Monday, February 1, 2016

When The Furnace Stops Working

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It never fails, the snow falls, the temperature drops (I'm talking like -18 in the mornings), and the furnace stops working.  I kept hoping that it would magically kick back on but I had to call a repair man.  Unfortunately he couldn't make it to my home for 2 days.  This was a prime time to open up the Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater. 

There were several things that I learned while using this heater...
  1. It works very well and we didn't need to sit too close to feel the warmth.  It kept my kitchen comfortable.  It sat about 6ft away from the kitchen table and we could all feel the warm air.
  2. I went through the small propane tanks pretty quickly.  I used 3 of the canisters, with the heat setting on high, in the 2 days that we used it.  I didn't have it on constantly only when we were cooking and eating meals, but in an emergency I would definitely ration the propane for essential heating only.  
  3. It didn't smell and was quiet to use. I also need to store more D batteries to be able to use the fan option on the heater.  That really did heat the room faster.
  4. The heater didn't like to light when I turned it on.  I had to clean the small wick piece every time I turned it back on. 
It was nice to know that this heater worked and that it kept us warm.  In a true emergency situation I would be using this heater in a smaller room (ventilated).  My kitchen is very open to every other room in the main floor and the heat wouldn't be keeping us all warm.  I would have to hang blankets and close off the larger areas of the house to keep the heat in one area.  I would recommend this heater and I also recommend trying it out before you actually need it.  Unlike my example of waiting until we were freezing to open the box :) 

Find this heater online, in big box stores, and emergency preparedness retailers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Baking Items in Your Food Storage & Our Favorite Hot Chocolate Recipe!

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In November I love to stock up on baking supplies because they go on sale for Thanksgiving. This will continue throughout December so watch the grocery stores for great deals on all of the baking ingredients and spices that you use.  Once you have your food storage basics of wheat, water, beans and rice, there is not much you can do with those items without adding spices and leavening ingredients. Spices tend to sell for a great price point this time of year.  Now is a perfect time to take stock of the spices you have in your cupboard and shop for the ones you are running low on. 
As you purchase your baking items you'll need to rotate them into your pantry at home. Keep a sharpie close by and when you bring your groceries in your house mark the date and place them behind the older item in your cupboard. (remember FIFO- first in first out) That way when you do need to see the expiration date, it will be easy to see and you won't have to search for the teeny, tiny date printed on the food. 
Another way to save money on baking supplies is to be able to tell when their life span has expired. There are several ways to test leavening agents to see if they still work.
Yeast: Add a spoonful in warm water along with a pinch of sugar. It should bubble in 10 minutes. Store yeast in the freezer for indefinite storage. I haven't had yeast go bad since doing this. I use instant yeast and I just add it straight from the freezer to my recipes and it works great.
Baking Powder: Add a pinch in warm water and stir. It should bubble immediately.
Baking Soda: Add a pinch to vinegar or lemon juice and it should bubble immediately. Store baking soda for cooking as well as cleaning.
Other items to store:
  • Another baking item that I keep on hand is Cocoa powder. It has an indefinite shelf life!! 
  • During the week I want you to pay attention to the Spices that you use for cooking. Maybe even jot them down. Could you go a whole year without purchasing more? As bigger sales come upon us in the next couple of weeks look for the spices that you use and buy at least one extra. I know a lot of basic items seem palatable when sprinkled with the right spice.
  • Did you know that you can substitute Unflavored Gelatin (Knox brand) for eggs when you are baking? (1 oz of unflavored gelatin=12 t of gelatin=12 "eggs") To use it in baking use 1t of gelatin + 3 T cold water+2 T hot water=1 "egg".  I store powdered eggs in #10 cans. I love them because they are pasteurized and you can lick the batter without risking salmonella poisoning. You just add the powder egg to your dry ingredients and then the water to your liquids. I save my real eggs for boiled and scrambled dishes.
Along with colder weather and the holidays, my children LOVE hot chocolate. This is our favorite hot chocolate recipe. I whip up a big batch and store it in an airtight container. The kids know how to make it by themselves and it save a lot of money on the pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes. Plus it uses all food storage pantry items.
Hot or Cold Chocolate Mix
(from Cookin' With Food Storage by Peggy Layton)
3 1/4 C. powdered milk
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 t salt
Mix all in a big bowl and store in an airtight container. To use stir 1/2 C mix with 1 C. boiling water. Stir to dissolve and chill if you want cold milk.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Prepare Today Homemade- Easiest Muffins EVER!

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Self-Reliant Saturday Recipe

 We are a family that loves a good muffin.  We eat them for dinner about 3 times per week.  Muffins are pretty simple to make, but sometimes getting all the ingredients out on a busy night is just too much for me.  I do try to bake a double batch to freeze but I don't always remember to do that.  I think I have found my secret weapon to make muffins quick and SO easy!!  I thought cake mix cookies were easy to make, this recipe is even easier!

You may have heard of the 2 ingredient pumpkin cookies, which include a box of spice cake mix and a small can of pumpkin.  You mix and bake, so easy!  Well, I thought why couldn't that dough also be made into pumpkin muffins??  And guess what?  It worked and the whole family loved them!

  In the fall the grocery stores will generally have spice cake mix for a great price.  Last year I stocked up on them because we really like pumpkin cookies made out of it.  Having all the ingredients on hand added to the simplicity of this recipe. In the picture I used only half of that can of pumpkin because it is the bigger can.  The recipe only calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin. 

 Mix the cake mix, pumpkin, and a few chocolate chips and you have muffin batter!!!  And with no oil or eggs, these muffins are a low-fat option for dinner.  They do have sugar from the cake mix, but not nearly as much as when I make muffins from scratch.

Pumpkin Cake Mix Muffins {or Cookies}
1 box spice cake mix
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 C chocolate chips

Mix the cake mix and pumpkin together with a hand mixer, add the chocolate chips and divide into 12 muffin cups.  (I had extra batter and I made about 8 mini muffins too)  **Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes.   They could also be baked in a sun oven or volcano stove in a situation without electricity.
**I live at an altitude that I need to follow the high altitude directions and my cake mix said to bake the cake mix at 375°.  If you are below 5000ft you might need to adjust the temperature to 350°.

To make cookies:  Mix as directed above and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

And if you need a dessert idea, we made these tonight and they were so good and again....only 2 ingredients!!!  Click here for Pumpkin Brownies!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Food Storage Frame of Mind

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I have had many people tell me over the last few years that they don't have food storage because it is just too overwhelming to deal with.  I have thought a lot about that feeling and have wondered why I don't feel that way about food storage.  I came to the conclusion that I make food storage a way of life and not a one time obstacle that I have to overcome.  Just like we shouldn't diet, but make eating healthy a way of life, food storage should be a lifestyle. I believe in having food storage for emergencies, BUT I truly believe it is a principle of provident living.  " personal and family preparedness should be a way of provident living, an orderly approach to using the resources, gifts, and talents the Lord shares with us. So the first step is to teach our people to be self-reliant and independent through proper preparation for daily life." -Victor L. Brown, Ensign 1976

So, how do you make food storage a way of life??  There are MANY ways to store food and rotate food storage.  This is what I do and it's what works for my family.  It may not be right for your family but there might be a few things you could try out.

  • Have a meal plan that includes easy to prepare recipes.
  • Know what ingredients you use on a daily basis and keep those in stock at all times.
  • Watch the grocery sales and know what "a stock up price" is for every item you use in your recipes. Don't stress out about this....it took me a few months to know what a good deal was, but after some practice of comparing prices I know off hand what the low prices are.
  • Have freeze-dried or dehydrated equals to the fresh produce you like to eat.  They come in handy a lot more then you think they will.  They are worth the price and cook up almost like the fresh counterpart.
  • Make pantry meals that only use shelf-stable foods in your pantry 1-2 times per week.
  • Rotating food becomes easy when you are eating what you store.   
  • Learn to bake crackers, fruit leather, snacks, breads, etc. to save money and also to use food storage basics.
  • Store long term items in a proper bucket or mylar bag to prolong their life. Nothing is more frustrating then knowing you have food, opening it to use, and find it has become rancid.      
  • Be patient with yourself!!  I have a system down and know which foods I make every week.  I make granola bars, bread, and snacks on a regular basis.  It becomes natural and stress-free after a few times of making a recipe.  Give yourself time to learn something new.  
  •  Plan and grow a garden year after year.  I have only had small gardens and I really don't know what I am doing, but it gives my family fresh food. I feel that we spend time together as a family, and it really helps with our food budget in the summer.
  • I don't have foods that will only be used in a "SHTF" scenario.  I use all the food in my storage all the time. Some of my dehydrated foods don't get used as often, but they do get used, and when I store them properly they last a long time.
  • Learn to can and preserve.  There are so many times I run out of chicken in the freezer and open a bottle of canned chicken to save dinner.   
  • Add beans, tvp, and veggies to sauces, meat dishes, and casseroles.  It extends the amount of food your serving, and it uses your food storage.  There is also the added nutrition when you are sneaking veggies into dinnerCooked wheat can be added to many meat dishes and no one will know it's there.   

There are so many ways you can implement food storage into your daily life.  Keeping food storage in the back of my mind all the time I see things that maybe wouldn't have caught my eye otherwise.  While shopping, keep your eyes peeled for clearance and discount items that will work for your family.  I have come across many items that I would have passed up if I hadn't been in a prepper frame of mind ;) 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Rotate That Food Storage!!

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I have been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks.  My mother was in a car accident two weeks ago and suffered a head trauma and was in a coma for a week before passing away.  I have been spending time with family for her funeral and then also taking the time to clean out her home.  It was a shock and I am still dealing with the reality of it all, but we had such a special time together as a family.  

My mom was always the one to be obedient and this showed in how she always had her food storage.  While cleaning out her kitchen we found many #10 cans of food from the LDS Cannery.  In fact, those dried apples from the cannery sustained us through many hours of cleaning.  But along with edible food storage that we found, there were many items that were long expired.  

Today's Self-Reliant Saturday tip is to ROTATE your food storage!  I am all for long-term food storage, but this is pushing it.  It is 40 years old. 
Anyone for some really old celery??
 But I love that she wrote the date on the can because there was no other date printed on it.  That is tip #2---write the date of purchase on your cans.  It makes rotating much easier :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Living Wills & Health Directives

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Being prepared isn't something that is always for some future event.  There are no guarantees that life will be smooth sailing.  Trials and accidents happen to all of us.  But are you prepared to deal with the trial when it happens to you?

From a tragic accident that happened this week in my family, I want everyone to know how important it is to have a Health Directive, "Living Will" Declaration filled out.  None of us want to think that this will happen to us, but life changes...literally...in an instant. And there are so many decisions that need to be made beforehand.  If my mom did not have a health directive filled out with her health care wishes made known, it would've made a horrific situation even more stressful.  Please be prepared with your healthcare wishes known for those in your family who will be taking care of you in an emergency situation.  It is stressful enough to have to deal with an accident, but to not know how to treat someone medically according to their wishes, will be too much for even the strongest of us.  

Keep all vital records and paperwork together in a binder or file folder. Looking for paperwork is almost beyond mental ability when you are in shock from learning about an accident.  Have all information in one location to you can access it and also be able to grab and go in an evacuation type event.  Click here for a previous post on vital record storage.  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Food Storage Experts

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Water purification, Dutch oven cooking, solar cooking, how much wheat to store, gardening, living off the grid....it can all get a little intimidating and that leads to frustration.  Just keep slowly adding to your food storage and emergency preparedness. Pray to know what you need to work on for you and your family. There's no need to be stressed out over food storage :)
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