Category: Cooking


20141007_6Green beans…these are so easy to grow and are often prolific producers. So how can you preserve them? Canning and freezing are our favorite ways.

Canning fresh green beans is easy…but VaCreepinOutdoors and myself, we love to can them like our grandmothers did. With BACON! Yes, you can safely can green beans with bacon. My grandmother died when I was 8 years old. One legacy she left was a TON of canned fruits and veggies. My family got some of them and some were pressure canned green beans with bacon. Sadly, I opened and ate the last remaining jar of these about 8 years ago. I am now 42 🙂 and they were still delicious!!! VaCreepin remembers his mom’s and grandmothers canned beans too..so this article is in their memory and we hope you will give this a try and make it a tradition in your family too!

What you will need:

1 quart mason jar (or 2 pints) per pound of green beans.
Green Beans
Diced Onions (I like to add raw onions for flavor, 1 medium sized one per 3 lbs)
Minced Garlic (again, for flavor, add to taste)
Bacon (I use 1lb per 3 lbs of green beans, use as little or as much as you wish)
Pressure Cooker
Colander and Large Pot or Bowl.
A little bit of vinegar and a small rag.

Getting your canning supplies ready to go as usual. With the new lids available now, all you need to do is wash them. No boiling necessary to get the gummy going (in fact, keeping them simmering will degrade the gummy part causing lid failure). Often I will just put the lids and rings into a pot of water, bring to a boil for just a minute or two and then turn down to barely warm just to keep the water warm enough that I can put a finger into the water without hurting myself.
A trick I learned with the jars…heat the oven to 250 degrees to keep them ‘hot/warm’. Put the jars onto a cookie sheet and put into the oven while prepping the beans and bacon mixture.
Get the pressure cooker water going too. I put 3 inches in and bring to a boil while prepping the beans and bacon mix.

Next, we prep the beans and bacon/onions/garlic.

Typically VaCreepinOutdoors will cut the beans up as I fry up the bacon/onion/garlic mixture. The beans should be cut into about 1 inch lengths. Then rinse.
We DO NOT parboil them because that causes the beans to become mushy after canning. Raw packing is the best method for green beans so they don’t overcook. Remember, you are cooking them when you pressure cook them and then cooking again after opening. No mushy beans here!
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Place the beans into a large bowl or stock pot.

For the bacon, I cut the strips into 1 inch or so pieces, put into a frying pan, add diced onions and the garlic and fry the bacon until its just done/cooked. Drain the fat and then add to the beans that are already in the pot.
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Mix the beans and bacon mixture WELL.
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Get your preheated jars out and STUFF THOSE JARS FULL of the bean/bacon mix. If you don’t pack them in tightly you will wind up with more water than beans. I use a pestle or something else to pack the beans/bacon down into the jars. Pack leaving ½ inch head space.
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Now for the best part: no hot water needed…I just take the packed jar over to the sink and fill with water up to the ½ inch mark.

Because we have used bacon in this canning recipe, you will need to put a small amount of vinegar onto the rag. Wipe the rim and where the ring screws down onto. Vinegar cuts the potential grease and cleans the rim very well.

Place the lids and rings on the jars as usual. Finger tight!
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Place into your pressure canner and follow the manufactures instructions from there.

You will can quartz at 10 lbs for 25 mintues and pints at 10 lbs for 15.

Yum! These are huge hit and a blast from the past that everyone loves!

Of course you could use ham or something else if you wish, add your own seasonings, whatever…I have canned green beans just using the regular seasonings I would use in cooking too.

Have fun and enjoy!
Survivingshtfmom and VaCreepinOutdoors

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cheeseAlright, I am an admitted cheese hound…don’t believe I have met any cheese that I didn’t like but I always thought for long term storage that you either had to keep it refrigerated or as someone I know did on TV, you had to wax it for long term storage. OR you had to buy the freeze dried stuff at something close to a mortgage payment. Imagine this…you can CAN any cheese (water bath or pressure) or dehydrate it as I did previously with cottage cheese. And do so safely! Ssshhh! Don’t tell the food police I said that!

Dehydration:
Pretty straight forward…I love cheddar cheese but this will work with ANY type of cheese.
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Place your chosen cheese on a fruit leather tray thinly and dehydrate at 125 degrees until crunchy and vacuum seal!

There is a catch however. If you use regular cheese you will have to deal with the ‘fat’ that comes out of it. Originally I thought I would get smart and well, put paper towel under it while dehydrating but when I checked it half way through some had ‘melted’ to it. So don’t that at home folks…instead, dehydrate and after doing so place on a towel and pat the oil off and then vacuum seal! Each pouch contains approximately 1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese. Great crunchy snack by the way!
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Next, I got squirrelly and tried canning it. You can can any cheese! Quartz, pints or half pints…it up to you as is the method either water bath OR Pressure canner. It is recommended for best results as to texture, taste and color to use the water bath method and here is how you do it:

Just like canning anything you will want sterilized jars and lids…get your canning water going so that it is ready and the lids too.

You will then take your clean jars and place them into a pan or pot that is big enough to hold the empty jars. Next, fill the pot/pan with enough water to get the water level at least 1/3 of the way up the side of the jars.
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Turn on the heat and add small amounts of cheese (either shredded or cubed, I used shredded) to each jar, stirring occasionally as it melts. Add more cheese and allow to melt and so on until you have the jars full of melted cheese leaving ½ inch head space.
I used a clean butter/dinner knife to stir.
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Turn off the heat. Because most cheese is ‘greasy’ I used straight vinegar to clean the jar lips and ring area. Then add the lids and rings as you usually would. Finger tight and then place into the canner.

If you choose to use the water bath method as I did here are the processing times:
Start the time once it comes back to a boil.

Pints and half pints for 30 minutes
Quartz for 45 minutes

If you are using a pressure canner please remember to build up the pressure as normal and then bring to proper pressure then start your time:

Less than 1,000 feet in elevation:
Quartz: 10 minutes at 10 lbs pressure
Pints and half pints: 5 minutes at 10 lbs pressure

Over 1,000 feet in elevation:
Quartz: 10 minutes at 15 lbs pressure
Pints and half pints: 5 minutes at 15 lbs pressure.

Final product:
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As always, remember to carefully take out, place on a towel and cover to allow the processed jars to cool and seal properly. Once cool they will solidify again and presto! Real canned cheese!

Note: best to use wide mouth jars for ease of getting back out!

always faithful
survivingshtfmom

cottage cheeseConventional ‘food wisdom’ (ie the food police known as the USDA and FDA) ‘says’ you can’t dehydrate cottage cheese. Well, yes you CAN!!
Cottage Cheese…alright, that either makes you cringe or makes you happy. It is a versatile ‘cheese’ that can be eaten on its own or used/substituted in great recipes. But here is the GREAT question…did you know you can dehydrate it for long term storage? Yes, you read that correctly, you can SAFELY dehydrate it. No need for the expensive ‘freeze dried’ #10 can stuff that once opened will stick together within a week. Do it YOURSELF! I did and so can you and here is how:

Taken indirectly from the pages of Food Storage: Preserving Meat, Dairy, and Eggs by Susan Gregersen and David Armstrong

Get your cottage cheese from the local store. Any type will do but the no fat works best for fast dehydration. Fat included cottage cheese takes longer to dry and you will have to turn it over to complete the drying process. Non-fat dries rather quickly.

Spread on fruit leather sheets as thinly as possible. Mine is spread to about ¼ inch thick. Put the dehydrator on 125 and walk away for about 8 to 12 hrs before checking. You may need to turn it. I did not have to do so since I used no fat cottage cheese.

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When dry (and time will depend upon your dehydrator and weather conditions) allow to sit and cool for about an hour.

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Vacuum seal or put into jars with O2 absorbers. Will last AT LEAST one year if not longer depending upon storage conditions.

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To rehydrate: pour about twice as much boiling water (by volume) to dehydrated cottage cheese and let it sit. Stir every two or three minutes for about 15 minutes. Trick is the longer you let it ‘sit’ re-hydrating the more like ‘real’ or ‘fresh’ cottage cheese it will be. It can be eaten this way or used in cooking.

I have not at this point in time dehydrated this but I have eaten it (chewed) dehydrated and I will tell you…YUM!

So go ahead and give it a try, it might be a treat on the trail or something good for future use. It will store well and is very cost effective.

survivingshtfmom

winterwarmTitle gotchya didn’t it? But no seriously, I might be a newbie in the woods but when it comes to home preparedness, I know my stuff. Come what may, I can survive at home when the grid goes down, which it can and has done during the winter. So I thought I’d share some serious practical advice and know-how when it comes to surviving in your home during a grid down situation during the winter. Been there done that and lived to tell the tale here.

Number one rule: be careful what you use inside your home…candles, oil lamps, any type of flame for light or heat can cause a fire if not carefully attended to, including propane and kerosene heaters. Trust me on that one. Better to skip those if you can, especially if you can’t be right there while using them. I bought a Detz oil lamp that you can heat up or cook on top of and it will throw some good heat too, but I would NEVER EVER leave it where my kids, dogs or I could potentially knock it over. I am ALWAYS right there. I do not use candles, though I have them if and when all other sources of light are used up.
Number two rule: be careful what you use inside your home…to heat your home, to cook food or even get a little bit of power in your house (generator). Do NOT use anything inside that is designed and intended for outdoor use. Most heat and cooking sources use some sort of combustible to generate the heat. If you have combustibles, then you have the potential for carbon monoxide and it is a silent and deadly killer. That’s why previously I advised to have a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm.

Those are the two simple rules of the road in any grid down situation (no power) no matter the season. Remember those and you will be okay.

Alright, now on to the good stuff, tips and tricks to staying warm during Snow/Icemagedeon outside of the typical preparedness/survival stuff:

Here’s the obvious one…have an alternative heat source to heat your home that does NOT depend upon electricity and obviously is SAFE to use indoors.

Story time…
When I first bought my little slice of country the house came with an unvented propane fireplace. Yep, seriously. I personally never used that thing but my ex would and did to get heat into the home during the coldest parts of the first winter. I would wake up and instantly know he had used it that nasty thing because I could smell it and my head would be pounding (carbon monoxide, I am extremely sensitive to it having had mild carbon monoxide poisoning growing up due to a faulty gas heater). Finally, I called the propane company to come get their tank of gas and cut the line…end of subject…it was pretty, but dangerous to have that thing. So round about the ex and I went about ‘spending’ the money on a wood burning stove. This argument went round about until one March morning we awoke to being able to see our breathe in the air. Power was out for only a few hours but needless to say, sometimes pain makes people see reason. I got my wood stove installed about 2 weeks later. And I use it A LOT during the cold times.

There are safe alternatives if you can’t afford a wood stove, pellet stove or something else similar, or you don’t live some place that can have one. Mr. Heater makes a very safe line of propane heaters that can be used indoors for those of you that can’t have anything else.

As a last resort if you go on over to Lehman’s you can find some really good oil lamps that will throw heat in a small space, but as previously warned, be warned this isn’t the best idea.

Best advice to getting heat into your home: Be SAFE and NEVER USE ANYTHING INTENDED FOR OUTDOOR USE.

Up next, minimize heat loss…and heat it up BEFORE it happens.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace use that, get it going well before you actually ‘need’ the heat. As for any heat pump or furnace, crank it up BEFORE the storm comes. You’d be surprised just how quickly the temperature can drop once the power is off and just how long it takes to get heat back into the hours.

One last comment on this…if you have a wood stove, pellet stove or coal stove or use a rocket stove or other type of cooking stove that requires ‘dry’ material…get it in place and out of the weather BEFORE the snow hits…nothing sucks worse than having to traipse outside when you are already cold to get the wood or find wood/pellets/coal. Not to mention that wet stuff is a lot harder to burn and get to burn that dry stuff.

Pick ONE room to ‘survive’ in where you will have the most heat.
If you have a fireplace, wood burning stove or a small propane heater, that is where you will stay.
Keep all exterior windows and doors closed and close the interior doors to the rooms you will not be using. In an extended case you may want to consider hanging blankets, or even emergency blankets over doors and windows to keep the heat in. Use duct tape or some other heavy duty tape to keep the blankets up…it works! Especially emergency Mylar blankets which you can get on the cheap in bulk on Amazon.
Also, don’t forget to block drafts such as that bottom of the door you never got around to putting weather stripping on.

Also consider your heat loss through your flooring. I have a one level home that has a crawl space underneath it and bamboo flooring…all neat and good when the power is on or during the summer, but when its cold those floors get COLD. If you have something along these lines consider insulating the floor where you will be staying put. Be mindful however of fire hazards. Blankets, rugs, pillows…kinda the same idea as when camping, get as much insulation between you and the ‘floor’ as possible to keep your body heat and heat ‘inside’.

Last resort or maybe just an idea to keep the kids distracted…set up a tent and go camping inside while the power is off. Small spaces can be warmed up with just body heat alone and if you use mylar emergency blankets over the outside of the tent you get even more ‘heat’ trapped inside the tent.

For those with a basement…in a prolonged power/heat outage consider your basement. It might not be the Hilton, but if the basement is underground it will be considerably warmer than upstairs, sometimes as much as a 20 degree difference.

Layer your clothes, can’t say too much about that. Without power and a good heat source inside the home, you are basically ‘outside’. Dress as if you were outside.

Sleeping, well, this is an interesting subject. For those that camp and don’t have a good heat source inside the home you know the rules…wet or even damp (even slightly) will suck the heat right out of you. The heat loss through the ‘head’ is a myth…it’s your feet. CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP IF AT ALL POSSIBLE ESPECIALLY THE SOCKS!! If you are a camper then you have some idea of how to handle things, just inside your home. But if not…hopefully you have picked out your one room and have stayed put as much as possible. Create a communal sleeping area there. Share body heat. Sleeping bags are great. Next up pillows, cushions, blankets piled one on top of the other. You get the idea. If you do have a tent and I don’t care if its one of those outside pop up with sides that you can zip on, USE IT. The smaller the space the easier it is to get warm and stay warm. If you don’t have sleeping bags consider a cheaper, emergency alternative…emergency bivvys by SOL.

One last thing…get a stash of hand and feet warmers that hunters use. In the case of the heat going out due to power outage during a winter storm these things are cheap and easy to use to keep the extremities warm. And its sure nice to have toasty feet while you sleep!

Food comes to mind next…if you are lucky to have a wood stove with an area flat enough and big enough to cook on, good for you! (I do and do use it to cook on). But if you don’t or there isn’t an area large enough to get a pot on (such as those wood/pellet stoves that are put into a fireplace) then you have to start thinking about how you are going to eat.
It takes more calories and more water to survive when you are cold. So you need to think about this. Using camping equipment or other OUTSIDE methods of cooking INSIDE is a disaster waiting to happen. Hot food is great, but not at the risk of death. Consider keeping a stash of MRE’s (but keep in mind the colder it is the less warm/hot they will get) as a quick way to have meals. Keep bottled water on hand, this is especially important for those who have well water and becomes important for those on city water IF the power stays off for an extended time (water pipes can and do freeze). Keep canned goods that would be tolerable to eat, even if cold. Use up what is in the fridge. Cook out, yep, on the grill or your rocket stove or whatever you have…it will suck for the person tending the food outside, but hey, a hot meal is worth it.
You get the idea, beef jerky, dried foods…heck, protein bars! Just remember the 2 rules I started with.

Here are some great options and ideas for emergency cooking. Be sure to practice BEFORE you need it!

And here’s a tricky one:
When water is scarce, the “mellow yellow” rule should apply. Don’t flush the toilet unless you *really* need to.
If you have no water for flushing, use a 5 gallon bucket and paper or sawdust to absorb liquid and odor. You could also cover a bucket tightly or use a garbage bag. If you have a wood stove and don’t mind getting a little primitive, you can do what my older sisters used to do. Rather than running out to the outhouse in winter (the farmhouse I was raised in had no running water when my parents started their family), my oldest siblings would poop on several sheets of newspaper and burn it in the wood stove. As I said, primitive, but it worked. I was very glad we had indoor plumbing by the time I was born, as I have used the outhouse when there was a minus 40 below zero wind chill one Christmas and the septic system froze. It was not pleasant.
Don’t bathe unless absolutely necessary. Getting wet is a quick way to get really cold. Keep some baby wipes on hand for waterless cleaning.
If you still have running water, protect faucets that are at risk of freezing by turning on a pencil size stream of water.
(taken from commonsensehome.com…couldn’t have said it better)
But one thing to keep in mind for females…urinary tract infections can happen fast…so keep mindful ladies of keeping clean ‘down there’. Also, when its really cold and you have to go I have found that using a Shewee or PMate is an excellent way to decrease skin exposure to the cold and still ‘go’.
Fill bathtubs before hand with warm water. You can use this water just like in any other emergency.
Have hand crank options for lights and emergency radio.
DON’T use your generator in the snow/ice. Um…think electrocution hazard.
Personally I have a portable charging station that I can recharge the batteries for via the car. It’s a smaller generator that made by Boise that is mainly used on construction sites but no gas is needed, uses batteries just like the ones for your cordless drills and such… it will recharge cell phones, run a light, laptop, etc.

Finally, if keeping warm and eating won’t keep you busy, you’ll need ways of staying entertained…especially children. Just one idea here for you…they do make a DVD player, radio/karaoke player that uses D batteries  you can find it on Amazon…it is a life/mind saver, trust me…worth the investment.
These are my tips for you just in case grid down happens during snow/icemegedeon…feel free to comment and ad your own tips and tricks!

Once again, my friend over at VaCreepinOutdoors is at it again…comparing two different types of small ‘bug out’ type cooking methods.
Check it out:

Bugging out is NOT a preferred way of getting anywhere, but in an emergency…maybe your get home bag or for just in case, you can see the difference between the two.
Personally I have the small canister stove….just in case.

Btw…the small burner comes from amazon for only $7…sometimes DYI is NOT the best option!!!

remember to like and subscribe VaCreepinOutdoors…tons of great videos on survival and making the best in the worst case…

One thing this shtfmom has given great thought to is how to cook if things go south. Back plans to back up plans…Of course I have your typical electric oven (which I wish was propane, but so it goes). But having gone through a few different times without electricity for long periods of time I have had to address the issue of how to cook without electricity. Yes, there is the rocket stove and you can make those on the cheap…but having a natural abundance of free wood spending that money on a good one (after all I have quite a few people to feed!) and a fire pit and cast iron…well, of course this is appealing to me…not to mention sitting around a good fire and eating great food with great company. There is nothing like an open fire to bring people together. And I don’t about you, but in a situation where you have chickens, alot of the time people avoid the ‘wings’. This is a GREAT way to use the wing and eat well. In any type of situation you may come across in this world, knowing how to cook over an open pit fire will serve well…give it a go and give it a try! Being prepared to cook under various conditions and using different methods is a plus in my book!

My friend over at VaCreepinOutdoors came up a bit ago and he made these awesome Garlic Parmesan chicken wings over the open fire…
Hope you enjoy the video and the inspiration it may give you and maybe next time you decide to ‘grill’ you may think about open pit cooking instead. And by the way…find him on YouTube for more great survival skills…great and informative videos.

Published on Oct 22, 2013

Making wings in a dutch oven. They turned out great.

9 fresh wings. ( total of all wing parts. flats and drumsticks combined)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1teaspoon Italian seasoning
1teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

coat wings in olive oil, dredge wings in remaining ingredients. Cook at 425 in preheated oven for 30 minutes on a cookie sheet. You can flip them at 15-20 minutes. I usually don’t. If you like crispier wings, just cook longer. At time of plating you can ad shredded parmesan cheese or the regular granulated works fine. Or just eat as is.

That’s what I go by for fixing in the oven. A dutch oven takes longer and won’t crisp like an oven but they are fall off the bone good. Expect an hour minimum cook time. The longer they cook in a dutch oven the more tender they will be. If concerned about eating under cooked chicken of any kind, the rule is 160 degrees. If chicken exceeds 160, your good. There is actually enough moisture in the pot to cook for an hour and a half to 2 hours. As stated, longer cook time for a dutch oven, the more fall off the bone tender.

Just be careful that your skills doesn’t get you designated as camp cook. LOL