Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gardening in Containers

During April we'll be reposting some of our gardening series to help get you ready for gardening season. Please feel free to leave helpful tips about starting and maintaining a garden!

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

Originally posted April 16, 2009

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Food Storage Tuesday (and a reminder at the end!)

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 some towels (no need to buy something new- just find an extra in your home!).  These can come in handy for a number of things - cleaning up messes, spontaneous picnics, etc.  I have 2 old towels in my kit, and I'm always using them to wipe off slides and swings at the park.  Also for your car kits, add a change of clothes.  Since the summer months are coming (and my children are growing!), I definitely need to switch out the current clothes I have in there.  I don't keep a full change of clothes for myself but I usually do keep a t-shirt and some socks.

How is your three-month supply coming along?  I have a confession... mine is dwindling - rapidly!!  More on that later this week... :)  Hopefully that's not the case for most of you, however.

March is winding down, so we're almost done gathering "other" items for the longer-term storage.  Next month we'll be moving on to something new.

This weekend is General Conference in the LDS Church (this happens twice a year).  That means it's time to check your 72-hour kits and your car kits and make sure everything is up-to-date (you should do this twice a year too, so we've coincided it with Conference).  Check your food, batteries, medicines, etc. and make sure that everything is working and nothing is expired.  If you have food that will be expiring before October 2010, replace it and use it up.  If it is good past October 2010, there is no pressure to switch it out yet since we'll be checking our kits again then.  You can if you want to, though!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Motivational Monday

Lawley, Shropshire, UK, the World etc etc
photo by likeaword

19 In the asweat of thy face shalt thou eat bbread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for cdust thou art, and unto ddust shalt thou return.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Roundup

Just a few things for you to read over the weekend.

LDSHelp4Hire Blog interviewed Hannah about food storage and gardening. Check out her answers here and here.

One of our sponsors, Emergency Essentials is doing a water barrel giveaway over at their blog. If you need a water barrel, go enter.

Finally, want an in depth review on the different types of oats? Simple bites has all the information plus a few great looking recipes.

Have a great weekend, ya'll!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Food Storage Friday: Granloa Bars...er...Just Granola


I've been on the lookout for a new granola bar for some time now. I'm looking for a recipe without corn syrup or sugar. When I found this one from FANNEtastic Foods via Inner Workings, I was thrilled. It had everything I was looking for in a granola bar. However, it had an ingredient that I didn't have: "brown rice syrup." I'm always hesitant to buy ingredients for a certain recipe when I'm not sure if I'll use that ingredient for anything other than that recipe. Does that make sense? So I googled "substitutes for brown rice syrup" and came up with maple syrup. I actually had the real deal maple syrup so I thought I'd give it a try. As you can see from the picture, sometimes substitutions don't work. I definitely did not end up with granola bars, but on the flipside, I made some delicious granola and it was SO fast!


Ingredients: rice cereal, oats, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax seed, maple syrup, nut butter and vanilla.


Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. You could use any combination of nuts that you wanted, and I'm guessing that any cereal would work too.


Mix it well.


A little while ago a reader wrote in asking if we knew of any recipes for granola bars without peanut butter because there was an allergy in their family. I have not been able to find a peanut butter exempt granola bar recipe. I think the peanut butter is a binder for granola bars. In any case, I do think that you can substitute a different nut butter for peanut butter. There are all sorts of "nut butters" available these days. This one is sunflower butter but I've tried almond butter too and it's delicious. That being said, I don't know anything about nut allergies, whether if you are allergic to one nut, you're automatically allergic to all of them. So this could be a moot point.


Anyways, you'll notice that this company is clear to state that although they process peanuts in the same place (warehouse? manufacturing center?) they don't use the same equipment so there shouldn't be any peanut traces in the sunflower butter.


Moving on, put the sunflower butter, vanilla and maple syrup in a microwave safe bowl and stir it around.


Pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray so the bars won't stick.


I ended up microwaving for 20 second, stir, another 20 seconds, stir and another 10 seconds and stir before I gave up on it being completely smooth.


Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir away.


Push the granola "bars" into the pan and flatten them out.


Pop in the fridge to harden.


After a couple of hours I pulled the bars out and tried to cut them.


It was a crumbly, albeit delicious mess.


So I covered them with plastic wrap and stored them in the fridge overnight. This morning they were still crumbly. I'm guessing the brown rice syrup is more sticky than maple syrup is, which is why they didn't congeal.


I think I'll eat it as cereal or as a topping for yogurt. It's still very good, but just not a granola bar. Obviously. I'm storing the granola in the fridge because I didn't bake it.

I'm tempted to go out and get some brown rice syrup and see if it works, because truly these had the best favor.

What do you think? Do you have a great healthy granola bar recipe?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Food Storage 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 basic first aid kit.  You can find them anywhere - Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  Amazon.com also has them here for under $15 - this one is also small and light - perfect for a small space like your car kit box.

How is your three-month supply coming along?  It's easy to get overwhelmed!  Trust me - I go through phases where I am totally excited about food storage and I do a great job.  Then I'll have a month or two where I get in a rut and I just don't feel like dealing with it!  That's ok - I just make sure I continue to buy a few things every time I go to the grocery store, and keep up with my inventory.  Don't forget to make a plan!  Don't have time to sit down and plan out 30 months of meals and a shopping list?  Check out our food storage e-book.

This month for our longer-term storage, we are gathering "other" items.  If you really did have to live off your food storage, and your three-month supply ran out, you would probably (hopefully!) be left with lots of beans, rice, oats, and wheat.  What would you need/want to supplement it?  Chicken/beef bouillon cubes give rice great flavor; honey or brown sugar would really amp up your oats or wheat berries; some salt and pepper or some ham flavoring would make for some yummy beans.  Think about some basic recipes using your longer-term storage and stock up on those "extras" that would help your longer-term storage become more edible.  (other suggestions for longer-term storage: powdered milk, cocoa powder, yeast, potato pearls, white flour, white sugar, pasta).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Inspirational Thought

“Self-reliance is a product of our work and undergirds all other welfare practices. It is an essential element in our spiritual as well as our temporal well-being. Regarding this principle, President Marion G. Romney [1897–1988] has said: ‘Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation in temporal as well as in spiritual things.’ …

“President Spencer W. Kimball [1895–1985] further taught concerning self-reliance: ‘The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.’”

President Thomas S. Monson.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Food Storage Friday: Fluffy Biscuit Muffins

These muffins are really basic, and really fluffy.  Would you believe that they only have 3 ingredients?  I'll admit that when I first saw the recipe, I didn't quite believe it could be that simple.  Something had to be missing, I thought!  However, they turned out really well and are great with jam.

Fluffy Biscuit Muffins (from Allrecipes.com)
(makes 4 muffins)

1 cup self-rising flour*
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk (made from powdered milk)

In a bowl, cut the flour and mayonnaise together with a knife until it resembles course crumbs (similar to making pie crust).  Add the milk, and stir until it's just mixed together.  Spoon into 4 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 425 degrees for 14-16 minutes, or until lightly browned (mine were done in 12 minutes, but my oven is a little quirky sometimes!).

*As a substitute for self rising flour, place 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add flour until full.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A few words, some questions...

It's been a slow week here at Safely Gathered In!  We've "missed" few days of posting.  Don't worry - we'll get back to our regularly scheduled posting tomorrow, with a food storage recipe.  We are so excited to get everyone revved back up into gathering their food storage (and to get back into it ourselves!).  And, it's time to start thinking about those gardens for this year!

Abbie and I usually don't share much personal information on the blog, but today was a very exciting day for my husband and me, and I wanted to share our good news!  Today was "Match Day" - fourth year medical students across the nation found out where they will be spending their residency training years.  It was a very emotional day for us - one that we have been anticipating and dreaming about ever since my husband got into medical school 4 years ago.  My husband will be going into radiology - 5-6 more years of training.  It's going to be quite an adventure for our little family.

Well, I am so excited to report that we will be spending our first year in Newport News, VA, and then the next 4 years after that we will be in Gainesville, FL!  So... here's a shout-out to any readers who are from those areas!  And... if you DO live in or near those places, I would love to hear from you and get some suggestions about where to live, what the area is like, etc. Please e-mail me at safelygatheredin (at) gmail.com if you have some suggestions.

Thanks, everyone - and come back tomorrow to check out a new food storage recipe!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dehydrator winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the dehydrator giveaway!  We got 276 valid entries (before midnight EST on Sunday).  WOW!  Thanks everyone.  I just loved hearing about your dream vacation spots.

We used random.org to find a winner... and we got #71, Lyndee, who said,

"This might sound dumb but I would love to go somewhere that my new hubby and I can just disappear for a few days on a white sandy beach somewhere and not worry about phones or the time or anything and just have fun TOGETHER :)"

Lyndee, that doesn't sound dumb at all - it sounds wonderful!

Thanks again to everyone for participating.  I really wish we could give dehydrators to you all.  Thanks for reading our blog!!

Motivational Monday

photo by li-penny

“As we live providently and increase our gifts and talents, we become more self-reliant. Self-reliance is taking responsibility for our own spiritual and temporal welfare and for those whom Heavenly Father has entrusted to our care. Only when we are self-reliant can we truly emulate the Savior in serving and blessing others.

“It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance.”

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Food Storage Friday: Black Bean Soup

Don't forget to check out yesterday's post for a chance to win a dehydrator! And now, a recipe from one of our columnists, Tiffany.

Black Bean Soup
~2 servings~

1 can black beans (15 oz)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Blend black beans, chicken broth, and salsa together until smooth. Move to sauce pan and add spices. Bring to a boil. Serve and eat!

While I am rotating this dish I like to add 2 oz of velvetta cheese to the soup when it is boiling just because it is yummy.. I also like to top with sour cream when rotating! Enjoy!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dehydrator Giveaway!

I hope you all got a chance to check out our dehydrator review yesterday. Today, CSN Stores wants to give this dehydrator to a lucky reader of our blog!

All you have to do to enter is comment in this post. Tell us,

What is your dream vacation spot?

I think we used this question for a giveaway we did back when we started this blog, but we want to hear your answers again!

One comment per person, please. The giveaway is open until Sunday night at midnight, EST. The winner will be announced on Monday.

Special thanks to CSN Stores for sponsoring this giveaway!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The not-so-scary dehydrator (A review)

(Special thanks to CSN Stores for sending us this dehydrator to review!  Come back tomorrow, because we'll be giving one away!!  Also, thanks to Brittany for being our guest poster today!)

Abbie and Hannah graciously let me test-drive this NESCO dehydrator.

I confess I was a wee bit nervous. But I shouldn't have been because it was easy-peasy!

The dehydrator comes with four trays, a fruit roll sheet (see above), directions, and even spices for jerky.

I decided to make apples and bananas because that's what was cheapest and what I felt I could dehydrate in good conscience (i.e. I didn't want to dehydrate something that I'd rather eat fresh). I used the "extra value price" bananas that were cheaper and more ripe--they turned out very well since they're sweeter.

For the bananas and apples, I peeled and then sliced them as uniformly as possible. It's important to have equal thicknesses so that they'll dry evenly. The apples don't have to be peeled, but according to the directions, the peels tend to make the apples take longer to dry and are also very brittle. So I went peel-free and didn't feel too guilty about leaving out the extra fiber.

After I peeled them, I put the slices into a lemon juice bath. My computer is on the fritz right now and I wasn't able to look up a good ratio of lemon juice to water, so I just put in a few tablespoons of lemon juice and added enough water to let most of the slices be submerged. Leave the fruit in for five minutes.

Very scientific, I know. You don't have to use the ascorbic acid solution, but it helps with the flavor and appearance of the finished product. (So the book says.)

Ditto with the apple slices. I didn't use mine because I was too lazy to get it out, but an apple slicer would be awesome for this step.

Arrange slices on the trays without overlapping. You have to put all the trays into the dehydrator, even if they're empty. This was two apples and three (I think) bananas.

The instruction manual tells you the temperature to set for different types of food--for these fruits, it was 135 degrees Fahrenheit. I just set it, plugged it in, and left it alone.

That's my kind of food preservation.

The apples were done after about 4 hours. They were crisp but had a bit of softness in the thicker parts--maybe I could have left them in longer, but you don't want to leave them in too long or valuable vitamins will be diminished. I'm sure it will be an experimentation process.

The bananas take a little longer--I left them in for another hour and a half, I believe. They were browner--perhaps more lemon juice next time? The bananas didn't turn out like the banana chips you see in the produce section, but these were much healthier and still delicious. They had a chewier texture than the apples.

The directions recommend one of those handy home vacuum-sealers, but as I didn't have one, I just sucked the air out of these bags and sealed them.

I store them in my freezer.

That is, I store what's left of them in my freezer.

Another awesome aspect of this dehydrator is that you can dry herbs and flowers, too! I just bought dried oregano and basil, which makes me very annoyed since I had these in my garden last summer but failed to dry any. Live and learn.

The final verdict: I found the process easy and understandable. This NESCO dehydrator is very user-friendly and I am thrilled with the fruit roll sheet (another post coming on that one). My husband isn't a hunter, but if we get our hands on some cheap good meat, I'll have to try out the jerky for sure. Anyway, dehydrating is a good method for storing extra produce that you can buy on the cheap, and this dehydrator is a great way to go.

Thanks again to CSN stores for sending us this dehydrator to try out!  CSN Stores sells all kinds of great items, including cookware, barstools, and neat modern furniture.  Be sure to check them out, and come back tomorrow for the giveaway! 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Food Storage 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 some wet wipes and a roll of toilet paper.  I use wet wipes for everything, it seems.  And a roll of toilet paper in the car can be used for a number of things as well... besides the obvious!  Last time we gathered toilet paper for emergency preparedness, someone commented that it would be a good idea to take the cardboard out of the middle.  That way you can flatten the roll and put it in a plastic baggy.  Great idea!

How is your three month supply coming along?  Don't forget water storage!

We are gathering "other" items this month for the longer-term supply.  I'm focusing on pasta and white flour.  What are you gathering?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Inspirational Thought


photo by zhangmirror

“‘Self-reliance means using all of our blessings from Heavenly Father to care for ourselves and our families and to find solutions for our own problems.’ Each of us has a responsibility to try to avoid problems before they happen and to learn to overcome challenges when they occur. …

“How do we become self-reliant? We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being.”

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flashlight Giveaway Winners

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in our giveaway!  We loved hearing where everyone is from... and I really wish we could give prizes to everyone.  You are all great!

We found our winners using Random.org, and they are:

Us, The Gilsons who said, "Utah"

debsdialogues, who said, "Florida, just a stone's throw from Kennedy Space Center."

morgan, who said, "Northern Arizona"

Congrats!  Please email us at safelygatheredin (at) gmail.com with your mailing address, and we'll get those flashlights to you!

Thanks again to Emergency Essentials for this great giveaway!  And don't forget about their special shipping codes:

SGATHERN (for shipping outside of Utah)SGATHERU (for shipping to Utah)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Food Storage Friday: Almond Coconut Macaroons in the Dehydrator

Keep those giveaway entries coming! I love hearing where you all are from. As you know, Hannah and I both live in Georgia, but I was raised in Utah and Hannah in New Hampshire. Hannah is actually moving this year (sad!) and she finds out where on March 18th (Match Day for medical students).

I'm banking on Mountain Man not reading this post. Because I'm about to introduce you to a 2008 Christmas present that was not very well received.


Hint to all the men out there: Girls like getting "pretty things." Not beef jerky makers.

Thanks to the plethora of healthy food blogs I frequent, I've found other uses for for my "beef jerky maker."

Not that there's anything wrong with beef jerky. It's just not my favorite. Coconut macaroons? Definitely in the top ten.
Ingredients: almonds, coconut, maple syrup (real would be best, but I use this recipe), honey, dates, and almond extract.
Pop the almonds into the food processor
and grind it up

Then add the coconut and puree away.
Grind up the dates. The recipe calls for medjool dates, but I just used whatever dates I picked up at Sams. Does anyone know what the difference is?

With everything in the food processor so far: ground almonds, coconut, dates, add the syrup
the honey
and the almond extract.
Now listen carefully. The first time I made this recipe I made a grave error. I followed the recipe exactly and put 1.5 tablespoons of almond extract in. I had to throw all the cookies away. It was like eating pure almond alcohol. This time I put barely a smidgen into the cap.
As you process, the dough becomes sticky and wet.
When it's all combined, it's time to go in the dehydrator.
Drop by spoonfuls onto the racks of the dehydrator. Stack up your dehydrator and turn it on. If your dehydrator has a temperature control, turn it to 105 degrees F. If your dehydrator is like mine and all it has is an on/off switch, just turn it on. Let it sit on your counter for 6-8 hours. The nice thing about dehydrators is that they don't emit heat, so having it run all day won't heat up your house. Also, it doesn't get hot to the touch, so if your kids touch it, they won't get burned.
After 6 or 7 hours, pop the top off and check the cookies. If they are firm and set, they are done!IMG_8603.JPG

Alright Mountain Man, you're forgiven. It's more than just a beef jerky maker.

Almond Coconut Macaroons

adapted from joggerslife's recipe

2 cups almonds, ground
2 cups coconut, ground

2 dates, processed

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey

1/4-1/3 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (optional, or chocolate macaroons)

Grind up almonds, coconut, and dates in the food processor. Add maple syrup, honey and extract. Add cocoa if desired. Drop by spoonfuls on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 105 degrees F (or whatever your setting is) for 6-8 hours. Freeze extras. Enjoy!

Check back next week for some more dehydrator action thanks to CSN stores!