Friday, January 30, 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere...

You need it, I need it, we all need it.
But water storage can be a challenge for even the most prepared.
We all need to store water, regardless of our living circumstances.
If you live in a town, power disruptions can halt the flow of water.
Ditto for rural areas.
Pipes can freeze, water supplies can be contaminated
Prepare for this.

The average household should have a MINIMUM of 150 gallons of water stored for emergencies.

Currently, I live in town. My water comes from the municipal system.
During Hurricane Ike, the sea surge made our water unusable, even for washing dishes, bathing, etc.
I was not worried as I had ample water to last 3 weeks.
I don't have a lot of room, nor a lot of money, so I had to go for the simplest system possible.

I use 2 liter soda bottles.
Here's my method:
Wash out the bottle with scalding hot water. Remember to wash out the caps as well.
Fill the bottle with cool water and add 3 drops of chlorine bleach. Do NOT use a bleach that has scent or other additives! Cap tightly.
Store in a cool, dark place. I store mine in the bottom of my pantry closet.
The bottles can be stored upright or on their sides, whatever is most effective in the space you have for storage.
I strongly suggest you use a *Sharpie* or *Magic Marker* to date each bottle.

I re-do my water storage every three months, although I have been told my method would be effective for up to six months.

Once a year, I re-purpose my water storage bottles to store rice, lentils and other small grains in. I re-scald the bottles and dry out them out COMPLETELY. Not kidding. COMPLETELY. It is quite necessary to have them bone-dry for this!
Put an O2 absorber in the bottom. Pour in rice/whatever to within 1 inch of the top. Put in another O2 absorber. CAP TIGHTLY! I usually put plastic wrap on top, then screw the cap on as tightly as I can to get the best seal possible.
Store in dry, cool, dark place.
I have stored rice, small beans, lentils, flour, cornmeal and wheat in this manner. Tested FIVE YEARS later, it was still good and cooked up the same as freshly stored foods.
A friend of mine stored some in this manner and tested it last year. She had it stored this way for a little over FIFTEEN YEARS and it did just fine!

So, before you toss those 2 liter bottles in the trash (or any other food grade good sized bottle), stop yourself and think of another use for it!

Check your water supplies this week.
Look over on the Heathen Homemaker for some great organization tips for January!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

While much of the country is still in the throes of winter; with ice storms and record snowfalls, my brain is...THINKING SPRING!

I live in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. While we do get freezing temperatures (and had 1 inch of snow in December, first recordable snowfall in 23 years here!), right now I have to get my gardening planned out for Spring here. In four to six weeks I will be able to put seedlings out! I am planning out the *cold weather* seedlings I can start now and put out. (The term *cold weather* being completely relative...around here people bundle up like Eskimos if the it is under 60 degrees!)

So, I am planning on potatoes, tomatoes, various greens, butternut squash, watermelon, various herbs and other growing goodies.

I am basically lazy when it comes to gardening. I want the most return for the least amount of work. (Don't we all!?!?)

Today...I am figuring up my expenses on potatoes. I like potatoes, all kinds. Russet, Yukon Gold, Peruvian them all. I guess it's the Irish blood in me!

But potatoes have a reputation of being *labor intensive*. All that digging and grubbing about in the dirt! I don't want to do you?

So, I use potato towers. No digging...start to finish!

Here's some instructions and I will try to find some pics online to post for you....(I really need a camera, don't I?)


Get some chicken wire or old fencing that's about 3' tall. Or, get old tires, you'll need 4 for each tower.

If using chicken wire/fencing, lay it out on the ground so you can cut a piece that's approx. 3' in diameter. Tie ends to make a circular tower. Sandwich bag ties are fine.
Line the inside with newspapers, burlap, cloth, an old sheet, the kids school papers - anything you might have on hand to keep the contents from falling out.

If using tires, put 1st tire on ground. TAA-DAA! (That's it)
Fill with leaves. You can mix in a bit of dirt if you have some that you need to get rid of. If you don't have any leaves, watch the sides of the road to help others "recycle" their leaves. Also, the city might have collection trucks that will drop off enough leaves to get you started.

Take some potatoes out of your pantry .We all have those potatoes that start growing. Cut into pieces. The little "eyes" that grow if you leave them setting to long is where the plants start their growth. You want at least 1 "eye" per piece. Less eyes = less potatoes, but large ones. More eyes = more potatoes - but very small. You decide what size potatoes you'd like to have. Or you can go to the local feed/seed store and buy potato *sets*. (What I usually do)

Just stick several pieces of potato down in the leaves & cover. As they grow, you will want to continue to cover the stems with more leaves, because the potatoes grow along these shoots.If doing the tire tower, as the potato shoots grow, add leaves/dirt and add a tire, add more leaves/dirt, let grow some more, add tire and so forth.

NO MORE DIGGING TATERS! At the end of the season, harvesting is nothing more than tipping the towers over - untying the ends & letting the potatoes spill out! You rake the "now" composted leaves onto your garden!

A great idea for these potato towers: line them up in rows, or around the perimeter of your garden for a great living garden fence! (That'll confuse the bejeebers outta the rabbits!) I sometimes--when I use the chicken wire method, plant a faster growing *viney* crop in the ground next to the potato tower, such as some beans.

I have seen some potato towers spill out a hundred pounds of potatoes! Not a bad haul for very little effort!

So, think SPRING! Those in Northern climes, drool over those seed catalogs and get out your paper and sketch out your gardens, make your plans!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bits and Pieces #1

These are just a few bits and pieces of general stuff...

Herbal Emergency Supplies:
These are things that, if you have them in your pantry, they can be used for medical and other purposes.

Parsley: Breath freshener (chew it fresh), also can be used as a diuretic if brewed into a tea.

Celery Seed: Another natural diuretic.

Garlic: Naturally lowers blood pressure, helps with diarrhea and other intestinal ills (garlic is darn near a whole medicine chest in and by itself!)

Aloe Vera: Cut a leaf and apply the sap to burns.

Penny Royal: (a member of the mint family) NEVER INGEST PENNY ROYAL! However, if you put fresh and dried sprigs of it in the back of your cabinets...mice run away! It also repels cockroaches!

Bay Leaf: Dried or fresh bay leaf...put one leaf for every five pounds of flour in your flour storage. It will stop any *mealy bug* eggs from hatching.

Frugal (and other reasons) why stockings are better than pantyhose:
1) If you get a run in your pantyhose, they are ruined. No, I won't do that silly thing of cutting off one leg and wearing two *panty* parts, each with one good leg. Ridiculous!

2) High quality stockings are less expensive than high quality pantyhose. I frequently find never opened packages of stockings...even silk one! thrift stores for as little as 50 cents!

3) Ever tried to wriggle out of a pair of pantyhose when you have to go to the bathroom right away? 'Nuff said.

4) A stocking with a run in it can be used in all the ways that I have seen mentioned for pantyhose...replacing a belt on the car, tying up gourds and such, etc.

5)Stockings last longer. Seriously, they do. I hand wash mine and hang them to dry. I have stockings that have lasted me 6 months+. I have never had a pair of pantyhose last me that long!

6) Stockings and a garter belt are just dead sexy. I have never heard a man do that quick intake of breath when he caught a glimpse of where the hose meets with the panty part. I have heard many a man make that sound when they caught a glimpse of the top of a stocking attached to the garter.

7) Stockings are just easier to deal with, in the long run. You can quickly change looks (I have different colors and textures of stockings).

8) Ladies, you will feel more feminine in stockings. Really. You walk differently, carry yourself differently. I, personally, feel a bit more powerful...maybe that's not the right word?...but I feel more self-confident and ready to take on the world when I am wearing stockings than I ever did in pantyhose!

9) There is nothing, I do mean NOTHING, more delightfully, wickedly sensual than your fella sliding his hand up across your stocking and brushing his fingers against bare skin. While that may not come into frugality or survivalism, it may help repopulate the planet if TEOTWAWKI occurs!

(See, you CAN have fun being frugal!)

That's my *bits and pieces* for today....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where To Go....

I haven't posted much about choosing a place to *be*. Most people would prefer to be where they have *connections*---family and friends.
But if you are considering a move, for the sake of survivability , here are some things to consider:

First and foremost, you have to ensure you have a water supply that cannot be interrupted, easily contaminated and is easily accessed. It may be a stream, a well or a spring. In any instance, you do not want to be dependent on a civic/city water supply that is pumped from miles away. Also consider the laws regulating water usage in the area/region you plan to move to. In some places rain barrels are illegal because they "divert the natural course of the water"! In some places you have to buy "water shares" in order to water your garden or keep your livestock watered.

Are you a *desert rat* or a *snow bunny*? Does the heat of summer make you miserable or are you the type that bundles up in a down jacket when the temperature drops below 60 degrees? Even if your homestead has everything you dreamed of, if the climate makes you miserable, it is not a good choice.

If you plan to homestead, it will be difficult if you settle where the land in all rock and stone or is all sand. Of course, raised bed gardening, composting and other techniques can help beef up bad soil, but if you want to jump into gardening fast, look for soil that is *good to go*.

Local and State Laws:
Do you home-school? Do you want to have your kids delivered by a nurse-midwife? Do you own firearms? Check the laws of the state you are considering on these, or any other issue that is important to you.

Natural Disasters:
Does the area get hit with hurricanes? Frequently flood? Blizzards every winter that shut down roads, power and other services you need? Earthquake zone? Tornado Alley? Check the frequency of such natural disasters in your proposed area.

Now we get into considerations that are a little different...
If you are into being a *survivalist*, and suspect that the world has been flushed and is now *circling the bowl*, these considerations may be paramount.

Proximity to Population Centers:
Your homestead should be at least three hours driving time from the nearest city of 50,000 or more. If something happens in the population centers ---*dirty bomb*, pandemic, riots or other civil unrest, terrorist attack, nuclear attack, etc, you do NOT want to be close to a large city.

Important Cultural Considerations:
"Birds of a feather flock together." Remember that old saying? Well, like many old sayings, there is truth in it. If you are a Christian Fundamentalist, you will find it more comfortable living in a community that shares the same values. If you are a Vegan, you will be *odd man out* in a community of hunters and livestock farmers. Living in a black inner city neighborhood would be a bad choice if you are white---you will become a target, not a neighbor. If you are Heathen, having other Heathens near-by can be an important consideration when it comes to celebrations, rituals and other cultural experiences.

Refugee Drift:
A lot of people have not heard this term, so I will briefly explain it:

If a disaster occurs in a major population center the population evacuating the city will travel on the path of least resistance, especially if it takes them through or to an area with resources they need. Interstates, major roads, rivers and other avenues that provide ease of travel will be utilized by city refugees to evacuate.

If, say, civil unrest breaks out in New York City, refugees from that city will flood into New Jersey and other nearby states. The majority will follow the interstates and major highways for ease of travel. Some will be able to get boats and follow the coastline south or north looking for sanctuary. If in winter, most will try to travel south.
Look for properties 10+ miles from any major highway or interstate. If you must buy closer than that, make sure your property is not able to be seen from the interstate/highway/river.

Industrial Centers/Pollution Considerations:
When looking for a homestead property, consider the proximity of nuclear power plants, chemical plants and industrial plants. That beautiful field will not be good for your dairy cow to graze in if the stream running through contains pollution from the chemical plant 2 miles upriver.
If society collapses, who will run that *clean* nuclear plant? Will it go *China Syndrome* or *Chernobyl* if there are no technicians to run it? Try to be a MINIMUM of 100 miles from any nuclear plant and 50 from any industrial/chemical plant (upstream!).

Military Bases:
These are targets. Targets of other governments and targets of those that may wish to try to plunder the weapons and other assets contained there. Also, in cases of civil unrest, troops will fan out and the closer you are to the base, the more likely you will come under repeated scrutiny. Be at least 100 miles away from any military base, 300 from missile sites or major bases, if possible.

A good book---- if you can find it!----- is *Strategic Relocation-- North American Guide to Safe Places* by Joel M. Skousen published in 1998. Although some of the information is a bit out of date, it is an excellent resource when you are considering relocating for survivability.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gourmet Tastes...on a Poverty Budget!

I like to eat.
You can probably tell by all the recipes and my fixation on food storage, etc.
Yeah, I like to eat and I like to eat WELL.
Tasty foods, gourmet foods. Things that are far beyond my budget.

I can't afford the smoked maple bacon...but I love it.
So, here's what I do:
Once or twice a year I buy a bottle of *Liquid Smoke* and a bottle of REAL Maple Syrup.
Pricey items, to be sure, but worth it.
If you buy a package of cheap bacon, lay it out in a glass baking pan.
Mix (in a bowl) 2 drops Liquid Smoke and 2 teaspoons Maple syrup and 1/2 cup VERY hot water. Mix until it is well blended and the syrup has *melted* into the mixture.
Pour it over the bacon in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in fridge over night.
Next morning, drain off liquid from bacon and cook as usual.
You can also use Maple Flavor Extract, just a few drops.
To sweeten bacon to make it taste *sugar-cured*, marinate bacon in 1/4 cup ginger ale with a tablespoon of honey mixed in for 2 hours to overnight.
Freak that I am, I have also marinated bacon in Dr goooooood!

Can only afford cheaper cuts of meat?
Tenderize them by marinating in wine, a mix of apple cider vinegar and apple juice (half and half) or Dr. Pepper or ginger ale or beer or red wine vinegar or papaya juice or pineapple juice.

I *doctor* cheap foods all the time to make them more appealing.

Cake mixes were made to be doctored with! Add chopped nuts, diced fruits, layer it with jam or custard, add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest, different extracts. Experiment!

Mac and can transport this boring mainstay to gourmet heights by adding in all sorts of wonderful things! For example...mix up a box of cheap mac and cheese. Now, in a casserole dish, layer it with Italian Bread Crumbs, then top it with Italian Bread crumbs and some grated cheese. Bake about 15 minutes, until cheese on top melts. Or toss in diced pepperoni or diced ham, top with slivered toasted almonds.

Instant pudding can be rather bland. Layer it in parfait glasses with granola or fresh fruit. Vanilla instant pudding can be *dressed up* by adding some rum extract or almond extract, makes the flavor *pop*!

Hamburger Helper and other *box* meals. I hate these things! But, when forced to, I can eat them by dressing them up...add spices, chopped/diced fresh veggies or bread crumbs (the last just before serving). Instead of making it with hamburger, use leftover pot roast that you have shredded up.

Stove Top Stuffing Mixes can become WONDERFUL with a few add ins! The stuffing I served at Yule came out of a box...but to one I added 1/2 pound ground cooked sausage, chopped tart apples and chopped walnuts. The other stuffing I added chopped celery, water chestnuts, fresh rosemary and fresh chopped parsley.

I used to buy Bisquick and thought I was making a frugal choice...then I found recipes to make my own *Bisquick* type mix from scratch. Terrific and easy to stock your pantry with, but with just a few add-ins you can make pancakes, biscuits, muffins, cakes, cookies...the list goes on...
This recipe makes a big batch...I usually make a bigger batch (twice this size!), but it stores well. It is also great to have it on hand for immediate use.

Fake "Bisquick" Baking Mix
9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking powder
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups nonfat powdered milk
2 cups shortening (which does not require refrigeration, I use bargain brand all- vegetable)

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar and sugar two times. Mix in dry milk (I just stir it in really well...taking about 2 minutes to make sure it is well-mixed) Cut in shortening until mixture looks like grainy cornmeal. Store in covered container in your pantry. No refrigeration necessary, but still, you don't want it to get over-heated...might give it an *off* taste!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine 1 1/2 cups Fake "Bisquick" Mix and 1/3 cup milk in a bowl. Add milk and stir. Knead lightly on floured board.Try not to over-handle dough as it will make your biscuits *tough*. Roll 1/2-inch thick; cut and place on un-greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Makes 8.

Add-Ins: Grated sharp cheddar cheese or minced herbs (I like rosemary!)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Beat together in a bowl 1 egg, 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add 3 cups Fake "Bisquick" Mix. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. DO NOT OVER MIX! Spoon into greased muffin pans or into paper muffin cups and bake 20 minutes.

Add-Ins:Chopped nuts or dried fruit. Replace 1/3 cup of Fake "Bisquick" Mix called for with quick-cooking oatmeal or dry cereal such as Raisin Bran, Fiber One or Kashi Go Lean Crunch. Add extra dried fruit--minced or chopped nuts and bake as a fruit bread in a greased 8 x 5-inch loaf pan. Change baking time and temp. to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Pancakes or Waffles
Whip with wire whisk 1 cup milk and 1 egg until well mixed and *frothy*. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Fake Bisquick Mix. Cook on griddle or bake on waffle iron. I have found that it helps if you brush a waffle iron with a bit of oil before you put the batter in!

Add-Ins: Dried blueberries, cranberries or fresh strawberries (sliced). If adding dried fruit, let set 10 minutes before cooking.

Mix 1/3 cup water to 1 cup Fake Bisquick Mix. Drop into hot broth and cook 10-15 minutes, uncovered, and 10 minutes, covered.

Add Ins: Minced herbs to compliment the stock/soup.

Yellow Cake
Sift together in a large bowl 3 cups Fake Bisquick Mix and 1 1/4 cups sugar. Mix together in a small bowl 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Add this gradually to dry ingredients while beating with mixer on *Low*. Beat at high speed for 3 to 5 minutes after all dry ingredients are mixed in. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Ice cake or leave bare or spread jam on top!

Add Ins: For chocolate cake increase the sugar to 1 1/2 and add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Or add 1 teaspoon rum extract (instead of almond extract) and 1/2 cup chopped nuts. YUM!

Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat together in a bowl 1/3 cup milk and 1 egg. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 1/4 cups Fake Bisquick Mix. Stir together well , about two minutes. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup chopped nuts and 1/2 teaspoon Rum, almond or lemon extract and sprinkle over the top. Bake 25 minutes.

Add Ins: For a sunny orange coffee cake,cut milk to 1/4 cup, add 4 tablespoons orange juice and stir. Change topping to 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons butter, toss with 1/2 teaspoon orange extract or thawed frozen orange juice concentrate and bake as directed.

Oatmeal Cookies
Place 2 1/4 cups Fake Bisquick Mix in a bowl. Stir in 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Combine 1/3 cup milk, 2 beaten eggs and 1/2 cup melted shortening. Stir into mix and blend well. Add 3 cups (uncooked) oatmeal and mix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 12 minutes.

Add Ins: 1/2 cup raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips (use the semi-sweet!) For a different twist, add 2 tablespoons orange juice to mix plus 1/2 teaspoon orange zest.

Banana Walnut Bread
Beat 2 eggs and 1/4 cup sugar together in a bowl until well blended. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/4 cups (2 to 3, depending on size) mashed bananas and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts. Stir in 2 1/2 cups Fake Bisquick Mix. If mix seems too dry, add water, one teaspoon at a time until batter is very thick, yet still pourable. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes or until brown.

Pizza Crust
Add 1/2 cup warm water to 2 cups Fake Bisquick Mix and form into a ball. Knead and roll out 1/2-inch thick. Place in a 10-inch pan, leaving a rim around the edge. Brush the dough with oil, then spread with favorite toppings.
Add Ins: Add 1/2 teaspoon minced oregano, 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary or other herbs to mix when you add water.

Emergency Drills

Every family out there should do this at least once a month.
Pick a day. Weekday, weekend, doesn't matter.
Now, turn off your power.
That's right, go switch those breakers OFF.
Leave them off for 24 hours.
If it is not possible for you to do this, because of where you live or other reasons, sit down with a pad of paper and imagine your house hold without power.
Better yet, stretch it out and imagine being in that situation for a week...two weeks...a month.

In your location, what are your priorities?
If in a cold climate or season, is heating covered?
Do you have a way to cook?
What about water? For cooking, bathing, etc.?
How long will your food supplies last?

If you have kids, did you stash some games and activities away from them? (Board games, coloring books and crayons, other *low-tech* activities)
Did you stash away some amusements for yourself?

If you are doing your drill *for real*, take notes.
I thought *I* had everything covered until I did this drill last month.
I discovered I had not stashed enough *amusements* for myself.
I had my books, but actual *activities* were not present.
I went to Goodwill and a couple of other thrift stores and added some *fun* things to my preps.
Scrabble game. Monopoly. Yahtzee. I already had a chess board.
I even tossed some coloring books, colored pencils and crayons into the mix!
It may seem frivolous, but boredom is a bad thing!

Other Emergency Drills good for families:
Set your alarm for 3am.
When it goes off, see how long it takes you to get your family outside with your BOBs, your FAK and other essentials ready to go.
In cases of emergency evacuation, you may only have a few minutes to grab and go. (Think Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis, earthquakes., fire, etc.)
It is imperative that you be able to *grab and go* in under 10 minutes. Next time, try for 8 minutes and so on. Cut your time to 5 minutes if possible.

Most evacuation plans will involve you taking your vehicle.
I keep an *Emergency Kit* in my car.
Since I drive a small van, I have a rubbermaid tote in the very back
In it:
Number 10 cans of: wheat, rice, beans, oats, flour. (1 each)
10 baby food jars with spices.
10 baby food jars with my *powders*.
10 baby food jars with teas and herbs.
1 pair sneakers
6 pairs socks
2 pair jeans
4 tee shirts (2 long sleeve, 2 short sleeve)
4 pairs underwear
6 candles
2 lighters, 5 boxes of matches
4 gallons water
Small first Aid Kit

I also have an Emergency Car Kit that includes 2 cans of *Fix a Flat*, a set of jumper cables, and other car necessities.

If you are able, you can put together a kit and store it in your trunk. I suggest putting it in a Rubbermaid tote for organizations sake.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cooking With Preps, Part Two

In a post last fall, I posted some simple recipes for cooking with preps out of your food storage...

Now we will get a bit more complicated recipes, but they are really good!

Wheatberry Blender Pancake Mix:

1 cup milk (3 tablespoons powdered milk + 1 cup water)
1 cup Wheat kernels, whole and uncooked
2 eggs (2 tablespoons powdered eggs + 1/4 cup water)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Oil
2 teaspoons honey or sugar

Put milk and wheat kernels in blender.
Blend on highest speed for 4 or 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth.
Add all other ingredients to mixture in blender and blend on low.
Pour out batter into pancakes from the actual blender jar (only one thing to wash!)
onto hot greased prepared griddle or large frying pan.
Cook, flipping pancakes when bubbles pop and create holes.
Serve hot with honey/syrup/jam.

Indian Fry Bread

Mix together:
2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup non-instant powdered milk (read the labels!)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons honey or sugar
When that is well mixed:
1 1/2 cups very hot water

Work fast working ingredients together and knead for 5 minutes.
Take golf-ball sized pieces from the dough , pull and stretch with hands into a circle of about 6 to 8 inches. (Oil your hands a bit first with salad oil or shortening so dough doesn't stick to hands)
You can also roll out the dough balls on a counter--oil the counter a touch first--put a piece of waxed paper over the dough ball and roll it out.
Fry in hot oil. I usually fry mine in a cast iron skillet in about an inch of oil.
Drain them on a plate or in a basket lined with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
I top mine with a lot of different things, these are so versatile!
Re-fried beans and grated cheese
Lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, olives, some cilantro and salsa
Sugar and cinnamon
Chicken or tuna salad

Basic Granola
2 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 cups Water
6 Tablespoons Oil
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
10 cups Rolled Oats (uncooked)

In a pan, combine the sugar, water, oil and salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved, but do not boil. Pour syrup over the oats and stir until well coated. Add a little more rolled oats if the texture seems too moist. Place in baking pans or on cookie sheets about 1/2 inch deep. Bake at 425 degrees F, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bake 15 minutes longer if you want it crunchier. Store in an airtight container.
Add-ins (after cooking:)
Slivered almonds
Dried Cranberries
Shredded Coconut
Dried (crystallized) Pineapple
Dried diced Apple
Dried Apricots
Just add in whatever appeals to you...Nuts, Dried Fruit, Chocolate Chips...mix together with your add-ins well. I usually let it *rest* after I add in goodies for 3 days in a tightly sealed container.
You can eat Granola *out of hand*, as a cold cereal or as a hot cereal when you add hot milk.

So there's a few good recipes for you!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kitchen Scraps and Food Storage...

Here is a wonderful way to save money, have gourmet items in your pantry and enjoy great tastes!

You will need a food dehydrator or an oven and a way to grind the dried material into a powder. Spice grinders, coffee grinders, food processors are all good. Work with what you have or are comfortable with. Once ground into powder, store the powders in baby food jars, spice jars or whatever tightly lidded jars you have handy. Sterilize and COMPLETELY DRY jars before putting powder in. Also, put an O2 absorber in each jar.

Those tomato peels that are usually flung in the trash when you can tomatoes? Dry them out, nice and VERY dry, grind them into powder. Tomato powder sells for big bucks in gourmet shops, but essentially, it is made from peels that would otherwise be discarded.

Use the powder to boost the flavor in soups, stews and sauces, add some to your tortilla recipe to make those gourmet *tomato wraps* most people pay a premium price for. Make your own pasta? Add tomato powder! Add to softened butter for tomato butter (great on steaks and fish!) Combined with dry milk and a few spices, you can have a quick and easy instant tomato soup! Toss tomato powder into your favorite breading recipe to add a little sparkle to the flavor of fried chicken or fried fish. Add a teaspoon to your salad dressing and shake!

Grate orange peels or toss in a blender or chopper to have your own orange zest without paying those high supermarket prices. Orange zest can also be used in home made soap recipes. I have even dried out orange peels, ground them up and added a teaspoon or two to a regular bottle of shampoo for a citrus-wake-me-up scent. Orange powder can also be used in sachets and pomanders to repel insects and freshen closets.
Orange peels (powdered) can have a *bitter* taste to them if you get too much of the inner white peel in the powder, so be careful of that! You can also add orange powder to salad dressings, breading, butter, ginger ale (orange ginger ale is pretty good). Use your imagination!

Dry those apple peels out nice and very dry and grind into powder as with tomato peels.
Apple peel powder is great to add to oatmeal and other cooked cereals. A teaspoon in a glass of ginger ale is lovely on a hot day, or add a teaspoon to a hot mug of tea on a cold winter night. Toss some apple powder into your body wash for a wonderful scent, or add to unscented talcum powder and dust some on! Apple powder can also be used as a sachet scent or in a pomander.

Slice up your leftover raw broccoli very thin and dry it completely. Grind into powder. Mix with cream cheese and sour cream and a smidge of tomato powder for a great dip. Broccoli powder + dried milk + water = cream of broccoli soup. (I always scatter some grated cheese on top) Again, use your imagination!

Dry out completely. Grind into powder. Spinach powder + sour cream + cream cheese + spices = terrific dip or spread for crackers! Cream of spinach soup when mixed with dry milk and water.
Add to pasta dough when making pasta. Add to flour tortilla recipe. Good to add to salad dressings or mayonnaise.

You have to be careful with this. If you grow your own or buy locally, you should be okay. You cannot dry out most store bought cuke skins as they are wax coated! That being said--dry out totally and grind into powder. Add to cream cheese or sour cream (or both-mixed) for a nice dip or flavorful spread. Cucumber is a pretty popular additive to bath salts, soaps, shampoos, etc. Add to alcohol and water (half and half) in the summer and put in a spritz bottle. Spray yourself to stay *cool as a...* you know the rest! A teaspoon added to a bottle of salad dressing is great for cool summer salads. Add to mayonnaise.

Slice thin and dry completely before grinding into powder. Use in place of celery seed in soups and stews. Add to salad dressings, dips, spreads or mayonnaise. I like to sprinkle it on deviled eggs (VERY lightly!).

This one always gets me weird looks, lol! Okay, there is ALWAYS some leftover *meat* in that rind. Dig it out, slice it into thin slices and dry it out. (NOW you can toss those rinds in the compost heap!) Once dry, grind into powder.
A teaspoon in a glass of ginger ale is absolute heaven on a hot day in July! Adding watermelon powder to hot tea sounds weird, but is actually pretty good! Add some to unscented bath salts.
I have used watermelon powder in a white cake batter to make a watermelon cake. (It was terrific! Just add 3 to 5 teaspoons (depends on your tastes) to batter and mix in well. Add to softened cream cheese, sour cream and add a bit of honey and mix well to make a dip for fruits.

So, there you your garbage!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

The new year is here and I know everyone out there is making New Years Resolutions...that they will probably break to shards by February...
I have an easy resolution for you:
Spend $5.00 per week to prepare.
You can use that 5 bucks to buy extra food for your pantry, items for your B.O.B or F.A.K.
I know 5 dollars doesn't sound like a lot, but you can buy a substantial amount of preparation for that 5 bucks per week!

Here's an example of one month...all these items are easily obtainable, either locally or online.
BOB Items
Gym Bag (easily found for $5)
50 ft of clothesline (usually runs about 2.99)
8 x 8 tarp (4.99 at my local surplus store)
Magnesium firestarter (4.99 at local military surplus store)
P-38 (99 cents at local military surplus store)
Emergency blanket (2.00 at local surplus store)

First Aid Kit (I hit the dollar store for this stuff!)
Small bottle of aspirin ( a dollar)
Box of Bandaids (again, only a dollar)
Tweezers ($1)
Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol (a buck)
Bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide ($1)
Bar of Soap (got 5 for a buck!)
Baby-Wipes ($1)
Scissors ($1)
Package of Air Masks ($1)
Roll of Medical Tape ($1)
Box of Gauze Pads ($1)
You get the idea....

For your food storage the possibilities are endless...
Cans of tuna fish or chicken, Spam, dried pasta, box dinners of mac and cheese, oatmeal, rice, flour and on and on....

Think of how much money you waste each week. Five dollars is a small amount, in the grand scheme of things. Cut out a couple trips to Starbucks each week or rent one less movie and get a free one from the library. Curtail your smoking a bit. Carry your lunch instead of getting something at a fast food joint. You'll never miss that 5 bucks, but you will be able to look with satisfaction at your growing pantry or FAK or BOB.

And shoot for 5 bucks a week for preparation!