Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Day in the Kitchen

Oh what a wonderful day it was.  The kids went off to their dad's for the weekend, so I enjoyed the morning in the kitchen.  Lately I've been making Artisan Bread, but today I decided to get adventurous and tackle making my own sandwich bread.  And boy-howdy, am I glad I did!

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Living and Gardening in the Ozarks .  The author inspired me and I hope to one day be as self sufficient as this wonderful lady is. 

Not too long ago, she posted her favorite bread recipe. I've been wanting to make it for quite some time. Well today I finally did it!  Here are the results:

It took everything in me not to try and slice into them immediately. The house smelled heavenly.  When I finally did cut into a loaf, it was beautiful, and the flavor was incredible.  When the kids got home, they gave it a taste test and decided immediately that they didn't want store bought bread ever again.  I'm going to have to agree with them.

Once the bread was finished, I decided to use the overripe pineapple someone had given me and make a pineapple upside-down cake, and then decided to make fried chicken for dinner - with mashed potatoes, gravy of course, plus some glazed carrots.  Now we are all fat and sassy, and ready to curl up in bed to listen to a show on The Preparedness Radio Network .  There are some really great homesteader themed shows on there.  I recommend it to any of you out there looking to become more self sufficient.  Everything from food preperation/storage, to wilderness survivial, to herbal medicine.... and the list goes on.  Really great shows.

Well, now I'm just rambling.  I think it's time to turn in for the night. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Comparison of Several Commercial Emergency Foods

Hello, again! It's been quite a while since I've posted here.  After the loss of my father, and several change of jobs over the last few months, things are finally settling down again.  But with the state of the economy, there's no telling how long that will last. 

One of my priorities is to save up on some long lasting, quick fix meals for use in an emergency.  Recently I ordered some samples of several different brands of freeze dried foods. Tonight, my best friend, myself and all of our kids got together to test them out and compare products.  So how did they measure up?

I ordered from 3 companies: Daily Bread (Lasagna with Meat Sauce), Wise Foods (Chili Macaroni, and Cheesy Lasagna), and E foods direct (Tortilla Soup and Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole).  My friend brought over a package of Mountain House (Chili Macaroni) that she purchased at Walmart.  Here is how they measured up-

Chili Macaroni - I was most excited to try the Wise Foods brand because it was the one marketed by them most companies.  I was sadly disappointed. While the Mountain House brand was thick and meaty, Wise foods brand was runny and bland. 

Lasagna - Again, the Wise Foods brand was thin and runny. The noodles very small and thin, and the flavor was bland.  The Daily Bread brand was much thicker and heartier, though I wasn't very pleased with the flavor or it, either.

I was unable to compare efoodsdirect with the other brands directly, since the sample pack came with entirely different entrees.  We started with the tortilla soup.  I have to say, a great deal of thought went into the preparation of these meals.  Instead of 2 servings per package, these contained four. Five of us at and it was very satisfying even stretched that thin. The flavor was very pleasant with the perfect amount of seasoning, and wonderful texture.  Next we tried the Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole.  Another home run.  I was extremely satisfied with both of these meals.  I still have a Creamy Potato Soup sample left to try on another evening, or save for a rainy day. 

After trying the various brands, I found that the flavor and quality of the efoodsdirect products far exceeded the other brands. I love the fact that the foods do not contain any GMO's, tranfats, or MSG. In addition to very flavorful foods, efoods also included a planning guide, and a cd to help with planning.  To put it simply, I was very impressed with this product.

Eventually I would like to be able to raise all my own foods, but if something happens before I have the opportunity to learn not only to grow my own food, but store it as well, it would give me great piece of mind to have food put back that tastes good and leaves me feeling full.  

What are your back up food storage plans? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year and Hot Process Soap

Well, it would seem I'm off to a bit of a slow start this year, but I think it's still early enough to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  Things have been a little difficult so far, but seem to be smoothing out, finally

Today, I finally got around to making a batch of hot process soap for the first time.  I didn't take pictures during the process since it went pretty fast, but I followed instructions that I found at Candletech, in conjunction with my own recipe.  I made a one pound batch which requires 16 oz of oil/fat (I used 8 oz lard, 4 oz coconut oil, and 4 oz olive oil), 2.3 oz lye, 7 oz water, and essential oils.  I used peppermint, tea tree, and pine needle oils.  The house now smells heavenly.  

Since the soap is hot processed, its ready for immediate use once it sets. I used some that I flaked out of the crockpot once I'd filled my molds, and fell in love with the rich lather.  It really beat my original lard/lye cold process soap, and left my hands feeling soft and clean.  The bars themselves didn't turn out as pretty as I'd hoped. I think I didn't quite mix it long enough to develop a good enough trace, so its a little crumbly in spots, and I took them out of their molds a little early for fear they would get stuck in the thin plastic mold.  But once they've been used a couple of times, no one will notice anyway, I'm thinking.  

So finally I'm off to a decent start of a self sufficient year.  It is time to start planning the garden, but I'm just not sure I'll get it in in time this year, with all the work I'll have to do on the garage, getting it ready to turn into my business.  I may have to refill my homeade self watering containers so they can be moved around during the construction.   Tomorrow it's back to work at Mom's shop, and I'm looking forward to it. 

What new things do you plan to learn this year to make yourself more self sufficient?