12.31.2009

Self-Reliance

This morning, I was directed to this new site found on LDS.org on self-reliance: Self-Reliance.

It's not got a ton of information, but there are some great quotes and ideas about becoming self-reliant. I love that half of the content under self-reliance resources talks about the importance of being self-reliant so we can, in turn, help care for the poor and needy.

12.25.2009

Merry Christmas


I'm thankful for the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

12.21.2009

preparedness in temporary quarters

Preparedness doesn't always happen in ideal conditions or situations. It was very difficult for our family to collect and store a three-month supply and even harder to store longer-term storage items while we moved around the country and lived in small, temporary spaces. We tried to take as much storage as possible each time we moved. In some cases where moving storage was not practical, we sold or gave away some of our storage supplies.

Properly packed home storage products were very difficult to find when we lived in New York. I remember spending hours calling around and contacting companies just trying to find storage buckets and barrels (which I never found). In the end we participated in a group home storage purchase and items were delivered in a huge truck for many of us. I left some of my storage with my friends in New York when we moved, but I actually wish I would have given them all of it. It's so easy for me to get it here in Utah now.

My husband tells a story of incredulous looks as neighbors, not familiar with home-storage, helped to move their family. They responded to many questions of "why do you have all this food/wheat?" It was a wonderful opportunity to share their beliefs and testimonies of having home storage.

I love this talk where Sister Silvia Allred, 1st Counselor in the General Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explains how they adapted their home storage to many moves and less-than ideal conditions. "My husband’s job required our family to move to Guatemala City. I had to leave behind our food storage. Once we were settled in our new home, I began to plan our food storage. The first thing we did was buy wheat. To our dismay, the 200 pounds we bought were moist. We had to dry the wheat before we could store it. It was the rainy season in Guatemala, and it rained a little almost every day. I found myself spreading wheat in thin layers out in the sun for what seemed like forever. We learned to be more careful about what we bought for food storage. Six months later, we moved to Costa Rica and again had to leave my precious wheat behind." (Principles of Self-Reliance, Silvia Allred, BYU Women's Conference 2008).

You may not have to dry your own wheat like Sister Allred, but you might be in the military or at college. You might be living with family or struggling from job to job. You may be in a situation where you change locations every few months. In any case, you can start and restart your home storage as much as needed. All you need is an extra can of something to start over. Something is better than nothing. Even a college student can keep a bag of extra food supplies under their bed. And who knows, you might bless others with difficult-to-find storage items if you have to leave your storage behind.

12.16.2009

bland home storage


Sorry about the multiple posts teasing this topic. We've continued to be sick and busy.


Recently I read stories from several individuals who lived off their food storage either out of necessity or as experiments. The surprise? They all felt like their food storage was very bland. They missed things like ketchup and spices. They also missed fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, and butter.

It's worth a little time to consider how you can add these items to your home storage. Eggs and butter are difficult and expensive to store. They also require fairly regular rotation. But ketchup, sauces and spices are all easy to store with some-what lengthy shelf lives. A garden can help you supply your home storage with those fresh fruits and veggies.


Here are two links with personal experiences:


Has anyone had to live off their preparedness supplies? (Pinching Your Pennies, various authors, February 2009)

12.04.2009

sick

Once again, we've been sick with the stomach flu. And once again, we were glad for our food storage. The lessons that I learned during the first round of sickness paid off. We had chicken noodle soup, crackers and soda on hand. We even had enough for our guests who were also sick.

We did make a trip to the store for some over-the-counter medicines over the weekend. I actually had just cleaned out my medicine bin and discarded quite a bit of expired medication - and consequently had not replaced some things. I need to remember to rotate and replace those medications more regularly so as to not be caught without them.

I was also diagnosed with pneumonia three weeks ago and it's taken quite a while to bounce back. I was quarantined for about a week. For treating the pneumonia, I was glad to have a working humidifier as well as bleach and vinegar to clean it with.

I needed to wear a mask in order to protect others around me while I was contagious. I discovered that I'm not a fan of the more-firm n-95 masks that I stored. They were quite uncomfortable and not very adaptable. I ended up choosing to use the surgical-style masks that I was given at the doctor's offices. So, I'll be looking to add some of those to our storage once I'm fully recovered.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you've avoided all the sickness that seems to be circulating.

11.23.2009

Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance

Last February, I attended a training meeting specifically geared for LDS church leadership. We learned all about self-reliance and welfare principles. And in fact, our stake has encouraged us to teach these principles for our first-Sunday lessons, which we have been doing for almost a year.

There was so much great information given, but the materials were not generally available, so though I've wanted to, I've waited to post some of the great quotes. I discovered today, however, that the information is now available at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' website. Here is the link: Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance. (PDF link)

And here are some of my favorite parts:


ELDER ROBERT D. HALES

"The first building block may be described as provident living. This means joyfully living within our means and preparing for the ups and downs of life so that we can be ready for the rainy-day emergencies when they come into our lives. Provident living means not coveting the things of this world. It means using the resources of the earth wisely and not being wasteful, even in times of plenty. Provident living means avoiding excessive debt and being content with what we have."

"It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance. As President Marion G. Romney once said: “Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 135; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 93)."

"As Latter-day prophets have counseled, some of the most important welfare building blocks have to do with preparing for the future. Preparing for the future includes making a spending
and savings plan with our income. . . Preparing for the future also includes obtaining an education or vocational training and finding gainful employment. . . If you are seeking a new job, increase your faith in the Lord’s desire and power to bless you. Also seek counsel from those you trust, and don’t be afraid to network and ask for help in finding a new job. If necessary, change your lifestyle—and possibly your place of residence— to live within your means. Willingly seek additional training and learn new skills, regardless of your age. Maintain your health and stay close to your spouse and children. And, above all, be grateful. Express your gratitude in prayer for all that has been given to you."

"Every year Church members contribute to the digging of wells where there is no other source of drinking water. Consider the benefit of just one of these wells, dug in a remote village. While some might characterize it as a strictly temporal blessing, what are the spiritual blessings to a mother who had previously walked hours to get water and more hours to bring it back to her children? Before the well was dug, what time did she have to teach her children the gospel, to pray with them, and to nurture them in the love of the Lord? What time did she have to study the scriptures herself, ponder them, and receive strength to bear the challenges of her life? By putting their faith into action, Church members helped quench the temporal thirst of her family and also provided a way for them to drink freely of the water of life and never thirst again. By being faithful in living welfare principles, they were able to help dig “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14)."


JULIE B. BECK

“Self-reliance means using all of our blessings from Heavenly Father to care for ourselves and our families and to find solutions for our own problems.” Each of us has a responsibility to try to avoid problems before they happen and to learn to overcome challenges when they occur."

"How do we become self-reliant? We become self reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being."


As I cut and paste these quotes, I find myself tempted to post everything. The entire talks are worth reading!

11.20.2009

repost on home-storage christmas gifts

Is there anyone on your Christmas list for whom you have a hard time finding a Christmas gift? Well, home storage gifts can solve all of your problems! It really is rare to find a person that is completely prepared. Here are a few ideas that might solve your gift-giving woes.

*Water Storage Containers ($3 to $80)
*Water barrel wrench and pump ($8 to $15)
*Food storage shelves ($40 to $300)
*Gamma lids ($4 to $8)
*Food storage buckets ($4 to $8)
*Three-month supply meal baskets (Put ingredients for a three-month supply meal into a basket. Add bows and gadgets for fun. This would be easy to do with pasta & sauce or pancakes & syrup. Add a cute card that tells how many servings are included as well as the expected shelf life. Here is an example: In a basket place a package of pancake mix, syrup, powdered milk or cocoa mix, and a jar of fruit.)
*LDS home storage kits ($24 to $44)
*Wheat grinder ($60 to $400)
*Bucket of wheat (around $20)
*Camp stove & propane tank ($50+)
*Canning supplies (bath canner, bottles & lids, or pressure cooker)
*Dehydrator ($40+)
*Fruit trees or bushes (weather dependent)
*Gardening supplies (varies)
*Grill/Dutch oven/Firepit/Woodburning stove etc.
*Generator ($500+)
*Home storage foods (#10 cans, bottles of juice, home bottled preserves, buckets, etc.)
*Water filter
*First aid kits($5+)
*Car safety kits.
*72-hour kits.
*Fire safety ladder.
*Money for financial reserves.


Want to have some fun? Give a lump of coal (i.e. a bag/bucket of charcoal)!

What are your ideas?

11.16.2009

LDS Home Storage Centers


I loved this post on LDS Home Storage Centers by Self-Reliant Sisters this past week. They've included photos of the labels that are included with the products available at these Home Storage Centers. This is a great resource for both planning and inventory. You can see product weights and estimated storage lives in a glance. These labels also include preparation information for many of the products - which is great if you happen to lose a label.

Another fantastic information resource for inventory or planning is the Home Storage Center Order Form. These forms included updated prices, weights and estimated storage lives. They also have a form in Spanish.
Home Storage Centers are located all over the United States and Canada as well as in a few other locations around the world. You can find a Home Storage Center near you by clicking here. These products can also be order online here.

11.09.2009

waxing cheese - not recommended

Last night I was made aware of this statement from USU Extension services:


"From time to time, dubious methods arise for preparing and storing various food items. Current information being circulated about the merits of dipping cheese in wax and placing it in storage for many years can be placed in this category. Consider the science.

• Waxing cheese is a method to minimize mold growth on the surface of cheese. It cannot prevent growth or survival of many illness-causing bacteria. In fact, it may promote anaerobic (absence of oxygen) bacteria growth, such as botulism. The practice of waxing cheese for storage is considered extremely unsafe.

• Before the days of refrigeration, cheese was dryer and fermented to a lower pH (higher acid). These types of cheeses were traditionally stored at room temperature with wax covers. The very low pH and fermentation byproducts could inhibit foodborne illness bacteria. An example is parmesan-style cheese. Acid, dryness and fermentation byproducts make this cheese storable at room temperature.

• Today, many cheeses are made strictly for storage under refrigeration. These cheeses may not have a low pH and other factors created in the manufacturing process to prevent illness-causing bacteria growth because the manufacturer knows the cheeses will be kept refrigerated. If someone waxes this cheese and places it in food storage, there is no science indicating any level of safety. In fact, there is evidence to the opposite ? placing cheese meant for refrigeration at room temperature is a significant risk and hazard for foodborne illness.

Contact your local USU Extension office for further information on safe home food preservation and for storage advice." (Brian Nummer, Utah State University Extension food safety specialist, September 9, 2009)


As a result of this information, I no longer recommend waxing cheese for storage.

11.08.2009

earthquake safety: how to turn off your gas


Part of being prepared is being educated. It's a good idea to know how to turn off your gas in case of a gas-leak, which can happen at any time, but may be more likely in an earthquake. You should store a wrench next to the gas meter or in an easily accessible location so that you can turn the gas off if needed.

From FEMA:
"Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional."1

From The San Fransisco Chronicle:
"It's estimated that 90 percent of the damage caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was due to fires caused by ruptured gas lines - over 30 fires leveled 490 city blocks. In light of this, it would seem prudent to shut off the gas main in the event of a major earthquake, right? Not so fast says Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokesman David Eisenhauer. "If you do not smell or hear gas do not shut off," says Eisenhauer. "If you shut it off and there's no damage it could take days to turn it back on." Once shut off, PG&E also does not recommend residents turn it back on themselves. This is because either someone from PG&E or another trained professional should inspect the house first for any damage to gas lines."2

If you determine that you need to shut off your gas, simply turn the valve one quarter-turn with a wrench (as shown in the diagram above). You can significantly reduce the likelihood of a gas leak in an earthquake by securing your water heater. Water heaters often rock loose during and earthquake and sever the gas connection.



Sources:
1- FEMA
2- How To Prepare For An Earthquake (Paul Kilduff, special to The San Franscisco Chronicle)

Diagram Source: http://www.doh.wa.gov/phepr/handbook/utility.htm

10.27.2009

recipes


I currently have about 9 to 12 months' worth of longer-term storage. I'm familiar with many of the products I've stored and I use them somewhat regularly in my day-to-day cooking. There are a few, however, that I am not as familiar with. I usually choose canned beans instead of using my dried beans. And I feel like I have a lot to learn when it comes to using cornmeal and sprouting wheat. Because I have the food stored, I feel like we would be okay in an emergency. But I would like to have more experience with these products before I might need to use them under more serious circumstances.

So, I've started collecting recipes that use the grains and legumes that I've stored. I try to experiment and practice using these recipes so I can gain a familiarity working with legumes and grains. My goal is definitely a work in progress. I might make one new recipe a month or try a new technique here and there. Hopefully, over time, I'll also have the added advantage of slowly rotating through my longer-term supply.

Below, I've included some links that are great resources for longer-term supply recipes and techniques. I want to emphasize that your three-month storage should be made up of meals that you normally eat. So, these recipes are more for experimentation and use of longer-term food supplies - not three-month supply foods.

Longer-Term Storage Recipe Resources:
All Is Safely Gathered In - Intermittent recipes both for three-month supply and longer-term supply.
Basic Recipes - From Provident Living (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
beprepared Recipes - beprepared.com (huge database of recipes - just click on category and go)
Emergency Bread - Suggestions for cooking bread in an emergency.
Everyday Food Storage - Fantastic Food Storage Recipe Blog. She includes pictures and videos.
Food Storage Recipes - Compiled by a Stake Food Storage Specialist.
More Recipes - Source unknown
Preparedness Brings Peace - An assortment of recipes and preservation techniques (3-month)
South Jordan River Stake Cookbook - featured by Preparedness Brings Peace
Using Food Storage - More from Provident Living

NEW GOAL
: Find a recipe or new technique and try it in the next few months!


Found a great food storage recipe site? Let me know! I'll add it to this list.

10.26.2009


Some have said, “We have followed this counsel in the past and have never had need to use our [home storage*], so we have difficulty keeping this in mind as a major priority.” Perhaps following this counsel could be the reason why they have not needed to use their reserve.

Elder James E. Faust


*Note: I have changed the words in the brackets from "one year's supply" to "home storage" to reflect current counsel from current leaders.

10.20.2009

thinking about earthquake preparedness

We're still sick, but on the mend. I ultimately got both viruses that were being passed around our home. Now my husband is taking care of me. Our family is still eating chicken noodle soup. I'm surprised by how much we've used over the past week. For some, it was all they could stand to eat. I think I'll need to stock up on more than I had previously thought.

I'm not up to writing a full post today, but thought you might enjoy reading this post from Adventures in Mormonism - Remembering the Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989). If you live in earthquake country, it might give you some ideas about preparedness. This family experienced the earthquake just a few miles from the epicenter.

10.15.2009

wishing for chicken noodle soup

I'm not sure if we've had H1N1 flu or not. The doctor didn't do the test - said that he wouldn't treat it any differently regardless. Still, we spent the past 48 hours with two members of our family having fevers, nausea, and in one case significant coughing and respiratory junk. We're crossing our fingers that the rest of us have dodged the virus (whether or not it is H1N1). The remaining three of us were immunized for H1N1 on Monday -- not quite long enough to have any immunity yet (apparently we need 8 to 10 days to develop decent immunity).

I made a surprising discovery about our preparedness in the process. I already have plenty of Gatorade, gloves, masks, Kleenex, ibuprofen, sanitizer, disinfectants, and food stored. I figured it would be easy to make chicken noodle soup and bake bread from storage items if we couldn't/shouldn't get to the store. What I discovered, though, is that the sick members of our family didn't want homemade chicken noodle soup. They didn't want applesauce (which I had plenty of). They wanted the old generic comfort standby of Campbell's chicken noodle soup. They wanted saltine crackers and jello (which I just used up). They also wanted flat soda to settle their stomachs.

I've now learned that especially when stomach-sick, it's important to have predictable bland foods. Plus, what if I had been sick? I wouldn't have been up to cooking at all. And having easy-heat-up soup would have been much easier anyway. In the future I'll include soda, crackers, more jello and plenty of Campbell's chicken noodle soup in my storage. I'll make all of these items a part of my three-month storage. Thankfully, I wasn't sick (and didn't need to be quarantined) and was able to get to the store to stock up on these items. I was surprised to discover that the store was almost out of chicken noodle soup -- apparently many other sick individuals feel the same way about "sick" foods.


What are some predictable sick-foods for your family?


More on flu/pandemic preparedness:

10.12.2009

sharpies


Strange as it may seem, one of my favorite home storage tools is my permanent-ink marker. I actually leave one on the shelf in my storage area.

I am constantly labeling and relabeling cans and buckets to indicate their contents and volume. I use packing tape, which I fold over on one side (to aid removal) on each bucket and write the contents on the tape with my handy marker. I also label all of my storage products as I stock the shelves both with the purchase date as well as the expiration when I can see/find it.

Last week, I stocked up on some olive oil, shortening and canola oil for my storage. I had to squint to see the recommended expiration dates on the bottles, so I rewrote those dates on the bottles with my marker. Doing this makes it much easier to pick the bottle with the closest expiration date, especially when I'm in a hurry.

You can get permanent-ink markers in many different colors. If you were really ambitious, you could color code purchase and expiration dates. You could also color code products based on contents. Click here for a previous post with more ideas for labeling home storage.




10.06.2009

a one-year supply?

Do you still think of home storage in terms of a one-year supply? After decades of using the term "one-year supply," you might be surprised to know that "one-year supply" is no longer mentioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the instructions for home storage - not even once. It's been 2 1/2 years now3 since the new program was introduced. It seems to be taking some time to think about home storage in a new way.2 It is definitely a paradigm shift that might take some getting used to.

Having a one-year supply is not a bad thing. In fact, if you already have a one-year supply, you can be pretty confident that you are fairly well prepared. You can still set a *personal* goal to achieve a one-year supply. You can do this by completing a three-month supply and then choosing a *personal* goal to have 9 months of a longer-term supply. However, you can also be obedient to the counsel of the prophet without having a one-year supply. The First Presidency said, "We encourage you to store as much as your circumstances allow." It is up to you to determine an appropriate amount of longer-term storage for your family.

There is a lot of peace that comes from knowing you've been obedient. And with the changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's home storage program, it is easier than ever! Instead of emphasizing a one-year supply as they have in the past, now the church emphasizes four aspects of home storage:

1) Three-month supply
2) Water storage
3) Financial reserve
4) Longer-term supply

Home storage is no longer just about powdered milk and wheat. Part of your storage should be a three-month supply of foods that you regularly eat. A three-month supply provides an important aspect of preparation and shouldn't be neglected. In fact, several quotes from the church indicate that we should worry first about our three-month supply, a water supply and a financial reserve before we worry about having a longer term supply.

So, be willing to let go of the "one-year supply" objective and instead think in terms of the new revelation which teaches 1) three month supply, 2) water supply, 3) financial reserve, and then 4) longer-term supply.


Sources:
1 -
All Is Safely Gathered In - Family Home Storage
2 -
Family Home Storage - A New Message (Ensign, March 2009)
3 -
Lay Up In Store (Keith B McMullin, 177th Annual General Conference, April 2007)

10.02.2009

food storage substitutions

Do you remember when we talked about versatility in home storage? Well, Food Storage Made Easy did a great post last week talking about great ideas for storage substitutions. Here is the link. I thought they had some great ideas.

iPrepared post on versatility.
iPrepared post on substitutions.

9.22.2009

vitamin c - additional items for longer-term storage

Scurvy was a disease that used to afflict sailors as they crossed the ocean. It was caused by a lack of vitamin C in their diets. Long voyages meant that sailors often ran out of perishable fruits and vegetables which supplied necessary vitamin C to their bodies. Scurvy is not very common anymore. Food preservation techniques have made vitamin C abundant throughout the world regardless of season. A longer-term supply full of grains and beans may keep you alive, but vitamin C is completely lacking in this diet. Consequently, it is advised to store vitamin C as a part of your longer-term supply.1

The best way to get vitamin C and other essential nutrients is from fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Through gardening and home preservation, you may be able to maintain a good supply of these vitamins in your home storage. You can also get vitamin C from canned goods. Most commercially canned and home preserved fruits and vegetables, however, have shorter shelf lives and require regular rotation. By storing a variety of fruits and vegetables that you regularly eat, you can ensure a good vitamin C supply. I have also chosen to store multi-vitamins as a part of our home storage. Vitamins decline rapidly and also require frequent rotation.


Sources

9.17.2009

baking soda - additional items for longer-term storage

Baking soda is a great item to have for longer-term storage. Not only is it important for cooking old, dry beans (see information on cooking old, dry beans here), but baking soda can also be used for cleaning, as a toothpaste substitute and as a laundry boost. Baking soda is also a great leavening agent and is an important ingredient as such in many recipes.

Baking soda has a long shelf-life.1 Steer clear of those small cardboard boxes in which baking soda is often packaged. Instead choose baking soda in #10 cans or repack it into a PETE container for ideal storage life. A typical #10 can contains 576 teaspoons.3 I also store baking powder and yeast as a part of my longer-term storage. All store well in cool, dry conditions.2


Sources:
1 - LDS Church News
2 - USU Extension
3 - Emergency Essentials

9.15.2009

family home evening - earthquake scenario

I taught a lesson on preparedness last night for FHE (family home evening). Here is a synopsis, if you would like to try something similar:

I chose the most likely emergency for our area - which in our case is an earthquake. I invented a scenario including time of day and extent of the earthquake. I also determined situations - like downed power lines, dam breaks, and gas leaks that we would encounter (but I didn't share these additional situations with anyone else).

I gave each member of our family a blank sheet of paper with a single sentence indicating their location and situation. After the earthquake "occurred," each family member wrote on the page what their next course of action would be. I had predetermined my course of action prior to starting the activity so that my responses were not changed based on their decisions. Then I responded (by writing on their paper) to their actions indicating additional situations as needed. The main objective was to find each other.

We have older children and a three-year old. Obviously, this activity is better suited for children who can write. Our little-one acted as the paper "passer" as we responded to each other and loved it.

Here is what happened:
Tuesday @ 10:30 am - 8.5 earthquake occurs. There is major damage, no electricity, and many injuries.

My responses:
10:30 - I am grocery shopping with my three-year old. Sky lights in the store break sending glass everywhere. I cut my shoulder. By the time we make our way out of the store, everyone is busy and frenzied. We find the car and use the first-aid kit kept in the glove box to bandage my shoulder. We discover that all cell-phone service is dead.
11:15 - I attempt to drive back into our neighborhood. However there are so many power lines, trees, and poles down that I finally park the car and start walking.
1:15 - We've walked up into our neighborhood, only to discover that there must be a major gas leak up by our home. We need to stay out of the area.
1:30 - We walk to our church building instead. There I find my oldest son waiting for me. My 11-year old and husband are not there, however.

My oldest son:
His paper states, "School collapses in two-story section. What class are you in? What do you do?"
My summary of his responses:
10:30 - He isn't affected by the collapse. He looks for his friends. They start walking home.
11:30 - He arrives at our neighborhood only to discover that he can't go to our home because of the gas leak. He decides to stay at the church with his friends.
1:00 - I wrote on his page: "You've been waiting at the church for 1 1/2 hours now and haven't seen any other member of our family. What do you do? His response: "I pray" [This was my favorite response of the whole activity!]. I ask: "Do you stay there?" His response: "Yes."
1:30 - Mom shows up at the church at 1:30.

My 11-year old son:
His paper states, "Part of the school gym collapses. Many injuries among those who are there. Rest of school is moved out into the school fields. Where are you? And what do you do?"
My summary of his responses:
10:30 - Not in gym. Go out to field with friends - am really scared.
12:00 - I wrote: "Many of the kids have been checked out. The school won't just let you walk home so you have to stay until someone checks you out. You see Mrs. J. come to the school to check out her kids."
12:15 - He asks Mrs. J. to check him out (she is authorized to do so), then heads west back towards our neighborhood with her.
12:30 - I write: "you see a huge set of power lines on the road all along the major north/south road." He responds, "jump over." [This was the most disturbing point of the whole exercise. I discovered at this point that he honestly didn't know that you shouldn't jump over power lines. Hopefully Mrs. J would have not let this happen. We discuss this problem verbally and I teach him about power lines.] His new response, "go around."
12:45 - He gets to our neighborhood (north end) only to discover about the gas leak. He continues with Mrs. J around the neighborhood to the south end. They tape a note to our mailbox (which is not in the neighborhood) to let us know where he is.
Note - We didn't get any farther with him on the scenario. He determined that he would stay with Mrs. J. But we figured out that we would have spent a lot of time looking for him and that we would have just missed each other. We discussed better places to leave notes (like on the church doors).

My husband:
His paper states, "Windows blow out in your building. You have minor injuries from glass/books. Many campus buildings collapse and a lot of people are cut and hurt."
My summary of his responses:
10:30 - I would spend several hours helping take care of students.
2:30 - Go look for car. Car is luckily in an exterior lot. Can drive away from campus, but finds roads jammed. Rumors that the overpasses have collapsed on the freeway. Tries cell phone only to discover that it is dead.
3:00 - Takes side roads until police officer stops him and indicates a potential dam break and the need to move to high ground. He abandons the car, takes blanket and water from car and moves into high area.
5:30 - I write, "Flood threat is cleared. But in the middle of a huge rainstorm now." He writes, "walk" - to "the church."
Note - We figure he would have walked through the whole night in terrible weather to find us. I'd like to have an office kit and a better car kit for him in this type of situation. He had water, a blanket, and a 1/2 full gas tank, but he also needed a rain poncho and some food.


At the end we discussed meeting locations and note-leaving locations. We also discussed basic precautions like not jumping over power lines, etc. All is not worked out -- but a lot was! It would have been appropriate to serve snacks from our 72-hour kits (but we did something else). My kids thought that the activity was "fun." Go figure.

9.12.2009

72-hour kit failure!

Though 72 hour kits are not a specific part of the home storage program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are a good part of preparedness generally. I created 72 hour kits for my family many years ago and had been pretty good about rotating and updating them. I confess that I have not been as good about doing so lately.

This month, I resolved to pull my kits out and update them. I went shopping yesterday and purchased several foods for the kits including tuna/cracker kits, pull-tab fruits, and some new "compleats" which are entrees that don't require refrigeration and only need to be warmed to be eaten (and could probably be eaten cold).

This morning I pulled out the kits. What a disaster! This is what I found:

1) Difficult accessibility - I had to move too many things in order to get to the box that contained the kits in my garage. I need to relocate the kits, perhaps to pegs hung on the interior wall of my garage. There is no way that these would have been a quick "grab" in an emergency.

2) Clothing no longer in the right sizes - I have one complete set of clothing for each member of our family including underwear and socks. I need to buy sweat pants in at least a size too big for each of my kids. The size 14 jeans in my oldest child's kit would not have been an option for him or any other child. I think sweats would offer more flexibility - literally.

3) Pillaged kits - I think my sons raided the 72-hour kits while looking for first aid supplies for their scouting merit badges. All of the first aid kits had been removed and were missing supplies. The tent was also missing. I can't imagine where this has gone. Several kits had contents spilled throughout the box.

4) Spoiled contents! - The mandarin orange cup contents were black; several canned fruits had bulged/burst and covered the rest of the stuff in the packs with a black sludge; and many of the pull-tab cans had leaked. In many cases, the cans were double packed inside of gallon-sized storage bags. The kits with food packed this way were salvageable. My kit, however, didn't have cans that were double bagged. I literally had to throw the backpack along with the bottom 6 inches of it's contents into the trash. Several flashlight batteries had leaked. Thankfully, they were packed separately into sandwich-sized plastic bags. So, I just threw those bags out.

Obviously, I learned some lessons. I'm not sure that I will pack pull-tab canned goods into my 72-hour kits anymore. It might be worth including a can-opener instead. In the future, I will always put food items into sealable plastic bags. I've already done this with most of the other contents to prevent them from getting wet. I will also check the kits more frequently. I think that I will pack the actual kits with less perishable foods and then include a separate bag (maybe stored in the house) with more extensive food supplies. I think I would be better about rotating the contents of a more accessible bag.

What have you learned about 72-hour kits?

9.07.2009

cooking oil - additional items for longer-term storage

It's interesting that during World War II, one of the most desired, but difficult to find cooking items was cooking oil.1 It makes sense when you realize that many foods need a little bit of fat in them. There are times that you can substitute beans or applesauce, but this doesn't always work well. Other oil substitutions include different varieties of cooking oil, shortening, mayonnaise, peanut butter, miracle whip, and high oil/fat content salad dressings (oil based vinaigrette, ranch etc.).

All of these oil-based products have very short shelf lives – anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. When they get too old, they are usually inedible. Because of this you HAVE to rotate these products regularly. One way that you can keep these products regularly rotated is to donate any items that are close to date expiration (but not over) to a local food kitchen. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is supposed to store longer than other oils, but is also the most expensive. By storing and using a variety of oil products (see above), you are more likely to be able to rotate within appropriate time frames.

The thing that I've noticed about using older oil from my storage is that it tastes/smells just fine when I first open the container. But if the oil is very old, it becomes rancid very quickly. Because of this, I like to store my oil in very small containers. It makes it more likely that I'll be able to completely use (and not waste) a container of oil before it goes bad. It also helps to keep oil products in a completely dark area. I double pack my oil bottles into boxes so that light exposure is limited.

Sources:
1 -
World War II Food Rationing

9.01.2009

salt - additional items for longer-term storage

Salt is one of the easiest and cheapest items to store. It stores indefinitely as long as it doesn't get wet. You can usually purchase enough salt for your three-month supply and a bunch (9 months-worth) for your longer-term supply for less than $10! It is often available for $.33 per 1 1/2 pound container. It is also available at Costco in large quantity sacks for a similar price. Make sure that you purchase "Iodized" salt.

Salt is a good preservative, but I would say that taste is the most important reason to store salt. Have you ever had cookies/oatmeal/fill-in-the-blank without salt? It's terrible! Salt, like sugar, makes most things taste better.

8.31.2009

home storage goals -- poll

Do the suggested goals on iPrepared help you (or not)? I've posted a new poll at iPrepared to help me decide whether or not to include goals in future posts. If I haven't included a choice that reflects your opinions, feel free to leave a comment on this post. Thanks!

8.27.2009

sugar - additional items for longer-term storage

Sugar is a fantastic addition to longer-term storage. In tough circumstances, it would be great to make a batch of cookies and put smiles on your family's faces. Sugar makes everything a little more palatable and versatile.

Sugar stores well unless it gets wet. If you live in a humid climate, it's a good idea to store your sugar in a PETE container or #10 can so that the moisture in the air doesn't turn your sugar into a brick. But even if that does happen, your sugar is still usable. Sugar, stored in a #10 can in ideal conditions can last up to 30 years.

Storing sugar does not just mean white sugar. You can store honey, brown sugar, powdered sugar, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, jam, jello, and powdered fruit drink (with sugar already added). Most of these items, however, are more suitable for a three-month supply because of the short shelf lives. Brown sugar is also not recommended for longer-term storage because of potential microbial growth as a result of the moisture content.1 Honey will crystallize over time, but can be warmed and returned to a liquid state. Do not use honey that has developed mold in storage.


Sources:
1 - Provident Living

8.25.2009

milk conversion

If you like the idea of using powdered milk regularly in your cooking, you'll probably need a conversion chart. I used to write the conversion amounts onto the paper labels of my #10 cans of milk. Unfortunately, I often threw away the can without remembering to transfer all of my math. So, my can would sit, unused, until I sat down and refigured the numbers. Now I keep a conversion chart on my fridge.

Here is a milk-math chart for you (and for me):
1 gallon milk = 2 & 2/3 c. powdered milk + 1 gallon water
1 quart milk = 2/3 c. powdered milk + 1 quart water
2 cups milk = 1/3 c. powdered milk + 2 cups water
1 cup milk = 3 T. powdered milk + 1 cup water
1/2 cup milk = 1 & 1/2 T powdered milk + 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup milk = 1 T powdered milk + 1/3 cup water

You may also want to print out this cute powdered milk conversion chart created by Crystal at Everyday Food Storage. You can hang this on your fridge or tape it to your can of powdered milk.

Note: Check your milk containers to compare conversions. Amounts to use actually vary by brand (and by non-instant vs. instant).

8.24.2009

milk - additional items for longer-term storage

Milk provides calcium and protein, both of which are particularly important for growing children and nursing mothers. Milk also adds flavor to many recipes and sauces. Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, shelf-stable milk, chocolate milk or cocoa mix (with milk included), and/or canned cheese, can also be stored to provide calcium needs. These other calcium products, however, have shorter shelf lives and need to be rotated regularly.

Researchers at BYU have found that powdered milk can be stored in #10 cans for up to 30 years in ideal conditions. Non-instant and instant powdered milk both store well long term. Powdered milk costs anywhere from $7 to more than $18 per #10 can. Milk can also be purchased in cardboard boxes or other containers. If you purchase it this way, you'll need to transfer the powdered milk into PETE containers and add an oxygen absorber for long term storage.

Make sure that you taste the brand of milk before you store large quantities of it. LDS home storage milk is the one of the cheapest brands ($7), but many people (including me) don’t like the taste. Don't know which milk you like the best? Have a powdered milk tasting party/enrichment. It's a fun and inexpensive way to sample the different milks without buying a large can of each.

I also recommend that you read the labels before buying large quantities of powdered milk. Some are actually milk alternatives and have added sugar and/or hydrogenated fats and less protein. Some kids prefer powdered milk made this way. However, these added/substituted ingredients can affect cooking and baking.

Here is an older post on powdered milk that talks more about specific brands and easy ways to rotate it from your longer-term supply into your three-month supply: More On Powdered Milk.

8.21.2009

additional long-term storage items

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states on providentliving.org, "you may also want to add other items to your longer-term storage such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda, and cooking oil. To meet nutritional needs, also store foods containing Vitamin C and other essential nutrients."1

These additional items can be a great boost to the grains and beans that you've already stored as the core of your longer-term storage. By storing items in these six additional categories, you gain flavor, nutrition, and flexibility for your longer-term storage meals. All of these items can be stored in ideal conditions for up to 30 years except for the oils and vitamin c products. We'll be covering each of these six items in the posts over the next few days. Most of these items are available at your local Home Storage Center.

Remember that the main goal for longer-term storage is storing grains and beans that will keep you alive in case you don't have anything else to eat.2 These items are optional - so don't be overwhelmed, thinking that you HAVE to store these. Longer-term storage is intended to be expanded gradually depending on your needs and circumstances.2


Sources:
1 - Product Recommendations - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2 - Two Cans of Corn: Home Storage for Newlyweds (Allie Schulte, Welfare Services, Ensign, September 2009, pages 66-69)

8.20.2009

two cans of corn: home storage for newlyweds

Yesterday I received my September 2009 Ensign magazine. There is a fantastic article in it, entitled, "Two Cans of Corn: Home Storage for Newlyweds" by Allie Schulte (I'll link to the article here once they get it online).

Here are some highlights:


"When Ron Shiflet's wedding was about a month away, he received some unexpected advice from his bishop, who encouraged him to begin storing food. The bishop explained that there was a simple an inexpensive way for his small family to succeed in home storage -- even as poor college students.

"He told me to watch what was on sale each week. When we went shopping, we were to buy a couple of extra cans of food," Ron explains. "He said the expense was so small that we would not notice it, but that over time our food storage would add up."

Following their wedding, Ron shared the advice he had received with his wife, Lorene, and the couple decided to give it a try. On their first shopping trip together, they purchased their regular groceries and two cans of corn, which they stored in the closet of their one-room apartment. "Those two cans became a good source of humor for us," Ron says. " Each week the joke continued as we added two more cans."

They soon discovered that their home storage was not a laughing matter, when six months later, Ron found himself without a job -- and without money for food. He and Lorene relied on the supply in the closet to sustain t hem, and they immediately recognized the blessings of the principle of preparation.

Now more than 20 years later, Ron says it's a principle that has blessed his family in numerous ways. "I am thankful for an inspired bishop who counseled us from the beginning to save food -- and who showed us how to do it even with little money," he recalls. "It has protected us many times."

1) Begin Now - "Couples can enjoy the blessings of choosing to obey the counsel of Church leaders and doing what they can to begin a home storage program now."

2) Start Small - "By regularly purchasing a few extra items they would normally eat, couples can rotate their home storage into meals so that nothing is wasted. They should also store some water that is safe to drink."

3) Use Your Space - ". . . couples have discovered that if they look at their living situation and use a little creativity, they can find the space necessary for home storage."

4) Save More Than Just Food - "Like storing food, saving money is a gradual process. Couples can being building their reserve by paying their tithes, giving a generous fast offering, and setting aside a small amount of money each (or month) for savings."

5) Increase Your Supply - "Increasing home storage may take some time, so couples should not become discouraged or try to do everything at once. Instead, they can make a goal to gradually build a longer-term food supply, depending on their needs and circumstances."

6) Gain a Testimony - "[Heavenly Father] has lovingly commanded us to 'prepared every needful thing' (D&C 109:8) so that, should adversity come, we may care for ourselves and our neighbors and support bishops as they care for others. Some Church members may think it might be difficult to apply the principle of preparing for adversity by establishing a home storage supply. But . . . obedience to the commandments can bring great blessings to families and individuals."

8.13.2009

beans as a treat!

Like I said in the last post, beans are a wonderful, versatile food. They can be used as a meat extender, a salad garnish, a main course, or as a soup. My favorite creative use for beans, though, is in cookies and cakes. Yes, really! Here's how:

Blend cooked beans and a little bit of water in your blender (the water just helps the blender to work well). You can also mash the beans yourself, which will result in a chunkier texture. Substitute beans measure-for-measure for all or some of the fats in brownie, cookie or cake recipes. Or you can also simply add some of the blended beans to the recipe, which will result in a heavier, more moist dough. Are you afraid that your family will scoff at the bean "bits" that appear in the recipe? They are almost invisible in anything chocolate. Using white beans make them almost invisible in lighter-colored recipes.

Freeze mashed beans into an ice-tray for long term accessibility. After the beans are frozen, pop them out and store the small bricks in a freezer bag for easy use. My standard-sized ice trays yield 2 tablespoons per brick. 4 bricks would give you 1/2 cup; 8 bricks for 1 cup.

8.12.2009

more on beans

Beans are very versatile! They can be used to make dips, casseroles, soups, cookies, salads, and more. Beans vary in color, size, texture and flavor, but are easily interchanged in recipes. All of this and they store well for up to 30 years. They really make the ideal food for your longer-term storage.

Another great thing about beans, most kinds in fact, is that you handle them similarly. With the exception of lentils, split-peas and black-eyed-peas (which don't require soaking), beans are soaked and cooked in the same manner. There are two main steps to preparing dried beans: soaking and cooking.

Soaking:
First rinse and clean out any debris from the beans. In preparing this post, I've read about hot soaks, cold soaks and even gas-free soaks. It seems that it is important to soak them, but not for too long or too little. In all cases, discard the water in which the beans have been soaking and use fresh water for cooking (helps reduce gas). I'll try to summarize some of the options:

COLD SOAK - Cover 1 lb. of beans with 10 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

HOT SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Cover tightly, after removing from heat, and let sit for two or three hours.

QUICK SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Boil beans for two or three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit on counter for one hour.

GAS-FREE SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Boil beans for two or three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit on counter overnight. You can further reduce gas by rinsing the beans multiple times and changing the soak-water several times.

Don't want to do all of this extra work? Beano works great when added to your beans. Also, eating beans regularly will acclimate your body to beans and reduce gas.

Cooking:
Discard soaking water and add water equivalent to three times the amount of beans. Boil from 45 minutes to 2 hours or until beans reach desired tenderness (which is usually when you can squeeze the bean between your fingers). Don't add salt or anything acidic until the end of the cooking process. Refrigerate or freeze remaining beans. One pound of dry beans usually makes between 5 and 6 cups of cooked beans.



Sources:Bean Fact Sheet - University of ConnecticutMayo Clinic

[Photo Source]

8.10.2009

no advertising here!

You may or may not have noticed a sidebar that I've added about advertising on my blog in the past few months.

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to tell you that I do not make money off of ANY product affiliations, reciprocal advertising or product promotion. This approach helps to keep my blog and my recommendations as unbiased as possible. I do try to keep posts in line with the provident living recommendations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member.

I believe that preparedness principles should benefit everyone free-of-charge. I am more interested in helping you to become prepared than I am in making money. I also recognize that most of my information comes from a not-for-profit resource (see link above) that is also only interested in helping you become prepared. I've been asked multiple times to post reciprocal business links or to participate in advertising promotions for food storage companies. I could benefit by getting kickbacks from these sources, but again feel like this information is intended to be free-for-all and compromises my ability to be unbiased. So, I have refused these offers.

Thank you to all of you bloggers that disclose your advertising affiliations. It makes it easier for me, as a reader, to understand your loyalties and read your content accordingly.

7.31.2009

one year

Today is the one year anniversary of iPrepared!

We've almost completed a full circle by discussing the three-month supply, water storage, financial reserve and longer-term storage.

I'm always planning ahead and am looking forward to another year of posts. I'd like to discuss topics that address the questions, concerns, and confusions you have. Would you be willing to comment on this post by responding to the following questions?

1) What home-storage topics would you like to learn more about?
2) What questions do you have about home storage?
3) Which past posts have been the most helpful?

Thanks! And thanks for all of your insights and comments along the way!

7.29.2009

how to cook OLD beans

How do I cook old dry beans?

The longer dry beans are stored, the longer they may take to cook. First, sort and rinse the beans. For each cup of beans, bring 3 cups of water to boil, add the beans to the boiling water, and boil for two minutes. Next, add 3/8 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for each cup of beans, cover, and soak for 1 hour or more. More baking soda may be required for older beans. Next, drain and rinse the beans thoroughly, cover with water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours or until tender. Do not add salt or other ingredients until the beans have softened adequately. (Instructions from the Provident Living FAQ)

Because baking soda is helpful for cooking old beans, it's a good idea to store some baking soda with your beans. Optimum shelf life of baking soda is about 2 years. If you use baking soda regularly, it can be rotated as part of your three-month and long-term supply so you'll always have some on hand.

7.27.2009

goal 4(b) - gather beans for longer-term storage

Our current goal is gathering our longer-term storage.

Specifically - Store Beans.


In addition to grains, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recommends beans for longer-term storage. Beans are a fantastic protein source and are the perfect complement to many of the recommended grains. In fact, beans and rice (or beans and cornbread) make a complete protein which is full of amino acids and all sorts of good stuff. Our family really likes black beans and refried (pinto) beans -- so that's what we've stored.

Beans are not cheap. I've seen them recently for about $50 for a 25 lb. prepacked bucket. The church cannery offers them for around $5 for a #10 can. They have black, pinto and white beans. Beans are also available in bulk bags from the home storage centers for approximately $16 for 25 lbs. The Provident Living website states that beans can be stored for 30 years or more in ideal conditions.

You should store 5 lbs. of beans per person per month (45 lbs for a 9 month longer-term supply -- 60 lbs per person for a 12 month longer-term supply).

7.24.2009

on vacation

I haven't posted lately because our family took a much needed week-long staycation. New posts are coming next week. Stay tuned. :o)

7.14.2009

pasta

You might wonder why I'm including a post on pasta as we work on storing grains. Most pasta is made from semolina flour, which is ground durum wheat. Once the pasta is dried, unless it is made with eggs, it has shelf life of up to 30 years1 in ideal storage conditions.

Pasta packaged in #10 cans (or PETE bottles) with oxygen absorbers will store the longest. Pasta can also be purchased in many other types of packaging. If I buy my pasta already sealed in a plastic bag, I'll simply store it in a 5-gallon bucket (without opening the package). A lot of pasta comes in boxes without any additional packaging (plastic lining etc.). I try NOT to buy this type of pasta. I've had more than one experience with boxes of pasta also transporting critters.

I use pasta regularly as a part of my three-month supply. I also include it as a portion of my longer-term storage "grains."

Sources:
1 - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

7.10.2009

rotation and donation

Peanut butter and oil are two products on my shelves that don't store well for very long. These are important products for my three-month supply, but sometimes we don't consume all that I've stored before the foods hit their expiration dates. For many foods, expiration dates are just a rough guideline to ensure the highest quality of the food product. But foods with high oil content, like peanut butter, turn rancid fairly quickly and the expiration date is worth paying attention to.

I find that, depending upon the storage conditions, oil products can often exceed the storage date by a year or more (but go rancid quickly once opened). Peanut butter tastes terrible if we go much beyond the actual expiration date. For these products, and others like canned meat, I pay extra attention to the expiration date. When the expiration dates nears, I donate these food items to our local food bank. I really think this is a win-win situation. I am able to keep a nice supply of these items in my three-month supply, but am not wasteful if we don't use them as quickly as I thought.

Think "rotation and donation," especially if you dislike storing any food item beyond the expiration date. You'll be blessing lives in the process.

7.08.2009

financial reserve

It has been a rough week financially for us. Two weeks ago we replaced our house phone system. Our air conditioner, which had been broken for more than a month, was finally fixed last Tuesday. Four days later, our 13 year-old washing machine finally quit working. Since then, my computer modem died and last night my husband informed me that the garage door was no longer closing correctly.

Total cost of repairs: Almost $2500!

But the peace that came from knowing we would be okay because we have a financial reserve: Priceless!

6.30.2009

to eat or not to eat

Foods that are part of your three-month supply should be foods that you regularly eat. As I have collected foods, I've acknowledged that there are some foods that I need for my three-month supply that just don't store well (especially if there is no electricity or refrigeration). In an effort to have easily-storable foods on hand, I often purchase items for my three-month supply in a form that I don't necessarily use regularly. For example, I use frozen or fresh onions in my cooking, but I've stored freeze-dried and dehydrated onions for my three-month food supply.

Because foods packaged for optimum storage sometimes carry a price premium, I am usually hesitant to open and use some of these storage items. I debate about whether to eat or not to eat those storage foods. "Sure," I think to myself, "I'll use it eventually -- before it goes bad." And then these products sit on my shelves unused and untried. I'd really rather use my cheaper, familiar onions than open a huge #10 can that I'm not really sure I'll like or know how to use. "Plus, it's supposed to be for storage," I rationalize. "If I use it, I'll have to buy more."

I have decided that it is important to try and use ALL of the items that I've stored for my three-month supply. I already use most of my storage items in my regular cooking. But there are a handful of products that I've ignored. I still haven't tried my canned cheese, freeze-dried onions, freeze-dried fruits, fruit drink mix, dried refried beans, or my butter powder (just to name a few). My canned butter also fell into this category until just a few weeks ago (see previous post on canned butter). But I've tried the butter and now I can be confident about the canned butter's use as a substitution if needed.

I'm going to do better! I'm resolved to try more of these ignored products, even if it is just one at a time, over the next year. There will probably be a small extra expense for doing so, but I'll chalk it up to the importance of becoming familiar with my stored foods. I keep reminding myself that this is actually an essential step in storing foods. If I hadn't tried the LDS home-storage dry milk, I wouldn't know how much I hate it. Can you imagine getting into a situation where you need to use your three-month supply, and only then discovering that you hate (or can't use) what you stored?

Are you with me? Will you resolve to try some of your ignored storage foods in the next year? I would love to have you share what you learn. In fact, I'll include your information and experiences if you're willing to share. Look for some future posts discussing my own experiences eating and cooking with my "ignored" storage foods.

6.24.2009

other grains

There are many other grains available besides wheat, corn, rice, barley and oats. Each of these grains, however, has a different oil and moisture content. It is important to be aware of these characteristics when choosing grains to store in your longer-term storage. If the oil content is too high, like brown rice or pearled barley, these grains may store better short term.

Available information on the storage life of these grains varies widely. I've tried to compile several source's worth of estimates. Some of these are not true grains, but are actually considered herbs, fruits, vegetables, or grasses, etc. Because they are treated like grains generally, I've grouped them together.


Amaranth
Can be popped like popcorn.2 Estimates of storage life vary significantly. Stores well anywhere from one year to ten in dark, cook, dry conditions.2

Barley
Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions. In very hot climates, it will store better if tightly sealed and kept in a fridge. Long term storage estimates vary significantly. I've seen up to eight years. Barley has high levels of oils.

Buckwheat
Can be stored for up to six months if kept tightly sealed in the freezer. Storage life can be extended up to several years if stored in air-tight containers with oxygen absorbers.4

Einkorn
Wheat variant.

Emmer
Wheat variant that stores similarly well long term.

Flax
Needs to be stored in completely dark conditions. Will store well for just a few months in ideal conditions. You may be able to extend storage life up to one year if sealed in a container with oxygen absorbers and kept in a very cool area.4

Job's Tears
Can be stored for up to six months if kept tightly sealed in the freezer.

Kamut
Stores well in dark, cook, dry conditions. Has a lower moisture content than wheat. Some suggest that it will store as long or longer than wheat if a packaged correctly.1

Millet
Can be stored for up to six months if kept tightly sealed in the freezer. Container should be kept full of Millet.1 Other sources contradict this information and suggests that it stores well long term with proper packaging and storage conditions.2,4

Quinoa
Can be stored longer than one year if packaged correctly and kept in a cook, dark, dry location. Long term storage estimates are anywhere from 6 to 9 years.2 This grain must be rinsed before using. Needs air-tight packaging with oxygen absorbers to maximize storage life.4

Rye
One source gives it a storage life of several months.1 A different source lists rye as a soft grain that will store well for up to six year if properly stored.2

Sorghum
Only has a storage life of several months.

Spelt
Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions if properly packaged.

Teff
Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions if properly packaged.

Triticale
Stores well up to a year in dark, cook, dry conditions if properly packaged.

Wild Rice
Will store indefinitely if properly packaged and kept in ideal conditions.1


Sources:
2 - Casaubon's Book (Sharon Astyk)
3 -
Prudent Food Storage (Alan T. Hagan)
4 - All About Grains (USA Emergency Supply) - Also a good source for cooking specifics (i.e. how to make the best breads using these grains)

6.19.2009

taste test: canned butter

As I've mentioned before, my three-month supply menus are largely based on foods that I can store without refrigeration. This is my own choice and is NOT one of the recommendations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the most part, I've been able to find shelf-stable products based on the meals that we regularly eat. One chink in my plan is the difficulty of storing butter.

Butter is available for non-refrigerated storage in two forms: powdered butter and canned butter. [There have also been some instructions circulating on the internet on how to bottle your own butter, but I do not recommend this because of warnings about botulism from our local extension services. Click here to read more.] I've stored several cans of commercially canned butter as part of our three-month storage. So, today I figured it was time to taste-test this product and see if it is worth the money.

I opened a 12 oz. can of Red Feather Brand butter, which I purchased at a local grocery story for about $5. There are only two ingredients in these cans: cream and salt. My first impression was that it didn't really look like butter because of the grainy texture that was created as I released the lid. However, as I continued to work with the butter, the texture became smooth and looked more like real butter.

I tasted the butter right out of the can. The canned butter didn't seem to have much flavor, but I primarily use salted butter in my cooking. This is probably more similar to an unsalted butter.

Our first test was to make toast. My 11 and 13-year old boys were the guinea pigs. The canned butter spread on and melted similarly to regular butter. There might have be a slight increase in greasiness and I did miss that little bit of saltiness. But I would not hesitate to use the canned butter for toast. My boys liked it as well, even though they were not sure they wanted to try it.

My second test was to make our favorite chocolate-chip cookies using the canned butter. There are many foods that can use oil or butter interchangeably, but chocolate-chip cookies really need butter. I'll include the recipe at the bottom (because I know you'll ask).

First I creamed the butter and sugar. My dough was just slightly lighter in color and fluffier in texture than my normal dough.

I mixed in the rest of the ingredients and was already having to fight off my boys from snitching the cookie dough. The completed dough tasted great. It needed just a little extra salt to compensate for the "unsalted" canned butter.

The cookies turned out great. They seemed to brown faster on the edges and puffed a little extra at the end of the baking cycle. But after sitting for a few minutes, they looked like the cookies we all love. They did taste and look a little more greasy to me. And because I didn't add any salt to the dough, I was still wishing for more saltiness.

Summary: The canned butter performed like regular butter in pretty much every way. It didn't have much flavor and seemed a little greasier. I would probably decrease the butter in the recipe to compensate for this. I would recommend that you treat it like unsalted butter instead of regular salted butter.




Hershey's Great American Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 cups chocolate-chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy Add eggs; beat well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet; cool completely on wire rack. About 2 dozen cookies. [from Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook]


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