Make Your Own Solar Cooker

A friend of mine introduced me to the concept of making a solar oven out of three square mirrors inside a box or crate. The idea requires the use of mirrors inside the container to  reflect heat to the pot or Pyrex® cooking dish so it doesn’t burn or melt the box, crate or wood. It is safe this way.

I like to put the solar cooker on a table outside or on the cement sidewalk just to be safe. The mirrors are reflective, so keep them away from buildings and aim them south toward the sun, because mirrors can start fires. Rotate or refocus them every half hour to keep the food cooking evenly.

This cooker has two glass bowls, one on top of another. You will need a Pyrex® bowl and lid as well as an inner bowl made out of black enamel or glass, or even a small cast iron pan without a handle. The inner bowl traps the heat and cooks the food, while the outer bowl acts like a greenhouse, keeping heat and moisture inside the pot. You can use oven roasting bags. This will eliminate the need for an outer bowl or pot. I like to stock up on the roasting bags and keep them in my food storage.

Homemade Solar OvenThis solar cooker is inexpensive. I purchased my mirrors at Wal-Mart and used a heavy-duty cardboard box, with two sides cut off. The box works fine unless it rains. Wood would work, too, unless it got too much rain and started to warp.

My friend is very resourceful; he has used broken mirrors as well as scrap material that he salvaged. In event of some emergency, we may need to find broken mirrors and pieces of wood and make do with what we have. I believe it is imperative that we have skills that help us be better prepared in case of emergency. Learning how to make and use a solar cooker is one of those skills.

Windshield Sun Shade Oven

Use any type of reflective material such as a reflective Mylar® windshield visor, Mylar® bags, tin foil, Mylar insulation, aluminum, etc. Wrap it around in a half-circle or funnel so the bottom is open to the sun. Make sure the back is taller, so the sun can reflect into the bowl or cooking pot. Aim the oven to the south and watch the sun so it is focused on the reflective material. You can cut pieces of cardboard or wood and wrap tinfoil around them as well.

Homemade Solar OvenI decided to try it out, so I dug some new red potatoes from the garden, washed them and put them in the pot with water. I put the lid on the pot, put the pot in a turkey-roasting bag and tied it up with a twist-tie. I placed the pot on the cookie rack in the center of the Sun Shade Oven. In an hour the pot was boiling, and within three hours my potatoes were cooked. It was amazing and lots of fun. With a little creativity and skills we can improvise and learn to cook outdoors.

How To Build A Solar Cooker

Materials needed to build a solar cooker include:

  • A reflective Mylar® accordion-type folding car sunshade or insulation material that has Bubble Wrap® covered with reflective Mylar® material.
  • A cake rack or grill.
  • 6 inches of Velcro®, strips of duct tape or aluminum tape.
  • A black pot, Dutch oven or black enamel roasting pan.
  • A plastic roasting bag.
  • A small outdoor table, if needed.
  1. Lay the sunshade down so the notched side is toward the bottom. If using insulation, cut it into a rectangular shape that can be folded to provide 2 feet of reflection on three sides and a piece across the bottom.
  2. Cut the Velcro® into three 2-inch pieces. I like the Velcro® that has a sticky back on each side. I didn’t have Velcro® so I used aluminum tape, however duct tape will work as well.
  3. Space the Velcro® on the bottom of the sunshade. Put one piece on the right side and the other piece on the left side. The goal is to make a funnel shape out of the sunshade or tape the sunshade into a funnel with a flat bottom. I had to fold it over and take darts in the material to get it to lay flat.
  4. Put the Velcro pieces together. Set the Mylar® sunshade on top of an outdoor table or on anything that lifts the solar oven off the ground and can be turned and refocused toward the sun. I tried it on the cement sidewalk low to the ground, and it worked fine.
  5. Set the cake rack or grill in the center of the funnel so the pot will have a stable place to sit. The rack will keep the pot up away from the Mylar®. This allows the sun to reflect on the bottom of the pot and lets air circulate around the pot.
  6. It is good if you attach a temperature gauge to the inside of the pot so you can tell how hot it gets. Use a candy thermometer if you have one. This step is not necessary unless you are baking bread or something that you need to stay at a constant temperature.
  7. It is necessary to use a black pot or a roasting pan with a lid. If baking, you can use a cookie sheet, cake pan or bread pan. It is best to use the dark pans because they hold the heat. Put them inside a roasting bag and twist-tie it shut. Use a plastic roasting bag to enclose the pot. This keeps the heat inside the bag and helps the heat remain constant. These bags can be used over and over until they fall apart or get too dirty to clean. Just rinse the bags in between cooking with them.

Homemade Solar OvenThis oven acts like a slow cooker; if you leave it all day, your meal will be ready when you get home from work. Point the cooker in the direction of the sun to the south. Set it early in the morning pointing so that it will face the sun at noon, when the sun will be the highest. Let it set all day and enjoy a meal in the afternoon.

This solar cooker can be folded up and stored flat. It is lightweight and works really well. If you used duct tape to shape it, simply remove the tape and store the solar oven flat. Keep an extra role of tape to use the next time you cook with the sun.

Food Storage And Self-Sufficiency Products Available

If you are interested in the commmercial SUN OVEN® and accessories featured in my recent article Cook With The Sun Using The SUN OVEN® or any of the seven books I have written (such as Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook, Cookin’ with Home Storage or Root Cellaring), 250-gallon water storage tanks, food-storage containers, ION water treatment, dehydrated food storage sealed in gallon-sized cans with a shelf life of 15 or more years, wheat grinders, sewage treatment or 72-hour packs or emergency medical supplies, click here.

Prepackaged Food Storage Meals With A 15-Year Shelf Life

I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious, and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping, and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day. I make the eFoods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping, hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient. You don’t waste food that way. This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on Take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out here.

–Peggy Layton

Cook With The Sun Using The SUN OVEN®

We have no idea whether we will be hit by a natural disaster, a manmade disaster or even an economic collapse. With the SUN OVEN® you can be assured that you will have a way to cook no matter what happens.

The SUN OVEN® can be used anywhere there is sunlight. It can be used in the coldest part of the winter as long as the sun is shining. The ideal time to use the oven is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On a cloudy day, it will take a lot longer to cook, similar to a slow cooker.

The SUN OVEN® bakes, boils or steams any kind of food with the power of the sun. You can hard-boil an egg inside the SUN OVEN® without water. Just place the egg inside, and it will cook in about 20 minutes.

The SUN OVEN® is economical. It requires no fuel. And cooking with the SUN OVEN® reduces air-conditioning costs in the summer, because you are not heating up the kitchen with the conventional oven.

The even temperature of the sun allows it to cook evenly and never burns the food. There is no need to stir the food as you are cooking it. Because there is no airflow, the food stays moist and never dries out.

The SUN OVEN® works just like your home oven. It will reach temperatures of 350° to 400° F.  Yet it is totally safe, and there is no danger of fire.

The SUN OVEN® is easy to use and portable. It can be used in the back yard in case of a power failure. This makes it ideal to have in case of some sort of disaster.

The SUN OVEN® comes with a black enamel roasting pot with a lid. Enamelware is used because it is dark and holds heat, which allows the food to cook faster.

The SUN OVEN® is composed of an outer box made with very durable PVC plastic and an inner box made out of aluminum that has been sprayed with black, non-toxic powder coating to absorb the heat, which is easy to clean. The oven has a leg you can adjust to get the right angle of the sun. It also has a leveling tray inside, which you can adjust as needed to keep the pot from being lopsided if you’ve adjusted the oven’s leg.

The inner lining of the SUN OVEN® is made of insulation similar to that used in pizza ovens. It is so well insulated that it traps heat inside the box and allows it to cook anything in a small roasting pan that you normally would cook or bake in an oven. It has reflectors that fold out to reflect the sun and heat up the black inner box.

There is a tempered-glass door that locks to keep the heat inside the box. The glass heats up, so it is important to use oven mitts to reach into the SUN OVEN® when removing food. The glass locks down and heats up, which deters animals from getting inside to eat food that is being cooked.

The SUN OVEN® reflectors are made of anodized aluminum. They will never rust or oxidize, and they are 86 percent reflective. They fold down, lock and lay flat on top of the oven. The oven, which weighs only 21 pounds, has a handle and can be carried like a small suitcase.

The SUN OVEN® has a temperature gauge that allows you to regulate the heat.

Two Ways To Cook In A SUN OVEN®

  • As if you were cooking in a conventional oven: Check the SUN OVEN® every 20 to 30 minutes and refocus it toward the sun so it will get the same amount of heat.
  • As if you were cooking in a slow cooker: Put the food in the pot, place it in the SUN OVEN® and focus it facing south for midday sun. Leave it in from early morning until afternoon, and it will be done when you get home from work. There is no need to worry about the food burning or overcooking. It just keeps it warm, moist and fresh for hours.

Being Prepared To Cook In Case of Emergency Can Reduce Fear and Anxiety

The SUN OVEN® pays for itself in a short time. Thousands of SUN OVENS® have been sold and families are prepared with an alternative way to cook, steam and bake. The fuel the SUN OVEN® saves offsets its cost. The regular price is $269.95. It comes with the enamel roasting pan and lid. I own one of these ovens, and I have enjoyed using it and experimenting with breads and one-pot meals.

How much fuel and wood do you have set aside for preparedness? With the SUN OVEN® you won’t need any fuel or wood for cooking, just the power of the sun.

If you don’t ever need it for an emergency, you can use it to have fun with the children and grandchildren on a campout or just a fun backyard picnic. Make snacks like s’mores, dried fruit and fun desserts.

The SUN OVEN® Does Much More Than Cook

Some other things you can do in the SUN OVEN are:

  • Boil and pasteurize water.
  • Dehydrate fruits and vegetables.
  • Heat water for cleaning or bathing.
  • Kill bugs that may have infested your grain, beans, rice or other food storage.
  • Sanitize dishes.
  • Soften honey.
  • Sprout grains, seeds and legumes.

SUN OVENS® are being sent to Third World countries where the women must search for twigs, sticks and wood to cook because their resources are being depleted.

In my next article, I will explain how to make your own solar cooker or oven. It is less expensive and can be made with surplus materials.

If you are interested in the SUN OVEN® and accessories as well as cookbooks, you can check it out on my website.

Food Storage And Self-Sufficiency Products Available

If you are interested in the SUN OVEN® and accessories featured in this article or any of the seven books I have written, such as Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook or Cookin’ with Home Storage, root cellar storage, 250-gallon water storage tanks, food-storage containers, ION water treatment, dehydrated food sealed in gallon-sized cans with a shelf life of 15 or more years, wheat grinders, sewage treatment, 72-hour packs or emergency medical supplies, click here.

Prepackaged Food Storage Meals With A 15-Year Shelf Life

I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious, and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping, and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day. I make the eFoods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping, hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient. You don’t waste food that way. This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out here.

–Peggy Layton

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy Layton and her family were featured in the TLC special “Livin’ For The Apocalypse,” which premiered on Aug. 28.

Build A Root Cellar To Store Vegetables

I have found that for us to be self-sufficient we must be able to store vegetables and fruit in a cold storage or root cellar. The root cellar provides a safe, stable year-round storage facility for many different types of vegetables that we grow ourselves or would normally find at a farmers market in the fall. If you do not have a garden, then take advantage of the farmers markets and the inexpensive abundance available at harvest time.

Root CellaringWe have a huge garden with many different vegetables that can be kept for winter eating. Last year, my husband built a root cellar. He got the plans from a book called Root Cellaring, Natural Cold storage of Fruits and Vegetables, by Mike and Nancy Bubel. This book is amazing, and we found it most helpful. It is available on my website www.peggylayton.com.

I stock up on all kinds of winter squash to store in my root cellar. We store food that we grow on our property such as potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, onions, apples and squash. I also store everything to make my homemade salsa such as tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and, of course, onions. We live in the mountains at about 5,500 feet. When it freezes in the fall, I always have tons of green tomatoes still on my vines. So I pick them green and place them in shallow boxes with newspaper on the bottom so if they do start to rot, the newspaper absorbs the moisture. I continually sort the tomatoes into rotten ones that might have gotten a little bit frozen and ripe red ones. As the green tomatoes ripen, I make canned salsa. My peppers stay fresh as well in the root cellar, because it stays cool just like a refrigerator. By Christmas time, all my tomatoes have ripened, and I have canned several large batches of salsa. It saves us a lot of money, and we don’t go to the grocery store as much in the winter.

I like the fact that I am not at the mercy of the produce that is shipped to us from Mexico and other places. I know that my food has been organically grown without pesticides or any chemical fertilizers. I believe that my family is healthier because we eat this way.

Building a Root Cellar

What kind of root cellar would be best for your family and property? There are several different types of root cellars. The size really doesn’t matter either. The location, depth of the cellar and its size totally depend upon your space and your needs. The underground cellar lends itself easily to the dirt and rocks that surround it.

When deciding on the size or type of root cellar, consider how much produce you want to store. Is it for your use only, or do you intend to share with other family members and friends? If times get tough, food will be more precious than gold. Since you can’t eat gold, you might consider selling or bartering some of your food.

A simple 5-by-8 cellar provides plenty of room for one person or two. An 8-by-8 cellar offers enough room for the average extended family, and a 10-by-10 cellar offers more than enough room for multiple families. Our root cellar is 6 feet by 12 feet.

The Pioneers Built Root Cellars

In the olden days, the pioneers had root cellars on every piece of property that was homesteaded. They were usually dug either into a hillside or as a deep pit, like an underground room. The pioneers either formed walls by stacking rocks and cementing them with natural clay that hardens as it dries or using just the dirt and sand to insulate them. A ceiling was put on top using cedar posts very close together and sealed with burlap, plastic or waterproof fabric, then covered with dirt on top. The cellars had a door or a hole on top with a ladder to get into the pit. The hole was covered with a large piece of wood to keep the snow out. This type of cellar keeps a constant cold temperature year-round. The pioneers were very innovative. They placed a large, flat slab of rock on other rocks that served as legs, which provided a table for the milk from the cow, eggs from the chickens and anything else that needed to stay cold like a refrigerator. The rock would get cold and stay cold year-round. The root cellars were always vented, so they had circulation to keep them dry inside and bring cool air into the cellar.

Root Cellar pitThe ideal temperature in a root cellar is about 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Our root cellar heats up to about 50 degrees in the summer. That is when most fresh produce has rotted or been thrown out to the chickens. As it cools down, it will keep produce very nicely.

In The Basement, Under The Porch, Surrounded By Cement

If you are building a new home, you can plan for a cold storage or cellar that is attached to your home or adjoining a basement. If you do not have a basement, you can take an outbuilding and insulate it really well to use as a cold storage. Some homes have a wine cellar. This type of room is ideal for keeping fresh produce because it is underground and stays cool. Just remember to vent it so you have air circulation. The photo below is a cement room under a porch that has a dirt floor in part of the room for a potato pit.

In The Ground, With A Food Storage Building On Top

This is the type of root cellar we built, and we really like it. The only drawback is that it cost a lot more money than we expected: about $6,000. The photo below is of our root cellar with a stairway that goes down to the cellar and a food storage room on top of the cellar.

Root Cellar pitIt attaches to the other shed that we keep all our camping and evacuation equipment in. It looks fairly normal, and no one would know it was a root cellar if we didn’t tell them. My husband decided to use cinder block for the walls. He backfilled behind the walls with sand to insulate the room even more. The ceiling is made of cement with a lot of rebar. It has worked out well and keeps everything cool and dry. The next project is to build shelves for the crates of potatoes, apples, carrots, beets, etc., to sit on. The shelves must be made of pretreated lumber so the wood doesn’t get moist, rot and fall apart.

Built Into The Side Of A Hill

A dugout is the cheapest type of root cellar to build; however, extra care must be taken to make sure it is well insulated. Your cellar is better protected during the winter months because the earth top and sides are great insulators. The snow in the winter is also a great insulator. The floor of the dugout should be graded on a slight downward slope, so rain or snowmelt will drain away if it seeps into the cellar. The floor of the dugout should have at least 4 inches of sand or rock to help with drainage and allow any water that might get into the cellar to seep into the sand and keep the cellar dry. The dirt that surrounds the cellar keeps the produce cool year-round.

Using leaves or grass clipping on top of root vegetables

I remember my grandparents telling stories about the Great Depression. They would take all the leaves and grass clippings from the yard and cover the carrots, beets and turnips with the mulch. When they wanted to harvest the root vegetables, they would just lift the leaves with a shovel and dig the carrots, beets and turnips. The root vegetables were just fine with a pile of leaves on top of them for insulation.

If you have access to bags of leaves or bags of mulch, put them directly over the carrots, beets and turnips. When you want to dig them up, just brush the snow away, lift the bag of mulch off the vegetables and dig. Put the bags back over the root vegetables and keep them there until you want to dig again. This makes it easier, because all you have to do is lift the bags. It keeps the ground insulated enough that it will not freeze the vegetables.

You can dig a big pit to keep potatoes or apples in. Line the pit with a tarp or heavy duty plastic. Lay the apples in the pit, being careful not to smash them. Cover the apples with another tarp, and pile all your fall leaves on top of the tarp for insulation. When you want apples, just lift the tarp and leaves and grab what you need. Cover it back up with the leaves for protection.

Another idea for a cold storage is an old refrigerator or freezer buried into the ground with the back of the refrigerator toward the bottom of the hole so the lid will lift up. This will insulate the crops enough to keep them from freezing in the winter.

I have seen people bury large metal garbage cans with lids on them in the ground. They put sand in the bottom of the cans. Carrots, beets and turnips keep well in sand. You can also pull up cabbage by the roots and stand them up in the sand with their roots down.

Building Materials: Wood

Always use pressure-treated lumber when building shelves, or the wood will eventually rot and fall apart. If you are going to go to all the work of building shelves, it is wise to spend the money needed to get the better wood.

The food storage room that we built on top of our root cellar is made of wood. Its well-insulated walls measure 2 inches by 6 inches. The floor, which is also a ceiling for the room below, is made of cement. It has a slanted roof that extends past the building so the snow and rain won’t seep into the walls. It has about 4 inches of gravel so the water will drain away from the building.

Building Materials: Dirt, Gravel, Sand Or Cement

Our root cellar has a dirt floor mixed with sand and gravel. It absorbs humidity and keeps potatoes from rotting. Just lay the potatoes in a dirt pit, and they will be fine. Potatoes love the dirt. I sort through my potatoes periodically and discard any that are rotting.

The walls of our root cellar are made of cinder block, which is similar to cement. The ceiling is made of cement with rebar in it. Cinder block, cement, stacked-rock or dirt walls all work well for the cellar. What you’re trying to achieve is a well-insulated room.

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash and apples need a dryer environment. Carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage and turnips need a more humid environment. You might need two rooms that have different humidity levels. The room on top of our root cellar is well insulated and has a cement floor. It’s just right for onions, squash and apples. Keep apples and onions away from each other or on opposite sides of the room. Otherwise, they will spoil.

Tending Your Root Cellar

Root Cellar pitRoot cellars need vents to keep airflow going through the cellar. It helps keep the temperature constant and release any gasses that come from the food as it ripens. This allows fresh air to circulate throughout the cellar to keep the food fresh, dry and cool.

We are in process of building shelves along the sides of our cellar room where we will put crates full of fruits and vegetables. The crates we will use have slats on all sides and the bottom. That allows the air to circulate around the vegetables and fruit. Keeping the produce dry and cool will make it last longer. We plan to use stackable crates that are made to last, with screws to hold the sides together. The crates come in a kit with all four sides prebuilt. All you have to do is screw them together. To order the kits go to www.peggylayton.com.

We have a thermometer with a humidity gauge in our root cellar. We check it frequently each month throughout the year and it only fluctuates for 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit from summer to winter. That is the perfect temperature.

We have lights in our cellar. We leave the lights on during the coldest months of the winter to warm up the room just a bit during freezing weather. The dirt on the sides and top of the cellar keep the room insulated and protect it from freezing, too.

I like to check the produce every few days as I use the food in the cellar. If I see signs of spoilage or mold, I get rid of the food immediately. We have chickens, and they love the discarded food. We learned the hard way about mold on our winter harvest. We covered our squash with a wool blanket so it would not freeze, and it caused all the squash to mold. So remember: Produce must have airflow. Without it, you might lose your whole crop.

If your cellar gets too warm or too cold, you can open the vents or even stuff them with socks to cool down or warm up the room. Play around with leaving the door open at night to cool off the room, then shutting it during the day. Try to keep the temperature constant if you can regulate it.

Emergency Foor Storage & Survival HandbookFood Storage And Self-Sufficiency Products Available

If you are interested in any of the seven books I have written, such as Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook or Cookin’ with Home Storage Cookbook; root cellar storage box kits; 250-gallon water storage tanks, food-storage containers, ION water treatment, solar “Sun Ovens,” dehydrated food sealed in gallon-sized cans with a shelf life of 15 or more years, wheat grinders, sewage treatment, 72-hour packs or emergency medical supplies, click here.

Prepackaged food storage meals, with a 15 year shelf life

I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious, and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping, and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day; I make the eFoods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping, hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient. You don’t waste food that way. This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out here.

–Peggy Layton

EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for Peggy Layton on the upcoming TLC special “Livin’ For The Apocalypse,” which premieres on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 10 p.m. EDT.

 

Storing and using dried eggs and powdered milk

When I go to the grocery store, it’s usually because I am out of milk, butter, sour cream, yogurt or eggs. Fresh eggs and fresh dairy products are hard to store and highly perishable. My husband and I have chickens and gather fresh eggs every day. But what do you do if you don’t have chickens or a cow or a goat, and what if you live in an apartment or an area of the city where raising animals is prohibited?

I believe dried products are the answer. You will hear them called dried, powdered and dehydrated. These are all terms for the same process. The water is removed, and the product is dry. It’s fairly simply to reconstitute them; you just add water.

The following items are available on my website. I can ship them to you in gallon-sized cans that are prepackaged in a case of six cans for long-term storage (five or more years). They have oxygen absorbers in them to preserve the food and increase the shelf life. The products available for purchase include: dried whole eggs, scrambled egg mix, powdered milk, dried buttermilk, sour cream powder, butter powder, cheddar cheese powder and mac-and-cheese powder. At www.peggylayton.com, you can pick and choose any six dried products to make up a case.

Any recipe calling for eggs or milk can easily be converted to use dried and powdered milk and eggs. I have written two books that are very informative: Cookin’ With Dried Eggs and Cookin’ with Powdered Milk. The egg book features recipes for scrambled eggs, omelets, egg custards, French toast, pancakes, waffles, crepes, egg noodles, mac and cheese, quiche, egg pie, breads, salads and desserts.

The powdered milk book explains how to make whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, buttermilk, quick and easy cheddar cheese, feta or farmer cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, cheese sauce, milk beverages, sauces, soups, chowders and puddings. The book also includes recipes for simple suppers. Both books are available on the website.

Dried eggs can be stored long-term

Whole Dehydrated EggThe only practical way to have a supply of eggs on hand for long-term storage is in the dried form. They can be reconstituted with a small amount of water to make them the consistency of liquid eggs. These reconstituted eggs can be used to substitute for any egg called for in a recipe. Because the product is real egg, it must be treated like fresh eggs. Kept in a cool, dry place away from moisture and cook thoroughly. I like to keep dried eggs in the refrigerator in quart jars with tight-fitting lids.

Dried eggs are made from fresh grade-A eggs that go through a special process to dehydrate or freeze-dry them. They are 100 percent eggs and can be used in baked goods or scrambled eggs, just like fresh eggs.

The shelf life of dried eggs

Dried EggsOnce dried eggs are opened, they need to be used within one to two years. If unopened and kept cool, the eggs last five to 10 years. It is important to purchase the dried eggs that have been nitrogen packed or that have oxygen absorbers in the can to remove all oxygen. Oxygen left in the can increases rancidity and the loss of nutritional value.

Dried eggs should not be used in uncooked beverages or foods such as eggnog, salad dressing or ice cream. Cooking the product thoroughly will kill any salmonellae or other bacteria that might be in the product.

Reconstituting dried eggs

There are two ways to use dried eggs (make only the amount of eggs called for in the recipe):

  • Method No. 1: Measure the dried egg with a measuring spoon. One fresh egg equals 2½ tablespoons of dried egg powder mixed with 2 ½ tablespoons of water. Put the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the egg over the top. Whisk it together until it is smooth.
  • Method No. 2: Combine all dry ingredients, sift and measure the dried egg before combining it with the dried ingredients. The extra water needed to reconstitute the egg is added to the wet ingredients in the recipe.

Recipe for scrambled eggs or omelet

1 cup dried whole egg powder
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until well blended.
  2. Pour mixture in the bottom of a frying pan with a little oil.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon each of other ingredients if you wish, such as dried cheese powder, dried bacon bits, reconstituted green pepper, mushroom and onion.
  4. Let the egg mixture cook until it can be broken up into scrambled eggs, or use it as an omelet and turn it to cook the other side.

Powdered milk for long-term food storage

100% real instant Non-fat milkPowdered milk was developed out of necessity. For years, man tried to find ways to preserve milk, because it will not keep in its natural state. The dehydration process was developed to preserve the nutritional value for longer periods of time. Powdered milk is made from 100 percent fresh milk that has gone through a process to remove the cream and water. The non-fat instant powdered milk contains no fat, which results in half the calories, yet retains the natural calcium, phosphorus, minerals, essential protein, carbohydrates and lactose, or milk sugar.

Powdered milk is made by removing some of the water, creating highly concentrated, thicker milk. This thick milk is then sprayed onto a revolving heated drum. The drum has a chamber containing hot air that pulls the water away from the milk, leaving powdered, or dry, milk.

The advantages of using powdered milk include:

  • It needs no refrigeration
  • It can be easily stored and used for long-term food storage.
  • It prevents waste.
  • It mixes and measures easily.
  • It is low-fat and contains only half the calories of fluid milk.
  • It’s economical.

Any recipe calling for fluid milk can be converted to using powdered milk by following the instructions on the label and adding water to reconstitute it. Powdered milk can be added dry to the dry ingredients in any recipe. Just add to the wet ingredients in the recipe the amount of water necessary to reconstitute the powdered milk.

Storing powdered milk

The ideal temperature for storing powdered milk is 40 degrees F. It needs to be in a cool, dry place away from moisture and light. The galvanized gallon-sized container the milk is stored in is ideal because it has an oxygen absorber that removes the oxygen and extends the life of the milk. Powdered milk can be kept on a shelf in a container with a tight-fitting lid for six months to a year. If you open a can or box of powdered milk, repackage it into quart jars with tight-fitting lids. I like to keep my powdered milk in the refrigerator so it will keep longer. Light will cause deterioration of the milk as well. If the flavor is changing and you smell an odor, make cheese with the powdered milk. I add sun dried tomatoes and basil to my cheese, and it is delicious.

To make powdered milk taste better, reconstitute it and chill overnight. Whip it in a blender to incorporate more air into the milk. I used to mix half and half regular milk with reconstituted powdered milk and put it in the milk jugs so my children didn’t notice we were using powdered milk. This is how I would rotate the milk. My daughter still teases me today for this.

Here’s how to incorporate powdered milk into recipes:

  • Use 1/4 cup powdered milk to 1 cup of potatoes. Powdered milk in mashed potatoes makes the potatoes creamier. Use the potato water to get the right consistency of liquid.
  • Add 1/4 cup powdered milk to each cup of cooked cereal before you cook it.
  • Add 1/4 cup powdered milk to meatloaf for each pound of meat and mix well. Powdered milk will add tenderness and flavor by absorbing and holding meat juices.
  • Powdered milk produces better browning in baked goods.
  • Powdered milk can be sifted with dry ingredients for cakes and breads, or mixed into flour for sauces and gravies. Just add the liquid to the wet ingredients. It works as well as reconstituting it first.

Yogurt from powdered milk

2 cups instant powdered milk
2 tablespoons plain yogurt from the store
3 cups lukewarm water

  1. Blend all ingredients in the blender or whisk until it is dissolved.
  2. Place it in glass jars in a warm area of your kitchen. It can take anywhere from four hours to a day to thicken up and make yogurt. Do not stir or disturb it for the entire time. Placing the jars in an oven that is set at the lowest temperature (110 to 120 degrees F) will speed up the process.
  3. When the yogurt is finished, chill it in the refrigerator. You can add fresh fruit and ½ teaspoon of vanilla per quart jar of yogurt.

Cookin' With Dried EggsYogurt is fermented milk. Bacterial microorganisms change the lactose of the milk to lactic acid. This helps preserve the milk longer. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a month. Yogurt is good for you and contains friendly bacteria, which aids in the digestive process.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the dried dairy products or books talked about in this article, click here.

Packaged meals

I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious, and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping, and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day; I make the e-foods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping, hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient. You don’t waste food that way. This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out here.

–Peggy Layton

Setting Up A Food Storage Pantry

I strongly suggest you find a place in your home or on your property somewhere — either in a basement, spare bedroom, closet, junk room, under the stairway, heated garage, out building or root cellar — and turn it into your own home grocery store and pharmacy. Somehow, get shelves in there: Build them, have them built or buy them pre-built. The room needs to be well insulated so it doesn’t freeze in the winter or overheat in the summer.

My pantry is located in the utility room next to my kitchen. I had about 2 feet of wasted space between the door and the wall, so I had two sets of rolling shelves built to fit in the space. They pull out and can be loaded from the back so the cans roll down and get rotated before their expiration date. This is where I keep the food that our family uses on a daily basis. These rolling shelves hold case goods that I purchase when the grocery stores have case lot sales and other items that we use on a regular basis. (see photo below)

 Kitchen Pantry

My freezer is also located in this room, and I keep it stocked with the meats and frozen vegetables. I always store yeast in the freezer for making bread as well as other items like nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, and butter. Even cheese can be kept frozen to extend its shelf life.

I call my pantry “my home grocery store.” I set it up like a well-stocked storehouse so I can shop at home. It is convenient and saves me money by eliminating impulse buying. I encourage you to set up your own home grocery store. I have covered the subject of what to store and how much to store in previous articles. It is recommended that you “store what you eat and eat what you store,” otherwise you might get sick. A crisis is not the time to change your family’s diet.

My Dehydrating, Sprouting And Baking Center

On each side of my rolling shelves, I have regular shelves on which I keep my baking items. After I dry the food, I put it in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and store it on the shelves in the pantry.

I like to dehydrate excess fruits and vegetables from my garden and orchard. Every year, we have an abundance of apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries and plums. I take the pits out, slice the fruit and place it on the dehydrating trays in my commercial dehydrator.

I even dry tomatoes, onions, cabbage, corn, peas, beans and zucchini. I really like to make zucchini chips by slicing the zucchini into thin, round slices, sprinkling Italian herbs on them and dehydrating them. We eat these chips as a fun snack.

 Kitchen PantryI also sprinkle Italian herbs on slices of tomatoes and dry them. They are great to snack on or use in any recipe calling for sun-dried tomatoes

One of my favorite things to do is to dehydrate the tops of the onions we harvest. I cut them into 1-inch pieces and dry them. I crush them up and use them when I need extra flavoring for omelets, spaghetti sauce or anything else that needs onion seasoning. I store the onion tops in plastic containers.

I also like to dehydrate vegetables (such as zucchini, green and red peppers, and onions) and herbs together. I put them in the blender after they are dry and make an herbal seasoning that can be mixed with salt to make herbal seasoning salt. It is very good on all foods, and I use it like salt.

I like to make bread, so I have a wheat grinder, bread maker and tortilla maker. I also have many grains that I use to make multi-grain bread. I put the grains in gallon-sized, see-through containers so I can see what I have and can find them easily. I like to keep them in an easy-to-access location; because if I can’t find my products, I probably won’t use them. Being organized is very important and helps me rotate my food. This ultimately helps me save money because I am purchasing in bulk, storing what I eat and eating what I store.

The top shelf of my pantry was designed to hold my canning equipment, sprouting jars, roaster pan and other seasonal equipment.

My Extended Pantry

 Kitchen Pantry

Your extended pantry should contain all the food and non-food items necessary to replenish the kitchen pantry. My extended pantry is in a well-insulated shed that my husband built on top of our root cellar. It is close to our house, so I can get to it year round. A closet under a stairway, garage or storage room would work well also for extra items. Just make sure it doesn’t freeze or overheat.

Every time I go to the grocery store, I get two of each item that I normally buy, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, pickles, olives, cream soups, mayonnaise, salad dressing, spaghetti sauces, mixes, etc. I put one away and use the other. I keep adding more and more of a variety of items to my home grocery store. It is so nice to have food items on hand when I make meals. This saves me time, since I don’t have to run to the grocery store because I am out of something. If we did have a situation where I could not get to the grocery store for an extended period of time, I would have what I needed.

Planned menus can eliminate the panic feeling you get when you know you should store food and you don’t know where to begin. I have included a chart in my book, Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? for planning menus for two weeks. It asks you to list every ingredient to make sure you have each item on hand.

If you plan your food storage program out carefully, you can avoid impulse or panic buying, which will save you a lot of money and grief. Anticipate your needs for a three-month period of time. Buy bulk foods in larger quantities and store them in plastic food-grade buckets that have airtight lids. See my previous articles, Dehydrated Food: What To Store And How Much To Store and How To Store Bulk Foods.

My Long-Term Food Storage

 Kitchen Pantry

My long-term food storage area is in my basement. I store six large cases of toilet paper and various other paper products like paper plates, cups, paper towels, plastic utensils etc.

I also store large quantities of dehydrated vegetables, fruit, mixes, sauces, rice, soup mixes, powdered milk and baking items in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and in a place that stays a constant temperature of around 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hot or cold fluctuations in temperatures can destroy the nutritive value of the food and shorten its shelf life. A well-insulated basement or cold storage area, garage or shed is ideal. I realize that some people don’t have a basement; that’s why it is so important to plan a space that can stay cooler than the rest of the house.

Buckets Of Wheat, Rice, Beans, Pastas, And Sprouting Seeds

 Kitchen Pantry

I keep all my bulk foods in buckets. All my mixes, grains, beans, pastas, sprouting seeds, e-Foods, prepackaged meals, baking items, sauces and gravy mixes go in buckets as well. This keeps mice from getting to the food and any other critters that can burrow through packages.

I label my buckets with what is in them and the date they were purchased. When I run out of rice, beans, wheat, etc. in my pantry, I get another bucket from the basement to replace it. I know what I have and how much is there so it can be rotated and replaced. It’s a good idea to keep an inventory sheet with what you have on hand and how long it takes to use it up.

Packaged Meals

I have been storing packaged meals called eFoods. They are ideal for long-term food storage because they are packaged in Mylar® pouches that serve four people. Everything is in the pouch except water. Just add water and cook the food for 15 minutes, and it’s done. The meals are delicious, and the company will let you try samples of the meals before you buy. Just pay $9.95 for shipping and you get three meals that serve four people. I find them very delicious and easy to make. That is what you need in a crisis situation. I don’t just save them for a rainy day; I make the e-foods for meals when I am in a hurry, in the mountains, camping, hiking or feeding a crowd. I have decided that premade meals are the best food storage you can buy. They are fast, easy and convenient. You don’t waste food that way. This company has a program through which you can get one box of food per month. They call it “auto-shipment,” and it’s great! All you need is 10 minutes to set it up, and your food storage will be on auto-ship. Each month, you get a box of food delivered to your home. Go to the website, click on take the Freedom Tour, sign up for the free food and enjoy. Check it out at www.peggylayton.efoodsglobal.com

Water Storage

 Kitchen PantryWater is king. It is actually more important than food. Without good, clean, potable water, you won’t be able to eat the dehydrated food you are storing.

I keep water in several locations. I have a 185-gallon water storage tank that sits in the corner of my camping-equipment room. It needs to be located in an area that won’t freeze or overheat. The ideal temperature to store water in is room temperature or below (65-45 degrees Fahrenheit).

If water heats up in plastic containers, it will leach the plastic into the water and can be harmful to your health. Do not leave bottled water in a vehicle in the heat of the sun for the same reason.

I also keep smaller 5-gallon containers filled with water and ready to grab if needed.

Any food-grade plastic container can be used to store water in. The bottles that apple, cranberry or grape juices come in are ideal for water storage. Never use milk jugs because they are made to break down after about six months, and they will start to collapse and leak.

 Kitchen Pantry

Stabilized Oxygen

I use ION (stabilized oxygen) water treatment in my water tank and containers. It kills all bacteria and keeps the water safe for five years. One 2-ounce bottle will treat 110 gallons of water.

The Goal

The goal is to acquire a three-month, well-rounded stock of food, water, medical supplies, non-food items, sanitation items, warm clothing, fuel, lighting, shelter and anything necessary for survival, so you will be prepared for any situation. Keep these items in a place where they can be easily found if needed

Emergency Food Storage and Survival HandbookThis information came from my books Food Storage 101. Where do I begin? And Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. For more information about the products mentioned in this article, such as ION water treatment, 185-gallon water storage tanks, eFoods long-term dehydrated food storage, as well as the books I have written, go to my website.

–Peggy Layton

It’s Never Too Late To Be Prepared

How prepared are you? How long could you live away from your home? What if you were given 10 minutes to evacuate? Are you prepared to be without a grocery store and pharmacy for a few weeks? Would you have enough food and water to survive for a few days, even a few weeks, in the event it took this long to get help?

This has happened to thousands of people across the United States. Do you believe natural disasters could not happen to you or your family? Maybe it is time to ask yourself: What am I prepared for?

We have heard much about recent natural disasters, such as tornadoes, droughts, flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis. The price of oil has gone up, causing the price of gas to rise. The cost of some commodities has doubled.  Some parts of the world are experiencing terrible droughts, while other places have been hit with massive flooding, which may result in no food being grown there for many seasons. What are these people going to do?

Demand for preparedness items is also on the rise. There is no better time to prepare for a disaster than now. Don’t make the mistake of thinking events like those described above will not affect you. Now is the time to make a plan and prepare for any disasters or hard economic situations your family could face. If you don’t act now, you may regret it later.

Food Storage Brings A Sense Of Security

Creating a stable storage of food will give you a greater sense of security. There is an LDS scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, which reads: “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). It is important to do your best to be prepared, so your family can eat healthy and nutritious food — no matter what happens.

I always think of my adult children, living in city apartments. Security and peace of mind in times of a disaster or crisis can be one of the greatest assets we have. An adequate and well-balanced food supply, including clean water, is a major part of economic security, and possibly the greatest key to survival.

Self-Reliance

People unite in hard times when they share or trade food and other supplies. When a tornado struck our community, I was amazed at how we pulled together to help one other. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had to tell our city to stop cleaning up the mess so they could assess the damage.

With proper food storage, we are better prepared to endure times of hardship without becoming dependent upon the government, church, family or others. I believe I need to prepare for my family first, and then prepare for others who may need my help.

Acquiring the skills to produce and prepare food and other items essential for life in a disaster creates the security and stability our families need. If a disaster does occur and we are forced to temporarily change our normal lifestyles, we can do so with a minimum amount of stress and panic if we have prepared.

Basic Food Storage

I recommend having a two-week to three-month supply of food on hand for an emergency. Emergency food is quick and easy to fix, usually requiring only water and cooking to prepare. Some emergency meals are ready to eat, such as MREs and canned tuna or other fish.

Start with basic food storage. These foods include items such as dehydrated fruits and vegetables; beans and other legumes; wheat and other grains; powdered milk and other dried dairy products; premade mixes; baking items such as salt, sweeteners and oil; and enough non-hybrid garden seeds to grow a garden for at least five years. It is best to store foods you know your family will eat, ensuring that no food is wasted. In other words, store what you eat and eat what you store. It is a good idea to become familiar with dried foods and the healthy and nutritious ways they can be prepared. I have written a series of cookbooks on the subject; they are available here.

Peggy Layton's Kitchen PantryYour kitchen pantry should be filled with things you use on a daily basis to prepare meals and paper products. An extended pantry can be created in another part of the house or garage, and it should contain larger quantities of food and paper products as well as personal hygiene products, first aid items and medicines. Long-term food storage items are sealed for 15 years or more; they can be stored in a basement or cool dark room away from the kitchen. Set up your pantry, extended pantry and long-term food storage as if it were your very own grocery store and pharmacy.

To figure out how many food and non-food items you need to store, keep inventory of what you use and how long it lasts, and then figure out how much a three-month, six-month and a one-year supply would be. If you use one can of coffee per month, then you know you need to stock three cans for a three-month supply, six cans for a six-month supply and 12 cans for a year’s supply. Keep track of your inventory of laundry detergent, soaps, personal hygiene products, first aid items and paper products (like toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, tissues, napkins, etc.) as well. You will want to stock up on anything that improves your quality of life and would be difficult to obtain in an emergency.

Also, remember to store enough pet food to last in a crisis. Animals are like children to most people; they need to be fed as well.

Water Is No. 1

Without clean, potable water, the dehydrated food storage products you store cannot be reconstituted. It is imperative that you make sure you have a water storage plan in place to provide at least a couple weeks of water for your family. I recommend you store a minimum of 1-2 gallons of water per day, per person. You will be glad you did.

In other parts of the world they regularly deal with illness and death due to a lack of clean drinking water. Make sure you have water storage containers made from heavy, food-grade plastic to ensure your family is getting the safest water possible. I purchased a water storage tank that holds 250 gallons of clean, potable water. This tank takes up a minimum amount of space, and the heavy plastic will not collapse or break down due to sunlight or harsh weather.

ION Water Treatment

ION is a stabilized oxygen product that is very effective in water treatment. Many studies found that ION will kill giardia, cholera and dysentery within a few minutes. It doesn’t have any of the harmful side effects associated with chlorine or Iodine. ION contains a high concentration of oxygen; high levels of oxygen kill harmful bacteria.

My husband and I take ION to Mexico and other countries when we go on vacation. We use it in all of our drinks, and we do not get sick when others in our group do.

I do not claim that ION will cure anything, however I personally would not be without it in my medicine chest or medical kit.

ION water treatment will keep my water safe for five years or longer. It will kill bad bacteria in the water. I am so impressed with my water tank and the ION to go in it that I sell them on my website. The water tanks and ION water treatment can be purchased from www.peggylayton.com.

Dirty Water From A Lake Or Pond

What do you do when you only have water from ponds, lakes, rainwater or irrigation, and it is not safe to drink? Boil the water, of course. Boiling will kill pathogens, sterilizing your water. If the water is dirty, strain it through a dishtowel into a bowl or cup before boiling it or adding ION. This can remove much of the dirt and debris before the water is sterilized.

Storable Gourmet Meals That You Can Serve or Store For The Future

Many times, I have been asked: “What is the quickest and easiest way to build up food reserves for three months to a year?” I’ve been testing a line of nutritious and easy gourmet meals from eFoods Global, which can be stored for a minimum of 15 years. They offer a new concept: storable foods that are delicious, nutritious, affordable, clean and convenient for daily use. It reminds me of the pre-packaged food from the grocery store, such as soup mixes, Hamburger Helper® and Rice-A-Roni®.

Features of eFoods Global include:

  • Food dehydrated from premium-grade, fresh raw fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains and legumes.
  • Meals complete as they are — all you do is add water.
  • Meals can be used every day for fast, convenient and healthy food.
  • Meals contain no genetically modified (GMOs) foods.
  • No added monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • No imports from countries using illegal fertilizers and insecticides.
  • No hydrogenated oils.
  • Meals are packaged for long-term storage in Mylar® pouches.

The company lets you try before you buy. Simply go to www.peggylayton.efoodsglobal.com, take the Food Freedom Tour and claim your free samples of eFoods to test and try before you buy. You will receive three packages of sample food, which will feed two to four people per package. Just pay for shipping.

I am very impressed with their food, especially the fact that it contains no MSG. I am very sensitive to MSG and get sick within 20 minutes if I eat foods containing this additive. I have never gotten sick eating meals from eFoods Global.

It is dehydrated, not freeze-dried, so the prices are very reasonable. Each meal takes only 15 to 20 minutes to cook, and the cooking instructions are on each package. The food is delicious!

I like to store them in the heavy-duty boxes they come in. However, another good way to store these meals is in 5-gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids.

The packages include soups like cheddar broccoli, Italian chicken, vegetable beef, tortilla, corn chowder, minestrone, chicken noodle, chili and potato cheddar. Entrées and other baking items include chicken pasta Alfredo, cheesy chicken rice casserole, beef stroganoff, au gratin potatoes, seasoned instant potatoes, pancake mix, corn muffin mix, cornmeal dumplings, granola, powdered milk, wheat bread mix and buttermilk biscuit mix.

For most of us it is not too late to get prepared for an emergency. Stocking up now will save money for the future when the prices go up.

To purchase any of the seven books I have written, dehydrated food, water storage, water purification or preparedness products go to www.peggylayton.com. Or e-mail me at splayton@sisna.com.

 

Gardening Hints And Tips

Gardening season is upon us, and the garden must be tended in order to have a successful harvest. Gardening is one of the more popular leisure activities in the United States. An average backyard garden will cost about $30 for seeds and about $50 for organic potting soil and fertilizers, yet it will yield more than $600 in fresh, organic produce. That is a great investment, not only for our finances but also for our health.

5 Reasons To Grow A Garden

  1. Health is the main reason people grow gardens. The food we plant, grow and prepare for our families is healthier than produce purchased from the grocery store. If we grow our own food, we know whether it is organic, since we control the fertilization, pest-control and harvesting methods. Gardening is great for mental health, too. Working hard in a garden gives us pleasure in accomplishing something wonderful.
  2. Stress relief occurs when we do something meaningful that makes us happy. Planting and digging in the dirt relieve stress and make us feel better.
  3. Connecting to the Earth slows us down and grounds us. The soil, the worms and the living plants are fascinating to watch. When we slow down long enough, we become aware of the miracle of life.
  4. Self-sufficiency is another great reason to grow a garden. With the cost of commodities rising rapidly, gardening can offset the high cost of food. This puts more money in our pockets to use for other necessities.
  5. We save money by going to the grocery store less often. It’s possible to save hundreds of dollars per growing season, which really helps with the food budget.

Location

If you live in a cramped space and have a small yard, you can still grow a garden. Look around and see if you have places to put tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, etc. Flower gardens are ideal, because you can plant vegetables between flowers. Some flowers help with bug control. For example, marigolds ward off some garden pests.

The location of your garden is important. It needs to be a sunny, well-drained location, rich in compost and soil texture. Plant taller plants on the north side of the yard or garden so they won’t shade shorter plants. Plants can be planted along fences, patios and corners of lots, even in the yard. A strip of grass can be removed from the lawn and worked to become a raised vegetable bed.

Raised Beds

PHOTO OF RAISED BEDS IN GARDENRaised beds are ideal for small areas.  You can either shape the dirt into a hill or use a wooden frame around the grow bed. The frame is made of 2-by-4 planks placed in a rectangular shape. Use two 2-by-4 planks stacked one on top of the other to make the bed 8 inches tall, or use two 2-by-8 planks stacked one on top of the other to make the bed 16 inches tall. Make the bed 3 feet wide and as long as your space allows. The soil in the raised beds can be added to and maintained even if the texture of the surrounding soil is poor and has bad drainage. Make your raised bed level even if your garden spot is on a slope, so the water will remain in the bed and the soil will not wash away. Cultivate the soil 2 inches deeper than the height of the grow bed. Add mulch, compost or organic matter, and then dig down and turn the soil. Use a pitchfork to break up dirt clots. Rake it into a nice, level bed. Once that’s done, it is ready for planting.

Continue to add more compost so the soil improves each year. My husband is in the process of putting wood chips between the rows to keep the moisture in and the weeds out.

Container Gardening

If you are an apartment dweller and long to have a garden, try container gardening. Herbs and vegetables are great for containers, because they can be moved indoors when the weather gets too cold. Onions, radishes and lettuce mixtures can be grown in containers. Tomatoes and sweet bell peppers can be grown in large pots on the balcony. Zucchini and cucumbers can be trained to grow up a trellis or wire fencing. This way, they grow in a smaller space and the vegetables can be picked easily.

Soil

Use organic, inexpensive material such as vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, manure, chicken droppings, mulch, potting soil, leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, wood shavings, straw or hay to make a nutrient-rich topsoil. Avoid using anything that might have weed seeds in it. Peat moss, perlite or vermiculite can be used in composting, but they are more expensive and have no nutritional value. The better the soil, the more worms will be attracted to it, which is a good thing. Worm castings and worm holes help develop nutrient-rich soil as well.

Every year, new compost made from all-organic materials must be added to the soil. It is good to mix the compost in a pile as you add to it and let it rest for the year before putting it on the garden — especially if it contains manure or chicken droppings. Manure is considered hot and can burn plants if it’s used fresh. That is why you mix it with compost and let it set for a year.

We have a compost pile near our chicken coop so when we clean out the coop we can add the droppings to the compost pile. Mixing it often allows it to decompose throughout the year.

Till the garden by hand

PHOTO OF U-BARMy husband prepares the soil by hand because he likes to break up dirt clots and rake out the beds before he plants. He likes to use a D-handled spading fork and a U-bar digger. A small tiller can also be used to till the soil and prepare it for planting.

Seeds

The best types of seeds to store are called non-hybrid or heirloom seeds. They can be saved from year to year and will be true to form each season. To learn more about non-hybrid garden seeds, refer to my article Growing A Backyard Garden Can Be Good For Your Health.

The hybrid- or regular-type seeds that can be found in most garden centers are good for only one season. You need to purchase seeds from year to year. The seeds cannot be saved because they are genetically altered. Their offspring the second year will look like a crossbred vegetable.

Keep garden seeds in a container with a lid so mice don’t get into the seeds and eat them. It is best to keep them in a cool, dry, dark container to avoid light exposure. The cooler the temperature, the longer the seeds will last. Seeds have a shelf life of up to five years. To extend the shelf life, keep them in the refrigerator or freezer.

Herbs can be started from seed or can be purchased from a nursery and planted in an herb garden or around decorative rocks and flower beds. Fresh herbs have great flavor, and they are good for your health.

Planting

Certain plants do well if started indoors or in a greenhouse first and then transplanted later. These plants include tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and onions. Some plants do just as well if started in the ground. These include corn, spinach, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, peas, radishes, Swiss chard, carrots, potatoes and garlic.

Corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers need warm soil before germination can take place. Onions, spinach, lettuce, peas, cabbage, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower and Swiss chard may be planted early in the spring. A second crop can be planted in late July or early August to extend the growing season.

Watering

The frequency of watering depends on the texture of the soil. In dry climates, more frequent watering is very important. Gardens with sandy soil require more watering than those with clay-based soils. Sandy soil does not hold moisture so you will need to water more frequently. After the garden has been planted, it is really important to keep it moist so the seeds will germinate. Carrots are very touchy. They must be kept moist every day to germinate.

My husband puts finely chopped wood chips around our plants and grow beds to hold in the moisture. You could also lay black plastic or newspaper, covered with dirt or chips, around plants to hold in the moisture and keep weeds from growing. Because plastic is an inorganic material, it must be removed in the winter and replaced the next spring. Straw will hold moisture also. However; we tried using straw last year, and it had grain seed in it. As a result, we had an outbreak of oat grass and had to do a lot of extra weeding. If you are using straw, sift through it and use only the stems of the straw.

We have found that it’s best to water either early in the morning or just before dark. Whenever we watered the plants during the day, the leaves got burned from the sun reflecting on the water.

Metal Cages And Fencing Wire

PHOTO OF WIRE FENCING AND WIRE CAGESWhen we plant peas, we put tomato cages around them — at least three across — and as many as needed for the length. The peas grow straight up and cling to the metal for stability. As the peas reach the top of the metal cages, we put up a higher fence to support them as they grow taller. This makes it easier to pick the peas, and the plants do not fall over. (See the photo at the right.)

We put up metal fencing for the pole beans, cucumbers, melons and squash. They also climb straight up, which takes up less space. The plants cling to the fencing, which gives them stability and makes it easier to pick the vegetables. All the tomatoes and peppers have cages around them to protect them from the dogs and cats running through the garden. The tomato cages give the tomatoes stability as well.

I once heard that metal around a garden conducts electromagnetic energy during a rain or electrical storm, which stimulates the growth of the vegetables.

It is a good idea to put a fence around the entire garden to keep out deer and other animals. We live near the mountains, and many of my neighbors have a serious deer problem. At night the deer come from the mountains and graze on anything they can find. Many gardens have been completely eaten before they matured. It might be a good idea to have an outside dog near the garden to scare off the nighttime predators.

We lock up our chickens in their run during the months we are planting and harvesting our garden. The chickens will scratch the soil and find all the seeds we have planted. When the tomatoes are ripe, the chickens will peck at them and eat holes into the fruit.

Weeding

PHOTO OF WEEDING WITH A SMALL WEED RAKEWe get the baby weeds before they even have a chance to grow. A small rake made for weeding the garden is the best. It is small enough to go around the plants and loosen the dirt. This disrupts the root system of small weeds, and they die. We do a lot of weeding early on, which saves us many hours of weeding. Weeds use up the nutrients in the soil, so you want to stop them before they grow.

We put wood chips or sawdust on the walkways between the grow beds. This keeps the moisture in the garden, and the weeds don’t grow through it. Taking care of the weeds early on saves much frustration later.

Pest Control

Raising a completely organic garden means not using any chemicals in the soil or on the plants. There is always a problem with pests such as tomato hornworms, cutworms, aphids, whiteflies, ants, etc. To kill insects, mix a solution of water and a few drops of dish soap into a spray bottle or a large sprayer and spray the plants with it. When you spray it on the plant, make sure to spray the underside of the leaves where aphids hide. After spraying the plants with the mixture of dish soap and water, rinse the plants with warm water to remove the soap and the dead bugs.

Diatomaceous earth is used as a mildly abrasive insecticide that can be sprinkled onto and around the base of plants. Diatomaceous earth can be purchased in home-and-garden centers. Do not use the one for swimming pools. Get the one for plants and vegetables.

A friend of mine raises ducks to eat grasshoppers, earwigs, worms and other pests. Ducks will eat the insects and not necessarily the vegetables. Ducks are less harmful to produce than chickens. However, chickens will eat any insects they can find, so that might be an option if you can keep the chickens from getting into the vegetables.

We Love Having a Garden

I believe tending a garden is like therapy for the soul. We love the fresh, organic vegetables we get from the harvest. We feel happy that we do not have to depend on the grocery store for our fresh produce. And we know that our food is organic, with no sprays, chemical additives or preservatives in it, which is much better for our health.

Emergency Food Storage and Survival HandbookPeggy Layton is a freelance writer and the author of seven books on the subjects of food storage and emergency preparedness. She and her husband grow a backyard garden every year and live off the land during the growing season. Peggy bottles and dehydrates excess produce. Peggy and her husband keep winter vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, squash, onions and apples in a root cellar they built. During the winter when produce is less plentiful, they grow food in their greenhouse. And they gather fresh eggs daily from their chickens. Provident living is a way of life in their home.

If you would like to purchase emergency supplies, books written by Peggy Layton and a variety of heirloom garden seeds, click here.

Are you interested in emergency Food Storage Meals packaged in Mylar® pouches with a 15-year shelf life? They serve four people, are ready to just add water and cook, and are delicious, convenient and easy. Go to www.peggylayton.efoodsglobal.com.

 

 

How To Get Out Of Debt, Stay Out Of Debt And Save For Your Future

If we are stressed about money while we are healthy and able to work, think what it will be like to try to support ourselves when we are older, not so healthy and not able to work as much as we have in the past. Who will support us then?

People are working two or three jobs, and bankruptcies and foreclosures are at an all-time high with little hope in sight. We need to change our financial habits and get a handle on our debts. If we understand the value of money and its power, we can use it to our advantage to make our lives more productive.

Can you imagine how much money you could have at retirement if you saved up the money for all your purchases (including a modest car and home) before you bought them, then saved the rest of the money that you would have paid in interest to the bank? You could be your own bank, and you could collect all the interest. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could teach this concept to our children?

A Modern-Day Plague
We live in a throwaway society. We purchase anything and everything our hearts desire. To do so, we use credit cards, finance through banks or use other means. Then, when an item breaks, it goes in the garbage and off to the landfill. We don’t bother to fix it.

I read an interesting book called Affluenza, by John De Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor. It is about the disease that is consuming our nation right now. We want to live like the affluent, so we do whatever it takes, which includes using credit cards and going into debt for things that make us feel good for the moment. Our children grow up with shopping mall fever. They must have the latest, greatest electronic devices, computers and cell phones (much better than their parents).

As a result of going into so much consumer debt, we now have a rash of bankruptcies, the stress of excess and the addictive virus, hoarding fever. We actually buy things to make ourselves feel better. When it all piles up around us, we build garages or rent storage units to hold and organize our stuff. All of this causes side effects like working too hard, lacking meaning in our lives, losing emotional connections with loved ones, having unrealistic expectations and experiencing dissatisfaction.

Affluenza could very well be a modern-day plague sweeping across our nation. An epidemic of great proportions has hit all our families. We are getting deeper and deeper into debt. We are in the rat race. We must ask ourselves: Why are we working so hard and not getting ahead? What are we doing it for?  Are we teaching these bad habits to our children?

Calculate Your Living expenses
Create a chart to determine exactly what amount of money you need to sustain your lifestyle. Evaluate this chart to see how you spend on interest-bearing payments. Develop a plan to cut the spending. Every dollar you cut back is a dollar in your savings account.

Think about the possibility of scaling down and not needing so much to sustain life. Evaluate entertainment, vacations, impulse purchases and other wasteful spending habits. Make a commitment to cut up the credit cards and pay cash for everything. If you need a card to make purchases, use a debit card. If you don’t have the money in the bank to purchase what you want, don’t buy it.

Getting out of debt takes a firm commitment and discipline from everyone in the family. This chart will help you evaluate exactly what is needed and what can be cut out of your life to simplify living and stop the accumulation of debt. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, it is how much you save that counts.

Your chart should contain the following categories:

  • House Payment
  • All Utilities
  • Telephone
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Auto Payments
  • Gasoline
  • Insurance on Autos
  • Health Insurance
  • Medical and Dental
  • Education
  • Fixed Debts
  • Credit Cards
  • Entertainment
  • Other
  • Other
  • Other
  • Total Per Month
  • Total for Three Months
  • Total for Six Months

It is a good idea to have a three-to-six month supply of cash on hand (not in the bank) to pay bills just in case the banks have problems and you cannot get your money out. It is good to have small bills and coins for smaller purchases. The stores might not be able to make change for a $100 bill. It takes time to save enough money for emergency bill-paying.

If you are already in debt or must have some debt, the following chart is the recommended amount. Do not exceed more than 36 percent of your monthly income for debt expenses or you will be in financial trouble.

  • Car Payments: 6 percent of monthly income
  • Housing: 25 percent of monthly income
  • Credit Cards of any kind: 5 percent of monthly income

If you can get out from under the pressure of debt, you will give yourself a 36 percent raise and have that extra money to put into saving for your future.

Debt Elimination Program
I have been researching a program to get out of debt in about one-fourth the amount of time it would traditionally take. This includes the home mortgage and all other debts. It takes discipline and focus. This can also be called behavior modification. A person must be willing to take a certain amount of money each month and apply it to debt and keep applying that exact amount each month until all the debt is eliminated, even if it takes seven to 10 years. You can purchase the software on my website.

The software has you list all your monthly living expenses and every debt that you must pay every month to meet your monthly bills. It will calculate the amounts of the debts and the interest rates. It recommends that you pay off the smallest and highest-interest debt first, then the next smallest up to the largest. Any extra income such as tax returns, bonuses, inheritances, sale of properties, etc., will be applied to the debt as well. This is called the snowball effect. The software has a rapid payoff calculator and spreadsheet.

Here is an example of the snowball effect on a person’s debt:

DebtAmt. OwedInterest Rate MonthlyPayment
Dental Bill$5008.5 percent interest$100 per month
Credit card No. 1$2,50018.5 percent interest$500 per month
Credit card No. 2$5,00021 percent interest$100 per month
Car$15,0006.8 percent interest$595 per month
Home Mortgage$75,0005.8 percent interest$850 per month

 

Say the smallest debt is a dental bill of $500, with a monthly payment of $100. The next lowest is a credit card with $2,500 at $18.5 percent interest. The next is another credit card with a $5,000 balance at 21 percent interest. The minimum payment on the second credit card is $100 per month. This will get you every time if you make only minimum payments. If you paid the $100 per month with accruing interest, it would take more than 20 years to pay it off. Ouch! So it must be accelerated.

When the dental bill is paid off, add the $100 you were paying for that bill to the amount you pay monthly for the first credit card. After the first credit card is paid off, add amount you were paying on the first credit card to the amount you are paying on the second credit card until it is paid off. When second credit card is paid off, add the amount you were paying on the second credit card to the car payment until the car is paid off. Then, take the amount you were paying on the car payment and apply it to principle on the mortgage payment. You will accelerate your mortgage payments by paying large principle payments. That reduces the payments again by about a fourth of the time it would have taken if minimum payments were made.

The software calculates the amounts owed, the interest rates, the amounts paid, the reduction in debt and the amount you will save on interest by using the rapid payoff calculator and spreadsheet. The calculations can be adjusted if something unforeseen happens and you incur extra debt. It keeps you disciplined and focused on debt elimination. Ultimately, when all your debt is paid off, it helps you save for your future by paying yourself the interest and principle you would have paid to the bank. It is amazing how things happen to help with the goal of debt elimination and saving for the future.

I believe there is a universal force from God that helps us accomplish our goals. It is like the law of attraction that is talked about in the movie “The Secret.” Amazing things start to happen when we are clear about what we want. “Ask, and ye shall receive,” (John 16:24).

About 10 years ago, my husband and I were trying to get out of debt, and I prayed seriously about it. We were flying home from a trip and I was pondering about what to do, when it came to me very clearly. I believe I was shown a vision of how to get $70,000 dollars to pay off the balance owed on our home. I wrote it down in a notebook step by step as I was shown. I went to work doing the things I was shown. It took about six months to accomplish, and I had our home paid off.

Our home is paid for and we are no longer slaves to our mortgage company. It feels so good to be debt-free on our home and know that we won’t be kicked out if times get tough and we get into financial trouble. We now take our mortgage payment and save it. I was so amazed at how it worked and how everything fell into place for me.

I still use the following process:

  • I state my goal of what it is I want to accomplish.
  • I visualize that I already have it.
  • I thank God every day that I already have it.
  • I act as if it has already happened.
  • I do not try to figure out how it will happen.
  • I do not doubt that it will happen.
  • I just know that it will, and it does.

Emergency Food Storage and Survival HandbookPeggy Layton is the author of seven books on the subject of Emergency Food Storage and Survival.

Debt Elimination Software, Books And Emergency Supplies
If you are interested in the Debt Elimination Software talked about in this article, any of the books, emergency supplies, wheat grinders, ION water purification drops or emergency food storage, click here.

Food-Storage Meals
Are you interested in a great source for pre-made meals that can be stored for 15 years and taste great? I have been testing out emergency Food Storage Meals, packaged in Mylar™ pouches. These meals serve four people and are ready to just add water and cook. I find them delicious, convenient and easy. Click here.

Eating Bulk Food On A Daily Basis

At some point during your accumulation of food stores, you probably bought bulk food of some sort. We started buying 5-gallon buckets of rice, beans, oatmeal and other food a few years ago. The funny thing is we kept buying rice, beans and oatmeal in small quantities from the grocery store to eat on a daily basis.

In some cases, like oatmeal, this makes sense. In other cases, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk, so it’s kind of like jerking meat by the pound and still buying the stuff you regularly eat from 7-Eleven.

You might be different, but we were really kind of intimidated by the big buckets. Really, it was just a lot of unknowns. How do we reseal the buckets? How do we keep from losing 5 to 10 pounds to spoilage?

I realized the blunt answer is kind of like everything else with preparedness: It’s much better to have experience with these issues before an emergency than to learn it all when you are stressed.

When we opened our buckets, we discovered our local emergency-supply store uses an inner 7-gallon Mylar® bag to extend the shelf life to 20 to 30 years. (Yours may or may not have that. It would be smart to find out.)

The Crash Is Coming!The process of using food from our long-term stores is pretty straightforward. Here’s one way to do it:

1. Cut open the Mylar® bag. Make as small a hole as practical so you can easily reseal it.

2. Put a week or a month’s worth of food in a smaller container. You can use sealable plastic bags, widemouthed jars or empty plastic drink containers.

3. Burp the Mylar® bag in your plastic bucket to get the air out of it. You probably won’t need your oxygen absorber if you’re actively using the item. Of course, if you think it will take you more than a few months to use up the entire bucket, you might want to put in some oxygen absorbers. If you don’t have oxygen absorbers, you can substitute dry ice. If you don’t have dry ice, you can “float” the container with carbon dioxide from a carbon dioxide canister. I have found carbon dioxide tire inflators that are activated by a lever to be particularly good for this. Since carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it will go to the bottom of your container and push out the air. For most applications, one 12-gram carbon dioxide cartridge will be more than enough.

4. Seal your Mylar® bag. If you have a FoodSaver®, you can use it to both suck out the air and seal the Mylar® bag. If not, you can seal the Mylar® bag by pressing it between a 2-by-4 plank and a hot iron. You probably don’t want to use the same iron you use on your dress clothes. If you don’t have electricity, heat up an old-fashioned iron or piece of metal on a stovetop or in a fire. One trick you can use if you don’t have a FoodSaver® is to seal the Mylar® bag mostly closed and then suck out the remaining air with your mouth or with a pump like you would use on inflatable beds and toys. Once you have sucked out the air, finish sealing.

Gamma Seal Lid5. Close your 5-gallon bucket with a Gamma Seal® Lid. The plastic lid makes your bucket airtight. Just unscrew the lid when you want access in the future. The lids cost between $5 to $10 apiece, depending on how many you buy.

Canning is also a great option for taking bulk quantities of food and making them more manageable. One of the biggest advantages is you aren’t limited to food that comes in 5-gallon buckets. You are able to can food from anywhere — your garden, a local farmers’ market or your grocery store. Unfortunately, that is a topic that is beyond the scope of this article.

I alluded to something earlier, and it’s worth repeating. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. As an example, we can buy two-packs of oatmeal from Costco for slightly less per pound than we can buy it in bulk long-term storage containers. There are tradeoffs, of course. With bulk packaging, we have another solid bucket when we’re done, but we have to buy a Gamma Seal® Lid for it. The smaller containers from Costco are easier to store and are more portable.

That being said, don’t let the possibility of a better deal being out there stop you from taking action now. In other words, if you find yourself at a big-box store and have the option of buying something immediately or checking bulk pricing somewhere else, go ahead and get some supplies at the big-box store. You never know whether there will be a hiccup with the supply chain or if food inflation will cause the prices to go up before you have a chance to buy in bulk.

Are you an old-timer at buying foods that you use on a daily basis in bulk? Please share your hard-earned wisdom by commenting below. With the price of food going up on an almost daily basis, have you accelerated your emergency-food buying?

Milling Whole Grains Into Freshly Ground Flour

The most economical way to purchase wheat for food storage is to buy it in bulk, store it in 5-gallon buckets and grind it into fresh flour as you need it. Make sure the wheat you store contains less than 10 percent moisture content. This is very important because weevils and insects like moisture to reproduce. The dryer the grain, the longer it will store. Dry grain will also grind better in a mill. I like to buy wheat that has been triple-cleaned and is free of rocks, sticks, grass and insects.

It is best to find organic grains that are not genetically modified (GM). Whole grains can be purchased in any health-food or grain store. If you don’t have a grain or feed store near you, look it up on the Internet and find the closest food-storage and preparedness store near you. It is best to purchase the grain locally, because you will pay as much for shipping as you do for the grain. It would be good to get a variety of different grains and experiment with them. Whole grains are great to store because they last forever and provide carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, fiber and some naturally occurring fats. Because they are what we call complex carbohydrates, they are slow burning and provide extra energy in the body.

I grind up about a gallon of flour at a time and store the leftovers in a container in my freezer. It is ready for making breads, cakes, pancakes and other baked goods. By grinding it fresh each time I need it, the grain retains the nutritional value. Once the grain has been milled, it starts to lose nutrition the longer it sets. White flour in the grocery store has lost most of its nutritional value from being highly processed. The hull and bran are stripped away, and the flour is bleached to make it white. Then preservatives, whiteners, softeners and spoilage preventers are added. Processed food is dead food as far as nutrition goes.

I set up a baking center in my pantry where I can grind my wheat and grain. I keep together all the supplies needed for making bread — items such as honey, powdered milk, dried eggs, vegetable or olive oil, salt, vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer. I have gallon-sized containers with different grains in each one. I keep all the ingredients together, so they are handy to use. The only exception to the rule is the yeast. I keep it in the freezer, which extends the shelf life of the yeast. My wheat-grinder and bread-maker are on the shelf of my baking center. I have an electric wheat-grinder and a nonelectric hand wheat-grinder.

If you are storing the grain for long periods of time, it is good to use several oxygen-absorbers in the bucket. I use one 300-CC oxygen-absorber for every gallon of grain. I layer the grain and five oxygen-absorbers in a 5-gallon bucket so they are mixed in with the grain. If I am going to use the grain for grinding or cereal, I do not put an oxygen-absorber in the bucket, because as soon as you open it, the absorber will absorb oxygen from the air and will be useless. If I plan to sprout the grain, I do not put an oxygen-absorber in it, because it will kill the endosperm by depriving it of oxygen.

If a person is gluten intolerant (allergic to wheat), there are other grains that can be substituted in baked goods. The grains that contain gluten are wheat, spelt, kamut, faro, durum, bulgur, semolina, barley, rye, triticale and oats. The grains that do not contain gluten are amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, Indian ricegrass, quinoa, brown and white rice, sorghum, teff and wild rice. Grind all grains the same or mix them for a variety of texture, flavor and nutritional value.

If you are not used to whole grains, start slowly by incorporating the flour into baked goods. Use half whole wheat and half white flour at first. Because whole wheat and grains have fiber in them, they need to be introduced into the system slowly or they could can cause stomach upset until you get used to using them.

Electric And Nonelectric Wheat Grinders

There are many wheat-grinders available on the market today. I prefer to use an electric grain-mill (wheat-grinder) for everyday use. I make bread several times a week, and it takes more time to grind the flour by hand. However, I have a backup hand-grinder in case the power goes off and I need to grind flour or make cracked cereal. I also recommend a nonelectric grain-grinder called the WonderMill Junior for hand grinding. The electric mill is called the WonderMill. I also recommend the Country Living Grain Mill as the Cadillac of all hand grain-mills. It is heavy duty and very good quality. It is also the most expensive grain-mill. These mills can be purchased on my website.

The WonderMill Junior For Hand Grinding (nonelectric)

The WonderMill Junior for Hand Grinding (non-electric)The WonderMill Junior hand-grinder has an adjustable dial which allows the mill to grind a variety of grains into fine flours and coarse cereals. The WonderMill Junior is a valuable emergency-preparedness tool. The sleekly designed mill allows you to have fresh, nutritious ingredients for your recipes, even when the power is out. The easy-to-turn handle grinds grain into fine flour or coarse, cracked grains for cereals. The mill is designed in one piece, which prevents the hopper from coming off during the milling process. Simply exchange the stone heads with the stainless-steel burr heads to make peanut butter or to grind flax, any other oily or wet grains, herbs, spices and all kinds of beans and legumes. The base of the mill is set back, which allows you to place a bowl under the grinding head to collect the freshly ground flour. This mill sells for $219.95. You will receive free shipping from my website.

The Electric WonderMill Grain Grinder

The Electric WonderMill Grain GrinderThe WonderMill Company has teamed up with LG to make a Quiet Wheat Grinder. It is easy to use and clean, and it grinds the grain fast. This grain-mill adjusts from coarse to pastry-fine flour by adjusting the dial. It has a separator lid which is easy to clean and dishwasher safe, and the large, 12-cup capacity flour canister is perfect for flour storage. The wheat grinder can process most hard and soft grains and legumes, giving you more nutrition and a way to use your stored wheat, rice, corn and beans. The stainless steel mill heads are self-cleaning. The WonderMill Wheat Grinder comes with a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty on the stainless-steel, heavy-duty and long-lasting mill heads and a six-year warranty on the rest of the parts. The mill includes an instruction manual, warranty card and great recipes. This mill sells for $259.95. You will receive free shipping from my website.

The Country Living Grain Mill Hand Grinder (nonelectric)

The Country Living Grain Mill Hand Grinder (non-Electric) The Country Living Grain Mill is a high-capacity, hand-operated mill that can easily be adapted to a motor drive. It has an attachment to the flywheel which doubles as a v-belt pulley. Construction of the Country Living Grain Mill is a strong, cast-metal alloy with a super-tough, powder-coat finish that won’t chip or peel. It’s a very easy mill to use. The grinding burrs for the Country Living Mill are precision-engineered, made of high-carbon steel (not lower-grade iron) and 5 inches in diameter. (The flour remains cool in the Country Living Mill, so nutrient quality is preserved.) I recommend purchasing the optional power-bar handle for easy turning. The Country Living Mill produces 1 cup of wheat flour in about 1.25 minutes. The Mill is adjustable, so you can crack grain at a loose setting or adjust it down and get very fine whole-grain flour, coarser meal or cracked cereal, depending on your needs. This nonelectric grain mill sells for $395. You will receive free shipping from my website.

Making Bread From Freshly Milled Grains

Bread is considered the staff of life. Many people believe grain will make them gain weight. The processed and refined flours are what make people gain weight. As a nation, we eat way too much processed and refined foods. Our brains need the rich supply of B vitamins found in whole grains. There is nothing better than coming home to the smell of freshly baked bread, warm and just out of the oven. If you learn the skill of making simple homemade breads, it could very well save your life.

I have a philosophy that you can live on simple soups and bread. The pioneers had a pot of soup on the stove at all times and a loaf of bread in the oven. They even made do with what they had. I have read accounts of the pioneers walking across the plains with a coffee grinder and a bag of wheat in their wagon. They used the coffee grinder to grind the wheat and make it into cracked wheat cereal and flour.

My book Cookin’ With Home Storage has an entire chapter dedicated to using whole wheat and other grains. There are recipes for simple breads: tortillas, flat bread, scones, yeast breads, rolls, crackers, cornbread, dumplings, homemade noodles, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, cereals, quick breads and pretzels. There are certain ingredients for making bread that must be kept in the food-storage pantry. The bread baking supplies include wheat and other grain for grinding, salt, yeast, powdered milk, dried eggs, oil, sweeteners such as honey, white or brown sugar, maple syrup, agave or stevia. I keep my yeast in the freezer because it extends the shelf life of the yeast.

Sprout The Grain Or Let It Grow Into Wheatgrass

In the pyramids of Egypt, grain was found that still sprouted despite having been entombed for centuries. Sprouted wheat can be added to bread to give it a nice texture and added nutrition. When the grain is sprouted, it is 300 times more nutritious. If you use sprouted wheat in bread, do not let it sprout past the second day or it will turn to wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass is highly nutritious and, when put through a wheatgrass juicer, produces a great tonic for the body. People drink it to purify their blood and cleanse the body of toxins and poisons. It is very good for the health.

Recipe for Honey Whole-Wheat bread

5 cups lukewarm water

2/3 cup honey or sweetener

2/3 cup vegetable or olive oil

2 tablespoons active dry yeast or 2 packages

2-3 eggs or (3 tablespoons dried egg powder) (optional)

1 tablespoons salt

¼ cup vital wheat gluten (optional)

2 tablespoons dough enhancer (optional) or 1 vitamin C tablet crushed

12 cups whole-wheat flour

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a large bowl, mix the lukewarm water, honey, oil and eggs together. Let it set for about 5 minutes to make sure the yeast will form bubbles and grow. If it doesn’t grow, the yeast may be dead, and you will need to get fresh yeast from the grocery store. Store all yeast in the freezer to extend the shelf life.

3) Add salt, vital wheat gluten, dough enhancer and six cups of freshly ground whole wheat or grain flour to the yeast and water mixture. Stir it well until the water is absorbed and it resembles a spongy, sticky paste.

4) Slowly add the remaining flour, one cup at a time and mix it in with a wooden spoon. When the dough pulls away from the bowl and holds its shape, it is done. If you do not need all the flour to make it pull away, do not use it all.

5) Grease your hands and the counter top with vegetable oil. Put the dough on the greased counter top and begin kneading the dough by pulling it and stretching it. Knead it for 10 minutes until it is smooth.

6) Divide the dough into six small loaves or three large loaves. Roll the dough to form the dough into the size that will fit in small bread pans to about half the height of the pans. Let the dough set on the top of the warm oven as it preheats. When the dough has risen above the bread pans by about 1 inch, the loaves are ready to go into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes for small loaves and 45 minutes for large loaves.

7) I like to make rolls out of the dough by pinching off a small amount of dough and flattening it out into a rectangular piece. Put melted butter on the top and fold the roll over. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet close together.

Peggy Layton is the author of seven books on the subjects of food storage and preparedness. The previous recipe and many others can be found in the cookbook Cookin’ With Home Storage. It contains more than 550 simple recipes using very basic pantry ingredients that can be stored long-term. This book contains authentic pioneer recipes and fascinating historical tips on how the pioneers really lived. There are chapters on all the basic foods that can be stored: wheat and grains, beans and rice, dried fruits and vegetables, dried pasta, powdered milk and dried eggs. There are charts on how to reconstitute dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. There are tips on how to incorporate food storage into your everyday diet. The book includes chapters on grandma’s home remedies, natural household cleaners, emergency baby food and pet food, as well as emergency food-storage and survival tips.

To purchase the cookbooks, electric and nonelectric wheat grinders and grain mills, bulk food storage, oxygen-absorbers or any of the other preparedness items talked about in this article, click here.

If you are interested in a great source for premade meals that can be stored for 15 years and taste great, I have been testing out emergency food storage meals, packaged in Mylar pouches. These meals serve four people and are ready eat: Just add water and cook. I find them delicious, convenient and easy. To learn more about eFoods click here.