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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wearing Wool

I got up one morning and couldn't find my socks, so I called Information and said, "I can't find my socks." She said, "They're behind the couch." And they were! - Stephen Wright
According to Wear Wool For Survival, humans have been using wool since about 10,000 B.C. Ancient Greeks lined their helmets with felt, and Roman legionnaires used breastplates made of wool felt. It is great for survival wear because it retains body heat when wet. (Most fabrics suck the warmth out of a person when they get wet from rain, snow or sweat.) Wool also has breathability, water resistance, odor-resistance, fire-resistance, durability, elasticity, crease-resistance, and UV-light resistance. Wool has been used as insulation in timber-frame buildings and for making rope. It insulates better than fiberglass and is naturally flame retardant. Wool can make excellent diapers with the ability to absorb moisture almost one-third of its own weight.

One drawback to wool is scratchiness. I have a pair of warm woolen socks that I hate to wear – too itchy! Soft wool does exist but you’ll have to spend extra for higher quality. The finest and softest wool is said to come from Merino sheep. They were originally bred in Spain but now Australian raises 80% of all Merinos. They can also be found in New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, and the Western US.

Another drawback to wool is that woolen items can lose shape or shrink many sizes when washed. Here are some recommendations from wikiHow on How to Wash Wool:
  • Don’t wash! Wool is odor resistant and can last a long time with only spot washing by hand for stains and a good airing out.
  • To prevent shrinking, soak wool in cold water for a few hours before washing so all the woolen fibers become saturated.
  • Use only a cleaner designed for washing wool. Strong detergent and soap in large quantity can harm wool.
  • Heat and agitation are the enemies of wool. So never use the dryer – instead gently roll the item to squeeze out water and let it dry flat in the shape you want.
  • The agitation of a washing machine can also be harmful. A good soak in water (or mild soap) and rinse is often sufficient.

Bottom Line
Wool is a great fabric for go-kits, hikes, and survival conditions. However make sure you are comfortable wearing it. You don’t want the distraction and annoyance of scratchy clothes when trying to cope with the stress of a disaster.

Original: http://perpetualpreparedness.blogspot.com/2009/05/wearing-wool.html

Prepping From Scratch: Bread and Noodles

Putting bread on the table and noodles in your bowl is a pleasure. Doing it from scratch makes it even better. My kids (two, ages four and under) are always curious about what I'm doing when I'm baking bread. I grind the flour using the "Family Grain Mill" with the manual attachment. My son, who is four, likes to crank on it himself but he loses interest quickly. He seems to enjoy the ritual. My daughter just points at the bowl and smiles. She loves the bread when it's fresh out of the oven so seems to look forward to the results.

Of course, bread is more than flour, water, and yeast.

  • Salt. Try making it without salt. It won't be wasted. You can spread butter over it and shake salt on that. Or you can make french toast from it. It is of course rather flavorless. In general the ratio is 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour. But you should experiment to see what you like. Taste the raw dough to get it right. Also note that some say to add the salt after the first rise to keep it from challenging the yeast. I don't bother with this, but it might be worth trying.
  • Sugar or Honey. I use about a third of a cup in wheat bread that has 6 cups of flour. Of course this is not necessary in every dough, but I recommend it. It's not just about flavor. Honey and molasses add aroma. But sugar also helps the bread brown. Molasses can be used as well.
  • Milk products. This includes milk and butter but can also include buttermilk and cream. Butter makes a loaf tender and less chewy. It will also help with the browning of the loaf. The same is true of milk. I keep powdered milk in the dry storage both to keep the kids happy and to substitute for raw milk in recipes. I haven't yet used it for cooking, but there will be time to try that later.
  • Oil. This can be used like butter. Though it will not have the same browning properties, it will make the bread more tender. Olive oil is a luxurious choice, but vegetable oil or rendered fat can work too and will add a nice savory touch to a bread roll.
  • Yeast. I buy bricks of dry active yeast. It's vacuum packed and has a long shelf life. Even so, it will be a good idea to get into the practice of using sour dough starters. If you don't have yeast (say you run out), create a starter by leaving a few cups of sticky flour and water mix (sponge) out for 3 days. Keep a towel over it most of the time or just make sure the top isn't drying out by mixing it.
  • Baking soda and powder. Powder is self-activating. Soda is not. Soda is activated by acids. So if you're going to make a soda bread, use buttermilk for acidity or even add some vinegar to activate it. I generally use powder for quick breads with some soda when there is something acidic in the bread, like bananas. I use soda for bannick which appears to be the same as cowboy bread. Bannick is traditional in the Metis reservations of Canada and I learned it from my native ancestors. Of course, don't call it a reservation! It's first nation in Canada.
  • Stuff to toss into the sponge include seeds either cooked or raw in the case of sunflower, dried fruits including raisins and others, nuts, cooked wheat berries, etc.
Again, I don't want to go into recipes. Get a good book. I prefer what I call hippie bread cookbooks. Do yourself a favor though and look at recipes as advice, not the law. For one, flour is fussy and will vary in moisture content from week to week, season to season. But ultimately you want to have command of breadmaking. You want to know the feel of a good dough so that when the recipe says one more cup, you know to second guess and stop where you need to stop. Take notes. Write all over the recipe that gave you the ideas. Play with substitution. Cook half the batch to try it. If it didn't work out so well, break it into small balls and serve it as rolls. Too little salt? Dip the roll in salt before baking. Not brown enough? Baste with butter or milk before baking.

Of course, with your command of bread you will know how much will feed your family. Now you can do the math to figure out what supplies you need. Figure out how much you need a week for X amount of people, calculate your portions, and project into monthly supplies. Keep track of how much wheat berry it takes to do the loaf if you're grinding.

Now for the noodles. I love noodles and so does my family. My son can eat a huge bowl and ask for more. My daughter thinks they're fun to eat. I just put stock on them and serve them up. I can toss some together in minutes, including mixing, rolling, and cutting. However, adding a bit of time to let the dough rest makes them even easier to make. The kids can help with the whole process.

The basic noodle is just flour and water. You can take a high protein flour like semolina and simply mix it to the right consistency, which is a hard but pliable dough, and roll it out. The same is true of any flour though the noodle will be very fragile with a lower protein flour. My preference is egg noodles: 1 per cup of flour. But eggs could become a luxury, so I am trying out more no-egg recipes. Of course when I'm feeding my kids a big bowl of noodles, I want the eggs to be there for protein and fat. As with bread, play with the salt content. Thin noodles might not need it at all since the preparation can add that (like brine water or stock, for example). But thicker noodles might be dull without some salt.

I tend to simply cut out noodles in 1/4 inch widths and add them to soup or simple stock. Of course, you can make any shape. You can even stuff as a ravioli and bake them. I also make perogies which I stuff with cheese and potato, boil, and fry in onions. Perogies require a softer dough. I use sour cream to make the dough even softer, but you could also use a small amount of oil or go with a low protein flour and add nothing extra.

I can't think of noodles without thinking about dumplings. I think of a dumpling as a fragile noodle that I don't have to roll. I always add rendered fat or butter to make them tender and flavorful. The easiest way to make them is in the oven basted with stock, but you can drop them into stock on the range top as well. Chives in the dough is a nice touch. You can put just about anything in them. This is worth working on since it's a real nice way to stretch meat supplies (or replace them).

For more information about planning quantities try the Mormon Food Storage Calculator. Also look for a good wheat grinder and start grinding. It's worth the extra fuss if anything just for the extra flavor and vitamins.

In the next post, I'll discuss what I've called bridge items. These are luxuries we can't expect to keep a lot of and should not expect to have on hand long-term. Again, these are to keep you alive and happy while you toil to adjust (in the not-a-hobby-anymore garden for example). They will also be useful for trade and should be thought of as stored wealth, especially while they're still cheap. Just think of a tuna can as a really thick coin and you'll know what I mean.

Original: http://minnesotapreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/prepping-from-scratch-bread-and-noodles.html

Recipe: Thousand Island Dressing

My favorite salad dressing is 1000 Island Dressing. I know, it has a lot of calories, and really isn't good for me, but I can't help myself. So... I found this easy recipe and it tastes pretty good!

1 stalk celery
1 small onion
2 large hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons ketchup (or chili sauce)

I use a twist-chopper to finely mince the celery, onion, parsley and eggs. You could just chop these very fine. Add the mayonnaise and ketchup, and mix well. Makes about 2 cups (enough for about 3-4 salads for me!)

Note: also works well as a big-mack sauce. :>)

Copyright (c) 2009 VP Lawrence-Williams

Original: http://www.survival-cooking.com/2009/04/recipe-thousand-island-dressing.html

Developing a Survival Skill Set...

The precepts of modern survivalism centre on self-reliance and self sufficiency. To this end, you do need to stockpile supplies but you also need knowledge and experience to aid you in getting through bad times and to facilitate your dealing with others. You need to develop a survival skill set.


Everyday life is a little bit of give and take. When one's well being is at stake you cannot afford to "give up the entire farm" as you negotiate with others for items or services you need. The art of negotiating at its conclusion leaves each party satisfied that they received fair consideration from the other. The good will resulting from fair and positive negotiations between people or groups of people will carry itself forward and will aid in simplifying future discussions. You can practice and develop the skill of negotiating everyday when you deal with your significant other, children or acquaintances. Little Johnny wants a new BMX bike this spring. You need the grass cut once a week for the next 20 weeks. Offer Johnny a new bike in exchange his time and effort for one hour each week until fall for example.

Conversational Skills:

We all have experienced a conversation with someone else that we feel could have gone better had we taken a different tact or were better listeners. During stressful times, you may well find yourself having to allay the fears of others or motivate with a kind word. Sometimes, your inflection needs to be firm and strong, other times, you need to speak softly with empathy and feeling. How you manage to calm down a teenager after she realizes that the pit toilet in the back yard is all that's available will be a test of your conversational mettle let me assure you. Interpersonal relationships are built and maintained with your words. Knowing how to deliver your message in a way that doesn't promote fear or apathy is a valuable skill indeed.

Problem solving:

This is another skill that you will get better at the more you practice. Identify a problem, come up with possible and feasible solutions, implement the fix and see if it works. If it does, great, if not, try another solution. Many people seem unable to identify and grasp the nature of a situation and have difficulty thinking abstractly to come up with a realistic course of action to address that situation. Often this mental paralysis is a result of years of depending on someone else to deal with matters not considered within their purview. Give your head a shake, if your broom handle breaks, grab the handle off the mop and use it until you replace the broken handle. Not realizing that the two handles are/may be interchangeable is an awareness issue and sums up how easily some become stymied when the unexpected happens.

Food Preservation:

You can't store enough food to last forever. What are you going to do when your stored food runs out? Since anyone who claims to be prepared has some gardening experience and a collection of seeds to plant if the need arises, most will be able to produce some food during a long term crisis.

What to do with all that food you have grown so that it can be safely stored for later consumption is not an issue to address when the bushels of tomatoes are sitting on the counter in the kitchen. Knowing about and having done at least some canning, drying, smoking, pickling and blanching of food stuff in the past will ensure that you will be able to reap the rewards of your garden many months after it is picked. Make your mistakes while learning to preserve food during good times, so that you need not learn those lessons when times are tough and the quantity of food is limited.

Navigation Skills:

Basic familiarity with maps and how to use them to locate where you are and where you need to go is fundamental. From this understanding of maps comes the ability to direct someone else where to go and how to get there. If you have a map and are unsure of where you are, there is no reason why you cannot get yourself to help or back on track on your own given enough time. If you look at a map and don't know which way is up and cannot locate where you started from, you probably should not be traveling by yourself. If an emergency happens it is imperative that you are able to call your family members and tell them to meet you 2 kilometers east of Anywhere Town at 2 pm and know that they have to ability to look at a map and make their way to the designated meeting place even if they have never been to Anywhere Town before.

First Aid:

First Aid knowledge is my cause majeure. I strongly feel that it is every person's obligation as a member of a species that claims to be at the top of the animal kingdom to be willing and able to render assistance to any other person who is injured and unable to help themselves anytime anywhere. If you are married or a parent and have not attended a first aid course them I'm sorry to say that you are endangering the lives of your family members. Most accidents that result in injury happen in the home. If you do not know how to administer CPR/A.R. you should not be allowed to have a pool in your yard. If you do not know the correct position to place an unconscious person in while continuing to monitor breathing and pulse, waiting for the ambulance to arrive you are useless to that person who if they could talk would be begging you for help. I can think of nothing worse than watching someone die from choking because you do not have the knowledge and will to act to prevent it. Tending to injured people is the first activity in any survival situation. If you can't do that, then survival is not a possibility and you are as useless as a wet match. There is no excuse, every member of a family **must** be competent in first aid - no telling when hubby will suffer a heart attack at the dinner table. Only being able to offer desert after calling 911 is wholly inadequate and will result in mental anguish forever. Take a first aid course and do it soon! If you're lying on the ground injured I know you'd want someone to step up to the plate and help you, why shouldn't you be able to do the same?

Example Scenario:

The world has ended and we are on our own. Realizing that you can't do everything yourself you and your small band of neighbours are approached by two people who wish to join your group. One person brings with him some food and water and an eagerness to learn. The other brings with him no food but a wealth of practical knowledge and experience producing food, preserving food, fixing things that are broken, improvising tools from nautural materials and medical knowledge.

If you can only choose one, who would it be? A well rounded survival skill set will help you greatly during tough times and has immense value to those who do not posses the skills themselves.

[What have you done today to prepare?]

Original: http://ontariopreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/04/developing-survival-skill-set_17.html