Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let's be honest, the Food Storage Lady is pretty flaky. But now she wants to talk about canning beans.

Hi there, fellow food hoarders. I'm still alive and well. I'm just an Activity Day Lady at the moment, instead of a Food Storage Lady. I've got some great ideas for stuff to do with ten-year-old girls, in case you are interested. Like fleece boa scarves. We made them, then wore them to the Temple to see the Christmas lights. We got hot chocolate at the QT on the way home. Great good fun.

But what about food storage? Am I still doing it? Course I am. Although, I will admit that my kids like the Basmati rice from Costco better than the cannery rice these days, so I'm having some rotation troubles.

But let's talk about beans for a minute. I've always had a hard time using my dry beans. I don't use enough of them, so when I would finally pop open one of those #10 cans and cook them, they were elderly, and wouldn't get soft enough, even if I cooked them all day. Then my snooty, entitled, First World children wouldn't eat the chewy beans (fine, the kids aren't snooty), and so then, whenever I would look in the pantry and see the bean cans, I would get sort of sad and distressed, and a tiny bit guilty. I mean, I'm sure it could all be sorted in therapy, but I've found an easier way.

Canning the beans.

Canning stuff is all the rage. Or maybe it used to be all the rage and now it is passé again. I don't really know. I'm 38 and have five kids. I used to be medium foxy, but now I'm self aware enough to know I can't wear skinny jeans cuz I scare the people behind me. From what I can tell from Pinterest, high heels, tiny braids in the front of your head, and Ryan Gosling are cool. I like high heels and the braids, but not so much the Ryan Gosling. I wish someone could explain it, cuz I can't see the big deal. At least he acts. Not like Channing Tatum. But hey! Channing Tatum is a better actor than Nicholas Cage. And Nicholas Cage is a better actor than Keanu Reeves. (Everybody is a better actor than Keanu Reeves.)

I canned lots of chicken for awhile, and I liked using the canned chicken, but playing with the raw meat isn't super fun. Beans are more pleasant. My first canned beans were pinto, and I threw in a teaspoon of chopped onion and a teaspoon of canned green chiles. They were so delicious, buttery and perfectly cooked, my eyes rolled around in my head a little. But then I realized I better follow the rules, and not just any old recipe I found out on the internets, because no bean is worth botulism, so now I stick with the recipes I find here, where the nice people at the National Center for Home Food Preservation try to keep us middle-aged homemakers from poisoning ourselves. I know lots of people who go rogue on their beans, even skipping the soaking and what not, and none of those people are dead. Yet. But as for me and my house, we will use the boring PH balanced recipes tested by scientists.

I can my beans in pints, mostly. The quarts seem a little big and intimidating, but good for a crowd, if you've got one. I get my jars at Wal-Mart, Costco, or sometimes D.I. You'll need a pressure canner. I just have the same Presto one that everybody has because it is cheap. I got it on Amazon. You can either soak the beans for 12-18 hours, or boil 5 minutes and soak for an hour. Then you boil them for 30 minutes, and put them in your clean jars with some of the cooking liquid and some salt. Put them in the canner and cook them for the required time (75 or 90 minutes), and they are done. Here's the link. The best part is, they are perfectly cooked. And already ready for dinner. Or for that bean dip you need to take to your bed while you watch Downton Abbey.

What do you can? I made some tangelo marmalade yesterday. It is beautiful but looks a little runny. This makes me sad, because it was lots of work, zesting 10 tangelos. Have you ever canned beans? Which are your favorite? If you were forced star opposite Ryan, Channing, Nicholas, or Keanu in a Nicholas Sparks movie, which would you choose?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Preserving your citrus: lemon, grapefruit, oranges, oh my!

Okay, so was looking at my stats this morning, and I realized this poor, neglected place is getting nearly as many hits as my REAL blog! Fact is, I've been feeling rather guilty, cause I've been busy baking like crazy with all kinds of...gasp!, I won't say it! terrible, but delicious!...WHITE FLOUR. 

Yes, I know white flour is like poison, blah blah blah, and my guess is that Paula Deen and Ina Garten know it, too. But sometimes, you just need a lemon curd tart with a shortbread crust. It isn't your fault.

The food storage lady is all about moderation. In all things.

Pardon her while she brushes the tart crumbs off of her yoga pants.

So I have been baking up all things lemon because my lemon tree is full of ripe and juicy fruit. And I always use the lemon zest because it is maybe the best tasting part of the fruit. I have been thinking that soon it will be time to pick most of them and juice and freeze them (in two cup increments in freezer bags) for use in the next year. I do leave some on the tree, and they stay good into summer, though eventually they get fried in the Arizona sun, just like every other living thing does, in this oven of a desert in which I live...

Did I mention it is supposed to be 91 DEGREES here today? On March 2nd?

In the past, I have juiced the lemons, and thrown away the rinds with a sad heart. But lately I've been reading that zest freezes well, either in small portions in an airtight bag or container, or-get this!- still on the rind! So after I juice the lemons this year, I'm going to stick (some of) the empty shells in the freezer, so I can have my Pierre Herme lemon curd all the whole year long!

Or Country Strawberry Cake, which is really super delicious. Is like the best strawberry shortcake EVER. Trust me.
Or Brown Derby grapefruit cake, courtesy of Paula Deen! (I have grapefruits, too)
Or Tangerine Chiffon Pie, from Martha.

Or this Strawberry lemonade slush, which we drink all summer long:

1 cup frozen lemon juice
5 frozen strawberries (I get the big bags from Costco)
water, ice
sugar to taste (it really depends on the sweetness of your lemons and strawberries)
Blend in your blender until smooth (I use my Bosch blender attachment)

P.S. I always use more zest than the recipe says. Especially in the curd and the strawberry cake. I have tiny rasp-wielding zesters at my house (my kids). 

Have you tried any other ways of preserving citrus juice or zest? Or any other good recipes? Has anyone ever canned her own marmalade?

Let me know!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grocery Deals

Looking for grocery deals?Check out these links:

I'm trying The Grocery Game for 4 weeks (cost me $1)

Pinching Your Pennies is free!

Want to get multiple Sunday AZRepublics (more coupons) at a discount?

Also, found this blog which describes local deals in detail.

Buying groceries on sale, in conjuction with coupons, and stocking up when items are at their cheapest, is the best way to save on groceries!

I did Couponsense ($15 a month for all store lists) for about a year, and now I'm giving The Grocery Game (10$ a month for one store list, $5 each additional list) a go. I am also going to see if Pinching Your Pennies is as good. If it is, I'm switching. It is FREE!

These services match the sales with my coupons, so I don't have to. While I did it, I saved more than 50% on my groceries. I bought more, and built up a 3-6 month supply of non-perishable food, cleaning products, toiletries, etc.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Storing Water

From: Allyson
To: Me
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 11:23 AM
Subject: Hey food storage lady

I have an EMPTY 50 gallon water barrel that's been camping out on the side of my house
for way too long. I want to fill it with water but don't know the proper water/bleach ratio. Also,
where can I buy a new pump for it. The last one was used as a slingshot by a small boy named Alex.


Dear Allyson,
I was just looking at the website of a new store that just opened here in Mesa (Mesa Drive)and I saw the pumps on their website.

I don't know if the prices are good, but they do have the pumps ($17.99)! To treat your water, make sure you wash out the barrel very well with a chlorine solution (1 teaspoon chlorine/1 gallon water), then fill the barrel and add 6-8 drops chlorine per gallon in the container (your barrel might be 55 gallons) or about 1 teaspoon for 10 gallons. You should dump it out and refill it again annually. Also, if you are storing it outside, make sure you keep it under an opaque tarp. One of my barrels got crispy in the sun and broke.


P.S. I also store some water in flats of drinkable bottles. We use these, and rotate them into our drinking water. It is a good idea to have some water in smaller containers in case you need to transport them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Building a three month supply of food: stocking your pantry

Check out this article from yahoo finance. An interesting take on this whole food shortage thing. It asserts that stockpiling food is actually a good financial investment, because the prices of food are going up faster than our money market accounts. Which isn't the point, of course. Interesting, though.

While the cannery is closed, we have been encouraged to work on building up our three month supply of food. Food prices are still going up. Get it now and save $$$$!

Where can you start? What can you buy? This is all about you. What I buy, your family might not eat! Make a list of meals you normally eat. Which of them have a basis of frozen or shelf-stable foods? Some ideas: Pastas and sauce or ingredients for sauce, chili (canned or homemade from dried beans) and cornbread (from a mix or grind your own corn), Rice and chicken with frozen veggies. There may be items you can't store for three months. Ask yourself if you could still eat the meal without those items (sour cream, fresh veggies) if  there was an emergency where fresh food wasn't available. If the answer is yes, store it! 

I don't like eating the same thing every week, or even every two weeks. So when I make my plan to store food for 3 months, I plan foods that will last at least a year. I plan 6 each of 14 dinners, but we eat those meals over the course of a year. You might want to plan to eat your meals every night. In this case, your foods need only last 3 months. In my family, we need to go to In-n-Out and order pizza occasionally. Don't judge me. I may be the Food Storage Lady, but I like my burgers with the pink spread.

I also store basic pantry items in three month quantities. I don't store white flour in my long term storage, because it goes bad and smells like metal cans if that's where you stored it. I buy a big bag of flour from Costco and store it in a big food grade bin in my pantry. When it starts to smell not-so-fresh, I dump it and buy another. There's no use using the best sugar cookie recipe in the world if you are using nasty flour. That's what I always say. Okay, not always. But sometimes. Most spices, cereals, canned goods will last three months easily. Usually much longer.

I store oatmeal and pancake mix and syrup, and cold cereals for breakfast. We don't eat this every day, but we could if we needed. The kids like them.

The problem is how to remember to replace what you have used. I determine a number of units, 1 unit higher than I actually need, and replace the unit when 1 is empty. For instance: I store 8 jars of peanut butter, because I need 7. Before I throw out the empty  PB container, I write it on my list for the store. I always have nearly 7 full jars on the shelf.

You can shop grocery sales (there is a link to sister savings over there. She collects grocery ad info every week, and posts the best deals online, free. I did Couponsense (costs about $10 a month plus cost of newspapers) for about a year, and I really stocked up on shelf items. It did take a lot of time. I went to three stores a week, got three newspapers for coupons,  and spent about 10 hours a week on it. There are other programs that are less involved. Now I mostly buy in bulk at Costco. It isn't the cheapest way at all, but I like it. There isn't one right way to do this. There are cheaper and more expensive ways to do it, easier and harder ways to do it, tastier and not-so-tasty ways to do it, but no one right way. 

What it requires (that many people don't want to invest) is time and thought. 

Why not start now? The items you need are only getting more expensive. If you are eating food you purchased 6 months ago, you are saving money! The wheat I put in buckets in 2004 is worth 3 times what I paid for it. Not that it matters. Wheat is still not so expensive most of us can't afford it. Trust me, when you fill your house with food, you will be repayed easily in peace of mind. Not to mention the blessings that come from obedience to this temporal law. 

Did you know that we are supposed to be our own welfare program? In case of catastrophe (personal to worldwide), we should be prepared with food to eat, water to drink, and money in the bank. The greatest strength of the Church welfare program is what we, the members, have stored in our closets.

What sorts of meals do you store in your three months' supply? Leave me your ideas and recipes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mesa Home Storage Center (temporary) Closing and policy changes

Um. Ignore all the stuff I said before about how to get food from the Mesa Home Storage Center. Salt Lake City (Church Headquarters) has changed the policy on how we will can our products at the Home Storage Center. Intrigued? Yes, I thought so. Read on!

If you haven't already heard, the Mesa Home Storage Center is closed for refurbishment until the end of June. That means our Stake Canning Days will resume in July. When it re-opens, there will be some significant changes.

Here is the new procedure:

We still place our orders through our ward specialists (that's me) one month in advance. So orders for July canning will be due the last Sunday in June.

We no longer pay for our orders through the Ward! You will need to come to the Cannery on Canning day (every 4th Thursday morning at 8 am), where we can our own orders and pay for the food ourselves. If the individual who placed the order isn't there, the order will be cancelled. Personal Checks or Money orders are accepted, but not cash.

We will be canning only a few items per month. Here is the schedule so far:

July – milk, regular oats, macaroni and carrots
August – potato flakes, fruit drink, sugar, black beans and rice
September – white beans, refried beans, cocoa, flour and onions

The Home Storage Center is still currently open for bulk sales (bags of food), pre-packaged sales, and checking out canners will go on as normal.

Everything else- the Storehouse, Cannery, LDS employment, and LDS Family Services are NOT effected by the Home Storage remodeling. They are all open for business.

I also heard there will be prepackaged long term products available for purchase. These will be sold in cases of 6 cans: Hard red winter wheat, white rice, pinto beans and quick oats.

So there it is. It seems confusing, but it really isn't. Watch to see if what you need is being canned, then sign up. Then, show up on canning day and bring your check book. That's it!

Do you have any questions?