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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baking your own bread is an excellent self reliance skill!

Fresh from the oven homemade white bread…glorious!  Nice shot by Terwilliger911 on FlickrAn excellent and easy to acquire self reliance skill is baking your own bread. It’s really quite simple if you understand the basic concepts. While man cannot live by bread alone, bread is the staff of life. (Quick, can you come up with any more platitudes that mention bread?) So let’s walk through a basic bread making session… This procedure will make about two loaves of a good, basic white wheat flour yeast bread. Yes, there was originally a recipe; but I started weekly bread baking when I was about thirteen years old and have just been following the concept for many years. It absolutely works just as well. Besides, there is virtue in being able to turn out bread with what you have to hand. There is apparently a common misconception that baking bread “takes a long time”; well…sort of. Kind of like doing weekly laundry for a family “takes a long time”. It may take the better part of a day to get it done, but it’s not the only thing you’re doing during that time. I usually figure I have to be at home for six hours to get a batch of bread done. There’s probably an hour of actual “work” in there, total.

Best get a cup of tea; this turned into a monster post, LOL!

You will need:

A large bowl. Larger than an average mixing bowl.
A small pot
Measure devices, if you use them…I don’t, so much, for bread but suite yourself.
A couple pans; loaf pans, casserole dishes, pizza pans, cookie sheets. Whatever.

Flour…about five pounds, to be safe
Sugar…a half cup or less
Butter…a couple cubes, or half a pound, or 1/2 cup
Salt…a couple of teaspoons
Dried ground ginger…a teaspoon
Water…unchlorinated is best; use what you have

The first thing to look at is the flour. What makes the “crumb” or texture of the bread is the gluten from wheat. Gluten is a long chain protein molecule, and when you knead the bread you stretch and align the gluten molecules. Yes, as good cooks who have celiac disease will tell you, there are ways around using wheat gluten but traditionally some form of wheat is what basic yeast bread is. The higher the gluten, the better and more spongy the bread is because the elasticity of the dough (caused by the gluten) traps the little air bubbles from our yeast buddies.

There are different flours available. Generally speaking, your basic white flour will do just fine. I personally only buy unbleached white flour for several reasons, one of them being that in my experience it makes better bread; also, unbleached flour is more nutritious and digestible. There is also flour that proudly proclaims “Better for Bread!” on its label; it’s simply ground from a higher gluten wheat, and it is better for bread…but not so much better that I’d pay an extra 30% for it. Just check your cupboard for whatever flour you would use to make cookies, cakes, biscuits or pie shells. It’ll work fine.

You’ll need yeast. Well, it is a yeast bread we’re making here, right? Simplest approach for a beginner would be to pick up a package of yeast the next time you go to the store. Dry yeast is usually in the baking aisle, but there may still be stores that have cubes of yeast in the refrigeration section. I haven’t found those in years, though. It makes little difference which one you use. You’ll need one packet, or one cube, or a scant tablespoon from a jar of yeast for one batch of bread. Don’t be afraid to pick up a string of three packages of yeast, or a set of four cubes, or a small jar; if you keep it in your refrigerator it will stay asleep and be perfectly good for many months.

Those little yeast beasties need something to eat; that’d be sugar, most simply, or honey….or real maple syrup, or corn syrup, or any other toothsome sweet syrup or such. Sugar substitutes won’t work; this is food for the yeast beasties, not entertainment. If you use anything other than plain white sugar, even brown sugar, it will likely impart some delicate flavour to the bread. For your first time through, I’d recommend plain sugar or the lightest flavoured honey you have.

You’ll need fat. Butter, margarine, lard, shortening… Fat. Also salt. Not much of either, but some. Fat and salt carry flavour, and the fat also retards the yeast growth at a certain point in the process. You can also use oil, various, but for the first time out I recommend butter, or perhaps margarine if you have something against butter. They are tastier than shortening or lard, and oil will give you a slightly different bread; experiment with oils when you have the basic receipt down pat.

So—we start with the proof. Technically speaking, in this day and age you can probably skip this step but decades ago it was prudent to “prove” your yeast before you committed precious ingredients to the bowl. It doesn’t hurt anything to take the extra ten minutes for this step, and it’s fun. Into your large bowl, put about a half cup of very warm water. Remember you are dealing with live creatures here, so don’t make it too hot. You are, however, trying to wake the little cryogenic beasties up so too cool will slow down the process, perhaps even to the point of it never really starting. The water should be about the temp of a baby bottle, for those of you who have that reference point. Add about a teaspoon of sugar, and about a half a teaspoon of dried ground ginger. Ginger excites the yeast and gives you a better rise. It also provides an indefinable background flavour in the bread. Now—sprinkle your dried yeast over the warm, prepared water or smoosh your yeast cube up and mix it in. Take about ten minutes to think contemplative omniscient thoughts while you stare meditatively into the bowl. At a certain point, you’ll see a “bloom”…think of a coral reef in time lapse photography. Congratulations! Your yeast is alive and lusty, ready to work its magic in your bread. If you don’t see any action after about fifteen or twenty minutes, your water was too cold, the spot you set it was too cold, or you got a bum deal on yeast. Try again.

Now for the sponge. Give the proof some more sweet…a quarter of cup, a third of a cup, a glug of honey or syrup. Some. Your yeast beasties have been multiplying, and you want them to multiply more; feed them. Add a couple cups of nicely warm water, and stir in about four cups of flour. You want something that looks like wet concrete, heavier and more gooey than cake batter, much looser than cookie dough. Now set the bowl aside in a warm place to work. You may want to put a damp towel over it, particularly if you have pets. Cat hair in the bread is nasty. Give it anywhere from a half hour to an hour and take a peak. It should look alive, like bloopy white lava. If you bump the bowl, bubbles should burst in a tired sort of manner.

Making the sponge into dough is the last step involving ingredients. Melt about a cube of butter or margarine in a small pan (1/4 to 1/2 cup). Take the pan off the fire and add about a cup and a half of water barely as warm as tepid to the pan; this will cool the hot butter. Throw in the couple teaspoons of salt. Stir it all up. If you can set the pan on the palm of your hand without burning yourself, it’s cool enough. Pour it over the sponge. Get your flour sack or container of flour on the counter next to your bowl. Now comes the messy part! Stir it all up good with your hand and start adding flour. Four to six cups to start, for sure. You’ll probably need more…how much more depends on several things, not the least of which is the condition of your flour. Older flour is dryer, so you’ll need more water. In a high humidity area, you may need less. You’re after a cohesive dough, but not something so loaded with flour that it feels like a dead brick. You kind of have to be willing for it to be a little sticky at this point, as the liquid will soak into the flour during the first rising to a degree. You don’t, however, want to feel like you’re being eaten by The Blob. If that’s the case, use a butter knife to scrape your kneading hand off, sprinkle about a cup of flour around the edge of the dough, flour your hands and try again.

Kneading the dough is a simple, dance-like motion. You can get quite a rhythm going once you figure it out. Gather the dough together; slid your hand, palm up, under one side of the dough. Lift your hand straight up a bit, and fold the dough over onto itself; push the heel of your hand deep into the middle of the mass of dough and push away from you, stretching the dough. Give the dough a quarter turn, and repeat. Remember, it’s the kneading that excites the gluten and gives your bread that wonderful texture. This is also a great place to gently take out frustrations. Don’t be gentle and lady-like here; work the dough! You can knead the dough for about five minutes or till you’re out of breath or your arms hurt, if you’re not used to this sort of work out. Roll the dough over so its smooth side is up, and cover it to rise again.

Let it rise till it’s twice the size it was. Now, punch it down (yup, a fast fist right into its gut…karate yell optional) and knead it up again, just as before. Cover it again, let it rise again, punch it down and knead it up again. Divide it into two or three loaves, put it into or on whatever greased pans suit your notion of bread. Let rise in the pans till double once again.

Slide the bread into a hot oven (375 degrees) for ten minutes, turn it down to 325 degrees for forty minutes. You can tell it’s done by tipping it out of the pan and thumping its underside; it should sound hollow. If you’re not sure, put it back in for ten minutes. If you’re familiar with your oven and think it doesn’t lie about its temperature, that really should do it.

Once out of the oven, butter the tops. This adds flavour, makes the crusts soft and tender, and helps the bread to keep better. This should take several minutes if done thoroughly; by the time you’re finished, the bread will have cooled enough to tip out of the pans to finish cooling, which should take about an hour; it must be completely cool before you bag it or it will sweat and leave spots on the crust. Yeah, like you’re going to have been smelling that marvelous homemade bread for the past hour or so and just walk away and let it cool all the way to be bagged up, right? HA!

Never slice hot bread; only tear it. Taking a knife to bread barely cool enough to handle mashes it and makes it gummy. You can use a couple of forks to pull it apart, too. If you are in a household of several people and you pull bread out of the oven when most of them are home, just figure the first loaf is a write-off. Put out softened butter, cream cheese, jams, jellies, honey….and stand back.

Go ahead, try it. Baking your own bread is easy, and a sold step towards self reliance. Watch for the next Tuesday post where I will go into ways to change up the above procedure to make all sorts of different breads using all sorts of different things. I’ll be checking comments here to answer any problems you might have with the above directions, and looking for suggestions on kinds of bread you want to read about next week. Feel free to use my Contact Me page, too!

Original: http://ourright2selfreliance.today.com/2009/02/24/baking-your-own-bread-is-an-excellent-self-reliance-skill/

New CERT Emergency Preparedness Printables

Audio Podcast: Creative ideas for producing and storing your own food

icon for podpress Episode-149- Creative ideas for producing and storing your own food: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Today we discuss some less often thought of options for production of food and storage of it.

Tune in today to hear…

  • A win fall at Home Depot
  • Growing strawberries in a pot for a lot less money
  • Dehydrated strawberries and ideas for their use
  • Oh let there be strawberry mead and beer
  • Why you can’t separate survival and gardening in the modern world
  • The 2 lunch a week challenge, can you loose a X from your XXL
  • The blueberry in container gardening
  • Dried figs, works in the Deserts and will work for you too
  • Using dried biltong, veggies and bullion for creating your own field rations
  • The U.S. is a net importer of food, what this means to us
  • Your grandparents saved money and planted gardens and trees, they were wise
  • How much food could we produce in the suburbs if 1 in 5 trees were fruit or nut trees
  • Asparagus 25 years of food and a beautiful fern every summer
  • Think about other creative crops, soy beans, pea nuts, etc.

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show.

You also now can call in questions or comments for the host at 866-65-THINK, please read the suggestions for calling in before you do for the best chance of getting your comments on the air.

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/survivalpcast/~3/Lw6eD_kMmj8/creative-ideas-for-producing-and-storing-your-own-food

Recession grows interest in seeds, vegetable gardening

By Bruce Horovitz (see original article here, USA TODAY

Hard economic times are acting like instant fertilizer on an industry that had been growing slowly: home vegetable gardening.

Amid the Washington talk of "shovel-ready" recession projects, it appears few projects are more shovel-ready than backyard gardens. Veggie seed sales are up double-digits at the nation's biggest seed sellers this year.

What's more, the number of homes growing vegetables will jump more than 40% this year compared with just two years ago, projects the National Gardening Association, a non-profit organization for gardening education.

"As the economy goes down, food gardening goes up," says Bruce Butterfield, the group's research director. "We haven't seen this kind of spike in 30 years."

At W. Atlee Burpee, the world's largest seed company, seed sales will jump 25% this year, Chairman George Ball estimates. "It's weird to have everyone else you talk to experiencing plunging markets. We're on a roll."

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Washington God National Gardening Association Park Seed W. Atlee Burpee

Burpee is taking pains to craft its marketing to fit the times, says Ball. It recently rolled out the "Money Garden," a value bundle of tomato, bean, red pepper, carrot, lettuce and snap pea seeds sold online at www.burpee.com. With a separate retail value of $20, the pack sells for $10, and under the right conditions, Burpee claims, can produce $650 worth of veggies.

"Seeds are God's microchip," says Ball. But in the suddenly hot world of veggie seed sales, Burpee has company:

•Park Seed. Vegetable seed sales are up 20% this year vs. 2008, says Walter Yates, who oversees the company's e-commerce.

Says Yates, "Every time this country goes through a recession, there is a surge of folks who want to get back to basics."

•Renee's Garden. Business manager Sarah Renfro says veggie seed sales were up about 10% last year and look to grow up to 20%.

"After years of declining veggie seed sales, the whole cycle has completely reversed," says Renee Shepherd, president.

•Harris Seeds. Home garden vegetable seed sales are up 80% from one year ago, says Dick Chamberlin, president. "A jump like this has never happened."

•Ferry-Morse Seed. After 2008 sales grew 5%, the company stocked up on 50% more vegetable seeds to sell in 2009, says John Hamrick, vice president of sales and marketing.

The veggies are apparently squeezing flowers for space in the nation's gardens. Ferry-Morse, along with others, is seeing a decline in sales of flower seeds, and Hamrick says the company has switched its inventory mix from 50-50 to 40% flower seeds and 60% veggies.

Original: http://fillingyourark.blogspot.com/2009/02/recession-grows-interest-in-seeds_26.html

There’s nothing better than a belly full of rice…from FOOD STORAGE!

Rice is a great grain to store in your long term food storage (especially if you, like me, have a loved one who lived in Asia for 2 years :). You should have 300 pounds of grains per person in your family in your long term food storage and rice can make up some of that 300 pounds (READ your grains don’t need to consist entirely of wheat-they should consist of wheat, pasta, rice, and oats). So before I get into the delicious recipes I have for rice…after all my husband says there is nothing better than a belly full of rice…I wanted to go over some basics of rice.

Can I only store Long Grain white rice?

Well, the LDS cannery only sells long grain white rice, however, if you’re like me and have someone in your family who has lived in Asia they probably aren’t big fans of white rice. You can store the long grain, medium, or short (sticky) types of rice in your long term food storage. Stored properly these three types of white rice will last 25-30+ years. Brown rice should not be stored for long periods of time because it is considered an “oily grain” and will deteriorate or go rancid. (Click here for the brown rice source) For those of you concerned about not having brown rice for nutritional reasons, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that you can actually cook cracked wheat as a rice substitute (it cooks the same way 1-2-3, 1 C. cracked wheat + 2 C. boiling water = 3 C. cooked and get similar nutritional benefits.

How should I store my Rice?

Store rice in a tightly sealed container. Food safe plastics (PETE) containers, glass jars, #10 cans (commercial size) lined with a food-grade enamel lining and Mylar®-type bags work best for long-term storage. Use food-safe oxygen absorbers [Bj5] available from food storage supply stores to preserve rice quality, and protect from insect infestation. #10 cans will hold approximate 5.7 lbs (2.6 kgs) of rice. (Click here for source)

How long does Rice last once opened?

You should use your rice with in 2 years of opening the packaging. (Click here for source)

What are the benefits of cooking with Rice?

In the United States, vitamins and minerals: iron, niacin, thiamin, and folic acid are added to rice. Rice is high in starch and fiber. In addition, rice is low in sodium and a good source of protein. (Click here for source)

Making a complete meal with Rice

As stated above rice is a starch so to balance out your meal with rice, it’s always good to serve it with a protein. Also, since it counts for a starch you may want to steer clear of serving rice with additional starches at the dinner table like potatoes and rolls.

How do you cook long grain rice?

To make 3 C. of cooked rice you will begin by boiling 2 C. of water. When the water is boiling, add a dash of salt, a little butter (optional), and 1 C. of rice. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until water is gone. *Make sure to look over rice for any foreign bits BEFORE cooking.

**As a note about the magnets: Thank you to everyone who purchased a set. They have officially sold out. I sent a big batch out last week and will send the second half out this week. I’ll try and get some more printed but I don’t know when they’ll have that good deal again…I’ll keep you posted. Thanks!

Original: http://everydayfoodstorage.net/2009/02/16/theres-nothing-better-than-a-belly-full-of-ricefrom-food-storage/food-storage-recipes

Starting a garage sale business in a recession

With all of the hype about the next big business opportunity of the 21st century being foreclosure cleanups, it cracks me up as to how little most people understand what all is involved in taking on that kind of business. Sad truth is that is expensive to start, requires bonding, connections and in some rare cases, haz-mat certifications. In other words, do not waste your time. Let the other morons chase after that soon to be flooded industry and instead, take a simpler approach.

If you are like most people who just received a pink slip in these tough times, you do not have the time nor the cash flow to start some complex business. You need something that is a recession proof business anyone can start, easy to get going and is flexible enough to be started with very little cash.

This brings me to something I have found myself amazed with time and time again, it is garage sales. While most of us think that in times like these there is no way anyone in their right mind is going to be shopping around at these things, the truth is now more than ever, garage sales are a consistent hit. So it would stand to reason that starting a garage sale business in a recession would be a great means of generating income in tough economic times. Why? Because they provide the feeling like the shopper is able to get stuff as a “deal”.

The obvious downside to all of this of course, is that opening up a perpetual flea market is not really very practical for most people. And this brings us to Craigslist. At its core, Craigslist is a fantastic place to sell goods that others might wish to buy. Unlike eBay, there are no fees and you are also dealing with people on a local level, as to again avoid the usual eBay headaches that involve credit card transactions, shipping and so on. The down side Craigslist however, is much of the stuff that might be sold at a garage sale is not going to float in a Craigslist sale. So clearly, a hybrid of the two is in order here.

Cleaning out the crap from garages

I myself, could use this service. And what is really frightening is how much of the crap I have in my garage is actually worth a pretty penny. Yet out of frustration brought on by clutter, I would be happy to have a team of people come over to my home and clean out my garage just so I did not have to deal with the bulk of it. Just so long as all boxes were check by me before being officially loaded onto the truck, a form was signed by me giving these guys the okay to keep everything, I would be quite happy with such a service.

Here is the kicker - cleaning out the garage would cost me nothing. Yeah, the people providing such a service would do this for free - nadda, nothing. And it would also cost only time and gas for the crew to do all of the work. Yet at the same time, they get to pick and choose from all of the stuff they rummage through. Often times, there are at least a few hundred dollars worth of goodies that can easily be resold for a profit.

Craigslist - your silver bullet

Out of the pile of stuff you ended up with, enough of it will likely be sellable on Craigslist, even if most of it seems like junk to you. The key however, is fully understanding whether or not the stuff collected is actually just junk or if it can indeed be resold on Craigslist.

To get a better handle on this problem, I recommend a guide that I personally swear by called:

The Ultimate Guide To Buying & Selling On Craigslist

The above linked guide is going to save you a lot of wasted time and money trying to sell stuff that should never have been listed on Craigslist in the first place. And while it also deals with the buying side of Craigslist as well, that is something you can try for yourself later on.

What I see as the most important aspect of purchasing the guide is what you will learn in attracting the right kind of buyers with your Craigslist ads, along with knowing what is going to sell on Craigslist and what is better of in a yard sale.

Yard sales vs Craigslist

When you start up a business cleaning out garages for other people, chances are excellent that much of what you will end up with will indeed be junk. This translates into some of this stuff going to the junk yard while other aspects of it might do well enough being sold cheap at a monthly garage sale.

Depending on your local city ordinances, location of where you live and if you have the time, I suggest taking whatever you find is not appropriate for Craigslist and doing a three day yard sale each month to sell off as much as possible. This provides you with an occasional venue in which you can sell off the stuff that might not be doing well on Craigslist while at the same time, saving a trip to the dump as well.

Items that do very well at garage sales include:

  1. Clothing
  2. Tools (make sure to provide an extension cord for testing power tools)
  3. Furniture
  4. Kitchen gadgets (again, provide power for testing)
  5. Computers (Load them with a Linux release like Ubuntu as it is legal and free)

Other items can do well in addition, but these are generally the most successful.

How much can you expect to make?

Impossible to really answer, although I will say you can make a full-time living at this if you know what you are doing. If you live in a big enough market, I see no reason why you could not make $3,000-4,000 per month if you were careful and actively working hard five days a week. It should be noted however that you will have greater success reaching those numbers if you also work in refinishing damaged furniture as well as learning to BUY, in addition to selling. This is a helpful place to grow beyond merely “cleaning out garages” for the leftovers.

What does it take to get started?

  1. A means of cleaning out and transporting garage surplus.
  2. A computer and Internet to advertise your cleaning services on Craigslist.
  3. A haircut, firm handshake and the ability not to look like you just rolled out of bed. Be presentable.
  4. Gas money.
  5. A place to sort and store, surplus. Monthly rental units are pretty cheap this time of year.
  6. Business cards. Even if you are just doing business as a “DBA“, you should always have business cards handy.

Bonus tip!

To get started fast, consider dropping by local storage facilities (storage for rent) in person and introducing yourself as someone who cleans out unwanted surplus. Keep it short, sweet and leave a compelling business card behind.

Think you have a better ways of making a living on Craigslist that can be done cheaply, easily and without tremendous risk? I doubt it. If you had, chances are you would be working that Craigslist business instead of learning to start a garage sale business in a recession.

Original: http://www.economicsurvivalblog.com/starting-a-garage-sale-business-in-a-recession/

Turn Your Spouse Into an Avid Prepper (Or At Least Get Them On Board So They Won't Report You to the FBI)

I'm only half kidding about the part in parenthesis. Since opposites attract, it's a good possibility that if you are reading this, then your spouse will think all of this preppin and survival stuff is a bunch of hooey. Like any good sales pitch, if you want to turn someone to your way of thinking, you need to approach the target (um...spouse) like a professional would (that means with tact, understanding, and charm). Here's some ideas:
  • If you have to use force or intimidation, you've lost the battle. Don't go about it this way.
  • Appeal to what the person feels are their most important needs. You may feel that an AK 47 is what's needed to protect your family while the spouse may feel that life insurance makes more sense. Be prepared to buy the life insurance first.
  • Lay out a plan. Explain how being prepared will make your family safer, not only from natural and man-made threats but from everyday disasters such as the loss of a job or loss of a spouse. The plan needs to be well balanced (ie: paying off debt and stocking food for a year should take precedence over buying a bug out shelter immediately), and should include something for everyone in the family (not just some new toys for you).
  • Follow through. If you present a comprehensive disaster plan and your spouse rolls their eyes, consider what the issue may be. If you tend to start stuff and not finish stuff then begin this whole process with a small project that you can successfully complete before chewing off a huge, multi-faceted project.
  • Be prepared. Much like a good defense attorney, consider what issues the spouse may raise and be prepared to answer them in a straight-forward, logical way.
  • Start slow. If you have always been a hunter, gathering up survival gear will not be that big of a deal. If you have never left the city, the spouse may be a bit leery about the three-season tent that suddenly appears in the living room. Start off slow with a day hike. Then maybe an overnight camping trip with rented gear at a local park. Move on from there with gathering survival (er, camping) gear and supplies.
  • Learn together. If you've ever taught the spouse to drive (or shoot) you may have had less than stellar luck with such an endeavour. Consider taking a class together (such as rock climbing or wilderness survival) even if you already know what you are doing. Both of you learning from someone else will place you both on a level field instead of you always being the dominant one (er, teacher).
  • Get the kids involved. If the spouse sees that you are spending quality time instilling life skills to your children, they will be less likely to be negative towards your preparedness efforts.
  • Lead by example. If you want to get your family into better physical shape, you need to be the example. Exercising on a daily basis, improving you diet, and seeking regular preventative medical care are simple ways to show your family the example that you want them to follow.
  • Be responsible. While I can totally understand a massive shopping trip to prepare for any potential problem, you need to first and foremost be responsible. This means paying bills first then spending a budgeted amount on disaster supplies. This means ensuring that the batteries in your smoke detector are working even though you would rather put it off for later.
  • Do activities together (and seek feedback). The family that plays together, stays together. Ditto for the family that preps together. Each family member should have the opportunity to plan, coordinate, and lead preparedness activities. These activities do not have to be major things such as setting up a radio station that could contact Mars--something as simple as planning a meal, buying the groceries, and preparing a meal can teach a number of team building skills. Be sure to get the family's input on what is working and what could be improved and actually institute their suggested changes.
  • Save the grandiose schemes, the ranging conspiracy theories, and the abnormal behavior that could lead the spouse to think you had a psychotic break for your next novel. Maybe you need a grandiose scheme, you have hard-core proof of a conspiracy theory, or you do behave abnormally but all of these things draw attention to you, and in preparedness theory, the less attention you draw to yourself, the better. Besides, if you are truly up to your elbows in real-life black ops/covert activities/etc, the spouse will be better off if they know nothing about this.
Original: http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/02/turn-your-spouse-into-avid-prepper-or.html

One man’s junk; another man’s treasure


A friend gave Will a junker air compressor that the pressure switch was shot on. He and David spent several hours rigging a motor, changing pulleys, adding a cord and finally re-doing the pressure switch. After all was said and done, it worked! Now we can use air tools, like a nailer, paint sprayer and other pneumatic tools. That’ll come in especially handy when we start our new spring project, a wood shed/equipment barn/hay storage and small equipment garage. How nice.

Readers’ Questions:

Storing citrus fruits

I recently moved here to Southern Texas where the citrus is abound. Can you advise different ways I can store, freeze the oranges and grapefruit I have in my backyard? I hate to just let it go to waste.

Barry Eppley
League City, Texas

You can freeze the juice or home can the sections of fruit and/or juice. Canning citrus is easy. For instance, to do oranges: Remove fruit segments, peeling away the white membrane that could cause a bitter taste during the canning. Remove the seed. Make a light or medium syrup, as you wish and keep it hot. Pack orange segments in hot jars, gently shaking the jar to settle the fruit, leaving ½” of headspace. Ladle boiling syrup over fruit, leaving ½” of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar clean, place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process pints and quarts for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

To do grapefruit: Make a light or medium syrup, as you wish. Peel grapefruit with a sharp knife, removing the white membrane. Run your sharp knife between the pulp and skin of each section and lift out the sections without breaking. Remove and discard the seeds. Pack grapefruit in hot jars, leaving ½” of headspace. Cover with boiling syrup, leaving ½” of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of jar clean, place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process both pints and quarts for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Enjoy your citrus! — Jackie

Canning hot fudge sauce

I just made eight pints of hot fudge sauce, poured it hot into clean jars and they sealed. Normally I make half as many jars and keep them in the fridge, but with eight I would rather have them in the pantry. Do I need to process them?

Betsy Palmer
Saybrook, Illinois

It would depend on your recipe. Many have condensed milk and butter or margarine. These would require processing, but I don’t have a concrete time for you. This is probably one thing you may want to keep in the fridge. — Jackie

Processing snow geese

In an effort to control the snow geese population, the state has increased the daily limits on them. My husband has been bringing them home with regularity now. I’ve been saving feathers and eating the carcasses, but we’ve been throwing away the innards. This seems like a waste to me, so here’s my question: can we use the gizzard, livers and hearts of the wild birds like we use the ones from chickens?

Amanda Kemp
Dover, Delaware

Yes, you sure can. Like any other giblets, just make sure they are normal appearing. Then enjoy your bounty! — Jackie

Herbs for beef

I am trying to find out what kind of herbs you can use to help treat beef. I have found resources on herbs for horses, but can’t find any for bovine. What herbs are safe to use on beef?

Ivy Schexnayder
Winslow, Illinois

Try the book THE COMPLETE HERBAL HANDBOOK FOR FARM AND STABLE or type herbal remedies for beef cattle in your browser. There is a wealth of information on this subject out there. — Jackie

Frozen canned goods

My canning jars froze, will this ruin the contents of them?

Shay Martin
Troy, Maine

No, yes, and maybe. Or maybe not. I’ve had frozen jars because of our move here in February of 2004. They were really frozen…for months! My pickles were toast, some of the fruit was soft, but useable in baking. Most vegetables, all of my tomato products and meat was fine. All of the jars remained sealed. If yours are still sealed, open one at a time as you wish to use them and check out the contents. I’m thinking you may be surprised. — Jackie

Dehydrating frozen vegetables

Can I dehydrate frozen veggies like peas, or mixed veggies? If so, how? I can’t find any info in books!

Dave Harvey
Ammon, Idaho

Yes. I’ve dehydrated frozen peas by simply plunging them into boiling water to thaw them, then laying them on the dehydrator trays in a single layer. Dehydrate as if they were fresh. Enjoy. — Jackie

Canned cheese and butter

I have just read about canned cheese, and canned butter on another internet forum. These products are available from Internet grocery. The cheese was a Kraft product. Are you familiar with these or similar products, and what do you think of them.

Gary Minter
Acworth, Georgia

Yes I am. I’m sure they are probably good products but they are way too pricey for me. — Jackie

Zinc jar lids

I have seen several things on the zinc/glass or zinc jar lids. These appear to be reusable. Can you pressure with these or water bath with these safely? If so, how would I do it?

Gwen Koskinen
Celina, Texas

Sorry, Gwen. Grandma used the zinc lids with rubbers for her pickles and fruits. No I don’t recommend using them because you can’t tell for sure if a jar is sealed or not. This is very dangerous for canning low acid foods. I still have some, but use them for decoration and storing a few dehydrated foods. — Jackie

Dehydrated margarine

In our Mar/Apr 2009 issue #116, you said you buy dehydrated margarine from Emergency Essentials…so do we. How do you use it? We have tried to make it into a solid for spreading on bread but have not been able to find the right formula. Can you tell us how to do that?

Joan Bowman
Hereford, Arizona

I mix the margarine powder with corn oil to reach a spreadable consistency. I first tired water. Yuck!! — Jackie

Canning butter

A million thanks for answering so quickly about the walnut canning problem. I pulled the temperature down to 200 degrees and toasted the nuts 30-40 min. Then canned them. PERFECT! I am working with bushels.

Now, I took time to go through your blogs, for the first time. You told about canning butter 60 minutes in a boiling water bath. BUT, in Issue 112 (July/Aug 2008), page 73 you said 40 minutes That is where I first read about it. And I followed those instructions. Now, I am not sure if I should go back and Re-can my butter that I did. Will it get bacteria? HELP here, please.

Also, since you are blogging your LIFE I would like to ask…who is Will? I think I must have missed something? Am I being too inquisitive? If so, don’t answer. I am excited about the book you are writing about canning, etc. Good for you…but WHERE do you find the time? I can barely get all I need to do done and you do twice/three times more than I. Does it have to do with organizational skills? Do you make lists? What is your secret?

Jan Eylar
Savannah, Missouri

As canning butter is still an “experimental” canning process, there are no experts’ recipes. Many folks who are canning butter successfully don’t even water bath it at all. I’m not comfortable with that, so I followed first a recipe that recommended 40 minutes processing, then I upped it to 60 minutes, as that is what we process milk for. Sorry to be confusing.

Will is my boyfriend. We’ve been writing, calling and flying back and forth, visiting, for over 2 years now, as he lived in Washington state. As you know, he’s now here, permanently, partnering in our backwoods homestead.

No, I have absolutely NO organizational skills. Ask anyone who knows me. I just keep going until it’s either done or I’m too tired to move. I’m kind of like the tortoise, pretty slow, but steady. Remember that I don’t do EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY. Everything has it’s time. I’m usually late, but I just keep working at the edges until it gets done. — Jackie

Shelling peas

I’ve done a search here on the web site and could not find any info on shelling peas, other than putting them in a bag and beating the crap out of them.

I know the two hands the Good Lord gave me will get the job done but was hoping for something a little faster. The search I’ve done on the www brings up a name brand Sheller both hand crank and electric but the reviews I’ve found are not favorable. I did however find a couple designs for homemade ones.

Since my husband has been Active Duty Army for the past 21 years and is just in the process of retiring a lot of this is very new to me and while I’ve left various fruit tree and berry bushes in numerous states and even a different continent this will be my first attempt at peas.

Dawn Norcross
Orion, Illinois

I’m sorry to report that in my opinion, the shellers really aren’t so hot. I’m back to sitting on the porch, in the shade and shelling peas by hand. I poke my thumbnail in the seam and pop the pea pod open, then run it down the row of peas, popping them out into my bowl. I’m really pretty fast and last summer I canned a whole lot of peas and mixed vegetables with peas in them. I have a crank/electric mixer sheller, but I’m really faster than it is, plus I don’t get peas all over the floor. (If you par-boil the peas just until the pod is limp, they don’t shoot all over the room as you shell, but they still kind of miss the bowl on occasion.) I knew one woman who used her wringer washer wringer to shell peas, but that seems a little overkill to me! It’s kind of gardener’s zen to sit, shelling peas on the porch. — Jackie

All American Canner

An update from last weeks 2 questions on “Failure to seal”…This is my third time to try to get a completely sealed batch, I canned up 5 qts of deboned chicken and broth…ALL FIVE SEALED!! I didn’t rush the cooling off and waited 5 minutes after the gauge went to 0. Then lifted the petcock off and Viola!! I guess my brand spanking new All American Canner and I will be friends after all!

Darnell Rogers
Arden, North Carolina

Wow! I’m so very, very happy for you. And your new friend. I’m sure it will be the start of a long and meaningful relationship. — Jackie

Dill pickles

I was wondering if you would share with me your recipe for dill pickles? I looked through the archives of your columns to see if you answered my question already, but couldn’t find just what I wanted. My pickles always come out limp, although my husband says they taste good. I’ve tried soaking in ice water, using alum, lime, etc., but nothing seems to work. I pack my pickles cold in jars, then process. I don’t know what I am doing wrong?

I would also appreciate advice on canning sweet corn, most the of the books I have on canning say canned corn turns brown, but I know it can be done somehow.

Angela Billings
Stronghurst, Illinois

The longer you “cook” (or boil) pickles, the softer they will become. In the old days, people never water bathed their pickles. But as safety became more of an issue, they began to process the pickles after they were put into jars. So the shortest time in the water bath canner usually results in the crisper pickles. Some helps I’ve found are to use totally fresh, smaller cukes, harvested in the morning (not after sitting in the hot garden sun all day), then processing them right away. I wash them in cold water and hold them in cold water until they are ready to can. I use a recipe that packs the cold cucumbers in a hot jar, with boiling brine poured over them. Then the pints are processed for 10 minutes. (Quarts take 15 minutes, so I don’t do quarts.) I hope this will help you.

Sweet corn very seldom gets brown when you can it. I’ve never had a jar of brown corn, and mine is always much better than any store corn that I’ve ever eaten. Follow the directions in your canning manual and enjoy! — Jackie

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AskJackie/~3/a5wsTF7i6do/

Off grid water and sewer is part of self reliance

Off grid water and sewer used to be the norm, and in some places it still is. The Groundwater Foundation says that about 17 million homes in the United States get their water from wells…off the water system grid. Off grid sewer has several options, too, from the septic system in the backyard to grey water systems in concert with fairly high tech composting toilets….or, you could build your own .Human power runs this Unesco water well pump…by Augapfel on Flickr

A well is not a complex thing. Anymore, it’s a heavily regulated thing, but it is still just essentially a hole in the ground that reaches below your local water table. Water gathers or is continuously present at the bottom of the hole, and the well user employs some method to draw the water up, like this hand pump pictured here. If you have any reason to believe that your water table is relatively near the surface, you could look putting in a driven well yourself. There are other approaches, too, but the specific tool might cost a little bit more. Such a well would be just fine for agricultural purposes such as watering your garden or your livestock, but do have it tested before you drink any. I’d personally have it tested before I watered my animals with it or even my vegetable garden; water that looks and smells just fine can still have issues.

Sewers are also not terribly complex, if you are only talking about one household, particularly if that household is cognizant of the results of the choices they make and how those choices may affect their personal sewer system. Generally speaking, detergents and grease are bad for a septic system; so is bleach. The function of a septic system, like a composting toilet, is dependent upon creatures that break down the waste. If you kill the creatures, your sewer disposal system stops working. Likewise, if you send things to the sewer system that it is not capable of digesting, like grease, feminine hygiene products and cigarette butts it will eventually clog up. The companies that you would have to call to come out and fix that charge a pretty penny, and if you took a good look at what they were doing you’d gladly pay it! Best to treat your septic system properly and never have to know.

Living some place where turning on a faucet results in hot or cold running water, and pushing a silver handle on the side of a ceramic tank or pulling a plug in a sink or tub magically whisks away things you choose not to invest very much thought into is just not the norm across the world. Dependence upon a huge grid for something as essential as water can be worrisome, and proper disposal of wastes is essential to your health, the health of your immediate environment and the health of people down stream from you. Self reliance definitely includes educating one’s self about water and waste management, with an eye towards getting off the water and sewer grid.

Are you on a well or city water? Do you have a septic system or are you connected to a city sewer system? Have you ever lived with a composting toilet, or even visited someone who did and used theirs? What would you do if the water stopped coming out of the tap at your house?

Original: http://ourright2selfreliance.today.com/2009/02/25/off-grid-water-and-sewer/

Depression Proof Jobs for a 20 Year Depression - Part 1: The Counter-Cyclical Jobs

The current economic downward spiral has prompted several SurvivalBlog readers to write me and ask: "My job is now at risk, so what are the safe jobs?" I've actually addressed this topic fairly well since I started SurvivalBlog in 2005. We ran a "best recession-proof jobs" poll, back in May of 2006. Then, in February, 2007, we ran a poll on "Best Occupations for Both Before and After TEOTWAWKI". Later, we even ran a poll on the current occupations of SurvivalBlog readers. In the past three years, we've also posted a panoply of more detailed employment-related letters and articles on subjects such as:

How to set up a home-based second business,

Bartering skills,

Home-based mail order businesses,

Small sawmills,


Handloading ammunition,

Horse breeding,

Rabbit breeding,

Small machine shops,

Selling and bartering through Freecycle,

Selling and bartering through Craig's List, and

19th Century Trades.

And those were just the ones that I found in a cursory 10-minute search of the SurvivalBlog archives. There are many more. Just type a topic into the "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog:" box at the top of the right -hand bar. (We now have nearly 6,200 archived articles, letters, and quotes!)

Which Jobs Were Safe in the 1930s?

One good insight on the near future can be found in the past. (As Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.")

According to statistics published some 20 years ago by Dr.Ravi Batra, the safest businesses and industries during the worst years of the Great Depression (1929-1933) were:

Repair shops
Educational services (A lot of young men that couldn't find work borrowed money to go to trade schools and college.)
Healthcare services
Bicycle shops
Bus transportation
Gasoline service stations
Second hand stores
Legal services
Drug or proprietary stores

To bring Batra's list up to date, I would speculatively add a few more sectors and business that are likely to do well in the next depression:

Home security and locksmithing (since a higher crime rate is inevitable in bad economic times.)
Entertainment and diversions, such as DVD sales and rentals. People will undoubtedly want to escape their troubles!
Truck farming and large scale vegetable gardening (since just 2% of the population now feeds the other 98%--whereas back in the 1930s the US was still a predominantly agrarian society)
Export consumer goods. (Starting in late 2009 or early 2010, the US Dollar is likely to resume its slide versus most other currencies)

Tomorrow, I'll post Part 2 of this article, in which I will focus on home-based businesses.

Original: http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/02/depression_proof_jobs_for_a_20.html

Junk Land - Remote vs. Accessibility

Most people when referring to junk land for a retreat talk about being located in a remote area. While being located in a remote area can have a few advantages, it can also have several disadvantages as well!

First and foremost you will need to remember that a place which is difficult for others to access will also be difficult for you to access. Does it have an all-weather road? If not, you will need adequate transportation to access your own retreat. Will you need a four wheel drive vehicle? If so, do you own one or have the necessary means to obtain one?

Secondly, will you need to make regular trips to and from your retreat for employment purposes or to seek needed medical treatment? If you have a medical condition that may require frequent check-ups or treatment, the level of remoteness of your retreat may need to be looked at closely before making a decision.

Third, are you planning to go off-grid immediately or at a later date and time? Have you taken the necessary steps to go off-grid immediately or will you need municipal services for a short time before you will be able to go off-grid. If you need certain services, are they even available?

The fourth thing you should consider is the level of your skills. Will you be able to survive without some form of help from a nearby community? Will you need a mechanic to fix your vehicle when it breaks down? Can you find one that will be willing or able to come to you if necessary? What about a plumber, a carpenter, or an electrician?

The fifth thing to consider is educational needs. Do you have children that will need to be home-schooled? Can you do it yourself? Or will you need access to some form of learning institution to meet the educational needs of your family?

If you need temporary shelter for your retreat and are planning to use an RV or a trailer, can you even get it onto the property? Or will you need to live in a tent or some other form of temporary shelter till you can build on-site.

While being remote can help in matters of security, it can also create a number of other problems as well. It is best to remember the old saying when making a decision about junk land for a retreat. “You can’t get there from here!”

Staying above the water line!


Original: http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/2009/02/junk-land-remote-vs-accessibility.html