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Friday, February 26, 2010

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Oatmeal Raisin Bites using Whole Wheat and Oats

As some of you know, I have been on weight watchers for the last few months. It has been a great experience and I have lost over 50 lbs. Despite my lifestyle changes, I still crave sweets every now and then. Imagine my delight when I tried this delicious recipe which also uses my food storage. As the recipe says, "These oatmeal-raisin cookies may be small, but they have a big granola taste and they're loaded with fiber, too." I loved them and so did my family. For any weight watchers aficionados, one cookie is one point!

Oatmeal Raisin Bites

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

3/4 c whole-grain wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c butter, softened

1/4 c sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c raisins, chopped (I chopped them in the blender)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars until incorporated. Add egg and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Add oat mixture and mix until just combined; fold in raisins.

Drop rounded teaspoons of batter about 1 inch apart onto 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 11-12 minutes for crispy ones. Remove from oven and let cookies rest for about 2 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
馬口鐵罐頭食品涼粉 Category:Canned food Category:Grass ...

SHTF:Bad News For Long Term Scavengers

I have been on a tear lately about things running out, breaking, wearing down, etc. Guns, food, machinery, etc. I think what caused this was going back and watching the Discovery Channel's series about the world without people. It showed hypothetical scenarios of how quickly man made structures and creations would fall apart and revert back to nature.

What also brought this about was the rash of recent winter storms across the country. Trees heavy with snow began collapsing on to cars and houses causing more damage. Who would have thought snow could take down a tree? But it happened all over the country and without an army of city workers, contractors and handy men, most of those homes would be unihabitable in short order. Add to that the floods, earthquakes and tsumamis on television every single night and the damage they do to our infrastructure.

Pile on top of that the glut of doomer fiction, in movies and online, which often include the protagonist's ability to locate long abandoned treasure troves of supplies like ammo, canned food  and toilet paper and all of it ready and safe to use. For some reason, finding a bomb shelter or untouched Walmart warehouse is the popular choice for fiction writers.

Put all this together and we have the clash of reality versus happy thoughts.

Take a real, widespread disaster. Asteroid hit, nuclear war, pole shift. There's a bunch of people who have survived. They are hungry, cold, desperate. Every building, house, store, office and structure is going to be overwhelmed with hoards of mobile survivors tearing apart anything they can get their hands on. Not going to be much left in any warehouses or stores after that day. That's part one.

Part two. As soon as the infrastructure breaks down, so does the constant human care and feeding our our fragile systems. Just leaving doors and windows open (or broken) will result in the elements ruining everything left inside. Fires will run unabated. Broken sewer and water mains will send water in every direction. Animals will move into homes and buildings. It gets better.

Part three. Time. Food in cans will begin to turn. Paper will mold, mildew and rot. Leather will break down. Fabrics will be overrun with moths and insects. Water will damage everything stored carefully in cardboard and paper containers. Nails rusting in boxes. Ammunition corroding in those plastic dividers. Even plastic buckets will eventually crack, leak and become infested. There won't be much of any value in those warehouses or basements ten years after.

Here's where it gets bad..

The long term scavenger will be forced to move to the most hospitable areas left and search out new food crops, domesticated animals and clean water supplies. They will search out communities that are making and repairing clothing, tools, and other necessities. They will end up taking them from those who had the foresight or luck to be better positioned after the fall. If that's you, don't think the scavengers will be satisfied wandering around the cities looking for a leftover Happy Meal. They will be coming your direction.

At the same time, the community which believes there is still "good stuff" in the cities or hidden away in some warehouse will be disappointed. Everything not destroyed by man will be ruined by time and the elements.

The solution: the old rule, one is none and two is one. Except times 100. Stockpile those things which can help make new things. Seeds for food. Tools, nails, metal, concrete, lumber, a power source (if you can get it) and so on. Remember that on the day of the end, the clock starts to tick for everything manufactured and man made. The deterioration has begun and time is the enemy. If you have the chance to "allocate and distribute" (loot) that which has been left behind, do it fast, before it falls prey to time and the elements.

The survivor living off the carcass of the old world is fiction. Don't make long term plans based upon that which will be gone.
Tomato plants in the garden.

Prepare: Garden Time Is Just Around The Corner

There may be snow outside, but now is the time to plan your spring garden and get a jump on the competition. Growing your own food is fun, healthy, saves money and will probably save your life.

The weatherman is predicting snow again, tomorrow. Seems like the last batch just melted here, but it gave me time to scope out my planting area and start making plans. There amongst the brown grass and abandoned raised beds I can see overflowing tomato plants, corn shoots, green beans hiding in the leaves, bell peppers and fresh raspberries.

But this all means nothing if I don't get a start now on my spring garden plans. Most will get the "bug" to grow something sometime around April or May when the first warm days kick in. They wait until Saturday and then wander on down to the super garden center and find the best plants, seeds and supplies are long gone. They end up with two plastic pots and a couple of brown tomato plants for their summer bumper crop.

Don't let this happen to you.

It may be too early to start putting tender seedlings into the ground, but there is no reason not to start seed shopping right now. Seeds can be ordered online or at the retail store. There are hybrid (cross bred seeds which do not re-pollinate) or non-hybrid seeds (original or heirloom seeds which can be reclaimed from the fruit and reused the following season).

I generally pick up my seeds at the retail store and get a mix of hybrid and non-hybrid. I always get extra because they are available and I can save them for later. I keep my seeds in their original packets and store those in large coffee cans. They last well for me as I have used seeds I purchased three and four years ago without a problem.

Some advice - pick up extra "big seeds" like corn. There is generally only enough in one packet for a single planting. If you are shopping at the farm supply store and buying 100lb bags of seed, ignore this advice of course.

Lay out the garden on paper how you want it to look but don't plant anything until the danger of frost has passed. Too many gardeners take advantage of an "Indian summer" and plant too early and lose everything when that freak snow shows up.

Planting. Raised beds, pots, or tilling up the ground? What's best? I do all three. For most of my vegetables, I put together raised beds out of bricks, left over lumber and anything else around. I then tear them down at the end of the season. I use pots for herbs on the back patio. I have never had a great harvest growing tomatoes in pots, the ground works better.

I till up a large part of the yard for corn and have several growing areas which I move around.

The more growing space, the bigger the harvest. Take advantage of every corner to grow something edible. I make compost throughout the year. I throw yard and kitchen waste, old potting soil, grass, anything in the compost heap. And I turn it once a week for good effect. I don't water it much as it attracts ants, and even in a drought the heap stays fairly moist.

If rats or mice are a problem in the compost heap, get a couple of inexpensive trash cans with lids and throw the kitchen waste in those things until it breaks down then add them to the big pile.

Other than compost, I don't like to use fertilizers other than soil amendments like green sand, lava sand, earthworm castings. I don't use pesticides at all, but might have to chance that if the garden is life or death. Other than that, attracting birds and hand checking the plants is the natural and best way to get rid of pests.

Save rain water from the down spout. Get trashcans and rig them under the spouts as rain water is always better than hose water for plants. Water when needed but short duration, small waterings as it encourages the roots to grow shallow. Deep roots are the plants best friend.

Like buying food, only plant what you and the family will eat. While growing an Asian mustard plant is interesting, if you hate the taste, don't do it. Also, plant things which will produce a lot and are healthy - like tomatoes.

A garden is healthy for you, a way to save money and most likely will save you and your families' life if things keep going the way they are. Even if we hold the country together, the price of gas alone will make a garden pay for itself is lowered grocery costs and shopping trips.

What’s in your First Aid kit?

“It would be terrible if the Red Cross Bloodmobile got into an accident. No, wait. That would be good because if anyone needed it, the blood would be right there.”-unknown For the Cub Scout Readyman activity, boys are required to inspect a First Aid kit and explain the contents. So what exactly should they expect to find inside? If you buy a First Aid kit with “100 pieces”, you can bet 80-90% of the content is just generic “Band-Aids” in various sizes. A kit should contain so much more.
First, a short digression. Do you know the difference between a dressing and a bandage? A dressing covers the wound – typically an absorbent gauze. A bandage holds the dressing on the wound and keeps it from falling off. It could be tape or an elastic wrap. A Band-Aid is a product by Johnson and Johnson that combines a dressing with an adhesive bandage.
So yes, item #1 in a kit needs to be several sizes of adhesive bandages to cover your basic cuts and scratches. These can be bought cheaply in bulk at dollar stores or drug stores.
For large wounds, buy several packets of sterile gauze (four inch squares are best). Again buy a large package and share with friends. You’ll also need medical adhesive tape or elastic bandages to hold down the gauze. I favor elastic bandages since these can also be used as wraps for a sprained foot or knee or hand or elbow. You might need to include a small pair of scissors if your bandage roll resists tearing strips off.
Before applying the dressing, you’ll want to clean small wounds with triple-antibiotic ointment. Don’t try to clean or wash large gaping or profusely bleeding wounds. Cover large wounds immediately, apply pressure to stop the bleeding, and see a doctor.
Clean your hands with an antiseptic hand cleaner before (and after) applying First Aid. For First Aid kits in your car or other situations where you might be aiding a stranger, wear rubber gloves to prevent blood borne disease contamination. Include a plastic bag or garbage bag to safely dispose of blood soaked items.
If you’re trained in CPR, add a barrier mask to your public kit to block germs (and vomit) when doing mouth-to-mouth.
Don’t forget to include items for pain relief like insect bite swabs (Hydrocortisone to prevent itching) and child-safe acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin is discouraged for children under 19 as it can cause Reye’s Syndrome. Chewable aspirin is encouraged for adults who may be suffering a heart attack.
Tweezers are essential for removing splinters but potentially harmful for insect bite/stings. Scrape away, never tweeze, a bee stringer. Tweezing will push more venom into the body. Likewise use tweezers with care when pulling away a tick. Pull gently and slowly to avoid breaking off the tick’s head and leaving that embedded in the skin to cause an infection. Never squeeze the tick's body when it's attached as this will push more tick germs into the bloodstream increasing the chance of Lyme disease.
Include one or more large triangular bandages (like the Scout neckerchief) as a splint for injuries. You can make these yourself out of old sheets.
For extra credit, include an instant cold pack. These can reduce swelling with sprains.
In cold climates, an instant heat pack might save you from frostbite. Stuff it in your shoes or between layers of gloves. Do not apply directly to skin.
For kits outside the house, add a space blanket. Keep victims warm and covered after trauma to prevent shock.
If you have the space, add some Calamine lotion for Poison Ivy.
Last but not least, include a good First Aid book (or booklet) that you like and can understand.
Bottom Line
Your need at least one well equipped First Aid kit in your house. Another for each car. Your workplace should have a kit (required by law?) - do you know where it is?
Customize your kits for your activities. If you camp or hike or play sports you'll want more protection from insects, poison ivy, sprains, broken bones, etc.

Wind Chill

"I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat - It's up to your knees out there"
- song lyrics from Baby It's Cold Outside Slate.com recently published an article, "It's time to get rid of a meaningless number", that is opposed to the idea of "Wind Chill factor". The columnist believes that "no amount of tweaking will make wind chill more comprehensible."
Let's start at the beginning. In 1945 two Antarctic explorers, Paul Siple and Charles Passel, realized that a bottle of water would freeze faster on a windy day than on a calm day. This is because the wind is more efficient at carrying away the heat in the water. They carefully recorded wind speed and freezing times to create a chart and formula uniting wind and temperature. So given 5 F and a wind speed of X, you could calculate that a bottle would freeze in the same amount of time as a calm day of -40 F.
The concept of wind chill was first used by Canadian Weather men in the 1970s. The Siple-Passel formula was used for 30 years before two researchers, Randall Osczevski in Canada and Maurice Bluestein in the United States, decided to retest the numbers. They found that the Siple-Passel formula was too extreme in its predictions. So instead of -40F above the same 5F and wind would feel more like -19F.
So this is confusion #1 - the system of wind chill was changed at the turn of the century.
Confusion #2 - If it's a windy day at 35F, the wind chill might "feel like" 20F but no bottle of water (or anything else) is going to freeze. The coldest anything can get in this example is 35F - safely above freezing. All wind chill does is tell you how quickly you'll cool down to the outdoor temperature - not how cold you will become. Wind does not make things colder than the air temperature - it just makes them as cold, faster.
Confusion #3 - Your results may vary. The actual rate at which your body cools will depend upon the clouds & sun, how much skin you have exposed, how insulating your coat is, how exposed you are to the wind, and so on. The modern Wind Chill model is based upon people who are 5 feet tall, somewhat portly, and walk at an even clip directly into the wind.
Bottom Line
Wind Chill is useful as a reminder about the dangers of a cold wind but keep in mind the limitations mentioned above. Also remember that wet clothes draw out heat and will cool you down faster than dry clothes. Stay dry and out of the wind.
Check out one of my early blogs for more details on Hypothermia.