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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Helpful Food Storage Items: Today's Feature Tomatoes!

Today, I thought I would deal with one of the most useful and popular of all storage products: the canned tomato.  These can be store bought, home canned, whole or pureed but they are one of the most useful of all storage products to keep around to keep your food interesting.  If no one in the family is allergic to them (and find out now, because it is a rather common allergy and you need to know about it) they can provide an almost endless list of savory ways to brighten up the storage diets of vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

You can also work on making up various home made herb and spice combinations that will save you even more time in a crises or just having a busy day but that will be another post.

For now, as long as you have the basics: onions (dried or fresh), garlic (dried of fresh), oregano, rosemary, chili pepper  (again fresh or ground) and a few options like cumin, curry powder and cheese (store bought, home made, fresh or dry) you can do a huge amount of different dishes.

Also, tomatoes are important because they are the only "vegetable" that is really a fruit and there fore safe to water-bath can in a Kliner, rubber ring or jam jar with a proper lid (a new one with a seal on it, Lakeland catalog has these in the UK).  Yellow or very sweet tomatos are safer when canned with a tsp of citric acid or lemon juice in them.  But they may be the one savory item you can safely put up without access to a North American Pressure Canner or making a pickle.

Canning tomatoes, is again another entire post, but there are lots of good information on the web.  Pretty much, you use a jar that will seal and boil the tomatoes or tomato sauce for up to 30 minutes.  You can't really add anything to this without a pressure canner (other than salt) but it sill allow you to keep your garden grown tomatoes even if the climate is too wet to really dry them.  Not to mention, they are a lot better than most store brands.  Be sure to follow directions EXACTLY for good canning and this is one case where you NEVER want to use grandma's old Time methods because sometimes they fail and people can die.  Much less likely with tomatoes than many other foods, but doing it the right way is pretty easy anyway.

Folks in North America have a much easier time getting good Mason type jars and Pressure canners, they can make and can larger versions of the sauces below.  There are also many good recipes in the Ball Book of Canning and many websites.

Anyway, so that's taken care of, lets get to what you can do with canned tomatoes?  I tend to keep three types of tomatoes in my storage area: canned whole tomatoes (store bought and home grown), crushed tomatoes (store bought or whole) and store bought tomato "puree" called tomato paste in  North America.  I find my family uses this last one the most often, because it is so thick it makes a good base for pizza.  It is a highly concentrated sauce that I have never had enough garden tomatoes to be able to make from scratch.

Basic whole or crushed tomatoes are perfect for using in soups, stews, chillies, and the every popular UK/Ireland Pasta sauce.  You can make something that tastes a whole lot better than those little jars you buy in the shop with a brand name on them and save money at the same time.  Often it only takes about 10 to 20 minutes longer than opening a can.  Some sauces taste better if you cook them longer, but they almost always still taste better than store bought.  You can experiment with different herbs and spices to see what your family likes then make up mixes so you don't have to measure every time.

Remember a sauce you can pour over your pasta, you can also pour over you chicken or pork chops instead of buying something labeled "Chicken Ready-Meal Sauce" in the store.  Cover with foil and bake on a low heat for an hour, brown the meat first and it will taste even better.  Use oregano for an Italian taste, chile for Mexican and curry powder for sort-of Indian.  In a real hurry, sprinkle herbs over the meat and pour on a can of crushed tomatoes.  This works well with leftovers too.

Now, we get to the wonderful world of tomtato puree, which I buy in little cans that help me measure it.  Here are my too basic recipes that I use as the base for many things.  The Italian one is perfect for pizza, just place on a pizza base (make the savory bread dough from the bread post) or even French Bread then add cheese and other toppings.  Cook in hot (200 degree) oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.  Pre-baking the crust makes it less soggy, but this is a matter of personal taste.

For Mexican, you just changes the herbs around and it is a prefect base for chili or sauce for burritos, soft tacos etc.

Basic Sauce One - Italian
1 Can Tomato Puree (or 2 cans crushed tomatoes or combination if serving with pasta)
If using tomato Puree use can and measure 2 cans of water for pizza or 3 to 4 for pasta
Do not add extra water to crushed tomatoes
Add to pan:
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp onion powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp red wine or red wine vinegar (use plain if you have to)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp (pinch) sugar

Optional herbs: basil, rosemary, chili, cumin
Mix all together, bring to boil and let simmer for at least 10 minutes to 1 hour

Basic Sauce II - Mexican or Hot Sauce
1 can tomato puree or 1 to 2 cans crushed tomatoes)
3 to 4 tomato puree cans of water or use liquid from crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 2 tsp Oregano or Sage (do not use both, pick one or the other)
1 to 3 tsp chili powder (you decide, real powders are different and have nothing but chili in them, look for these)
1/2 to 1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garlic
1/2 to 1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp wine vinegar or plain vinegar
1/8 tsp (pinch) sugar

Combine everything and bring to a boil, then simmer at least 10 minutes.  Taste for heat, if you like it hotter add more chili.  You can also add cans of mild or hot green chilies to this.

Be sure and check your "chili" powder most UK brands have other stuff (like cumin) in them so you may want to add less.

Both sauces can be experimented with, and both can have black pepper added.  My husband can't eat it, so I tend to leave it out.

An "Indian" version could easily be made with home made or store bought curry powder.  Onions and garlic can be fresh, but if you want a smooth sauce you will need to use a hand blender before serving.  If using fresh onions and garlic they taste better if they are lightly cooked in butter or olive oil first.  The same if you end up using fresh tomatoes, which can be fun when making pasta sauce during the gardening season.

Well, that's a start on stored tomatoes.  There are lots and lots of other things you can do with them but this should inspire you.  Rather than buy lots of pre-made sauces for storage, get the basics and some dried herbs and spices instead.  Much more variety and trust me, in a long term crises that is very important.  People will start seeing meals as one of the most important parts of their day and good cooking and eating can help stave off depression as well as keep people healthy.

A modified version of this blog first appeared as a post at World of Survivalists UK/Irish based website and can be read here:  http://www.worldofsurvivalists.com/showthread.php?61-More-Recipes-from-Storage-Tomatos&p=303

Chocolate Powdered Milks Review and Taste Test

Remember when we tasted the powdered milks?  Yeah, it seems like a long time ago.  Well, we also tasted two kinds of chocolate powdered milks--Honeyville and Morning Moos.  These are not like Nestle Quick or Ovaltine that you add to milk.  They are drinks (actually milk substitutes) that you add straight to water to get a chocolate milk.  Here they are all mixed up in the fridge--Honeyville is "R" and Morning Moos is "S":

The first was Honeyville Chocolate Milk Alternative.  Available from and donated by Honeyville Grain.  $12.99/can.  3 cups/gallon.  Approximately $3.39/gal.

We used the same rating scale for the chocolate milks as we did for the regular milks.  Taste was rated on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being great tasting.  There was also room for comments.  We mixed both chocolate milks into a small amount of warm water, then added cold water to make the total volume we were mixing.  Honeyville' Chocolate Milk Alternative scored an average of 3.93 with a range of 2-5.  The most common score given was 5.  If you are expecting Ovaltine (which I personally prefer over Quick) or the heavenly chocolate milk from the BYU creamery, this isn't it.  Yes, we had children who didn't like this chocolate milk--I'm guessing they were expecting it to taste like the chocolate milk they have at home.  Overall though, it had a very good chocolate flavor.  It was a little "thinner" than regular chocolate milk and needed re-mixed after sitting overnight.  Some thought the flavor was too strong and/or it was too sweet.  You could use less mix to dilute the flavor, but it would also dilute the creaminess of the drink.  One gal who works at the local restaurant said it reminded her of the chocolate ice cream mix for the soft serve machine before it's frozen.

The second chocolate milk mix was Morning Moos Chocolate Drink, available from and donated by Augason Farms.  $11.82/can, 3 cups/gallon, approximately $3.09/gallon.

The Morning Moos chocolate drink was a little lighter in color when it was mixed up than the Honeyville drink.  It looked a little more like regular chocolate milk.  The flavor was good, but the texture still wasn't like chocolate milk.  It scored an average of 3.43 on the taste score, with a range of 1-5 and the most common score split between 3 and 5.  This variety also needed re-mixing after sitting, and some of the kids didn't like it either, although mine had no problem drinking either of the chocolate milks.  We had some comments that it was very good and some that it was too sweet.

It was also interesting to note that the Honeyville can said it would make 15 quarts and the Morning Moos can said it would make 20 quarts, but they both mixed 3 cups to a gallon and both cans had 5 lbs of powder in them.  I estimated you could get a little over 15 quarts (not quite 4 gallons) out of each can by using the recommended 3 cups of mix per gallon.

We actually found the way we liked either of these chocolate milk drinks best at our house was to mix half chocolate drink and half milk together.  Even a powdered milk worked.  It dulled the sweetness a little bit and added "milk" flavor and texture to it.  Mixed half and half like that made it taste more like drinking the chocolate milks that are mixed into milk.

Overall, either of these drinks would be recommended and nice to have for a little treat in your food storage that also provides a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium.  Thanks again to Honeyville Grain and Augason Farms for helping out with this experiment!

Build Your Own Crayfish Trap

I happen to be a huge crayfish fan and I am also a proponent of crayfish trapping for padding out your larder in the lean times. The “river lobsters” are found almost everywhere, breed quickly and are pretty nutritious. They are most active at night and can be baited with gizzards, dead worms, corn and quite a few other types of refuse. You’ll need a trap though, which can be purchased from Amazon or if you’re handy one can be built fairly cheaply, as this Pathfinder video demonstrates:
Click here to view the embedded video. Crayfish cannot support you as a primary food source. I have never seen anyone pull more than an appetizer worth from a single trap (but then again I’m from the North East) but as a protein and vitamin rich addition to your pasta or Ramen crayfish can help stretch out the larder you have. And they are delicious with Tabasco. But more importantly they are easily trapped, and a trap line is my preferred method of making meat in an emergency because it requires the least amount of time and energy, freeing me up to do all the other things that will need doing after TEOTWAWKI.
Trapper Arne’s Crayfish Page is a good start on learning about harvesting these little morsels.

Gardening Basics Pt. 1 Layout Strategies

If you are anything like me you have probably been thinking about gardening since the first frost killed off the last of your summer produce makers. However many people are thinking about gardens these days. Seed supplies are running low and many are dreading the worst of this economic decline. Some even remark how recent legislations in the food industry threaten to cripple our food supplies. Still others just like the taste of really, really great food, fresh from their own little piece of earth. Either way, you may be thinking about a garden for the first time, or maybe re-planning your garden layout. In the past several years I have just put seeds in the ground wherever I had space. This year I am thinking more strategically about the garden, and as I look at the pile of seeds I have accumulated over the years I am wondering just where the heck I am going to put everything. So I got out the 300' measuring tape, some rope and some stakes to really put forward my plans.
If you are starting from scratch, you will want to survey your area. Look for a place that has full sun most if not all the day. How big you want your garden is strictly up to you, these basics should work for you. The very next thing you want to do is start tilling. Start tilling now! Now before you say, 'Oh wait, I need a tiller' think again. I have roughly 9,000 square feet of gardening area and I till everything with nothing more than a shovel. It's a great work-out, and it get's easier from one year to the next. In fact, I have shovel-tilled my garden for two years now, and this year my soil is so soft I could probably get away with not tilling at all. However I want to turn the earth for one or two more seasons before my heavy mulching plan goes into effect full time. But more about that later.
Shovel-Till: To shovel-till your garden, all you do is stick the spade in the earth and drive it with your foot all the way to the top of the shovel. Lever down on the handle, picking up grass, earth and all, then flip it over on top of itself. This exposes the roots of the grass and pretty much kills it for the most part, leaving the earth part facing up, the grass part facing down. I recommend shovel-tilling for a number of reasons, but the most important to me is that I believe you get a much better depth using the full 6" blade than a 6" depth setting on a tiller. With a shovel you get a TRUE 6" into the earth, however with a tiller, the tiller only reaches about 4" effectively despite what the depth setting is. The reason for this is that on the first pass, the tiller digs up about an inch to two inches of soil and fluffs it. As the dirt gets fluffed up this adds height to the earth-line which means that if it takes 2" of soil and fluffs it to 3" then your second pass is less effectively really only re-fluffing the soil you have already dug up. The reasoning behind my theory is that the first year I gardened I used a tiller. The very next year, I used only a shovel, and found that just below the 3" mark on soil depth I found a strata of earth that the tiller never touched in the previous year. To be fair however, I recommend using a tiller at least the first year, especially if you are just getting started. Makes that first year a bit easier. Otherwise shovel-till repetitively until you have your base gardening dimensions. I recommend a rectangular arrangement for the garden footprint, however many people do a number of different configurations, circles, triangles, squares, and even more complicated geometric patterns. If you go with the rectangle I prefer the garden to run east-west on the long side, and North to South on the short side. There is a reason for this.
East-West Orientation: There is a great deal of conversation behind the east-west orientation and a north-south one. Many believe that a east-west orientation does not allow for maximum sun-exposure for vertical gardening (a concept we will explore in a minute). There are three things that I take issue with on this subject. #1. If anyone has ever been outside in June, July and August here in the south you will find that escaping the sun is very difficult. The sun comes up in the east and sets in the west. Which theoretically means that in a trellised garden some rows will not get much in the way of morning or evening sun, however for about six hours or so between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. everything will be getting hit with full on sun. I do not believe those early morning and late evening intervals are necessary for great food production. In addition, there really is NOT any time of the day where plants are not getting some kind of sun, whether direct or indirect. #2. There is some scientific research on sunlight utilization among garden plants and it appears that once a plant 'sees' some sun it gathers all it needs, then shuts down for several hours as a full day of sun is not necessary for energy production. If plants get all the sun it needs from the morning sun it then shuts down photosynthesis for the remaining day until energy stores are depleted. The metabolic cycle is then fired back up and more sunlight is gathered depending on how much sun the plant needs for energy then shut down again for the evening. #3. Sunlight is crucial for brix levels among sweeter fruits etc. Vineyards and Orchards require HUGE amounts of sun and I have seen these planted extremely close together. Vineyards for example are planted in all sorts of configurations, N-S and E-W without any fear of shading each other out. The one thing where I would accept the argument for N-S to E-W discussion is in the case of rain-forest type areas where cloud cover shields direct sun from plants. Vineyards will hardly make any sugar at all in grapes for Hawaii because there is so much yearly cloud cover. In fact, grapes from Hawaii have to be sprayed with a chemical in order for them to ripen enough for wine. However, here in the states as long as you do not plant your garden in the shade, you should be fine. Finally, and East-West orientation ensures maximum pollination for wind pollinated varieties such as corn.
PermaCulture: You could spend years research and reading up on the ideas of permaculture. However if there is one thing you should take from the idea is that you will want to #1: Create permanent raised beds. This does not mean you have to encase your garden with a smattering of 2X8 boards then fill them with dirt, but rather you just raise the level of the earth itself so that the area your plants grow in is higher than the earth around it. Most of the time the act of tilling itself raises the soil level just enough for you to be able to take advantage of the raised earth idea. Raising the earth creates a dome of earth in your bed that allows excess moisture to drain off so that your root zone doesn't become water-logged. In addition the raised bed also increase marginal surface area so that plants earlier in the year stay warmer in the cool, and cooler in the hot. I create 4' wide gardening zones, in which I can plant densly or not so densely. for example, if I were to garden peas, I could easily plant my peas in three distinct rows in every 4' wide gardening zone. With tomatoes which need a bit more room, I will plant 2 rows 20" apart within that 4' zone. These are permanent growing zones that you will develop and maintain year after year. In relation to these growing zones you will want to put in some kind of permanent paths so you do not ever walk on the growing zones. This ensures your soil stays soft and 'raised'. Every once in a while I have to step into a growing zone, but because I have hardly ever walked on a growing zone in over two years the soil there is very soft and doesn't really need tilling. Heavy mulching will help this as well, but more about heavy mulching later. Lastly, my permanent paths are roughly 24" wide, or two feet. This allows me to get between the growing zone easily enough with a wheel-barrow, while not taking up too much room in the garden.
Summary of Steps: #1: Determine full sun garden location. #2: assign either East-West or North-South orientation. (preferably East-West). #3: start tilling now. #4 begin to determine (at least in your head) the locations of permanent growing zones 4' wide and begin to hill these up in a raised be fashion. #5. Establish or begin to establish permanent paths.
Vertical Gardening: If this is your first garden, then you may be taking a lot of what I am writing about on pure faith. Be sure that you can do research to verify my theories here, much of what I am writing about has been partly as a result of painful learning (practical) combined with theoretical learning. However after several years of trials if there is one thing I have learned is that 'Vertical Gardening' is MUCH, MUCH more superior than any other kind of gardening in existence. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I will give you just a couple. #1: Vertical gardening is MUCH easier on the back and joints. Once your plants have gotten to production stage, pretty much all you do is walk down between the rows picking your pleasure right off the vines. #2. This means a couple of things, a: Choosing the right kinds of plants for your vertical garden, and b: building trellis systems. I am still experimenting with creating the perfect trellis-ing system, however I am closer this year for the perfect set-up in cost and practicality. This will most likely come at a later post, however with regard to 'a: Choosing the right kinds of plants' this is actually easier than you may think. Fortunately for us, most heirloom species grow indeterminately. That is to say, there are no natural growing restrictions. For example, just about all heirloom tomatoes will grow vines of up to nine feet or even more. Trellising these crops keeps fruit off of the ground and rotting, and provides better sun-exposure for the plant in general. In addition, there is more air-flow between plants reducing mold's and fungus diseases to non-existant. I have never had any kind of infestation on vertical vegetables. Cucumbers grow on vines that can be trellised, squash grow on vines that can be trellised, squashes grow on vines that can be trellised, melons grow on vines that can be trellised and beans grow on vines that can be trellised. Just be sure to select 'pole-type' beans. Most good heirloom beans such as Kentucky Wonder, Silverlake and others grow in a pole bean variety. Pole beans are also much more productive beans, the one caveat with pole beans is that you have to be sure to pick them in timely intervals or the pods get stringy. You have to plan a little with vertical gardening however, with regard to shorter plants like leafy-greens, and peppers. Be careful not to plant these within the vertical areas. Plant these according to height from the southernmost rows to North. That is to say, that all of your short leafy greens need to be in the southern-most rows, then your peppers in the next rows, then your eggplants and other taller varieties.
Additional Stuff: Now to be sure we have only covered the very, very basics here. One of the things you will absolutely want to do is document things. Document everything, in later years you will wish like crazy you had. For documentation I highly recommend 'low-tech', and nothing is better than 'Field Notes' brand notebooks. They are small and easy to carry, easy to store. I have nine that I use. I carry one with me at all times, this is my multi-use notebook that I use to jot down notes, ideas, and a myriad of information. I also have several others for different more specialized things. I have a 'gardening' book for just my garden stuff. Other things you may want to do is get a soil test done, but for right now you should be good to go until next posting.
Getting Some Seed Started: Getting some seed started: Check out the Iowa Preppers Network for some great video on seed starting.

40 Survival Skills Your Kids Need to Know

As adults, we take it upon ourselves to make sure that we are prepared, that we have a safe home for our family, that we have planned to protect our family members in the event of a worst case scenario, and that we are up on all of the survival skills (from HAM radio use to tactical shooting) that could see us through a disaster. One thing many adults fail to consider is that after a disaster, they may be the one who is incapacitated, that their kids may be far away from home and left on their own to survive, or that your well studied skills may not be able to save your kids and they may, in fact, be forced to save their own lives. Here's the skills your kids need to know in order to save themselves or even save you in a SHTF scenario:
  1. CPR and AED certification. Let's face it, if you are old and over weight and your teens are young and healthy, who is most likely going to have to perform CPR on whom?
  2. Basic first aid. If your kid is with their friend and their friend is bleeding to death, it just makes sense that they know to apply a towel and direct pressure to control the bleeding because there is no way you will get there in time to provide this type of first aid.
  3. Their personal information. I have seen teenagers that need to ask their parents when their birth date is. Duh. Either the kid was an idiot or the parent was for not teaching them this basic information. All kids, from the time they learn how to speak, need to know the basics--name, address, birth date, parent's information, allergies, etc.
  4. How to feed themselves. This includes everything from how to shop for food to how to cook safely. Some teens have no idea how to fend for themselves where food is concerned unless there is a McDonald's nearby. Additionally, everyone should know how to forage for food (very useful in an emergency) including dumpster diving, foraging in the wild, etc.
  5. How to use money effectively. This includes how to save money, how to spend money, how to stay out of debt, and how to invest money.
  6. How to earn money. From a very young age, kids need to know that you don't get paid just for existing. There is a process for making money and everyone needs to learn this process.
  7. How to speak well. This is a multi-faceted skill which will allow them to speak clearly and politely to others, address a crowd, speak persuasively, tell a story, tell a joke, etc.
  8. How to read and write well. I don't mean how to read a couple of books then never read again or how to write a sentence. We are talking about how to read up to the college level, how to read for pleasure and read to educate themselves (without being told to), and how to write everything from a research paper to an advertisement to a letter to a friend to interesting website content.
  9. How to deal with fire. This includes everything from how to start, maintain and extinguish a camp fire to how to extinguish a fire in the home and/or how to escape from a house fire.
  10. How to procure water. Yes, water usually comes out of the faucet but that may not always be the case so kids need to know where and how to find water in an emergency, how to purify water, and why this is necessary.
  11. Outdoor survival skills. If your kid ever ends up lost in the wilderness, you will want to make sure that they have the best opportunity survive. This is done by ensuring that they have a very well rounded, and well practiced, slate of outdoor survival skills (how to find food, how to find shelter, how to stay warm, how to signal for help, etc).
  12. How to handle firearms. Growing up this was a skill every kid learned however this is getting rarer and rarer these days. Everyone needs to know how to handle a firearm whether you ever plan to use one or not. Not knowing anything about firearms and ending up having to use a weapon like you learned on TV or in the movies can get you killed.
  13. How to fight. Yes I know that teaching kids to work out their problems by talking is important but sometimes they may find themselves in a position (ie: being kidnapped or in a situation when they are being attacked by other kids) where there is no substitute for knowing how to fight. Consider a karate class.
  14. How to drive. Another very useful skill. Growing up on a ranch, we all learned how to drive (tractors and trucks) by the age of 12. While the last thing I want to see driving down the road is a 12 year old, knowing how to drive (motorcycles, jet skis, manual and standard transmission vehicles, etc) is a skill that most older teens should know.
  15. How to make good decisions. Unfortunately the judgement/decision making part of a kid's brain isn't fully developed until they are in their early twenties, however it is never too early to start teaching your kids how to make good decisions and rewarding them accordingly.
  16. How to report a crime or other emergency. Kids should learn when and how to call 911 as soon as they are able to grasp the concept of calling for help.
  17. What the family communication plan is. This may start out as an emergency contact info card attached to your kindergartner's backpack and evolve into the local, regional, and national family contacts from your family emergency communications plan being put on your teen's cell phone. In all cases, your kids need to know how to contact someone other than you in the case of an emergency or disaster.
  18. How to swim. Swimming is a basic skill that everyone should know how to do whether you plan to swim much or not. Better safe than sorry.
  19. How to properly use, and the importance of using, safety gear. Everything from child safety seats to bike helmets to life jackets should be covered here.
  20. How to protect themselves from dangerous people. You don't want to scare them so they won't talk to anyone, but kids need to know that there are sexual predators (both strangers and those known to them), drug dealers, gang bangers, and others who pose a threat to them. Teach them how to identify and deal with these types of people.
  21. How to protect themselves on the internet. Since kids these days consider the internet as necessary as air, they are often very comfortable with putting their whole life online. Common sense safety guidelines need to be taught to kids in order for them to stay safe (ie: don't put your phone number and address online), out of jail (ie: absolutely no sexting), and psychologically unharmed (ie: how to diffuse cyberbullying, etc).
  22. How to keep their stuff organized and well cared for. This means their BOB is stocked and ready to go, their homework is organized and turned in on time, they can clean and safely handle (under your supervision) their firearms, etc.
  23. What to do in the event of a school shooting. Again, you don't want to scare your kids needlessly however school shootings are happening more and more often. Do your research, find out what your kid's school shooter plan is, and then share information with your kids in an age-appropriate manner (note there is no "right" answer to what to do during a school shooting as each situation is different, raising awareness levels about this topic, however, is the goal).
  24. How to navigate. Map, compass, GPS device, etc. Being able to navigate from point A to B, whether by understanding and using the subway or local bus system map, or finding their way in the wilderness with a map and compass, is a good skill to have.
  25. How to travel by themselves. One mom let her nine year old son travel by himself on the subway a year or so ago and the backlash was both quick and loudly negative. This is too bad because the kid did fine, got himself home, and was all the more independent for the experience. Kids should be able to travel (age appropriately of course) by themselves so that should TSHTF, they will at least have some skills and practice at getting home by themselves.
  26. How to make basic home repairs. Obviously you don't give a five year old a soldering iron and let him go to work on the plumbing, but by starting kids out early (even a three year old can learn the difference between a screwdriver and a hammer), and by steadily giving them more knowledge and practice, you will end up with a teenager who will be able to help you around the house and turn out some pretty amazing projects as well.
  27. Hunting and fishing. Learning how food gets from walking on all fours to laying on the dinner plate is an experience that sadly, fewer and fewer kids get to learn. These are, however, very useful skills to have (and also makes for good parent-kid bonding experiences too).
  28. As many sporting skills as possible. Skiing, boating, horseback riding, basketball, baseball...there is a very long list of sports that kids can learn that will build their strength, endurance, team work skills, and self esteem.
  29. How to help others. Babysitting is a good skill to have, so is volunteering. By learning how to take care of others, kids learn leadership skills, empathy, decision making, and how to help out when needed whether it is an ordinary day or they are caught in a disaster situation.
  30. The sciences and math. Yes, I know kids take these classes in school and think they will never use the information they learn (so why learn it?), however judging distance, probability, basic physics, how chemicals react, etc. will put them in good standing for college and could also come in quite useful during a disaster.
  31. How to walk. Seriously. My two pet peeves are parents who are still rolling their kids around in a stroller when the kid is four or five years old and parents who drive their kids back and forth to school each day when they only live less than a mile from the school. Kids have feet, let them use them. Often.
  32. How to think logically. Kids can solve quite a few problems, both large and small, when they know how to think logically. A good way to do this is by playing games with them--chess, checkers, Monopoly, etc.
  33. How to be observant. Kind of like the "I spy" game but with the need to remember a whole bunch more details.
  34. How to build things. Not only can kids exercise their creativity skills, but by learning how things work and how to build things (a tree fort, a simple radio, etc) your kids will be better prepared for a disaster as well as life in general.
  35. How to keep and improve their health. The number of obese kids these days is horrifically high. A kid can't take care of themself if they can't even run a half block, if they eat "empty" calories that keep them hungry all the time, and if their blood sugar/blood pressure/cholesterol numbers rival that of a senior citizen.
  36. How to hide, how to evade, how to escape. Hide and seek is a kids game with its basis in some very real necessary skills for survival. Hopefully your child never finds themself in a dangerous situation, and of course, you can't just assume a kids would know how to escape from say, kidnappers, but by "playing" games that can help them develop skills that would help them hide, help them evade someone who is following them, and how to escape should they become trapped, these critical skills can become second nature.
  37. How to be alone. Our society is becoming more and more connected (as evidenced by kids who send 5000+ text messages each month!) yet there is an art and skill in being able to be alone, all alone, for a period of time without suffering from abject boredom or panic.
  38. How to recognize and deal with natural disasters. One of the "heroes" of the Indonesian tsunami was a kid on vacation who had learned how to recognize the signs of a tsunami in school; she told her family and others in the hotel that they needed to flee to higher ground and this saved their lives. No matter where you live, there are probably natural disasters that you can more or less expect to happen, learn about the dangers, and how to protect yourself, and make sure your kids learn this as well.
  39. How to seek help. This includes teaching your kid how to determine what kind of help is needed (ie: is the teen suicidal, addicted to gambling, being threatened at school), and who can best help them (parent, teacher, school counselor, etc).
  40. How to plan, manage, and complete comprehensive projects. Think Eagle Scout type projects. By undertaking such challenges, kids learn all kinds of skills that will put them on the road to success in school and in life, in addition to preparing them to deal with whatever other challenges come their way.
Just like adults, kids need to be skilled and prepared for the vagaries of life. Although it is human nature to try to protect children from "real life", teaching your kids the skills they need to survive a disaster will also pay dividends as they also learn to become better prepared for life in general.