Friday, September 30, 2016


We are almost through the first full week of Fall. Temperatures are finally beginning to feel like Autumn and the desire for comfort foods is building. Foods such as Chili, soups, casseroles, etc. Dishes that are best with crackers included in the recipe or as an addition to the bowl. 

One product we use a lot of is TownHouse crackers. I can't sneak an off-brand by Bob (but I have a plan). If you've ever opened up a package and gotten that waxy plastic taste, you know that their packaging is NOT the best option for longterm storage.

I was able to get a package and a half in a 1quart jar with my Foodsaver.

Now, there are a couple of gals on YouTube who get fancy by stacking them. I didn't stack and got the same amount in each jar.

I also bought three boxes of the TownHouse Italian Flatbread Crackers and got the same amount in the jars.

The plain buttery crackers will be great for adding to casseroles. I can mix those with the Italian Flatbread crackers for Chicken Parmesan. 

Because I've heard mixed stories about using the FoodSaver for 'crumb' type items, I chose to put the full crackers in the jar and will crush them as needed. 

Since these pictures were taken I've also purchest Mini Saltines (I prefer saltines in my soup and these are 1/4th the size of a saltine square and Oyster Crackers (which Bob prefers in his chilli).  As soon as I've finished moving craft pattern books up to the studio, I'll have a full 5-shelf book case for these dry goods. The jars are lighter weight than regular canned goods so the cheaper partical board shelves will withhold these jars nicely. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

ROAD TRIP - Ozark Sustainable Living Festival

Last Saturday I braved what I thought was going to be a pleasant weather day to attend the Ozarks Sustainable Living Festival at the Next Step Seventh Day Adventist Church in West Plains MO.

The church hosted a similar festival two years ago with what I believe was a much better organized, attended event (both by vendors and those interested in 'sustainable' living. First, I'm going to show you what I saw then give a this year verses two years ago critique.

These first pictures were taken from three different vantage points around the field/ track of the church yard.
as I approached from the parking area

to the left facing the church

from the back side of the track

I was disappointed in the number of vendors. I realize the weather was questionable, after having survived three days of heavy rain. Two years ago, we had an organic beef meat processor educating as well as offering burgers for sale from their food trailer. There were also a lot more educational booths on sustainability and prepping-type information.

I understand the lack of food availability on the track may have been due to the church offering a vegan burger plate inside the church. (Though I can NOT be sure that was the reason for lack of other options.. just an observation.)

Booths on the lawn included:

Blacksminth Matthias Pen from Ava MO

Garden of Hope (Killian) from Doniphan MO
Garden Nursery, Air Plants, Succulents

Activities for kids such as Balloons

I did not get this gentleman's name but he appeared as if this was the last place he wanted to be.
 Very unapproachable. Notice Tupperware in the background. 

While Tupperware has been around for generations, any prepper knows that plastic is NOT the best way to store long-term. 

There were1 -hr  time slots for seminars in the Main Hall:

Sustainability - The Big Picture Overview  /w Larry Sweet
Food - Our Unsustainable Food System -- help change it  /w Dan Leary
Energy - Everything Needs Power /w Craig Wiles 
Community - We're All Part of This  /w Galen Chadwick
Shelter - Earthships for Sustainable Living /w Allen & Mary Severin 
Panel of 'Experts' - Bring Your Questions
Economics - Prosperity without 'growth' /w Mike Luster

I missed the first seminar, got in on the tail end of the second and sat through part of the third. What I did hear was a lot of 'background' information but no how to put the information into practice. They did offer a sign-up to get an MP3 disk of all the seminars for $5. I signed up for one to hear the ones I missed. 

I couldn't sit through the rest of Energy and rain moved in so I headed out for lunch and to pick up a few things at the box store. Before I'd finished lunch, the sky opened up and began flooding the streets so I bypassed the box store and headed home. I later heard on the news that had I not left when I did, I might have been camping out at the local Comfort Inn for the night due to impassable roads.  

Sustaining Sponsors (contributing $1000 or more to support the event):
Professional Resume Writers (Mick Slack)

Aside from vendors and children's activities, there was to be music. There wasn't anyone there while I was there.

In comparison to the festival of two years ago, I was disappointed in this festival and would have accomplished more staying home. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

PUTTING FOOD BY - Turkey and Noodles

I love this picture. While the storage itself is not practical for home-use, can you imagine having that kind of a stock-up and never having to worry about any of it going bad? Yeah.. not going to happen.

I am learning to keep 'freezer' stuff to a minimum. I mean, if the power were to go out for any length of time, I would be cooking like a mad woman - then trying to figure out how to preserve what I'd cooked, or feeding the neighbors. 

In the grand scheme of preservation, the freezer is not our optimal food storage. So explain to me why I have an entire hog in my freezer downstairs LOL. Some of that will convert to canning jars this winter.

In the mean time, I've also learned how to best freeze foods for long-term storage and avoiding freezer burn. My foodsaver is my best friend - both for freezing and for dry jar storage.

Thanksgiving leftovers are a cook's nightmare. Not mine. I learned many things at an early age and one of those was how to convert leftovers into amazing meals. One of which is Turkey and Noodles.

I started by removing the meat from the carcass. First I sliced off all that I could for hot turkey sandwiches. This is usually good for a couple of meals.  The rest became shredded pieces. This is about 1/3 of a 6 quart metal mixing bowl.

I made a batch of egg noodles using 1 dozen large eggs, 1 Tablespoon of Salt and enough flour to make a workable dough.

I like noodles with some texture so I only roll my dough to about 1/4" thick. My mom always rolled her dough into a cylinder as if she were cutting cinnamon rolls and sliced her noodles off in 1/2" strips. I just take a pizza wheel to my flattened dough. they are 'home style'.

The noodles are placed into a bowl and tossed with a bit of flour to keep them from sticking to one another.

Bring a large 6 qt. pan of chicken stock to a boil. Once the broth is at a rolling boil, drop the egg noodles a few at a time into the broth and stir to keep them from sticking together. Continue to boil until they are no longer doughy. I usually do not add the meat until the noodles are almost done. This gives me more room in the pan for stirring the noodles. 

Once the turkey and noodles were done, I divided them into 8" round cake pans (you can use square or even a 9x13 if you are feeding a family of 4 or larger). An 8" cake pan is the perfect meal size for two people. Place them in the freezer uncovered, to freeze.

Once the pans are frozen solid, they will pack nicely into Foodsaver bags without worrying about juice squeezing out the top and the bags will conform to the shape. 

Nothing says comfort on a cold winter afternoon then a bowl of homemade turkey and noodles. You can do this same process with chicken or beef, too. If you want to add the vegetables in, like peas or carrots, at the time of cooking that will save you a step in heating up a vegetable side when you serve  up a bowl. Since my husband does not like vegies, I bypass these ingredients and heat up our individual favorites (he'll eat mushy canned peas or green beans) when I fix the meal. 

Now... I did mention the disadvantage to freezer usage at the beginning of this article. One of the things I'll be trying this fall is Pressure Canning. I've never used one before but I do know that when it comes to meat/ broths, pressure canning will expand my preservation options and keep me from relying on the freezer quite as much. I'm off to buy one tomorrow and will let you know how that part of this prepper journey goes. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

PUTTING FOOD BY - Prepackaged Pasta

While they are not my favorite thing to purchase, having quick fix foods in the pantry do make life easier when the rest of the world refuses to stop spinning for two seconds. However, I do not like keeping things in their original packaging. I prefer glass canning jars.

The picture above shows items pulled from the kitchen cabinets. The picture below is their repackaged version:

I try to package pastas in wide mouth quarts. I do not use half-gallon jars (though I could), because once I pop the seal I want to use them up in a week or two as opposed to resealing a larger jar.

I've heard, though I can not get confirmation on the fact, that you should not use the vacuum seal for powdered items as they can clog the air canal. Makes sense. So the pastas are in jars and if they have a coordinating powder mix in a separate pouch, I put those in the 1/2 jelly jars and screw the lids on tight. These are the jars I will use first. 

On a recent trip to Big Lots, I found small tortellini pasta in several varieties. These cute little bags were perfect for me as Bob does not eat anything that includes the name of a vegetable or green leafy additive.

I did get a couple bags of four-cheese so I could fix something for the two of us, but primarily this purchase was for my meals when he is gone. I stored them in pint jars... just enough for two meal-preps each.

I will probably get at least four meals from each jar, but I'll cook them in batches of two so that I'll have meals for two days in a row then the other half of the jar for the following week. 

What types of pastas do your family enjoy? Share your favs, or a link to a favorite pasta recipe.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Bob loves cinnamon toast, cinnamon rolls, etc. So when I found Cinnamon Roll Captain Crunch I knew this would become a favorite. Since the product is new on the shelves (in our area at least), I thought I'd better stock up while I could find the cereal.

I'm not a sweet cereal fan so these are all for Bob. I packaged them in quart jars. I figure he'll go through one jar in a couple of  'man' servings so the contents won't have time to get stale. He can alternate cereal a couple of days a week with other things like his 'leftovers' omelets, sausage gravy with biscuits, pancakes/ eggs/ bacon, etc... all his other favorites.

As you can see I only got eight jars. I'm thinking I might want to stop by Big Lots today and pick up a few more boxes. I think this was three boxes.  At only .75 per breakfast I think we can add a few more to the pantry.

Monday, August 8, 2016


A couple of weeks ago, Bob and I made a trip to West Plains. He was meeting up with a guy to buy a generator and I needed a few things from 'the evil store' as we've dubbed the big Box Store. We always spend more than we intend when we walk through those doors. But I'm getting better.

On this day, storms were to the south and west of us. I was struck by this cloud formation. All of the clouds seem to be sprouting up from the ground like mushrooms.

Over the course of about 45 minutes the clouds went from the single plume...

to having a smaller friend. They soon joined to form a circle of sorts.

And finally, I loved the brush strokes of this formation. One of the ladies on a crafting thread I belong to thought this one would make a lovely scrapbooking background. I agree.

You can keep sight of where you are going while still enjoying the beauty around you. 

Friday, August 5, 2016


As I said in an earlier post, I've been like a squirrel preparing for winter... while we are still experiencing the summer heat. I've just had this feeling of needing to stock up.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be talking about various forms of 'stocking up'.  Keep in mind, I am only stocking food for two people. Your food preferences and number of people in your household will dictate your options.

When my pantry is well-stocked, I'll share recipes using the pantry items.

If you would like to see some great videos on dehydrator and food saver storage, check out Linda's Pantry on YouTube.

This picture shows four loaves of French Bread. I didn't realize until I got home that one was sliced, but the slices worked up the same. I purchased these from the discount rack at my local box store for .50 each. 

At home, I sliced them into bite-sized cubes and spread them on food dehydrator trays. I have five racks. These four loaves took ten trays total, so I had two drying rounds. 

Each batch took approximately twenty-four hours to dry. I wanted to make sure no more moisture remained. When I could crumble a piece in my hand easily, I unplugged the dehydrator and let the bread cubes cool completely before vacuum sealing in wide-mouth quart jars. 

These four loaves (minus 6-8 slices for meals) gave me eleven jars. I can use them for stuffing, or crush them for breading.

Because they are so versatile, I will probably make more later in the season