A Few of My Favorite Things 2012

 

So this year I’ve discovered a couple of new “gadgets” that I’m in love with and thought I’d share them with you--cause that's what girls do, and I am, after all, ALL girl. *grin*

 

First of all there's this cool Ascella LED light bulb that actually charges while it’s in the light socket of your lamps (E26 and E27).  But when “the lights go out” this little diddy will keep on glowing for 3 hours when it’s fully charged.  Making it even more cool is the fact that you can turn it off or on, and you can even remove it from the light socket and extend the base of it and use it like a flashlight. It’s wicked cool! This little guy will last full charges and full drains for 18 years of 20,000 life in hours and only draws 5 watts but it puts out 150 lumens!  Paul Faust from 1800prepare.com sent me one of these guys—curses upon you Paul—now I have something else I want to spend money on—like I needed your help on that. *grin* He said that I could give ya’all a discount code for purchasing them.  They normally retail at $39.99, now $29.99 MSRP but if you use the code "PrepPro" you’ll get 25% off the next 72 hours and then it will go to 20% off until the 21st of October. If there’s anything else you’d like on his site, just enter "preppro15"  for 15% off of everything else on his site. Here’s the link to the product:

 

Next on my list is a must-have to anyone who’s relying upon canned products. It’s the JarBox! This is an American made product that solves the number one problem for jar breakage which is jar to jar contact. It’s made with sturdy, plastic with 12 deep wells which protect your quart-sized jars from top to bottom and from side to side. You can shake and shake that puppy and those jars aren’t popping out of their protective cells and they won’t contact each other either. When you purchase hundreds of pounds of meat and produce to can over the years and all those hours, the last thing I want to have happen is those jars breaking. What’s worse, when I use the cardboard that the jars come in, if one breaks, they are ALL a mess. I like that these cells contain the mess in the event of a break—which would have to be caused by a serious corner edge drop and even then, all of your jars will NOT break.  I even snagged a picture of a man 290 pounds standing on top of the JarBoxes. I’ve got to say, I’m a bit jealous over the JarBox creator, Jeri. She came out with a product that I have been fantasizing about creating for years. (Just goes to show you that action beats dreaming any day.) I don’t understand why more people don’t go to the effort of protecting their food investments. I hear people all the time say “oh, my house is too hot to store food like that” or “our basement is too humid” or a litany of other excuses. My point of view is if it’s important enough to acquire in the first place, then it’s important enough to protect and INSURE.

 

One other thing I like about these JarBoxes is that I don’t have to purchase more shelves to keep my canned goods on. I can stack 8 to 10 full JarBoxes on top of each other and they have these ridges on the top and the bottom of each of the cells which allows them to essentially “click” into place, I simply use zipties to ensure the boxes keep shut (there are holes provided for this very thing at two different spots on the JarBoxes) and I then use a bungee hook or two to secure them to a stronger part of my basement such as one of the foundation bars that  sticks out.  I simply can’t say enough how much I love these.

 

The suggested MRP on these is $24.99 each. Considering that I’m going to be canning 120 pounds of all-natural chicken breast meat that I got for ZERO dollars out of pocket thanks to Zaycon foods, then I consider the investment to be WELL worthwhile. One of my girlfriends just got pork roasts for $1.58 a pound. At a cost of $2.50 per cell (aka per jar), and the fact that it’s a one-time investment that I can keep using again and again as I rotate through my canned goods, as long as folks can keep saving big bucks on their meat and produce, the JarBoxes are worth every penny.  Would I pay an extra dollar per pound one time to protect my canned meats for the next 20 years over and over again? Uh, heck yeah! Who do I give my money to for THAT deal? This also solves a big concern I had about moving and trying to safely transport all of those canned goods. And it also solves the problem of mitigating the damage that even a light earthquake could do to my home-canned goods too. Preparedness, in my book, is about peace of mind. These babies definitely give me more peace of mind.

 

You can find them online at www.JarBox.com but you can also find them marked down to $19.99 periodically elsewhere on the net and at some of your local stores too. It’s still a relatively new company and they don’t have a lot of retailers just yet, but these guys are definitely worth having. And if you have an appropriate business for this product, then perhaps you can start carrying it. (Sorry, no coupon code to give ya.)

 

O.K. next item on my “favorite things” list. Actually. I have to thank a reader for bringing it to my attention that I haven’t mentioned these products on here yet, in spite of them being the backbone of a lot of my cooking from shelf-stable foods. They are the flagship products carried by a company by the name of Shirley J.

 

This company has long provided flavorings and soup bases to 4 and 5 star restaurants all over the world. It was purchased a few years ago by a couple of great guys who have expanded the products to the home cooks and boy, am I happy they did. Their #1 selling product is called “Whisk Bliss”. It’s a powdered white sauce base that I use at least 2 to 3 times a week. It’s my alternative for any ingredient of “cream of something soup” that’s called for in a recipe because it has no added MSG, no hydrogenated oils, and I can even get the gluten-free version if I want. AND it’s much less expensive. The product combined with their packaging has been rated by BYU as having a 30 year shelf-life.  Chefs have loved using this because it can be warmed all day long and not “break” as is often the case when trying to warm a roux-based or a béchamel based sauce for hours.  It’s so easy to make too. It’s just a 4 to 1 ratio with the mix and water. Heat it for 10 minutes and you’ve got a velvety sauce that you can turn into anything. I use it for the base of my Alfredo sauce by simply adding a little nutmeg and Parmesan cheese; I use it for a white pizza sauce by simply adding the Shirley J Pizza & Pasta Seasoning or other appropriate spices, and I use it for my cream based soups; I also use it as a tasty thickener for my chicken teriyaki. Did I mention that it’s ALSO LESS EXPENSIVE than the product it replaces whether that’s “cream of something” soups, roux, or béchamel sauce ingredients?  Geesh! What more could I ask for?  Oh  yeah, I could ask for MORE great products like that.

 

I’m using at least 6 of their products as key ingredients repeatedly in the recipes that will be featured in my cookbook that will be coming out soon. I just can’t have a fully stocked kitchen with unlimited possibilities their products such as their Onion Seasoning—which replaces any time I would use Lipton Onion Soup Mix, and without the added MSG AND it’s also much less expensive AND better tasting too; I also to have their powdered Beef Bouillon Seasoning—again, low sodium and no added MSG; and their Pizza and Pasta Seasoning Mix—I’ve not found anything that’s just like it, but I use this on my pizzas, in my pastas, steamed-veggies, on my breadsticks, in sour cream or creamed cheese dips, as well as a bazillion other ways in the kitchen. And lastly, but definitely not least, I HAVE to have their Chicken Bouillon Seasoning powder too.

 

Most good chefs do not like using powdered chicken bouillon. They think it’s too salty; they don’t like the MSG, and the depth of flavor is also typically lacking. Well, the Shirley J brand of Chicken Bouillon was tested about a year or more ago among the top chefs and owners of some of the most well-known restaurant franchises.  They were given the Shirley J brand of bouillon, the refrigerated chicken bouillon paste (which is what most chefs use and it costs a bundle) as well as the bouillon that comes from the cans. Hands down everyone gave the Shirley J brand their ultimate approval and were likewise astounded at how much money they would save using it AND that it was the LOWEST in sodium among all of its competitors. They loved the depth of flavor. Maybe that’s because unlike the other garbage that’s available out there, the Shirley J Chicken Bouillon actually has CHICKEN in it. Um yeah, have you ever looked at the Wyler’s brand of chicken bouillon crystals or squares? NO chicken anywhere—not even clucking in the distance. I'm always throwing a teaspoon of this powder base into my rice, my veggies, soups, casseroles, etc. There's nothing not to love with this awesome STUFF!

 

One last thing to mention, and I confess, it is a splurge, but it did save my bacon when I was cooking for a crowd of women while the cameras were rolling last year when my dessert dish didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I had made what was supposed to be a deeply lemon-tasting cake and it turned out just so-so.  So I panicked a moment (since all the cameras were rolling), asked myself “how can I fix this?!”, and then remembered the Shirley J Dessert Crème I had on hand in my cupboard. I quickly mixed it up in the pan with less than 10 minutes before dinner time, added real lemon juice, and voila! I had an only mildly lemon flavored cake topped with this lovely lemon cream, and then the blueberry pie fruit filling that I made from freeze-dried blueberries on top of that. And yes, it turned out heavenly! (In fact, that silly scene in the show in which I’m stirring a yellow cream sauce  on the stove is exactly what I’m describing here—and which is why it I stated the “Perky! Fabulous” line that everyone teases me about today. *grin*) Again, super easy to mix and serve in a myriad of different ways. They have a vanilla and a double chocolate. I asked Santa last year for a case of the vanilla and this year I’ll be sure to ask him for the double chocolate. Of I just might contrive some way that he can get into trouble and the only way for penance will be with a case of the double chocolate. I’ll have to think on that. *grin*

By all means, remember to have luscious comfort foods on hand for everyday and crisis mode. We all know that comfort foods can save a life. LOL

 

All of the Shirley J products are available competitively priced at FiveStarPreparedness. You might also want to check out their powdered BBQ sauce. It’s HEAVEN when you mix it with a cherry coke instead of water or root beer or even Dr. Pepper. I also mix it with the homemade apricot preserves and slather it all over my pork roast—YUM! What I love about it is that I can make as little or as much as I want and I can even use it as a delicious dry rub. Remember the days of “Shake N Bake”? Well, I just put a little of this BBQ powder, their Onion Seasoning, and a dash of the Pizza and Pasta Seasoning in a gallon bag, put my chicken breasts in there, shake it up, and then bake it. It’s yum-mee!!!

 

Cheaper, healthier, better tasting and with a longer shelf-life. That about sums up why I love and have to have my Shirley J products. Be sure to peruse their other products like their sourdough bread mix—another YUM. Oh and their White Cheddar Cheese base…on and…never mind. You get the picture. Whatever you do, make sure you’ve eaten dinner before you go to the website. If you don’t, don’t blame me for all that you buy. *grin*

 

If you end up falling in love with them that same as I, they actually have a home party division so you could get your essential food products WHILE earning an additional income. I must admit, I don’t know much about that, but their info is on their home website at www.ShirleyJ.com (they have lots of yummy recipes there where you can be inspired and then skip over to Five Star to save on the pricing.)  Oh, yeah, and be sure to use coupon code "PrepPro" when buying any Shirley J products from Five Star and you'll save 10% on the entire Shirley J stock! *happy dance*

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