Friday, April 29, 2011

Emergency Preparedness and Everyday Convenience COMPLETE Meal- in-A-Jar Mixes (7 day Menu)

 People prepare for family emergencies in different ways. Some prepare for an earthquake, fire or natural disaster.  Some prepare for financially difficult times and unemployment.  Some just prepare meals in advance so that mom or dad are not too entirely stressed out at the end of a hard work day. Whatever your reason for preparing convenience meals, this is a simple method of keeping track of what you have on hand and keeping it an organized location.  This method is one anybody can use. I don't claim the method of planning a menu this way to be mine, I do however claim these recipes as ones I have developed through personal trial and error. We've heard it called a "year's supply" of food. Insuring that should anything catastrophic happen, your family will be fed. I am not a "Doomsday" person. I am however, all about expecting the best and preparing for the worst.  For the most part these meals have been used for emergencies like "Tuesday night". Ironically, they have also seen us through some tough times financially when we didn't have work. Do with them what you will.
Recently someone asked me to write down a few of my recipes for long term storage and what I recommended. I have a method that I like to recommended to  those starting out on food storage use that isn't new, but it was a little bit exciting when I heard it. One plans 7 meals, one for each night of the week and then figured getting 52 of each meal.  My method of containing each meal entirely in ONE  jar is different than others who have planned the meal in a 52 week method, but didn't keep it this simple or concise. I wanted it all in one spot. In this way one would easily be able to have a year's supply of food that a family of four would eat should they need it. One wouldn't  have to search through things to find the corresponding can of meat or sauce to go with the starch.   It sounds "simple stupid"...but sometimes that's how I roll. It's a good simple way to calculate a family's needs. It's also a good way to get back to the basics of what a normal family will eat. Without getting into a lot of canning details and crazy stuff here, I do want to say that I don't want anyone to have to worry about "wet pack" canning meat or rotating cans of beans and vegetables. This gets into methods of pressure canning that some may not be prepared to practice proper rotation or sanitation while home canning. No the wet-pack are not safe on the shelf longer than one year**.  PERIOD. (Please see Home Canning Safety 101 for specific details in this matter)**The one year time  limit is only for food that is wet packed! Dry ingredients that are vacuum-packed can be good up to 10 years or MORE depending on the meal. 
For me, even though I pressure can wet food, I've found that buying freeze dried vegetables and meats has been a much better approach for our family. I've done both and this is much easier for longer term (5 or more years).  Freeze Dried vegetables cost more initially, so if you want to use your own dehydrated from your garden it's up to you.  They must be completely bone dry in order to work. We grow a lot of our own stuff but I have not made these recipes using those because it's harder to get a measurable consistent product for everyone across the country. If you use your own dehydrated, you will have to figure out how much moisture to use and how long to cook things. I also use no msg bullions and yes, I do use a powdered cheese sauce mix here for convenience and consistency of flavor. It's got added colors.  If you want to make your own  organic cheese sauce mix see my post here. If you want to go totally vegetarian, and don't want to use the soy TVP, you can use dehydrated or freeze dried zucchini in place of the meat. 
Freeze dried vegetables that I use do not have any chemical processing done to them. They are all-natural and 97% of the nutritional value is retained.  Dehydrated food retains about 92% of it's nutritional value. Not all food storage companies are the same, for this reason if I have a link that is brand specific, it's because I know that company doesn't add anything to the meats and vegetables in it's freeze drying process or any sugar or chemical coating.
The new technology available has even made it possible for beans to be "instant" cook!  If you use the freeze dried meat, you will need to use the oxygen packets and prepare the jars the same day you open the freeze dried meat so it is safe to repack if it is done within 2 days of opening the can.  That being said, here are 7 of my favorite quart size jar recipes that are easily used for everyday or for long term emergency food storage. Enjoy. Share these recipes with your friend! Get the word out that they are here!  PLEASE...make sure my name stays with the recipes.  Try to think how it would feel if you had worked on the recipes yourself. You'd want not only the credit, but also a way for people to contact you if they had questions. I ask you to please be mindful of that. Thanks. 
You will be using a method  some have called "dry pack canning" but it's actually called Vacuum packing. No liquid or pressure canning is necessary. If you opt to use the freeze dried meat in the recipes, please note:  NOTE: The repacking of Freeze Dried Meat must be done within 24-48 hours of opening the can and must be done in a dry environment. Once repacked you must use an oxygen absorber to make sure there is a vacuum oxygen free environment.
This is a great meal made completely out of food storage. It's amazing for camping or dinner any night of the week. It's perfect for giving to a sick neighbor or to someone you I think my family likes it because the folks I cook for are down-home-raised-on-the-farm kind of people. They don't like a lot of green herbs and junk in their food (ironic isn't it?). Now and then I get "froofie" chef on them and roast some garlic or chop some tarragon, but for the most part it's "regular people" food.  As for this meal, the crazy cool part is that it fits in a convenient size quart jar for easy food storage space and planning! 

By the way. I use Honeyville products in this post. I'm product specific because I have found I really adore their quality and consistency. 

Chef Tess Country Style Hamburger Stew

yield 8 one cup servings
in a quart jar:
1 cup instant red beans
1 cup  freeze dried mixed vegetables
1 cup Freeze Dried Ground Beef (TVP Beef ) or Freeze Dried Diced Beef
1 Cup  dehydrated diced potatoes
¼ cup  dehydrated onion
Seasonings I shake down into the jar: ½ cup tomato powder,
1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp garlic, ¼ cup flour, and 1 T beef bullion.
It will fit if you shake it really well.

To prepare Country Style Hamburger Stew:
In a gallon pot, combine stew mix with 6 cups water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.
Works great in a solar oven. Bake one hour.

Chef Tess Taco Soup

  This is a recipe I made from an old classic for Taco soup. It's adapted using instant beans. Instead of taking hours to cook in a crock pot, it takes just about 20 minutes! I'm super excited about it! Can you tell?! It can fit conveniently in a quart size jar so it's perfect for food storage! Put a funnel on the mouth of a quart jar and measure as follows into the jar: 

Chef Tess Taco Soup Mix
2 cups Quick Cook Red Beans
1 cup Taco TVP 
1/2 cup  Dehydrated Sliced Onion 
1/3 cup Freeze Dried Bell Peppers 
3/4 cup Freeze Dried Corn  
1/2 cup Tomato Powder   
1T homemade taco seasoning 
When you get to the tomato powder, just shake the jar so it works its way into the cracks.
Add an oxygen packet. Seal. Good on the shelf in a cool place up to 5-7 years. 
To prepare,Taco Soup: place contents of jar in a gallon pot in a solar oven or on the stove. Add 2 quarts of water and simmer 20-30 minutes until veggies are tender. Serve with nacho chips, sour cream and salsa if desired.

Chef Tess' Cheeseburger Skillet  Meal In A Jar Mix

Tess' Double Cheeseburger Sauce Mix Hamburger 
yield: 10, 1 oz sauce mixes
2 1/2 cups powdered cheese sauce
1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1T granulated onion
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Bag Mix Directions:
Combine all ingredients well. Use 1 oz (1/4 cup mix) to 3 oz of macaroni noodles (about 2 cups). I put the dry powder with the noodles in quart size storage bags with the label "cheeseburger helper".

Conventional Bag Mix preparation Directions: Brown one pound of hamburger in a large skillet. When hamburger is browned, I add 1 cup hot water and 1 1/2 cup milk or soy milk. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer 8-10 minutes until noodles are tender. Sauce will thicken a little more as it cools.

In a quart jar:
2 cups elbow macaroni (7 oz)
¼ cup mix
(in a separate baggie in the jar)
1 ½ cup Freeze Dried Ground Beef ( or TVP Beef )
Jar directions To prepare Cheeseburger Skillet Meal: Rehydrate meat with 1 ½ cups hot water, drain. Place in hot skillet. When hamburger is browned, I add 1 cup hot water and 1 1/2 cup milk or soy milk. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer 8-10 minutes until noodles are tender. Sauce will thicken a little more as it cools.

Chef Tess Stroganoff  Skillet Meal

Chef Tess' Stroganoff Skillet Meal Gravy Mix

yield 7 mixes (with 1/3 cup gravy/seasoning mix)
1/2 cup powdered buttermilk
½ cup powdered sour cream
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Dehydrated Sliced Onion 
1T onion powder 1 T granulated garlic (or garlic powder) 1T dry parsley 1 tsp dry thyme 2 tsp black pepper 2T salt 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all dry ingredients well.

In a quart Jar
2 cups egg noodles
1/3 cup gravy mix
1/2 cup Freeze Dried Mushroom Slices

In a separate bag in the jar,
1 ½ cup Freeze Dried Ground Beef (TVP Beef )

To prepare Beef Stroganoff Skillet Meal:
1 cup water
2 cups milk (powdered is okay if you reconstitute it)
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl Rehydrate hamburger in 1 ½ cup hot water. Drain. Place in a skillet. Cook over high, and add gravy mix, noodles, water and milk. Simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice, but covering each time. When noodles are tender season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Chef Tess' Cheese Turkey Noodle Casserole

In a quart jar place 2 cups radiator noodles.

In a separate bag in the top of the jar put:
¼ cup freeze dried broccoli
½ cup freeze dried mixed vegetables
1 cup Freeze Dried Turkey
½ cup  powdered cheese sauce
¼ cup freeze dried celery
1T Dehydrated Sliced Onion  and  1 ½ tsp Chef Tess All Purpose seasoning
Put an oxygen packet in jar and seal.

Directions for Turkey Noodle Casserole: Carefully remove bag. Put contents of bag in a 2 quart sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Cover and turn off heat. While sauce is cooking bring a gallon of water to a boil, cook pasta 10-12 minutes. When tender, drain. Stir into sauce mixture. Pour into casserole dish and top with additional cheese if desired.

Chef Tess Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole in a Jar

In a Quart Jar fitted with a funnel:
2 cups long grain rice,
 ¼ cup dehydrated powdered butter
1 tsp salt (stir)

In a separate bag on top of rice:
¼ cup freeze dried celery
¼ cup Dehydrated Sliced Onion 
1 cup freeze dried broccoli
1 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasonings
½ cup powdered cheese sauce
¼ cup dehydrated powdered butter
Seal bag. Top with an oxygen absorber packet. Good for 10—12 years shelf life.

To Prepare Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole:
Remove oxygen packet and discard. Open bag, carefully ease contents into a quart sauce pan and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 5-6 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 5-6 minutes. While sauce is cooking, place rice in a quart size pot with a tight fitting lid. Add 4 cups boiling water or chicken stock. Cook on lowest heat 17-20 minutes covered until rice is tender. Spoon broccoli cheese sauce over rice and enjoy. 

Chef Tess Turkey  Noodle Skillet Meal

In a quart Jar fit with a funnel:
2 cups egg noodles
½ cup freeze dried mixed vegetables
1/3 cup powdered cheese sauce
1/3 cup Instant Non-fat Dry Milk
¼ cup dehydrated powdered butter
1 cup Freeze Dried Turkey
½ cup Freeze Dried Mushroom Slices
1 T  Dehydrated Sliced Onion 
1 tsp Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasonings
To Prepare Turkey Noodle Skillet Meal:
In a large skillet, combine contents of jar with 3 ½ cups hot water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes stir every few minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 3-5 minutes.

End note {After 3 years of this post being up on the blog...}
  •  I try to make New Meal in a Jar recipes as often as possible and I'm adding more all the time. The book is coming out soon and YES this information is copywrite protected. Share it, but my information MUST remain with all copies. If you choose to pin it on pinterest, PLEASE don't just post the recipe in your pin. Let's be fair and let people actually get all the information they need from the actual post here. 
  •  Please know that I don't have a staff. I'm a full time wife, mom and have a full time job.  I am the bread winner for my family. If I don't return your emails immediately, it's not personal. I love you. I'll try to answer if I can.
  • These meals can be made more sustainable if you use your own dehydrated vegetables and organics. The freeze dried vegetables I use are non-gmo and 100% natural. If you use your own dehydrated vegetables, YOU will have to figure out how much water to add to your meals and how long to cook them. I can't regulate how large your vegetables are cut or how dry they have been. They must be absolutely dry to use in long term storage. I have to make these as accessible as I can to many people. These usually feed our family of 4 adults and 2 children and have a little left over. I'm working on the nutritional information for each one and will get it posted as soon as I can. In the meantime, thank you for your patience.
  •  Continue reading a lot of the other follow-up posts to this one. I answer a lot of questions throughout. These are meals that have worked for US. They are suggestions. Try a few recipes at a time and see if you like them. I UNDER season these, as we have people in my home who do not like a lot of seasoning (geriatric diets) so they are a little more bland than I normally cook. You will need to see if they are seasoned to your family's taste. 
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Final end note: I am no longer the corporate chef for Honeyville but we still love them dearly. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chef Stephanie's Picnic segment on Valley Dish

Crafty ideas and food safety

An American Picnic Craft Segment with Chef Tess Today on Valley Dish

Today I will be on NBC 12 Phoenix at 3:30 doing a craft segment  on Valley Dish as  part of the Picnic Theme Show! Don't miss it folks! It's going to be really zany fun! My basket is loaded! I'm ready to go!

One of the first things we do is take a sturdy laundry basket lined with a clean blanket cloth or towel for some of our essentials.  If I'm feeling especially Daisy Duke, I'll even tie a little knot like this. Ya know, just to be "country" and "down-homey". 

This cloth is also functional. It ensures that our utensils  stay clean and that our dishes don't rattle. It also is a lot stronger and less expensive than a lot of the picnic baskets out there. Note, we don't use it for dirty laundry. It's just for picnics.  I know you were worried about that. We also have a separate cooler for food that needs to stay cold. The cooler rides in the air conditioned part of the car. This is just for the non-cold items.
Salvage Chick  Diane Holyoak came up with this great  Americana Vintage  picnic box design for me. I've known Diane for years and am always impressed with her creative twist on things. Usually it revolves around some crazy piece of furniture she finds. She's remarkably clever and resourceful.  Maybe that's why we get along so well.  So when I saw her shabby sheik picnic accessories this last week,  I knew they needed a home with me. Much thanks to her for the great details in this project!  Look at this! It's an antique she re-made into a treasure box of goodies!
 The cups are old tin measuring cups! They're cleaned and sanitized of course, but way too cha-cha for words!
 The handles are just dolled up with some fabric tied on, but it's just so dang perfect!
She made this adorable ruffled star hand towel as well! It's perfect since I get to cover hand washing in this segment. Thanks Diane! You seriously rock lady!
My own personal touches include a few pet rocks. One to hold the dinner plates.
 This one for the dessert plates. I don't know what to name my pets yet. Any suggestions?
I'll be bringing my vintage  Love Bubble Cookie Tins (I've done a full tutorial for them already on the blog).
  I will be bringing a few of my newest creations. These are lemon curd strawberry butter bars. They will travel in the cookie tin for fun. Of course, I could totally share that recipe here...but it will have to be later. 

I really had fun with the tablecloth! It just screams kids and baseball. It's like apple pie and hot dogs right? It took hours on end to piece together all those jean squares too. You'll never be able to be as cool as me. Okay...brace yourself. It's actually pretty simple.

The quilted tablecloth is just a yard of jean fabric that I purchased pre-pieced at the fabric store. It actually was made already cut into squares and sewn together like that. I just finished the edges with the bright red polka-dot fabric.  
 I separated a white silk daisy and sewed a single one on each corner. Then I fastened a foot of gingham ribbon to the middle of each flower and tied it in a bow.
 I found great information on picnic food safety that I will be sharing on the segment from   here. 
Hopefully this gives you some great ideas for an All American picnic! There you go!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Temples and Easter Pageantry

In Mesa Arizona there is a special place of worship called the Mesa Temple. I gave guided tours of the gardens there in my late teen years and it has always held a special place in my heart, as that is also the place where Ace and I chose to be married over 15 years ago. Some of my friends have asked me  Why we build temples and if we go to church there to worship. Even more often I get asked What happens in temples?
When I go to the temple I have always felt a peace away from the world. That  peace the Saviour spoke of when He said:

 ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’”
Every year we host the largest outdoor  Easter Pageant . It is a celebration of the life and ministry of our Saviour Jesus Christ. It's a gathering of good people. All there to remember His life.  It lasts several nights, is free of charge and no donations are accepted. We took the boys to see the pageant this week.  The April breeze was gentle. The Spirit was strong. It was an outstanding experience. It always is.

We also have a beautiful Christus statue in our Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center

My favorite part of the gardens, especially at Easter, is the large number of olive trees. They have been in the gardens surrounding our temple since it was first constructed. Why? Because it reminds me of the garden of Gethsemane where my Saviour suffered for me. It reminds me that because of Him, this gospel is here in the first place and has the impact that it does in my life.

In a garden, this ressurection happened. It changed the world. It changed my life forever knowing it happened.

I know He lives. I know He loves me.

There it is.