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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Convenience Store(d) Food

[ Another great piece by Wendy at Home Is... ]

Some time ago, I went on a quest for convenience, but I didn’t want the kind of convenience that comes in a box from the store.

Actually, that’s exactly what I wanted, but what I didn’t want is modified food starch, disodium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides (to prevent foaming … seriously, is foamy pudding a bad thing?), Yellow 5, Yellow 6, or BHA (preservative).

I’m not a purist or anything, but in learning to eat locally, we had to unlearn our dependence on commercial food products. So, when I went looking for “convenience”, initially, it was just because I couldn’t verify where the stuff in the boxes had come from, but I could find local flour and salt for the mix, and milk and butter when I mixed the pudding, and using raw vanilla beans and local vodka, I can make my own vanilla extract. So, at first, it was all about keeping our diet as local as possible, which means we had to learn to eat a lot of “whole” foods.

But sometimes, it’s nice to have the convenience. You know?

pudding

Then, I started looking at what’s in those boxes …

… and, well, as Neo discovered, once you’ve eaten the red pill, there’s just no going back.

So, I went on a quest for “mixes” I could make myself, and I found a lot of them. Currently, I have in my cabinet, pancake mix and vanilla pudding mix. I have recipe for corn muffin mix, but I haven’t mixed it, yet :).

I found the Vanilla Pudding Mix recipe on Cooks.com.


It is:

1 1/2 c sugar
1 c instant nonfat dry milk
1 1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt

Stir ingredients together and store in a tightly covered container in a cool place.

For different flavors you can add:

Caramel: 1 1/2 c brown sugar in place of the granulated sugar.
Chocolate: add 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa.

Recipe yields about 5 c of mix.


To make the pudding:

2/3 c pudding mix
1 3/4 c warm milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Stir pudding mix into the milk in a saucepan, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles throughout. Reduce heat and cook over low heat for one minute. Add butter. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Chill before serving.

There are no preservatives - except what’s in the dry milk (Added later: I looked at the ingredient list, and the dry milk doesn’t have any preservatives, only the addition of vitamins A and D, but there is a concern as to how the dry milk is *made*). We used real butter and raw milk when we made the pudding, and added green food coloring (because it was St. Patrick’s Day ;).

It’s really rich! One could probably reduce the amount of sugar by a quarter and not miss it too much.

empty

When we first started our quest to localize our diet, I assumed it would mean giving up things like pudding, which is crazy, when I really think about it, because pudding wasn’t “invented” by Jell-O, but I don’t think my assumptions were too far removed from the average American’s. I never thought *I* could can tomato soup, or that *I* could make cinnamon rolls that are at least as good as anything I can buy.

But I have, to both, and the more I learn about cooking with whole ingredients, the more I realize that food production isn’t some magic created in the bowels of the Campbell Soup factory.

I’m a little embarrased that it’s taken me so long to get where I am with regard to my food preparation skills, but, as they say, “better late than never ….”

And even better than my learning these skills, is that my three youngest are learning right along side me.

They actually know that cinnamon rolls don’t come shrink wrapped from the grocery store, that milk comes from a cow’s udder (which they’ve seen), that “chicken” is an animal that lays eggs and not just a KFC product, that yogurt and cheese can be made in our kitchen using milk and heat and bacteria, that maple syrup started out as maple sap, that potatoes and carrots grow underground, and while money doesn’t, apples do grow on trees.

They may not be able to recite the Preamble to the Constitution (thanks, Schoolhouse Rock!), but they have a great deal more knowledge than I had at their ages.

And better, it’s knowledge that has value.

Of course, if you’ll give me a dollar, I’ll sing the Preamble for you :).


Original: http://henandharvest.com/?p=556

Bright Lights in Your Survival Garden?

Swiss chard is one of the easiest crops you can grow in your survival garden, and it’s quite nutritious as well. Pictured above is Bright Lights Swiss chard, a very popular variety that produces colorful long stems that will amaze you. Your kids will love the various bright colors. I’ve grown this variety, and I’m not kidding when I say you’ll see electric yellows, pinks, crimsons, oranges, purples, whites, and greens. Some of the stems will keep their color even after cooking.

Several features make Swiss chard easy and fun to grow. The seeds are large enough to handle easily. If you’re square foot gardening, you can plant four per square foot. This makes Swiss chard ideal for containers, too. Chard will grow from spring through fall, and you can even over winter it with protection, as I’ve done in a greenhouse, though it’s not known as a hardy plant.

Leaves are ready to harvest 60 days after planting. One thing I like best about Swiss chard is that it’s a “cut and come again” crop. Cut off leaves to within a couple inches of the crown, and it will grow back to produce more. It’s an ideal low maintenance crop.

Swiss chard can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s quite tasty in a fresh salad or cooked like spinach with a little butter. The flavor is mild, not strong like some greens. A cup contains one gram of fiber, one gram of protein, 44% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A and 18% of vitamin C. It also contains calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

When you’re ready to order Bright Lights, click on the picture above, and you’ll be taken to the page on the Park Seed site featuring Bright Lights Swiss chard. Of course, Park’s has other varieties, if you’d like something a little more conventional and less flashy. There are 125 seeds to a packet, and you’ll want to get several packets to have on hand.

You don’t have to be a gourmet gardener or cook to put some color and nutrition in your survival garden. Grow some Swiss chard, and you’re sure to have a supply of excellent, easy growing, nutritious greens.

Foot Blisters

After a major disaster (think Hurricane Katrina), chances are you'll have to walk a long distance. If you haven't prepared, you may end up with a major blister-and-blood situation.

A blister is irritating at best, and when they get advanced, they can be crippling, taking days to heal (while you sit still, unable to continue your travels). It will take even longer to heal if you have to walk in knee-deep in sewage water (again, Katrina).

What is a blister? According to Wikipedia, "A blister is a small pocket of fluid within the upper layers of the skin, typically caused by forceful rubbing (friction), burning, freezing, chemical exposure or infection. Most blisters are filled with a clear fluid called serum or plasma. However, blisters can be filled with blood (known as blood blisters) or with pus (if they become infected)." If they become infected and are left untreated, it could actually be life-threatening.

They often show up on heels or toes, but can occur anywhere, especially if you are wearing new shoes or boots.

How to Prepare:
  • Shoes: Choose shoes that are strong, lightweight, and sturdy enough to walk miles and miles and miles. Break them in as soon as you get them, but don't wear them out. I often walk around the house in my new shoes for days before they even hit the streets. This includes boots, sneakers, and casuals. I do NOT recommend flip flops or thongs for use during an emergency.
  • Socks: You really need socks that will wick away the sweat, keeping your feet dry and clean. Keep several changes of socks in your supplies, and change whenever they get wet. Some people wear thin tight socks directly on the foot (to minimize any rubbing), then a heavier pair on top of those.

The instant you discovered a blister, deal with it. Leave it alone and you'll regret it. Your goal is to stop the rubbing.

  • Stop walking.
  • Take off your shoes or boots.
  • Dry out or get out some clean dry socks.
  • Apply to the blister a piece of first-aid tape, "second skin", duct tape, or something else that's just for blisters, like moleskin. Cover a larger area than hurts so that if the dressing comes off, it will pull off the tender skin. Do NOT use a regular bandage because the non-stick part will keep rubbing the bad spot (I had been doing this wrong for a long time!).
  • Put your clean/dry socks on.
  • Don't leave the bandage or tape on too long. It's a good idea to change it every hour or so, to prevent moisture accumulating under the tape, which will cause even more problems.
  • If it gets really bad, make a little doughnut from moleskin and apply to the blister, keeping the blister inside the hole in the doughnut. This will even more minimize the rubbing.

Notes:

  • If you can rest for a couple of days and not keep on walking, don't pop the blister. The liquid inside will reabsorb and will heal naturally.
  • If you can't rest and blister hurts, clean the area gently but thoroughly. Carefully pop around the edge of the blister with a sanitized/sterilized (tip in a match flame) needle. Gently press the liquid out. Leave the flap of skin in place, and cover with a large bandage and moleskin.
  • If your blister pops, stop and clean gently. Make sure all dirt and grime gets cleaned out. Lift off the flap of skin if necessary, replacing after it's clean and dry. Cover with a sterile banage then cover than with duct tape or other first aid tape or moleskin. Watch for infection (redness).

I've had my share of blisters, and have often treated them incorrectly, leaving scars in their wake. Here's just a tidbit of info that I hope makes your travels easier and painless.



Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/04/foot-blisters.html

Recipe: Salt Rising Bread

I was re-reading "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder to create a test for VHTS. It kept mentioning salt-rising bread, so I looked it up. This is a bread developed in the early to mid 1800's (1830-1840's) by pioneers who couldn't get a hold of "already-made yeast"- either because they couldn't afford it or because they were too isolated. This takes planning, and a willingness for a stinky house, but if you don't have yeast and want a risen bread, this recipe will be great for you!

You need: 1 medium Irish potato, sliced and placed in a big jar.

Add:
1 tablespoon cornmeal (white is preferred)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water

Directions:
Cover and let rise in warm place until morning. Place in a box surrounded by a heating pad on warm if your house is too cold. If mixture is foamy and “smelly” the next morning (which is what you want!), pour the liquid into your mixing bowl and throw away the potatoes.

Mix 2 cups very warm water with 1/2 cup shortening (we like olive for a savory or walnut for a "sweet"). Then add 1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons sugar, and 5 cups of flour. Combine with the stinky rising mixture to make a stiff batter. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

Work in another 6 cups of flour to make a soft dough. Lightly knead. Divide into 3 portions. Let them rise for 10 minutes. Knead for 3 minutes. Place in greased pans. Let rise until mixture comes to top of the pan. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 25 minutes.

This doesn't really translate into a bread machine.

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams


Original: http://www.survival-cooking.com/2009/04/recipe-salt-rising-bread.html

Recipe: Bread Bowl for Stews, et al

I was watching TV the other morning, and saw a wonderful commercial for Red Lobster - a bread bowl with a soup (or something) in it! Oh, yum! It got me thinking... that's a good idea. One less dish to wash (which is always a good thing) and a fun way to present your meal. So I searched and tried out this recipe. Strong enough to hold chili, chowder, soup, stews and even fun to present a salad this way!

This starts out in your bread machine (dough cycle) but you can do it by hand if you'd like.

Ingredients:
1 cup water
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Directions:
Measure all ingredients carefully. Add first 5 ingredients in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the directions for your machine. Select dough/manual cycle and start it. Don't use delay - it won't make the dough right. Don't bake yet! Using floured hands, remove the dough from the bread machine pan. Cover with a lightly moist towel and let rest on a lightly floured surface.

Use pan spray to oil the outsides of six 10-oz ramekins or custard cups (must be oven safe!). On a sturdy ungreased baking sheet, place the ramekins/custard cups upside down. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, pat (or roll!) each piece into 7-inch circle. Lift up and shape the dough circles over the outsides of the cups. Don't let the dough curl under the edge of the cup becaue it will bake onto the edge of the cup, making it difficult to remove the bread bowl from the cup. If any gets onto the edge, use a sharp knife to cut it away. Cover these with a moist towell and let rise in warm place for 15 to 20 minutes (until slightly puffy/risen).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water (to make an eggwash). Brush the eggwash carefully over the dough. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. After taking out of oven, use clean towels to carefully lift bread bowls from custard cups (cups and bread bowls will be hot). Invert the bread bowls and cool on a wire rack.

Alternative:
Add a bit of garlic powder or Italian seasoning to flour before mixing. Delicious when serving pasta with marinara sauce.


= = = =


I'd like to know YOUR opinions of bread bowls.


Original: http://www.survival-cooking.com/2009/04/recipe-bread-bowl-for-stews-et-al.html