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.