Friday, August 17, 2012

Getting Started with Food Storage

When you start thinking about planning a food storage and rotation system for your family it can seem like it is going to be an overwhelming task.  I assure you it is not.  Even for those on a very tight budget you can begin putting food back to have in case of an emergency.  You just have to take one step at a time.

The first thing I recommend that you do is to sit down and make a list of all the foods your family eats....the things you buy consistently.  If you are a meal planner and list maker this will come easy for you.  If you are not a meal planner then I suggest that you begin planning your meals at least a week at a time.

The second thing I recommend is to take an inventory of every food/beverage item that is currently in your home.  What you have, how many of each, and exp. date.  Include canned goods, dry goods, baking supplies, spices, herbs, frozen foods, fresh veggies, dressings, juices, kool aid, water, basically everything you can consume through eating or drinking.

Third step - figure out how many meals you can make from what you currently have in your home.  Take some time and decide how many days of food storage you want to work towards keeping consistently.  I recommend 30 days if you are just starting out.  If you have been working on this already then move to 3 months.  If you already have 3 months then move to 6 months.

Fourth step - take a look at your current budget.  Do you currently have "extra" money you can spend to begin building your food storage or do you need to use only your grocery budget to begin building your storage?  Determine what you must spend on food to make your weekly meals.  Even if you can only spend $5-10 per week on buying extra foods you will be surprised at how quickly your storage will grow.  I found a great article on The Survival Mom website titled You Can Prep for $5.

You will want to make sure that what you buy to store you can use in your every day meal planning.  Your goal should be to store the foods your family eats, and use those foods on a rotation basis once the supply is built up, replacing them as you use them.

Determine what recipes you use frequently and you will probably see that many of the ingredients you need for them over lap...several things will work in many recipes.  So as you are purchasing basic pantry ingredients you can be assured that you WILL be able to use those things.

To help you get started I found some useful, already created documents to help you begin the process of building your food storage.  Stay tuned for what to do once you have your 30 day food supply (or 3-6 months).

Pantry Inventory Sheet

Master Pantry List

Pantry Basics - List of foods to keep for frugal cooking

Weekly Meal Planning sheet - just one of many that can be found by a quick internet search

~Live Prepared~

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Take Inventory of Your Skills

Have you ever sat down and thought about the skills you have?  Have you ever thought about the skills you might need to have if you lived in an area that experienced a natural disaster or crisis due to economic decline?  I think it is very important to evaluate what you know how to do and what you may need to know how to do.

You probably know how to cook, keep clean, and wash your laundry.  Maybe you can do some auto maintenance and change a tire, do some home repair/maintenance, etc.  But do you know how to cook your food on an outdoor fire?  Can you start a fire?  Do you know how to purify water?  Wash laundry by hand? Do you know how to safely sanitize areas/dishes?  Can you sew?  Build a shelter with materials on hand?  Do you hunt or fish?  Do you  know how to shut off your utilities?

Earlier today I was reading an article entitled, 10 Skills Every Survivor Should Know .  Not only does it list some basic skills it explains how and why these skills could be useful to you.  Admittedly, I had not thought of a couple of them...and I'm thankful my husband and I have some of these skills.

The time to begin learning new skills is now...not when there is a crisis.  The more knowledge and skill you obtain now the easier it will be to walk through and endure the circumstances that may surround you some day.  Our nation has become a nation of convenience.  Everything is available in the store to buy or we pay someone else to do things for us.  There is wisdom in knowing how to grow food, raise animals, build shelters, repair things, use radio communications, how to start a fire for warmth or cooking, how to care for a seriously injured person, how to hunt or fish, how to sew or tailor clothing, and how to cook foods that don't come in a box or a bag.  It is even important to learn how to handle people who are in distress.

Take inventory of your skills now, make a plan to learn those things you need to learn, and become more prepared to endure difficult times.  It is not a matter of if these things will come it is a matter of when.  If you are prepared and your family is safe then you will be more ready to help others should the Lord send you out  to do so.

~Live Prepared~

Making Baguettes

Found a recipe for baguettes on Pinterest the other day and made them to take to lunch at a friends house.  The baguettes were quick and easy to make.  You could even make up baggies w/pre-measured ingredients for this one...all except the water.

My friend, Trang,  made Beef and onion soup...ooohhh so good and loved how easy it was to make.  Simple, quick and tasty.

Here is the recipe for the baguettes, with credits below it, and a photo of my second, yes second set of baguettes made this evening for my family.  They are so good that one whole baguette is already gone.  My daughter ate hers with apple butter spread all over it.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbs. (2 packages) dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
In a small bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes – foam should form on the top.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough becomes a smooth ball and knead for 5 minutes. (I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook)
Cut in half and then shape into 2 baguettes. To make them smooth and pretty, roll each half of dough into rectangle and roll up lengthwise. Pinch the edges to seal and place on lightly greased cookie sheet (or silpat) with seam down. Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a very sharp knife (I like to use a serrated blade) gently make a slash down the length of each baguette. This will give it that authentic look. Pour water in a cookie sheet and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the bread for 15 minutes. Half way through, brush the bread with melted butter.
 (Credits to original poster Frosted Bake Shop and secondary poster that I found on Pinterest,  The Sisters Cafe)

The recipe above does not state to place the cookie sheet you will pour the water onto in the oven in advance....but I would do this when pre-heating the oven.  Reason:  I did it by the recipe instructions the first time and the baguette exterior was very soft...still tasted good but I like the chewy and slightly crisp texture for the exterior better.  Pouring the water on the pre-heated cookie sheet will create steam immediately while putting a cold cookie sheet w/water on it in the oven at the same time you put the dough in will steam slowly throughout the cooking creating a different exterior bread texture.  Just my 2 cents worth.  Oh, and the recipe doesn't say how much water - I recommend 1/4 to 1/2 cup....just eyeball it.  :)

As you can see my baguettes are rustic...not too fancy but certainly delicious!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Canning Salsa

Last week I made salsa from some tomatoes that were given to me.  A vendor at the Farmers Market had some leftovers that he knew wouldn't make it to the next market date.  I was able to make 7 pints of salsa and 4 pints of spaghetti sauce.  I water bath canned the salsa and froze the spaghetti sauce.  

Here is the salsa recipe, courtesy of my friend Talena:

5 lbs. tomatoes (about 7 cups), cored & diced
6 green onions, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 large green pepper, chopped
4 jalapeƱo peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
Lemon juice & sugar

Use food processor to dice/mince/chop all ingredients. Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully ladle hot salsa into jars leaving 1/2" headspace. Add 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp. sugar to each pint (2 tbsp. each per quart). Wipe jar rims clean. Place lid on jar and screw the band down until fingertip tight. Process in boiling water for 15 minutes. Makes about 4 pints.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Treasures from the Garden

So thankful to still be harvesting heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, okra, green onions, and mint from our garden.  I've been watering every other day and really soaking the ground.  Here is a picture of some of the tomatoes and okra I've harvested this week:

Heirloom tomatoes:  Old German, Mr. Stripey, Box Car Willie, and Brandywine

6 cups of cherry tomatoes this week all from volunteer plants

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wondermill Giveaway at Little House Living

Have you been wanting to own your own grain mill so you can grind your flour fresh...right before baking your bread or making waffles and pancakes?  Chances are, if you are preparing your home and learning to live a different, more simple lifestyle, you want a grain mill.  And if you don't want one....well, you should, in my opinion!  :)

Wondermill is giving away a Wondermill Grain Mill to a reader at Little House Living.  So head on over, check Little House Living and enter to win a Wondermill Grain Mill.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Consider Building Your Food Storage Now

It will be much more affordable now to start buying items for your food storage/rotation than it will be in the next few months.  Prices will be on the rise.  The lack of rain is causing crop failures and that means less food to harvest and sell.  Once the prices go up it will be more difficult to start a food storage system and to replenish and re-stock.  So please begin working on this now.  Even if you can only spend $10-20 additional each week you can quickly build your food storage.  Even a small budget of $5 per week will get you started.  Dried beans, pasta, rice, powdered milk, flour, sugar, canned meats, canned veggies and fruits are all a good place to start.  Go to your vegetable stands and farmers markets and ask to purchase large quantities of seconds, which are usually getting too ripe or may have some scars/bruising, and can them or freeze them.

Make sure you store foods you know your family will eat.  Don't buy foods on sale or with a coupon just because it's affordable....if no one will eat it you've wasted your money.

I am going to begin doing some posts about Food Storage and how to implement a food storage rotation into your daily living.  It is easy and once you begin using a system like this you will wonder how you ever managed.  It is so nice to always have what you need to create a meal.