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Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • How to Clean Seeds for Sprouting

    Sprouts are one of the most nutritious foods out there. When you sprout at home, they can also be some of the cleanest food produced. You can usually guarantee the quality of what you create because you oversee every step of the sprouting process. However, it’s still important to know that improper sprouting can lead to the growth of bacteria like e. coli.

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    The three basics you’ll need for healthy sprouting are clean seeds, clean water, and a clean sprouting dish. If you’re purchasing your sprouting seeds from a commercial supplier, those seeds have already been cleaned.

    You probably won’t ever need to know how to clean the seeds, but since knowledge is power, we’re passing on this information from our supplier.

    It's seems obvious but we'll say it anway; you need to start with clean supplies:

    Water – it is absolutely necessary to ensure you have a clean water supply; if you're not sure that your tap water is clean use a filter or bottled water.

    Sprouting vessel – whether using a jar, sprout tray, or hemp bag ensure that you have either sterilized, or at least sanitized, all items that will come into contact with your seeds and sprouts.

    Sterilizing – this is the safest option, just boil items for 10 minutes.

    Sanitizing – there are a number of good options for sanitizing:

    • Bleach – follow the directions on the container, usually 3/4 cup of unscented bleach per gallon of water.  Soak for at least 5 minutes and then rinse with clean water (see above).
    • Star San – available at most brewing stores.  Our supplier likes this sanitizer because it does not leave an “off flavor”.  Follow directions on package.

    Seeds – though generally not dangerous, seeds can actually be the start to bacteria especially when not cleaned.  Commercial sprout houses typically use a 2% hypochlorite solution for 10 minutes to treat their seeds, but at these levels this procedure is not recommended for the average home user.  Our supplier uses the procedure recommended by UC Davis in publication 8151.

    1. Heat 3% hydrogen peroxide (what you will typically find at the store) to 140°F (60°C).  You really need to take your time here [and be accurate], the temperature range is key to maximizing your ability to kill bacteria, but you also want to be careful to not get the solution too hot or you will kill the seed (i.e. lower the germination).
    2. Put seeds in a small mesh strainer and lower them completely into the solution for 5 minutes, swirling every minute or so to ensure all seeds make contact with the peroxide.
    3. Rinse seeds for a minute under room temperature water and discard peroxide solution.

    As mentioned earlier, if you’re getting your sprouting seeds from Emergency Essentials, you’ll never need to sanitize them. Still, it’s interesting to know what process our supplier uses and of course it’s wonderful to know that your sprouts are clean.

    Go sprout!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Sprouts, baby steps, food storage

  • How to Build an Emergency Car Kit

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    As the seasons change we ought to be sure our car is prepared for them. Depending on your circumstances and location, your level of preparation may vary. You may need snow tires, new windshield wipers and fluid, anti-freeze, heater/air conditioner service, recommended scheduled tune-ups, etc. For everyone it should mean preparing your car for whatever could happen.

    When preparing your car it is wise to remember to make preparations also for your family. An emergency car kit is crucial for breakdowns and unusual weather conditions. It is always good to keep essential supplies in your car in case you get stranded for a few hours or even a few days.

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    What should I keep in my auto emergency kit? First, you want to make sure you have the basic essentials such as water, food, and warmth. After these basics are included, then you can add other necessities such as an emergency light, first aid items, tools and other accessories.

    Water:

    Drinkable water is of utmost importance. Most people can actually survive days without food, but your body will dehydrate without water, leading to organ failure and death. We take the abundance of water for granted when things are normal, but in an emergency it becomes critical. Water is also useful for washing wounds and for sanitation. Water can also be helpful if your car overheats. Because of the limited space in automobiles, storing water must be in small packages. Water is available in small drink boxes (8.45 oz.), in pouches (4.2 oz.) or a Deluxe Sanitation & Water Kit.

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    Food:

    If your car breaks down and you are many miles from any town or store, you will want to have food stored in your kit to make sure your body has enough energy. It is very difficult to keep food in your car because it is exposed to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, and the food is likely to spoil. The best thing to store in your car is high Calorie Food Bars. These bars come in packages of 2400 calories and 3600 calories. They can be exposed to extreme temperatures. They have a tasty flavor that won’t leave you thirsty. The bar helps activate the salivary gland and reduce your demand on emergency water supplies. They also expand in your stomach so you feel full. Be careful that you don’t over-consume them because they are so high in calories.

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    Warmth:

    You may have plenty of food and water, but if you’re cold you’ll feel miserable. Especially in the winter, warmth is a must for an emergency car kit. If you get stranded on a desolate road or stuck in a snowstorm, you will be glad you have a source of warmth in your car. There are several options: 6 to 20 hour warm packs, wool blankets, emergency bags, and emergency blankets. Also, for shelter from the rain, include a poncho or other rain gear

    Warm packs are nice for quick, concentrated heat. You can put them in your pockets, shoes and gloves to stay warm.

    CW-W100

    Wool is one of nature’s warmest fibers. It provides warmth even when it’s wet. It is best to get a wool blend blanket because when synthetic fibers are added to it they provide softness, washability and durability.

    Emergency blankets and bags are lightweight and fold to pocket size. They’re made of a reflective material which reflects up to 80% of your radiant body heat to help keep you warm. Our company did an in-house test of the emergency bag. We sent a few employees and family members outside in an emergency bag. They got so warm they had to get out of the bag.

    A poncho is nice if you are in rain or other bad weather and need to go outside to change a tire or do other work on the car.

    Light:

    It’s important to always keep a flashlight in your emergency car kit. It comes in handy for all types of circumstances. Be sure to keep charged batteries in the flashlight so you aren’t left in the dark. The Innovative LED Lights have a much higher battery life than conventional flashlights and are essential for emergency car kits. Other lights that could be useful in your auto emergency kit are lightsticks, emergency candles with a wide base and waterproof matches.

    Lightsticks last for 12 hours and are safe for children. They are visible up to one mile away, and they are non-toxic and non-flammable.

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    Emergency candles or liquid paraffin candles are long-lasting, reusable, odorless and smokeless. A wide base adds stability which helps prevent accidental spills which is especially nice for the car. Also, be sure to keep waterproof matches in your emergency car kit so you can light it.

    First Aid Items:

    If injury occurs, every second counts because help may be hours or days away. A first aid kit allows you to assist with injuries until help arrives. Keep items such as pain relievers, sterile pads, alcohol prep pads, bandages, soap, gauze pads, and micropore tape. You may also want to include tissues, toilet paper, safety pins and ace bandages. All of these items will come in handy when you are in need of first aid on the road.

    Tools:

    Consider tools such as a multi-purpose knife or a collapsible shovel for your car. A shovel may come in handy if you are to get stuck in the snow or mud. A multi-purpose knife provides many different tools for you to work with in a time of need. A Samurai survival tool provides an axe, hammer, and pry tool all-in-one. A basic tool kit and a roll of duct tape are also good items to keep in your car.

    Other Accessories:

    Road flares may also be useful in your auto emergency kit, but they should only be used for a warning signal, and should NEVER be used for light. Once a road flare has been lit, make sure you set it on a non-flammable surface. The by-product from its fire drips to the ground and may cause a fire if it lands on flammable material such as grass or if there is a gas leak. Be careful because the fumes are extremely nauseous and must be used only in a well-ventilated area.

    There are several kinds of pre-packaged emergency car kits available on the market, or you can customize your own. If you are purchasing a prepacked kit remember that you may need to customize your kit according to your needs (medications, glasses, etc.) Keep your kit in a compact case so it fits easily in your trunk or under a seat.

    As you are preparing for the unknown, don’t forget to prepare your car with an emergency car kit. When that snowstorm causes you to be stranded from home, or if you get a flat tire, or your auto overheats far from any town, you will be grateful you took the time to think ahead. The more conveniences you include, the better your situation will be.

    Posted In: Emergency Kits, Insight

  • Communication During and After a Disaster

    Even though we cannot predict or prevent earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or other natural cataclysmic events, we can prepare our families to cope and survive as optimally as possible. Learning what communication options are available during and after a disaster will bring confidence that you can better protect you and your loved ones. Establish a "meeting place" where family members can gather in the event of an emergency. You may want to select a local school or church. In a case where it is not possible to gather, having a common message center is vital.

    One of the most important keys to receiving and sending information to family members who may be in various places when a disaster occurs is through an out-of-state contact. This is a friend or relative designated to handle messages should you not be able to call or locate your local family members. While most local private phone lines may be out of order for hours after a disaster strikes, pay phones are usually operable much sooner. The out-of-state contact can receive and relay messages from family members so you will know they are safe.

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    Tips for Communication

    1. Everyone should carry with them a card with the out-of-state contact's name, address, and day and evening phone numbers. Let your children's teachers know who the out-of-state contact is for your family. That way, if your children are at school and you cannot pick them up, school representatives will know whom to relay a message concerning where your children will be taken.
    2. Each family member should carry a phone card or enough change for several phone calls.
    3. One woman whose family lives in California has designated her sister who is a stay-at-home mom in Michigan as the out-of-state contact. Family members carry laminated cards in their wallets with the following information: (1) emergency meeting place with the address (outside the home); (2) alternate meeting place and address (outside the neighborhood); and (3) name and day and evening phone numbers of out-of-state contact.
    4. It may be helpful to find out in advance if you have a ham radio operator in your area. They are very helpful and can deliver messages from both private and community sources during and after a disaster. If a pay telephone isn't readily available, and your out-of-state contact is several states away, you can communicate via this type of relay system. Your local ham can contact another ham that will contact another ham, and so on, until they find one within your out-of-state contact's area. The ham operator closest to your contact can then phone the contact and deliver any messages.
    5. A battery-powered or hand crank radio is helpful in monitoring the status of the disaster. Be sure to keep a fresh supply of batteries on hand. Check expiration dates on the batteries and rotate them regularly. Do not keep batteries inside the radio because they expire more quickly and may leak.
    6. When charged, most cell phones are able to call 9-1-1 even when they are not active. It is wise to have a cell phone (even not activated) when traveling or for emergency use.

     

    Remember that preparation brings confidence. When planning for an emergency, don’t forget that communication with your family members will be especially important. The tips provided in this article will assist you in creating a plan to contact loved ones during unexpected events.

    Posted In: Insight, Planning

  • Evacuating from Home in an Emergency

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    Unfortunately, there are times when an emergency evacuation from your home is absolutely necessary. When the time to evacuate comes be sure to have your items ready-to-go and that you are prepared. Here are some questions and information regarding emergency evacuation.

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    Question #1: Where should I go when I have to evacuate?

    A good family planning meeting to try to identify various destinations, depending upon what the emergency situation is, is a wise thing to do. If you live close to water and a hurricane is expected, remember that such storms tend to turn north and possibly east once they come ashore. Plan your route and try to flee southwestward, if possible. You will want a destination far enough away to provide protection but preferably reachable on one tank of gas. Experience teaches us that in times of emergency the lines at gas stations are notoriously long and in the worst case, no gas is available to purchase. One to two hundred miles is usually a good distance, but in a huge storm you may need to go farther. If at all possible, do not plan to rely on motels or hotels, as they fill up quickly and often in such circumstances do not honor reservations but operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have a friend or relative that you can descend upon and be welcomed, that would be best. Perhaps you could make a reciprocal arrangement with them so that they would also be welcomed at your home if they encountered a need to leave. If the weather is good enough, a spot in a campground would probably suffice, especially if it offers restrooms and showers. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a vacation cabin away from the danger area, that would be ideal. Some people prepare ahead of time by stashing extra supplies at such a place or in a closet storage unit close by. Bedding, clothing, and toiletries and extra drinking water are good items to store in such a place. Storing sleeping bags, blankets, seasonal clothing and pillows in vacuumed bags will allow much more to be stored in a small space, and have the additional advantage of being water and insect-proof. This is a good idea even if you store your gear at home, and you can grab it along with your emergency kit

    Question #2: What about a public shelter?

    Sometimes this may be your only choice, but if you must go to one, take some precautions, as you will be thrown together with strangers and in a high stress situation. Keep your children and belongings with you at all times. If there are two adults present, make sure one stays with the children while the other goes to the restroom. Take turns on watch duty, even during the night. Don’t flash your emergency supplies or money around where all can see. Keep your car locked. On the other hand, if you see a real need and can share, quietly do so. Try to team up with other families to form a mini-community, and watch out for each other. Be a good citizen. Try to keep your children quiet and occupied. Don’t play loud music or talk loudly. Keep your area neat and don’t take up other people’s space. Crises bring out both the best and the worst in people, and everyone will be stressed to one degree or another. Try to be a part of the solution rather than a problem. Only a few shelters accept pets, and if you have one with you, be extra sensitive to the needs of others and take responsibility for your animal. Try to keep him from barking, howling, meowing or walking freely. Take him out often enough when the weather permits and discourage other people’s children from overwhelming him with attention, especially if he is nervous around children or strangers. Keep smaller animals in their carriers except when on a leash for exercise. Make sure ahead of time that any pet is up-to-date on its vaccinations. A friend or relative who lives out of the danger area and who would keep your pet safe for a few days would be ideal.

    Question #3: How can I prepare my car for an evacuation?

    Your car may be your new home for a while. A few small things may make all the difference.

    Keep a detailed map of your area in your car. A GPS device can be a lifesaver, although it does run off your car’s electrical system, which could fail, so be sure to have a map. In the case of a mass evacuation, the main highways might be the most direct route to your chosen destination, but they may also be clogged with traffic, so if you are familiar with alternative back roads, they might be a better choice. Practice using these routes ahead of time so that you’ll be familiar with them—especially important if the weather is bad.

    Keep your car in good condition and with at least a half-tank of gas at all times. If you drive a truck or a large SUV, three-quarters of a tank would be better. Make sure your tires are in good condition and that any regular maintenance is taken care of on time. Have an emergency auto kit to handle both minor repairs and other emergency supplies. Also remember to be sure you have a spare tire and jack. If you know a storm is approaching and you may need to evacuate, park your car facing the street so that the back is available for quick loading and you’re poised to pull right out without having to back out into traffic and turn. Keep your keys in your pocket if evacuation seems likely and always have a "hid-a-key" in case you lose yours.

    Question #4: What mental and emotional preparations can I do now to help my family?

    A good idea if you have children is to hold evacuation drills—much like a fire drill except that everyone can leave by way of the door closest to the car and pick up their emergency or evacuation kit on the way. Another good habit to develop with each child is to make clearing a path to the bedroom door a part of the bedtime ritual along with brushing teeth, prayers, or stories, so that there will be no tripping hazards to slow anyone down in the dark. A pair of shoes and a flashlight, or a chemical light stick beside each bed is also a good precaution for every family member.

    Remember to review and update your emergency kit supplies regularly. April and October are good times to do this because for most people these months are just prior to major change in upcoming weather which would influence the kit’s contents.

     

    Question #5: What if the nature of the emergency requires evacuation to be on foot rather than by car?

    This is slow and more difficult, especially with children or the elderly, and you won’t be able to go as far, but if it’s your only choice, go with it. Bicycles for everyone might seem a solution, but bikes can present as many problems as they solve. If you must walk, it would be good to have some kind of wheeled carrier for small children or to help transport packs. A sturdy wagon, stroller, shopping or laundry cart, luggage carrier or a wheelchair could help in transporting your gear. For a small family, motorized bikes or scooters might be a good solution as they can maneuver around blockages and go quite far on a tank of gas. However, you would not be able to carry as much with you.

    Question #6: What else should I think about?

    It is essential to remember that if a possible evacuation is looming, be prepared ahead of time and leave as early as you possibly can to avoid the rush. Many people try to stay at home for as long as possible, hoping the need to leave will not really materialize, but if nothing else, Hurricane Katrina taught us the lack of wisdom in that approach. Be pro-active, prepare ahead of time and don’t lag behind, hoping to be rescued if things get really bad. If they do, emergency services will be overwhelmed and possibly unavailable for days or weeks. Organization and planning are the keys to a successful evacuation.

    Take some time to ponder and think about things that would be crucial to you should you have to be self reliant for a few days or a week. Ponder these things relative to individual family members: Water, food, warmth and shelter, extra clothing (shoes, hat, coat, gloves, rain gear, etc.), light sources, tools, first aid, medications, communication, personal sanitation, money, important papers, stress relievers and auto preparedness.

    By having a plan of action and your supplies ready you will be better able to survive an emergency. Remember what the former director of the National Hurricane Center, Max Mayfield, said: "Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy"

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Insight

  • Textured Vegetable Protein . . . What is it?

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    We all know that we have to cut down on fat and not eat quite so much red meat. But how can you convince your family to give up their favorite dishes like pizza, lasagna, and tacos? The good news is that you don't have to! My husband was a certified meat-lover who would turn up his nose at salads and meatless dishes. I thought it would be impossible to change his eating habits. Then we discovered textured vegetable protein.

    Made from soybeans, textured vegetable protein is a meat substitute that is used in a variety of foods. When cooked, it resembles ground beef or chicken. Sound too weird to try? Actually, you probably have already eaten textured vegetable protein! Most "bacon bits" that you use on salads and potatoes are made of textured vegetable protein. And textured vegetable protein is in most convenience foods and fast foods as a meat extender. Just check the label. If it says "texturized soy flour" then you know the food contains textured vegetable protein.

    Unlike a lot of vegetarian meals, textured vegetable protein resembles real meat, in flavor as well as texture. It's a by-product of soybean oil, so it's a natural food. And not only is textured vegetable protein a great meat substitute, there's some great side benefits to cooking with textured vegetable protein.

    Textured vegetable protein is more economical than meat. Even the cheapest cuts of meat are far more expensive than your average serving of textured vegetable protein. Depending on what area you live in, you could save as much as 86% over the cost of real hamburger. And remember, hamburger is not 100% beef. Up to 20% of beef fat is added to ground hamburger, depending on the grade of meat you buy. This means, after you’ve browned the meat, drained it, and rinsed the extra fat away, you end up with a lot less hamburger. With textured vegetable protein, none of that food value is lost in preparation.

    Textured vegetable protein is easy to prepare—even easier than real meat! I never liked the hassle of preparing ground beef. It's a lot of effort to defrost your hamburger, fry and drain the meat. And you have to deal with greasy pans afterward. With textured vegetable protein, it's so much simpler. Just simmer in water for ten minutes, and your textured vegetable protein is fully rehydrated. Keep in mind that textured vegetable protein should be handled just as you would raw meat. Make sure your cooking area is clean and you refrigerate rehydrated textured vegetable protein if you're not currently cooking with it.

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    *tacos using textured vegetable protein. Looks the same as cooking with real meat!

    Recipes

    You don't even need to re-hydrate textured vegetable protein to cook with it! Just add it to whatever you're cooking and simmer for an extra ten minutes. You will have to add extra liquid to your recipe (see back of #10 can for details). For me, there's nothing easier than tossing a handful of beef textured vegetable protein while my spaghetti sauce simmers, then I can attend to other things.

    Plus, you don't have to learn new recipes to try textured vegetable protein! Many of the recipes that I've included here are adaptations of family favorites. If you have a recipe that calls for ground beef, diced chicken, or crumbled bacon, you can use that flavor of textured vegetable protein. Just make sure to add extra liquid when you add it dry to a recipe. And if you are making a dish with a mild flavor, you might want to add a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

    Textured vegetable protein is lower in fat than red meat. A lot lower, in fact. The average serving of textured vegetable protein contains usually about 5 grams of fat. That's the same as lean broiled chicken or fish. And the fat found in the soy of textured vegetable protein is vegetable fat, which is much healthier than animal fat.

    Still not convinced about textured vegetable protein? Try a little experiment with your family. The next time you cook hamburger, substitute beef textured vegetable protein for half of it. I'd be surprised if they notice the difference. Once I served lasagna made with textured vegetable protein (recipe included below) to several unsuspecting friends. They raved and finished off the whole lasagna!

    To get you started, I've included some recipes that my family asks for again and again.

    "Guiltless" Lasagna

    To make this lasagna really low-fat, use fat-free cottage cheese and low-fat or fat-free mozzarella cheese.

    1 cup Provident Pantry beef textured vegetable protein

    10 oz. large lasagna noodles

    1 minced garlic clove

    1 Tbl. basil

    1 1/2 tsp. salt

    2 6-oz. cans tomato paste

    1/2 cup onion, minced

     

    Cheese Filling:

    3 cups cottage cheese

    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

    2 Tbl parsley flakes

    1 tsp oregano

    2 beaten eggs

    2 tsp. salt

    1/2 tsp pepper

    Preheat oven to 375º F. In a large saucepan, add all ingredients except lasagna noodles and cheese filling ingredients. Fill tomato paste can with water 4 times and add to sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While "meat" sauce is cooking, cook lasagna noodles until tender. Mix cheese filling ingredients well, reserving 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese for the top. Spray pan with non-stick spray. Pour 1/3 of meat sauce on the bottom of the large pan. Next, lay a layer of 1/2 noodles, and 1/2 cheese filling. Repeat, ending up with meat sauce on the top. Use reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella to top lasagna. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 12 servings.

    Green Beans with Tangy Bacon Textured Vegetable Protein Dressing

    My family always makes these green beans disappear--I always have to make a double batch!

    1 pound green beans, fresh or frozen

    2 Tbl. Provident Pantry bacon bits textured vegetable protein

    1/2 onion, minced

    1/4 cup vinegar

    salt and pepper to taste

    2 tsp. olive or other vegetable oil

     

    Cook beans in boiling, salted water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in fry pan. Sauté onions and bacon bits textured vegetable protein in oil until onion is translucent. Add vinegar. Heat to boiling. When beans are done, pour bacon bits and sauce over beans, season, and toss. Serves 4-5.

    Spicy Sloppy Joes

    This recipe gives a Southwestern twist to a summer favorite

    1 cup dry Provident Pantry taco textured vegetable protein

    1 tsp. salt

    1/8 tsp. pepper

    2 Tbl. ketchup

    1 tsp. prepared mustard

    1 Tbl. brown sugar

    1 can (10 3/4 oz.) chicken gumbo soup

    1/2 cup salsa

    2 hamburger buns, split

    In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add taco textured vegetable protein, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, chicken gumbo soup, and salsa. Blend well. Heat until bubbly. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Spoon onto split buns.

    Pizzeria Pizza

    If you have teenagers, you know that pizza is considered a major food group. I got the idea for this sausage and bacon bits textured vegetable protein pizza from Rebecca Baldwin, a great young lady who makes a fantastic pizza.

    Dough:

    3 cups flour

    1 cup warm water

    1 package yeast

    1 tsp. sugar

    2 Tbl. oil

     

    Topping:

    8-10 oz. mozzarella cheese

    1 cup Provident Pantry sausage textured vegetable protein

    10 oz. pizza sauce

    1 tsp oregano

    1 garlic clove, minced

    2 Tbl. Provident Pantry bacon bits textured vegetable protein

    Grease bowl. Mix flour, yeast, and sugar in bowl. Add water, mixing with greased spoon until evenly moist. Add oil gradually. Knead dough on board for 5 minutes. Put back in bowl. Cover and let rise in warm, moist area until double in bulk--takes about 1 hour. While dough is rising, grate cheese, and reconstitute sausage textured vegetable protein. (To reconstitute sausage textured vegetable protein, simmer in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Drain.)

    Preheat oven to 400º F. Spread dough evenly and flat on greased cookie sheet. Add sausage textured vegetable protein, sauce, oregano, garlic clove and cheese. Sprinkle bacon bits textured vegetable protein on top. Bake on second rack from the top until cheese browns, about 15-20 minutes.

    Broccoli-Rice Bake with Chicken Textured Vegetable Protein

    This casserole is a great way to use up leftover rice. And it's quick on those nights that you don't want to do a lot of cooking.

    1/4 cup butter or margarine

    1 diced medium onion

    1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped broccoli

    1 cup dry Provident Pantry chicken textured vegetable protein

    1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup

    1 jar of Cheez Whiz or 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

    2 cups cooked rice

    Cook broccoli according to directions on package. Drain. Preheat oven to 350º F. In small skillet, melt butter or margarine. Add onion and sauté until onion is clear, but not brown. Add cooked broccoli, soup, chicken textured vegetable protein and rice. Stir in Cheez Whiz or 1 cup cheese. Add 2 cups water. Bake in a buttered casserole dish until water has cooked out and casserole is bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

     

    Do you have a favorite food storage recipe that you'd like to share? Just e-mail it to webmaster@beprepared.com and we'll include it in a future Insight Article. Also, if you have any questions or ideas for future articles, just drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you!

    Posted In: Food Storage, Insight

  • Food Dehydration

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    When it comes to food storage, there are few things more satisfying than “putting up” your own food. Drying, or dehydrating, homegrown produce is one of the traditional ways of food preservation. This process involves removing moisture from food, while exposing it to temperature increases and moving air.

    Dried fruits provide an inexpensive and sweet alternative to sugary store-bought foods. Fruit leathers and jerky are two examples of snack replacements that you can produce at home for mere pennies.

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    The three primary ways of home drying food today are sun-drying, oven-drying, and using a food dehydrator.

    Sun

    drying is ideal for fruits such as apricots, peaches, grapes, and figs, although there are other foods suitable for this method. Sun-drying requires a number of hot (85 degrees or higher) days with relatively low humidity. Spread thin pieces of fruit evenly across a shallow pan and cover with cheesecloth to keep the food safe from bugs. Putting boxes in the back seat of a car and laying the tray on top, with full exposure to the sun through the back windshield is a creative and easy way to dry food. Others have used sunny porches, balconies, and even flat roofs to dry their food.

    Oven

    drying involves drying food at temperatures between 130 and 150 degrees. (Some older ovens may not have temperature settings this low). As in sun-drying, distribute pieces of food in a shallow pan or dish. You may want to check the food periodically for adequate dehydration.

    If the temperature is too low or the humidity too high when sun or oven-drying, the food may dry too slowly or even spoil. When the temperature is too high it could cook the food and make it hard on the outside, while leaving the inside moist and vulnerable to molding or other forms of spoilage from microorganisms.

    Food Dehydrator

    Commercial food dehydrators offer the most controlled drying environment. They provide a constant ideal temperature combined with heated air that circulates via a blower or fan. Most food dehydrators also offer liners and trays for dehydrating fruit leather and small, sticky foods. Fruits, vegetables, and meats can dry while you are away at work, asleep, or doing your household chores with minimal worry or fuss.

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    After drying the food, cool it to room temperature and loosely package in plastic bags, hard plastic containers, or glass jars. For longer-term preservation, pack in airtight containers. Foods that you dehydrate yourself are not only great for snacks at home but are useful when camping or backpacking since they do not require refrigeration.

    There are many good books on the market that specifically describe how to dry fruits, vegetables, and meats with delicious recipes included. We at Emergency Essentials often carry books on dehydrating. You may email us at sales@beprepared.com and we will help you find information.

    Posted In: Insight, Preserving

  • Last Chance for May Sale Items

    Last chance words written on lined paper with a pen on it

    So you’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down with this month’s Emergency Essentials® catalog to peruse the sale items. As usual there are so many deals to choose from that you might not know where to start.

    Let the Preparedness Pantry blog help! Here are our suggestions for this month’s best grabs.

    • Slumberjack Trail Tent 2: Sleeps three and keeps you dry with waterproofed, fully-taped seams and a full-coverage rain fly. On sale for $79.99.
    • MRE One Month Food Supply: Provides one person with three meals a day for one month. MREs are great for camping trips as well as emergency meals. Lots of different entrees (90 in total!), drinks, and sides. On sale for $339.99
    • Provident Pantry Hash Browns: Mmmm! Mmmm!! Nothing says comfort like a plate of hot hash browns. This’ll keep your troopers going during any situation. On sale for $8.49.
    • Provident Pantry SuperPail Lentils: Stock up your pantry and your food storage at the same time! Lentils are an excellent source of fiber and protein, and are the perfect addition to main dishes, soups, salads, or dips. This price is better than what you’ll find at the grocery store. On sale for $62.99
    • Mountain Oven Flameless Heating Kit: Don’t have fuel to boil water? No problem! Get yourself some of these Mountain Ovens and create heat on the fly. Check out our customers’ reviews highlighting their experiences with this product. On sale for $10.99.
    • Nuclear War Survival Skills: The handiest book we hope you’ll never need. You’ll not only learn how to survive nuclear fallout, but you’ll also pick up tips on homesteading, first aid, and other survival skills. On sale for $9.99.
    • Emergency Essentials Whistle: No emergency kit is complete without a whistle. This is such a great sale (almost half-off!) that you’ll probably want to stock up on a bunch for your family and friends. On sale for $.49. Yep, 49 cents!  

    Click here to see images of the food storage and survival gear on sale this month. And while you’re at it, learn more about our great products from people who have used them! Check out what our customers have to say about these sale items in the customer review section of each product.

    Happy stocking!

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage

  • 7 Tips for Choosing a Sleeping Bag

    Summer is here, and many individuals and families have the outdoors on their minds. If you’re planning to camp this summer, make sure you’ve got the right supplies and equipment to stay comfortable and safe. One thing that can make or break your camping experience is the sleeping bag you use. Read on for some tips on how to select the right sleeping bag for your camping style.

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    The type of sleeping bag you choose to purchase will depend upon when, where, and how you plan to use it. Will you be in a tent, in a camper, or under the stars? If you are selecting bags for warm-weather family camping, base camping, or "car camping" (in which you don’t plan to carry the bags very far before using them), you will want to choose a bag for general comfort—something that is roomy, soft and cushy. This is also true if you expect to use them in warmed tents, cabins, or camping vehicles. However, if you’re planning to backpack and carry your bag along, or camp outdoors in cool weather, your bag’s weight and temperature ratings will become vital factors in your choice.

    If you expect to be camping in areas with great temperature extremes or in different parts of the world, you may need more than one bag. There are sleeping bags designed for summer or winter use, for three seasons or four, and to fit men, women, or children. There are rectangular bags, mummy bags, and bags that can zip to each other to accommodate more than one person. They can be constructed of natural or synthetic material, each with its own set of pros and cons.

    Given all of these factors, how do you choose? Here are several factors to aid in your choice:

    1. Fill

    One very important choice to make is the material that is used to fill (or insulate) your sleeping bag. One property of fill is "loft," the height the insulation achieves when the bag is open and allowed to “fluff.” The higher the loft, the warmer the bag.

    • Cotton- fill bags are cozy and work well if you are sleeping in a warm tent or vehicle, but not good at all if they get wet; cotton absorbs and retains water, becoming soggy, heavy, and cold. It is not good for backpacking, as it is too heavy and doesn’t compress well to roll up or stuff in a bag. Though cotton has its place, in backpacking situations it is known as the “death cloth” because it doesn’t insulate well when wet, and it’s extremely hard to dry—so if temperatures plummet, it may kill you or lead to hypothermia.
    • Wool- Wool repels water much better than cotton, and even if it absorbs some it tends to wick it away from the surface, so that you feel dryer. However, it is also very heavy and does not compress or transport well.
    • Synthetic Fill- These soft polyester filaments are strong and have good heat-retention in cold temperatures, even when wet. Synthetic fill doesn’t compress well, either, so it will take up more room in your backpack. Good loft.
    • Down Fill- Down is the name for the soft, tiny feathers that grow next to the skin of a goose and keep it warm. Down comforters, pillows and sleeping bags are soft and luxurious-feeling, but down does lose warmth when wet. It is the lightest type of insulation; it also compacts and stuffs well into a compression sack for packing. It is the most expensive type of fill. Because of its ability to trap and hold air, it has the best loft

    2. Lining

    The lining of the sleeping bag might be silk taffeta, flannel or fleece—again, your choice will depend upon where and how you expect the bag to be used.

    • Silk- Silk is considered one of the best choices, as it is a natural, comfortable and strong fabric, and can absorb a significant amount of water without feeling wet like cotton, yet still is lightweight.
    • Flannel- Flannel does tend to hold water
    • Fleece- Fleece is good in extra-cold conditions. You can also buy an extra liner for your sleeping bag to add 5 to 10 more degrees of warmth. If you find yourself camping in very warm nighttime temperatures, use the liner alone, on top of a pad.

    3. Shell

    The material used for the outer shell of the bag is another factor. Some materials are water-repellent, others are classified as waterproof. Some are breathable; others are excellent at keeping out winds and drafts. Waterproof and windproof are nice, but will add to the cost. If your fill is down, a waterproof/breathable shell is best. Pay attention to the foot section—is it reinforced and extra warm? How about the hood—does it fit snugly and comfortably around the face? Examine the draft tube (the fabric that covers the zipper to prevent heat loss) to be sure it is generous enough, and constructed so that it won’t catch in the zipper.

    4. Temperature Rating

    The temperature rating is indicated by the degrees in Fahrenheit to which the manufacturer believes the bag will keep the average person warm. You will need to consider a few factors in this choice:

    Are you a cold sleeper or a hot sleeper? Hot sleepers typically need less covering, especially as the night wears on. Partners may complain that they “make the bed too hot.” Cold sleepers wake up cold even with several layers of bedding. They have a slow nighttime metabolism and generate little body heat. Hot sleepers can always unzip the bag a bit to allow a cooling off period, but it’s more difficult for a cold sleeper to get warm, so if you fall in the cold category, adjust your temperature rating downward by 10 degrees. For instance, if the rating given says the bag will keep you warm to 30° F, look for one that says it will keep you warm down to 20° F.

    Manufacturers are also assuming that you will be using a pad with a factor of 5 or greater under your sleeping bag, which provides for greater insulating power than a lightweight pad. If you’re sleeping right on the ground, you’ll be cold no matter the rating of your bag. Tents add an average of 10° to the air temperature—less if there’s a fierce wind blowing.

    The rating also assumes that you will be using the hood, drawn up tightly around your face. About 40 to 50% of body heat is lost through the top of the head. If you have little or no hair, wear a good fleece hat and use your hood as well!

    Manufacturers assume that you will buy a bag that fits snugly around you and that you are using it fully zipped. Buy a bag that fits your height. If it’s too long there will be a pocket of cold air around your feet all night long. Choose a mummy bag if you’re camping in cold weather and if you can tolerate less wiggle-room. If you can’t, and are a “tosser and turner,” select a less-tapered bag with a 10° lower temperature rating to compensate for the bellows effect your moving will create.

    Manufacturers also assume that you will be sleeping in your underwear. Sleeping in clothes (especially cotton items) can actually keep you cold; sleeping bags often make you perspire, and cotton will absorb that water and hold it next to your skin all night, with a chilling effect. And if you’re damp, you’ll be miserable all night and extra cold when you emerge from your cocoon in the morning.

    It is recommended that you buy a bag that will give you 15 to 20 extra degrees of temperature rating below that which you think you will need—just in case you need that extra warmth. If you’re thinking of mountain-terrain camping in cold weather, for example, go ahead and pay for a bag rated down to -40° F. A -20° F rating sounds great until that -40° blast comes through!

    If you are a cold sleeper, or need to temporarily add some extra warmth to a general-use bag, there is a technique to adding an extra liner to a sleeping bag. First, select a liner that is slightly smaller than your bag. Unzip your bag as far as it will go. Step into your liner and pull it up around you, then insert your liner-clad feet into the sleeping bag, wiggling your feet to make sure you reach the bottom of the bag. Push the corners of the liner tightly into the corners of the bag. Zip your sleeping bag about halfway up, and then ease yourself out.

    5. Pillow Pocket

    Is there a pillow pocket into which you can either slip a camping pillow or stuff clothing to make a pillow? Having the world’s most comfortable sleeping bag won’t do you a lot of good if you need a pillow and don’t have space for one.

    6. Baffles

    Examine the baffles—seams that run across the length of the bag to compartmentalize the insulation. Are they securely sewn? This can affect the warmth and life-span of your bag, because the baffles prevent the fill from shifting around and creating cold spots while you sleep.

    7. Transporting your Bag

    How are you going to transport your bag? Many come with their own compression sack that will squish them into the smallest possible package, but if not, compression sacks are available, priced at $10 to $45. These allow you to stuff bags, clothing, towels, etc. into a smaller, compact bundle that will be much easier to pack. These bags ideally should be waterproof or water-repellent. Many have buckles and straps which would allow them to be attached to the outside of your backpack if they can’t fit inside. There is a technique in stuffing a sleeping bag into a compression sack: Do not roll the sleeping bag first! Hold the mouth of the sack open in your non-dominant hand and grab the closed end of the sleeping bag with your dominant hand, stuffing the bag as far into the sack as possible. Repeat twice more, then rotate the sack to create a more even distribution of the sleeping bag and continue stuffing. Rotate after every two or three handfuls, always reaching as far into the sack as possible. Continue until the entire bag is inside the sack. Set the sack on its end and fold the flap over. Pull drawstring tightly and secure.

    Bonus Tip: Caring for your sleeping bag

    Read the cleaning label before purchasing and cleaning your bag. Down or synthetic fill may usually be washed in cold water in front-loading machines, or hand-washed in the bathtub. Rinse well (all cool water) and dry on no-heat dryer setting with two or three clean tennis balls to help keep the fill evenly distributed and not packed-down. Or spread your bag outdoors to dry on a clean surface or on a clothesline, fluffing frequently. Caring for your bag properly is almost as important as selecting the right bag in the first place.

    A good sleeping bag that fits your needs can make all the difference between a miserable and a memorable camping experience. If you aren’t sleeping well, you compromise your energy and health, as well as your mood. Now that you know the factors to look for in selecting your sleeping bag, you can have fun and comfortable camping trips. Enjoy your summer camping adventures, and stay safe!

    Posted In: Insight, Shelter and Temperature Control

  • Clean Sprouting Every Time

    The last thing you wanted to read about this week was another e. coli outbreak. Luckily, this one happened two summers ago (2011), but we’re writing about it now because e. coli outbreaks are a real danger. In the 2011 German outbreak, definitively linked to unclean sprouts, 3,000 people got sick (some of them got sick enough to be put in quarantine) and 29 died.

    Bean Sprouts

    The likelihood of e. coli coming from your homegrown sprouts is fairly low. If you are diligent at thoroughly washing the sprouting dish after each use, and washing your hands each time you handle the sprouts, you are well ahead of the game. But, because sprouts are a fresh, raw product, you should know that infection is possible, even if it is unlikely.

    The first, and probably best, tip is this: if your sprouts look slimy, or smell weird – don’t eat them! (That means you, Dad. No rinsing it off and pretending it’s ok.) There is one exception; broccoli sprouts produce sulfaraphane which is thought to have anti-cancer properties. Sulfaraphane smells like—you guessed it—sulfur and that’s normal for broccoli sprouts.

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     Follow these seven easy steps and get delicious, fresh, clean sprouts – every time!

    1. Wash your hands every time you handle the seeds or sprouts – do it right, don’t give it the quick rinse.  A bit of hand sanitizer after a good wash is not a bad idea either.
    2. After soaking your seeds, skim off anything floating on the surface.  Research has shown that these “floaters” may be more likely to grow bacteria.
    3. Rinse your seeds/sprouts. No matter what sprouting method you use, rinse your seeds/sprouts frequently with clean water. At least twice a day is recommend, 3 to 4 times a day is better. Keeping the seeds/sprouts moist allows them to germinate, and rinsing them frequently helps keep bacteria from growing.
    4. Completely drain your seeds/sprouts after each rinse.  Rinsing is key to safety. Standing water can lead to mold and bacteria so get rid of the excess.
    5. As sprouts develop use a clean fork to break up the sprouts before rinsing, as you rinse allow any seed hulls or other “floaters” to rinse out.
    6. After your sprouts have fully developed do a final rinse in a clean bowl. Use a clean fork, or your clean hands, to remove any final floaters or other non-sprout material.
    7. Remove excess water. Dry sprouts with a clean paper towel or use a fine mesh salad spinner.
    8. Wash your sprouting dish after each use and before you start sprouting.

    You can store sprouts in a clean bag or other sealed container in the refrigerator, but… sprouts are more delicious and nutritious when they’re fresh. Don’t wait for more than a couple of days to enjoy the fruits of your sprouting labor!

    Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Sometimes you may need to clean the seeds themselves. If you’re purchasing commercial sprouting seeds, and most of us are, those seeds have already been cleaned. Here are instructions on how to clean sprout seeds, in case you’re interested.

    For more information about sprouting, and tasty recipes, get a copy of The Sprouting Book. It’s an easy, informative read on how to grow and use sprouts. The book also discusses many of the health benefits from incorporating sprouts into your diet. Sprouts be a nutrition-packed boost to your daily diet and sprouting seeds are an invaluable addition to your food storage.

    If you’re ready to start sprouting, Emergency Essentials offers several varieties of sprouting seeds and sprouting dishes. These seeds are clean and packaged for long-term storage. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, and we mean it. You can enjoy sprouts now or in years to come!

    Sprout on, my friends. Sprout on. 

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Sprouts, food storage

  • DIY Tent Lamp

    |4 COMMENT(S)

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    I love ingenuity – how cool is this improvised tent lamp? Really cool, right? It reminded me of this video, Plastic Bottles Light Up Homes in Manilla Slums, which really moved me. I love invention. It’s so great when someone comes up with a money and resource-saving device.

    I tried it myself, with variations:

    • 16 oz plastic water bottle. I took the label off. It’s pretty directional and not much better than the headlamp on its own. Apart from the pretty effect of dappled light on the wall.
    • 12 oz glass water bottle. Even more directional than the 16 oz plastic bottle.
    • 2 liter plastic soda bottle (label off). Better than the 16 oz, but the spread of light was not as amazing as expected.

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    • Emergency Essentials Mixer Pitcher. (See picture below.) I think this was my fave. The opaque container diffuses the light nicely and leaves enough light for a decent reach.

    If you don’t want to DIY, check out our emergency lighting options. (Our 100 Hour Candles are especially awesome.) But if you do want to build one on your own, all you need is a headlamp (or other light like a flashlight or glowstick) and a plastic water bottle or jug.

    Step One: Fill a plastic bottle or jug with water.

    Step Two: Pour in bleach (optional).

    Step Three: Adjust headlamp to fit securely around container. Or if you’re using a flashlight, place it on the ground next to the container. I aimed the headlamp up, rather than down, because I figured I didn’t need light on the ground.

    Step Four: Bring people over to admire your creation!

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    From what I can figure out, the water diffracts and diffuses the light (or spreads out the beam). These guys agree with me. I read that it works better if you add bleach (but I also read that the bleach is just there to kill bacteria).

    My conclusion is, the more you can diffuse the light, the more of a “lamp” effect you get. A plastic milk jug works really well because it’s large, stable, and portable. Think of all the possible variations…

    Ooh! A five-gallon water storage jug would be awesome!!! You could put one of these big flashlights next to it.

    Quick, somebody try putting a flashlight in a SuperPail (without water) and see if that works. Is it too opaque?

    Here’s to unique, innovative lighting solutions! You never know what you’ll be able to invent in a pinch. Go preppers!

    ~ Steph

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Headlamps, Lighting, DIY, essential gear

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