Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

My daughter came home today from having spent the night at a friends house. Her friend with whom she stayed, sleeps over often (the previous night included, actually) She is one of only 2 of my daughters friends who are allowed in the house per their parents because of what my Hub does (Gun Smithing, run from home, which means there are plenty of (unloaded guns, mostly in pieces all over the house) Parents who don’t allow their children over don’t understand guns, and therefore, in their ignorance think our home is unsafe. Only carry guns in our home are loaded (only my carry gun is ot, being a revolver) and those hand guns in our room where children are not allowed are actually loaded (but not hot)

I digress.

My daughters friend, lets call her Jenny comes over often, asks questions about my prepping and then I assume she passes this information on to her parents.

Well last night her daughter was supposed to sleep over a second night but she wanted her daughter to watch a meteor shower from her house (which they ended up not being able to view) so she invited Katelynn to come along. The reason she wanted them there is she doesnt trust that if she asked me to have them watch it, that I actually would. I get it, a little bit (or a lot) of distrust is healthy.

Anyhow, my daughter informs me that Jenny’s mom is starting to prep.  She has thus far begun with nursing and contagion equipment. They think this will happen within our life times just as I do, but not nearly as soon as I do, in feeling this way her and her husband have yet to start any form of food storage and in being very well off have decided more than likely to purchase multiple years of pre put together packages of dried, dehydrated and long term staples.

I need to remind you that this is all second hand. But they do own guns and have had multiple conversations with my man about his expertise and abilities.  My daughter mentions to me this afternoon that they are planning multiple friends and families to get together to a “yet to be decided” place and they plan to create a compound.  She gave me more details that I won’t pass on because its to much information for you and I don’t like sharing others prepping choices to that extent.

The thing that really caught me off guard was that they have decided that they would like to ask several families if they would like to join them in this endeavor and that they are strongly considering asking my guy and I if we would like to join them. They are only considering friends and family who will be able to offer something to the group. Apparently my prepping skills, my library and my decent food storage (already in place) gives reason and the fact that no one other than my man that they know has ANY hunting skills and he is a gun smith. (I will mention now that my man is off hunting for elk now as I type this, and in a few weeks after that he will be going up to Nebraska to hunt deer.)

Its very flattering in one way. I wasnt aware they were even considering prepping, but I am happy that they are considering being prepared for the worse even if it doesnt come anytime soon. But on the other hand…. I am a little  put off to have my pros and cons be tossed about my people who doesnt know my business my true skills and the extent of anything n my home beyond their daughter Jenny.

In the end, You never know who knows, who is taking notice and who would like to include you, you need friends, you may want to pool resources, OP-SEC is hugely important, its hard to do it all on your own. Try to prep more than you need. Even if its to give and send them on their way. If you can’t… Well don’t.

We wouldnt be leaving our home unless we absolutely had to. Our plans for the next year are goats, sheep, chickens and maybe start considering rabbits. This is for meat, eggs, and dairy. This isnt something that can be just uprooted. I would only consider relocating to another state, near more water, on some land with space. We have one couple of friends with that idea, with the land they own. Its a matter of building the houses we need with everything off the grid. It is a plan, but who knows if we will have time to make this happen, most people including us, don’t have the endless funds to make this kind of thing happen on demand. Cross your fingers we will have the time, if not we are preparing our home here and planning to dig in.

 

Alright so I know that this blog isn’t about my cooking adventures. Who cares, its mine and I’ll write what I want. Haha.

This morning I got up and was rather  motivated.  So I didnt really want to do any heavy baking because its still pretty close to 100 degrees during the day here, but its been nice enough that we’ve turned the AC off and turned the swamp cooler on.

So I made Irish Soda Bread. I baked it to. It is pretty good, tastes kind of like rye bread, only with raisins and oatmeal here and there. Also its a little more like a beefy giant biscuit than a loaf of bread. Still I like it, and I bet it would be super duper awesome with Shepard’s Pie or something like that. Warm and hearty.

I also made 6 different kinds of cookies. I didn’t bake any of them though.

I made:

  • almond poppy seed
  • oatmeal raisin
  • chocolate chip
  • Brownie cookies
  • sugar
  • chamomile/lavender with almond slivers (from a base of sugar cookie dough.)

I made them. I moved each btch into mixing bowls covered them and put them in the fridge. Once they were totally cooled, I spooned them out (I’m not done with the process) onto wax paper on a cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the freezer. I have a deep freezer so I just set it on top. I am sure that you could find trays of varying sizes to fit in whatever type frezer you have.

Then once they are frozen solid, I take them out, put them in a vacuum seal bag with a layer of wax paper between the stacks and then I vacuum seal them and place back in the freezer. I recommend marking the bags with the date and type of cookies before taking them out of the freezer, the reason I recommend this is because, your probably much better off having  the cookies stay as chilled as possible during the vacuum and trip back to the freezer. Its okay to take a day or three on this step to let them all freeze fully so there aren’t any squishy messes.

Once I was wrapping the cookie dough adventure, I made tuna salad with boiled eggs, I actually made 2 dozen boiled eggs but I only put about 7 or  in the tuna salad.  (which yeah is about 1/3 of the salad) We’ve been having a lot of salad lately, trying to be more healthy while we can be, and D likes boiled eggs a lot. Well, I do to, probably not as much as him though, but I like making things that he enjoys.

So the tuna salad with mixed greens was lunch and I made brats, zucchini and onions saute’d, and I made friend potatoes I bought the potatoes like 2 weeks ago and I was afraid with how humid its been that they would go bad soon if I didn’t use them. Also, I got a new deep fat fryer, and it was about time I tried it out.

I want to point out here, that I am not much of a deep fried foods kind of person, I don’t do it often but when I do, (tempura battered veggies, or chicken wings) Its pretty cool to have a decent fryer around. Its not something that I NEED but it is something that makes life easier.

That’s pretty much my day of cooking. This kept me in the kitchen almost the entire day, either making, cooking, freezing, or cleaning, I finally finished cleaning the fryer out and putting it back in the box and on the shelf above the cabinets about 30 minutes ago.

When I started researching, one of the things I found is that using FOOD Grade plastic buckets are very important. I have said this before, and I will say this again, the way you store your food is just as important, if not more important than the money that you spend on the food itself.

The reason that I say that is that many of the foods you buy, you will buy a bulk of it in the first couple of years while you are gathering your greatest amounts of food and then after that you will only be purchasing to rotate. So in essence, the way you store your food may be around 10-30 years for the long term staples. Its okay to save money though if its at all possible.

D uses pickle buckets for his work, what he does is take things apart to work on them and while they are in pieces he will place those pieces into a 5 gallon bucket so that they stay with the rest of that particular machine. One of his customers brings them by occasionally, he manages a place where they make sandwiches.

So I know they are food grade, but I didn’t know how to get rid of the god awful smell. I did some research and some of what I have found works and others totally didn’t. So I will give you a running tally of what I found, what I tried and whats worked for me. There is only one method that I found that I haven’t tried and I would give credit but I found it on a forum and it was only a 3 line paragraph by “anon”

I digress.

So plastic food grade 5 gallon tubs CAN be purchased. But they really are rather expensive, and like I said D has a friend who gives them to us for free. Which is totally worth putting a little bit of effort into them.

I found this basic list with a few ideas on on how to implement (on most) on various forums, not in the same place, sometimes only one idea on a page. It probably took me 2 hours of searching for all of these ideas. I am not complaining, I just want to paint a picture. Its easy to find one or two of these answers everywhere but the biggest one I have found is to use vinegar on copious amounts or bleach.

Ideas Found:

  • used coffee grounds mixed with warm water
  • oxy clean with water left in the sun
  • a bowl of charcoal briquettes and leave the lids on (5-10 days)
  • lemon juice
  • dish washing liquid
  • tomato juice watered down
  • news paper

Read the rest of this entry »

Rotation is very important.

When you have several months or several years of food, you need to make sure that you are using the oldest food that you purchased first. This idea is called First In  First Out or FIFO.

So how do you keep track?

Well for me, I don’t keep my food storage in my cabinets upstairs, I don’t have food cabinets in my kitchen, I only have a pantry and thats chock full of spices and open food (half a bag of rice, open flour, things that have been using or plan to use within a day or two) Everything else I have is in my basement. I am always running down to get this or that from my stores, or sending the kids to fetch something.

So how do you keep track?

I have seen several methods that seem like a good idea.

Keep relative loose track and write dates on everything. This works decently if you only have a few months of food storage. writing the dates down helps you to keep everything lined up with the oldest upfront.

Another idea I have seen is to write down on a list every time they remove something from the store of food, this works okay if you only have short term food storage (less than 6 months) and most of it is located in your kitchen, and is easily arranged, because you know to replace it, I don’t see how it helps you to know its the oldest.

ALWAYS write the date, no matter what method you choose.

My canned food is lined up, I havent had the ability, time, or money to purchase or make a can rotation system yet. So what I do is I have everything in single rows, sometimes 3 or 4 high, when I buy more of anything I push the column back, which means that the oldest is in the back, when I go to get something, I walk around to the back of the shelf and pull from that column in the back, the cans arent facing me, but generally I don’t have a problem getting lost on what I am picking up, this works for boxed food as well.

When it comes to things like Rice, sugar and wheat, I don’t even bother buying smaller amounts all of them are in 25 pound bags or 5 gallon buckets (it is my plan to have them all in 5 gallon buckets, I just havent been able to yet, but thats for another article) I don’t rotate these stores though, I just add on top, they have huge shelf lives I make note of when they were purchased and I don’t worry about them, they don’t have a 12-24 month shelf life like canned foods would.

Now, I have not implemented this next idea but it is the one (for me) that is the best idea. This is the rubber band idea. In this scenario, what we would do is place a wide rubber band around the newest box of pasta or can of chili or whatever it is, and  rotate forward, when you reach the product with the rubber band, work it to the more recent newest and so on. The reason I like this one, is because I can see it working really well for my boxed goods, because eventually I will not have the ability to walk to the back of the shelf, I will have to rearrange my shelving units because I am again running out of space.

Another options that I can see is color co-ordination. get colored post its or stickers of letters or whatever I actually really like the idea of the letters. when you purchase a batch of any given product as your organizing and getting ready to put it up, check to see what color or letter the oldest product has on it, then add another color (maybe the next in the rainbow) If your using colors you may want to write down some where obvious what your codes or order of your colors are for your kids or hubby.

This is all confusing. I know. Food storage feels easy to me but I have done hundreds of hours of research. If I am not clear on this, if you would like clarification on rotation, or anything else I wrote for that matter, please comment and I will get back to you.

The most important thing, is writing the dates on what you buy. Even if you only store food in your cupboards at least you will be able to see how long something has been stored there since you purchased it.

You should keep records either online or on paper, I recommend on paper (You can print forms to help you keep track) Only in case you are unable to use electricity for some reason. A lot of people will add their rotation, and their inventory online, and once a month or so print out their excel sheets or inventory sheets. Its really up to you.

So yesterday I picked up the netted bag I’d purchased the day before of peaches from the “Fresh and Easy” market down the road from where I live. I totally love shopping at that store. But I think, because of the heat the peaches were angry because overnight they got so soft, and some of them had spots on them.

Now granted, they were relatively small and werent hard to begin with, but they went south fast. So I parboiled them, and peeled them, mashed them up and made jam with them.

the recipe I used, is as follows:

Sweet Peach Jam

Juice of 1 medium lemon

3 cups mashed peaches (about 2-2 1/2 pounds)

3/4 cup peach Schnapps

1 pouch liquid pectin (3 ounces)

7 cups sugar

I was afraid it wouldn’t gel with so much liquid but it did. It doesnt taste anything like alcohol and I boiled it for 7 minutes or so, so I am sure there isnt any actual alcohol left in it. But it really really does give a lot of peach flavor.

I processed it, in 15, 4oz Kerr Jars. I decided to make it in smaller jars because I wasnt sure what I would use it for (other than making thumbprint cookies and maybe adding to a chicken marinade for some dish.)

A while ago, someone suggested smaller jars for smaller batches so that I could kind of test of flavors and recipes, and be able to give them out and let more people try them while not spending more incase they didnt like them. Also I think that being able to make several flavors in the small jars will be awesome because then I can give 3 or 4 jars away at a time in sampler sets. which may be awesome for Christmas.

D has a huge family and they always do a Christmas thing, no need to remind me, I am still away that I am a Jew, but I do give gifts to my children for Christmas, its about family and fun for us, not religion.

So, its super yummy, amazing really. But even D asked me what the heck I was doing making Jam on SUCH a hot day. I told him, its either today or not at all tomorrow the peaches will be dust. (Ok maybe not that bad, but gross enough to not want to make them into something else.)

I went to Costco yesterday. I spent ummmm $386 I didnt get any frozen stuff except the steaks for dinner (We were having a BBQ and D had forgotten to take the Elk steaks out) and a few things the children requested that they make on nights that we go out or I’m to lazy to cook. I only cook 3 or 4 times a week honestly. I am trying to be better about it, but its a fact of life with me having a full time job and D not cooking anything that doesnt involve a BBQ grill. I don’t mind it and my kids aer old enough to make chicken bakes, soup, chili and other things on their own….. And by the way, my kids LOVE oatmeal, the plain kind that they can add fruit and nuts to.

I currently have a deep freezer and one of our fridge freezers full of stuff from costsco and then the other one is more than half full of elk meat. Sometimes we have venison or wild pig and other various game that D’s customers have bagged and don’t have room to store all of in their freezers. I would prefer my freezers be full of that anyhow since I know it isnt full of chemicals and water weight.

I digress.

So I get home from my shopping expedition and realize just how out of space I am. Now, I knew for the last 6 or 8 grocery trips that I have had to rearrange things EVERY time I come home with more food. But the amount of stuff I brought home yesterday was just more overwhelming than I realized. I started moving things and realizing that I had nowhere else to actually move them to.

At this point, as a fair assessment, I would say I have about a total of 3 months of normal consumption, maybe 4 if strapped. I’ve enlisted D’s Shop Helper to build me a FIFO shelving system, but he probably ownt get around to it for maybe a month… So for now what I plan to do is take some boards and create some additional shelving in an area that normally contains gun cases (Empty) and put the cases in the gun room where the guns are hanging on the walls. I think there is room in the closet in there.

You have to realize, it isnt just me and D, we have 5 children between the 2 of us and we have a fat ass roommate who I prefer not live here, but he does. This is why a 4 month food supply would such a large amount of space. I need more food service shelves. Wish they weren’t so stupidly expensive. I REALLY with the Shelf Reliance Shelves werent so expensive because I would totally buy those.

Because of the work that D does, there are a lot of his customers who store food, know about storing food, wish they were storing food, or atleast understand storing food.

D’s work is from home. His workshop is partially in the garage and partially in the basement. So if he wants to show someone something or they are hanging out while D works on their stuff they go down to the basement which is where my food strage space is. Its not hiding away. Where we live and what my D does means that we dont worry what people see, since most people already know what they should be doing. Also the ones who would be welcome here if the SHTF already know that they would be welcome, just bring your gear along with them.

Anyhow my point was that 2 of his associate/ customers have given me some really amazing tips in the last few days. The alarm system guy who did the alarm/camera system in our house had a chat with me about seeding in Arizona. I was talking about how I wanted to purchase a collection of seeds from http://www.arkinstitut.com and he said that he had actually, not only done that but planted a lot of them but, because we are in arizona it is not the best place to grow all of the vegtables but there are a bunch of amazing veggies that grow really well here that they don’t offer here. So J mentioned another website that I should look at……http://www.rareseeds.com.  I haven’t checked it out yet but I have a lot of faith in it. Also its made me think a lot about looking for a book about gardening specifically in Arizona. I think that might be a good idea for any state you live in, when I buy it, I will let you know what book I find, and if I find any useful information. He also mentioned a local Arizona norsery called Baker Creek nursery for seedlings and seeds. I gotta check them out too.

Also I was talking to another friend/customer of my man’s today and he mentioned Honeyville Farms, He said it was near the 10 east of the 10 actually, he said that it was on Chandler… (note to self more than anything***) He said it was a place like a mormon store house for food storage but more stuff and although a bit more expensive it really was reasonably priced and ALOT in number 10 cans.

So that had nothing to do with my actual post but I honestly think that these insights from locals AND people who have some experience means a lot.

Because of a recent death in our family, I havent been able to even try out my bread maker let alone experiment with it. :/….. But today I prepared a bunch of potatos for dehydrating and then I started in on the bread. my first loaf of a basic white french loaf. I thought it was lacking a little in the salt department even though I actually followed the recipe to a T…. But with a little butter on the warm bread it was amazing, my kids all had some, D’s dad had some, so did our roommate and they all liked it a lot.

I am now baking another loaf “basic white” I would have started with that but I didnt have any “Open” dry milk, I didnt really want to break out a 5 gallon bucket for bread…. not for this. So D’s father picked some up for me at the store and that is actually running right now. Tomorrow morning I am going to make some cinnomon raison swirl bread and we will go from there. I really wanted to try some basics before I stepped into experimentation. I purchased a book on bread machine recipes and I will expound upon different recipes once I have tried the basics and try newer different things from there.

I am rambling. But I really am excited about this step and am glad i have finally had the opportunity to make a few loafs of bread in my new bread maker! YAY!

This is one my my biggest fears, letting the food strage and supplies overtake me.

Recently there was a death in the family and we were taken with just how much disorganization there was, the multitude of “stuff” it was close to an episode of that show “Hoarders”

A couple of people have asked me, “Are you, like, hoarding food now?”

Ummmmmm not exactly, and its hard for me to try to explain why without sounding like a paranoid freak. Which I am a little bit now a days but Mostly I just smile and forgive them for the ignorance because its better to tell them why they should protect their family and what a good practice it is to consider but when their eyes glaze over and they look bored, I just let it go.

I really don’t want to be disorganized or lose my method in the sheer volume of the storage I am creating for my fairly large family. With 5 kids and 2 adults, there is a lot to consider, you know? Even if it is only for 1 year. There is just SO MUCH and I still have room, I just want to be more organized about it. *ie: more shelves and a better method of rotation*

The loss we endured recently was someone close to our family and she had such a mess is really made me sad, and I guess the wording Hoarding or Hoarder is kind of a hot button for me because it has very negative condentations.

Hoarding is not what I am doing. I am thinking first about my family and the changing economy, if in fact at some point the SHTF I want to be prepared and not freaking out like other zealots. It’s just something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I really am excited and motivated and I am working towards a larger goal. If at any point you have great storage and organizational tips, PLEASE let me know! I love taking those ideas and making them my own in our house!

Also, If you let go of Hobby, get rid of the stuff, don’t keep it around, declutter,let it go, someone else may be able to use it, donate it, or toss it. Don’t let it become a mound on crap in your life!

So D has a business partner “T” and last night he came over with his wife Eve (Its to ironic for me to just use the last initial) D and T had been talking about getting she and I together for months now. Shes just really pregnant and not very social lately… Makes sense right? She is actually due in 9 days which kind of shocks me that she is open to going out so close to having the baby.

Anyhow… We talked about a lot while the boys drank their whiskey/coke. About the baby and her super cute 3 year old, and work and her college and then we started talking about food storage. She isnt really doing it yet, but she is planning on getting it started. I showed her what I had and talked about some of the research I had done and some of the things that she had found. It seems we had visited a few of the same sites, she is actually really excited about http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net. I like that site, there are a few things I picked up there that I hadent seen anywhere else.

So while were standing around my shelves of food storage, I mention that I need to actually start purchasing the food grade 5 gallon buckets and the mylar and blah blah blah (Blah Blah Blah is me making a mental note to discuss this option at length another time.) and she said… You know what we were thinking about is filling each 5 gallon bucket with a few different things, to balance it and add variety. I asked her for an example and since I had just been holding up vacuum packed dried fruit she mentioned dried fruit, rice, beans, wheat, and maybe pasta and said but smaller amounts of it all, say 3-5 lbs of everything, seal them separately, then place them all in a Mylar bag and seal all of that together and and that way instead of opening 3 or 4, 5 gallon buckets at a time you will have a smaller amount balanced out and you can change the variety from bucket to bucket.

It makes A LOT of sense, its a really amazing idea and I think that it warrents more thought. I don’t think that the dried fruit may do as well in the long term but I want to research that too. I have gotten some conflicting information about shelf lives of dehydrated fruits. I wonder if it is the moisture level or the sugar levels or what… Even if I removed that and just rotated the buckets with  a split of rice, beans, wheat and pasta, it may be a pretty excellent idea. Espescially for the shorter term outlook of rotating and using the food storage so that we can use the different basics and change things like the types of beans or pasta.

Its really an amazing idea. Bravo Eve!