Monthly Archives: December 2013

  • Favorite Holiday Meal

    Favorite Holiday Meal

    My husband’s siblings live in our general area, so on Christmas afternoon our family tradition takes us all to my brother’s home for a pot-luck holiday meal. His family, with a few dollars contributed by each of us, provides a ham and a turkey. The rest of us bring the trimmings—rolls, salads, relish plates, potatoes, vegetables, and desserts. These can vary from year to year, but here are some favorites:

    Sour Cream Party Potatoes—(known locally as “Funeral Potatoes” because they’re so often included at after-funeral luncheons!): Shredded cooked potatoes  baked with Cream of Chicken Soup, sour cream, green onions (optional) and grated cheese, topped with a crunchy layer of crushed cereal or potato chips. (See recipe below)

    Cranberry Orange Relish: chopped fresh cranberries; ground orange with some peel, sugar, and nuts; mixed into a black cherry or raspberry gelatin base. It tastes like Christmas!

    Green Bean Casserole—the usual combination of green beans (fresh-cooked, frozen, canned, or reconstituted freeze dried) mixed with French’s Fried Onions and some Cream of Mushroom Soup. Some folks add cheese, others slivered almonds or mushrooms. A delicious variation is fresh-cooked asparagus bites with Cream of Asparagus Soup.

    Raisin Sauce for Ham—a slightly thickened sauce of ham drippings, pineapple juice, and brown sugar, with a few plumped raisins to spoon over sliced ham.

    Butter-browned Parsnips—parsnips peeled and cut like carrot sticks, boiled a few minutes until just tender, then lightly browned in a skillet with butter.

    Layered Salad—Bite-size lettuce bits layered with ranch dressing, frozen green peas (they’ll thaw), shredded Swiss cheese, crumbled crisp bacon, and chopped green onions. Chill in layered state and toss just before serving.

    Christmas Jello—red and green layers of gelatin (with fruits as desired), separated by a layer of cream cheese mixed with whipped topping (and a little pineapple if you like). Top with a dollop of whipped topping on each serving.

    Sweet Potatoes and Apples—alternate slices of each in a casserole dish, top with melted butter and brown sugar and bake until tender. Variations: sweet potatoes and pineapple dices, or broiled pineapple and apple slices.

    Chocolate Peppermint Dessert—using a recipe for cream-puffs, spread pastry on cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned and puffy. Spread generously with mixed instant chocolate pudding, then a layer of whipped topping, finished with finely-crushed peppermint candy. Cut into squares.

    And a few fondly-remembered dishes from my southern childhood:

    Macaroni and Cheese Casserole (and I’m not the only one—be sure to see Mac and Cheese: A Holiday Tradition--and by the way, don’t miss Apple Cinnamon French Toast—a Christmas Tradition—I’m trying that one this year!)

    Cornbread Stuffing for Turkey—Use the same seasonings as for bread-crumb stuffing: sage, thyme, onion, celery, and chicken or turkey broth--used to moisten crumbled cornbread instead of wheat bread crumbs. (See recipe below)

    Pecan Pie—whole pecans topping a rich filling made of dark Karo syrup and eggs

    Sweet Potato Pie—similar to pumpkin, but made with cooked, pureed sweet potatoes instead, making a slightly thicker texture.

    Recipe: “Sour Cream Party Potatoes” (the mostly-food-storage version)

    4 cups reconstituted Provident Pantry Hash Browns, drained

    1 tablespoon Provident Pantry Green Onions (or any of our Onions)

    1 ½ cups Provident Pantry Shredded Freeze-Dried Cheddar Cheese


    Whisk together in a medium saucepan:

    3 ½ cups cold water

    1/2 cup Provident Pantry Cream Sauce and Soup Base mix

    1 tablespoon Provident Pantry Chicken Broth mix

    ½ cup Provident Pantry Sour Cream Powder

    Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

    Fold drained potatoes into sauce. Add onions and cheese and stir well. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and top with crushed potato chips or crushed cereal such as crispy rice or corn flakes. Dot with Red Feather Butter. Bake at 350° F for ½ hour or until bubbly.


    Recipe: Cornbread Stuffing (the mostly-food-storage version)

    1 batch of Provident Pantry Corn Muffin Mix, prepared the day before if possible, cut in slices and allowed to dry out

    ½ cup Provident Pantry Chopped Onions, reconstituted

    ¾ cup Provident Pantry Celery, reconstituted

    1 ½ teaspoons sage

    1 teaspoon thyme

    1 teaspoon dried parsley

    ½ teaspoon Provident Pantry Black Pepper

    3 tablespoons Red Feather Butter or Clarified Butter

    About 2 cups Provident Pantry Chicken Broth, prepared

    In butter, sauté the onions and celery for a few minutes, then add seasonings. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Crumble the dry cornbread into fine pieces and add to skillet, stirring to absorb the liquid. Add more chicken broth as needed to get the consistency you like. If you’re planning to stuff a turkey or a chicken, make your stuffing a little on the dry side, as it will absorb juices from the bird. Otherwise, spoon stuffing into a casserole dish and cover. Keep warm until it’s time to serve.

    There you have it—some of my favorite traditional holiday foods. Do you have a favorite holiday meal? Leave a comment and let us know!

    Happy holidays!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: traditions, holiday, #10 cans, freeze dried, recipes, food storage

  • 6 Winning Designs from INDEX's Survival Structure Contest

    Six Survival Structures to Help you in a Disaster

    Having a practical survival structure option is crucial in an emergency. This is why the Dutch non-profit organization INDEX recently held a structural design contest (structural design refers to the creation of buildings, homes, furniture, etc.) that asked contestants to create structures that could meet the growing global challenges that we face daily—one of these challenges being natural disasters.

    INDEX’s mission is to find the best designers who can create structures to improve the quality of life and to make daily tasks easier for all people. Each year, INDEX holds one of the largest design contests in the world.

    The CNN article, “In the Middle of a Natural Disaster? These Designs will Help You” highlights six survival structure from INDEX’s 2013 contest—designs that pay particular attention to helping people alleviate the impact of natural disasters in their lives.

    According to CNN, these projects “include a broad range of devices designed to save lives by helping rescue workers or giving people caught up in the aftermath of a natural disaster a way to help themselves.”

    The most interesting survival structure to me was the “Eliodomestico”. Its  structure is similar to a water well system, but it has a “futuristic” twist. The “Eliodomestico” gathers and distills sea water using the power of the sun to make it clean and safe to drink.

    Check out how the Eliodomestico works by watching this video.

    The other designs range from thin skyscrapers used as housing for victims of natural disasters to inflatable rafts that can be used as furniture. Take a look at the other five designs that CNN highlights by checking out their article, “In the Middle of a Natural Disaster? These Designs will Help You”.

    How useful/functional do you think these structures would be in a flood, tornado, or tsunami? Let us know in the comments.


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    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness, shelter, skills, warmth

  • Natural Disasters and Gender: An Unexpected Factor

    Natural Disasters and Gender: An Unexpected Factor

    In 1970, the Bhola Cyclone hit Bangladesh, killing close to 300,000 people. Of every 15 victims, 14 were women. Since then, researchers have been looking into the cultural factors that affect genders differently in an emergency situation. In third world countries (historically hardest hit by natural disasters) for instance, social taboos might make it difficult for women to evacuate unescorted.

    While we may live in a community free from the same restrictions, other factors are less foreign, in the article, “Improving Women’s Odds in Disasters,” the World Bank reports that “most women in Bangladesh were home-based, and responsible for children and elders . . . They died in cyclones because they did not hear warnings, or because they had to fend for others as well as themselves.”

    The circumstances of these women are in some ways similar to what we may experience in the U.S. during an emergency. In a crisis, many women and men may put aside their own safety to lend a helping hand to a spouse, the elderly, children, neighbors, friends, and other loved ones. However, it is also important that in addition to helping others, we learn to help ourselves as well. Or in another circumstance, fathers or mothers who work to provide for their families and may not be home when an emergency strikes, thus it is important that all family members know how to be prepared. Our own preparedness education will allow us to not only help our loved ones, but will enable us to do so without jeopardizing our own health or safety.

    This is why for the last 40 years, Bangladesh has labored to involve women more in their emergency planning so that they can help themselves as well as others during an emergency. This increased effort has caused the gender gap in disaster casualties to dramatically decrease. One of the major lessons we can take away from emergency planning in Bangladesh is that no matter what our social, cultural, professional, or domestic circumstances may be, whole families (men, women, children, and the elderly) need to be educated about preparedness.

    Learn more about Bangladesh’s efforts to educate citizens about emergency preparedness in the World article, “Improving Women’s Odds in Disasters.” Then check out the following articles and resources to get started on your own family’s emergency plan.


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disaster, emergency preparedness, Survival, family, Emergency plan

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