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This potato salad is just right for a nice main dish.  It has bits of bright flavors and crunchy sweetness; one of my favorite salads. 

It uses those fabulous, creamy "new potatoes" that are a hallmark of  hot summer days.  This is tossed with a basic vinaigrette instead of the usual mayonnaise, then fresh vegetables are mixed in.

1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes, cut in 3/4" cubes
Vinaigrette, below
1/2 pound green beans, sliced into 3/4" pieces
3 c. sliced mushrooms, optional*
6-8 oz. smoked turkey, sliced into 1x 1/4"x 1/4" strips
1 sweet red bell pepper, sliced into 1/2" pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
1/4 -1/2 c. diced purple onion
1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced

Vinaigrette:
1/2  c. water (use the cooking water from potatoes)
1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon (or cook potatoes in chicken broth)
2 Tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon or other mustard
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling water; they should take just about 15 minutes to become tender.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for Vinaigrette except for the water.  When potatoes are tender, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl.  Toss to coat.  Add green beans to the still-hot cooking water; bring to a boil.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the beans are crisp-tender.  Scoop them out and add to the potatoes, then measure out 1/2 c. of the cooking water and add to the mixture.  If you want the salad served chilled, refrigerate it at this point.

Add mushrooms, turkey, bell pepper, celery, onion, and parsley.  Stir to coat, and serve. 

*If using mushrooms, double the ingredients for Vinaigrette; mushrooms are very absorbent.

The original recipe called for 1/4 lb. less potatoes and 1/4 lb. more meat.  If you love meat, you'll probably prefer it  with more.  I tend to use meat more as a flavoring than as a main ingredient; it's cheaper, and makes a lighter salad.

 
 
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Does the thought of canning make you cringe?  Do you think it is an all-day project?

Well, sometimes it does take all day. If you're canning 100 jars of apricots, you know it's going to take a while.

If you have just  a little bit of fruit, though, it can be a little project.

Part of the simplicity of this is that this fruit already contains enough pectin to gel; it just needs sugar and cooking.  Other fruits high in pectin are apples (and things in the apple family, including rose hips), citrus (see Easy Orange Marmalade), and berries.

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I have two black currant bushes in my front yard.  The berries have been ripening at different times, so my kids and I have picked them each week, for three weeks.  Each time we've only ended up with 3-6 pounds of berries, not enough that I felt like breaking out my water- bath canning pot.  So I didn't.  This small amount of jars fit pretty well in one of my cooking pots. 
I started with 6 pounds of washed currants, then pureed them in the blender.

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Then I added sugar; one cup sugar for each cup of puree.

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Stirred it over medium-high heat...

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and kept stirring every now and then, until the mixture coated my spoon; a good sign that it would set up as a gel.  Another test is to drip a little on a cold plate (or granite countertop!), wait about ten seconds, and see how it set up.  It doesn't need to be very thick.

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I poured it into sterilized jars.

The easiest way to sterilize them, if you remember ahead of time, is to run them through the dishwasher on the "sanitize" cycle.  Since I didn't think of that in time, I used bleach- about a teaspoon of bleach in one jar, with 1/4 c. water.  I put a lid on the jar, shook it well, then poured the bleach water into the next jar and repeated until they were all done. I let them sit for five minutes, then drained and rinsed them.

So do you HAVE TO sterilize?  No, but there may be microorganisms in your jars that cause mold to grow in your jelly.  I haven't found that to be an issue when I'm sealing jars, but it shortens the fridge life of unsealed jars.  If the jars are sterilized, I can get a good year out of unsealed marmalade (sometimes longer), but usually closer to 4-6 months if the jars were not sterilized first.

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The pot on the left is deep enough to hold these half-pint jars- they have to be covered by at least 1/2" over the top.  I filled it about halfway with water, and brought it nearly to a boil.

Meanwhile, I prepped the sealing lids by putting them in almost-boiling water, then letting them sit 5 minutes to soften the sealing compound.

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I brought it to a full rolling boil, adjusted the heat so it would maintain that, and set the timer for ten minutes.


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When the timer rang, I turned off the heat and let them sit a minute.  Normally I use a jar-lifting tool to retrieve them, but it's kept with my water-bath canner...

So I dumped half the water out of the pot to expose the jar tops, then lifted them out using a pot holder.

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I put them on a dry dish cloth to cool, with a little space around to help the air circulate. 

Then I cleaned up while occasionally hearing that musical "pop" that announces a jar has sealed.

The whole process took less than one hour.


After they cooled, I took the rings off, washed them, and labeled them with contents and date.

Some of them got an extra label, since I found one for nutritional content of black currants:


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OK, so this is the nutrition for the actual fruit, not fruit with sugar.  It gives me something to work from, though. 

Those currants have some good stuff in them!

Part of the carbohydrates listed is pectin- a soluble, nondigestible fiber.  It helps you feel full longer, and not only helps scrub out your insides, but helps make it hospitable to friendly bacteria (probiotics).  This last feature makes it a "prebiotic". 

Cool stuff.

 
 
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My teenaged son and I were talking about the crazy economic week the nation (world!) is having.  I mentioned that the DOW had lost a fourth of its value in a weekend, and gold had gone from $1400/oz to $1800/oz.  He stared at me, and said, "I told you we should have bought gold!" 

Nah, I'm not interested in it- if I pooled all available resouces, I'd be able to buy about one handful of gold.   Wheat, on the other hand, is two cents an ounce (already in a bucket for you at Macey's this week).  And I can eat that.  The line I've repeated to my older children over the last couple years is, "I can't afford gold, but I can afford wheat.  And I can eat wheat."

Are you feeling concerned about the future?  The Lord told us, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."  (D&C 38:30).  More on that below.  The biggest part is being prepared spiritually- living with faith and trust in the Lord.  He will do what will help us become better, more righteous people.  Trials are essential to that.  Are you also prepared with food and supplies?  I do not advocate rushing out and going into debt to get everything; I do encourage you to pinch and scrape this month to get the most value out of your money, before the value changes again.  Buying the absolute basics- wheat, rice, oil, sugar, dry beans, salt, powdered milk-  will stretch your money the most.  Do you have an entertainment budget for the month?  A budget for dates?  Take that, just this month, and use it for food you can have on hand in your house.  Wheat has doubled in price since 2009; talk about a great investment!  I love eating at 2-years-ago prices. 

Here in Utah we enjoy a phenomenon called The Case Lot Sale.  As best I can tell, this is because of the high concentration of Mormons here and our unique buying habits; we have been taught since the church's early days (1800's) to have plenty of extra food and supplies at home.  The case lot sales are when the stores offer great prices on many items, usually the lowest prices of the year, and sometimes with an extra discount if you buy an entire case of something.  We enjoy the sales once or twice a year, depending on the store.  They are a big part of my budget shopping, along with the price book idea- I buy nearly all of my groceries only when on sale.  When canned green beans hit their best price, I buy enough for the coming year.  Then I don't buy any more for the rest of the year, when they're at least twice the price.  This makes for an expensive Case Lot month, but the months after are much cheaper as a result. 

This week Macey's and Fresh Market both have case lot sales.  See the Deals page for what the best prices are.  All of the long-term-storage foods I've listed there are close to, or cheaper than, the Home Storage Center prices.  The only exception is the Country Cream powdered milk, but it tastes better than the HSC's.  It's still a good deal, too.


The following excerpts from an article are from Ezra Taft Benson, then an Apostle, published in the Ensign magazine, January 1974, entitled “Prepare Ye”.  He repeats D&C 38:30 three times in it (“if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”), and this talk has been extensively quoted.  It contains at least 12 segments I’ve quoted or heard quoted.  I recommend that you read through the whole talk, and see how many pieces of it you’ve heard before.

Here are some excerpts:

“In Matthew, chapter 24, we learn of “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes. …” (Matt. 24:7.) The Lord declared that these and other calamities shall occur. These particular prophecies seem not to be conditional. The Lord, with his foreknowledge, knows that they will happen. Some will come about through man’s manipulations; others through the forces of nature and nature’s God, but that they will come seems certain. Prophecy is but history in reverse—a divine disclosure of future events.

Yet, through all of this, the Lord Jesus Christ has said: “… if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30.)

…At the April 1937 general conference of the Church [of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints], President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency, asked: “What may we as a people and as individuals do for ourselves to prepare to meet this oncoming disaster, which God in his wisdom may not turn aside from us?” President Clark then set forth these inspired basic principles of the Church welfare program:

“First, and above and beyond everything else, let us live righteously. … Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then tomorrow.  Let us straitly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little.

Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead. You of small means put your money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds; you of large means will think you know how to care for yourselves, but I may venture to suggest that you do not speculate. Let every head of every household aim to own his own home, free from mortgage. Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, farm it.” (Conference Report, April 1937, p. 26.)

There are blessings in being close to the soil, in raising your own food, even if it is only a garden in your yard and/or a fruit tree or two. Man’s material wealth basically springs from the land and other natural resources. Combined with his human energy and multiplied by his tools, this wealth is assured and expanded through freedom and righteousness. Those families will be fortunate who, in the last days, have an adequate supply of each of these particulars.”

 Healthful foods, proper rest, adequate exercise, and a clean conscience can prepare us to tackle the trials that lie ahead.”

 
 
For Part 1, including general collecting guidelines, see here.

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Oxeye Daisy 
Leucanthemum vulgare
 This is the earliest-blooming tall daisy I know of, blooming a month before the Shasta Daisy.  It’s actually been declared an invasive weed in several states. 

Eat the young leaves raw.  They get bitter with age, but they’re very good when young, before the plant blooms.  I read someplace that they are used in a salad mix in some high-end restaurant.  I’m not surprised.



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Purslane  
Portulaca oleracea L. 
 K
nown as “verdolagas” in the Hispanic world. One of the absolute best non-meat sources of omega 3’s.  (Hey!  I can’t raise salmon in my yard, but I can sure grow purslane!)  These are commonly sold and used in Mexico and India, among other places.  If you have a Mexican market around, you may find bunches of these for sale.  They are a little lemony, and slippery inside.   They’re good both raw- in salads and sandwiches-  and cooked.  Look for Mexican recipes calling for this!  A couple sites I’ve found are
http://chanfles.com/comida/verdolagas/index.htmlhttp://www.culinarymusings.com/2008/06/purslane-not-a-weed-but-a-wonder/



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Blue Mustard
Chorispora tenella
The greens taste like arugula; they are in the same plant family.  They’re pleasantly peppery - though I seem to be allergic to this one.  I break out in hives the day after eating these.  Then again, I break out in hives the day after eating several other, ‘normal’,  foods, too.
Photo from USU Extension.

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Thistle
Cirsium
sp.
A pleasant surprise.  While weeding out some Bull Thistle one day, I decided that I might as well see what it was that my pioneer ancestors ate one hungry spring.  I scrubbed peeled, and sliced the root, then just microwaved them until tender, treating them like carrots.  My kids all had to taste it, then tell me what it tasted like (they didn’t see me prepare it).  The general consensus was that it tastes like a cross between carrot  and potato.  I found it tasted similar to artichokes.  (Artichokes are giant thistles!)  One of these days I’ll make me a nice Hot Artichoke- I mean Thistle- Dip. 

Thistles are biennial, which means they have a two-year life cycle.  The first year they grow only a rosette, fairly flat, like the photo above.  The second year they send up a stalk, develop flowers, and set seed.  I've read that the leaves are good to eat, once you scrape off the thorny parts.   My best guess is that the roots are best the first year; they are probably tougher the second.
  Photo from USU Extension.



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Curly Dock
Rumex crispus L
The photo is of the seeds.  I'll have to track down a plant to get a photo of the leaves for you. 
In the same family as sorrel, this cooks similarly to spinach, and is lemony/sour.  Harvest while young and tender. Look up sorrel recipes online. One simple way of preparing them is at
http://www.backyardnature.net/n/h/curldock.htm



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Redroot Pigweed  
Amaranthus retroflexus L.  
Use the greens as you would spinach- cooked or raw; seeds can be harvested and used as a small grain in baked goods or hot cereal.  It’s used in curries, soups,  and stir-fries from India to the Philippines.  The roots are edible, too.  Check out the Wikipedia article on it,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth   This plant is in the Amaranth family.  I pulled up the plant for the photo so you could see its trademark 'red root' (though it's usually more pink than red).


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Flax  
Linum usitatissimum
 
‘usitatissimum’ means “most useful”. 
This doesn’t grow wild in my yard; I plant it for the beautiful flowers.  It is native to my area, however.  The tough inside stems are woven to make linen.   The seeds are eaten and  are high in omega-3’s, fiber, and lignans
.  Toss into baked goods, or grind and use in small amounts in baking, smoothies, or any of a bunch of things.  Lots of recipes are online for this.  You only get the nutrients, though, if the seeds are ground.  Otherwise, they serve just as fiber.   Seeds, either whole or ground, form a gel when soaked in water.  This is handy for replacing eggs in baked goods.  It works like the eggs do to help firm up and bind together whatever you’re making.  Eggs also have some leavening power, which flax doesn’t, so use ½ tsp. baking powder for each egg you’re replacing.  To replace one egg, grind 1 Tbsp. flax seed, stir in 3 Tbsp. water, and let stand five minutes.  Or add it dry; it will gel in the batter.



 
 
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Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are counseled to have three months’ worth of everyday food on hand, and then store more, longer-term storage foods, where possible.  This has typically been defined as a “Year’s Supply”, at least in the last couple generations.  Having food on hand is an invaluable part of being self-reliant.  It’s insurance, if you will, for times of unexpected illness, disability, unemployment, power outages, or for when a neighbor down the street needs a meal.  It’s also handy for sharing with a local food bank.  (Hint, hint: right now their supplies are very low!)

Once you get three months’ worth, how much will a year’s supply of food cost you?  When you look at your monthly grocery bill, is it overwhelming to think of buying more?  I looked an emergency supply store’s catalog; they advertise a basic year’s supply of food for ‘just’ $1,299.99.  For one person.  They list options of up to $3800 per person per year.  Is it really that much money to get a year’s supply?

Adding up all the 7 essentials, purchasing them mostly at the Home Storage Center, a month’s worth of food for one person is $25.31. This provides about 2200 calories a day; the catalog’s has 2000.

A year’s worth for one adult is $303.86. 

(It was $194.76 in 2010.  That’s an increase of 56%.  How’s that compare to your 401(k)? I’m quite sure food will go up more.  It is a great investment!  Wouldn’t you like to eat at last year’s prices?)

Figure in that you’re getting your year’s supply after building your three-month supply; that knocks it down to getting nine months’worth;

$227.90 per adult

 
SO, if you really want to spend $1299.99 plus tax, you could buy a year’s supply for not just one person, but for FOUR adults.  Yes, it’s different food than the ‘gourmet’ version ($3800), but here’s the counsel we’ve been given:          "We encourage members world-wide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.” “For longer-term needs….gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time  and that you can use to stay alive (from All is Safely Gathered In, First Presidency pamphlet)

 If you’re storing food for children, plan on 50% of the amount for age 3 and under, 70% for ages 3-6, 90% for ages 7-10, and 100% for ages 11 and up.  Or store as much as you would for an adult, and have enough to share. 

For great recipes using this stored food, see my Favorite Resources page, under "Cooking and Recipes". 
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Here is the cost breakdown:

Grains, 300 lbs- if you get 100 lbs each of wheat , rice, and oats, at the Home Storage Centers they cost between $11.45 and $15.45 for 25 lbs. depending on if you get white or red wheat,  rice, quick- or regular- oats.  If you average this out, it will cost you $13.55  per person, per month.  $162.60 per year’s worth. This category doubled in price from early 2010.  Your daily allotted amount would be about 2 ½ cups of flour, or about the size of a loaf of bread.

Milk, 16 lbs is $1.89/lb at the cannery, which is $2.52 per month, $30.24 per year.  Daily amount is just under ¾ cup of reconstituted milk.  This is enough to cook with, not enough to drink very often.  For instance, making your loaf of bread would/could use up this entire amount.

Sugar, 60 lbs is $ .85/lb there, $4.23 per month, $50.76 per year.  Daily amount is just about 1/3 cup, but keep in mind you’ll probably want to use it to help bottle fruit or make jam, as well as for making your bread or breakfast oatmeal.

Oil, 10 qts –this isn’t sold at the cannery, but the last good sale price I found was $2.50 for 1 ½ quarts (48 oz.) At that price, after tax, it’s $1.43 per month, $17.17 per year.  It’s only $14.38 if you buy it at Sam’s Club ($6.98 + tax for 5 qts.)  .)  Daily amount: about 2 ½ teaspoons; will also be used in making bread. Fat is necessary to help you digest fiber, as well as to access the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Salt, 8 lbs- 4# box at Costco or Sam’s Club is a dollar; $ .16 per month, $2 per year.  Daily amount: about 2 tsp. It never hurts to store extra salt; it is an excellent preservative for meats and more.

Legumes, 60 lbs– the cannery sells black beans, pinto, and white, from $16.00 to $18.55 for 25 lbs.  Averaging the prices, it’s  $3.42 a month, $41.09 per year.  Daily amount: about ½ cup dry, or 1 ½ cups cooked.

In addition to the above, storing some water is an essential part of your home storage.  Plan on 1 gallon per person per day, for 2 weeks (14 days).  This is enough to drink, and not much else. 
Water, 14/gal/person-   You can store this for free by using 2- and 3- liter pop bottles, or juice containers (not milk jugs- they break down).  Or use the 5-gallons square jugs or big blue barrels; they’ll run you about $1 per gallon of storage. 

Total daily food allotment: 1 loaf of bread, 1/3 c. sugar for cooking or preserving, 1 ½ cups of beans, 2 ½ tsp. oil, a little salt, ¾ c. of milk.  You won’t get fat on this, but it will keep you alive.  It also stores in a fairly small amount of space.


When you’re done storing these items, you might decide to add a few ‘gourmet’ items- spices, flavorings,  and unsweetened cocoa are high on my list here, as are non-hybrid garden seeds.  Practice growing them now; you can save seeds from what you grow, for next year’s crop.

Notice that the costs were just for food, not containers to store them in. Most of my storage containers cost nothing.   You CAN get buckets for free, with a little effort- most bakeries give them away; all their frostings and fillings come in those buckets.  Plan on washing them at home.  There are two main sizes; 5 gallon and 2 ½  gallon.  I keep packages of dried fruit in the smaller buckets, also cornmeal or other things that I don’t use as much.  They are a great size for a pantry, too.  Some of the buckets have gaskets, some don’t.  The ones that don’t seal well are still good for storing sugar.

If you want all your wheat, powdered milk, sugar, and legumes in #10 cans from the cannery, it will cost you $86 more to get a full year’s worth, $65 to do 9 months.

I don’t can my wheat, sugar, or beans because we go through large quantities; one batch of bread would use a whole can.  It’s pretty silly storage for me.  Besides, it’s easier for me to find space for 10 buckets than 60 #10 cans; they hold about the same amount of food.