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Monday, January 31, 2011

Emergency Preparedness -- Your Pantry, Part 1

 I found something that's revolutionizing our pantry here at HomePlace.  Making our own convenience mixes as preparedness planning takes a bit of time, but is well worth it. Why buy boxed and bagged dinners at steadily increasing prices when you can do your own and control your ingredients?

The idea took hold when I discovered Dinner's In the Jar by Kathy Clark. She explains how to create a 90 day supply of dinners stored in Mason jars. This book is not available at our library and Barnes and Noble doesn't carry it either. Drat!

What to do? I wanted to start immediately, not make an order to Amazon and wait. I searched further and found and which have extensive lists of convenience mixes. I began with making seasoning mixes.

Understand I can't leave well enough alone  and have to mess with recipes to suit our tastes. I read the ingredient lists and went to the local discount warehouse to stock up on onion powder, garlic powder, dried onion, chili powder, assorted boullions and parlsey in larger sizes. Other spices and herbs were in our spice box already, but I'd need to replenish them soon.

Secondly, you don't need to trot out and stock up on canning jars. Use what you have at home first! Chip dip jars, olive jars, salsa jars and the like are wide mouth jars with rubber where the jar meets the lid. Even freezer type baggies will do.

None of the following recipes contain sugar; if you want it, have at it!

Here's  two spice mix recipes I modified:

Creole Seasoning
2TBS + 1 tsp paprika          Mix and store in air-tight
2TBS  garlic powder           container. Use on seafood
2TBS  onion powder           chicken, fish, beans, or on rice.
1TBS  chicken boullion       Can be used in other mix recipes.
1TBS  Italian seasoning
1TBS  dried thyme
1TBS  cayenne pepper        ( HOT - may want to modify more)
1TBS  pepper

 Taco Seasoning Mix

1TBS   dried minced onion          Combine in air-tight container.
2TBS   chili powder
2 TBS   paprika                            
 41/2 tsp  cumin                            
3 tsp    onion powder                   
2 1/2 tsp garlic                              
1/8 tsp cayenne or red pepper 

Add 3 TBS to1# browned  ground beef,chicken or turkey. Add 1/2 c water or 1/2 c salsa for extra zip. Use in other convenience mixes to follow in future blogs.          
Stay tuned for more recipes and hints for preparing your emergency pantry supplies. 

I've made up 37 dinner mixes in jars and bags in two "sittings" of 1 to 2 hours each. The project will continue for some time, complete with culinary experiments. The rice pudding dessert mix recipe needs a lot of tweaking, for instance!

 Hope to live off these during the summer with the garden, home raised rabbits, venison,chickens, eggs and some purchased meat added in. Almost forgot the home cannned fruit and jams, too!     

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Crunchy Snacks

Folks love crunchy snacks -- chips, pretzels, pita chips, bagel crisps. To keep them crunchy you can use chip bag clips, jars, or even the humble baggie. The contents of a baggie would be self evident, wouldn't you think?

Roll back to my daughter's teen years, and her boyfriends, the demolishers of crunchy snacks in quantity. Wow, those boys could eat!

One day a boyfriend was rummaging through the pantry and found a bag with crunchy bites in shades of brown. Curious soul opened the bag, grasped a handful and chowed down. He choked out, "What's in this baggie? Tastes sort of weird!"

No kidding, guy. That baggie was full of cat food.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Embarrassing Memories of January Past

   The officer pulled me over for driving five miles over the speed limit ( in a famous name day care van)  on my first day employed  as a director, over 25 years ago. 

 I drove that puppy, emblazoned with company name, logo, address and phone number, downhill into a school zone too fast. I saw the school zone sign too late, and Officer Friendly saw me. I couldn't deny it; so face burning, I begged mercy.

He sent me back up the hill in the van, and watched as I came down the hill at proper speed. He smiled broadly at me and waved as I went on my way.

Some teacher in his past must have yelled, "WALK!" one two many times, and sent him back up the hall to try again.

That guy was a great teacher himself.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Annual Letter

Greetings from Central Texas!

2010 was another action-packed year on the farm. We know you’re anxious for the details, so here’s our annual letter.
January began with the 2009 taxes. We brought our usual large box of assorted receipts, oddball explanations, and a jumbo bottle of antacids with a bow for Jeanne. An experienced tax preparer makes all the difference when filing taxes for the farm.

An e-mail from the hatchery sent us into poultry fever in February. Assorted ducks on sale!!! We can save nearly two dollars per bird! Are we prepared? No! Off to town for feed, bedding, hay, heat lamp and new waterers; then across town for a wading pool to use as a brooder. Don’t forget the mileage to town - 52 miles, another 50 to the hatchery, and 45 miles back home. The first receipts drifted into the 2010 tax box.

March dawned with duckling escape. We heard the splat of ducky feet exploring their new world, the porch bathroom. Something else went splat on the floor as a by-product of duckling exploration. It was followed by the anguished shriek of our son, Matthew, who had designed and built the extra bathroom on the porch. The very floor he laid on all fours in 100 degree heat was now defiled, he ranted. Brood the ducklings at your house again, we suggested. Recalling last year’s experience, suddenly the floor was less of an issue. Baby duck odor is as breathtaking as skunk essence.

Who else but Art could borrow a bulldozer? As April drew to a close, the rumble of the diesel could be tracked as it crunched over small trees and dodged the larger ones around the property. Testosterone levels rose as the menfolk regarded the driveway. “Needs scraping,” Matthew said. He roared down the drive and back, blade lowered. “You left bumps!” Art pointed out. “Let me do it the right way!” Good thing the headlights didn’t work. They’d have spent the evening turning the drive into a canyon.

In May one of the porch cats had eye problems and needed a vet. My soft-hearted hubby packed it up and took it to the land of gross indignities. Its temperature was taken, and the nurses laughed when it weighed nothing. It changed from a half wild farm cat to a clinging baby in one traumatic visit. Vet visit, meds, special food and a toy (for trauma) made that kitten as expensive as the ducks of February, so it moved inside. Art’s beard was Momma, and Momma got to itching. Surprise again! Tiny kitten; tiny fleas! Flea shampoo for two happened in the kitchen sink, and Brighty’s trauma was nothing compared to Art’s.

First cat, Ock, was appalled at our decision to add a junior cats to his kingdom when their Momma disappeared. Kitten chow was tasty though, and he became plumper and sleeker daily. Explosive hissing declined, and Ock began to lick the babies. Watching a particularly blissful grooming session I had a horrid thought: do you suppose Ock is tasting them? How many licks before he decides to go for the chewy center?

July’s scorching heat saw Art out in the duck pasture planting excess pumpkins. “I have an idea!” He said. My right eye twitched for the next hour. I wasn’t soothed by the strains of music from the duck pasture / pumpkin patch either. The ducks had become addicted to the country music we used to chase off night predators. If you turned off the music, they squawked and quacked mightily. They also stopped laying eggs as a form of feathered protest. “No music? No eggs! Turn up the volume, too. We can’t enjoy it unless you can hear it clearly from your bedroom!” I hope that jumbo bottles of aspirins are on sale this week. I’m nearly out.

I found something disturbing during a raid on the new workshop in August. You might recall how Art blew up the old one in 2007 making “Ethanol”? The plans for a catapult lay half-hidden on his desk. ”Surprise!” he said, “Think of it as an easy, fun way to spread fertilizer,” he explained. “Enough fertilizer spreading is happening right now,” I retorted. I am frequently accused of being no fun.

September’s gardens were lush and the chickens were laying well, even in the heat. Art noticed agitated chickens, and moved the plywood sunshade from the nest in an isolated pen. He was surprised for a change. No chicken, but a furry, black and white striped critter lounged on an ice bottle we’d left for chicken comfort. Eggshells were scattered about. Empty. “#$%*%#!” Art yelped, and fell backward into a water bucket. He threw everything loose in the pen he could find, including the eggs from the basket he was carrying. The skunk, startled, began to dance his special dance, then considered the madman before it, and ran for the woods and the highway beyond. I can’t believe he didn’t get sprayed. I’m grateful; tomato juice is getting pricey these days.

I woke up one October morn to the gleeful shouts of men and loud thuds. Peering out the window I flinched as a pumpkin flew by. Men clustered around the completed catapult; my husband, son, friends and a few strangers were toting pumpkins. “Remember you wanted to explore value-added produce?” Art yelled. “Buy a pumpkin and launch it free! You can’t believe how many we’ve sold! Now the catapult is tax deductible!” I chewed two antacids from the bottle I was saving for next tax season.

November first I threatened to take a chainsaw to the catapult, fearful of frozen turkey launching following a special we’d watched on satellite TV. Art turned it over to the custody of our local historical museum instead. I recognized the curator as an enthusiastic pumpkin flinger. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this latest manly scheme.

Art started his letter to Santa early in December. A better lock for the workshop topped the list. If he thinks a lock will keep me out, he’s mistaken. He also wants two tiny flight suits, a book on the Hindenburg, seven cylinders of helium, a remote control, and a do-it-yourself crop dusting DVD.

Remember you have a standing invitation to visit. Bring a set of lock picks, and crowbar in case the picks don’t work. I didn’t like the list Art wrote to Santa, and my gear from Spy, Inc. is on back order. Anyone have a source for bulk antacids?


Helene and Arthur Burnett