Monday, August 8, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

It's the busy time of year when there's lots of produce to be dealt with.  This weekend I canned salmon, pickled bean, asparagus and carrots, and deydrated bananas (yum).  Here's a few pics.

This is pink salmon.  Hubby absconded with a jar already for his fishing buddy.  I told him, this is why I can foods.  Because in the winter when pink salmon costs a fortune in the store, I'll have home-canned delicious salmon that cost a fraction of store-bought.  And it will taste better.

This is a "before" shot of the last of the salmon.

I also laid in a supply of Campbell's Low-Salt Ready-to-Serve soups on sale 65% off.  One can is a meal for two and no extra water is needed (although it does want salt). 

I've got more canning to do; I'm happy to report that Miss Deadbeat refuses to eat home-canned food 'cause it might poison her.  I'm not going to tell her differently.

Butter is on sale this week, so I'm hoping to make clarified butter and can it.  Jackie Clay's canning book has a recipe with instructions on how long to process (60 minutes in hot water bath).  Yay!  Unfortunately, this book is not available from Amazon right now.  Go to Backwoods Home Magazine's website to get her book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food.

Hubby still is not on board with prepping, but I believing canning is a great strategy to keep him from giving away too much stuff. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Thoughts on OpSec

I believe I mentioned that I have a new job at work.  I'm now "staff" which entailed a raise (yay), somewhat longer work hours (boo), a (shared) office and storage space in the form of my desk and a mostly empty filing cabinet.

I've been working on OpSec at work so that it won't seem odd to my workmates that I store things in my filing cabinet other than paperwork.  I've told them amusing anecdotes about hubby's diabetes and his love of chocolate, so they are quite understanding when I store "chocolate" and other "goodies" in the filing cabinet so he doesn't get into it and make himself ill.

I've also been telling people I'm "cheap" and I prefer to buy stuff when it's on sale, making a point to tell folks "such and such is on sale".  Why, just the other day, the gal at the next desk kindly saved me her coupons because she couldn't be bothered using them.  (Too bad they weren't for something food storage useful). The impression that I have been giving is that the stuff in the cabinet is chocolate and candy, and I occasionally actually buy some and put it in the drawer and make a bit of a production of taking a little bit home for hubby.

I'm also thinking about bringing in a plastic draw unit that can tuck under my desk in the back corner sometime when I'm the only one in.  The knee area is H-U-G-E, and properly positioned, the unit would only be visible if a person got down and looked.  Properly disguised, it could look like it's supposed to be there.  I need to give this further consideration!

Suddenly, I'm flashing on me as a kid and my granddad showing my brother and I the secret compartment in his roll-top desk!  Lol!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Canning and Drying and Pickling - Well, Mostly Dehydrating

Sorry I haven't been on in a while.  I've trying to figure out how to keep my preps where they belong, at home.

Things with the deadbeat got a bit melodramatic as she did something while doing drugs that had the whole hubby family up in arms, so the preps are a little safer.  Still, with my promotion at work, I now have a big locking file cabinet and room for personal stuff so I have some stuff stored there.  When hubby goes fishing, I bring the preps home and put them away where he wouldn't go looking for goodies.

Have done a lot of dehydrating - mainly strawberries and kiwi.  I have some potatoes that I plan to do up.  One thing is sure, I doubt hubby would be able to give away dehydrated potato flakes :).

Bottom line, though, prepping is going under deep cover.


There's a newish show on Space called Outcasts that has been pretty interesting - people fleeing a war and ecologically ravaged Earth, and trying to make a new start on a planet called Carpathia.  Hopefully it won't disappoint the way Falling Skies has.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Been a While...

It's been a while since I last posted.  I've been kind of discouraged with hubby's insistence on being generous to someone who doesn't deserve it.  Come to find out his dead-beat sister has been doing drugs (again) and that's why she was so broke and starving. 

And he gave her stuff and lied to me about it, like I can't tell when something has gone missing.  So, he's just not going to know about or have access to my food storage.  And yes, I mean "my".  As I've mentioned before, he's decided if the poo hits the fan, he'll be one of the first to die, and his thinking stops there.  Apparently, if he's dead, nothing else matters.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Operational Security - Breached

Well, I started doing an inventory of the stuff I have put by in the pantry, and I was not really pleased.  Seems there's a discrepancy between what I purchased and what I actually have.  It seems hubby has been very generous.  The grasshopper shows his true colours.  It seems his dead-beat sister has been visiting and he's been giving her my preps.  And all the dehydrated strawberries are pretty much eaten up.

There's a lot of "seems to be" going on. 

I've read quite a bit about opsec, but there's no real guidance for when your spouse is the biggest threat to your preps.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Computer Woes and Strawberries

Well, hubby was bored last week, and decided to help me out by cleaning my computer for me.  He took it apart, used compressed air to blow out the dust, and then got distracted and it was still open and lying in pieces when I got home from work.  I started to put it back together, but he insisted on doing seeing that he took it apart.

Long story short, it's back together, but some of the functions have suddenly gone missing.  For example, my front mounted usb hub/card reader is not working.  Next time he goes fishing, I'll have to take it back apart and check all the connections. 

Then my ancient router finally decided that it just wasn't going to connect anymore, so I purchased a replacement.  Hubby insisted on hooking everything up, but we weren't able to get connected to the internet.  So I called for technical support, and lo and behold, the router was not hooked up to the modem.  Sigh!~  Apparently, it must have "fallen out".

Anyhow, I wasn't able to load in the pictures I took of my beautiful dehydrated strawberries and baby carrots.  The strawberries are delicious dehydrated, and hubby suddenly thinks that dehydrating stuff is really cool!  So he actually started a couple of trays of strawberries all on his own!  Be still, O my heart!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Knowledge Storage

A lot of prepper blogs out there talk about storing information in such a fashion that you can access it easily during an emergency.  One aspect of this is by printing out information from websites, blogs, etc. and keeping it in a binder.  I have been doing that myself, and I discovered a wonderful browser application that helps me save the meat of a website, and eliminate the useless chaff (advertising).

Check out PrintFriendly.  I find that it works for about 95% of the pages I want to be able to save.  It creates a printable PDF of the page with the option to remove items.  The one thing I don't care for is that on blog pages, it doesn't capture comments.

In any case, with this app I have PDF's on my computer.  When I have enough articles on a particular topic to be worth printing out, I collate information into a Word document so that I can eliminate duplication, and reduce the size of the print to save space.  Two sided printing also helps me save space.

My topics?

1.  Clothing, and textiles (including laundry)
2.  Communications
3.  Food: Finding Food (foraging, hunting), Growing Food, Preserving Food, Storing Food, Preparing Food
4.  Hazards, and security (include defense)
5.  Health (including sanitation)
6.  Heat, Fuel, Power
7.  Income, Skills and Home Industry
8.  Shelter (including bugging in)
9.  Travel, Transportation (including bugging out)
10.  Water

Where do I draw information from?  Aside from the many blogs and information sites available out there, I also use the Internet Archive's Text Section to find information on how it used to be done.  Currently, the archive houses digital copies of books published up to the early 50s. Another source of info is Scribd.  There are a few uploaders who have collated a lot of useful information and posted it there, as well as posting the cream of the crop from the Internet Archive. I also visit thrift stores, and second-hand book stores and find treasures in print, and have scanned many of my own books so that if I can't take the paper copy with me, I still can have my library with me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Woman's Perspective on Prepping

I just read the guest post by Terrylynn over at the Survivalist Blog, entitled "Survival - Princess Style", and I found it very thought provoking.  I have wandered around the periphery of the survivalist/prepper movement since I was in my teens.  At one time back in the 70s, I took a "Survivalist" course.  I even talked my mom into taking the course.  I subscribed to "Mother Earth News", "Harrowsmith", assorted other more hardcore magazines, bought the Foxfire books, took archery lessons, learned to forage,... well, I could go on, but the interesting thing is that not one of those objects really prepared for things going to heck in a hand-basket. 

It was trying things, learning how to do things, and realizing that I had useful skills.  And when I went  through a decade of really trying times, those acquired skills helped me.  I shopped at the thrift stores because I couldn't afford to shop anywhere else.  I regularly remade items of clothing to fit my son and I.  I had a garden in the yard of the house I rented an apartment in.  I learned to make bread (very fine bread, in fact).  I learned how to make jams, and pickles and to can garden produce.  It wasn't a lifestyle choice.  It was necessity.  I learned how to make do.  I picked apples and pears from the cemetery near my place.  I gathered acorns in my neighbourhood, prepared them and ate them.  It's doing the prepares you. 

Terrylynn is right about one thing.  No matter how hard things are, the little comforts make the sacrifices easier to make.  Having a pleasant looking home, a comfortable place to sit, these make it easier to handle still being hungry when you finish eating your meal.  Reading a well-loved book yet again still helps to take you away from the worry.  Playing a lively game of cards by candle-light and having a good laugh gives you a reason to get up the next day and keep on struggling.  And even though I'm not a girly-girl, I do have a few dresses, and make-up for those special occasions.  We want to do more than survive, we want to thrive.  And thriving means we need to live, not merely exist.  It's those civilized touches that help us thrive.

And yes, chocolate is a food group, and ought to be part of any woman's preps.

Anyhow, there's my two cent's worth...

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Love 'em or hate 'em, squirrels are remarkable critters with a knack for survival.  I recently read a couple of articles about squirrels on Psychology Today's website that I thought I would share.  In the article "Learning About Survival from the Squirrel", it talked about the importance of community, and learning from others, as survival characteristics.

Another terrific article is "What Can you Learn from Squirrels About Motivation, Procrastination and Intent".  I think everyone will agree that procrastination is something that we all have to struggle with.  Sometimes we get bogged down in the details; sometimes we are frightened by the effort that we will need to make to get something done; sometimes we just don't want to do what we have decided we need to do.  Squirrels are not burdened with the human "ability" to worry about consequences or how much work it's going to take to get a job done.  They just do it.  Sometimes, you need to forget all that human complexity and just do what you need to do.

So, the next time someone gives you a hard time about "storing nuts" for the winter (hard times), and being a bit squirrelly, take it as a compliment.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Check out Emma's guest post over at City Roots, Country Life on making bread.  This is a great way to get started with cooking with food storage (even if what you are storing is flour), and to start rotating.

I made my first loaf of bread in grade 4, long before home economics classes would commence.  My teacher, Miss Drake, was a hippie at heart, and we learned all kinds of things that we might otherwise not have ever had the chance to do.  I certainly didn't learn bread-making in home-ec.

For many years, when the kids were both at home, I used to make bread twice a week, 7-8 loaves at a time plus, of course, pizza for the Friday night's supper.  I used to buy yeast in a large can, and had the whole process down to a science.  Into the bread sponge would go any compatible leftovers like potatoes, carrots, oatmeal...  Every batch was an adventure.

The best way to get good at making bread is to do it often.  People can tell you all about knowing when the bread has been kneaded enough because of the way it responds when you press your thumb into it.  But nothing is more gratifying then to suddenly realize as you eat a piece of warm bread out of the oven slathered in butter that this time you automagically knew when the bread dough was kneaded enough, and bowled it for rising, without thinking about it.  (Believe me, this is a milestone!)

When I first started making whole wheat bread, I was not terribly impressed with the taste.  It lacked something.  The problem was that I was merely substituting whole wheat flour for white flour in my recipes.  Bleh!  I discovered that I needed to add just a little more salt.  Not a whole lot, but some.  Where I would use a tsp of salt for a batch of white bread, I needed 2 tsps if the bread was entirely made with whole wheat bread, or 1 1/2 if it was going to half and half white flour and whole wheat flour.

My recipe?  The basic French bread:

  • 2 tbsp dry yeast
  • 2-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 6+ cups flour
  • 1 to 2 tsp. salt (depending on the type of flour(s) used)
  • 1 tsp. oil
Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water in a large pre-warmed bowl. Let it rest about 1 minute.  Add the salt and the oil.  Start adding the flour, one cup at a time, stirring it in throughly.  When you reach the point where it's getting hard to stir in the flour, turn it out on your floured kneading surface, and keep working in the flour until it has reached the right consistency; you'll know it's right when you smooth it into a ball, press your thumb in gently, and the dough rises back out of the dent as you remove your thumb.

Oil a bowl, and your dough; put the dough in the bowl, cover and set to rise in a warm place.  For me, this is inside the microwave after using it to heat a cup of water for 1 minute.

Let the dough rise until doubled in size, usually 45 to 75 minutes.  Plenty of time to clean up the prep area, have a cup of tea and move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer (yeah, I had a routine).

Once the dough is doubled in size, turn it out on your kneading surface, punch the dough down and knead it for a few turns, and shape it back into a ball.  Throw a cloth over it, and get your loaf pans ready.  A light coating of oil to help the loaf slip out readily at the end of the baking time is nice.  Some people use cooking spray.  Sometimes I would use a cookie sheet and make a proper French loaf or baguette, and sprinkle a little cornmeal on the sheet.

Now, divide the dough up for the loaves.  The dough will not fill up the loaf pans at this point, and you can also make buns, or put some aside for pizza dough.

Put the covered loaf pans in a warm place to rise until the dough fills the pans, about 1/2 an hour or so.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  When the oven is completely heated up, uncover the loaf pans, and put them in the oven.  If the oven is crowded, after about 15-20 minutes you will want to rotate the pans so that they bake evenly.

They're done when you hear a hollow sound when you thump them.  That takes between 30-35 minutes.  Times depend on your oven and how hot it actually gets relative to how hot/cold it is in your kitchen and the levels of humidity.

For a fun bread recipe, check out Pretzel Bread at

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fear and Prepping in TV Land

I work in a call center as a retention agent for a large television service provider, and I have been seeing cracks in the walls of self-willed ignorance that many people shelter behind.  Times are tough and getting tougher, and people are looking to save money because what they have is not stretching near as far as it used to.  For many people, this means giving up TV. It's interesting though, how many people will accept a discount or cut back on how many channels they have instead of just going cold-turkey.  People think of television as a need. Or even as a right.

It's the nature of my job that I talk to a lot of people from every walk of life, and the more alert among them are frightened.  They see the writing on the wall, and can almost read it.  One lady I spoke with today used these very words:  "I'm frightened by what's going to happen next."  I really did want to tell her, cancel this vice, and put the money to better use.  She's not quite there yet.

Is it hypocritical to be working to persuade folks to spend money foolishly on entertainment when they could be prepping?  Perhaps.  I do admit, though, that I frequently point those who do cancel their TV to google "frugal" for help on saving money.  That's how I found prepping.  I believe that anyone who has the strength of mind to cancel mindless entertainment just might be ready to start prepping and seeing the world as it really is.

My two cent's worth?  Cut out the fluff, cancel every useless vice, and get ready for the downward spiral.  When the poop hits the fan, everyone will get hit.

That being said, I have TV for hubby who gets very testy when I try to force him to look at the writing on the wall.  He's barging through life with rose coloured glasses on and his hands over his ears shouting "La la la la la, I can't hear you."  (Literally, he really does do that).  Sigh!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Slow Recovery

Between work, coughing (hubby is sick too) and being glued to reports of the dire events in Japan, Libya and elsewhere, I haven't been posting.  I'm finally having a whole weekend off, and hope to get some urgent projects started at least.

I finally got one of the jar sealers for the Foodsaver that I order so I can start vacuum sealing my jars of dry goods (vegetable flakes, soup makings of various kinds, etc), and I have a couple of kilograms of blueberries cleaned and ready to go in the freezer that needs to be made into jam, and some herbs to get started in the window for hubby.  As he keeps tell me, a great chef like himself needs his own herb garden in the kitchen windowsill.  I believe it was wisdom on my part not to giggle at him.  I figure if he keeps practicing his culinary skills, he'll get better.  I hope.

My heart goes out to the folks in Japan.  For those most directly affected, the events of the last few weeks (has it really been that long?) will be with them for the rest of their lives and they are living through the kind of thing that a lot of us prepping for and hope will never happen.  I have family living outside of Tokyo, and it's a real worry to me.  As you can imagine, it's difficult to sleep sometimes.  Are they really okay?  Knowing that they were not directly harmed by the earthquake and that the tsunami didn't reach their neighbourhood is reassuring only to a point.  Reading that the tap water in Tokyo is contaminated, and unsafe for children, is truly frightening.

We haven't heard a whole lot about Haiti recently beyond the news that a devasting cholera epidemic has set in.  Innocent civilians are being killed as war heats up in Libya.  People are still trying to rebuild after the earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand, and the floods in Australia.  Truly, we have entered an age of catastrophe.

Living on the Pacific ring of fire as I do, earthquakes, volcanic activity and resultant tsunamis are actually some of the things I have to prep for.  So among my weekend projects is going to have to be revamping the BOBs and the EDC. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ukranian Cough Medicine

I cannot promise that this will cure your cold, but it sure tastes good....

Ukrainian Cough Medicine

2 cups vodka
2 lemons
2 whole heads garlic
1 cup honey

Squeeze the lemons, and put the juice (and pulp) into the vodka in a quart mason jar.  Warm the honey up if it's not the liquid kind so it will dissolve readily in the vodka.  Add to the vodka.  Set aside.  Break up the garlic heads into cloves, skin and mince the garlic.  Add to the vodka.  Put in a cool dark place and allow to meld for 1 week.

Dose: 1 tbsp.

(I have also used this as a marinade.  Tastes not bad.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cough, cough...

Yes, I am yet another victim of the whatever that's going around.  Cough, cough, cough.  It's getting tedious.  I bought some cough syrup, but it isn't helping. Gah, I need relief!

I searched the internet for homemade cough remedies, and most seem to employ honey and/or lemon juice and/or garlic/ginger/freshly ground peppercorns.  I have an old Ukranian remedy that calls for vodka, honey, lemon juice and vast quantities of garlic.  I don't know if it really helps or not.  It tastes delicious, even when I can't taste much else.  It also causes a distinct garlicky odour problem after a few doses, right through the skin, and I really don't want to offend anyone. 

A nurse told me to put Vick's Vapor rub on my feet every night (covering with socks to prevent staining of the sheets).  It definitely helps when rubbed on the part of my chest not covered by mammary glands, and it helps keep the sinuses clear when rubbed on one's nose.  I don't know about putting it on my feet.  I tried it, and all I noticed was that my feet, and hence the rest of me, were very warm.

When I was a kid, Dad would give my brother and I a little tiny ball of eucalyptus ointment each to swallow when we had a cough.  It was nasty, nasty stuff, kind of like eating really thick Buckley's.  Well, I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Right now, I'm sipping on hot lemonade with honey.  I took an antihistamine and some acetaminophen - that's my "generic" version of Neocitran.  All I need to figure out now is something to loosen the congestion.  Suggestions anyone?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let Them Eat ... Cornbread

Thought I would share my recipe for cornmeal muffins/bread.  It's loosely dervied from the Purity Cornmeal Bread recipe that used to be on the package 30 years ago.  For the longest time, I used a blue teacup with a broken handle as my measuring cup, but it finally completely broke, so my recipe is based on whatever cup I have to hand, and the ingredients are in fractions of that cup.

Preheat the oven to 375F for a loaf, or 400F for muffins.  Make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven.

In a largish bowl, put in 1 cup each of cornmeal and flour.  Add 1 spoon of baking powder (sized to match the amount of dry ingredients), salt, and about 1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar.  At this point, you can add 1/2 to 2/3 a cup of chopped dried or fresh fruit, kernel corn, onions, peppers, or whatever for either a sweet or savoury muffin.

In the cup, break 1 large egg (or 2 small eggs), and add enough oil to make 2/3s of the cup.  Add to cornmeal-flour mixture.  Add 1+ cups of canned milk (other milk will do but it changes the flavour); basically the amount will be a little more than 1 cup, aiming for a batter which is somewhat thicker than the usual muffin batter.  Finish with vanilla extract to taste. 

This batter should make about 1 doz. regular sized muffins, and takes between 14-17 minutes to bake, depending on the humidity, the oven and how large the muffin tins are.   Alternatively, you can make a loaf (in a largish bread pan), and it will bake in approximately 18-22 minutes.

They freeze well; however, for at hand eating, once they are completely cooled, put them in a closed container or a baggy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Urban Homesteading

I have just finished reading the post from Canadian Doomer about the whole Urban Homestead "trademark" stew: "Urban Homestead NOT a Unique Trademark".

Just out of curiosity, I did a search of the Library of Congress titles list, for the exact term "urban homesteading" and found 57 titles, the oldest of which dates back to 1974.  Most of the titles were from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board which was established in New York City in 1974.  Are these people going to tell this organization that has been existence for the last 37 years that they are not entitled to use their duly registered name?

Why, even the meaning given to the phrase "urban homesteading" by the original legal users of that phrase has a complete different meaning:  "The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board was founded in the midst of New York City’s economic crisis of the 1970s.  While landlords abandoned their buildings en masse, the city found itself with over 11,000 buildings on hand and no idea what to do with them. UHAB became a voice for the residents living in those buildings – longtime New Yorkers who had no intention of leaving.

"Turning buildings over to the residents began as an experimental idea. But soon the city was convinced it could be sustained. The first year UHAB offered training in Harlem, 200 buildings learned how to cooperatively govern and operate their own buildings."

Furthermore, this term is in common usage, and has been since the early 1970's with a variety of meanings related to self reliance in an urban setting, and clearly is not eligible for trademark status.  Read Canadian Doomer's post.  And buy the books of those writers who are being victimized by the family who shall go unnamed and shall be shunned.  And keep on using the words Urban Homestead and Urban Homesteading.  It's your right!

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series), 2008

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Urban Homesteading, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Healthy Living

I just received the latest newsletter from Backyard Food Production, and if you don't already subscribe, I strongly recommend that you do so.   The article is Part 1 on a series about health, and that it's more than just eating right.  I recently subscribed to this newsletter and have found that it is a no-fluff resource that always gives me something solid to think about.

Anyway, just as a bit of a teaser, and so you know why I really like this newsletter, the focus on the series is that the foundation of good health is diet and exercise.  Now, this is not "going on a diet", and "hitting the gym for a workout".  This is a lifestyle choice that focuses on eating food that has not been stripped of its value by chemical farming and over-processing, and a physical approach to life that rejects sedentary pursuits punctuated by harmful "workouts" that abuse your body.

Marjory Wildraft and the Backyard Food Production Team mention two books that have actually helped them be healthier, one of which is available through their bookstore:  Born to Run, and Pain Free.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Composting Toilet

Check out this interesting blog on building an earth-bag privy from the folks at Our Little Thing.  If you would like to learn more about earth-bag building, Owen Geiger has an awesome blog you will want to check out.  He also has a channel on YouTube features videos about, yes, earthbag building techniques.

Age and the Prepper

Earlier in the month, I was reading a blog entry from down---to---earth's Rhonda Jean about aging (Ageing and death - the final taboo), touching on the modern refusal to be old, as if it were some bad thing.  I found it very interesting and thought-provoking, particularly looking at it from a prepper point of view.

I agree with Rhonda Jean in that I no longer feel a desire to look younger than I am.  When I hit my fiftieth birthday, as a gift to myself, I gave myself permission to be my age without conforming to stereotypes about what my age should look like, or the new stereotype that if you don't look 20 years younger than you are, there's something wrong with you.  This was actually a bit difficult for me as I come from a family of fashionistas. 

After thinking more on the subject of age, I came to the realization that being the age I am (51) is absolutely great!  I've got a bank of experience and knowledge that is useful in a wide variety of circumstances, and will be useful in a wide array of scenarios, and so does hubby (yeah, the grasshopper has skills).  I've lived without the comforts of civilization (outhouse anyone?) at different points of my life, and have learned those little tricks that make uncomfortable situations less difficult.  And I still have my health and a measure of strength.

One thing that Rhonda Jean said really sticks with me: "I like the way old people look."  I think that a lot of people do.  Young people in particular who don't have "old" grandparents like to be around people who are comfortable in their wrinkly skins, because they so often don't feel comfortable in their own hides.  I am sincerely am glad that I'm not that young any more.  I don't miss the drama at all!

So if you are older, and thinking that it's too late to start prepping, stop that negative energy right now!  You are never too old to want to keep on living, and you are never too old to want to look after your family.  So if you want to be prepared, get to it!  Figure out what you are preparing for:  retirement, unemployment, forest fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, zombie attacks.  Make a plan.  Follow it (very important!).

Check out City Roots, Country Life, specifically their excellent post on shopping around for the best prices here.  These folks that took a long, hard, practical look at getting prepared, and not buying into the hype.  Price tracking is an excellent way to get prepared, not just for food and food storage, but also hand tools, and other manufactured items that would be useful, but isn't worth going into debt for.  I first learned about price tracking from America's Cheapest Family's website.  You can even download a copy of their price tracking sheet for grocery items here.

I posted a listing on Thursday about a basic list of staples that one should have on hand, and it jived so well with my own thinking that I posted it, although there are some items that I missed out on.  You do NOT have to follow this list; it's just a great starter, and certainly can be adjusted.  For example, I will stock more split peas than the list calls for because I really do prefer them to most kinds of beans. 

So my two cent's worth on the whole age issue is that this is a great time to be older. 

Survival Mom Blog Ring

Hey, check out the new link up in the top left corner.  I joined the Survival Mom Blog Ring.  I'm really excited about the opportunity to meet other gals who are prepping.  Head on over to Lisa's blog, here and join up.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Time Shopping List for an Emergency Food Supply List

I was checking out some of my favourite blogs and websites, and found this great article at Ready NutritionFirst Time Shopping List for an Emergency Food Supply.  I have translated the list into metric (this is a supply for one person for six months):

1.  4.5 kg of white or wheat flour
2. 4.5 kg of corn meal
3. 2.25 kg of oats
4. 9 kg of white rice (white rice stores better than brown rice)
5. 5.5 kg of pasta
6.  9 kg of beans (or equivalent canned) (think I'll stock less of this)
7. 2.25 kg lbs of mixed beans (lentils, mixed bean soup, black beans, etc) (yum, I'll stock more of these - bring on the split peas)
8. 2.25 kg of sugar
9. 900 g of salt
10. 3.75 L of cooking oil (I prefer olive oil as it keeps better)
11. 2 large containers of peanut butter
12. 2.25 kg of powdered milk
13. 454 gm of baking soda
14. 454 gm of baking powder
15. 250 gm lbs of yeast
16. 3.75 L of vinegar
17. 3.75 L of drinking water per day (6 months = 180 days approx. = 682 L)
18. 3.75 L of bleach
Multiply the above amounts by the number of peeps in your household. If you can't manage 6 months worth, then divide by six and make your goal to do one month's worth.

I checked my inventory, and there are some items on the list that I need more of, as when I started prepping, I went at it bass-ackward.  So I have lots of commercially canned and home-canned items such as veggies, meat and fruit, I'm short on some of the other essentials.  I have my list all ready to go though.


I just wanted to express my sympathy to all the folks who have been snowed in the last couple of days.  Stay warm, and stay safe.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jiggle Jiggle

I decided to use my new (to me) canner to jar up some chicken breasts.  It was a nice find that I got at the second hand joint, and after initial testing it worked well.  However, today was the day to put it to the real test.

And the first test was of my temper, as the rack had completely disappeared.  I have my suspicions as to who and why (hubby was eyeing up the rack and asking me if I really needed it, so I think it is now part of some "man" project).  I had to improvise a rack from the bottom of a spring-pan that had lost its sides.  We punched a bunch of more-or-less evenly spaced holes through it, hammered back the edges of the holes, and it seems to be working just fine.  Strictly speaking, hubby did the hole punching.  He feels that any job that involves smashing things with a hammer is his job.  He's also ready to volunteer to blow things up too :)

This old canner (the manual was dated 1951) holds about 5 1-pint (500 mL) jars, unlike my new canner which will hold quart (litre) jars.  I was able to put about 3 to 3-1/2 chicken breasts in each jar.  I have to say that I was amazed at how much the chicken breasts squished down.  It was also kind of disgusting, and I kept washing my hands because of the sheer gross factor.  Eww!

So I'm enjoying the jiggle of the weight on the canner, and waiting for the  timer to signal 75 minutes have passed.  It's such a friendly sound, and takes me back to my childhood...

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I've been reading all of my favourite blogs, and so many of them have the same theme:  snow!  The novelty has worn off, and everybody would like to see some or even all of it go away.  I'm feeling positively guilty that we haven't had much snow here. 

Years ago, living on the east coast, I too used to be very tired of snow come January.  Fallen trees on the road to our village, white outs and blasts of winds that could knock over tractor trailers, and feeling the house shudder even in the basement when a blizzard came through - I don't miss it one bit.  Those were the days when I blessed the wood stove.  We'd hang the hurricane lamp from its secure hook in the high ceiling and play cards by its light, and on the wood stove - stew from the pantry would fill the air with a wonderful aroma.  Food grown in the garden, canned and stored in the pantry... there's nothing like it.  Even when times were tough money-wise, we didn't have to worry about where the next meal would come from.

We didn't think of ourselves as preppers.  We thought of ourselves as practical people, knowing that winter happens, electricity going out happens, storms and floods happen, and only a fool would fail to plan for it.

When snow, or other life-interrupting events, force us to slow down or even pause the mad scurry, enjoy it.  Take advantage of the opportunity to take stock, re-organize your preps, and practice a few skills.  All too soon, the rat race will start again. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

CannedFood UK

I found a terrific site today with recipes that focus on using canned food while still producing nutritious meals.  They have a lot of recipes, a great many of which could be adapted for cooking with food storage.  The site is CannedFood UK, and features recipes from chef James Martin.  They also have a channel on YouTube in which some of the recipes are demonstrated.  Check it out!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Corn Meal

Corn meal is one of the must have items that I try to keep stocked up on in my pantry.  However, these last few months, corn meal has been very difficult to find, and the price has shot up tremendously.  After searching every aisle at several supermarkets, I could only find the measly little 1 pound bags and they have gone up to $2.49 and $2.59 depending on the store, a huge jump from three months ago when the price was $1.79.  In one store, I found the corn meal in the specialty flours section!

Good thing I have some in the pantry, but I'm thinking that I'm going to have to invest in that grain mill sooner than I anticipated.  Popcorn is still available at the same prices for now.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Richard Nixon

Read this interesting bio about Richard Nixon over at American Minute.  I find it interesting that Richard Nixon was probably one of the better presidents the U.S. has had, and yet the only thing most people remember is that he bugged a few phones.  Today, the president presides over a government that bugs the entire world's communications system.  Both activities are politically motivated, albeit Nixon's agenda was more five and dime.  I guess in politics, if you are going to do something wrong, do it on a really large scale, and you'll get away with it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thrift Stores

Recently, on my weekly visit to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, they were having a $5.00 Bag of Books sale on.  I was able to pick up some useful books about gardening in my area, plus some other interesting tomes I had previously considered buying such as a book of poetry by Robert Service.  I particularly love "The Cremation of Sam McGee" which my grandfather used to recite from memory.

I think that most of us who are prepping take full advantage of our thrift stores as someone else's trash just might turn out to be a treasure that helps us become more self-reliant.  Just the other day, I found a hand cranked meat grinder with all the attachments on a mounting board for a fraction of the cost of new.  I have also seen a hand-operated knitting machine, treadle sewing machines, and other manual treasures discarded in favour of electric devices; also paper plates and plastic cutlery, canning jars and sealing lids still in the boxes unopened, hand tools of good quality, real wool woolens, kerosene lamps, oil lamps, camp stoves, a wide variety of camping gear, backpacks, and all at reasonable prices compared to buying new. 

Another great source for prepper items is yard sales, and even dumpsters.  Right now, I have professional pizza pans that were rescued from the dumpster behind a pizza shop in town.  Some elbow grease and they were as good as new.

In my town, every spring we have a weekend "swap" event, where folks put out things they no longer have a use for at the curb, and other folks cruise around and pick up stuff they think they could use.  After the two day event, the "unswapped" items are collected by the city and donated to a local charity.  Check in the papers, or the city's web site to find out if there are events like this where you live.

Remember, prepping doesn't mean going out and spending big bucks on special gear.  It means developing the survival mindset that enables you to see the value in someone else's junk and re-using, recyling, re-inventing.  It means seeing opportunities where other people see none.  It means reaching out and grabbing opportunities to do for yourself instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you.  And sometimes it means climbing over obstacles nay-sayers might put in your path. 

A great many sites out there are very focused on selling you things to prep with, but really, do you really need to spend a great deal of money in order to be prepared?  No, I don't believe so.  Rather, if you are frugal, and use your money wisely, you can be prepared for many of the "negative events" that life and the universe can throw at you without spending a great deal more than you did before you realized that you need to become more self-reliant.  Rather, you will be spending your money differently.

For this reason, I do recommend that you look not just at prepper sites, but also at sites about how to make your dollar stretch further, on how to simplify your life, and live frugally.  Read the blogs by people who can foods for fun, and tell you how to do it.  Check out the blogs of folks who camp, and hunt, and fish for fun.  These folks don't think of themselves as preppers, but really, many of these folks have a survival mindset. 

For example, one fellow who hikes and blogs about his various treks posted about how he started using socks to house a lot of his smaller pack items which allowed him to move more quietly when he wished to be able to photograph wildlife.  He also found that socks provided cushioning for delicate gear such as the lens of his cameras; and at need, he also had additional extra socks for his feet, to use as oven mitts, and to carry found items.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Food, Canning and Other Ruminations

Recently, I was at the second hand emporium and I came across a great find, a pressure canner with all the bits and pieces intact, including a new (still in the package) gasket and a replacement safety valve.  Wow!  I immediately bought it even though hubby complained that I already had one.  If one is good, two is great.

Today, I tested it to make sure that the gasket made a good fit, and to determine what heat level I need to put the burner at once I have pressure up.  I am pleased to report that it worked well, and being one of the weight style canners, I didn't have to worry about getting a gauge calibrated.

I have been reading up on canning things I've never tried canning before, such as bread, cake or butter.  Yes, I know that the experts say don't do it.  For example, at the University of Georgia, some experts did a study on canning cake.  They took some bacteria that they knew isn't killed by high temperatures, deliberately introduced it to the cake batter, baked and sealed it, unsealed and tested it.  The report does not actually state that the cake was subsequently processed in a pressure canner.  Naturally, the heat-resistant bacteria survived the experience. 

And yet, you can buy canned bread!

Similarly, the experts advise against canning butter because of botulism.  For example, you can read the material from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia on this topic.  However, they do not address the matter of those who recommend processing the canned butter in a pressure canner with the same directions one would use for any fatty meat/fish product.  No actual research has been done on canning butter.

So, what it boils down to is that you have to decide whether or not you will take a chance with these canning practices, keeping in mind that some botulism cases have actually been caused by commercially canned goods.  Back in the day, people were aware that there were dangers inherent in the canning process.  Nevertheless, before the advent of electricity and freezers, it was the best method available for storing foods.  So, people took their chances.

Before canning, a lot of the methods of storing foods over the winter involved caching food in a cellar, or a hole in the ground, or a cave, or an unheated building.  A lot of this food suffered from the depredations of rodents, who not only nibbled on the foods, but left behind disease-ridden calling cards, and fleas (which also carried diseases).  They frequently didn't have clean water to drink, and didn't know why they got sick.

We do know about these disease vectors, and so we can work to overcome them, but the bottom line is, life is not really safe.

My personal take?  I think I'm going to try pressure canning butter like it was a nice fatty bit of meat, 75 minutes per pint, 90 minutes per quart at 10 lbs pressure.  Update:  After reading this post by Bonny of Opportunity Farm on Safe Survival Canning over at the Survivalist, I'll only try canning stuff that I know is tested.  Like most, I have an aversion to dying, or seeing someone I love die.  After all, preparedness is all about 'better safe than sorry', isn't it.

Update:  May 2011 - after doing more research, I'm looking into making and storing ghee.  Once the milk solids have been removed from butter, clarified butter or ghee, can be stored for a significantly longer time.  Check out this article here (a .doc file). 

But I'm also still going to look at getting in some commercially canned butter or butter powder:

Or butter powder: