What’s Your Threat: Food Storage…Without a Plan

23 May Threat cover

I’m excited to have been invited to join up with many other great preparedness bloggers today, adding a post about the biggest threat I see in our aim for preparing for the future.  Here’s my contribution, you’ll want to “hop” over to see others which have been posted by following the links below.

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The “biggest threat” to successful preparations, that I see, is the act of storing food away (relaxing and thinking you’re prepared) but neglecting to have a plan for it.

Through this post, I’ll detail 9 areas of planning which need to be addressed — in addition to the storing of food — in order for your food storage to become a “parachute” in your preparedness plan, effectively serving (and possibly saving) your family the way you want it to.

Without taking a close look at these details and double checking your preparations it’s easy to find a false sense of security lulling you to sit back and relax.  All the while- as you’re thinking you’re taken care of in the food storage department–  an oncoming train could be barreling it’s way around the corner and you’re in fact not ready for it. Continue reading

Keep your Cool this Summer: Wonder Oven Tip!

21 May IMG_8528

We all know wonder ovens keep things hot for extended periods of time, however it’s useful to know they also keep things cool, even frozen in the very same way!  

As an example of this, last summer our family took a road trip at which at one point – going from point “A” to point “B”– we knew we were going to be arriving to a family reunion the very same night our family had been assigned to make dinner for the group.  We wouldn’t have time to visit a store, so before leaving we picked up frozen hamburger patties and packed them in the wonder oven to travel with us.  Once we’d arrived and were ready to make dinner, a full 12 hours later, we pulled the hamburger patties from the wonder oven to use and they were still rock hard frozen. Of course we gathered a group from the family together (those kind enough to indulge me in my thrill of all things wonder oven) and oohed and ahhed at the “wow” of these pillows!!

Keep Frozen Foods Frozen

For this reason, having a wonder oven is extremely useful for many reasons.  If you’re freezer went out for whatever reason, you could save some of your food from perishing by simply bundling it up in your wonder oven pillows.  The more pillows you have on hand, the more food you could save!

In keeping things frozen, another use for them is to keep either a set of pillows with it’s container (if you have room) or just a single pillow –with a way to secure it around your food– in the back end of your vehicle to keep ice cream and frozen foods frozen on your way home from the grocery store.  Here in TX, everyone knows ice cream is the last item you buy when grocery shopping, just to be able to get it home before it melts!  With a wonder oven pillow on hand, you don’t have to worry — you can even go run a few errands afterward — the ice cream will stay frozen.

Keep Cold Foods Cold

Another application, one that I use a lot, is in using my wonder oven pillows (here in the Texas heat) to keep things cool.  Simply by wrapping up the food in one of the pillows, keeping the food surrounded by the insulating beads within the pillow, foods such as lunch meats and cheese can be kept cool for hours (all day if needed) for picnics, etc.  It’s so easy and it doesn’t even require a container! Continue reading

Chocolate Long Term Storage: Using Wheat Bran

8 May

Read with consideration, this method (whether the bran is to be attributed to it’s success) is currently under investigation…

Chocolate lovers, listen up!  I was given permission to post an experiment that’s been 5 years in the making (not my own), attempting to pin down the most successful way to store chocolate long term.

The following quoted recommendation (found by our tester 5 years ago) is what initially triggered the test you’ll read below.

“I have stored both M&M’s and chocolate chips.  You cannot put an oxy pack in with them [while storing] because it will make the oil in the chocolate go rancid.  I have experimented for years and have found storing them with bran is the best.  I’ve even tried storing it with sawdust (instead of bran) but the chocolate went rancid in 2 years with the sawdust.  I’m not sure what it is about the bran but it works.  I have had chocolate stored for up to 15 years now without it going bad.  I have stored it in three different ways:

1- Sealed in # 10 can (the best way for storing larger amounts of it)

2- Stored in a mylar pouch (not very good because the mice go through mylar pouches in nothing flat)
3- Stored in buckets (okay but not very efficient because once you open the bucket and let the oxygen in the chocolate goes bad very soon, 1 -2 months)

Instructions:

Leave the chocolate in it’s original package and pack (bury) the package in wheat bran. Then seal the can. You can usually get 4 packages of chocolate chips in one #10 can and then fill the rest with bran.”

Storage Test  

Wanting to try it himself, here are the results from our featured 2nd tester of this method (in his own words):

“Today I opened a can of assorted Hershey’s kisses that was sealed in February of 2009. It was stored in a basement with a fairly even temp. between 50 and 75 degrees. I made sure to completely surround the original packages with the wheat bran and used no oxygen absorber. I found that 4-10oz. packages fit perfectly into a #10 can. The critical thing, I believe, is to ensure that all the packages are surrounded individually on all sides.

The candies have no off smell whatsoever, and virtually no discoloration. The taste of samples from each bag was, to me, no different than the day they were purchased. I consider this method of storing chocolate a smashing success!!!”

storing chocolate

**

To get a better picture of what was really going on, I sent a note to a friend of mine, Cheryl Driggs (author @ www.simplyprepared.com), who I consider highly knowledgeable in storing techniques and food science. My question was whether the “bran” had anything to do with it or if it was just a filler of space. Here’s her reply, for anyone who might like to consider it.  She writes:

“I don’t think it has anything to do with the wheat bran. I think it has more to do with filling up the space and pushing out the air so anything would work.

Also, I’ve never heard the idea that using an absorber causes chocolate to go rancid. Rancidity is caused by oxidation. If there is no oxygen there won’t be oxidation so it should be just the opposite.  Absorbers should prevent oxidation and rancidity, however LDS Church home storage recommendations currently don’t recommend using absorbers with high fat foods until further research is done (although you do find them in commercial packages of jerky and other foods).

Part of the reason his chocolate came out well is the fact that he stored it at such a low temperature. The white coating that appears on chocolate is called “bloom”. Heat causes the fat in the chocolate to rise to the surface. The bloom is chocolate fat.”

What say you?  Please share a comment with us if you’ve found success storing chocolate.

Finale Contest Winners!

3 May

There are a lot of things I wasn’t expecting at the outset of this contest.  Of course I knew it would be a great experience for anyone who decided to join up, but I didn’t know I’d sit reading submissions each week cheering on the participants (for all my family to hear), laughing out loud at their funny weekly experiences, or feeling so touched by their notes of gratitude.

Another thing I didn’t expect to have happen was seeing how fast participants ended up catching on to food storage cooking and how good they got at it!  I already knew if I could do it anyone could, but the motivation of a contest really fueled the fire and got the job done (and then some)!  All recipes added up, it’s very impressive to see what these “once novice” prepper cooks accomplished in the short span of three months!!

Here are the stats:

Biggest Prepper Continue reading

Weeks 11 & 12 Winners + Recipes

3 May

What an ending! Welcome to Dawn Dockery, who jumped in Week #11 with 38 points and submitted a huge 170 points for Week #12!  Week #11’s point winner goes to Amanda Shulz!  Here are weeks 11 & 12’s prizes along with their winners respectively:

 

Week #11 winner

Week #12 winner

 

 

***

We had a total of 79 recipes turned in for weeks 11 & 12!  I decided to combine them according to participants.  Also, just FYI, I only got through about half of the post in adding the links before it was just too late and I had to go to sign off for the night.  I’ll finish up the links here next week.

Everyone listed here was entered in for the four prize finale… the announcement of those winners (along with our overall contest winners) is in the next post (posted today as well).

Be sure to click on the image if you’d like to have a closer look!  In no particular order, here’s all the wonderful food storage recipe testing that was done over the last two weeks!

Amanda Shulz

Amanda 1-2-3

1– Bacon Ranch Pasta Casserole

2– Butter made from shelf stable (Gossner’s) cream

3– Creamy Pineapple Dessert (made with Dream Whip, picture #4)

 

Amanda 4-5-6

5– Garlic and Chive Hoagie Buns

6–  Homemade Mayonnaise

 

Amanda 7-8

 

7– Pepporcini Sandwiches (using canned beef)

8– Ranch Dressing (made with homemade mayo and blended with a manual blender!)

 

Angalee Blatter

Angalee 1-2-3

1– Granola Bars (recipe found here)

ReviewDry, not great flavor, not a fan.  I will be looking for a better recipe we enjoy more. (*note from Megan:  Angalee, you might like to try this one, it’s our family’s favorite recipe so far!)
2– Harvest Bread (recipe in notes area below)
Review:  This is my favorite home made bread recipe I have ever made/tried!  It took almost all day, to make and rise twice and then bake so it was more time consuming than the others I have tried.  I made a batch and didn’t let the cornmeal mixture cool, and the dough didn’t absorb the flour right and my Bosch was shaking-long story short-  I threw it out and started over and made sure to really let it cool.  Second batch turned our perfect.  The kids inhaled a slice without honey or jam on it.  We love it!  Takes longer, since the dough rises twice but worth it.  And the good news is, half the loaf didn’t stick in the pan like last time.  :)

3– Meatless Taco Soup (recipe in notes area below)

Review:  We usually add ground turkey to this, but I wanted to make it Food Storage friendly.  I am a meat lover so I didn’t think I would love it, but I liked it just as much! 

 

Angalee 4-5

 

4– Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks (found in week #10’s recipe submissions from Paula)

Review:  Husband loved these.  I made one batch and then decided I should have doubled it, so I hurried and made another batch.  I have a picky eater who doesn’t like garlic flavored bread so decided to do one batch plain or with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on it, and the other was garlic.  Huge hit.  Love this recipe.

5– Whole Wheat Pita Bread (also in week #10’s submissions, from Brittney.  Recipe included again in notes here below.)

Review:  I think these were supposed to be easy, and for some reason they weren’t super easy for me.  I started one on fire and started a hot mitt on fire in the process as well.  It was in intense night in the kitchen.  But they taste good!  I just put some honey on one to try it out and was excited!  I will be making these again, with a fire extinguisher close too.  :)

Brittney Barney

Brittney 1-2-3

1– Alfredo Pizza (pizza made with jarred alfredo sauce as the sauce base as well as to sautee the chicken in.)

“This was okay—much better when we used the rest of the sauce for dipping.” 

2– Atole (a Guatamalan hot oatmeal drink)

“We put it in a bowl for our girls, and they call it “Oatmeal Soup.” My daughters went a little overboard on the cinnamon and sugar in the pictures!”

3– Rice Pudding

“YUM!”

 

Brittney 4-5-6

4– Cornbread

This recipe was okay. It was pretty dense, but the flavor was good. I’ll keep the recipe until I find a better one.”

5– Deluxe Chocolate Cake

“This was the birthday cake for our little girl who turned ONE! She loved it, as we all did. It was perfect!”

6– Baker’s Cheese

“This recipe used a rennet tablet for the cheese. I wondered how it would turn out. Maybe it turns out okay with regular milk, but with powdered milk, the flavor wasn’t too pleasant. Plus I couldn’t get enough whey out to knead it. It was too jiggly.”

 

 

Brittney 7-8-9

7– Honey Sesame Chicken (recipe in notes)

This was incredibly delicious. I might make a double batch just for myself!”

8– Hot Ham Rolls

9– Korean Beef (recipe in notes)

“YUM! I had sesame oil and sesameseeds, so I threw them in as well. This was delicious!”

 

Brittney 10-11-12

10– Shredded Beef Chimichangas

 I used the shredded beef taquitos recipe from My Food Storage Cookbook to make chimichangas along with some homemade flour tortillas. THIS WAS THE BEST FOOD STORAGE RECIPE YET!!! Wow. Delicious is an understatement! (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the meat. When I texted my husband this morning to send me a picture of his that I sent for his lunch, he said sorry, he’d already eaten it on his way to work! It was so yummy he couldn’t wait. Haha)

11–  Spanish Rice

“This was yummy. It was a perfect side for our homemade chimichangas!”

12– Oven Baked Oatmeal

“This is my third oven baked oatmealrecipe. I like it more than the last, but the powdered milk had a very strong flavor that I couldn’t get past. I’m going to have to keep looking.”

 

 

Brittney 13-14-15

13– Survival Bread

This was an interesting recipe. The flavor was . . . interesting. A little addicting, but not in a delicious-I-need-more way. It was just a hmmm-that’s-interesting way. So we munched and snacked on it. It was very sweet, and once it cooled, it was very hard. I didn’t have orange or lemon jello, so we used strawberry.”

14– Flour Tortillas

15– White Chicken Chili

This recipe was a little bland. Probably because I left out the can of green chiles, but I didn’t want it to hot for the kids. It definitely needs something to add more flavor though.”

16– Flour Tortillas

 Brittney 16

 

(…all links from here on out will be added soon…)

Dawn Dockery

Dawn 1-2-3

1–  Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2– Balsamic Tortellini

3– BBQ French Bread Pizza

 

Dawn 4-5-6

4–   Biscuits

5–   Homemade Bread Crumbs

6–  Bread

 

Dawn 7-8-9

7– Butter

8– Butter

9– Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Pancakes

 

Dawn 10-11-12

10–  Cherry Yogurt Bread

11–  Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

12–  Cinnamon Raisin Bread

 

Dawn 13-14-15

13–Dream Whip

14–  Classic Buttermilk Pancakes

15–  Franks & Beans

 

 

Dawn 16-17-18

 

 

16–  Gravy

17–  Green Beans

18–  French Bread Pizza

 

 

 

Dawn 19-20-21

 

19–   Hot Breakfast Rolls

20–  Hot Ham Rolls

21–  Mac and Cheese

Dawn 22-23-24

22–  Mashed Potatoes

23–  Meat Pie

24–  Mexican Tortilla Lasagna

 

Dawn 25-26-27

25–  PB &J sandwiches

26–  Pineapple Baked Ham

27–  Pineapple “Fluff” Dessert

 

Dawn 28-29-30

28–  Powdered Milk Butter

29–  Rice

30–  Rice Crisp Oatmeal Cookies

 

Dawn 31-32-33

31– Rice Pudding

32–  Samoa Brownies

33– Homemade Tortillas

34–  Yogurt #1

35– Yogurt #2

Dawn 34-35

Loretta Mullen 1-2

 

1– Homemade Butter (made with a hand crank butter churn)

2– Triple Berry Crisp

 

Paula Herron

Paula 1-2-3

1–  Beef Burritos

 

2–  Butter (made with shelf stable cream)

 

3–  Homemade Caramel

Paula 4-5-6

4– Chicken Noodle Casserole

5–  Homemade Hamburger Buns

6–  Lemon Mousse

 

 

Paula 7-8-9

 

7–  Mexican Tortilla Lasagna

8–  Homemade Tortillas

9–  Tuna Salad Sandwiches

 

Vicki Davis

Vicki formatted the four pictured recipes she made (along with a great commentary) in a document.  Here are her documents for week #11 & 12:

Week 11 – April 22-23-2014 Biggest Prepper Challenge

Week 12 – April 30-2014 Biggest Prepper Challenge

Notes:

Whole Wheat Pita Bread


2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/4 cups warm water

2 cups flour, plus additional for kneading

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon salt

Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Combine yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir together then set aside for five minutes. In a separate bowl, mix white flour and wheat flour together with a whisk, set aside. After the five minutes, make sure the yeast mixture is foamy. Add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Combine. Cover with saran wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

After yeast mixture has doubled, add oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and the rest of the flour mixture. Stir well into a dough. Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead dough for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add a little bit of flour when it is needed. Shape into a ball and put in an oiled bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let rise for one hour.

When dough has doubled, punch down and separate into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, flatten with hand, then roll out with rolling pin to make a circle with a 6-7 inch diameter. Place dough round on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Roll out all the sections. Cover cookie sheets with clean cloths and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degree F. Place an oven rack on the lower part of the oven and remove the other rack. Lay the pitas, four at a time, directly on the oven rack. Cook for 2 minutes or until just puffed and golden, turn over and cook an additional minute. Let rest on a cooling rack for two minutes then wrap in foil to keep warm until serving.

Atole (Guatemalan Hot Oatmeal Drink)

1 heaping cup oats (instant or regular, both work well!)

2 1/2 cups water

dash salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups milk

(made from powdered milk)

 

Heat water, salt and sugar in pan until boiling.  Add oats, cook for 2-3 minutes. 
Meanwhile, heat up milk in microwave for 2 minutes or bring to an *almost* boil in another pan.
Pour milk in blender and add hot cooked oatmeal mixture.
Start blender on low and hold onto the lid with a towel- this is a full load for a blender so start slow.
Increase blender to high and blend until smooth.
Serve in mugs.  Add a sprinkle of cinnamon if you like!

Bulgolgi (Korean Beef)

1 can of beef

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

¼-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

sprinkle of salt

pepper

dried chives for topping

 

Directions:

Heat skillet on medium heat. Toss in meat. Then the honey and soy sauce. Add everything else except the chives. Simmer for a few minutes. Spread on rice and top with the chives.

Honey Sesame Chicken

1 can chicken

salt and pepper

2 TBSP sesame oil

2 TBSP onion rehydrated

½ C honey

¼ C ketchup

½ C soy sauce

½ tsp garlic powder

small pinch of red pepper flakes

4 tsp cornstarch

1/3 C water

sesame seeds and dried chives for sprinkling on top

 

Sprinkle shredded chicken with salt and pepper.  Saute onions in oil, then add the honey, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir. Then toss in the chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer and start rice. Let the meat simmer while rice cooks.  When rice is done, dissolve 4 tsp of cornstarch in 1/3 c water in a small bowl.  Mix cornstarch/water into chicken sauce stirring constantly. Warm it so the sauce is slightly thickened.  Top rice with chicken and sauce, then sprinkle on sesame seeds and chives.

 

 

 

My Personal “Preparedness” Board of Advisors

24 Apr one thing

With so many preparedness voices out there (with the ever growing number of emergency preparedness “experts” on the internet and otherwise), I thought I’d focus my post today on a preparedness planning idea I’ve used that’s helped me filter and safely navigate all the information (and misinformation) as well as keep things balanced in my life.  It’s not always 100% fool proof, but it’s a whole lot better than going it alone.

First off, as far as preparedness matters go, I don’t have to tell you it’s easy to get overwhelmed, distracted, scared and even sometimes downright frozen from all the information that’s available and not knowing what to do with it all.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of collecting ideas feeling like you’re being productive simply by collecting them, but yet at the end of the day (or week or month) you don’t seem to have much to show for it.

What do you work on first and who do you trust for advice? Continue reading

Week #10 Winners! (including all recipes!)

19 Apr

One more week completed!  Here’s the current standing on points:

Week #10 graph Continue reading

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