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  • Mountain House Review (Part 2): Stroganoff, Teriyaki, and Noodles and Chicken

    mh-classic-bucket Mountain House ReviewWhat’s an emergency? Most of us think of natural disasters: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes.

    But what about when mom is sick and dad isn’t around and five kids ages 3 to 13, most of whom have various dietary restrictions, need to be fed?

    That happened this week. Fortunately, during the last two weeks we’ve been trying meal pouches from the Mountain House® Classic Assortment (SKU: FC B395). The bucket contains 12 pouches of six different meals. Two pouches of Beef Stroganoff to the rescue.


    Beef Stroganoff

    “What’s Beef Stroganoff?” one of my children asked.

    “It’s ground beef and noodles,” I replied.

    beef-stroganoff Mountain House ReviewNotice I neglected to mention the traditional mushrooms and sour cream. I didn’t want them to run away from the table, screaming, before they’d tried it. Some of my children are incredibly picky. I have an autistic, 5-year-old son who, until last year, ate fewer than 10 foods. I also have a special needs 11-year-old who, at nearly every dinner, informs me that she’s “allergic” to everything on the table.

    She was the only one who didn’t try the Beef Stroganoff. Everyone else liked it. Though the rehydrated mushrooms were large enough to be obvious, they apparently looked enough like ground beef to fool the children. I later caught my 5-year-old sitting on the table next to the serving bowl, shoving stroganoff into his mouth with both hands.

    We liked the sauce’s flavor, probably because it was more cream-of-mushroom soup than sour cream. The mushrooms were not the least bit rubbery, which, frankly, surprised me considering their dehydrated-rehydrated status.

    However, the best part of the meal for me was its ease and speed. I’d been sick all day and wasn’t up to cooking. Two packets of Beef Stroganoff and a salad made a quick, healthy, tasty dinner that cost less than a trip to a fast food restaurant.


    Noodles and Chicken

    noodles-and-chicken Mountain House ReviewAn advantage of variety buckets like this one is that it allows family members to realize they actually enjoy food they normally wouldn’t try. My 9-year-old fruit hater discovered she loved the Granola with Blueberries and Milk. My 3-year-old little carnivore learned that the noodles in the Lasagna were as good as the meat. (You can find my review of those products here.)

    Occasionally, however, it means running across a food that one person loves but the rest don’t.

    I thought the Noodles and Chicken tasted great. The noodles were tender but not soggy, the chicken was flavorful and the sauce was thick and spiced perfectly.

    However, a few months ago, my children simultaneously decided they didn’t like chicken. (I wish they’d made that decision before I bought the 40-pound box of frozen chicken breasts, rather than after.)

    My 3-year-old was the only one who ate more than a bite. She asked for seconds. The rest asked for hot dogs.

    Food storage does no good if no one likes it. The nice thing about this Classic Meal Assortment bucket, and other food storage buckets, is it allows you to try many different entrées. Then, when you see what family members like, you can buy pouches or larger cans of their favorites. You’re not wasting food or money.


    Chicken Teriyaki with Rice

    chicken-teriyaki mountain house reviewI’ve discovered one way to get my kids to (occasionally) eat chicken: put it in Chinese-style recipes. I served one of the two Chicken Teriyaki with Rice pouches according to the package instructions. I made stuffed egg rolls using the other pouch. The children who didn’t like chicken ate the egg rolls, and the ones who didn’t like egg rolls ate the Chicken Teriyaki with rice. Success.


    Stuffed Chicken Teriyaki Egg Rolls


    1 package coleslaw mix


    3 cups shredded cabbage and

    ¼ cup grated carrot

    2 Tablespoons soy sauce

    2 Tablespoons water

    2 teaspoons ground ginger

    2 teaspoons garlic powder

    1/8-1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder (you can get many varieties in supermarket spice sections, but the best is in Asian stores)

    Green onion to taste (optional)

    One pouch Mountain House Freeze Dried Teriyaki Chicken with Rice, prepared

    One package egg roll wrappers (You can find them in the produce section of grocery stores)

    Cooking oil spray



    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil spray.

    In a large saucepan or wok, sauté coleslaw mix or cabbage and carrots, and green onion, with 2 Tablespoons soy sauce and 2 Tablespoons water. Add ginger, garlic powder and Chinese 5-spice powder.

    Add Mountain House Freeze Dried Teriyaki Chicken with Rice, stirring to prevent burning. Remove pan from heat.

    Put about ¼-1/3 cup mixture into each egg roll wrapper. Roll according to directions on package. Place on cookie sheet.

    Spray the tops of egg rolls with cooking oil spray and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through, until lightly browned.

    Makes 12-18.


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  • Mountain House Review (Part 1): 3 Meals from the Classic Assortment Bucket

    I’m not a chef. I’m more of a short-order cook. In my family of seven, six have dietary restriction. Food allergies include milk products, tree nuts, wheat, corn, eggs, and soy, in varying degrees of severity. I also have an autistic son who, until last year, ate fewer than 10 foods, and a special needs daughter with weak musculature who struggles with hard-to-chew foods.

    When I find a food that most family members like and can eat, it’s lovely.  It’s even better when it cooks in less than 30 minutes. And it’s a massive bonus when my kids can make it themselves. Meal pouches from the Mountain House® Classic Assortment (12 pouches) (SKU: FC B395) meet all three qualifications. We tried three of the six types of meals. I enthusiastically recommend all three.


    Lasagna with Meat Sauce

    mh-lasagna-pouch Mountain House ReviewMy kids first requested the Lasagna with Meat Sauce. We used two packages. Each package said it served 2.5 people. When we used it as a main dish, we found it served more. Six of us ate, and we had leftovers. Our side dish was Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn with Butter and Salt (SKU: FN C101)

    “It tasted superb,” my 9-year-old said.

    I don’t have much experience with freeze-dried food, so I followed the package directions exactly. (We didn’t always do so; more on that later.) After I added two cups of boiling water to the pouch and stirred, I expected everything to mush together in a (flavorful) blob. It didn’t. The texture was reminiscent of skillet lasagna, and the ingredients were distinct.

    My 3-year-old, nicknamed “the little carnivore,” ate the meat and left the noodles. My special needs daughter ate the noodles and left the meat. Both requested multiple helpings.

    The meat sauce was thick with a cheesy, mildly spicy flavor. (If you like a strong flavor, you might want to add spices.)

    “I think it should have less sauce, because it got all over me,” my 9-year-old joked.

    It contains dairy and wheat products.


    Granola with Milk and Blueberries

    mh-granola-with-milk-and-blueberries-pouch Mountain House ReviewThe package says the Granola with Milk and Blueberries serves two. It depends on the two. My 9-year-old, who made it herself, ate the whole pouch.  And she doesn’t normally like fruit.

    The directions call for ½ cup of cold water. When my daughter made it, she said it was “too liquid-y.” The pouch says you can add less water for thicker granola. The second time we made it, we started with 1/3 cup of water and added a bit more as needed.

    The granola contains milk, soy, wheat and coconut.

    I also tried the granola pouch as a streusel topping for blueberry muffins, adapting a Betty Crocker recipe. It enhanced the muffins by adding a bit of crunch and cinnamon flavor.


    Streusel-topped Blueberry Muffins


    Streusel Topping

    One packet (two servings) Mountain House Granola with Milk and Blueberries, prepared.



    ¾ cup milk

    ¼ cup vegetable oil

    1 egg

    2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

    ½ cup granulated sugar

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 cup fresh, canned (drained) or frozen blueberries



    Heat oven to 400°F. Line 12 regular-size muffin cups with paper baking cups, or spray bottoms of cups with cooking spray.

    In large bowl, beat milk, oil and egg with fork or wire whisk until blended. Add 2 cups flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder and salt all at once; stir just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Gently stir in blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with about 1 tablespoon streusel.

    Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If muffins were baked in paper baking cups, immediately remove from pan to cooling rack. If muffins were baked in sprayed pan, leave in pan about 5 minutes, then remove from pan to cooling rack. Serve warm or cooled.


    Beef Stew

    mh-beef-stew-pouch Mountain House ReviewI was at the doctor and my 13-year-old was babysitting. My doctor appointment ran late, so my 9-year old decided to make dinner. She went to the Mountain House bucket, opened a package of Beef Stew and added 2 cups of water. Unfortunately, she didn’t read the directions to boil the water first. She put the mixture in a saucepan, and we heated it over the stove. It still came out great.

    At first glance, there didn’t seem to be that much beef in the stew. However, the beef flavor came through in every bite. It was thick enough that we served it with toast.

    Even though it tasted really good, it was not the most appetizing-looking food on the planet. So imagine my surprise when my picky, autistic, 5-year-old ate two full helpings and asked for more. This one’s a keeper.

    It contains soy and wheat.


    Other notes: The Mountain House packets contain my favorite “Best if used by” label: July 2046. Here’s one food storage item you won’t have to rotate.

    Make sure you store water as well as food. Ready.gov recommends storing a gallon per person per day for three days.

    I will review the other three meals in the Mountain House Classic Meal Assortment® in my next post.



    Editor’s note: While the food in the Mountain House® Classic Assortment comes in pouches, these meals are also available in #10 cans.


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  • Food Review: Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn and Freeze-Dried Peach Slices

    I’m not a chef. At home, I am a short-order cook. In my family of seven, six of us have dietary restriction. Food allergies include milk products, tree nuts, wheat, corn, eggs, and soy, in varying degrees of severity. I also have an autistic son who, until last year, ate fewer than 10 foods. And my husband eats kosher – meaning, among other things, no pork products and no milk and meat products in the same meal (bacon cheeseburgers are out.)

    When I find a food that most family members like and can eat, it’s lovely.  We recently had the chance to try Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn with Butter and Salt (SKU: FN C101) and Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Peach Slices (SKU: FN P120).

    I’d definitely recommend both.


    Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn with Butter and Salt

    Corn ReviewI can’t stand canned corn. I only use it in recipes that mask the flavor. I’d expected the Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn with Butter and Salt to taste like canned corn.

    Guess what? It doesn’t.

    It’s better.

    Straight out of the container, it tastes like a cross between buttered popcorn, a tortilla chip and frozen corn. It’s a great snack. (Actually, between paragraphs I’ve been grabbing handfuls from the can.)

    We tried it as a side dish. My husband, who cooked that night, appreciated that it’s easy to reconstitute: just add warm tap water and wait five minutes. It doesn’t lose the butter and salt flavor in the process. Most of the family – among those who could eat it – loved it. My younger son, the picky, autistic one, finished his corn then wandered around the table trying to eat it off everyone else’s plates.  After he devoured three helpings of his own, we just gave him the serving dish. The only one who didn’t enjoy it was my eldest son, who likes corn plain with no condiments. Maybe we should try the Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Super Sweet Corn  (SKU: FN C100, $16.95) without butter and salt for him.

    “The corn was the best part of the meal,” my 9-year-old daughter said.

    It’s easy to cook with because 1 cup of dry corn equals 1 cup reconstituted. I adapted this recipe from the Taste of Home 2002 Annual Recipes cookbook (2001, Rieman Publications, LLC, Greendale, WI, page 262).


    Zesty Corn and Beans

    1 can (14 ½ oz) Mexican diced tomatoes, undrained

    2 cups Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Sweet Corn with Butter and Salt, reconstituted

    1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

    ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

    ½ teaspoon chili powder, or more if you prefer spicier food

    1 teaspoon Adobo® seasoning (optional)


    In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Or, combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Serve over hot rice.

    Other uses: I didn’t try this, but this web site, momwithaprep.com, tells how to make cornmeal from freeze-dried corn. Try it and tell us how it turned out.


    Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Peach Slices

    Peaches ReviewI was planning to do with the Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Peach Slices what I did with the corn: describe its flavor straight from the can, describe its flavor reconstituted and provide a recipe. I didn’t count on my husband. By the time I was ready to try cooking with the peaches, he’d eaten most of the can. There weren’t enough left for a full recipe. I came out once in the middle of the night to find him watching a movie and eating a huge bowl of dried peach slices.

    “These things are addictive,” he said.

    When you first put the freeze-dried slices in your mouth, they don’t have a strong flavor, but wait a second and the peach comes out.

    When reconstituted, the peach slice is soft like a canned peach on the outside, but firmer like a fresh peach inside.

    These peaches are not as sweet as canned peaches, which are typically kept in syrup. Since my family prefers tarter foods, and I prefer no added sugar, that’s a benefit in our world. If you like sweeter peaches in your cooking, add a bit more sweetener than the recipe recommends.

    Also, the freeze-dried peaches are like breakfast cereal in that smaller pieces sink to the bottom. Unless you want a cupful of tiny peaches at the end of the can, mix them up beforehand.

    This recipe for Peach Crisp is taken from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (Golden Press, revised ed., 1986, page 124). I had to halve it because my husband ate so many of the dried peaches, I didn’t have enough left for the full recipe. This is the full recipe.


    Peach Crisp

    4 cups Emergency Essentials® Freeze-Dried Peach Slices, reconstituted

    2/3-¾ cup packed brown sugar

    ½ cup all-purpose flour

    ½ cup rolled oats

    1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened (I use slightly less)

    ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

    Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange peaches in greased square pan, 8x8x2 inches. Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over apples.

    Bake until topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm and, if desired, with cream or ice cream.


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