Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our "Poor" Month is Over, and we welcome February (but it is not much better usually)

February often brings snow in our part of the country.  We can usually count on at least one snowfall each year and it usually happens in February.  When the snow falls we dance around our house and sing, "It's snowing money...." in all sorts of tunes.  This is because my husband will plow snow in parking lots, driveways, etc and it brings in a bit of welcome money.  February is also a time when the last of the oak leaves fall and people begin to think about cleaning up their yard for one more time.  (March is a much better month for this) February brings drips and drabs of business for the husband.  Thus,  our "poor" month is over.  But February isn't much better really.

We still have to watch our money and usually January ended with at least one bill left unpaid.  This year it was a $400 bill that waited. Today we paid it with the pay check I received.  This means that we are already $400 down for the month.  We will continue to be tight with our budget and continue to eat from our food storage.  But it is quickly dwindling.  Tonight in fact, I noticed that I have one more jar of spaghetti sauce left.  I smiled and thought that I need to start looking for a sale on sauce again.  And that item needs to go on the grocery list.   It has been months since I bought spaghetti sauce because I use my "three month" rule.  So when I find it on sale I will buy 12 jars if I can. I still have a lot of pasta left but if I see a great deal on that I will pick up a few boxes also.

Recently I have been working on trying to get my information in order.  I want a hard copy of things in case I can't access the internet and I have been slowly printing things off to keep.  At this point I am thinking that a few three-ring binders will work for me.  I will need three I think:

  1. Food Storage
  2. Emergency Preparedness
  3. Recipes
I will use page protectors for some things, particularly the recipes so I don't ruin the page if I accidentally spill something on it while cooking.

I will post some photos of the notebooks filled up when I get there.

The other thing I have been thinking about is coming up with an organized plan to collect my food storage and to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.  There are so many great sites out there that help with this.  Some give you great lists of items, others break it down by week.  Many of these sites are on my sidebar if you are interested in looking.

Some favorites are:




These are great to get going on an organized way to gather your supplies.

I know I am a bit scattered in my blogging.  I seem to have no rhyme or reason for my thoughts.  This is a bit how I feel about prepping and food storage.

Boy do I need a plan.  I will let you know when I have one.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I was talking to another neighbor today and the "Three Month Rule"

and we were talking about my pantry in the hall closet.  She and her kids were over our house for dinner the other night while her husband was out of town.   She offered to get something we needed out of the pantry and she opened the door and said she stepped into heaven.  LOL.  I don't think it was quite like that but my pantry is pretty nice. ;)  Anyway, she and I were talking today and she said she told her husband that she needed a three month supply of everything.  Ha ha ha .... She also said that she was cleaning out her front closet so she could put shelves in there and start stocking up.  Ha ha ha....  I love it.

You see this is how it all went down.  It is also how I try to do things. She opened out pantry to look for another bottle of ketchup.  One must never run out of ketchup when you have kids in the house.  So when ketchup is on sale at Kroger for $1 a bottle I buy two or three every time I go in there and it is still on sale.  She found the ketchup in the pantry and asked what my method is of stocking up.  I told her I try to follow my "three month" rule.  That is when an item is on sale and I have the money to spend on extra I try to get enough for three months.  So if I am buying pasta for example and we eat it once a week and I cook a whole box every time we cook it, then I need 13 boxes of pasta.  That is enough to last us three months, or until it goes on sale again, which often is about every three months.  This is how I have stocked up on things. So for us in the summer time especially we will go through two bottles of ketchup a month (give or take a half bottle), so for three months of summer use I will need 6 bottles of ketchup.  Right now I have 5 bottles and we just opened one that is in the fridge.  Next time I see ketchup on sale I will need to buy at least another bottle or two.

Today, I went to a grocery store closing sale.  It was pretty well picked over so I wasn't able to use my "three month" rule but I did get some items that I am excited to have found.  I got Maple Flavoring and Butter Flavoring.  I want to try this recipe and see if I can make my own pancake syrup.

Pancake Syrup
2 cups sugar
1 cup boiling hot water
1/2 teaspoon Maple Flavored Extract


Combine sugar and water in saucepot.  Cook until sugar is fully dissolved.  Remove from heat and add Maple Flavored Extract.  Serve warm.

I got this recipe from All Recipes {dot}com.  It looks easy enough and I am excited to try it.  Have you ever made pancake syrup before? I would love to know how it turned out.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I have a neighbor....

whom I have known for a long time is Mormon.  I had a pretty good idea that her family has been storing food and preparing for emergencies.  I hardly ever run into her though and I felt funny just going to her house and knocking on the door and saying, "I am pretty sure you have food storage.  Can you show me yours and I will show you mine?"  There is just no part of it that sounds right to me.  So I just kept this little tidbit of information to myself for a long time, like a couple years now.  Anyway, the other day I ran into her at the bank.  We chatted for a minute and then I told her I had a question to ask her and could I meet her outside the bank and ask.  She said yes and I finished up my business at the bank and I waited for her out in the parking lot.  I felt like a bit of a stalker.  So she comes out and I asked.  Yes, right there and then.  I asked.  I said something like, "I understand that you are Mormon and that the church encourages you to store food.  I also have food storage and I like to prepare for the worst.  Is there a time that I can come over and ask you a few questions I have and can I see where and how you are storing your food, etc?"  Well she got this big eyed look and said "yes".  I was so excited.  Come to find out she teaches emergency preparedness in her church and she does talks for other groups and such.

Last weekend she allowed me to take her information she has on food storage and emergency preparedness and look through it and xerox anything I wanted.  :)  I am in heaven right now.  But I as I have looked through her stuff, I am finding that I was actually doing pretty okay by myself, just blog surfing, and internet surfing.  I am so glad that I was doing the right things and had stumbled on the right websites and blogs.  Many of her information has also come from the same sites and my information.

Over then next few weeks I will share more with you about what I have found.  I hope you will stick around and see what I have learned.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Smoother Bread Recipe

I baked a loaf of bread this past weekend.  I used a new recipe and I am happy with it.  It is lighter, airier, and moister than the other recipe I commonly used.  I love that the crust isn't hard.  It's chewy but not hard.

I got the base of this recipe from Foods That Will Win The War cookbook that I talked a few posts ago.  One of the things I liked about this book is that it explains how grains go together and the percentages of different grains you should use in a bread.  I decided to combine oatmeal with whole wheat and white flour.

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

1 cup warm water
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
up to another cup of warm water

Pour water and oatmeal in a large bowl mix and let sit a few minutes to allow the oatmeal to soak up the water.  Add all additional dry ingredients and mix until it is crumbly looking.  Then add enough warm water to bring all the ingredients together into a dough.  Form a ball and place back in the bowl cover and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few minutes until large gas bubbles are gone and form in to a loaf.  Put in a greased loaf pan and allow to rise another 30 to 40 minutes until it fills the loaf pan 3/4 full (until it rises another 50%) Slice the top about 3/4 inch down all across the top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until done.  Take out of loaf pan and cool on a rack (or serve warm).

Yields one loaf.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Food Storage Pantry

I would like to show you a little bit of my food storage.  We live in an older home and one thing it does NOT have is storage.  I want to know what families in the 1960s did with their food, their stuff, their junk.  Where in the heck did they store it???  I have tried a couple different places and I think I have a pretty good handle on storage for food at this point.  I still need more storage but I thought I would show you what I have done so far.  My original place for food storage was the only storage space in our entire house.  It is a little closet under the stairs in the lower level of our home.  It is a pretty deep closet and I have used it as a food pantry for quite a few years now.  I bought a bunch of can organizers from http://canorganizer.com/ .  These are sturdy and I love how they come in various sizes.  I bought a couple different sizes to use in different areas.  In this bottom closet I can use the deeper ones that are 16 inches long and they fit perfectly.  I labeled them and I love how I can just glance at them and know what items I need to stock up on.  Besides canned items I have a large amount of pastas, sauces, and barbecue sauce.  In the bottom I have some gallon jugs of water.

I do need to do some reorganization in here.  There are many things in the bottom that just got tossed in. Oh and you see that margarita mix in the bottom left there? Well, I just want to make sure I have all my bases covered.  {giggles}

In my kitchen I have a small cabinet that I put opened boxes of cereal, a few canned goods that I didn't use when cooking one night, and some open boxes of pasta.  I keep my spices and baking supplies in three cabinets in the kitchen.  This way it is close by and easily accessible. I didn't bother to take a picture of these spaces.

The one space I am most proud about is our front hall closet.  This closet is the closest to my kitchen.  Prior to the make over this closet was a coat closet.  We moved all our out of season coats to our room closets and use a hall tree and wall pegs to hold our in season coats.

In the hall closet we added additional shelves and created a primary pantry.

In this picture you can see that the top shelf holds cereal boxes and are actually stacked two high.  I have another shelf lower than the picture goes and then there is about 15 inches or more to the floor.  On the floor I have bins with flour and sugar and rice.  I also have cases of canning jars and my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

What you don't see is our paper products.  They are stored above our second refrigerator/freezer in our utility room.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour.  These pictures tell me I really need to neaten these spaces up some more.  They look a bit messy in these photos. But you see them in all their glory.  No holds barred.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Awesome Cook Book - Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them (1918)

Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them (1918)
by: C. Houston Goudiss and Alberta M. Goudiss 

I was blog surfing this past weekend and I found the most awesome cook book.  I went back to see if I could find the blog who spoke of this book first and I am sorry, but I can't find it.  This book  was written in 1918, during World War I.  You can get it for free here.  I downloaded it as html and then copied it to a Microsoft Word document.  Then I went through and reformatted it with correct page breaks and such.  I had to go back and change the page numbers in the Table of Contents and I set it to have page numbers on the bottom of the page.  Then I put it in page protectors and put them in a binder.  Then I labeled the binder. This way I will have it to use as a reference and as a real cookbook.  I also have it on my computer downloaded as an adobe e-reader file but if we don't have power then it will be difficult to use my computer so a hard copy is more practical.

Let me tell you about this cookbook.  The premise of the cookbook was to help US homes save rations during the WAR.  The government wanted to be able to send more rations over to Europe to help those who were starving because of the War.  Our government asked us to Save Wheat, Save Meat, Save Sugar, Save Fat, and Save Food. The cookbook is divided into these sections.

In the "Save Wheat" section alternative grains are highlighted and recipes are given using these alternative grains.  There are some great recipes using cornmeal, oats, barley, rye, and potatoes.  A wonderful basic bread recipe is given too.  (I will expand on this recipe in another post.)

In the "Save Meat" section you will find a couple charts with different cuts of beef, uses for other parts of animals, and a comparison chart of meat and meat substitutes.  There are many recipes for economical dishes, fish dishes, and cheese dishes.

The "Save Sugar" section has a wonderful recipe for wheatless and sugarless cake, sugarless candies, and preserves too.

The "Save Fat" section teaches us to render the fat in foods and how to clarify and save it.  It also has many recipes to use the rendered fat.

I think the "Save Food" section was the most interesting to read.  I love that not only are there a bunch of recipes to use leftovers but also a calorie chart and a section with several menus for wheatless days, meatless days, and lists of meat substitute dinners and vegetable dinners.

I can see me using this cookbook to help plan for using my long term storage, and to learn how to conserve and save my wheat, meats, sugar, and fats. We don't generally have meatless meals here in our home.  My husband loves his meat!  But this cookbook will be helpful in working some of these meals into our "repertoire".  I also love the various recipes for grains.  There is a potato bread, potato pancakes, oatmeal breads and mixed grain breads.  From an historical point of view, this cookbook explains so much, like, why my grandparents loved rye bread.  They were born around this time period so they probably grew up with their mom's baking rye breads.  There are so many other recipes that I recognized.

My only criticism is that some of the items in the cookbook are not called that any more.  I have a few things I need to research before putting this book on the shelf and calling it ready to use.  What is a mapline?  What is sweet milk?  and What is salad dressing? Is that mayonnaise or real salad dressing?

I will give you one thing I have found out.  A cake of yeast is about 2 1/4 teaspoons of active yeast. :)

PS:  This review is completely my own.  No one asked me to review this book and no one is paying me.  The book is free and I personally recommend you download it and check it out.  It won't cost you a penny. Let me know how you like it and what you think of the cookbook.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snuggie Toes

Here is a photo of the pair of wool socks I made my daughter.  They are very warm and snuggie she says.  Makes a mom's heart warm to know that her toes are warm.

Did you know that wool will continue to keep you warm even when it is wet?  Did you know that wool allows your feet to breathe and wicks away the water from your body?  Did you know that wool is even effective when it is warm outside? Yup, yup and yup!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Preparedness - Mom Style

Last night I finished knitting another pair of wool socks.  These were for my middle child.  Before that pair I knitted a pair of wool socks for my husband.  He was excited because most of the socks I have knitted have been for me or my kids.  This was his first pair.  This morning I was thinking about starting a fire in the fireplace an finishing another project.  This project is a quilt for my son.  I just have to finish quilting it and sew the border on.

This got me thinking about winter prepping and the things I do to make sure that we are prepared for winter but in an economical way.  Right now we are tight on money.  I think I posted about this in another post earlier.  Anyway, I like to work with my hands and I enjoy making things.  When I can make something for my family with my hands and be economical about it AND be prepping at the same time, I get all warm and fuzzy inside.  In the winter I tend to want to knit, crochet, sew and quilt.  I like to make things that will keep or make us warm.  I like to put the "love" in it while I am making it with my hands.  This all makes me feel good.

Do you prep differently in the winter than in the summer?  What does your Mom Style prepping look like in the winter?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Looking for a lighter bread recipe

I am looking for a less dense bread recipe.  I put extra yeast in my bread now to help the wheat bread rise better.  Wheat is so much heavier than white flour so I think that by adding a bit more yeast can help with the lift.  But I would like a less dense bread.  Does anyone have a good recipe for this?

Can you leave me a link in the comments and help me out here?  Thank you!

Winter Prepping for your Car

As a mom I want my kids and family to be warm and dry.  I want to be prepared in case we are out and a storm comes up or if the weather turns cold.  A few years ago I had the "pleasure" of witnessing my friend's prepping efforts result in warm and toasty children.  My kids on the other hand weren't as warm and toasty.  Here is what happened.  We all met for dinner at a restaurant, her family and my family.  She suggested that we go to this winter village and walk around and see the lights.  This place has lots of old timey homes and store fronts etc, that you can walk around and see.  At Christmas time they decorate them with lights and decorations and you can walk around and enjoy the vintage feel.  They have things there from a 1950's gas station to a turn of the century post office.  Anyway, we weren't prepared to walk around for long as it had gotten chilly but my friend assured me that we wouldn't be out in the cold long as we would be popping in and out of these buildings and they are all heated.  We were game and agreed to follow them there.  We get out of our car in the parking area and her kids are all bundled up with hats and scarves and mittens and such.  I told her that my kids didn't have such things and her husband said that their kids weren't prepared with this stuff either but it is just all the things that my friend has stashed in her car in the winter time just in case. {ah ha}  In the winter time she grabs older hats, gloves and scarves and she sticks them in the back of her car just in case...  The night was a fine night and my kids weren't freezing and were okay just walking around in their winter coats with the hood up and their hands in their pockets.  And my friend was right we just popped in and out of the buildings and were quite warm.  But that image stuck with me of her pulling these hats and gloves out of the car for her kids.  I wanted to be that prepared.

Ever since then I have tried to always have a few extra pair of gloves, hats and scarves in my car for the kids and us adults, ...just in case....

So on with the list of items I always try to keep in the car:  This list is "mom style" so don't expect big containers of ice melt and snow tire chains, etc.  I would love to have that in my car but we don't get enough winter weather here in my world to warrant me having to worry with that stuff.  If you are in that part of the world then I would certainly recommend having the equipment to get you out of a snow drift or in case the weather turns bad on you quickly.  For me, I am worried about warmth for us if we break down and need to wait a few hours for a tow truck, or if we are out and our friends suggest us walking around in the winter.  Back to my list.

  1. warm hats, gloves or mittens, and scarves for everyone in our family.  I put these in a bag and toss it in the back of the car.  These are older gloves and hats that will be fine in a pinch but not ones that the will make us the most fashionable family at the time.  I am going for warmth here.  I also love the ones that are sold for $1 or 2 at Target in the fall.  They are cheap enough for me to buy a set for each person and just stash them.  They aren't wool but they will do for us.
  2. blanket (s).  In our big suburban I want a blanket for each person.  These are fleece and are lap blanket size.  In our smaller cars one or two are great.  I am not spending a ton of money on these either.  The set we have in the suburban were given to use many years ago by my in laws.  The ones we have in the other cars are just fleece I got at the fabric store and I cut and sewed the edges.  Easy peasy and inexpensive.  
  3. Water.  I try to keep a few water bottles in the back of the car (trunk) just in case.  But in winter they freeze and thaw so I open them and pour out just a bit so they don't burst when they freeze.  What would be great is to keep them in a plastic container so if they do bust they won't seep into the carpets or back of the car. 
  4. A bit of food.  This can be peanut butter cracker packs, snack packs or breakfast bars.  I try to keep a few in the glove compartment or in the car somewhere.  This works well when I have my lunch box with me that I take back and forth to work.  I always have extra food in there.  And I try to keep that with me during the day and in the car.  If we are going out as a family I will often pack that full of drinks and snacks anyway so we don't have to stop anywhere to get a child or us a snack.  It just makes life easy
  5. First Aid Kit.  I always have a little one in my purse but in the car we like to have a bigger one.  This holds headache medicine, band-aids, benedryl, bactine, and neosporin, an ace bandage, and a pair of tweezers and a fingernail clipper.  I keep it in a rubbermaid box that is pretty small.  We have had this box for a long time.  It is about 6 inches deep and about 8 inches long.  It is not big but it holds lots of stuff.
  6. My purse (my purse is part of my plan and I take it with me where ever I go) In my purse for the winter I have a small bottle of hand lotion, chapstick, my small first aid kit, tissues, a snack or two (my peeps get hungry!), my emergency cards, my cell phone (the chargers stay in the car), and a flashlight.
Things I should have in my car but they aren't: (This is my "to do" list)
  1. an umbrella
  2. old towels
  3. a lightstick or flashlight that stays in the car
  4. jumper cables (we only have one pair and they float from car to car) We take them on big trips but they aren't in every car we own nor in the cars we use for everyday running around.
  5. a plastic box to keep my water bottles in. This way if they freeze and burst, they don't leak all over the car)
  6. a window ice scraper
  7. antifreeze, oil, or other car maintenance stuff (I am not sold on putting these in the car for just every day running around.  We do put these items in the car for trips)
  8. weather radio or hand crank radio
What am I missing?  We live in a pretty mild climate and while we have cold weather, we don't tend to drive in adverse weather conditions and when it snows the entire town shuts down until the roads are clear.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Year

Well it is a new year and with that comes our "poor" time.  My husband doesn't work much in the winter because his job is mostly seasonal (not the winter season) so we are in what we call our "poor" time.  We will be fine though because we have stocked up on food and have plenty of it.  We will eat from our food storage and buy fresh produce and milk.  Then when he starts working again we will stock back up.  It is a great exercise in learning what we do eat and what we don't eat.  It is also great for food rotation. (obviously).

Here are a few recipes that we will be using this month:

Chicken Casserole
1 can cream of chicken or cream of anything really
1 cup of milk
1 cup of water
1 cup of rice
1 can of chicken
1 can of peas and carrots drained

Mix all together and pour in a casserole dish.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Salt and pepper at the table to taste.

Leftover Chicken Noodle Soup
take any left overs you have of chicken and cut in to small chunks
Any left overs of veggies (drained)
Chicken stock (use water and chicken boullion if you don't have stock)
Sauteed onions and celery and carrots if you have them

Combine together in a pot and bring to a boil.  Put in left over rice or break up pasta (any kind) and let cook until pasta is soft and serve.  While cooking you can season it with salt or pepper or any spices you think would be good.  This is a leftover soup so really anything goes.

Mac and Cheese

You can use a box mix if you have one and then add two slices of American cheese and let melt in with the finished product.  You can add left over ham to this also and make it a meal.

Ham and Eggs

We love breakfast stuff for dinner and have Ham slices and either scrambled eggs or fried eggs every once in a while.

Hope these help!! :)  Hey do me a favor and if you like what you are reading you don't need to leave a comment but click one of the buttons and tell me if you are liking these posts.  Are they interesting? Cool?