Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken and Rice from your Food Storage!



Too often, I hear that folks shy away from using Food Storage Staples as they have this perception that it somehow substandard.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Teriyaki Chicken and Rice....a Sunday Dinner!

I want to show you how you can prepare a wonderful meal using items in your Food Storage. For heaven's sake....who doesn't love Teriyaki Chicken?  

Before I left for Church this morning I decided that we were going to have Teriyaki Chicken so, I took out my trusty Crock pot.  I put in Chicken Breasts that I had frozen in pairs and coated them with Teriyaki Sauce.  (See the link to learn how simple it is to prepare your own and have it on hand).  I turned on the Crock pot and got ready for Choir Practice. Hours later, I entered my home to that magnificent aroma of Teriyaki.  It filled the entire house.


I wanted to have rice with my amazing chicken....so we did.  I pulled out my the Minute Rice that I dehydrated myself.  Now, just to clarify I didn't set out to make my own Minute Rice the first time that I placed it in the dehydrator.  The fact of the matter is that I had a lot left over from a family gathering.  This rice had butter on it too. I have frozen rice before, but I never have wanted to wait for it to unthaw. (Yes, I am very impatient.....).  I decided to try to dehydrate it.  I took out my dehydrator and the fruit leather inserts.  When it was finished, I dry packed it into jars and vacuum sealed it with my Food Saver.  


Today, I opened my jar and poured in the desired amount of rice.  (By the way, I always check to see if it is rancid when I break the vacuum seal.  I am happy to report that it never has been).


When I add water, I just barely cover the rice.  I then bring it to a boil and cook it until it is the consistency I desire.  I literally takes a couple of minutes once the water starts to boil.  Just for your information, the rice still tasted of butter and it was delicious!


So far, we have discussed using Frozen, Canned, Dry Packed, and Dehydrated foods for this meal.  In my Cold Storage (my 2nd refrigerator), I retrieved apples and sliced them with this handy device that most people think is only for canning.  Not around here!


Once we got home, I had dinner on the table in about 15 minutes....that's right....15 minutes.  I LOVE THAT!

Take Home Message:

  • Food Storage is vibrant and delicious!  You can have a wide variety of meals if you plan and prepare for them.
  • Food Storage meals can sometimes be a great convenience as it was today. I made this meal in a less time that it would have taken to go to the Drive-through at a restaurant.
  • I know the quality of my ingredients....because I chose them all!  I am not dependent on someone in a back room choosing the ingredients and putting it all together for me.  If I have special dietary requirements, I can management them by stocking up on items that fit with my limitations.
  • I believe I made this meal for 2 for under $4.00 today.  Take that big box restaurants!
  • I am rotating my staples and trying out recipes at a time when I could always make something else if this didn't work out.
  • I am gaining skill sets by thinking of meals that could use any of the following types of foods:  Canned, Frozen, Dehydrated, Dry Packed, and in Cold Storage.

By The Way....IT WAS GREAT!



Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's a Matter of a Sunday Brunch....From Food Storage Staples!


It's Sunday once again. I love Sunday's because the pace of life slows down just a little.  We can even take naps sometimes!  Because it is so low key, I like to make our Sunday meal from our Food Storage Staples. This allows us to use what we store and also rotate our food.  It also lets us try new things when we have plenty and not wait until the chips are down. Trying new foods where some sort of crisis exists is foolhardy indeed. 

Easy Bistro Chicken

I found a recipe for Easy Bistro Chicken at myrecipes.com.  This recipe calls for a lot of fresh ingredients, which I am totally in favor of. However, I was able to make this same recipe using items from my Pantry and Food Storage.  Let's see how it went!


The recipe called for canned Italian Style Tomatoes drained and chopped.  I used canned diced tomatoes and I did not drain them.  I will show you why in a minute.  


Chopped Onions and Garlic are part of this dish. I used dehydrated forms of both.


Sliced Mushroom are an important ingredient.  I used my the Mushrooms that I dehydrated a few months ago when they were on sale.


Chopped Pepper is also called for. Again, I used my dehydrated Peppers that I dehydrated some time ago.


Diced Celery is also required for this dish, I used some that I had purchased in a #10 Can.


Remember when I made the decision not to drain my tomato as the recipe suggested?  Well, I chose not to do that as I was putting in dehydrated ingredients. These dried ingredients absorbed the extra liquid.


While the sauce was simmering, I added Italian Seasoning as the original recipe called for "Italian-style Tomatoes".  I was adding the "Italian" in this manner.


From the Freezer I added Chicken Strips.  Frozen foods are also part of my Food Storage Staples.


I let the Chicken unthaw and simmer in the tomato-based sauce.  I put on some Macaroni noodles (the recipe called for Macaroni or Cavatappi) to cook while the sauce simmered.


When we served the Bistro Chicken, I also added some grated Parmesan Cheese and sliced apples. The Apples came from our 2nd refrigerator and I have a block of Parmesan that I grate for dishes like this.  My second refrigerator is cold storage for fruits and items like Parmesan Cheese. These foods were also from my Food Storage.  


Take Home Points:

  • We had a  nutritious and very scrumptious meal even though fresh ingredients were not used.
  • I did not have to go shopping yesterday to be ready for today, I just used items I had on hand.
  • Adapting recipes to use your Pantry and Food Storage items is usually relatively simple.  If you are using dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, allow for additional liquid.  Frozen foods require some time to thaw and be cooked appropriately.
  • Having the satisfaction of making something great from items on hand.....Priceless!
Here is the recipe for Easy Bistro Chicken (with my adaptions in red)  from Myrecipes.com:


Ingredients for Easy Bistro Chicken:


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (From my Pantry)
4 (6-ounce) chicken breast halves, skinned (From my Freezer, I used strips)
4 chicken thighs (about 1 pound), skinned (From my Freezer, I used strips)
4 chicken drumsticks (about1 pound), skinned (From my Freezer, I used strips)
2 cups chopped onion (Dehydrated, From my Pantry)
4 garlic cloves, minced (Dehydrated, From my spice cabinet)
1 cup chopped celery (Dehydrated, From my Pantry)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (Dehydrated, From my Pantry)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (Dehydrated, From my Pantry)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (From my Pantry)
1/4 cup sliced green olives (From my Pantry)
1/4 cup capers (did not use)
1 tablespoon sugar (From my Pantry)
Dash of ground red pepper (From my spice cabinet)
2 bay leaves (From my spice cabinet)
1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained and chopped (Diced Tomatoes From my Food Storage with added Italian Seasoning)
8 cups hot cooked macaroni or cavatappi (Macaroni, From my Pantry)
Parsley sprigs (optional) (From my spice cabinet)
 
Preparation

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breast halves to pan; sauté 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken pieces; sauté 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add celery; sauté 5 minutes. Add basil and next 8 ingredients (basil through tomatoes). Return chicken to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Uncover and simmer 25 minutes or until chicken is tender. Discard bay leaves. Serve with pasta. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Note: You can chop the tomatoes in the can using kitchen shears.MyRecipes is working with Let's Move!, the Partnership for a Healthier America, and USDA's MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to a trove of recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

Try It Soon!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Review...The Organic Canner

Canning, A Matter of Preparedness

It is no secret that I am a fan of Canning and preserving my own foods.  Even though my kids have rolled their eyes when I have asked them to help (which I think they inherited from me....I used to do that too), several of the items we have canned are preferred items.  A Case in point was when I made a batch of Strawberry jam. My youngest son ate 3 jars before warning me that I needed to make more because it wasn't going to last the winter. The goal is always to have your Food Storage and Food Preservation last the winter...and a bit beyond.

Anyone who has ventured into the world of canning inevitably has had a few questions.  That is certainly the case for me.  That is why I was really glad to read and review this new publication by Daisy Luther entitled "The Organic Canner".  (Ms. Luther gracious provided a copy of her work for me to review)

The Organic Canner....

I always wondered how folks canned or preserved items before the likes of our modern 'thickening' agents that are used in things like Jams and Jellies.  I also wondered how to ensure that you have removed all the pesticides that may be on your produce.

Additionally (and professionally), I work with families that have children with feeding and swallowing disorders.  Many of them are on some type of elimination diet due to Gastrointestinal or Allergic reasons.  These families quickly learn how to cook from scratch as prepared foods just don't meet the special needs of their little ones.

These, along with other reasons are why I was interested in reviewing this book. 

Points of Interest:

  • Ms. Luther explains why she has objections to "Genetically Mutated Organisms".  She even has her own "Manifesto" which explains her views. 
  • She gives 'doable' mentoring on how to water-bath and pressure can at home.
  • She sheds light on how to make your own Jams and Jellies without "the box".  It is straightforward and I plan to try it as soon as berries are in season.  By using her method, you actually get 2 products....the jam and fruit syrup.  
  • Canning meats is also discussed, which is a personal favorite of mine.  She highlights the serious leftovers we all often have during the holidays. Canning the extra Turkey or Ham is a great way to extend their use.
  • Did you know that you may preserve Nuts such as Pecans, Walnuts, and Hazelnuts?  I once had a disaster with nuts in my pantry.  I won't go into it, but I learned a painful lesson.  I had always thought that I would need to seal nuts in jars with my dry-pack canning device.  However, I learned that you can also do this with Water-bath canning.  Yea!  I'm going to try it!
  • There are many recipes that I have 'dog-eared' the corner of the page because I want to try them. Here are just a few to pique your interest: Beef stroganoff, Marinara with Meatball, Cajun Jambalaya, Sloppy Joe Filling, Deep South BBQ, Vegetables and Fruits with a twist, Random Pickled Veggies, Honey Vidalia BBQ Sauce, Taco Sauce and many more.
  • She has a section dealing with canning your own recipes. She gives thoughtful advice on how to determine the method and time needed for your favorites.
  • The only 'glitch' is that she refers to page 237 for directions on "Removing Pesticide from Produce" which actually appears on page 231.  This is not a big issue in my view.
I love this portion of her Disclaimer:  "Ultimately, though, you bear the responsibility for your own food and safety practices."  Overall, that is true for any food activity we participate in and is something we really need to be thoughtful about. If you are concerned about what is in your food and how it is prepared, then this book may really fit the bill for you.

If you are looking for a way to preserve your food more from a 'ground up' approach, you should consider "The Organic Canner".  As of this writing, the price is $16.75 on Amazon.  You most likely will spend more than that going out for dinner and a movie!






Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another Option for Vacuum Sealing Mylar Bags....

Mylar Bags....Sealing with a Vacuum Sealer...


I have used Mylar Bags for years and just love them.  I have written 2 posts dealing with using them. You can find these posts here and here.

However, I came across this video with a really unique idea.  The difference between this gentleman's device and mine is that you gasket area is much wider. I plan to experiment to see if my Food Saver device can work as well.  No matter, this is worth your time to view.  


Sunday, February 15, 2015

So Much Yarn.....So Little Time....



If you have been following this blog for the past few weeks, you will know that we are in the process of "Reclaiming our Domain".  We have adult children coming and going.....and it's a fun time of life. However, I need to put things in order for my husband and myself....and we are.  

I have donated a double bed to a couple that was in need of one.....which left an entire room for me to take over. I am turning it into a sewing room. I will show it all to you as soon as I put the finishing touches on it. Just know that I love it already.

Making Sensible Yarn Storage from a Moving Box:


When trying to decide how to organize my yarn, I looked at several options.  I have seen fun wine racks used and liked that look. However, I didn't like the price!  I have stored my yarn in clear tubs, but for me there was always frustration because the different yarns eventually would get tangled...I really hate that!

So, here is my little brain storm.  Let me show you how I did this for very little money.


I found Moving Boxes online at Home Depot.  The box was under $2.00 and the dividers were under $7.00.  This is a Medium size box and the dividers are for 2 levels of glass storage if you were going to actually use this as a moving box.  I asked Rooster Senior to cut off the flaps of the box on one end.


I then asked him to open up the seam with his Exacto Knife....he was very willing to help!  I opened the box because I want to spray-paint the decorated side of the box.



I laid the box and the dividers on my lawn (yes, I know it is February, but it is unusually warm this year).  I used a can of black spray paint that Rooster Senior had in the Garage.



I used my hot glue gun and glued the box back together...with the black being on the inside.



This is what the seam looked like after it was glued together. It's not lovely, but it is very functional.


I then put the bottom of the box together and glued it with hot glue.  Note how the black will show on the inside of the box.  


I had measured the length of the open box before I glued it together.  I also measured the 'height' of the box from the cut edge to about 8" down on to the bottom flaps.  I cut a piece of fabric according to those dimensions and surged the cut edges.  I then brought the two short sides of the fabric together and sewed one seam.


I slid the fabric sleeve over the exterior of the box.  Now, here is why I put the box together in an "inside-out" fashion.  There is now no decoration to show through my fabric.  It is a blank slate.  This is a  tight fit, which I was glad about. 


This is the bottom of the box.  I wrapped and hot-glued the fabric to the bottom.


I then finished the bottom of the box with a piece of $.99 black poster board. I measure, cut, and glued it on.  I like how it looks and it slides easily on surfaces with the smooth finish of the poster board.  


I like the fact that the color of the yarn plays well off the black surfaces.  A skein fits just fine in a slot. I even put some of my crochet skeins of 'thread' that I used to edge baby blankets.


I can even fit balls of yarn down into a compartment. Notice that I wrapped the upper edge of the box with about 4 inches and glued it to the box before inserting the dividers.  


I attached a rope handle by punching  2 holes/side with sharp scissors.  I had cording from a former upholstery project.  So, I threaded the cording through and tied double knots on the inside of the box.  I now have 2 handles to carry the box. I am not worried about reinforcing the holes, the yarn is very light weight. This box is prepared solely to be used for my yarn storage.  


So, What is the Take-Home Message?

  • I spent under $10.00 for this entire project as I already had the fabric, the cording, and the spray paint.  I am trying very hard (as we reorganize) to use items that we already have. I just like to be wise with the things we have been blessed with.  I am guessing that you may find items around your house that you can re-purpose into something usable like we have. 
  • This project took about 1 hour total (not including drying times) to complete.
  • I can easily find the yarn I am looking for without undoing a tangled mess! 
  • This container is out-of-the-way, but is easily retrieved when it is needed as it is so lightweight. It can be stored up high.
  • I have a friend with an entire room of yarn.  I think the slogan "She who dies with the most yarn...wins" applies to her.  I am not there yet, but I admire folks who are so wildly talented that they can create clothing and bedding, etc from a hook (or a couple of needles).  I am still at the dishcloth, afghan stage...and am quite happy to be there.

Reclaiming our Domain is proving to be really fun!



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