My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Do I Have Enough Water? I’m Not So Sure…

Tomorrow’s the last day to enter my giveaway.  Claim your free, daily entry here.

 

Do not think you can come to my house when there’s an earthquake in soCal, because I won’t have enough water for you.  What about all these barrels, and why do I have them if I won’t share?

 

14 - 55 gallon water barrels.  This is at least a 4 month supply of basic water for my family.  Too bad these aren't mine.

Fourteen 55-gallon water barrels. This is at least a 4 month supply of basic water for my family. Too bad these aren’t mine.

 

I arranged a group purchase for used 55-gallon water barrels for my friends and fellow church members.  On Saturday, the water barrel guy delivered them.  How much do these babies cost?  Well, if they were new, they’d be in the $70-100 range.  These, on the other hand, are used barrels and they were $25 a piece.  That’s a huge savings!  I have to rinse and sanitize them, but that’s pretty easy, and I think it’s totally worth it to save $45+.

 

Where exactly do these “used” barrels come from?  Companies use this type of barrel to hold food items.  These particular barrels held either fruit or fruit juice concentrate. They were used exactly ONCE.  After these barrels have been used once, companies may not reuse them.  Some entrepreneurs buy these barrels and resell them to consumers.  I love that!  I save money while I’m saving the planet.  GO ME!  See?  Now I have 5 barrels.

 

 

I really wanted to have a bit more water on hand, so I bought another 55-gallon barrel.

I really wanted to have a bit more water on hand, so I bought another 55-gallon barrel.  The one on the left is my new (used) one.  I need to rinse and sanitize it before I fill it with water.

 

I’ve told you before that I live in a desert.  If there is any disruption to our water supply (earthquake anyone?), I can’t run to my local river or stream and get water.  The one “river” in my city is dry.  I’ve only seen water in it a few times, and it didn’t last very long.  It’s super dry now that California is suffering from a horrible drought.

 

You don’t need to worry about water, right?  Wrong.  Remember that chemical spill in West Virginia How long were the 300,000 people affected unable to use the water from their faucets?  Several weeks!  What about a power outage?  Much of the country’s water is transported using pumps.  Electric pumps.

 

I’m not trying to freak anyone out, but it is important to be aware of how fragile our water supply system is.  And it’s VERY important for you to learn what you can do to be prepared and to act.

 

What can you do?  Do you have to buy water barrels?  Nope!  Buy some bottled water from the store and always have at least a 3-day water supply on hand.  How much is a 3-day supply?  For my family, 2 packs of Costco water bottles covers it.

 

You can buy a couple cases of bottled water to have on hand.  Stick it under your bed.

You can buy a couple cases of bottled water to have on hand. Stick it under your bed.

 

Don’t want to buy bottled water?  Do you ever buy 2-liter soda bottles?  Rinse and sanitize those, then fill them with water.  Old soda bottles are perfect for storing water.

 

Wash, sanitize, then refill old soda bottles, for quick, easy water storage.

Wash, sanitize, then refill old soda bottles, for quick, easy water storage.

 

I challenge each of my readers to take a few minutes this week to evaluate your water storage.  Do you have any?  Do you have anywhere to store water?  (Most people can fit a few refilled soda bottles of water under their beds.)  What are you going to do this week to build at least a 3-day supply of water?

 

Think I’m paranoid?  Maybe.  But FEMA and the American Red Cross agree with me about having water on hand.  In fact, they recommend having a 2 week water supply on hand.  Check out their brochure about food and water in an emergency here.  If you’re not there yet, don’t stress.  Start with a 3-day water supply.

 

Think barrels are a great idea, but don’t know where to get them?  You can order them new online from my giveaway sponsor, Emergency Essentials, by visiting their website here.  In fact, they have an awesome “starter” kit for about $93 which includes an emergency syphon (needed to get the water out of your barrels), a bung wrench (makes opening and closing your barrels SO much easier), and a water treatment (to keep your water safe to drink).  It’s really quite a good deal for a new barrel.  In fact, it’s one of the lowest prices I’ve seen for this type of set.  Here’s a picture.

 

Emergency Essentials Water Barrel Combo Set for just under $93.

Emergency Essentials Water Barrel Combo Set for just under $93.  See it here.

 

Are new barrels out of your price range?  Check Craig’s List in your area.  Many entrepreneurs are selling these barrels in different parts of the USA.  Maybe there’s someone near you selling these barrels.

 

Let’s walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  Get some water!  It will give you peace of mind, and help you be more self-reliant in an emergency, which will free up resources for those who were unable to prepare.

 

Please let me and my readers know, how is your water supply? 

What are you going do this week to improve upon your current situation?


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You Think My Last Kitchen Fail Was Good? Take A Look At This One!

So, I’m keepin’ it real.  Hopefully this fail will give you a good laugh and start your weekend off right.  Remember my Cafe Rio Black Bean post (see it here)?  I love those beans, and I make them every time I make my Cafe Rio Beef.  Sometimes, I’m running behind.  Okay, most of the time I’m behind schedule, so I whipped out my handy, dandy pressure cooker to cook my dried black beans.  I’d done it before, just never like this.  Look…

 

Here's a picture I had my son take to capture this lovely moment.  Please keep in mind that this picture does not even begin the capture the horror I was feeling in the moment.  The liquid was seeping across the stove and the counters, pouring onto the floor, spewing all over me.  As it seeped across the stove, the liquid was going into the area under the control knobs.  It was not a fun moment.

Here’s a picture my son took to capture this lovely memory. Please keep in mind that this picture does not even begin the capture the horror I was feeling in the moment. The liquid was seeping across the stove and the counters, pouring onto the floor, spewing all over me. As it seeped across the stove, the liquid was going into the area under the control knobs. It was not a fun moment.

 

Are you wondering how could I make such a huge mess?  Let me tell you.   I was going along my merry way making the beans.  My most favorite beans…

 

My most favorite of all beans - My Cafe Rio Black Beans Knock-Off Recipe

My most favorite of all beans – My Cafe Rio Black Beans Knock-Off Recipe

 

The timer went off, and I turned off the heat.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but rather than release some of the pressure from the pot or let it cool sufficiently, I decided to press the button the unlocks the pot.  If there’s still some built up pressure, it will release it and allow me to safely open the pan.  I learned that this is a VERY BAD THING to do!  I didn’t have any explosion or anything like that, but, as the pressure cooker was releasing the pressure from the pot, liquid came out.  Dark brown liquid.

A LOT OF IT! 

 

All over my counters, the tile back splash, the stove, and the tile floor.  And all over me.  No burns or anything, but it made a big, BIG mess!  Actually the word “Big” does not even begin to describe it.  My son, Michael, insisted on taking a picture “for the blog.”  I was a little unhappy about it at the time (and I definitely was not planning to blog about it), but I think it is appropriate to capture the “not so fun” moments, so we can laugh about them later.

 

I used many bath towels to clean up this monstrosity!

I used many towels to clean up this monstrosity!

 

A few minutes prior, I was begging the kids to help by grabbing some bath towels, while mopping up what I could with paper towels (I went through the rest of the roll, and it didn’t even make a dent.)  They were AWESOME and ran to the rescue!  We stopped the spread of the mess and cleaned it up.  (YEAH!  Thanks, boys!)

 

Then, we realized that the electric ignition (pilot light) for the stove (on every burner) was going off continually.  I googled the problem and read that this can happen when the ignition gets wet.  So I dried each one off thinking that would help.  No luck…  I tried turning on all the burners, thinking it would dry out faster if they were on.  No luck.  I read that sometimes it helps to turn off the breaker and then turn it back on.  No luck.  When John arrived home, he found a website that said you need to turn the breaker off for 24 hours, then turn it back on (after the stove has dried out), and that should fix the problem.  Nope!  STILL NO LUCK!

 

I was getting worried.  We have a cooktop range, and it is quite pricey to replace.  Last night, I was so stressed about it when I went to bed, that I prayed about it.  I woke up still stressed.  That’s saying something, because I am a “wing it” kind of gal, and most things don’t stress me out too much.  This was stressing me BIG TIME!

 

The following morning, one of the boys needed to heat something in the microwave, which is on the same breaker as the stove, so Michael went outside and flipped it on.  Lo and behold, I witnessed a miracle!  My stove was fixed!  No more incessant clicking!  No more guilt about ruining my cooktop!  I gave Michael a huge hug and called John with the good news.  We were (and are) so grateful to our Heavenly Father for helping us and blessing us with a functioning stove!

 

So, no long term damage done.  Life was good again.  At least until I broke my stove again the other day while making marmalade.  The water boiled over in the water bath canner and it was enough that the stove started “clicking” again.  Thankfully, it only went on for about 10 minutes, then it shut off.

 

Good times…

 

Help me in my quest to “get real” and share some of your kitchen disasters.

We will all have a good laugh and feel so much better knowing we are not alone in our imperfection.

 


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Procrastination Plight Transformed Into Yummy Caesar Croutons!

Quick Reminder before I begin – Only 3 days left to enter my April giveaway!  Click here for details and to enter.

 

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Yes, I’m still a procrastinator.  I’m working on it, and I’m getting better with some things.  But I know me.  I will most likely always put off some things until the last possible moment.  That’s human nature, and I’m definitely human.

 

Yesterday, I posted about my yeast failure due to my procrastination followed by my over confident rushing through my bread recipe (click here to read it).  My yeast didn’t completely fail, but it underperformed.  See?

 

All these loaves were about the same size when they were put in the loaf pans.  The shorter ones didn't rise nearly enough.

All these loaves were about the same size when they were put in the loaf pans. The shorter loaves didn’t rise nearly enough for my children to eat them without complaining.

 

I hate throwing away perfectly good food, and I had just made a boatload of breadcrumbs, so I made that “more dense than I’d like” bread into yummy garlic, Caesar salad croutons.  I found the recipe here and adapted it just a bit for the ingredients I had on hand and to my taste (sorry, family, but my tastes reign supreme and I don’t love spicy-hot).  Here’s my version of the recipe.

 

Garlic Croutons

Garlic Croutons

 

Garlic Croutons

Adapted from a recipe found on about.com

 

2 loaves Easy, Peasy Bread (recipe here) or your bread of choice, cut into cubes (Stale bread is perfect for these!)

1/2 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press (you can mince it if you don’t have a garlic press)

1/2 cup fresh, grated Parmesan blend

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Combine garlic and olive oil in a small bowl, and let sit at room temperature for four or more hours.  This allows the garlic flavor to infuse into the olive oil.

 

When garlic infused olive oil is ready, preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut the bread into a rough cube shape (about 1 inch wide).  Add the cubes to a large mixing bowl.  Add half of the cheese, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper to the bread crumbs.  Stir to combine.  Strain the garlic infused olive oil and drizzle oil (minus garlic pieces) over the bread cubes.  Stir gently to ensure all bread cubes are evenly coated.
Transfer the bread cubes to a parchment or foil coated cookie sheet (parchment and foil are optional, but they make clean up easier).  Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove, stir bread cubes, and return to oven.  Cook for 15 minutes longer.  Remove from oven again and stir.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the croutons, and return the pan to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.  Cook until the croutons are brown and crunchy.  Allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Here’s my photo step-by-step for your viewing pleasure.

First, I assembled my ingredients.

First, I assembled my ingredients.

 

Then, I prepared garlic infused olive oil.  I started by using my handy dandy Pampered Chef Garlic Press for my garlic.  I hate mincing garlic, and this makes it so easy!

Then, I prepared garlic infused olive oil. I started by putting the olive oil in a small bowl.  Then, I used my handy dandy Pampered Chef Garlic Press for my garlic. I hate mincing garlic, and this makes it so easy!  Simply put the entire clove of garlic, unpeeled, into the press.

 

Then you press the handles together.

Then, you pull the handles together.  If it’s a large clove, it’s a bit harder, so, if you have a hard time squeezing, stick with small garlic cloves.  The ones I used for this recipe were quite large.  I’ve used other garlic presses, and they were not anywhere near as good!  Early in our marriage, we bought one from the kitchen department in a pricy department store.  It wasn’t cheap, but I HATED it!  It was so difficult to use, and I had to peel the cloves first.  I ended up giving it away within a few years.

 

See?  The garlic comes out beautifully!  I scraped it off on the side of the bowl containing my olive oil.

See? The garlic comes out beautifully! I scraped it off on the side of the bowl containing my olive oil.

 

Then I opened up the press and pull out the garlic clove peel.  Easy, Peasy!  I use my garlic press at least 4 days a week every week (unless it's crazy, and I'm not cooking as much).  I've had it for over 5 years and it's still going strong.  It works as well as the first day I got it.  I LOVE IT!  (If you want a good garlic press, check out my friend's Pampered Chef website here.)

Then I opened up the press and pull out the garlic clove peel. Easy, Peasy! I use my garlic press at least 4 days a week every week (unless it’s crazy, and I’m not cooking as much). I’ve had it for over 5 years, and it’s still going strong. It works as well as the first day I got it. I LOVE IT! (If you want a good garlic press, check out my friend’s Pampered Chef website here.)

 

Next, I stirred the garlic into the oil and let it sit for several hours.

Next, I stirred the garlic into the oil, and let it sit for about 6 hours.  You don’t have to let it sit that long.  Four hours is plenty of time.  Or you can let it go longer than 6 hours.  Make it in the morning before you go to work, and it’s ready to use when you get home.  It’s your choice.

 

After the garlic olive oil sat for about 6 hours, I continued preparing the croutons.  I cut the bread into thick slices and then cut them into 1-inch cubes.

After the garlic olive oil sat for about 6 hours, I continued preparing the croutons. I cut the bread into thick slices and then cut them into 1-inch cubes.

 

Here are my cubes of bread.

Here are my cubes of bread.

 

I measured out my spices.

I measured out my spices.

 

I sprinkled the spices over the bread.

I sprinkled the spices over the bread.

 

And added the Parmesan.  Then I stirred the bread, spice, Parmesan mixture.

And added the Parmesan. Then, I stirred the bread, spice, Parmesan mixture until everything was well combined.

 

I transferred half of the mixture to another bowl to make it easier to mix.

I transferred half of the mixture to another bowl to make it easier to mix.  Next, I drizzled the strained garlic infused olive oil over the bread cubes.  I didn’t put it all in at once.  I drizzled it over the top, then stirred.  Then I drizzled it again and stirred.  I did this 3-4 times to ensure all were evenly coated.  (Don’t you love my fun Halloween bowls?)

 

I spread the mixture on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Then I put the cookie sheets into a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit oven.

Finally, I spread the mixture on parchment lined cookie sheets and put the cookie sheets into a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes.

 

After 15 minutes, I removed the cookie sheets from the oven and stirred the bread crumbs.  The ones on the outside of the pan brown faster than those in the center of the pan.  Then I put it back into the oven.

After 15 minutes, I removed the cookie sheets from the oven and stirred the bread cubes. The ones on the outside of the pan brown faster than those in the center of the pan.  Stirring ensures they cook evenly.  Next, I put it back into the oven for another 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, I removed the pans and stirred the bread cubes again.  Then, I sprinkled the remaining Parmesan on the cubes and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

 

 

After the final bake, I removed them from the oven.

After the final bake, I removed them from the oven.  And, VIOLA!, I had lovely, delicious, garlicky croutons.  Don’t they look yummy?

 

After they cooled completely, I put them in a ziplock bag.  We're having Chicken Caesar Salad tonight with these delicious croutons!

After they cooled completely, I put them in a ziplock bag. We’re having Chicken Caesar Salad tonight with these delicious croutons!

 

This recipe made about 16 cups of croutons, but, honestly, I can’t tell you exactly how much it made, because my boys kept picking them off the pans as they were cooling.  It could have been a little more or less than 16 cups.  I guess I’ll never know unless I can keep the boys out of the kitchen next time I make these.

 

Not only were these were super easy and super good, they also saved me a lot of money!  As mentioned in my “Am I REALLY Saving Money?” post about sandwich bread, 2 loaves of bread cost me $1.19.  The cost of the olive oil and spices are about 50 cents, so for less than $1.70, I have 15+ cups of croutons.   How does that compare to similar croutons found in the grocery store?  I found these at Wal-mart yesterday.

 

These croutons are just under $2 for 20 servings.  Each serving is listed as 6 croutons, which is probably about 1/4 cup.  So you are paying about 10 cents a serving.  Not too shabby.

These croutons are just under $2 for 20 servings. Each serving is listed as 6 croutons, which is probably about 1/4 cup. So you are paying about 10 cents a serving. Not too shabby.

 

My recipe made over 15 cups of croutons which is about 60 1/4-cup servings.  That works out to 2.8 cents per serving.  Less than 1/3 the cost!  Wahoo!!

 

I’m a pretty happy camper.  I recovered from a potentially disastrous bread experience and ended up saving money along the way.  Today is a very good day.

 

Have you ever had to be creative when something went wrong in the kitchen only to make something awesome? 

Or has it gone the other way with disaster begetting a bigger disaster? 

Please share with me!