Monday, February 9, 2009
When you first start gardening, you're probably happy just to get enough produce to eat fresh. For some, that might be all you need. But gardening, or even shopping your local farmers' market, can be addictive. It's fun. It makes you feel good. You want more.
But once you have more, you have to figure out what you're going to do with it. Freezing extra is a good option, if you have the space in your freezer and aren't worried about loss of power to the freezer. Canning is good too. But you need all those jars, some place to store both the full ones and the empties, and it means a lot of very hot work during the hottest part of the summer. Have you thought about dehydrating your fruits and vegetables?
Preserving food by drying is as old as mankind. Ever since someone first discovered that strips of meat dried over a smoky fire or berries laid out in the sun didn't spoil, people have been drying food. Those techniques have served well for thousands of years, and still do. But while the basic concept hasn't changed, helpful appliances now abound. While those are nice, you can still start simply, using the sun, or maybe your oven. I've even heard of people putting trays in the back window of a car sitting in the sun, windows opened a crack to let moisture escape, or rigging racks to hang over a wood stove. You can evolve as you feel necessary.
Some things, such as herbs, chiles, and green beans will dry nicely just strung up to hang in the open air indoors. The same oven you bake in might work, depending on how low the lowest temperature setting is. The main thing to remember is that you want to dry the food, not cook it. Between 110 and 120 degrees is ideal for drying fruits and vegetables; 140 is too hot for produce, but can work for meats, liquids, and dairy. Use an oven thermometer to check your oven at its lowest setting with the door propped open a couple of inches to see if it will work.
I use trays and screens, sandwiched between a couple of salvaged window screens to keep birds and bugs away, out on my deck all summer long. Most things only take a day or two in my dry desert climate. Solar dryers are easy to build too, to amplify the sun's power in a cooler or more humid environment. This one is made from two cardboard boxes, some plastic wrap and a bit of tape; plans here are for building something a bit like my set-up from scratch. Bring the trays in nightly, or provide some other protection from the morning dew, setting them back out in the morning. I also have an electric dehydrator I use in the winter. Pumpkin pie leather is a favorite treat, so I'll often whip up a batch when I cook one of my big stored squashes. If you decide to invest in an electric dehydrator, look for one with a fan and an adjustable thermostat.
Fruits are easy to dry, needing almost no advance preparation. Use perfectly ripe fruit - wash, core or pit, peel if desired, and cut away any bruised spots. I cut plums and apricots in half; apples, pears, and peaches into slices; pitted cherries and grapes whole; and some mashed or pureed together then spread out on cookie sheets to dry into leathers. Try to cut your produce into uniformly-sized pieces so they are all done at the same time. Dry fruits until leathery and pliable. Once stored, the moisture levels will equalize if some pieces are drier than others. I don't mind the natural browning that occurs when fruit dries, but if you want to preserve the color you can soak the cut fruit for 5 minutes in a quart of water with either ¼ cup lemon juice or 2 tablespoons vitamin C crystals or powered tablets. Other treatments, such as sulfuring, blanching in syrup, or steaming are too elaborate for me. On the other hand, apple slices sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon sugar before drying are heavenly; zucchini slices sprinkled with garlic salt and dried into chips disappear faster than fresh.
Almost all vegetables, other than tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and chiles, need to be blanched in water or steam before drying. Wash, trim away tough parts, chop or slice, and cook just until heated through, not fully cooked. Dry vegetables until brittle and crisp. Drying meat can be a bit tricky. Handle it as little as possible, dry quickly, and use it before the fat in it can go rancid. Grated cheese can be dried, so can firm tofu cut into strips or cubes. To dry eggs, beat a number of them together, add dried herbs or spices if desired, pour onto a tray, and dry at 140º until dry and crumbly to the touch.
The ideal storage for dried foods is cool, dark, and dry (herbs too - they look so decorative hanging in the kitchen, but I strip them off the stems and store them in brown glass or clear jars lined with doubled paper). Avoid sunlight, moisture, and heat to keep your dried foods tasty and safe - you don't want to chance mold, or eat something with all the taste of cardboard. I store some things in clear glass jars, but then keep the jars in a dark, lower cupboard. Other things are in freezer-weight zip-lock bags, packed away in tins in my pantry. Since the majority of the weight of fresh foods is water, once the water is removed the food is reduced to one-quarter its bulk. Drying food makes sense for anyone with limited storage space. Some foods, like the fruits and leathers, we eat "as-is", others are easily reconstituted - either by soaking before using, or cooking in dishes with a bit of extra liquid added. I like knowing I have a wealth of food, tucked away in a tiny corner of my pantry, secure from power outages or earthquakes (something we worry about here with glass jars). Maybe this post will get you thinking about preserving more of your harvest by drying, or maybe you do already. Have any recipes to share?
Here are some helpful tips for 72 hour kits. A lot of this information (and more) is found at Equipped to Survive. Kira also has some wonderful 72 hour kit information on the Greenway Self-Reliant Sisters Blog.
- When purchasing flashlights LED lights are the best. If you use incandescent lights, make sure you have spare bulbs. LED lights have the advantage of not needing the spare bulb.
- Never use so-called "heavy duty" batteries. These are old-fashioned carbon-zinc batteries that have a very short shelf life and run down quickly. Alkaline batteries have a decent shelf life about five years. Lithium batteries are even better, they typically have a ten year shelf life, work better than alkaline in the cold and also weight about half less. But, lithium is usually found only in AA and AAA sizes.
- Have small bill on hand for cash. People won't have change in an emergency & the ATM's will run out quickly too.
- Keep a list of all the items in your 72 hour kit and when they expire. This will make it a lot easier to rotate them.
- I bought shampoo, deodorant & toothpaste in the brands that my family uses. Before the expiration date, I pull them out and give it to the kids. They think it's fun to use travel size items for a few days.
- Have copies of your important information - Birth & Marriage Certificates, Social Security Numbers, Credit Card Information, Immunization Records, Insurance Policies, etc.
- Laminate or keep these in a Zip-loc bag.
- Have photos of each family member and a group family picture
- Consider backing up your pictures & genealogy onto a CD/DVD or a Portable Hard Drive.
Any other tips? Just leave a comment :)
It’s something that almost never happens, but we have three dinner parties in a row this weekend! I decided to prepare three recipes of the Wheat Berry Salad with Dried Apricots. It was such a great success when I served it to friends a few days ago and…desperate times call for desperate measures.
One thing I’ve learned about recipes with cooked whole wheat berries is that the flavor improves with time. Considering my crazy schedule, anything that can be prepared ahead of time is a huge advantage.The actual recipes are posted under the wheat section on the recipe page. Here’s how it works.
Start with whole wheat kernels that have been fully cooked and slightly chilled.
I try to always have frozen bags of cooked wheat berries stored in the freezer. This is an excellent way to use up and rotate wheat that’s been stored for many years. While older wheat may not perform well as flour for baking bread, it still has superior health benefits and works perfectly when cooked like rice and added to soups, salads, and casseroles.
Microwave the frozen bags of cooked wheat berries approximately 3 minutes per bag until the kernels are loosened and separated.
Gather all the other ingredients while the wheat is in the microwave.
Measure and combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
My secret ingredient is apricot jam. I think this recipe needs just a touch of added sweetness so I would suggest 1 tablespoon per recipe of either white sugar, brown sugar, honey, or apricot jam.
It only took me 30 minutes to prepare three salads for three separate dinner parties!
This is exactly why food storage makes so much sense on a daily basis. Because I have a supply of wheat on hand I can continually find new and interesting ways to serve it to my friends and family. Livin’ the dream!
Here’s a quick, easy, and full-proof recipe for cooking whole wheat berries.
1. Measure 4 cups of raw/dry whole wheat kernels.
2. Pour the dry kernels into a large slow cooker. Add 10 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt.
4. Cover the slow cooker with its lid, set temperature on LOW heat and cook for 10 hours or HIGH heat for 5 hours.
5. Stir the finished 12 cups of cooked whole wheat berries and spoon into 4 Ziploc bags to be stored in the freezer for later use.
- Always keep your car in optimal condition. Everything on your car--from regular oil changes and newish wiper blades to brakes that work well and lights in good working order--should work as well as when it came from the factory.
- Always keep at least a half tank of gas in your car. You never know when a power outage, longer than expected drive, or five hour freeway back-up will keep you from filling up your tank and you don't want to be running on fumes at a critical moment.
- Always keep your car well stocked. What if you couldn't get home and were stranded in the boonies in your car? Do you have the supplies to keep yourself watered, fed, warm, and entertained for a day or two in your car? Make sure you have a car BOB, extra water, tools and supplies, and anything else you may need to stay self-sufficient in your car for a period of time.
- Practice driving. You may be quite used to driving in your city but what if you had to drive in the mountains? Maybe desert driving is part of your regular routine but driving in the snow isn't. In any case, you want to be well versed in all driving conditions. If a driving situation is new to you, practice (ie: go to a big snowy parking lot and practice your snow driving skills). Ditto for other driving skills. Can you parallel park? Make a quick three point turn? Back up a hundred yards rapidly and precisely? Do a backing 180? Many skills you can learn on your own, others are better to be learned from an experienced teacher. There are a number of schools that teach everything from basic driving skills to executive protection and combat driving skills; seek them out if necessary.
- Be prepared for the most common road disasters you are likely to come upon. In the woods, it is a good idea to carry a chainsaw with you as you never know when a tree will go down across the road and you need to clear it in order to go forward. A wench on your truck is also a nice to have item. In the city, you are more likely to come across a medical emergency or car fire so carry a blanket, some basic medical supplies, and a fire extinguisher. Always carry a cell phone and car charger.
- Have an evacuation plan. You don't want to figure out the how and where of evacuation as the police are driving down your street ordering everyone to leave. That's too late. Keep maps in your car and study them occasionally so you will know which routes are your plan A, B, and C to get away from your home or office. Have your car stocked and ready to go--you don't want to pack up your stuff after you've been given the evacuation order; this causes confusion and important things to be left behind. If possible, evacuate ahead of time. Figure that an evacuation (ie: because of an impending hurricane, a wild fire, a chemical spill, etc) will take much longer than usual and leave before you get the order. By paying attention to the news, you will know that a wildfire is in the area or that a hurricane is heading your way. Also note that if one of these quick-moving disasters is even in your general area, there is a good possibility that it could change directions and head straight for you so leave with plenty of time to spare.
- Consider your family members. Some things to consider: make sure everyone of age has good driving skills; they may need to be your driver in certain instances. If you have young children or medically frail relatives, pre-plan for their evacuation by keeping some of their necessary supplies (diapers, meds, etc) in the car and taking extra time to evacuate them. You will also need a plan D with these types of family members because while your sturdy teenager may find a few nights camping in the winter wilderness a fun experience, great grandpa or your newborn baby will not. Consider hotels or other shelters in these cases.
- Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you are a high profile target (ie: ambushes, kidnapping, and shooting in your direction is to be expected), you may want to consider an armored-type vehicle made for your protection that features run flat tires, bullet proof glass, and reinforced paneling. A good driver can be worth his weight in gold so get one if necessary. A professional security team will also be able to plan routes, set up decoys, and manage other facets of getting you from point A to point B if necessary.
- Some other pointers: I always keep one car in the garage and one outside; if I need to leave in a hurry I will have options. I always back into my parking space/area--it is safer and faster to pull forward out of a parking spot when you leave. My cars are as plain as can be--nothing on the inside or outside of the cars says "steal me". If you do want custom feature on your car, don't make them obvious (ie: if you must have a nitrous system in your car, don't put Nos stickers all over the outside of it; you want to have the ability to do some fancy maneuvering if necessary but you don't want the world to know about it).
The bird flu has broken out, so you've been confined to your house, just like everyone else. You've eaten everything in your fridge and freezer, and now, you've got to start dipping into your canned foods. It's been a week, and after using your can opener 9-10 times a day, it's finally broken. Uh oh. Do you have a spare? Maybe. Somewhere. Uh, maybe your neighbor might have one, but the health police are stationed outside, watching for curfew breakers. You try a knife but it cuts your hand. You die because you don't have an extra (decent) can opener.
Not a pretty picture.
So get some. But not just any. We had found some really cheap at the dollar store, with red handles. Bought 3 that day. Tried one out the next week, and it wouldn't work. Neither would the other two.
Find one you really like, that you can afford. Then, get lots of them. Stash one with every box filled with canned foods. In every drawer of the kitchen. In your car. In your bug-out-bag. Everywhere.
To the second half of the blog about power/power production. You will find videos/podcasts, instructions, and other information about the subject for this week.
Solar Power 101 - How Does Sunlight Turn Into Electricity
Solar Batch Water Heater "Part One"
Some of us don't have a lot on money. Others look at being prepared as a hobby, and others want to know how to fix the things they will rely upon.
The easiest method of protecting your generator from thieves is to have a piece of chain, a place to chain the generator to, and a good lock. It is also a good idea to place the generator in a location that you can easily see it. If you need to leave, turn off the generator and lock it up in your garage. (Make Sure The Generator Has Cooled Down and is OFF)
A more expensive option is to get a dedicated concrete pad pored for the generator and than build an enclosure for it. The generators in these enclosures usually have a much better muffler installed. Another method is to follow the United States military method of concealing a generator.
Standardizing on Battery Size
A few posts ago, I mentioned only buying radios that use "AA" or "D" size batteries. I say this for a few reasons. The first, you can walk into any store in the United States and buy AA or D size batteries. Next, you save money if you buy things in bulk, in most cases. (Check prices to be sure) Next, you can switch out batteries to power more important equipment.
100% Free Solar Heat Furnace
1. Read Or Watch Survival Stories
If you have read many true wilderness survival stories, you know that many people who probably shouldn’t have survived did so because they refused to give up. Attitude matters, and to get the right attitude, you need to be able to truly believe that you will find a way to survive. Knowing what people have faced and overcome before makes this easier. If you are with others in a survival situation, you should even tell those stories to them, so they can see that survival is possible and even likely.
2. Tell Others Where You Are
This is something that has to be done before you have a survival situation, which means before you head off into the woods. And if you decide to take a new route, you may want to leave a note where it can be found, just in case.
3. Know Your Priorities
Protection from the elements and water to drink are usually at the top of the list of priorities in a survival situation. However, every situation will be unique. Think carefully about what is most important and urgent. For example, searching for food is a waste of time if a cold night is coming and you have no shelter. Do the important things first.
4. Learn First Aid
If you don’t take the time to learn a few basics of medical first aid, at least carry a small booklet that outlines basic procedures. You can find these in many first aid kits.
5. Be Aware Of Possible Shelters
If you are possibly facing a survival situation (not sure if you are lost, for example), start looking around for what kinds of shelters are available. Are there piles of dry leaves you can crawl under to stay warm? Are there caves or overhanging trees that can protect you from the rain or snow?
6. Always Plan Ahead
This may be one of the more important survival tips. Don’t wait for problems and then start looking for a solution. Before you get thirsty you should be looking around for sources of water. Before the rain comes, you should be thinking about how to stay dry. With sufficient foresight, getting lost in the wilderness for a few extra days should be nothing more than an inconvenience. Don’t let it become an emergency.
7. Always Have Fire Starters
Anytime you will be in the wilderness overnight or longer, have at least two ways to start a fire. These can be matches and a magnesium fire starter, or a lighter and the magnifying glass on your compass. Being able to start a fire can save you from the biggest killer in the wilds - hypothermia. A fire also provides comfort and better sleep, both of which can keep you motivated to do the right things.
8. Learn What Is Edible
Food is not usually a priority in a wilderness survival situation. Water, shelter and getting found are more important. Psychologically, however, you will be less stressed and more willing to face the situation if you know a few plants and animals that you can eat. Try eating some cattails or wild rose hips on your next hike.
9. Learn How To Navigate
Even if you have lost your backpack, with the maps and compass, you should know how to determine the cardinal directions. That way, if you know that there is a road to the north, for example, you will know which way to go. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, of course, but there are other ways to determine direction. Why not learn a couple of them?
10. Know How To Stay Warm
Learning a few tricks about staying warm can save your life. Since hypothermia is the number one killer of people in wilderness survival situations, this may be the most important of these survival tips. Stay dry and think of ways to insulate yourself when it is cold. Stuffing a jacket full of dry grass or leaves or cattail fluff could save your life.
The video covers the entire process from identification and harvesting, processing the fibers, to the finished product.
MAKING DOGBANE CORDAGE
1 cup walnuts
4 cups water
2 tablespoons honey or 1 teaspoon stevia
Soak walnuts 24-36 hours to remove bitter tannins. Rinse. Place walnuts with 4 cups clean water in a blender. Blend on high for 3-6 minutes. Strain twice through cheesecloth into a mason jar, label and refrigerate. Use within 3 days.
This milk is full of the omega 3/6's, essential amino acids.
Use the leftovers for making goodies like bread, pancakes, muffins, etc.
Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC
photo credit: t-squared
One of the related risks to a nuclear attack is an EMP blast. Rather than detonating the nuke at ground level and thus destroying infrastructure and human life, the bomb is deployed in the atmosphere, and an EMP blast results. In the former scenario you’d be dead immediately; in the latter, many would die slow deaths, widespread panic would result, and terror would take a drastic toll—all because people wouldn’t have access to their machinery and gadgets that enable them to do all of their basic, day-to-day activities.
Just think about all the things you do on a daily basis that require electricity: turn on the sink to brush your teeth; get in the car to get groceries; withdraw cash from the ATM; refrigerate your food; use the internet to follow the news; call your parents; turn on the lights at night. All of these simple, daily tasks require the electricity we enjoy in abundance today.
But an EMP blast would immediately change all of that.
What can you do to prepare for a possible EMP blast in the future? How can you shield your electronics to ensure that you can play with your iPod in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, or scan the radio for news updates? One option is to shield your gadgets with a Faraday cage.
A Faraday cage—named after its inventor Michal Faraday—is essentially nothing more than a simple electromagnetic shield. Basic versions are just metal containers or enclosures that block the penetration of electromagnetic radiation. For one example (that you can purchase), see here. If you’re really adventurous, you can build your own.
But me? I’m both a cheapskate and completely lacking in the DIY skill department. So I took the easy route. I bought a microwave.
Microwaves are a sort of reverse-faraday cage, in that they are constructed to keep the radiation inside the box. But it works both ways, meaning that the structure also prevents radiation from getting in. I found a cheap microwave on Craigslist, brought it home, and cut off the power cord (so that somebody couldn’t accidentally plug it in and turn it on, thus cooking my toys). Keep in mind that the microwave need not be functional to serve as a faraday cage—all it needs is its original structural integrity, but no electric bells and whistles.
Inside the microwave you would put whatever electronic gadgets you would want to have access to in a post-EMP environment. I’ve got a HAM radio, GMRS radio, AM/FM radio, and a few other electronic devices inside of mine. It’s important to realize, of course, that the use of electronic equipment implies having access to necessary batteries or generators, as well as any needed sister devices (i.e. a second radio with which to communicate). So you can store a couple of radios (to communicate with friends/family if somebody needs to leave), or have a HAM radio setup to communicate with remote parts of the country/world that were not affected by the localized EMP.
What’s the likelihood of an actual EMP attack? Well, that of course depends on where you live, and who you ask. But as in all things, general preparedness implies a broad “what if” mentality that tries to take in as many factors as possible. Having a cheap, old microwave is just one more item to check off the list!
This is just one idea on a plan for survival.This plan will take cash especially in these uncertain times but will only work if you are a( true believer and have tunnel vision) to the new realities at present. Remember the present DC legislators have already had several meetings on possibly rolling IRAs, Keogh's,and 401ks into the present social security system which means you won't have access to your money anyway(It will be part of the ponzi mess). Also remember most of the present 401ks , IRAs and Keogh's invested in stocks bonds etc have lost a lot of funds already and will loose more in the coming months so what have you got to loose by getting your hands on whats left and thinking of yourself and family first! Sell all unnecessary toys: boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and other excess stuff while there are still people able to buy(again tunnel vision cash is king for right now)!
To really be free of the system and to give your self options while your still employed before you become a statistic is to find a piece of land away from the major cities. You want to be at least 2 hours away to give yourself some distance from the unhappy hordes and be close enough to get there if you have to! Buy a Atlas Gazetteer topo map8002271656 very detailed of the state you want to bug out to and make a circle 2 hours from your present location. Look for areas with little or no population bases if possible. Drive to the area and check out for signs on property,Realtors adds in papers etc. Paying cash is the best way but if you have limited funds you can do a down payment with small monthly payments remember again that (eventually when shtf )the last thing you will have to worry about anybody being left around to foreclose on any property. Second a shelter- a fast easy way is a used travel trailer or motor home check Craig's list and your local nickel papers etc. and place in the middle of the property out of view of the major road if possible. Start caching your items you will need for survival -one way is with a lockable steel container. Another way is to direct burial. The main idea is to secure most of your items prior to bugging out.Remember time is limited now that we are in a depression and Obama wants to increase bailout funds so we are on a big snowball heading downhill fast now! Good Luck Steve
So many of us have dogs, and for so many reasons. Many dogs are still kept primarily for their protective attitudes towards the family that they love and the home that they keep. Perhaps at least as many are kept only for companionship—and an excellent job they do, too.
But dogs have been kept by man as working animals for most of the centuries that the contract between them has existed. Drafting has been one of those job, and some breeds were even bred specifically for drafting. Any healthy dog can draw a cart or a wagon regardless of their size; just take a look at the pictures here ! Taking into consideration the guideline that a dog can pull his own weight in a well balanced cart or wagon, smaller dogs are not usually seen in harness but it can be and is done. Some dogs really enjoy it for it’s own sake not only because it gives them a sense of importance and involvement but it’s also good exercise. Too many dogs don’t get enough exercise and drafting can be a wonderful answer.
If you are interested getting into drafting with your dog, your first step would be a complete check over for your dog from the vet. Just as you wouldn’t suddenly decide to compete in a triathlon with a check from your doctor, you wouldn’t want to start working your dog without knowing about any physical problems. Once that’s ticked off your list, you’ll need basic training information and a proper harness. You’ll also need a cart or wagon of some sort. What style of vehicle you choose will be determined by your dog and his or her build, and by what you two hope to actually be doing. Drafting is usually a dog pulling “stuff” in a wagon of some version while you walk alongside; carting usually means you ride in the cart behind the dog. Learning a bit about the more recent history of carting is at least interesting. Here are some good basics on the entire concept.
This is a transportation option that you could start working on even before the spring weather comes. It may take you a little time to get the vet check done, find an appropriate harness and actually get it in your hands. Once you have the harness, you can put it on your dog and start working on commands that you’ll need once they actually have a cart. Carts and wagons can be expensive, but you can also build your own.
This is something that I am personally looking into with my Lab/Newfie cross dog. I’m hoping that we can find an existing dog carting group in our area, and failing that I suppose we’ll have to start our own. Do you know if there are any dog carting clubs in your area?
photo by Inky Bob
Don’t count on a GPS to prevent you from getting lost.
If your Batteries die or the GPS Device becomes damaged or lost then what will you do? A good old fashion Compass and knowledge of how to use it can be a lifesaver.
Stuck without a compass?