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Friday, March 12, 2010

Power Outage Think Dutch Oven…A Yummy Breakfast Recipe!


Supervision of Dutch Oven Cookoff
In our March Newsletter we discussed making foil dinners which are a great option when the power is out. They are easy to make and fun to make and eat. They are however, time consuming and they do require quite a bit of watching while they are cooking. Since power outages are the most common of all disaster and the one most of us will face at one time or another let’s take a look at another great option, Dutch oven cooking
Dutch oven cooking is a fun family activity during the best of time and a life saving activity during the worst of times. Dutch oven cooking is one of those skills that everyone can easily learn.
To begin, select a Dutch oven that is well made. The walls of the oven should be the same thickness all the way around. A good oven will have a handle wrapped with wire called a bail. Inspect the oven’s bail, it should be made of sturdy heavy gage wire and be securely attached. All part of your oven should be molded and not riveted as rivets can come loose and be a real burn hazard when you are serving or tending to your food. Check the Dutch oven lid to make sure it fits tightly. A sight lid prevents steam from escaping, aiding in keeping you food moist.
There are two types of Dutch ovens. Lodge ovens are constructed of heavy cast iron, have three legs on the bottom, and a tight fitting lid with a lip or ridge around the outer edge. This ledge helps to hold the coals, used for cooking in place. Be sure the legs are long enough to fit coals under you pot and still allow for some air flow.
The second type of ovens are again ideally made of heavy cast iron, have a flat bottom with no legs, and have a domed lid. These can still be used in a fire with briquettes or coals but they are more unstable than those with legs. I have one that I love to use for baking bread in the oven. It makes the best artisan breads with nice crispy crusts.
A good Dutch oven will have an uneven texture which made them easier to season than one with a smooth finish.
Dutch ovens can be purchased at sporting goods store, farm and ranch supply stores and surplus stores. They are a bit pricey but a once in a lifetime investment so in the long run, not bad at all. I would never order one over the Internet as the shipping will kill you! They are very heavy. Use the phone and scope out sources closer to home.
There are many sizes and shapes of Dutch ovens choose from. Shorter ovens (shorter in height now the length of the legs) heat faster than deeper ovens and are good for cooking foods that need higher temperatures. Deep Dutch ovens are desirable for cooking foods at lower temperatures or when you want more control of the heat on top of the oven for browning rolls and bread and desserts.

If you don’t own a Dutch oven yet, a 12″ Lodge Dutch oven is a great first addition. It’s versatile while not being too big. Eventually you will want more than one so dessert can be cooking while you enjoy your meal.
We’ll talk about seasoning your oven in another post but here is a great recipe to wet your appetite!

German Puff Pancakes with Apples

1 1/2 C Milk
6 Tbsp. Butter
9 Eggs
1 1/2 C Flour
1 Cooking apple (I like Fuji)
Powdered Sugar
Syrup
In a mixing bowl whisk together milk, eggs, flour, and salt to form a thin batter. Core and peel apple. Very thinly slice apple. Heat Dutch Oven using 12-14 briquettes on bottom and 16-18 on top, until oven is very hot. Add butter to pan and melt. Pour batter into oven and top with apple slices leaving about a inch all the way around without apples. Replace lid and bake 25-30 minutes. Don’t peek before the 25 minutes or the pancake will fall. Dust with powdered sugar and serve or add syrup.
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10 Ways to Prepare for Disaster

A survival expert offers preparation tips for calamities—natural and manmade.

1. Assume that a disaster can happen. Don’t assume that it won’t. Survival is 90 percent psychology, so being mentally and emotionally unprepared lowers your survival odds.
2. Try not to panic. You will be scared during a survival scenario, but the act of preparing before an emergency will help you deal more effectively. Spread facts, not fear. Share survival training based upon sound human psychology and physiology from reputable sources.
3. Know your limits. Unless your family is a group of Special Forces soldiers, they will have specific needs during a disaster. Lack of physical fitness, forgotten medications, mobility challenges, and a host of other variables demand that you custom-create a survival plan for your family.
4. Know how to do more with less. The simple act of tent camping in the outdoors with a family will teach you more in a weekend about what is required to live simply and be happy than reading survival books in the comfort of your living room.
5. Keep it simple. Fancy preparedness plans and survival gear fail under the pressures of a real-life scenario. The less moving parts the better.
6. Prepare for whatever disaster is likely to affect your area. Not every place on the planet has the same needs.
7. Along with your home-based supplies, create a “bug-out” kit(s) for your family, containing mobile emergency supplies should you be forced to evacuate.
8. Act: Physically prepare and act upon your preparedness plan. Talk is cheap. Practice, practice, and practice your preparedness plan; and don’t be afraid to modify it as your needs change.
9. Do the neighborhood thing. Once your family is prepared, get your neighbors on the same page, similar to a neighborhood block watch.
10. When your preparation work is done, rotate certain survival-kit items such as food and medications as they expire, but live your life. Preparedness training that breeds fear and paranoia is counterproductive and the enemy of true, long-term self-reliance.
Lundin is the author of “ When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes ,” and the founder of the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, Ariz.
[Via Newsweek]

Preparing for TEOTWAWKI: Where to Begin?

Overwhelmed?
Preparing for the collapse of the modern world is a daunting task. Deep larders, a well stocked armory, a full compliment of medical supplies, water storage and sanitation supplies, emergency heating, bug out bags, a fully outfitted bug out vehicle, and a self sufficient and defensible retreat are a few of the many, many things that a prepper needs to acquire. You also need to acquire a veritable life time worth of skills to make best use of those supplies or improvise when things fail or are not available. There is a lot of stuff to buy and even more things to learn.

If you're new to prepping and feeling overwhelmed, don't worry. It's natural. There is a LOT to do--in fact, a lifetime's worth. You will never be "done" with your preparations--you'll be adjusting, restocking and revising as your life, circumstances and technology change. Survival and preparation are a way of living. So, go easy on yourself.

Start Small
Unless you have sizable excess money to dedicate to preps, you'll have to approach preps in bits and pieces. Everyone's circumstances are different, so there's not really a one-size-fits-all approach. List out possible "disaster" situations that could strike your life--job loss, car break down, natural disasters, alien invasion, War of the Machines, EMP attack--whatever you think could happen to you. Then, start listing out the things that you would need to make it through that situation.

Chances are, food, water and some spare cash will come in handy for your "most likely" scenarios, so those are generally a good place to start. Start with a small goal--two weeks, then a month, six months and so on. For food, the $10 rule--spending an extra $10 on storage food and water whenever you buy groceries--can help you stock up gradually. If you can't afford $10, do $5 or even just buy one extra item to store away.  Focus on the basics--flour, rice, oats, sugar, pasta, canned foods, peanut butter-- that kind of thing. If you don't know how to cook with the basics--learn. Canned veggies and similar will often be used up in your normal cooking and diet, so"food storage" foods like Spam, Dinty Moore beef stew,  and baked beans are good too--they won't typically fly off your pantry's shelves but they will be there when you need 'em. But buy foods that you like and will eat and rotate through.

Most of all, start to develop a frugal mindset. Preparing is about saving what you have today to get you through tough times tomorrow. It's about being smart with your limited discretionary income. You could buy designer clothes, eat at fancy restaurants and drive a luxury car. Or you can buy preps. Very few can do both. The mindset is the most important part and will keep you on track and motivated.

Keep Reading
The internet has put a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips--even obscure knowledge like TEOTWAWKI survival. You've made your way to this blog and are perhaps familiar with others--keep reading them! Comment and ask questions.

There are also a number of fairly active web forums out there--most of the major gun websites will have a "Survival" forum (AR15.com and GlockTalk are two good examples). ZombieHunters.org is an entire community dedicated to surviving the zombocolypse--the have some excellent resources and a fairly friendly and outgoing community.

There are also a number of survival-related books to add to your bookshelf. SurvivalBlog author J.W. Rawles has authored a comprehensive guide on the subject, fittingly called How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. I'm 3/4s of the way through it and can give it a big thumbs up--although its detail and the sheer amount of recommended "gear" may quickly overwhelm you and make you feel that your current preps are woefully inadequate. Additional reading can included military field manuals (typically free downloads), country living guides, food storage recipe books, wilderness survival manuals and some of the older survival classics--I recently read through Ragnar's Urban Survival and found it informative and a little bit refreshing from the usual survivalist take--I'll have a review up shortly. Point is, there's lots of good stuff out there--do some searching!

Focus your reading on acquiring new skills and learning new things. It's far too easy to get sucked into searching for the "best" supplies, but it's the skills and knowledge that matter most!

Keep at it!
It's a slow and steady process, but keep at it. Keep stocking up; cover off on your basics first and then expand your capabilities from there. The "slowness" can be frustrating--especially with the world always seemingly on the brink of TEOTWAWKI. Go easy on yourself--any amount of preparations that you can make are better than none at all!

Diversion Safes for Survival

So, you've probably all see a diversion safe at some point. They appear to be every day objects, but secretly contain a small compartment for hiding things.
These devices aren't really safes--they don't rely on heavy locks and reinforced steel walls to keep people out, but instead on avoiding detection entirely. Fake rocks for hiding a house key are a classic example of a diversion safe, as is the ever popular hollowed out book. Caches--hidden storage sites for logistics and weapon supplies--have long been a part of survival. Think of these devices as miniature caches. Like full caches, these devices can be useful in our preparations. They can also teach a few principles about maintaining a low profile and flying below the radar.

There are a wide variety of ready-made diversion safes on the market. Amazon has a good selection of these devices, a few of my favorites are the Liquid Wrech Can Safe, the Shaving Cream Can Safe and the Ajax Can Safe. These are especially unlikely to be noticed by intruders, but also unlikely to be accidentally discovered by visitors. Soda and beer can safes, while fun, do have that chance of being accidentally stumbled upon by a curious visitor.

Most diversion safes are small in size, and only good for hiding cash, jewelry, an emergency USB drive, or similarly sized objects. You could cram a folding knife, spare magazine or a mini-revolver into them, but there is no way you're going to cram even a subcompact handgun into a shaving cream can. There are a few larger sized safes on the market, big enough to conceal handguns. These are usually clocks or picture frames that open up to reveal the hiding place. A large book safe, like this one, stashed away in the back of a full bookshelf could also do the job.

To use these hides most effectively, you must "set the stage"; an object that stands out may garner attention during a search. Underneath a sink or in the back of a closet, with similar, functional items are good places to stash them. In your sock drawer or night stand is not. Likewise, you should pad the insides to keep objects from rattling and avoid filling the safe to an unconvincing weight.  

So, how are these devices useful to us? They provide a hiding place when a real safe is not an option, due to cost, size, weight or other circumstances. Good luck moving that 500 pound safe around frequently or hauling it with you on a business trip. Also, unlike real safes, these hides don't scream "I have valuables inside!", an important consideration when you have frequent visitors. People see a safe and wonder what treasures it might contain--no one notices the can of shaving cream shoved underneath the sink.

A few ideas for possible uses:
  • As a hiding place while traveling--hotel rooms are frequently robbed by hotel staff and others. Even if you have an in-room security safe, you're fooling yourself if you don't think the hotel staff knows how to open them in a few seconds. If you need to leave stuff behind in your hotel room, hiding your valuables (cash, dress watch, etc.) is a much better bet.
  • As a hiding place in your vehicle. Vehicles are also frequent targets of criminals--but it will be a rare criminal that steals a can of fix-a-flat or pop can from the back seat.
  • A stash in your desk at work, even if it's just for some emergency cash or change for the vending machine. Cleaning crews and co-workers will swipe anything tempting.
  • In your EDC or bug out bag, to avoid detection during unlawful searches.
What do these devices teach us? Avoid attention by making potentially interesting things--cash, jewelry, firearms, etc.--look like mundane, uninteresting items. Camouflage them.

We can extrapolate this into other areas of our preparations. Generally, we want to avoid standing out and drawing attention with our EDC, bug out gear and other preps. Avoid the obvious gun/knife/tactical swag--the heavily logo'd stickers, patches, hats and t-shirts--unless you want to "out" yourself. Likewise lean towards mundane looking gear in favor of the tactical stuff. For example, which will draw more interest--a rifle sized pelican case or a tennis racket bag? A travel vest or a multicam chest rig? There are certainly times when it is advantageous to draw attention to yourself, but in most cases, as a prepared civilian it's wise to fly below the radar.

We'll be taking a look at this topic more in the future. If you have any cool hiding places or diversion safes you'd like to share, shoot me an e-mail at teotwawki.blog@gmail.com.