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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Prepping With Milk Allergies

Every disaster food supply list suggests dry milk powder to add to their short and long term disaster supplies. What will the preppers do once their dry milk powder has been consumed?   In a situation where there is no diary products to be found, many will have to find alternative ways to get their daily dose of creamy milk.
Alternative milk sources is not a new concept, as millions of Americans have allergies to diary products, and have had to become creative in their endeavors to find tasty substitutes.  Preparing an alternative source for milk is actually quite easy to do (as long as you have a blender), and will provide essential vitamins, proteins and enzymes to one’s daily diet.
Many of the recipes for alternatives to milk recommend using natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, maple syrup or honey to add to the flavor of the “milk.”  Since most of these ingredient suggestions are on one’s disaster food supply list, if should not pose a problem.
Milk made from alternative sources have a tendency to last just as long as regular milk.  Any nuts that are used for milk will maintain their freshness if they are refrigerated in an airtight container.  They will last about 6 weeks, if properly stored.

30 Second Nut Milk

Inspired by Raw Food, Real World (Reagan Books, 2005)
  • 2 heaping tbls. raw nut butter
  • 2 c. filtered water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbls. agave nectar, honey or 1 packet of stevia
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth.

Basic Almond Milk

  • 1 c. raw almonds, soaked at least 4 hours
  • 3. c. filtered water
In a high speed blended, blend nuts and water for about 2 minutes until the nuts are completely blended.  Strain the mix through multiple layers of cheesecloth in a colander two times.

Cashew Milk

  • 1/2 c. raw cashew pieces
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tbls. maple syrup
Combine cashews with 1 cup of water and maple syrup in blender.  Blend on high until thick and creamy.  Slowly add remaining water and blend on high for 2 minutes.  Strain, if desired.

Hemp Milk

  • 1/4 c. shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 c. warm water
  • Sweeter such as honey, vanilla or agave nectar
Combine all ingredients in blender.  Strain, if desired.


Inspired by a recipe by Gale Gand from the Food Network
  • 1 c. long grain white rice
  • 2 c. almonds
  • 1-inch cinnamon bark
  • 8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. organic sugar (or sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
Wash and drain rice.  Use a spice grinder, or electric coffee grinder to rice until fine.  Combine rice with the almonds and cinnamon bark.  Add 3 1/2 cup water, cover and let it sit overnight.  In a blender, blend rice mixture until smooth.  Add 2 1/2 cup of water and continue blending.  Add sweetener and vanilla extract.  Strain mixture with a metal strainer, and then again using a double layer of cheese cloth.  Add up to an additional 2 cups of water until you get the consistency you like.

Macadamia Nut Milk

Inspired by Raw Food, Real World (Reagan Books, 2005)
  • 1 c. macadamia nuts, soaked 1 hour or more.
  • 3 c. filtered water
  • 3 tbls. agave nectar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
In a blender, blend the nuts and water on high speed for about 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend to combine.  Strain if you want it super creamy or drink as is.

Oat Milk

  • 2 c. cooked oatmeal (not the instant type)
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Sweeter to taste (if desired)
Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth (about 2-3 minutes).  Chill, and shake before using.

Rice Milk

Inspired by a recipe from Mothering Magazine
  • 1/2 c. brown rice
  • 8 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 tbls. maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Place rice, 8 cups of water, and salt in a pan.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer 3 hours, or until rice is very soft. *This can also be done in a slow cooker overnight
In a blender, puree rice mixture with remaining ingredients.  You will have to do it in two batches.  Puree each bath at least 2 to 3 mintues to completely liquefy the rice.
Add more water if you prefer it to be a thinner consistency.
Source –  recipes were found at care2

Home Made Shampoo and Conditioner

Article posted by Kymber from our forum

this may sound crazy - but both of these really work and are really cheap!


1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed into a glass of warm water. Pour onto/through your hair, work through your hair for 5 mins and rinse.
(it does not "soap" up like regular soap or shampoo but does a really good job on cleaning!)


1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed into a glass of warm water. Pour onto/through your hair and rinse.

Find more great information at the American Preppers Network Forum
Also, be sure to join the Alabama Forum as well at www.AlabamaPreppersNetwork.net

DIY: Homemade lye soap

Before I even start, I'd like to let everyone know that this is my very first batch of lye soap. It's a VERY basic recipe using only lard and lye which is very caustic. I hope to get input on this thread and possibly some recipes from anyone else who has used this method to make soap at home. The advantage of this hot-process soapmaking is that you can use the soap as soon as it's hard enough to be cut into bars. Historically home soap makers boiled their solutions in the same way as this is done.

FIRST you need some basic SAFETY equipment. Lye is a very caustic material to work with and severe personal injury can occur!!
safety glasses or goggles or a face shield
rubber gloves
long sleeve shirt
a plastic or pvc apron
vinegar or lemon for any skin contact that might still occur

Second there are a few items you'll need for the process.
A liquid measuring cup marked in fluid ounces.
A scale that measures dry weight in ounces down to the 1/4 ounce. preferrably with a stainless steel tray. My scale measures down to .01 ounces. Your scale should have a tare function so you can measure directly into a container like a paper cup.
stainless steel, ceramic, or pyrex bowls or other heat safe containers. If there is a doubt of what your materials are made of DON'T USE THEM. No aluminum, cast-iron, tin, etc. These are reactive and will ruin your soap and container.
I used a crock pot and a hot-process recipe. I got a small one from the dollar store for less than $15. I don't remember the size, we've had it a long time, but I could have easily made a batch twice the size as what I made in it with room to spare
phenolphtheylene or litmus strips to test pH
stainless steel, plastic, or wooden stirring utensils
a dedicated candy thermometer. do not use it for any cooking after using it in the lye.
a mold of some sort. I used empty checkbook boxes lined with wax paper.

Thirdly you need the ingredients for your recipe. This recipe uses only lard and lye. I'm not interested in fragrances or aesthetics.. only getting clean. If you wish to add other oils you need to find out the saponification values of those oils. Here's a good reference calculator for other oils. http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php Lye can be hard to get hold of as it's been used in the manufacture of drugs in recent years. I found it at Ace Hardware up town. I have invested a grand total of $6 in lard and lye so it's really inexpensive. 1lb of lard was less than $2 and the lye was less than $4.

Ok.. the science behind it:
All soap, unless it occurs naturally in a plant which contains saponins, is a result of a chemical reaction between lye and oil of some type. This produces glycerin and "salts" which is a generic term for precipitates which would normally fall to the bottom of a solution. Understand that lye and fat are opposites on the pH scale, fats being acidic and lye being alkaline. To my knowledge, all soap bought from a store contains glycerine which is a product of this chemical reaction. Look at your soap and see if it contains glycerine.

Now the math.
Lard has a saponification value of .138. That is how much lye in ounces it takes for lard (or tallow) to be 100% saponified. Because it is animal fat and all animals are not created equally, it's best to take a discount right off the top. The calculator above, if I remember correctly automatically takes 2% right off. Then you add whatever discount you want to that. I used a 5% lye discount, or fat surplus. You do this JUST IN CASE the fat is a little higher or lower than the supposed value of .138. a 2% discount will set that at .135, and another 5% makes .128 oz lye per 1 oz of lard. Follow me so far?
1 oz of lard will require .128 oz of lye for 93% saponification leaving a 7% margin of error. You'd rather have too much fat than too much lye because lye will take off much more than just the dirt. Got it? Good!
Admittedly 1 oz of soap isn't much worth the trouble or time so we have to convert all this math into something resembling a usable amount.
1 lb of lard is 16 oz.
.128 oz of lye times 16 oz of lard is 2.05 oz of lye.
--16 oz lard and 2.05 oz of lye will give us 93% saponification.
You also need a medium to dissolve the lye in. Water will be done in fluid (fluid ounces or floz.) measure and you want to use roughly twice as much water as dry weight of lye. that would give us 4.1 fluid ounces of water.. lets give ourselves some margin for error and round up to 5 floz.
The water will be evaporated off later in the hot-process cooking. so if you wanted to use a little extra, that's fine. Just keep in mind, the more you add, the more you'll have to evaporate later. I wouldn't go over 6 floz. for this small of a batch. Put the water in the fridge and get it nice and cold.

Okay.. lets get dirty..errr.. clean... err... we're gonna mess up some dishes and hopefully not get any on us.
Measure out your lye crystals into a paper cup or similar container that can be discarded.
Get your lard measured out.. the can might say 16oz, but my tub of lard easily had 18oz.. that could make a really nasty, greasy soap.. it's best to weigh out all your ingredients to make sure you get it right.
Put it in the crock pot and get it melted and then put it on the low setting.
While that's melting, go outside with a pyrex or other heat-safe container, add your 5 or 6 floz. of water to the bowl and SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY add the 2.05 oz lye crystals TO the COLD water. Using a stainless steel or plastic spoon, stir it. You want to be outside and avoid breathing in the steam that will form. The lye added to the water will immediately heat to almost boiling. I measured the temp somewhere around 185*F!
When the lye-water cools to about 110*F it's ready to go into the melted fat. CAREFULLY and SLOWLY, pour the lye-water into the pot AWAY FROM YOU. You don't want this stuff splashing up on you.. the lye is caustic and the fat is hot! Carefully stir with your plastic spoon and you will see an immediate change in the opacity and texture of the fat-lye solution.
Depending on the crock-pot, you may want to turn the setting higher. You don't want it to boil, but you do want it to be hot enough to evaporate the water. It will get noticably thicker instantly.
The hot-process cooking will force the solution to saponify by keeping it in a liquid state so that the ingredients can react freely. It will need to cook for about 3-4 hours. Leave the lid off so water can escape as needed. I went with 4 hours to be certain the reactions were done, and at the end of 4 hours the texture was consistently opaque without stirring. Dip a litmus paper in it and check the pH. It should be somewhere between 6 and 8. Some literature says between 6 and 10 but in my opinion, the more acidic it is, the more harsh. A pH of 7 is neutral, like purified water. At this point you should test the batch to see if the pH is close enough to neutral or if something went wrong. I say anywhere between 6 and 8 is great for general body cleaning.
Give it a good stir anyway and pour it into your molds. It will have to set up for a while to solidify and let any remaining water evaporate. At this point, mine is like a thick paste, reminiscent of the lard itself, but much more yellowish with a soapy feel, rather than greasy.
In a few days, I should be able to unmold it and cut into smaller bars for use in my day pack for camping trips, fish bait, fire-bow socket lube, or washing dishes or the sand out of my crack.
Clean up is simple too.. the lye-dishes can be washed in a sinkful of water like regular.. whatever small amount of residue that is left will be so dilute, that there is no chance of getting burned. The crock pot, you just wait for the residue to congeal, fill it with water, and wash it.. it's already got soap in it! DONT pour uncongealed soap down the drain.. when it cools it will clog the drain and can be a real bugger to get out!
At this point I'd like for anyone who has experience with this to point out any errors or variations in this explanation and possibly post up some simple small-batch recipes for others to try. It is dangerous working with the lye, but common sense, preparation, and careful attention will prevent accidents from happening. You should still wear your PPE because you dont want to be the example of what can happen IF something goes wrong. Carelessness and inattention can get you seriously hurt.

If you DO get some of the lye or lye-water on you, IMMEDIATELY rinse with running water for at least 1 minute, then douse the area with vinegar or lemon juice. They can also be used to clean up any spills that may occur in your kitchen.
I hope I haven't scared anyone away from making their own soap with all this talk of danger, because it really is simple and quite intuitive. I was very afraid at first, and very confused and overwhelmed by the variations in information I was getting. It seemed really complicated and dangerous and I couldn't see how folks in the "old days" could do this at home, but I'm sitting here tonight telling you that it's easy, and not nearly as scary as I thought. I have no scars or wounds, no big messes to clean up. I would not take the chances with moving around with a camera to take pictures on my first try, but I will take some as I get more comfortable with the process and edit this post to include them.
Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy explanation and I hope to hear from more soapmakers in the near future!

Insuring your preps

And now, the most boring prep topic you can possibly imagine...

Have you thought about insuring your preps? If you're like me, you've dumped a ton of money into your preps, sacrificing current spending and future savings to make sure you have enough stuff stashed away. And, like me, you probably have a lot of that stuff stashed at home, even though you know you should diversify your storage, yadda yadda.

So with multiple thousands of dollars worth of canned goods, guns, ammo, etc. lying around the house, have you done anything to protect it in case of theft, fire or flood? Here are some questions to think about:
  1. Would your homeowner's or renter's policy cover the loss of 700 cans of Hormel chili and 40 buckets of vacuum-packed wheat?
  2. Have you documented what you have on hand? Would you be able to supply those documents to an adjuster after a loss? Would you want to, from an OPSEC standpoint?
  3. Most homeowner's policies don't cover firearms, computers, or jewelry without a rider - do you have one?
  4. Most riders are for specific items that need to be listed - are you willing to break OPSEC for that? I can't help but think precious metals would fall under some kind of rider. How would you even approach asking about this - "Hey, Mr. Insurance Guy. Hypothetically speaking, if someone had, oh, say, $50,000 in gold and silver in their house, how would they go about covering that?"
  5. Are your off-site preps covered? For example, if you have a BOL cabin which is unoccupied 50 weeks out of the year, I can see an insurance company not wanting to cover anything in there.
  6. Would any of your preps get the hairy eyeball under the terms of your policy? Read yours over - you may find some things in there that seemed funny when you took it out, but now are quite plausible for an active prepper. Got lots of propane tanks? Drums of diesel or gas? How about a garage full of methanol and lye for making biodiesel? Some insurance companies will drop you in a heartbeat if they see a trampoline in your backyard, or if you have a rottweiler or pit bull. What happens if you've got enough petrochemicals around that an adjuster thinks you've been running a meth lab?
Like I said, boring. But necessary, probably - I can't afford to replace what I have if it gets lost or stolen in the pre-SHTF world, so I'm going to look into it. Any suggestions from the insurance-savvy out there?

How to Store Oil Safely

How do you feel about eating boiled food for every meal?  If you’re not storing oil, that’s what you may end up eating every day, meal after meal.  Quite a nightmare!  Oil is tricky to store long-term, however. 
Polyunsaturated oils can turn rancid before they actually smells that way, and rancid oils lose much of their nutritional value.  There’s evidence that rancid oils contain free radicals, which can be a health threat.  What’s a fried food lover to do??
oil 300x225 How to Store Oil Safelyolive oil image by fdecomite
Oil can be stored safely but will never have the long shelf lives of our other long-term storage foods.  Keep in mind the four main factors that affect shelf life:  light, oxygen, temperature, and time and apply them to the oils you store.

Keep oil in the dark.

Light is one of the main enemies of oil  Store oil away from any light, even if that means keeping the bottles inside a box.

Keep oil cool.

Refrigerate or freeze your oil to lengthen its’ shelf life.  If it thickens, just let it warm to room tempeature before using it.  Coconut oil is a great option to the oils we typically think of for cooking and baking.  Coconut oil can be kept refrigerated and has a longer shelf live than other oils since it is a saturated fat.

Keep track of time.

The most important step in storing oil is keeping track of the date you purchased it and rotate it on a regular basis.  By the time it reaches its’ stamped expiration date, it may already be too rancid to use.  If you don’t use oil all that often, buy smaller bottles so you’ll be able to rotate through them more quickly.

Keep oxygen out.

Obviously, you won’t be able to  use oxygen absorbers in your bottles of oil!  The only measure you can take is storing oil in jars and then using a Food Saver device to extract oxygen from the jar.  Even that isn’t fool-proof.
Some food storage experts have given up on storing oil long-term and have switched to storing shortening.  It can easily be stored in jars, and with the use of a Food Saver, can be vacuum sealed for true long-term storage.  When oil is called for in a recipe, the shortening is melted, and there’s your oil.  A good compromise would be to store oil using the guidelines described above and store shortening in vacuum packed jars for storage up to several years.
One important reason to store and use oil is that it quickly boosts our daily calorie count.  Now, if you’re dieting, you’re probably staying away from oils, but imagine if you were in an emergency situation, 100% reliant on your food storage.  Chances would be very good that between a much higher level of stress and, possibly, more physical activity, your body will need well over 3,000 calories per day.  Adding oils to recipes, salads, or even a tablespoon or two of flaxseed or coconut oil in a smoothie will provide extra calories, not to mention all the health benefits that come with using good oils.
We can stack those buckets of wheat, rice, and beans, knowing they’ll be good for decades.  Oil is just one item that will require a bit more attention in our storage pantries.
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