Fri. Feb. 16, 2019 Friday, again. Wow.

I’m tellin’ ya, time is flyin’ by….

70F and 99%RH. Moisture condensing on concrete deck and floor, and anything metal or solid in the garage. Can anyone say “less than ideal storage conditions?”

I did make a great dessert last night from “middle” term storage. I’ve found that the fruit cups from costco will discolor and the fruit gets mushy after the expiration date. This is pretty typical, “color and texture might change but contents remain healthy and safe” is true for cans as well. I’ve mentioned here before that when I notice that a case is aging out, I make fruit cobbler.

So last night, a delicious mango cobbler was made, and half was consumed after dinner. The mango tastes pretty much like peaches after canning. I used prepackaged cobbler mix. It couldn’t be much easier- melt butter, pour in mix with milk, dump in 4 fruit cups. Bake. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Kids asked for seconds. Success!

Managing your stores probably deserves a whole post, but the short story is — use what you have too much of. In other words, if we’ve eaten fewer eggs than normal, I will make something to eat that requires more eggs, like French Toast (Freedom Toast!). That’s a good way to use up some bread too. Or fruit desserts to use aging fruit cups that don’t LOOK attractive, but are still delicious. Think about baking, or pre-cooking meat and freezing. Pies are a way to make fruit last a few more days. Juice fruits and freeze the juice…

Anyway, I’m toying with the idea of a “use less week.” The idea is that you probably use more than needed during these times of prosperity, and would use less if times were tough, so why not try it now??

Some easy examples: toothpaste. Most people probably learned to put a stripe of toothpaste the whole length of the toothbrush. I find that less than half of that is sufficient to fill my mouth with foamy cleaning action. I’ve completely internalized this change.

Shampoo. The bottle usually says how much to use, but do you just pour some in your hand? Bigger than a ‘quarter’? I’ll bet half will give the same sudsing action. If not, just “lather rinse repeat” like the bottle says. Nothing to lose.

Hand soap, hand sanitizer. The dispensers kick out way more than needed.

Eggs. I love eggs. I now only buy the Large size though. Simple change from the Extra Large I grew up with and just kept buying. They are cheaper too. And I’m finding that one is enough for breakfast when I habitually ate two.

Toilet paper. I’d bet that most of us just use this the way we learned as kids. I did. Having kids to teach, and someone else’s butt to wipe, made me rethink both technique and amount. Not something to skimp on, but if you knew the supply was limited, would you be more careful and use less? TP is a very bulky item to store as preps, and not something you want to run out of.

Laundry and dish soap. Do you just dump some in? When was the last time you read the bottle or looked at the different marks on the measuring cup?

Ketchup or dipping condiments. Just dump a big squirt on the plate? Why not put half as much and then squirt more if needed?

Hmm, this is turning into a coupon clipping, make your own soap kind of post, so I’ll end it here, but I challenge you to look at your habits, and see if you are being a ‘good steward’ of the resources you have.

nick

Sunday, 20 November 2016

11:51 – We had a blizzard last night, except for the snow part. The low was about 23F (-5C), with winds gusting to 60 MPH (100 KPH). That made the wind chill not far above absolute zero.

We’d run out of homemade bread, so we decided to bake a couple of large loaves yesterday. Since we were messing up the kitchen and heating the oven anyway, we decided also to make a chocolate cake. As usual, my go-to source for any recipe involving flour and baking is King Arthur Flour. We decided on this recipe. Originally, I planned to make the optional icing as well, but Barbara suggested we try it without the icing first. I’m glad she mentioned that, because as it turned out the cake was fine without frosting.

Here are the ingredients we used, all from long-term storage:

□ Flour, 1.5 cups (6.25 oz., 177 grams)
□ Sugar, 1 cup (7 oz., 198 g)
□ Cocoa powder, 0.25 cup (0.75 oz., 21 g)
□ Salt, 0.5 tsp
□ Baking soda, 1 tsp
□ Vanilla extract, 1 tsp
□ Vinegar, 1 Tbsp (0.5 oz., 14 g)
□ Vegetable oil, 0.33 cup (2.625 oz., 74 g)
□ Water, 1 cup (8 oz., 227 g)

Making it up takes only a few minutes. Here’s what we did:

0. Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8″ square baking pan that’s at least 2″ deep.

1. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.

2. Combine the vanilla extract, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.

3. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir to mix thoroughly. Immediately pour the batter into the greased 8″ baking pan and place the pan in the 350F preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

The original recipe used all-purpose flour. We used bread flour, which is the only kind we store. I was initially surprised by how little cocoa was called for. When we mixed the dry powders, the result was a light tan color rather than the dark brown of a typical chocolate cake. But when it came out of the oven, it had turned dark brown as expected, and had plenty of chocolate flavor.

I’d also wondered about using bread flour, which is much higher in protein (gluten) than all-purpose, let alone low-protein pastry flour. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the cake had turned out brick-like, but it was just as good as the one Barbara had bought at the supermarket a couple of days ago.

We had four 24-ounce (680 g) cannisters of cocoa powder in LTS. Looking at them, I figured we might get a half dozen chocolate cakes out of each. As it turns out, each cannister is enough for 32 of these pan cakes, so we have enough for 128 of them. Well, 127 now.


Friday, 26 August 2016

09:21 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket, where she’s going to pick up a can of black beans, a jar of cumin, and a jar of coriander, the only items we didn’t have in our pantry for making up Jen’s Bean Gloppita recipe. (My name, not hers). Barbara mentioned the other night that she liked black beans and it would be fine with her to have black beans and rice for dinner one night. We’re going to have it for dinner tonight. We’ll follow Jen’s recipe exactly, other than halving it and cooking the rice in the microwave rather than on the stovetop. If it turns out well, I’ll pick up a couple cases of black beans at Costco or Sam’s, along with larger bottles of cumin and coriander, which we don’t normally use.

Speaking of which, we inventoried our supply of herbs and spices (henceforth “sperbs”) in the kitchen and in our downstairs LTS pantry. I need to get that sorted and consolidated so that I can make up a list of which sperbs we need to get on our next Sam’s visit. We’re in pretty good shape on most of those we use routinely, but there are several we’re short of or don’t have in stock at all.

I’m creating POs and ordering stuff that we’re running short of. Today, I need to get several chemicals on order, including ninhydrin crystals and synthetic blood for the forensic kits. I also need to re-order bottles of several types. And I just noticed that my bottle vendor sells 5-gallon pails with screw-on lids for $10 each. That’s a lot of money for a pail, but the real cost is in the screw-on lids, which typically cost $7 to $10 each just for the lid.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

09:38 – We had another monsoon yesterday afternoon. It dropped more than an inch (2.5 cm) of rain on us in about 20 minutes, accompanied by very high winds and lots of lightning where there was only a fraction of a second gap between the flash and the boom. Colin was beyond terrified. He’s a high-attention dog all the time, but heavy rain, high winds, and lightning/thunder scare the hell out of him. I finally went back and stretched out on the bed, where he went into four-paw drive and climbed up on top of me. I went out to my desk. He hid under the desk for about 30 seconds and then forced his way up between my legs and climbed up into my lap. I wouldn’t mind so much, except that he also claws me the whole time, demanding that I do something about the problem. After the rain, wind, and thunder slacked off, the sirens started. I suspect there was some significant property damage, and maybe some injuries. Every time he hears a siren, Colin heads for the front door or windows to bark at it. If it’s particularly close, he does synchronized howling.


Some people are unaware that one can actually starve to death even with an unlimited supply of wheat, rice, and corn or foods made from those grains. The problem is that the amino acid profile of grains is low in some essential amino acids (those that the human body cannot synthesize from other amino acids). The same is true of beans, but the essential amino acids that beans are short of are present in abundance in grains, and vice versa. That’s why all cultures, going back to prehistory, have eaten grains and beans in combination. Together, they provide complete protein.

Meats, eggs, milk, and other animal-based foods include complete protein, and may be used to “fill out” the protein profile of beans or, more commonly, grains. We store a lot of canned meats, but in a long-term emergency additional meat will be harder to come by than beans. Also, obviously, animal-based proteins are much more costly and difficult to store than are vegetable-based proteins.

The problem is that most citizens of the first world are used to getting their complete protein by combining grains and meat. Beans generally play a relatively minor role in our diets. People generally prefer to eat what they’re used to eating, so few people would regard a combination of grains and beans to be appetizing.

I mentioned this issue in passing to Jen, and told her that we aren’t storing any dry beans, although we have about 100 cans of Bush’s Best Baked Beans. We don’t store dry beans, because neither Barbara nor I knows how to make a bean-based dish appetizing. I got email from Jen yesterday with a recipe she suggested we try. She and her family felt much the same about eating beans as we do, but she said this recipe turned out extremely well. She says the herbs and spices are what makes this dish worth eating. This recipe makes enough to feed four to six people. We’ll probably halve it for our first test run.

Bean Gloppita (Feeds four to six)

2 cans (15-ounce each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
6 cups of water
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 cup of fresh chopped onion (or equivalent rehydrated dry onion)
1 cup of fresh bell peppers (or equivalent rehydrated dry bell peppers)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped (or equivalent rehydrated dry garlic flakes)
2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of dried oregano
½ tsp of dried coriander
½ tsp of ground red pepper
¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Bring five cups of water to a boil. Stir in rice, return to a boil, turn down heat, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add fresh or rehydrated bell peppers and onion. Cook until tender, about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add the remaining one cup of water and all of the remaining ingredients other than the cheese. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until rice is ready.

Serve bean gloppita over hot rice and sprinkle cheddar on top.


FedEx showed up yesterday with three more #10 cans of Augason Farms dehydrated potato shreds from Walmart. Those three cans are equivalent to about 10.4 30-ounce packages of the Ore-Ida frozen shredded hashbrowns, but at a total cost of $24.72 plus tax, versus $31.10 for 10.4 packages of the Ore-Ida frozen shreds. (Walmart has since increased the price from $8.24/can a week ago to $9.77 now; they bounce prices up and down regularly.)







Sunday, 19 June 2016

09:58 – We made up another batch of the no-knead bread dough this morning, and will bake two more 1-pound (454 g) loaves this afternoon, after it finishes rising two hours at room temperature and then two more hours in the refrigerator. The last time we used this recipe, we didn’t use bread pans. This time, we’re going to try it with our silicone bread pans. We both think this bread is better than commercial bakery bread, let alone supermarket bread.

My desk looks out over the back deck. When I look up, I see the satellite dish installed by the former owners. We’ll never have satellite TV here, and I’ve been thinking about converting that dish and mount to a parabolic solar oven. I’ll leave it where it is for now, but if we ever need it it would be quick and easy to repurpose it, just by covering the surface of the dish with aluminum foil.

Back to work filling and labeling bottles.



Monday, 13 June 2016

09:54 – We made dinner from long-term storage last night. Chicken Tetrazzini from Jan Jackson’s 100-day Pantry: 100 Quick and Easy Gourmet Meals. The recipe claims to serve eight. As a side dish, perhaps. Not as a main/only course.

So we doubled the recipe. There was enough for the two of us and enough left over for two more meals for the two of us, so I’d say the original recipe realistically serves three. The only ingredient we used that doesn’t realistically qualify as LTS was grated Parmesan cheese, and even it has a reasonable shelf life in the original container.

With the exception of the canned chicken, which had a best-by date in November of this year, everything we used was well past the best-by date. The condensed milk was labeled best-by September of 2014. I had Barbara sniff it, and she remarked that it just smelled like condensed milk. If it had been even slightly rancid, her nose would have detected it. My guess (based on past experience) is that it would have been just as good five or ten years past the best-by date.

I wondered about the Cheez-Whiz, but it was also fine, although it was well past the best-by date. Not that that matters. We could easily substitute cheese sauce reconstituted from Augason Farms Cheese Blend Power, which we keep in our LTS pantry.


Monday, 9 May 2016

09:39 – The King Arthur Flour No-Knead bread recipe I mentioned yesterday turned out very well. Far better than the earlier recipe from Allrecipes.com that we’d been using. That despite the facts that we used bread flour rather than the recommended all-purpose flour and that we made no adjustments for high altitude.

The loaves with made with the older recipe tasted fine, but they were very dense and damp. The loaves we made with the KAF recipe were light and dry, indiscernible from bread from a bakery. Barbara and I both liked the KAF loaves much better.