Thursday, March 21, 2013

 A little updating... This is the set for our Newlywed game (for Valentine's Day). I had a long session making the big sign (refrigerator box, paint) and another to make the Conversation Hearts (posterboard, chalk).  The rest was cool.  I used the rest of my paint on three big hearts for the podium, put sheets in front of the tables (one twin ripped in half, yard sale, 50 cents) and we used black markers (6 of them) and white card stock for the contestants to write their answers.  A few Christmas lights and microphone and it's ready.  Ahead of time work:  Get a good MC and a bunch of non-"whoopie" Newlywed game questions!!  In our church, anyone can throw an activity for the whole ward (church).  We do it more than most because we feel there is a need to chat and get to know each other, and we have a lot of practice from Cub Scout meetings.  Sure wish there were more activities!!

 This was a diaper cake I made for a friend's baby shower.  I have made them three different ways:  Roll each diaper into a cinnamon roll and ribbon individually,  then ribbon them all together;  Make a huge cinnamon roll starting with one diaper then tucking the ends of the next diaper in and rolling until it's huge; And this one, which was totally cheater, I emptied out a round hatbox and lined with clear celophane.  Then line up the diapers around the outside, then crammed in as many as I could in the middle, ribbon. Repeat three times and make waves and rainbow to go with Noah's Ark theme.  You gotta really love someone to make one of these... that was a megapack of size 2s from Sams.  Then to "decorate" you add on cute little things like socks, rattles, thermometers, diaper-bag sized baby powder, etc. Fun fun! When it's that big it's hard to transport so it's smart to cut out a large circle to put it on at least during transit. 
I meant to include this on the last post. This is just what I canned January and February. In March so far I have just canned the leftover meatballs from Sunday's big dinner.  There were 7 quarts left over, just enough to fill up my pressure canner.  It needed a new seal so I refrigerated them in the jars and Monday morning we got a new seal and by noon they were on the counter. So I have dinner 7 times, already made, just add noodles, shelf stable and not taking up room in my freezer.  I am feeling very environmentally responsible about that. And they will warm up fast since they're room temp already. I'm thinking the noodles will take longer to boil than the meatballs will to heat through but they're pretty big, so it might be close!

Two weeks ago Julia came over and taught us how to make pie crust, so some of my apples got used up. I learned it is DUMB to can them in pints, because you're going to need 3 for a pie, so I will just be doing quarts from now on, pints only if there's left over apples. Julia's crust got a 100 out of 100 and the apples got about a 45.  Nothing compares with a great crust!

I have been working on the pantry meals and finally broke down and ordered the book when I got my tax return money.  Can't wait to get going on some of that. Also made a food storage order and found some spices (after reading My Year Living on Food Storage I felt it more important than ever to get some seasonings) on  Can I just say, WOW!! It was so much fun to "shop" online and get all excited about the spices.  I will get the box Monday and will take some pics then of the cool stuff and then we will be having some major cooking and taste testing going on over here!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pantry Meals

In my search for ways to use food storage, plan easy meals and make this easy to plan ahead, I have found some lovely websites, starting with which is the wonderful lady who lived off her food storage for 6 months. She has a friend who suggested a great system of organization to make sure the variety of food was wide and pleasing to her family without taking her an entire day to cook it all.  Pantry meals was her brainchild and that's putting all the dry ingredients in a bag and labeling it for use during the month.
I decided to start this a little backwards since many of her recipes contained food storage items I don't have available, sour cream powder, butter powder, etc., and featured things my family won't eat. So I went to my ancient, just obtained from a yard sale Make a Mix Cookbooks and came up with one.  I modified a side dish to be a main dish because I'm just lazy that way.  Chicken Continental with Rice turned out great.  Basically, seasoned rice and canned chicken (I used up some leftover chicken for my first experiment).  I measured out the rice, spices, and did this three times so two of them went in a zip-lock bag (marked with directions).  The recipe said stove top cooking was 25 minutes which is still fast for dinner, but I decided to make it even easier with the crock pot. When I get my wonder oven I will try that!  SO I threw in my "mix" and my chicken and 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of butter (I doubled the recipe which said it would feed 2, my girls are hungry) and turned it on low for 4 hours.  The rice was good and both girls said it was a keeper recipe.  SO I put the other two ziplocks in a paper bag with a can of chicken and labeled it with today's date, a yellow star (chicken) and a yellow dot (solar cooking ok) and that was waaay too easy not to do again. 
Do you have any shelf-stable easy recipes? By this I mean assembly (ahead of time) and a few ingredients.  I also made the make-a-mix snack cake for the girls. I followed the directions exactly and they were not crazy about the cake, even though it was chocolate with chips.  Good to know. This will be trial and error for a long time but hopefully I can accumulate a dossier of fantastic easy recipes!!
Projects in the next few months include building a solar oven too. Can't wait to cook with no electricity.  Here in the summer it should be easy!! Between that and my wonder oven I will be practically green! And canning means less freezing so that's green too.  Looking for a food co-op now to augment my canning possibilities.  I found out there is a book, Dinner is in the Jar.  May have to buy it, our library here is like a tiny mini library while there are renovations to the main building.  Boo.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Food Storage 2013

SO I have recently become unemployed outside my home (as always I remain employed in my family!) and want very much to spend my time wisely.  I have been reading a lot about being prepared.  I want to be prepared in every way I possibly can.  Here are a few of my thoughts on that:

Funeral arrangements
Food storage in case of worst-case-scenario (power outage, truckers strike, famine, pestilence, shortages, loss of income, hurricane, zombie apocalypse)
Self sufficient to make my own clothes; though I know this is more expensive than many other ways to get clothes
Self sufficient to make my own household items (Rag rugs being first on the list. We have extra fabric, old sheets, etc. but need rugs)
Emergency binder up to date (with all important information. Sadly, this is mostly classified information --serial numbers, social security numbers, passports) so it will not be easily locatable when complete)
 Mostly better educated on food, recipes, cooking and storage including using solar heat to cook with
Spiritually prepared, studying scriptures more, other spiritually uplifting activities, possibly journal
all of which together will help me become more
Mentally confident

So that is what I am working on now.  I also want to try eating food storage for a month to see what we can learn from that.  I have noticed from other people's blogs that fat storage is key, as is meat and spices.  We just stocked up on some German food (which we missed from Germany, but the mixes are not what we had hoped) so we will be trying some new German recipes, some curried and peanut recipes (since we are blessed not to have peanut allergies in our home) and hopefully find success doing something with beans.

As a beginning I canned some local produce, butter, bacon and meat (chicken and meatloaf).  Photo on my family blog, will try to get it here.  Below is a picture of my in-laws at the Iron Curtain. I'm sure those people didn't know that was going to happen and plunge them into 40 years without communication with their loved ones on the other side.  They didn't ask for war there either.  Can you be prepared for that? Well, be as prepared as you can.

Project for Elizabeth