This past week was busy with stock up shopping and catching up on housework after being struck down with a virus that has been going around. It seems to have one consistent symptom among everyone I know who have experienced it, it leaves you absolutely exhausted for days upon days afterwards.
Thankfully, I'm beginning to feel better but I didn't get everything accomplished I wanted to do this week. It will all get done... eventually. The most important items on the To Do List were accomplished, though.
I always like to try at least one new-to-me item for the pantry every stock up day and this week it was Starbucks' new instant coffee. I always have instant coffee in the pantry but I can't say as I love it. So, I tried the Blonde Roast, which is the kind of regular coffee I prefer, and was surprised by how good it was. I guess other people like the instant coffee, too, because it has often been sold out at the store and on Amazon.
Instant coffee lasts for a very long time (years!) in the pantry, so I'd like to get another can or two since I plan to continue using the open can when needed. I have used their VIA instant coffee and it is good except this is much more cost-effective and I prefer the VIA latte blends, which do not last long on the pantry shelf since they contain milk products.
I'm still preparing ahead for the Holidays and this week's project was to make five pints of vanilla extract. A dear friend gave me an Amazon gift card for my birthday and I used part of it to purchase the vanilla beans while buying the cheapest vodka that Wal-mart sold.
Since it takes about four months for the vanilla extract to develop a good rich flavor, it should be excellent by Christmas. I made vanilla extract before, leaving the vanilla beans whole that time. This time, after watching some YouTube videos, I cut them with scissors about half way down and then cut part of them again in half vertically. This way, they fit nicely in the pint size Ball jars.
As mentioned in the title, one of the things I want to talk about this week is having an "Emergency Preparedness List". I wrote about this a few times but I'm pretty sure it has now been many years since the subject was brought up. It came to my attention in the 1970s era book, How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years.
The author, Howard Ruff, tells the story of being away from home driving on a highway when the emergency alert signal came on the radio regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis. He stopped at the next phone booth (that dates it, doesn't it?) and called his wife, telling her to take all the money they had in checking right then and leave immediately for the grocery store.
As he expected, the stores were packed and the options were limited. He wrote that as a Mormon, he had been taught to always keep a year's worth of food in their pantry at home. Once this emergency passed, that is exactly what he did and even though he wrote mostly about investment advice, his books always had a rather large section about emergency preparedness.
I learned from his experience to always have an "Emergency Purchase List" that I could grab and go if necessary. I have had many experiences of going to the grocery store in a Winter Storm Warning and forgetting important items we would need while purchasing non-essentials. FYI: Chocolate is essential.
I kept mine taped inside a Kitchen cabinet and then later, in an Emergency Preparedness folder that I could grab quickly. As I have thought about the pantry lifestyle more in the last twenty-plus years, I have come to change my list. Mainly because I realized it is silly to be competing with a multitude of other shoppers for things like bottled water, TP, etc. when they should be a part of my pantry already.
Bottled water in gallons (or what used to be gallons and now are slightly less in weight) is cheap where I live. The only problem I have is that water is heavy so I bought a couple gallons at a time when I was at the store, as did my husband, until we had replenished our bottled water supply.
Since I put tap water in the containers I used during our recent water emergency and labeled it as such, I have that water stored on a little used shelf in the garage with the newly purchased water on a shelf close to the door. The tap water will be used for everything except drinking.
Water is just like everything else for the pantry, it doesn't take much to stock it a little at a time. Even three or four gallons of water stored on the bottom of a coat closet can keep you from having to pray there is still bottled water in an emergency. As for toilet paper... store extra under the bed if necessary, along with some paper towels. It doesn't have a "Use By" date.
My "Emergency Preparedness List" went from looking like most people's lists to making a priority those things we definitely want to have on hand. Think of what you would buy if you have a Winter Storm Warning, which takes some imagination in this heat and humidity, but what would you need if you may not be able to go anywhere for awhile because your driveway is under feet of snow.
If you already have at least a small pantry, then you can spend what money is available on those things which cannot necessarily go into a pantry such as dairy products, extra meat, fresh produce (not too much since it goes bad quickly), canned products to make very simple meals, etc. Basically, essential items that you do not have on pantry shelves.
Think of your pet's needs and any medications that can be purchased. Believe me, life will be smelly if you have to extend the kitty litter a couple of weeks! Been there! If you have a baby in the house, it is a very good idea to have diapers and formula (should you be using formula) stocked in the pantry already. The same is true for feminine hygiene products.
This is why building up your pantry, just a little at a time, is so cost effective. Especially when you can purchase items you know you need when they are on sale. Even with inflation, there are still loss leader sales in the stores. In such an emergency situation, you won't have to purchase those items you already keep in the pantry and rotate if necessary.
With everything going on in the world today, it would be a very good idea to sit down this week and write a list of what you would purchase if you needed to leave the house and go to the store right away. As far as stores, stay away from the big warehouse stores! That is where most people head for first. I'd say the same is true for Wal-Mart, unless that is your only choice.
Stores like Kroger, Meijer, Target, etc. will be crowded but I doubt as much as the big warehouse stores where people will be wanting to stock up big time. Be creative and think out of the box about the stores that may have what you are looking for.
For instance, I was able to get fresh eggs most of the time when the big name stores had been out of them for weeks during COVID because I buy my eggs at the health food store where they get them from a local Mennonite family.
One could write an entire chapter on this subject (and they have) but I wanted to bring it up after having an email chat with a friend last week. I mentioned that one of my favorite go-to places for the latest headlines had not been updated that day because they decided to go to the city to "top off" their preps. It had something to do with what they had been talking about on the radio recently.
We were wondering what was going on that would send them to the city for more purchases? Which, of course, got me to thinking of Ruff's experience with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I really need to duct tape my imagination and replace it with God's Word for it was going down all kinds of rabbit trails.
Thank you for the recent comments, I learn so much from them!
I'm going to share just a few favorite cookbooks today. This post is already long enough. ;)
For the new cook as well as anyone who likes basic recipes, I recommend Betty Crocker Cooking Basics. I liked all the original Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Joy of Cooking, etc. books but this one has photos and explanations of ingredients, equipment, etc.
For the new and the very experienced cooks, I highly recommend Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat... both the book for reference and the Netflix four-part series. The book is now a whole lot cheaper than it once was!
The River Cottage Family Cookbook is available only third-party now but it is a favorite for back to basics cooking. It also has stories and photographs for enjoyable reading, many of which are of them cooking together as a family with children.
If you like the other River Cottage cookbooks from Great Britain or you want to learn more "from scratch" cooking techniques, this is the book you will keep on the coffee table when cold nights return and you can curl up with a good book and a hot beverage.
I love cookbooks that are enjoyable to read and I will share a few favorites next week!
Mentioned in this Blog Post
Madagascar Grade B vanilla beans (good for making extracts)... here.
Starbucks Blonde Roast Premium Instant... here.
The Betty Crocker Cooking Basics cookbook... here.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat book... here.
The River Cottage Family Cookbook... here.
Last week, I forgot to include these links!
Frontier Chopped Dehydrated White Onion... here.
Dehydrated red and green peppers (individual bags)... here.
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.
Image: Three Hens With Coop