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IMG_2940I am really excited to announce that I will now be a contributing writer for the blog at ModernHomesteaders.net.  I have been a fan of theirs for awhile and being asked to contribute was very flattering and exciting.  I am scheduled to write for them once a week.

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I will be talking about my road to prepping and the accomplishments I have made.  I hope to show how anyone, even if you are on a tight budget, how to start and build up emergency supplies and equipment.  But as importantly, I will be teaching alternative cooking methods, food preservation and other great DIY projects to help save you money.  I will share product reviews and a host of other things that should help you develop your own plan or hone in on the plan you have to move you ahead.

I’ve seen many things happen in the way of disasters.  Things like hurricanes, tornadoes, super storms, terror attacks and an economic system teetering in the brink of decline.  I see families displaced, left without a home to live in or even clothes on their backs.  I see these people at the mercy of charities and government agencies for their very survival.  I don’t want my family to be like those families we all see on television after such a big event. I hope you will follow me as I contribute to the great work Shane is doing at Modern Homesteaders.  If you don’t already subscribe to Modern Homesteaders, please click this link and visit them on Facebook by clicking here.

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cornbread

Bread making is a very important skill to have.  But it’s not limited to raised or leveled bread.  There are many types of breads to keep in your recipe files.  This one is posted from the University of Illinois Extension office under their diabetic recipes.

 

Double Corn Bread
Recipe Type: Bread
Cuisine: American
Author: PrepperPenny via Univ of IL Extension
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 egg whites (or ¼ cup egg substitute)
  • ½ cup non-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) can creamed corn
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and baking soda in large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  3. Separate eggs or measure egg substitute and place in small bowl. Add sour cream, oil, and creamed corn and mix well.
  4. Add corn mixture to dry ingredients and stir only enough to dampen flour.
  5. Spray muffin tins or 9×9 inch pan with cooking spray.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin tin or pan. Spray top lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Bake muffins for 20 minutes, pan for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm. Cut bread into 12 servings.
Serving size: 1 Calories: 107

 

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photo copy 6Something to keep in mind about minestrone is that, much like meatloaf, it’s a great way to cook and use up leftover vegetables and no two recipes are the same.  This is a recipe I would be proud to set in front of you at my dinner table.  But you may like more pasta and less potatoes.  You may want vegetables in it that I don’t put in mine.   Mine is a great flavor for how my family likes it.  You can make the adjustments you wish with the basics in this recipe.

This recipe is all adjusted and based on freeze-dried food.  You can use your own or commercially produced dehydrated vegetables, but you will need to adjust your cooking time and amount of water.  There is a significant difference in how they rehydrate and the amount of time and water it will take.  For information about this, please follow this link where I try to answer any questions you may have. Meal In A Jar Newsletter

photo copy 2

Add 100cc oxygen absorbers before closing

While these look beautiful in canning jars, if you want yours in vacuum sealed bag and in mylar, they are perfect to take camping or to keep in your bug out bags.   With these points in mind, here is the recipe.  Below the recipe will be links so that if there are any ingredients you wish to purchase, you can.

photo

 

 

 

 

You will need

  1. measuring cups
  2. measuring spoons
  3. canning funnel
  4. 100cc oxygen absorbers
Minestrone Soup Meal In A Jar
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4
Layer the ingredients in the order by which they are listed. The 1st five ingredients are the base for your soup. You can add whatever vegetables you prefer, but keep in mind that there is about 1 1/3 cups of vegetables total. Keep this in mind as you will need to fit all the ingredients into a 1 quart canning jar.
Ingredients
  • 2/3 C. THRIVE Tomato Powder
  • 1/2 C. THRIVE Freeze-Dried Onion (You can use your own dehydrated flakes)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder or Granules
  • 1 Heaping Tbsp Beef Bouillon
  • 3/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Ground Beef
  • 1/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Sausage
  • 1/2 Cup THRIVE Instant Red Beans
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Corn
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Potato Chunks
  • 1/3 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Green Beans
  • 1/4 Cup THRIVE Freeze-Dried Mixed Green/Red Peppers
  • Top With Pasta of Your Choice
Instructions
  1. Prepare your 1 quart canning jars, lids and bands by sanitizing them with hot, soapy water. You absolutely must make sure all pieces are completely dry. To ensure this, after washing my jars, I put them in an oven at 250* for 30 minutes. Moisture will cause your food to spoil.
  2. Layer these ingredients in the order listed. I purposely didn’t include the option for salt and pepper. I chose to add those and other spices as I cook the recipe. This recipe serves 4-6 adults
  3. If you are making these to keep longer than a few weeks, you MUST place an oxygen absorber on top before you close it and/or use your vacuum seal system to remove the air. These stay fresh and stable for 9-12 months. Wipe the rim of the jar to get a secure, airtight seal.
  4. Bring 8 cups of water to boil. Empty ingredients in and reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add water or beef stock for a thinner soup or continue to reduce to thicken it according to your own preference.
Home Store

For these and other THRIVE Food or emergency supplies, please click here to visit my online store.

 

THRIVE F-D Ground Beef

THRIVE F-D Sausage

THRIVE F-D Corn

THRIVE F-D Green Beans

THRIVE F-D Tomato Powder

THRIVE F-D Potato Chunks

THRIVE F-D Red & Green Bell Peppers

THRIVE Instant Red Beans

Oxygen Absorbers

FoodSaver Vacuum Seal System

Small Mouth Jar Sealing Attachment

Wide Mouth Jar Sealing Attachment

 

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Ball Canning Book

Spring is just a few days away.  You have your seeds inside sprouting, you may be assembling raised beds or turning your soil in great anticipation of high performing gardens.  If so, preserving that healthy and wonderful food will come next.  And to help you make the most of your canning, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a must in any kitchen.  Learning to can or canning even more food will help you to build and grow your own home store, save you money and allows you to feed your family much healthier food.  That’s why I’m offering to give one away.  Simply click on the graphic here.  Follow the steps and you will be entered.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Infused OilOne thing I strive to do in planning my home store, I try to make sure I either have or can make all the things my family and I enjoy in these “good” times.  I don’t want to be pulling out buckets of legumes and beans without having the flavors I’m accustom to going into them.  Simple things really do make life more comfortable.  And this technique to infusing oil is an example of planning to thrive while others struggle to survive.  Pay attention to the little things.  Those sometimes unnoticeable extra’s that you might take for granted.  This recipe was given to me to share by reader Tess Pavlin.  She has tried and tweaked this until she was sure it was wonderful and felt comfortable in making it public.  Win for us, right?

Infused oils will spice up your cooking and lend to wonderful healing and relaxing massages.

When you are ready to start making essential oil from your herbs, follow these four steps carefully:

  1. Put a handful of your herbs or flower heads into a clean glass jar. Choose either a single herb such Basil Infused Oilas basil or a mixture such as oregano, rosemary and thyme. Crush them to release the flavor into the carrier oil. Make absolutely sure your herbs are completely dry.  Water will likely make your oil go rancid.
  2. Pour 12 oz. of oil into the jar until the leaves or flowers are completely covered. Put a well-fitting top on the jar and let it stand in a warm (but not sunny) place shaking daily for two weeks.
  3. Straining Infused OilAfter the two weeks, strain off the herbs (use a cotton muslin cloth or an old open weave linen handkerchief) and then repeat the process of infusion with a fresh handful of your herbs (but using the same oil). Do this, as many times as necessary until you have a jar of strongly flavored aromatic oil.
  4. Store your aromatic oil in a small to medium-size sterilized bottle and label it. Clean the rim and tightly seal the cap to reduce the chances of air getting into the bottle. Make sure that you keep your stored oils out of sunlight.

Always remember:

Use a good-quality, mild-flavored oil such as sunflower oil or grapeseed oil. You don’t want the taste of the oil to compete with the flavor and smell of your herbs. For this reason you should avoid using extra virgin olive oil.Cover your herbs completely with oil during the infusing process. Any bits sticking out will oxidize and spoil the flavor of the oil.

Before storing the oil make sure you have removed all the plant material. (If you don’t the oil will become cloudy and sour)

WHAT OTHERs ARE DOING WITH THEIRs

Another way to speed up the process of infusing your oils is by using a small crock pot on its lowest setting.

  1. Gently bruise the herbs or flowers by crushing the in the palm of your hands before adding them to the pot. You can also press them with a wooden spoon or in a mortar and pestle but it is not necessary.
  2. Add 16 oz. of oil to the crock pot and turn heat on low. Add the herbs, leaves, or petals. Let simmer covered for 12 hours. Stir lightly and turn off overnight. Day 2 turn back on and simmer again for 12 hours. Day 3 repeat. Strain oils through cheesecloth to remove solids and bottle the oils. They will keep for a minimum of 3 years if tightly sealed.

Extra Tip:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Vitamin E (per pint) to your beauty and medicinal oils to preserve them. You could also try using 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract.

Alternative methods.

1. OVEN INFUSED HOMEMADE OILS – Place your herbs in an oven safe dish and cover with the natural oil of your choice. Cover the dish and place in the oven at 200 degrees or the lowest possible setting your oven has. Cook for three hours. While it’s still warm, strain through cheese cloth and squeeze the oil from the herbs. Pour the oil into a sterile bottle or jar.

2. STOVE TOP INFUSED OILS – Using a double boiler, GENTLY simmer oil and herbs for 2 hours. Strain through cheese cloth. For a stronger infusion repeat using the same oil and fresh herbs.

Infused oild in crockpot3. CROCK POT INFUSED HOMEMADE OILS – This method can only be used if your crock pot has a “warm” or very low setting! This works great for infusing several oils at once. Fill your sterile pint jars with your herbs and oils. Place the jars in the crock pot and cook on low for eight hours. You can do up to 5 different oils at once with this method depending on the size of your crock pot!

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garden-feb-lgLike me, so many of us are diligently planning our spring gardens.  We start our pen-to-paper plans, gather supplies to start our precious seeds, and wait for the weather to turn so we might start working and preparing our beds.  But in this idle time we have waiting, you really should be considering inventorying your canning supplies and planning your crop based on your families  need.

GETTING YOUR SUPPLIES IN ORDER

 

canning_jars.gif

It’s a good time to calculate how many jars of pickles, cans of jelly and jam your family typically needs to get you through winter months.  I learned this winter that I hadn’t actually canned enough dills to carry me through.  Same was for our tomatoes.  I’m down to only a few jars of my tomato’s and sauce not having realized how much our family of four would actually go through.  I’m a good canner, but my math needs to be honed.

I am now in the process of figuring out how many canning jars and sizes I have vs. what I will need.  Same for lids.  Since I have to replace dozens of lids, I have opted to invest in reusable Tattler lids after having decided they work beautifully and will save me money in the long run.  Another consideration I made was, as a committed prepper, I believe material may be hard to come by.  Having to replace my lids every time I can and believing there is even a remote possibility that they may be hard to come by would defeat all my seasonal garden planning.

How many quart jars did I use last year and how many more I need this year was a big question.  How much jelly or jam will I put up?  How much applesauce or peaches will I need?  Obviously, I could never lay out a formula for you, but you really should start planning and pre-planning.   And buying your canning supplies now, before the season hits will save you money.  Last season I found myself running around looking and buying jars when the prices were their highest.  Buy them out-of-season to get the best price.

HERBs, SPICEs AND OTHER INGREDIENTS

Spices

Salt, sugar and spices will also be needed.  Will you be planting the herbs you will need to can your harvest?  Dill is one that is vital to me.  Italian herbs are as important.

RESOURCEs AND OTHER EQUIPMENT

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You may, like me, wish to scan all your recipes and determine which ingredients you can grow and what you will need to purchase.  Start planning now, watch for sales on items you will need to purchase and be sure to stock up on it when it’s most feasible.  And your canning books are as important as anything.  A few of the VERY best I could recommend are:

Ball Canning Book

Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving

Canning is just one aspect to preserving your food.  Dehydrating is another.  Do you have a dehydrator?  You can look on Craigslist or garage sales to find one, but if you are seriously planning on building a food supply, you really need to invest in one.  And because dehydrating is sometimes much more than slicing and drying, you will want a great cookbook.  The best on the market (by many standards and reviews) is Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.

The same is true for a vacuum seal system.  I use and would recommend the FoodSaver which is a workhorse.  I use it nearly every day and much more in the summer months.   All these appliances which allows you to protect and preserve your food may not pay for themselves this season, but they will pay for themselves over time.

LONG TERM STORAGE

Also, if you plan on putting some of your foods into long-term storage, you will need oxygen absorbers and mylar bags.  Start asking your bakery and deli department for 5 gallon buckets now. You may also wish to purchase moisture absorbers as an added line of protection for your food.  You will need these if you plan to store food.  Many local businesses will give them away or sell them for $1 each.  But, be sure you get food-grade buckets.  You may also wish to invest in high quality gamma lids.

 

 

 

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Finished Red BeansI don’t have any fresh produce harvest to satisfy my urge to do some canning, so I decided to can some red beans I had in my home store to create another use for them in my home store.  Canning from bulk, dry beans saves you a good amount of money and is healthier and tastes better.  Having these beans ready for my red beans and rice or chili makes them very convenient, too. I do not add any spices to my beans, not even salt.  I prefer to spice them when I decide on which dish I am preparing.  However, if you like, you can add spices to yours.

I started out by washing and carefully inspecting them, removing any bad beans or pebbles.  Once this step was done, I put them in to soak in a large container overnight.  Step 1 - Adding Beans

I then dumped that water, washed them again and ladled them into hot, sanitized quart canning jars.

Remove Air Bubbles

Here you will add boiling water and using a plastic or wood utensil, remove any trapped air bubbles from your beans.  Check your headspace and adjust the water level to have a 1″ (2.5 cm)headspace.

Wiping Rims

Never, ever forget to wipe the rims and check for chips or cracks.  Forgetting this step could cause your batch to fail.

Lids and Bands

After cleaning the rims of each jar, center the lid on jar.  Screw band down until it is finger-tip tight.  Here, I am using white Tattler Lids and standard bands.

Beans in Canner

Place jars in your pressure canner.  Adjust water level, lock lid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Vent steam for 10 minutes, then close vent.  Continue heating  to achieve 10 pounds (69 kPa) pressure and maintain this pressure to process for  75 minutes for pint jars, 90 minutes for quart jars.

Diagram of Canner

Jars in canner

Once the time is up, turn off the heat source and allow canner to cool down and relieve the pressure.  Once the pressure is diminished, remove the lid and allow them to sit for approximately 10 more minutes.

Removing Jars with Lifter

Using a rubber jar lifter (please don’t try using anything else), carefully remove your jars and place them on a towel and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours.

Finished Red Beans

After 24 hours, remove the bands and check all the seals. If any did not seal correctly, put them in the refrigerator and use them within 2 weeks.  Wash your jars, label and date them.

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