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Friday, July 29, 2011

Food Storage Friday: Bean Pancakes

Over a year ago I came across a recipe blog hop on Trying Our Best, (I love getting recipe ideas from other people.) which included a recipe from Sunrise on the Water for bean pancakes. I thought that I would give it a try, but of course I made several changes, shared it with my buddy Liesa who had some good suggestions and voila!- another happy food storage concoction. I love that this recipe is a good mix of fresh and food storage ingredients and in a pickle I could make it from all food storage ingredients. Plus it's healthy, easy to prepare and super cheap to make. Also if the name "bean pancakes" sounds too weird for you, try calling them bean tortillas, because really they're like a healthy tortilla, you just cook them like a pancake. You could easily fill them with eggs and green chiles or taco stuffings. Enjoy!

Bean Pancakes
Food Storage Ingredients:
1 15 oz can beans, rinsed, drained & mashed (I've done black or kidney, both are great, the pancakes pictured are made with black beans)
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1&1/4- 1&1/3 cup wheat flour (depending on how moist your beans are)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
dash of lime pepper
a couple shots of Tabasco sauce (I prefer the green variety for this)
salsa for topping

Fresh Ingredients:
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 egg
shredded cheese
avocado sour cream or ranch dressing

1. Mix beans, milk, wheat flour, oil, pepper, Tabasco, cilantro, garlic and egg until a pancake consistency. There will still be chunks of beans, but you want to make sure that the flour is mixed in well. 2. Make into pancakes. While you are cooking the second side of the pancakes, sprinkle a little shredded cheese on top so it melts onto the pancake. 3. Top with salsa, avocados, sour cream or whatever you please.

 I served mine with Cafe Rio style rice, peach salsa and mango smoothies, but go with what sounds good to you. If you plan on stuffing them taco stuff I would add the lesser amount of wheat so they're a little thinner and easier to fold. As I'm writing this I just had the thought that next time I should add some green chiles or other peppers to the pancake mix. I'm sure it will be delicious. I'll let you know how it goes. Also I would advise against telling small children that these are pancakes. Both of my kids were pretty upset that I made them pancakes that we were not putting syrup on.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adventures with the Produce Co-op

We have been enjoying our Bountiful Baskets, (and I have talked about them before.) I've found that one basket gives us enough produce to last our family about 2 weeks. Having a variety of produce has encouraged all of us to try many exotic (and some not so exotic) fruits and vegetables that we definitely wouldn't try otherwise. I should also point out that usually our basket is full of ordinary produce that I would probably buy anyway, just at a better price. Here are a few of the less typical items:

1. Canary Melon- It's bright yellow and looks something like a lemon on steroids. It tastes something like a cross between a cantaloupe, a honeydew and a pear. You eat it fresh like any other melon.
2. Chayote- Known by many names, including alligator pear. It's a part of the melon/squash family and tastes like a mix between a cucumber, a green pepper, and snap peas. I chopped it up, threw it into salads and ate some raw with dip. You can also cook it like a squash.
3. Parsnips- A root vegetable that looks like a large white carrot, but is sweeter and starchier. I put some in a vegetable chowder and chicken pot pie. I also tried mashing them and making them into fries as I've read that they're very much like a potato, but healthier. Not a big winner with my family.

5. Persimmons- I don't know how to describe the taste. It's a sweet tropical fruit. I put a few into a fruit salad and ate some raw. I loved them.
6. Collard Greens- A member of the cabbage family, and I was unable to find a recipe that made them taste like anything I would want to eat. Every recipe involved boiling them. I tried it and bleh. If I ever get these again they will probably go straight to the compost.
7. Green Chard- This is somewhat like spinach, but a little fleshier. I did not have high hopes for it, but I steamed it and then baked it in a quiche with some onions and garlic and it was really good. I also chopped up some into a green salad. That was ok.
8. Daikon Radish- This root vegetable reminds me of jicama and something else I can't define. It's good raw, in salads and made into pickles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Birthday Freebies

Today is my birthday. Instead of writing a more elaborate blog post I am going to a work meeting and spending the rest of the day playing with my kids, followed by dinner with them and the man I love.

Of more interest to my readers is a list that I found on Freebies to Deals that lists tons of free stuff you can get for your birthday. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

What I did with a case of peaches

Recently I got a good deal on a case of peaches from Bountiful Baskets. They were the Rich Lady variety and peeled very easily which was nice. Here's what I did with them:

1. Ate lots and lots of them fresh (as did the rest of my family) :D
2. Blended them into smoothies
3. Made Peach Melba Waffle syrup. I got it into my head that this would taste good and looked everywhere for a recipe, unsuccessfully. So I made one up.

Peach Melba Waffle Syrup
10 cups pureed peaches (peeled and de-stoned)
1 cup fresh raspberries
4 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1. Combine the first four ingredients and bring to a boil. 2. Simmer for 5 minutes. 3. Add vanilla. 4. Seal in a hot water bath for 20 minutes (Increase time as needed if you live at an elevation above 1000 feet.) Makes approximately 3 quarts.

It didn't turn out the color that I was hoping and imagining. but it tastes good on waffles. And I'm sure that it's great on ice cream, angel food cake, etc.

4. Made Peach Salsa. I cut the sugar back by 1 1/4 cups and I still felt that it was too sweet. I also added a few more peppers, more cilantro and cut back the cumin. (I don't really like cumin.) I think I will make this one again someday but cut back the sugar even more. My family came to visit this weekend and they inhaled the stuff. I liked it on Cafe Rio Rice and I think it would also be good on grilled fish or chicken, or maybe grilled fish or chicken tacos. My batch made 5 pints, plus some extra that I put into some tupperware.

5. Made Peach Pie This pie was good, but not magical. I put the peaches in the mix instead of on top, and used a graham cracker crust. It was simple enough that Thing 1 was able to help make it which is always fun.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Food Storage Friday: Storing Water

 As I have mentioned before I live in a dry hot climate. At no time has this been more real to me than now being 34 pregnant and finding myself drinking 3-4 liters of water a day. (If I don't drink that much I find my throat parched and I wake up in the night because of terrible Charlie horses.) So I find myself thinking, do I have enough water stored for an emergency? (The answer is probably not.)

WATER—Water is more essential than food in sustaining life.  Store a minimum of seven gallons of water per person for drinking and food preparation.  Store an additional seven gallons per person of the same quality water for bathing, brushing teeth, and dishwashing.  Use heavy plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.  Metal containers, which may corrode, tend to give water an unpleasant taste.
    If you have any doubt as to the bacterial safety of stored water, you may purify it by boiling vigorously for one to two minutes or by adding chlorine bleach (5 percent sodium hypochlorite solution).  Generally, half a teaspoon of bleach will purify five gallons of clear water, and one teaspoon will purify five gallons of cloudy water.  If you store it away from sunlight in clean containers, and if it is safe bacterially at the time of storage, water will remain pure indefinitely. EPA water treatment recommendations are for 1/2 teaspoon bleach per gallon of clear water.- The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints January 20, 2002

So that means that for my family of (soon to be) 5, for a 2 week supply of water. I need to store 140 gallons of water. That is a bare minimum. That means we're all a little on the dehydrated side, we're not bathing everyday and we are staying out of the sun. Yet, 140 gallons of water still sounds like a lot. Where do you put 140 gallons of water? Not to mention that containers that large can be expensive.The answer is a little at a time.

One of my favorite food storage stories happened to my aunt. She lives outside of Seattle. At the time she didn't have money to invest in food storage, but she wanted to be actively working on it. So she started storing water in rinsed out soda and juice bottles. Her friends and neighbors thought that she was insane. The Seattle area is never going to have a drought, she was never going to need the water that she was storing. Then one winter they had a very hard freeze and every one of her neighbors' water pipes broke. Because she had water stored she was able to share with them and help them in their crisis. (And it helped that her water pipes happened to not break.) So you can't say that you and your family don't need to store water, because you never know when you will need it.

So where do you put all of that water? Well, you get creative. Before I lived in the home I do now, we owned a townhouse that was not designed with storage space in mind. We didn't have a garage, our pantry was small and the closet space was insufficient. We did however, have a space under the stairs that you had to crawl over the washer and dryer to get to. There was no lighting and the space was tiny and awkwardly shaped. It was totally impractical for storing anything that I intended to use on any kind of regular basis. But instead of letting that space be wasted I filled it with water in old juice bottles. And at the time it held enough water for my family. When we moved I dumped out the water, gave away the containers and started over.

 Now I wait until bottled water goes on sale for less than a dollar a case, (and it does if you watch for it) and I stock up on that. My husband mocks me and my habit of buying bottled water, but I only buy it when it is cheaper than the price of the bottles themselves. And when Powerade goes on sale for $5 a case I buy several of those. My husband drinks them after his bike rides and I save the bottles to refill with water. Over the past couple years I have acquired a substantial supply of water bottles.

What ways have you found to store water?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Romantic Getaway on a Budget: 2nd Edition.

A few weeks ago we celebrated our wedding anniversary. Now that my husband's done with school and we're in position where our monthly income exceeds our monthly expenses, we probably could have really splurged for our anniversary. However, we're trying save money and pay off the student loans that we acquired putting him through school instead. Besides that I was seven months pregnant at the time and extensive traveling isn't high on my list of things that sound like fun. The answer: plan and find a coupon. We visited family in Utah county for a few days, then left the kids with Grandma and headed to Salt Lake for a couple days with an envelope full of coupons and gift certificates. All total our getaway cost less than $200 and I over-prepared as far as coupons were concerned. (We also hit a movie with a movie gift card that a friend had given us.) But you can take any of these deal sites, pick your destination and find deals on food and entertainment.

Here are some of the deals I planned:

Blue Iguana for dinner-50% off
Vosen's German Bakery for breakfast- 50% off
Laser show at Clark Planetarium- 50% off

I love Groupons.  Every Groupon is at least 50% off. I've gotten some great deals on restaurants and shopping. It also takes some of the guess work out of where we should go for dinner.

CityDeals Gift Certificates:
60 Minute Massage- 85% off
Taste of Thai- 60% off

I am very pregnant and my husband is developing back problems from sitting in front of a computer screen all day. We both needed a good massage. I also enjoy Thai food. :) One bonus with gift certificates is that you're less likely to run into the problem of the cashier, waitress, etc, not knowing how to ring up your discount.

Ebates Here I booked a popular hotel for 50% off and using Ebates I got $6 back. Another discount restaurant gift certificate site where I got a few discount dinner options. Pros- With Ebates you get 15% (sometimes more) back + there are often coupon codes to get an additional 60-80% off. Cons- there are a few more stipulations to the gift certificates than others that I've gotten. However, they can still be well worth it.

For other ideas on saving money on a romantic getaway, see my post from last year.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Clark Planetarium and Giveaway

While we were visiting the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum, we also stopped by the Clark Planetarium. Admission to the Planetarium itself, is free for all ages. The Planetarium includes 19 interactive exhibits and depending on how curious your children are you can probably get through them in 45 minutes to an hour. The exhibits include playing with prisms and light, learning about the solar system, how much you would weigh on another planet, telescopes, meteorites, pendulums and powering light bulbs. If you're in the area it's definitely worth a stop.

Thing 2 exploring Mars
 Inside the planetarium is an IMAX theater where you can see current Hollywood films, cosmic light shows or documentaries. The schedule and pricing can be found here. Now for the giveaway: I am giving away a voucher for 4 tickets to the Clark Planetarium Theater plus a voucher for 2 medium popcorns. ($43 value) The voucher is good for any documentary in the IMAX theater and expires on November 30, 2011. It would make for a fun afternoon activity with the family.
How to enter:
1. Follow me through Google Friend Connect and post a comment on this post. (Required)
2. Follow me on twitter and leave a comment below. (If you already follow me, just leave a comment)
3. Tweet about this giveaway including the link to this post and leave a comment with a link saying you did so.

The giveaway runs through July 31, 2011 at 2359 MST. The winner will be selected through and the winner will be announced August 1, 2011 and must respond within 48 hours. I realize this is prize that is of more value to those who live in or near Utah. If you are selected you have to promise that you will actually use the vouchers before they expire. Good luck!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Food Storage Friday: No-Bake Energy Bars

Well  it's summer in St George and I have officially reached that point where I avoid using my oven at all costs. Recently I found this recipe for  no-bake energy bars and I am in love. I found the recipe on Skinny Bovine's Kitchen and she got it from Love Veggies and Yoga. I made a couple of minor changes. These things make a great breakfast on the go. Enjoy.

No-Bake Energy Bars
Food Storage Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews)
1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used craisins)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

Fresh Ingredients:
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 Tablespoon wheat germ (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. 2. Flatten on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. (I found to fill a standard size cookie sheet you need to double the batch.) 3. Freeze for 8 hours, cut into bars, wrap in plastic wrap or individual baggies. Store in the freezer because they soften up quickly.

Eating these when they soften up reminds me of eating oatmeal cookie dough, but it's safer and healthier.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Preparedness Wednesday: June in Review

I hope that everyone had a great holiday weekend.  I would have to say that it was a pretty good one for us. I think it was the first time that we've done home fireworks that both kids were old enough to appreciate them. :) And here's what we have been up to this month...

  • Decided to give up on the battle with the weeds. I called a landscaper who came and told me that whoever had done our yard in the first place was an idiot (which I unfortunately agree with) and we needed to rip most of it up, put down a weed guard and then put it back together. So that's where all of my spare money (and then some) will be going in the next little while. Put when it's done it will save me tons of time and effort on yard maintenance.
  • Bought a mini-van. Now we have room for the four of us plus baby and storage room. We planned on doing this later, but having our other car totaled made this a little more imperative.
  • Created a game plan for paying off the student loans
  • Took a well-needed mini-vacation :)
Emergency Storage:
  • Made Strawberry Vanilla Sauce
  • Went to the local cannery where we put together a few cases of powdered milk and a few cases of various kinds of dry beans
  • Went back to the cannery a couple weeks later and bought a couple cases of pancake/waffle mix (After trying it out my family has become big fans, especially when I top it with strawberry vanilla sauce)
  • Bought 8 lbs of cheese on sale, my friend was telling me about a way to preserve it  so it will last in your pantry for 25 years. (Expect a blog post to come on that one.)