May 27, 2011

Hamburger Patties at Fresh Market

Fresh Market has a great sale on hamburger patties.  A 3 pound package of 1/3 lb patties is only $3.90 ($1.30/lb).  The meat is 22% fat-perfect for grilling.  You are only allowed one package per transaction, but they allowed me to do multiple transactions.  Great deal!  We grilled them tonight, and they were delicious!

May 24, 2011

Basic Emergency Preparedness

I just heard on ABC news that FEMA is running out of money due to the hundreds of tornadoes this year and the flooding of the Mississippi.  What this tells me is that we can't depend upon the government for aid.  The more prepared we are to grab and go, or stay in our homes without electricity, gas, water, etc., the better.  A quick review of the absolute basics:
  • Have a 120 hour kit-food, water, medical and hygiene supplies to last at least 5 days
  • Have a family plan
  • Have at least a couple of weeks of food that don't require cooking and/or a way to cook your food
  • Have a gallon of water per person to last at least 2 weeks

Cell Phones in Emergencies

Keep your cell phone battery charged at all times.  I plan to charge mine every night just before bed.  Have an out of state contact planned, and a set time to make your phone calls in case of an emergency.  Then, if there is an emergency, shut off your phone.  Only turn it on at the planned time and quickly make your phone calls.  This will lengthen your battery's life, and make sure that you're not clogging the airways.  

May 23, 2011

Emergency Preparedness at Kitchen Stewardship

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is doing a series on emergency preparedness and food storage.  She has already done a post on storing several of the main groups of healthy foods:  proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.  So, if you're interested in a healthy approach, you should check it out.
While I'm on the topic, on of the reasons that I love food storage is because most of the basic foods that are easy to store (wheat, beans, oats...) are so healthy! 
Two methods of storing food that Kitchen Stewardship doesn't talk much about are pressure canning and storing foods air tight (by using a FoodSaver).  I haven't written about either of these yet.  (Will someone remind me to write about these sometime?)

May 19, 2011

Food Prices

I have said before that food prices are rising.  You all know that, though, if you step foot into a grocery store regularly.  I did a quick cost comparison of prices at the  Home Storage Centers (LDS Cannery) in both January and April of this year.  You can find that here.  You will see that the price of all food items went up, with the exception of potato flakes.  I believe prices will continue to rise.
A few price examples:
  • In January a 25 lb. bag of black beans cost $13.20.  Today it costs $16.80.
  • In January a #10 can of nonfat dry milk cost $7.90.  Today it costs $8.60.  That brings the cost of a gallon of milk from $1.83 to $1.99. 
  • In January both red and white wheat cost $7.65 for a 25 lb bag.  Today they cost $11.45.  Huge increase!
I don't think prices are done rising.   Just something to think about.

May 13, 2011

Free Pasta

Do you want nearly 9 pounds of pasta for $1?  Smith's has pasta on sale for $.49/package (when you buy 10 participating items).  This link has coupons for 4 of the types of pasta on sale.  Using the 4 coupons you can get 8 packages of pasta for free.  Buy 2 other participating items to total 10 items.  (I chose to buy more pasta.)

If you don't eat the pasta that the coupons are for, continue donating it to your local food pantry.  This Saturday is the letter carrier's food drive.  Just put the pasta, and other food, in a bag by your mail box.


I went to an excellent presentation on cold weather clothing last night.  I plan to write all about it.  But for today, let me just say that if you plan to get a new coat next winter, don't wait.  Get it now.  Prices are expected to double next year.  And get a warm one.  If it has a removable liner (like a fleece, or something), make sure that it's not made of cotton.  Cotton as the outermost layer is okay, but everything else you want to be of a synthetic material.
More on that later.

May 7, 2011

Things My Mother Taught Me

As a mother, I am beginning to appreciate my mother more and more.  Perhaps one of her qualities that I would like to most emulate is her patience.  I hope and pray that I can develop that trait.
She also taught me many skills; this is what I would like to focus on today, for purposes of this blog post: a few of the household skills my mother taught me, and continues to teach me.

My Mother Taught Me:
  • to look for sales
  • to buy things for as little as possible
  • vegetables are good for the body
  • stock up when things I typically buy are good prices
  • freezers are amazing
  • canning can be fun
  • 6 hours of pitting and freezing cherries will make you "cheery as a cherry"
  • spending 6 hours in the kitchen with someone develops memories
  • practicing fire drills makes a good family home evening activity
  • how to cook
  • how to involve kids in the kitchen
  • people of all ages can cook
  • messes in the kitchen are okay (I am a slow learner on the cleaning up messes part-I'm sure she tried)
  • "Mess maker, mess maker, make me a mess; spill me a spill, slop me a slop."
  • singing in the kitchen develops memories
  • place value on food storage
  • experiment
  • keep learning new things
  • oil goes rancid if stored for too long
Thanks Mom, I love you!  Happy Mother's Day!

May 2, 2011

When Tornadoes Hit--Staying Gluten Free in an Emergency

I receive a weekly gluten free online newsletter.  With permission, I share last Friday's (April 29, 2011) newsletter.  Although she is speaking specifically of gluten free foods, it all applies to everyone, regardless of what we typically eat.

Staying Gluten Free in an Emergency
Yesterday my husband and I drove through the community of Phil Campbell Alabama.  An enormous tornado whipped through that town Wednesday afternoon and miles and miles of homes were completely destroyed.  We didn't even realize that we were getting close to the town as we drove because all of the physical landmarks were completely gone.  Homeowners stood by the road looking at a landscape of debris trying to figure out what to do next. And unfortunately, the same sort of scene could be found throughout Alabama yesterday.
Our house did not sustain any damage - a tornado went by in the air early Wednesday morning while we were asleep and a tree fell to within feet of our home.  As I saw the destruction yesterday and read more coverage online, I began to think about whether our pantry reserves are large enough and whether we were prepared to obtain and cook gluten free food during an extended emergency period.  Unfortunately, the answers were "No" and "No".
Here are a few lessons learned from our experience.
Lesson #1:  Having cash on hand is essential.  We use debit cards or online banking for 99% of our transactions.  However, when the power is out debit cards and online banking are useless.  And unless your bank has a generator you won't be able to get cash from the bank or ATM.  We ate breakfast at Waffle House on Wednesday morning (beware cross-contact from the grill) and they let us leave a check until we were able to get cash from an ATM and come back and pay our bill.
Lesson #2:  Food preservation requires planning.  I was pleased that we were able to salvage most of the food in our refrigerator and freezer. We have one large cooler and I packed it full with frozen fruits and vegetables and the refrigerator perishables.  There was enough frozen food that we didn't need (or have room for) ice, but everything kept cool for two days. 
In the past we've stored lots of food in an upright freezer. I'm not longer a fan of this because there is the potential to lose so much food in a power outage.  Unless a generator is available, I think canned food storage is the way to go for food stores that cannot be consumed within 48 hours.
Lesson #3: Heat is required to cook. We ended up leaving Birmingham and going to my parent's farmhouse because they have a gas stove.  We knew that the power might be out there, but at least we'd be able to cook easily.  (Little did we know that the tornado devastation near the farmhouse was much worse than what we had at home). 

If that hadn't been available, then we would have needed to cook on the grill. I've done some grill cooking in pots, but not much. It's something that I plan to practice.Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a gas campstove available for emergencies. If none of these are an option, then I think it would be good to keep produce on hand that keeps well.  We ate a good bit of salad and fresh fruit while the power was out.
Lesson #4: A stash of GF convenience foods will keep you sane.  I don't keep a lot of GF processed foods on hand. We're not eating a lot of grain-based foods right now, and when we do I generally make it by hand.  That being said, I was very grateful for my Mom's stash of GF food that she keeps at the farm.  It was so helpful to be able to whip up a batch of GF pancakes for the kids on Thursday morning (Thank you, Betty Crocker and Mom).  
John and I talk a good bit about gluten free food stashes in our ebook, The Gluten Free Survival Guide.  After the past two days, I think we need to restock the food stash in the Yukon.  Cheetos, nuts, juice boxes, and bottled water go a long way towards keeping everyone happy if you need to drive out of a disaster area. (On that note, I'm also thinking that I'd like to keep more gas in the Yukon)
Lesson #5: Be prepared for the long-haul Between my pantry and the food Mom had left at the farm, I was able to cook very good meals without doing any shopping for two days. However, if we had been without power for a longer period, then we would have been having some very strange meals and run out of food pretty quickly.  Some communities in Alabama will not have power for at least a week (the main transmission lines in many areas of the state were destroyed).  Ice storms in the winter can knock out the power for two - three weeks. 
Based on my experience this week I can count on frozen food for 2 days refrigerator food for 2 - 3 days, fresh produce for 2 - 5 days, and canned food indefinitely.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I've sent this recipe out before, but it's such a good one.  Only 4 ingredients, and it's stuff that you usually have around the house. As long as you have a gas stove (or can figure out how to bake over a grill), then this cookies will go a long way towards cheering you up.
1 c. sugar
1 c. peanut butter
1 large egg
1/4 - 1/2 c. chocolate chips
Mix sugar, peanut butter and egg together until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet. If you put plenty of space between them then they are less likely to run together.Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes (but it may take more).  The will be slightly browned, but still soft when they are done.  Let them cool for a few minutes before removing them from the bakings sheet and they will harden up a bit. 

Hopefully we'll be back to a somewhat normal schedule next week. We are having a huge yard sale this weekend to sell all of the stuff that we won't be taking with us when we move. It's been amazing to see how much stuff we've put into the garage and haven't missed at all.  However, due to the two days that were lost due to power outages, John and I have a ton of work to do tonight to get everything ready.