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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Importance Of Having Integrity

The Importance Of Having Integrity

integrity 200x142 The Importance Of Having IntegrityToday I’m going to skip writing in detail about something that is clearly preparedness related, and touch on something completely different.
I read about something today that was pretty disturbing. Before I go into details on what it was, I want to touch on a core life principle that I feel is important to having a quality life.

Integrity – Without It, You Have Nothing

That principle is integrity.
Integrity is officially defined as a consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. Put a bit differently and certainly more simply, to have integrity is to be honest, be truthful, and act in a way that is consistent with your principles.
Integrity is what makes you a person worth being around. I simply refuse to be involved with people that lack integrity in their actions and behavior. And I know I’m not the only one out there that feels like this.
I actually believe that lacking integrity is worse than being an openly evil person. Monsanto, for example, is a company that pursues goals that are repugnant to me. But they are open about those goals, and they act consistently with them. This lets me decide whether to support them and their products with my dollars or not.
But saying one thing and doing something else is completely different. Think back to a time when someone professed one thing, and decided to act completely differently. Remember the sense of deception and betrayal you felt when you found out what really happened?
Having integrity means you stand up for what’s right in your world view. It means doing the right thing, even if nobody is looking. And it definitely means doing the right thing when people ARE looking.
Be truthful.
Be consistent with your public and private values and beliefs. Don’t say something in public if you don’t believe it.  Don’t contradict your words with your actions.
Always make the right choice, even when it’s not the easy path.
Choose your principles carefully, and stick with them.
Always do the right thing. Always.
Living a life of integrity will not always be easy. And sometimes it can be incredibly difficult. But living without integrity isn’t living.
I’m not perfect by any means, and don’t always do the right thing. Nobody does. But I strive for integrity every day, and you should too.

Why The Heck Are You Talking About This, Rudy?

homestead cabin 200x128 The Importance Of Having IntegrityBy now you’re probably wondering why I’m writing this. Well, wonder no longer!
There is a family in southern California that has created a large business around the concept of homesteading in urban environments. They do classes, and have a whole bunch of relatively high quality content.
They were a source of good information and how-to details for people who want to practice self sufficiency in urban environments.
You’ll note that I speak in past tense here, because this family has shown a crystal clear lack of integrity.
They were recently awarded trademarks for various commonly used words such as ‘urban homestead’ and ‘urban homesteading’ and have promptly begun sending cease and desist style letters to people using those phrases. They are threatening to sue, and are filing unwarranted DMCA requests.
In the last couple of days they have:
And that’s just a few of the more public things that they’ve done.
They claim they are doing this to protect the terms from corporate entities.
I say it displays a complete lack of integrity and respect for others and for a community they claim to have been a part of.

An Appropriate Response

shunned 200x119 The Importance Of Having IntegrityThe Amish have the concept of shunning. I believe that this is an appropriate response when people behave like this family has. You’ll note the distinct lack of links to their website or mention of their name.
Jack Spirko over at the Survival Podcast suggests we show our support for those under attack by buying a copy of Kellys book. And that’s what I’m doing. And you should too.
I’ve just bought two copies of it, and I’m going to give away one of them to whoever leaves the best comment on the topic of integrity. If you end up being picked, I expect you to demonstrate your integrity and commit to spreading the word of what’s going on here, and to encourage others to support the people that are under attack from this duplicitous family. Use the book as a conversation piece. That’s what I’ll be doing.

HOW TO: Great beef jerky.

self made beef jerky made from solid strips of...

HOW TO: Great beef jerky.

I've been making beef jerky for about 6 yrs now. In that time I have experimented with different marinade recipes, types of meat, cooking times, etc.

The following recipe is for a dehydrator, but you can also dry jerky strips in an oven, at the lowest temperature (usually 160° - 170°). Keep the door open ajar, like you are broiling, to create the convective looping.

But homemade jerky is SO much better in an actual dehydrator.

Below is a list of essential methods / ingredients to make really good beef jerky, based on my own findings and preferences:

CUT of BEEF: shoulder-- either London broil steaks or a full roast, sliced.
I find shoulder to be far better tasting than top round, the other London broil cut, and it is usually cheaper. I actually prefer the taste of shoulder to basically any other cut of beef (for jerky). It has just the right amount of fat in it (remember, you don't want too much fat in your meat and you want NONE in the marinade.) And it is frequently about the cheapest meat there is. It's perfect!

CUTTING METHOD: across the grain, not with the grain. Shoulder is pretty tender and flavorful. Cutting across the grain means cutting along the length of the steak. I usually cut the steak in half so that the pieces are not too long, then cut in the direction so that if the steak was whole, it would be a lengthwise cut across the whole steak. Cutting with the grain will give you a crumbly type of jerky.

I like my strips about 3/16" of an inch thick. That's less than a quarter inch think.

MARINADE: I play around with different marinades all the time. They really are all pretty good. Marinade is actually the least important element to the jerky process. You just got to have your basics: salt, sweet, acid....but NO fat or oil.

I like Kikkoman Lite soy sauce; honey, maple syrup, or molasses (brown sugar is fine, too); maybe a little sherry or marsala; and, now this is REALLY, REALLY important....my secret ingredient. Balsamic vinegar. LOTS of balsamic vinegar. It is the most essential part of any jerky marinade...and very few people know about it. Balsamic vinegar makes any red meat taste that much more delicious...especially when played against salt and sweet. The only seasoning I add to the liquid is LOTS of garlic powder (but that can always be added later, too). I usually add some water to my mixture, to lessen the saltiness/soyness of the marinade, even with lite soy sauce. Stir very well.

Soak beef strips overnight, about 12-14 hrs. Pull out a handful or two, and place on paper towels. Place on dryer rack or screen. Place them close together. They can be touching, but don't scrunch them together.

Sprinkle the beef strips with your favorite dry rub or dry seasonings. I love crushed pepper, garlic powder and especially the two following ingredients: ginger powder and chipotle. I like to make a batch of jerky that is half chipotle and half ginger, with some or all of the other seasonings mentioned.

But those two are the two main dominant flavors for a jerky profile, and you should not mix them together (unless you know what you are doing :D:).

Hint: when enjoying jerky the night it was made, the ginger flavor is amazing. When eating the jerky in the days following, chipotle is king.

DRYING TIME: Here's the difficult part. It all depends on what type of dryer you have. I have the excellent (but very inexpensive) Excalibur dehydrators. I can thoroughly dry my jerky, at full temp of 155°, and at the above thickness, in about 6.5 to 7 hrs. But all of the models out there vary, I believe.

To test, you want to be able to break the strip in a pliable manner, and have it hold together. If it breaks completely in two, you dried too long (but don't panic-- it will still be yummy).

Store in a paper bag. And it will continue to dry even a little bit more, the paper wicking the moisture and some fat away. If you overdried, then store jerky in a plastic bag.

Enjoy with good friends and good beer.

And don't forget to keep a healthy stock in a ziploc bag (even in the back of the fridge), or just make a ton of it, and store in vacuum sealed bags, for when the poop hits the oscillator.

What you need to know: when the above jerky recipe comes straight out of the dryer, it is simply heavenly. It also makes your house smell awesome, while helping to heat it!!
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