Preparedness Journal – October 2014 Update

I am back to being much more functional after another few weeks getting used to my longer work schedule.  I got some good things done this month.

A lot of my efforts in October have gone toward filling in some gaps in my food supply.

I made a big crockpot of Pork of the Gods, had a couple of meals from it and packaged up 7 more meals worth of meat.  I also cooked some chicken breasts in the crockpot.  From that, I had two dinners, made enough chicken enchiladas for one more meal and individually wrapped and froze the others for four more just-add-enchilada-sauce-and-bake meals.  I still had enough to packaged 11 meals worth of cooked chicken.

I love having packets of cooked meat in the freezer.  They allow me to quickly put dinner together.  For example, with a packet of cooked hamburger in the freezer, I can make a spaghetti dinner in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta because I have the meat thawing and warming in a pan of spaghetti sauce while bringing the water for pasta to a boil and then cooking it.  Quick meal prep at dinnertime is critical for me:  I’m too tired after a day of work and commuting to take a lot of time getting dinner on the table so if it’s not easy, it doesn’t happen.

Besides meat, I cooked and froze rice.  It thaws and heats in the microwave in just a couple of minutes (instead of the 20 – 25 minutes to make on the stovetop).  It’s as convenient as Minute Rice but healthier.

Besides the cooking I did, I also rearranged some cupboards to utilize some hard-to-reach corners to store some of the lesser-used #10 cans.  Since I don’t have to get another can of wheat out very often, putting them in the far back corner of some deep cupboards was a better use of that space.

I have attempted some Seed Saving.  I harvested seeds from the serrano peppers and the basil that grew in my garden.  I also saved the seeds from some green chili peppers that I got from the farmers’ market.  I’ve never saved seeds before so this is a totally new experience/experiment.

From my 101 Provident Things in 1001 Days list:

I’ve been wanting to upgrade my Get Home Bag (#72).  My efforts this month were to buy water pouches (which handle temperature fluctuations better than plastic bottles), glow sticks, and battery-powered flashlights (I’ve previously just had hand-crank flashlights).

More progress was made in the front bedroom and the walls were prepped and primed (#33).  They are ready for painting and I have narrowed the the paint color choices down to two.  I hope to make more progress on this project in November.

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“In the entire history of the Constitution, we have never amended the Bill of Rights.  Now is no time to start.”  —  Senator Ted Kennedy

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attitude is the difference

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Would you like a little whine with that applesauce?

Remember when my grandsons and I went apple picking and we brought home 66 pounds of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith goodness?  Well, until this weekend, I still had 66# of apples in my refrigerator.  There’s not much room in the refrigerator for anything else when you have that many apples.  On the other hand, thank goodness for refrigeration.

Last weekend, I had the boys wash a counter-full of apples so I could finally make some applesauce.  They were happy to do so.  Well, “happy” is a stretch.  Let’s just say that they love grandma’s homemade applesauce and know that only those who help, eat.

So, they did their part and my counter was covered with about 60 apples.  All week.  They sat, and sat, and sat until it got to the point that, if I didn’t get to them, they would be wasted.  (Somehow, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)

“What’s the holdup?”  one might wonder.  Well, I’ve had plenty of time to figure out why I’ve had such a hard time getting this done and have narrowed it down to:

I hate peeling.

That’s all it is.  As I’ve considered it further, I don’t just hate peeling apples, I also struggled with the peaches.  And, now that I’ve admitted it, I hate peeling potatoes, too.

As for the apples, yes, I have an apple peeler-corer-slicer.  I don’t like it and have not, after re-trying it year after year, been satisfied with the results.  The apple has to be shaped proportionately or you get unpeeled sections and forget about using it on soft apples.  Last year I determined to just get rid of the thing but felt guilty and didn’t.  However, if someone comes to my house and expresses a desire for one, and promises to give it a good home, it’s theirs!

I am also aware that you can cook the apples without peeling them and run them through a food mill to squish the apple off the peel, but, I didn’t like the flavor when I tried that.

So, year after year, I continue to peel my apples with a knife.  And, procrastinating because I don’t like to peel.

During today’s particular three hour peeling stint, I considered just how to overcome this shortcoming and think I’ve come up with a solution (other than never peeling another apple/peach/potato in my life).  I’m not going to share my theory  just yet.  I want to test it first.  I’m just happy to report that, tonight I have applesauce … and somewhat less than 66# of apples in my refrigerator.

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frog smile

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learning never ends

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Not My Rooster

This is not my rooster:

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 It is, however, My Front Porch.

The neighbor’s rooster has taken to sleeping on my front porch.  He’s quite polite about it:  if I come home after he has settled in, he will step aside to let me in the door.

I don’t know why mine is the chosen porch . . . . NO, I did not feed him!

He is a friendly guy and a very lonely rooster.  Poor thing has no one to be with (they have no other chickens).  I don’t think they have a coop for him either.  Expressing my concern to them for his emotional and physical well-being has not made a difference.

So, it’s hard to chase him off.  And I worry about his survival this winter.

In a humorous twist to the natural order, I have become his alarm clock.  Since I now get up before the rooster crows, so to speak, he starts up once I turn my lights on in the morning!  

Well, maybe not so humorous:  a rooster crowing on your front porch is Very Loud; not pleasant like a rooster crowing in your neighbor’s yard.

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the greatest enemy of knowledge

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Preparedness Journal – September 2014 Update

The main reason I like doing a monthly Preparedness Journal entry is that it helps me see that I *am* making forward progress on my self-reliance/provident living/preparedness efforts, most of which are itemized in my 101 Provident Things in 1001 Days list.

I learned to use Powdered Eggs (#27).  I’ve researched other methods of egg preservation over the past few months and determined that, for now, powdered eggs are the most practicable solution for me.  Frozen eggs one solution when you have too many to use in a timely manner, but 1) I would have to plan ahead to use them and, since most of my egg use is for impulse items like cookies, I would most likely be eggless when a craving struck, 2) I still would not use them quickly enough to ensure that they are not affected by freezer smells and freezer burn issues, and 3) they would be very susceptible to power outage loss. I haven’t tried to dehydrate my own eggs (yes, you can make your own Powdered Eggs!) because I would want to use fresh eggs for that and grocery store eggs are Not Fresh.  That’s an experiment for another time in my life perhaps.

I did more dehydrating (#67) – watermelon and pineapple.  I feel a bit guilty that the dehydrator is not running All The Time.

We picked apples to make applesauce but that was right before starting my new job and I’ve not gotten the applesauce made and canned.

I continue to work on my scratch cooking skills (#24), most evident in my learning how to cut a fresh pineapple.  I must admit, though, my imagination and planning skills are being stretched because of my job.  When I worked 10 – 12 hours days in Cheyenne and came home hungry, I would just toss a frozen dinner into the microwave.  I’m not interested in going back to that kind of eating (too expensive, too unhealthy) now that I’m back to 12 hour days again but I am struggling to make dinnertime a flawless venture each night.  It is just something to work on and, I expect, will be second nature before next month’s journal entry.

I have made progress on getting to bed early (#92) – again, because of my new job which requires that I get up Much earlier than before.  It’s a struggle though because I am definitely a night owl by nature.  On the other hand, I can’t run on limited sleep anymore like I did when I was younger.

I did another book review (#76).  I’m going to have to be more diligent with this item as there is just a year left of my 101 Provident Things in 1001 Days program and I’ve only done 3 of the 10 reviews expected.

I had a nice surprise in the garden, which I have been mostly ignoring after clearing out the tomato and cucumber plants.  I went out a couple of days ago to harvest seeds from the basil plants since I really liked that variety, and found a bunch of serrano peppers ready to harvest!  Once the tomatoes weren’t hogging all the space in the garden bed, that one pepper plant really went to town and produced.  I used the first few that I picked earlier in the month by tossing them into the baking dish with some chicken – great flavor!  I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with this, much bigger, batch.

Serrano peppers harvested from my mostly abandoned garden

Serrano peppers harvested from my mostly abandoned garden

 

The parsley plant is doing great too and I would like to save the seeds from this variety but don’t know where the seeds are!  I’ve looked at pictures on-line and wonder if maybe I just need to wait awhile longer.

Fall weather is here to stay.  “They” say this will be a harder winter than last year and I have a downed tree to chop up for firewood and a number of other standard prepare-for-winter tasks awaiting my attention.

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Brave New World: Powdered Eggs

A few months ago, one of my projects was to break down some #10 cans of food into smaller containers to make them handier for use in a small household. One of those cans was Powdered Eggs.  This month, I popped open one of my small jars of eggs to make progress on one of the items on my list of 101 Provident Things in 1001 Days:  #27 – learn to use powdered eggs.

I love eggs – scrambled eggs, fried eggs, deviled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, pickled eggs . . . I love them all.  There is only one thing that I don’t love about eggs and that is how they make me feel.  Many years ago, I developed a sensitivity to them that has progressively worsened.  At first, it was just digestive issues.  Now and then I would decide that the problems were worth succumbing to egg allurement.  A few years ago, the reaction progressed and eating eggs would completely enervate me to the point I was barely able to move, for hours. Despite this, I learned how to occasionally indulge my sometimes overwhelming craving by making up a batch of fried or scrambled eggs to enjoy right before bed.  (You don’t need to move while sleeping!)  In the past year, though, I have also developed a gout-like response.  I have swelling and pain in my big toe and forefinger joints for several days after eating eggs – bad enough that walking is difficult and even the weight of my bed sheet causes pain in my toes while writing or typing was very painful to my hands.

Yes, it’s very sad.  I feel sorry for me, too.

The bright side of this story, however, is that when eggs are mixed with flour, as for cookies (cake, brownies, bread), I have no reaction because, well, it’s no longer eggs.  It’s cookies!  

With that loooonng explanation that is probably TMI, why then, would I put Powdered Eggs on my list of things to learn how to use?  Simple.  Since I don’t use many eggs, getting through a dozen eggs take months.  Grocery store eggs don’t last as many months as it would take me to use them.  Yes, I can freeze the eggs, but that has it’s own challenges (ie., remembering to thaw them in time to use them!).  So, Powdered Eggs seems a reasonable solution for me.  

If they work.

That is what I set out to determine.  

Powdered Eggs can be used in anything that uses beaten eggs.  For each egg needed, you just use 1 Tablespoon of Powdered Egg and 2 Tablespoons of water.  When using with other dry ingredients, simply mix the egg powder into the other dry ingredients and increase the water measurement accordingly.  A #10 can contains about 236 eggs – a bit more than 19 dozen.

First, I tested them in the homemade Pancake Mix I have been using for the past few months. I have made sufficient batches with refrigerator eggs that I knew what to expect in flavor and texture. Guess what?  With the powdered eggs, there was no difference in flavor or texture!

Pancakes made with Powdered Eggs: delicious!

Pancakes made with Powdered Eggs: delicious!

One item does not prove the point, so I pulled out the big guns:  chocolate chip cookies.  If I can’t make a decent chocolate chip cookie with Powdered Eggs, they are absolutely unsuited to my needs! Don’t get me wrong:  of course I expected the Powdered Eggs to work just fine but, you know, those chocolate chips weren’t going to eat themselves. You’re right: I just wanted to make cookies.

I had help:

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Naughty Grandma teaches the toddler a new trick.

Another major benefit of using Powdered Eggs is that, because they are pasturized, you can eat raw cookie dough.  Salmonella is not a concern as with raw eggs.

Naturally, a taste test was in order.  Again, no difference in flavor or texture.

Taste Test:  Chocolate chip cookies made with Powdered Eggs - no difference in flavor or texture.

Taste Test: Chocolate chip cookies made with Powdered Eggs – no difference in flavor or texture.

Next up was brownies – you know, since the oven was already preheated.  Yep, you guessed it:  the Powdered Eggs worked just like fresh.

My final test was to make up a batch of scrambled eggs.

I decided to use a shaker bottle to ensure even mixing.  

A shaker bottle ensures even mixing of the egg powder and the water.

A shaker bottle ensures even mixing of the egg powder and the water.

Two Tablespoons Powdered Eggs, four Tablespoons water, shake, shake, shake, and pour.

Shake and pour eggs.

Shake and pour eggs.

(If you use milk in your scrambled eggs, just add as you would with raw eggs.  If you want to use powdered milk, you can mix the egg powder and milk powder together with the amount of water needed for both.)

Now, here, I must admit, they looked a bit different.  Not different enough that your family would know you used Powdered Eggs if you didn’t tell them.  I doubt you can tell from this picture.  Maybe I was just looking too hard.  They smelled just the same though.

Scrambled eggs made from Powdered Eggs.

Scrambled eggs made from Powdered Eggs.

Of course, I couldn’t taste test them myself, so I called in my Alternate Testers.

Taste testers

Taste Tested and Approved!

They thought the scrambled eggs were just fine.  

This would work great for French Toast.  I have also found recipes for using Powdered Eggs to make an omelet or a quiche.  Those, however, are beyond the scope of my intended trial.  In other words, you’re on your own now.

CONCLUSION:  For my needs, powdered eggs are an excellent pantry item.  I don’t have to worry about old eggs in the refrigerator.  I will always have eggs available for baking.   I can even make a breakfast of scrambled eggs or French Toast for my grandkids if necessary.  I can always have eggs available when I need them!

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