Sunday, November 4, 2012

What We all Should Learn from Hurricane Sandy

Ok, it's taken me a couple of days to pull my thoughts together before writing this post.  I know that people are suffering and that saddens me greatly.  I also want to start off by saying that no matter how prepared we are, misfortune can befall us, and we can find ourselves in desperate circumstances that are not our fault.

That being said, there is a lot we can learn from Hurricane Sandy.  I suppose it's human nature to assume that nothing bad will happen to us and we will always have time to prepare.  However, history has proven otherwise.  Over, and over, and over, again.

I read with some dismay about how many people had decided to stay in harms way and were running out of food within only a couple of days after the storm.  Many had to be rescued and others had to sit around waiting for the govt to come in with food and water.  What a horrible, avoidable, position to be in.

When the unfortunate happens there are two kinds of people, those that are dependent on others for their survival and comfort, and those that can take care of themselves.  In most cases the only difference between the former and the latter is preparation.

I read a good article called False expectations add to East Coast disaster angst  In it they give some realistic information should you be caught in a disaster:

"It could be a week before you get help," he said, adding that the division has been telling residents in Utah for years to be prepared for any situation. It advises having both an emergency kit that can be grabbed quickly, in case of evacuation, as well as a stock of longer term resources at home.

"At the very minimum, you should have a week's worth of food and water storage, as well as other necessities," Dougherty said."

Preparation is not a "Mormon" thing, or a crazy "Apocalypse" thing, it's simply acknowledging that our futures are uncertain and we prefer not to be victims, and not to have to wait on others for the care and well being of our families.  Who knows when help will come?  It may never come.  We are responsible for our ourselves and should plan accordingly.

So, what can we do right now?  If you haven't already, here is a priority list.  Start with number one, and when that is done, do number 2, etc:

  1. GET WATER!!  In almost every natural disaster scenario, clean water is an issue.  Buy 50 gallon barrels and fill them up.  You should have 14 gallons per person available to you.  That is roughly a 2 week supply.
  2. Get 72 hours kits together.  One kit per person with food, water, clothing, shelter, and cooking utensils for at least 3 days. Put in a backpack or something portable in case you must evacuate.  Oh, and if you know a storm is coming and you are told to evacuate, DO IT!
  3. You should ALWAYS have at least 1 week's worth of food on hand but you also need to build up a 3 month supply.  This could be used if you had to shelter in place for any reason.  These should be shelf stable foods in case you lose power.  Also take some time to think how you would cook without power.  You could lose power for a week or more.  In other words, don't store up 3 months worth of microwave dinners in the freezer.  :)
  4. When those are done, work on a year's supply of long terms foods.  To many people this seems overkill but I would rather have food I don't need, than not have food I do need.  Also, I can use this food to help friends and neighbors that might need it.
  5. Lastly, don't forget to stock up on other necessities like toothpaste, TP, hygiene items, fuel for cooking, first aid stuff, etc.
You don't have to do everything in a day, but do SOMETHING. Today.

Let us be wise and learn from the experiences of others so that when our day of challenge comes we can not only help ourselves but help those around us as well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Be Your Own Super Hero - Stock Up On Sprouts!

Ok this is a hysterical video (mostly because they actually found adults willing to act like this):

Preparedness Heroes Episode 1

but I love their point.  Sprouts are easy to store, easy to grow, and pack in vitamins and minerals your body would need in a time of food scarcity.  Too many people are intimidated by sprouts.  All you need is a couple of simple supplies and you are good to go.  Amazon carries everything you need:

Mason Jar

Sprouting Lid


You can get those fancy sprouting trays but they are not necessary, simple supplies work just as well.  You can probably find most of those things at your local grocer as well.  Doesn't matter where you get them but you should have them in your storage, and practice using them now, you will be amazed how easy it is and how yummy they are!  Mung beans are my favorite to sprout.  I like to just eat them straight as a snack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Storing Spices

I had a question today about storing spices.  I thought I had done a post on that previously but I can't find it so I'm doing a brief summary here. 

When we were living on food storage I came to realize how important a good array of spices are.  It adds variety to your foods and can make the difference between your kids being willing to eat, and preferring to starve.

The problem is, spices do not have a long shelf life.  The way I have found that works best for me is to buy spices in bulk and then use them in my daily cooking.  That way I have a lot of everything and it still gets rotated.

When purchasing spices I shop either at Costco or WinCo.  If you have a WinCo near you and haven't discovered their bulk foods section yet, you are REALLY missing out.  Repent immediately and check it out next time you are in WinCo. 

Anyway, WinCo also sells these handy dandy spices jars that I use to keep my spices in.  I just added labels.  Then I went to an "Organize It" store in town and got some adhesive backed jar holders to attach to the inside of my cupboards.  And there you have it - a very convenient spice rotation system.

It always amuses me when I teach food storage classes because, invariably, the thing people are most interested in is my spice storage system  :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BUTTER! At last REAL shelf stable butter!!!!

Ok, if you are a follower of my blog, you know my butter saga.  When living off food storage, butter and cheese were the things that we missed most.  At long last the butter issue is SOLVED - thanks mostly to one of my readers who happened to mention shelf stable cream.


How is there such a thing?  Oh, but there is, my faithful readers, there is.  Not only does it exist but it also can be churned into REAL butter!

I hunted high and low to find it, it's really only available in Utah and Idaho (of course) but I did find a website that sells it, so I bought a whole case.  It came in the mail today when only my 13 year old and I were home.  I ran to the door and brought the box in.  It looked so plain considering the wonder that it contained.

I was so excited I was shaking and jumping up and down.  My daughter couldn't imagine what was in that magical box, but judging by my reaction she was anticipating something amazing  :)  We ripped the box open and she excitedly reached inside to see what could possibly be so incredible that it would "change our lives forever" as I put it.

She pulled out a box of the precious whipping cream - looked at my giant smiling face - and said, "It's whipping cream."  I shouted proudly, "Not just ANY whipping cream!  Shelf stable whipping cream!"  I was still dancing around the room.  "Mom, you're losing it." she said disappointedly and went back to her school work.

Whatever.  She's 13.  What does she know?

So anyway, I couldn't wait to try it out so I took it out of the box and poured the contents of one box into my Bosch mixer, and started whipping.

It whipped into perfect whip cream soft peaks almost immediately.

Then TWO MINUTES later it separated from the buttermilk and I had BUTTER!!!!

I drained off the buttermilk into a bowl to use later.  I added a little lemon juice to make it sour like the store bought kind.

Then I "washed" the butter in cold water, rinsing it several times until the water came clear.  It is important to wash out all the remaining buttermilk or the butter will go rancid.

Finally I mixed in some salt for flavor.

 Perfect butter straight out of the fridge  :)

I put it on toast and gave it to my pickiest eater to see what he would think.  He took a bite and didn't notice anything different than his usual toast.  YIPPEEEEE!!!!!!!

So, some important facts about this shelf stable whipping cream.  The expiration date is only 6 months (even less on mine because I ordered it from a re-seller and it apparently had already been on their shelves for awhile).  However, when I called the company they said it would be good up to a year.  Several other users online have also commented it will last longer than 6 months.  If you put it in the fridge it may last longer but it will also solidify.  It's still good but you'll have to scoop it out instead of pour it.

My plan is to pick up a bunch when I'm in Utah this summer and then just rotate it religiously.  (no pun intended - haha).  It was SO easy to make it won't be any big deal just to make our butter instead of buying it from now on, and well worth it to have real butter in an emergency.

When you are making it watch it closely.  It congealed into butter MUCH faster than when I used regular cream.  In fact, my first batch I missed the buttermilk separation completely and accidently ended up beating the buttermilk right back into the butter, ruining the whole batch.  It literally took less than 2 minutes.  Converting to butter that fast would also be a big blessing if we have no power and you end up churning it by hand.

Also, you can keep the churned butter in the fridge but it will get pretty hard, just like regular stick butter, so you can also keep it in a butter keeper, or on a cool counter, for easier spreadability.

Ok, seriously, my life is nearly complete now.  I feel completely prepared.  Bring on the Apocalypse......  :)

May last big hurdle is cheese.  I have my freezer thoroughly stocked with it but I hate to be dependent on power being on so my next project is to make and wax cheese.

Oh, and get some chickens.......

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

GREAT Sale on Freeze Dried Cheese

I haven't posted in awhile but I had to get on quickly just to let you know this info.  Costco is having a sale right now on Thrive Freeze Dried Cheeses.  If you follow my blog at all, you know that cheese and butter are the two things we missed most while living off food storage.  Right now you can get 6 cans of cheese for just $169 plus FREE shipping and handling.  A quick check shows that to buy these separately from the Thrive website right now would cost $277.63 with shipping.  And that's with them on sale.

In addition, Costco also has Thrive freeze dried meats on sale with 3 cans of chicken and 3 cans of beef for just $159.99 plus free shipping.  I absolutely prefer canning your own meat to freeze dried, but if you are determined to go this direction, this is a great price.  Purchasing these cans of meat from Thrive itself would cost you $286.52.

Click here to see all of Costco's Emergency Food and Supplies and be aware that this sale is only running until March 18, or until supplies run out.  I am ordering the cheese for sure.  Costco is often a great place to look for supplies, especially if you live outside Utah because their shipping is often free.  I even got my Shelf Reliance rotating can racks from them for way cheaper, plus free shipping.

Anyway,  I hope this is a good resource for you.  Good Luck!