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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Radiation Sickness

If you should ever happen to stumble upon some radioactivity, and become ill, you need to cleanse your thyroid asap.

Keep these items handy.

Potassium iodide
is a nonradioactive form of iodine. Because iodine is essential for proper thyroid function, the thyroid becomes a "destination" for iodine in the body. If you have internal contamination with radioactive iodine (radioiodine), your thyroid will absorb radioiodine just as it would other forms of iodine. Treatment with potassium iodide may fill "vacancies" in the thyroid and prevent absorption of radioiodine. The radioiodine is eventually cleared from the body in urine.

Prussian blue,
a type of dye, binds to particles of radioactive elements known as cesium and thallium. The radioactive particles are then excreted in feces. This treatment speeds up the elimination of the radioactive particles and reduces the amount of radiation cells may absorb.

~definitions of what they do found at the Mayo Clinic

Of course only a doctor can tell you if you have the correct radiation poisoning for these treatment to be helpful.

Cooking with a Dutch Oven

When was the last time you used a Dutch Oven? When was the last time your cooked all your meals outside with materials found outside?

When the early pioneers traveled across the plains to the west they used a number of things such as lumbering prairie schooners, teams of oxen, wooden water barrels and kegs to store things like flour and powder. Most of these have since changed over the years. However, there is one very popular indispensable cooking tool which thousands of people are still using in everyday activities especially in the outdoors or while camping. Dutch ovens look the same as they did a hundred and fifty years ago, they are still made basically the same way and the food cooked in them is wonderful. Explorers like Lewis & Clark, Jim Bridger and many others used both the kettle versions and the standard three-legged, flat top with a rim version. They will make breads, tasty fruit cobblers and delicious stews among other things. In fact you can cook just about any dish you would cook at home "in the woods".

Pioneer trains gearing up near Independence, Missouri were given a list of essentials with the Dutch oven at the top of the list. They can be used over coals from a campfire or in a fireplace or by using charcoal briquettes outdoors. They are very simple to use tools. And if taken care of, will last for many generations. My family used a Dutch oven without legs in the kitchen and it was the only way to make stews. Scouts use the ones with legs at summer camp and love the flavor of food cooked outdoors in a Dutch oven (course the scouts I know would eat and like anything as long as you told them it was food).

If you are thinking of getting one a few hints are in order: First you need to first determine what size you would want to use. The 8" is just about too small even for a couple but can be useful to cook small deserts. The 10" Dutch oven with legs is great for a family of three or four and is very versatile. The 12" is the most versatile and is good for larger groups like 6-8 people, where-as the big 14" is really for even larger groups of 10-15 people. The most useful to me are the 10" and 12" models. They come in cast iron and cast aluminum, I recommend the cast iron, unless weight is an big issue in which case the aluminum may be an acceptable choice (however, aluminum doesn’t heat evenly quite as well as the cast iron, nor does it retain heat very long). I had an aluminum one for a few years and it just didn’t taste the same and was a bit more finicky to cook with. I got rid of it and bought a cast iron one. I recommend the Lodge brand but there are many really great ones out there. You can find them sometimes at garage sales (rarely), hardware stores or at outdoor supply stores. Dutch ovens have a flat bottom sitting on three short legs protruding about an inch and a half. They usually have a heavy gauge strong wire bail and the lid is made of the same heavy cast iron material with a small loop handle in the center. The rim of the lid is usually flanged so that hot coals will stay on the lid while cooking. Look for one with a strong wire bail handle that moves easily and a lid that has a lip around the top edge (this helps to keep any coals from rolling off during cooking or when you lift the lid). Some brands have lids that do not have the ridge and have dimples on the underside of the lid to help condense steam and drip back down on your food, but these can’t be used as a frying pan and the ridge or flange is important.

Tools that you will find useful include: A pair of thick leather gloves for moving the hot oven from the cooking area to the picnic table or elsewhere; a pair of heavy pliers (the boy scouts have an aluminum pair with angled jaws that are most useful with Dutch ovens), used to lift the hot lid and set it aside on stones (to keep the bottom of the lid clean) or bricks next to the fire, it also has a hook on the end of one handle that makes carrying the oven to the table much easier; you can get larger lid lifters that cost more and are bigger but they don't work a lot better; a small shovel or trowel is helpful in moving around the coals from either your fire or charcoal briquettes, you could use a set of barbeque tongs as well for this. If you get a Dutch Oven that does not have legs you might get some larger metal tent stakes and put three of them in a triangle pattern to support the oven over coals. If you do this take a second set of three and put the oven on the first set then pound in the second set just outside of the oven as blockers to keep the oven from sliding off of the first set.

After you determine which oven you want, and get it, you will need to season it. To do so first wash the oven with warm water and just a little mild soap to remove the waxy film put on the oven when it is packaged. Then rinse it in clean water and carefully dry it inside and out. Put a small amount of good vegetable oil or Crisco in the oven and wipe it over all of the surfaces, inside and out, the lid too. Place the oiled oven in your kitchen oven at 400 degrees for an hour, then turn off the heat and let cool in the oven. After letting it cool but while it is still warm coat it with oil or Crisco again and repeat the process. 400 degrees for an hour then turn the heat off and let it cool inside the oven. Be sure to have an open window near-by cause it will smoke up the place. When cool enough to touch wipe it down once more with oil on a paper towel and store with the lid propped open with a crumbled chunk of aluminum foil. The oven will have a brownish color to it. After many uses it will be black (this is good, it means it is well seasoned).

After each use of your Dutch oven, clean it. There are stories saying you just scrape it out and turn it upside down in the fire. That is how the early pioneers and mountain men supposedly cleaned their ovens. A Dutch oven can be cleaned like that, but it burns out all of the seasoning. Scrape the oven out with a plastic or wood spatula or spoon to remove most all of the stuck-on food, and boil an inch or two of water in the oven to steam it out (don’t use soap or you will ruin it and have to clean it off and re-season it). This also gives you time to eat with everyone else. After the oven has steamed a while, scrub it with a green scrubby pad or a wood bristle kitchen brush, just to remove any remaining food particles, pour out the water and rinse with clean warm water. Then wipe it dry and coat it lightly with a good vegetable oil while the oven is still warm. Lastly place a wadded up piece of aluminum foil inside the oven so it hangs out a little. Then place the lid on the oven and put it away. The foil helps keep the lid slightly ajar for air movement.

Controlling the heat in a Dutch oven can be done in several ways, the one main and easiest way to test the temperature is to lift the lid. If the food is not cooking fast enough add some heat. If it's cooking too fast take off some heat. Remember, it's much easier to raise the temperature of cast iron than to lower it. Another good way to test the temperature is called the 2-3 briquette rule. Using this rule, you take the size of the oven and place that amount of briquettes on the lid and place that amount under the oven. Then take 2-3 briquettes from the bottom and move them to the top. This technique will maintain a temperature of 325E to 350E degrees. Refer to the table below for common oven sizes. For every 2 briquettes added or subtracted to/from this the net change is about 25E degrees.

Remember that this would give the oven a cooking temperature of about 325E-350E. For every 2 coals added or subtracted to this amount, the temperature will be affected by about 25 degrees.

A couple general guidelines to use when experimenting with the Dutch oven include:

1. Soups or stews need more heat on the bottom than on the lid. Place 2/3 of the coals below and 1/3 of the coals on top.

2. For meat, poultry, potatoes, vegetables and cobblers use the chart above.

3. Cakes, bread, biscuits and cookies require most of the heat to be on top of the oven. Place 1/3 of the coals below and 2/3 of the coals on top.

You can even stack a couple of the ovens that have legs to conserve your briquettes. Remember to keep them shielded somewhat from wind or your heat will not be uniform (especially with the aluminum ovens).

There are a couple of other things to remember about temperature control. The first is that you can rotate your oven a third of a turn every ten minutes (may be necessary if you have a windy day, or you can just block the wind with something). And then rotate the lid a third of a turn the other direction (this is important if you use an aluminum oven, remember they don’t radiate the heat as evenly). Next if you are baking bread, rolls, or cake remove the bottom heat after two thirds of the cooking time. It will finish cooking from the top heat (if you have an iron oven). This will keep it from burning on the bottom.

One last thing, when you are cooking something with a lot of sugar that might make a sticky mess of your oven you can line the inside of the oven with aluminum foil. Then when you are finished you can lift out the foil and throw it away.

Whatever you do, consider cooking with a Dutch oven. It could become as essential to you as it was to Lewis and Clark.

I have included a couple recipes that I have tried. You can cook just about anything in a Dutch Oven, finding and trying out recipes is half of the fun of owning a Dutch Oven.

Old Fashioned Pot Roast
3 lb Beef roast
6 tbs Flour, divided
6 tbs Butter, divided
3 c Hot water
2 tsp Beef bouillon granules
1 med Onion, quartered
1 Rib celery, cut into pieces
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
4 potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
4 Carrots, cut into 1" pieces

Sprinkle the roast with 1 Tbsp. flour. In a Dutch oven, brown the roast on all sides in half of the butter. Add the water, bouillon, onion, celery, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add carrots and potatoes; cover and simmer 45-60 minutes longer or until meat is tender. Remove meat, potatoes and carrots to a plate and keep warm. Strain out the juices into a bowl, save the stuff that is strained out on the plate too. In the same Dutch oven, melt remaining butter. Stir in remaining flour; cook and stir until bubbly. Add 2 cups of the cooking juices and blend until smooth. Cook and stir until thickened; add additional cooking juices until gravy has desired consistency. Return meat, potatoes and carrots to the gravy and serve.

Dutch Oven Biscuits
2 c Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tsp Baking powder
4 tbs Solid shortning
1 c Milk (diluted canned ok)

Blend flour, salt, baking powder and mash in shortning with a fork until crumbly. Add milk and stir until the dough sags down into trough left by spoon as it moves around the bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface, knead for 30 seconds, pat out gently until it is 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a round cutter or pinch off pieces of dough and form by hand. Put biscuits into a greased Dutch Oven, cover, and bury in bright coals for 5 or 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Dump Cobbler
12 inch oven
1 package yellow cake mix
2 30 oz cans apples (or peaches, or just about any canned fruit)
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 stick margarine or butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

I line the bottom of my Dutch oven with aluminum foil to help in cleanup for this one.

Warm up the oven with 10 briquettes on the bottom and 15 on top. When warm dump fruit with juice in bottom of Dutch oven. Sprinkle nuts over fruit. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over fruit and nuts. Dribble melted margarine over mixture. You really don’t need to stir it up, it will do so on its own believe it or not. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Cook until cake mix is golden brown around edges (20-30 minutes).

For variety, try any other canned fruit, or mix them.

For more interesting stuff, visit me at Prepare to survive in California

Have you ever tried to catch or raise, butcher, and cook a rabbit?

First of all, you may be wondering, why raise rabbits? Well, there are a few reasons. If you currently live in an urban environment like I do, it is the probably the best livestock for the environment and it also serves as a great starting point for someone interested in beginning to raise livestock. Rabbit meat is also a very delicious meat most closely resembling the taste of chicken.

If you chose, their fur is especially thick during the cold months can be used to make fur clothing, hats, etc. There is also a very good feed conversion ratio of the amount of feed to get one pound of meat on a rabbit. They are very low cost animals and relatively low maintenance as well. Rabbit manure is also an excellent fertilizer and is the only manure I am aware of that does not need time to sit and putting directly onto soil with plants growing will not burn them.

The preferred rabbit breeds for meat are New Zealands or Californians and I would recommend getting one of those if possible but any full size rabbit breed will work. That is a good starting point and can easily be added upon later once you get the hang of it. Female rabbits are referred to as does and males are referred to as bucks for later reference. If you have a house somewhere out back would work fine but if you don’t have any area for them a porch or balcony would work fine as well.

If you live in an apartment, setting them on the roof could also be a good place to keep you rabbits as long as your landlord/maintenance person does not go up there very often. Rabbits can also be kept indoors in cages, rabbits naturally do not have an odor and to avoid one be sure to keep their cages clean. You will need to keep them in cages which can either be bought or made from steel wire. Many people in the city may find it offensive that people are raising livestock and do not like the killing of animals etc. It is very easy to convince someone that the rabbits you are raising are pets and not livestock to be eaten.

You will need a water bottle for them to drink from which can be purchased at any store that has pet supplies for about three dollars or you can just use a small plastic tub which you will want to use anyways if it gets cold enough to freeze. The water bottles will freeze solid if you live in a cold area or in the winter months in most places so you must put it in a dish. However, a water bottle is more convenient and less messy when it can be used. Rabbit feed can be purchased in big bags for a reasonable price and a 50 lb bag should last a few months if you only have a few rabbits. Avoid buying treats in the store for you rabbits as they are expensive and not very healthy. I would only use the rabbit feed in large quantities for litters from the time they are weaned from their mother until slaughter, about 4-6 pounds. 4-6 pound rabbits are a good size for frying in a pan.

The rabbit can get a large majority of their diet from the city park down the street. Rabbits will eat most grasses you give to them and certainly love to eat dandelions. This cuts down on feed cost for rabbits you aren’t planning to slaughter at the present time and is more economical.

Breeding rabbits should be at least 6 months of age. The bucks and does should be kept in separate cages. A good method I have heard is to take the doe to the buck’s cage and leave for 15 minutes. Remove her for an hour and put her back with the buck for 15 more minutes. This usually produces favorable results.

Gestation for a rabbit is about 30 days. A few days before the litter will be born she will begin pulling hair from her nipples to build a nest. You should put a small box into the cage for her to build her nest in as well as some straw or grass. Rabbits should be weaned from their mother in about 6-8 weeks. After that time you can breed the doe again. Then you can separate them from their mother and you can keep the rabbits you plan to slaughter all in the same cage until they are about 4-6 pounds then its time to put them in the freezer.

If you live in the city you don’t want people to see you do this; so you should always take them to the sink in the kitchen or if you skin them in the evening, do it at night. You will want a butcher knife will preferably a 7 inch blade and being sharp is a must. A quick blow to the back of the head with the knife should kill the rabbit. If does not work repeat until desired results.

Make a cut down the middle of the back perpendicular to its body. Be careful not to cut deep into the meat and just cut through the hide and surface skin. Once you have made a cut where you can fit your hands around the hide grab each end in each of your hands and pull in opposite directions. This should bull the hide all the way off to the head and hopefully all of the way off. Remember to pull hard the hide is at least to the feet and head. Then you can use your knife or a pair of wire cutters and cut off the feet and head.

The next thing you will want to do is lay the rabbit on its back and make a cut down the entire length of its belly up through the ribs. Make sure to not cut too deep and puncture any organs and make note to simply cut the outer layer of skin. When it is cut open use your hand to simply pull out all of the organs on the inside. The liver, heart, and kidneys can be saved for eating if you prefer. Make sure to go all of the way up into the ribcage and pull out the heart and the windpipe.

Once that is all cleaned out make a circular cut where the tail is and make sure all parts of the intestine are gone as well as cut away the tail. Then you will want to rinse the rabbit in warm water to get all of the loose fur and blood off. After it is cleaned up are you ready to cut into the cuts of meat. Cut the back legs off separately then have the back and front ribcage piece. Cut that way those pieces can be fried, baked, put into a stew, or cooked anyway you want. If you don’t desire to eat the rabbit right them making sure it is fully cleaned place it in freezer bags and save it for later.

Jack rabbits (hares) are not the same as domestic rabbits and are the ones you normally see laying on the side of the road. If you can't find any rabbits, cages, and other supplies on Craigs List, you may have to learn how to set traps and snares...more on that later.

For more fun and exciting stuff, come visit me at Prepare to survive in California.