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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Audio Podcast: Episode-777- Alcohol Fuel Questions and Answers with Steven Harris

podcast_subscribeImage by derrickkwa via Flickr

Original Article

Today one of our all time favorite guests, Steven Harris returns.  In episode 755 Steven went over exactly how to make alcohol fuels at home and how to use alcohol fuels in modern vehicles.  Today he comes back to answer … Continue reading →

New Uses for Newspaper

Original Article

Using newspaper as a prepper
Preparedness-minded folks need to keep an eye out for how common items can be re-purposed to be helpful in other ways.  It helps us to think creatively to solve problems, but it has other perks as well.  If you can reduce your trash output, that is handy because someday disposal may not be as easy as the trash truck stopping at your curb.
Beyond that, some things are pretty easy to come by (now at least), cheap or free, and are really multi-purpose once you think about it.  I want to focus on a common one to get us started-  newspaper.

Some Frequent Uses

Newspaper is often what you turn to when you need to start a fire.  It makes great tinder.  Some people even roll and tape or tie them into “logs” for the fireplace.
You may have used newspaper in your last move to wrap your fragile items.  It is very good for that.  You can take that a step further and shred it for packing  material when you ship things.
Lots of people have probably used newspaper along with another handy item, vinegar, to clean windows without leaving lint.

Other Good Uses

You may have never thought of this, but newspaper can be very handy in the garden.  I use it (no glossy color ones) to create a weed barrier around my new plants and then cover that with a layer of grass clippings to keep it in place.  It’s all biodegradable, so at the end of the season, you can turn it in and you’ve added some organic matter also.

Many people use it to create new beds.  They lay it down thickly (8+ sheets) with rocks or something to weight it down and just wait a season.  The grass and weeds are killed, the earthworms come up to enjoy the nice conditions beneath it, and you have a new garden bed with little work needed to prepare it for plants.
Here are some other uses:
  • Multiple sheets are sometimes used over tender plants when cold temperatures are predicted.  It’s lightweight enough not to break the plants, but keeps frost from settling on the leaves.
  • Wrapping underripe produce in newsprint can help protect it in storage as it ripens.  Some people pick all the green tomatoes the day before frost and enjoy them for weeks to come this way.
  • Folded sections make good knee pads when weeding or doing other kneeling jobs.
  • You can create your own paper pots to start your seedlings and save yourself some money.
  • I use shredded newspaper in our worm bins when more dry material is needed.  It readily absorbs excess moisture and the worms can eat it since it’s organic.
  • I’ve never tried this, but some people claim it can be laid across windshields to prevent them from icing.  We do not have a garage, so I will have to try this.
  • Newsprint is excellent for absorbing spills of all sorts.  It’sa great “tablecloth” for art or pumpkin carving.  It absorbs grease under the car or in the kitchen.
  • Balling it up and putting it in damp and/or smelly shoes and boots helps them hold their shape when the dry, but also absorbs odors as it wicks away the moisture.
  • I make shredded newspaper the base layer in our rabbits’ nesting boxes.  It is good insulation for the naked newborns.
I’ve been doing a little study on the Great Depression and how people got through it.  I’ve picked up a couple of tips there too.  People used it to stop drafts in the house. Women used newspaper to make dress patterns. They used it as an extra layer in diapers. “Hobos” often put it down on the ground beneath them when they slept to keep the dampness of the ground from seeping into their clothes and chilling them.

The most common use was probably as insulation or blankets. Homeless or transient people searching for work put it under their clothes to keep in their heat or piled them on top of themselves since they were often without coats or blankets.
I hope our nation never returns to such desperate times, but I’m glad we’re practicing this kind of problem-solving in case it becomes necessary.
What are your favorite uses for newspaper?  Please include them in the comments section.

Related Posts

Pumpkin Pie with Chocolate Crust

Original Article

It’s November,  let’s kick it off with pie!  You’ll love this pumpkin pie with chocolate crust and to top it off who could have imagined such a thing as a 100% shelf stable whipped cream??  It’s true!  Made from canned coconut milk,  it’s a trick that was discovered by accident and (gratefully) shared on this blog with all the rest of us!  Sure enough it works, and let me tell you, it’s out of this world delicious!

makes 2 (10 inch) pies

1/2 c.  sugar
1/2 c.  cocoa powder
1 can canned butter (1/2 can or 2/3 cup butter needed for recipe)

2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (*see note)
Pie filling
2 (15 oz.) cans pumpkin
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. salt
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 (13 oz.) can Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk (*see note)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
In a pot, melt the butter and combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cocoa.  Stir well and press evenly into pans.  Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  Cool.

While crust is cooling make the pie filling.  Pour a small amount of evaporated milk in a bowl.  Add cornstarch to this, whisk together and set aside.  In a medium bowl mix pumpkin, remaining evaporated milk, sugar, spices and salt.  Pour in cornstarch mixture and stir together.
Fill crusts with pie filling and bake for 60 minutes at 350 or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.  If using tart pans like the ones I’ve used here, be sure to bake on a cookie sheet since it leaks through just a little.
Allow pies to cool and top with coconut whipped cream.  Garnish with sprinkled cinnamon if desired.

Making the crusts

Press mixture evenly into pans, bake crusts for 8 minutes and allow to cool.

Making the pie filling
Whisk together a small cup of milk and the cornstarch.

In a separate bowl add together the other pie filling ingredients and then add in the cornstarch mixture.
Fill cooled pie crusts with pie filling and bake.

Allow pies to cool completely.

Remove bottoms of tart pans like this and serve.

Making the Coconut Whipped Cream
Chill the can of coconut milk for some time or best overnight (*see note).  The coconut cream will separate from the water and will be thick and nearly solid at the top of the can when you open it.  Whisk with powdered sugar and vanilla and serve on cooled pie.

So good it couldn’t possibly be food storage … but it is!

  • I use a food mill (specifically this one) to grind my graham crackers into crumbs.  Normally I would just use my Vitamix to do the job but this mill is my non-electric back up plan. I like it for making crumbs of any kind, including bread crumbs.  It requires about half of my canister of graham crackers to make the crumbs needed for this recipe.  If you missed my post on making homemade graham crackers you can find it here.

  • I tested out three different brands of coconut milk just to see if there was a difference in how they performed in this recipe.  Thai Kitchen’s Organic Coconut Milk (found in most grocery stores that I’ve seen) was by far the best.  There are some good tips and comments found in the original post’s comments section as to what works and what doesn’t.  Here’s the link again.  Another thing, the author suggests that coconut cream concentrate also known as coconut butter (sold in Asian grocery stores) would also probably work.

  • If I were to make this without a refrigerator to chill the coconut milk I would leave it outside to chill overnight.  In the morning I would put it into my wonder oven to keep cool until I needed it.  Wonder ovens’ insulation also keeps cold things cold.
  • By using my two different sized tart pans and stacking them like I did in the “Pizza!” post, this pie could also be baked in a sun oven.
  • I store Red Feather brand canned butter.  I’ve talked about it before but in case you missed it, I buy it here.   It’s expensive so I don’t use it very often — in my food storage plan this recipe would use up a remaining can of butter that had been used in a main meal and would be quite a special treat.