Saturday, February 12, 2011

Week 7 of the 2011 Food Storage Challenge

$10 Challenge
3 large cans baked beans (or spaghetti)

$20 Challenge
3 large cans baked beans, 2 large cans spaghetti

The whole point of this weeks challenge is to store something that is quick and easy to get ready in any emergency situation (you can even eat them cold if needs be), and you can use them in your everyday cooking to use them up as well.

Baked beans are a good source of fibre (legumes, of course, are good for you). They're a low GI food and are a fairly decent source of folate (28% of the Recommended Daily Intake) and iron (22% of the RDI).

If you're not too keen on baked beans, by all means store something else. Most of my family are not keen on them, so I store more spaghetti and things like canned ravioli with sauce.

You used to be able to purchase big cans of these (the size of those large fruit cans - 825 grams). That's the size we're after here, so that one can will feed your family one meal - depending on the size of your family, of course. I'm going to purchase extra of the smaller size cans if I can't find those big ones.

Himalayan Looking Havana Bunnies Part 2

Still little enough to fit in one hand.
These little critters won our hearts rather quickly. They were loved from the start, and I think they knew it. They had very sweet natured personalities, and were naturally affectionate bunnies. I have to say though, this was their cutest age(2 1/2 weeks old here).

This was a common sight. I found it amusing that the bunnies liked to be on my husband's shoulders. They seemed to really like snuggling into his neck too. Such big softies!

Did you know bunnies can be quite good at playing dead? Actually it's because when they drink milk from mum, they drink upside down, like this. They seem to go into a trance and can be handled quite well. (3 weeks old here)

See no, hear no, speak no evil

Last photo on these little ones. Here's Checkers three weeks later (at 6 weeks old). Look how big she had grown!
These days of course, she is a normal size bunny, but still gentle and sweet natured and very loved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Phone Scammer Warning - 'Solar Professional'

I thought I'd put this out there just in case this 'company' is targeting anyone else.

I received a call from an (Indian sounding) lady at first claiming to be from the Federal Government, then a company that works for the Federal Government. She said I was entitled to thousands of dollars worth of rebates on solar panels. Did I want to go ahead and install them? I smelled a rat. I was more interested in why on earth the Federal Government might be wasting money calling people when money could be spent elsewhere (recent floods and a cyclone came to mind). I asked where this lady was calling from. She was trying to say "Parramatta", then "North Parramatta" then settled on "George Street, Parramatta". I said her number coming up was NOT a Parramatta number. She said "But our head office is in Melbourne". She tried to push the fact again that I could get all this money back. I questioned her again on how valid her company was. She told me I was an idiot!

I informed her the call was being recorded. She hung up pronto.

Further research has led me to find out that this was a scam phone call, that 'Solar Professional' is not an Australian company , certainly have nothing to do with our Government, and that they are not to be confused with 'Solar Pro', a magazine about solar power (legitimate).

Be wary of phone scammers. They can be quite convincing when they want to be!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Himalayan Looking Havana Baby Bunnies

Oops, our female bunny (Pepper) was pregnant when we adopted her. The problem was that we didn't know she was! She hadn't been separated early enough from her brother prior to them coming to live with us, and she wasn't showing any signs at all. Mother bunnies are supposed to start ripping their fur out from their front at least a couple of days prior to their kittens being born, and to start nesting. Apparently they can get moody too. Nope, not Pepper. She loved cuddles, loved being upside down on our laps getting lots of attention so imagine my great surprise when I found this...Hello little bunnies!
A two day old bunny. This is the day they grow fur. They are born with teeth and their eyes remain closed. On the subject of picking them up, if the mother rabbit is familiar with your scent and is tame enough, she won't mind you handling her babies. At least, ours didn't. She seemed to like all the attention!
Getting curious. Bunnies are about 1 week old here. Their eyes will open after 2 weeks.

Bunnies are about a week and a half here. They grow so fast, and are so fat! Means Mummy Bunny is doing a good job.
Just small enough to fit in one hand.

Two of these bunnies were boys, and one a girl. We found a good home for the two boys, and kept Pepper's daughter, 'Checkers', who is just as delightful. The two have formed a bond and are so lovely to watch. It has been a wonderful opportunity for my children to see this life cycle and how quickly they grow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Week 6 of the 2011 Food Storage Challenge

Week 6 $10 Challenge:
5 kg rice

Week 6 $20 Challenge:
10 kg rice

There are three main types of rice: Long grain (such as Jasmine and Basmati), Medium Grain (Calrose and Arborio) and Short Grain (Japanese and Pearl).

For long term storage, you want to store the white rice varieties. Brown rice has a shorter shelf life and will go rancid, but can successfully be stored for 1-2 years.

If stored properly, white rice can be stored for up to 30 years or more!

To see a Brown Rice - v - White Rice comparison, click here:

Storing Rice:

There are a few different ways of storing rice for your food storage;

- Keep it in its original packaging. This will work for shorter term storage. If it is good quality rice, you shouldn't get weevils inside the packet.

- In the freezer. You can store rice in the freezer long term. Not only does this method kill any residing bugs, but it keeps your rice fresher for longer. The downside, as I discovered, is if you have a power failure. We stored ours in bags under our frozen meat in our chest freezer. After a 5 day blackout we realised that our bags of rice had become brittle (due to freezing), and the juice from the meat managed to get through all 50 kilos of rice. :( Now I know that you need to ensure your rice is packaged properly when storing in the freezer.

- In PET containers. Rice will last around 5 years stored this way. See my post on for how to store it properly.

- In Mylar bags (foil pouches). Stored in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and then in plastic tubs, your rice can last 30 years or more if the temperature is kept constant.

- In food grade plastic tubs. There are some videos on the Internet showing people storing their food in big buckets/food grade tubs. You need to line the tub with heavy duty plastic. Some add dry ice to remove the oxygen from the tub, and seal correctly (whichever method you choose to use to remove the oxygen so nasties don't survive).

I tend to store different types of rice: Jasmine, Basmati and Calrose for variety reasons. Rice pudding is a great food storage recipe for using up your short grain rice, milk powder and sugar. Long grain rice can be cooked and mixed with tinned lentils, tinned corn, soy sauce etc for an easy food storage meal.

Don't forget that in order to cook rice, you will need to store extra water - for water storage purposes.