Monday, April 29, 2013

Prepare Today Homemade: Oatmeal Pancake Mix

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I have been on a mix making kick lately and this recipe for Oatmeal Pancake Mix has been on my pinterest food board for a little while now.  My two oldest children get up for school and leave before I get up and one of them will "forget" to eat breakfast many mornings.  She claims milk makes her stomach hurt, so I have been trying to think of things she will eat instead of cereal.  This may sound easy, but this child is incredibly picky.  I don't usually give in to a picky eater, you eat what I prepare, but I feel so guilty when they go to school without having eaten anything!!

I found this recipe for Oatmeal Pancake Mix from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and I couldn't wait to try it out.  It has had rave reviews from so many people that I decided to give them a try.  

I followed Mel's directions exactly as she explained, but I used powdered eggs and buttermilk powder instead of the fresh variety.  And I may, or may not have, switched the powdered buttermilk measurements and added 1 C of powdered and 1/4 C water instead of the other way around.  Sheesh, it's always something with me and cooking!! I think I salvaged the mistake and cooked up 38 pancakes.  I was going to just make the mix and 1 batch of pancakes, but I figured, since I had everything out already I may as well cook up the whole batch.  The pancakes are light yet hardy!  They will keep you feeling full until lunch for sure!! Next time I make them I will add ground flax seed and maybe some chia.  They will be delicious with some peanut butter slathered on top and hopefully make it easier for a certain daughter to grab her breakfast and go.

Click HERE to get the recipe.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Great Utah Shakeout 2013!

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Today in Utah was the statewide shakeout.  At 10:15 a.m. the entire state took cover for 1 minute in an earthquake practice scenario.  My four older children were at school during this time and my husband was at work, 45 minutes away. My 5 year old and I were at home and we practiced where we would go if we were upstairs and then again downstairs.
Can you see the little girl under the clothes?  We chose the closet to hide in upstairs.

We chose to hide under the kitchen desk downstairs during the Shake Out.

Do you all have a family emergency plan? I moved about 3 months ago and I realized that my family needs a new emergency preparedness plan.  

For my family's plan we need to:
  • designate a new meeting place outside of our home
  • designate a new meeting place outside of our neighborhood and make sure the whole family understands how they will get to the meeting place.
  • create a new plan if a disaster happens during the day when only mom and the 5 year old are at home.  How will the kids get to the meeting place?  How will dad make it home?  
  • Update all car kits.  My husband drives quite far for work and would have to walk up a canyon to get home.  Does he have what he needs in his vehicle and at work?
  • Then we need to actually practice our plan during the daytime but we also need to have a run through when it's dark.
  • I also need to replace the shoes and flashlights that I had under our beds in our old house.  This will proctect us during the night from glass and other fallen objects.
  Click HERE for more information on earthquake information and having an emergency plan.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Using My Food Storage: Soup In A Bag (Jar)

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Today I ended up with several uninterrupted hours and I found the perfect project to tackle. I recently won a giveaway on Megan's blog,, and I received the book Soup In A Bag.  I needed to review a few of the soups and in my few uninterrupted hours I made several jars filled with dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.  When I reconstitute them I will have almost instant soups.  I made them in an assembly line type of process and it really helped that I could get out all of the ingredients, make the jarred meals, seal them, and get them put away, without children interruptions.  I love to look at the jars all finished and ready for a busy night when I can pull out a jar, heat up some water and have dinner ready in minutes. 
 One of the recipes called for dehydrated rice and tomatoes and I needed to dehydrate them before I could make jarred soup mix with them, but I had all the other ingredients to make Carrot Yam and Potato Cheese soup mix.  I sealed the jars with my foodsaver and they are good on the shelf for at least a year.  

This is a great book if you want to make your own Soups In A Bag or jar.  The author uses mylar bags and jars to preserve her soups, but you can choose which way works best for you. Find the book HERE

Monday, April 15, 2013

Prepare Today Homemade: Homemade Butter

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In times when food storage may be our sole source of food, dairy foods will become few and far between, unless you have a cow.  I know that I could give up quite a few foods, but cheese and butter are two that I am not going to let go of quietly.  Cheese can be found in many forms for storage but butter is a little trickier.  Butter powder is available and works for baking but sometimes you just want some creamy goodness on a piece of bread!!!  There is a way to make butter and it is very simple to make. My sister was making us dinner the other night and the soup recipe called for cream.  We used my Gossner's shelf stable cream in the recipe and we had about a half of box leftover. I was lazy and was just going to throw it away, but my sister was appalled and she told me to make butter.  It really isn't hard so I don't know why I didn't just get out the mixer and make the butter in the first place.

 Let me introduce you to Gossner's Shelf Stable Whipping Cream.  While it is great for dessert it also whips up into butter in about 2 minutes!!! For times when the grocery store isn't an option, or if you don't have a friend with a cow, this stuff is gold!! 

Fresh Butter from Whipping Cream
1 container Gossner's shelf stable whipping cream
stand mixer

Mix cream in mixer until a liquid begins to separate (that's the buttermilk) from butter.  Watch carefully, don't let it mix too much or it will ruin your batch of butter.  Save or drain off the buttermilk and rinse the butter in cold water until water runs clear.  The buttermilk will cause the butter to go rancid so make sure to rinse the butter well.   Store the butter in a container in the fridge.  You can add salt if desired.

It spreads just like butter and I think the taste was much better then the butter from the store.  It tasted so fresh! The butter can also be made with a manual mixer for times of no electricity. I bought the whipping cream at Honeyville in Salt Lake City. It isn't available on their website but you can purchase it HERE online.  It also lasts much longer then the expiration date.  I have used it a year past the date with great results. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Using My Food Storage: Making Mixes

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My goal when grocery shopping is to stock up when an item is at its lowest price point.  This way I am getting the most bang for my buck.  I usually can keep my pantry stocked using this method but lately I haven't been able to find brownie mixes for under $1.00.  I  know it isn't that difficult to make brownies from scratch, but my children usually want them after dinner and I don't want to mess up the kitchen again getting all the baking ingredients out.  So my goal for today was to mix up a big batch of brownie mix and only make the big mess one time.  Now we have a container of brownie mix that will make at least 7 batches of 8x8 size pans.  

I am not a huge user of  homemade mixes, but there are a few that make my life a little easier.  I use the book "Make-A-Mix" for most of my recipes and mixes. The brownie mix has always sounded so good, and....
...the brownie mix can be used for more than brownies too!!!  How about chocolate chewy cookies, Texas sheet cake or Brownie Alaska. These all sound so good, can you tell I really love dessert!!!  (Click HERE to view a previous post I wrote on making mixes.)

The original recipe calls for melted butter and eggs when you mix up the brownies, but I food storagized the recipe and used powdered butter and powdered eggs.  If I was a math whiz I would've figured out how much to add to the dry mix, but I freely admit math isn't one of my talents, so I just added it in when we mixed up the batch of brownies.   It worked great and the brownies cooked up fluffy and looked just as brownies should.  Although as I type this I remembered that I totally forgot to add the vanilla in.  I had "help" making this (my 5 year old was mixing) so I can blame it on that :)

My other new find that I am using all the time is chalkboard contact paper.  This may be too crafty for some of you but stay with me.  I bought the chalkboard contact paper, chalk paint pen, and a cute punch out stamp on and I have been labeling everything.  It started with my flour and sugar canisters and now I am labeling my food storage containers.  What is so wonderful about the contact paper is it is removable and the chalk pen ink is erasable!!!!  

 All the items in the picture (not the container) were purchased on Amazon, but I assume craft stores would carry these supplies as well.  When the brownie mix is all gone I may want to fill the container with corn meal, and all I have to do is rub the chalk ink with a damp paper towel and rewrite the label.  I am in love with this stuff!  I even made labels for my dehydrated food...
My dehydrated food jars will always be changing depending on what I am dehydrating and the labels are so easy to change.  Plus I can peel off the contact paper label so easily if I need to water bath or pressure can with these jars.  Maybe I am a little to excited but this has been so fun to do!  And I am not usually a crafty person, but I like to be really organized and this system really makes the pantry look put together. 

Here are our brownies made from a mix using butter and egg powder.  They are definitely more of a cake-like brownie, but we did add chocolate chips to our batch and that helped to make them more fudge-like.  (and I had no idea how to reconstitute the butter powder.  I probably did it wrong and so the brownies aren't that fudgy )And I don't know if it is me or the butter powder but I can totally taste it, even when it is cooked.  I have heard great things about Thrive's butter powder so I may look into trying that brand.  For the next batch I will make them with real melted butter and see if I can taste the difference. And as I was putting this in the oven I mentally smacked myself because I could've made this in the sun oven today, it was so sunny outside.  Next time....

I'm sorry that there is no mix recipe in this post, but I highly recommend buying the Make-A-Mix book for all of the recipes in it. I just wanted to give you all an example of what I do daily to use my food storage.  This may inspire you to do something today with your storage!!  If you would like a brownie mix recipe, I found this one on pinterest and it seems to be really popular.  CLICK HERE  to view it. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dehydrate Those Leftovers!

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One of the many things that I love about my new home is being able to have my larger kitchen appliances stored right in the kitchen area and not in the basement storage room.  I am more likely to use my dehydrator, canner, wheat grinder, etc. when they are accessible.  After preparing dinner tonight I had a half a bag of spinach leftover, so I pulled out my dehydrator, spread out those extra leaves and saved them for another meal.  It was such a chore before when I had to hike downstairs and carry up the dehydrator.  Now it is stored right in my kitchen for use anytime.  I know not everyone will have the kitchen space to store larger food storage appliances, but it has helped me to use them more often. 

When they are finished dehydrating I will have a small amount of dried spinach leaves that I will store in a mason jar and then make air tight with my foodsaver.  They will stay fresh in the mason jar for years.  (This is my estimation and how long I feel comfortable storing my items.  Check dehydrating books for a more accurate guideline.)  One of my favorite tips is to save the leftover veggies from a weeks worth of meals, dehydrate them, and store for use in soups.  There will be a variety of veggies depending on what you serve for dinner, but it saves money when they are being used again because no one really wants leftover veggies from the fridge.  I also keep my eye out for "manager specials" at my local grocery storeProduce will be marked down that is closing in on its expiration date and that is when I snatch it up for dehydrating.  Many shoppers see that manager's special sticker and they shy away thinking it is rotting veggies, but it works perfectly for dehydrating.  Also, think twice before throwing away leftovers.  Soups, casseroles, even rice can be dehydrated for use in quick dinners, camping food, and 72-hour kit meals.  There are quite a few books out there and online if you are interested in dehydrating your food.  I love the Dehydrator Bible for dehydrating, it is filled with step by step information on every fruit and veggie that you can think of.  Dehydrating is quite a simple process and the results are very rewarding, so think of those leftovers in a new light and dehydrate them!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Prepare Today Homemade: Cheesy Kale Crisps

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It seems that when you try to eat healthy organic foods the price tag tends to go upwards.  For example, I bought a small 6oz. bag of kale chips at a health food store for $6.97 the other day.  That is beyond the limits of my budget and normally I would never spend that kind of money on such a small bag of snacks, but I wanted to make sure that we really liked them before committing to baking a whole batch of them.  I am always trying to find ways of making a store bought item at home, to save my family money, and to also emlimate processed ingredients from our diet. Kale is a super food and I really want my family to eat it, so I am always trying to find a new way of cooking it. It turned out that we really did like them and my sister and I decided to try out our kitchen skills and make a batch of cheesy kale crisps. 

The original recipe is from Real Foods market and they shared it on Good Things Utah (a local tv show) and I have wanted to try it for awhile now.  You can find it HERE.  

The ingredients called for in this recipe are items you probably have on hand, except for Nutritional Yeast.  I have heard of nutritional yeast, but I have never used it before.  It is used mostly by vegans to add a cheesy flavor to food.  It is also full of vitamin B12 and is gluten-free.  I found a bottle of nutritional yeast at Real Foods market in Heber, UT.  It can also be found at health food stores and online at amazon.comTo find out more info about nutritional yeast and recipes click HERE.

Once you have the nutritional yeast the rest of this recipe is almost too simple.  My sister and I couldn't believe how easy this was to put together and the results were amazing.  My sister is diabetic and she was excited to have a snack food that was crunchy and satisfying.   

Cheesy Kale Crisps
1 head of kale washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1/3 C cashews soaked for 1-2 hours to soften
2 T lemon juice
3 T water
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 t Real Salt
1/4 C nutritional yeast
2 green onions chopped
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 t tumeric
1 clove garlic
black pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients except kale in a blender until smooth.  Place kale in a large bowl and toss with blended mixture.  Place coated kale onto dehydrator trays and dry 4-6 hours or until crispy. (I dehydrated mine at 125° for about 4 hours)

  1. Wash kale and break into bite sized pieces
 2.   Blend all ingredients but kale in blender. Toss with kale pieces.

3. Dehydrate for 4-6 hours until crispy.  Don't crowd the pieces on the trays, they need to have air circulation for even drying.

4. Enjoy!!  They have a cheesy popcorn taste and crunch to them.  A very healthy snack!!
 Kale is quite simple to grow in a garden and now you have a way to make it edible ;) 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Utah Case Lot Sale Price Comparison List

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Here in Utah we are so blessed to have our local grocery stores participate in case lot sales.  Most items are a great deal, but others are not.  Valerie, from Prepared LDS Family, has created a price comparison list for the case lot sale stores, along with the LDS Cannery, Walmart, and Sam's Club.  This list is invaluable and she spends hours making and updating it.  I know I have used it for several years now and I truly appreciate all her hard work in updating it.  

Check out Prepared LDS Family's case lot price comparison list HERE.
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