Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homemade Pear Sauce: Canning . . Almost

Well, I got ambitious today. We have an Anjou pear tree and have an abundant crop this year. So I thought I'd try to make some pear sauce. There is a great website called that has some wonderful canning recipes. As it turned out, I thought I would have too many pears for my jars, so I only peeled half of the box, and after I cooked the pears, ended up with 1 quart! So I didn't can any, but put it in the refrigerator to eat later. I did drain the water off the pears after I cooked them, and have pear juice too. Yum! It took me about an hour, since I did not use the canner.

1. Wash the pears in cold water.

2. Peal and slice the pears, removing all skin and brown spots.

3. Add 1 inch of water to pan, put on lid, and bring to boil.

4. Reduce heat until soft, and mash with potato masher.

5. Drain into colander.

6. Return to pan, continue mashing and add cinnamon to taste. Yum!

(Put in blender for smoother texture, but I like it chunky.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Propane Gas and the Barbecue

A few days ago, my husband went to turn on the BBQ, and the last person who cooked (could it be me!) left the gas valve open. So, there was no propane left in the tank. During the summer I kept thinking about buying a second one as a backup, but never did. I don't know much about propane tanks, except that you turn the valve and it stinks.

My husband purchased the BBQ a few years back, and it has this cool side burner. We've never used it, but I can see that the benefits of a side burner are that we can boil water for purification, or to cook on it in an emergency like a major earthquake (can't use gas or electricity until damage is evaluated).

I am somewhat uncomfortable lighting our barbecue. I usually ask my son to do it. Yes, I'm a baby about it. However, I come from pioneer stock. My pioneer ancestors crossed the plains pushing and pulling handcarts, and I'm sure my female ancestors gathered wood, and lit their own fires.

So, I want you somewhat dependent-on-my-husband females to think about the next thing I am going to write. My husband is employed in the medical field, and in the event of an emergency, will probably have to stay at work and not come home to help me light the BBQ. Since he commutes 20 minutes away, getting home could also take forever. And if your husband works away from home, you might need to be less dependent on him.

So, yesterday I unhooked the propane tank by myself, and hauled it to the grocery store to get a replacement 20# Rhino. Okay, I know I cheated and exchanged it at the grocery store. And purchased a 2nd tank. I say cheated because it's lots cheaper to take it to a propane station like Uhaul. One of my impatient moments. Next time, I'll do it the right way. Learn from my mistakes. So, now we have 2 full 20# propane tanks. And tonight I lit up the BBQ in the 50 degree weather, and we had somewhat rare steak for dinner! Got to work on cooking on the BBQ. Just like those pioneer women.

How do I connect my tank? go to Blue Rhino

Money Saving Ideas: 10 Ways to Save Money for Food Storage

1. CUT BACK ON EATING OUT. Save $5 -$10 per person each meal.
It's always shocking to me to see the number of families eating out in restaurants these days. Commit to not going out more than once a month with the family. Reserve eating out for date night, birthdays, and other special occasions. Have some prepared foods on hand for those nights when you don't feel like cooking. Buy frozen pizza, prepared soups, frozen burritos, or barbecue meats.
2. MAKE SACK LUNCHES. Save $2 - 5 per lunch.
Keep a supply of foods for sack lunches, and make them the night before school/work. Make a loaf of peanut butter sandwiches and freeze them for easy access. Buy drinks in bulk to carry to school and work.
3. BUY IN BULK. Save $90 per week on $200 of groceries.
Many of us have warehouse memberships, but make sure that you are really getting a deal when you shop there. Don't impulse buy. Plan ahead, and stick to your list. If you buy in bulk, when you get home, package foods for the freezer in serving sizes to prevent freezer burn waste. Because I have a business account at Sam's Club, I can order online, and they will load items in my car for me.
4. COOK BREAKFAST. If you make your own pancakes/waffles, muffins or oatmeal for breakfast from already stored long-term storage, you will spend hardly anything. You will also make the cold cereal in your food storage last longer.
5. SELL SOMETHING. Is there an item (or items) in your home that could find a new home? Sell it and put the money aside for food storage. List on Ebay, Craigslist, or your local newspaper. 6. CANCEL YOUR NEWSPAPER and MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION. $15 - $25 per month.
Learn to read the news online. Read magazines at the library while your kids are checking out books.
7. CANCEL YOUR PREMIUM MOVIE CHANNELS ON YOUR CABLE SERVICE. $25 per month. Look for the least expensive cable package you can, and cut out the high definition stuff. Or perhaps cut out cable all-together.
8. VACATION CLOSE TO HOME. $500 or more per trip.
There is a lot to explore in your own state. Instead of a vacation to a distant land, stay close to home. Your kids will still love it. Or swap houses with a relative who wants to come to your state, and you to theirs. 9. DOWNSIZE YOUR CAR. Various amounts of cash.
True, large cars may be harder to sell right now, but there is a family who needs yours. Price it right, and not with the idea that you are going to get top dollar for it, and it will probably sell. If you have an extra car, sell it. How many cars do you really need?
10. CANCEL YOUR GYM MEMBERSHIP. Create an area at home where you can work out. Make it an environment you enjoy being in. Paint a room, put the old spare television in a corner, and jog on a treadmill, or use other exercise equipment. Shop your Craigslist or your newspaper for someone else's unused equipment. There's alot of it available.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Freezer Storage Tips

As we continue our goal to gather a 3-Month Supply of non-perishable foods, we also want to keep our freezers stocked. Today's post is about tips on storing foods in the freezer:
  1. Freezer foods are good for 1 to 2 days in the event of a power outage. This depends on how full your freezer is. What To Do if the Freezer Stops?

  2. Plan ahead. Know the closest location you can purchase dry ice in case your freezer stops. "A 50-pound cake of dry ice is enough to protect solidly frozen food in a full 20-cubic foot freezer for three to four days. A 25-pound cake should hold the temperature of a half- full, 10-cubic foot freezer below freezing for two to three days." University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service

  3. The freezer should be set for 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If a power outage is anticipated, lower the freezer a few more degrees.

  4. Keep a freezer thermometer inside to be sure your freezer is functioning properly. If the freezer can't keep ice cream brick-solid, the temperature is above the recommended level.

  5. It's important to store items in freezer containers, freezer bags or freezer wrap. Do not use plain old sandwich bags.

  6. Label food packages with an expiration date. Here is a Refrigerator and Freezer Food Storage Chart. Copy and hang on the side of your freezer, or in a kitchen cupboard.

  7. Freeze food in portion sizes for your family. During a power outage, you can quickly grab portioned food. This also helps items defrost more quickly for regular use. The picture above shows how I divide a large package of ground beef. I have a box of plastic food service gloves which is very helpful when touching meat. I cut the meat into approximately 1 lb. chunks, and put them in a freezer bag. Then I place the bag on my scale (mine is a postal scale), and then add a bit more or less. I close the pack as tight as I can leaving a tiny amount of air space for expansion. Then I flatten the ground beef into a flat square, and freeze flat. After it is frozen, I stand them up in a box so the freezer shelf space is used more efficiently. I still need to put the expiration date on, but you get the idea.

  8. Leave a little room (1/2 inch) for expansion in your containers; however too much air leads to freezer burn.

  9. Freeze produce in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then transfer portioned amounts into freezer bags.

  10. Make your trip to the grocery store your LAST errand. Purchase freezer foods last at the grocery store, and put them away first when you get home.

  11. Keep your freezer fully stocked to help it run more efficiently. If you can't fill it up, put water in plastic jugs, and freeze them to fill empty spaces.

  12. Cool hot food to room temperature before freezing.

  13. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, or a sink full of cool water. Not on the kitchen counter.

  14. Don't pack your freezer so tight that air can't circulate.

  15. Organize foods into food groups.

  16. Place newer purchases in the back, oldest in the front.

  17. Use cardboard boxes to divide food into areas. Measure the length, width and height of shelves. Go to the grocery store early in the morning for best selection of free used boxes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lessons from Hurricane Ike

(Here is a letter that was forwarded to me. I edited it a bit and took out the family name)

Dear Friends:

Just to let you know that the * are doing well. We have a 6'x6' hole in our roof, no electricity or running water, Trees down everywhere. However, because we listened to the counsel of our Prophet, we are prepared. In fact it seems to me that it's only the members of the church who seem to be calm, prepared, and helping one another with trees in roofs, flooding, etc.

There is a POD or Point of Distribution in Tomball where we live. There you get water and ice IF you have enough fuel to wait in the 3 hour lines. We don't have to do that because we have 3 full water barrels, 75 juice bottles filled with water, and our pool which is dirty but we use it to flush.

It is very difficult to get gas. Police guard the stations when fuel is delivered and you might wait half a day to get up to the pump just to have them say, 'Too bad, we are out'.

I am grateful that we have a generator. We run it 4 hours a day to keep our fridge and light. I am grateful that we have had fuel for it. You can't even buy gas containers as they are rationed. We can only by bread once a week and limited to 2 loaves at a time. Water is rationed by the case at the grocery store. 3 cases per family.

The ATM machines do not have power. For the past 6 months I have stashed small bills away because I have had such a feeling of foreboding. We have cash because of that. LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT. Get cash in small bills because the stores can't make change and credit and debit cards often don't work. I had to pay 5 dollars more for an item because they couldn't make change for me.


Believe it or not...I have not had a bath in 4 days, Today was the first day I got to wash my hair with pool water. I haven't fixed my hair in a week!!! It just doesn't matter anymore. We can not do laundry because we don't have water. So, we wear our clothes until they are literally disgusting. When we do finally get water we will have to boil it since it is contaminated. I am grateful for my parents. When we got low on generator fuel they drove 45 minutes to help us. They filled up their cans and brought us 10 gallons of fuel which kept us going until this morning at 6:00 am when we finally found some gas.

A prepared Family and a loving extended family is the key to survival and making it through right now. I know that my parents would drive to the end of the earth to help me and it's nice knowing they are there. I know that I would do the same for my children.

I want all of you to know that I have such a testimony of following the counsel of our living prophet. There really is safety and peace in your heart if you are prepared. Please get your generators, 5 gas cans full of gas, canned goods, baby items, baby wipes to bathe, and all the water you can store...even if you have to trip on it in your home. Have your lanterns, crank flashlights, tarps, rope, etc...ready to go because you never know when it will be your turn to endure the test. It's overwhelming, but it's going to be ok eventually.

I have a home, I have food, I have water, because I listened to the counsel of the prophet. Please make sure you do the same.

It's time to have your life in order. Tomorrow may be too late. I love you all so much. I wish you were here. Take care!

Tomball, Texas

Equipment: The Chain Saw

I was looking over the Sam’s Club auction the other day, and saw chain saws up for auction. End of the summer clearance. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have one since we live in an area with lots of trees that need trimming every year?” It would be nice to not borrow or rent (about $60 every time). I know you’re probably thinking, “What in the world does she know about chain saws?” Pretty much nothing. Except that it could be useful. Having said that, I began to bid on a Poulan Pro 42cc Gas Chainsaw 18.

I told my husband I was bidding on a chain saw. There was a long pause as he began processing. I told him that I had set a limit. Another pause. I told him, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to borrow and break someone else’s? And so the serious bidding began.

I’ve purchased things on Ebay before so I understand the bidding process. I figured Sam’s Auction would be similar. The main thing is you 1.) do some research ( or Consumer Reports), 2.) figure out what the item is worth to you, and 3.) set a limit for yourself. AND STICK TO THE LIMIT. I also did some research on bidding, and found that you should never bid on the first and last items, if there are several items open for bid. This way you can see what items are selling for.

I scoured the internet for information on my chain saw. Mixed reviews. I found that this Poulan chain saw retailed for $170 - $280, so I figured that if I could get it for about half that, I would be doing okay. Well, I kept losing my bids. Most chain saws at the auction were selling for $120 and $140. I told the kids that all these men were bidding on chain saws and didn’t want me to win one! So, for a few days I watched often, set my high bid, and lost again. Then, I decided that if it was meant to be, I would win. So, I bid one more time. And lo and behold, I won! Somehow I won it for $111.00.

In all seriousness, a chain saw is very useful in many emergency situations: storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, etc. Hopefully, our chain saw will prove useful over the years.

“Wielding chain saws and moving tons of debris, more than 200 volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — many dressed in the Church’s familiar “Mormon Helping Hands” T-shirts — helped clean up areas in Alabama and Georgia affected by last week’s tornadoes that left a trail of death and devastation.” 5 March 2007, Church Newsroom

“The buzz of chainsaws will again fill the air this weekend as thousands of volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints descend on the Gulf Coast to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.” 15 September, 2005,
Church Newsroom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not: Staggering Purchases

Today I threw away some food storage items (Canola oil) that was past its shelf life. Way past! In order to avoid such waste in the future, staggering purchases should help spread out the shelf life of some products or I need to use my food storage more. We should not feel rushed to get everything all at once. The LDS church leaders have said: "We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve."—The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage, Feb. 2007, 1

I’ve decided to only buy 1 or 2 of each item listed below every 3 months. You may have some different items that you find you aren’t using as quickly as you would like to. (It usually means we aren’t baking enough!)

It's a good idea to use a Sharpie pen to mark items with the date of purchase on the front where you will see it. After you open an item, mark it with the date you opened it: OP 10/08

Here’s the shelf life (in a dark, cool, dry place) of the items I plan to stagger purchasing:

Vegetable oil (1 year shelf life; 4 - 6 months opened)

Peanut Butter (2 year shelf life; 3 months opened)

Mayonnaise (1 year shelf life; 3 months opened in fridge)

Evaporated Milk (1 year shelf life; a few days opened in fridge)

Potato Pearls (8 year shelf life; the LDS Church has replaced this item with Potato Flakes, shelf life 30 years. However, I called our local Dry Pack and you can buy Potato Pearls in bulk already packaged, 12, 28 oz. pkgs. in a 21 lb. box for $40.)

Baking Powder (5 year shelf life; 3 - 6 months opened)
"To test the vitality of your baking powder, add a teaspoon of it to a third of a cup of hot water. If it foams and bubbles, it has enough oomph left."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Homemade Prego Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Homemade Prego Spaghetti Sauce
Makes 16 cups

1 lb. cooked ground beef (double if you like more meat)
2 T. dehydrated onion
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. salt
1/8 c granulated sugar
2-6 oz. can tomato paste
4-14.5 oz. or 2-29 oz can stewed or crushed tomatoes
4-15 oz. or 2-29 oz. can tomato sauce

1. Brown ground beef and onion in large pot. Drain fat.
2. Put stewed tomatoes in blender and slightly puree. You may need to puree 2 small cans or 1 large at a time.
3. You will need to divide meat, tomato products, and seasoning between two large pots unless you have a commercial sized pot.
4. Slowly bring to a boil at a medium high heat. Let boil for 10 minutes, covered
5. Reduce to lowest heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Portion sauce by planning on 3/4 c. to 1 c. per person depending on your family. Then put it in freezer ziploc bags. Press all the air out so you have nice flat bags. Let the bags cool. Then stack them in your freezer in a cardboard box if you have one. Another option is to put the sauce in cool whip containers.

Write the item name & date with a permanent marker.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

14 Day Emergency Food Storage Menu

Here is the first draft of my 14-Day Emergency Food Storage Menu. I only did 14 days since in an emergency we could repeat the weeks 6 times to equal 3 months. You can click on the picture above to see the spreadsheet, or read below. I am practicing the recipes from "Emergency Food in a Nutshell" by Leslie D. Probert and Lisa L. Harkness. Outstanding book! I'm also looking online to find some more. It's nice to know what I need to store, and since all families are unique, my menu's are too.
14-Day Food Storage Menu
Day 1 –
Breakfast: Oatmeal, homemade bread, apple juice
Lunch: Ravioli’s or Spaghettio’s, crackers, apple juice
Dinner: Quick Chili w/corn, wheat rolls, pears
Dessert: Apple Crisp

Day 2 –
Breakfast: Muffins, peaches, orange juice
Lunch: Canned Soup or stew, crackers, orange juice
Dinner: Pineapple Chicken w/Rice, cornmeal muffins, carrots & peas
Dessert: Oatmeal Cookies

Day 3 –
Breakfast: Pancakes, pears, milk
Lunch: Tuna or Turkey Sandwich, fruit cocktail, water
Dinner: Beef Spaghetti, Bisquick biscuits, jello w/peaches, milk
Dessert: Applesauce Cookies

Day 4 –
Breakfast: Cold cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, applesauce, tang
Dinner: Potatoes w/Spam, green beans, pears, milk
Dessert: Pudding

Day 5 –
Breakfast: Oatmeal, apricots, cranberry juice
Lunch: Mac & cheese, dried fruit snack, cran/rasp. juice
Dinner: BBQ Beef Casserole, yams, fruit cocktail, milk
Dessert: Pumpkin Cookies

Day 6 –
Breakfast: Cold Cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, chips w/salsa, water
Dinner: Chicken Broccoli Twist, homemade bread, jello w/pears, apple juice
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 7 –
Breakfast: Waffles, mandarin oranges, milk
Lunch: Cup o’noodle soup, granola bar, tang
Dinner: Tuna helper, wheat rolls, applesauce, milk
Dessert: Brownies

Day 8
Breakfast: Oatmeal, homemade bread, apple juice
Lunch: Ravioli’s or Spaghettio’s, crackers, apple juice
Dinner: Chicken Corn Chowder, wheat rolls, green beans, milk
Dessert: Cake w/frosting

Day 9
Breakfast: Muffins, peaches orange juice
Lunch: Canned Soup or stew, crackers, orange juice
Dinner: Chicken noodle salad, homemade bread, carrot & peas, milk
Dessert: Snickerdoodles

Day 10
Breakfast: Pancakes, pears, milk
Lunch: Tuna or Turkey Sandwich, fruit cocktail, water
Dinner: Pasta w/spaghetti sauce, Bisquik biscuits, jello w/pears, grape juice
Dessert: Applesauce cookies

Day 11
Breakfast: Cold cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, applesauce, tang
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, cornmeal muffins, peaches, milk
Dessert: Oatmeal cookies

Day 12
Breakfast: Oatmeal, apricots, rasp./cranberry juice
Lunch: Mac & cheese, dried fruit snack, cran/rasp. juice
Dinner: ABC Soup, homemade bread, pears, milk
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 13
Breakfast: Cold cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, chips w/salsa, rasp./cranberry juice
Dinner: Southwestern Soup, Spanish Rice, fruit cocktail, apple juice
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 14
Breakfast: Waffles, mandarin oranges, milk
Lunch: Cup o’noodle soup, granola bar, tang
Dinner: Beef Stew w/green beans, wheat rolls, apricots, milk
Dessert: Brownies

Chicken Corn Chowder

Chicken Corn Chowder
4-6 servings

1 can chicken broth
1 T. dehydrated chopped onion
¼ t. pepper
1 t. salt
dash of dried parsley
2 potatoes, chopped, or 1 c. dehydrated potato dices
1 c. chicken, cooked and cubed; or 1 can chicken breast
1 can evaporated milk
¼ c. flour
1 can corn, drained

1. In large pan, mix broth, onion, pepper, salt, parsley, and potatoes.
2. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. In small bowl, mix milk and flour; add slowly to pot, stirring constantly.
4. Cook until thick, and then add corn. Simmer for 10 minutes.
I tried this recipe today but used fresh potatoes and cooked chicken. It was very creamy. I doubled it for my family of 6.

Early Winter Storm

Well, our first winter storm hit on Saturday, October 11, the day of the BYU/New Mexico game. Last night our Farmington temperature low was 31 degrees. The snow was particularly hard on some trees that still had leaves on them, as it caused them to droop, and some branches to break. Here are a few pictures I took early Sunday morning.

It's time to get out the winter clothes. We hunted for our coats, and mittens. We keep them in storage totes in the basement.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

STEP 2: Emergency Drinking Water

(Note: - STEPS 1, 2, and 3 can be worked on simultaneously. Then move to STEP 4)

STEP 2: Drinking Water
"Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted. If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source, then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pretreat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for juices and soft drinks. Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight."

FEMA recommends you prepare for emergencies to last up to two weeks or more. After watching the recent hurricanes in the South, we can see that we need to be prepared for long term emergencies. In the Home Production and Food Storage pamphlet by the LDS church, it recommends storing a two week supply of water per person, 14 gallons (7 for drinking and 7 for other uses). These are minimums! Infants and seniors may require more. Also, consider the high temperatures in your area.


I recommend individual commercially prepared water bottles as they are easy to transport, store, and rotate. I buy 24 ct. cases of 16.9 oz. bottles when they go on sale. They are easy to buy when I grocery shop, and easy for me to lift if ever I needed to transport them by car to a shelter. Or I could toss them into a wheeled suitcase and walk them to an evacuation center. They are easy to share too. Don't depend on an evacuation center to have a good supply of drinking water right away! Bring your own. Water is the first thing to disappear off store shelves in a disaster.

My teenagers use these bottles for school sports. I also put them in my car emergency kits, and 72-hour kits and periodically use then replace them. Simple to store, simple to rotate. 

Commercially sealed bottled water can last almost indefinitely, so you do not have to rotate often. However, the longer you store, the more likely the water will have an aftertaste  "The taste of stored water can be improved by pouring it back and forth between two containers before use."

The choice is yours. Water or no water. You can live without food for several days, but you cannot live without water.

DO THE MATH  (this is the minimum)
The goal is 14 gallons of water per person or 1792 ounces.
Each person would need - 

106 @ 16.9 oz. bottles (commercially bottled) 

4.4 @ 24 ct. cases of 16.9 oz. bottles (commercially bottled) 
28 @ 64 oz. juice bottles (wash & dry, and fill with water) 
14 @ 1 gallon heavy duty bottles (commercially bottled)
54 @ 2 liters soda bottles (wash & dry, and fill with water)

  • "Use only food-grade containers. Smaller containers made of PETE plastic or heavier plastic buckets or drums work well.
  • Clean, sanitize, and thoroughly rinse all containers prior to use. A sanitizing solution can be prepared by adding 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) to one quart (1 liter) of water. Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used.
  • Do not use plastic milk jugs, because they do not seal well and tend to become brittle over time.
  • Do not use containers previously used to store non-food products."
There are other needs that require water. Store as much as you can.

Go to the LDS church website for further water storage guidelines.

I also purchased Seychelle water purification bottles so we could use the water from the stream behind our house. LDS members can purchase them from the distribution center for about $16.00 “Water filters produced by Seychelle have been used successfully by LDS Church missionaries for many years.”

Now look at STEP 3: Financial Reserve