Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good Food Storage book

I haven't posted a lot of recipes lately. That is because I have been systematically trying every recipe out of my new book Dinner is in the Jar. Because almost all of the recipes from the book have been good, it would surely break copyright laws for me to post them all on my site.

If you are looking for a bunch of good recipes you should definitely purchase this book. The author has a very good grip on the use of spices and, even though the rest of the ingredients are fairly plain, most of the recipes are pretty tasty. Plus they give you a list of items you need to store to make all of these recipes.

The author promotes this book of recipes as a great way to store your 3 month supply. However, I will probably use these recipes with my long term storage instead of my 3 month supply. Your 3 month supply is meant to be rotated in with your regular meals and, although these recipes are good compared to other things we have eaten lately, they are not going to be something you want rotate into your regular menus I don't think. They are, however, FABULOUS "convenience" food when added into your year's supply.

On another note. I decided to stop torturing my family with powdered milk and powdered butter. I don't think that there is anything more I can learn from continuing to force them to drink powdered milk and use reconstituted butter. I am still using them in my recipes but I bought some fresh stuff this week for them to eat. It was pretty funny actually. My husband opened the fridge, looks suspiciously at the gallon of milk in the door and says, "Is this....real milk?" I said yes. He grabs it immediately as if it will disappear, says, "Oh YES!!" and poured himself a giant glass.

I am still purchasing different brands of powdered milk and butter so that I can find the best tasting ones and store them. Ordering 2 more kinds this week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Freezing Foods

We really should be keeping two types of food storage. First, foods that we use in our day to day cooking, and then long term food storage as well. I usually refer to the two different stores as my 3 months storage, and my year's supply.

My year's supply is made up completely of shelf stable foods that are in #10 cans or buckets and can last for years. My 3 month supply is made up of canned goods from the store, pre-packaged foods, and items that I have frozen.

After living off this stuff for 3 months now, I just want to put a plug in for freezing food. It's not ideal for long term storage, and of course they lose all value if we are not able to stay at home, with the electricity on, but it's great for being able to store foods you otherwise would not be able to.

First off I freeze my bread dough. I make enough for 6 loaves once a week, bake 2 right away and freeze the rest in individual loaves. The key to this I have found, is letting the dough you are going to freeze, rise in the fridge. So I put the dough for the loaves I'm going to freeze in a large bowl and cover with a towel, then I put it in the fridge to rise at least an hour. Then I punch it down, divide into separate loaves and roll them up in greased saran wrap, and put them in the freezer. Even at that, they will continue to rise in the freezer. If they happen to grow larger than your loaf pan, it's ok, it softens quickly and you can reshape for your pan. Just let frozen dough rise until double and bake as usual. Of course you can just bake all your loaves at once and then freeze but I don't have that many loaf pans, and I just LOVE the smell of fresh baked bread several times a week in my house.

Cheese is another GREAT item to freeze. I was already freezing sliced cheese by buying it in bulk from Costco and then putting it in my freezer. If you defrost it in the fridge, the texture stays virtually the same. You can freeze blocks of cheese as well; however, it will become crumbly if you try to grate cheese that has been frozen. To avoid that, I buy grated cheese in a bag and put that in the freezer. Again, defrost in the fridge. I know that pre-grated cheese costs a little more but believe me, if you have to live without cheese, no cost will seem too great :) You might be able to grate your own blocks of cheese and then freeze it. I haven't tried that but I would be a little worried that it might turn into a giant clump of cheese and not stay separated like the store bought cheese does.

One other great thing to freeze is eggs. You can live off powdered eggs (believe me, I know) but there is just no subsitute when you are craving a fried egg, so you might want to consider freezing some eggs. My friend told me how to do it. I borrowed her rubber muffin tins, sprayed them with pam, broke one egg into each, scrambled up the yolk, and then put them in the freezer.

After they were frozen, I just popped them out and used my foodsaver to vacuum out the air and store them in the freezer.

I also store some with the yolks unbroken so I can have fried eggs :) As you can see from the picture they defrost beautifully.

One thing though, while the yolk was somewhat runny it also remained a little firm. The taste was the same but it might not work out well if you were putting them raw into a baking recipe so it's a good idea to store some with the yolk broken up before freezing it.

As you are aware, many items can be frozen, especially if you have a food vacuum and the freezer space. Like anything, you can build up a supply a little at a time. We were doing that before with meat from Costco, and 3 months into eating our food storage, we even still have a little meat in our freezer. We save it for fast Sundays so we don't have it often but I can't begin to put into words the morale booster it is to have a treat like that, even once a month.

I'm putting up a recipe up for Frozen Fruit Cocktail. I used to make this every summer in my former life :)

I make a huge batch when peaches come into season, put them in the freezer, and have fruit salad all year round. Plus you always have an excellent side dish that is ready at a moments notice. It is SUPER yummy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Typical Week

I've been trying to think what other people might wonder about living off food storage. It's hard for me to think if there is anything I should post about beyond recipes that are edible. I was thinking today though that you might be interested in the ins and outs of a typical week living off food storage so here it is.

I guess the biggest issue is how much time I spend in the kitchen. Hours everyday. In many ways I'm at a disadvantage over what the pioneers had because women then typically had no responsibilities outside the home. They spent all day cooking and cleaning. No soccer practice, part time (or full time) jobs, PTA meetings, play practice, shuttling kids between 3 different schools, etc. Plus their daughters were home much of the time working right beside them. HOWEVER, they also didn't have electric appliances, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. If you add all the pluses and minuses up, I probably come out a little ahead, even though I feel like I have to be super human to get all this stuff done. :)

So, like I said, I spend the bulk of my time cooking. 3 months into it, I'm in a pretty good rhythm. At the beginning of each week I make a meal plan on a spread sheet that shows what we are eating that week for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner each day. Then I also make up a separate list of what I have to do each day so that I don't forget something, like taking out beans to soak the night before. So here is a typical week of using food storage. I won't bore you with all the other things I have to get done in a week, this list only includes what I have to get done with food. Note that on the weekends I get the bulk of the cooking for breakfasts and snacks during the week done. I also put the approximate time each thing takes if it takes 30 minutes or longer. I just picked a random, typical week:

1. Make 50 waffles (or pancakes) and put in the freezer for breakfasts. [1 hour]
2. Make 6 loaves of bread. Bake 2 and put the rest of the dough in the freezer in loaves to bake later in the week. [3 hours]
3. Make one gallon of milk (my family used to dring 5 gallons of milk a week. With powdered milk we don't even use up 1 a week, so if you are thinking that is how your kids will get their calcium and vitamin D, you might need another plan)
4. Make a gallon of juice from the cannery (This my kids LOVE and go through several gallons a week).
5. Make cold cereal for the kids to eat during the week. [2 hours]
6. Make granola for the kids to snack on after school or eat for breakfast. [1 hour]
7. Make spreadable butter from powdered butter.
8. Make cookies (peanut butter, sugar, or no bake chocolate cookies)[1 hour]
9. Plus make dinners those days.[2 hours]

1. Put frozen waffles in the toaster for kid's breakfast. Serve with butter and syrup.
2. Pack kids lunches with PB and J, dried apples, and cookie.
3. Put beans in the crockpot to cook for dinner.
4. Make kids popcorn (or popped wheat) for snacks after school. [30 minutes]
5. Make cornbread for dinner. [30 minutes]
6. Make meatless chili using cooked beans. [1 hour]
7. Make apple crisp for Family Home Evening. [1 hour]

1. Make oatmeal for the kids for breakfast.
2. Pack lunches with Tuna, granola, and cookie.
3. Make more juice.
4. Make chips for dinner and lunch tomorrow. [2 hours]
5. Make pretzels for kids snacks (double the recipe and freeze half for another day) [2 hours]
6. Make Tortilla soup with the chips for dinner. [1 hour]

1. Cold cereal for breakfast.
2. Pack lunches with PB and Honey, chips from yesterday, and cookie.
3. Defrost and bake 2 loaves frozen bread dough. [All day to defrost and 30 minutes to bake]
4. Make chocolate milk.
5. Make granola bars for kids snacks. [1 hour]
6. Make garlic crescents for dinner. [1 hour]
7. Make meatless spaghetti. [30 minutes]

1. Toast and chocolate milk for breakfast.
2. Pack PB and J, dried apples, and granola bar for kid's lunch.
3. Make more juice.
4. Make brownies for lunches. [30 minutes]
4. Make wheat thins for kids snack. [1 hour]
5. Make tortillas for dinner. [1 hour]
6. Make bean burritos with rice for dinner. [1 hour]

1. Frozen pancakes and syrup for breakfast.
2. Pack Tuna, granola, brownie for lunches.
3. Defrost and bake last 2 loaves of frozen bread. [30 minutes]
4. Defrost pretzel dough and make pretzels for snacks. [30 minutes]
5. Macaroni and Cheese for dinner with reconstituted veggies on the side. [1 hour]

Then we start all over again. Despite all the time that it takes, it feels so good when I see my family eating things that I worked to make from nothing but food storage. The reality is, it's very empowering to feel completely self sufficient, relying on no man to feed my family. It's been difficult but SO worth it.

If the day comes that we ever have to live completely on food storage you can expect to spend most of your time feeding and caring for the needs of your family. Rather than thinking of this as a burden, I have come to realize that it is service in it's highest natural form. Seeing to the physical and spiritual nourishment of my family is my highest calling and most treasured job at this time in my life. Interestingly, I have food storage to thank for making that so crystal clear to me once again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I had a moment of clarity this week. I was laying in bed going through my head what food storage items I need to replace at Costco this month, when all of the sudden it hit me. I could go a whole year, never set foot in a store, and feed my family comfortably.

And it was more than just thinking that I had the food, it was that I have it AND I know how to use it. I know already what my kids will eat, what I can make on a day to day basis, and that I can take care of my family's nutritional needs completely independent of the outside world for a whole year.

I felt............. safe.

It was a defining moment for me. It was the moment I have been looking for since I started this. In that instant, food storage went from being overwhelming, mysterious, and a little bit scary, to being my promise of security and independence.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thumbs Up Pretzels

We have another winner!! I try new recipes almost everyday and every once in awhile we hit the jackpot. This week we actually had several recipes that we tried and liked including an apple crisp dessert, Mormon baked beans (no really, that's the name), homemade cold cereal, and a homemade instant oatmeal mix. I'm posting all the recipes under my recipe link.

The biggest winner by far though was the soft pretzels we made today. They were VERY close to the ones that you get from the mall even though they were freakishly easy to make and had only a handful of ingredients. I made a double batch and they disappeared instantly, and my kids are begging me to make them again tomorrow. Gotta love that!

You can see from the picture why I'm calling them the "Thumbs Up Pretzels"