Archive for March 5th, 2008

Eating Out of Your Pantry

Sharon March 5th, 2008

What does a 3 Month Supply of Food Look Like?

4 people would use:

  • - 400 lbs of grains
  • - 100 lbs of beans and legumes
  • - 20 lbs of sweetener
  • - 40 cans of fish or meat or 10 lbs tvp
  • - 5 lbs peanut butter
  • - 30 lbs dry milk
  • - 40 cans of vegetables (Greens and Pumpkin/Squash if purchased, misc. home canned otherwise)
  • - 10 lbs dried fruit
  • - 5lbs sprouting seeds
  • - 2 gallons oil
  • - Treats (enough for at least 1x per week) and festival foods
  • - 400 multivitamins
  • - Salt, baking soda, powdered eggs, vinegar, baking powder, yeast, spices, seasonings, bullion, coffee, tea or other beverages

Multiply by 4 for a 1 year supply

Sounds like a lot, It really isn’t!  Remember, Economies of Scale - Buying in 50lb quantities is the cheapest of all!


Replace 1 lb grains with 1.5 lbs calorie dense root vegetables - sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro, cassava, beets, parsnips, etc…


  • - What do you eat? Bread? Rice? Tortillas? Oatmeal?  Store what you eat, eat what you store
  • - Think in terms of what can be produced easily in your climate and region - real local eating.
  • - Not All Wheat - Bodies Can’t Handle it
  • - Whole Grains Last Longer, store better, better for you!


  • - Whole Wheat, Salt and Honey will last longer than we will if properly stored
  • New Research suggests that this is true of Dry Milk, Dried Beans, most whole grains (except brown rice), Sugar, baking soda, vinegar and white rice Will last 5 Years or more (beans will take longer to cook as they age.) 
  • - Most canned goods labeled with expiration date, but safe to eat for 1 year longer.
  • - Home canned 2 -3 years if kept in the dark
  • - Fats and Oils - 1 1/2 years, shortening indefinite, but you shouldn’t eat it ever ;-) .
  • - Dried Fruit, yeast and Sprouting Seeds Except Alfalfa 1 year
  • - Alfalfa seeds 5-10 years
  • - Vitamins 2-3 years
  • - Whole spices 2-3 years, ground spices 6 months to 1 year
  • - Infant formula 18 months in powder (Do not use after expiration date)
  • - Baking powder 3 years if kept sealed



  • - This is How we’re supposed to eat anyway! Very Healthy Diet
  • - Not at all bland or tasteless - delicious, nutritious food!
  • - Seasonings essential! Store your favorites
  • - Ease into it: make one meal a week from storage to start
  • - Rotate, rotate, rotate
  • - Eat what you store ,store what you eat

FOOD STORAGE MENUS:  Remember, these are only recipes that ONLY use the ingredients on the list - you can make thousands more recipes, including plenty of family favorites, using your storage and what you ordinarily keep at home!


  • - Oatmeal with dried fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • - Dried apricot muffins with streusel topping
  • - French toast with fruit sauce or syrup
  • - Rice pudding with blueberries
  • - Pumpkin pancakes with cranberry syrup
  • - Breakfast burritos
  • - Biscuits and cream gravy


  • - Peanut butter and homemade jam on fresh bread, carrot sticks
  • - Mexican black Bean Soup, Fresh Bread and fruit compote
  • - Homemade Baked Beans with Pork or Bacon TVP, Cornbread and Greens
  • - Asian style tuna wrap with fresh broccoli sprouts and sweet peanut sauce
  • - Creamy pumpkin soup with Whole Wheat Bread and Three Bean Salad
  • - Gumbo with greens over rice
  • - Herbed spinach-cheese squares, hummus and pita bread


  • - Chicken, pork, tvp or fish fried rice, asian marinated sprout salad
  • - Peppered salmon cakes, mustard greens
  • - Creamy layered noodles with herbs, roasted root vegetables
  • - Jambalaya and Cinnamon baked squash
  • - Indian Style Dal (Curried Lentils) with golden rice and Saag Paneer (Seasoned spinach and cheese)
  • - Cold Salmon Salad in Vinagrette with garlic toasts
  • - Squash or herbed yogurt cheese pierogi with dipping sauce, salad of sprouts and dried fruit in a honey-herb dressing
  • - Fresh noodles in broth, vegetable fritters, salad

Treats and Desserts

  • - Chocolate almond bread pudding
  • - Chocolate chip cookies (even better with dried cranberries)
  • - Pumpkin pie
  • - Jam filled cookies
  • - Dried fruit compote
  • - Vanilla-Apricot cake
  • - Granola-fruit bars


Rice Pudding With Dried Blueberries

(This Makes a Great Dessert, and an equally good breakfast!)

1 cup of white or brown rice

2 cups milk

½ cup of sugar or honey

¼ tsp salt

½ cup dried blueberries

1 tbsp almond extract


Cook rice in water until barely tender. Place in baking dish.  Stir sweetener, salt and almond extract into Milk.  Pour mixture over rice, add blueberries and stir, cook on low heat 275ish for 1 hour.

Salmon Cakes

(Everyone In Our House LOVES this Meal, and I’ve never had a guest not love it either)

1 can of salmon

2 medium potatoes

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Fresh herbs to taste

2 eggs or equivalent

Bread crumbs (make your own - you do anyway ;-) )


Steam or boil potatoes until soft.  Mix salmon with potatoes and seasonings.  Add powdered eggs, regular eggs, stir to mix, and dip lightly in breadcrumbs (you can skip this step, but it does make a nice crispy crust).  Fry in Oil (best tasting, bad for you) or bake (very good too, much better for you) until brown and crisp on each side.  They are good plain, even better dipped in homemade garlic mayo.

Oliver Twist Crackers
( I found this in a recipe called “Gruel Crackers” And thought it needed a much more appetizing name.  But it is a great use of leftover grains and beans, and really delicious, so we changed the name.)

Take 2 cups of leftover grains or beans. (They should be at the borderline soup/stew stage - if they aren’t add some water and thin them out. Works with anything!).
Add 1/4 cup of oil
1 tbsp salt or soy sauce
whatever seasonings you want on your crackers (we like garlic, or chilies, but I bet cheese or sage would be really good - experiment)
2-3 cups of flour (2 cups of this really should be whole wheat flour, but the other cup can be anything, and should be - cornmeal, or rye, or millet or whatever suits you).

Oil a baking sheet, roll or press flat, cut or dot so you can break them, and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.  Cool, break, eat.

Homemade Granola Bars
3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned or instant)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sesame seeds (or just add more wheat or nuts if you have them)
1/2 cup wheat germ or bulghur
4 tablespoons butter or oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup honey or molasses
1 cup raisins, dried cranberries or other dried fruit (chopped to raisin size if bigger)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

toast the oats, sesame seeds, wheat germ/bulghur and nuts if any on a 9-by-12-inch baking sheet for 20 minutes, starting as you preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Watch to make sure they don’t burn!  When cool, add dry fruit
Heat the butter, brown sugar, nut butter, vanilla and cinnamon and honey in a small saucepan, simmeringwhile the dried ingredients are baking. (I leave the sugar out if the peanut butter is already sweetened - if you are using the natural stuff, you might want it.) Heat until everything is smoothly combined.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, mix in the vanilla extract and pour the liquid mix over the oat mixture, stirring until all the dried mixture is coated.

Press the granola firmly into the bottom of a greased 8-by-8-inch pan and place the pan in the still-warm oven to bake (at 300 degrees) for 20 minutes. You can cut the batch into bars after the granola has cooled slightly, but wait to take the bars out of the pan until they’re completely cool.

Ok, next - Staple Foods and Learning to Love Your Local Staples!!


Food Storage 101 - Part II: Water and Buckets (More to Come)

Sharon March 5th, 2008

There will be more on this later today - I’m trying to break this into manageable bits, so that there aren’t too many freak outs ;-)


Ok, so I told you that everyone (and this means you!) needs to have a 2 week emergency supply of food, water and medications, plus stuff like extra warm clothes and blankets in case you don’t have heat and a way to cook the food.  And you are thinking - ok, she’s probably right, but she’s *INSANE* if she thinks I have any way to store 85 freakin’ gallons of water.

And that’s fair - the problem is that we all were watching the people in the Superdome, and have some idea what the stakes of having water in a crisis are.  I couldn’t find statistics on how many deaths were due to dehydration, but it is certainly listed as a factor in many of them.  The reality is that the odds are good you can go a long time without a water crisis, but when you need it, you need it.  The truth is that this is a huge, PITA - and you should suck it up and do it if you can.

Now my figures double the stored water requirements.  1 gallon per day will get most people through a day, with maybe a moist washcloth to wipe off and enough to drink.  The problem is that this isn’t enough to let you work hard in hot weather (you can require a quart an hour for that), and it isn’t enough to allow you to cook, or wash your hands regularly.  But you can halve my figures, and allow 1 gallon per person per day.   If you do, store a lot of alcohol based hand sanitizer as well.  I prefer water, and would recommend 2 gallons per person per day, particularly if you live where it gets hot. 

There are a couple of ways to handle water.  The first is to make sure you have a reliable way of getting it out of the ground if you need to get it - a hand pump, a bucket for your well, a spring.  This works fairly well in the country, where there aren’t sewer overflows to contaminate water supplies, but urban and large town water supplies are likely to be contaminated in a crisis, so it won’t help you there.  Still, if you live in a rural or exurban area, you might consider, instead of storing water, putting a manual pump on your well (if your well is under 200 feet deep) or some other mechanism of getting water. If you live in a small or midsized town, consider campaigning to put hand-pumps or solar pumps at schools and in parks so that in a crisis, townsmembers can get their water.  But remember, if you’ve had flooding or sewage contamination, you may not be able to rely on this.

So what do you do if you have to store water?  Well, first of all, *DON’T* store it in the plastic jugs you get at the supermarket if you are storing for the long term.  These last only a matter of months, and have a tendency to decompensate in storage (that is, burst all over the place).  If you want to rotate your supply, purchase water every six months, use it up, and buy new ones.

If you don’t want to spend that money, use heavier duty, food grade plastic - soda bottles, juice jugs - don’t buy them, take them out of your neighbor’s recycling ;-) .  One place you can put them is in your freezer, if you have space.  Since freezers run best when full, keeping water in there will both preserve it and help you reduce your energy usage.  Just don’t fill the bottles all the way - leave room for the water to expand when it freezes.

FEMA instructions are to add 1 tsp of bleach (nothing scented, only plain bleach!!!) to a quart of water.  I think that’s excessive - according to Matthew Stein’s exhaustively researched _When Technology Fails_, 2-4 drops per quart are sufficient to prevent algae growth. 

You can purchase 7 or 5 gallon heavy duty water jugs on the internet. They are not cheap, but you can reuse them forever.  7 gallons is as much as most people will want to lift, and they come in square water containers, which can be stacked to save space.  So 50 gallons of water can be stacked in a comparatively small space, or slid under a bed.   If you have a garage, you can get 50 gallon barrels and fill them with your hose and keep them there. 

If you have some kind of rainwater cachement, you can drink that water, as long as you *Filter* it.  In fact, a filter is a really good idea no matter where your water is coming from.  Even if it keeps coming out of the tap, municipal water can be contaminated by flooding, sewer leaks, chemical leaks, etc…  And stored water has to be stored with bleach, which you might also want to filter out. 

I use a British Berkefeld, which has been known to claim that you can pour raw sewage in the top and drink what comes out the bottom.  I have not experimented with this feature ;-) .  But I do love mine - it takes the sulphur and iron out of our water and gets rid of bacteria.  PUR Scout and Katadyn Combi portable filters are also good, and much cheaper.  I have no connection with any of these companies.  But it is worth having a camping filter or a heavy gravity fed one in your house - the camping filter is probably sufficient if you don’t expect to use it often, but the gravity fed ones will deal with water issues now, without power.


Ok, from water to buckets.  What are the buckets for, you ask?  Well, when you start buying 50lb sacks of food, that food can’t stay in its bag forever.  If it does, you will get buggies, and it will get damp from humidity, and you will be sorry.  Ask me how I know this ;-) .

So when you buy bulk food, you should decant it. If you have a ton of mason jars, you can just put it into that, but that takes a lot of jars, and most of us don’t have that much shelf space.  So the magical powers of the 5 gallon food-grade plastic bucket arise. 

Personally, I don’t think it is possible to have too many of these if you are growing, preserving and storing food.  And the great thing is that for most people, they are completely free - get them from any restaurant or store that has a deli, bakery, etc….  They will be getting rid of them.  I don’t think you can have too many - when you have all you want to store your food, you can use them to haul zucchini in from the garden, to bring feed out to your chickens, to ferment pickles, as a drum for subway busking - you name it! 

The only problem with storing things in them is getting the lids on and off - that stinks if you have to do it often.  It takes a lot of work, and can be made easier with a lid lifter tool (cheap).  So if you can afford it, it is worth acquiring the magic lid - Gamma Seals - for the buckets you use most often.  Here’s a link (again, I have no link to this company other than having bought some gamma seals from them, and I don’t claim that their prices are the best - I honestly haven’t researched prices).  That way, you can get oatmeal or rice or flour out easily. You only need these for the buckets that you open regularly.  That is, let’s say you keep oatmeal in a jar on your counter.  You refill the jar from one bucket, but maybe you have two or three other buckets of oatmeal - the only one that you have to open regularly is the one you might want to have a gamma seal for.  Again, it is perfectly possible to use the lids that come with them, merely a pain if you are doing it often.  But you don’t have to have Gamma seals, and shouldn’t worry about it if money is an issue. 

The other issue is the air inside the buckets.  If there’s air, your food won’t last as long.  There are a couple of ways of dealing with this. One would be to buy oxygen absorbers, another is to buy dry ice and pack with it according to the instructions here: or you can use a tea light (carefully) and put the lid on - when the candle burns out, the oxygen is gone.  I have not tried the latter technique, so be cautious.

 This all applies only to dry foods - beans, grains, etc…  We’ll talk more about root cellaring, storing canned goods and other issues coming up.  And later today - Recipes!