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Friday, July 30, 2010

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

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1 ½ lb. loaf
3 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. sourdough
Cornmeal as needed

     1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/5 cups warm water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 18 to 24 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 ° F. You can put it into the oven with the oven light on.

     2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

     3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

     4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450° F. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven.  Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is ok. Shake pan once or twice if dough unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

by Mechele Eckman
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lexan Bottle - safe, durable water container

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     Have you ever seen someone drop a gallon jug on the floor?  The container ruptured, content spilling without reservation, and the owner watching helplessly.  Storing or transporting liquid could be a challenge sometimes. 

     In a survival or an emergency situation, water is one of the single most important thing that could make or break your survival.  It is important that you find access to safe, drinkable water.  Once you gained access to drinkable water and your next objective is to keep it safe, the 1000ml lexan bottle is the perfect item for you.  Made with Lexan Resin Polycarbonate Plastic, the lexan bottle is virtually indestructable.  It also prevents absorbing flavors and smells, while the lid threads attach directly to MSR or Katadyn water filters for easy filtering.  Graduated measures help you measure in both ounces and milliliters.

     Used with water purification tablets, the 1000ml lexan bottle provides an easy solution to both obtaining and storing your safe, drinkable water.  Does your 72 hour kit have a lexan bottle in it?  If not, now is a great time to improve your kit by including one!

Click here for's product page.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Portable Aqua Tablets - easy solution for water safety

Pin It Whether you are camping, hiking, traveling, or simply thinking about being prepared; water is a crucial element in life that cannot be gone without for a long period of time.   Anywhere from 65% to 90% of the human body is composed of water.  We have a perfect line of products to help you meet your water purification needs in camping, hiking, and emergency preparedness.

Portable Aqua Water Purification Technology is an excellent solution for water safety for those looking for easy, compact, and light weight water purification system.  Though it is not meant for on-going use, it is a perfect solution when you have to obtain safe, drinkable water without having to start a fire. suggests the following uses:

Outdoor Activities

Whether camping, canoeing, hunting, or engaging in any sort of outdoor activity, it pays to be mindful of your water supply. A bottle of Potable Aqua® tablets takes up very little space, weigh less than a pound, and when used correctly will protect you from a host of parasites, viruses and bacteria.

International Travel

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 30% and 70% of international travelers suffer some form of Traveler's Diarrhea (TD), calling TD "the most predictable travel-related illness."

The most common causes of water-borne TD are bacteria, such as E. coli, cholera and salmonella, which are reduced or eliminated by Potable Aqua® Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets.

Be conscious of where you are. If you are traveling to a place where indoor plumbing is not widely available, or where monsoons, floods or inadequate water treatment may leave water supplies exposed to pathogens, proceed with caution.

Potable Aqua® Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets, when used correctly, can render water safe for drinking.

Disaster Relief and Emergency Preparedness

As hurricanes and tsunamis tragically demonstrate, the first things to get knocked out by natural disasters are the electrical grid and the water supply.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) an adult needs a minimum of a half gallon of water per day just for drinking. So a family of four would require roughly two gallons per day of purified water.

When water is scarce, water purification tablets like Potable Aqua® are crucial for an emergency preparedness kit.

Portable Aqua Tablets are included in all of our deluxe emergency kits as well as the survivor emergency kits.  But if you need the tablets for an addition to your 72 hour kit or for your hiking trip, they are available at  Or click here for a direct link to the product page.

by Store
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Find us at the Rexburg Farmers' Market

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It's summer time!  That means it's time for Rexburg's annual farmers market.  It is a great place to find fresh produce and hand-made crafts and more!  This year, we are also going to be part of the farmers market by selling our home made beef jerky made with our dehydrators and a Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine.  We are seeing continual success with our jerky.  Last Friday, we sold out of three flavors: Mama Mia Italiano, Bacon and Cheddar, and Hot, HOT Salsa. 

We also held a jerky eating contest.  Our contestants were required to chew and swallow ten pieces of jerky with various flavors.  Spicy ones included!

Jerky can be made at home very easily with the use of a jerky seasoning mix and a dehydrator.  Check out our store for tools to help you get started on your jerky making project. 

We have a winner! 

If you live in Rexburg, or anywhere near the area, the Rexburg Farmers Market is the place to be on Friday evenings.  If you are in the area between 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. stop by and try our jerky for free!  Come and talk to Jim about making your own home made jerky and what tools we have for you at the store.  Hope to see you there tomorrow!
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Applesauce - the home made way

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After a few years into marriage I decided that making my own baby food was the best way to go to provide better nutrition for my infants.  One of the many things that I decided to do and still do for our whole family is make applesauce.  Apples seem to be in abundance where I live and there are so many things you can do with them.
The first few times I made applesauce I peeled and cored every apple and then put them in a pot on the stove to cook down.  The applesauce was good but there was too much work involved for me to continue this process so I started looking around for something to help make this process easier. Two products that I found on the market were a steam juicer and food strainer/sauce makerThe steam juicer is an appliance that can be used for many things.  Besides being a steam juicer, it is a colander, steam cooker, soup pot and roaster so if you want to get your money’s worth out of it don’t store it too far away because you can use it all year long.
When preparing my applesauce I use the steam juicer first.  I wash my apples, stem, and quarter them (which allows the apples to cook faster).  I do not take the time to core them because the food strainer/sauce maker will take care of the cores.  I fill up the colander in the steamer with the prepared apples.   The bottom pan or sauce pot in the juicer must be filled with water.  Place the sauce pot on the stove filled with water, the juice kettle on top and then the colander on top of that with the lid in place.  Bring that to a boil. You should allow your apples to steam for about 60 minutes or until they are nice and mushy.
While the apples have been steaming, concentrated juice has been collecting in the juice kettle.  I drain that juice off, bottle it while it is hot and process it in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (3,000 to 6,000 ft).  Later I use the juice for fruit drinks or boil it with sugar for syrup (great on pancakes or waffles). 
After the apples have steamed for 60 minutes and I have bottled all of the juice.  I run the apples through a food strainer/sauce maker.  This machine is great because it separates the peel, core and seeds from the pulp.  The food strainer/sauce maker is nice but not absolutely necessary either.  I have in the past just mashed my apples through a sieve.  Once the pulp has been extracted though, you need to add some kind of anti-darkening agent.  I use Fruit Fresh.   I just add the powder right to the applesauce.  The next step is to return the applesauce to the sauce pot (the bottom pot of the steamer) and add sugar.   I taste my sauce and sweeten it accordingly.  You can follow this tip. Add ¼ cup sugar per pound of apples.  I have also added red cinnamon candy to my sauce.  It gives it a nice pink color, adds some sweetness, and a cinnamon taste.  My kids think this applesauce is great.
  After you add your sugar heat the sauce to boiling.  Stir the sauce to prevent sticking.  Maintain temperature at a boil (212°F) while filling jars.  Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles by crisscrossing a flat plastic utensil through the sauce.  Wipe around the top of the bottle. Place hot lid on the bottle and finger tighten the ring.    Process your pints or quarts of applesauce for 30 minutes (3,000 to 6,000 ft) in a boiling water bath.  After processing time is over remove carefully.  Let the jars sit on a towel covered counter for 12 to 24 hours.  Then check the seal by pressing the lid in the center.  If it gives at all it is not sealed and must be refrigerated.  Use your unsealed applesauce within 24 hours.
I know it seems like a lot of work but it is well worth the effort.  Homemade applesauce just doesn’t compare to store bought sauce.  When you do your own you have a piece of mind that you know what is going into the sauce.  It also gives you a sense of pride and satisfaction. I think your kids will love the fact that it is homemade too. So start making sauce and enjoy. 

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Victorio Stainless Steel Steam Juicer

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Extract the natural juice of grapes, berries, and other high-liquid fruits with the power of steam. Just boil water in the bottom container and place fruit in the top container. Natural concentrated fruit juice drips in the center pan where it can be extracted through a surgical-quality, heat-resistant tube. Use it for making jellies or store as concentrate for healthy natural fruit juice. The Steam Juicer is also perfect for cooking soups and stews or steaming vegetables.
Steam Juicer Capacities:
  • Over all height is 16"
  • Diameter is 10.5"
  • Colander - The part the fruit or vegetables go in - 9.5 QT
  • Juice Kettle - The part that catches the juice during the steam juicing process - 2.5 qt
  • Water pan - bottom pan of water that boils to create steam - 4.5 QT
Available at Basic Living
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    Surviving a Severe Storm

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         A few nights ago, I had a dream that my family and I were in a severe thunder storm.  Standing in front of a house (we don't have a house yet in real life...) we watched a tornado form just down the street from where we were.  I told my family to get down to the basement as quick as possible.  As I walked in the house following my wife and kids, to my surprise, I found a Survivor 4 Person Kit sitting next to the front door.  My dream ended as we went down the stairs to the basement. (maybe because I just helped put together a bunch of kits that day???)

         Although it was just a dream (and a really bizarre one too) , it gave me a lot to think about.  Having lived in Nebraska for a while, I've had my fair share of "going down stairs."  And yes, most of the time nothing happens.  Sometimes it becomes so routine that I forgot the seriousness of the situation.  In Japan there is a saying: "tensai wa wasureta koro ni yatte kuru."  The direct translation means "disasters strike when it is forgotten."  The lesson behind the saying is that disasters strike when you least expect them.  

         In 2004 I was staying at my grandmother's house in Lincoln, NE when we were alarmed by a severe thunder storm capable of producing tornadoes.  We went down to the basement without too much concern and waited out until the warning was lifted.  Little did we know there was an F5 tornado headed our way until it changed its course at the last minute.  Unfortunately, a small city fell prey to this destructive, uninvited visitor.  "A disasters struck when it was least expected."

           In my dream, having a Survivor 4 Person Kit made me feel a little confident.  But in reality, buying a ready-made kit alone is not enough for severe disaster preparedness.  There is a great deal of emotional stress involved.  When I volunteered to for the clean up effort after the tornado struck, there was a sense of loss as I looked upon places where buildings and houses used to stand.  Now, it was thought someone came and ran over the buildings with a bulldozer and dumped garbage on top of them.

         The clean up crew was instructed to look for and collect items that belong to the victims that they would appreciate.  Those items were then gathered in a location where the victims can come and look for their personal belongings.  Pictures of loved ones suddenly held more value than they ever did.  A watch, a comb, a knife that your father gave you, etc.  Anything that could bring back the sweet memories shared with families and friends in a home that once stood were collected and gathered.  

         In preparing for disasters, we should remember the wisdom in expecting the least expected.  Ask yourselves; what's the most important thing in my life?  What can I do today to protect them in times of disasters?  Does your family know that you love them?  Where can you go if your house becomes no longer available as your shelter?

         These are questions worth pondering and discussing with your loved ones.  Buying a 72 hour kit is only the beginning of emergency preparedness.  Make sure to include items you don't want to lose (family pictures, journals, important paper work, etc).  Obviously it is impossible to take everything with you, but you can take quite a bit if you store these things electronically on a flash drive, CD, etc. They are lighter and smaller than carrying actual photo albums, books, and journals. 

         I hope we will all be wise and prepare for the least expected and by so doing, we will find ourselves enjoying the peace that only comes by knowing we are prepared.

    by Kento Fukuyasu
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    Rice Recipes

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         Regular white rice has been milled to remove the hull, germ and most of the bran. It is available both long and short grain, the long grain being a better all-purpose rice. One cup uncooked= 3 cups cooked.

         Parboiled (converted) rice contains the vitamins found in brown rice but is polished like white rice. One cup uncooked=3 1/2 cups cooked. Precooked (instant) rice is commercially cooked, rinsed and dried before packaging. It is therefore quick and very easy to prepare. One cup uncooked=2 cups cooked.

         Brown rice is unpolished with only the outer hull removed. It has a slightly firm texture and a nutlike flavor. One cup uncooked=4 cups cooked.

         Wild rice is the seed of grass that grows in marshes. It is dark greenish-brown in color and has a distinctive, nutlike flavor. Expensive, it is sometimes combined with white or brown rice. One cup uncooked=3 cups cooked.


    Plain Rice
    2 C. rice
    4 C. water
    1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
         Put rice in saucepan large enough to allow for two times expansion. Cover with water to about 2 inches above rice, add salt if desired. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered until most of the water is gone. Turn down heat as low as possible; cover and steam about 20 mins or until water has been absorbed.

    Ordinary Brown Rice
    1 C. brown rice
    2 3/4 C. water
    1 tsp. salt, if desired
         Heat until boiling stirring once; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until tender, 45-50 minutes; remove
    from heat.

    Lemon Rice
         Stir in 2 TBSP margarine, melted, and 2 TBSP lemon juice into cooked rice.

    Mushroom Rice
         Heat 1 can mushrooms, drained in 2 TBS margarine until tender; stir into cooked rice.

    Onion Rice
         Cook 2 TBSP finely chopped onion in 2 TBSP margarine until tender; stir into cooked rice.

    Parsley Rice
         Stir 2 TBSP fresh parsley into cooked rice.

    Deluxe Brown Rice
    1 C. sliced carrots
    3 TBSP oil
    1/2 C. onions
    3 C. cooked brown rice
    1 tsp. salt, or to taste
    1 TBSP sesame seeds
         Saute’ carrots in oil about 10 minutes.  Add onions. Cook 10 minutes longer. Stir in rice and salt. Cook, stirring gently until rice is heated through. Add sesame seeds; toss lightly.

    4 TBSP butter
    1 C. rice
    2 C. basic beef or chicken stock
         Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add rice; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is absorbed. Pour in 1 cup stock; cook, stirring frequently, until stock has been absorbed. Add 1/2 cup stock; cook until absorbed. Add remaining stock; stir well. Cover; simmer until stock has been absorbed, stirring occasionally. Cooking time will be about 25 minutes after first addition of stock. (From the book The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking).

    Basic Fried Oven-Cooked Rice
    4 TBSP butter
    1 C. rice
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 C. basic Chicken Stock
         Melt butter in frying pan. Add rice and onion; cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Turn rice mixture into casserole dish. Stir in stock; cover. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until rice is tender and stock is absorbed. (From The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking).

    Curried Rice
    1/2 C. rice
    2 C. hot water
    1/2 C. canned tomatoes
    1/4 C. finely sliced onion
    1/4 C. thinly sliced green pepper
    2 TBSP melted butter
    3/4 tsp. curry powder
         Put rice into casserole dish; add water. Let stand about 3/4 hour. Add all other ingredients; mix well. Cover; cook in preheated 350 degrees oven about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Most of liquid should be absorbed, but serve rice while still moist. Yield 4 servings. (From The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking).

    Sugar-and-Spice Rice
    1 C. cold water
    1 C. whole milk
    1 tsp. salt
    1 C. uncooked rice
    1/2 C. Butter
    1/2 C. granulated sugar
    2 tsp. cinnamon
         Combine water, milk, salt, and uncooked rice in 3-quart saucepan; bring to boil. Stir once; cover.  Turn heat very low; cook 20 minutes or until water and milk are absorbed. Do not uncover while cooking.  Spoon rice into serving dishes; top each serving with 2 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Serve immediately. Yield 4 servings.

         Unless otherwise noted the information and recipes on rice were taken from the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.
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    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Honey - Sweet Tips and Tricks

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         Honey is one of the few foods low in pesticide contamination.  Contaminated bees die before they reach the hive. Most diseases of bees are not transferred to humans. Honey is also free of preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, and will not mold.  Bacteria and disease micro-organisms when introduced into honey died within a few hours or days.
    Babies younger than a year should not be given honey.

         Honey will not freeze, so store it almost anywhere, in a solid container with a tight lid. Be sure to keep honey covered. When left uncovered, honey picks up other odors and loses its own aroma.  Honey in storage usually gets darker in color and stronger in flavor, but remains useful as ever. Remember honey that has been diluted with water will ferment.

         Always mix honey thoroughly with other recipe ingredients before turning mixture into baking pans. This will prevent a too-moist, over-sweetened layer from collecting on the top.  Make it a rule to combine honey with the liquid ingredients to assure complete distribution in the mixture.

         When using honey in substitution for sugar in standard recipes, a general rule is to reduce the amount of another liquid ingredient by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used. Honey can generally replace 1/2 of the required sugar without changing the proportions of the other ingredients in the recipe.  Honey absorbs and retains moisture, thus slowing the drying out of baked goods. This is especially important when you want to bake in advance, or save baked goods for any length of time.

         Pure honey usually becomes granulated as it ages, or if stored at cold temperatures. Granulation is a natural aging process and does not affect the honey except for color and flavor. Just put honey in a pan of warm water. Make sure the jar of honey is up off direct heat by putting it on a rack or jar lids in the pan of water. Be careful not to overheat granulated honey since too much heat causes the honey to change color and flavor.
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    Presto 23 Qt Pressure Cooker/Canner

    Pin It Let the canning begin!!!

    Pressure canning, the only method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for canning low-acid foods, allows you to preserve meats, vegetables, and fruits. Presto pressure canners feature an easy-to-read dial gauge for accurate pressure control and extra strong, warp-resistant aluminum construction. The air vent/cover lock allows pressure to build only when the cover is closed properly and prevents the cover from opening until pressure is safely reduced. Includes cooking/canning rack and complete instruction/recipe book. 22-Quart Liquid Capacity (20.9 Liters).

    Find your steam pressure canner at Basic Living!

    Also, check out our article on Steam Pressure Canning!

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    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Wind 'N Go Mini LED Lantern

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    This Mini LED Lantern comes with a carrabiner to easily hang from a string line, tree branch, or inside a tent.  Its compact size allows it to store easily (only 6.5" tall).  Extremely safe for use indoors and makes a great night light for children.  Wind 'N Go advertises that winding for 1 minute gives you about 1 hour of light!

    We put this lantern to the test and have found that Wind 'N Go has made some improvements on the battery.  It lasted at least 4 to 5 hours or so until it needed an additional minute of winding.    It is a great compact lantern for a variety of uses!

    by Jim Higgins

    The price for this little lantern is $17.95 at

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    Making Pie Crust Using a Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine

    Pin It I found a demonstration on which talked about how to make pie crusts using a Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine.  She did a great job explaining the features and what items to use while making the pie crust.  I tried her method using my recipe and it worked out great!  Using the Bosch makes it easy as there is no hand work required in cutting up the fat. 

    Here is the recipe I used:

    3 cups of flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1/2 cup of lard
    1/2 cup of butter
    1/3 cup of water
    1 egg
    2 Tbsp. vinegar

    by Mechele Eckman

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    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Fruit Leather

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    One of the favorite snacks in our house is fruit leather.  I suppose the name doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it really is good. They are called roll-ups in the store, but ours are very different.  For one thing, they are thicker. Also, they have more flavor, having been made with fresh fruit and no fillers.  They are most definitely more nutritious too.

    There are a lot of fruits that work well for leather.  Our favorites are apples, plums, apricots, and peaches, but lots of other fruits can be used. Also, fruits can be mixed together to create different varieties, or flavorings can be added.

    Making leather is relatively simple. Wash the fruit, then cut it in half, and fill up a blender with it. Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, and enough sugar or honey to taste. Blend well, until there are no lumps at all. Then spread out onto teflon sheets and put into the food dryer. It will take about 18-24 hours to dry. It will probably be a little sticky, but if it is very sticky, dry it a little longer. Length of dry time depends largely on how thickly the puree is spread onto the sheets. If it is too thick, it will take a long time to dry. However, if it is too thin, it will dry into brittle chips, not into leather. The best thickness is about 1/4 inch thick, but even this depends on how thick the puree is to start with.

    If a dehydrator is not available, there are other ways to get it dried. One way is to cover cookie sheets with plastic wrap, folding it around the edges and taping it underneath, or using clothes pins on the sides. Then the sheets can be put in the oven on warm ( 120*), or in the sun, but they will have to be protected from insects and dirt. Try putting the cookie sheets in the back window of a car, with that
    window facing the sun. It gets quite warm in there, and they should dry fast, but it might be good to let
    the moist air out once in a while.

    When the leather feels dry, peel it off the teflon sheet or plastic and turn it over. Let it dry upside down for another hour or two, just to be sure. Then it is ready to either be cut into strips and put into bags or jars, or rolled up in a fresh sheet of plastic wrap and then put into bags or jars. Glass gallon jars work well for storage.

    Apple - For apple leather, the process is a little different.  It’s easiest for us to make it when we make applesauce. We cut the apples, cook them up, and put them through the Victorio Strainer. A blender can be used if the apples are peeled and cored first.  Then we add just a little bit of sugar, and it’s ready to spread out on the sheets.

    Try sprinkling some cinnamon on the leather before drying, or mix it right in. Some people like to sprinkle jello on to add flavor and color, but to me it’s just more sugar, and it doesn’t go as fast as regular apple leather around here. Perhaps it would taste more like apple pie if cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are added.

    Apricot - Use above directions. It has plenty of flavor all by itself, and even people that aren’t really fond of apricots seem to still like this.

    Plum - Use above directions. This is the prettiest leather, because the skins make the leather somewhat speckled.

    Peach - Use above directions. It’s lighter in color, very pretty. Be sure to add the lemon juice so it doesn’t brown, because then it would look very unappetizing.

    After you have tried the basic leathers, try some other fruits such as bananas, cherries (makes a very sticky leather, harder to work with), pears and pineapple.  There are some fruits that don’t make good leathers due to their consistency or taste. Rhubarb is a little too sour, but might work well if blended with another fruit. I find that berries have lots of little seeds that interfere with the finished product. Watermelon isn’t good alone, nor is cantaloupe or other melons, but try mixing it with apples or some other fruit.

    Here are some combinations to try:
    Peach and plum
    Apple and apricot
    Apple and plum
    Peach and pear
    Cherry and apple
    Cherry and peach
    Strawberry rhubarb (2 c. strawberries and 1 c. rhubarb, can also add a little pineapple or orange peel)

    Even if there isn’t a lot of a certain variety of fruit available, it doesn’t take a lot to make leather, and it
    can be combined with other fruits, so don’t let anything go to waste! You just might find a new family

    One of the best things about leather is that it is so portable. They go in lunch boxes, on trips, on picnics, and just for between meals snacking. If we send them with the children on field trips, we have to send a lot, because everyone in the class wants some.

    So if you think your child won’t eat leather, think again! Your child may have tried some of ours!

    By Donna Howard

    56 East Main Street
    Rexburg, ID 83440
    Self-Reliance Emergency Preparedness
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    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    Basic Living Featured on Local News Paper

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    So, this article was published months ago on the Rexburg Standard Journal.  It took us a few months to find out that the article was available online.  Click here to view the article.
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    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Planting a Garden

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    As I have watched the news lately, I have become even more alarmed at the cost of food. Prices have risen astronomically, and it is scary to think about.  It’s not really an optional item in anyone’s budget.  We all need to eat. So what are we to do? I, for one, can think of a lot of options, and none of them include not eating at all. Most of us have within us an ability to work. Quite a few of us have a little space, or a lot of space, that we could use for a garden. I have heard a lot of people complain that it’s not worth it to grow a garden, and that they can get the food cheaper at the grocery store when they consider their time and all. Perhaps to them it’s the better option, but I, for one, could not afford to purchase all that my family can eat. And besides, we have an affinity for fresh berries, and we would have to take out a loan to buy what we eat every year just in that category.

    It is true that many foods are readily available at a reasonable cost during the case lot sales. But that may not always be true, and prices will continue to rise. Certainly, there are some things that we need to purchase, but there are a lot of items that we can grow ourselves. The idea is to make the funds available to us go as far as possible. And a little hard work really doesn’t hurt anyone, even children, although they may sometimes have a different opinion.

    In order to maximize the usable yield from our gardens, it is important to start with a plan. What does your family really like? What won’t they touch?  How much of something will they eat before they get tired of it or it goes bad? There isn’t much sense in planting a whole row of radishes if your children would rather play kick ball with them. Perhaps a few would be fun because they come up fast and grow fast, but mix them in with the carrots, and they don’t take any more space because they are ready to pull before the carrots get big.

    Are carrots a big thing in your family?  Can they eat a five-pound bag in a week if there is veggie dip? Then maybe one row wouldn’t be enough. My sister- in-law pulls carrots, leaving the fluffy green top on, and tells her children they are “What’s up, Doc?” carrots, and the kids think they are so cool. We plant lots of carrots so we can eat all we want during the summer. Then we are sure to have enough left over for drying and cold storage through the winter.

    Corn is very popular at our house. We can eat it at dinner for several weeks and not get tired of it too fast. We also freeze a lot of it. We don’t like the taste of home canned corn, though. So when we plan how much corn to plant, we think of three things. First, how much do we want to freeze?  Then how much do we want to eat? Third is how to stagger the ripening of the ears. Either we plant it in two or three plantings about two weeks apart, or we use three different varieties that take a differing numbers of days to mature.  For fresh eating we want it to ripen gradually, but when I freeze it, I would rather it all ripen at once so I can get the job over with. We are also very careful to plant corn in blocks instead of single rows so that they are pollinated more thoroughly.

    We like to grow enough pumpkins to let each person in the family either carve one or draw on one for Halloween, according to age. We also want a few more for pies and breads. However, I don’t really think we need five dozen of them, although I am sure the neighbors would be happy to help us dispose of them if we did end up with that many.

    That brings up another point. Gardeners are fond of sharing. I think it’s partly because they like to be good neighbors, but I also think that there may be some bragging rights involved. We had a neighbor who grew onions the size of basketballs, and I am not exaggerating. They were huge! He loved sharing them with friends and neighbors. My bragging rights come from handing our tomatoes to neighbors in June from the plants in our greenhouse, while their plants are still only ankle-high. I love to share what I have grown, and I love to be the recipient of someone else’s bounty. I have found great new varieties this way, and have learned some new techniques.  Never be afraid to ask someone for advice.  Gardeners love sharing information too!

    Our family likes peas, fresh and frozen. We plant a lot of them too, but not as many green beans, even though we can a bunch every year, and eat some fresh. We don’t do much with kohlrabi or turnips, but we should. Broccoli is great to have, but I don’t seem to be able to grow much of it.

    Potatoes are a big crop for us. We eat a lot of them, and the children love to go out with Dad to dig them up in the fall. It’s a treasure hunt for them. But we are always careful to plant some red potatoes that will be ready to eat much earlier, when the peas are on, so we can have the old family favorite dinner of peas and potatoes. We plant several rows of potatoes.

    Consider planting cucumbers, summer squash, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers, among others. I like to plant a lot of tomatoes. We like them in tacos, BLT sandwiches, and I make lots of salsa and spaghetti sauce. I have a few children that will eat them like one would eat an apple. I certainly don’t want to run out of them! I also grow the onions and peppers for the salsa, and I need to grow lots of onions for freezing and drying. That makes it easy to throw a handful of them into a soup.

    When I set out our garden, I take the needs of our family into consideration and plot out our available space with what is most important to us. There is no reason to waste time and space on something that they won’t eat. But then, maybe a little of something new would be good for them. Just don’t turn half of your garden into a brussels sprouts patch if your family will mutiny if you serve them more than once a year.

    Think about staggered planting, or two crops in one season, such as lettuce or peas. How much does each foot of row produce? How much do you really need? Remember that the first year that you raise a garden is a learning experience. Also remember that the twentieth year that you raise a garden is a learning experience. You will always find new and better ways to do things, and you will also find out what really doesn’t work for you. You will be able to experiment with different varieties of vegetables, and perhaps some wonderful neighbor will share some heirloom seeds with you. Gardening is definitely an adventure!

    Our children, as they fill their tummies with fresh bread and fresh homemade raspberry jam and an apple or carrot on the side, or with still-warm peas from a sun-kissed pod, talk about how wonderful their life is. It really makes me smile. What they are eating is quite inexpensive, but very good for them, and they are probably also content remembering that they helped weed, water and pick the produce, and that gives us all a great deal of satisfaction.

    By Donna Howard

    56 East Main Street
    Rexburg, ID 83440
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