Food Hoarding for Amateurs
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
Food hoarding isn't just for survivalists. That involves expensive dehydrated survival foods and storage, and is beyond the scope of this article. I'm talking about building up a supply of regular foods you can buy at the grocery store, as a means to save a ton of cash on groceries, and to be prepared in case of an emergency such as a winter storm or prolonged unemployment. There is also the benefit that you will be able to help your friends and neighbors who didn't stock up if there really is ever an emergency, like an earthquake or prolonged power outage. How much food should I store? It's best to aim for three to six months' worth of food for your hoard. This way, you will have a decent supply of food in case of emergency, plus you won't have to worry about long-term storage concerns. Beyond that, it's mostly a matter of how many people are in your family that you need to take into account, and how much room you have for storage. A single person living in a studio apartment is going to have different concerns and options than a family of eight living in huge six bedroom farmhouse. Where do I stash my hoard? First, decide how much room you have to spare for food storage. If you're lucky, you have a large pantry with plenty of shelving and a large freezer. But many of us don't and have to be a bit more creative. Maybe you'll have to convert a hall closet, plus a space in your garage. Maybe you have a spare bedroom you can use for this purpose. Whatever you decide to do, you will have to plan out your storage space before you can figure out how much of a food supply you will be able to manage. Getting started with food hoarding. I'm going to assume you buy groceries on a weekly or bi-weekly basis like most Americans. This is fine. Keep doing this. Buy your regular groceries. You can start adding food to your hoard bit by bit. Every week when you go shopping, see what kind of super-spectacular deals you can find. Look through Costco for 25 pound bags of rice for 8 bucks. Look for deeply discounted canned goods, and buy as much as your weekly grocery budget will allow. Take advantage a super sale on whole chickens at 39 cents a pound. Every week, or when you shop, look for the best savings on foods you can find, and buy in bulk. Use coupons when it's worthwhile. This way, you will slowly build up your hoard at the lowest possible prices. Managing inventory. Start keeping an inventory as soon as you begin stocking up. You can keep a clipboard with inventory sheets somewhere in your storage space. Categorize your foods. Mark down food types, dates, and package sizes on your inventory sheets AS YOU ADD THEM to your storage. Make it a habit to do this as…
July 4th Barbeque Tips: 7 Simple Tips for a Successful Fourth of July BBQ
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
Family, friends and fireworks all are a part of fun summer memories. This year, the Star Spangled holiday falls on a Friday, making it a long weekend for most people. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan for a great BBQ. Here are a few simple tips you need for a successful and fun get together:
  1. People. Invite friends, neighbors, co-workers and family early before other plans evolve for them. Create your own invitations to mail or eliminate the need for paper and postage by using other on-line sites to create a fun e-vite.
  2. BBQ Tools. A wire brush and scraper to clean the grill, oven mitts, skewers if you plan on making shish kabobs, and disposable pans to make clean up easier are just some of the essential tools you may need for BBQ success. When cooking meat, you will also need a meat thermometer to ensure it has been cooked thoroughly.
  3. Safety. Grills are hot and grilling tools can be sharp. If there are children around, be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep them from running near the grilling area.
  4. Food. It wouldn’t be a BBQ if you didn’t have the all-American menu: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, watermelon, potato salad and pasta salad. You can find a variety of recipes online for side dishes or salads that will enhance your menu. Be sure to offer a variety of cold drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – and end the BBQ with something for your guests' sweet teeth.
  5. Pest Control. Where there is food, there are usually bugs if you are eating outdoors. Ants, flies, and bees can all be attracted to your meal, while mosquitoes can be the worst of the uninvited guests. There are several natural repellents that you can use such as citronella, marigolds and garlic; as well as store bought repellents. Be well armed to keep these pests away from your guests.
  6. Activities. Keep the fun and games simple and relaxed, such as croquet, badminton, and bocce ball. If there are kids in attendance, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and a sprinkler for them to run through are always a hit.
  7. Fireworks. Since setting off your own fireworks is probably not legal and of course very dangerous, check your local listings for fireworks displays in your area. Local newspapers and news channels usually carry a complete listing for your reference.
Add a few American flags to adorn your patio or deck and you are ready to have a sparkling 4th of July BBQ!…
Barb's Beef Stew Recipe
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |
When I was growing up, my mother would make a "quick" beef stew in a pressure cooker. I never quite got the hang of using one, myself. I prefer to let the meat simmer on the stove for at least two hours so that it is tender. This is especially true with lean stew meat. Smaller pieces don't take as long to cook, but still require adequate time so as not to be too tough. This recipe for beef stew is one I developed over the course of my adult life. It's pretty basic, but is a favorite any time I have house guests on a cold night. The beef stew recipe below can be adapted to a slow cooker by searing the meat in a skillet first, then transferring all the ingredients except the potatoes to the crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. Allow 30 minutes at the end to separately peel, cut and boil the potatoes in water with some salt and pepper, then add to the stew before serving. Ingredients: 1 lb of lean stew meat 1 tablespoon cooking oil 2 tablespoons all purpose flour about 6 cups water 1 medium onion 5 or 6 carrots 3 or 4 russet potatoes - peeled 1 16 oz can stewed tomatoes 3 medium bay leaves salt to taste pepper to taste worcestershire sauce to taste Pour oil into a large stock pot or dutch oven on stove and set to medium high heat. Add meat. Every few minutes turn the meat so that all surfaces get browned. Add flour and stir around on the bottom of pot so that it absorbs the oil and juices from the meat. It will be a little gummy. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add bay leaves. Add water to cover and stir to liberate anything stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring the water up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cover the pot, and set timer for 1 hour. Periodically, check to make sure the water is not boiling over, or boiling all away. After the beef has simmered for 1 hour, cut up carrots, onion, potatoes and tomatoes into about one inch pieces. Add all the vegetables to the stew pot. Add more water to cover and re-season. Potatoes take up a lot of salt. Throw in a splash of worcestershire sauce for taste and color. Allow the stew to simmer for another 30 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are fork tender. Check the seasoning. Remove the bay leaves. Serve in large bowls with slices of fresh cornbread or hot French bread. Makes about 6 servings.…
Top Indoor Electric BBQ Grills: George Foreman, Sanyo, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart etc
By Kim Carlson | | 0 Comments |

Indoor electric barbecue grills make a lot of sense during cold weather and for apartment dwellers. Their convenience can tempt even hardcore charcoal grillers. Popular brands include Salton (George Foreman), Sanyo, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart.

Grill Size and Power: Watts, Temperature and Power Density

The grill needs to be hot enough to sear meat for that grilled taste and browned look, otherwise the feared "boiled meat" taste will result. Many manufacturers claim a maximum temperature of about 425 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also important is the power density of the grill. A larger grill obviously needs more power. To compare grills, the power of the grill (Watts) should be divided by the area of the grill (square inches) to get the power density. For clamshell grills, the area of the top grill should be included in the calculation.

Power densities can range from 6 to 18 Watts per square inch.

Grills range in size from about 36 to 200 square inches. Depending on the type of food grilled, 30 to 50 inches is needed to cook for each person. For clamshell grills, some manufacturers report the cooking area to include both the top and bottom hot plates. Others don't.

Clamshell Double-Sided Contact or Press Grills

These are like panini sandwich makers. Heating elements at the top and bottom means

  • Shorter cooking times.
  • Less heat and grease splatter.

Features to look out for:

  • Floating hinge to adjust for different food thicknesses, up to 3 inches is possible.
  • Open flat hinge. Some grills can be opened 180 degrees and used as a conventional flat single-sided grill.
  • Tilt control and grease channels to collect grease. A built-in drip collector is convenient.

Removable plates are a major feature that should be considered.


  • Easy to clean. The cooking surface is popped out and can be soaked in the sink. Some are dishwasher-safe.
  • Flat or ribbed plates can be inserted depending on the type of food cooked.


  • Some users complain of less heat and/or uneven heat distribution compared to fixed plate models from the same manufacturer.
  • Plates can fall off in the middle of cooking if not properly secured. Locking latches can loosen or break over time.

Traditional Single-sided Grills

Single-sided electric grills try to simulate charcoal grills. A metal grate has electrical heating elements built into it. It is placed over a drip pan. A glass cover is sometimes provided to reduce splatter and shorten cooking times.

While less well known compared to the George Foreman clamshell grills, they are popular with people who like traditional grills and who don't like to squash their meat. There is even a George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor single-sided grill with a domed cover.

Some models have waterproof soakable grills for easy cleaning but most need to be wiped clean to avoid short-circuiting the heating element.

A raised rim is useful to prevent food from falling off.

Electric Grill Features

Popular features include

  • Variable temperature or power to allow more control over the cooking.
  • Timer. Some timers cut
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