Tag Archives: Passport to Preparedness

  • Dry DIY

    Did you know that you can dehydrate some of your own foods at home? Get ready for this Dry DIY (do-it-yourself)!

     

    Our preparedness journey has helped us discover many different food storage options. With harvest season on the horizon, it’s time to think about preserving some of your own foods. Today we’ll help you find the right tools to dry some of your bounty; be it home grown, a gift from the neighbors, or even purchased from the farmer’s market!

     

    Drying is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. In short, it is simply removing moisture from foods while exposing it to heat and moving air. There are three primary ways to dry food. Sun drying, oven-drying, and using a food dehydrator.

     

    Sun drying is ideal for fruits such as apricots, peaches, grapes, and figs. It requires several dry hot days in a row (85 degrees or higher). Simply spread thin pieces of fruit in shallow pan and cover with cheesecloth to keep the bugs out.

     

    Oven drying food is similar to sun drying; it just uses the oven instead of the sun. Set the temperature between 130-150 degrees depending on your oven. The drying time will vary based on the size and specific food being dried. There are a few precautions for sun and oven food dehydration. You must keep an eye on the food. If the temperature is too low or the humidity too high, your food could dry too slowly or even spoil. If it is too hot, you could cook the fruit on the outside while the inside remains moist and vulnerable to mold or microorganisms.

     

    Commercial food dehydrators offer a controlled drying environment. They provide a constant, ideal temperature along with heated air that is circulated throughout the dryer. Many food dehydrators offer tray liners so you can dry small sticky foods or even make fruit leathers which are a tasty, inexpensive and healthy alternative to store purchased fruit snacks. You can also make your own beef jerky in a dehydrator! Along with the various foods you can dry, think of being able to dry while you’re away at work, doing other chores, or even asleep! There is minimal worry or fuss involved when you use a food dehydrator, especially when paired with a great and informative instruction booklet with recipes and how-to’s that will help you create a bountiful harvest of dried foods in your own kitchen.

     

    After drying your food, be sure to cool it to room temperature and follow the packaging how-to’s we discussed last week, such as plastic bags, Snapware®, or other airtight containers. Enjoy back packing and camping with your own dried fruits and meats or simply store it away for later months when the sweet taste of summer’s harvest will brighten a cold day!

     

    Drying your own foods can be simple and fun by following this simple Dry DIY!

    -Angie Sullivan

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Serve and Preserve

    By Angie Sullivan

    Want to serve some of those great food storage recipes we’ve discussed, but worried about how to keep that food fresh longer? It’s time to discuss some great storage options!

    I know there are many of you out there who are hesitant about using your food storage. You’ve read the previous articles about trying out some new recipes, or learning to make bread, but that’s where you lose the nerve. You can’t seem to get the gumption to open that can of milk, or pry the lid off that bucket. You’re afraid that there will be no going back- that within a short time you will have lost the shelf life of your product, and as we can all agree, shelf life is a big deal in the world of food storage. If this sounds familiar, then this article is for you!

    Shelf life is dependent on a few variables. Heat, oxygen, light, and moisture are the biggest factors when it comes to shelf life. The less heat, oxygen, light, and moisture your product is exposed to, the longer it will last. Recent studies show that fluctuation in temperature is the biggest culprit when it comes to decreased shelf life. So, if you can keep your food at a stable temperature, in an airtight container, away from moisture and light, you will have the most success in preserving your food. Studies also show that most dehydrated foods can last up to a year after opening if stored well. Here are a few ideas on how to store that opened can or bucket:

    • Put the product in a zip top plastic bag squeezing all the air out or use a commercial sealer and store the food back in the can with the lid on.

    • Pour the product into Snapware® containers, which create an airtight environment and are attractive and easy to use on a regular basis. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, easily able to accommodate almost any food storage item you wish!

    • Metalized plastic bags can be purchased to put food in, and you can even seal them yourself with an iron at home! These bags can be put inside buckets for extra protection. They are a solid barrier to odors, which makes the bucket/bag combination nearly impervious to rodents. , They are also wonderful at keeping out moisture and light.

    • Gamma Seals are lids made especially for buckets that enable you to open the bucket with a simple twist of the seal. It allows you to get into the bucket, without having to pry off the lid. I use a Gamma Seal on my bucket of wheat, so I can get to it easily, yet keep the lid on therefore protecting it from any pests.

    As you can see, you have several options when it comes to helping preserve those precious food storage items once you have opened them. Hopefully you can banish your fears and feel more confident that you too can serve and preserve your food storage items!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Rolling In The Dough

    By Angie Sullivan

    Do you think that making fresh homemade whole wheat bread is out of your reach? Think again! With a few simple tips and this straightforward recipe, you’ll soon be rolling in the dough!

    If you are like me, homemade bread is one of the most intimidating things about food storage. For those of you who grew up making bread, this may seem a little ridiculous to you, but there was a time when I was mortified of yeast. It’s true! Any recipe that called for yeast, and kneading, and heaven forbid, “rising”, was seemingly out of my reach and usually sent me out to buy the store-made equivalent. Then, one day I decided it had been long enough, and I began to “rise” to the occasion!

    A few internet searches and several botched loaves later, I found a recipe that works for me every time. It’s simple, requires only a handful of ingredients, and makes a whopping 6 loaves. (After all, who wants to put all that effort into making bread if you can’t send a loaf over to your neighbors and then bask in their praise?)

    I wish I could credit someone with this recipe, because I’m sure they deserve the glory, but I simply wrote the recipe on a grocery list scrap paper many years ago and it has been in my recipe index ever since:

    6 cups hot tap water

    3 Tablespoons yeast

    2/3 cup oil

    2/3 cup honey

    2 Tablespoons salt

    3 Tablespoons Dough Enhancer

    16-20 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

    I use my Bosch Universal Mixer for this recipe, but it can be done by hand. Obviously, you’ll be doing a lot of kneading if you do it by hand and it will take more time, but the results will be worth the effort! Begin by combining the 6 cups of hot tap water with 3 Tablespoons of yeast and only 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. Mix and allow to “sponge” for 15 minutes. If your yeast is good, the mixture should be foamy and smelling “yeasty”. At this point, go ahead and add all the additional ingredients except the remainder of the flour. I always add my oil first, so the honey will not stick to the measuring cup. I use Dough Enhancer to help make the loaves lighter and fluffier.

    Once all the ingredients are in the mixer, you can begin adding the flour, one cup at a time. One of the biggest mistakes first time bakers make is adding too much flour. The dough should not stick to your finger if you poke it, but it should not be dry either. The fresher the flour, the less time spent kneading the dough. It usually takes 15 minutes or so in the Bosch at speed 1. You know the dough is ready when you can stretch the dough between your hands and it doesn’t break immediately. You should almost be able to create a “window” in your dough. This is very easy to recognize with white flour, but it is a little harder to see with wheat. Just make sure your dough allows you to stretch it a few inches without breaking and you should be fine.

    Once you’ve finished the kneading process, divide the dough into 6 sections. Take each section and shape into an oval mound. I like to pull the dough from the top and gather it at the bottom so the top is smooth and finished looking. Now lay your loaves in your greased bread pans and allow it to rise. I accomplish this by turning my oven on to warm. Then I turn the oven off and put the loaves in. I let them rise until double in size, this takes about 30 minutes. Once they are finished rising, I simply turn the oven to 350 degrees and allow them to bake about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the bread and enjoy the delicious aroma that will be wafting into the kitchen. The bread should be lightly browned and when thumped they should produce a hollow sound.

    Allow your bread to cool on racks for several minutes, and then slice and serve! I’m sure you can imagine the aroma and almost taste that tender bread! Go on, it won’t be as hard as you think. Just follow these simple instructions and before you know it, you’ll be rolling in the dough!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • The Daily Grind

    Ready to use all those bread recipes you’ve found? Then, you’ve gotta get grinding!

    Last week we discussed incorporating some of your food storage recipes into your family’s menu. You will find that many recipes call for grains that have been ground into flour. Whether you plan on using a hand grain mill or wish to invest in an electric mill you can use on a regular basis, we can all agree that in order to take that wheat from whole kernel to melt-in-your-mouth bread…you may need to submit yourself to the daily grind!

    For preparedness purposes, many choose to purchase a hand grain mill. It is a simple machine that uses your own elbow grease to make wholesome flour and even cracked cereals. It does not require electricity, which makes it a smart choice for your food storage pantry. As you shop for your mill, be certain you are purchasing an easy-to-use, quality machine. An emergency is no time to be wishing you had a mill that worked better or was easier to you! Once you have your mill, don’t leave it sitting in the box- get crankin’! See how much flour you can produce in a minute, make sure you are comfortable with how the grinder works, be certain it produces a flour fine enough for bread dough, and most of all, make sure it is easy for you to use!

    As we have previously discussed, many of us will use our food storage during times other than emergencies. Illness, unemployment, and other financial distress can be the reason why many will turn to their food storage for help with the budget. Or, if you are like me, you are interested in making homemade bread, fresh and healthy for your family.

    As you consider the options for electric mills, take the time to research a few things. First of all, find out how many cups of grain the “hopper” (the top of the mill, which holds the whole kernels before they are ground) can hold. You don’t want to be constantly feeding the hopper if you don’t have to be! Find out how many cups of flour the mill can grind per minute. Electric grain mills tend to be quite loud, so be sure to use this as a factor in determining which mill you purchase. Be sure the mill you are purchasing allows you to vary the flour’s consistency. Lastly, consider how the mill is cleaned and whether the milling process will leave you in a big mess. Some mills are messier than others. (Just like some of us!)

    If you are like me you will want to try your grinder before purchasing it. Emergency Essentials store locations have grinders “on hand” for this purpose. Try before you buy!

    Acquiring your own grain mill is a big step towards preparing your food storage grains for use, and if you choose wisely, your mill will prove a blessing for years to come. After all, having a mill that does most of the hard work for you will certainly help you cope with “the daily grind!

    -Angie Sullivan

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Recipe For Success!

    By Angie Sullivan

    Want a recipe for food storage success? Make sure your family gets to sample your food storage menu!

    Last week we discussed taking the time to research and gather important information for your food storage. I suggested you find food storage recipes, maybe even purchase some books on cooking with food storage. Now, I’m asking you to try a few of those recipes out!

    Think of it this way, if you were planning on trying out some new foods on your family, what would you do? You’d find the best recipes you could, and then you’d give them a try. Why should food storage be any different? Do you have buckets of beans and wheat, yet your family has never even eaten a meal with those items incorporated? Well, now is the time to put on your chef’s hat and get to work!

    Here are few simple suggestions on how you can begin to cook with your food storage:

    - Choose one night a week that you will incorporate a food storage item. Begin with something simple like soaking beans instead of using a canned chili bean.

    - Choose one family night a month where you will cook an entire meal from food storage! Get the whole family involved.

    - Go to your local library and check out recipe books, or go online for new recipes or even video’s on how to use your food storage.

    - If your family enjoys camping, use that as an opportunity to try out a few of those MRE’s you purchased, or a freeze-dried meal.

    - If you have never learned to make bread, schedule time with someone who can show you hands-on how to achieve a wonderful loaf of bread!

    - Get together with friends who are interested in food storage and plan a food storage potluck! That way, you get to try several different food storage dishes all at once without having to do it all yourself. Make sure you swap those recipes afterward!

    Now is the time to incorporate more food storage recipes into your family’s daily life. Who knows, perhaps you’ll find that making your own bread is a wonderful family activity, or that you make a mean three bean soup! Whatever your situation, or wherever you are in your food storage process, you can put some of your recipes into action! You will have peace of mind knowing that you can make a wonderful meal should hard times arise, and your family will appreciate the familiarity of recipes tried and true. So, get that apron on and try this recipe for success!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Hit the Books!

    By Angie Sullivan 

    There is a test that you might need to take any day now, have you taken the time to gather the information you need to ace the big exam?

    My husband is currently in college, and I watch him pour over his books in preparation for a test. He tries to commit to memory everything he reads. He spends countless hours reviewing, and hopes in the end that everything he has studied will sink in and he will be able to recall it when test time comes.

    We’ve spent many weeks discussing food storage and preparedness. But, if an emergency situation occurred tomorrow, would you be ready for the “test”? Don’t panic, here is the good news: This test can be an open book test. Yes, you can use any and all the information you’ve collected to help you. You just have to have it on hand!

    Want to know how to prepare those dehydrated foods you’ve stored? Make sure you’ve collected in hard copy form some of the recipes you love. Consider purchasing some of the amazing food storage cookbooks available. Peruse the internet and print off the articles you find helpful and keep them in a binder. Consider sources like FEMA, the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, and companies like Emergency Essentials for extra information you might need. Most likely, our good friend Google won’t be available should an emergency take place, so get it down on paper now!

    Does your emergency kit contain information on how each item is used? What about the tools you have stored? Do you know how to use the bung wrench and siphon pump or hose you have stored with your water barrel? If you do, that is wonderful, but having a short explanation on hand for others in your family would certainly be helpful. My husband and I own a portable propane stove for an emergency, but I realized just recently during a camping trip that he is the only one who knows how to use it. What if he is injured or is needed to help elsewhere and I am left to cook for the family? I need to learn how to use it, and even make sure the owner’s manual or an explanation of how to use it is easily accessible to me.

    Consider putting together your own personal library of resources. A binder with the printed information you’ve found, a collection of owners manual’s for the tools you have on hand, information on how to shut off gas lines and other home safety guidelines, a first aid manual, and cookbooks are just a few of the items your library should contain.

    Now, imagine that the time has come for your preparedness “test.”. Not only do you get the open book version, but you’ve got an entire library for you to glean from! Imagine this scenario and you’ll be glad you’ve taken the time to “hit the books!”

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Don’t forget those special seasonings to make your food storage sing!

     

    You are preparing your family’s favorite spaghetti sauce. You’ve added most of the glorious ingredients. But, you fail to add the delicious Italian seasonings. No big deal right? WRONG! What would your special sauce be without the seasonings? What would apple pie be without the cinnamon? How would your chili taste without the chili powder? You’ve got it now, you need some spice in your life!

     

    As you gather your various preparedness foods, take stock on which spices and seasoning would help make your food storage items the best they can be. For example, a wonderful can of tomato powder won’t quite make that special pizza sauce without some garlic, oregano, and other Italian spices. Think about making a soup from all those freeze dried meats and vegetables you ordered. Don’t you think you should have some stock on hand to add flavor to the broth?

     

    If you answered yes to the questions above, then you are ready to learn more about all the wonderful seasonings and spices available for your food storage pantry! Think about all the possibilities of ground beef if you have the proper seasonings. You can add taco seasoning for a Mexican flair. Add a pinch or two of sloppy joe seasoning for that beefy sandwich your family loves!

     

    Meat isn’t the only food that benefits from wonderful seasonings! Cinnamon sugar is a staple at our home to top toast or fruit. Onion powder, garlic powder, and chicken stock added to rice make a wonderful side dish. During the holiday season, I like to add cinnamon and allspice to some simmering sliced apples and oranges for the yummiest potpourri! The possibilities are endless! The great thing about many of these seasonings, is that not only are they wonderful for food storage, but they are helpful for your everyday meal planning too!

     

    So take a close look at those cans you have stored away. Could some of your foods benefit from a spicy kick? How many different meals can you prepare from one item, with just a quick switch of seasoning? You’ll be surprised how much flair and flavor you can add with a dash here or there…because spice makes everything nice!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Soul Soothing Sweets

    By Angie Sullivan

    Want to keep your family calm and happy during times of distress? Store some soul soothing sweets!

    On our journey to preparedness, we’ve discussed several different types of foods to store. We’ve learned about dehydrated, freeze-dried, and Meals Ready to Eat. All of these are wonderful options, and a good combination of all of them is ideal. But here is something you might not know. Each of these foods has something in common, something that I’m sure will tickle your fancy. Within each of these foods storage categories there are some items I would like you to consider…desserts!

    If you are like me, it won’t take much to convince you that having a few desserts or “comfort foods” stored is a good idea. But, if you aren’t sure that having cake or pudding for your family in an emergency is really necessary, think about these few facts: Did you know that studies show that foods high in sugar, or food associated with pleasant memories can cause the release of certain chemicals that affect how we feel? In short, desserts can act as a natural mood enhancer. During hard times, such as the aftermath of a natural disaster, extended unemployment, or food shortages, having desserts on hand for your family will help to comfort them. It can be a reminder, especially to children, that everything is alright and good times are ahead.

    Now that we have established that having food storage desserts on hand are a good idea (twist my arm!), let’s talk about the different varieties you can choose from. As I mentioned before, each of the types of food storage have delicious options available. MREs have a wonderful assortment of ready to eat cakes and cookies. Can’t imagine something in a brown military pouch can taste good? Think again! Want to make your own delicious desserts? You can purchase just add water dehydrated muffin and brownie mixes in #10 cans, along with puddings and even make your own homemade favorite peanut butter cookies or oatmeal cookies using dehydrated items such as peanut butter powder and oats. With the amazing technology of freeze dried foods, not even ice cream is out of the question!

    Whatever your sweet tooth craving, or whatever your family’s comfort foods are, you are sure to find something delicious to fit the bill. So consider spending a few of your food storage dollars giving your family some soul soothing sweets!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Ice Age

    By Angie Sullivan

    What does new age technology have to do with ice? Freeze-dried foods are the latest development in dehydration, and the result is more than just “cool”!

    Last week, our journey was spent learning about dehydrated foods. These are foods that are dehydrated in the standard way, through heat. This week, we are discussing a wonderful process for drying food that uses just the opposite method. Sound crazy? It’s a wonderful technology where food that is fresh or cooked is first flash frozen. Moisture is then removed in a vacuum chamber where a low level of heat is used to evaporate the ice crystals without returning it to a liquid form. Because the food remains frozen during this process, the food’s cell structures do not change. Therefore, much of the nutrition (including the vitamins), color, aroma, and freshness are retained.

    What are some of the advantages of freeze dried food? First of all, after rehydration, freeze dried foods look and taste much like the frozen foods you find in the grocery store. Freeze dried foods retain much of their original shape, texture, and appearance. Freeze dried foods rehydrate quickly, and most are reconstituted simply by adding warm water, waiting a few minutes, and draining the excess water out. After that, you simply use them just as you would any fresh food! Freeze dried foods are lightweight, which results in food that weights 75-90% less than the original food, which is what makes freeze dried foods a very smart choice for many emergency kit applications, camping and backpacking supplies when you need to store several days worth of food in a very small pack.

    As if all the reasons listed above weren’t enough, freeze dried foods offer a whole new dimension of variety to your standard dehydrated foods. With the help of freeze-dried meats, cheese, fruits, and vegetables, you can use your dehydrated basics to create family favorites like pizza, tacos, breakfast casseroles, desserts and so much more!

    How good can freeze dried foods be? I know that is what you are thinking, because the skeptic in me thought the exact same thing! I can tell you from personal experience how wonderful the products I’ve tried are. As a matter of fact, just this week I used freeze dried sausage crumbles to make omelets for my family. I simply added some warm water to the crumbles, and after a few minutes drained off the excess. I was shocked by what I found! They looked, smelled, and most importantly tasted, exactly like crumbled, cooked sausage…because that’s what they are! My children LOVED them! I can’t wait to try more freeze dried meats for my food storage pantry!

    One other benefit of freeze dried foods is that you can purchase not just single foods, but entire meals already freeze dried. They are cooked and then flash frozen and dehydrated so you just add warm water and you’ve got a tasty meal read to go! These meals are popular with backpackers and campers, but are an excellent choice for preparedness too.

    Now is the time to try out some freeze-dried foods! You will be pleasantly surprised by what technology delivers in this new version of the Ice Age!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Why Buy Dry!

    Want affordable food storage that is easy to use? Try dehydrated foods!

    When food is dehydrated, the water is slowly cooked out of the food without actually cooking it. You can dry food at home by yourself with a food dehydrator, or choose from of myriad of dried foods available on the market. The most popular forms are packaged for long term storage in #10 cans with an oxygen absorber.

    Dehydrated foods are a wonderful storage option for multiple reasons. Dehydrated foods are lightweight and compact. They are an affordable form of food storage, and are easy to reconstitute and use.

    Nervous about using dehydrated foods? Ask yourself the following question: Have I ever used a cake mix? Or pancake mix? Or made a box of macaroni and cheese? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have used dehydrated foods! Many of the convenience foods we use on a regular basis have dehydrated foods in them.

    What types of foods are dehydrated? Many of the common dairy products are available in dehydrated form. You will find butter powder, dried milk, and even eggs! These foods are great for creating mixes for baking. Don’t want to make your own mixes? There are many mixes already prepared for you! Pancake mixes, muffin mixes, and many others are available to make your preparedness pantry as simple as possible. Most of these foods only need to have water added to them before being cooked to prepare them for consumption. There are also some fruits and vegetables available using this common method of dehydration.

    One popular dehydrated breakfast item is Creamy Wheat Cereal. Did you know one # 10 can of Creamy Wheat Cereal makes 48 one-cup servings? That is less than a quarter per breakfast! What a great economical and nutritional value!

    freeze-dried foods in your home storage. Not sure what the difference is between freeze-dried and dehydrated foods? Watch for next week’s article where we will discuss freeze dried foods in greater detail!

    As you sort through all the types of food storage available, don’t hesitate to try one of the most popular food storage options: dehydrated foods! Hopefully you now know “why to buy dry”!

    - Angie Sullivan

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

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