Monday, September 30, 2013

How To Make Melissa's Yummy Cinnamon Rolls - Photo Tutorial

Many people have been asking me for this, so here it is! 
Cinnamon Rolls

(I know this picture is obnoxiously large, but I wanted you to be able to get up close and personal with these cinnamon rolls. ha! ha!)


1. Start with the 30 Minute Roll Recipe
Note: This recipe makes about 50 cinnamon rolls! You might want to half the recipe!

Mix and rest 10 minutes:
3 ½ cups warm water                          
¾ cup sugar (OR 1/2 cup honey)
1 cup oil                                                
6 TBSP Yeast (Less yeast may be used, but rising time will be longer)

Add:
1 TBSP Salt                                          
3 eggs (can use egg powder and water)
10 ½ cups flour (wheat flour turns out really light and fluffy)

Mix in mixer or knead. Shape into rolls. Raise 10 minutes. *Bake at 425° for 10-12 minutes or until done. 

2. Here’s How to “Shape into Rolls”
Cut dough in half. Roll out one of the sections into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick (or so!) Spread soft or melted butter over the dough. Spread a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon over the butter. (I use about 4 cups of brown sugar to 3-4 TBSP of cinnamon. I go heavy on the cinnamon and never really measure. I just dump it in until it taste the way I want it to.) Roll up. Cut into 1 inch sections and place on cookie sheet. Let rise for about 10 minutes or so. Repeat with other section of dough, or just make them into dinner rolls.

*I prefer to bake them at 375 degrees until they are starting to lightly brown and dough is done in the middle. Take out of oven and let cool for about 5 minutes or so. Spread on or drizzle on the frosting.


Photo Tutorial:


Start off by shaping the dough roughly into a rectangle.
Cinnamon Rolls

Roll out the dough about 1/4" thick. This will take practice.
Roll out dough

Spread soft or melted butter over dough. 
Spread on the Butter

Put cinnamon sugar on the dough.
Cinnamon Sugar

Spread it out smoothly - feel free to use your hands.
Spread out Cinnamon Sugar

Roll up the dough.
Roll up the dough

Cut into 1 inch slices.
Cut the dough

Place them neatly on a cookie sheet and let them rise. This is a "jelly roll pan", which is half of a sheet cake. You can put them on smaller pans that just hold 12 cinnamon rolls.
Let them rise

Bake them in the oven and look how beautiful they are!
Bake in oven

Oh. My. Yumminess!
The best cinnamon rolls

Spread on your cream cheese frosting. (Recipe below)
Spread on Frosting

I wish you could smell these and taste them! Make some! YUM!!!! 
The best cinnamon rolls


3. Here’s How to Make the Frosting
Okay, I have to admit that I never measure! But here is an estimate….Soften about 8 oz of cream cheese and 3 tablespoon of butter in a large plastic bowl. Add 3-4 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a few (maybe 4??) tablespoons of milk. Mix with hand mixer…you may need to add more milk or powdered sugar to get the right consistency you like. I like it kinda thin like a cake batter, not thick like cake icing.

4. Enjoy!


Eat immediately with a glass of milk and enjoy! They are good for a few days, but you will want to warm them up for about 8 seconds in the microwave!

I Saved $2026 Today With One Phone Call!!

Save Money
I really did just save $2026 today by making one phone call! I am so excited that I can hardly stand it! 

I was going to start writing a Financial Preparedness series in a few months, but I had to go ahead and share my newest experience with you!

With the rising cost of EVERYTHING, I am trying to find ways to save money and spend less! We will get into all of those details later...


But here's just one tip:

About once a year, I look at all of the bills we have, such as cable or satellite tv, phone bills, car insurance, home owner's insurance, electric bill, water bill, and even the mortgage payment. Then I call the companies and see what I can do to lower my bill. The last time I called the satellite tv company, I saved $20 a month on my bill and kept the same programming schedule I already had. They said I qualified for a special promotion they were running. I did the same with my phone company, and they said they had new packaging of my features, and it saved me $15 a month. We usually run our air conditioner pretty cold in the summer (I am hot natured and like it freezing, but the kids wrap up in blankets like Eskimos), and this summer we turned the air up just 3 degrees, and it saved us $75-$100 a month. That's a lot of money when you add it all up!! Just on those 3 bills alone, that's a savings of $1620 a year!


My Biggest Savings

I was checking out the cost of our car insurance and home owner's insurance and I noticed it had gone up quite a bit over the last 4 years (I have also added 3 teenage drivers!) I called my insurance guy and asked him if he could find cheaper rates for us somewhere. Two days later he called me and said he found a better company for us, and that I needed to come in and sign papers. When I got there today, he showed me that we were going to be saving $2026 a year on our policies! And that's with the exact same policy coverage and with a reputable company! I was so excited that I almost wanted to hug his neck! (In the South, you can do that!) But I restrained myself and just sat there civilized and signed the paperwork. SCORE!!!!! That's another $168.83 a month! Cha-ching!


It's Worth a Try

So, you might just want to give it a try! Make some phone calls and see if you can save money on your bills. You might want to consider having less channels on your satellite tv, or making a sack lunch a few days a week instead of getting fast food, or just being more conscientious about turning off lights when you leave a room. Or change nothing like I did, and just make some phone calls! Just think what you could do with the extra money. Did you know that paying $200 extra a month on your mortgage payment can take YEARS off your loan? 

It's the little things that can make a difference! 

What have you done to save money or cut your bills?





Friday, September 27, 2013

A 3 Month Supply of Food

3 Month Supply
Usually people can agree that it is wise counsel to have a 3 month supply of food on hand. It's just smart. Especially in today's crazy world! But HOW do you do that and WHAT should you store?


THE WISE COUNSEL

It is suggested that you store a 3 month supply of food that is part of your normal daily diet! Yes! You can store some chocolate! (I just had to get that in there!) This needs to be food that you are used to eating in your normal everyday cooking. This list will be different for every household!

See My Food Storage Story: The Experience That Woke Me Up! for some motivation!
See Food Storage: Where Do I Begin? WATER!! for a smart place to start!


HOW DO I OBTAIN IT?

There are many ways to build up a 3 month supply of groceries! This will depend on your budget, how and where you shop, and how much thought and effort you put into it. The good news is, it's quite simple to do, and you can do it a little at a time and build up a nice supply in a relatively short amount of time. 

Ideas:
*Use coupons! You do not have to be an extreme couponer to get a few good deals! Once I clipped some cereal coupons and got 8 boxes of cereal for 25 cents each! I was so excited! I've even gone on eBay and purchased a group of 20 coupons for $1, and I went shopping and got 20 cans of chicken at a great deal because the store had a sale and I could double the coupons there. I'm sure you know someone who loves to coupon, and you can ask them for some pointers!

*Watch the sales at your favorite grocery store(s) where you normally shop. Many of them will run Buy One Get One Free sales, or they will have great sales on canned goods or other products. Buy a few extra cans  of what is on sale and store it away. At first you will have an interesting stash of food...a bunch of canned tuna, several jars of spaghetti sauce, and a variety of canned soup. But once you go through the sales at your store that first year, you will have a nice variety of food, and the best part is, you got it all on sale!!

*Set aside some grocery money just for your food storage! I knew a lady who told me she did not have any extra money in her budget to buy food storage. I asked her if she ever went through a fast food drive thru during the week. Of course she said yes. I asked her to skip just one of those trips through the drive thru and allocate $5 a week to her food storage budget. I told her to spend it on items that she usually would purchase that were on sale at her grocery store. She took my challenge, and within a few months, she had a cabinet full of food that was separate from her normal pantry. She built a 3 month supply of food with just $5 a week!!! If you want to do it, you will find a way! 

I once heard a man talk about saving money, and he said that he LOVED french fries! He calculated that he spent about $8.25 a week just going through the drive thru 3 times to eat a large order of french fries! And that did not include if he got a drink or a burger to go with it! He decided to cut out fast food french fries for his budget (and his health!) Just by doing that one thing, he saved $429 a year! Imagine how much food storage you could buy with that! (And how much weight you could lose!)

*Just go buy it! If your budget allows it, or you have some bonus money you can spend (wishful thinking!), just make your list and go shopping! I know people who do this and it brings them a lot of peace of mind and they don't have to think about it so much. Then they just work on replenishing their supply as they use it. Recently, I went to Aldi (a great place to buy good food at good prices) and bought $250 of canned goods. It filled my shelves back up to the way I like them and definitely brought me peace of mind. It blew my grocery budget for the next few weeks, but I made adjustments and it worked out just fine!


WHAT IS A 3 MONTH SUPPLY?

The answer to this question will be different for every household! But you are pretty smart and I know you will figure it out! 

Ideas:
*Here's how I did it that week when I had my traumatic experience. I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down 7 breakfasts and 7 dinners that we liked. I listed everything I needed for each meal. I kept it simple because we were newlyweds and did not have much money. I did not even think about lunch yet, because it was a little overwhelming. I figured I would start with breakfast and dinner. (An excel Spreadsheet would have made this a lot easier back then!)

  • Example: Chicken Alfredo Dinner: 1 jar of Alfredo sauce, 1 lb box of noodles, I can of chicken, 1 can of corn

Once I had a week's worth of breakfasts and dinners figured out, I multiplied everything by 4 so I could now have a one month supply of meals with ingredients figured out. That's how I started. It's very simple, but a great way to begin. Then you can multiply that one month by 3 to get your 3 month supply, but I think you will want more variety than that!

I would highly recommend making 2 or 3 weeks worth of meals that you like and figuring out all the ingredients. Then just rotate the weeks to make up a 3 month supply of meals. The variety will be nice. Remember that 3 months is actually a little more than 12 weeks and that totals up to about 90 days! So that means 90 breakfasts and 90 dinners. So if you have 2 weeks of meals figured out, you would have to repeat them approximately 6 times to fill 3 months. If you have 3 weeks of meals figured out, you would have to repeat them about 4 times. Don't sweat the little details and numbers. Just do it however it makes the most sense to you!

*Bag it! I have a friend who is working her way up to having 90 bagged dinner meals on hand. She takes a plastic bag (like a gift bag about 8' x 10" x 5") and fills it with all the ingredients to make a meal. She includes water bottles with enough water for the recipe, and has zip lock bags with the proper amount of spices, rice, noodles, or whatever the recipe calls for. The recipe is attached in a CD sleeve on the outside of the bag, or you could laminated it, punch a hole in it and tie it to the bag. When she makes that meal, she then replenishes the ingredients, and reuses the meal bag, zip lock bags and even the water bottles. (If you have treated "city water" you can refill the water bottles and not have to do anything else to it. Do not do this with well water though.) This is a fun idea because it is very easy, and my husband and kids could happily make the meals if laid out like that. I think I will make up some of these bags! I could see having everything needed for Taco Soup in a bag, and even using some of my freeze dried corn, dehydrated onions, freeze dried ground beef or chicken, and tomato juice I canned from my garden. Hmmm...my mind is racing with ideas. Now I just need to find a shelf to line up some bags. Even if I had 15 bags made and kept them replenished, that would make it easier on my teenagers to help cook meals. Woo Hoo! 

There is a book out there called It's In The Bag: A New Approach to Food Storage by Michelle Snow that gives details of this plan and lots of recipes. Brilliant! You can buy it on Amazon. 

*It's part of your year supply! This 3 month supply of groceries that you are storing can be counted toward your year supply. And it will naturally include some of basic foods that you should be storing for your year supply. See my article about WHAT SHOULD I STORE?. Surely you will have cooking oil, salt, rice, oatmeal, beans, sugar, etc. in your 3 month supply of groceries. 

In my mind, I see the 3 month supply of groceries as convenience foods that you are accustomed to eating and making regularly. It's such wise counsel! If you all of a sudden hit a crisis and are under a lot of stress, it's not going to be the best time to open up a bucket of wheat and try to use it and eat it for the first time, especially if you don't even have a grinder! (I've been doing this for many years, and I have to admit that I love freshly ground wheat flour and I use it almost every day! I will be blogging all about wheat soon and give you some fabulous recipes, and you'll see how easy it is to use and delicious too!) 

Just look where you are financially, in your skill level of cooking, and how much you already have stored (or not), and do what is best for your situation and what makes logical sense. I'm a little bit opposed to the weekly lists people send out of things to buy each week to build your storage. If it says "5 lbs of split green peas" or "7 cans of Spam or Vienna sausages" and you hate them, what good will that do you? You could make bean bags out of them or feed them to the dog!! Or if it says "4 jars of spaghetti sauce" for this week, but canned chicken and canned vegetables are on sale this week, it makes more sense to buy what is on sale! I'm not trying to be picky, and I think those lists are great for giving you ideas, but I'm just trying to make the point to do it YOUR way and do what makes sense for your family!

Hugs and Blessings to you and Happy Storing! You can do this! 





My Food Storage Story - The Experience That Woke Me Up!

How I Began Food Storage
Babies Need Their Bottles!

A Little History
Shawn and I had been married for a few years, had a 6 month old baby and had just found out that another baby was on the way! My husband had also just barely taken another job in a different city, so we moved from a small house into an even smaller apartment. I had collected a little water storage in plastic juice bottles, but I gave those to my neighbor when we moved because he saw my stash and asked for them. I knew I would not have room for them in our new tiny apartment, so I gladly gave them to him.

The Dreaded Experience
I didn't think anything about it until almost a week later when my baby woke up at 5 a.m. for his morning bottle. I was no longer nursing him because I was pregnant again. So I turned on the faucet in the kitchen to make his bottle, and no water came out! I ran to the bathroom, and found the same problem! We had no water! I usually kept a pitcher of water in the refrigerator, but I had washed the pitcher the night before and there it sat empty and clean in the dishwasher. The only other thing I had was orange juice and apple juice frozen concentrate, and you definitely can’t feed that to a baby! I had some rice cereal that he was just starting to eat, but you have to mix that with WATER!!!

My baby was used to me being pretty quick with making those bottles, so by this time he was rather upset with me and really wanting to eat! I hurried to wake up my husband, explained the problem, and asked him to run to the store to get us some water. I know he was trying to be quick, but it seemed like he S-L-O-W-L-Y got up, put his contacts on, found his keys and moseyed on out the door. The whole time he was gone, my baby screamed his head off, and I cried too. I was holding a hungry baby and could do nothing to help him!

A Feeling I'll Never Forget
That is the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life! It was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I hope none of you ever have to feel! During those minutes that my husband was gone and my baby was screaming, I prayed and asked for forgiveness. Here I was a mother, and expecting another baby, and I was not prepared to take care of the precious child Heavenly Father had entrusted to me.

The Promise
That was a life changing experience for me. I promised my Heavenly Father that I would never be found unable to take care of my children. I spent many sleepless nights that next week wondering, thinking, praying and figuring out what a year supply of food was, how I was going to get it, and where in the world would I put it! (Those were the days before it was common to have computers and internet access in your home!) It took me 7 years from that date to get what I considered was a year supply of food for my family. We kept adding more children to the family, so my needed amounts kept boosting up, but we finally obtained our goal, and we have maintained a year supply of food ever since! I have learned how to use it and rotate it and absolutely LOVE it! Heavenly Father has blessed my efforts, and I am grateful to Him for that.

The Challenge For You
I hope that you will get started on your food storage on your own, and that you will not have to have a terrible experience like I did to spur you to action! You will be blessed as you follow the wise counsel we have been given.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Food Storage: Where Do I Begin? WATER!!

Water Storage

I think the very first step to being prepared and establishing your food storage is getting a supply of water!

Water is vital! It is second in priority only to having air to breathe! You could probably live several weeks without food, but you will only live a few days without water! So WATER is the perfect place to begin! And the good news is, it is very easy and inexpensive to obtain an emergency water supply!


How much do I store?
The suggested amount of water to store per person is 14 gallons. This is a 2 week emergency supply, and this is a minimum amount. That would give you 1 gallon a day for one person for two weeks. It is suggested that you drink 2 quarts a day and save the other 2 quarts for food preparation and cleaning. It would be better to store more than 14 gallons per person, but make sure you have at least that much!

For a family of 4 you would need 56 gallons minimum on hand. That may sound like a lot, but just START storing some water, and add to it as you can. When a crisis hits, you will be so thankful for the water you have! (See my story at the end of this article.)

What type of containers should I use?
Most people want to know the least expensive way to do things, so let's start with that! 

Water Storage

Two and three liter soda pop bottles and heavy plastic juice bottles are great to use for water storage. If your space is limited, you might be able to more easily find a spot to store these, a few here and a few there. Get them from family and friends, and they are free! I have seen layers of pop bottles stacked in a corner of a garage with a half sheet of plywood between each layer. Use your imagination, but store that water!!!!!! Many people store some cases of commercially prepared bottled water, which is also a good idea.


Water Storage Containers

The easiest way to store large amounts of water is in 55 gallon polyethylene (plastic) drums. These will take up the least amount of space for the amount of water, and can be stored outside if necessary. These drums also come in 5 gallon and 15 gallon sizes. You can obtain these from food storage companies or from local container companies. You will need a drum pump or a siphon pump to get your water out of the 55 gallon drums easily.

Water Storage Containers

*Do not use milk jugs or light weight plastic containers for water storage. They will break down after a few months and start to leak. I was at my sister-in-law’s house last month and went and looked at all of her food storage she has in her basement, and I found a leaky gallon of water dripping all over other food storage items! Don’t store water in milk jugs! It will not end nicely!  

What method of purification should I use?
There are several methods to purify or treat water when storing it and when using the stored water. Listed are the most common and cost effective. This information was obtained from ProvidentLiving.org and the Red Cross, which are fabulous resources.

When storing water, clean your container and fill it with water. Then add 8 drops of household bleach per gallon, or use 20 drops of Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen per gallon. (See below for a little more info.) ProvidentLiving.org says, "Water from a chlorinated municipal water supply does not need further treatment when stored in clean, food-grade containers."

When drinking your stored water, make sure to use one of the methods below to treat it.

Method #1: Boiling Water
Boiling will kill bacteria and other harmful organisms, but it does not solve all contamination problems. Boiling will make the water safe to drink, and some people say this is the preferred way to treat water before drinking.

Water must be brought to a boil, and kept at a rolling boil for at least 3-5 minutes!!

Method #2: Bleach
Household bleach can be used, but it needs to contain 5.25% of sodium hypochlorite. Be sure that that is the ONLY active ingredient in the bleach, and that it contains no soap additives, phosphates or fragrances.

Use about 8 drops per gallon when storing it away. That would be about a tablespoon of bleach for a 55 gallon drum. If the water is cloudy, put double the amount of bleach suggested. If you are treating the water right before drinking it, let it sit 30 minutes after bleach is put in before drinking.

Method #3: Iodine Tablets or Drops
2% Tincture of Iodine or Iodine Tablets can be used to treat water. Be sure to mix thoroughly. You must wait 30 minutes before drinking water. Pregnant or nursing women, or people with thyroid problems should NOT drink water with iodine.

Carefully follow the directions on the container to know how much Iodine to use! Usually it's 12 drops per gallon or 2 tablets.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Bleach and Iodine are traditional methods used to treat water, and they are both very effective in killing bacteria and purifying the water. However, both of these methods may have negative health effects if used for a long period of time.

Method #4: Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen
This is a highly preferred method because it has no harmful side effects, and is actually very good for you. It is a liquid that comes in a small dropper bottle. It also has many medicinal applications.

Use ½ bottle for a 55 gallon drum, or 20 drops per gallon.

Helpful Hints:
*You should rotate your water at least once a year. Water your garden, lawn, shrubs and house plants with it.

*If your water goes flat (tastes very bland from loss of oxygen), you can improve its flavor by pouring back and forth between containers or beating it with a mixer.

*You may want to store some flavorings such as fruit drink powders, koolaid, etc. to add to your water if you find the taste objectionable…especially if you have children or older people in your family.

Funny Story:
One winter morning my husband woke up at 4:00 a.m. for an early meeting he had. He jumped in the shower, and in less than a minute I heard him kinda shout "Ahhhhh!" and then he called my name in a panicky voice. I went running into the bathroom to see what was wrong, and he was completely covered in soap, and standing in the shower with no water running! He said the water had just STOPPED! Apparently one of the kids had left the cover off the well and it had frozen, and he had just used up all the water in the pipes under the house. And that was it!

I quickly threw him a towel and brought in a portable heater he had in his home office. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a gallon of water I had stored in my pantry and poured it into a pot to get it nice and hot. I got another gallon and poured it in the pot to make 2 gallons of warm water. I ran it into the bathroom where my husband used that water to clean off the soap and finish his shower! 

Two weeks before this, my good husband had murmured a bit about spending most of a Saturday filling several 55 gallon drums with water for our family water storage. He thought I had way too many containers, and kept asking me if I was sure we needed that much. He was now very thankful that we had water storage! 

And I was thankful that I filled a few one gallon containers and put them in an easily accessible place inside the house. It would have taken me quite a long time to go under the house, open the 55 gallon drum, and siphon water into a smaller container and bring into the house. 

So the moral of the story is to store water in different size containers, and make sure to have some easily and readily accessible!






Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'm Starting My Food Storage Blog!

I get asked questions all the time about food storage and preparedness, and now I will finally have a place you can go for the answers!

Resource for You!
I am hoping to make this a great resource for all of you out there who are learning to cook with whole grains and freeze dried and dehydrated products! We have been taught to "Store what we eat, and eat what we store!", and I'm going to show you how! Please leave a comment below and ask me what you want to know!!

Group Food Order at a Discount
I also want to make products and equipment available to you when I find them at a good price. I do run a Group Food Storage order from Walton Feed (in Idaho) twice a year for much of the east coast, and I want to be able to get the word out and get more people understanding the wonderful opportunity this is to access hundreds of items at a good price. This is the cheapest way to get food from them across the country! 

Whole grains, freeze dried fruits and vegetables, powdered and dehydrated products, sprouting seeds and supplies, emergency supplies, wheat grinders and much more are available from Walton Feed. You can order as little or as much as you would like, and food is available in small #2.5 cans, #10 cans, 25-50 pound bags, and 6 gallon buckets. 

Recipes!
I think one of the best resources you can have are tried-and-true, delicious RECIPES! So I will be posting many of my best food storage recipes here for you! I already have a few recipes on a fabulous food blog called Mormon Mavens in the Kitchen. I will have many more coming, and some videos too! My first video will be how to make my AMAZING cinnamon rolls! You are going to love making those for your family and friends!

My Book
I have written a book for beginners (and it's even good for those who might be intermediate or advanced!) called The Hows and Whys of the Year Supply. It gives helpful hints on how to incorporate food storage items into your everyday cooking, shelf life information, how to reconstitute and use food storage items, and lots of delicious recipes your family will love! And the recipes are EASY to do! I am a simple cook, and I don't like spending all day in the kitchen, so it's got to be quick, easy and delicious to qualify as one of my favorite recipes!

If you would like to purchase one of my books, they are $10. You can send me a check or use Paypal. Go to the MY BOOK tab at the top of this webpage and you will see how to order my book.

WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE?
So now I need to know what questions you have about cooking with food storage, storing it, or whatever it is you want to know. I will start adding content by what you want to know! 

Thanks for all the support and kindness! Hugs! Melissa : )


Preparedness Fair in Charleston, SC this Saturday! (Sept 14th!)

I am excited to let you know about an amazing and informative preparedness fair coming up!


LOWCOUNTRY FAMILY PREPAREDNESS FAIR! 

Saturday, September 14th
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
1519 Sam Rittenburg Blvd.
Charleston, SC


  • Free Admission
  • Door Prizes - Emergency Equipment
  • 30+ Exhibits and Seminars
  • Emergency Activities for the Kids
  • Live TV Coverage with Count on News 2 - Christine Kohler
  • Food Vendors on Location, including Mama Brown's BBQ
  • Explore Hands on Emergency Service Vehicles
  • Free Ice Cream by ServiceMaster Restore (while it lasts!)

Please click HERE to find out more about this preparedness fair, the classes that will be taught, and which community organizations will be there! 

YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE!