Saturday, October 31, 2009

Home Food Storage

A handful of years ago I started becoming interested in stockpiling food. Well, not going overboard, rather taking advantage of sales and stocking up on certain items that would last a long time such as canned tuna, canned tomatoes, canned veggies, pastas, rice, beans, sugar, baking soda/powder etc,...

I read a book by Ellie Kay called Shop, Save and Share which was about being a good steward with your money, and stocking up on pantry items, and being able to share with others out of that surplus. If I'm not mistaken (I've read a lot from different sources on this subject) there was also info on rotating your stock and planning to use items in your menu planning before the best by dates.

Our family had been no stranger to hard times hitting, and as we were determined to keep me home for the children and staying a one-income family, this was of great interest to me and helped me have a better system for what I already practiced. There was a time I was able to bag up a few bags of groceries for a neighbor having a difficult period.

Other sources that helped me out in a jam is an article by Dee Ann Guzman titled, Meals for Hard Times. I especially appreciated this woman's gentle and spiritual comforting throughout her article. This is one I have printed, put into page protector and slipped into my binder.

Have you heard of the Hillbilly Housewife? She has a few resources that were of great interest to me when our budget was very tight for our large family. While these ideas may not be ideal I believe she did a great job of providing emergency and low cost ideas when stretching to feed a family under un-ideal circumstances. Her site provides a $45 emergency menu and a $70 low cost menu which both feed a family of 4-6.

Because of having had several difficult economic experiences, and growing up similarly as a child, the idea of preparation became very relevant to me, especially watching the world around us get more unstable. Of course, we are not in fear, as Heavenly Father certainly watches over his children, but may not part of that possibly be teaching to prepare ahead? I think so. Whether it ever comes in need or not, I would rather have and not need, than to be in want and not have it.

I have purchased a number of superpails from Emergency Essentials about a year ago. Take a peek and see how many options there are, which are specifically packaged for long-term storage, complete with oxygen absorber to keep the food fresh. They have everything from legumes and grains, to reconstituting butter, cheese sauce and tomato sauce! These can be very pricey, it was definitely a tax refund decision for our family, as was our homeschool curriculum! :D

I even found a great cookbook about cooking from long term storage, and here is an article on just that with a number of recipes to get an idea of what it is like. Very neat stuff!!

Now of course, the recommendation is to have a year's supply of food and water. This would come in handy in the case of an emergency, but let's face it if the world goes completely nuts it will only do so much. Again, I would rather have and be able to share than to be in want and have not. So, while things are going well for us, this is what I work on for our family.

My grandmother bought me a hand crank grain mill this year. Yes, it would be a lot of work, and many hands would be required (I remember reading about that in Little House with the coffee grinder and the wheat..WHEW!!!) but should we be without electricity we could still use our supply.

A simple Coleman camping stove was picked up at a flea market by us last year to have on hand as well. After all having all this food, but no electricity to light our stove would put a damper on the whole plan!

One last resource, I have found the advice on Provident Living very wise and helpful when going about starting and maintaining home food storage. I have used it quite a bit, and there are even calculators so you can estimate what amounts you should store for your particular family size.

I am still working on my long-term and shorter term home food storage. Little by little, just like the busy ants.

Pro 30:25 The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer;

Sunday, October 11, 2009

~Harvest Birthdays~

This weekend we celebrated Aiden's 5th and Felicia's 15th birthdays. We planned a Harvest themed birthday party. We had baked ziti, kielbasa with peppers, onions and Barbecue sauce, buttered garlic ziti for the picky bunch, garlic bread, cheese pizza along with pepperoni pizza, a variety of chips and sodas, as well as 100% juice. Ooh, let's not forget my caramel apples!

Ryan ended up sick with a fever the day of the party, so 17 people that were supposed to join us did not come for not wanting to get sick themselves. We decided to go ahead and celebrate anyhow since we already had all the food and it would not last for next weekend. Incidentally, after the Tylenol kicked in, Ryan wanted to join in. Today he is totally back to himself, so whatever he had was fast moving thankfully!!

The first order of business after eating lunch was apple bobbing. Boy was this a F-U-N activity! We had a barrel of laughs as each took his or her turn. Even though it was just us, my daughter's friend, my eldest daughter's friend, a neighbor, and Mike's brother's family there was still enough of us for a fun time.

Next up was cider donut eating from a string. No hands allowed!!! We secured a rope going from one end of the swing set to the other, clothesline style. Then we hung the donuts with ribbons from the rope. All the children lined up and had a rip roaring hilarious time trying to eat these without the aid of their hands.

We ended up letting Aiden and Felicia open their gifts on the patio and kind of rushed that part along since it became very dark cloudy and a few drops began to fall sporadically.

We then ushered everyone inside for cake. We got a great big cake, very unique and perfect for our harvest theme. It had a tree off to the side with all the pretty fall colored leaves. I added Brach's pumpkin creme candies along the bottom for a pumpkin patch look, and some candy indian corn (it has brown instead of yellow) along the side border. We sang the song, the candles were blown out and the cake and ice cream served up.

Surprisingly, as ominous as the weather looked, (and it did look weird, I even took a picture of it because the trees looked silver as the leaves were turned in the increasing wind, and the sky looked slate gray) it cleared up again very quickly and we headed back outside to play.

I had a quart mason jar filled with candy indian corn and Brach's candy pumpkins. Each guest was to take a guess at how many were in the jar, and the guesser that came closest without going over won. There were 190 candies in the jar, and uncle Justin won with his guess of 144.

Every child got to take a cone we made with scrapbook paper filled with goodies home, and also pick a pumpkin from our "patch" in the garden to take with him/her. What looked like a disaster to start with, ended up being a memorable fun birthday and my son didn't even know that anything was off. He had the best birthday, and my daughter had expressed the same. It made me thankful that they are easy to please, and can find pleasure in smaller scale things. What a blessing that was to me!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday is back, I sure missed it!!!

Friday is our grocery shopping day, we do no formal school on this day. Instead, we meet my mother and take a nice drive through the pretty country to do our shopping together. We go to at least one of my two favorite country stores. Today I also stopped by a farm stand at the side of the road off of the seller's driveway. For $20 I got 3 butternut squashes, 5 pumpkins, 8 ears of corn, 6 HUGE potatoes named "Chef's special" LOL, 4 green peppers and 4 smallish tomatoes.

After this we went on to the country store to get the produce I still needed such as apples, 50 lbs. potatoes, indian decorative corn, lettuce, cukes, grapes and bananas. Afterward we went to the regular grocery store to get what we still needed on our list. Along the way I shot a few photos of the charm that keeps drawing me out to the country whenever possible, even if just for a short visit. Hope you enjoy the view.

You may wonder the point of this photo. The subject is too far away, but if you click the photo to enlarge you will see some flying geese. I was too slow to get them while overhead, and sadly they didn't wait to pose. This is one of those shots that is my "GOAL" to get close up. I will have to try again!