also important. Obviously, larger plants need larger containers.

Now for your soil. Of course, you can use your own soil from your yard, but the best choice is to buy a synthetic mix, which has all the components for growing great plants. These can be found at WalMart - just look for bags that say they are for potting plants, and usually they will list "vegetables" too.

Be sure to water your container vegetables frequently. They don't have the luxury of drawing water out from the ground like traditional garden vegetables do.

Good luck with your container gardens! I'll be sure to post some pictures next week when I get mine planted. I'm hoping to do some tomatoes and green onions, at least. Hopefully some leaf lettuce, too. I'll let you know!

Much of this information is from About.com
Image from an article at Howstuffworks.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's Tuesday!

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your emergency car kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the car kit is complete, we'll be putting together 72-hour kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the car kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your car kits, add a blanket (or 2) or some towels.  These especially come in handy if you break down in the winter, or for simple things like an impromptu picnic or wiping water off the slide at the playground - they're just nice to have in the car.  These probably won't fit in your box, but if they do, great!

How is your three month supply coming along? Once you have your gathering complete, you need to have a method for keeping track of it all and staying on top of it (of course, you should have a method even as you are gathering, too).  I like to keep a small notebook right outside my closet doors.  Every time I take a three-month-supply item out of the closet (whether I'm making a food storage meal or not), I jot down the item on my piece of paper.  Then, when I go to the grocery store, I can just tear off the piece of paper and add those items to my grocery list.  This way, my three month supply is constantly full.  When I add the new food to the closet, I am also sure to put it in the back so my food never goes bad.

We're still gathering RICE for our longer term storage this month.  Get what you can.  Rice is so versatile and can be used in many different types of meals.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Inspirational Thought

"At the root of self-reliance are the dignity
and importance of seeing ourselves as
children of God regardless of circumstance,
culture, or location."

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Becoming Self-Reliant, Spiritually and Physically, Ensign, March 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Food Storage Friday: Strawberry Shortcake

I'm coming to you from the road - my grandma's house in Pennsylvania, to be exact. Hence the pretty countertops and wide open spaces. We decided to try out strawberry shortcake - a perfect treat for springtime (and any other time of the year, really). I adapted this recipe from one I found here at Allrecipes.com.

Ingredients: Sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, shortening, and powdered milk. And canned berries - any kind you like (not pictured here... they were currently being purchased at the store!).  But we ended up using strawberry pie filling.

First, combine the flour, some of the sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Side note: is this not the cutest salt container you've ever seen?? It looks so fun and vintage. I would have asked my grandma about it but she actually currently lives in Palmyra. I'll have to get the story on that when I talk to her next.

Cut in your shortening until the mixture is nice and crumbly - similar to making a pie crust.

Finally, prepare your powdered milk (1/3 c powder for every 1 cup of water) and stir in until moistened.

Dollop the dough onto the baking sheet, then flatten them into circles. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top. Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes.

Once it's cooled a bit, slice sideways and pour your canned berries on top. Click here to get our recipe for whipped cream using powdered milk, and you're good to go!

Strawberry Shortcake
Serves 4

1 can strawberries (or any other fruit you like)
8 tsp sugar
1 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c shortening
6 Tbsp milk (prepared from dry milk)

In a bowl, combine the flour, 4 tsp of sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening until crumbly.  Next, stir in the prepared milk just until moistened.  Drop 4 dollops of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, then press into circles.  Sprinkle tops with remaining (4 tsp) sugar.

Bake at 425 for 10-11 minutes.  Once cooled, slice horizontally and add strawberries and whipped topping.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gardening: Preparing your plot

This is not a raised bed garden. This is not a garden in pots. This is not square foot gardening. This is where you rip out your grass and put some dirt down. Just wanted to clarify before going on.

First thing is to clear away all the leftover debris from the year before. Pull the dead plants and the weeds as much as you can.

Then till up the dirt. You can do this with a shovel, but it's so much easier and faster to do it with a tiller. You can rent one from a local hardware store, or borrow from a friend that has one. Every year. Thanks guys.

Work your tiller all through the garden to mix up all the soil. This brings the soil from the bottom to the top, and breaks up leftover roots. All in all, making for a better planting ground.

Next up is to treat your soil. You can send in a sample of your soil, through your local cooperative extension service, to be tested for any deficiencies: lime, and whatever. Yes, that is the extent of my knowledge.

You can also buy fortified potting soil and mix it in.

Or you can walk over to your compost pile and shovel the compost onto the top of your garden. It's the easiest option.

The only thing we put in our compost pile is grass clippings. Every year we turn it over and the grass on the bottom has composed or broken down into a fertilizer. This is, thanks in large part, to a very hardworking colony of roaches. We all have to pull our own weight around here.

Now till through the garden all again to mix in all that good insect poop. 'Cause really, that's all it is.

Use your shovel to make raised rows. The seeds will go on the top of the raised rows. This way you will know exactly where the seeds are and won't be in danger of stepping on them.

If you get lots of rain in your area, or your garden is quite big, you can pick up some flat stones to use as stepping stones.

You're ready to plant!