Friday, December 6, 2013

Weather Ready

Are you weather ready? With all the storms of rain and snow and ice crossing the entire country right now, it seems a little late to think of this, but let's do it anyway. I read someone's comment that those who were standing in line at the grocery store the day before a storm were buying milk and eggs and bread and perishable things that couldn't be stored. Because of my prep-oriented mind, even if I thought that these things couldn't be stored, I'd have been at the store a week before when the first forecast came along. Or maybe I'd have been there at the beginning of fall, thinking about things I could have on hand if an emergency rose, so that I wouldn't have to worry about it the day before, when shelves empty out before a disastrous storm arrives.

This person's comment got me thinking about what could go on the shelves well in advance. I have some things there already, of course, because I believe in being prepared. Anyone, however, can have a small shelf of emergency food set up.


I don't normally use my canned powdered milk, except in a financial emergency or a storm emergency, because the cost is about the same as buying fresh milk. It isn't economical. It doesn't taste the same, though it isn't bad these days, not like ones I tried in the late seventies when we lived on the reservation - though I got used to that taste, and it wasn't really BAD. Just not as tasty. The new generation of instant powdered milks, though, really are pretty good - different taste from fresh, but definitely drinkable. My favorite is the Thrive Life Instant Milk, but it is more expensive than the powdered (not instant) milk from the Bishop's storehouse - about twice as much. I like to have some stored, though, because it mixes so easily with a whip, and if there's no electricity, I can't use my blender.

Another option is canned evaporated milk, which some might not find as tasty, but on sugar cereal, or for cooking, there's no reason it won't work, and in an emergency, it will work for anything. I personally don't mind the taste at all. I dilute it 1 can of water to one can of milk. To make it a little sweeter, one could stir in a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk (which also can be reconstituted to make milk, but really costly!). Or you could put a jar of coffee creamer on the shelf - it keeps forever 'cause it's mostly plastic - but it would improve the taste, perhaps.


Eggs themselves will keep quite a while without refrigeration, so if you have some in the refrigerator when the electricity goes, don't think they are going bad right away! There are people who don't even keep their eggs in the refrigerator, but I wouldn't recommend that for more than a few days if you aren't eating them right away. It's usually fresh eggs, not those which have already been refrigerated from the store.

Every food storage company out there has some form of egg powder. While you can get whole eggs from Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials, among others, my preference is the Scrambled Egg Mix from Thrive Life. I think it's just tastier and more fresh-egg-like. The other companies also have one or more scrambled egg varieties.

Whatever you choose, eggs are not a problem. Any of the powdered eggs are fine in cooking or baking.


This one's not so hard, either! You don't bake your own bread? Not a problem. Who says bread has to come in sandwich slices? There are biscuit mixes, pancake mixes, and muffin mixes out there to store on the shelf. You can freeze flour tortillas for quite some time and they are fine when thawed. If you want to have actual bread, practice now with a sourdough starter like Herman. It's the only one I've ever used, and it is very forgiving if you forget to feed it, over feed it, or add whole wheat flour - whatever, it just keeps on chugging. Warning: If you start with Herman or another sourdough starter, be prepared to make bread every few days, or have a lot of friends with whom to share the starter! You can make bread, cakes, muffins, and many other bread products with Herman.

Your best bet is to experiment with these things before an emergency and see what your family tolerates best.

How are you going to cook all that? Quickest thing is to have a sterno stove and fuel on that storage shelf. Learn to use Dutch oven cooking and baking with a cast iron pot and charcoal, also stored on your shelf. Many kinds of Franklin and other stoves have a cook-top you can use while you are staying warm. If you are investigating something like that for heat in winter emergencies, make that a priority on your list. Solar ovens are more expensive, but there are also varieties you can make yourself. They might not be as efficient as the experts, but you can use a solar oven even on a cold day, as long as there is any heat from the sun. If you have a propane grill, you can cook and you can bake! Just don't let the propone run low. Keep a spare tank, if you can afford that.

See? You can avoid those lines on the day before a storm, and all the stress that goes with not planning ahead.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Here is Ohio State University's fact sheet on drying fruits and vegetables. This is an informative several-page document to download in .pdf format.

Please note that it says drying outdoors is not recommended in Ohio. I would not recommend it much of anywhere these days. However, if you do it anyway, please read what the fact sheet says about freezing or heating the foods to kill insect eggs. (See? You don't really want to do it outdoors, do you?) I recommend a small electric dryer or the oven set on a low temperature. I use 150 for green onions, with the door propped slightly open, for example.

Some foods are steamed before they are dried. Read directions carefully on the chart provided, and read all the preliminary instructions. Please, do not think this is a step to skip. Directions are included for how to make fruit leathers, and some vegetables can be done in a similar way. Even if you don't have a dehydrator, you can still do many foods in your oven with the help of tips from this fact sheet.

If you are going to do fruit leathers, it does say to line cookie sheets with plastic wrap, not wax paper or foil. I would suggest buying a pack of the 14 x 14 teflon coated sheets made for the Excaliber or other square food dehydrators. However, your cookie sheet will be a different size, and this may require some trimming to use. These sheets are made specifically for food dehydration.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Helpful Links

I'm teaching a food storage mini-class in May at the Anderson Country Prep Fair here in Tennessee. As I'm going over the things I want to bring out in such a quick class, I realized there are a lot of links I want to share, and they don't link from a piece of paper! So, here is a post of helpful links for everyone.

Chef Tess: Meals in a Jar

Chef Tess is often featured on the Honeyville Farms blog, and that's where I first found her. Her latest post Kid Friendly Meals in a Jar is a perfect example of the kinds of things she plans. Here are several other links to her jar ideas.

  1. Four Concenience Meals in a Jar
  2. Meals in a Jar posts with this label
  3. 6 Amazing Casseroles fro one recipe!

That will get you started and you can continue to browse and click on her sites at leisure.

Thrive Life

Probably my favorite storage foods, especially the freeze-dried.

Three Suggestions From Me:

  1. Freeze-dried Corn - eat it right out of the can!
  2. Taco TVP - tastes great in tacos or Mexican casseroles, as is, or add your favorite ingredients, such as that corn I mentioned! Or eat it on a hamburger bun, yum! Do NOT mix it with a sauce like Manwich. Just sayin'.
  3. Amaranth a very flexible grain and healthy

Honeyville Grain aka Honeyville Farms. This is my second favorite company.

Three Suggestions From Me:

  1. Almond Flour I know it's a little expensive, but it's gluten free and makes it possible for those who need gluten free to have many things they couldn't otherwise have. This link has a video of Chef Tess making cookies with it.
  2. #10 can stove This uses an empty #10 can and the quickstove fuel to turn it into a lightweight emergency cooking source. Great to fold up in your 72-hour kit, and all it takes in addition is a #10 can - which you may stuff with first aid supplies for that 72-hour kit!
  3. Chocolate Soy Milk for those who are lactose intolerant, this makes a great substitute in smoothies or even in a cup of hot cocoa.

Emergency Essentials

This one always throws me because the address is beprepared, not Emergency Essentials. The brand on the can is Provident Pantry, so that's three names to keep straight! In addition, they don't show both sizes of a product on the same page, as Thrive Life does, so I sometimes have to go hunting. They DO have a paper catalog you can have sent to your home, though. If you can get together with friends and do group orders, they have group specials each month and you can save with quantity buying.

Three Suggestions from me:

  1. Freeze-dried Green Onions I keep a large can of these open in my pantry and toss in a handful to almost everything I'm cooking. Unless it's scrambled eggs or something that I'm cooking without liquid, I don't even rehydrate, just toss them in.
  2. Lentils
  3. are wonderful, especially in soup, but thrown into other things, you don't even notice they are there while they are providing wonderful nutrition.
  4. Soybeans are a great source of protein and calcium. These can be cooked or ground into flour.

Auguson Farms

This is a favorite of a friend of mine, and they have some things which are wonderful.

Three suggestions from me:

  1. Bakery Kit: Pancake mix, Biscuit Mix, and Bread & Roll Mix, a #10 can of each. There is no leavening in the bread mix, so you would have to provide that.
  2. Basic Starter Kit: #10 cans of Hard White Wheat, Long Grain White Rice, Regular Rolled Oats; For $25, you can start your food storage with these three basics!
  3. Chocolate Chip Cookies Everyone needs a little treat now and then, so store some for long term! After all that wheat chili and emergency food, you're going to need something familiar and sweet.

LDS Welfare Centers

I've saved the best for last. The link takes you to a map where you can look for the little wheat sign to find out where the closest cannery is to you. #10 cans are available at those locations.

This link goes to a page where you can download the order form and see what is available, and how much it costs. ALWAYS call your local center to find out what days and hours they operated, AND how they handle purchasing of products. You do not have to be LDS in order to go to a cannery and buy products.

For things on this list, I would always buy them here and save a lot of money. This is non-profit. I can highly recommend the hot cocoa, the refried beans, the oats, both regular and quick, the potato pearls (though not for long-term storage) ... well, pretty much everything on there is in my long-term food storage, and I use the oatmeal all the time.

These come ONLY in #10 cans (with the exception of items on the bottom of the form, such as potato pearls), so be sure you keep them closed tightly except for long enough to dip out what you want. An oxygen absorber DOES become saturated and then doesn't work. Don't for instance, leave a can open while you bake your cookies! The beans and wheat don't have or need oxygen absorbers, but once open, they do need to be stored carefully and used within a couple of years.

That's it for today!