March 2009

In March of 2008 I wrote this post, showing off a new site that I found called The Whole Grain Gourmet. I’ve used a couple recipes from this site so far, including Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles, which totally rocked. They’re made with whole wheat pastry flour, which is a whole wheat flour made with a soft white wheat instead of the typical hard wheats. Whole wheat pastry flour rules the cookie/dessert world. I like to keep a bag around for the occasional cake or pie crust. You can find it in the “natural” section with the grains and flours (we get Bob’s Red Mill).

My new favorite hippie food site is 101 Cookbooks. My Sister-in-law introduced me to this site, and it’s a foodie’s dream. Many of the recipes can be a bit daunting (fancy-pants ingredients and way more bowls than I want to dirty up), but they’re all very tweakable to fit a hillbilly Alaskan’s cooking style. This woman makes whole grains soooooo luxurious. Some recipes I’ve enjoyed: Amazing Black Bean Brownies, Anzac cookies (a cool history behind the name), Frozen Yogurt to Rival Pinkberry’s, and Almost Cheeseless Casserole. A recipe that I haven’t yet tried, but sounds terrific is the Homemade and All-Natural Thin Mint recipe. An excerpt from her post on the Anzac:

Everyone has a favorite cookie. Believe it or not, mine is the Anzac. If French macarons are the prim and proper princesses of cookies, these are quite the opposite.


Fresh Eggs

I’ve never had a fresh egg before. At least not in my adult life. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had some when I was younger (mom was resourceful) but I have no memory of trying them. We ran out of eggs yesterday and we decided to “go for it”. We went on to Triple D Poultry Farm’s website for directions. I had heard of Triple D several months ago (even before the infamous turkey pardon incident) but I mistakenly thought the farm was located near the fairgrounds and me being the hermit I am, I didn’t want to drive that far. It turns out they’re located just across from the Wasilla Harley shop. That is SO doable.

We ran (drove really- it’s hard to run with eggs) by their shop after church today and we were very happy with their set-up. There is a retail shop in one of the farm buildings, so it’s not like you have to go knock on their front door and feel all uncomfortable about barging in on their dinner. They are open from 10-7 on weekdays and Saturdays and 12-6 on Sundays. Triple D offers fresh eggs, whole frozen chicken and turkey, smoked chicken and turkey, and Matanuska creamery cheese and milk. They also sell chicks. Check here for prices. Good thing for Kevin that we live in a no poultry subdivision, or I’d have him out there building a coop in no time. Have I ever mentioned how great my husband is for indulging me in my hippie tendencies?

Back to the eggs. They’re $5 a dozen. More expensive than the store’s basic eggs, but a small enough price difference that it is SO worth buying these eggs from a local farmer who raises healthy poultry who get to run around and stretch their wings. We enjoyed these eggs, and both agreed that there IS a difference between fresh and store bought, although a subtle one. Our next Triple D adventure will be to bake a store bought chicken simultaneously with a fresh local chicken and compare. Anyone interested in a taste test? 🙂

Today we’ll tackle food storage.

First, you’ll want to identify your goals for your family with regards to food storage. Would you simply like to have enough food to last for a week without replenishment? One month? Three months? A year? Our general goal is to have three months worth of food storage, with an additional three months of “all-we-have-is-rice-and-beans-but-our-bellies-are-full” kind of storage.  We already have plenty of beans, rice, and wheat, but we’d like to plan out our additional storage a bit better: canned goods, dried food, etc. One of my favorite food storage sites is Safely Gathered In. This site has ongoing Long-term storage ideas (beans, rice, oats, etc.) with recipes, as well as ongoing projects such as an emergency car kit and a mobile 72-hour emergency kit. Right now they’re focusing on gathering beans for the month of March, and putting together car kits (each tuesday you add something new to the kit). I like how this site has broken food storage and emergency preparedness down into specific baby steps.

Secondly, identify what items you’d like to stock up on and purchase them. You can either follow Safely Gathered In’s method, or use your own. Purchase your food all at once, or add to your stash month by month (the most popular choice). Shopping at Costco or Sam’s is a good way to gather large amounts of canned goods, rice, beans, and powdered milk. Another choice is to ask about purchasing in bulk from one of the local grocery stores, or to order from a food coop. If you’re interested in the food coop option (ordering from either Azure or UNFI), check out Wolf Lake Wellness, Wholy Living, or Organic Alaska.

Thirdly, you’ve got to work your food storage into your meal planning. The easiest way to do this is to learn to cook from scratch. I’m betting most of you reading this already have taken that route 🙂 The fewer items (variety of items, not quantity) you have in your food storage, the easier it is to rotate them in to your meals. Our goal is to primarily stock grains, legumes and canned tomatoes. We also keep a giant box of powdered milk around, but I’m terrible about rotating it in, so we might just end up tossing it and buying a new one occasionally. I’m ok with a small amount of waste, given that we’ll have a box if we ever need one. Rice, beans, wheat, and tomatoes are easy to incorporate into our meals, and we don’t have to worry about any food storage going bad.

Some more helpful links:

  • The Food Storage FAQ – Different popular food storage items, how to store them, and their shelf life
  • Sprout People – Many food storage items can easily be sprouted, and there are some big claims out there as to their healthfulness. In the event living off of your storage becomes necessary for a bit, it’d sure be nice to know how to sprout even if it’s not an every day occurrence.
  • Every Day Food Storage – Another popular food storage blog that walks their readership through the necessary steps to food storage. This blog has a really hip layout, which is why I prefer the simplicity of Safely Gathered In. Kind of like that whole “all the cool kids are wearing flip-flops, so I’m gonna wear boots” kind of thing. I’m wierd.
  • Wholy Living’s Sixth Month Food Storage – It’s a whopping $1480, but you can knock out a whole 6 months of going to the store all at once. Sweet.

*Janeen’s Note: There are a lot of well-meaning folks out there who have let their fervor about storing up food turn into a religion in itself. They feel confident in the future by amassing large quantities of physical sustenance. We are NOT called to this type of confidence. Our confidence is to be in Christ alone, and it’s he whom we trust for the future, not our buckets of beans in the garage. I have to remind myself of this whenever I start getting a little crazy with my food storage planning 🙂

The book club I belong to just finished book called The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe. Without going into details, it’s about the authors’ theory on historical cycles and how generations operate within those cycles. The book ends with a section on preparing for what they consider the critical end of this cycle, what they call “The Fourth Turning”. Whether or not we are entering some sort of “Fourth Turning” is debatable, but either way emergency preparedness is never a bad idea. How far you take your preparations is up to you and your family. For some it may be simply buying a case of water to have around, for others it may mean a fully stocked pantry and a woodstove.

There are three areas to consider when preparing for an emergency (at home):

  • Food
  • Water
  • Warmth

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll address each section. I don’t have any original material for this, so I’ll be turning to some of my favorite preparedness blogs as sources of information. Here at Maxwell House we haven’t actually sat down and done any serious preparations, just stored a bit of extra food, but that’s it. I’m hoping this series will get my heiny in gear for making sure we’re ready for an emergency (whether it be a power outage or a food shortage).

Case #10487, “The Missing Diamond Debacle”

Parties involved: Janeen M, hereafter referred to as LOSER

Kevin M, hereafter referred to as WITNESS

LOSER interview:

I received some diamond earrings from my husband for my birthday two months ago. They were great because they were sporty (studs), and I approved of the deal because he used a coupon. What a smart hubby, huh? I’m generally not a big jewelry girl, but these puppies were perfect. They were a total surprise.

WITNESS interview:

I worked hard to find a good gift for my wife this year, and I found a great deal on some diamond earrings. Boy was I glad when she was pleasantly surprised by the gift. I always try, ya know, but women sure can be tough to shop for.

The details of the case:

Sunday, March 1st, 2008

8:00 am – the LOSER puts on earrings, family heads to breakfast at worlds most popular fast food joint. Looking forward to artery clogging goodness. Family out the door on time on a Sunday, a rarity. Even rarer, no pre-church spousal argument. Shaping up to be a perfect day.

11:00 am – to friends house for lunch. LOSER later notes that both earrings must have still been in ears at this time, or super savvy best friend would have noticed.

1:00 pm – Kids exhibit melt down symptoms.

1:30 pm – back home, kids tucked in for nap, LOSER heads out for skiing date with super amazing friend and neighbor. LOSER totally forgets she’s still wearing said earrings.

5:00 pm – Outside for sledding time with the family and friends. Awesome. Stinkin’ awesome.

9:45 pm – LOSER takes out earrings for the night and notices that one is missing. Uh-oh. All out search ensues. WITNESS scours the driveway with a flashlight and is eyed by neighbor as a possible burglar.

10:30 pm – LOSER is ready to call it quits but determined WITNESS isn’t ready to call off the hunt. LOSER finds back of earring in couch. Shortly thereafter, investigation is delayed until morning. Heavenly father is consulted.

Monday, March 2nd, 2008

7:30 am – WITNESS returns to work, LOSER promises to search for earring and promptly forgets.

11:30 am – Looking for lost stacking block under the couch, LOSER notices a flash of metal in the carpet. Voila – earring! LOSER and brood praise God.

LOSER final interview:

Seriously, all that skiing and sledding and what not? That earring should have been long gone in a snowbank somewhere. Instead it turns up next to our couch. And even then, that I should actually find it? This type of thing makes me wonder exactly how God works in a situation like this. I know he played a part in it, but what exactly? Did he actually physically move the earring? Because that would be really cool. Or did he just put me in the right place to look for it? I think this will be one of those “I’ll have to ask him in person” questions. This interview is getting kind of long. Got any coffee? A donut perhaps?

WITNESS final interview:

How amazing is that, huh? Seriously, how amazing?