Saturday, February 29, 2020

Chicken Noodle Soup

One of my parent's remedies for nearly anything that ailed us as kids, was chicken noodle soup.  It is still my 'go to' soup for times when I am feeling a bit under the weather.  Or for when I just want a bowl of soup.

The price of a can of soup has increased considerably since I was young.  When a person is living on a fixed income, price often matters.  The ingredients matter as well, and I am getting more and more interested in the chemicals included in processed foods.  I would rather know for sure what I am consuming.

So I made my own soup and canned it.

Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast was on sale so I got nine pounds.  The easiest way for me to cook that amount was to spread the meat out on parchment paper lined cookie sheets and bake until they were cooked through.  After the meat cooled, I cut it into about 1/2 inch dices.

Each pint jar got 1/2 cup of chicken, 2 chicken bouillon cubes, a 1/2 teaspoon each of celery powder and onion powder (both made by grinding up my dehydrated celery and onions) and water enough to leave about 1 inch of headspace.  The soup was processed in my pressure canner for 65 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my elevation.  I got 36 pints of soup and have enough chicken left over to mix with the leftover BBQ sauce from canning BBQ pork and can that for BBQ chicken sandwich filling.

Pasta doesn't can well, so when the jars of soup had cooled overnight and had been washed and labeled, I broke angel hair pasta into about 1 inch pieces, put a heaping 1/4 cup of pasta into snack sized ziploc bags and taped the pasta bags to the outside of each jar.

I taste tested a jar of the soup, adding the pasta to cook while the soup heated.  I have to admit, it is some really good chicken noodle soup.  Unlike commercially canned chicken noodle soup, this soup has plenty of chicken pieces and even using the bouillon cubes, it doesn't have a salty taste.

Comfort food in a jar.  Doesn't get much better than that.  

Monday, February 24, 2020

Upcoming Experiments

One experiment has already been completed. Some time ago I bought three pork roasts on sale, baked them and froze them. Yesterday I shredded the thawed roasts and stirred in BBQ sauce, packed the mixture into half pint jars and processed them for 65 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my altitude. I got 24 half pints in the first canner load. There is still a large bowl of the mixture in the fridge that I will can up tomorrow. One jar didn't seal, so I heated that up for my lunch and found to my delight that it made a really good BBQ pork sandwich.

My grocery order went in today. One pound bags of rice were on sale, so I ordered 6. I had seen a couple of videos showing how to make instant rice. According to the instructions, the rice is rinsed, cooked and spread on mesh lined dehydrator trays and dried. To use, it is said that when boiling water is added, it rehydrates quickly. I'll let you know how it works.

Another dehydrating experiment I have been wanting to try is dehydrated pasta. Jennifer over at 'Prep School Daily' has instructions to do this. Her article on the subject tells us why we would want to have dehydrated pasta in our food storage. She also has recipes for instant meals using the dehydrated pasta. As I have some other things I am working on this week, I likely will give dehydrating pasta a go this coming weekend.

I just love trying new foodie things. It is nice to have a variety of heat and serve foods on the shelves. I will post the results of the experiments a week from today. Until then, keep on prepping.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Another Conversation

I have a home health care service that sends nurses to my apartment three times weekly to treat my legs.  I have nothing but good things to say about the care I receive.  Thanks to their expert care I have few problems with a condition that has previously put me into the hospital.

I don't always see the same nurse due to their scheduling of patient care throughout the Twin City area, which is likely a logistical nightmare.  This morning the nurse who just left my apartment was the one who manages the rest of the nurses.  Because of my previous conversation with another nurse described in the last post, I asked her to tell me everything she knows about the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Her reply..."Oh, it's just the flu."

She must have noticed the astonished look on my face because she then asked me what did I know about it.

So I told her.

When I finished, she remarked that the news broadcasts weren't reporting any of that.  I replied that she must get her news from CNN.

I also told her that if the virus spreads much further here in the States, there would be a list of protocols that I would expect to be precisely followed upon each nurse's visit.  She didn't look pleased, so I reminded her that at age 73, my lungs are wrecked and that I am on oxygen 24/7 and use a nebulizer 3 times daily, just to be able to breathe normally.  A virus like this one for which there is no cure is apt to kill me off.

Folks, I am absolutely astounded that people working in the health care field are so completely oblivious to the known details of this virus.  I am not saying it will reach epidemic proportions.  But it could.

And one of the reasons it could is that people are not paying attention.

Monday, February 17, 2020

I had a typical prepping conversation...

with the nurse who was here today to treat my legs.  I asked her if she had heard anything new about the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Her response was that it was nothing to worry about.  So, because I just couldn't help myself, I asked her what would she do if it is real and if it spread and if quarantines were put into effect.  Could she feed her family for a minimum of two weeks on what she had in her pantry?  She said it didn't matter because she could just get whatever she needed at the store.  So I asked her what would she do if quarantines kept the delivery trucks out of the quarantine areas.  And her answer was sadly typical - "Oh, that will never happen here."

I have had similar conversations over the years.  I am done.

What prompted my conversation with the nurse was an email I received today from my best source of information.  The following was published by the American Trucking Association.  There could be any number of reasons for the trucks to stop running, but right now the threat of the virus spreading, quarantines being put into effect and trucks being kept out of the quarantined areas is what is on the minds of many.  Here is what I found in my friend's email.

"When Trucks Stop, America Stops
A Timeline Showing the Deterioration of Major Industries Following a Truck Stopage

The first 24 hours:
*Delivery of medical supplies to the affected area will cease.
*Hospitals will run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters within hours.
*Radiopharmaceuticals will deteriorate and become unusable.
*Service Stations will begin to run out of fuel.
*Manufacturers using just-in-time manufacturing will develop component shortages.
*U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within one day:
*Food shortages will begin to develop.
*Automobile fuel availability and delivery will dwindle, leading to sky-rocketing prices and long lines at the gas pumps.
*Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery, assembly lines will shut down putting thousands out of work.

Within two to three days:
*Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic.
*Supplies of essentials - such as bottled water, powdered milk, and canned meat - at major retailers will disappear.
*ATM's will run out of cash and banks will be unable to process transactions.
*Service stations will completely run out of fuel for autos and trucks.
*Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.
*Container ships will sit idle in ports and rail transport will be disrupted, eventually coming to a standstill.

Within a week:
*Automobile travel will cease due to the lack of fuel.  Without autos and busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.

Within two weeks:
*The nation's clean water supply will begin to run dry.

Within four weeks:
*The nation will exhaust its clean water supply and water will be safe for drinking only after boiling.  As a result gastrointestinal illness will increase, further taxing an already weakened health care system.

This timeline presents only the primary effects of a freeze on truck travel.  Secondary effects must be considered as well, such as inability to maintain tellecommunications service, reduced law enforcement, increased crime, increased illness and injury, higher death rates, and likely, civil unrest."

The full report can be viewed Here.

I'm not saying this virus is going to turn into a pandemic.  But what if....

Friday, February 14, 2020

I Have a Secret

Well, actually, I had a secret.  I am now allowed to share it.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter Jeri, granddaughter Nicki and Nicki's fiancee Chris came to see me.  We had a nice visit.  And Nicki brought me a gift.

But I had to promise to keep the news secret.  There were other relatives that needed to be told of the upcoming event.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep such good news a secret?  Thought I was going to burst!

Well today they made the announcement via Facebook.

So there it is.  I'm gonna be a Great-Grandma!!  Let the bragging begin!

Life is so very good.

Love, Great-Grandma to be.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

On "New Normals"

My Grandmother cooked all the family meals from scratch.  She kept an immaculate household.  She canned produce from her garden and fruit from local fruit trees and fruit that grew wild in the surrounding woods.  She baked her own bread.  She sewed dresses for her daughters and shirts for her son.  She did all this while raising seven children.  She passed this knowledge and way of life on to my mother who in turn, passed it on to me.

Those of us who were raised in the old ways had a tendency to carry on as those before us had.  We worked from dawn to dusk.  And if our home was on a farm, the days were even longer and the work, harder.  But we didn't think about that, for we were young and would undoubtedly live forever.
And now we are old.  Now we know better.

I have a dear friend with whom I exchange frequent emails.  We both have chronic health issues.  Because neither of us feels sorry for ourselves or for the other, we occasionally discuss the 'new normals' of our lives.  It sometimes helps to talk with another person who understands.

Last week I came to the realization that I have reached another 'new normal.'  Having been a home canner since the age of 12 when I helped my mother with that activity as she became the victim of dibilitating rheumatoid arthritis, it is hard for me to accept the fact that canning has become difficult at best.  Lifting the heavy canner, standing at the sink preparing some foods to can, lifting the jars of food from the canner, all are no easy tasks these days.  My 'new normal.'

The point of this post, however, is not to whine about my limitations.  I know there must be others out there who are going through their 'new normals.'  And I am here to offer encouragement.

We were raised to believe we could do it all.  And many of us did, for years.  But life happens.  We thought it shameful to use food from a can or a box rather than cook from scratch.  The shameful thing is if we use our limitations as an excuse not to prep.  Here are some of the things that can be found in my deep pantry:

boxes of Mac & Cheese
scalloped potato mixes
cans of fruit
cans of vegetables
boxes of Bisquick
cans of corned beef hash
cans of Spam
packets of rice and pasta mixes
packets of muffin mixes
boxes of pancake mix

True, I did can up a ton of food while I still could, but these days my canning is limited mostly to canning meat.  And that is due to the cost of commercially canned meats.  And meat is easy to can.  And often my son is willing to give up his day off to help.

Here's the deal.  We may have limitations.  We have to adjust to our own 'new normals.'  But that doesn't mean that we have to give up on preparing.  With everything that is going on in the world around us, failing to prepare could mean the difference between surviving or dying.

Me...I'm going to do whatever it takes to live long enough to be a problem to my children.  It has been said by a somewhat cheeky daughter that I have acheived that goal, but I don't think so.  Not yet!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Quiet Day

Now and then we of a certain age and with a few body parts that seem to be failing us, need a quiet day to recoup and revive.  Today is such a day.

Not that I am sitting, staring out the window.  Nope.  There are still things I can do on a quiet day.

Oldest Son was here yesterday and we went through my canning shelves and deep pantry, making decisions on what was needed and what we have plenty of.  I've got lots of home canned meats and vegetables and soups/stews along with some fruit.  I have more canning to do before spring.  The shelves are more than full, with several cases of bacon, baked beans and ham and bean soup sitting on the floor in front of the shelves.  Duane has already taken several cases of home canned food over to his apartment, but he said he would swamp out another area where he can store more.  That will really help.

 So we decided to concentrate on the staples like sugar, flour. powdered milk, etc.  And we really need to ramp up the first aid supplies, for we don't have nearly enough.

So I spent part of the day making lists of what is needed so I will have a handy reference for my grocery orders and a future Sam's Club adventure.  I am no longer foolish enough to rely on memory alone.  After all, I can go from one room to another and forget why in the process.  :)

I also spent time transferring recipes from my computer to index cards.  It occurred to me that should we lose power, the recipes - especially the ones for canning or for dry mixes - would be lost.  I do have a printer but am out of printer paper.  Index cards take up less space than do binders filled with paper.  I also have an external hard drive, but without electricity, that becomes a doorstop.

I also checked out some web sites dealing with the Coronavirus.  There are a number of 'hair on fire - we're all gonna die' sites, but there are some that are taking a common sense approach to the problem.  While the virus doesn't seem to be spreading here as quickly as in China, officially we have doubled in the past two days the number of known cases here in the States, to 12.  One of those is in Wisconsin, which is too close to me for comfort.  I am still of the opinion that the truth is not being told to the public, world wide.

All in all, it was a fairly productive quiet day and with any luck at all, I will be back to my normal turtle racing speed in the morning.  :)

Take precautions to stay healthy and keep on prepping.

Monday, February 3, 2020

I Don't Want To Adult Today

As I sit here at my desk this morning, looking at my checkbook and a stack of bills, it occurs to me that I just don't want to adult today.  I would much rather go back to when I was about 8 years old.

If it were summertime, the 8 year old me would be playing a game of Jacks with my best friend.  Or maybe Hopscotch on the sidewalk.  Or I might be found hiding among the branches of the crab apple tree reading a Nancy Drew Mystery or a Bobsey Twins book, with the added pleasure of having some of the best tasting crab apples on the planet within easy reach.

Or I might be found knee deep in the creek, sailing pieces of wood and pretending they were boats sailing off to distant exotic lands.  Or maybe at the lake practicing my swimming strokes.

If it were wintertime, there were snowmen to be built, complete with coal for eyes and a carrot nose.  Or the building snow forts where epic snowball battles raged.

If I were at my Grandma's house, there would be sledding with my cousins down the hill in the cow pasture, made all the more exciting by having to dodge the large rocks and tree stumps.

But the best part of winter was ice skating.  There was the outdoor ice rink down by the elementary school where an 8 year old girl could practice to be an Olympic champion.  Those hopes were dashed with the realization that I probably would never skate backwards without falling down.

Then there was the small ice covered lake near Grandma's house where Dad had skated as a young boy.  He told me of skating on a very windy day.  He opened the front of his coat and held the fronts out like airplane wings.  The wind caught his 'wings' and propelled him across the lake.  Having tried that myself, I learned he was right when he said the ride across was fun, but skating back against the wind was a bugger.

So here I am.  Bills and checkbook in front of me.  I am not 8 years old any more.  If I want a roof over my head I suppose I had better write that rent check and if I want my life to continue without bill collectors bothering me, I expect I had better be the adult and take care of business.

But oh, the memories.  They are sweet.