Emergency preparedness

Ice storm emergency preparedness picture

Over the past week, I have been so glad that my family practices preparing for survival. We live between several low water bridges in a rural part of Oklahoma. This past week, we had terrible flooding. It was so bad that we were trapped between the bridges. Some of our friends actually had their homes washed away in the flood. Thankfully, our home is built on higher ground. But, we had quite a few days where we were not able to get out to get supplies.

The flood waters have finally receded enough for us to be able to get out. They were over the road even in places where there wasn't a water source nearby aside from rain water.
The flood waters have finally receded enough for us to be able to get out. They were over the road even in places where there wasn’t a water source nearby aside from rain water.

The thing was though, we were fine supplies wise. We have a habit of always buying one item extra when we go shopping and trying to keep extra supplies on hand. This is a helpful thing to do because it won’t break the bank, but it ensures that when you need them and you either can’t get out to buy them, or maybe the loss of a job has made it so you can’t afford to, you still have what you need.

We cook by scratch, so we keep extra of all the basics. This would include things like:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • dry beans
  • dry legumes of different varieties.
  • Pasta
  • spices
  • peanut butter
  • jam or jelly
  • powdered eggs
  • rice
  • cooking oil
  • powdered milk
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Honey
  • Chocolate and other sweets are good to keep for times when things are tough, because it will help lift your spirits.
  • Dehydrated fruits or vegetables.

I’m sure I could go on and on about things that keep well and are very helpful if you find yourself facing a natural disaster or unemployment. Oh, I’d better mention that you should make sure to keep extra paper towels and toilet paper on hand. Where we live, you can have ice storms or snow storms, tornadoes, and flooding that make it so you may have up to a month that you can’t get to a store.

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Homemade probiotic

Kefir grains
My family likes to make or raise our own probiotic foods. We’ve learned to make greek yogurt from goat’s milk. We also have learned to make another type of probiotic called  Kefir. We not only use it for ourselves, but we’ve found that it is helpful for ruminants and even our dogs digestion. I’m a boxer lover and have had a long line of boxers in my life. Boxers, however, are prone to sensitive stomachs. I found with the last one I had, who passed at the age of 12, that feeding Bruno, Kefir, seemed to help his stomach be a little more settled.
In order to create Kefir, you’ll need to get Kefir grains from someone who has a start. The picture at the start of this blog is of Kefir grains. Then, once you have grains, you’ll need to put 1-2 soup spoons worth of those into a quart of milk and cover it lightly so the kefir can breath and develop. Let it sit out of the fridge at room temperature for a day. Then strain the grains out and use the Kefir. You probably would like it better if you chill it in the fridge for a while first.  It looks a lot like yogurt when it’s been strained, and the grains have been taken out and put in fresh milk. It’s very good stuff! When I’ve had it, I like mine with a little sugar in it. Some of my family members prefer to sweeten it with honey.

Once you’ve strained the grains out of the kefir, put them in  a fresh quart of milk and repeat the process. You can put the jar in the fridge  for a few days if you don’t want to drink it right away. Just keep in mind that it will get tart if it’s left in the fridge too long. If you prefer, the grains can be frozen instead. Put two soup spoons of the grains per freezer bag, with a little milk in the bags. They can be kept frozen for years.

Making lactose free Chevre cheese

Lactose free chevre 1

One of the people in our family has a lactose intolerance. Unfortunately, she also loves all varieties of cheese, seasoned or soft. So, we began looking for a way to be able to make a soft cheese that she can have that won’t make her feel sick. This is what we came up with. George wrote this down for me because he’s our main soft cheese and yoghurt specialist:

Chevre Spreadable Cheese

Chevre” is French for goat. Traditionally this cheese has been made with goat milk. We usually make it with goat milk, as that is what we produce on our farm. But this cheese can be made with cow milk purchased in the grocery store. In fact, I’ve made it using “Lactaid,” which is milk with lactase added to it, so that lactose intolerant individuals can drink it. The resulting Chevre is delicious and usable for people who do not tolerate lactose.

To make Chevre one needs:

  • between ½ and 1 gallon of milk

  • 1 drop of rennet

  • a couple of teaspoons of sea salt

  • a piece of real cheese cloth (not the stuff sold for arts and crafts)

  • a large colander

  • a pot

  • another pot or container large enough upon to set the colander and hold it up
    without falling into it.

  • a warm place, free of drafts

  • a thermometer capable of measuring temperatures in the necessary range.1

  1. Place the milk in the pot and warm it on the stove until it reaches 80 F.

  2. Add the buttermilk culture to the milk.

  3. Place one drop of rennet in ¼ cup of water, pour into the milk and stir, using an up and down motion, for about a minute.

  4. Cover and place somewhere at normal room temperature for 24 hours, or until the milk has solidified into a cake (this is known as curd), floating in whey.

  5. Pour off what whey you can without losing the curd.

  6. Line the colander with the cheese cloth and set it over a pot or container for catching whey.

  7. Scoop the curd into the cheese cloth and fold it over the curd, to keep anything from falling into the curd.

  8. Wait about 6-8 hours for whey to come out of the curd. It’s done when the cheese is more solid than sour cream (spreadable). I like it at about like cream cheese consistency. Also, keep in mind that this cheese solidifies a bit when stored in the refrigerator.

  9. Take the cheese out of the cheese cloth. Place it into a bowl, and mix salt into it until it tastes the way you like it.

  10. Enjoy!

This cheese is great on crackers! As an option, one can mix chives or some other spice in at the time of adding the salt.

This recipe is adapted from 200 Homemade Cheese Recipes: From Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yogurt. by Debra Amrein-Boyes: @ 2009 by Robert Rose, Inc.

1A real cheese/milk thermometer doesn’t cost too much, even when mail ordered.”

Enjoy! This soft cheese is one that our family member has been able to eat without feeling sick.