Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Product Review - Valley Food Storage

Food products are tough to review.  Simply, most reviews depend on individual tastes, which vary largely from one person to another.  That being said, I have reviewed food packages in the past that were OK and acceptable by my standards, as well as those of my family...and believe me, 5 year olds can be pretty picky!

Another issue with these food packages is that so many of them come from the US.  I have always tried to keep things on this blog as Canadian as possible, so when the folks over at Valley Food Storage contacted me about reviewing their products, I had a few questions for them regarding shipping issues.  They replied back quickly enough and assured me that they do ship product to Canada on a regular basis and have experienced no issues in regards to delays, or customs.

I received the package in about a week's time from the day I got the shipping notice.  It was a variety pack which included 4 packets...

Strawberry Cream of Wheat (5 servings)
Multigrain Cereal (5 servings)
Pasta Primavera (2 servings)
Enchalada Beans and Rice (2 servings)

So, let's get into these pouches and check them out one by one...

First off, we'll look at the strawberry cream of wheat.

I know the camera on the laptop isn't the best, but you can probably tell that it looks a bit watery.  That's because after following the instructions on the package, the result was a thick goop at the bottom of the bowl with a foamy water on top.  Waiting longer and stirring didn't help.  This was disappointing, as there was an inviting aroma of strawberries.  Believe me, the aroma was all there strawberry taste whatsoever.  

Next, let's try the Multigrain cereal.

As you can see from the picture, I am using my butane camp stove for this review because that is what I will likely be using AT BEST when I need to get into my 25 year storage food.  Again, this cereal just didn't take up the water the way you would think it should.  The end result was a bland, thin bowl of plain grains.  As a matter of fact, this one went into the dog dish, and the pouches EVENTUALLY ate it up.

After 2 less than successful attempts at breakfast, time for the entres.

We'll start off with the Enchilada Beans and Rice.

This time, the directions offered an option for a thicker product by using 1/2 cup less water. Having learned my lesson already, I figured that would be a good idea to try.  After the recommended cook time (15 - 18 minutes) and the recommended stand time (another 5 to 7 minutes) I ended up with a bowl of something that looked quite appetizing.  I expected undercooked beans, but I was wrong.  The beans were tender, but the FD vegetables seemed a little tough, which is a common problem with these types of foods.  Unfortunately, it didn't take long for my palate to become overwhelmed with the taste of salt.  Another thing I notices was that I had a decent sized portion in front of me, but it was supposed to be a serving for 2...ok, maybe as a side dish, but definitely NOT for a meal, with this entire bowl packing a mere 460 calories.

Last, but  not the worst (fortunately) comes the Pasta Primavera.

Again, we can see a decent sized bowl of pasta here, but remember...that's 2 servings.  The sauce looked a little on the thin side, even after the recommended standing time, but once it cooled an extra minute or 2 in the bowl, it turned out all right.  The pasta had a good texture and the sauce actually had a cheesy flavor, not overwhelmingly salty, and was overall not bad!  The FD peas however, did cook a little unevenly with some being perfectly tender, and others being a tad crunchy still.  I have to admit that I did eventually eat the entire bowl as I sat down to write this review, so I guess we could call this one a success.

In general, I wasn't impressed with this line of food storage.  Sure, there was one good dish, but I would not pay the $11.95 US for what is supposed to be 2 servings.  Unfortunately, these products turned out to be overpriced and underwhelming.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Movie Monday - Killer Tornadoes

This Week On Movie Monday

Killer Tornadoes

Understanding How Tornadoes Destroy and Kill


With tornado season just around the corner,  I thought this might be a great topic to look at this week.  The majority of tornadoes reported in Canada occur between May and September.  Sure, there have been tornadoes from January through April, and also in November and December,but the possibilities really ramp up for the 5 months in between.

This documentary will cover tornadoes from the US, and unfortunately, a lot of people will think that those devastating EF5 storms just don't happen here.  Well, those people would all be wrong.  Although rated on the older F scale at an F5, the Eli Manitoba Tornado that struck on June 22, 2007 would easily qualify as an EF5 on the new Enhanced Fujita Scale.

In this movie, you will hear a lot of references to El Nino in relation to tornadic activity.  This year, the NOAAs Climate Prediction Center has predicted a 70% chance of El Nino effects this summer.


Canada experiences an average of 62 confirmed tornadoes per year

 These films are presented as an exception to the copyright act as fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire. See bill c-42 article 29.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Lifeline Right Outside Your Door

Community. Do you have one?

 If you answered yes then you are who some would consider to be the fortunate ones. You have either made a decision to be involved in one, live in one, or have created one around you. Your community may be the people you live close to, or the people with whom you spend your time. When people are suddenly in a situation where they are in need, it’s then that they recognize that they either do, or do not, have a community around them. Those who don’t may be alone for many reasons, but two stand out. Either they have chosen to live separately, or they live in an environment where everyone is so busy with their own lives that they don’t know the people next door. It is this latter group for whom this article is written.

 After a disaster, one of the most common recorded statements is in reference to how the “community really came together”. Splashed across the news are stories of people helping one another, sharing resources to others in need or lending a hand to someone they hardly know. This is a wonderful phenomenon, but it’s sad that it takes a disaster to force us to meet our neighbours. Imagine if this same group of people had some idea of the skills and resources among them ahead of time. How much better prepared they would be!
So what can you do to help define the community that’s around you? There are the obvious answers – one being to get to know your neighbours, but for some that’s an intimidating prospect. Not sure where to start? Then try these well-known, but often neglected suggestions:

-          Go to or hold a neighbourhood BBQ

-          Garage sales – go chat with the neighbour who is hosting it, or host one yourself

-          Go for walks in your neighbourhood and look those you pass in the eye and say hi

-          Though somewhat cliché – go ask your neighbour for a cup of sugar. Really. Go do it.

-          If you hear that a neighbour has been ill, bring over a meal

-          Offer to help shovel a driveway or mow a yard

-          If someone new moves into your neighbourhood, bring them a plant or a treat and welcome them. Unfortunately this is a lost act of kindness in a lot of neighbourhoods.

There is strength to be found in having a community. If you don’t have one yet, then take a moment and reach out to those around you the next time an opportunity arises. You never know what lifelines you may be establishing without even realizing it.