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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Want something different then try Dandelion Jelly

By Joseph Parish

Here we are at the end of spring and the beginning of summer and a quick glance at our yards will reveal an abundance of those little yellow dandelions popping up everywhere. Other then using them in making some delicious homemade dandelion wine or as an addition to our evening salad, there is one other tasty treat in store for us. We can use these little flowers to make some dandelion jelly. The following ingredients are necessary to make this great treat.

4 cups the yellow dandelion blossoms

3 cups of boiling water

4 1/2 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 package of pectin

To start with remove the yellow blossoms from the plants. You will need to obtain a considerable amount of these yellow blossoms. Keep in mind that what you do not use you can freeze for later use. Ensure that you do not have any of the green bitter parts or your jelly could be ruined. Pack the blossoms into a measuring cup until you have 4 cups of them. If you have a bit more then no problem for you will only be adding to the flavor of the jelly.

Bring your water to a rapid boil and then drop the dandelion blossom into it. Simmer the mixture very gently for approximately 10 minutes. Finally pour the mixture through a strainer. Press all of the blossoms as dry as you possibly can in order to extract as much of the liquid as you can.

Now add additional blossoms to the strained water and once again simmer for another 10 minutes. Continue this technique of simmering and then straining until you have used all the blossoms up. Lastly add enough water to make 3 cups.

Strain the water through a coffee filter and then combine the strained water with the lemon juice, the sugar and the pectin. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and stir continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil the mixture for another minute.

Now skim the surface of your mixture and pour it into hot sterilized jars and seal them. Your family is sure to enjoy this unusual and different jelly whether it is for breakfast or for a mid day snack.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish


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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Hand Sanitizers

By Joseph Parish

There has been a dramatic increase in the concern for washing hands since the Swine flu has hit the headlines. You now find hand sanitizing equipment in many public locations such as schools, hospitals, day care centers as well as in homes that previously had none what so ever. I imagine that the major question that is on most peoples mind is whether these various hand sanitizer products are worth the cost or a waste of time and money.

Research studies that have been conducted at a Tennessee University which indicate that most of the alcohol based gel and foam sanitizers work well for their intended purpose however there are some which are found on the store shelves or some of the homemade versions which tend to contain too little alcohol in order to be effective.

As a concerned and knowledgeable consumer it is your responsibility to read the label carefully before purchasing any of these products. Make certain that you check the bottles listed active ingredients. Even though you may find one of many different alcohols listed such as ethyl alcohol, isopropanol or ethanol it still actually contains alcohol and that is a plus in this case. The problem lays in the concentration levels. In order to be effective these levels should be in the vicinity of 60 to 95 percent, anything less in totally unacceptable.

We reside in a dollar generated society and everyone is out to make a “buck”. Unfortunately these techniques to make money are not always in our best interests. Take a quick test and visit one of your favorite stores. Pick up a bottle of hand sanitizer and look at the label. Chances are you will see listed 40 percent alcohol. To bacteria this is just as good as no alcohol what so ever.

You must read the labels as these cheaper version will look the same, perhaps have the same price tag and even make the same claims but they simply can not live up to their bacteria fighting expectations, to kill bacteria you need plenty of alcohol.

An example of a useless product is a child’s hand sanitizer which was created to smell like a popular bubble gum. This item has only 33 percent alcohol content which is much too low to be effective. In addition, you must be careful how the listing is worded. In this case they say they include a half a cup of 99 percent alcohol. At first glance that would seem to be good indications however when properly evaluated it actually equates to only the 33 percent listed above.

When cleaning your hands make certain to rub vigorously all sides with enough cleaner to get them damp and continue rubbing together until they appear dry. If this dry feeling occurs within les then 15 seconds you have not used enough cleaner.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish


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Room for several dehydrators?

By Joseph Parish

You finally have your dehydrator and are ready to have fun. No longer will you have to rely upon the grocery store for your needs as you can dry just about everything from regular tomatoes to the popular sun dried versions, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, bananas, pineapples, strawberries, peppers, jerky, herbs, meats and more. One of the great things about dehydrating foods is the decrease in waste. The skins and ends that you would normally toss into the trash can be dried and ground into a powder for use in your normal everyday cooking. These powders will add some extra flavor to your foods when it is needed.

Once you have found and experimented with your new found dehydrator you will find that you are quickly accumulating many jars of dried foods ready for your next soup. These products can be kept in any container that has a tight fitting lid. Most are stored for some time in a dark, cool location. Naturally your storage location will need to be dry otherwise mold will quickly set in. When using your older dehydrator make sure that you allow plenty of time for the dried foods to cool properly before packaging them.

Often times beginners that are first becoming familiar with the skill of dehydrating start out with an inexpensive small dehydrator and then eventually they end up buying one of the Cadillac’s of dehydrators. These top of the line items have all the fancy bells and whistles that any one could possibly desire. Naturally they come with an equivalent price tag as well.

I personally began my dehydrating process with a Ronco dehydrator many years ago. Since that time I have acquired several additional machines and have set my goal on obtaining an Excalibur sometime this year.

The main question that is generally posed is what do I do with the old cheap dehydrator when one gets a new one? These machines are not by any stretch of the imagination the ideal machine however there are several things that you could so with it. You could give it to some needy home that would appreciate the thought of getting one however the more logical thing to do would be to keep it as a backup.

There are often times during the growing season when you could make very good use of more then one dehydrator to accomplish your food storage goals. There will more then likely be many times when even having two will not be enough but we often have to make due with what we have at hand.

Another reason to keep the older machine is onions. Onions you say? Yes, onions tend to add a scent to the dehydrator that is extremely difficult to get rid of. By using the older machine strictly for onions you can save your self a lot of hardships in the future. No longer will your dehydrated apples have an onion flavor to them.

If you don’t have a second dehydrator you can readily find one at a local yard sale or on sale at one of the department stores nearby. Take a look at the areas thrift stores as often they appear in there for less then $5.00.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish


Store your Yeast properly

By Joseph Parish

Yeast is an organism which is similar in character to that of Fungi. There are currently more then 1,500 different species which survive from the cold artic region to the deeps of the ocean.

One of the more popular yeast species that we as survivalists may be familiar with is the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species which is predominately used for baking, beer, wine or for fermenting many distilled alcoholic beverages.

The word "yeast" is derived from an Old English word meaning to boil, bubble or foam over and that is exactly what this microorganism tends to do. Civilized man has used yeast for baking or for fermentation for thousands of years. It is not unusual for archaeologists who may be digging up Egyptian ruins to locate the necessary equipment and supplies to bake yeast type bread.

Charles L. Fleischmann was the first American to create and exhibit yeast commercially during an 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Mr. Fleischmann discovered that yeast grows best with temperatures between 50 °F to 99 °F. Most yeast cells will quickly begin to die if exposed to temperatures above 99 °F. On the other hand if the temperatures are in the range of about 32 °F or less the yeast cells seem to go dormant. The yeast will survive under freezing conditions however its potency will decrease with time.

As a survivalist you should be aware that there are proper ways to store your yeast. Being a living thing one would normally think that storage of large quantities of yeast by the survivalist would result in a waste of money. You could purchase the small individual packets of yeast and easily run out during times of emergencies or you could visit your local Sam’s club or Costco and buy the pound blocks in freeze dried form. These types of yeast tend to last forever unless you open it.

The brick of yeast generally cost approximately $4 per pound. You can readily see the cost savings over the smaller packets. After you remove and open one of the yeast bricks take the remainder and place it into a mason jar in your freezer. From our discussion above too much heat will definitely kill your yeast however the freezing cold merely places it in a dormant state.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish


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Revenge on Bambi

By Joseph Parish

Remember the night that Bambi ran in front of your new truck and left you with a three thousand dollar repair bill? Granted the deer may now be dead but you still haven’t reaped your full revenge on him yet have you? Why not grab up this truck hitter and clean him immediately so you can put him into some canning jars. In this manner you can saver your revenge slowly over the following year. An important point here is to get the road kill cleaned and cooled as quickly as possible.

In most states if a deer hits your car you have a right to pick him up and have him for dinner. To be certain you may wish to check with your local game warden or forest department. The question that is foremost of people’s lips is how do we save and can this venison to ensure its safe and proper storage.

First off it should be sliced up into strips, cubed or cut into small one inch chunks of meat. Remove any excess fat from around the actual meat portions and discard it. If you are not especially fond of the wild game taste often found in deer or other animals you should soak the meat in brine water for one hour. Make your brine from 1 tablespoon of salt to a quart of water. After the hour has expired remove the meat from the brine and rinse it well to remove any of the salt. You may wish to remove any bones at this time as well.

You will now want to precook your venison by one of several methods. You can roast it or you can cook it in a small quantity of fat until it is a golden brown in color.

Place about ½ teaspoon of salt and approximately ¾ of an inch of boiling water, broth or meat drippings into the bottom of the jar. Next pack the meat chunks into the jar as tightly as you possibly can, fill with water making certain to leave the usual one inch headspace at the top.

Install and adjust your sterilized lids at this time and pressure cook the jars for 75 minutes if using pints and 90 minutes for quarts. Please note that I said pressure cooking not water bath. You can not water bath meat properly and safely.

You can use these chunks of meat in any recipe where you would normally use the beef chunks. These chunks are great in stew or with a pot of homemade noodles.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish


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Include your cat in disaster-preparedness plans

By Melissa Kruse

The current swine flu situation has added an apocalyptic air to life in Seattle. Cats cannot contract swine flu, but I got to thinking about what would happen to my pets if I had to be hauled away in a wheel barrel teeming with other plague victims on my street. Or, what if I was stuck beneath some twisted wreckage following Seattle’s inevitable magnitude 9 earthquake and couldn’t reach the bag of California Natural? Would they have to eat me?

If you’re still reading this, check out the following tips for keeping your pets safe in case of a disaster.

1. Put a pet rescue sticker on your front door. I’ve seen these stickers on the front windows of pet-conscious homes in Seattle and I’m finally getting one myself. The sticker will alert rescue workers that pets are inside your home. You’ll need to list the types and number of pets in your household, the name of your veterinarian and his or her phone number. If you happen to evacuate with your pets be sure to write "EVACUATED" across your sticker. Some pet stores carry these stickers, but ASPCA will send you one for free.

2. Establish a safe sanctuary. In the event you can’t take your cats with you and it’s dangerous to leave them in your home, don’t just abandon them! Tsarina Sassputin will not be any happier in a flooded home than you would be! Since disaster shelters set up for hoomans might not accept animals, you’ll need to have a plan for where to take her ahead of time. Ask your vet or local animal shelter where you can find emergency housing for cats. Ask friends and family if they would be willing to house your cat in an emergency situation.

3. Set aside a stock of extra food and supplies. Just as you should have a two-week emergency supply of imperishable foods for the people in your home, you should also have a supply of cat food set aside. Canned foods in pop-top containers will fare the best in most disaster situations and will keep longer than dry food.

ASPCA also recommends having these items on hand in your disaster-preparedness kit:

Pet first-aid kit and guide book, disposable litter trays, extra litter, liquid dish soap and disinfectant, disposable garbage bags, feeding dishes, extra harness and leash, photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (remember to rotate out if it's perishable), bottled water (7 days' worth for each person and pet), a traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, flashlight, blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet), recent photos of your pets, pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter.

4. Arrange for a temporary cat nanny. Pick someone trustworthy and local who has a heart for cats. Give them a set of keys and email them instructions for feeding and caring for Chief Petty Officer Flufflesworth. Neighbors who also have pets are ideal for this role because you can swap nanny duties depending on who has survived and who’s stuck beneath the rubble. While we’re on the topic, it’s also a good idea to select a permanent replacement parent for your cat should you happen to be cruising the Alaskan Way viaduct when the Big One hits and just not make it back. Consider people in your life who genuinely love animals and especially cats, and also you. Make sure they understand your expectations and that they are to give your cat a comfortable forever home should anything happen to you – otherwise you’ll haunt their ass for eternity.

You might also consider a pet trust.

5. Microchip Mr. Biggles. Despite all your planning, you could still be separated from your pet in a disaster situation. The best thing you can do to guarantee finding him again is to get your cat microchipped. The procedure is done by your vet and involves inserting a small computer chip (about the size of a rice grain) under your cat’s skin. Most cats don’t mind it. The chip contains your cat's identifying information and can be read by a special scanner, which most shelters have. If permanent identification isn’t an option for you, make sure your cat wears a collar and tags with up-to-date information.

Now you’re all set for the apocalypse. Good luck!

Original at: http://www.examiner.com:80/x-4754-Seattle-Cats-Examiner~y2009m5d2-Include-your-cat-in-disasterpreparedness-plans


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