solar cooking & energy


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By Kellene Bishop

food-storage-shelvesHere’s one simple tip so you never have to worry about HOW to cook what’s in your food storage. 

Many folks just plain don’t know how to cook with their food storage.  When I hear this, I ask people why they’re storing foods that are unfamiliar to them or their family?  Sure there are ideal lists which include long lasting grains and legumes, but if you’re not using such ingredients now to feed your family with, it’s not going to be helpful to them in an emergency.

Think for just a moment what kind of chaos a financial collapse, an earthquake, an act of war, or some other kind of disaster could bring into your life.  Do you really want to complicate things by adding more stress into your life by consuming “foreign foods”?  You and your family are going to crave as much “normalcy” as possible.  Unless you’re already serving your family “Boston Baked Wheat” you don’t want to try it out on them while they are being quarantined for 90 days as the result of a flu pandemic.  In fact, it is exactly these kinds of times that you will want to provide the most comforting favorites for your family.  But…yes, there is a but…

Part of being prepared is being ready to live off of foods which are most nourishing and longer lasting than what your diet may currently consist of in your household.  (To this end I implore parents of picky eaters—or spouses of such—to do all they can to get them to embrace more nourishing foods.)  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are great now.  But how will they be when you have to make the bread from scratch?  Will your family even touch them?  Don’t panic.  Just start learning the lost art of bread making now.  I can tell you from experience that it’s a heck of a lot more rewarding than besting someone at an online game of Scrabble.  

Try sprouts on a meat sandwich! Photo c/o scanwiches.com

Try sprouts on a meat sandwich! Photo c/o scanwiches.com

Slowly introduce your family to new things.  For example, my husband, who I can’t get to eat a vegetable unless it’s on a slab of beef, has agreed to try and start putting sprouts on his meat sandwiches.  Why?  Because I am trying to get him used to eating this easy and widely accessible source of nutrition so when we are in the midst of an emergency, he can handle it—not only emotionally, but physically as well.  Being ready to live off those foods doesn’t involve just having the appetite for them.  We need to be prepared to use them and work with them as well.  If you’ve never tried sprouting, don’t think that the sprouter you’ve got in the basement is going to do much for you in a time of crisis.  Using it under such circumstances will only cause you more stress due to its unfamiliarity and you’ll avoid it at all costs. 

You also need to get your body accustomed to eating such foods.  In fact, if most people attempted to go from their existing diet to one containing whole wheat at the majority of their meals, they would actually DIE inside of 30 days due to the dehydration and diarrhea their body would experience in so drastic a dietary change.  This is one reason why I counsel people to store what they eat—at least a 90 day supply—and then work on introducing other, more stable storage foods, into their diet along the way.  Yes, it’s a lot less expensive to store a year’s supply of wheat, legumes, honey, and powdered milk as opposed to the ingredients for your favorite casseroles, Navajo Tacos, and brownie mixes.  But I assure you that those items won’t get used for much of anything if you haven’t already familiarized your family with them prior to a disaster.  So be sure to have at least 90 days of the familiar and then work on familiarizing your family with other foods that will have a great shelf-life in your home.  Remember, stress alters the mind.  It races the heart.  It breaks down the immune system.  If you’re in a quarantine situation, for example, can you really afford to expose anyone in your family to any of these physical stresses simply because you weren’t prepared with a realistic menu for them?  Perhaps now you may better understand why I go to great lengths to learn how to make bread, sprout, store M&Ms, make sour cream out of powdered milk, wax my own cheese, store eggs long-term, and create recipes out of what’s on my shelves, etc.  I do it in anticipation of a situation in which food and nourishment will be a comfort to the mind and the spirit, not just sustain life.  (And yes, there are indeed those times in which M&Ms sustain me. :))

I’ve been asked how I remember where all of my food storage is since it’s scattered all around the house.  I remember because I’m always in it—except when I’m on that blasted diet.  I’m always using what I store.  I’m rotating it.  (In fact I have a Mason jar full—er, half full—of almond M&Ms next to me on my desk as I write this.)  Other than the years supply of MREs we have stored in the back of the basement, there’s not a single nutritional item in my home that is “uncommon” to me.  If you have anything that’s uncommon to you in your food storage, it’s nearly useless.

kuhn-rikon-pressure-cookerPoint being, no one should have trouble cooking with their food storage, because their food storage should contain what they are already consuming and thus what they are already familiar in preparing.  Practice making your food in a Dutch Oven, or in a pressure cooker over a small butane stove, or in a solar oven.  Go to classes to learn how to make the essentials.  They are usually free.  Go through cook books and experiment with “less than fresh” items as substitutes in recipes, such as canned chicken for frozen, canned green beans for fresh, etc.  Find out from your family what their absolute favorite meals are and then find the most efficient way to stock the items for those meals.  We’re not in the dark ages here, folks.  Cooking with your food storage doesn’t have to involve an Indian dance and an archaic tool for grinding your flour.  Even without the luxury of electricity, we still will have the benefit of the luxury of knowledge and technology galore. 

Keep in mind that in a previous article I wrote, I recommended that folks start their food storage by storing their food in “meals” as opposed to “pounds of items.”  In other words, if your family loves waffles, then be sure you have the makings for waffles.  If you have such ingredients sufficient to make them 12 times, then you only have to come up with 29 other meals.  (Or less, depending on how often you want to eat waffles.  I recommend coming up with a great variety for your family though so that they don’t suffer from “appetite fatigue.”)

It all boils down to this: Store what you eat and eat what you store.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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You read it right.  Chocolate chocolate molten chocolate cake.  As requested, here is the recipe that we’ll be serving tonight at the “Enough and to Spare” coupon class.  For best results, serve with vanilla ice cream while still warm. 

Chocolate Cake photo dinnerwithjulie.com

Chocolate Cake photo dinnerwithjulie.com

1 pkg. of plain devils food cake mix

1 pkg. of milk chocolate or chocolate instant pudding mix (3.9 ounces)

2 cups of sour cream

4 large eggs or 4 large egg equivalents

¾ cup of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 small pkg. of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl except the chips and vanilla until well blended (about 2 minutes).  Fold in the chips and the extract.  Then transfer to a low heated Dutch Oven (about 200 degrees) or slowcooker (don’t forget to spray some Pam first) or place in an appropriate pan in your solar oven.  Both forms of cooking will take about 4 hours.   Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Fuel photo c/o pgdb.co.nz

Fuel photo c/o pgdb.co.nz

One of the ten areas of emergency preparedness is fuel.  Fuel brings us the much needed light that we will require not only to see, but also to feel good.  It includes any fuel we’ll need for cooking, and the fuel we’ll need for keeping warm.

Before you elect to get a years supply of fuel for these purposes, consider the most basic rules of thumb.

1)     Think safety first

2)     Conserve energy—including yours

3)     Conserve body heat

4)     Confine the heat appropriately

Alcohol photo c/o chemistryland.com

Isopropyl Alcohol photo c/o chemistryland.com

When considering what fuel to store, the safety of it should be your primary concern.  Why store gasoline when you can safely store isopropyl alcohol outside in 55 gallon drums for a lot less money and little risk of combustibility?  (You can usually get free delivery of this alcohol too.)  A few cans of propane is much safer than gasoline, and so is kerosene if stored in a cool, dry place.  Check with your local fire department for maximum storage abilities of these fuels.

Keep in mind that if you store kerosene, Home Depot has a program in which they will buy back your old kerosene after you’ve stored it several years.  They turn around and sell it to the farmers whose diesel engines will still run on it.  To dramatically extend the life of the fuel can, be sure to add a fuel preservative to your gasoline and your kerosene.

If you’re planning on surviving off of firewood, be sure that it’s already cut up—for two reasons.  One reason is to conserve your physical energy.  The last thing you need is to be expending your own energy in the midst of an emergency.  Two, be sure that you don’t have to needlessly use dangerous tools when you’re not fully functional, especially those who may not be familiar with the use of such a tool.  That’s how tragic accidents occur.  What if you are the only one who can chop the wood and you get sick?  What will your family do for fuel?  Try a task that they aren’t as experienced at as you when they’ve had just as much stress and as little nutrition as you?  Definitely not a good idea.

Whatever alternatives of fuel you elect to use, be sure you share the wealth of knowledge on how to use those tools.  One of the most foolish things I see households do is place the majority of the lifesaving information in the hands of one individual.  This is a dangerous supposition that that person will always be around.  Every responsible person in the family should know how to use the propane heater, the pressure cooker, and the alcohol lights, etc.  

Volcano Stove photo c/o barbequelovers.com

Volcano Stove photo c/o barbequelovers.com

When you are considering what tools you’ll use to cook, light, and heat with, consider the cost and accessibility of the fuel the tools will use.  Recently my husband and I purchased a small, collapsible Volcano Stove.  We have lots of means to cook with if necessary, but the price was only $99 and it was a multi-fueled tool.  It will cook off of charcoal, wood, and propane (which also means tightly rolled newspapers, too).  That made it very attractive so that we don’t have to rely on just one fuel for our cooking.  Another cooking tool we have is a kerosene heater that has a grid on the top so while we’re heating our surroundings (with ventilation, of course), we can also be boiling water, or cooking on the same component.  We also have some Joy Cook stoves that are commonly used in Korea.  With only one can of butane and my pressure cooker, I have been able to cook three meals a day on my Joy Cook stove for an entire three weeks.  

Also, consider conserving your fuel as much as possible, especially when you’re cooking.  Once you bring a pressure cooker up to high, you can remove it from the heat, turn off your heat source, and wrap the pressure cooker in towels—it will continue to cook for up to an hour.  That’s a whole lot of fuel-free cooking.  The solar oven is even more fuel-friendly in that regard.  If you have sunshine, you have an oven that will cook anything that you can cook in your regular oven, with the exception of frying.  Better yet, nothing will scorch or burn in your solar oven and the clean up is also a breeze, thus conserving your own physical energy.  This way I’m conserving the majority of my fuel for light and heat instead of just cooking.  I use my pressure cooker and my solar oven on a very regular basis so that I’m familiar with it even in the midst of a crisis, and so that it brings comfort to my family and friends. 

Dutch Oven photo c/o cityweekly.net

Dutch Oven photo c/o cityweekly.net

This leads me to my final reminder in this area of preparedness.  USE that which you are planning on using to survive a crisis.  Use it now when it’s convenient.  Don’t buy it and then stash it away until a crisis hits.  What if it’s not in working order?  What if it’s missing a part?  Also, waiting to use something until the crisis hits will only use up more of your vital physical fuel as you expend a lot of it through stress.  Remember, prepare in comfort of panic in chaos.  For example, if you have a Dutch oven that you’re planning on using in a crisis, great.  But be sure you’ve used it enough before a crisis so that you’re comfortable with it.  Besides, Dutch oven cooking is yummy.  So if you enjoy it now, when it comes time to having to use it, it will feel more like a comfort to your family rather than a science-fiction survival mode.  The more you use these items, the more you can truly be prepared because you will notice parts and components that will make your job easier that you may not have thought of previously.  For example, I use my pressure cooker all the time.  As such, I notice that the rubber seal that goes in the lid of the pan eventually gets old and thus doesn’t seal as well.  So, in the interest of truly being prepared, I’ve stocked up on a surplus of those rubber seals so that when my life is reliant on the proper function of my pressure cookers, I’m not left starving.  

Fuel doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  Ways to keep your family warm and cook for them are usually one-time purchases that will ensure you’ve got a full life beyond, even in the midst of an emergency.  

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o total-diet.com

Fruits and Veggies. Photo c/o total-diet.com

I’ve conducted over 100 food storage evaluations over the last year and a half, and while there are a myriad of issues and common errors that many make, one thing that concerns me the most is a lack of emphasis on the storage of fruits and vegetables.  These items are critical in fulfilling the body’s need for fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The best weapon you can have in an emergency is your health and fruits and veggies are a key to providing this.  A focus on fruits and veggies has a great deal of lifesaving merit.

Given that many of us utilize fresh or frozen produce, we tend to overlook the need for canned or freeze dried sources to meet those nutritional needs in the event of an emergency.  We’re constantly pummeled with “wheat and water” admonitions for food storage, but we rarely hear the need to be mindful of fruits and veggies.  So how many servings do you need and in what form should you store it?  Given the variety of emergencies that can affect us, relying solely on a small garden or what’s in our freezer to provide us with this vital nutrition is not a good game plan.  You really can’t afford to have this vital source of nutrition off of your radar.  You simply must focus on having 3 servings a day of fruits and veggies, especially during an emergency.

Freeze dried bell peppers.  Photo c/o 21food.com

Freeze dried bell peppers. Photo c/o 21food.com

I’m a big fan of freeze dried fruits and veggies.  In number ten cans, quality freeze-dried produce will last 20 to 30 years.  Even better, if you are able to get it on sale, it needn’t be something that you obtain just for emergencies.  For example, I regularly acquire freeze dried spinach and diced red and green peppers.  When I’m making an omelet, I take a couple of spoonfuls of spinach and mix it in.  Not only have I saved myself time by not cleaning and cutting the veggies, but this way I know that I won’t have to throw veggies out later.  When I’m making a spaghetti sauce or a casserole, I simply add a dash of my peppers for flavor.  This is actually a LOT less expensive than if I were to go to the store, pay for the produce, clean it, dice it, and then hope that I’ve got more uses for the remainder before it goes bad.  The same holds true for fruits.  In fact, I regularly find myself munching on the fruits out of the can without even the need to reconstitute them.  They are a delightful snack this way.  Freeze-dried pineapple, blueberries, apples and strawberries are yummy!  And they are much easier on your blood sugar than the sweets you will inevitably crave in an emergency.

Understand that there’s a big difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated foods.  Dehydrated fruits and veggies lose the majority of their nutritional value, not to mention that they don’t always taste the best.  Whereas freeze-dried produce keeps 90% of its nutritional value, and with an easy bit of reconstituting can be indiscernible from fresh produce in your dishes.  In my opinion the taste of freeze-dried goods are just as good, if not better than the real thing.  It’s almost like the freeze-drying process compounds the flavors. 

Next, canned fruits and veggies.  I don’t mind canned fruits, but personally, I’m not a big fan of some veggies from the can.  I love fresh produce and the canned goods just don’t cut it for me.  That said, I’ve learned to live with them in a casserole or when mixed in with something else.  But I’m also mindful that in an emergency, the nutritional value is critical for those not-so-green goodies in the can.  Obviously, taking on the lost art of canning is a GREAT idea.  Chances are that the canners your grandmothers used still work perfectly today, but other canners have progressed significantly in our time that provide more safety features.  Plus, Mason jars and lids are very, very affordable.  Learning how to can allows you the luxury of making the most of a great sale on produce!  There’s very little that you can’t can and put away for a rainy day.  It’s not nearly as time-consuming as you may remember as a child thanks to the advance technology available.  Consider that you can also can fruits and veggies in a solar oven without heating up your kitchen or being fearful of the hissing that your canner makes.  I’ve even known women in Arizona and Texas who have canned their produce simply by putting it in jars out on their hot patio.  Now how easy is that!?

Sprouted wheat. Photo c/o nandyala.org

Sprouted wheat. Photo c/o nandyala.org

Lastly, sprouting.  Yes, wheat is a starch, but when you sprout it (as well as other grains and legumes) it becomes a high quality fresh vegetable!  Consider also that in the event of an emergency, water will be a highly valuable commodity so using large amounts of water to preserve your vegetable garden may not be realistic.  However, sprouting is very easy to do, indoors or out, and it requires a minimal amount of water.  Most sprouted items increase in nutritional value by over 500%!  So while you’re storing up your wheat, be sure to consider the supplies necessary to sprout your wheat into a good supply of vegetable source as well.  When your wheat does sprout, it’s also a great indicator that your wheat is in fine condition for consumption.  If it doesn’t sprout, it means that it’s lost a lot of its nutrients during storage.  While it can still be used for flatbreads and such, it’s not going to do much more than fill you up when you’re hungry.

Word to the wise: don’t forget to store your fruits and veggies! 

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

I hate having to learn dumb lessons.  Don’t you?  As I’ve looked back and realized all the simple tricks and strategies I’ve learned over the last 10 years, I cringe at the thought of all of the money, time, anxiety, and energy I’ve wasted.  So I decided to share them with you.  You’re sure to learn something in this list!  I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes NOW!

  1. Yeast will last indefinitely if stored in your freezer!  Outside the freezer it only lasts a year, but inside that freezing climate it lasts over 5 years—so far.  When I use it in my bread, I just use it directly from the freezer into my bread dough with no problem.  I cringe at the though of all of the yeast I’ve wasted over several years.
  2. clipping couponsI can obtain food storage for FREE or better, and certainly inexpensively, if I just use coupons and an organized system!  Now that’s really something to cringe about!  I acquired a great deal of my food storage over the years from Costco, but now that I can get name brands for free or dirt cheap elsewhere, I figure I can’t afford to shop at Costco, thanks to coupons! It really IS worth using coupons.  I can’t believe I was so pious to think that coupons were “beneath me.”
  3. Cooking with a pressure cooker is a sanity saver.  They are fast, nutritious, fuel friendly and SO easy to use!  I wish I hadn’t been afraid of them way back when.  I’m so grateful that a patient teacher showed me their merits!  
  4. Yes, you can CAN MEATS!  And it’s the easiest thing in the world to can.  Simply stuff the RAW meat into a mason jar with a bit of salt, put the clean lids on it, put the jars in your pressure canner for the recommended period of time, and VOILA!  You have BETTER THAN CANNED meat.  (The canned stuff you buy has been processed twice.)  This meat will be SO tender, so juicy, and will save you a BUNDLE over the canned stuff!  (Let’s see.  Tastes better.  25% cheaper.  Easy to do. Dang!  I wish I could relive the last 10 years!)
  5. cheese-wax-goudaCheese wax is a God-send!  I can have all of the REAL cheese I want if I simply use cheese wax to preserve it!  The cheese will keep for 25 years using this method.  Now I’ve got Swiss, Monterey Jack, Colby, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Cheddar, Gouda, Blue Cheese, and even a delicious smoked cheese literally sitting pretty in my food storage!  If I had known about cheese wax 10 years ago, I would have made much better use of the cheese sales over the years and never tried that nasty processed stuff.
  6. Preserving eggs that I buy from the store is a snap!  After I wrote a lengthy article on egg preservation, I discovered that a quarter cup of warmed mineral oil, coated on my eggs that I buy from the grocery store works great.  I then can store them pointed side down in a Styrofoam carton, in a cool, dry place.  I don’t have to get the eggs FRESH from a farm.  And I don’t have to stack them carefully in anything.  How’s that for easy?!  I have WHOLE, REAL eggs for up to 9 months!  Forget the bran flakes, the paraffin wax, the salt storage.   Just some mineral oil is PERFECT.  WOW!
  7. I never have to live without yummy chocolate again!  I can buy all of the candy bars, Hershey kisses, chocolate chips, peanut M&Ms, Dove chocolates, Lindt chocolates, stuff them in a Mason jar, and with my trusty Food Saver jar attachment, seal their goodness for YEARS!  (I like getting them on sale after a holiday)  This also works for ANYTHING that doesn’t require refrigeration.  When I open the jar years later, they still taste as fresh and yummy as they would have on the day I bought it!  
  8. ONLY store what you eat.  If I don’t eat it, I won’t eat it, and thus it’s a waste of money.  If you can’t eat wheat, DON’T store it.  If you can’t stand the taste of powdered milk, store canned milk or soy milk instead.  Fortunately I’ve learned to prepare all my oddball foods that weren’t previously in my regular diet, but it sure would have saved me some headaches if I had done things differently.  If I store what I eat, the rotation is a cinch!
  9. You can have meals already made, cooked, and stored in a Mason jar!  You can bake bread, cake, cookies, casseroles, pudding, and more, in a Mason jar, seal it, and they will last for SEVERAL years!  That way you don’t have to figure out how to cook up something every day while you’re enduring a crisis.  Do it in comfort now, so you can live in comfort even in the worst of disasters!  
  10.    

     

    solar-oven-kelleneSolar ovens are the bomb–not just in an emergency, but every single day the sun shines!  I LOVE cooking in mine.  I haven’t found anything that I can’t cook in it that doesn’t turn out wonderful!  I’ve essentially tripled the life of the fuel that I have stored, since I won’t need to use any of it on cooking anymore except on cloudy or rainy days!  Not having to worry or pay for a years supply of fuels such as propane, kerosene, fire wood or isopropyl alcohol, makes the price I would pay for a solar oven well worthwhile. So… like any woman, I bought two! :)

I’ll be writing more about each of these items later, if I haven’t done so already.  The point is food storage can be GLORIOUSLY DELICIOUS.  You don’t have to do without and it doesn’t have to be expensive and boring either.  One dollar a day, per person, will provide you with absolutely comforting and delightful meals regardless of your challenging circumstances.  Enjoy!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Many are reluctant to take food storage preparations seriously due to a fear that they will have to live merely on beans and rice.  While I do enjoy a good meal of beans and rice, I’ll admit the thought of it makes me somewhat depressed.  As a professional preparedness consultant, I can assure you that your meals need not be any less enjoyable during an emergency that they are now.  You can truly anticipate meals that are fit for a king, even when you’re living off of your storable commodities.  Perhaps the only downside to these meals is that you’ll have to do the cooking.  A little bit of preparation now will go a long ways in preserving your own physical energy and warding off the blues in the event of a crisis.  Bring on the succulent feast!  

My primary suggestion for the preparation in the future is to begin to embrace freeze dried and canned foods in your everyday cooking now so that you can enjoy dishes fit for a king.  (Photo care of http://www.logoi.com/)

Photo c/o bluechipgroup.net

Photo c/o bluechipgroup.net

Freeze dried products have come a LONG ways.  I am very partial to the Blue Chip products as they are SO tasty, and even come with an 18 month guarantee that’s effective AFTER you open the #10 cans.  Now when I use freeze dried veggies and such, I don’t throw away or waste produce, I only use as much as I need, I don’t have to sacrifice taste or nutrition and I also save a great deal of time.  For example, I have several food storage recipes which call for a part of a can of tomato paste.  By using the freeze dried version, I only use exactly what I need and the rest will be there for me over the next 18 months.  When I want a little bell pepper and spinach for an omelet (how’s that for dishes fit for a king?), I don’t have to take the time to dice the produce.  I just add in what I want and the put the rest away for later.  Easy, right?  I’ve tried over 35 of the Blue Chip products (also recognized under the name “Morning Moos”) and have never been dissatisfied.  In fact, I have enjoyed some of the products so much, that they’ve definitely made their way into my everyday cooking!  

So enjoy these recipes fit for a king today and know that they will taste just as yummy in the future!

Turkey Tetrazzini

(Serves 4)

2 10 oz. cans of turkey or chicken

14 oz. of spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds, cooked and drained

1 6 oz. can of sliced mushrooms, or the equivalent of freeze dried mushrooms

1 T of minced onion

1 T of minced garlic

1 t. of fresh parsley (fresh is best so consider keeping an herb garden)

1 16 oz. can of chicken broth

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

½ cup flour

1 t. salt

½ t. pepper

½ C of butter (or dried equivalent)

½ C grated parmesan cheese

Make a white sauce by mixing the butter, flour, chicken broth and 1 C of evaporated milk in a pot on medium heat, stirring constantly until creamy.

Stir in the mushrooms (if dried, allow them to rehydrate before adding in any other ingredients) and then the turkey/chicken.  Add onion and garlic and parsley.

Add in the cooked pasta.

Stir the sauce and pasta together well and place in a baking dish.

Top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  This can be baked in a Dutch oven easily or a solar oven.  It can also be baked in a covered grill at a low heat.  Be sure that the casserole dish can withstand direct fire contact. 

Photo c/o lapetitechinoise.com

Photo c/o lapetitechinoise.com

Shepherds Pie

 (Serves 4)

1 40 oz. can beef stew

1 12 oz. can vegetables (peas, corn, or green beans)

1 C of “potato pearls”, “potato gems” (made by Blue Chip), or “potato buds”

½ C grated cheese (optional.  You can easily keep cheese in your food storage by waxing your own cheese)

1 C very hot water

Combine stew and vegetables and pour into a 9×9 baking dish. 

Combine potato pearls with water. Stir briefly. Cover and let stand for 5- 10 minutes.

Spread potatoes over the stew mixture, top with grated cheese if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This can also be cooked in a Dutch Oven or a solar oven very easily. You can also put the mixture into individual ramekins and cook them in the solar oven as well.

Beef Stroganoff

(Serves 4)

1 10 oz. can of beef chunks of cooked ground beef

1 4 oz. can of sliced mushrooms (or equivalent of dried mushrooms)

1 10 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup

2 T of dehydrated onion

8 oz. of egg noodles, prepared according to directions

OR

1 C of rice prepared according to directions

1 C of yogurt or sour cream (this can easily be prepared from your powdered milk)

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients except for the yogurt or sour cream and noodles/rice.  Heat through.  Stir in the yogurt or sour cream and heat through.  Serve mixture over noodles/rice.

Notes: You can also add some fresh parsley to this dish or a can of peas, drained.

Swiss Steak

(Serves 4)

1 1.25 oz. package of dry, brown gravy mix

1 15 oz. can diced or pureed tomatoes (depending on your texture preference)

1 12 oz. can roast beef chunks

1 C potato pearls, gems, or buds

2 T dehydrated carrots

1 T diced dehydrated green pepper

2 T minced dehydrated onion

1 ¾ C water for gravy

1 C very hot water

2 C of boiling water to mix with potatoes

First hydrate the carrots, green peppers and onions by placing them in a bowl and covering them with the very hot water. Set them aside for about 10 to 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, mix together the water and gravy with a whisk.  Stir until lumps have been dissipated.

Stir in the hydrated carrots, peppers, onions, and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beef and continue to simmer until heated through.

In a separate container mix together the potatoes and 2 cups of boiling water. (Water previously used for cooking pasta, rice or vegetables is ideal)

Enjoy your new food storage dishes, fit for a king! 

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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By Kellene Bishop

Photo by Julia Kalloz

Photo by Julia Kalloz

Hundreds, if not thousands of dollars are regularly spent by Americans on gadgets and gizmos to make their cooking experiences taste better.  Smokers, cedar planks, fancy grills, kitchen appliances, turkey fryers and more are all acquired with the intent to produce that ideal mouth-watering meal.  Given my love of cooking, it’s no wonder my friends constantly accuse me of having every kitchen gadget known to man—er… woman.  So it’s no surprise that I recently acquired yet another gadget, only to discover that not only did it produce the most amazing taste in foods I’ve prepared otherwise, but it was also ideal to use in the event of emergency survival.  No water.  No messy clean up.  No worries of scorching or burning.  No constant monitoring.  And no fuel of any kind is required.  The solar oven is now officially my new cooking nirvana.  

As any reader of my blog knows, I love, love, love the pressure cooker.  It gives me scrumptious foods in a fraction of the time.  So when I need it fast (which I usually do) the pressure cooker wins, hands down.  However, my solar oven will also give me delectable delights while I leave it and forget it, and the resulting taste, even in some of the most innocuous dishes, is incomparable with any other form of cooking.  It provides distinctly unique results to meats, breads, vegetables, rice, pizza, and even brownies!  (In fact, I’ve heard stories of some teenage boys who won’t eat brownies any other way now that they’ve discovered the merits of a solar oven.)

Before I get carried away with the food aspect of the solar oven, let me start with the basic benefits.

Sunshine by Sailorette857

Sunshine by Sailorette857

Obviously, storing a year’s supply of fuel to cook, light, and heat your home in the event of an emergency is not feasible for the majority of Americans.  It can also be hazardous depending on what kind of fuel you’re planning to use.  Thus the limited amount of fuel you are able to store ahead of time will be precious in a time of uncertainty.  However, a solar oven will make use of the FREE fuel God’s provided us, allowing you to divert the majority of your available fuel resources to other needs besides cooking.  You can use a solar oven on any day of the year in which you have full or almost full sunlight, even in the winter.  It makes absolutely no difference what the outside temperature is when you use it.  The majority of your dishes will take only 2 to 4 hours to fully cook.  Your food will never burn or scorch (although baked goods will dry out if left in too long), and you will have effortless clean up afterwards.  (Thereby conserving your physical energy as well—a big plus!)  There is no danger of a fire, and with the exception of frying foods, there’s not much you can’t prepare successfully in a solar oven.

Another very interesting benefit of the solar oven is that it is typically waterless cooking.  That’s right.  If you want to cook a pot roast, simply put in your meat and your seasonings—no water—and allow it to sit in your solar oven for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size of the roast.  When it’s done, it will simply fall apart into tender pieces, and you’ll have plenty of liquids left over to make scrumptious gravy with.  Much like the concept of a pressure cooker, when you cook in a solar oven, your foods will actually retain more of their nutrients this way, and certainly be more flavorful and tender.  You want to cook vegetables?  No need to water down the nutritional value by adding water.  Simply put them in your container in the solar oven and you will have yummy results a couple hours later.  You can even put corn on the cob still in the husks in your oven, and they will turn out so delicious and tender you may easily do without the salt and butter.  Want “hard-boiled” eggs?  Just put the raw egg in a dry pot in the container Mother Nature provided and let it cook for 1.5 to 2 hours—less time if all you want is a “poached” egg.  Since water weighs more than air, adding water to a dish, such as soup, will actually take longer to cook than even a whole chicken—although soups and such turn out just fine in a solar oven as well.  In fact, the solar oven is ideal for pasteurizing your water for safe cooking and drinking consumption.  (Think of all of the fuel and personal energy you will save by not having to boil your water or treat it with expensive doo-dads!)

Think you’ve got “little friends” in your wheat?  Simply “bake” the grain in your solar oven for a couple of hours, and you’ve got “critter free” grains that are easy to sift out any unwanted guests from.  That’s a heck of a lot better than throwing out the good pasta, rice, beans, and wheat, due to some enemy infiltrators, right?

While you can purchase a wide variety of solar ovens, they are also relatively simple—and definitely affordable—to make.  (see http://solarcooking.org/plans/funnel.htm)  However, to be honest, I prefer to buy mine so that I don’t have to figure out how to make one when I need it most.  After scouring the internet for hours, I found the best value for commercial types right here in Utah.  (Nope, I don’t sell them, but I’m happy to direct you to the source I found that does.  Call Five Star Preparedness at 801-734-9596 to order the right solar oven for you, complete with shipping right to your door.  You can also visit them online at www.fivestarpreparedness.com)

Here are the basic fundamentals of an operating solar oven (not to be confused with a parabolic solar cooker).  Sunlight has to pass through a glazing shield of some sort-usually glass, and then be absorbed by a black interior and black cookware.  The heat rays from the sun are long and thus they cannot escape the oven, so they remain inside.  The reflectors you will use allow for more of the sun’s rays to pass through the glazing layer, increasing the temperature within the cooking chamber as a result. Most solar ovens will get up to 350 to 450 degrees.  Just so you know, any food can cook at 180 degrees or more, it simply will take more time than you’re used to at such lower temperatures. 

To create the preferred “black cookware” to use with your solar oven, all you need to do is spray the outside of a clear glass cooking dish (or even a Mason jar) with BBQ grill black paint.  (You can easily obtain this for about 5 bucks at your local Wal-Mart.)  This paint will not leech any chemicals into your food unless it heats up to 1200 degrees, so it’s safe to use in this instance.  There are also plenty of dark cookware items available in your local stores.  Truth be told, the black cookware isn’t absolutely necessary, but other choices will dramatically slow down your cooking time.

In the event that you are using your solar oven during a prolonged power outage, plan on putting your first dish in the oven in the morning to be ready for lunch, and then putting in your dinner meal after you remove your lunch preparations. Baked goods cook best with the mid-day sun, as opposed to the later afternoon. 

In closing, allow me to highlight some great ways to use your solar oven:

  • Cook (the smaller the food is cut, the faster it will cook)
  • Bake (even bread, muffins, cookies, etc.)
  • Water Pasteurization (You can even obtain a simple water pasteurization indicator)
  • Sanitize dishes/utensils (Conserve your hot water)
  • Eliminate bad enzymes or insects from grains and legumes
  • Conserve energy with easy clean-up
  • Conserve Fuel
  • Conserve Water in cooking
  • Reduce heat in your kitchen during the summer
  • Can goods such as jams, fruits, and veggies
  • Disinfect homemade bandages

And at least 25 more uses that I simply don’t have room for in this blog.  I wholeheartedly encourage you to discover this great way of cooking now. Not only will the flavors and textures be to your liking, but you certainly won’t feel like you’re “roughing it” in the event of an emergency. 

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

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