Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Food Storage Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your 72-hour kit, your three-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 72-hour kit is complete, we'll be putting together emergency car kits again (week by week).  Once those are done, we'll gather the 72-hour kits again.  So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your 72-hour kits, add a radio.  This crank-powered flashlight/radio/cell phone charger has a lot of great reviews on Amazon, so check it out to get a good idea of what's available (and so you know what I'm talking about!).  If that doesn't work for you, shop around and find something that will.  And don't forget, when you do buy something, open it up and try it out before packing it away in your kits.  Make sure it works and that your family knows how to use it effectively.

How's your three-month supply coming along?  Don't forget do stock up on non-food items like toilet paper, toothbrushes, deodorant, feminine products, cleaning supplies, etc.

It's still May, so we're still gathering RICE this month for our longer-term storage (but starting tomorrow we're gathering "other" items, so feel free to start on that... "other" items include sugar, yeast, powdered milk, honey, bouillon, chocolate... basically anything your family wants besides the 4 basics (oats, wheat, rice, beans).

Monday, May 30, 2011

THRIVE Giveaway Winner!

Thanks for all your entries for our THRIVE giveaway. I used the random number generator to give me a winner, which was...

Number 34! Gaengy, congratulations and email us at safelygatheredin at gmail dot com to claim your prize!

From the comments it looks like we all need to go in on a dairy farm together...and a chocolate farm as well (is that what they're called?)

Motivational Monday

"Those who structure their standard of living to allow a little surplus, control their circumstances. Those who spend a little more than they earn are controlled by their circumstances. They are in bondage”

President N. Eldon Tanner "Constancy Amid Change," Ensign, Nov. 1979, 81

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Brittany here. I've been trying to use lentils more in my every day cooking. When I say "every day," I actually mean about once a month. Needless to say, it's a bit of a challenge because lentils--at least brown lentils--aren't necessarily the most appetizing legume. But boy, they sure do pack a protein punch, are an excellent source of fiber, and are food storage-friendly.

When I came across this recipe last year from a blog (now called Daily Garnish), I thought I'd give it a try. I found it to be an appetizing way to use those lentils that might be hanging around the cupboard, ready to shine.

Ingredients: Brown lentils, 2 sweet potatoes, 1/2 onion, 1 garlic clove (I used pre-minced), ginger, curry powder, cumin, bay leaf, oil for sauteing, bouillon or broth, and rice to serve the curry over.

I argue that sweet potatoes and onions are food storage-friendly because you don't need a refrigerator to store them.

Chop the onion.

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes.

Saute the onion and garlic for about five minutes in a little oil, then add the sweet potatoes, ginger, curry powder, cumin, and bay leaf, stirring to coat.

Add the cup of brown lentils, which you've already rinsed and sorted. For the record, I don't sort my legumes. I just rinse then and then pick out any that happen to look really ugly.

Add 4-5 c. broth (I made mine with chicken bouillon cubes and water)--just check the packaging to make sure the ratio is right for the lentils you're using. I found that I had a lot of extra liquid and so used a slotted spoon to serve it, which was fine. Quite honestly, I can't remember how much broth I used--just check your lentil bag so I don't get in trouble.

Bring it to a boil, then down to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are the right texture for you. I like mine relatively soft, so I think I let mine simmer longer.

Meanwhile, prepare some rice (I used 1 c. basmati rice to 2 c. water) for the curried lentils to be served over.

The original recipe called for brown rice, but my feeling is that for my family, getting the lentils in is a whole lot easier when there's some comforting white rice underneath. So pick your battles. Hope you enjoy it!

Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry (adapted from blog Daily Garnish)

1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. ginger
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 c. brown lentils
2 T. curry powder
1 T. ground cumin
1 bay leaf
4-5 c. broth (I made mine with chicken bouillon cubes and water)

1. Saute onions and garlic in a little oil for about 5 minutes. Then stir in sweet potatoes, ginger, curry, cumin, and bay leaf, and cook about 30 seconds.

2. Add 1 c. brown lentils and broth (check lentil packaging--I can't quite remember how much I used!)

3. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for about 30 minutes--I think it took me longer with the brown lentils to get them as soft as I like them. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

THRIVE Review and Giveaway!

This is a really long review! Hang onto your hats, the giveaway details are at the very end!

As Hannah explained a
couple weeks ago, Shelf Reliance has changed their business model and are now working through individual consultants. You should know that how Shelf Reliance is set up, it's always cheaper to order through a consultant than through the official website. The consultants have access to special deals and discounts. We're lucky enough to have another Shelf Reliance consultant, Fran, hosting today's review and giveaway.

Fran sent me some of Shelf Reliance's freeze dried food line "THRIVE" to give a test run. She gave me the Taco TVP, which she says is her family's favorite.

This was my first experience with TVP (textured vegetable protein), and I have to admit, I was a little nervous.

Fran told me to put the Taco TVP in a pot, add some freeze dried onions, and bell peppers and fill it up with water according to the package directions.

You bring it to a boil, then let it simmer on the stovetop for a little while.

Fran also gave me a package of macaroons to try.

Equally easy, I added water, let it sit for a minute, and then scooped it onto and cookie sheet and baked them until they turned golden brown on the tops.

My verdict?

The Taco TVP tasted really good. Surprisingly good. It reminds me of tacos that you can get at Taco Bell (Mountain Man's favorite). Everyone at the table (my kids, Mountain Man, and a few other guests) liked it enough to have seconds. My meat picky daughter (she only likes beef) took one bite and exclaimed "it tastes just like hamburger!" and ate it all up.

Would I eat it again? Yes, I think so. It tasted good, but more important, it was SO fast and easy. One pot meal--made in less than 20 minutes. I would have loved to have had this on hand during my 1st trimester, when it was so hard to cook anything because I was so sick. This would also be great to have for those really busy days when you walk in the door at 5pm and need to have dinner on the table by 5:30.

Onto the macaroons: these were also delicious and believe it or not, tasted JUST like the real thing, and incredibly easy. If I had my druthers, I would have dipped half of them in melted chocolate, but the general consensus at the table was they were delicious, and they were gobbled up instantly.

Overall this is my food storage-y opinion.
I don't think you should have a food storage based completely off of freeze dried food unless you have an unlimited supply of water AND you eat it on a regular basis so your family is used to it and is comfortable with it. The best food storage is what you regularly eat!

On the other hand, I think THRIVE offers so many great options as additions to your home food storage. Special things like dried cheese, sour cream, eggs, that you wouldn't be able to have otherwise. Am I going to start adding some freeze dried foods to my food supply? Yes, definitely as part of my rotating 3 month supply, because I can see myself actually using them to feed my family regular meals. On a side note, I am also going to stock up on powdered eggs...then I can eat cookie dough without being afraid of getting salmonella poisoning.

Thanks Fran for letting me try these foods! Check out Fran's store here

Fran is offering Safely Gathered In readers a mixed package of some of THRIVE's best sellers, valued at $50!

To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment and let us know what your favorite food (that you can't live without) is. Mine is cereal and milk. A very tricky food storage meal...since I don't love the taste of powdered milk. Guess I need a cow.

Giveaway will run until Sunday (May 29th) at midnight, Eastern. One comment per person please. Winner will be announced Monday.

Those of you who get this post via email need to come to the actual post on the website to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway, email responses cannot be considered entries. Thanks!

***Disclaimer: Although I received the THRIVE samples for free, the opinions are my own.

Whew. That was a long post...is anyone still here?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How Can You Help?

Today I want to talk about how you can help people who are suffering right now.

In light of recent events (tornadoes in the Midwest, and in the South last month), you may be wondering what you can do to help.  There are many charities to choose from when it comes to donating money, but let me make a suggestion: The LDS (Mormon) Church.  It probably seems obvious that I would suggest this, because as you know we are Mormons, and many of you are, too. Most of our Monday motivational thoughts come from Mormon people, too.  However, I'm not just suggesting that you donate to the Church because we are members of it.

The LDS Church has always been my charity of choice because 100% of my donation goes to people in need.  The Church has a huge network of volunteers throughout the world (members like me, and many of you), which makes this possible.  Of course, some people do get paid for their work, but salaries are covered through other various investments that the Church has.  All donations made to the Humanitarian Fund go to those in need.  You can read more about that here, and you can also make your own donation on that website.

Another article that I want to recommend is one that recently appeared in the Washington Post "On Faith" blog, entitled "Where is God (and the Mormon church) in a natural disaster?"  It describes a little bit about the Mormon welfare system and disaster response, and it's written by the head of Public Affairs for the Mormon church.  It's a very interesting read and it's so inspiring to read about all the good things they are doing to help (thanks to generous donations by people worldwide).

It is so scary to see what has happened to our fellow Americans in the Midwest.  It's heartbreaking.

We have been told for years to "be prepared".  I hope that if you are safe in your home tonight, you are thinking about how you can become better prepared.  Where are you lacking?  Do you need water? More food?  Flashlights, candles, medicines, first aid kits?  All of the above?  It's overwhelming to think about, even for me.  Even though I have a food storage blog and share ideas with you each week, I'm certainly lacking in certain areas.  It's hard!  But I think that recent events have lit a fire in me and renewed my motivation a bit.  I hope it's done the same for you, too.  I'm not going to lie - it's difficult to do it all.  It's also expensive, which is probably what's keeping most people back.  And that's why we started this blog in the first place - to motivate people, to get them on track, to help them out step by step, a little at a time.  It's certainly benefited us, and we know it has helped many of you, too.

Finally - we want to hear your stories.  Have you ever been involved in a natural disaster?  Maybe not necessarily this last week, but have you ever?  If so, we'd love to hear your story.  How did you get by?  Did you have enough?  What were you lacking?  What do you wish you had known beforehand?  What did you learn?  A few years ago my sister-in-law shared her "What I wish I'd known" story from when she was in an ice storm (a "must read", by the way!).  We would love to hear your stories and, with your permission, share them right here on our blog.  Abbie and I feel like we say so much here, but I think we can all learn from each other and what better way than to hear each others' stories?  So, if you have a story, please share it!  Email us at safelygatheredin (at) gmail.com.

And again, if you'd like to donate money to Humanitarian Aid, visit the LDS Church's donation page here.  Remember, 100% of your donation goes to victims, so you can feel good about where your money is going.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Food Storage Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your 72-hour kit, your three-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 72-hour kit is complete, we'll be putting together emergency car kits again (week by week).  Once those are done, we'll gather the 72-hour kits again.  So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your 72-hour kits, add a utility knife (or a pocket knife).  These don't have to be pricey - just choose something that looks like it will work for you.  Amazon has a utility knife here that looks decent and has good reviews, and here's a pocket knife too (at $40 on sale, that one is pretty rich for my blood, but might be worth it.  Any opinions on what to get?  How much is "too much" to spend?).  Of course, these items can be found in your local stores as well.  (And okay, as an aside... did you know that there is a Swiss Army knife for $900 on sale??  Whoa.)

How's your three-month supply coming along?  Make a food storage plan!  If you don't have time/motivation to make a plan, check out our food storage e-book.  It's $5, but we've created an entire three-month meal plan and shopping list for you, so personally I think it's worth it!

This month for our longer-term storage, we're gathering rice!  You can get more information about rice here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Motivational Monday

We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden as neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities.

I hope that we understand that, while having a garden … is often useful in reducing food costs and making available delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, it does much more than this. Who can gauge the value of that special chat between daughter and Dad as they weed or water the garden? How do we evaluate the good that comes from the obvious lessons of planting, cultivating, and the eternal law of the harvest? And how do we measure the family togetherness and cooperating that must accompany successful canning? Yes, we are laying up resources in store, but perhaps the greater good is contained in the lessons of life we learn as we live providently.

“Chapter 11: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006),114–23

Friday, May 20, 2011

Food Storage Friday: Red Beans with Rice

I asked Mountain Man to use up some red beans we had on hand (in preparation of our upcoming move). He made a DELICIOUS red beans and rice dish that I wanted to share with y'all.

He's one of those cooks that just kind of throws things together (so not me!), but I asked him to TRY to remember what he put in his dish.

Red Beans

1 lb dried red beans

2 quarts water
1 onion, diced (or 1 Tbsp onion powder)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
½ cup ketchup
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 chicken bouillon cube

Rinse beans, add them to water with onion, garlic powder and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for several hours, until beans are soft. Add additional seasonings and ketchup. Mix together and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over rice. OR mix with cooked rice for a "dirty rice" type dish.

Loving on beans lately? Check out our recipe page for some other great bean recipes. My current personal favorite? Pinto Bean Burgers--delicious, quick, bean burrito on a bun!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bugs Bugs Everywhere!

I opened a bucket of wheat this week only to find numerous exoskeletons among the grains. (Insert curse words here). Now, I had bought this sack of wheat a while ago and hadn't been rotating it as I normally would due to the whole pregnancy/baby thing. But it was still so disconcerting to see bugs in my food storage!

I have found bugs before in store-bought oats and rice but never in cannery wheat. I take care of the bugs in oats/rice by sticking the package in the freezer for 3 days right when I bring it home from the store. But what do you do for a 25 lb sack of wheat?

Has anyone had this happen to them? What do you do to prevent pests in the wheat? (Besides proper rotation of course). One google search led to a comment somewhere along the lines of "well at least you know there were no insecticides used while growing this food."

What are your thoughts? Are bugs added protein? Or nasty pests? What can I do to prevent this from happening again?