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Preparedness Nuggets Part the Eighteenth

A Cyberbook of Practical Wisdom for Daily Living

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

Preparedness Nuggets Index


Baking bread in a Dutch oven


Chicken soup without the chicken

Egg substitutes for baking

Growing indoor tomatoes

Ham radio advice

Homemade laundry detergent

How to make your own charcoal

Library of American Civilization

Salt cured country hams may be stored without refrigeration

Solar cooking in a wheelbarrow

The power grid

Using garlic as a natural remedy

Water storage in cisterns

Waxing hard cheese


Library of American Civilization is a huge set of titles published in microfiche and available in the Phoenix Public Library and no doubt many others. It contains whole books, booklets and pamphlets from the 18th and 19th centuries. Just the LIST of the ones for Agriculture takes up 25 pages in the hardbound volume titled biblioguide index. The other indexes are by subject, author and title, but the best is the biblioguide.


Biodiesel is diesel fuel that you make from any kind of vegetable oil or animal fat, a little bit of methanol, and some lye. The byproduct is glycerin soap. You can use it in any diesel engine without further modification of the engine. Two sites with further information are listed below. The Veggie Van site is touting a book that describes the process in detail, and draws its name from a van the authors drove around the country powered by used cooking oil (which they got from restaurants), processed in the back of the van into biodiesel. The second connects with a larger world of biodiesel. This seems to me to be a very interesting idea for anybody with diesel engines. PS. The exhaust smells like french fries.


Garlic actually fight off some infections that modern antibiotics can't kill. Extract of fresh garlic cloves kills or slows the growth of more than a dozen common bacteria. If you feel like you're going to catch a cold or the flu, chow down on a clove or two of garlic. If you catch an infection in its very early stage, you may not even get sick. Raw garlic seems to fight infections better than cooked garlic, but cooked garlic is good for you too. Cooked garlic may be better at protecting against heart disease. If you are bothered by garlic odor you can take the supplement tablets with an enteric coating. This coating protects the garlic, preventing it from dissolving until it reaches the intestines.

CLEAR UP CHEST CONGESTION WITH GARLIC. Garlic can also be helpful in clearing up chest congestion that often accompanies respiratory infections. Try this chest clearing ointment you can make yourself:

Peel and mince seven garlic cloves. Put them into a pint-sized fruit jar; add enough shortening to cover the minced cloves. Place open jar into a pan of boiling water and let boil for three hours.

for extra effectiveness, add 1/8 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil to the melted shortening. Cool, cover and store. Rub ointment on the chest, stomach and back. Cover with a heavy bath towel. Garlic has been called the "jewel among vegetables." What a perfect description for an herb that can help you keep your most priceless possession, your health, in sparkling form.


Eggs have three main functions in cooking and baking: they add moistness, they bind ingredients together, or they leaven. How do you know what the egg is in your recipe? If the egg is the main liquid ingredient, it adds moistness. If the recipe has one egg but a fair amount of baking powder or soda, (or if there are no other components in the recipe that would be able to hold the other ingredients together, like bread crumbs, nuts, flour) the egg is the binder. If there are no other rising agents, the egg is the leavening. **To maintain the integrity of your recipe, you shouldn't try to replace more than two eggs.**

IF A RECIPE USES EGGS FOR ITS LIQUID PROPERTIES ALONE, two tablespoons per egg of any liquid, like juice, milk or soy milk, will do just fine. To add moisture and flavor to baked goods requiring eggs, substitute (half) mashed banana or 1/4 (one-fourth) cup of applesauce or pureed fruit for each egg. Keep in mind that because these add moisture to a recipe, you might have to bake for a bit longer than the recipe calls for.

TO ACHIEVE THE BINDING PROPERTIES OF EGGS: * Use one mashed banana per two eggs in baked sweets. * Try blending two ounces of silken or soft tofu per egg with the liquid in the recipe. * One tablespoon of arrowroot or one tablespoon soy flour and two tablespoons water mixed together also work when added to the ingredients. * Try a mixture of 2 tablespoons flour, two tablespoons water, (half) tablespoon oil and (half) teaspoon baking powder.

TO ACHIEVE THE LEAVENING EFFECTS THAT EGGS PROVIDE: * Add an extra half teaspoon of baking powder per egg. Or, you can substitute an acidic liquid (buttermilk or thinned and beaten yogurt) for the liquid required in the recipe. To avoid a bitter final product, limit the amount of baking powder of baking soda to one teaspoon per cup of flour. *Consider the way you want to make your batter. Add air to lighten by creaming together the sweetener and the fat before adding dry ingredients. Whipping the liquid ingredients together in a food processor for 30-45 seconds works, as well.

OTHER TIPS FOR LIGHT, EGGLESS BAKING: *Successful eggless baking will be more successful if you don't take for granted the type of flour you use. For example, whole wheat flour contains gluten, which can make a chewy end product. * Try replacing some of the whole wheat flour with whole wheat pastry flour or any other flour that doesn't contain gluten, like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, soy flour, corn flour, millet flour, amaranth flour, or quinoa flour. Keep in mind, however, that gluten helps baked goods rise, and substituting with a low-gluten flour may not always work.



Re: Solar Cooking in a Wheelbarrow Prepare dinner at breakfast time when the day is over 23 degrees Celsius.

1. Wash out the wheelbarrow, then line with aluminum foil.

2. Select a sheet of glass to cover the top of the barrow.

3. Position in a sunny spot.

4. Place potatoes and veggies into a Dutch oven with lid and put them in the wheelbarrow on a couple of bricks, replace the glass. The article I read concerning this states the creative chef has also cooked baked custard in a stainless steel bowl, fried egg in a small pie dish (took about 20 minutes), a chocolate cake, shortbread. Her Christmas Cake took 2 days as it wasn't that hot, but was still tasty. When setting it up wear sunglasses as light reflects off the foil, wear oven mittens as it gets very hot. She also recommends an oven thermometer so you can gauge the temperature correctly.


Fill a pot with water, bring it to a boil and add chicken soup base to it. (If I have chicken, I add it too - a can of the canned stuff would work.) You want the water to be almost yellow - the color of a rich broth. Do not add salt - this stuff is already salty. When it comes to a boil, dump 8 oz. of macaroni or some type of pasta in it. You can cover the pan and turn the heat and allow to cook slowly or else cook until the pasta is done. Don't drain - when the noodles are done, you have a whole pot of chicken and noodles that kids almost inhale when they eat. It's a fast food meal on the cheap that tastes good and if you buy eggless noodles, isn't very fatty.


What kind of ham radio should we purchase as first timers and where do we buy it? What kind of power would you recommend we use to run the radio if our electric is out?

Ask 10 hams and you'll get at least 10 answers, so I won't try to answer that one. Get a catalog and pick up a couple of ham radio magazines at any large book store and start reading. (OK, I'm partial to Icom and use a model 751A, which is no longer made.) Where to buy? I've been satisfied with which fortunately has a retail store about an hour drive from where I live. A hamfest is a good place to find good used stuff if you know what you're looking for and a good place to see new stuff first hand.

Power - You'll spend the vast majority of your time listening instead of transmitting. That uses very little power, so running a generator just to listen is pretty wasteful. Almost all ham radio equipment is designed to run on 12 volts DC although most hams use a power supply to get that from grid power. When it's time to transmit, you can continue using your battery power if you've got a heavy duty setup, otherwise you may need a generator if you're running fairly high power (100 watts is a pretty standard output for HF although it can run much higher or lower). If conditions are right, you can use much lower power with a lot less difference than you'd expect. By the way, if teotwaki shuts down much of "the system" there will be a lot less RF noise and it should be somewhat easier to get through with less power.

Keep in mind that a lot of radio stuff is done on schedules, so there's no need to power the station except for the regular schedule(s) or using batteries to listen. Most modern ham radio equipment can receive over a very wide range - listen in on military, commercial and government shortwave, etc. They normally can only transmit within those frequencies that are allocated to amateur radio plus the MARS frequencies (an amateur radio/military system). Some radios can be modified so that they can transmit on any frequency that the radio can be tuned to. In the case of my radio, clipping one resistor lead removes the frequency restriction. There are very few circumstances where I'd ever want to do that, but it's always good to know the capabilities of your equipment.


A map of the power grid:


Plus charcoal links


Had a chat with my Uncle Virgil over the weekend about indoor tomatoes. I've got a tomato plant growing in my window at work. My window is 4 foot wide (morning sun), and the plant is now spanning almost the entire window! I've got tomatoes in sizes from plum to pencil eraser, and growing steadily. According to Uncle Virgil, if I can keep the trunk from splitting under its own weight, it will continue to produce unless (1) the light level goes down below the tomato flowering point or (2) the winter cold gets around the window and kills it. This might be an idea to provide Vitamin C over the winter -- as well as a welcome fresh raw veggie. Besides, the cost of tomatoes now is just incredible!


Grate 1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap into a saucepan with 1 pint water and heat until melted. Add cup Borax and cup Washing Soda. Stir and mix well. Pour into a large bucket and add plain water to make two gallons. Let set up overnight, then it's ready to use. It has a sort of gel consistency and doesn't bubble much, but cleans clothes well and costs about 32 cents a gallon. Use about 1 cup per load in a regular washer. (Look for fels naptha soap at grocery or hardware stores.)


This works with hard cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, etc. It is a way to store such cheeses without refrigeration. Dip the cheese into a salt solution (salty enough that an egg floats) and place on a rack to dry overnight. On the 2nd day, rub with salt and leave on the rack. Do this again a 3rd day. By this time a rind should be developing. If it feels dry and smooth, continue to the waxing; if not, rub with salt and let dry another day.

Waxing: Apply 3 or 4 coats of wax (either with a brush, or by dipping into melted wax), letting the wax dry between each coat. Wrap with cheese cloth, and continue the process of dipping and drying until several layers later the cheese is completely covered with a smooth wax exterior. It will continue to age inside, but remain good. If you do find mold on hard cheese, simply scrape or cut it off and use the rest of the cheese.


Hams were cured and stored without spoilage for many years before refrigeration was invented. Look for a salt cured smoked ham, sometimes referred to as a "country ham" or a "farmers ham", also occasionally referred to as a "Smithfield Ham" after one of its more famous national marketers, the company of the same name of Virginia. It should be stored hanging and kept in its original wrapper. If you don't need to cook the entire ham, simply cut a few slices and cover it up, and leave it hanging (these hams should be stored hanging from hooks, rather than laying on shelves or put in boxes). If you find some mold, cut it off and eat the rest. If you cook the entire ham, however, any uneaten portion must be refrigerated. Most people soak these hams (or the ham slices) in water for several hours to leach out some of the salt.


If you have a flat bottomed Dutch Oven you can place it on top of a wood stove but the bread must be baked in a separate pan raised above the bottom of the Dutch Oven or else the bottom of the bread will burn. Raise the bread pan at approximately 1 inch up by placing stones or river rock under the bread pan inside the Dutch Oven. Just make sure the Dutch Oven is deep enough so that when the loaf rises it does not touch the domed lid of the Dutch Oven. If you have the outdoor type Dutch Oven with the 3 legs and the reverse lid do your cooking out on the back porch, our in the yard. Dig a small shallow hole - scoop hot coals from the woodstove and place in the hole and then on top of the reverse lid of the Dutch Oven. For the back porch obtain an old cast iron skillet (no longer used for cooking) just larger than the bottom of the Dutch Oven and us it to hold the coals under the bottom - still use the reverse lid for heat from the top. Be sure to place the pan and Dutch Oven combination on a big brick or patio block else you may set your porch on fire. Place the bread pan in this Dutch Oven just like you would have in the Dutch Oven on top of the woodstove. Also with a round cake pan you can make really great biscuits. Remember using the Dutch Oven this way is just like a regular oven on your stove. An "Oven" is a large container that holds heat at a fairly constant temperature. You bake by suspending your pan holding food to be baked within this container - thus oven racks. So likewise you must suspend you food within the Dutch Oven so hot air can circulate around the food and heat it evenly. Use your imaginations and practice.


What one person did with extra potatoes: I peeled them, cut into fry size and steamed them til they were done. I have a steamer that I bought at Sears many years ago, but you could use a double boiler/steamer. After I steamed them til they were fork tender, I dehydrated them! Takes about 12 hours at 135* in my dehydrator. 5 lbs of potatoes will fit nicely into 2 and gallon ziplock bags. To use them, I can fry them, bake them or toss a few into a soup or stew. I can also re-hydrate them and use in casseroles.

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.

Better Times Cookbook V | Justpeace | Better Times | | Access to Energy Conservation | On Pilgrimage in Oklahoma City | Bookstore | Better Times II | Bulgar Bugle | Mutual Aid (Grassroots home and community scale disaster preparations)