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Preparedness Nuggets

A Cyberbook of Practical Wisdom for Daily Living

gathered from internet discussion groups and edited for web publication by Robert Waldrop

PART THE SIXTEENTH

Preparedness Nuggets ... Justpeace Home ... Bookstore ... Better Times Home

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100 LB/HOUR GRAIN MILL

200 Gallon waterbags for storage

Advice on chickens

Aloe vera plant for healing burns

Bandages: a cheap and unusual source

Catholic preparedness organization

Composting manure

Container gardening

Cooking on a wood stove

Cooking pasta with minimum fuel

Cooking with a wok

Crockpot cooking

Dehydrating cooked beans and rice

Expert advice on starting seeds

Garlic growing details

How to make your own electrical generator

Insulin storage

Link to homemade solar panel site

Make your own inside window thermal shutters

Make your own tofu

Make your own well bucket

Making compost and growing potatoes

Making compost and growing worms (cheaply)

Netlinks on raising rabbits

One family's alternative energy setup

Oral Rehydration solution (WHO recipe)

Practical advice on storing whole grains

Rabbit Production Figures

Recipe for baby formula

Report on Breedlove/Harvest Ladle Foods

Salt Cured Country Ham

Saving and sprouting your seed

Saving bacon grease

Seed saving procedures

Shortening

Solar cooker suggestions

Solar living on-line newsletter

Storing cheese without refrigeration

The Three Sisters

Tomato Gravy

Troubleshooting Home canning problems

Winter hand laundry








BANDAGES: A CHEAP AND UNUSUAL SOURCE TOP

Way back in the '70's when I was in college taking an advanced first aid class, our instructor told us he always carried sanitary napkins in his own first aid kit. He said for large wounds, they were the best and cheapest bandages he had used. Of course, being a single, 28 year-old man back then buying multiple packages of the things on sale did make him look a little odd. No Costco's back then. Now we can buy bales of them.



EXPERT ADVICE ON STARTING SEEDS TOP

We have been doing this for a very long time. 1. Put your seeds in refrigerator overnight. If I have a hardshelled seed such as peas, beans, etc., I put them in water first and put the whole dish into the refrigerator. 2. Take seeds out of refrigerator and "plant" them in your peat pots or whatever devise you are going to use to plant them. 3. Put them on a tray that will hold enough to cover the bottom. Place your "planted" seeds onto the tray. 4. Take your tray to the oven and place inside. Keep the light on. Keep the seed in the refrigerator until they have sprouted. It takes us anywhere from 2 days to 4 days. Just the heat from the lightbulb does the trick. 5. Then take them to your "grow lights" and let mother nature take over for awhile. Keep bottom of tray watered. 6. Then transplant into larger containers or outside.



MAKING COMPOST AND GROWING POTATOES TOP

We have been gardening for quite sometime and have always had two "compost piles" going. One from the previous year and one started at the end of the fall cleanup garden and flower detail. Here is something that has worked for us. We always place table scraps (no meats) into a large galvanized steel garbage can. We put leaves, scraps, soil, water, scraps, leaves, soil, water, etc. all winter long. (especially potato peelings). When spring comes we empty the composted material from the garbage can onto the "new" compost pile and dig it in. We continue to water and add soil and before long potatoes will begin to grow and sprout out. Just continue to water all summer long. At the end of the summer we dig our "free" potatoes. We usually get between 1 bushel to 1 ˝ bushels of potatoes that are sometimes bigger than the ones we row planted.

This is just a hint that someone would like to try. Potato/leek soup tastes awfully good on a cold night. (you can always dehydrate the potatoes and leek) but usually they keep in a cool basement for two/three months.





COOKING WITH A WOK TOP

I use a wok for just about everything I cook in the kitchen. I have a "carbon steel" wok (the large size). Because it is an excellent heat conductor it can be used on gas, electric, propane, wood stove, buddy burners, open grate fire, etc. You get the picture. I just fed ten of us on about 1 pound of beef, 1 onion, green peppers that had been frozen from the garden and a stock that had been made from leftover turkey bones. I steamed veggies on the side and made a pot of rice. Thicken the stock in the wok and you have a gourmet meal (for very little money). I make spaghetti sauces, soups, fried chicken, fish, seafood, (okay I make just about everything in this wonderful creation.) You never use soap products on it so hot water is all you need for cleanup. Make sure you dry it well and oil it each time after its use. One tip I learned from being a Girl Scout Leader is that when cooking over an open flame and you are using any pot or other utensil of your choice, make sure you use dish detergent on the bottom of the pot before putting it on the fire. The black soot just washes right off and it is ready to use for the next meal.



SAVING AND SPROUTING YOUR SEED TOP

The method that works for us is we keep the seed in our basement in quart canning jars over the winter. Temperature is around 55 degrees, maybe a little colder on cold days. Then in February we will put these seeds in the refrigerator. The day before we start our seeds for sprouting we place them in warm water (overnight). The next day we plant them in the (soiless soil mix) and put the trays into the oven (without it turned on) and shut the door, but keep the light on. The seeds will sprout in about 2 days to 5 days depending on the seeds you are trying to sprout.

When the sprouts break the surface we move them to our basement under grow lights. (we have the seedling pots in a tray that is able to hold water). If it is very cold we place them on a heating pad on low or a heating blanket that you are not using. These sprouts really love to be warm from the bottom. Make sure you water from the bottom also. When they need transplanted to larger grow pots, just transplant into larger pots. Hint: I save my used egg shells and plant one seed in each shell and then can transplant them directly into the outside soil when it is warm enough to take them out.



SOLAR LIVING ONLINE NEWSLETTER TOP

Plus many other resources may be found at Mr. Solar . Newsletter has been published for 3 years.



200 GALLON WATERBAGS FOR STORAGE TOP

One company that sells 200-gal waterbags (made out of food grade vinyl, the same thickness used for waterbed mattresses)--for $99, last time I checked--is at www.watertanks.com .



RABBIT PRODUCTION TOP

Rabbit is a source of protein, and they are meal size. Don't need to store a lot of meat like if you butchered a hog or a steer. A good rabbit doe can produce an average of 6 offspring every 6 weeks. The young are fryer size in 8 to 9 weeks. A well managed rabbit husbandry program that included 10 does and 2 bucks will produce an average of one meal per day, with an extra 3 or 4 meals per week for fallback or barter. Every now and then the keeper would need to raise a doe or two and an occasional buck to insure continued production. A rabbit can breed at about 8 - 9 mo of age.



ADVICE ON CHICKENS TOP

If you just want eggs, get leghorn variety hens. If you want a chicken that will provide good eggs as well as good meat, I would lean toward the White Rock. It is better than most large birds at laying, and as good as any but the cross for meat. The ones I had laid year around.

If you buy chicks mail order from someplace like Murry MacMurry, the proper term for female chicks is pullets, and male chicks is cockerels. Straight run refers to chicks of undetermined gender.

I have also read that a rooster is important because his presence encourages egg production, even though he is kept separate to prevent fertilization. Also the stimulation caused by the rooster causes the eggs to develop with less cholesterol (so it is said, anyway).

Another message: I raise chickens and this info is for y'all that don't know much about them. Chickens lay one egg per day except they don't lay while they molt (lose feathers). They need 12-14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. In the winter months you can put lights in the coop. They will still lay with decreased light only fewer. As they get older they lay less eggs too. And my favorite question that people ask, "Do you need a rooster for a chicken to lay eggs"? No only to fertilize them. Only 1 rooster is needed for about every 10-15 chickens. The disadvantage about chickens is that they require much more food than a rabbit. If you let them roam free to find there own food this will help on food. The disadvantages are that they are prey for other animals and they will hide there egg when they lay it. Then the rabbit comes and sits on it and takes all the credit!!

If you want to raise chickens for meat raise broilers. They grow fast and meaty. They are ready to cook in 6 weeks. Check with you local feed stores. Some sell chicks or they can give you info where to buy them.



RECIPE FOR BABY FORMULA TOP

Okay, I am reproducing this recipe and the subsequent comments from "The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn (that's the book, not the newsletter), page 19. Copyright 1992 by the author, and printed by Villard Books in New York

2 - 12oz cans of evaporated milk -- 32 oz water -- 2 Tbsp Karo syrup -- 3ml Poly Vi Sol vitamins

"Prepared correctly [homemade formulas] rank a distant third behind breast-feeding and commercial formula. They are probably adequate but not optimum. However under certain circumstances homemade formulas may be fine to use. Before considering its use you need to know more about infant nutrition and formula in general."

According to the article, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) was unaware of any documented cases of children getting botulism from the corn syrup. However, the WIC nutritionist she consulted expressed some concern, and suggested that possibly granulated sugar be used instead.

(Note from me: do not EVER give a child under the age of one honey for any reason. A number of deaths occur each year from babies being given honey. Honey contains the spores that cause botulism -- a very very tiny amount, which the human body processes with no problem. However, babies and people with immuno-suppressive diseases should not be given honey at all, because their bodies cannot destroy this spore. So, DO NOT EVER GIVE BABIES HONEY!)

In addition, If using the above formula (and for general knowledge sake) do NOT add the vitamins to the formula if it is to be heated. Infant nutritional supplements such as these vitamins are VERY heat sensitive, and will lose their potency. Please give separately.



SAVING SEED PROCEDURES TOP

My question, how do you properly store seeds for long term viability? Keep them cool and relatively dry, sealed in plastic if possible. Seeds are living, breathing organisms, so do not store them with a desiccant; a low level of moisture is actually necessary for survival.

Seeds of most species of popular garden vegetables and fruits are viable for three to four years if stored properly. Some hard-seed-coat seeds -- such as beans and cole crops like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts -- last even longer.

Don't forget potatoes and sweet potatoes. You can either store seed tubers in sand in a root cellar, or you may be able to simply plant a fraction of your fall crop in the ground to overwinter for next year's crop, depending on your climate.

More problematical are seeds of the allium and umbelliferae families: onions and carrots, respectively, and related plants. Seed production is biennial -- you need two years to get seed -- but the seed itself is so perishable that it must be planted the very next year; a year later the seed will have germination rates so poor as to be useless.

Both of these species are valuable -- onion for flavoring the rice and beans we all are storing away (right now, in India, people are threatening to vote out the current government because of a severe shortage of onions!), and of course carrots are a valuable source of vitamin A and fiber, and are easily stored all winter in a barrel of sand in a cool place. But you will have to go to some effort to get and maintain seed production. The carrots and onions you plant next spring will be bearing seed in the fall of 2000 for planting in 2001.

And yes, my garden has unharvested onions and carrots to bear seed for me next year, to be planted in the spring of 2000. From misc.survivalism.



NETLINKS ON RAISING RABBITS TOP

http://www.3-cities.com/~fuzyfarm/Meat-rab.htm

http://hammock.ifas.ufl.edu/txt/fairs/1454

http://www.qsl.net/ki0dz/rrr.htm#RRR Raising Rabbits for Fun and Food: A Primer on Backyard Meat Rabbit Raising

MAKE YOUR OWN INSIDE WINDOW THERMAL SHUTTERS TOP

Purchase 4x8 insulation foam board, cut it to fit inside the window frame..it will fit snug with no need to nail or staple. Cover with a fabric to match your decor if you desire..



SOLAR COOKER SUGGESTIONS TOP

I've made one of these Minimum Solar Box Cookers and it worked well (earth latitude 40 degrees, N) from about the first of May until the end of September. They're great for Dutch oven meals, although we didn't feel it always got hot enough for the safe cooking of chicken and pork.

Would recommend using glass as a glazing material instead of oven bags and making the hinged lid reflector out some sort of uniform-surfaced polished metal, rather than using aluminum foil-covered cardboard. Would also recommend making it at least three feet wide by three feet long as this tends to increase the surface area, allowing for more heat production.



SAVING BACON GREASE TOP

You can also use lard, made from your grease after frying bacon. Just strain the bacon grease and store in a jar in the frig or a very cool spot. Once the lard is hard you can store it at room temperature and as long as your lid is tight it will last a very long time. It is great for pie crusts, and also for frying potatoes and other vegetables. We will need the extra fat -- believe me.!!!



REPORT ON BREEDLOVE TOP

Note from RMW: The Breedlove plant in Lubbock, Texas is owned by a non-profit organization, which provides food (for the cost of the shipping and packing) to shelters and soup kitchens. he public and the profits help finance their charitable work. Http://www.breedlove.org .

A report: My wife and I went there and purchased some individual packages for sampling purposes. We found that with the vegetable blend it tends to be more of a soup base consisting of potatoes, carrots, rice, TVP, onions, etc. The flavor of the mix alone is somewhat bland, however it becomes quite tasty with the simple addition of some bouillon cubes. We tend to add two small cubes for every five servings or so. As far as the damages boxes, I am sure that the shipping company is the one to blame. We buy directly at the plant and the containers are in great shape when they leave there.



PRACTICAL ADVICE ON STORING WHOLE GRAINS TOP

My family has been storing wheat for over 25 years (we are LDS) and by storing I mean putting it in a plastic bucket and putting the lid on it. We have never lost any wheat to bugs. Once you make it into flour, it becomes much more enticing to bugs, but in the whole grain, we have never had a problem. I hope that this helps to calm the fears of some of you. Any protection beyond a plastic bucket should only help to calm your fears that much more. Many people that are discussing storage methods have not had the benefit of time-tested and proven methods in their own homes. Fortunately for all of us, many people on this site are highly experienced in this, thus allowing all of us to benefit. I would worry about things like flour, corn meal, and basically any grain that is already ground. However, whole grains, from our experience, have not been a problem.



SHORTENING TOP

Let's not forget about shortening. While olive oil is a good substitute for butter, and it definitely lasts longer than butter, shortening will last longer than them all. In doing research on shelf lives of various oil and fat products, I have learned that shortening in the metal-lined can such as Crisco and the like will last up to 8-10 years if it is unopened. As far as baking breads or other foods, this can be a valuable resource. However, I do think that I would put olive oil with spices on a slice of bread before I would use a pat of shortening. Note: make sure it is in a metal lined can; this may require looking for a five or six pound can, as many of the 1 and 3 pound cans are now made from cardboard.



INSULIN STORAGE TOP

My wife is insulin dependent every morning and night. This has been a real challenge for me, trying to come up with some plan that will work.

I have done a lot of insulin research and do not know of any insulin that does not require refrigeration.

What I have learned is that insulin has between a 12 and 18 month shelf life, unopened, when consistently maintained at between 38 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit. It does not do well being cooled and then heated and then cooled, etc. The storage need to be in the range noted above, consistently.

It cannot be permitted to freeze because the components it's made of separate and do not simply mix back together.

There are 2 refrigerators that can be run on wall power while we have it and then on solar, battery or a combo of solar and battery after the power is out. One is made by Koolatron and the other is made by Sunfrost. The whole package for Koolatron is around $800, and the package from Sun Frost is about $2,000.

As I see it, the Sun Frost unit is a bullet proof solution, but expensive. This unit is built as a medicine refrigerator used by the World Health Organization and other outfits like the Red Cross, for use in absolute desperate environments where no risk of not having the medicine can be tolerated whatsoever, period.

The Koolatron unit will work about as well, I think, but I have made no final decision as to which one to buy. Either Sun Frost or Koolatron can be accessed via the Internet. Just put their names into your search engine and you'll find them easy enough.

When you buy insulin, it's best to purchase the very most current manufactured date vials you can find. Perhaps you can hook up with a pharmacist that can place an order for you in anticipation of your placing an order with him very soon, and then you'd get the very most current stuff to start the 12 to 18 month clock.

Further, a way to acquire extra insulin for storage, and always have the most current on hand, is to buy double the amount you need every time you go and get it. The second and third and fourth, etc., times you do this, after you start to get enough of a supply on hand that maybe you feel you do not need it all, then you discard the oldest batch you bought, and renew the supply with a double order next time you go out again. I did not word that very well, but the idea is to double stock regularly, build up an excess supply, and then, at the time it makes sense for you personally, rotate out of the inventory the oldest stock you have, thus having only the very most current past few months of manufactured product on hand.



COOKING ON A WOOD STOVE TOP

This is an excerpt taken from the Jan/Feb l999 issue of Countryside Magazine, p63. The article is titled Woodstove Cookery:

"The first thing you will need are several trivets. Since your woodstove starts cool, gets hot, then is re-stoked, you'll need to have a means of temperature control. My trivets are cast iron and are 1/4", ˝" and 3/4" high. By varying them and the position and the position of the pot on the stove top, I can get just about anything I want from a simmer to a hard boil. I have never had a problem with any kind of cookware on the woodstove, even aluminum. However, I don't put anything directly on the stove except a trivet when it's really hot. ... Food develops a flavor I haven't been able to match on my regular gas range."



CONTAINER GARDENING TOP

I can't use the yard to garden in, as much as I'd like. So I had to move some of my crop upstairs. Composting must be done in the yard, my husband stated. You should see what I can grow on my front porch! A square plastic container this summer had leaf lettuce, 1 row planted each Monday 1 week apart gave us fresh lettuce for over a month ( vacation interrupted planting as no one was here) also using the same method, & a deeper container radishes & green onions. A medium size trash basket had a lovely tomato plant that produced well, took lots of water for this garden tho'. Be sure you cut or burn drain holes in buckets or other non traditional growing containers. BTW those "strawberry jars" clay with odd openings on the side work very well for <blush> strawberries on my porch! Be sure if you container garden on a porch, use soil lighteners as wet soil is Heavy, very Heavy.



MAKE YOUR OWN WELL BUCKET TOP

All rural wells in our area (West Tennessee) are 4 inch PVC. Well buckets can be easily made by using 3 inch PVC with a cap on the end and some sort of attachment at the top to hold the rope. A hole drilled in the cap on the end with a valve that would open by floating in order to let the water in at the bottom that would them close as the bucket is pulled up. Use a 4 or 5 ft. length of 3 inch PVC. This including the cap will fit inside the 4 inch well casing with a small amount of room to spare. The pump in the well will have to be removed before this kind of bucket would work.



100 LB/HOUR GRAIN MILL TOP

Our church group purchased a semi-commercial grain mill from Meadow Mills for about $1200. It works great and will grind about 100 lbs. an hour. Of course it requires electricity to operate.

http://www.meadowsmills.com/index.htm



ORAL REHYDRATION SOLUTION: WHO RECIPE TOP

The following recipe is from the World Health Organization: 20 grams of Glucose, 1.75 teaspoons of table salt, 1.25 teaspoons of Sodium Bicarbonate or Bicarbonate of Soda (same thing). Mix with 1 liter of cold water.



MAKE YOUR OWN TOFU TOP

Start with 1 dry quart of soybeans. (Two double-handfuls, if you do it my way).

Place in large container, and add roughly ˝ gallon water. Soak overnight. Drain water into garden or compost heap (it's got lots of nitrogen in it).

Grind soaked soybeans. In the "teotwaki" apocalypse suggested by some, you could use a sausage grinder. I plan to use my blender (like I usually do). If you're using a blender, save yourself time by blenderizing even parts soybean & water. Otherwise, you'll have to take the newly ground soybean guck and mix it with water (shoot for even parts, ie 1c to 1c).

Place the newly mixed mixture in a saucepan and heat to boiling STIRRING CONSTANTLY. This is like cooking milk: it'll skin and burn just as easily. Keep at a slow boil for 2 minutes. This is VERY important. If you don't do this, you'll get sick from eating the Tofu (soybeans have an enzyme that deactivates pepsin, which you need to digest proteins). After two minutes, remove from boil and let cool, stirring every few minutes to keep a skin from forming.

When cool enough to handle, strain through a double-layer of cheesecloth. Use the lumpy bits for the compost heap, or mix into livestock feed (cows & pigs will love it).

Add calcium chloride (I should know the Japanese name for this, but can't remember) or (my preference [ed: Julianna reminded me it's called "Nigari"]) lemon or lime juice (2 TBSP per quart seems to do nicely). The protein will curdle. Stir vigorously while curdling for soft tofu, or just mix it once and let it stand for harder tofu. Wait until there's plenty of 'whey' and lots of large curdles (2-3 minutes, though I once waited 6 minutes trying for very hard curd).

Strain again through cheesecloth. Put the curd bits and cheesecloth into a cheese press. Add weights to press the water out. Wait 30 minutes. Remove and unwrap.



COMPOSTING MANURE TOP

Question: I don't know about anyone else, but I've found that horse manure causes a lot of weeds because they don't digest hay as well as cows so I have to put news paper down in my rows and cover it with grass clipping or pull BUNCHES of weeds.

Answer: Right you are. With all these manures you have to compost them till they are well-rotted and everything IN them (weed seeds, insect eggs & larvae, etc.) is well-rotted, too. You do that by achieving as high a composting temp as you can: getting it up to "pasteurizing" temperature (160 degrees) and keeping it up there for a week or two would be ideal. I don't do any complicated jiggery-pokery with a thermometer though. I just mix it with something that's rich in carbon/cellulose (the traditional, and very good way, is to mix it with old moldy straw and/or sawdust) and cover it with clear plastic or black plastic (you can use trash bags) or even straw to insulate it and keep in the heat. Make sure it's moist but not soggy. Then it'll heat up fine and kill those weed seeds.

I mentioned putting black or clear plastic over a manure/straw/sawdust mix to keep it "hot." That's just if it's frigid out and/or very rainy and your pile's getting too cool. But remember--- I forgot to stress--- that the pile needs AIR. If you keep the plastic on all the time, you'll get anaerobic decomposition and that is NOT what you want. You'll lose your nitrogen via ammonia and methane, and it'll stink to high heaven. So turn that pile from time to time, and cover with straw (or leaves or grass clippings) if you want to. Steamy-hot, airy, moist is what you're aiming for. Use the plastic only temporarily, only if the pile is in danger of actually freezing. And in a BIG enough pile, even if it forms a frozen crust on the outside, the core temp can still be quite hot. And you don't "have" to have animal manures to have great compost. Kitchen scraps, leaves, shredded newspaper, garden debris, anything organic (e.g. feathers from old pillows! Dog hair from a poodle beauty parlor! Your husband's beard clippings! Anything!) and you'll do splendidly.



GARLIC GROWING DETAILS TOP

According to one of my gardening books, Plant garlic in the fall up north and from Nov. - Jan down south, the goal being to allow roots to get established b-4 frost but not enough time for green stuff up top. Hardneck garlic winters over better, but softneck can be spring-planted but with smaller bulbs. It likes well-drained, well-worked, mod. fertile soil. Break up bulbs and plant scar side down about 2 in. deep and 4-6 in. apart. Largest cloves will make largest bulbs. Mulch over winter. In the spring, begin watering and provide extra nitrogen(manure tea) Hardneck g. will send up a flower stalk, snip it off when it begins to straighten to make a bigger bulb. Use the topsetting bulbils in cooking, or cure and plant ˝ in. deep in fall or spring for garlic greens. Garlic will adapt itself to your location and climate. So after growing and selecting the best bulbs for a few years, you should have one adapted to your spot of earth and will therefore get better harvests. Ready for harvest mid to late summer, when a little over half the leaves have yellowed and become dry, leave too long and the bulbs will sprout. As harvest approaches, cut back on water and don't keep soil wet. Loosen soil, lift out bulbs, take inside out of direct sunlight. Bunch 5-10 together and hang or dry on screens. Trim necks to ˝ in. Once fully cured, keeps well in net bags at room temp or slightly cooler

Heirloom varieties: Hardneck- Rocambole Type, Carpathian-6-10 cloves, matures a wk later. Flavor-hot, spicy and strong; German red-10-15 cloves,Flavor-hot, strong and spicy; Spanish Roja/Greek blue-6-13 cloves/bulb,keeps 4-6 mos if well grown, often does poorly in mild winters, easy peel;

Purple Stripe Type-only ones to produce fertile flowers; Chesnok red-8-12 cloves, good aroma and flavor that stands up well in cooking, harvest a wk later than Rocamble types.

Porcelain Types; Romainian Red-4-5 plump cloves, flavor hot and pungent. Stores well.

Softneck Garlic - produces cloves in several overlapping layers

Artichoke Type; Inchelium Red-8-20 cloves, mild taste that sharpens in storage; Lorz Italian-12-19 cloves, plants stand summer heat well, good flavor, some hot years

Silverskin Type; Nootka Rose-15-24 small cloves, long papery tail good for braiding, strong flavor; Silverskin-15-20 cloves, mild, sweet to hot, productive, good keeper



TROUBLESHOOTING HOME CANNING PROBLEMS TOP

When you are pressure canning, be sure to start your timing from the time your pressure comes up, not from the beginning. In large canners which hold several quarts of water (not the jars), it takes some time to get it hot enough to produce the steam you need, so don't start timing your batch until you see your gauge move into the desired range, or your weight begins to jiggle.

Here are some possible areas to look at when trying to troubleshoot your canning problems:

Make sure when you put your jars into the water that the lids are screwed on as tightly as you can do it without a jar wrench or other helper.

How deep was your water? It should be at least to the shoulder of the jars.

What was your pressure? Make sure your pressure stays constant.

Another trick if you have a small enough canner is to put it into cold water and reduce the pressure quickly before the jars and rings have time to cool down naturally. With potholders and jar tongs, remove your jars, and tighten the rings snugly before the lids "ping." (Warning: Be sure your pressure is COMPLETELY gone. All your safety valves will drop when this occurs. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OPEN THE COOKER IF ANY SAFETY VALVES ARE STILL UP, or IN "SAFE" POSITION! ) This warning is for anyone who has never canned before. Seasoned canners know about these things already, but it never hurts to be reminded every once in a while.

I think the most important thing, however, is making sure your rings are tightened down well before you put the jars into the canner. My problem is that the broth in the jars boils out. All my jars have sealed, but half of them only have an ounce or two of broth left. When I open the pressure cooker, the water is full of broth. I haven't been able to figure out a way to combat this problem yet. If you have any ideas on this, I'll be glad to hear them. Yes, my lids were grinched down as tightly as I could get them with my bare hands.

Just looked it up in my trusty Ortho "Complete Book of Canning."

Here's the official step by step according to Ortho:

1. Heat jars in hot water or oven at 200 degrees to prevent their breaking when lowered into hot water in canner. Put your canner onto the burner and add hot water to depth of 2-3". Cover canner but do not fasten lid and bring water to a boil. Keep this water hot while you prepare foods.

2. Fill the jars, leaving adequate headspace according to recipe.

3. Run a narrow spatula gently around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles trapped in food. Wipe jar rims clean, place lids on jars, and screw rings on firmly (as tightly as possible without using "cheater.")

To process, place jars in a rack inside the canner. Arrange them so they do not touch each other or the sides of the canner. Fasten the lid securely. (The following part is important) Exhaust the canner by opening the petcock or pressure regulator, to let air escape through the vent for 10 minutes, according to canner's instructions. Air left in the canner will prevent the temperature from rising as high as is necessary.

After venting, seal the lid, then close petcock (pressure regulator) and bring the canner to 10 pounds of pressure--240 degrees F. Start timing the process when the pressure level is reached. Process for the length of time given in the chart or recipe. Regulate the heating element when necessary. DO NOT LOWER THE PRESSURE BY OPENING THE PETCOCK. Watch pressure carefully--fluctuating pressure draws liquids out of the jars, resulting in a poor seal.

Cool the canner by turning off the heat and let the canner cool down. This will take about 30 minutes. Cool the jars by leaving them in the canner for another 15 minutes or more. Then remove the jars with a jar lifter and set them on a folded towel or cooling rack in a draft-free place. Leave space between jars for air to circulate. (I remember seeing my mom lay a dry dish towel (single thickness) over hot jars to protect them from drafts while they cooled.)

Test the seal by pressing on the center of the lid. Lids that stay down are sealed. Jars that do not seal must be refrigerated and the contents eaten within a few days. Remove the ring bands if desired after jars are sealed. Label and store jars in a cool, dark, dry place. Some cookers might be 15 pounds. If this is the case, lower the processing time by 15 minutes.



WINTER HAND LAUNDRY TOP

Hanging wet laundry outside in the winter can be a little hard on the fingers. Wear rubber gloves to minimize the effect of cold air on wet skin, and make sure they fit well enough so you won't be pinning the tips of the fingers up with your laundry.



ALOE VERA PLANT FOR HEALING BURNS TOP

Put fresh aloe vera gel on your burns and keep doing it every time you think about it. It's called "burn plant" for a reason. For an example, my son, as a teenager, had a go-cart. In order to turn off the engine, he had to reach back and pull the wire off the spark plug, but one time when he did that, he knocked the fuel line off, and gasoline poured all over his forearm just as he reached for the spark wire. Sure enough, the gasoline on his arm ignited, and it was a flaming torch in seconds. He came right home, of course, and I immediately began applying aloe every time he sat down. He had no blisters, has no scars, and no sign that he had ever been burned except that he lost all the hair on that arm for a few months. Just remember to apply it frequently. You can find it in tubes and bottles in stores and drug stores, and is an essential part of any good first aid kit.

You can also use fresh sap from the plant. Cut off a large leaf, split the skin, and peel it back to expose the gelatinous interior tissue. You can lay the whole opened leaf on your hand if you wish. (Cut off as much of the plant skin as you can. Scissors work best.) If you wish, you can wrap a little light bandaging around it to hold it in place for a while. Just keep applying it, and you will not only get relief but you will heal quickly.

ONE FAMILY'S ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SETUP TOP

First, let me say that it was a series of co incidences that led us to this life style. We never intended to "head for the hills" and we are not "militant," just retired military. We bought a piece of land with the idea that we would build a house. In order to get commercial power to the house, we would have had to cross a neighbor's land, taking out old, old almond trees. Plus we were not going to be able to dig the ditch ourselves, the power company would have to do that, too. Plus, we were short on cash.

We worked on the house after school (we were school teachers then) and on weekends. With three little kids in tow, we had to learn how to cook, etc, so we could work there longer.

This is a profile of our energy situation today.

We have a total of 17 -- 40 watt solar panels, mounted in a fixed position. Since we are in California, at about the 38th parallel, we get a lot of sun, so the panels do not have to track the sun.

The panels are not all hooked together. Two power the motor home. Three keep a battery bank in the shed full. Two are put together so they make 24 volts, not 12, because my fax machine is 24 volts. The rest are in one bank, and they feed, thru a controller device, a bank of batteries. Both the big house and the studio feed off those batteries.

There is an inverter which makes 110 ac current (like your regular house current) which runs the computer, scanner, printer etc, television, etc. The lights are 12 volts.

For really heavy power, like the well pumps, and power equipment, we have a 7.5 propane generator

I do not have many accessories in my kitchen. That is a personal choice. I am a kitchen gadget Luddite. I use grinders and choppers...with cranks.

There is a book you might find useful: Alternative Energy Sourcebook. Mine is from 1993, but it is published by The Real Goods Trading Corporation, in Ukiah, California. 1-800-762-7325. that may be an old number. They may also have a web page. www.realgoods.com

It isn't easy...My husband is very good at electronics, and I keep reminding him to make things "idiot- proof" and label everything. We have both 12 volt and 110 ac in the house...red and blue plugs,

However....if you just wanted to get some panels to charge a few batteries to have lights in case of an emergency....that is pretty simple. And the book I recommended has lots of how to information.

CROCKPOT COOKING TOP

This was in a flyer that came with a cookbook that I found in a used book store. It's GREAT! It tells you how to convert one dish recipes into "crock-potable" meals. I would suspect that this would work for Dutch ovens as well.

In most cases, all ingredients can go into you crock pot in the beginning and can cook all day. Many preparatory steps are unnecessary when using the crock pot. For example, you never need to brown or saute vegetables. If you feel unsure about a step, go ahead and follow the recipe's directions as written.

A few hints to remember:

*Allow sufficient cooking time on "low" setting.

*Do not add as much water as some recipes indicate.

*Remember -- liquids don't boil away as in conventional cooking. Usually you'll have more liquid at the end of cooking instead of less.

*Cook with cover on -- except to "brown off" liquids after cooking

*it's "one-step" cooking: many steps in the recipes may be deleted. Simply add ingredients to the crock pot at one time and cook 8 to 10 hours (add any liquid last)

*Vegetables do not overcook as they do when boiled in your oven or on your range. Exception: milk, sour cream or cream should be added during the last hour.

*Recipes that will not adapt well are cold soups, salads and those that require broiling or deep frying.

BROWNING MEATS

Seldom necessary -- except to remove excess fat. Just wipe well and pat dry. Fats will not bake off in the crock pot as they do in your oven. Pork, Lamb, bacon, et cetera should be browned and drained before adding to the crock pot.

LIQUIDS

Use less in crock pot cooking -- usually about half the recommended amount. 1 cup liquid is enough for any recipe unless it contains rice or pasta. Example: if a recipe calls for 2 cans beef broth, 1 will do.

SAUTEING VEGETABLES -- Never necessary!

Stir in chopped or sliced vegetables with other ingredients. Only exception: eggplant should be parboiled or sauteed, due to its strong flavor.

Since vegetables develop their full flavor potential with crock pot cooking, expect delicious results even when you reduce quantities. Example, if a recipe calls for 2 pounds sliced onions you may use only one pound. Because vegetables take longer to cook than meat, slice or chop them when possible. Note: sliced fresh mushrooms, frozen peas or corn should be added during the last hour, if convenient, for better color. (If this doesn't bother you, then toss them in at the beginning!)

TIME GUIDE

IF THE RECIPE SAYS, COOK IN CROCK POT:

15 to 30 minutes -- 1 ˝ to 2 ˝ hrs on high or 4 to 8 hrs. on low

35-45 minutes -- 3-4 hrs on high or 6-10 hrs on low

50 minutes to 3 hrs -- 4-6 hrs on high or 8-18 hrs on low

High = 300 degrees -- Low = 190 degrees

*Most uncooked meat and vegetable combinations will require at least 8 hours on low.

Crock pot cooks so gently...so a few extra hours on low need not worry you. Any recipe can be cooked on high the first two hours to reduce cooking time, and then turned to low.

Many recipes say "bring to boil, then turn down to simmer." In a crock pot this is not necessary. Simply set the crock pot to low and forget it. (I find that in some recipes the taste is slightly different, but not enough to truly worry about it.)

QUANTITIES

The quantity of meat, poultry and vegetables may be reduced without affecting flavor. Especially vegetables! If in doubt, cut the recipe in half. Casserole recipes often suggest a specific size of baking dish, Most recipes will fit into any size crock pot (except maybe the tiny dip ones!).

Recipes for a 4-qt. Dutch oven will fit the 3 ˝ and 4 ˝ qt. crock pots. For the 6 quart recipes, cut them in half.

PASTA AND RICE

If a recipe calls for cooked noodles, macaroni, etc...cook BEFORE adding to the crock pot. Don't overcook -- just until slightly tender. Add towards the end of the cooking time, not at the beginning.

If cooked rice is called for, stir in with other ingredients; add 1 cup extra liquid per cup of raw rice. Use long grain converted rice for best results in all-day cooking.

TOPPINGS

When a crisp topping of crumbs, bacon bits, tomato wedges or grated cheese is called for, add just before serving.

Dumplings -- may be cooked in broth or gravy on high. The 3 ˝ qt. size limits servings to 3 or 4. Drop by spoonfuls on simmering stew or liquid. Cook covered about 30 minutes. Biscuit, pie crust, or instant mashed potato toppings require baking. Transfer to a baking dish and follow recipe.

CHEESES

Processed cheeses or cheese spreads, such as American or Velveeta, are usually more satisfactory than Cheddar cheese. Try both -- see which you prefer.

HERBS AND SPICES

Leaf and whole spices are preferred, but their flavor power may increase -- so use only half the recommended amount. If you use ground herbs and spices, add during the last hour of cooking.

PRECOOKING

Do not precook seafood or frozen vegetables. Just rinse and drain thoroughly before adding to other ingredients. These foods cook quickly. Best to add during the last hour of cooking.

GRAVY

To thicken gravies before serving: remove ˝ cup of liquid from crock pot, stir in recommended amount of cornstarch, return to crock pot and simmer on High for 15 minutes. OR -- stir in 1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca at start of cooking. Gravy will thicken as it cooks.

MILK

Milk and sour cream tend to break down during extended cooking. When possible add during last hour of cooking. (This goes for cheese too.) Condensed soups may be substituted for milk, etc., and can cook for an extended period of time.

SOUPS

Some soup recipes call for 2-3 quarts of water. Add other soup ingredients to crock pot, then add water only to cover. If thinner soup is desired, add more liquid 1 hour before serving time.

If milk based recipes have no other liquid for initial cooking, add 1 or 2 cups of water. Then stir in milk or cream as called for, and heat before serving.

BEANS

Instead of soaking beans overnight, cook them overnight on low with water and 1 teaspoon soda added. Or parboil (Especially important in hard-water areas to properly soften beans.) Drain and combine with other ingredients. Cook according to time guide. Be sure beans are softened before you add any sugar or tomato to mixture.

STEWS AND RAGOUTS

Brown and drain stew meat if fat is visible. Fat or oil for browning may be omitted.

Do not use large quantities of water for stews. Usually one cup of liquid is enough. You may wish to add one tablespoon of beef flavored base at the end of cooking (I like Tone's, myself).

HOW TO ADAPT A TYPICAL RECIPE

Here's a sample recipe. Here's what would happen to it. (CAPS = THE CROCK POT ADAPTATION!)

Chicken-Seafood Casserole (YUM!)

1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined (RINSE AND DRAIN ONLY) -- 2 ˝ teaspoons salt -- 3/4 cup regular white rice (NOT INSTANT RICE!) -- 2 chicken legs and thighs, boned and skinned (WASH AND PAT DRY) -- 2 whole chicken, boneless and skinless (WASH AND PAT DRY) -- 3 tablespoons salad oil (DON'T NEED) -- ˝ cup chopped onion -- ˝ cup chopped green pepper -- 1 can (10 ˝ oz.) condensed tomato soup, undiluted -- 1 cup heavy cream (SEE BELOW) -- ˝ cup dry sherry -- ˝ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce -- 1/4 teaspoon pepper -- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves -- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1.) In a large sauce pan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil, add shrimp and salt. Return to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer, covered 10 minutes and drain. (SKIP!)

2.) Preheat oven to 350. Cook the rice as package label directs. Wash chicken and pat dry with towel. (SKIP!)

3.) In hot oil in 4-quart Dutch oven, brown chicken well on all sides, remove pieces as browned. (SKIP THIS ONE, TOO!)

4.) Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from Dutch oven. In hot drippings saute onion and green pepper until tender about 5 minutes. (SKIP-O-RAMA!)

5,) Stir in soup, cream (ADD CREAM DURING LAST HOUR. PUT ALL INGREDIENTS IN CROCK POT AND MIX WELL.), sherry, 1 ˝ teaspoons salt, the Worcestershire sauce, pepper and thyme until well blended. Add cooked rice (ADD 1 CUP EXTRA CHICKEN BULLION, BROTH OR WATER), chicken and shrimp. (STIR TOGETHER THOROUGHLY.)

6.) Bake, covered, 60 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Sprinkle with parsley. (COOK 8-10 HOURS ON LOW OR HIGH FOR 4 HOURS.)



DEHYDRATING COOKED BEANS AND RICE TOP

By cooking and dehydrating beans and rice in advance, you can save time and energy when using them for a meal.

First I cook the rice or beans fully! Then I spread it on cookie sheets and dry it at about 200 degrees for about 4 or 5 hours. To test I put some dehydrated rice in cold water. Cold because I figured if it would rehydrate in cold it would do great with hot. It rehydrated great. So now, in soups, or just a dish, all I have to do is soak it in cold water, and add it to a dish I am warming. Also, if we do have more problems and work than we think it sure will be a lot quicker. And one more thing. It is crunchy and not all bad! My 17 year old son grabs a handful every time he passes the cookie sheet I've taken from the oven.

We also presently eat our dehydrated corn (with salt) just as it is. My husband has taken pinches of most everything (spinach, collards, pineapple (I have to hide), etc. and has eaten them dry. He said they are not bad at all and he could tolerate them. So, there you have it.



TOMATO GRAVY TOP

Put 2 tablespoons of oil, then 2 tablespoons of flour, stir in skillet until flour is a pale, pale brown. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly, until it's the consistence of buttermilk. Stir and cook until gravy is covered in bubbles (boiling), add milk as needed to keep it from becoming too thick. Make SURE mixture is boiling when you slowly add about 4 tablespoons of canned tomatoes. (I like it with more tomatoes than that, myself). Add salt and pepper to taste, dash of sugar. Simmer on very low heat stirring constantly until gravy is thick and bubbly.

Webservant's note: You can also make this with tomato sauce. I make it as above, only adding one small can tomato sauce in place of the canned tomatoes. It's great over biscuits, and much less cholesterol then sausage or bacon.



CATHOLIC PREPAREDNESS ORGANIZATION TOP

Mountain Mission Products is a Catholic organization dedicated to the preservation of God's precious gift of life. We actually manufacture non-hybrid vegetable garden seed kits and a small line of storage food and drink products. We also distribute gardening, seed manuals, and preparedness books and a few emergency products. We hope to be adding a line of commercial grade first aid kits (including doctor bags that are used in the mission fields) very soon. In addition, we have resources to locate almost any type of hard-to-find survival product if you are unable to locate it yourself.

An important part of our ministry is to make available preparation resources to as many as possible. One way we attempt to do this by providing bulk orders of our products to church groups, nonprofit charities, and preparedness groups at production cost plus shipping and handling. To qualify for this program the following conditions must be met:

1. The products are distributed for free to the needy and/or

2. The products are used for local or international relief work and/or

3. The products are used as a fund raiser for the church or organization, and/or

4. The products are provided to church or organization members as part of an ongoing preparedness program.

The bulk order must be for 50 units or more (any combination), must be prepaid (a sad financial requisite), and the organization must have a 501 (c) 3 status or be affiliate with a larger church or nonprofit group that does (LDS, Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, Red Cross, etc.).

We are currently 90 days backlogged, but are adding volunteers and staff to try and keep up. We will continue to provide product as long as we have the resources. Please visit our web site to see what we have available and contact us for our special (unpublished) pricing for your group. You will find us at:

http://www.nwps.org/mission/products.htm



THE THREE SISTERS TOP

Native Americans used to garden with the 3 sisters - corn, squash and beans. They planted corn and when it sprouted, planted pole beans around each stalk of corn so the beans would go up the corn. They planted squash (pumpkins, winter squash, vining types) in between the rows. This conserved space and also reduced the amount of weeding required.



COOKING PASTA WITH MINIMUM FUEL TOP

I read once in a 3rd world cookbook that many cultures short on fuel would get a pot of water boiling, put pasta in it and cover the pot. They would turn off the heat and let the noodles sit in the hot/boiling water for at least an hour as it cooled. This used the least fuel to cook the food.



LINK TO HOMEMADE PORTABLE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM TOP

For a Homemade Portable Solar Panel Generator, please see:

http://www.netrover.com/~cbushell/solar/solar1.html

Complete with wiring diagrams, and product info for Gel Battery, Koolatron 12 volt DC Fridge, Portable Hot Water Heater, Solar Panel Details, 150 watt Inverter, Waterproof Onboard Battery Charger # 2603, and an Online Forum Discussion About This Solar Generator.

MAKING COMPOST, GROWING WORMS (CHEAPLY) TOP

Our typical city lot consists of gravel-studded clay on which, at present, I can raise mostly blisters. And we can't really afford to ship in 40 lb. sacks of bat guano from Peru, or bales of kelp from Wellfleet Mass. So we have to "make" almost all the soil we're going to use. And we have to do it with local stuff we can get for free for the hauling. Maybe you'll find this much-shortened selection from my list inspiring:

1. LEAVES. Free. City Streets Dept. Will deliver, via dump truck, almost any quantity. Packed with minerals and humic enzymes.

2. WOOD ASHES. Free. From our woodstove, plus neighbors. As good as lime for correcting soil acidity, plus potassium and lots and lots of trace minerals.

3. COFFEE GROUNDS. Free. Don brings it home from the office, plus we take what's in the church from coffee hour after Liturgy. Excellent soil textuizer, plus it gets the earthworms highly excited. (WooWoo!)

4. GRANITE DUST. Free. Local quarry. Can also get it from monument (tombstone) carvers. A cup of this goes into the worm box, too.

5. MANURE AND ROTTED STRAW. Free. Local stables. DO NOT use dog and cat manure; cat manure especially may carry toxoplasmosis virus. But other pet manures (rabbit, hamster, goat and other herbivores) are simply splendid.

6. TOBACCO STALKS. Free. Growers' Co-op Warehouse (we're in Tennessee). Wonderful for staking peas and beans; plus the nicotine repels insects. (There! Something good about nicotine!)

7. SAWDUST. Free. Lumberyards and sawmills. Good soil texturizer when mixed with something "hot," e.g. the manure.

8. SHREDDED NEWSPAPERS. Free. That's what I'm putting in my worm box, plus all the kitchen wastes and table scraps which the dog won't eat.

Now listen. Don't be spending money on this. To make compost you don't need a $200 UV-stabilized multi-vented plastic tumbler. You just need to make a --- pile--- . You mix different things together. Don't put in anything of especial interest to local mammals which may be at large in your back alley, e.g. no meat, fish or dairy products, and you won't have excited midnight digging or embarrassing odors.

And you don't have to send away for a $150 Worm Condo for Gourmet Vermiculture. Know what I'm using? A plastic laundry basket, roughly 1' x 1' x 2', lined with newspapers, in my basement, stocked with 1 lb. of mail-order red compost worms. Takes care of all the kitchen compostables in the winter, when the outside pile freezes over.





STORING CHEESE WITHOUT REFRIGERATION TOP

Start with a good hard cheese (such as cheddar). Dip it in a salt water solution strong enough to float an egg and set it on a rack to dry in the open air. The next day, rub with salt and turn over and dry on rack. The third day repeat the salt rub again. After three days, you should be able to see the rind developing. If it feels dry and smooth, it is ready to wax. If not, rub the surface with a little salt and dry again. You can also add a little vinegar to the salt water to help retard mold. Before a cheese can be waxed, it must have developed a nice, dry rind. In should not have any cracks. When you are satisfied that the rind is dry and that there are no cracks in the cheese, you are ready to wax it. Melt enough paraffin to cover half the cheese when it is immersed. Use a double boiler and bring the paraffin (or cheese wax that you have obtained from a cheese making supply house) to no higher than 210*F. Use caution as paraffin if highly flammable. Make certain that your hands are clean. Hold the cheese in one hand and dip into the melted paraffin. Hold up to ten seconds. Remove from the paraffin and hold the cheese in your hand for up to two minutes or until the paraffin is firm. Dip the remaining half of the cheese following the same directions. You may also turn the cheese a quarter turn now and repeat the above process. Store in a cool place. As this cheese is stored, it will continue to develop it's flavor (that's what cheese does). Store in a cool dark place.

SALT CURED COUNTRY HAM TOP

For a ham that will keep without refrigeration, even after you cut it, select a salt cured country ham. Some people find the slices a bit salty, but they can be soaked in water before cooking. These will not be the inexpensive hams in the grocery store, but rather a more pricey ham usually purchased from a mail-order outlet.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN ELECTRIC GENERATOR TOP

The plans at this website show you how to make a generator from a lawnmower engine and an automobile alternator. Http://forums.cosmoaccess.net/forum/survival/prep/tow02077.htm



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For much greater detail about my plans for adapting my "urban homestead" to meet the looming challenges of peak oil, climate instability, and economic irrationality, see Gatewood Urban Homestead, the permaculture design for my home.