Monday, November 15, 2010

Warmth in a Cold Climate

I was reading today's post from Wendy's "Surviving the Suburbs" blog about staying warm in a cold weather.  Here on the island, we do have weather cold enough to be dangerous, although thankfully, it doesn't last quite as long as it does in Maine.  She mentioned the use of a kotatsu to provide on-the-spot heating for people sitting down to a meal.  Being a curious sort, I began researching it on the internet.

It seems that some folks even take a nap under the blanket of the kotatsu, and I can imagine hubby doing the same thing, so Wendy's concerns about the carbon monoxide from a wood or coal-heated kotatsu is a good one.  I read another post about the use of the kotatsu, and other common effects of cold weather as experienced by Amy Chavez in Japan.  Cold is a very difficult thing to live with as a constant feature.  In many ways, it is like being in constant pain.

Wendy's idea is to heat rocks in a grill outside while cooking a meal, and boiling water, and then to bring these inside.  Considering that even when you have a warm coat or sweater on, your legs and feet still get pretty cold, this is a smart idea.  Interestingly, has an article on how to build your own kotatsu, although it uses an electric heater.

I noticed when looking at images of the kotatsu in use on the internet that many people have high-backed bed-seats, and that the blanket drapes around the sides of it so that the back doesn't get chilled.

Even if the electricity isn't out, as an energy saving option, this seems like a great idea.  Another idea worth looking into is a variation on the Kang bed-stove.  A modern version of this type of heating can be found in the book Rocket Mass Heaters, by Ianto Evans, and Leslie Jackson.  You can read some excerpts from this excellent book at their website.

Dehydrated Oranges

It's amazing how a fellow can turn into an instant expert.  Hubby, who thinks my prepper "antics" are just too freaky, suddenly became an expert on dehydrating, which he has never done before.  It started the other day with that extra bag of onions I picked up to dehydrate.  I was slicing them into rings, and he insisted all I needed to do is quarter them and separate them into it's natural sections.  Well, I learned a long time ago that this is a guy who can't be argued with.  It turn's his brain into petrified rock, so I said, "well, let's see how it turns out."

The properly sliced onion dehydrated nicely, just like the instructions said.  His chucks are dry on the outside and not dry in the middle.  Regrettably, he hasn't caught on that the natural division have a skin designed to prevent the onion from drying out.

Last night, I was slicing up some oranges to try dehydrating them, something neither of us has done before, so I had first checked on the internet and in my books to find out how thick to slice it and what temperature to set the thermostat.

He proceeds to tell me that all I have to do is separate them into their natural sections and they'll dry no problem.  And I said, well that's not what the instructions say.  Hubby got made at me for arguing with him.  I kept slicing, and he proceeded to divided up "his" oranges into sections.  This morning, the slices are nicely dehydrated, and the sections are not.

It strikes me that in a survival situation, you are going to have to deal with people (a LOT of people!!) who THINK they know what to do and don't actually.  My tussles with hubby about something as simple as how to dehydrate produce is just an extremely minor case in point.  He used to made jerky with his dad when he was a teenager, and so he thinks he knows how to dehydrate anything.  He likes to go fishing in the nice weather, so he thinks he's a fisherman.  He used to go hunting with his dad, so he thinks he's a hunter.

In a survival situation, we are not suddenly going to start hunting and fishing and getting by on that.  Everybody who hunts and fishes for real is going to have the same idea, and there won't be enough fish and deer to go around.  That's why home-storage is important.

I read something someone wrote, and I wish I remembered where and who, but this fellow said that in a situation where the powers that be, or looters, decide to confiscate other people's food-storage, home-canned stuff might be less likely to be confiscated.  His argument was that the modern mindset says that commercially canned food is safer than home-canned, and there are a lot of people who would refuse to eat home-canned food because they are afraid it's bad.  A dust-covered shelf full of home-canned jars with labels dated several years back might very well be passed over.  It's an interesting thought.