Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, Chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

Aug 31, 2021

Finally Garden Veggies! Preparedness 6.0 - Calories vs Nutrition, September Is National Preparedness Month!


Finally Garden Veggies!
With our late start (due to crazy weather) and then HOT crazy weather our veggies took a beating. We have finally cooled down into the 80s and so things are settling in. All the watering paid off! I harvested one lemon cucumber a week or so ago. Tonight we got two wonderful tomatoes, two slicing cucumbers, several pickling cukes and a medium sized zucchini! The tomato plants are really loaded and there's some paste tomatoes that are orange, almost ready. Will go out into the garden today and trim back a little bit of the foliage to help the tomatoes get riper faster.  We're still getting eggs, apples are not quite ready for Labor Day weekend I think. I will be doing peaches instead for canning. Because it's been so busy on the weekends so I decided to freeze the peaches until I could can a bunch of them. So that's the plan!

Preparedness 6.0 - Calories vs Nutrition/ What I Bought This Week-
There's lots of preparedness foods, like freeze dried, out there. Some are pre-mixed foods, some are single food, like fruits, veggies and proteins. I started looking at ingredients, reviews and taste tests. Here's a few things I noticed right out of the gate: lots of lots of empty calories, lots of dairy based products, white flour and a lot of salt. Obviously there's a difference between starving to death because you don't have anything to eat versus maintaining your health. If you're in a real emergency situation if you're really active you need plenty of protein/crabs and calories. One of the things I saw was a few different brands that specialize in freeze dried foods that have one ingredient. For instance freeze dried chicken chunks. Big difference between that and a chicken flavored casserole meal with white rice, salt chicken flavoring and dairy. With the chicken chunks you can make all kinds of different meals! So if you're looking for different foods to store for true preparedness, whether freeze-dried, dehydrated, or canned,  check the label and think about what you're buying. Dave and I are pretty allergic to most Dairy. I can eat a small amount with a meal but if I overdo it I really pay for it with major acid reflux. If Dave eats too much Dairy he also has some issues but they're different. So I was good to realize what your options are. There's also taste, good review here-  

Glad I haven't bought  any ReadyWise!

What I Bought This Week-
Two books, used on eBay, both by the same author- 


I used to follow Wendy's old blog (now defunct) wanted to read her books. I found her new blog  Great stuff! Nice interview with her here
A little inspiration-

Went back to Grocery Outlet and bought some more unbleached King Arthur self-rising flour. I also found some other organic unbleached flour. Bought some organic spelt berries for grinding for a different kind of flour, two more containers of crunchy peanut butter to stash and some cocoa powder! I won't survive the apocalypse without chocolate! The great thing about cocoa powder as you can use it for almost anything, baking, hot chocolate, Etc. Bittersweet chocolate chips, great for baking in the winter, a big loaf of a whole grain rustic Artisan 1/2 price. Got a nice box of cans of fat-free refried pinto beans, some more canned sliced carrots. I bought a new steam canner, one with a thermostat. The other one I have worked perfect, but you have to sit and wait for a steam plume to start your time. I thought this would be more efficient. There's quite a few University Extension office's that recommends steam canning. I've also done water bath canning but it's a lot simpler, not so much water with steam canning. There still seems to be quite a few canning jars in stock locally, just zero lids. Also got extra cat food! Anya has a sensitive tummy, has to eat super soft food/pate.  

September Is National Preparedness Month-
With Louisiana being hit by another hurricane, Ida, good reminder you just never know when things can happen. Food, water, meds, basics are really critical, as well as being able to get info. When cell towers go down good to have a hand crank radio! 

Link here and here , there's tons of site online for lots of info, don't forget your pets! 

Aug 23, 2021

Fermented Pickles/ Preserved Peaches In Honey/ Preparedness 5.0

Wow, 42 last week! 

Fermented Pickles/ Preserved Peaches In Honey/ Preparedness 5.0-
Autumn is in the air! It is finally cooling down what a nice trend! Tomatoes are just turning pink finally!!! What a late start/severe hot weather we've had. It's been interesting seeing what's going on in some of the local grocery stores. We tried to buy some distilled water this weekend and couldn't find any in a very large store. We were told by one of the cashiers that the plastic bottles that the water goes in is made in China and so there's a shortage of them. We went to a Walgreen's pharmacy and found some there, but they were almost out. We were told there that there was a shortage due to labor issues in California with workers. Not enough people in the factories to fill the water bottles. Beef prices have really skyrocketed! Glad that's not something we eat a lot of anyway. I do have three roasts I bought months ago in the freezer. 

I decided to start making some homemade bread soon and will probably stop buying sandwich bread completely. We eat one loaf a week, maybe. Luckily I have a recipe from several years ago that I had made successfully. I did buy some King Arthur flour whole grain dough enhancer. Basically makes it rise a little bit more and is not quite so dense. I'm looking forward to baking some bread and always makes the house smell so great! I saw a dough whisk and decided to buy one, comes with a curved scraper-

Comes with a flexible scraper- 
$7.00 on Amazon

I am still stocking up on a few small things here and there quite like canned veggies. I also found some nice big bags of frozen veggies at Costco. I suspect that over time there will be more shortages of fresh produce so I'm planning ahead. We made a trip Saturday to a place we've gone the last couple of years. It's a rural farmstead store. They have the best pickling cukes! I just couldn't grow enough to use. So I bought a bunch. I did three jars of one with garlic, dill, mustard seeds, black peppercorns. I did one jar with just garlic and dill. I use my fermenting jar with the water lock and three with Mason Tops-

The end of last years, still great! 

We also bought two huge frozen chickens, also local. Last year the ones I bought were almost the size of a small turkey!  Recently I scored some raw local honey in Costco. I decided to try this recipe   Peaches Preserved in Honey Lacto Fermented I may try her Blueberrie recipe next! I took some of our organic peaches out of the fridge, got a clean jar (thrifted) and the honey-

all sliced, cinnamon and peppercorns in the bottom 

I topped off with the Turmeric and added the honey. I had to take a knife down the sides to get it flowing down. I had to add three batches, slowly, about 1 and 1/2 cups, to 1 and a 1/2 Qt jar (about). Now resting and getting bubbles today! 

I also made some pickled red onions-

Slice the onions thins, put in a jar, add a few peppercorns (or diced jalapenos/red pepper flakes), season rice wine vinegar (or apple cider), a little salt, shake well. Great on sandwiches and salads! Let sit for a day or so and it's ready!!! 

Aug 16, 2021

Some Food Shortages / Cashier-Less Walmarts/ New Freezer Preparedness 4.0, Whole Powdered Milk = Butter! Cooking Home-Frozen Fresh Eggs


New Freezer

Some Food Shortages / Cashier-Less Walmarts/ New Freezer Preparedness 4.0-
It's still pretty warm here and smoky but I think fall is hopefully on the way soon. With our bumper crop of peaches frozen (for now) and apples on the way we decided to buy a new freezer. Our 1st one is 7.5 cubic feet. Works great! We priced a upright but were way too expensive, $600.00+ . For $190.00 we got a Magic Chef 5 cubic feet that fits in my office, near all the food storage. Flour on top will go in after it chills. We got ours at Home Depot, Lowe's had similar ones too. We were happy to find one, as there was a shortage last year!  

We did some shopping last Friday night at a Walmart that we hadn't been to in quite a while. I'm not a big Walmart fan, so I don't go there very often. Maybe once or twice a year. I decided to pick up a few things that I knew they would have like powdered whole milk, etc. I found what I was looking for and then went over to the meat section and there was a whole section for chicken that was completely empty. I'm talking a really long cooler, multiple shelves probably 15 to 20 feet long. I should have taken a photo, but I didn't sorry. I was just kind of shocked! I've been hearing about food shortages from various people I know on social media, seeing it firsthand was different. The other thing that we ran into was going to check out. There were literally zero cashiers to check out. It was all completely self checkout. Dave and I kept looking around thinking we were not seeing the cashiers and realized that there simply weren't any. I ran across this article, as well as something else in social media, Positively I guess this going national. Really makes me wonder how many people are now out of jobs? Walmart's always been known for just making money and this sadly is another example. I did go to a local WinCo store on the weekend and their meat supply was totally different. Everything was completely full and stocked, with chicken parts for .99 cents a Lb. I was also able to find some canned beef in gravy there, which I had heard about. I bought a couple cans, might be good for a change at some point. I finally got my tote of oats in some 1/2 gallon jars-

I bought two of these on sale at Amazon, $15.00 each, good deal! We love black bean cakes!

I also bought some whole shelf-stable milk for guests or baking, etc. -

Whole Powdered Milk = Butter!
While we don't drink much milk I decided to buy some whole powdered milk, $4.00 for a small tin at Wallyworld-

Spanish label (English directions on the back)

When I saw this article it made me think, you can make butter if needed! Little House Living Making Butter  Good to know, and you can make simple cheeses as well Make Cheese From Powdered Milk Good to know x 2! 

Cooking Home-Frozen Fresh Eggs-
I saw a Youtube video a few nights ago about freezing eggs. The person said if you don't whisk them together you'll get this hard lumpy yolk. I decided to do test drive the eggs I froze. After thawing overnight there definitely was a lumpy yolk to be seen-

I decided to scramble the eggs, which is what I would usually do for breakfast. I was able to squash the yolks down using a fork repeatedly,  texture was not too bad, flavor was the same. Having said that I would definitely not use these for baking now that I know that. I'll be whisking at my eggs in the future when I freeze more. Going to find out this time of year since the chickens are still laying really well even with the heat! So if you plan on freezing eggs whisk whisk and whisk!

Aug 11, 2021

Update, Food Prices Rising/ Canning Lids & Coffee Shortage/ Preparedness 3.0


We finally got a break from the heat! It was 51 degrees the last three mornings, what a treat! After the heavy rain we real growth spurt in the garden. We're running really behind with our tomatoes since they don't set fruit over 85 degrees. We had 100 degree days for so many weeks I actually don't remember. We recently set a record of the driest three months in the spring in the last 99 years. Not going to be good going into a long drought. Will be re-thinking if we need to redo some of our landscaping to more drought resistant. We've quite a bit, but more is better. It takes planning and we will get some ideas. Our Red Haven peaches have gotten the ripe the last week! Will be doing some canning of the peaches soon. We've already frozen several one gallon bags. We also got six gallons of our neighbors rhubarb we froze as well! She always throws it away so we take it off her hands.  Chickens still laying, freezing more eggs. 

Food Prices Rising/ Canning Lids & Coffee Shortage/ Preparedness 3.0-
I've been trying a few more things to add to our pantry closet. I found this great deal at the local grocery outlet on flour (see above)! I just did a double take when I saw it was King Arthur whole wheat flour, 10 Lbs for $3.00! I bought one, it's in the freezer for a few days to get rid of any critter eggs. I may actually leave it in the freezer for longer-term storage to keep it fresher. We bought two more. Been stocking up on a few more things. I should note we're on a budget like everyone else, and it's been a stretch to stock up and be more prepared. We make it work though, it's buy now and save $ later. I saw boxes of brownie mix too for $1.00 at the Outlet, bought a few. At Albertson's they were almost $4.00! Holy cow. I saw some apples that were almost $4 a pound as well.  I'm glad our apple tree is loaded! I will definitely be canning and freezing apples. With our bumper crop I may also get out of a food dehydrator which I don't use is often. Be nice to have multiple types of fruits. I'm so glad we're getting a good harvest this year. Tomatoes will have to wait and see, but it looks like there's quite a few green ones. Interesting list here of prices that have gone up recently- July Rising Prices  Shocker hot dogs went up almost 5% in July! Glad I'm not a fan (I like polish sausage instead!). 

Canning Lids- Like a lot of people I've been really concerned with seeing a lack of canning lids in store. Some have mentioned the canning lid duration changing. I've noticed some canning lids that are new Mason and Kerr brand saying that they are good up to 18 months. Some I saw tonight are good for one year. Is this normal, did I miss something? I've had cans for four/five years on my pantry rack that are still fine. Were they always labeled like that?  Is a result of shoddy workmanship and poor quality? I may have to shift toward buying reusable canning lids. Time will tell...

Green beans

Coffee- I've been hearing thru various social media that coffee is going to may be in short supply soon, if not already. Prices should go up, bad crops in S. America, etc. I saw you can buy green coffee beans, unroasted. You can store them long-term without going bitter, just roast in small batches in a hot skillet. Might be a good idea for any real hardcore coffee drinkers. You can also buy regular beans to the freeze, but some people say that makes them bitter. If you're not much of a coffee drinker you can also buy instant, if you don't really care that much. Lots of videos out there on how to roast your own green coffee beans. I saw beans for sale on Amazon/Etsy. The prices seem to vary depending on where the beans came from. So if you're hardcore coffee drinker you may want to invest in some beans! And of course do you need a grinder! Glad I'm a tea drinker!!!

Aug 3, 2021

Food Prices Rising/ Chip Shortages/Being Prepared 2.0, What I Bought This Week

Thrifted veggie prints summer fun! 

Food Prices Rising/ Chip Shortages/Being Prepared 2.0-
We're finally got some real rain! Saturday night we got over an inch of rain in less than 24 hours. Hallelujah! I thought I'd share some things I've been hearing and seeing from blogging pals and from other sources around the country. Do your own research and see what you think you might be able to do? This list is not complete. I have acquired various things over the years, some from yard sales/thrift store, some new. I started my bedroom pantry closet after we bought this house, such a small kitchen-

There are some people who do preparedness from a very young age, but I'm not one of them. I did develop a food pantry out of a spare bedroom closet, hubby Dave put in some nice shelves for me. I would just put various things in it to try to keep on hand and get good deals. My pantry has evolved over the years which I think is pretty normal. We started buying more things from Costco like paper products. I made more room for those. So here's a few ideas (not in any order) if you want to be a little bit more prepared, but don't know where to start! Feel free to post questions too. 

Chip Shortages- We were talking to a salesman at a big car dealer this weekend. There are 100's of cars in the Midwest, new, that they can't sell. No microchips for the cars. People are ordering cars with no chips with no delivery date. Really??? A big furniture store in town is running out of TV's, no chips to make more. Make's you wonder where it will end? So as far as being prepared... 

First off don't think that you have to go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff all at once. Make a plan and and start small. You can become overwhelmed by trying to make a huge change. You can become over-loaded and broke! Here's a good tip-

Make a plan & start small

Ask yourself first- where will you put foods/supplies you want to store? How about a closet, under your bed, in an extra kitchen cabinet? 

Low on funds, can you barter? We have a ton of eggs right now and if times were tough we could trade eggs for other items.

Next- buy things you actually eat or use. Don't buy some really cheap food that you don't like just to have something on hand. Dave and I both love black beans so I always keep quite a few of those on hand, both dried and canned. Here's a few ideas to get started if you haven't already. Be creative! This weekend I moved things around. Dave got a free metal bookcase from work that I painted. I added totes for our grandchildren's toys and books-

In another bedroom we had a nice white laminate rack with canvas drawers that we had miscellaneous stuff in-

I was looking at it and realized that the blue unit should go in my office where the pantry is. I could put the white rack in the spare bedroom which is much dressier! So Dave and I went ahead and flip-flopped those. The metal book case will be much better used for foods, etc., especially smaller items-

Toys out

Food/supplies in

Lovely Leggos and stuff into the canvas drawers

The nice thing is all of this is flexible. This list may be long, so can can skip some or come back to it later.... Here's a few ideas to get you started and you can certainly pull up lots and lots of lists online.

Water, lots and lots of people forget to have any on hand.  The Red Cross has great simple ideas here, like amount of water for drinking, washing, and personal hygiene. Personally I don't think that's enough but that's me. Baby wipes might be a handy thing to have on hand now for the personal hygiene part in a pinch. They're relatively cheap and use them and just toss them away. Nice item here in the Red Cross Store Clipray Flashlight /Cell Charger

Be mindful with these foods some of them require certain storage requirements. Things like nut butters or flours can go rancid unless you keep them in a cool/cold. Flour and butter freezes great! I do have a couple of buckets of freeze dried fruits and veggies primarily and some smaller cans of various items-

I have smaller cans of butter, margarine, celery, shredded dried potatoes, diced bell peppers, eggs, cornmeal and a few other things. I bought those several years ago and have been keeping them in a cool dark place. It's good to know they're there in case of a real emergency. What constitutes a real emergency might be hard to tell?

Any kind of dried beans they are usually cheap easy to store and have protein and fiber. Canned meats, sea food and a dry salami-

Various flours and grains, rolled oats, Millet. I know some people are allergic to certain grains or have various sensitivities so that's a personal thing that you'd tweak. I just stocked up on some extra WW pastry flour since I was having trouble finding it locally. I also bought some oat flour and wheat berries to grind. Good to have if you can't find baked goods locally or they became too expensive-

Will re-store some of the flours in the freezer soon

Buy other baking supplies like baking powder, baking soda, yeast, etc.

Sugar! You can use for all kinds of things. I just got a 20 lb bag of sugar at Costco for $9.00 Stores really well in a cool dark place, no moisture and no insects (of course). We're lucky that we've never had ants or anything like that in our house. You can also include sugar type products in this list like honey, maple syrup, stevia, molasses, etc. I'll be putting ours in a bucket.

Salt! Got to have salt for cooking and baking and general seasonings and it is so cheap stock up! Lots of kinds too. 

Things like rice, quinoa, pastas, crackers-

Canned or dried fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, nut butters, etc.

Lots and lots of condiments and spices! No one wants to eat beans and rice everyday unless you can have lots of different flavorings added. Things like soy sauce, barbecue sauce, Tabasco sauce, ketchup, etc. Baking spices too, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. 

Butter, and cheeses that you can freeze. Cooking oils, you need fats. Olives of various kinds. Dried salamis that you can store without refrigeration is a bonus.

Coffees and teas! Think variety again. 

Any kind of foods that you can dry yourself and store. You don't have to own a food dehydrator to dry things, you can certainly use a regular oven. You can buy a food dehydrator, not too expensive and some people to build their own-

Drying yellow squash last year

Great for soups! 

Comfort Foods! At least give you a lot of different kinds of things for different people. Think instant puddings, Jello, cookies, chocolate, and any other kinds of baking supplies. 

Alcohol. Even if you don't drink it can be good for bartering or trading.  You can also use for cooking as well! Throw a little bit of red wine on that tough chicken and you will have a nice chicken stew.

Tobacco. We don't smoke but cigarettes may be something you could also barter.

Pet Food & supplies! Don't forget your Critters! We have our cat Anya, so that would mean cat litter and cat food basically. If worst came to worst and the weather was warm we could actually bring in dry garden soil and put it in her cat box. In the winter when the ground is frozen solid that would not be an option. She has a sensitive tummy so we have to buy special cat food! I did explain to Anya the other day that if times were really tough and we couldn't find her special food I would have to buy dry food and put it in the food processor with water. Anya said better that than nothing!

Animal feed. We have chickens and while they do free-range a little bit and eat kitchen scraps like fruits and veggies they would need feed, especially in the winter. We're going to buy a couple of extra bags of feed and store it. Better safe than sorry and it won't go bad and we've never had a rodent problem where we store it in our garage. I could make my own feed in a pinch.

Any kind of over-the-counter medication you can think of. Things like Advil, Tylenol, cough syrup, Pepto-Bismol, bandages, antibiotic ointments, etc. Treat yourself at home if you can't/didn't want to go out. 

Extra paper products like TP, Kleenex,  paper plates, paper cups, garbage bags, napkins. Ziploc bags are great too! You can buy some really large ones. Hefty make some jumbo ones that are heavy and have a really good slider that are good for heavier products like flours. 

Cleaning supplies- Vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, toilet cleaner, etc. Vinegar and baking soda are cheap and can clean almost anything! 

If you're able to grow any of your own food this would be a good time to go buy some extra seeds and store them. Another idea would also be to buy some potting soil and trays with starting cubes-

Here's a list of some supplies that I have on hand many of them were thrifted so don't think you have to go out and buy everything new! Check out yard sales, estate sales, Craigslist, eBay, etc.

Flashlights with extra batteries, matches, candles, tea candles with holders

Oil lamps with extra lamp oil. Almost all of the oil lamps I got were thrifted.

Hand crank radio with flashlight

Ice chest/cooler, if you lose power. 

RX's- Keep your some prescriptions filled. 

Coleman (or other) camp stove oven, propane heater, propane tanks, various sizes

Kerosene heater, several kinds

5 Gallon water jug (camping), Water purifier (for camping)

Canning supplies like jars, lids and rings. Things like Fruit Fresh to keep your fruit from changing color, Fermenting supplies

A freezer, we have a small chest one that works great! For two people we can put a lot of food in there.

Solar charger for phone/devices

55 water barrel (can use if not frozen)

Vacuum sealer system. Great to prevent freezer burn and can also use for dried goods that you want to make really airtight.

Radiant/fan electric space heaters (if furnace died)

So if you're interested think about it and start small!

New bucket and lid for wheat berries
What I Bought This Week-
I stocked up on a few things for the pantry, here and there-
At Natural Grocers I FINALLY found some organic WW pastry flour $8.00, Bob's Red Mill brand! Hard to find in other stores, I bought their last two! Also bought some organic Hard Red Winter Wheat berries, $2.50 for 3 lbs. Looked a few other places, looked like a good deal. Got six bags to store and I do have a manual grinder I bought years ago. Bought two bags of Organic Oat flour, 2 lbs for $2.50, will freeze. Got a bag of unsweetened Coconut flakes. At Lowe's I found two 5 gallon food grade buckets for $5.00 each, bought two. Bought two matching gasketed screw-off lids for $7.00 each. At The Grocery Outlet I bought one large can (almost 3 lbs!) of mixed salted nuts for $8.00.  I split them up and vacuum sealed, will freeze so they won't go rancid.  Also got three cans of Pink Wild Salmon for $3.00 each, 4 gallons of spring water for .89 cents, steel cut oats tub $2.00. I'm feeling better getting more flours and proteins bought and stored. Found some 1/2 gallon Ball jars, 6 pack for $13.00 at Walmart. I bought two packs. Someone was selling these on Amazon for $60.00! Great for storing dried goods, or fermenting! 

I hope that gives you some useful ideas!!!
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