Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's a Matter of Shelf Stable Meals....What are they really like?

Okay, I was curious.  I have seen these shelf stable entrees that supposedly have "everything" inside.  I was particularly curious about the "Self Heating" part.  I have wondered how they would work, taste, etc.  So, I purchased several different types of these shelf-stable meals.  I thought I would review this one for you today.  Please know that I do not receive any remuneration for this review.  

I have wondered if these are good options for 72 hour kits, the office, or your vehicle.

What are Shelf-Stable Meals really like?

I was intrigued with the idea that this meal was 'self heating', aren't you?  Here is how it went......

When you remove the contents, there is a tray, a packet of water and the entree. The instructions stated that you pour the water on to the Styrofoam tray.

You are then instructed to turn the entree upside-down on to the tray.

It doesn't take long for the Styrofoam try to steam and heat the entree.

After steaming for the suggested amount of time, you are instructed to turn the entree over.

You are instructed to carefully peel the top covering off as the entree is now heated.

I wanted to see how hot it really was after heating.  It was over 100 degrees.

The container also has salt, pepper, a "Spork", and a napkin.

So, you may wonder how it tasted.....
  • Temperature:  not too hot
  • Texture:  it was very mushy. Although you can see the noodles etc, once it was in my mouth it felt like refried beans.
  • Taste:  It needed some spices from my cupboard.
  • Convenience:  No doubt, it is a self-contained meal with everything you need.  In a pinch, it would be easy to make.
  • Kid Preference:  Some of you may know that I specialize in feeding and swallowing disorders in children. This is a large portion of my caseload at the hospital where I work.  I have a some concerns for a child.
    • If the child were not used to this type of food or even this flavor, they most likely will refuse.  Children do not eat even if they are hungry if the food is unfamiliar or concerning to them at all.
    • The color and texture may be difficult for them to tolerate if they are used to more dense solids in their diets.
    • And finally, the research demonstrates that children will choose to starve rather than eat something that is not familiar or preferred. So the logic that they will eat if they are hungry enough just isn't valid.
I am going to keep a few of these in my 72 kit, and my offices.  They could work for me as an adult.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Was Shocked When He Said...."You're not eating enough"

I have been trying to work on getting stronger, more fit, and hopefully becoming a smaller version of myself.  In doing so, I have been working with a Personal Trainer.  I tell my husband that I am paying this young man to "beat me up".  He actually is really good. I appreciate how much stronger I am along with much  increased stamina.  

He had given me a diet, and I was kind-of-doing it.  I asked him about a specific type of diet that a friend had been successful on and he sternly told me that it was not a good option....for anyone.  He offered to write a different diet for me if I would observe it more strictly. In exasperation, I agreed.  

He asked me to go through my day by telling him when, what, and how much I ate.  To my astonishment he said that I wasn't eating enough.  I must say that in that moment I died and went to heaven, and then a wave of astonishment washed over me.  I asked him to repeat that statement, and again he said that I wasn't eating enough. He calculated that I was eating about 800 calories a day. He offered to devise a new diet for me if I agreed to comply, and I did.

Let's say that I feel like I am choking down food....all day long.  He went through each foods and why he is recommending them for me.  One of them was Salmon. I like Salmon, but rarely eat it.  He said I need to eat it about 2-3x/week.  So, I have been.  I learned how to grill Salmon a few years ago from a gal that lived in Alaska.  She was skilled in grilling fresh seafood. Well, here is this very simple but delicious method that can be used not only for Salmon, but Halibut as well. 

You begin by making little "foil boats".  That is my name for them anyway.  I tore off a piece of Foil about 15" in length and fold the sheet in half (like a 'hamburger) with shiny sides together.. Fold the edges of the foil at 1-1.5" widths on all 4 sides.  Pinch the corners together to secure your little boat.  Spray the Foil containers with Olive Oil (it withstands higher heat).

Place your Salmon inside.  I poured lemon juice on top.  If I would have had a fresh lemon, I would have put a lemon slice on each Salmon piece.  

Season with Cajun and/or Lemon Pepper.  We chose Lemon Pepper today.  Then put a bit of butter on top.

Place the 'boats' on medium heat and close the lid.  I checked the Salmon often and moved away from the flames as the Salmon appeared to change color.  Cook until the Salmon flakes with a fork. 

Mind you, this was all done in the dead of winter...and it turned out just great!

We paired the Salmon with berries and a fresh Salad.

Yes, I am eating more and struggling to eat it all.  However, this is a happy 'force-feeding' when Salmon is involved. It's quick and delicious.

Even on the coldest winter day, you can easily grill delicious Salmon. 

Rooster Senior loves big-time fishing and brings back his Salmon catch from Alaska.  We are set for a while in the Salmon department....CHECK!


  • This is very easy and particularly delicious.  Although not the reason for anyone else, my Trainer better be very happy with me!
  • Grilling isn't just for the summer.  In our family, we grill year-round.  It's fun and delicious, but also a very good emergency preparedness skill. I encourage you to put in the effort to have the needed supplies and fuel to grill year-round.
  • It only takes a few shelf-stable items from the Pantry to season the Salmon
  • It's fun!  Your family will probably enjoy this dish!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's a Matter of Fixing Mistakes When Sewing Machine Embroidery Projects!

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Yes, I have been playing and learning more about my Embroidery Machine.  I promise, there have been several 'mess-ups' and some were beyond repair.   Case-in-point, I have some dish towels hanging in my kitchen that are the left-over-beyond-repair-projects.  They work just fine.....they just look a bit funny.

Yesterday, I was using my machine to embroider a design on a little pull-over for my Grandson.  He loves Minions, Trains, and Angry Birds......which gives me plenty of material to try!

How to Fix Some Mistakes When Using Machine Embroidery!

As I mentioned before, I am still in a learning phase with my Embroidery Machine, mostly because I don't have a tremendous amount of time to focus on it.  I have attended courses and read about embroidering on ready-made pieces of clothing.  I'll be honest, some of it seems like too much time to invest in a little person's garment! So, I purchased a fleece pull-over yesterday from the local membership club.  It made a great blank canvas to try something new.

First, I decided to unpick one side seam to open up the garment. This way I could lay it as flat as possible.  The seam was coming apart so well that I thought I could rip the seam apart.  BIG MISTAKE!!!!  I ended up ripping the fleece!  Luckily it ripped along side of the seam!  I knew I could fix that bit of poor judgement later.

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Well, trying to entertain a 4-year-old with Lincoln logs and a Lego Car Wash while attempting this was quite a distraction.  Any errors that I made were not his fault, they are totally mine.  I love his desire to include me in his play.  I ended up having a the Car Wash on my counter as I sewed.

Here is how I began.  I used a 'sticky back' stabilizer that allows me to hoop the stabilizer, score the 'wax paper top' and pull this layer away.  This allows me to carefully place my garment on the 'sticky' layer.  The Fleece was a bit thick to hoop.  I began stitching my design.  As I mentioned, there was a cute distraction nearby, and realized I had uploaded the wrong design!  Initially I removed the hoop and tried to unpick the microscopic stitches.  Then, I decided to upload the correct design and see how much of the error I could cover.  Yes, I know....this is LAZY!  However, I saw it as a way to save my sanity.....and the garment.

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Well as luck would have it, many of the 'errors' were being covered by the correct design.

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Even when the image was complete, there were still stitches from the 1st (error) design.  See the arrows, they show the remaining errand stitches.

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Okay, for round two of my mistake-making.  My little 4-year-old visitor wanted to try the 'Engine'.  (That is his word for my Embroidery Machine as he says it is loud like a Train Engine).  I was letting him use the touch screen to enter his name.  I positioned his name above the embroidery pattern and cued my little visitor to push the 'green go button".  It started stitching nicely....until I ran out of bobbin thread. (Isn't that they way it always goes?).  My little friend ran off to play until I 'fixed it'.  I then discovered that we had put an 'a' instead of an 'e' in the program which would mean that we would be spelling his name wrong.  

Here was my dilemma, if I cancelled the 'pattern', I would lose the correct placement of the letters I had already sewn.  If I let it continue, I would not only have to unpick the wrong letter, but also have to try to line it all up again and insert the correct letter.  (Didn't I tell you this was a series of errors?).  I finally decided to try to 'skip' the error letter by cuing my machine to move to the next letter in the series.  Do you know what?  It worked!

Now, I had a missing letter.  I deleted the pattern, and just entered 'e'.  I used the arrows on my machine to try to line up the letter to fit where it should.  Initially when I tried to embroider the 'e', it was too low and the horizontal bar of the middle part of the 'e' was where the bottom of the letter should be.  I repositioned and touched the needle in the middle until I found the place where it should go.  Eureka, I worked! An added bonus was that the stitching of the "e" covered my initial lettering mistake. 

I did have to unpick the areas that were not covered. However, the task was much less than it would have been if I had tried to remove the entire stitching error area before adding the correct embroidery pattern.  It only took a few minutes. I always try to unpick from the underside. With a material like fleece, it was easier to see the stitches and remove them.

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Next, I had the issue of the torn fleece.  As I noted before, it tore along the seam line.  I used a straight stitch to reestablish the seam.

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

Then, I serged the edge to make it look as clean as the other edges inside.  So, how was it received? 

Fixing Machine Embroidery mistakes!

"I wove it Nonnie!"  Translation:  "I love it Nonnie" (I am his Grandmother and that is my 'grandma' name).  He almost wore it to bed. He already ate a Tootsie pop (which his Grandpa gave him) and got a few pieces of sucker stuck to it. A true sign that he really loves it.

  • Even with the best plans, mistakes happen.
  • Try to do things like this without a cute distraction!
  • Even errors can be overcome if you catch them soon enough
  • Covering errors with a design is a viable option
  • Skipping part of your design (when in error) is a successful strategy.
  • Using ready-made clothing is so great because you don't have to assemble the garment as well.
  • This has taught me: 1) have PATIENCE (which is often in short supply with these types of tasks), and 2) I can do this again and may try something a little more difficult.
  • Even with the drama, I enjoyed the antics and precious time I had to spend with a cute little 4-year-old Grandson!

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