Friday, December 21, 2012

Many Uses of Powdered Milk (and Evaporated)

Many Uses of Powdered Milk (and Evaporated)
(good to store for emergencies)

Low-Fat powdered (instant) milk can be stored for many years if you use an oxygen absorber and an air tight container and/or mylar bag, so many people who store food for emergencies store this.  It can be used to make an evaporated milk equivalent, ricotta-type cheese, sweetened condensed milk, caramel sauce, yogurt, sour cream, etc.  Some of these aren't as good as the real thing but will do in a pinch, although I have to say the caramel sauce is awfully tasty.  ;)  It's nice to have some options in emergencies and hard times.  You don't see powdered whole milk often, but there is a good reason.  Products with fat in them don't store well.

I heard on the news that milk prices may sore in the new year.  Here is a New York Times article.  (click here)
Update, another article.  (click here)
Update, a compromise being reached on the farm bill? (click here)

One thing to keep in mind is, you can "save" and "pin" as many recipes as you want on the internet; but if the power goes out for a long time, how will you get to them?  It's a very good idea to copy basic recipes for the foods that you have stored.  It may even be a good idea to practice making some of these things and will give you more confidence in it.

I actually haven't stored any powdered milk yet because it seems so expensive, and I'm on a strict budget.  At least it seems expensive to me since you are buying a box of something powdered as opposed to cans of evaporated milk for around 75 cents each.  Then I thought, well silly girl, that could be one of your projects!  Crunch the numbers and figure it out!  Powdered milk is $7.78 for a small box (1 pound & 9.6 ounces) here at Wal-Mart.  I live in a small town area, so we don't have a lot of big warehouse type stores or discount stores.  I normally only buy powdered milk to make a copy-cat toffee cappuccino recipe to stretch out the store brand cappuccino that I like to buy.   I don't drink white milk (just don't like it); so, if I have a recipe that calls for milk and don't have it in the house, I just use evaporated milk (1/2 water and 1/2 evaporated milk).  Also, I live 30 miles from where I buy my groceries, so it's nice to know substitute recipes I can use in a pinch.

As usual, there is conflicting information on the shelf life of non-fat powdered milk.  From what I've read, if stored properly in air-tight containers and/or mylar bags with an oxygen absorber, it can last anywhere from 10-25 years, which is a long time either way.  Evaporated milk is supposed to be good for 1-2 years but is thought to be good for at least several years in an emergency situation.  The taste just wouldn't be as good.  You would have to use your own judgment.

So, I crunched the numbers.  The box of powdered milk in my area, as I said above, is $7.78 for a small box, and a can of evaporated milk is around 75 cents (Not sale prices. Of course it's better when you can get it on sale).  Anyway, if you use the powdered milk to make 1-1/2 cups of evaporated milk (equivalent), which is how much is in a can of evaporated milk, it came out to about 73 cents, so about the same price BUT powdered milk lasts much longer in storage. I like the evaporated milk much better for recipes, but I should start storing some powdered milk too. FYI, 1 cup of milk from powdered milk is about 24 cents.

Here are some recipes I tried:

Evaporated Milk

1-1/3 cups water

1 cup powdered milk

Combine.  This makes the same amount as a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk.  (If you have evaporated milk and want to substitute it for regular milk in a recipe, just use 1/2 water and 1/2 evaporated milk.  I do it all the time.)

Curds & Whey, Ricotta-type cheese, and Cottage Cheese
6 cups of water  
3 cups of powdered milk
1/2 cup white vinegar

Combine the water and powdered milk in a pot.  Cook on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is hot but not scalding, about 120 degrees.  Take it off the heat and mix in the vinegar.  Let it sit for a few minutes, and the curds will separate from the liquid whey.  Strain it and rinse the curds under cool water.  To make a kind of cottage cheese (ish), just add more milk back into it to make it creamy. 

I found this article on what you can do with the whey.  (click here)

Bringing it up to about 120 degrees.

Curds separating from the whey. (Where is Miss Muffet?)

 (I only made 1/2 a batch, which came out to a little over 
1/4 cup pressed or 1/2 cup fluffed up like if you 
wanted to use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese.)


Mixed in a little milk to make it a cottage cheese consistency. 

To take it one step further:

Mock Sour Cream
make the cottage cheese above
1 cup cottage cheese
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Blend in a blender until creamy or with a hand mixer.
This isn't that great in my opinion but better than none at all.  :)

(I make mock sour cream from real cottage cheese sometimes, and it's pretty good and less calories.)

Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 Tbsp butter or shortening
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
dash of salt
1 cup powdered milk

Melt the butter in a pot and then mix in all but the powdered milk and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat.  Cool slightly and then add 1 cup of powdered milk and beat until smooth.  This makes 1 cup.  It will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, or you can freeze it

(To make sweetened condensed milk out of evaporated milk, use 1-1/4 cup sugar in 1 cup of the milk and heat as above to melt the sugar.)

 I could have blended it a little smoother but 
I continued on and made it into caramel anyway.

Now for the naughty part, looks what's next.  ;)

Just make the sweetened condensed milk above and boil down, stirring constantly, until it thickens.  For me, it took about 10 minutes.  Note, it will thicken more as it cools of course.

(You can also use the evaporated milk as above, 1 cup with 1/1-4 cup sugar and heat to make sweetened condensed milk and then continue to cook down to caramel.)

The texture isn't as creamy smooth as 
the real thing but still very tasty.  I keep nibbling.  lol  It 
actually got a little thick after it cooled all the way, 
so I'll cook it a little less next time.

"Butter" from Dry Milk?  ....not so much.  I found this recipe for it and was really hoping it would work well as I love butter.  I thought, in an emergency situation, if you had powdered milk stored but was out of butter and just wanted something with a buttery taste and consistency to put on your food, you could do this; but it didn't work well.  I tried 1/2 a batch and it wouldn't thicken.  I tried it again, just 1/4 batch since I didn't want to waste the  ingredients, and used just a little less water and oil; and even after beating it with the electric mixer on medium for 15 minutes and then on high for another 5 minutes, it wasn't even as thick as sour cream and didn't taste very good.  To be fair, I didn't have the butter flavoring to add; but still, I don't think it would we worth the while.  That was with the electric mixer too, not the hand mixer if the power was out.  Also, I tried to search for other recipes like it and didn't see much; so that's another big red flag to me that it doesn't work very well.  You can try it if you like, 3/4 cup powdered milk, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup oil.  Food coloring, salt, and butter flavoring optional.

Here are a few more recipes I didn't try yet:

Home-made Yogurt (really just stretching out a small amount of store-bought yogurt)
1 quart (4 cups) reconstituted milk
another 1/2 cup of the powdered milk.
1/4 cup store bought yogurt with active cultures

For the quart of reconstituted milk (1 cup is 1/3 cup powdered milk and 7/8 cup water), so measure out 1-1/3 cups of the powdered milk and add enough water to equal a quart or 4 cups.  Mix in the 1/4 cup yogurt and let sit in a warm area (80-110 degrees) for 6-8 hours. Then, chill.  This can also be used as a sour cream substitute or to stretch mayo.

Yogurt Cheese
Make the yogurt above and let drain overnight in cheese cloth or other cloth (an old clean T-shirt). This can be used to substitute for cream cheese or thick sour cream.

Whipped Topping
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup powdered milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Measure 1/2 cup of water into a large bowl and put in the freezer.  When ice starts to form around the edges, take it out and add 1/2 cup powdered milk.  Whip it with a hand mixer (hopefully the electric is working or use a manual beater) until light and fluffy.  Then add 2 Tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla.  Beat until it is a consistency you like.

1 cup milk
1 Tbsp vinegar.

I always make my own buttermilk when a recipe calls for it simply by adding some vinegar to milk.  You can also do this with milk made from powdered milk.  Stir in the vinegar.  
If you have store-bought buttermilk and want to stretch it further, mix 1/2 cup of the store-bought and 4 cups of reconstituted powdered milk and let it sit at room temperature overnight.  Then refrigerate.

Sweet Vanilla Milk
1-1/3 cups powdered milk
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp coffee creamer
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 cups water

Mix together the dry ingredients and then add the vanilla and a little of the water to dissolve and mix it well and then add the rest of the water and stir. 

Flavored Milk

You can heat a cup of reconstituted milk and stir in a spoonful of molasses or add a spoonful of honey or chocolate syrup or a couple drops of vanilla.
bada bing, bada boom

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

BOB, "Bug Out Bag"

BOB, "Bug Out Bag"

This was just a backpack I got free using Coke rewards points. 

 You don't need a fancy expensive backpack. 

Also known as a 72-hour bag, this is one of those things that can really come in handy in so many different situations.  It certainly "can't hurt" to have one. know, in case of a hurricane, house fire, tornado, terrorist attack, the mother-in-law coming up the drive with a suitcase....  LOL  I don't have a mother-in-law, so I can say that.  ;)

Besides that, I figure, if you suddenly have to be hospitalized, It would be an easy thing for your loved ones to "just grab" for you, and you would have all your basic toiletries and such in there that you like to use.  ..although I suppose that might be a bit overkill with all the other stuff that would be in there.  lol  Of course, if you had a hunting knife or other weapon in there; you would want them to remove it. 

Now, some people may prefer to have things in there in case they have to rough it outdoors in a camping-type situation; and others may wish to just focus on if they have to suddenly relocate in a shelter-type situation in an urban area, or it could be for both scenarios. 

You should have copies of important documents and identification in your Bug Out Bag such as driver's license, I.D. cards, social security card, birth certificate, passport, and any other important papers you may need.  It's also a very good idea to include a labeled photo of each family member in case, for example, you get separated.  You can even include important medical records.

Keep in mind the climate of the area you live in and specific natural disasters or other scenarios that may happen in your specific area. 

Here is an article by American Prepper's Network about the different kind of emergency bags and why you may want to make them. (click here)

Here is a list of suggested items that can go in a Bug Out Bag:

Nonperishable food, energy bars, MREs, tuna, etc. (dehydrated foods are lightweight)

Water and water purification supplies.  They say at least 1 liter a day per person as a bare minimum.  If you can't boil water, you can use Tincture of Iodine, bleach, or other tablets you can buy:
Bleach - add 8 drops of unscented bleach per gallon and wait 30 minutes.
Tincture of Iodine - add 10 drops of tincture of iodine per gallon of water (20 if cloudy) and wait 30 minutes.

First aid kit/supplies - gauze, tape, Band-Aids, Neosporin, etc.  Over-the-counter medicines, including aspirin, Tylenol/Motrin, Imodium, Benadryl, etc.  Get an Epipen from your doctor if you have any severe allergies.  A bottle of multivitamins.  Even antibiotics would be nice to have. 
 (See my blog on buying antibiotics legally for emergency situations.)  (Click here.)
Sanitation/toiletries - baby wipes, bar soap, towel/washcloth, deodorant, liquid hand sanitizer, shampoo, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, tissues, garbage bags, etc. 

Storage bags (can never have too many plastic bags)
Pet food and supplies (don't forget Fido!)
Maps, disaster plan, evacuation routes 
Camping/cooking equipment
Fire starters, matches, lighters, magnesium stick, cotton balls with petroleum jelly, etc.
Extra clothing, gloves, hat, scarf, poncho, boots, etc.
Sleeping bag/blanket (mylar blanket)
Batteries, radio (battery or crank-operated)
Lighting, crank flashlight, glow sticks, solar lights, etc.
Cash and change
Duct tape, rope, paracord
Multi-tool, can opener
Cards, puzzles
Paper, pen, pencil
Safety pins, sewing needle, thread, extra buttons
Hand warmers
Survival manuals
Dust mask (preferably N95)

other outdoor supplies could include:
Knife, hatchet, folding shovel, saw, pocket chainsaw
Shelter, tarps/tent
Slingshot, pellet gun, wire, (learn to make animal traps)
Bug repellent 
Fish line, bobber, weights, hooks/lures
Signal mirror, flares
Sun block, hat
Aluminum foil
Solar shower

Fire starters, candles, tea lites, lighters, water-proofed matches...  
I started a Fire Starter blog.  (Click here.)

Simple sewing kit... 
This is just a small bottle I did of odds and ends things that 
I thought could be used for many different situations. 
Eye bolt screws (hoisting up a tarp), bobby pins, toothpicks, 
rubber bands, paperclips, safety pins...

I thought it might be a nice idea to put a couple seeds (heirloom) of different kinds in my bug out bag as an extra little stash.  I wanted to still label them but not have to use little bags or something for just a couple of a lot of different kinds of seeds.  Then, I remembered seeing a tip on Pinterest how you can make seed strips for planting using newspaper strips and Elmer's glue, so I used that idea.  :)  You can still write what they are on the strips.  I'll roll them up and put them in a little bag.  Just rip it into sections when you want to use them and plant them with the paper.  

Add anything you like.  

It's also a good idea to have an emergency car kit in your car at all times, specially if you live in an area with cold winters.  Blanket, snacks, water, gloves, winter hat, boots, first-aid kit, flashlight, batteries, etc.  An alcohol stoves would be good to help keep warm and easy to store.  I did a couple blogs on those. (Click here.) 

Tidbit - there are web sites that show you how to make paracord bracelets or belts.  You wear it and then take it apart if you need it.  Here is one...  (Click here.)

Thanks for checking out my blog.  :)
If you would like, add a suggestion or comment below.  

Fire Starters

Fire Starters

This one works really well.  You simply fill a cardboard egg carton with 
dryer lint or other flammable things like wood chips, shredded paper, etc. 
and then fill it with wax.  It's a good way to use candles you don't like or scrap 
wax. Cut each section out and then light the cardboard. 

Another good fire starter is to put petroleum jelly on cotton balls
 I have them stored in a Mini M&M container.  ;)

Want something super simple, recycling toilet paper 
tubes and lint?  Walla!  Add a little petroleum, even better. 

You can wrap them in a piece of newspaper too, 
leaving a little tail to light.

Magnesium Stick  I haven't had the opportunity to try one of these, but they are supposed to work well.  You shave off bits of magnesium and start it with a spark. 

FireSteel  These are popular and use magnesium also.  They make a shower of sparks.  "Originally developed for the Swedish Department of Defense, Swedish FireSteel® fire starter is a flash of genius. Its 3,000°C (5400°F) spark makes fire building easy in any weather, at any altitude. Used by a number of armies around the world, Swedish FireSteel's dependability has already made it a favorite of survival experts, hunters, fishermen, and campers..."  (Quote from this site.) 

I have this now, and it works great.  Puts off some nice sparks for lighting fires.

Piston Fire Starter/Slam Rod 
Aurora Fire Starter

I try to mostly post on things I've already tried, but I don't have the money try them all yet.  I plan to try this one by spring and will do an update.  :)

On Wikipedia, it says "A fire piston, sometimes called a fire syringe or a slam rod fire starter, is a device of ancient origin which is used to kindle fire. It uses the principle of the heating of a gas (in this case air) by its rapid compression to ignite a piece of tinder, which is then used to set light to kindling..... Ancient and modern versions of fire pistons have been made from wood, animal horns, antlers, bamboo, or lead. Other metals have also been used in modern versions." To read more.... (click here)

I've done an internet search, and there are a lot of different devices out there using this piston method, many of which are pretty expensive.  I saw Les Stroud on Survivor Man give one of these a try.  I don't know which kind he used and don't remember if it used just air or if it also used magnesium or something else, but it worked really well in just one or two strikes.  I think I'd like to try the Aurora Fire Starter.  The price seems reasonable, and it sounds very durable.  My budget is tight and it's winter, but I'd like to get one and give it a try by this spring and will do an update.  This particular one says it "has even climbed Mount Everest, " "will start a lifetime of campfires for most users," and it is equipped with a built-in guided striking blade and ferrocerium flint steel rod with magnesium within its composition - yielding sparks as hot as 5000 degrees F."  

If you want to see more just do a search on "piston fire starter" or "slam rod fire starter" and many different versions come up in a wide price range.

I found this video on how to make your own (one that uses just the air), although most people won't have all the equipment and know-how to make this, it gives you a good idea how they work and gives a demonstration(click here)

Please share your experiences below if you have tried these.

Steel Wool and 9 Volt Battery:  All you do is touch a 9 volt battery to steel wool, and it will make sparks that you can use to start a fire. 

Self-Igniting Fire Starters:  I found this post on how to make "self-igniting fire" starters.  That sounds a little misleading to me.  I think I'd call them longer-burning matches or something.  lol  (click here)  

See also my post on making Char Cloth.  (click here)

I'll add more fire starter ideas later......  

Thanks for stopping by.  :)

Home-Made Shout (with stain tests)

Home-Made Shout (with stain tests)

Home-Made Shout
2/3 ammonia
2/3 cup Dawn dish washing liquid
6 Tbsp baking soda
2 cups water

To do the tests, I made sure to measure the stains all out equally and let them set the same amount of time.  I wanted the stains set in really good so that not all of it would come out so that you can see the difference in how they work. I then let them soak in soapy water for the same amount of time. 

I did a test and then a second test later because I wanted to include dirt and grass stains.

This first photo was from the detergent test I did, (I accidentally
 deleted the home-made Shout one) but it shows the same 
stains, mustard, chocolate, steak drippings (blood), and ketchup. 

These are the stains I did for the second home-made Shout test. 
Chocolate, mustard dirt, grass. 

Drum roll please... the results.. 

Left swatch, home-made Shout, mustard, chocolate, steak drippings (blood), and ketchup
Middle swatch, brand name Shout, mustard, chocolate, steak drippings (blood), and ketchup
Right swatch, home-made ShoutChocolate, mustard dirt, grass. 

(store bought in the middle)

Thanks for checking out my blog!  :)
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Natural Produce Wash

Natural Produce Wash

This is nice to have on hand to help remove pesticides, herbicides, bacteria, wax, etc., from your produce. Even "organic" produce can have E coli and other bacteria on them.  Instead of buying a produce wash, just mix up what you probably already have in your pantry.  Even Dr. Oz uses this first recipe (with 1/2 a squeezed lemon).  Some call for 3/4 cup vinegar, so just use the amount you like best.  It doesn't have to be refrigerated.  I bought a couple of extra spray bottles in the travel/trial size aisle at the store. 
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. baking soda
If you don't have vinegar you can use this:
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. baking soda
Just spray the produce, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse.
It's said you shouldn't use it on mushrooms as they absorb too much water. 
If you want to soak produce that is very dirty or that may have bugs:
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp. salt 
Soak for about 30 minutes and then rinse.
Tidbit - I read a tip somewhere that, to make berries last longer, you can spray them with one part vinegar and 10 parts water as the vinegar will kill mold and bacteria that make them go bad quickly.  

Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion below.  :)