Sunday, November 24, 2013

prepping for Thanskgiving Day

Ok 1 week before Thanksgiving and most of you are not thinking about prepping for the coming year but you will be thinking about prepping for next week!   If you are new to doing up Thanksgiving dinner I'll give you some suggestions on things you can do to prep ahead of time and make your big day go easier.

# 1.  Pie crust can be made up to 10 days before hand.  Many will use store bought pie crust but I've always made ours from scratch and the texture is actually better if you make it up and store it in the fridge for a few days.  Now that some of us are gluten free I make up GF Graham Crackers 2 weeks before hand and crush them to use as graham cracker crust. 

#2. Jello Salads can be made up to 2 days before hand.

#3.  Bread and pies can be made the day before.

#4  Make fresh bread and cut of tear into small pieces and put in a large bowl  and let air dry covered with a large towel for 3 days before to use in dressing.

5. Making mashed potatoes?  Peel your potatoes the night before and cut into pieces and cover with cold water.  When ready to cook drain water and add fresh water and cook.

6. How many casseroles do you have to do up?  Can they be made ahead of time and stacked int he fridge?

7.  Don't forget to take frozen turkeys out of the freezer at least 3 days before hand to keep in the fridge so it can be thawed out when you get ready to cook it.

Good luck and have fun and do as much as possible before thanksgiving day!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Thoughts for the coming storm

I found this in one of my draft folders that I had started last winter and never used.  I thought it would be good to go ahead and add it to my blog.  It should give anyone and everyone things to think about!

So many are preparing for the coming storm. We have no clue if we are preparing for an economic collapse or the Mother of All earthquakes or a massive solar flare storm. But we are preparing.

Over the years, my family has tried to have a years supply of food. Starting in 1981 we had to live on our food supply and after it was gone we reached a low point of having to glean old moldy corn out of harvested fields to boil up and eat. We became stronger and wiser through that first crisis we lived through.

Since then we have gone through 4 more crisis where we lived on our food stores. Only one of these crisis was from a massive regional ice storm that covered 8 states leaving us without power for 3 weeks with a foot of ice and highs in single digits. We needed more than food for that and thankfully had what we needed. All the other crisis were personal.

We have learned and grown with each new crisis. We believe if we use these events to learn and grow than they are excellent learning tools for the future.

I began to look at all the things we use and how to survive without any type of man made power. We have a generator but it guzzles gas so we only use it when we need power tools out in the field. The main thing we would miss without electric is our water (no public water supply in our area so we pump water from our lake) and our refrigerator.

For us lighting was easy. During our ice storm crisis we had candelabra’s that held up to 5 or 8 candles and hung in the center of a room. They lit the whole room up very well much better than the usual candle things we've used. We also had a couple Amish style lamps but discovered 2 bottles of lamp oil was not enough for a month less a lone a year. We bought several more of these oil lamps and stockpiled lamp oil along with several cases of candles for the candelabra’s.

We had bought a CampChef stove/oven and used that in the back utility room with the window cracked. We learned to bake with another pan inside of the first pan to avoid the heavy thick crust. One bottle of fuel lasted a full month! We stocked piled plenty of that also. We used emergency alcohol heaters to heat with. We made 20 of them up to give as Christmas gifts. We used baby formula canisters with a roll of TP with the cardboard roll removed and the TP shoved into the canister. To use: you slowly pour a bottle of rubbing alcohol into it and light it. We placed one of these under every sink base (cleaned out first) and used the rest to heat the 3 rooms we stayed in. None of us got sick and each one burned for 8 hours! I've had some people say the rubbing alcohol gives them headaches. Try it out and if you do get headaches from it, use denatured alcohol instead. I'm a biochemist and have worked in small enclosed labs for hours on end with a alcohol burner running the whole time and have never gotten sick. I have asthma and am very sensitive to many things but these have never bothered me. We can't burn wood due to my asthma. But having a wood stove that doesn't require electric to run is a good deal in more ways than one! (wood ash is used to make lye for soap making!)

We invested in 55 gallon food grade barrels to store water in so we could go a month or so without having to haul water by hand. Our ice storm taught us this lesson! With a foot of ice any outside work was life threatening not to mention the bitter cold high winds along with it. We had to break ice 3 times a day for our livestock and also haul water to take for us inside. We also invested in a solar devise that floats in the livestock pond and keeps the ice melted around it. We currently have 4 of the 55 gallon barrels inside that would keep us for most of a month.          

When we live in Japan we learned from our Japanese neighbors how to reuse water over and over before we used it to flush with. That is something most of us have never had to think about less alone do. Most of Japan has to haul every drop of water in. Most of their water is desalinated as they have very little fresh water on any of their islands. Think of how much water you could reuse for another purpose before you get rid of it permanently.

Now go open your fridge and see what you have in it. I was shocked when I did this! I thought I had milk, meat, etc but most of what I had was condiments! I had 13 different kinds of mustard’s! 17 different bottles of salad dressing, 7 kinds of jam and the list goes on! I removed all these type condiments and was shocked to see I had very little else left in that big refrigerator! I now make all of my own condiments and either make a little to use at the time or I can them into small canning jars, the 4 and 8 oz. Sizes. Ones that can be used up very quickly. I also learned that my family has only a few types of jam they really like and eat, strawberry and grape so I no longer make a ton of jams. I only make the ones they really want. I emptied my freezer and can all the meats. I wax most of my cheese or I make up velveeta types and cheez whiz types that I can into jars. I oil my eggs and flip monthly and store on a dark cool shelf in my basement. I also dry part of our eggs and vacuum seal those into canning jars. When the egg thing gets out of hand I make up egg noodles and dry them really good and dry pack can them into #10 cans or vacuum seal them into canning jars.

Now you are wondering about the milk, etc. I made a powerless evaporating refrigerator. You can see a model and basic directions on making one of these in this free down-loadable book on page 43:  There is many other wonderful things to be found in this book. It was meant to use in 3rd world countries but is an excellent resource for our emergency preps!
I first tried this out using 3 milk crates wired together and just simple cloth laid over it. I put it under my deck in the shade on a 100+ day in a tub of water under it and a pan of water on top to soak the fabric on and within 2 hours it was down to 40 degrees! My dear husband has now made me one using PVC pipe and mess screen shelves. We made them on the smaller side to keep in key area's on our property like in the garden area, etc. The wind blowing over the wet fabric cools it down and we can have nice cold drinks in our work areas. Yes it would keep small amounts of milk cool for a few days too!

We turn most of our milk into butter, yogurt and cheese. So with careful planning you can keep what you need on hand. Cheese wax may seems expensive but it is 100% reusable. Just remember that your cheese continues to age and get stronger so if you are buying cheese to wax always start with mild cheese. When you peel the wax off always save it to melt and wax more cheese with.  I also can milk into canning jars to use in baked goods and for animals.  

So we are learning ways to live without any electric power at all. I will say I like my electric power and it was worth the 8 months wait for our coop to run a line out to us but we really felt like we needed to know how to totally live without it also.

Generators are nice but they require a source: propane, gasoline, the sun. What if you don't have the source? I live in an area that can go over 4 months with no sun whatsoever. This winter season has been so nice because we've had so much sun! But I'm sure this is just a calm before the storm comes! I don't want to be upset because I don't have my source. I'd rather know how to do without it in the first place.

We've looked at our life and decided what is important to us. Our family, our church. Most of what we carry around is just stuff. We decided to learn to live without it. It makes finding the Lord so much easier and seeing what we really need to be doing.

But now I'm branching into a whole new topic! Can you find a way to live without any electric too?