Oct 28, 2008

What should I do with all this food?

I've had food storage for as long as I can remember as a young married person. It wasn't much but as our family grew so did our food storage. These last two years my husband and I have really tried to obtain our full year supply of food, water and fuel for our family. We don't have a decent basement in our house. So we have decided to transform one of our bedrooms into our food storage room. At times it seems to become our catch all room and I had decided that I was done walking over everything just to get a can of tuna. So yesterday my husband was in town and we decided to completely rearrange the room. I love it now. I thought I would share what we did.

After cleaning out everything that didn't belong in there, I could finally walk around. We decided that only food would be allowed in the room. So all my canning items, dehydrators, grinders and mixers had to find a new home. That freed up alot of space. I have these awesome shelves that I purchased at Costco that I used. They are really well made and rather inexpensive. I think they were less than $60.00 a unit. Each unit comes with 5 adjustable shelves. And the thing I love more than anything is the fact that each shelf will individually hold up to 1500 lbs.

I have rearranged my storage room so many times its not funny. I always think I have the solution but I never do. I will count up everything, write it down in hopes that I can enter it into the computer and print it out. I never actually get to it and by the time I do the quantity of items have changed or I have added more to it. So this weekend my brilliant husband had the perfect idea. And I have to admit I think it is going to work. (Don't tell him I even admitted that!) He went along and made a grid like system on our shelves. The first set of shelves is labeled A. The second set of shelves B and so on down the line. Then he marked each row with a number. We decided that the top shelf would be called Top. So we have rows 1,2,3,4,5 and top.

He then brought in a piece of wood and placed it across two of our water barrels. He brought in an old computer that we no longer use and hooked it up. He told me I don't have and excuse anymore to not enter my items into the computer. He made it so handy for me and I just love him for that. He helped me put all my items together the way I wanted them. We counted them up and added them to the computer. I also added to my spreadsheet where they were on the grid. I know that all my quart jars of canned food is on the first shelves of A,B and C. And all my pints are on the second shelves of A,B and C. All my baking items are on C3 and all my fruits that are open cases are on E3 Etc. It makes it so easy to find things especially if I have to send one of my kids in to get something. I can just say go get me some tuna from D4. I just love it. Hope this gives you some ideas of your own. Let me know what works for you.

Oct 25, 2008

Canning Hamburger

I found a really easy way to can hamburger and I thought I would share it with you. I found it rather inexpensive to do and it tastes great! I love the convenience of having cooked hamburger. Especially on nights that seem crazy, and believe me it seems to be happening more often than not.

You will want to take your hamburger (I usually do about 10 pounds at a time.) and season it with whatever spices you like. Mix this right into the raw meat.

  • Hamburger: (that I would like to add to a casserole or something) I would add dehydrated onions, a bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Taco meat: I would add taco seasoning

You will want to take mason jars that are clean and sterilized. Running them through the dishwasher is a great way to clean them. I let them cool a bit so that I can handle them without getting burnt. I prefer to use pints over quarts myself. 1 Pint = 1 Pound, 1 Quart = 2 Pounds of raw hamburger. My daughter Katelynn is helping me can meat in these pictures. She loves helping me. She is filling up the jars with the raw hamburger. Trying her hardest not to get the rims of the jars dirty.
Once we have the jar full of hamburger. We use a non metallic spatula to get out all the air bubbles. This is a very important step especially when canning meats because we don't want pockets of air trapped in our jars.

Once we have the jars full of seasoned hamburger it is very important to make sure that your rims of the jars are really clean. I clean mine off with a clean dish rag dipped in vinegar. This helps to loosen up any oils from the hamburger that may have gotten onto the jars. Simmer your lids to ensure a good seal. Remember not to boil your seals. They need to be simmered or else they can split. Add your rings and tighten rather loosely. You don't want your rings to be so tight that a seal is unable to form. It just needs to be finger tight.

You will need to have pressure canner to can all meats. A pressure cooker is not a water bath. You will need to process these at 15 pounds of pressure for 75 min. for pints and 90 min. for quarts. Please let me know if you try this and what you think.

Remember you are not limited to just canning hamburger. You can do this with sausage, ground turkey, chicken, ham. Experiment a little. You will realize its is alot easier than you ever imagined.

Oct 24, 2008

My Bread

I finally found the perfect bread. My family loves it and it is fast and easy to make. I start with about 6 cups of white wheat and place it into my grinder and grind it all up into flour. I like to grind it fresh each time i make bread. This helps retain the nutritional value of the wheat. I like using white wheat but you can use red wheat instead but it will make a much denser and heavier bread. I also use 2 500 mg. tablets of Vitamin C. I just go and grind it right in with my flour. A dough enhancer is a powder that is supposed to make your dough smoother and is what commercial bakers often use to obtain the smooth textured bread you buy in the store. My bread doesn't last long since we eat it quickly, but it is supposed to help with shelf life as well! I like using the Vitamin C because it is a natural enhancer.

After my wheat is all ground into flour I am ready to start making my bread.

I add in my mixer:

4 cups of really hot tap water. (not boiling but hot)
1/2 Cup Powdered Milk
1/2 Cup Oats ( I like to use a 7 grain rolled mix)
1/2 Cup Oil
1/2 Honey
3 Cups of whole wheat flour

I now turn on my mixer and mix until it is smooth and starting to bubble a bit. Then I add:

2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. Salt
4-5 Cups of whole wheat flour
1/4 Cup Vital wheat gluten

Many who have made my bread have asked me why their bread doesn't turn out like my bread and I ask them how much flour did you actually use? If you will only use the 8-9 cups of flour your bread will turn out wonderful. If you continue to add flour it will be dense and dry.

The key to good bread is kneading. I kneed my bread for a minimum of 10 minutes in my mixer. It will be very sticky and you will think.... How is this ever going to be good bread. Trust me it will. DON'T ADD MORE FLOUR. It will be so sticky that you will probably have to wash your hands again after you are done placing it in the pans.

While my dough is kneading I turn my oven onto the lowest setting on the oven. Mine is 170 degrees. I prepare 3 loaf pans and I spray them with Pam. You could also put butter or shortning on them. Once my bread is done kneading I place a small amount of oil on my counter. Never flour and I kneed it a bit more by hand and then I cut it into three equal parts and shape it into my pans.

Place the pans in the oven and check it in about 20-30 min. or until it is doubled. When it is doubled I turn the oven up to 350 degrees and bake it for 40-45 min.
Once they are done I brush the tops with some butter and let them cool. It will be all gone before you know it and will be time to make some more. ~Enjoy!~

Oct 23, 2008

Red vs, White

Many of you have been asking me what is the difference between white and read wheat?
White wheat was introduced into the US in the early 90's. It has the same nutritional value as red wheat. White wheat tends to be lighter in color and in its texture. I love making pizza dough and french bread with my white wheat. It always comes out so lite and much more airier than when baked with red wheat. I always bake my bread with white wheat. White wheat is naturally sweeter than red wheat and this means we don't need as much sugar. I do prefer my cereals and bulgar to be made with the red wheat. It has a nice nutty flavor and isn't as sweet if I am adding it to soups and as a meat replacement or filler. If you havent had the chance to use white wheat I would go out and buy some and just experiement.

Oct 21, 2008

Why do I need food storage?

You might be asking this very question, wondering why you might need food storage. Well here is a list of ideas why you might consider having at least 1-3 months of food supply on hand:

  • Boy Scout Motto: Be prepared.
  • Major snowstorm strikes your area. You are snowed in for day.
  • Hurricane/Major storms hit and there is no other food supply for days or for miles.
  • War closes down transportation of food and supplies.
  • Flooding and/or drought affect the crops this year and production is not what it should be to meet demand.
  • It costs a lot to go to the store everyday - Especially with the high gas prices.
  • If you have a sudden craving, you could probably do something about it if you had food storage containing your favorite ingredients.
  • Debt doesn’t allow you to purchase much food for a month or possibly longer.
  • Loss of job or income.
  • It’s a good idea to have food on hand.
  • Our church leaders advise it.
  • And last, you could sustain life, if you needed to because you were prepared