Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prepping for kids

I like to make foods from scratch.  I try to use as few as possible prepared foods, however I'm not zealous about it.  I just prefer scratch cooking as usually it's better tasting and cheaper.  Sometimes though I bend in order to accommodate my family members tastes.  For instance my grandson loves instant mashed potatoes... if I am making dinner and tell him mashed potatoes are one of the items on tonight's menu he will say very seriously, "Is it the kind with potatoes in it or no potatoes?"  He calls the instant variety "the kind without potatoes".  I like to make him happy so at least twice a month I serve "potatoes with no potatoes".  He is a strange little dude sometimes, he also likes cheap boxed macaroni and cheese.  He doesn't like the kind that comes with the little package of Velveeta or the kind you actually make from scratch, he likes the kind with fake cheese flavored powder.  He also likes instant cocoa, grits, popcorn, avocados and he loves dill pickles on his sandwiches and mint ice cream for dessert.   How is it that kids actually like things like that?

I am careful to include those items in my prepping because it's important to provide comfort foods for our family.  In an emergency situation where perhaps the power is out for a week or longer, the youngsters are going to have it especially hard.  They are used to having TV, snacks, going out to pizza once in awhile, electronics, being driven to their schools, sports practices, the mall etc.  The least you can do for your youngsters is provide them with some of the comfort that will make them feel a little better till the emergency has resolved itself or until they get used to a new way of life.


Last January I went to Vietnam with my son and my grandson for 2 weeks.  I made sure I packed some boxed shelf stable milk, mac and cheese, favorite cereal, Crystal light, instant cocoa and some instant mashed potatoes.  In the first few days he wanted most of his meals to be peppered with these items but by the 4th or 5th day he was becoming acquainted with new foods and was starting to enjoy them.  By the time we left he was eating just like any of the other Vietnamese children in the household.  He had slowly learned to adapt in order to fit in with the other children and to enjoy the fun of trying new foods.  At home he would not have been so adventurous.

I think it's important to have some adventures when you are considering how to prep for your kids.  Everyone should know how to eat with chop sticks.   Why?  Because you don't always have silverware with you in an emergency but you can find a couple of sticks.  Even with soup you can use chop sticks to eat the solids and drink the juice directly from the bowl or cup.  You can make an adventure out of it by having a chop stick eating contest or just making a festivity out of it by using them once a week at a regular meal.  It doesn't have to be Asian food to use chopsticks.  It would be more fun to use them eating a bowl of mac and cheese or Hamburger Helper than Chow Mien .  As your skills get more accomplished you can try more and more difficult foods like noodles, salad, rice, even oat meal!  If it's made into a game you and your kids will have more fun with the challenge.  One of the nice things is a bundle of chopsticks is relatively cheap and a bundle of them the size of a water bottle will probably supply eating utensils for 20 people or more.  I even have a few extra long ones about 18" for cooking.  They work great for turning frying foods like fish, chicken or larger pieces of foods. 

Things like small toys, stuffed animals, dolls, crayons, paper or coloring books will help your child remember to be a kid.  No matter if the electricity is out for a day, a week or a month or even longer a child has to have childish things to do and it will keep them from under foot if you can pull out something new for them to do or examine every so often.  We, as adults get bored to tears with the same old thing in our routines all the time and it so much more boring for a kid who has boundless energy and nothing to do.  (Remember the adage "Idle hands are the Devil's Workshop" ?) 
If you are doing serious prepping as in for a long term situation lasting 6 months are longer don't forget to add larger clothing for each season you estimate your preps, with this remember to include things you might enjoy having for your child at that size (or age).  Birthday cards, shoes, warm socks, larger coats, jeans and shirts.  Age appropriate books, gifts and personal hygiene.  Hair brushes, combs, ribbons and barrettes can go a long way in making a girl feel good about herself in a time of stress.  The same goes for boys, a baseball, a shaving kit, some after shave or men's cologne would do a lot for the self esteem of a young man who maybe thinks things will never be the same again even though maybe it's only been a week.  Think ahead for the mental well being of your child, only you know what kinds of things might make them happy or encouraged.  Try to keep things as normal as possible and as routine as possible.
Don't forget your child's spiritual education.  A supply of Sunday School lessons, crafts and a child's Bible will be a valuable part of their education.  Teach a child the way to worship and it will bring great comfort to them as they mature. 
Some "Preppers" include school plans in  their prepping.  They have gone online and procured through online suppliers or from other homeschoolers lesson plans, curriculum's, books and classroom supplies for all ages and levels of education.  Even if you don't use them due to some unforeseen event you could use them as summer or vacation lessons and keep your child that much more ahead of the game if your child is currently in public school.  If you never need them or use them, at least you were prepared. 
Here is a list of what I keep on hand for emergency use for my grandson (or for his grandpa in some cases...LOL) This is in addition to my regular pantry foods.  These are the things I specifically set aside just for him.
Mac and Cheese
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Instant Oatmeal
Instant Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
Instant Grits
Ranch Dressing
Top Ramen
Canned Bacon
Crystal Light
Presweetened Cool Aid or presweetened packaged beverages
Canned cheese products like Nacho Cheese in a can, Cheddar Cheese Soup etc.  (With some imagination you can use these items to make some of the things very similar to things your child likes)
Pop Corn
Shelf stable milk (This comes in a box and is ready to use, it actually tastes just like regular milk)
Cookie mix (in the box, removed and vacume packaged with instructions)
Word Searches for kids
Colored pencils, crayons, regular pencils (pack these in multiples when you can.  I pick them up 10 packages at a time at Walmart at the beginning of the school year for sometimes 4 for a dollar)
Paper, coloring books, game boys
Books for pleasure reading (superhero stories, sports stories, Bible stories)
Homeschooling items picked up at garage sales or on Freecycle.  (
Freeze dried ice cream...this is an extravagance and is available at sporting goods stores in the back packing section.  It isn't cold and its not like real ice cream but it is fun and it does taste like ice cream that is crunchy..
Favorite cups, mugs, cereal bowls
Favorite colors of towels
Canned fruits and juices
Wind-up flashlights
two way radios (for those scary trips to the bathroom)
batteries and chargers
I am also working on clothing, shoes and winter items for kids in lots of different sizes.  If we don't use it I am sure there will be someone who will need it at some point.  I also have and continue to collect bedding that is of the type my grandson feels comfortable with.  Even though he is 11 he has autism and is attracted to soft, fuzzy and fluffy blankets.  He swathes himself in them year around as they make him feel comfortable, it's important to me that he has those things as long as he needs them.  Fabric is also something to purchase, set aside in vacume packing and maybe a few moth balls. You just never know what you might want to try to make later. 
These are all just ideas of what you can do to make a stressful situation better.  Remember, even if the lights are out just for the night or for longer you can pull out any of these things to surprise your children and even put some smiles on faces during what could be a scary time.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recipes for a Crowd and Specialty Items

I use this recipe for mayonaise. I got tired of paying extremely high prices
for mayonaise and decided to try my own and it was surprisingly easy and tastey.
Further I can triple the recipe and fill a 2 quart jar with it and it will last
for about two weeks. Yes, while I don't eat mayo myself other than to make
dressing with it my menfolk love it and slather it on like crazy. Sometimes I
divide the triple recipe into thirds and flavor each third differently, for
instance I add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for a spicy mayo for my son who
loves really hot foods and loves me to sprinkle cayenne pepper on his
sandwiches, or a few tablespoons of pesto to make a fabulous spread for
roastbeef sandwiches and its even great to dip your homecooked fries in, I add
some relish to make homemade sandwich spread etc. We are talking pennies on the
dollar for a homemade product.


1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (or 1 teaspoon brown regular mustard)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 whole eggs
2 Tablespoons white vinegar (you can also use lemon juice if you like that
better or cider vinegar)
2 cups oil (vegetable or olive, safflower etc I use the cheapest)
Optional: a pinch of paprika
1. In a food processor or blender (I use the food processor) put in the salt,
eggs, vinegar and mustard. Give it a few pulses to mix.

2. Set on medium or high and turn it on and drizzle slowly the oil, when the oil
has been completely added let it go a few minutes more to whip it completely.
Put it in a container or jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.

This is not as thick as Best Foods or Hellmans but they add thickeners to get
that real thick custardy texture. This is the mayo that your Grandma had to
make for her family during the depression.

Apple Pie Filling   

Per Quart:

5 apples

1 c. sugar
1/4 c. corn starch
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. water
3/4 c. apple juice
2 TBSP lemon juice

Core, peel and slice apples. Place in boiling water for 1 minute. Set aside and keep hot. Boil remaining ingredients until desired thickness. I barely let mine reach a full boil. Fill hot sterilized quart jars alternating apples and syrup until it is almost full. Run a knife down the side to remove air bubbles. Add more apples and syrup. Process 25 minutes.

Cabbage Burgers

This recipe is great for a crowd or you can freeze for many later on meals.
6 lb hamburger (you can use deer or elk)
salt and pepper to taste
garlic salt to taste
5 Tbsp minced garlic
2 lg onions
4 md cabbage heads
5 loaves of bread dough
1 c water, warm
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c sugar
1/3 c powdered milk
1 tsp salt
1 lg egg
1/4 c oil or butter(melted)
3 c flour
Start by browning the meat using salt and pepper and garlic salt to taste. add in 1 of the onions and 1 or 2 tablespoon of the garlic as well. Drain the meat and set aside.
While you are browning the meat you should chop up the onions and cabbage. I like small chunks of onion and medium sized chunks of cabbage.
Add cabbage, onion, and remaining garlic to large stalk pot add the burger on top of cabbage and mix. Season to taste with salt pepper and garlic salt
Let simmer on LOW heat till cabbage is tender
I use my bread machines to make the bread, add 1tbsp yeast and 1tbsp sugar to 1 cup warm water mix till dissolved and place in bread machine then add the other ingredients in order to the machine an set on dough setting.
As soon as everything is ready to go, roll out dough and cut them into 12 squares large enough for a heaping 1/2 cup of the cabbage mixture. Fold up the corners and "just a pinch" to seal them and place them on a large cookie sheet.
I have it set up so when I take one batch of bread dough out I start the next loaf right away so that by the time the cabbage burgers come out of the oven and cool I can be working on the next batch.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, till nice and golden brown. Lightly brush tops of rolls with butter. Serve right from the oven, and freeze the rest if there is any. Enjoy!!!
You can cut this down but where I only do the majority of my baking in the winter I do it this away and freeze them.

Yeast Rolls

Again this is for a crowd or to make and freeze ahead.
2 1/2 lb plain flour
1/2 c dry milk
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/4 c instant yeast
3/4 c melted, cooled butter (or shortening, room temperature)
3 c lukewarm water
Sift together all of the dry ingredients. Mix Well.

Add yeast, lukewarm water and cooled melted butter.
Beat 15 minutes (this is an important step).
Let rise.
Roll out to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick on a floured serface. Cut out rolls with cutter.
Place on greased pans. Let rise again.
Bake at 350°F until done, (about 35 to 40 minutes, until tops have browned), just keep an eye on them.
Remove from oven and butter tops.
Makes approximately 65 rolls.

Monday, October 15, 2012

General Information about Food storage and Items to keep on hand

10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze

You already know that the freezer is a good place to stow steak and chicken. But it works equally well for some far less obvious items.
Try freezing the following (you’ll find more detailed instructions by clicking on each item). You'll save money, waste less — and make cooking a lot more convenient.
OPENED WINE: 6 months
Can't finish the whole bottle? Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and transfer to freezer bags. Great for cooking, in sauces, stews and the like.
EGGS: 1 year
Crack open and mix in a touch of salt (if using for savory dishes) or sugar (for baking or desserts); place in freezer bags or airtight containers.
Brown rice has a higher oil content than white rice, so its shelf life isn’t nearly as long. But it’ll keep for several months longer if you freeze it.
BUTTER: 6 months
Butter freezes well, so stash a stick or two in the freezer (leave in the original wrapping and place in a freezer bag) and you’ll always have some on hand when you need it.
MILK: 3 months
If you’re constantly running out, freeze a backup supply in an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge and stir well before using — the texture may be a little grainy, but it's fine for cooking and usually okay for drinking.
NUTS - INCLUDING PECANS, ALMONDS, WALNUTS: 1 -2 years (depending on the type)
Thanks to their high oil content, nuts are especially prone to going rancid. Freeze them and they’ll stay fresher longer.
Most recipes call for only a sprig of herbs, but you have to buy the whole bunch. Freeze what you don’t use in ice cube trays, covered with a bit of water, and then transfer to freezer bags.
TOMATO PASTE: 3 months
Rarely do you need to use the whole can at once. Freeze dollops of leftover tomato paste on a cookie sheet or in ice cube trays and transfer to freezer bags for use in future recipes.
BREAD: 3 months
If you can never seem to finish a whole loaf before it gets rock-hard or moldy, freeze it. Bread toasts just fine, straight out of the freezer.
MAPLE SYRUP (100% PURE): keeps indefinitely
Sure, it’s more expensive than the imitation stuff. But pure maple syrup keeps forever in the freezer — so you’ll never have to waste a delicious drop.

Sturdy Staples: 9 Foods That Can Outlast You

You've just gotten halfway through a recipe, only to discover that a key ingredient is missing because you tossed it during your last cleaning spree.

It’s a predicament you shouldn't have to face again — at least when it comes to the nine kitchen staples we've listed here.

When stored properly, these everyday items will last for years — sometimes decades — even after they’ve been opened. And they’ll lose very little, if any, of their original quality as time passes. So think twice before tossing one of these items. If you've been handling it correctly, chances are it's just fine.
Pure honey is as durable as it is delicious; it keeps safe indefinitely. Honey may change color or crystallize over time, but that won't make it unsafe.
Keep it fresh: Store in a cool area and keep tightly closed. Revive crystallized honey by placing the opened jar in warm water and stirring until dissolved.
White, wild, arborio, jasmine and basmati rice all have an indefinite shelf life, when kept free from contaminants. The exception: brown rice. Thanks to its higher oil content, it won’t keep nearly as long.

Keep it fresh: Store in a cool, dry area.
Once opened, place rice in a sealed airtight container or place original package in a resealable heavy-duty freezer bag. For added protection, store rice in the refrigerator or freezer.
White, brown or powdered sugar never spoils because it doesn’t support bacterial growth. The real challenge is to prevent it from becoming rock-hard.
Keep it fresh: Keep sugar in a cool, dry area. To prevent sugar from hardening after opening, place it in an airtight container or cover the original package in a heavy-duty plastic bag and seal tightly.
Whipping up some penne alla vodka and a pitcher of cocktails? Distilled spirits vodka, rum, whiskey, gin, tequila and the like don’t spoil, even after opening. The taste and aroma may fade gradually, but it’ll take ages before you notice.
Keep it fresh: Store in cool, dark area, away from direct heat or sunlight. Keep bottle tightly closed when not in use.
Pure maple syrup not only makes your pancakes special, it adds tremendous flavor to a whole range of dishes. Best of all, it keeps forever in the freezer.
Keep it fresh: Refrigerate after opening. For long-term storage, freeze maple syrup in airtight plastic containers.
Yes, it’s more expensive than its imitation counterpart. But pure vanilla extract keeps forever, so you’ll never have to waste a drop.
Keep it fresh: Store in cool, dark cupboard and keep tightly closed when not in use.
A reliable standby in everything from marinades to salad dressings, distilled white vinegar will remain virtually unchanged as the years pass by.
Keep it fresh: Store vinegar a cool, dark area and keep tightly capped after each use.
A must-have for thickening sauces, gravies, and puddings. Cornstarch will keep indefinitely if it's kept dry and free from contaminants.
Keep it fresh: Store in cool, dry area; keep package tightly closed between uses.
From the basic table variety to fancier versions like kosher and sea, salt is a flavor enhancer that never spoils or goes stale.
Keep it fresh: Store in cool, dry area.


1. Generators Powermate PM0101207 Vx Power Series 1,500 Watt 99cc Gas Powered Portable Generator2. Fly strips
3. Reading glasses
4.Lamplight 110 Chamber Lamp, LAMPLIGHT FARMS 6045 "ULTRA-PURE" LAMP OIL 32OZ-CLEAR, Lamplight Farms 3/4-Inch Cotton Oil Lame Wicks, 3-Pack
5. Ice Chests
6. Coleman Fuel 1 Gal
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Asp Law Enforcement F21FA Foam Airweight Fricton Loc Baton (21-Inch)8. Hand-can openers
9. Birth control
10. Survival, Wild Food Foraging, Herbal Medicine books Homestead Survival Suggested Book List
11. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, wedges
12. Charcoal and lighter fluid
13. Water storage containers 55-Gallon Barrel Combo
14. Emergency Fire Starter and matches
16. Propane Cylinders Worthington Cylinders Propane Tank - 20-Lb., OPD Valve shortages will occur
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Flannel flat sheets to cut up and use for toilet paper after paper toilet paper runs out
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula, ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Columbus Washboard 2133 Pail Size Washboard, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cook Stoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Socks more the better
23.Texsport Heavy Duty Camp Grill (24" x 16")
24. Feminine hygiene - menstrual products
25. Thermal underwear
26. Vitamins
27. Aluminum Foil heavy duty 8-10 rolls
28. Gasoline Containers Eagle UI-50-FS Red Galvanized Steel Type I Gasoline Safety Can with Funnel, 5 gallon Capacity, 13.5" Height, 12.5" Diameter29. Garbage Bags so many uses
30. Toilet Paper
31. Powered Milk
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid)
33. Clothes pins and Rope King PCL-316100 Plastic Clothesline 3/16 inch x 100 feet
34. Pre measured and cut plywood squares to cover windows
35. Tuna Fish cans canned in water and oil
36. Fire Extinguishers Kidde - Kitchen/Garage Fire Extinguishers 3 Lb. 10Bc Kitchen/Garage Fire Extinguisher: 408-466141 - 3 lb. 10bc kitchen/garage fire extinguisher37. Extensive First Aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes…rotate your stockpile)
39. Wine/Liquors for trade, medicinal use
40. Dogs for alarm & protection
41. Cigarettes great barter item even if you do not smoke
42. Coghlans Waterproof Matches43. Water Filters and Purifiers
44. Seasoned firewood
45. Work clothes and boots
46. Flashlights/ Glow Sticks Light Stick - Green - 12 Hour - Pack of 50 - For Camping and for Automobiles47. Chapin 20000 1-Gallon Lawn and Garden Sprayer for cooling and bathing (Never put chemicals in it)
48. Garbage cans Plastic great for storage, collecting water, transporting – if it has wheels
49. Hygiene items
50. Cast iron cookware Lodge L5HS3 Lodge Logic Cast Iron 5-Piece Cookware Set can be used indoors or over camp fire
51. Fishing supplies and tools
52. Mosquito coils, repellent, sprays
53. Duct Tape 2" X 35 Yard Black Double Thick Adhesive Gorilla Tape54. Tarps, stakes, tents
55. Long burning candles 100 Hour Plus Emergency Candle Clear Mist56. Laundry Detergent
57. Backpacks, you may have to BUG OUT
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, Stews - Food Storage
61. Bleach - plain 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite
62. Granite Ware 0707-1 21-1/2-Quart Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, jars and lids
63. Knives & Sharpening tools stones, steel
64. Bicycles…Tires, tubes, pumps, chains
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats Coleman North Rim 0-Degree Mummy Bag66. Battery Powered Carbon Monoxide Alarm
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. Roach and Rat poison
69. Mouse traps
70. Paper plates, cups,utensils
71. Baby wipes
72. Rain gear, ponchos, rubberized boots
73. Shaving supplies razors & creams
74. Hand pumps & siphons Triple Seven Safety Siphon Self Priming Pump for water and for fuels
75. Dry soup base mixes
76. Portable Toilets
77. Coffee, Teas
78. Mres MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) Premium case of 12 Fresh MRE with Heaters. 5 Year Shelf Life.79. Woolen clothing
80. Wagons & carts Tricam FR110-2 Farm & Ranch 400-Pound Capacity Steel Utility Cart, Green(for transport to and from)
81. Sugar
82. Gloves
83. TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Cot (85"x 40")
85.Common sense
86. Pool Shock Doheny's Super Pool Shock 24 x 1 Lb Bags87. Band Aids 10 times the amount you think you will need
88. Ham Radio
89. Prescriptions Medications
90. EMT EMS Surgical Skin Stapler w/35 {wide} Staples and Remover Kit, Sterile
91. Vinegar

92. Salt
93. Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge ,Stop Bleeding Fast, 50 Gram Package
94. Bic Lighters
95. Portable Solar Panel
96. Police Scanner
97. Machete
98. Folding Shovel



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Canning bacon

There has been a lot of chatter lately about ...BACON!  Bacon has been in the news because it is reportedly going to be on the shortage list next year.  My family are big bacon eaters.  I don't eat it so much but they love it so I will be canning some extra bacon this fall.  I don't believe there will be a shortage per se, I think it will just be very expensive due to grain shortages as a result of the drought. 

Fall is usually the time of year that pork is on sale. Pigs are butchered year around but all those little Spring piggies are Fall Hogs and go to market.  For that reason there is usually a lot of pork sales this time of year.  I personally buy bacon whenever it is on sale, stick it in the refrigerator and when I have enough I can it. 

Buying canned bacon is very, very expensive.  Canning it yourself is very, very cheap!  All you need is wide mouth quart jars, rings and lids, a pressure canner (you cannot can meats in a water bath) some food grade brown paper or parchment paper, (although some people do use brown masking paper that comes in large rolls, it isn't food grade therefore I don't use it)  a sharp knife, scissors, and you are good to go. 
I prefer to use Parchment paper, it's a little more expensive but I find it is easier to use than brown paper.

Lay your bacon out side by side just touching but not overlapping.  If the bacon is thin you can and should put two slices on top of each other. You shouldn't put more than 8 single slices side by side or 8 doubled slices side by side for thin sliced bacon.
I like to use a ruler or thin wooden dowel in the middle of the row of bacon, then flip it in half so you have your bacon folded in half.
Trim your paper close to the bacon.

Roll you bacon in the paper tightly into a roll.

Put it into the wide mouth jar fold side down into the bottom of the jar.

 Put your lids and rings on the jar, do not add liquid of any kind.
Place the jars into the pressure canner on the rack, you may have to weight down the jars to keep them from floating.  Some people use a plate with a brick or rock on it.  Process for 90 minutes at 15 pounds of pressure for quarts.  Turn off the stove and let the pressure canner return to normal on it's own.
After removing from the pressure canner be sure to check all the lids to be sure they have "pinged". This bacon will keep for 2-3 years stored correctly in a cool dark place.

This is what the bacon looks like as it is unrolled.  Just fry it or oven bake it as usual. 
Be sure to check your jars occasionally to be sure there is no mold or that the lids are still in good, clean order.  Any sign of mold or rust and you should throw out the contents immediately as that jar did not seal correctly.
This is a great way to buy bacon on sale and be able to use it 2 years down the road. 
 Frozen bacon has to be used within a year so this will definitely prolong it's use.  You can buy your bacon bulk from somewhere like Zaycon Foods or you can just buy it by the pound as its on sale and when you have enough to fill the pressure canner you can defrost and can.  Commercially canned bacon sells for 16.95 a can!  So you do the math!