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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bannock For Wilderness Travel

Original Article

Get the craving for fresh breads on the trail, but think it's impossible to to bake in the wilderness? Think again and outside of the Mountain House pouch. Bannock is a traditional trail travel food eaten by pioneers and settlers. It's nutritious and fun to make. Best of all is you can modify bannock with different flours and add ingredients for many different recipes. You can add fresh fruit to make turnovers. You can deep fry to make donuts (add powder sugar). Around the campfire you can cook on a stick or in a crack in a log if you don't have a pan and oil. This is fresh bread away from the bakeries and grocery stores and the home kitchen out in the woods. It really tastes great having fresh baked bread in the wilderness!
Prepare the bannock at home, that can be made in the field. Mix the ingredients at home and then seal them in a zip lock bag. The basic mix will stay fresh for up to a month if kept sealed, dry and reasonably cool. This quantity will produce twelve bannock cakes, each about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter.
  • 3 cups of flour (I have tried wheat and spelt flours)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 6 T sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 6 T butter / margarine
  • 6 T skim milk powder (add on the carbs dude!)
Mix the dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and milk powder. Mix in

the margarine by hand with a fork,  or a mixer on low, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal like grains of sand that can form in your finger grip. Seal it in a "zip lock" bag, and be sure to squeeze out the excess air. This is enough bannock to last for a 10-12 days of backpacking, kayaking, canoe travel, or something to have fun with at home. Enjoy!

Give squirrel a whirl

Original Article

from a cnn food article:

Give squirrel a whirl

I have a squirrel guy. His name is Buddy and by trade he's a sound engineer, but in his heart of hearts, he's a hunter. Buddy doesn't hunt simply for sport; he, his girlfriend and his son cook only meat and fish that they have personally dispatched.

If Buddy's willing to share meat with me, I say, 'thank you' and take what he's offering. I know his kill was clean, quick and respectful, it'll be expertly cleaned and dressed, and no way am I going to find anything of its variety or caliber in my local butcher shop or supermarket.

That doesn't mean that when he offered me a brace of squirrels, I didn't initially have pause. I got over that pretty pretty quickly - and deliciously - and you should, too. Here's why.

1. Squirrel is the chicken of the trees

To paraphrase blogger turned cookbook author Hank Shaw - if you wanted to starve to death in the wilderness, you'd have to try pretty hard. Squirrels are plentiful - overly so in some regions. Buddy initially began dispatching the squirrels because they were savaging the garden he'd so carefully planted. Their numbers were seemingly undiminished.

"Awwwwww!" you might coo. "But they're so adorable and sweet and and how could you be so very cruel as to eat the precious Disney fluffy-wuffy?"

Yup – they're all just darling until the day when you walk into your kitchen to find that one has gnawed through your window screen to make himself a snack of your tortillas. He's just there, lounging about on your table all bushy-tailed and cavalier until he spots you...and snarls...and then everything is a blur of tortillas and mange and horror.

There are plenty of squirrels in the world. You can stand to eat a few.

2. Squirrel is a locavore's delight

You probably - okay really oughtn't go strolling into Central Park or an urban alleyway in search of prey. Not only would that be highly illegal; you are what you eat, and you are what that squirrel eats and that's not going to work out well for either one of you.

If you stick with forest squirrels or those that have been subsisting on your garden largesse, you know exactly what that beastie has been snacking on. It had a pretty footloose and fancy-free life in the great outdoors - certainly better than that of a factory-farmed chicken or pig. Meat really doesn't get more local than from your own or your friend's backyard.

3. Squirrel is a classic
While it may have fallen out of modern favor, if you crack open older editions of The Joy of Cooking or your grandmother's recipe stash, you're sure to find recipes and tips for cooking with squirrel. In many parts of the country, squirrel has never gone out of vogue in the local cuisine. It's a must in traditional Kentucky burgoo, some Brunswick stews, plenty of casseroles - and apparently in Mike Huckabee's college dorm popcorn popper.

In this age of kitchen retro, heirloom seeds and canning fetishism, it just makes sense to take a page from grandma and give squirrel a whirl.

4. Squirrel is easy to cook

In the video below, I've just simmered the squirrel until the meat was tender, then served it shredded on a plate. Texas chef Tim Love gives his a nice, long braise with minimal seasonings so as to let the meat's rich flavor be the star. If he's planning to pop it on the grill, since the meat can be tough, he'll brine it with salt and chiles first to tenderize it. Any method that's suitable for rabbit should be just dandy with squirrel.

5. Squirrel just tastes great

When I popped a plate of braised squirrel on the table, guests first approached hesitantly, then began shoveling strands into their mouths. For most, it was an initiation (it's generally illegal to sell wild game, so you have to have a source like Buddy), but seemingly not to be an isolated instance of enjoyment.

The general consensus was that it tasted more earthy and sumptuous than the darkest turkey they'd ever tasted - and wouldn't it be great in a ragout, stew, or cassoulet?

One might even say they went a bit...squirrely for it - but that would just be nuts.

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Your House is on Fire, What Do You Take?

Original Article

I came across this interesting website where people make photographic posts of what they would take if their house ever caught fire. Interesting idea. The possibility of me grabbing a Michael Jackson album as I escape my burning abode, as one person posted, is about zero, and there doesn't appear to be a survivalist-oriented person in the bunch, however it did give me pause to think about the question. Here is what I would grab in the event that my house goes up in flames (theoretical of course since at this point, nearly everything I own is in a backpack that I carry around with me as I travel the world for the next year or so which means I would, at this point, just grab the backpack and go):

  • Wallet, cell phone, key chain. These three items contain everything I would need to get back on my feet should a fire burn my home to the ground--contacts, money, ID, etc. Note that all of my personal/insurance/financial information is on a memory card stored in my wallet along with scanned pictures, a home inventory for insurance purposes, a back-up of all of my computer files, etc.
  • Kids/the pets/grandma. Everything else can be replaced except these...help them out of the house first (you do practice regular fire drills at your home right? This way everyone will know what to do in the event of a fire and it will be much easier to get them out of the house).
  • Laptop. While I have all of my files backed up and could just buy a new laptop, it is a grand hassle getting all of the software I use back on a new computer so this I would grab just to save me the frustration of setting up a new computer.
  • BOB. For those who are prepared, exiting your house in a hurry with everything that you need is as simple as grabbing your (already prepared) Bug Out Bag. Should you not be able to get to your BOB, hopefully you also have a mini BOB in your car.
  • Important documents/sentimental stuff/irreplaceable stuff. Hopefully your important documents have been scanned into your computer and are currently kept off premises in a secure location. Smaller sentimental or irreplaceable stuff can also be kept in a safe deposit box or other fire-proof, secure location. With larger things such as antique furniture, there aren't many options other than good insurance coverage.
  • Money/gold/other easy to carry assets (firearms, etc). These are important items to have with you, however in the event that you can't get to them/can't carry them out of the fire, here's hoping that you have them stored in a fire-resistant safe which you can come back and retrieve after the fire.

Everything else is just stuff and can be replaced.

Note: be sure to keep a pair of shoes under your bed along with gloves and a flashlight to use in the event that you need to escape quickly. A change of clothes should also be near by.