August 8, 2011

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth or DE is an abrasive dust made from the fossilized skeletal remains of a single celled algae which used silica found in water to create a shell. It works because the microscopic shells have sharp projections that penetrate an insect's cuticle, allowing vital liquids to leak out. DE also absorbs the waxy coatings on insects' bodies both actions cause pests to die of dehydration. It works by physical rather than chemical action and is non toxic. This works on all bugs, good and bad, from cockroaches and scorpions to glass spiders and is safe to use around the house, in the garden or around pets and livestock.

To use around the house sprinkle it liberally in areas prone to infestation or where you notice you are getting bit. We put it behind our stove and under and around our fridge as well as under our couch cushions after we noticed we were getting bit, problem solved. The easiest way I have found to apply it is to buy a salt shaker or herb shaker ( we reused an old one) with small holes or you can by a bottle used to refill construction chalk lines, these can be found at hardware stores or the tool section at Walmart. If you are putting it somewhere that it will be easily blown away try adding a small amount of water to the area before you apply the DE.

Not only can it be used for pest control in the home but also for food storage and gardening. To use DE in food storage add 1-1/4 C DE to each five gallon bucket of food. Then shake and roll (the boys love this part) the 5 gallon bucket thoroughly. Obviously you only want to use this on food items that you can wash. Do not use with things such as salt and sugar. DE has no shelf life and never degrades. It will even kill insects that hatch years later. To use in the garden dust the soil or make it into a solution to spray on fruits and vegetables which protects them from insects.

I love this stuff and highly recommend you have some on hand. Although it is not dangerous the dust can irritate your lungs and cause your hands to dry out mildly so you still need to be mindful when using it. It can be found on the internet or at many grain, tack and pet food stores as it is usually fed to livestock to kill intestinal parasites. I've found it as cheap as 50lbs for $25 so not only does it work well but it is also available to those of us on a frugal budget.

- Casey

June 8, 2011

Seeded Crackers

1/3 C sunflower seeds
1/3 C sesame seeds
2 T Flax seed
2 T Chia Seed
1 3/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 t sea salt
1/3 C water
2 T honey or x agave
2 T canola Oil

In a food processor, grind the seeds into flour using the pulse so you don't turn it into seed butter.
Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor.  Mix until dough comes together and forms a ball.  Add extra flour or water as needed.

Divide dough into two balls.  Place 1 ball in the center of a parchment liner.  Place another parchment liner on top of the dough and roll out dough between the two sheets with a rolling pin. (The thinner you roll the dough, the crunchier the crackers will be) Remove top parchment liner, and cut into small squares using a pizza cutter. Repeat with next dough ball.

Spray with oil and sprinkle with coarsely ground seeds.  Place in the oven at 370 degrees and bake for 10 minutes or until the crackers begin to  turn a rich brown on both the top and bottom.  Let the crackers cool on the pan before serving. Tastes similar to wheat thins!  YUM!

~Shar's Kitchen Center

Whole Wheat Tortillas

5 C whole wheat flour
1 t salt
1/2 C Shortening
1 1/2 to 2 C hot water

In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in vegetable shortening with pastery cutter or two knifes.  Place dough on floured surface and knead until it is pliable. (Can use a Kitchen aide or Bosh with dough hook attachment) Break off golf ball size pieces and roll each out between two peices of parchment paper.  They should be about 1/8 inch thick.

Cook on high in a large cast iron skillet or on a grill.  As you cook the tortillas, bubbles will form.  Cook until the bubbles are browned, turn and brown the other side, pushing down any large bubbles that form.

Make 18 delicious whole wheat tortillas!  Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

~ Wheat Cookin' Make Easy by Pam Crockett

May 6, 2011

Essential Records

   Keeping and caring for your essential records should be an extremely high priority, especially in today's information driven world. Your entire life is bound up in these documents and for this reason I recommend you do your best to keep these safe, but accessible, so you can grab them in an emergency.
   Essential records are those records that are needed to maintain continuity in your life, with minimal disruption, following a disaster. These include birth certificates, bank records, diplomas, social security cards, credit card information, marriage license, patriarchal blessings, photos (which should be updated every six months), fingerprint cards, medical records, drivers licenses, medical insurance information, dental records, prescriptions, deed to your home, car titles, phone lists and anything else that you may need for your family.   
  Keep multiple types of copies, these can include an encrypted external storage drive not a flash drive, which is supposed to be used for data transfer not long term storage. Paper copies are a must and should be put on acid free paper. Microfiche is still an excellent option. All these should be stored in a wet seal bag or pelican style waterproof case to keep them dry, preferably with some sort of desiccant. Make sure to have multiple storage locations. Store at least one copy in a fire resistant and water proof safe. You want to have one set in a place which is easily accessible to you in case of emergency. Keep a second set in a remote location, like a family members home, preferably in a different state. Basically you want these records far enough away that you can't both be impacted by the same disaster. A good idea is to swap with whomever you are working with so that they too have a backup. The third set should be put in a secure location. The best place I can think of is a safe deposit box in a bank.
   Be careful with technology and make sure your storage and retrieval methods are kept current. It does no good to have all that information in storage if you can't get to it. Always keep in mind that the technology you have will eventually become outdated. Seriously, how many of you still have access to a floppy disk drive. Don't rely on CD's which are very fragile and easily corrupted.

- Casey

March 1, 2011

Cast Iron- Use and Care

Cast iron is great for daily use. Cast iron, when used correctly, is true nonstick cookware. This is because as the skillet gets hot it releases a minute amount of oil from its "pores". This oil creates a film between the food and the cast iron. Cast iron has several advantages over typical pots and pans. It cooks more evenly, heats up faster and retains heat better than other cookware. It can be used on the stove top, in the oven, over an open fire, buried in coals or in a solar oven. It is incredibly durable, and if used correctly could be passed down through several generations. It is also great for people suffering from anemia because as you cook very small amounts of iron get added to your diet.
 Use and Care of Cast Iron Cookware
*One of the biggest mistakes when cooking with cast iron is not letting it get hot enough before cooking with it. This can cause sticking.
*Cast iron cookware should always be warmed slowly.
*Start the pan on low then turn up higher before adding the food to be cooked.
*Always lightly coat with oil/ PAM cooking spray etc... when cooking with cast iron.
*Cast iron is easier to cook with if you use steel spatulas.
*The only real draw back is that you can't use it to cook high acid foods because the acid will eat away at the iron and eventually destroy it. However, you can use enameled cast iron when cooking with high acid foods. For high acid foods we use a stainless steel pan.
*I prefer Lodge Cast Iron. Cheaper cast iron is inferior and will, most likely, cause you problems. This is one item where it pays massive dividends to spend a little more up front.
*Never add cold water to hot cast iron because it could cause cracking, instead use warm water.
*ALWAYS USE POTHOLDERS because the handles will be hot.
* Cast iron should never be cleaned with soap and water unless you plan to re-season it. Instead, right after use wipe it down with a washrag or paper towel. If your cast iron is crusty because you were unable to get to it immediately don't worry. Just fill it with water and bring it to a boil then proceed as above and wipe it out. After cleaning out your cookware, while it is still warm, make sure to wipe down the inside of the pan with a small amount of oil. Essentially you are doing a quick re-season.
*Hand dry immediately. Do not allow to air dry, this could lead to rust.
Baking with Cast Iron
We use our cast iron to bake with as well. We have baked corn bread, sourdough bread and pizza crust using our cast iron. The principles are roughly the same as cooking in it. Add oil, preheat, add bread and bake. It works great. Our breads are crusty on the outside and moist and chewy inside.
Buying used Cast Iron
*One thing to consider buying is used cast iron. Often times this can be found by watching garage sales, craigslist etc...
*When buying used cast iron make sure there aren't any holes or major pitting.
*If it has crud or surface rust this isn't a problem, just build an outdoor fire and burn the crud off. Then use some steel wool, fine grit sand paper or a brillo pad to finish cleaning it. Last, re season and begin use. 
Seasoning Cast Iron
Most cast iron today comes pre-seasoned but it's still good to understand the process in case re-seasoning is needed at a later time.
*Preheat oven to 350-400 degrees.
*Clean your cast iron thoroughly both inside and out with hot water and soap.
*Dry completely.
*In a small pot melt about 1/2 T of solid shortening. I use Crisco.
*Uniformly rub the melted shortening into your cookware.
* Put foil under your pot so that it can catch the drippings.
*Make sure to turn it upside down so that the shortening doesn't pool.
*Put in the oven and "cook" it for at least an hour.
*Turn off the oven and let the cast iron cool before removing it.

February 2, 2011

Firearm Selection

   I strongly believe that firearms need to be included in everyone's year supply. The first thing to do when you decide to purchase a firearm is to get a gun safe, not a gun cabinet. Then you need to do some research. Find someone you know who is knowledgeable about firearms and talk to them or find a gun store you like and chat up the sales personnel. I think everyone should, at the very least, own five firearms.
   The first gun is a bolt action .22 caliber long rifle. This is one of the most versatile guns you can own. It's able to bring down small game, is cheap to buy, simple to maintain, ammo is plentiful and it's accurate over long distances.
   The second is a high powered hand gun preferably a .357 or .44 magnum revolver or a .40 cal or .45 ACP semi-auto pistol. The first thing to figure out is what you want in a handgun. Do you want stopping power or penetration? Do you prefer revolvers or semi-autos? One very simply way to answer these questions is to rent some guns at a shooting range and have fun. I prefer a .357 magnum because it hits hard and has plenty of penetrating power. The other nice thing is that it shoots both .38 special (lighter) and .357mag (heavier) cartridges. The .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) is another excellent choice. There are pluses and minuses to both revolvers and semi auto's. Revolvers are simpler and more reliable but hold less ammo then semi autos. Most revolvers hold 5-8 rounds. Semi autos on the other hand have a large magazine capacity, 12-30 rounds, but are very complicated with numerous moving parts. Good brands include S&W, Glock, Springfield Armory, Ruger (only buy their revolvers), SIG, Kimber and CZ.
   The next is a 12 gauge pump action shotgun which can be used for home defense or hunting. Be careful if you plan to use this for home defense as it is extremely powerful. Use #4 buckshot or smaller for in the home and #00 buck or buck and ball for outside defense. I like Mossberg or Remington shotguns. For hunting loads consult the box or talk someone at your local gun store.
   I would also recommend a bolt action high power hunting rifle with a scope. A rifle chambered in .308 or 30-06 is your best bet because they are prevalent and ammo is relatively easy to come by. This is a great gun for big game hunting and long distance defense. There are several good manufactures including Remington and Winchester.
   Finally, I also think everyone should own a semi-automatic rifle. These guns are mainly for defense. These include AK-47's, SKS's, AR-14's etc... I prefer SKS's or AK's.
   The last thing is to make sure you buy plenty of magazines for all firearms that use them, at least five for each gun. Try to get original magazines if you can find them. Also be sure to buy as much ammo as you can afford. A word of caution, high powered guns WILL shoot through sheetrock and stucco, so be careful. Be sure to read and understand ALL rules for operating firearms. They are 1) Know your target and what is beyond. 2) Know how to use the gun safely. 3) Be sure the gun is safe to operate. 4) Use only the correct ammunition for your gun. 5) Wear eye and ear protection. 6) Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized people. One more thing, don't forget to buy cleaning supplies and learn correct cleaning procedures for each firearm. As a side note ammonia works well for gun cleaning.        

January 24, 2011

Whole Dried Peas

My husband and I have found that Sprouts Grocery Store sells whole dried peas in bulk.  These are different from split peas because they still have the outer casing and provide more nutrients.  When cooked and eaten with whole grain, they create a full protein, much like corn and beans.  Dried peas can also be sprouted.  They have a shelf life of 8+ years. Definitely something to consider adding to your food storage!

To prepare and cook peas:
1. Soak peas overnight
2. Strain the peas and put them in a 3 quart sauce pan and add enough water to cover the peas entirely.
3. Cover and bring to boil. (Add salt if desired)
4. Simmer the peas for 30-40 minutes (according to your liking)