Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's a Matter of Space....Organizing DVD's


What a mess!  The sad part is that this is only a sample of the DVD's we were sorting through.  As it turns out, the DVD's and Videos (Yes we still have some) were taking up a great deal of space in one of our closets. It was getting to the point that we were having a difficult time trying to even see what movies we had.  So, my wonderful daughter took on the task. 


Here is another view of the mounds of cases. Just for perspective, these are the sweet feet of my three year old grandson.  He kept asking why we had towers of videos to knock over...and he did knock them over.


I had several 3-ring binders that were not being used.  I also had about 100 DVD Refill pages that each hold 8 CD's or DVD's.  We she separated the DVD's by category:  Church, Children's, Drama, Comedy, Documentary....and one of her final categories was.... "Old Geezer".  This is for my husband's shows and movies that....let's just say were from his childhood.  The one's that the Grandkids politely sit and watch with Grandpa because he asked them to.


In the 3-ring binder, you can see 8 different disks at a time.  


You can see that we used file folders (cut in half). I labeled them with my trusty labeler.  


Look at this!  These 2 trash bags are full of DVD cases and all the disks fit conveniently into thee 2 binders.  


Soooo, the next time someone wants to watch a movie, they don't have to wade through shelf after shelf to see what we have. They can conveniently flip a page.  Just for your information, these DVD's took up several shelves in  the closet. When I went to put these binders in the closet, they took about 8" of shelf space.  

Now we are deciding what we can do with all those DVD cases!  We have found some good ideas already.

Take Home Message:  
  • The DVD's and Blue-Ray's come in protective cases.  However, these cases take up a lot of valuable space.
  • Placing the disks into sleeves also protects them and takes up a fraction of the space.
  • You can easily see what you have rather than scavenging through shelf after shelf looking for the movie you wish to watch.
  • When you go traveling, these sleeves will take very little space in your vehicle or bag.
  • For me, this was all free because I already had the supplies already. However, if you wish to do this, I guesstimate that purchasing the supplies may be similar to the purchase price of your next movie!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Making Ravioli from Food Storage Staples.....


I got a bit adventurous today.  I actually (all by myself), made.....Ravioli!


Last fall, I bought this Ravioli Form when I went shopping in an Amish Community.  I have looked at this device over and over again, but today just decided to get it out and try it.  


I made the dough from scratch.  The directions were to place 3 cups of flour either on a board or in a bowl.  I decided to play it safe and put it in a bowl.  I made a well in the middle of the flour to accept the eggs.


Next, I placed 3 eggs (at room temperature) in the well.


I slowly began to incorporate the flour and the egg mixture together.


The mixture gets to the point that you have to begin to use your hands to knead the flour in.  The recipe calls for up to 1/2 Cup of water if needed.


I put most of the water in and made this lovely ball of dough.  Let the dough rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.  If you push your finger into the dough, it should return relatively quickly after the 30 minute time period.  


Slice the dough ball.


Begin using your pasta roller.  Start at the widest setting and gradually reduce it down with each pass of the dough.  Notice how I am catching the dough with the back of my hand. This helps prevent tearing.  If you grasp it with fingers, there is a higher probability that the dough will get rips or tears.


Flour the metal part of the form very generously.


Although this sheet isn't 'lovely', it is functional.  Cover the metal part of the form.


Take the plastic part of the form and gently press indentions into the dough.  Remove the plastic tray.


Because there is a certain 3-year-old that will not eat meat at the moment, I decided to add Mozzarella Cheese.  I decided to make it easy on me and cut string cheese sticks into small disks. 


I put 2 small disks and a little spaghetti sauce into each indention.


Next I put a second sheet of pasta on the tip.


Use a Rolling Pin and roll in many directions across the top of the form.  You can see the 'zig-zag' of the metal form emerge as you use the rolling pin.


Again, not lovely but functional. Turn the form over. If you floured the metal form well, the Ravioli's should fall out.  You may have to coax a few though.


Put the fresh Ravioli pouches into boiling water.  When they float, they are finished.


Add the sauce, garnish with Parmesan Cheese ( I grated it myself!), and add a sprig of Parsley if you like (it was straight out of my herb garden!).  

What was the verdict?  Everyone from the 3-year-old to the Silver Fox liked it. The Silver Fox said he couldn't taste the meat.....I had to inform him that there wasn't any this time.  I will try different fillings in the future.

Take Home Message:

  • This device costs less than going out to dinner to a sit-down restaurant.  It is called a Grandpa Dante's Ravioli Form.  This one costs just under $15.00.
  • I literally made this entire dish out of food storage (with the exception being the Mozzarella Cheese.  However, I often have this type of cheese in my freezer, so it could have been totally made from food storage staples).
  • I need to practice this again. I know I can get faster each time I do this.
  • I can put in a variety of fillings.  If you have meat left over from a meal, dice it into small pieces and combine it with cheese or sauce.  That way, one meal help make a second meal.
  • It gives my family a variety.  I can make pasta noodles, but the Ravioli is a nice change.
  • It costs very little to make this pasta.  

Try it !








Friday, August 15, 2014

Using Jello to make Play Dough at home....for about 1/3rd the cost of the Brand name!


No, that is not the "Great Brain"...it's Play Dough that my little Grandson is playing with.  He is busy making monsters, cutting sea horses, and trying to keep his dog away because she likes to eat it!

Why did I make this Play Dough?  Because, a lesson that I taught to the 7-year-olds last Sunday called for some.  Soooo, I thought I would again use my Food Storage Staples and voila!  It turned out really great!


Start with 1 Cup of flour.


Add 1/2 Cup of Salt.


Add 2 Tablespoons of Oil and Cream of Tarter. Then add 1 Cup of Water.


Add a 3 ounce package of Jello. I decided to try Watermelon today....it smelled so good!


Heat over Medium Heat.


Until it begins to come together and pull away from the sides of the pan.


The instructions recommend you kneed the dough.  I decided to put it into a bag and kneed it in this way. I didn't want a 'mess' on my counter.


Let it cool...then make fun things!

Jello Play Dough comes from this recipe. 

What is the Take Home Message?
Cost:

  • Flour:  $.72
  • Salt:  $.84
  • Cream of Tarter: $1.44
  • Vegetable Oil: $0.7
  • Water:  Free!
  • Jello:  $1.45
Total cost is  $4.52 for  one pound of Play Dough!  On Amazon.com, it traditionally retails for $10.00 to $16.00 for one pound of Play Doh.  This home made version costs just under 30% of the national brand. It took minutes to make and uses staples from your Food Storage.

Try It!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's a Matter of Teriyaki Sauce....


It's summer grilling time.....  Don't you just love the casual aspect of grilling?  I sure do.  Here, you see that we had Teriyaki Shrimp on skewers.  They were delicious and were quickly gone.

Teriyaki sauce is nothing new, but I learned that I could easily make it and can it from Food Storage Staples.  I decided to 'experiment on the word' from the SB Canning Store.  I was amazed at how simple and delicious this recipe really is.


You will need 2 cups of Soy Sauce


Add 2 cups of light Brown Sugar.  Add 1 cup of white vinegar.   


Add 4 T of fresh ginger. (As I used ground ginger, I added half of this amount). Also add 2 Tablespoons of bottled lemon or lime juice.  Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.


In the last 2 minutes, remove 2 Tablespoons of the mixture and add Clear Jell until it is well incorporated.


Add the Clear Jel to the boiling mixture.  Increase the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture gets thick.  Remove from the heat.


Sterilize your jars and lids.  Place a funnel in the jar to accept the Teriyaki  Sauce.


Place the jars in a hot water bath ensuring that the jars are immersed by at least 2 inches of water.  Process for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat.  Allow the jars to sit in the hot water bath for several more minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a dishtowel. Allow the jars to cool overnight. Do not touch or more them until the morning (~12 hours after processing).

So, how did it taste?



Delicious!

How much does it cost?

  • 2 Cups Soy Sauce:  $2.14
  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar:  $.99
  • 1 Cup White Vinegar: $.14
  • 2 Tablespoons of Ground Ginger:  $.32
  • 2 Tablespoons of bottled Lemon Juice:  $.12
  • 2 Tablespoons of Clear Jel:  $.62
(This recipe yields 2 jars of Teriyaki Sauce-1 Cup/jar)

Total cost for  pint (1 cup) jars of Teriyaki Sauce:   $2.17/jar

An equivalent of Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce (10 ounces which is the equivalent of 1.25 Cups) costs $6.49.

This means this home version costs one third of the cost of a commercially sold equivalent.

Consider it!


Teriyaki Sauce


2 cups soy sauce (There is a gluten free version that doesn't have wheat)
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup white vinegar
4 T. fresh ginger, chopped finely or grated 
2 T. bottled lemon or lime juice
2 T. Clear Jel  


  
Preparation : Prepare 4 half pint lids, and rings. Sterilize the jars and keep them in the hot water till it’s time for processing. Make sure to fill your water bath canner and get the water to a simmer.

Cooking: In a stainless steel or enameled dutch oven combine soy, brown sugar,
teriyaki sauce made with Clear jel
lemon/lime juice, ginger, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. In the last two minutes remove 2 tablespoons of the mixture and the Clear jel and mix till it’s incorporated. Bring up the heat to medium and add to pot and whisk till the mixture gets thick. Remove from heat.  

Filling the jars:  Using your funnel in each jar ladle the mixture into the jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Taking a clean papertowel wet it with warm water and wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal. Using your magic wand extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "finger tight".

Processing: Place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 15 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.


Sealing: Sometime in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal.

Labeling: Make sure to label your jars after they have cooled with the name of the recipe and the date canned. If you want to use the shrink labels in the picture you can order them Here!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How I Preserve Food......Using Mylar Bags


I love having options when I preserve food.  Certainly many people use Canning, Dehydrating, Smoking, etc.  I use many of these methods myself.  However, when it comes time to package some of the foods I wish to preserve, one of my favorite ways is to use Mylar Bags.

You can purchase these bags (individually, or an entire box) from your local LDS Home Storage Center (i.e. Cannery). You can also order a box from the LDS Distribution center. The box contains 250 bags, so you will have plenty on hand. There are also other distributors that you can find by doing an Internet search.

Traditionally, these come in a 10x14 inch size from the LDS sources. However, the bags do not have to remain in this size to be useful. You can re-size and seal these at home. Please see the following for a "tour" through photos:



Begin by folding your bag in half and to make a crease. You can fold it again to make quarter-sized bags, or can fold again to make them 1/8th the size of the full-sized bag. We will discuss reasons why you might want to do this later in the post.

Now cut the bag along the crease(s).

See the different sized bags I have made from one 10x14 inch bag? The next logical question is...."How do I seal them?" Many of us do not own a sealer outright, but you may be surprised about your options. Some of the LDS Home Storage Centers will let you check one out and use it at home for a short period of time. However, if you don't wish to do this please know that there are other options. You may be surprised that they may already exist in your home!


This is a Food Saver. Now, traditionally, a Food Saver is used to vacuum-pack foods in specialized bags and then seals them. For our current purposes, we will just use the sealing function. You will need to seal the edge 2-3 times with just a little space between the seals. If you do not have a Food Saver, there really are other options.


If you want to use "Oxygen Absorbers" during the filling of your bags, after sealing them, they will typically shrink and wrinkle a bit after these packets have activated. 


How do you seal them?



Yes, that really is my Flatiron that I used to "try" and style my hair daily. Please practice with the different temperature settings on your Flatiron to find the right temperature that will work successfully with the Mylar bag. Also, you can use a traditional clothes/pressing Iron to seal the bags as well. In that case, consider using the side of a Construction level (they often have texture) or something like it and place the edge of the bag on it. Press with your iron. Again, practice using the settings on your iron to find the correct heat setting for this task. There is even more options which I will show you at the end of the post.

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com


This is an Impulse Sealer.  As with anything, you can purchase a basic model such as this one all the way up to the Automatic Impulse Pouch Sealer, 110 Volt


Why Re-size bags?

Now, why would you want to resize the bags? In my case, I use them to seal mixes that I have made. I seal soup mixes, spice mixes in individual bags within the mix, and I even used the 1/8th sized bag to put samples of sprouting seeds in and included them with a Sprouting set that I gave as a gift. The 1/8th sized bag is also great for putting in spices.

Mylar protects your food from light and moisture. They are also very inexpensive. This is why they are a great option for storing food. However, if you live in an area where rodents are a problem, you will need to put them into a very sturdy container that is pest-proof.

Here is an example of using a resized bag to store a soup mix that I made.


I cut the bags in half lengthwise and sealed them. I then put them into tall containers with the top open. Using a canning funnel, I put the contents of each mix into a bag. I later sealed it and put a label complete with directions of how to prepare the food right on the bag. My labels are really very simple. I make a document in a Word Processing program. I make a table. The instructions are written in one cell and copied and pasted into the other cells on the page.  I print, cut and use packing tape to put the label/instructions on the bag.  

Here is my "mix" sealed in my Mylar Bag. You can use these mixes for yourself, as a gift, or to give to a neighbor in need.  If, as a parent, you were not able to cook for your family, your children could hopefully follow the directions and make the mixes.  Wouldn't this be a huge relief for you as a parent?



Sealing Mylar Bags is really not difficult. These bags come in different sizes. Some are large enough to line your plastic buckets. At a class taught by Leslie Probert at Education Week (at BYU Provo) taught that plastic buckets are porous and do not fully protect the food. She recommended lining buckets with Mylar bags to protect your food investment. Now, some Mylar liners are now coming with a Zip lock closure, so they are easy to open and close. However, the price is often considerably higher, so decide what works for you.

There are many 'methods' of sealing a Mylar Bucket liner.  You can find many videos on-line that show how to use a flat iron, a clothes iron, a Food Saver, and an Impulse Sealer.  Here is one video, although a bit rough, that shows a good method and the way to check to see if the seal is holding before closing up the bucket.  You can find that video here. 

Please know that you will get a better seal with an Impulse Sealer instead of the Food Saver. Oxygen Absorbers will activate when they encounter air.  Even with multiple sealing lines with the Food Saver in a small area, over time the seal did not hold as well and at times failed. Knowing this fact, you can still use Mylar to preserve your food stuffs at home. Primarily, you can still use this method with very, very dry foods such as mixes for short term storage.  Pliable dehydrated fruits would not be a good option using the Food Saver only.  Use the Impulse Sealer or make a very good seal (up to 1/2 inch) with one of the other methods mentioned to ensure the food is protected.


Beware, try methods of sealing with Mylar before counting on them.

Finally, I have seen several video's online that show a how to use a Food-Saver bag insert to attempt to seal Mylar Bags.  Here is my attempt at it.



You need a Food Saver, a Mylar Bag, Scissors, and a length of a Food Saver bag that can slip into the width of the Mylar Bag.


The instructions say to cut a piece of the Bag "fabric".  I cut one about 3.5 " in width.


I choose to use Chocolate Chips because I have a lot of them on hand right now. Fill your Mylar Bag.


Next, insert the Food Saver piece inside of the Mylar Bag.


Line up the Mylar Bag edge over the Seal Bar.  I tried to seal this bag multiple times without success.


Here is the result.  The Food Saver Bag insert sealed, but the Mylar did not.  The lesson I learned with this experiment is that you need to try methods yourself before relying on them.  


Take Home Message...


  • Mylar is an inexpensive method that can be used for Long and Short-term storage.  There are many sources to purchase Mylar. It comes in different thicknesses, so be sure to get a good quality Mylar when you purchase it.
  • To get a good seal, test you equipment before you seal a large amount of food stuffs.  The best sealer is an Impulse sealer, all the other methods that you can find require practice.
  • Using your Food Saver can help you re size bags for things like mixes. However, after putting in the Oxygen Absorbers and using double seals, not all of the seals were air tight.  This is a concern for Long-Term storage.  However, for Short-Term storage such as mixes or camping trips, this is a great option.
  • Mylar liners are a great option for your buckets.  I would recommend a seal of at least 1/2 Inch in width and then waiting to ensure your bag is sealed and the Oxygen Absorbers have worked well.  Waiting 12-24 hours should allow you to observe to see if the seal is holding.
  • Mylar keeps light out, which is necessary for food storage.
  • Foods in Mylar bags need to be stored in a sturdy container (preferably metal or really thick plastic) to protect your food from vermin.
  • Mylar is readily available to purchase.
  • Mylar can be re-used if the food is not protein based.  Cutting the sealed edge to have access to the food will make the bag smaller, but it can be re-used knowing that a smaller amount of food will be stored in this re-purposed bag.

Try it!




The Prepared Bloggers - How We Preserve Foods 
Join us as we share different reasons and methods of how we preserve food to create a long-term storage plan for our families. Click on each link to be taken to a new blog with helpful information and tips. 

Mom with a PREP - How to Dehydrate Ginger and Make Ginger Powder Preparedness Mama - Make Jam Without Pectin
Mama Kautz - Dehydrating
Busy B Homemaker - Freezer Jam
Ed That Matters - Anyone Can Do It: Fool Proof Food Storage
The Apartment Prepper - Easy Marinated Mushrooms
The Homesteading Hippy - How to Use Your Pressure Canner
Montana Homesteader - Making and Preserving Cherry Pit Syrup
Are We Crazy or What - How to Dehydrate Cherries
Your Thrive Life - How I Preserve Food: Meals in a Jar 
Melissa K Norris - Re-Usable Canning Tattler Lids-Do They Really Work?
Real Food Living - Preserve and Store Grains wiith Dry Ice
Cooke's Frontier - Smoking
Homestead Dreamer - Water Bath Canning
Evergrowing Farm - How to Preserve Red Chile
Survival Sherpa - Modern Mountain Man MRE's
The Backyard Pioneer - Fermentation
Trayer Wilderness - How We Preserve Food
Living Life in Rural Iowa - Vegetable Soup
The Organic Prepper - How to Make Jam without using added Pectin Homesteading Mom - How I Preserve Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup
A Matter of Preparedness - How I Preserve Using Mylar Bags
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