Saturday, April 30, 2011

The quintessential pot of tea

We are family of tea lovers.  It's not so much the tea itself (although we do enjoy a good cuppa), rather our love affair with tea has a lot more to do with the indefinable aspects - the routine, the relaxation, the relationship.

When Maid Elizabeth was a little girl, we would have Mad Hatter tea parties.  We all wore hats (even Sir Knight) and when the mood struck, we would randomly exchange our hat with another.  It was a sight to see Sir Knight in a pink straw hat with yellow lilies, but he bore his burden well and our days of Mad Hatter tea parties evoke fits of laughter still.

As our family grew, our Mad Hatter tea parties gave way to "tea time", when Sir Knight and I would shew all of the children out of the house or to their rooms, and we would spend a half an hour reconnecting after our days work.  The parties grew calmer, but the relationships grew deeper.

Tea time still exists in our home, but has evolved once again.  The older children - Maid Elizabeth, Master Hand Grenade and occasionally Miss Calamity now share our tea table.  While Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin play, color or read in the other room, Sir Knight, the older kids and I share our lives with one another.  We talk about what is most important to each of us.  Problems come to light and victories are shared, hearts are mended and characters are shaped.  As our teacups are emptied our lives our filled.

Over the years, we have perfected our tea time.  Although our tea selection may vary, our routine never does.  We start our tea time with a heated tea pot.  Heating the pot is the difference between a tepid, mediocre brew and a pipping hot cup.  I then put on fresh water (always use fresh water - never water that has been boiling away on the stove - previously boiled water loses it oxygen and provides a very inadequate cup of tea) and prepare my tea table.  The tea pot I prefer is a Chatsford pot.  It has an infuser basket for the tea, allowing the tea to fully expand, producing a much better flavor.  There are other option for loose tea, however, the most common, a tea ball, is a very poor substitute.  If I don't have my Chatsford pot with me (when we travel), I always make sure that I have a tea sock.  A tea sock will fit in any pot and allow the tea to expand properly.

Chatsford pot with Infuser basket
Pre-heat with boiling water
Putting the basket into the pot
Tea filter or tea "sock"
When the water has been freshly boiled, I pour my water into the infuser basket that is placed in the teapot.  Teas steep (sit) for various times, depending upon the type of tea.  Generally, I make Bond Street English Breakfast (from Upton Tea), and it steeps for 5 minutes.  In the evenings, especially in the summer, we will indulge in a gunpowder green tea, which steeps for only 2 minutes.  After the tea has steeped, I remove the infuser basket (so the tea does not continue to get stronger), put the lid on the pot and start pouring tea.

Pouring water into the infuser
Taking the tea filled infuser out
of the pot after the tea has steeped
Every once in a while, I run out of the good tea that we love and have to make do with bagged tea.  Really, it is not a terrible substitute, as long as you cut open the bags and use the tea like a loose leaf tea.  A good rule of thumb is to use 1 tea bag per cup (how many tea cups your pot holds) and 1 bag "for the pot".  My tea pot is a 10 "cupper" so if I have to use tea bags, I cut open 11 bags.  When using loose leaf tea, you use 1 teaspoon of tea per cup and 1 for the pot.

Tea time aftermath
Although the wisdom of the day goes back and forth on the healthfulness of tea our family never wavers.  For us, it has little to do with health and everything to do with drawing our family together.  Tea makes each of us a part of something bigger.  It provides stability, routine and a platform for sharing our lives.  When our lives get difficult, our first response is to pray and our second is to put on the kettle.

White Wedding Cookies/Russian Tea Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large mixing bowl, cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually stir flour into butter mixture.  Add pecans, stirring until the nuts are evenly distributed.

If dough is too sticky to handle, refrigerate until firm. Break off 1 inch pieces of dough; roll into balls.

Place on ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set but still pale in color.

Cool slightly, then roll in confectioners' sugar.  When cookies are completely cooled, roll in confectioners' sugar again.

White wedding cookies

Friday, April 29, 2011

Always have a backup plan....

I have a love/hate relationship with my Bosch Universal Mixer.  I love it when it works and I hate it when it pulls my chain.  Lately, my Bosch has been getting a little dodgy.  It started by being difficult when I wanted to remove the bowl from the power base.  Then, it began not always turning the dough hook when I turned on the power.  The other day, in the middle of a double batch of peppermint patty dough, it failed to work at all.  Enough is enough!  This evening, when it was time to put a sponge on for pizza dough, Maid Elizabeth and I opted to bring out the hand crank dough mixer.  We put all of the ingredients in the bucket to sponge as usual and then added our flour and began to crank.  It worked like a charm!  The only issue we had is that our non-electric kneader is huge (10 quart capacity) and we were just making a little pizza dough.  It kneaded the dough very nicely, we just had to do the final kneading by hand.

Putting the dough hook in the bucket
Put the lid on the bucket for sponging
and raising
Kneading the dough
We had so little dough that it was
hard to mix it all in together
Maid Elizabeth finished kneading by hand
The prepper's code dictates that you always have three ways to do anything.  Mixing bread dough in no exception.  We have the Bosch, the hand crank mixer and our very own two hands.  Come what may, we will always find a way to make fresh, wonderful bread!

Bread making directions on the top....
and the bottom of the lid
Lehman's Non-Electric used to carry a version of this hand crank mixer.  I looked at their website and they don't seem to carry one any longer.  We bought ours in an antique store, and I have seen them at flea markets, yard sales and on ebay.  Ours has been a pretty handy investment.

What was left of our Friday night pizza
Once again, the prepper's code is more than a motto, it is a way of life.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Personal Pot Pie

We love a good pot pie, but there is often not enough crust to suit our tastes.  I have thought, from time to time, about getting individual pie pans, but really, I hate having my shelves cluttered up with so many seldomly used implements.  In my quest for individual pies, I discovered something most people already have in their tool cache.  Muffin tins.  Yep, a large muffin tin is the perfect pot pie pan!  Now, our pot pies come in a convenient personal size, with no new pans needed.

Typically, I use whatever I have on hand to make a pot pie.  This time, I grabbed a jar of canned chicken meat, added some celery, green onions, and cubed, cooked potatoes.  I make the sauce just like I make gravy and white sauce.  First, I melt a cube of butter in a skillet, add meat, celery and onion and cook until the vegetables are soft.  Then I sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the meat mixture.  After stirring and cooking for a few minutes, I add milk and chicken bouillon.  I continue cooking and stirring until the milk becomes a saucy gravy.  I add diced, cooked, potatoes and salt and pepper (to taste) and the chicken pot pie filling is ready!

Mixing the meat in butter
Adding vegetables in with the meat and white sauce
The crust recipe is a favorite of mine from Karey Swan's "Hearth & Home" cookbook.  It is actually a Pasty crust recipe, but we have used it from everything from pastys and pot pies to fried apple pies.  It is extraordinarily easy to make and oh, so easy to deal with.

Pot Pie/Pasty/Fried Apple Pie Pastry
1 cup butter (or lard)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 - 5 cups white or whole wheat flour

Cut up the butter into a bowl and add the boiling water, stirring until melted.  Stir in the salt and flour till the dough forms a ball.  Use the dough immediately or chill until needed.  Divide dough into 8 (very large) or 16 (smaller) pieces.  Roll dough into circles and fill as desired.

Add filling to pastry round
Folding the top crust
Ready to go into the oven
For the pot pie, I just rolled the pastry into circles (I used two pans, so we divided the dough into 12 pieces) and placed each circle into a muffin tin.  I then filled the circle of dough with pot pie filling and folded the extra dough over the top of the filling.  Bake the pot pies for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the pastry is nicely browned.  Simple!

Dinner is served!
These pot pies can be easily adapted for your preparedness pantry by substituting stored foods.  Lard can be substituted for the butter in the pastry, the other ingredients are all pantry items.  Canned chicken can be used instead of fresh, bacon grease or lard can be used instead of butter in the white sauce.  Dehydrated vegetables (potatoes, celery, onions or even peppers and broccoli) would be a very nice substitution for the fresh veggies we used.  These cook up quite well in the wood cookstove, however, if you are cooking over an open fire, it would be a very simple thing to line a dutch oven with the pastry crust, fill with pot pie filling and cook over coals (with a lid covered in coals, of course).

Chicken pot pies are a wonderful treat, but the same basic recipe could be used for any number of pies, whether they are beef, turkey, venison, elk - whatever you happen to have on hand.  These are filling, hearty and eminently tasty.

What is it with Zombies and Survivalists?

I have been studying the inexplicable link between survivalists and zombies for quite some time, as I am married to a survivalist who loves a good (if you could ever call a zombie movie good) zombie flick at least once a month and who has passed this bizarre gene down to our son.  Every so often, the littlest boy, the girls and I will put ourselves to bed, and Sir Knight and Master Hand Grenade will break out the zombie movies.  No matter how many times I have asked what is so alluring about the living dead eating everyone in sight, the closest thing I ever get to an answer is knowing looks passed between my men and something to the effect of "It's just a guy thing I guess".

Apparently, it is not just my survival guys that are infected with the zombie virus.  There is no end to zombie websites, zombie discussions and zombie end-of-the-world scenarios.  Even JWR's Survival Blog is not exempt!  I was looking for good, solid, useful TEOTWAWKI information and what do I find?  The first zombie proof house!  How is a girl supposed to compete with that?  I just want to prepare for everyday scenarios, like a major pandemic, the failure of the dollar, famine, civil unrest - simple things like that.  But zombies?  How do you prepare to defend yourself against being your neighbors dinner?

And now, I am becoming one of them.  The other day, as Sir Knight and I drove up our driveway, I mentioned the fact that the enclosure around our sun room was not zombie proof.  The words came out before I even knew what I was saying!  Oh, my.  Now, in addition to preparing for the end of the world as we know it, I have to look out for flesh eating undead!

And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
                                           Jeremiah 19:9

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Off-grid ingenuity

The iron on the stove
When you rely on the sun and a generator for your power, you have to think outside of the box when doing things other people take for granted.  Take ironing for instance.  I used to plug the iron in, complain that it was ironing day again, and commence ironing our piles of clothes.  Now, without grid power, ironing in no simple task.  Any appliance that uses resistive heating is a huge power user and we forgo their use on any but the sunniest of days.  The task of ironing, which I used to view as drudgery, is now done over the wood cookstove.  What's old is new again!

Getting wax out of a shirt
After trying to plug in my iron a number of times, only to hear the inverters whine loudly in complaint, I coiled the electrical cord around my iron and put it over the fire box on the wood cookstove.  It worked perfectly!  The iron goes over the wood box when I need a hot iron and is positioned closer to the water reservoir when I need a cooler iron.  Of course, this system only works in the winter when we are not making a ton of power from our solar panels.  In the summer, I can plug the iron into the wall and not blink an eye - we have plenty of power.

Little tricks make all of the difference.  It just takes a dab off-grid ingenuity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Walking the Walk

Have you ever noticed that it is easier to talk about something than it is to actually do something?  It is one thing to talk about "going solar" and another entirely to take the plunge and put your money where your mouth is. It is by far harder to walk the walk than it is to talk the talk.

Over the years, we have spoken with numerous people who want to live off-grid.  The interesting thing is, that most of them know how to live an off-grid life better than we do.  Sir Knight and I have politely listened to more people than we can count, tell us that our system is all wrong, that our wind turbine would have produced more power if we would have wired a 9 volt battery to the guy wires and that really, we could make more power than we could ever use if only we would put tin foil antennas on top of our solar array.  They mention that they would never use two Xantrex inverters, because Bob's Solar has a super-duper all-in-one unit that makes solar panels obsolete and all you have to do is rub your hands twice a day in close proximately to the unit and you can run your electric forced air heater and hot water tank and still have power left over for the air conditioner.  Foolish us, we have just lived off-grid for the last 10 1/2 years - they have taken that time to study, read and talk, and we are the lucky recipients of their acquired knowledge.

Now don't go getting the idea that I think we know everything about living off the grid.  I love hearing how other people do things.  It is amazing how creative people can get.  One of my favorite pastimes is to trade notes with other off-grid types.  The school of hard knocks has come calling to us all and we are the better for it.  It is the all-talk no-action crowd that drive me nuts.  It is amazing how much these folks know, but how little they can actually do.  And it is not just off-grid living that attracts these folks - it is preparedness as well.

One of the hallmarks of a hard-core prepper is the determination to make sure that his preparations will not be in vain.  The prepper that will actually survive the end of the world as we know it is the prepper that has tested his preparations.  He knows that his food is fresh because he rotated it faithfully.  He knows that his generator will run with a load because he regularly load tests and services it.  He is confident that his oil lamps won't burn his house down, because he field tested numerous lighting methods and settled on the one that would best serve his needs.  He is the go-to man in a medical crisis because he didn't just buy all the neat little gadgets, but he acquired the knowledge and skills required to effectively use those gadgets.  He will survive the end of the world because he walked the walk.  He didn't just talk about it.

Walking the the preparedness walk requires effort, commitment and inconvenience.  You will be in for an expensive education, but an education that will serve you well when the grid goes down.  Don't be the smartest guy in the room - the guy telling everyone else how to do it - with no real life experience backing you up.  Be the guy who has done it.  Be the guy who knows how to do it, not because you have read about it but because you have lived it, because you have practiced it.  Be the guy who walks the walk - not the guy who talks the talk.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Product Review - Powdered Scrambled Eggs

** ***

In our quest to decide how to spend our long term food storage money, we have been trying a lot of different dehydrated foods.  Powdered eggs were kind of a stretch for us because we have heard so many horrible things about them.  We have used "whole eggs" for years in our baked goods, and have never had a complaint, but powdered scrambled eggs?  That would be a real test.

We opened our #10 tin of powdered scrambled eggs and gave it a try.  The directions called for 2 tablespoons of powder to 3 tablespoons of warm water.  We measured enough for 8 eggs, so that everyone could try it and give their honest opinion.

The eggs did not smell like "real" eggs.  They mixed up well (I used an egg beater), but of course had a different consistency than eggs fresh from a chicken.  We put salt and pepper and a few chives in the eggs (just like we use for regular scrambled eggs) and poured the mixture into a pan with melted butter.  They cooked rather quickly and soon began to resemble scrambled eggs.  Minutes later, our eggs were ready for the breakfast plate.

Sir Knight was the first taste tester.  As he always uses Tabasco Sauce on his eggs, he sprinkled a judicious amount on these eggs too.  He cautiously tested the eggs and deemed them "not horrible".  They do not taste like normal eggs, and their texture is different, but they are not bad, just different.  If you are expecting eggs, you will be disappointed, but if you are expecting an egg substitute, these are a fine substitute.

Master Calvin and Princess Dragon Snack ate their eggs with no complaint, although they did not go back for seconds.  Master Hand Grenade put Tabasco on his (which he does not normally do) and Miss Calamity ate all of hers, deeming them "so so".  I thought they were quite passable, although not like real scrambled eggs.

All in all, we would buy the powdered scrambled eggs again.  We would not eat them as plain scrambled eggs, however.  They would be fine in an omelet, a frittata or even breakfast burritos - anything that scrambled eggs were secondary to the meal itself.  They are not a scrambled egg worth taking center stage.

While we would drink and rotate the Morning Moo's milk, the scrambled egg powder is strictly long term storage food.  It is not something we would keep on the shelf to round out our pantry, but we would store it for a worst-case scenario event.

Our family gave the scrambled egg powder a two out of five star rating.

Walmart (in some locations) have begun carrying the Augason Farms survival foods.  Rosaur's carries a good selection and they are available online from Costco and at some Costco warehouses.  Long term food storage is finally becoming mainstream.  Are you worried yet?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Debt, the economy & Lentil Burgers

Daily, new headlines jump off the pages of websites and newspapers, shouting the demise of our great nation.  "S&P downgrades debt", "Deficit hits new highs", "Gas prices spike".  Everywhere we turn we are confronted with the fragile nature of our economy and livelihood.  And it just keeps getting worse.  The debt is bad enough, but our inability to right where we went wrong is the real tragedy.

Years ago, when Sir Knight and I decided to move to the country, live in a shop with no electricity, running water or flushing toilets, we were faced with our own, personal downgrade of economy.   Before we moved, we had a beautifully planned budget, a dream and the energy to make everything happen.  Then reality hit.  None of our expenses fit within the tidy confines of our budget.  Our dream gave way to real life circumstances and our energy waned under the shear volume of work.  We had knowingly piled ourselves with high payments in order to make short work of our debts.  We had a property payment, a well payment (the well had cost about $12,000.00 more than we had budgeted), a car payment (I had foolishly thought we needed a larger vehicle), monthly auto insurance, phone, medical bills and the list goes on an on.  When all was said and done, we had about $70.00 every two weeks of "disposable" income.  When I say disposable, I mean money that wasn't being spent on bills.  That $70.00 had to cover food, fuel for oil lamps, toiletries and everything else a family of five might need.  We were in a crisis.  We had no one to tax and increase our revenue.  We didn't believe in welfare, food stamps or medicaid.  We had to find our proverbial boot straps and give them a good yank.

After meticulously tracking our every expenditure, cutting out EVERYTHING that wasn't a NECESSITY and discontinuing our welfare programs (the children didn't NEED candy bars or NEW shoes - thrift store fodder would have to do), we inventoried what other cuts we could make.  Ultimately, we had to pay off our debt first - everything else was secondary.  The only way we could do that, was by not buying food.  By the grace of God, we had stocked up for Y2K when we had plenty and now, when we had nothing in the way of money, we had lots in the way of stored foods.  I hauled out my trusty More with Less cookbook, poured over the pages and planned our menu using foods we had stored.  No more New England boiled dinners or pizza on Friday night, we now ate things like 11 bean soup, whole wheat bread (we ground the grain by hand) and lentil burgers.  From time to time, I would save enough eggs from our hens to spoil the family with potato soup and rich egg dumplings - a real treat.

For two years, we struggled, eating our way through our stored foods supply and then, little by little, our debt began to fall away.  A medical bill here, a car payment there and soon (although it felt like an eternity) we had escaped the crushing economy of our own making.  We had waded through the muck and had come out on the other side.  It was the right thing to do.  We could have begged, borrowed and stolen, but instead, we worked, denied ourselves and learned to live within our means.

Just like our country should.

Nowhere in my experience, has anyone ever gotten out of debt by borrowing.  It just doesn't work that way.  It has been proven over and over that you spend what you make.  If you make more money, you will spend more money.  If you borrow money to pay off your credit cards, you will end up with a payment for the loan, and, in very short order, you will have a credit card payment to make.  Again.  It is human nature.

It is well past time our country learns to eat lentil burgers.  We have gone from a country that ate Filet Mignon once a month, to wanting to eat Filet Mignon every day.  We need to get back to basics, with only an occasional splurge.  We need to deny our government more money and the ability to borrow money in our names.  We need to demand that, as a country, we live within our means.  It will hurt.  Denying ourselves always does. But it is worth it.  As a family, we were willing to eat lentil burgers in order to balance our budget.  As a country, we have to be willing to do the same.

Lentil Burgers

Combine in a bowl:
2 C. cooked, cooled lentils, drained
1 egg
1/2 C. cracker crumbs
1 small onion, minced
Tomato juice
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together using just enough tomato juice to hold mixture in shape when pattied.  Fry like hamburgers in small amount hot oil, shortening or bacon fat.  Serve in buns to complement legume protein.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Product Review - Chocolate Morning Moo's

After buying a number of different products packaged in #10 tins in an "emergency survival" section of a local grocery store, I have been systematically trying them so I know what we would like to stock up on and what we consider a waste of money.

We bought our "emergency" foods at a local chain grocery store called Rosauers (although I have heard that local Walmart stores have begun to carry the same selection).  The prices at the local stores are considerably less than they are when purchasing the same item online (and, of course, you don't have to pay shipping).  For example, I bought honey powder for $8.99 for a #10 tin at Rosauers and the same thing online costs $12.75.

Our latest experiment has been with Chocolate Morning Moos.  Generally speaking, we don't allow our children to indulge in chocolate milk, however, in a survival situation, sometimes a little taste of normal goes a long way.  Oftentimes, powdered milk is a less than savory substitute for the real thing and when the grid goes down, will most likely be confined to baking rather than drinking "fresh".  Kids, especially those used to drinking milk and other "flavored" drinks will view chocolate milk as a highly anticipated treat after months of nothing but water.  In that vein, we bought a tin of Chocolate Morning Moos and proceeded to give it a try.

Can, freshly opened.  It is quite full.
Measuring enough powder for 1 gallon of "milk"
Pouring warm water in with the powder
Mixing 1 quart warm water with powder

Pouring the mixture into a gallon jar.
Fill the jar with cold water and mix.
The review panel - my children - gave the Chocolate Morning Moos an enthusiastic thumbs up.  The flavor does improve after being chilled (as stated on the can), although my children all had to taste it immediately and were instantly smitten.

Handy spot on the back of the
can to write the date that the item was opened.

I will buy more Chocolate Morning Moos, although I will not keep a large supply on hand, due to the fact that I think our money is spent more wisely on nutritious foods.  I do think having a can or two could be a tremendous morale booster, especially for special occasions like birthdays and holidays.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Child-like faith

So many times, as adults, we make things too complicated.  We are selfish, greedy and want things our own way and our judgement becomes clouded because of our own self-centered desires.  Although we talk of great faith, our lack of faith becomes evident in our murmurings.

The bible talks of a simple, child-like faith.  A faith so pure and complete that it can move mountains and the very hand of God.  It talks of a faith that I long to possess.  But I am bound by selfishness, logic and reason.  My faith is often limited by how I feel versus what I know.  My faith is weak.

I came face-to-face with perfect, child-like faith while teasing my young daughter, Princess Dragon Snack.  Dragon Snack's birthday is coming up, and in honor of this great event, we bought her a bed - her very own, first bed.  Oh, she has always had a place to sleep, but not really a bed of her own.  First, of course, she slept in a crib.  Then she graduated to sleeping with her big sister.  Eventually she moved into a toddler bed and then, after outgrowing the toddler bed, rested her head on an old, military cot bed.  For her upcoming birthday, we bought her a beautiful, shabby, antique "princess" bed.  It has a gorgeous shape and fading but ageless beauty that we thought would be perfect for our precious treasure.

Maid Elizabeth and I snuck away to town to retrieve Dragon Snack's surprise and came home with her new treasure tucked securely in the back of the truck.  Princess Dragon Snack knew nothing of her surprise and I had to think of something to tell her as to why we were taking down her military cot.  I called her to me, and in a most somber voice, told her that we were going to have to take her bed down.  She would now be reduced to sleeping on the floor.  She looked at me with her huge blue eye, searched me questioningly and asked "why, mama?".  I told her that after trading up to the military cot, I had determined that we just didn't have the room for her bed any longer.  She would now have to sleep on the floor, "but don't worry" I reassured her, "I will give you a sleeping bag to sleep in".  Her face sparkled.  She threw her arms around me saying "thank you, thank you, thank you" and danced off singing "I get to sleep in a sleeping bag, I get to sleep in a sleeping bag!".  She was thrilled.  I sat there dumbfounded.  I had just informed my young daughter that I was taking her bed away, reducing her to sleeping on the floor and she kissed me and thanked me for it.  She had absolute faith that I was doing the right thing!  It didn't even occur to her to be upset about losing her bed - she was thrilled that I was giving her a sleeping bag.

In that moment, God humbled me.  I have fussed and complained over more circumstances than I care to admit.  I have questioned God's providence and even His love for me.  I have murmured about my situation and have wallowed in the depths of despair.  I have been a child of little faith.  Princess Dragon Snack trusted me with the perfect faith of a child.  A faith that knew I would only do what was best for her.  A faith that reveled in whatever circumstances she found herself in, knowing those circumstances came from loving parents.  A perfect, child-like faith.  My daughter had the faith that I wanted.

The thrill at being allowed to sleep in a sleeping bag was only dimmed by the unveiling of her new "Princess" bed.  Sleeping bag forgotten, she danced for joy when she saw her shabby birthday present.  It was all she had ever wanted, and more, she said.  The reality is that it was not Princess Dragon Snack who received a present that day, it was me.  She showed me perfect faith.  She gave me the gift of glimpsing the faith that can move mountains.  She showed me child-like faith.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Product Review - Honey Powder

A friend, visiting last week, mentioned in passing that they had been traveling through a small town to the south of us and stopped at a local grocery store to pick up a few essentials.  Imagine her surprise, when going toward the checkout line, she noticed a large, hand-lettered sign with the words "Emergency Survival Food".  Intrigued, she made her way toward the rows of #10 tins to investigate.  She toted home a few tins of banana chips and quickly made plans to revisit the store to further bolster her preparedness supplies.  Of course, I filed this information away with hopes that we too would be making our way south in the near future so that I could check out this "survival" section of a mainstream grocery store.

Today was that day.  Sir Knight, the kids and I headed south to attend our nephew's birthday party and had to drive right past that very store.  How could we possibly not stop?  A quick trip inside revealed a gold mind of emergency essentials.  Sure enough, rows upon rows of dehydrated foods in #10 tins consumed premium space right next to the checkout counter.  Standard fair such as powdered milk and potato gems were present along with other not-so-common items like powdered scrambled eggs, butter powder and honey powder.  We picked up a few tins of this and that so that we could evaluate the quality of the food and decide what we were interested in stocking up on.  The honey powder was especially intriguing, since we had never heard of such a thing.  I couldn't wait to get home and try it.

Honey powder in the can
(it was about 2/3 full - it is filled
by weight and not by volume)

Mixing the powder with water
The honey powder package had direction for using both straight from the can (in powder form) and rehydrating the powder and using as table honey.  I thought it more likely that we would reconstitute the honey and use it in liquid form so I followed the rehydrating directions, with really exceptional results.

First, I measured 1 cup of honey powder into a saucepan, slowly added 1/4 cup of cold water and stirred to combine.  After the powder and water had been sufficiently mixed, I put the saucepan on the stove and slowly heated the mixture up until the sugars went into solution.  Of course, at this point we had to taste the honey to see if it was remotely edible.  It was great!  I was very surprised.  It was the taste and consistency of "regular" honey.  I would gladly put the reconstituted honey on my table.

Heating the honey

The honey after the sugars have dissolved
It was exciting to see preparedness foods in a chain grocery store.  We brought home a brochure for the supplier, Augason Farms, which showcased even more products than the grocery store had carried.  The prices in the grocery store were considerably less than they are on the Augason Farms website, which I attribute to the shear bulk that is carried in the store location.

It is even the right consistency and color!
Although honey has an incredibly long shelf life, I think the honey powder is definitely a worthy addition to our preparedness stores.  I will definitely be frequenting that grocery store and adding to our honey powder supply.