What I've Been Reading Instead of Cleaning My House

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday

Overheard while working the Flea's Candies kiosk at my local mall:

Older Brother: Do you know what Black Friday is?

Younger Brother: Yeah, it's a national holiday.

Older Brother: It's not a national holiday.

Younger Brother: Yeah, it is. Barack Obama started it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Beef Teriyaki with Rice

This was just OK. It certainly didn't look too appetizing, but the rice was good, the sauce had a little kick to it and the water chestnuts were a pleasant surprise.

Our Final Analysis:

I would pass on this one.

I should note that Nigel gave it low scores because it reminded him of an unfortunate barfing episode following eating a Hawaiian haystack.
Speaking of barfing, I must admit that I've given these later freeze-dried entrees low scores because I'm finding it harder and harder to convince myself to eat them. Even though they all taste good and they're all different, it's just too hard to stomach so much prepared food.

I would say that a few cans of freeze-dried entrees would be good for your food storage, but definitely DO NOT depend on them for your entire year's supply.

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Beef Stroganoff

Nigel and the kids really liked this (I stand corrected -- Jeffrey again refused to taste it), but I was not thrilled with it. I thought it was OK, but not great.

This one took longer to rehydrate than the others, had lots of noodles, good meat, but I thought the sauce was lacking and it needed more mushrooms (were there any mushrooms in it?).

Our Final Analysis:

If it was up to me, I'd pass on this one.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Lasagne with Meat Sauce

This was another delicious entree. Much like the spaghetti, but not as soupy and with loads of yummy cheese. Or course it wasn't in layers or anything (not too pretty to look at), but the taste was good and the aroma was divine. The only drawback was that it took a lot longer to rehydrate -- maybe because the noodles and meat are in thicker chunks.

Our Final Analysis:

Definitely going to get this one!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Noodles and Chicken

This is chicken with noodles in a light chicken broth sauce with some red peppers and herbs. I really liked this, but Nigel and the kids prefered the spaghetti (again, Jeffrey wouldn't try it). As Frances put it, "It would've been better without the vegetables."

There were LOTS of noodles (as opposed to the spaghetti), but the chicken was chopped, pressed and formed. Before when I've had freeze-dried chicken, it was shredded, but this still tasted good. Nigel thought it would be glorified ramen, and was pleasantly surprised by its home-made taste (he especially liked the red peppers).

Our Final Analysis:

I would definitely buy it, but the rest of my family wasn't that thrilled.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

Jeffrey loved this! And he hates everything! He kept going on and on about how it tastes just like scrambled eggs and bacon (which it is). Frances and Alice-Grace weren't as thrilled (but then again, they don't like bacon or scrambled eggs to begin with). Nigel and I liked it, but the texture of the eggs is a little different. Not bad, just different.

I should note that these meals come in pouches and they're completely dry. All you have to do is add boiling hot water, stir, seal the pouch back up and wait 5-10 minutes. With the spaghetti, you just ate it from the pouch, but with the eggs, you had to drain the excess water out first. This was hard to do without losing all the tiny bacon pieces along with the water.

Our Final Analysis:

Tasted good, but not sure if we'd like a big can of it

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

This was surprisingly good. The ground beef tasted exactly like regular ground beef and the sauce was delicious. There was even cheese in it that tasted like normal melted cheddar. I was expecting it to taste like dog food like those canned spaghetti meals do, but it was really yummy. The whole family liked it (except for Jeffrey, who wouldn't even try it because he hates spaghetti in all forms) and even asked for seconds. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough noodles (I prefer much more noodles to sauce).

Our Final Analysis:

Definitely going to go out and get a #10 can of this!

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Organic Bananas

These are definitely better than the old dried banana chips (ew). Nigel really liked them, but the rest of the family wasn't too thrilled. I think they're good for a snack, but I don't know what I'd do with a whole big can of them (I don't like banana cream pie or banana pudding or bananas in Jello or anything like that).

Our Final Analysis:

Buy a small bag for snacking. Otherwise, pass.

Freeze-Drying, it's not just for pets anymore*

Nigel and I have been adding some long-term items to our food storage. Of course, you can usually only buy these in large quantities and they are VERY expensive. So how you do avoid buying things that you don't like? (Like dried carrots -- I'm sorry, I hate dried carrots -- even reconstituted, they're still nasty)

Here are a few tips we've discovered:

1. Freeze-dried products are more expensive than regularly dried products, but they are SO much more delicious. I try to buy these whenever I can afford to.

2. Health food stores carry little snack-size pouches of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. This is a great way to discover which ones you like (strawberries and corn) and which ones you don't (peaches and again, carrots) without buying a huge #10 can of it.

3. Camping stores carry single serving pouches of freeze-dried meals. These same meals (by the same company) are also available in big cans at food storage stores. This way you can check them out before buying.

4. Ask around. Usually someone has tried the product before and can give you advice (a woman at the local emergency store says that sour cream powder is great to add to recipes -- I'll have to get some).

5. When buying freeze-dried products, try to get them in the largest sizes possible (such as WHOLE strawberries instead of DICED strawberries or SLICED strawberries). They're so dry that they rub against each other in the can and sometimes you end up with more powder than product.

We will be taste-testing some products and posting our results.

*Quite a few years ago I was riding the bus and a man gets on with a freeze-dried golden lab. He sits down with his big stiff dog and then begins to tell anyone who will listen what a great pet it makes because you don't have to feed it or clean up after it.

Driving Me Crazy

Three food drives all at the same time! Boy Scouts, work and school. It's just getting to be too much. I decided that I had to just pick one to donate to (all the food goes to the same place anyway). But with limited funds and trying to beef up my own home storage, I've had to come up with some creative ways to buy extra food.

Here is my latest supermarket score:

4 boxes Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal -- $3.19 each
2 boxes Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes -- $1.99 each
2 boxes Betty Crocker Muffin mix -- $2.99 each
2 boxes Betty Crocker Cookie mix -- $2.49 each

Total = $27.70

After using the store's "value card"

Total = $19.98

After special store offer of getting $5.00 off for buying 10 General Mills/Betty Crocker products

Total = $14.98

After using manufacturer's coupons for all products (free on the General Mills and Betty Crocker Web sites)

Total = $9.58

That's right, from $27.70 to $9.58, baby! Score!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Putting the T & A in PTA

So this was the conversation at our last PTA meeting:

"Do we want to do the "Read with the (insert name of local professional basketball team here)" program this year?

"What's that?"

"We did it a few years ago and it was really popular. All the schools compete and whichever school's kids read the most minutes in a month, they get a professional basketball player to come to the school to read them a book and pass out autographed photos. We actually won last time."

"How did it go?"

"Well, it would've been better if the basketball player wasn't illiterate and actually COULD read the book to the students. Then we discovered that in the autographed photo that we passed out to all the kids you could see a tattoo of a naked lady on his arm, so we had to gather all the photos back from the kids. And then the very next day he was arrested for statutory rape, so we had to explain what that meant to all the kids."

What the?!? Who knew being in the PTA could be so salacious?

Needless to say, we decided to NOT do the program again this year.