Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Lord's Compassion - They shall "eat and be satisfied"

The Lord's Compassion was evidenced every day with the children of Israel.  Daily, manna was provided and when the people complained God provided meat and water.  There were many people who refused to be nurtured by the Lord and asked to go back to Egypt where they knew they could eat at the hands of their oppressors.  They would never be allowed to cross the Jordan where milk and honey flowed freely.  Their children who would be born in the wilderness and be raised with a dependence on the Lord would realize that privilege.

I wonder if we must be willing to realize that everything we have comes at the hands of God.  He feeds us from day to day nurturing our bodies and our souls.   Then out of that humble reality God asks the Israelites to remember those who want and extend the mercy they have received at His hands to others: "and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee..."  (Deuteronomy 14:29)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Inflation - Prepare in order to Give

If anyone is not quite convinced that storing food is important, maybe he needs to get outside himself a little.  The people hit hardest by inflation are the poorest in our communities.  I am thinking of the Paralyzed Veterans, the elderly, and the homeless.  If the few bucks one has buys less and less then there is less and less to eat and live on.  If we as citizens, realize that this Great Country can only remain great if the federal budget is brought under control then, we too as Great Citizens will step up to the plate and provide for those in need.  A wise friend summed it well when he said the needs of the poor need to be met by the neighbor, the local community/church  then the state and finally the federal government.  I feel a personal need to make sure I have more on hand to provide the basics.

The Mormon Church just increased prices at their storehouses - 11 to 49% depending on the item.  This is unusual because the church has such large stores that small bumps in the economy are usually ridden out.  For these large price increases one has to think that inflation is hitting as a result of the large deficit spending of the last two years.  To substantiate that trend gas is predicted to be $5.00 a gallon by memorial day.  The dollar is weaker and prices are increasing to compensate.  Preparing is literally a day at a time and the time is now.

Bountiful Baskets -- "I'm the bread maker"

The question was asked whether I think Bountiful Baskets is a good idea - I say yes.   From what I have read at and from talking to those who have used the Co-op the fresh produce is aways good, the variety is like having Christmas delivered to your house each week or every two weeks and I like the whole viewpoint that the smaller growers are able to market their produce at greatly reduced prices.  Getting 20-25 pounds of produce for $15 is a good deal in most places.  Right now this Co-op is in TX, AZ, UT, CO, WY, ID, MT, WA, OR, and OK.  I sent an email asking if Omaha could be a delivery as well - We'll see what can happen if we link arms an use creative ways to buy and sell wholesome food.

My 9 year old daughter helped me make bread last week.   She was so pleased with herself and the delicious bread she exclaimed, "you can be the cook all summer, but I'm the bread maker."

We moved 40 cubic yards of mulch this week.  I made a large batch of chicken soup with rice and a large batch of applesauce muffins.  This helped us have food when we returned indoors after moving wheelbarrows for hours.  It is nice to have a meal when you need it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cooking outdoors - "Mommy you are the Best"

Last week a heavy spring snow fell.  The snow made perfect snowmen that lasted for only half a day before melting.  As we planned the day, I gave instructions to build a fire in the portable fire pit, get the marshmallows and make some hobo dinners for lunch.  As the planning concluded, my 6 year old threw her arms around my neck and said,"You're the best Mom."   I marveled, how could cooking over the fire be such a special event for her?

Once our hobo dinners of polish sausage, a slice of chicken breast, potatoes and carrots were pulled from the coals, the reaction of one or two children was a little more reserved "This is burnt."  "Do I have to eat this."  For fire cooking by my standards, it wasn't burned.  I took a deep breath,  smiled and said "Yes, it will build intestinal fortitude.  Eat and Relish every bite."

On another front I was thinking of Japan - what would I do if there was no water, no electricity, no gas and a lot of rubble?  One option open is to cook with fire.  In fact there are cultures all over the world who cook over open fires every day in heat or cold.  I made a mental note to build more fires and learn to use my dutch oven. 

Breakfast:  yogurt with granola, carrot sticks and celery sticks, fresh fruit of choice
Lunch:  sandwiches with fresh bread
Dinner:  Mashed red potatoes, sausage gravy, green beans, cabbage/apple/walnut/raisin salad, milk

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting Started/ Getting the Job done

In less than 6 weeks during the summer of 2010 I felt like we had accumulated enough food to keep us alive for three months - if meagerly.  For the remaining 6 weeks I would be saving money to buy a hand grinder, and adding more variety to the menu.  The first week we pretented to not have anything on our shelves.  I bought household cleaners, personal  hygene items, spices, and a few staples: rice, flour, and wheat.  a few chicken breasts were the only meat I had for a week.  We made a big pot of chicken soup with rice and made it through the week.  Even this exercise was valuable because hungry children can be fed for very little with a savory soup that has very little meat in it.

Some lessons I learned:

1)  Dedicate a percentage of your meal budget to fresh milk, eggs, and produce.  The rest of your food money goes to  buying shelf stable items and supplies.   Some people who tried to buy a months supply of shelf stable food last summer, found they were lacking fresh foods and by the end of the month they were disenfranchised.

2)  The more money available to buy groceries at once the better.  Our food storage drastically improved when the pay check began coming once a month instead of every two weeks.  The purchasing power of $400 is better than $100.  More foods can be purchased in bulk and at the best price per ounce.

3)  Share and co-opt to get the best price then divide it if you are single or have a small family.

4)  Buy what you eat.  One man I know will not eat anything but a frozen burrito.  He is perfectly happy with those.  I would encourage him to buy frozen burritos and hope the electricity doesn't go with his job.  Storing 90-270 burritos (planning on 1 a day to 3 a day) is not prohibitive.  It would fit in a small freezer and he would be prepared.  Then I would work on learning how to make burritos from flour and beans.  These are long term storage items, the basic ingredients of a bean burrito.  The long term storage items require no freezing and could be cooked over a fire if in dire straights.

Which brings me to tomorrow's post - building a fire and cooking on it.

Wheat versus Pasta

An excellent question was raised "Why buy pasta when homemade whole wheat pasta can be made?  Is there a nutritional benefit to the whole grain noodles?"  The nutritional content on a box of lasagna noodles indicated 25% folate, 20% niacin, 15% riboflavin, 30% Thiamin, 10% iron and 7 grams of protein.  I feel this is good nutritional content - granted the pasta has been fortified and has non of the  fiber that would be found in the whole wheat.  I love home made noodles, I love home made whole wheat noodles but the practicality of the matter is that I don't make time to make my pasta.  It takes a little more effort than turning on the mixer to mix bread.  If one has a pasta maker, the process is faster to whip out beautiful spaghetti noodles, flat lasagna noodles, or linguini.

There is storage that is 1) emergency 2) short term - 3months or so 3) intermediate 1-2 years and 4) long term lasting 10-30 years.  I use all these products all the time - the long term storage items are whole kernel wheat, rice, corn, oatmeal, beans.  I store tons of these items in plastic buckets with oxygen packets.  I rotate them a bucket at a time.  The intermediate items I don't store as much - like pasta.   I watch for the sales and then stock up.  These items can also be used in multiple dishes.  I try not to store too many things that can only be used in one main meal - for instance taco shells.  Our family doesn't eat enough hard tacos to make it worth while to store more that  3 boxes of shells.  (That is a generous 3 month supply for us.)  I found they taste stale when I was forced to eat them during our three month adventure.  So wisdom is necessary when planning convenience into the menu.  The Goal is to have enough of the foods that your family normally uses on hand to last three months.

Week Four

It was decided to not buy anything this week but a gallon of milk and use all the rest of the produce left over this coming week.   For one person we spent  $110 for the month  while preparing generous, well balanced meals.

This is the process by which we build our food reserves.  Last summer I started with 25 pounds of rice in May.  That sack lasted me all three months.  In the first 4 weeks peanut butter, tuna and potatoes all came on sale.  Those supplies lasted me 6 months.  Under normal use, buying a case (12) jars of a sale item is often enough to last a long time.  The expense is usually 10-20 dollars.  (This amount of money can be found easily in skipping a couple of fast food meals or eliminating the potato chips, pop, cookies or even ice cream (if one absolutely has too!)

Shopping List Week 3

Foods that are still on hand from the last two weeks shopping (As is teh case each meal isn't using all of 2 vegetables or 1 fruit exchange):

cabbage, broccoli, carrots, spaghetti, potatoes 5-7, rice, 4 eggs, tuna, beef, sausage, 1/2 bag beans, chicken - 1 breast

bananas (6-10 servings)       $   2.5
apples (13 count in 2#bag)       1.60
spinach tossed green               1.50
canned tomatoes                     1.40

bread(16 slices)                       2.50
cereal (1 box)                          2.40

milk (1gallon)                          2.20
yogurt plain 24 oz                     2.50

Investment foods

raisins   (11 servings)               3.00
walnuts (16 ounces)                 6.00

This list demonstrates how even one well planned list can give  3-4 weeks worth of food.  We can have the foods that we normally eat in our homes.  We can have more than one week's worth of food on our shelves - including our refrigerator shelf.  Each week we expand the staples that we have on hand to add variety to any number of dishes.

Shopping list Week 2 for One Person

Starting with very limited food on hand, we purchased some basics last week that represented all food groups and began building reserves.  This week we will spending less than $30 and expand the variety of menu possibilities.

Produce:(on hand from last week broccoli, cabbage, lettuce)

oranges (10 servings)                                   $ 2.50
apples  (3# for 10 apples)                               1.30
carrots ( 2 # - 10 servings)                               1.60
tomato canned 2-3 servings                              1.40

Starch: (on hand from last week: oatmeal, potatoes, rice already on hand)

pasta 16 servings                                            2.00
bread ( 16 slices)                                             2.50


milk (1 gallon)                                               $2.20

Protein: (ham left over and chicken left over)

beans ( 1 pound - 14 servings)                           1.70
sausage (1 #)                                                 $2.25
beef ( 6 small steaks
          that can be cut in half for 12 servings)   $5.60
tuna 1 can 2-3 servings                                 $  .70

Investment Items:  (These are long term shelf stable and now we an make stir fry- broccoli beef, chicken or sausage and with a carrot/broccoli/cabbage.  Thicken the juices in the bottom of the pan with a teaspoon of corn starch.  Add soy sauce for flavoring.)

soy sauce                                                        $1.40
corn starch                                                      $1.50