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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Surviving Burnout


Originally uploaded by nodigio

One thing that can easily afflict anyone who is intense about a subject is burnout. This is particularly true of those who are deeply concerned about the environment, their work, survivalism, or are involved in charities or small focused groups, especially religious groups. Burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that leads to feelings of helplessness, frustration, being trapped, and despair. Once you hit burnout, you can’t see any way to change things.

The most important step to surviving burnout is to avoid it. To avoid it, you have to know what it is and what creates it.

Agreeing to take on an increasing number of tasks you know you may not be able to do is one step in the journey to burnout. To prevent being overburdened with work, learn to prioritize the requests and agree only to the ones you know you can do. To assuage your possible guilt for saying “no”, suggest someone else who may be better suited to do the task. Then trust that the person(s) you recommended can do it. You may not be burdened by the tasks you are asked to do, you may have the time to do them, but if you don’t like the task you won’t do as good a job of it as someone else who might adore it. Isn’t it better to let someone who really wants to do it have a chance to do it than to grudgingly take it on yourself to get it done?

Trying to do everything yourself is a quick way to burnout. If you’ve got so many things to do that you habitually are late or forget a task or don’t get enough sleep because you’re constantly on the go, you are going to do things poorly and resent others for having the leisure to do the things you’d rather be doing. Stop and evaluate exactly what it is you are doing, and decide what really does have to be done – and by whom. Pretend, for this exercise, that you won’t be doing any of it. Who would then be doing it? Would they like doing it? If yes, delegate the task to them or the person they recommend. After you delegate, prioritize what’s left and consider either dropping what’s at the bottom of the list or scheduling them less often.

One of the things you should always keep at the top of your priorities is taking care of yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep, take breaks, and if you get sick, listen to your body and give it time to heal. If you are weak, sick, in pain, hungry, exhausted, sleep-deprived, hyped up on caffeine and sugar, you will not only not do your best, you might be doing the task so poorly it needs to be done again, and again, wasting your time and frustrating everyone. If you keep on ignoring your needs for others and shorting yourself to “get things done”; you’ll find yourself unable to do anything. You don’t drive a car on an empty tank with a low oil reservoir and no water in the radiator and expect it to make a 500 mile trip. Why would you expect to get through each day without adequate sleep or food or leisure time. A car doesn’t need to idle to rejuvenate itself, but people do need down time that isn’t specifically sleep. Short term abuses of yourself may be acceptable during times of actual disaster, but once the disaster is over and the after care sets in, start taking care of yourself again.

Trust that other people will do their chores. Even if you are the best person for the job, you aren’t the only one who can do it. Most tasks have a lot of leeway in doing them. Good enough is just that – good enough. There are jobs that require meticulous precision work but know that most tasks don’t need to meet rigid engineering specs. And if Nelson files the paperwork in a different order, the world won’t end. Ease up. Being convinced no one else can do the chore and only you can do it right is a large part of the trip to burnout.

Set a schedule, but don’t be obsessive about it. Leave room for leisure activities, time to relax with friends, and have some flex space for unexpected events. A schedule helps you determine if you can take on Smedley’s account when you’re already doing Bryson’s, Linder’s, Zhang’s, and Layne’s accounts, dealing with an elderly parent in an assisted living center, taking Junior to football, piano, and tae kwon do, remodeling the kitchen, doing all the lawn work, running the Fireman’s Charity Ball, sitting on the school board, coaching your daughter’s little league baseball team, and heading the neighborhood watch association or the home owner’s association. I know people with workloads like that and they wonder why they have no time and are always exhausted and snappy. Each of us only has 24 hours in a day – and at least 10 of those hours need to be set aside for sleep, personal hygiene, and eating (not cooking, mind, just eating). That leaves 14 hours for work, travel times, housekeeping essentials, household shopping, volunteer activities, and leisure. If you have a schedule, you are less likely to over schedule and double-book your time. You don’t like it when your doctor double-books you, imagine how others feel when you double-book them.

Take breaks and vacations. Smokers are not the only people who deserve breaks. Everyone deserves to sit back and break up their workload with short times away from the work – completely away. Get up and walk about, talk to others about non-work-related topics, leave the building, read a chapter in a book, play a game, something that isn’t work. It is not admirable to be a workaholic. Divert some of that energy into family, friends, and hobbies. It will make you a more efficient and productive worker if you’re not always working.

Spend time with family and friends. Real time, not just TV time, or fast food meals, or the trip to judo practice. Do things that aren’t part of the daily or weekly routine.

As vital as it is to apply these things to your daily life at work and home, these things are especially important in survival situations. You should do all you can to avoid burnout in yourself and those about you in survival situations because it’s not just your happiness and health depending on it, it could be your life and the lives of those depending upon you.

In short:

Take care of your physical needs
Maintain family and friendship ties
Take breaks and vacations
Prioritize your tasks
Say “no” more often
Trust others

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/surviving-burnout/

Kitchen Sprouter

By Joseph Parish

Having looked carefully at all the commercial kitchen sprouter that are on the market I decided that prior to purchasing a store bought unit that I would try to make my own. I felt it would be very simple to take a mason jar, a rubber band and some cheese cloth and construct my own.

The first task that encountered was the need to figure out exactly which seed I would want to sprout. After I determine the sprouts that were needed a paid a quick visit to the local health food store and purchased approximately an ounce of that particular seed While I was looking at the selection in the health food stor4e I decided to pick up several other varieties to try at the same time.

There my research I discovered that most people who start to sprout seeds usually begin with Mung beans, radish, peas or alfalfa since these are the sprouts that are usually found at most of the salad bars. Keep in mind that you do not want to mix these seeds but rather you should use a different jar for each type of seed.

To start your seeds use a tablespoon of seed for a 1/4 cup of final sprouts. After you have used them for a while you will find that they are not so difficult to use and are actually very easy to figure out the quantities needed. Rinse the seeds off well and drain any excess water from them. Next let them sit for several hours to completely dry. Now rinse the seeds one more time and let them sit unbothered over night.

The following days remove what water may be left and in a couple of days you should have a garden of sprouts being grown. Some sprouts may take as much as 3 or 4 days to sprout and obtain their full flavor. Keep your sprouts in a dark place in your kitchen.

Keep in mind that if your family is not familiar with eating sprouts you are more then likely to encounter some initial resistance. Mung sprouts can readily be used in a
Variety of different dishes in order to enhance both the foods eye appeal as well as the flavor. You will find that the radish sprouts are a bit on the spicy side but can add a slight tangy taste to a sandwich.

Wheat sprouts are a great addition to your breakfast and can easily be added to your cooked cereal. They are especially desirable in Ezekiel bread while there is certainly no harm in using them in baking regular wheat bread also.

Some people wonder about the seeds sprouting in the garden and the answer to this concern is yes they can be. They can readily be employed in the garden in order to grow next year’s new sprouts. The only problem here would be the particular variety may not do well at your specific location. It would require you to develop your specific seed stock.

Growing the alfalfa for seed is an interesting process which is best completed with the help of leaf cutter bees and a sparsely populated field of various alfalfa plants. The plants appear to end up resembling tumble weeds for which you can observe the spirals as they get larger as the summer wears on. A five gallon bucket of alfalfa seed would last the majority of families for over a year even if they sprouted on a daily basis.

Copyright @2008 by Joseph Parish

Original: http://www.survival-training.info/articles6/KitchenSprouter.htm

Gardening To-Do-List for January and February

January (yes, it's a little late):
  • Make a garden plan. Plan the garden to include various vitamin groups, and space. And patience!
  • If you've had a garden before, consider planting a few new varieties along with the old favorites. Especially concentrate on heirloom seeds so you can save seeds in the Fall for next year's garden.
  • Plan the amount of each vegetable to be planted, including enough to can and freeze. Rule of thumb is to allow about 1/10 acre of garden space for each member of the family. If you don't have that much space, just do what you can.
  • Buy enough quality (heirloom) seed for two or three plantings to lengthen the season of production. Especially carrots, radishes, and lettuce.
  • Take soil samples if you have not already done so, and take them to your county extension office for analysis.
  • Apply manure or compost and plow it under if you did not do this in the fall.
  • Apply lime, sulfur and fertilizer according to the soil-test results and vegetable requirements. Buy 100 pounds of fertilizer for each 1/10 acre to be planted (if manure is not available, buy at least half again more). Use 5-10-10 or 6-12-12 analysis, depending on soil test and vegetable requirements.
  • Get plant beds or seed boxes ready for growing plants such as tomato, pepper and eggplant. Have beds ready for planting in February.
  • Check on your compost pile and make sure it is ready for use in the spring.
  • Get copies of gardening publications for your area.


  • Start seeds (using jiffy pellets, peat pots, etc.). Peppers and eggplants will take eight weeks to grow from seed to transplant size, while tomatoes will take six weeks. When the seedlings form their third set of true leaves, transplant them to individual containers. Best to transplant directly to peat pots so when you put them into the ground or raised beds, there will be very little root disturbance.
  • Prepare land for planting. Make sure you've put together raised beds (with wood, old plastic kiddie pools, etc.. It's especially good for Winter and early Spring plantings to be in raised beds because the soil will warm up faster, and have better drainage.
  • If nematodes were a problem last year, make plans to plant another crop less susceptible to nematodes in the infected area. Actually, rotating crops is something you absolutely need to do!
  • Make early plantings of your choice from the following: carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, English peas, Irish potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips. If you have a protected area, or cold frame, these can go directly into the ground.
  • Use "starter" fertilizer solution around transplanted crops such as cabbage.
  • Replenish the mulch on strawberries. Remember, Winter isn't over yet.
  • Start peat pots, etc. for herbs, to be ready for planting in April. Make a list of the ones that are best to buy rather than seed, such as French tarragon and rosemary.
Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/02/gardening-to-do-list-for-january-and.html

Long Term Food Storage Containers - Icing Buckets

Ever since I read about how to store food to keep bugs and critters out (I think it was on http://www.survivalblog.com/), I've been searching for icing buckets at bakeries, Wal-Mart, and anywhere else that makes cakes. It's been months and either they sell them or aren't allowed to just give them to customers.

However.... we finally found some at King Sooper's (Krogers to some people). I was in the bakery section ordering a cake when I had a thought. I asked the lady behind the counter what they did with the empty icing buckets. "Oh, we give them to whoever asks". Free.


We found our source. They only had three (one 2 gallon, one 2 1/2 gallon, and one 3 gallon) but she said depending on how many cakes they do during the day, they usually have at least one. So I've made a mental note to check every time I'm there, and have told Hubby to do the same.

Since we have a little mouse problem, this is perfect for us. We should be able to get enough for beans, pasta, flour, sugar, etc. etc.

Now we just have to wash the icing out of them. That's the hardest part because the icing is slick - the oil/butter. Then pack, include a few bay leaves and dessicant packages, tightly seal, clearly label (especially with expiration dates of contents), and stack away.

We are packing with bottles of honey, big containers of spices, corn meal, flour, etc. I think we'll pack an extra bucket with our stored seeds to plant next Spring, maybe another with sewing supplies (to prevent rust), and then the ones with ... who knows!

Just look around at your local bakeries. If you strike out at one, go to the next. Some might charge a dollar or so, but we're getting ours for free. You probably can too.

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/02/long-term-food-storage-containers-icing.html

Home-Scale Biomass Gasification

[ This is a guest post by Rob Frost at One Straw. ]

You can heat and power your home with WOOD!

Annotated Gasifier
Annotated Gasifier

A year or so ago I learned about the technique of biomass gasification while talking over a beer or two with some sustainable farming friends and other contrarians. From that day on, I can honestly say that the way that I view sustainable living in semi-rural areas has never been the same. I’ll let you all in on one of the best kept secrets of the century - all the talk about “Green Biofuels” is missing a key player. It’s not just about corn vs. cellulosic ethanol - you can run internal combustion engines with wood just as easily!

The technology is amazingly simple - over a million engines ran on this simple technology in Europe during WWII after the blockade cut off oil supplies to Germany. It involves taking the waste gases inherent in the combustion of wood or biomass, and further processing them to allow the powering of all manner of heat engines - by harnessing hydrogen and other combustible gases from a process know as ‘gasification’.

This article will not get into the How-To’s of gasification or too deeply into the physics of it. (Check the resources at the end for further study.) Furthermore, I am not a scientist or engineer, I’m just a concerned guy living in Suburbia who happens to know a lot of cool people that like to weld. What this article WILL get into is why I am convinced that gasification is a paradigm shifting technology that allows us to begin to envision not only a carbon neutral future, but also one that is powered by carbon negative technologies.

We should start with a high level description of how wood chips & pellets can power an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). When organic carbon (the wood chips in this case) burns hot and clean in a gasifier, you create water vapor and carbon dioxide (don’t try this with treated lumber!) - and you also get a bunch of heat. Gasification takes these three byproducts of combustion (heat, water vapor & CO2) and uses them to fuel a second reaction by concentrating the heat onto a bed of charcoal. These coals reach 1600+ degrees in the gasifier, which is hot enough to break the water vapor (H2O) into hydrogen, and the CO2 into carbon monoxide (CO) in a reaction permitted by the consuming heat created in the combustion process. Both of these gases, H and CO (syn-gas) are combustible, which is great because if they weren’t this whole process would be a flop. A cooling tower then cools the syn-gas (a cooler gas being more dense) to less than 100 degrees, and also filters out any ash, water vapor or tar. The resulting syn-gas is 20% hydrogen, 20% carbon monoxide, and roughly 60% nitrogen (which is merely a background gas). When under 100 degrees or so, this mixture is roughly 118 Octane and will run an I.C.E. with a modified carburetor that will deliver a roughly 1:1 air/fuel mix. Check the Gen Gas site and our Videos describe the process in much more detail. The model in our videos is sized to run a 30hp engine, which should be enough to power a 15kw generator on about 1o-20 pounds of pellets per hour (will vary by engine and wood pellet type). By collecting the waste heat from the internal combustion engine, the gasifier itself, and the cooling tower you also have a significant source of usable heat for any number of purposes from home heating to aquaculture.

So, with the intro done, I’d like to simply explain more about why I think gasifiers rock.


Biomass gasification, in its current state, is open source and grassroots. Most of the people cobbling together gasifiers are normal Joe’s and Jane’s: backyard tinkerers. We and hundreds of others have put thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into our units - and we will email you all the info you care to read. Using the FEMA plans (located in the Resource Page of my blog) normal people, using normal tools like welders and saber saws, and normal items like steel drums and pipe, can make a fully functioning wood chip gasifier just like we did in a few days of work. No CAD designs, no high tech fibers imported from China - just good old grime-under-the-nails tinkering. The plans are free, the parts are usually salvaged, and the skills are not hard to come by. What I find exciting about it is that you and I can make our own energy at home for little money. Plus, if you build it yourself, you can fix it yourself should it break. And, since you built it, sourcing parts is no problem. The alternative is that manufacturing small home gasification units from salvaged parts can become a nice little cottage business for the entrepreneurial tinkerer to provide clean, low cost renewable energy to their communities.

Heat and Power

Gasification makes both electricity and heat in one unit, simultaneously. I guess to be entirely honest, the gasifer makes heat and syn-gas, and our Co-Gen system uses the syn-gas to power a gas generator. Most energy systems today do one or the other. You can heat your home very well with a wood burner or masonry stove, but you still need to power the lights and computers with something else. PV and Wind produce electricity and are getting slicker by the year, but do not provide heat. Both are still very expensive and difficult to build at home. More importantly, neither is a very workable option in Wisconsin where our winters are cloudy and cold and our wind resources are spotty. Also, making hot water from a PV unit is insanely expensive, and while dumping excess wind energy into a hot water tank has been done, it is not nearly as efficient as using the waste heat from the gasification process to heat a home. Since heat will always be available whenever we are using the unit, it means we can design heating with waste heat into the home energy system as a main component, not just something to use as an extra should we have a surplus of wind. Another way to think of it is that if we need heat we get electricity as a by-product (damn!) or if we need electricity we have extra heat on hand. I like that a lot. Finally, the emissions from burning the syn-gas in an ICE, results in a reversion of the H and CO back to water vapor and CO2, both very clean combustion gasses.

The next two features are my favorites though.


While we have yet to run the math on how many tons of wood a gasifier will need to power a home for a year (which will depend greatly on size and efficiency of the home of course), it looks to be a favorable equation. A lot of the concern about heating with biomass is that there simply isn’t enough wood to do it. That is especially true with cordwood burners that need slow growing hardwoods to reach their claimed efficiencies. But the gasifier runs well on many biomass sources, including chipped softwoods. This opens up a lot of fuel source possibilities since you do not need a large trunk diameter.

In Europe, where biomass energy is more common, many countries practice Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) management of their productive forests to maximize their yields. Most managed woodlands in the upper midwest are pine for its pulp - taking 20-30 years to reach harvest size. But in an SRC system, fast growing deciduous softwoods are grown rather than coniferous trees allowing harvest to take place in as little as 3 years with some hybrid willows and poplar. This allows a significant increase in tonnage per year -as high as 20,000 lbs. annually on an acre of willow. Many types of softwood like maple, box elder, poplar, aspen, etc will re-grow from their stumps after their trunks are harvested. This means that the root structure is in place after harvest and no replanting is needed. Because the full root system is there, the re-growth is very vigorous, as anyone trying to cut down a box elder knows! This means that once your acreage needs are known it is possible to set up a rotational stand of trees where one section is cut every year - you cut the first section, then move to the second the next year while the first re-sprouts. If you designed your plot right, by the time you get to the end of your plot, the first row has re-grown to a sufficient thickness that you can start over. Now that is sustainable forestry! Entire industries could be rebuilt on sustainably grown woodchips as a fuel source rather than corn, or on a smaller scale, willow could be incorporated into the windbreaks of a CSA farm to allow the production of energy in addition to food.


The main “waste” product from gasification is charcoal. For every pound of chips you put in, you get about .5 pounds of charcoal out the bottom. Importantly, this charcoal, has a plethora of uses: it can filter water, it can be used as a secondary fuel source (it cooks veggie brats nicely!), or it can be used to create Terra Preta or bio-char.

Terra Preta is so amazing I can only begin to explain it here. Terra Preta enables soils to lock its fertility in for millennia as the charcoal prevents leaching. Carbon molecules are hugely attractive to most water-soluble nutrients. This means that dissolved nutrients in the soil, which are normally washed away in a strong rain can be “locked” up in the bio-char. These nutrients hang out on the carbon molecules until a plant’s feeder root or a merry little symbiotic fungus ambles over and breaks a bit free using some mild acids. The plant then uses that nutrient to grow, and eventually dies or sheds its leaves, returning the nutrients to the soil via the decomposers. This is not new, except instead of that unused nutrient washing away and breaking the cycle, it becomes reattached to the carbon to begin the cycle again. This is HUGELY exciting for us sustainable farmers! This step in the process closes the energy cycle - replacing the removed wood with bio-char ensures the sustainable fertility of the soil for future generations.

Also, since the carbon in the wood was captured from the atmosphere by green plants, and since the gasifier consumes less that 50% of the carbon in the wood, (the greater percentage remaining sequestered as charcoal), the process is truly carbon negative. Charcoal is very stable in living soils -Terra Preta discovered in the Amazon is over a thousand years old! This means that if we return the charcoal (bio-char) to the soil, 50% of the carbon input into a gasification system is sequestered for centuries … And we begin to heal the atmosphere with every killowatt of energy we produce with these systems!


Now you can hopefully feel some of the boundless excitement I do when I think of the possibilities of making electricity and heat sustainably with a rather simple machine that one can make locally from salvaged parts. So let’s talk about those possibilities and applications. In 2008 we created a working gasifier based on plans from FEMA. We took that simple design and were able to power a small generator and make electricity. But we had no good way to capture waste heat and the syn-gas was a bit dirtier than we would have liked which fouled the engine. So we took our learnings from 2008 and designed a dedicated gasifier that is intended to recapture significant amounts of waste heat while producing high quality (clean and dense) syn-gas. Our current gasifier + Co-gen system is destined for the home of one of the designers where it will provide all the heat in his radiant floor heat system and electrify his small home while producing extra electricity in a grid tie system.

In the very near future we intend to build another unit intended to be the heart of a greenhouse/workshop. In this iteration, the gasifier will provide the power and heat for the production of biodiesel using a modified Appleseed Processor while boilers will also be set up to heat a 2000 gallon aquaculture system where we will raise fish in a system modeled after Will Allen’s tilapia (or lake perch) tanks. The tanks are filtered by watercress and other bio-filtering plant beds (tomatoes, hyacinth, duckweed). Ethanol and methane production would also couple well with a gasifier’s heat and electricity outputs. We estimate about $2000 in material to reproduce the Gen 2 unit, though our use of salvaged items cut that at least in half. At this cost, which is similar to that of a new furnace, the technology is attainable to a very large portion of America and makes it feasible for a truly vast array of applications.

So there you have it: Biomass gasifiers provide a do-it-yourself Co-Gen heat and energy system that allows the use of renewable, sustainably grown forestry products, while creating bio-char in a carbon negative process that will allow you to farm sustainably for generations. This technology is not the science fiction of hydrogen, nor bears the fiscal expense associated with currently available sources of renewable heat and energy production. Gasification is here, now, and possible within the economic means of many Americans.

The challenges that we currently face are powerful and diverse. To overcome these challenges, we need to implement as many options as possible if we are to leave the future in the state I envision for our children. We can do this. Be the Change.

Interested in learning more? Check out the following resources for more information:

Original: http://henandharvest.com/?p=350


The nuts and bolts of "how to" make an emergency plan is outlined on the Government of Canada preparedness site.

Rather than reinvent one of the many step-by-step plans, I would suggest that you take the time to browse this document. It should take you about 20 minutes.

Okay, you've just made your emergency plan. Well guess what...making a plan and seeing it through to fruition are two different things.

Did you ever wonder why some people die 20 feet from the road, but others survive for weeks on one peanut butter sandwich? To illustrate the point: about a month ago, an 80+ year old Inuit grandfather was lost while caribou hunting. They found his snowmobile stuck but he was miles away at the mouth of the nearest river. He survived over a week on 6 fish and 2 birds. Why did he survive in such an extreme environment? He didn't have the gold-plated emergency pack that you and I would have depended on. Equipment and a plan set the base for any Prepper. But experience and character allow you to be successful.

All survivors have the following mental states in common:

1) They Don't Panic: Just like in the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". When you panic, you get stupid...and stupid people die (How to Survive (Almost) Anything: 14 Survival Skills by Laurence Gonzales). You have a plan... stay calm!

2) They Are Confident: Confidence comes from trust in your plan and familiarity with your equipment. An emergency is not the time to assemble your gas heater in the dark. Testing each step of your plan before the emergency, eliminates self-doubt.

3) They Are Optimistic: This is a belief that things are going to get better tempered with the ability to recognize that right now, things are not all right and extreme steps are required.

4) They Are Able to Assess the Risk: Is it worth walking to the gas station, if it means leaving your dependants alone? Should you let the stranger wearing the hockey mask in to share your food? Someone prepared and with a plan does not have to take chances. Avoid risk.

5) They Help When They Can: Being selfless inspires others, makes you stronger, and gives you purpose in bad situations.

Make your plan, test your plan often and plan to survive!

Original: http://canadianpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/01/step-two-make-emergency-plan.html

FABULOUS Food Storage Burrito Recipe

I found this recipe in this month's Family Circle magazine (March 09) and tried it tonight. I'm definitely not a vegetarian, but will make and eat these again - they were so yummy! Here you go - enjoy! (I did modify it a little, and will note them in parentheses.)

Quinoa & Red Bean Burritos

1 cup Quinoa
2 tsp McCormick Smoky Sweet Pepper Blend
1 can (15 oz) Red Kidney Beans, drained, rinsed and lightly mashed (I used Black Beans because that's what I prefer and have on hand.)
1 1/2 cups jarred Salsa (I actually pureed just one cup to make it go further - plus I didn't want it chunky)
8 Whole Wheat Tortillas (I just used regular flour tortillas)
1 cup shredded Mexican Cheese Blend

  • Place quinoa and pepper blend in a saucepan and cook following package directions. (All you do is boil 1 1/4 cups of water and add the quinoa, lower the heat for about ten minutes and then cool for a few before fluffing with a fork.)
  • Once cooked, stir in beans and 1 cup of the salsa.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees while the quinoa is cooking and coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Heat tortillas in microwave for 45 seconds to soften. Place 1/2 cup of the quinoa mixture in the center of each tortilla and fold like a package. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. (I didn't have the large tortillas, so I just rolled them and placed them seam down.)
  • Lightly coat tortillas with nonstick cooking spray and top with remaining salsa and cheese, dividing equally.
  • Bake burritos at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
Per burrito: 315 calories, 8 g fat (4 g sat.) 14 g protein, 47 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 734 mg sodium, 13 mg cholesterol


The result? They were fantastic! Ric thought that adding some shredded chicken would be even better - maybe next time! The best part is that it's a flavorful meal right from your food storage! (Yes, I'll be storing quinoa from now on!) Here's some more info about this grain, it's really good and good for you too!

Original: http://getmeready.blogspot.com/2009/02/fabulous-food-storage-burrito-recipe.html

Candle Lanterns - By Abraham

Posted in: Survival |

Much thanks to Abraham for writing this guest post for us. He is an excellent preparedness blogger, check out his other blogs over at http://hotdogjam.wordpress.com/

You should have a candle lantern in your BOB, or one should be a part of your preps. This is a candle lantern opened.

This one is made out of brass. Brass is good. Notice the handle and the little hook. Although they say you shouldn’t use flames in a tent, if you camp sometimes your tent will get damp from the moisture in your breath. Not sure of the science behind it, but this little flame will keep the condensation down in your tent. Hanging one of these in your tent will help to keep the tent, your gear and you dry. Handles and hooks make it easy to hang.
You can see the spring through the opening in the base. The spring keeps moving the candle up as it burns. Through the window you can also see how much candle is left. The candles that burn in these things are long-lasting. I think each candle burns for about three hours. They also come in citronella scented variety to keep bugs away.
To replace the candle you unscrew the base.

Here you see the base is unscrewed and removed. Next you unscrew the black thing from where the candle sits.

You can see the stubby candle here. When it runs down all the way you just put a new candle in the metal holder then stick the whole thing back in the lantern and tighten it up.
They don’t give off a lot of heat, but as many have blogged about, if you wrap yourself up pretty tight in a space blanket and poncho and keep one of these burning it’ll keep you from freezing to death.
They also give off enough heat to use the top of the lantern as a mini-stove. You could definitely heat water or cocoa in a Sierra cup on the top of one of these.

This is the lantern closed up with the handle flipped down to keep it closed. You can see how small it is, great for backpacking or a BOB. It’s maybe 3-4” tall when closed.
These are great for power failures and because of the glass chimney they don’t get blown out by the wind.
I think the aluminum ones run for $15 or so and the brass maybe $20. The candles are kind of expensive at maybe a buck a piece. As with all candles you need to be careful. Please don’t set yourself, your kids or your house on fire.

Original: http://www.survival-spot.com/survival-gear-equipment/candle-lanterns-abraham/

Riverwalker's Gear - The Smoker Barrel

I guess by way of introduction, I should tell you that Riverwalker is my father-in-law. I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing that is. That man can fix anything, except dinner. That is what Mrs. Riverwalker does best. That woman can cook! It is amazing to me that RW is so skinny, considering the amount of food that he eats.

About 18 months ago I built my own smoker for less than $100. For about the last six months, Riverwalker has been trying to get me to type something up about how it was done, the materials list, procedure, and that kind of thing. I have a three-year-old. Scheduling time to type doesn’t really work out for me so well. RW and Mrs. RW are at the house as I type this and entertaining their grandson (Baby RW?), so I have a few minutes.

First things first…this smoker is NOT fancy. Your friends will not likely be impressed until they taste the food that comes off of it. It isn’t (necessarily) pretty. Its job is to cook and to cook well. There is no welding…all you need is a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a drill and some bits. If you had nothing but a hammer, a nail, and some desire, you could build this thing. Rocket science it is not.

It would be foolish to start any project without a list of materials that you will need to get the project done. Here is your parts list for this smoker. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that there aren’t a lot of expensive parts. If you want an expensive smoker, check out the Lange, the Spicewine, or any of a dozen other brands. All make good BBQ, but this is a WHOLE lot cheaper (in all actuality, I will buy a smoker from one of the listed companies when funds permit. If you are in the market, you can’t go wrong with either).


One 55 gallon steel drum (new or food grade preferred)

Two 22.5 inch Weber replacement grates (stick with the Weber brand, despite the fact that they are more expensive, they will save you money in the long run. Don’t ask. And you don’t need the kind where one side opens to add more charcoal.)

One 14 inch charcoal grate. This can be Weber or any other brand. I got one at Academy Sports for about 5 bucks. You may want to pick up a 16 inch one for an option to be explained later.

¾ inch expanded metal. You will want 18-24 inches tall by 48 inches (14 inch charcoal grate) to 52 (16 inch grate). These measurements will allow for overlap to allow the bolts to hold the expanded metal together.

Six 2 ½ inch bolts, and 12 matching nuts.

Four refrigerator magnets. Yes, you read that right. Get some of the bigger ones (business card size). It doesn’t matter who they are advertising. They will work the same.

One thermometer-they are sold at sporting goods stores in the BBQ section. They have a screw on them that allows them to be mounted to a BBQ pit. About $15.

One barn door or gate handle, whatever fits your hand; and four screws/bolts that will go through the holes in the handle.

At some point, you (or your significant other) will want this thing to be less ugly, so consider some spray paint, in your choice of colors. Team colors are good, especially if you are tailgating at a game somewhere. I used high-heat manifold paint (available at auto parts stores) on mine, but I have been told that standard spray paints work fine for the relatively low temperatures that smoking requires. The standard paints come in a greater variety of colors and are cheaper. You can decide if repainting once a year (or even less frequently) is worth it to you in exchange for the greater variety of colors.

Barrel Selection

If you are fortunate enough to have a large selection of barrels, you get to be somewhat selective in what barrel you choose. Ideally, you will get a barrel with a flat lid and no open holes. If you get one with a bung hole, you will be fine as long as the hole is plugged. Inward sloped sides? A good thing as long as the grates will fit into it. This will allow the use of a Weber kettle lid for the top.

Burn Out

First, let’s assume that you have found a food grade or new barrel. DO NOT use an old oil or gas barrel. Your food will never taste right if you do.

For those of you that that didn’t find a new barrel, there is some preparation that needs to be done. This part is easy, and a lot of fun. Build a fire. A BIG fire, in your barrel. Wait, the pyro in me is getting ahead of things.

First, you need to drill some holes for air intake. Drill four, one inch holes in the drum two inches from the bottom. To put it another way, measure up two inches from the BOTTOM of your drum. Mark that spot. Drill a one inch hole there. Do three more of those for a total of four holes.

NOW we get to burn some stuff! Old pallets, tree trimmings, leaves, whatever you have. Set it ablaze in your barrel. Lots and lots of FIRE! The goal here is to burn off the lining in food grade barrels. It is either a tan or a reddish-brown, and we want it gone. If the paint on the outside of the barrel is burning off, you are on the right track.

Once the fire department leaves and your neighbors are calmed down (for you city dwellers), hit the inside of the barrel with a pear burner to get any last bits of lining. You can also use a grinder with a wire wheel for this.

I may have made this sound like a bigger deal than it is. The reality is that if you live in a subdivision, and you do this with even a little bit of deference to your neighbors, there will be nothing for them to complain about. If they come over to ask what all of the smoke is about, tell them you will let them taste the BBQ once the pit is done. You may get some strange looks early on, but they will be converts later. Trust me on this.

So Let’s Build this Dude…

Construction is not complicated. Let’s not make this into something that it doesn’t need to be. Get a pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and a drill and some drill bits. You are now ready to build yourself a smoker.

I would really like to try to make this more complicated so that I seem smarter, but it just isn’t possible. This is as simple and as basic as you can find.

The Basics

FIRST….and most important…no galvanized materials allowed in the cooker. They put off toxic fumes that will come back to haunt you.

Ok, that about covers the basics…here we go…

The Charcoal Basket

Take your expanded metal and wrap it around your 14”or 16” charcoal basket. Want to make it a little easier? If you have a bottle of propane for a gas grill, wrap it around that. It will give it a pretty good shape to start with. Put a short (1”) bolt through the expanded metal at the top and bottom to hold it together. Put them about two inches from the top and bottom of the expanded metal. Add the two of the same sized bolts equidistant from the first bolt (put three bolts the same distance apart around the outside). These three bolts will be where the charcoal grate rests, so try to spread them out evenly. If you want to add a fourth bolt, feel free to do so. This is your smoker. It should look something like

The Cooking Grates

Measure up 25 inches from the BOTTOM of the barrel. This is where your first cooking grate will go. Put three bolts around the barrel, spread out pretty evenly. I used to do four bolts (8 when I used small grates). What I found was that if you are off even a little bit on one of the four bolts, your grate will be uneven. Three bolts will always have a stable (even if not level) cooking surface. Throw a 20 pound brisket on a grate and let me know how important stability is (again, don’t ask how I know).

For the second grate, measure up 31 inches from the BOTTOM of the barrel. This will give you six inches between cooking grates, and roughly three inches from the flat top of the barrel; more than enough room for a slab of ribs or two.

The Top

The top is, coincidentally enough, the most important part of the cooker. This is where the ventilation tales place. For those who are new to BBQ, this is the most important part of the deal. No matter what cooker you are using, all of the exhaust vents should be wide open. Always. Every cook. The temperature control for your cook is determined by air inflow, or how much air is coming in the bottom (in our case) of the cooker. Limit the oxygen, limit the temperature. This will be discussed in greater detail later, but for now, know this. Your pristine lid needs a minimum of eight 1/2 inch holes drilled in it. If you have had one too many and they get a little big, no problem. Too much exhaust is always better than too little.

If you get nothing else from this article, tale this: YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH EXHAUST. You can have too little air intake, you can have too little exhaust, but you can never have too much exhaust. Okay, you CAN, but it is hard to do.

There It Is

Now you have it. The basic BBQ pit. You will find that it cooks different than your regular BBQ pit. It cooks a lot faster than you are probably used to. A pit I built for a friend went almost 20 hours on 12 pounds of charcoal. He cooked a brisket, then chicken, then ribs and sausage on a single load of coals.

Want to Know More?

Want to dress your cooker up? Like a couple of good recipes? Brisket? Ribs? Want to do it easy instead of how you always heard it has to be done? Stay tuned…the father-in-law is putting me to work.

OK…so RW pointed out I overlooked a couple of things while typing this post.

Here we go….

The temp gauge, or thermometer, needs to go one inch below the lower grate. A hole is drilled for the probe and it should bolt right up. Measure up 24” from the BOTTOM of the barrel for the location of the hole for your temp gauge.

When starting the fire in the BBQ pit, use a pear burner or a small charcoal chimney. Start a few coals on one side of the basket, and let the fire expand from there. It will draw what air it needs from the bottom of the pit and go from there.

Remember the magnets that I mentioned a while back? Too much air intake will cause your fire to burn hot. Use the magnets to cover the openings at the lower end of the smoker. In reality, you will probably only need one of these open while you are cooking, but opening more than one will allow you to bring the temperature up faster. The magnets allow for fine tuning. If you need one fully open and another half open to maintain temperature, then you can do that. If windy conditions call for the opening or closing of certain holes to control temps, you have that option available to you. Temperature control becomes a matter of weather conditions. Need more heat? Open the intakes. Too hot? Close some intakes. This is not complicated. It just takes a little fine tuning depending upon conditions. I don’t want to give you the idea that it will require the same attention that a stick burner needs. Once you cook on this once or twice, it’s a set it and forget it cooker.

Not sure this will work? Ask these guys; the Jack is an Invitational BBQ Event. These guys won first place in brisket cooking on a barrel smoker. Must be embarrassing to have a $20,000 smoker and lose to guys cooking in trash cans!

More photos later. STXcue.
Staying above the smoke line!

Original: http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/2009/02/riverwalkers-gear-smoker-barrel.html

Week Fourteen - Power/Power Production


Find the shutoffs valves for your water and gas service and the main circuit breaker for your electricity.

After you do that, identify and label what each circuit breaker will turn off if tripped.

Blog Post:

As people living in the First World, we take power for granted. We need light; we flip a switch. Our clothes need washed; we fill an empty basket with clothes, add some washing powder, and push a button. We need to preserve some leftovers for tomorrow or food for next week; we put it in a freezer/refrigerator.

Take away that power away and things stop. No gasoline/diesel from the gas station pump, no climate control at work or home, no continuous positive airway pressure machines, no sewage treatment, no water, the list goes on.

What is a family to do?

First, look at your threat analysis. How long would you be without power, if one of those threats happened? One day, two weeks, three months, forever!

I ask you to check your threat analysis for a reason; you could easily spend $25,000 for a solar powered system that doesn't do anything to give you power in an emergency. Yep, 25 grand and no power in an emergency.

So, let us look at some equipment, in order, from short-term to a long-term power outage.

Short-Term Emergency Power (1 day to a week and maybe a little longer)

A gasoline generator that you buy from one of the big-box home improvement stores or local hardware/equipment stores will easily fill this time frame. All you need to figure out is how big of a generator you need, some extension cords, and oil and gasoline.

Under this idea, you plug in the appliances as they need power. Plug in the freezer; run it for an hour. Unplug the freezer then plug in the refrigerator for an hour. Need to do a load of wash; unplug the refrigerator and plug in the washer. You get the idea.

There are safety issues though.

A generator will give off carbon monoxide. This is the number one killer. Every year, people put the generator in their garage, to protect the generator from thieves, and they die from the generator's exhaust fumes.

The electrical extension cords must be the right size. A too small cord will overheat and possibly start a fire.

Do Not, Don't, Never plug a generator directly into the house wiring. This is called backfeeding; it can kill an electrical worker attempting to restore power.

Lastly, operate the generator on a level, firm, and dry surface/area.

An upgrade to this idea is to have an electrician install a transfer switch in your home. A transfer switch manually or automatically transfers the power source to power your appliances. It will cost about as much as a generator.

Now, you have to remember that you will need fuel for your generator. The longer the emergency you are preparing for, the more fuel you will need.

Almost all generator's fuel usage are figured at half-load. That means, if the generator is rated at 10,000 watts, the fuel usage is calculated with the generator running a 5,000 watt load. Yeah, I know it is misrepresenting/misleading, but now you know.

If you are preparing for more then a few days, you might want to look at generators that use a different fuel then gasoline. Generators can be found that run using diesel, vegetable oil, or propane/natural gas.

The natural gas powered generators can be permanently hooked up to the underground gas lines found in most cities. This allows you to never have to worry about fuel storage because the gas lines are pressurized by the gas company. The gas lines will have pressure as long as the lines and the gas company are intact.

Sorry folks planning to survive an earthquake. Those gas lines might break in an earthquake, so you shouldn't depend on a gas-line fed natural gas generator for power.

But, you might be able to use a natural gas/propane generator hooked up to a 500 gallon or larger tank. You know, the tanks that you see sitting next to houses in the rural areas of the country.

Natural gas/propane will last as long as the tank it is stored in. Gasoline and diesel will need to be rotated. As I empty a fuel container, I buy more. I always put fuel stabilizer in my stored gasoline then use the oldest gasoline first.

Medium-Term Emergency (A month or two)

For a medium-term emergency, you will need to buy a better generator and store lots of fuel. I can tell you; you will want a transfer switch. Just think, a month of unplugging and plugging in your appliances without a transfer switch.

Long-Term Emergency (months to years)

For long-term emergencies, you are going to have to become a power company. Albeit, a small power company, but a power company nevertheless.

To supply power for the long-term, you and your family are going to have to conserve power. The reason: The less power you use; the less power you will have to generate, and the less money you will spend.

There are multiple ways of producing this power for the long-term. They are solar, wind, hydro, and methane.

The premier source for information is Home Power magazine. I can not say enough good things about this magazine and their staff. They have walked the walk and can talk the talk, and they have done it for over 20 years!

I will be writing much, much more about alternative energy production. It will probably be the single longest blogposting, so come back and I'll ...

See you next week!


NOAA - Low Light Imaging of the Earth at Night
Electrical Power Consumption/Infrastructure Prorated by Population Density

Select the Right Portable Generator after a Disaster

Consumer Product Safety Commision - Portable Generator Hazards

Portable Electric Generator Safety Tips

American Red Cross - Fact Sheet: Using a generator when Disaster Strikes

Clatskanie People's Utility District - Generators

Generator Types

HP Magazine - Getting Started

HP Magazine - Solar Electricity Basics

HP Magazine - Wind Electricity basics

HP Magazine - Microhydro Electricity Basics

HP Magazine - Solar Hot Water Basics

Methane Digester

Solar Cooking Archive

Original: http://gsiep.blogspot.com/2009/02/week-fourteen-powerpower-production.html