The Survival Mom » Food http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:09:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 A Famine Menu — A Bare-Bones Food Storage Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/famine-menu-food-storage/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=famine-menu-food-storage http://thesurvivalmom.com/famine-menu-food-storage/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:47:38 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17695   I found this “famine menu” on a political forum, of all things, several years ago. There was no link to an original post nor was any author listed. I liked the plan and wanted to share it because too Read More

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famine menu food storage

You may want to pin this one! Click on the image to go to Pinterest.

 

I found this “famine menu” on a political forum, of all things, several years ago. There was no link to an original post nor was any author listed. I liked the plan and wanted to share it because too many Americans see the need to prepare but can’t. The paycheck, if there is one, doesn’t come anywhere near to meeting the necessities.

On this famine menu food storage plan you’ll find very basic foods that are available anywhere. If you’re using an EBT card currently, buying a few of these items each month will barely make a dent. Once you have these items in place, you can always begin to add additional foods that you and your family enjoy. I’d recommend adding additional meat and chicken, either freeze dried or home canned. (Read this article on home canning meats. When you can buy meat or chicken cheaply enough, this is a great way to stash some away for emergencies.)

Keep in mind that every food storage plan must be customized to your own circumstances. If someone in your family is allergic to one of the items on the list, buy less or substitute something else. Stock up on the spices you use most. Those vary from family to family.

If you’d like a printable of this list, click here.

The Famine Menu Food Storage Plan

Per day for one person

3 slices of whole wheat bread (lunch and dinner)

1 pot of oatmeal (breakfast, vary with spices and fruit from the orchard or dehydrated or nuts)

1 pot of rice (dinner)

1 pot of beans (dinner, vary with spices and vegetables from the garden)

1 glass of milk

In addition per week

1 pint of jam

1 jar of peanut butter

1 spaghetti dinner with hamburger

4 pots of soup (From leftovers and Soup for A Year)

7 jar sprouting seeds rotation

In addition per month

1/2 -#10 can popcorn

1 can potato flakes

1 can refried Beans

1 can white flour

Shopping list: Amounts to store for one Person, two persons, three persons, four persons

Grains

Wheat:  90 lbs, 168 lbs, 252 lbs, 366 lbs

Rolled oats:  24 lbs, 48 lbs, 72 lbs, 96 lbs

Rice:  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Proteins

Dry beans:  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Refried beans:  24 lbs, 48 lbs, 72 lbs, 96 lbs

Peanut butter: 17 lbs,34 lbs, 52-16 oz, 52-16 oz jars

Canned hamburger and other meats:  52 pints

Staples

White flour:  48 lbs, 96 lbs, 144 lbs, 192 lbs

Granulated sugar:  40 lbs, 80 lbs, 120 lbs, 160 lbs

Oil:  9 Quarts (See Bread for a Year), 18 Qts, 18 Qts, 18 Qts

Yeast:  (See Bread for a Year) 2 lbs, 4 lbs, 8 lbs, 8 lbs

Salt:  8 lbs (See Bread for a Year)

Honey:  18 lbs (see Bread for a Year), 36 lbs, 57 lbs, 57 lbs

Powdered milk: 16 lbs (kids 32 lbs), 32 lbs, 48 lbs, 64 lbs

Miscellaneous

Potato flakes: 18 lbs, 36 lbs, 54 lbs, 72 lbs

Spaghetti sauce:  52 Quarts

Spaghetti noodles;  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Spices

Multi-vitamins:  365, 730, 1095, 1460

Popcorn:  #10 cans, 6

Fruit jam:  52 Pints (one per week)

Sprouting seeds (Wheat, beans, seeds), 40 lbs, 80 lbs, 120 lbs, 160 lbs

In a dire emergency, you may not have electricity, or it could be subject to black-outs. In that case, start your famine menu using lesser amounts of food than you’ll need, since you won’t be able to refrigerate the leftovers. With each meal, add a little more food until you’re consuming everything within one day and tummies are all fairly satisfied.

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Canning Home Preserved Peach Jam http://thesurvivalmom.com/home-preserved-peach-jam/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=home-preserved-peach-jam http://thesurvivalmom.com/home-preserved-peach-jam/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 06:00:58 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17437 Sweet Preservation was generous enough to send me a big ol’ box of peaches. My husband LOVES peaches, and although I’ve never worked with them before (they’re not my favorite) I was super-excited to make something that he would enjoy. Read More

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peach jamSweet Preservation was generous enough to send me a big ol’ box of peaches. My husband LOVES peaches, and although I’ve never worked with them before (they’re not my favorite) I was super-excited to make something that he would enjoy.

But, what to make? Luckily, Sweet Preservation has tons of recipes and canning instructions and I was granted inspiration from their site. There were 10 recipes just for canning peaches! Homemade Peach Jam it is.

Getting Ready

Before your hands get all sticky with peaches, prepare your canner, jars and lids. I washed everything, then set the jars in the water bath canner and filled with water to a couple inches above the jars and turned it on high to start them sterilizing. I also placed my lids in a pie plate, alternating back to front, and my rings in a small saucepan on the stove.

You should also gather all the tools to fill the jars since you have to fill them pretty quickly as soon as the jam is done. I’ve got my magnetic lid lifter, my jar lifter, a ladle, and a chopstick to use to push out any air bubbles from the jars.

Starting to Make the Jam

peach jam3On to the jam: First, all these peaches need peeled and pitted. I thought it was going to be a daunting task, but it actually wasn’t too bad. It goes pretty smoothly, especially once you get into a rhythm.

First, drop the peaches in boiling water for about a minute or two, then remove them to a sink or bowl of ice water for a minute or two. After that, the skins slip right off the peaches. Use a paring knife to help along any part that is being stubborn. Slice around the peach with it’s natural indentation (it looks like a seam going around the fruit). Gently pry the two halves apart and scoop out the pit.

peach jam4Next, finely chop the peaches, measuring 4 cups.

Add them to a large, heavy duty pot along with 7-1/2 cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Stir it all up and heat it over high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in one pouch of liquid pectin, boil itpeach jam8 hard for one minute, remove from heat and skim the foam off the top.

Finishing the Canning

Fill your hot, sterlized jars with the hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace (image at top). Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim. Add the lid and ring, screwing it to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner and ensure they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, cool and store.

SweetPreservation.com also has recipes for apricots and cherries, and some awesome downloadable canning jar labels and ideas for throwing your own canning party!

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Homesteading Health Tip: Sneaky Sugars To Watch Out For http://thesurvivalmom.com/homesteading-health-tip-sneaky-sugars-watch/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=homesteading-health-tip-sneaky-sugars-watch http://thesurvivalmom.com/homesteading-health-tip-sneaky-sugars-watch/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:00:43 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16472 As part of my Gluten Free journey, I removed refined sugars from my diet and even cut back on the natural sugars that kind of appease my sweet tooth. Of course, that meant checking what is added to food when Read More

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sneakysugars - Karen LynnAs part of my Gluten Free journey, I removed refined sugars from my diet and even cut back on the natural sugars that kind of appease my sweet tooth. Of course, that meant checking what is added to food when when go grocery shopping.

I did not  realize just how rampant it is until I became more educated on refined sugars and their effect on my body, my brain, and my general health. The food industry is sneaking sugars into a lot of foods on the grocery shelves – even food items I didn’t expect to see sugar added to.

Coffee drinks were not a big surprise, although I am not sure everyone realizes just how much sugar is in those delicious caffeinated beverages. Other items were surprises – bread and yogurt, for example.

Bread

Yes, read your bread labels carefully. I recently picked up a loaf of bread and it stated on the label: Made without high fructose corn syrup and I was thinking…corn syrup really in my bread? Bread doesn’t weigh in high on the sugar scale, but I didn’t like seeing the trends in labeling since it means many companies are adding high fructose corn syrup or other sugars.

I don’t know about you, but when I choose bread for my family – and I do because they haven’t all given up bread – I look for company’s that are using more healthful options with their ingredients.

Catsup or Ketchup

This once-healthy condiment is now loaded with sneaky sugars. Just turn the label over  and read it. One product in particular not only added high fructose corn syrup, they added a little extra regular corn syrup for good measure.

So what do you do? If all else fails, you can make your own ketchup. It’s really not terribly difficult. (Keep an eye out for the October 2014 podcast with the writer of that article on The Survival Mom Radio Network.)

Let’s face it: not everyone is going to make their own catsup. You can follow my lead and just avoid it for most meals, but there are many new kinds of catsups on the market, including lower sugar, spicy, lower sodium, and more. I recently purchased a low sugar version on vacation and liked it well enough to continue using it. Personally, I have already given up my bread, so I really want to keep the catsup on my hot dog. I feel like I’m at a Baseball field. It’s more festive!

Spaghetti Sauce

It actually stunned me when I started making better eating choices and saw how many sugars are on your plate of pasta. I had always known to stay away from fatty white sauces, but I never knew to steer clear of sugar laden marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Now, I prefer to just add home-canned diced tomatoes to most of my food. There are also healthier store bought sources of canned tomatoes that use proper canning techniques. It may seem too plain to your palate at first, but season it with a few well appointed seasonings (such as basil and oregano) and you will be won over in know time.

Flavored Yogurts

Many of these are loaded with either sugar or aspartame. I started making my own plain, full fat yogurt and add fruit and nuts. My husband does not care for plain yogurt, so he switched to cottage cheese. Sometimes eliminating sugars takes a little more change, but whatever works for your family is the right choice.

Parents for sure don’t want their children eating too much sugar. If your kids won’t go for the plain yogurt, try adding a teaspoon or two of honey (raw, of course) or a low sugar jam. It will be sweeter for them, but much healthier than the list of chemicals and sneaky sugars they are slipping into flavored yogurt.

Coffee Drinks (Lattes, Frozen Coffee Beverages, etc.)

Not so sneaky, but there are so many gourmet coffee shops and specialty coffee drinks I thought it worth mentioning.

The average small latte has about 200 calories and 13 grams of sugar. A small caramel frozen coffee beverage boasts an even higher sugar content – a whopping 60 grams of sugar.

Alternatives?

I am an avid enthusiast of all things honey and well that’s easy for me to say since we are beekeepers and have an abundance of it. The primary sugars I keep in my family’s diet are natural sugars, mostly honey and stevia. If we were not beekeepers I would probably eat even less.

I’m thankful I gave up coffee drinks a long time ago! Give me a nice delicious cup of coffee with a little cream and honey, and I’m a happy gal. And when I say a little honey, I mean a very little maybe a ¼ to a ½ of a tsp., and a very generous tablespoon of cream.

For some folks sugar is not a problem, but understanding those sneaky sugars is key because that might change later, such as when you have kids. Simply getting older forces many of us to start paying attention, whether we want to or not. If you start earlier, maybe you can put that day off a bit longer, and provide a good example to  your family. (Even if you are a teenager now, you can be the example to your parents.)

Now, when I purchase spaghetti sauce or almost anything else pre-made, I take the time to read the labels.

These are just a few examples of some sneaky sugars that can sneak into you and your family’s diet. Be watchful and put on your spy glasses! I am a Certified “Sugar Spy” these days! ;) I hope you have accepted this mission to join me, and that you enjoyed my latest homesteading health tip for The Survival Mom Blog.

Disclaimer:  I am not a nutrition expert, just a Suburban Homesteader who is slowly educating herself on how to eat healthier and live a healthier more active lifestyle!

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Try It Today: 10 Ways to Use Cabbage http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-10-ways-use-cabbage/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=try-today-10-ways-use-cabbage http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-10-ways-use-cabbage/#comments Sun, 10 Aug 2014 06:00:43 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16676 Cabbage is a nutritious, frugal, and often abundant vegetable. It grows well in home gardens and can generally be found at farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and vegetable stands everywhere. Often cabbages with less-than-ideal outer leaves can be found for super cheap prices Read More

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10 Ways to Use Cabbage - The Survival MomCabbage is a nutritious, frugal, and often abundant vegetable. It grows well in home gardens and can generally be found at farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and vegetable stands everywhere.

Often cabbages with less-than-ideal outer leaves can be found for super cheap prices too. Pick up these deals, peel off the outer layer and likely you’ll still be left with plenty of usable inner leaves. There’s no shortage of ways to use cabbage fresh and preserve it for later either.

My favorite 10 ways to use cabbage:

  1. No compilation of cabbage uses would be complete without Sauerkraut. Here are three different recipes that include some zip and heat. It took me a little while to develop a taste for sauerkraut and I developed it by starting with a sweeter version that included apples and raisins.
  2. Cabbage rolls are a great and filling way to use up cabbage, bits of other vegetables and meat. They freeze well and make for a great, quick garden fresh meal even in the midst of winter.
  3. Fresh fall cabbage and beets make for a wonderful borscht sure to warm up the family as the air begins to chill.
  4. All those large heads of cabbage, shrink up considerably when dehydrated. Use dehydrated cabbage in soups all winter long for added nutrition and bulking up.
  5. Can up some chow-chow relish for burgers, hot dogs, and more.
  6. Coleslaw is always great for potlucks and picnics, and there are so many ways to change it up for a tasty, satisfying side dish.
  7. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Haluski was pretty much the ultimate comfort food. It’s quick, easy, and frugal.
  8. There’s something very special that happens when vegetables are roasted. It brings out their natural sweetness and seems to turn even the most skeptic of vegetable eaters into believers.  Roasted cabbage slices are delicious and the different, slightly crispy taste and appearance might win over your pickiest eater.
  9. Braise the cabbage with sausages in beer for a one dish meal, that cooks up fast and can easily be doubled for planned leftovers.
  10. Mix together mashed potatoes, sliced onions, sliced cabbage, and some salt and pepper.  Spread that in a casserole dish and top with cheddar cheese. This is a Rumbledethumps, a traditional Scottish dish that will quickly become a favorite side dish.  It will or at least it did at my house.

What’s your favorite way to use cabbage?

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Should you bother making things from scratch? http://thesurvivalmom.com/bother-making-things-scratch/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bother-making-things-scratch http://thesurvivalmom.com/bother-making-things-scratch/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 06:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16585 There are many reasons to start learning how to make things from scratch – allergies, healthy eating, saving money – but one of the most important could be to prepare for a day when that could be a way of Read More

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baking from scratchThere are many reasons to start learning how to make things from scratch – allergies, healthy eating, saving money – but one of the most important could be to prepare for a day when that could be a way of life.

It could be a prolonged power outage, a truck strike that delays store deliveries or just the cost of food that could make more people buy basic ingredients and start making the things they would typically buy.

Bread

I started years ago with baking our own bread. I discovered I had an allergy to sulfites and found only one brand of bread in Alaska that I could eat. I stocked up on the bread by putting it in the freezer since our family would go through bread quickly.

Then the day came that the company decided to stop shipping that brand up north. I started learning to bake bread. A bread maker machine made it very easy to start learning and once I felt comfortable, I branched out to baking without the machine.

Health

From there, I moved on to food items that I could make so my family could eat healthier. With the help of several food blogs and books, I learned how to make granola bars, pancakes (without baking mix), ice cream, seasonings, brownies, and salad dressings.

Some of the best I have found are 100 Days of Real Food, My Humble Kitchen’s 25-day challenge, The Food Babe, Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila, and GNOWFGLINS. The owner and editor of GNOWFGLINS, Wardee Harmon, is also one of the podcast hosts with The Survival Mom Radio Network.

“Small, but permanent, changes.”

In her podcast with The Survival Mom Radio, Jessica of My Kale Kids summed up how I approach these changes without getting overwhelmed: I set monthly goals and take one change at a time.

Some people tell you to clean out your fridge and pantry and start from scratch. That can lead to waste and feeling overwhelmed. I’ve been able to make lots of changes during the past few years by taking on one thing at a time. As she says, I am making small, but permanent, changes.

Practice makes perfect

Hopefully we’ll never have to face an end-of-the world scenario, but if we do, boxed mixes and pre-made meals will be a thing of the past. Knowing how to make basic items from scratch is easier to do beforehand than when the world has changed.

Bread requires very few ingredients and can be baked over a fire. Beef jerky sounds easy enough to make, but do you know what seasonings your family prefers to eat? Have you made oatmeal without a microwave? Can you bake bread on an open fire or solar cooker?

Make a list – here’s mine

Besides food, I have learned some basic sewing skills and my husband has learned some woodworking skills. We can now make pajamas and bookshelves instead of buying them at the store.

We are going to keep learning. I will be making jam and homemade fruit snacks soon. I want to start making our own cleaning supplies, butter, crackers, yogurt, and pasta. By doing one thing at a time, I know I will learn how to do it well and can be assured I will know how to do it if the worst comes our way.

What have you learned to make from scratch? How will that prepare you for when the SHTF? What do you want to learn?

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Top 10 Food Storage Tips from Food Storage Pros http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-10-food-storage-tips-food-storage-pros/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=top-10-food-storage-tips-food-storage-pros http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-10-food-storage-tips-food-storage-pros/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 18:40:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17099 10) Never underestimate the importance of the staples. You may receive products in a pre-designed food storage kit that you may not want, but someone else might. Even if it’s something you don’t want or need, it may be useful Read More

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10) Never underestimate the importance of the staples. You may receive products in a pre-designed food storage kit that you may not want, but someone else might. Even if it’s something you don’t want or need, it may be useful in the future for barter, pet food, or something else entirely. (If you don’t want to buy anything that you already know your family is allergic to or just won’t eat, a pre-packaged “survival food” kit probably isn’t for you.)

food storage tips9) Use your food storage to make sure you like it and you know how to use it. Do this before a big emergency hits! Just having food is a huge step in the right direction, but if you won’t eat the food or don’t know how to cook with it, what’s the point?

8) Rule of thumb: Oxygen absorbers work for years, nitrogen works for decades. It’s a fact, there is no better storage environment for food than nitrogen. Keep this in mind when your purchasing food storage or are packaging products at home.

7) Rotate, Rotate, Rotate. Every few years, pull out some of your oldest products, use them, cook with them, learn if you like them and then replace them. This keeps fresh food storage in your pantry at all times and you get to check off #9!

6) Store for your pets. I know this may sound silly, but your pet can be your biggest asset. Whether it’s for a home alarm system, hunting buddy, or just a companion, don’t underestimate your little furr-kid.

5) Buy and store quality – It’s like a parachute, it has to work. Sure, you got it for $.10 a box, but if it has absolutely no nutritional value and actually requires more energy to prepare than you get out of it, why would you store it?

4) Don’t keep everything in one place. Imagine you have a basement where all of you food and water is perfectly organized and stored, but then a massive storm rolls through and floods your basement and you and your family are stranded in the house. The food is directly below you, but completely ruined and inaccessible. The same goes for fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and any other disaster. Get creative. Try putting some of your food under beds, at the base of closets, behind the couch, anywhere.

3) Keep your food and water in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Heat is the biggest enemy of foods and whether your foods are in Mylar bags or steel cans, that metal container will work like an oven in the heat or sunlight and cook your food, thus eliminating your nutritional value and destroying your shelf life.

2) Purchase and store foods you eat. If you’re purchasing a pre-designed unit that comes with foods you may not want, but it’s cheaper to get it that way, ignore me. BUT! If you have the option to individualize your food storage, do it! A lot of food storage companies out there today only offer combination packs of fruits or vegetables, but for me, even the thought of peaches makes me nauseous, so why would I want that? If you can find a company that sells those products individually without forcing you to purchase their variety, half of which you won’t eat, you may have a winner.

1) Your kids won’t always be kids, plan accordingly. Sure, you have a 6, 8, and 10 year old who don’t eat as much as adults, however, in just 6 short years, you’ll have a 12, 14, and 16 year olds who all can scarf down a whole pizza by themselves. If you plan on having to feed all adults, you’ll never be in the position of not having enough food when you need it.

This list contributed by the experts at Ready Reserve Foods, long-time friends of The Survival Mom and a new sponsor. Visit their website here. To get 20% off your purchases of food from Ready Reserve, use coupon code SURVIVAL.

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Have You Read The Label? Make Your Own (Healthier) Salad Dressing http://thesurvivalmom.com/read-label-healthier-salad-dressing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=read-label-healthier-salad-dressing http://thesurvivalmom.com/read-label-healthier-salad-dressing/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:00:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16086 So you’re standing over a big wooden bowl beholding your masterpiece. This is no ordinary salad. There are roasted baby carrots from your CSA, locally sourced cheese, grilled radicchio, organic orange segments, and baby greens you grew with your own Read More

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salad dressingSo you’re standing over a big wooden bowl beholding your masterpiece. This is no ordinary salad. There are roasted baby carrots from your CSA, locally sourced cheese, grilled radicchio, organic orange segments, and baby greens you grew with your own hands. Because you care about the environment, the local economy and what your family eats.

Now you need some dressing.

Mmmm…it’s the disodium guanylate that gives it that homemade touch….

When did salad dressing get so gross?

I could go on and on (as I’m wont to do) about the dual loss of Mom’s cooking and Home Ec class, the folly of farm subsidies making bad food cheap, advertisers, food fads and imaginary allergies, etc. The sad bottom line is: It happened when we let it happen. We were seduced by “easy” and abdicated our food choices to people who DO NOT have our best interests at heart. Our bad.

There are dozens of books specific to dressings or with great dressing sections. A couple of great ones are Oils and Vinegars by Liz Franklin and the generally awesome How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. But here’s an overvembarrassed.lettuceiew:

What does dressing do?

All too often, it disguises a wilty, boring, or weird salad. Ever notice that we tend to put less dressing on a really great salad? The time to start thinking about dressing is before making the salad, not after.

Yes, there are days when all we have time or supplies for is lettuce/tomato/cucumber. That’s where assertive dressings like blue-cheese, Green Goddess, and Caesar come in. In such a case, try sticking those tomato chunks (brushed with oil) under the broiler for a couple minutes, too.

What’s in dressing?

Typically, oil and vinegar. Or at least, something oily and something acidic plus assorted seasonings.

Cropping up around the country are stores where you can taste the oils and vinegars. They bottle them to order and some even give a refill discount. Most of them ship. Odds are that your local Weight Watchers knows where they are. Full Disclosure: I work at this one: O’Live A Little but there are others.

Let’s talk about oil: Thankfully, people are finally waking up to the fact that bad, biased science from a bygone era gave fats and oils an undeserved bad rap. Our ancestors have been eating plant and animal fats since time immemorial. It’s the fake fats that are the problem. Did you know that hydrogenated oil was originally formulated to make soap and candles? That’s where it should stay.

Salad oils

Soy, Canola and Corn: Flavorless and odorless, they’re supposed to be more versatile. When did flavor become undesirable? Again, when we wanted convenience and “one oil to rule them all.” Farm subsidies made them artificially cheap and we grew accustomed to their taste (or lack thereof).

Be aware that in America, right now, any corn product that isn’t organic is almost certainly genetically modified! Canola and soy almost as much so. So if you do want a neutral oil, look for organic, but try having at least 2 oils around for different flavors.

Olive: There are tons of myths about olive oil. So here are some facts:

  • Color does not indicate quality or freshness
  • A great deal of it claiming to be Italian is really from someplace else but bottled in Italy, most is from Spain
  • EVOO doesn’t always taste better or milder (some is actually very bitter; taste is about variety, location, freshness and storage conditions)
  • Non-extra virgin isn’t necessarily substandard.

Tree nuts: Walnut, hazel, pecan, etc. Delicious and silky but very delicate and easily overpowered. Works nicely with nuts, dried fruits (especially cranberries) and mild fresh fruits like pears, figs and dates.

Sesame: Almost always toasted, very assertive. Usually paired with classic Asian flavors like ginger, lemongrass and soy sauce. It’s also great on salads that are next to or topped with salmon or green beans.

Squash Seed Oils: Remember eating the toasted seeds from your jack’o lantern as a kid? They press those and other squash seeds for oil now. Now, I’ve become allergic to peanuts. I don’t miss peanuts per se; I miss peanut butter. I about died when I tried roasted Butternut squash seed oil. It tastes like peanut butter! And if you mix it with a thick, well-aged balsamic vinegar in your favorite fruit flavor, that makes peanut butter and jelly! That’s a nice dressing for a mild salad but also try it on Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese!

Which brings us to…

Vinegars

There are basically 2 kinds: Regular and Balsamic.

Regular (a word which hereafter shall mean “not balsamic “): These are typically made from grapes or apples. Red wine, white wine, sherry, etc. are usually just that. Read the label though! Sometimes “apple cider” or “Chardonnay” vinegar is really cheap, distilled white pickling vinegar with a little of the advertised vinegar added. Such pretenders are usually flat and boring, often harsh and bitter.

Don’t be afraid of blends like cider/white wine or sherry/champagne; the dominant flavor gets dialed down and makes it more versatile. For a more savory/Umami quality, try Malt vinegar. Made from barley, it’s ubiquitous on fish and chips but try it on salads with seafood, sweet potatoes and cheese. If you like the flavor  but want to tame it slightly, a touch of honey and a pinch of cinnamon or bay leaf will do wonders.

Vinegars made from red wines are typically more earthy and complex. Rice wine vinegar is very mild. Champagne is mild and versatile and is the favorite of artisanal picklers. Sherry vinegar is more interesting like red, but milder and often sweeter. Just as with alcohol, the word “dry” means “not sweet.”

Speaking of alcohol, many people who don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons shun vinegars made from them. That’s a personal choice. But I will say this: There’s no alcohol in them. Also, they don’t taste the same, according to alcohol drinkers; this removes the concern about getting accustomed to the taste and being tempted to drink actual Fire-Water. Cooking and baking with alcohol is another matter that we’ll leave for another time, but as for vinegar, you can save the distilled white for pickles.

For guidance on brands, ask friends and try some. Cooks Illustrated Magazine and their PBS show America’s Test Kitchen are another good resource. If you buy one that’s not terrible but not quite knocking your socks off, add your favorite herb or mix in a little Balsamic.

Balsamic: There’s a lot of confusion and myth about balsamic vinegar. In a nutshell, it’s crushed white wine grapes that are caramelized and aged in charred casks. As it ages, it also condenses and becomes thicker and sweeter. Experts and fans usually consider 8 years a minimum age but prefer 12 or more. Avoid ones that are barely aged (or just red wine vinegar) with thickeners and a ton of sugar added. White balsamic is not caramelized and the casks are uncharred, so it’s a lighter color and typically less sweet. It’s a less nuanced flavor but a cleaner, more floral one.

Flavored Balsamic vinegars are usually traditional balsamic flavored with fruit and other flavor concentrates. Why not add the flavor in the beginning? Because sometimes the aging process is not kind to a flavor and it doesn’t end up tasting like peach, mango, or whatever.

Part of the beauty of 12yr+ balsamic vinegars is that they can be drizzled directly on a salad without any oil…they stick! (That’s why Weight Watchers knows where the local on-tap shop is.) If you do use oil, far less is required than with regular vinegars. It becomes all about flavor. One of my favorite combinations is green apple White Balsamic with about 10% scallion olive oil.

What about “creamy” dressing?

That’s simply a dairy product in place of part or all of the oil. It’s usually buttermilk or yogurt, but other dairy is sometimes used including, of course, blue cheese. When I was in college in Idaho, they would dip or slather anything – a-ny-thing – with Ranch dressing. Salt Lake City was worse. A chef I worked with there bemoaned that Ranch dressing was “the second largest religion in Utah.”

Look at how many preservatives are in bottled creamy dressings and you’ll see why it’s best to keep homemade ones refrigerated and use within a few days.

Assertive, creamy dressings are a good excuse for iceberg lettuce. Or put them on a simple salad of any mild, crunchy greens with just tomato and cukes.

Here’s my mother’s version of creamy:

Sharon’s  Creamy Garlic Dressing

1 C mayonnaise (your oil and vinegar are already there)
1 Tb garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
About 2 Tb milk
Combine and refrigerate for at least an hour to reconstitute. Should be thick and gloppy. Thin with a little more milk if desired.
(One of my favorite things about Preppers is that you can talk about garlic powder in front of them without recrimination.)

Some Random Pairings and Observations

  • Roasted root veggies love orange and fennel.
  • When using citrus fruit, use the juice in place of some or all of the vinegar.
  • If you can’t have balsamic vinegar due to migraines or other reason, mix your favorite jam with some regular vinegar or a blend of citrus juices.
  • Hatred of arugula is often genetic. The smell and taste are nauseating. Don’t push.
  • Fresh herbs are best, but dried ones should be stored as whole as possible.
  • Replace dried herbs annually, use at about half volume of fresh, allow at least an hour for reconstitution.
  • Most salads become a meal with the addition of beans or other protein source.
  • Beans should be large/soft enough to get a fork into. Chasing small ones is annoying.

Recreating Favorite Brands

Maybe you can’t. Maybe that’s a good thing. My family and I are in love with a particular ketchup-esque make and model of bottled dressing. It has no equivalent in other brands. We dress salad with it but we also use it with or instead of ketchup and sometimes like Worcestershire sauce. I’ve tried many recipes from the internet and my own imagination and I can’t exactly reproduce it. That’s because I’m not using guar gum, maltodextrin, or anything cooked up in a lab. I also refuse to make corn syrup the first ingredient. Every time I fail to recreate it, I’m able to let go of the original just a little more. I’m down to just using it on burgers and fries, which are an occasional indulgence.

Like our hands and feet, our tongues develop habits. They steer toward the familiar. When we eat real food made from real ingredients, our tongues develop new habits. Healthier, cheaper habits that last a lifetime and just maybe extend and enrich that life.

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Why You Should Store Rubber Bands http://thesurvivalmom.com/store-rubber-bands/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=store-rubber-bands http://thesurvivalmom.com/store-rubber-bands/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 15:00:36 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16631 If you have children you might have had a vision of living-room rubber band wars pop into your head after reading the title of this article… but that’s not quite what I had in mind. Of course having things that Read More

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Rubber Bands & Food StorageIf you have children you might have had a vision of living-room rubber band wars pop into your head after reading the title of this article… but that’s not quite what I had in mind. Of course having things that can occupy kids in a time of crisis is a VERY GOOD THING but we’ll leave that for another post.

In this case, the humble rubber band can help us to rotate and maintain our food storage supplies at the level we want for our families.

My food storage room is filled with shelves that house all the items (food and non-food) that my family will need to have if we can’t go to the store for whatever reason. We use this room daily. It’s not a dusty stockpile in a bunker that will never get used. It’s constantly rotated as things are needed for every-day meals.

Maybe our supply of ketchup consists of 12 bottles of ketchup for the time period we’ve chosen, (which for our family is 1 year)  That’s one bottle per month that we use.

How do I figure out how much ketchup (or anything else) we use?

  • Write the date it was opened, either on the container itself or on the calendar.
  • Use the item as we normally would.
  • When it’s empty or used up, write that date on the calendar.
  • Figure out how long the item lasted.
  • Calculate how many we’d use in a year.
  • Multiply that number by 1.5.
  • Note this number in your Food Supply Notebook.
  • That gives me 150% of that item (you’ll find out why 150% in just a minute).

In our ketchup example, we figured that one bottle of ketchup lasts for one month in our house. That would be 12 bottles of ketchup for a year. Then we multiply that by 1.5 and we get 18 bottles of ketchup. If I’m starting from scratch, the next time there’s a great deal on ketchup, I’ll go buy 18 bottles of ketchup. (You won’t want to hear the word ‘ketchup’ again after reading this article. ;) )

We bring those bottles home and lovingly place them on their assigned ketchup shelf. Then we admire our accomplishment. I know what you’re thinking: “You can’t live on just ketchup.” Yes I know, that’s why we are doing this with all sorts of shelf stable items. Ketchup is just the example.

The next step is to employ the services of the humble rubber band.  Count back in your line of beautiful ketchup bottles to bottle number 6. Apply the rubber band to that bottle. Now we wait…we wait for that bottle to make it’s way to the kitchen. When it does that is the cue that it’s time to replenish your  ketchup supply.

“But wait,” you’re saying to yourself, “you still have 12 bottles of ketchup sitting behind the rubber-banded one.” To that I would say, “Right! Your years supply is intact!” So no matter when The Crisis happens, you have a year from that point until you run out of ketchup.

We all have personal/family level   crisis-es (I don’t know how to spell ‘Kri-seez’)  emergencies that pop up now and then. Maybe it’s a temporary job loss or a medical bill or an unplanned car repair that has you dipping into the food budget so you can’t replenish your food supplies, or maybe an extended illness or bad weather keeps you from the grocery store.

What if these scenarios happened right before a regional or national event where the grocery stores, as we know them now, aren’t available? If we use the humble rubber band method, we could rest easy knowing we still had a full-year supply for our family.

This works for everything that a rubber band can fit around. For larger things like Toilet paper, just pull out the Sharpie and write ‘restock’ on the package that the rubber-band would have been on. Many big packages have smaller packages inside them, like four packs of TP inside the larger back, that you can mark. One roll per day is my year number for that. There are 8 bums in my house, and in a crisis there would be more!

How many ketchup bottles should be in your supply?

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Food Storage: Where do I begin? http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-begin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-storage-begin http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-begin/#comments Sat, 02 Aug 2014 01:00:24 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16580 When I was finally convinced that we needed to start a supply of food storage, I kept it simple. I know there are many books, websites and planners out there to help, and I have used some of those to Read More

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food storageWhen I was finally convinced that we needed to start a supply of food storage, I kept it simple. I know there are many books, websites and planners out there to help, and I have used some of those to get some tips and suggestions after I made my initial plan, but all you really need is a pencil, some paper and some time.

Start small

I started off with a small goal – having a week’s worth of food. I decided to plan for our most likely scenarios, loss of power or blizzard. The only rules I established was that it needed to be food my family would eat and that the meals wouldn’t require anything that needed to be refrigerated once it was open, like mayonnaise. I assumed that we would just about eat everything that was prepared for that one meal and if not, we have a dog that could eat the leftovers.

Do a meal plan

I used Excel to lay out my plan, but this could be done on paper as well. I created columns for each day and then rows for each meal. It’s important to include snacks and drinks as well. I tried to include a variety of items for lunch and dinner, but some families don’t mind repetition of food.

I simply planned oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter, tuna or chicken sandwiches or soup with bread for lunch and then chose seven dinners that I knew my family liked. I ended up with chili, spaghetti, rice and beans, chicken fried rice, pasta with chicken and vegetables, tortellini soup and taco soup. For snacks, I wrote down nuts, dried fruit and some of the typical items we keep in our pantry, like cheese crackers. For drinks, I listed one gallon of water per person and then added in dry milk, drink powder and coffee.

Make a grocery list for your food storage

After I decided what my meals would be, I went through each one and made a grocery list of what I would need for that week’s worth of food:

  1. One large tub of peanut butter
  2. Four cans of soup
  3. Two big cans of tuna
  4. Four big cans of chicken
  5. Oatmeal
  6. Raisins, etc.

I made sure to write down seasonings for the meals and ingredients for bread. I added jalapenos to the list since my husband likes his food spicier than ours.

Look for smart buys

With a list, I could then look for sales and get our supply started. It took me about a month or so to get a full week’s worth of food stashed away, but it felt like a big accomplishment. Really, I felt like I wanted to throw a party to celebrate our family being prepared. Instead, I took my children on a tour of our “downstairs pantry” and the smile on my oldest child’s face was enough celebration. She is our worrier and now she didn’t have to worry about being hungry if we lost power or were trapped by a blizzard. Mommy and Daddy were all set to take care of her.

Just do it

If you already do meal planning, using a method like this could make starting a food supply really easy. There are other steps to take once you establish food storage, but the first step is to plan. Then, follow your plan and get the food. After that you can figure out what inventory and rotation system works for you as you add to the supply. After I had a week’s worth of food, I challenged myself to get a second week’s supply, and on it goes.

How did you start your food supply? Did you use an established method or figure it out on your own? What would your advice be to someone just getting started?

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10 Reasons Why You Should Be Canning Your Own Meat http://thesurvivalmom.com/canning-your-own-meat/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=canning-your-own-meat http://thesurvivalmom.com/canning-your-own-meat/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:00:51 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15852 You’ll be hooked, I tell you.  Once you learn how to bottle your own meats, you’ll never go back to the old way of doing it. Think about your meat habits.  Do you put up a 1/2 beef in your Read More

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canning your own meatYou’ll be hooked, I tell you.  Once you learn how to bottle your own meats, you’ll never go back to the old way of doing it.

Think about your meat habits.  Do you put up a 1/2 beef in your freezer every year? Do you buy fresh from the butcher and take it home to prepare? Do you buy in bulk and freeze what you aren’t using right away?  Do you buy canned meats?  All of these practices have their own pros and cons.  Today I’m going to share with you my top reasons for learning to bottle your own meats, and if you give it a try, your life will never be the same.

 #1 – Save freezer space

For most people, freezer space is at a premium.  If we can get those meats out of that precious space and into a bottle on a shelf then the space can be much better utilized for things like ice cream and otter pops.  You know, the important stuff.

#2 -  Buy in bulk

When we see a great ‘do-not-pass-up’ deal on meats, we’re able to take advantage of it, get our bottles filled and processed and not have to eat the same meat for every meal that week/month before it goes bad or gets freezer burned.

#3 – Use fuel you have now

In our everyday, non-emergency lives, we have fuel.  We cook, heat and cool with it all the time and don’t think much about it.  Many have the plan that when the power goes out, they’ll just pull out the camp chef and propane and bottle the meats in the freezer at that point.  I’m here to tell you that when things go crazy, there will be much more to worry about than canning your thawing meats.  Why not take care of it now when you have the time, readily available fuel and energy to get it done?

#4 – You know what goes in the bottle

No hidden ingredients.  What goes in is what comes out.  No artificial anything.  Unless you are into that sort of thing. Then by all means, add those artificial ingredients!

#5 – Painless power outages

Cooking during a power outage is so simple with bottled meats.  They are completely cooked through so we just add them to whatever recipe we are throwing together and heat it up.  No extended cooking times (which use up precious alternative fuels).

# 6 – Save money (really this reason alone should convince you)

Canned meats are expensive.  Where I live a small tuna sized can of chicken,  10 ounces, is about $3.  With my large family, a meal gets pretty pricey buying canned meats.  But I can bottle a whole quart (2 lbs) of chicken for about $3.00.  I buy my chicken in bulk, usually 80 lbs at a time for less than $2 per pound, sometimes way less.  Then I’m always eating sale price chicken.  That 80# will keep me until the next big sale when I just rinse and repeat.

#7 – Save time

With the meats thoroughly cooked, we’ve eliminated a lot of the time involved with meal prep.  It does take time to bottle the meats but that’s a concentrated and efficient amount of time that is planned for another day.

#8 – Save braincells

I’m not much of a thinker-aheader when it comes to daily meal times (I’m working on that).  With meat out of the freezer I have to think at least 8-10 hours ahead (who does that?) and sometimes most of the time it just doesn’t happen… but I can open a can of canned meats and have a meal on the table in about 20 minutes because all I have to do is assemble and heat it through.

#9 – Save the planet

Okay, we’re not really saving the planet, but canning jars are reusable so at least we’re not contributing to the landfill by using cans.  There is a little bit of an investment to get started if you buy them new but they can also be found at yard-sales or thrift stores, or just ask around your neighborhood. You might find an elderly neighbor who is happy to pass along their bottles to someone who will put them to good use.  That’s you.

#10 – Less waste

Canning jars come in all sizes.  Use the size that your family will eat in one meal.  At my house we use both quarts and pints for chicken and beef because sometimes the meal will be for all of us and sometimes the kids are off doing kid stuff and it’s just mom dad and the littles at home.

BONUS   #11 – Satisfaction

In a world where we can hire almost everything out, there is something to be said for the satisfaction of doing it ourselves.  Self-reliance in skills and knowledge brings a peace that cannot come any other way.  Providing for our families is our number one job and doing it well is a wonderful thing.

Are you convinced yet?  If you’re ready to jump in take a look at THIS ARTICLE  I wrote on the subject.  Don’t be afraid of the number of steps.  I just broke it down into tiny baby steps so anyone can do it.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes or if you have questions.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t do  it sooner.

Lisa’s note: I buy meat and chicken in bulk through Zaycon foods. The chicken breasts are fresh and about twice the size of those at the grocery store. I highly recommend Zaycon bacon, ground beef, and chicken. Click here for more info. 

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