Saturday, January 31, 2009

Broaden Your Grain Horizons

One day in the local health food store, I noticed many varieties of rice in their bulk section. I bought a little brown basmati rice, because I'd read that it was low glycemic. It was delicious! It has a much more mild flavor than the regular brown rice I've used for years, and I can use brown basmati rice in dishes where I don't want the rice to take over the flavor of the food or with guests not used to brown rice. So, guess what kind of brown rice is in my storage now? I'm willing to pay a little more to get the brown basmati rice, and I've been able to get buckets of brown basmati rice through Walton Feed orders (through Carol M., for those of you in Elk Ridge).

That experience taught me something.... why not go into the health food store and buy a little grain I've never tried before? If we like that grain, then we look for a place to do a bulk order and get that grain much cheaper than at the health food store. Most health food stores have small bags or a bulk section. You can try all kinds of things that might seem exotic to you now.

Incidentally, you CAN cook brown rice in a rice cooker. Rince the rice until clean and then soak it in water for several hours or all day. Put the soaked rice in the rice cooker, add the amount of water you normally would for the same amount of white rice, plus about 3/4 cup additional water. Cover and cook. If your first batch is dry, then adjust the water the next time or add a little more water toward the end of the cooking. If you don't own a rice cooker, cook enough rice for several days and toss the leftovers in the refrigerator or the freezer. I put the cold rice in a vegetable steamer and steam it to warm for the next meal.

Another fun grain you can try is quinoa. This grain comes from the Andes and is one of the "super grains", due to it's high nutrient content. I lived in Bolivia for awhile, where I first used quinoa - a tiny grain, really. I have to say it: there is no "W" sound in quinoa as you read all over the web. It is pronounced "kee-no-ah", not "kin-wah". I think the popular pronunciation is what a non-Spanish speaker thought they were hearing when a Spanish speaker said the word. I've seen quinoa in most health food stores.

Whole wheat couscous is another wonderful thing we always have in our house, having tried it from the health food store. True, it's a pasta, but it offers you a whole new world of fast and easy cooking. For couscous itself, you just add water and salt and stir. For great flavor, we toast the couscous in a frying pan and set it aside. (Sometimes I toast some pine nuts or sliced almonds, too.) I saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add the amount of water for the amount of couscous I want to make, chicken soup base (like bouillon, but better), and a handful of golden raisins. Cook until the raisins are soft and remove from heat. Add the couscous (and nuts if you're using them), stir, and cover. In a few minutes, it's done. This is great with a little extra olive oil drizzled over the top -- a great side dish with chicken.

You won't know what you're missing until you try these and other grains. In a food storage world where wheat rules the day, wouldn't it be nice to get in a little variety to enliven your life?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Get Your Money's Worth &
Keep Your Family Safe!

Self-reliance is not just about food and eating, right? It's about getting your money's worth, and it's about that feeling of security and safety. A friend just made me aware of aware of a very important issue that definitely might save your life or the lives of your loved ones. Since all of us drive cars, it affects every one of us.

In the United Kingdom, auto tires have an expiration date. Have you ever seen that in the U.S.? No. Yet, apparently, it very much matters how long it has been since a tire was manufactured, even if that tire is sitting in a tire store looking brand-new. Who knew? The manufacturers knew and our government knows and no one told us. Why does this not surprise me?

As tires age, they dry out a bit and the tread becomes less stable, even six years after they were manufactured. Does it bother you that tires you thought were new might fall apart while you're driving down the freeway? Yet, there are tires all over the U.S. being sold as "brand-new" that were manufactured as long as 12 years ago. So, please watch the ABC news story linked below so you know what to watch for and how to decode the manufacturer date stamped on the tires. Please check your own car tires, too, and pass this information onto your family and friends. I'm crossing my fingers the link to this news story stays up a good long time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Three in One ...What a Deal!

Three great food storage blogs, all run by young mothers, have merged into Fun with Food Storage, meant to be a "one-stop" place to help you with your planning and purchasing of food storage, as well as the last important step -- eating. The network includes: Obsessive Shopper, Food Storage Made Easy, and Everyday Food Storage. Throughout, you get practical advice, easy steps, and a lot of fun, to boot. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snow on the Ground and Spring in the Heart

It's a new year, so time for a bunch of goals, right? Trouble is that we might have given up on those goals long before the warm months hit. So, why not set some manageable goals that you'll remember every time you walk into your pantry or storage room -- goals that will benefit your family long-term? Tracie M. pointed out today that food prices have gone down. We all are smart enough to know the price of gas will go back up and that the food prices will rise again, too. So, now is the time to both plan and prepare. How can you prepare? Let's talk about one step you can take right now.

Seed catalogues come out soon, so now is the time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. Order and buy your seeds in February and start some of them (i.e. tomatoes, lettuce, and broccoli) by March.

Why start your own seeds? You can grow tasty varieties not available locally. I've been growing Brandywine tomatoes (an Amish heirloom variety) and Cherokee Purple tomatoes (an American Indian heirloom variety) for years, from seeds I purchased at Johnny's Seeds, a Maine company. Only recently have those plants become available locally. Expand your horizons and pour over the seed catalogues, both paper and online, and you'll find a whole new world of gardening.

Aren't you jazzed to get a bit of green going with all this snow?Remember that broccoli and lettuce can be set out very early. My lettuce plants from seed survived 6" of snow last spring and were beautiful. Truly, there is nothing like a home-grown vegetable for taste and flavor, and you'll feel even better knowing you were able to begin this process right in your own home with your little green thumb. Involve your children in the planning now, as well as the planting and all the rest.

Sometimes, we begin something because we know we should do it, and because we've been counseled to do it. Most of the time.... yes, most of the time, we end up wishing we'd begun earlier. The blessings pour over us. After all, who was it in the old Primary song who told us to "plant a garden", after all? With every commandment comes a blessing attached.