Tag Archives: food

  • Cheese Making 101: A Basic Guide

    Whether you’re a cheese connoisseur or just like to throw it in with your lasagna, homemade cheese will give you a delicious (not to mention inexpensive!) blend of flavors—exactly the way you want. And believe it or not, making your own homemade cheese is actually easier than you might think, it just takes some practice. Learn some of the basics of cheese making and how it can change the way you look at cheese.

     

    Why should I make my own cheese?

    By making your own cheese, you’re actually getting a lot more than just better taste. Check out five benefits to making your own cheese.

    1. No artificial ingredients. Commercially sold cheese tends to have added food coloring, growth hormones, pesticides, or GMO-heavy ingredients, according to Cultures for Health and FineCooking.com. When you make your own cheese, everything you put into it is completely natural, making it a healthier addition to your meals. And it never hurts to know exactly what you are putting into the food that you’ll be putting into your body.

    2. It’s inexpensive. Making your own cheese is a great way to try all the exotic varieties of cheese without breaking the bank. The only supplies you need are a heavy-bottomed pot, kitchen thermometer, cheesecloth, and some cultures (but we’ll get into that later).

     3. Fast and Easy. Once you learn how to make cheese, it’s a process that becomes fast and easy, no matter what type of cheese you decide to try. The basic process is the same for most cheeses, so no matter what you want to make, you’ll already have the basics down.

    4. Children love it. Most kids love cheese, and letting them be a part of making it is a great activity. It’s also a fun way to teach them about science and chemistry as you use bacteria, enzymes, and naturally formed acids to solidify and preserve milk protein, and fat.

    5. It’s delicious. Do I really need to say any more? No matter what flavor of cheese you choose to make, it’ll make a tasty addition to your meals and snacks.

     

    Basic Supplies

    Making cheese requires some basic supplies to help you get the best possible results. Make sure you have the following equipment and ingredients on hand before you start.

    Ingredients:

    Fresh Milk: The fresher the milk, the better. The best flavor of cheese comes from unpasteurized milk (although you’ll want to let it cure for 2-4 months if you’re worried about pathogens in it); however, you can also use pasteurized milk, whole milk, or skim milk. Using anything other than unpasteurized milk may require you to add extra ingredients (such as more Calcium Chloride in pasteurized milk to help it coagulate). Remember, the fresher and fattier the milk, the richer and better the taste. Note: Ultra-pasteurized milk is not recommended to make cheese because it has difficulty coagulating. It can, however, work for making yogurt.

    Cultures: Cultures are the bacteria or chemicals you add to acidify your milk and help the curing process. There are two types of cultures: Thermophilic and Mesophilic. The one you need will depend on the cheese you make. Thermophilic cultures are used for cheeses that are scalded to high temperatures. Mesophilic cultures are for those that don’t heat beyond 102° F.

    A lot of cultures are considered “mixed cultures” where there are multiple strains of bacteria included. The mix of the culture can change quickly due to temperature and storage conditions so it can be harder to know exactly what the mix of those cultures is. You can also use pure cultures (where there’s only one strain of bacteria present, making it easier to know exactly what bacteria is in the culture) from cheese-making supply houses.

    Rennet: Rennet is the enzyme that causes acidified milk to gel together and to form a “clean break”. A clean break is when the coagulated milk holds itself together when you probe the mixture with a table knife or finger. In order to get a clean break, the milk must be undisturbed during its gelling process. You can use rennet liquid, powder, or tablets.

     

    Equipment:

    Heavy Stainless Steel Pot with Lid: It’s important to use a pot with a heavy bottom to help disperse the heat evenly without scorching the milk. You can also use a heavy enameled pot. Just make sure you don’t use an aluminum one which will react with the acidifiers (bacteria or inorganic chemicals that produce or become acids to help with the curing) used in the process.

    Measuring Cups: Have a variety of measuring cups and spoons on hand. Accurate measurements will help your cheese turn out better.

    Thermometer: While cooking and cooling your cheese, it’s important to keep an accurate temperature reading. The texture of your cheese depends on it and can change with a sudden shift in temperature, even by one degree.

    Large Whisk: This helps to mix the rennet and starter. Rennet is the enzyme that causes acidified milk to gel together. The starter is the bacteria or acidifiers you add to your milk so that the rennet will work and the curds will form.

    “Cheese Cloth”: Use a type of “cheese cloth” or white cotton fabric (such as a handkerchief or a non-terry sterilized dish towel) to drain the liquid whey proteins from the solid curds. If possible, avoid using what is sold at supermarkets as “cheese cloth”. Typically, this fabric is too flimsy and the open-weave material will let your curd slip through. If you do choose to use the supermarket’s cheese cloth, layer a few pieces at different angles to minimize curd loss.  

    Cheese Press:  This tool is used to apply pressure to fresh curds, exposing the milk protein and allowing the loose curds to bond with each other to form solid cheese. The cheese press is required if you plan on making a hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, Cojita, aged Gouda, etc.). You can purchase a press from a cheese-making supply house, or make your own if you’re only making a pound or two.

    Wax: Waxing the outside of your cheese prevents it from molding or spoiling while it ages. Make sure to use a wax that will resist cracking (unlike Paraffin) so that your cheese doesn’t spoil or grow mold through the wax’s weak spots. Check out how to wax your cheese here.

     

    Basic Process

    Before beginning, prepare your kitchen by scrubbing your counters, stove, and sink thoroughly. Each type of cheese requires the growth of specific bacteria in the mixture of basic ingredients. Any unwanted bacteria that get into the mixture can ruin your batch of cheese.

    The process for each type of cheese (soft, semi-soft, hard, extra-hard) is fairly similar, with slight variations to make each cheese different. For example, the process for making Cheddar cheese and Colby cheese starts out the same, but the Colby cheese has an extra step where more water is added, giving you a moister cheese in the end.

    Learn more about cultures from CheeseMaking.com.

    Learn more about Rennet from CheeseMaking.com.

    Learn more about cheese-making and get more recipes at the sites below:

     

    Sources:

    http://www.culturesforhealth.com/reasons-to-make-your-own-cheese

    http://www.finecooking.com/item/48505/top-5-benefits-of-home-cheese-making

    http://www.cheesemakingrecipe.com/

    http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese_course/Cheese_course.htm

    http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/240-FAQ-Cheesemaking-and-Ripening.html

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/food-preservation7.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acidifier

    http://www.leeners.com/cheese/how-to/cheese-making-cheese-press.shtml

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, food, cooking

  • Cajun Chicken and Pasta

    Trying to impress your friends and family with your extraordinary cooking skills? Well, we have a recipe that will blow them away—and the best thing is you can make it anytime, even in an emergency, just using your food storage supplies. (And you don’t have to be a great cook!)

    A few of us here at the office decided to see if we could impress our co-workers with our cooking skills using this Cajun Chicken and Pasta recipe—because really, sometimes yummy food is just the best way to celebrate on an uneventful Tuesday.

    Cajun Chicken and Pasta (4 servings)

    2 cups Provident Pantry Freeze Dried White Chicken, reconstituted

    1 cup Provident Pantry Freeze Dried Red Bell Pepper, reconstituted

    ½ cup Provident Pantry Freeze Dried Celery, reconstituted

    2 TBS MyChoice Freeze Dried Green Onions, reconstituted

    ½ cup MyChoice Freeze Dried Mushroom Slices, reconstituted

    1 cup reconstituted MyChoice Instant Nonfat Dry Milk

    1 TBS Provident Pantry White Flour

    1 tsp Cajun seasoning, divided* (or add more to taste)

    2 TBS Clarified Butter or Red Feather Canned Butter

    ½ tsp MyChoice Basil

    ½ tsp Provident Pantry Iodized Salt

    3 cups cooked Provident Pantry Egg Noodle Pasta

    Parmesan cheese (optional)

    *You can make your own Cajun seasoning by blending ¼ tsp MyChoice Onion Powder, ¼ tsp MyChoice Garlic Powder, ¼ tsp paprika, ½ tsp Provident Pantry Iodized Salt, and ½ tsp cayenne pepper.

    1. Reconstitute first six ingredients. Drain and reserve excess water
    2. Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.
    3. In skillet, sauté vegetables in butter and sprinkle with 1/3 of the Cajun seasoning.
    4. In a separate bowl, sprinkle chicken with a little of the Cajun seasoning as well. Add chicken into skillet with vegetables and toss to coat with butter and seasonings.
    5. Mix in basil.
    6. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir.
    7. Add milk and stir well until thickened. If there is any Cajun seasoning left, add it to the chicken mixture. Taste for seasoning; if it’s not spicy enough for you, add more Cajun seasoning to taste.
    8. If the sauce in the chicken mixture becomes too thick, thin it with a little of the reserved water.
    9. Fold chicken mixture into the cooked noodles.
    10. Add about ½ tsp of salt and mix well.
    11. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

     

    Here’s What the Emergency Essential’s Team Had to Say

    We tried to impress our co-workers with this savory meal and…it worked! After everyone had a taste, check out what they had to say:

    “This has just the right amount of spice. I never would’ve guessed in a million years that this was from food storage!”    --Scotty

    “Extremely flavorful with a slight kick. I would definitely eat this…”    --David

    “This is a great meal that’s easy and fast to make! It gives you an exotic food storage meal that’s different from the traditional food storage meals.”    --Angela

    “Delicious! It had just a little bit of a kick, but not too spicy. It was just enough to say ‘Mmmm!’ I never thought this would’ve come from food storage.”    --Becca

    “It was good—a little spicy for me—but good.”    --Sairey

    “I love the flavor and the spicy factor wasn’t too high so even though I’m a wuss, I could still handle it—Delicious!”    --Sarah

    Try out this delicious recipe with your food storage to make an impression at any celebration, or just for a flavorful meal at home. Come back and let us know what you think!

    Also check out these other delicious recipes that will have people coming back for more:

    Oriental Chicken Salad

    Food Storage Super Bowl Recipe Roundup

    Spicy Chicken

    Chicken A La King

    Linguini Chicken with Vegetables

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, recipes, recipe, food, freeze dried, #10 cans, freeze dried food, chicken, emergency cooking, cajun chicken

  • Make your own emergency kit

    Emergency kits come in all shapes and sizes, filled with all types of food, water supplies, shelters, and tools. But what is the right type of emergency kit for you? Building your own emergency kit is as simple as one, two, and three. For $10 or less apiece, you can arm yourself with the right products to help you meet your most basic needs in an emergency.

    1. Food & Water

    • Survival food packages like the Mainstay 3600 calorie bars work well because they are lightweight, compact, and delicious—they taste like cookie dough. Unlike traditional energy bars, these are formulated to withstand extreme temperatures and still last for 5 years. Keep them in your car, boat, RV, or inside your emergency kit at home. For only $7.50, these bars give one person enough calories for 3 days, or three people for a single day. 


    • Purified water in compact sizes can also be a good fit for adding to a backpack. Bottled water is a popular option, bottled water packages are prone to leaking and require frequent rotation. The 8 oz. Aqua Blox comes in sturdy packaging that is designed to keep your water safe for 5 years with the convenience of a juice-box-style package and straw. The water also comes purified, not just filtered, so it is contaminant free. Six of these blox would be sufficient drinking water for one person over 3 days for about $5. 


    • Filter Straws can treat natural water sources that you come across to allow you to find and treat water rather than carrying it. Simply suck water through the filter straw to remove common germs. If the source is frequented by humans or livestock, however, this filter would likely not provide the required protection. Cost is about $10.

    2. Shelter

    • Emergency ponchos pack up tight and are lightweight, yet provide substantial coverage to keep more of your body dry. Staying dry dramatically increases our comfort, making the emergency poncho an affordable and practical (about $1) addition to any kit. 


    • Portable Tents are another way to provide shelter—or even just to mark an area as your own. Unlike traditional tents, a tube tent is inexpensive, lightweight, and packs incredibly small to fit inside of your kit without forcing you to leave other items out. It is so light because of its simplicity – no poles, no stakes, just a tent wall. The tube tent is an 8 ft. long tube that shelters two people for about $4.

    3. Warmth

    There are two simple ways to stay warm in cold weather: 1) keep more of your own body heat, and 2) generate heat around you (campfires or heaters).

    •  Many of us use blankets and sleeping bags to retain more of our body heat.  Emergency sleeping bags are made of a high-efficiency reflective material that retains up to 90% of your body heat. They can be stored in very small spaces and only cost about $4. I’ve experienced a night in one of these bags and was very grateful I had it. 


    •  Having portable heat sources can keep your body from shutting down from loss of warmth. Disposable body warmers (larger versions of commonly-known hand warmers) provide heat for up to 20 hours and take up very little space. Their small size (and price – about $1 each) allows you to add several to your supplies. 


    •  Even if you aren’t a boy scout, you can start a fire with Emergency Essential’s various offerings of matches and strikers. One of my favorite options is Stormproof matches. Unlike conventional matches, these stay lit much longer to help you start a fire. Even if the matches get wet or the weather is windy, Stormproof matches will get the job done. You can buy a box by itself (about $4), or with a weather proof case for about $6. Check out the video on the link to see how amazing they are.

    See? Easy as 1-2-3. We have even set out to help you get started with the Basics Emergency Kit. This pre-made set includes many of these basic items and costs just about $20. This kit includes food, water, a poncho, 3 body/hand warmers, an emergency sleeping bag, a whistle, a lightstick, and an 18-piece first aid kit.

    With these basics, your emergency kit is off to a great start and can help protect you in a crisis. As your kit continues to grow, you can add more durable items to your supply, expanding it to prepare you for whatever the future may hold.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: warmth, shelter, preparedness, emergency kit, water, Survival, emergency preparedness, food, Emergency Essentials, survival gear

  • Mountain House® Lasagna with Meat Sauce is a customer favorite that combines tomato sauce, pasta, beef, and cheeses. It’s freeze dried and packed for long-term storage, generally 25 years. But just because it’s packed for long-term food storage doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate it into your everyday meal plan. 

    The aroma when opening the package is like taking a fresh home made lasagna out of the oven. Some of us have been taste-testing for lunch at work, and this is the unanimous favorite for flavor. Use a little less boiling water than instructed, then add a little more at the end if you need it. Don't make it too loose. ~ Dave T., California 

    Each #10 can of Mountain House® Lasagna with Meat Sauce contains around ten servings. I think the serving size is generous, especially when you pair this entrée with sides like bread and a salad or vegetables. I also liked the heartiness and felt like I was eating a substantial meal that would keep me satisfied for a while. 

    The regular price of the Mountain House® Lasagna with Meat Sauce is $34.49; right now it’s on 20% off until March 21. And if you buy it with 5+ other #10 cans of your choice, you’ll get it for 25% off. 

    Happy shopping! 

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: mountain house, sale, storage, food, freeze dried, lasagna with meat sauce, #10 cans, Emergency Essentials, entree, meal, long-term

  • Freeze dried foods get fancy! As part of our sale on Mountain House #10 cans, you can get Blueberry Cheesecake for 20% off the regular price. If you buy six or more cans you’ll get a discount of 25%.  

    Here’s what Matthew in Texas has to say about Mountain House’s Blueberry Cheesecake,

    A fantastic dessert! If you are preparing for a food shortage or camping supplies, this dessert is a must have.  In the case of a food shortage, this dessert will keep morale up. 

    Matthew’s making a great point. When your family is tired, anxious, and working hard to stay alive, a tasty treat can make a big difference. 

    One can makes approximately 12 servings, and one serving contains 200 calories. That’s a relatively low calorie count; if you bought a ready-made cheesecake it would probably contain around 370 calories per serving. 

    You’re probably wondering how cheesecake is freeze dried… that’s a great question. The Mountain House Blueberry Cheesecake is actually a kit. The crust, cream filling, and fruit topping come in separate pouches, and you put the ingredients together yourself (the cream filling is the only part that actually needs to be rehydrated). 

    Fill up that shopping cart and stock your food storage shelves with food you know your family will eat. 

    Happy rehydrating! 

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: mountain house, sale, food, freeze dried, Emergency Essentials, blueberry cheesecake

  • Peas

    My husband and I were bound and determined to create a garden for our family this year. In years past we'd try, but only half heartedly, and end up with practically no crop. This year, we made garden boxes and filled them with compost and then sat and wondered what to plant.

    Then my husband remembered something tucked away on a shelf in the basement food storage closet. A can of Canned Garden Seeds we had purchased from Emergency Essentials at least 6 years ago. I was skeptical.

    Cucumber

     

    "Are you serious?" I complained while staring him down as he read the back of the can and reached for the can opener.

    "Of course I'm serious, why not try them out?" he explained. "And," he added, "We don't have to go anywhere, they are here and ready to go!"

    Humph. I did not just put all that effort into creating the perfect haven for my precious little plants only to have it foiled by old, withered, "canned" seeds. It seemed ridiculous and impossible from my viewpoint.

    Continuing to assert my case, I suggested "Honey, how about we go to the home store and pick out some little plants that have already come up that we are certain will grow. I don't want to waste a few weeks of good springtime on some old seeds from a can!"

    He was unwavering. He was determined. He was nuts.

    Zucchini

    Or so I thought. He was right. Here it is, several weeks later and these are the adorable little sprouts that have come from our can of Garden Seeds...the very can which sat on a shelf in the basement for 6 years! The seeds were obviously potent, and I find myself trekking out to the garden every afternoon to check on my little miracles.

    So, for those of you who are skeptics about the can of Garden Seeds, as I was, here is living, growing, and I'm sure soon to be producing, proof of the magic contained in a seed. Even one that is canned!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food insurance, food storage, preparedness, garden, emergency preparedness, garden seeds, food