Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Food Storage and More

This week I am flying solo as Jared is out of town for work. Sunday was a thumbs down, but we made it till bedtime. I was dreading the week ahead with no break. Connor only slept for about 15 minutes the whole day and didn't go to sleep until 10:00 pm. Cranky, cranky. How is that even possible for a 7 month old? It wasn't till the next day that I realized that having a baby like Connor now and not while I was trying to go to school is just one of the many tender mercies of the Lord. I can handle this (but pretty sure I couldn't have then).

Monday and Tuesday were much better. I have been lugging my kids all over the place because frankly, there's no other choice. We've been to the eyeglasses outlet, Michael's (twice), the grocery store, Office Depot, the post office, Lowe's, the gym and Ikea (all in three days). I try to limit the places I go with multiple kids to two per trip. I went to a Yoga class at the gym, which I have never done before because of my age-old belief that it's not exercise unless you break a sweat. I still don't think it counts as exercise, but I tell you, it did wonders for my stress level. This will definitely have to make it into the weekly rotation. And it was at 4:30 in the afternoon (remember, the hard time of day?) so I think it was a fabulous solution.

Yesterday's coping mechanism was going to Ikea. I got to leave the older two in the kid's club there and just walk around with the other two. Then we got some yummy dinner--5 meals all for $5 (kids eat free every Tuesday). Awesome! I guess I didn't have as much of a plan today, and I did go a little bit crazy. But overall it was okay. I'm ignoring the fact that they are all awake right now. I've also been staying up till 3-ish every night which doesn't help. I can't sleep as well when Jared isn't here so I do things like paint the garage for 6 hours instead.

I know I would get used to it if Jared were gone more often; lots of people do it and manage. But I am looking forward to a few kid-free moments next week, especially since it's my birthday week. I don't know how or when, but I'm thinking of maybe checking out Habitat for Humanity or getting a new outfit or something. Crazy that I long for these outings alone. I do like my kids, really. Sometimes it's just too much of a good thing.

On to the real reason for the post...

About two months ago we had the prompting that we needed to get our food storage in order. We had always had some (we went on food storage binges in 2004 and 2007), but it was never quite a year's supply. Not to mention we've added a few more bodies since then. So we rearranged our finances to be able pay for everything, weighed down our van after a big trip to the dry cannery and ordered a bunch of other things online. We bought a lot of food at BJ's before they sadly closed the store right by our house and we ordered a nice electric wheat grinder. There's still a couple of things we need (like a water filter, large propane tank and generator) but for the most part, we feel very well prepared.

Aww. Cute Marissa sitting on one of the cans. I love this picture.

It was definitely a lot of work to go through what we had and figure out what we really needed/wanted for our specific family. We have it all tracked on a program on the computer. But probably one of the biggest dilemmas about food storage and Florida is no storage space. And you can't store food in the garage because the heat and humidity will rust cans and spoil food. I envy all my friends and family in Utah with basements every time I go. But... this is where we live so we had to be creative.
...or this would happen every day.
Just so you know what we are talking about, we ended up getting about 200 new #10 cans of food, as well as a good amount of spaghetti in pouches, a bunch of 10 lb. bags of flour that we put in the big white containers and all that "other" stuff (peanut butter, oil, canned goods, etc.). That's a lot of food! And keep in mind, 4 out of 5 closets in our house were already filled with food storage.
This is only part of the food we got.
Oh my, welcome to my messy house.
Honestly, I feel like we were blessed to be able to figure out where to put all of this. And somehow we even have more space in the closets that were full before. One of the solutions was to take off the fabric liners underneath the couches to store boxes of #10 cans. We fit almost 50 cans under each couch and love seat set! And you don't even know they are there.
Another solution was to build two platforms with casters on them to go under our bed. That also held about 50 cans. We did have to buy some bed risers to fit them under there, but it's only 3 inches higher and we utilized our small space. Yes, we have become one of "those" families like in the movie the RM. We sit on and sleep on our wheat.
Here's our closet...
...and one of the kids' closets (no clothes in this one)...
...and of course our pantry is well stocked too (although slightly less organized than a few weeks ago when we first did this).
The next step about this whole process is to use it. We are really good at going through rice and pasta, but we needed to start using the wheat and beans since we have a few couchfuls. So the goal was to make something from food storage every week. Not just me either. I imposed this goal on Jared too. I made some black bean soup (it was better the last time I tried it a few years ago but still edible--to anyone older than 6 at least), some wheat bread and rolls (it was all right) and some corn bread (again, I thought it was good). I've been using freeze dried cheese in casseroles and enchiladas, putting sausage TVP in eggs, making oatmeal for breakfast more often (as opposed to never) and I've been mixing powdered milk with regular milk and forcing my kids to use it. The stuff I got is from Honeyville Farms and is way better than the milk you get at the cannery. I like it even better than regular milk (thanks again for all the advice Callie!)

We got a Cookin' With Food Storage book and out of all the recipes in it, the one Jared tried first was the wheat meat. What is wheat meat you ask (as I also did)? You grind some wheat, mix it with some water and kneed it till you have a hard block of...uh...wheat and water. Then you let it soak in hot water for an hour then run it under cold water rubbing all the grainy stuff out. (FYI, I'm not explaining the process because I think everyone should try this recipe, I'm just trying to paint a picture here). Then you let it dry out and bake it in the oven. So far it's just a wheat brick. Next you let it simmer in some beef boulion, bacon and seasonings for a while until it magically turns into meat. THIS is what Jared wanted to try?? But try it he did and it was interesting. It was certainly as edible as any of my food storage recipes. We wouldn't die, that's for sure. Well, maybe our kids would. We had so much of it that we just kept it in the fridge, cut it up and added it to our scrambled eggs for week or so. Honestly, it tasted just like sausage when it was made like this. Amazing. Next time (I say that like there will be a next time), I think the "brick" just needs to be a little thinner and I could see it tasting like milanesa or chicken fried steak. Way to try something that I never would have tried Jared.
Here it is.
And lastly, recently a whole community of Jamaicans now wants to be friends with me thanks to a formerly unknown tree in our front yard. It's been there since before we moved here 8 years ago but just this year it has started to yield a lot of fruit. People stop and ask us what it is all the time and until last week I didn't even know. Then my new Jamaican friend informed me it was a Nesberry tree and they are extremely sweet and delicious. Several other people have come and taken fruit as well, with my blessing. All of them sing the praises of this celestial fruit. Tonight my "friend" knocked on my door and gave me a ripe one to try. It's kind of like a kiwi on the outside and kind of pear-like and papaya-like on the inside. I think it may be a little bit of an acquired taste, but it is definitely sweet and good (again, not to any of the children though). Anyone around here is welcome to take some to try. If our tree keeps producing like this you may just have to lock your cars when you go to church so I don't leave them on your seats. Hey, at least we're not growing a bumper crop of zucchini.


Callie said...

The meat brick sounds...interesting. I am so curious and want the recipe to try it. Your closets and furniture look great. Just think if you ever got trapped anywhere you always have a snack nearby! So glad you like the milk and the rest of your food storage. Way to go to incorporate it into every meal. I'm way impressed :)

HeatherWasHere said...

Good job guys! That's so impressive especially with the limited space. We don't have a water filter or a generator either. Probably need to do that.