Make Perfect Stove Popped Popcorn

We are big stove popped popcorn eaters around here.  I pretty much pop a pan a day.  My kids grew up on it.  Cheap and whole grain healthy, with a long term storage life and the added bonus of being quick and easy to make, popcorn is a food storage mainstay.

Making stove popped popcorn in oil is easy. It's a favorite snack for movie nights. It's a perfect long term storage item for your food storage too!

Ingredients for Stove Popped Pop Corn

You’ll need a heavy bottomed 6 quart stock pot with a lid.  This is important.  You don’t want your popcorn to burn.   I find these sorts of pots at thrift stores and yard sales all the time.  They are so versatile.  I have several.

My family prefers a light olive oil.  Or if I’m feeling rich, I use macadamia nut oil.  Grape seed oil works well.  I’ve also used avocado oil and love it.  But since I always have olive oil on hand, it’s usually what gets used.  Some people like to use coconut oil for their stove popped popcorn, but the taste wasn’t a hit at our house.

4 Tablespoons of oil.
1 Cup Popcorn
Sea Salt

Making stove popped popcorn in oil is easy. It's a favorite snack for movie nights. It's a perfect long term storage item for your food storage too!

How To Make Stove Popped Popcorn

Pour 4 Tablespoons of oil into a cold pan.
Next pour in 1 cup of popcorn.
Make sure each kernel is covered in oil. Shake the pan a bit to get so the corn and oil is evenly distributed over the bottom of your pan. Remember, you don’t want your popcorn to be drowning in oil. The oil line shouldn’t be above your popcorn.

I then put the top on my pan, turn up the heat to about a 7, or medium high, and let ‘er rip!

Making stove popped popcorn in oil is easy. It's a favorite snack for movie nights. It's a perfect long term storage item for your food storage too!

To Shake or Not to Shake (The pan that is……)

I use to shake my pan back and forth. But if your heat is high enough and your oil is hot enough all those little pieces of popcorn will pop up without any extra help.

However, if shaking helps you from burning your popcorn, by all means SHAKE! Just keep sliding the pot back and forth over the heat until all of those kernels have turned themselves inside out!

When the popping slows down to just a few pops at a time, it’s done!  Remove it from the burner.

Making stove popped popcorn in oil is easy. It's a favorite snack for movie nights. It's a perfect long term storage item for your food storage too!

 

Salt

I like to add my salt while my popcorn is still very warm. I think it sticks to the popcorn much better. I use sea salt. Unless I’m out. Then I’m stuck with table salt. That always make me a little bit sad.

Here’s the secret to adding salt to your popcorn. STIR/TOSS IT UP. More stirring/tossing than salt. Add a few shakes, stir the bejeebers out of it, taste it to see if you need more salt and repeat IF necessary. There is nothing worse than too much salt on the top of the popcorn and not enough on the bottom.

Viola. That’s it! That’s right, I don’t even add butter. Seriously. It’s divine just the way it is. Food of the gods. I always have people tell me how good it is.  As a matter of fact, people often leave my home with a big plastic cup of the stuff to take on the road with them.

It’s really that good.

Making stove popped popcorn in oil is easy. It's a favorite snack for movie nights. It's a perfect long term storage item for your food storage too!

Toppings for Stove Popped Popcorn

Every Sunday night is popcorn night at our house. It’s been a tradition since my kids were little. As a matter of fact, my married kids keep the tradition alive in their own homes now.

Over the years, we’ve come up with a few ideas to make our humble pots of stove popped popcorn a little more festive. Heck, we’ve been known to jazz up a pot of corn, serve it with a side of carrot sticks and fruit and call it dinner. (ahem)

Here are some of our favorites:

Lightly buttered with freshly grated Asiago cheese.

Lightly drizzled with white truffle oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tossed with salt and dry Ranch seasoning.

Lightly buttered with both sea salt and black pepper.

Sprinkled with Thrive’s Dry Cheese Blend.  (Item #22445)

What is your favorite popcorn topping?

I’m secretly hoping that once you’ve tried making your own stove popped popcorn,  you’ll never go back to the microwaved stuff again.  Try it out for yourself, then come back and tell me what you think!

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How To Make The Most Of Survival Seeds

“I bought these survival seeds so that I can grow all my own food when the SHTF”.

I hear this a lot.   Often from people who have never planted  a seed in their entire lives.   Experienced gardeners must be doing a terrific job of making their work look super easy for so many people to figure that if the world were to explode, they could just till up a little bit of dirt, throw out their package of  survival seeds, and viola!, dinner is served.

There’s a whole lot of people in denial out there folks.  A whole lot.

Many of these people couldn’t even tell you what type of seeds are in that survival  seed kit, or if their family even likes those vegetables.

How To Make The Most Of Survival Seeds

 

How to make the most of survival seeds.

1.  Do your researchHow much land you have will determine the type of garden you’ll create.

Suburban homesteader?   Check out All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew,  Mini Farming:    Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham, and The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.

Urban homesteader?   Grow what you need in pots!  The years my family spent living in a major city in Turkey we grew in pots on our balcony.  The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible will get you started.

Another strategy would be to sprout your seeds for fresh eating.  Ann Wigmore leads the way in teaching about sprouts and their health benefits in The Sprouting Book.

Ready for the Big Leagues?   You’ve got your land, paid your dues and ready to go off grid?  Here’s a few resources to take a look at:  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Life, and Abigail R. Gehring’s classic, Back to Basics would be good places to start.

how-to-make-the-most-of-your-survival-seeds

2.  Gain some real life, hands on gardening experience……..NOW.

Gardening has always been a part of my life and my husband grew up tending his grandparents  acres and acres of garden. That’s a lot of gardening hours and we still have years that where certain things are total flops.  Let’s face it, you learn from your mistakes.  Take that time to make those mistakes now, rather than in an emergency situation.

3.  Make friends with other gardeners.

Pick their brains for gardening information specific to your location.   Trust me, gardeners love a willing audience.

what-to-know-before-you-buy-survival-seeds

 

Save your own survival seeds!

Every gardener should learn how to save seeds.

The day might come when ordering your seeds on the internet is no longer a possibility.   Suzanne Ashworth and David Cavagnaro’s Seed to Seed:  Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardens., is a must have for any gardener.

 

Want to know my very best advice in regards to creating a plan for using your survival seeds?

HAVE AT LEAST SIX  MONTHS OF FOOD STORAGE ON HAND.
If your personal emergency comes about in the dead of winter, what will you eat?  What will you eat while your garden is making it’s way to harvest?

Food security can’t be found  in a box of survival seeds.   Experienced gardeners would find it challenging to grow everything  to keep body and soul together for a year.   Factor in the amount of physical work growing all your food would require and, well, you get the idea.

Survival Seeds can be an excellent ‘Plan B’

Keep growing those gardens! Plant those fruit trees and berry bushes!   Gardens are a major  component of your food storage plan.   A wonderful, healthy, financial friendly, much needed component, that helps free up much needed cash  you can use to buy your three months supply of what your family normally eats, and then a year’s worth of longer term food storage.

‘Cause thinking when the SHTF you’ll  rip up your lawn and grow everything you need with that box of survival seeds, simply ain’t  going to keep your family fed.

How do you plan to feed your family in case of an emergency?

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How to make goat milk yogurt.

My son, Parker, follows the SCD diet for his ulcerative colitis.  This diet calls for yogurt.  Goat milk yogurt is our yogurt of choice.   Either powdered goats milk or fresh goats milk will work just fine.  This recipe also works for cow’s milk.   It’s important to know you can replicate any foods required for a special diet when the shtf, in one of it’s many forms.  

goat milk for goat milk yogurt
It’s actually a pretty simple process.   I used a gallon and a half of fresh goat milk and put it into a a clean pot, allowing it to slowly warm up to 180 degrees.  Make you that when you check the temperature you stir the milk so that you get an overall reading.  You’ll want to keep the milk at 180 degrees for at least 2 minutes.

Next, take the your pot of milk off the hot burner and onto a cool one.   I often just place the entire pot into a sink of ice water to hurry the cooling process.  You want to let your milk cool to 100 degrees.

Once you milk has cooled to 100 degrees, pour a bit out into another container.    Add your yogurt ‘start’ to that small bit, stirring to make sure there are no lumps.  Then pour your newly mixed ‘start’ into the large pan and stir some more.  You want to make sure the starter and milk are well mixed.

cooking thermometerHeat your milk to 180 for at least 2 minutes and then allow it to cool to 100 degrees.

I used about 1/4 of a cup of yogurt starter.  What is a yogurt starter?  It’s simply a bit of yogurt I’ve saved back from my previous batch of goat milk yogurt.

goat milk yogurt start

Is this your first batch of yogurt?  No worries.  You can purchase a container of plain goat milk yogurt and use that.  OR you can use the packaged yogurt starter.    Simply follow the directions on the package.

Next  I poured the soon to be yogurt into clean half gallon mason jars.  We use a LOT of goat milk yogurt so I tend to make a lot at a time.   Feel free to start with a smaller amount!

Next I screw on the tops and rings and place each half gallon into my Excalibur dehydrator.  Yup.  You can make yogurt in the Excalibur.  Sweet, eh?

I keep my yogurt fermenting at about 100-115 degrees for at least 24 hours.   After the 24 hours have passed, I put the yogurt into the fridge to chill for about 24 hours.

What?  You don’t own an Excalibur?  Worry not.  You can use a yogurt maker, or even put your covered pot of milk and starter into the oven and use the oven light as a heat source.  Or how about using your crockpot?

Do you have someone on a special diet the likes of which you will need to replicate in case of a time of crisis?

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Starting Seeds Indoors: Germination

Starting seeds indoors? Really? Already? If you are like me, and still having huge storms at the end of March, it may be hard to remember that it is time to get those seeds started indoors! But believe it or not, it is.

Steps for Starting Seeds Indoors:

  1. Buy fresh seed-look for the date stamp on packet. Remember that many preppers buy more seed than needed to store. If you are going store left over seed make sure to leave them in a cool, dark place and clearly mark them.
  2. Pick a date- I like to start my peppers and tomatoes the first week of April. Here in the Denver area many people use Mother’s Day as the planting date but I have seen too many late May snowstorms blow in and I feel safer with a Memorial Day plant date. Your outside plant date needs to be shortly after the danger of frost has disappeared in your area. Once you have your ‘plant outside date’ you need to read the seed packet carefully. The seeds below should be started 5 1/2 weeks before your desired plant outside date. Starting seeds indoors: how to read seed packet
  3. Gather your seed germination supplies.

    In addition to seed, you will need:

    • Drip Tray
    • Dome cover or plastic wrap for humidity. You can buy these or use plastic cake covers like what you would get when buying cupakes (ask your bakery or treat the kids)
    • Jiffy Peat Pellets or
    • Root riot starter cubes or
    • soil-less, sterile seed starter mix like Fertilome or EKO
    • chopsticks or a sharpened pencil

    I found Jiffy Peat Pellet trays with the domes and pellets on sale at Lowes for $6 so I decided to use those this year.
    jiffy peat pellet trays

  4. Plant your seeds at the right depth-after you follow the directions on watering your soil less starters you need to refer back to your seed packet for the right planting depth. The seeds we were looking at above need to go in at 1/4″. Get a chopstick or a sharpened pencil and measure that mark on your planting stick. Now use it to make a hole in the center of each pellet just to that depth, place a seed in and lightly cover it up. The number one thing people do wrong in the germination process is bury seeds too deep.
  5. Provide the right heat and light. For most plants (especially tomatoes and peppers) you are going to want to use a heat mat under the tray to keep them warm enough. These are usually around $30 and are designed to fit one planting tray. They last forever and I consider them a good investment.
  6. Water often but carefully. Use a mister to water your seedlings. You want the tops slightly damp but don’t soak! Mold will become a problem under those domes so make sure to check for too much condensation. If it starts to look like a rainforest under there you will need to vent them. You should be able to see through the domes with a light layer of condensation on the top.germination with heat mat and dome
  7. Check your seeds often. It seems like nothing happens for days and then all of a sudden you have plants on your hands! seedlingAs soon as plantlets start to pop up you need to move them to a south facing window or put them under grow lights. I use full spectrum grow lights that are set to 3″ above the leaves for 12-14 hours a day. I just don’t get enough sun for them in a window.
    plants starting under grow lights
  8. Water. Use warm water and water from the bottom up. Let the seed trays do the work. Mist your plants often as most seedlings like 50-70% humidity. I like to put the domes back on at night when I shut the lights off.
  9. Fertilize: Once the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves fertilize with a half strength liquid fertilizer.
  10. Pet your seedlings. I know this sounds crazy but you are trying to harden them off from the winds they will have to face outside. Just open your palm and run over the tops gently.
  11. Get ready to move them to larger pots. I am just about to move these artichokes, rosemary and butterfly over to bigger pots so I can get my tomatoes and peppers started. I’ll post those pictures as soon as I do.

 

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Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds indoors is the first step in learning to grow your own food. Learning how to start a garden from seed is a very important skill in prepping. Food prices are going through the roof as well as the cost of those cute little plants the nursery is starting for you now and will have on sale in a few months.  Why pay for that when you can do it on your own. It’s not scary. I promise and I will walk you through it step by step.

Starting Seeds Indoors-Step One, Shopping!

what is an heirloom seedFirst thing you need to do is buy your seeds. Tammy made some great suggestions on where to buy seeds in this article.  Preppers prefer heirloom seeds because you can save the seeds from year to year and will get the same plant each year. The ability to save seed is an important survival skill as well as a cost saving measure. With a hybrid if you save the seed, you will get one of the parent plants, not the same seed.
There are lots of cool stories about people immigrating to this country with seeds sown into the hems of their dresses to have their plants from the ‘old country’ here. Heirlooms just have great tradition and are sustainable. So if you are learning to garden for the ability to grow your own food, start stocking up on heirlooms.

This year I choose to order the bulk of my seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They have an artichoke variety I am interested in trying so I decided to place most of my order through them. Since these are new plants for me, I went with the smaller seed packets of most. In some cases the price for 50 seeds was only $1 or $2 less than a packet of 250 or 500. In those cases I went with the 250 so I can add those to my seed preps. Here is what my cart looks like so far.

starting seeds indoors order 2013

OG on seeds stands for Organic, F1 notes a first generation hybrid. While I certainly stock and store heirlooms, I do love to play with hybrids. How cool does that purple bell pepper look?

You don’t have to order from a fancy seed supply company. If this is your first year, then go to Lowes, Home Depot or wherever you can to pick up some packets so you can follow along in this series. Later this week I will post a tutorial on how to germinate your seeds.

Materials you will need for the How To Germinate Your Seeds Tutorial:

Seeds-some good choices for first timers in late February and early March are:

  • celery
  • dill
  • leeks
  • parsnips
  • tomatoes (although we don’t want to start these too early)
  • asparagus (bare root)
  • carrots
  • Cabbage
  • garlic (bulb)
  • lemon balm
  • onion seeds
  • thyme

Late March Starters-

  • Chives
  • Lettuce
  • Sage
  • Turnips
  • Swiss Chard

The above are a good reference for my Zone 5a-5b area. Make sure you know your growing zone before buying your seed!

In addition to seed, you will need:

  • Drip Tray
  • Dome cover or plastic wrap for humidity. You can buy these or use plastic cake covers like what you would get when buying cupakes (ask your bakery or treat the kids)
  • Jiffy Peat Pellets or
  • Root riot starter cubes or
  • soilless, sterile seed starter mix like Fertilome or EKO
  • chopsticks or a sharpened pencil

OK, go gather your supplies and we will plant later this week!

 

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Homemade Pizza Tutorial

One great way to save money for preps is to stop eating out and use the savings for prepping. I well know how hard that can be. It’s so easy to pick up the phone and order a pizza. It’s also easy to make you own pizza. Don’t believe me? You will after you read our Homemade Pizza Tutorial.

The biggest complaint I hear about homemade pizza is about the crust. It’s soggy. It’s doughy. It just plain tastes bad.

I can honestly promise you this pizza crust recipe will surprise you. It will taste like take out. Crisp. Light. Thin or thick. You will love this crust. Pinky swear. It’s all in a few tricks of the trade that I share below. Shall we get started?

Disclaimer: This isn’t my original recipe. I found it on Lauren’s Latest.

 

 

Ingredients for homemade pizza dough:

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey {or sugar}
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup…depending on the heat & humidity}

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix.

Making pizza dough in a Blendtec Blender

The reason you only add half of the flour is because how much flour you add depends on how humid your home is. Yup. I kid you not.

The more you make this dough the more experienced you’ll get with it’s proper ‘feel.’ You’ll know if it needs the entire amount the recipe calls for. It’ll most likely change depending on the seasons.

Slowly add the rest of the flour until the dough is soft but DOES NOT stick to your fingers.  I have better pictures about this on my main blog.

Part of the magic of this dough is letting it knead for SIX MINUTES.  I think that is what I’ve been missing.  Letting my dough knead long enough.   I’d let it go for a few minutes, but I never thought to let it go for a full 6 minutes.

fresh, homemade pizza dough

Ain’t she grand?

 

Next you will want to place your dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a thin, wet kitchen towel and put it some place warm until it grows to double it’s size about 1-2 hours.   I like to put mine on the top of my stove and then turn the oven on low.

When your dough has doubled in size preheat your oven to 500 degrees.   If you have a pizza stone, make sure to put it in the oven while it’s preheating.

If you don't have a pizza stone you can use an upside down jelly roll pan.

I don’t have a pizza stone.  I use an upside down jelly roll pan in the oven.  I use cover it with parchment paper.

Next it’s time to roll your dough out.  I roll out my dough on my counter.  Then I lift it up and place it on a piece of parchment paper.  I add my toppings, and then transfer the pizza still on the parchment paper, directly onto my hot upside down jellyroll pan in my 500 degree oven.

pizza dough ready for toppings

Ready for homemade pizza toppings!

 

I let my pizza cook for 9 minutes.  My poor oven has seen better days and cooks pretty hot.  You may need to leave yours in for a minute or two longer.

Homemade pizza baking in the oven.

Fresh homemade pizza right from the oven!

Pizza at home just like the Pro's make!

The results?  Ah-ma-zing.  Truly.  Totally.  A new family favorite.

Give this recipe a try and come back then let me know how it worked out for you!  If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section below!

 

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Favorite Garden Seed Sources

If you are anything like me, you’ve already spent time dreaming about garden seeds for 2013’s bountiful harvest. Yes, my favorite garden seed catalogs just might have a few drool stains amongst their already well worn pages. Since playing in the dirt is one of my all time most favorite activities, today I’m going to share with you my favorite garden seed sources.

Heirloom Garden Seed Source - Johnny's Selected Seeds

You want to make sure you purchase from companies that are committed to providing non GMO seed. I do not grow out Monsanto seed….period.

While I believe that open pollinated seeds are the best idea (you can save your seeds from year to year) there is a place for hybrids too. In our area I’ve never had success with an OP pepper. I have to go with a hybrid variety. If I want a tomato before the end August, I need to have a couple early hybrid plants in a different space.

summer squash in a Johnny's Seeds catalogs - Garden Seed Source

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I choose organic seed whenever available, but I do have seed that has been harvested from plants grown organically, but the actual seed that grew the plant wasn’t organic.

The seed sources below will provide you with everything from organic, to heirloom, to rare, to ……well you name it!

Johnny’s Seed (I’ve ordered from Johnny’s for years and and years.)

Fedco

Baker Creek

Vegetable Seed Warehouse

I’ve often picked up packets of Seeds of Change at my health food store. Unfortunately, once Mars bought out Seeds of Change my health food store stopped carrying this brand.

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Heirloom seeds- long term emergency seed storage

While we are on the topic of seeds, do you have you emergency seed stash? Heirloom, organic seeds that have been packaged to last for long periods of time. The seeds on the left are from Emergency Essentials, the package on the right is from Costco!

Another excellent source of seeds for your area are other gardeners! Experienced gardeners are likely to be saving their seed from year to year. Have a seasoned gardener as a mentor can be a great source of instruction AND seeds!

garden seeds from vegetable seed warehouse

Heck, you could just stroll down to your local grocery store and grab a few packets of easy to grow seed (cucumber, summer squash, pumpkins, lettuce, are a few) and start growing your own food! Burpee has a new organic line that you can find in stores.

Once you have your seeds you can read our post on how to start seeds indoors to get a jump start on your garden.

There is simply nothing quite like being able to walk out to your kitchen garden (or you backyard garden pots filled with veggie plants!) and pick your own dinner. Now is the time to start your planning!

Where are YOUR favorite places to score your favorite garden seeds?

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