Category Archives: Product testing

Another Thrive Cookbook Recipe Trial (& error!)

Well, it’s20121210_175737 been quite awhile since I posted an actual Thrive cookbook recipe challenge, so I thought it was time to get back into the test kitchen (which is actually my home kitchen, just with pictures & commentary).

For our upcoming HCS Co-op meeting (& my dinner), I decided to try out the Macaroni & Cheese recipe.  When I began this recipe, I fully expected that the final product would be somewhat close to boxed macaroni & cheese (we all know the brand I had in mind).

20121210_175855It started simple enough, I mean, this was not a hard recipe.  The only difference between boxed Mac & Cheese and this recipe was that I had to measure out my ingredients.  It called for 3 cups of Thrive Macaroni Noodles, 1 1/2 cups of prepared Thrive Instant Milk (which was super easy since I already had some made), 1/8 cup Thrive Butter Powder & 3/4 cup of Thrive Cheese Blend.

Starting out like any other Mac & Cheese, I boiled the noodles.  Easy enough.  As I was reading the recipe, I saw that it called for a cup and a half of milk.  My first thought was, that’s alot of milk.  Then I thought, they must know what they are doing, so in went the milk (from past experience20121210_182409 I should have known better, alas, I have no excuse).

After adding the cheese blend & butter powder to the noodles & milk, I had, well….Mac & Cheese Soup.  “Yuck” immediately sprang to mind.  Not willing to give up (I was hungry), I decided that adding more cheese blend powder might help.  It began to thicken after adding about another 1/2 cup of cheese blend powder but it was not enough to combat the soupy mixture.  A taste test quickly told me that adding even more cheese blend would be a mistake.

In order to salvage the meal (and actually eat dinner before 10 p.m.), I decided to add in some Thrive Cheddar Cheese and bake it at 425 for about 20 minutes.  20121210_184947It actually turned out pretty good but still way too buttery for my taste.
After overnight in the fridge, it turned out just like baked Mac & Cheese.  I received many compliments on it at the HCS Co-op meeting the next day, so I guess my recipe triage worked… either that or they were just being nice 🙂

The moral of this story is two fold: Don’t wait until an emergency to learn to cook with your food storage; you might not have the luxury to “fix” a recipe or start over.  And second, use common sense when following a recipe; if it sounds wrong, proceed with caution.  It’s always easy to add more, but you can’t undo what’s already been done.

Here is what I would have done differently:
Start with only 1/3 cup of milk and add more as needed
Use only 2 teaspoons of butter powder (then taste, add more if needed)
Use 1/2 cup more cheese blend powder (taste test first to see if it is needed)

I still love my Thrive Cookbook and it was worth the purchase price, even if it becomes just a loose guideline as I continue to experiment with my food storage.

I’ll try again soon using the above modifications and hopefully, I’ll end up with something closer to that famous boxed Mac & Cheese that I love!

Until next time,
Happy Prepping!
KD

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Recipe Challenge #5 & 6: Two VERY Different Recipes, One Very Entertaining Evening!

I started out the evening with the intention of only tackling one THRIVE recipe tonight, but I ended up making two recipes that are definitely polar opposites:  Beef Enchillada Bake and 6-Grain Pancakes with Blackberry Compote.  I know what you’re thinking and no, we didn’t eat them together.

Deciding on the Beef Enchillada Bake was an easy choice since the recipe looked really yum, I was in the mood for cheesy & beefy, and I had all the ingredients I needed to complete the dish. 

The recipe called for THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef, THRIVE Corn, THRIVE Shredded Cheddar Cheese, salsa, condensed tomato soup and soft corn tortillas.  I’m not big on corn mixed with other food, so I left that out and replaced it with 1/2 cup of THRIVE Chopped Onions.

I was also about 1/4c short of the THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef, so I added THRIVE Beef TPV to make up the difference.  After soaking the onion for 5 minutes and the beef & cheese in water for 15 minutes, it was time to put everything in a skillet.

 
It took about 7 minutes to heat everything up in the skillet and then I transferred it to the stoneware for baking at 350 degrees.  I think my oven must not bake as hot as the test kitchen at THRIVE, because I’ve had to add approximately 10 extra minutes to every recipe so far.  So, 25 minutes later and Voila!, dinner (well, the first one) was served.

Brandon got home just in time and was “STARVING”, so I added a little sour cream, quickly took the last pic for this post (with his thumbs up) and took my first bite.

I thought it was delicious, Brandon thought it was too sweet.  While cooking in the skillet, the onions carmelized, making them sweet tasting.  I thought it was just right, especially with the side of sour cream.  Brandon suggested I use corn or rice instead of the onions, so I headed back to the kitchen to try another “batch”.  I thought any leftovers would be a good comparison for work tomorrow.

This is where the 6-Grain Pancakes with Blackberry Compote came onto the scene.  Instead of a second go-around of the Beef Enchillada Bake, Brandon decided he would prefer pancakes.  I had unpacked my recent THRIVE delivery and had 2 pantry cans of THRIVE 6-Grain Pancake Mix sitting on the counter.  There was a recipe for blueberry (all I had on hand were the THRIVE Blackberries) pancakes in the THRIVE Cookbook, so I decided to accept TWO challenges in one night… I don’t know what I was thinking.

I’m sure those that are gifted in the culinary arts could have whipped up the pancakes in no time and they would have been perfectly fluffy & round.  I am not one of those people.  This did not happen to me.  

The initial “whipping up” part wasn’t so bad.  I mixed up the THRIVE Non Fat Milk (which actually tasted like milk – no powder taste at all!), whipped the THRIVE Eggs into perfect consistency and gently whisked the blackberries into the final mix.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, and then I tried to cook them.  That’s when things went wrong.  Of course, having a sense of humor about it made it fun, not stressful.  Brandon was there the whole time, encouraging me (“they look floppy”), helping me (laughing with me at my sad pancakes), and offering advise on the recipes (“don’t use sugar in the compote, it’s going to be too sweet” – I used the sugar. He was right). 

After three failed attempts, we agreed that the batter needed more THRIVE 6-Grain Pancake Mix.  I added in a little at a time, about 1/2c, until it reached a thicker consistency.

This helped alot – sort of.  We ended up with “Well Done” pancakes, the very last one turning out just right.  
Brandon was right about the compote, it was really sweet.  I put it in a jar and into the fridge.  I’m sure I’ll find something to put with it, maybe with some peanut butter on toast. 

I was already full from the Beef Enchillada Bake, so I only tasted a bite of the pancakes.  I thought they were really good and so did Brandon.  He decided that next time we would try using raspberries or blueberries.  There’s a recipe for THRIVE Oat Pancakes too – might have to try that.

Even with the mess-ups and huge mess the pancakes made, I wouldn’t trade the laughs, the time spent and the wonderful experience with my son tonight. 🙂  I am truly Blessed.

Goodnight, stay warm & safe.  Until next time,
KD

Shifting Gears a little….

I’ve been evaluating where I want to take this blog and what I really want to accomplish with it.  Most of my recent posts have been in reviewing products, and while I do think that reviews can be helpful for people that are trying to make a decision on whether to purchase an item or not, I feel I need to be doing more.  My desire is to truly help people become self-sufficient, save money & be prepared for any event.

I will still continue with my review of products, but I will also begin posting more “how to’s and preparedness” type posts and videos on our new YouTube Channel.  Speaking of reviews, I called Shelf Reliance (SR) customer service last week, to check on my order for the remaining items to continue my “Recipe Challenge Project”.  SR is moving to a new facility, so shipping has been affected during the move and I wanted to be sure that my order from Oct 4th had not been “lost” in transition.  I was assured that it would be shipped out this week, so I hope to be back on track with the project before the end of the week.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting a project on preparing to “bug out”, complete with pics and video.  Also, if you get a chance, checkout http://survivalcache.com/urban-survival/ – Excellent article!

Be back tomorrow! Stay safe & ready,
KD

Recipe Challenge #3 Redux: Cornbread Take 2 & a Taste Test: TPV Beef

I received an email today to let me know that Shelf Reliance is 12-14 days behind on shipments this month.  They have had a surge in orders but are working hard to keep up with all of them.  As a result, I’m still waiting on several of the THRIVE products I need to make most of the recipes in the cookbook.

I decided to give the cornbread recipe another go, just using less sugar.  I did everything exactly as before, but used half the butter and only 1/3 c of sugar.  After everything was mixed together, the consistency looked a little thin, so I added another 1/3 c of cornmeal.  This did the trick and it looked like it should.

I poured the mixture into my trusty stoneware and put it in the oven at 325 degrees.  I set the timer for 30 minutes and let it go.  After 30 minutes, the top still wasn’t browned as much as I would like, so I turned the broiler on (at 500) for just 2 minutes.  The result was PERFECT. 

I let the cornbread cool for about 10 minutes and cut a piece to test.  For me, it was just right.  I think that my family would like it a little sweeter, so if this sounds like you or your family, go up to 1/2 c sugar.

My second attempt at this recipe turned out perfect in texture and taste.  It would be a wonderful addition to a chili or pot roast.

TASTE TEST: THRIVE TPV Beef

I thought I would give the THRIVE TPV Beef a quick taste test, sans additional ingredients.  I took a little nibble of it dried and it looked and tasted like large bacon bits.  The side of the can said to “soak in hot water for 10 minutes” but doesn’t give the ratio of hot water to THRIVE TPV Beef.  So, I guessed at it and got it almost right.  I used 1c water to 1c THRIVE TVP Beef but probably should have used 3/4c water instead.

I let it sit for just over 10 minutes (the dryer was calling & the timer went off while I was downstairs – so more like 15 minutes).  It looked like chopped beef – the taste & texture was not.  I can’t really fault the product since TPV is soy based and not real beef.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t beef.  I’m not sure how it will do in a recipe but I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’m going to change all of my upcoming Q Club orders from TPV to THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef instead.  I am building my “Home Store” via the Q Club and intend on using the THRIVE products in place of store bought products (you’d be surprised at how much money you can save, as well as time, by doing this!).  Even though the THRIVE Freeze Dried Ground Beef is more expensive than the THRIVE TVP Beef, I only buy organic, grassfed ground beef, so I’ll be saving a ton of money by using the THRIVE products instead.

Hopefully, the rest of my product will be delivered and I’ll be able to move onto more complex recipes within the next week.  I’m really looking forward to trying the Mac & Cheese & Quesadilla recipes. 🙂

Have a Blessed and restful night!
KD

Recipe Challenge #4: Scrambled Eggs

Tonight’s “challenge” wasn’t really a recipe but more of a taste test.  I wanted to see how the THRIVE Eggs would turn out if I scrambled them. 

Following the instructions on the side of the can, I whisked 2 tbs whole egg powder & 4 tbs water together (double recipe).  It looked fairly watery but was confident that it would turn out fine. 

I heated a small skillet and sprayed a little bit of PAM butter into the pan, then poured the mix into it.  It began to bubble and take on a pancake like consistency.  I have to admit, I was becoming less confident about the end result.

As the mixture began to thicken and brown, it started to look like fresh scrambled eggs (Thankfully! – I was REALLY not looking forward to trying them in their current state).  The THRIVE eggs take a little longer to cook than fresh eggs and it’s important to keep turning them so they brown properly.  After they looked just about right, I cut up a green tomato and topped it with some hot salsa and sprinkled everything with a little sea salt & fresh ground peppercorn.

While the eggs had a very slight powdered taste to them, they were still pretty good.  I want to try again with just a little less water and maybe add some THRIVE Cheese & THRIVE Bacon to it for texture & taste.

Even though I’ll be sticking with fresh eggs for breakfast for as long as I can get them, I have no doubt that in a recipe that calls for eggs, the THRIVE Whole Powdered Eggs would be just as good as fresh ones. 

Sleep well!
KD

Thrive Recipe Challenge

I recently received my THRIVE COOKBOOK from Shelf Reliance.  Because I signed up as a consultant, I received some nifty pantry cans (quart sizes of all of the #10 can products) so that I could demonstrate the food at “Parties”.

Now, I wasn’t born a good cook.  In fact, I’ve been known to burn water…more than once.  So, while I was excited to receive my new cookbook and try it out, my family was very apprehensive about the whole thing.

I decided that if I was going to make a serious “go” at this business, I better learn to cook with it and actually become good at it.

So, this is my personal challenge to myself:  I’m going to make at least one recipe, if not two or three, each week and blog about my experience with it.  I figure, if I can make it work then I’ll be able to show others how to make it work for them.

I’ll attempt my first recipe tonight, so check back later this evening for the start of my “Thrive Recipe Challenge!”

Blessings and Sleep Well,
KD

Canned Butter?? Canned Cheese? Hmmm…..

A few months ago, I was browsing one of my favorite websites and came across some unique canned food items. Canning is nothing new, but this was the first time I had seen canned cheese and butter.

We tried the Bega Canned Cheddar Cheese, an Australian brand and H.J. Wisjman & Zonen Canned Dutch Salted Butter, hailing from the Netherlands.  Neither of these products needed refrigeration and both were reported to have a long shelf life.

I am a cheese LOVER and giving up cheese in the event of TEOTWAWKI was almost more than I could think about, so this discovery was very exciting!  Creamy real butter from a can sounded too good to be true but I was hopeful that this would be a great addition to my food supply.

My Brother & Sister-in-law came to visit at work today, so along with my parents, we sat down for lunch.  They were all thrilled to know that I intended to include them in the sampling of the cheese and butter.  My Brother, being an avid hiker & mountain climber, gave the first observation:  They are too heavy to carry in a backpack.  But, since my intention was for long-term storage on a shelf, I wasn’t too concerned about the weight.  The butter is about the size of a large tuna can & weighs in at 200 grams.  The cheese can is smaller and weighs a total of 113 grams.

The butter was the first to be opened and everyone agreed, it looked like butter.  My Dad immediately stuck his finger in the can for the taste test and announced that it did indeed taste like butter.  Other than being room temperature, we could tell no difference in taste or texture in comparison to the whipped butter you would find in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.  I would give this product an A+ and plan on stocking at least a few cans for spreading.  Sprinkling powdered butter on bread vs spreading creamy butter on bread; I’ll take the creamy butter every time. 🙂

Although the cheese was labeled as being from Australia, the writing on it was Middle Eastern.  The ingredients are listed in English as well, so you know exactly what you are getting in the can.  Upon opening up the cheese, a combination of curiosity & a little apprehension was the overall first impression of our little test group.  The cheese was white & almost had a glossy sheen.  It had the look of a spreadable cheese but we were surprised to find that it had a very firm consistency.  When I tried to remove it from the can to “spread” some on a cracker, it only flaked off in small pieces.  The taste was very close to that of “Cheese Whiz” in the can but was firmer in texture.  Overall, I would give this product a B- for ease of use & texture and B+ for taste.  My Brother’s review was less forgiving; he said “it’s not gourmet cheese but would do if that’s all you had to eat” :-).  As for me, if I can’t find better canned cheese for the price, I’ll probably stick with the Bega. 

Both products can be purchased from http://www.campingsurvival.com.  These items sell out often, so keep checking back with them if they are out of stock.

P.S. TEOTWAWKI = The End Of The World As We Know It

IonPod Tested and Passed!

Ok, so about a week ago I ordered two IonPod’s from Healthy Habits via Amazon.com.  Wait, let me back up a little bit…. about a month ago, my Dad “test drove” one of those $4000 water filters that changes your water from an acidic PH to alkaline PH.  We all took home a few gallons each and, over the course of about 2 weeks, tried it out. (Check out the healthful benefits of drinking alkaline water by clicking on the title of this post.)

Now, 2 weeks isn’t really enough to see much of change in our health, and being relatively healthy people anyway, I didn’t expect it would in that short of time.  I did notice a few small changes, like sleeping a bit better and a couple of things that would probably be TMI, so I’ll just say…. it’s something I have struggled with all my life and it seemed to be helping a little.  I figured, given some time, it might turn into helping alot, so I was all for keeping it.  Well, as you can imagine, $4000 is ALOT to plop down on a water filter (and the bank REALLY likes for you to HAVE the money when you write a check for something), SO…. being the diligent shopper that I am, I decided to see if there was something out there that would be somewhat comparable, if not just as good, for ALOT less. This is what I found:


I was so excited to find this nifty little thermos and after checking out the reviews (most were good), I decided to go ahead and try it.  I figured, if it doesn’t work, then I can return it and I’m only out about $7 in shipping.  Anxiously waiting on it, Saturday – THE delivery day, finally arrived.  I bolted down to my UPS store to pick up my package and rushed home with the loot.  I followed the instructions for cleaning and preparing it – it took 4 cycles for ours to be ready, so be patient with it, it’s worth it.

Once that task was completed, which actually took most of the afternoon to do it properly, we decided we should do an alkaline test.  I was skeptically hopeful, if that’s what you would call it.  If you’ve ever seen a PH strip (see below), then you know the spectrum is: acidic is red to light green (4.0-6.6), green is neutral (7.0), and alkaline is dark green to dark blue (7.6-9.5), and 10+ begins at mid-purple.

 

Personal Size Ion Pod

Alright, back to the test:  In the following picture, the light green liquid (6.6) is straight out of our tap, the yellow liquid is Dasani (6.0) & the deep blue liquid (8.5) is the Dasani put into the IonPod & shaken for 10 seconds, then tested.

Conclusion:  The IonPod by Healthy Habits WORKS!