Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Termites Part Dos

June 12, 2009

Got termites?  I hate those little evahl white bastards.  Well what was supposed to be a simple tile change out, you know rip out the old and cement in the new, turned into a major rehab.

P1010050It may be tough to see without clicking on the picture, but in the lower right hand corner you see that stud closest to the right?  No not me that wooden piece of crap hanging from the ceiling.   All the way to the right.  It’s gone.   Imagine our surprise when we ripped out that old vinyl bath liner.   We started at 8AM Sunday and the plan was to rip out everything and rebuild what we needed to all before quitting time that day.  Well the bathroom wall spilled into the drywall in the living room, then the living room floor.  We stopped at 8PM and we were still only 90% done with the demo and didn’t even start reframing.

p1010052You see kind of in the middle of the picture by that single blue tile, so you see all of that chewed up wood that those little evahl white bastards made?  Those studs were like dry newspaper.  You could literally put your finger through the studs.  I’m also happy to get that black mould out of the house.  That can’t be good for you.

So we obviously had to keep ripping out in every direction until we found no more little evahl white bastards.   So now we had the exterminator guy out – cha ching.   Another trip to Big Sucky Orange Store – cha ching.  The plumber – cha ching.  Big Sucky Orange Store – Cha Ching.    Debris disposal – cha ching.  All the tradespeople I know hate the fixtures and supplies that Big Orange Sucky sells.

If you haven’t done the Gee-See thing, general contractor thing that is, then you don’t know how tough it is to coordinate things.   People show up before materials or with the wrong tools.  Surprises come up. E can’t be done until A, B, C and D are finished.

So if you think you have termites, don’t mess around call in a professional.  The little evahl white bastards can wreck your house.

trmvsantWe didn’t get any swarms.  They also say that you can see termites mud tunnels outside of your house.  Termites don’t come for wood; they come for wo0d and water.  So if you have a water leak, or suspect a leak, fix it before the wood frame gets wet and becomes a target for termites.  Make sure there are no wood products like firewood or wood mulch right up against your house.

The exterminator is going to use termite baits dug into the ground.  There are wooden disks made from wood pulp and a insect growth regulator that keeps the little evahl white bastards from reproducing.  The bug killer will also use spray in some areas and drill some holes through the bathroom floor and inject poisons down there too.  The liquid insecticide they use he said was the same as is in Frontline that some folks put on their dogs and cats.  He said the Frontline was at least ten times stronger than what he uses.

The positive thing is that now I’ll have a nice new bathroom.  Plus I was able to take out all of the old fiberglass insulation and replace it with nice new fluffy thick insulation and also get rid of all that black mould.

So this used to be the wall between the bathroom and the living room.

p1010059So it all had to go.  Also had to rip up a wood laminate floor – Pergo by Manning.  Pergo sucks.  Pergo sucks. Pergo sucks.  Don’t buy Pergo.

Then you got the wall all framed out.  Is it me or has l umber gotten real expensive?


Which reminds me, going to the bathroom outside sucks.  Plastic bags and buckets suck.  Not having a hot shower sucks.  Think about how your preps are in the bathroom, bucket and shower department.  Maybe you need to plan for these critical areas.  A dirty ass doesn’t only stink; it’s also unhealthy.

Get Outside Everday!!!

P1010042If you had your own field guides you would know that the multitudes of green berries on this plan don’t make it a greenberry plant.  You would know that this is a blueberry with gobs of immature blueberries.  Go ahead and click on the picture to expand it.  Quite a few berries, huh?  Once they ripen and turn blue you can pick them and dry them in the summer sun.   Should be next month when they start to get pickable.  I used to make wild mountain blueberry wine.  It was a deliciously sweet syrupy concoction.  Then you got ya blueberry pancakes, fritters, waffles, crepes, cookies, muffins with duck breast or pork or in a salad.

Don’t be lulled

May 12, 2009

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  The way I figure, although it may feel like the eye of the storm, is that we haven’t even made it through the first half of the mutation and eventual evolution of our economic system.  Someone much smarter than me once wrote something like, ‘evolution depends on multiple spontaneous mutations’ – debt restructuring, currency devaluation, hyper-inflation, continued deflation, mass job loss, public protests, government takeover of private business, scarcity of goods, rationing, foreclosures, tax protests to name just a few.   I think that is what we are likely to see over the coming years.  What we are lucky, or unlucky depending upon how you look at it, to be living through is the total evolution of our economy.

The market has been doing very well the past couple of months, but as far as I am concerned the fundamentals still suck.  A leap frogging in technology is the only thing I think that has the most remote possibility of rescuing us from the economic mess.  I just don’t see it on the horizon, but hey I’m just a regular guy trying to keep my head above water.   Twenty years ago who thought that we’d all have a computer.  That’s the only type of thing that I think can reverse our destiny.  You all can argue how severe the deflation will be and then how severe the subsequent inflation will be.

The President, the Media, the MSNBCers and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put it back together again.  Everything is going to change.  What we do for a living is going to change.  How we get around.  How we grow and get food is going to change.  What we expect of our government.   How we live together.  The things that we’ve grown to value over the past 30 years – play stations, flat screens, SUVs, McMansions, huge vacation homes, easy airfare, tropical fruit in the winter – are going to lose importance.

This is a temporary uptick.  We are facing another leg down.

So take this temporary calm time to TCB.  Maybe there is dental work that you’ve been putting off.  You’ve seen the lists.  You know what to do.

Start with Getting Outside Everyday.

Went up to the Pine Tree State this past weekend and saw a bunch of birds.  You see those specks in the field?  Those are wild turkeys.  I’ve never had it, but I heard it’s real gamey.  So much so that you need to hang it outside for a few days to season it.  Wouldn’ mind giving  it  a try sometime with some bacon.  Bacon makes everything better.  Bacon and turkey are a natural combination, where the total is better than the sum of the parts.

p10And here’s another shot of these beautiful birds.  You need to click on these pictures so you can see the birds’ colors.


Jerusalem artichokes

May 2, 2009

Jerusalem artichokes are a great plant.   Each plant can grow 7 or 8 feet tall.  They have yellow flowers like a sunflower, but rather than having only one flower like most sunfowers, 450px-sunroot_top1a single Jerusalem Artichoke plant can have 10 flower buds on it.  It’s not the flowers that we are interested in though, although they are nice to look at.  It is the root, or tuber of the plant that we want.

I live in USDA zone 5-6.  Of course even on my own small slice of land I have microclimates.   Jerusalem artichoke grows great around here.

So this is one of my favorite times of the year, because all the plants are waking up from their winter slumber. The apple and peach trees are blooming.  We’ve had a run of unseasonably warm weather so everything is blooming very early.  It’s actually kind of dangerous because our true frost free day is between the middle and end of May, so if we get a frost after the fruit trees bloom then a lot of next fall’s fruit could be lost.

p10100011So I saw some Jerusalem artichokes coming up on a patch of land out front.  You  can see what they look like.  Kind of pointy, lance like leaves covered in hair.  If I remember right, the stems are also kind of hairy.  Over the course of the summer these little green plants will grow 7 or 8 feet tall.

Jerusalem artichokes don’t make a bunch of seeds like sunflowers.  Jerusalem artichokes spread underground through rhizomes.    The rhizome is what we eat.    Jerusalem artichokes can become quite invasive if they like their environment and are left to spread.

I had maybe a ten square foot area out front that p1010005had these little puppies coming up from last season.  Yup, they can stay in the ground right through cold New England winters.  Dig em up when you want to harvest them, as long as the ground ain’t frozen.  So I wanted to dig some up to replant in different areas and also have with dinner.  Go ahead and click Gon the picture to expand it.

You can see that from a small plot, that I don’t do anything to, you can get a fair harvest.   Each of the roots looks kind of like knobby gingerJerusalem artichokes like poor, sandy, dry soil and full sun.

p1010009Here I cut one in half so you could see the nice white inside.  See they look like knobby ginger.  You can use Jerusalem artichokes just like you would use potatoes.  The thing is Jerusalem artichokes don’t contain starch like potatoes.  They have inulin (whatever that is).  But it’s good for diabetics because the inulin isn’t converted into sugar like starch is.

I peel them first, then I slice them and use them like water chestnuts or steam them with salt and butter.  They taste pretty good, kind of like a potato, but sweeter.

I wanted to dig them up to replant some of them in a couple other spots on my property.  I’ve heard that the Indians, errr Native Americans, used to plant them all over the place so as they traveled from hunting ground to hunting ground there would be Jerusalem artichokes already there growing for them and supplying a ready food source.  So I decided to plant them around some of the places that I walk.  So I’ve doing some guerrilla planting.  I’ve been planting them along the edges of fields, powerlines and anyplace else that looks dry, sandy and sunny.   This summer and summers going forwards they will continue to spread.  I’ll remember where they are and I can dig them up whenever I please.  Kind of like the original prepper Johnny AppleseedDo you got that!?!?! If you are able to start planting food crops in your neighborhood in the woods, roadsides, parks, ponds and lakes. Just like diversification is good with your financial portfolio, you should also diversify your garden.  Spread it out.  You do have to be careful though not to plant any food where the real owner may spray chemmies on your food.  You can find Jerusalem artichoke tubers for sale on the Internet. Buy a few now and you will have them forever.

Get outside everyday!!

And while I was ambling and rambling I saw some of blueberry bushes blooming.  If we don’t get some cold weather it’s going to be an early season for everything.

p1010010Years ago I used to pick wild mountain blueberries and make homemade wine.  It was actually pretty good.  Just goes to show put enough sugar in anything and it will be palatable.  You do have a lot of sugar squirrelled away don’t ya? I still have a bunch of waterseals laying around.

Food and misc.

March 19, 2009

Looking at the pantry got me to thinking why not do a post on the food I have and why I choose what I did.  Some folks like to store buckets of wheat.  Me?  Not so much.   I don’t think that I’ve ever bought a bucket of wheat in my life and I hope that I never have to either.

My stores mostly are based on canned foods.  Granted by having a large portion of your food preps based on canned goods that you are giving up the ability to pack it and move fast if need be.  Face it canned food weighs a lot.   Do you have a bunch of GOOD can openers?   Did you see my excellent and the best entry ever ever ever on can openers?

My plan though is to stay in my house.  Only if my town became unsafe because of environmental or security reasons would I decide to bug out.  Other than that though my house holds all my stuff so I’d rather stay put if possible.   It would have to get really, really bad for me to blow off the jobs and hightail it out.  The other downside is that prepared canned foods have a ton of salt in them.

I’ve been buying extra food for about 18 months now.   You obviously want to eat your oldest stuff first and you need a system to ensure that that happens.  I have a Sharpie pen. You should buy one too.  Anytime I get back from the market I write the month and the year on the can, box, package or bag.   That way you can be sure to be on a FIFO system. You also need have the discipline so when you use something you write it down so you remember to replace it.

One of something is none of something.  Now you got two of somethings and you can start to talk.

Now just checking out my food let’s try to tell you what I generally have so you don’t forget anything.  I don’t mean to rag on the buckets of wheat folks, but buckets of wheat?  I don’t even like whole grain bread.

Breakdown of food stores:

  • I have some prepared foods like chili, soups, ravioli, beef stew, corned beef hash, chicken ala king, sloppy joe mix and those sort of things.
  • A good pile of canned tomatoes – the big 32 oz. cans and an assortment of smaller cans of sauce, paste, stewed, chunks, cans with chilies or basil.  Also, have spaghetti sauce in jars and you know what the spaghetti sauce that comes in cans is great.  It’s real tomatoie.  The canned spaghetti sauce is cheaper than the glass jarred sauce too.
  • Then you need veggies like green beans, french cut beans, carrots, spinach, asparagus and corn.  I like Chinese food so I also have cans of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, chow mein mix and bean sprouts.  If I can’t buy my number 5 with fried, eggroll and chicken fingers than I’ll make it myself.  Don’t forget jars of salsa.  I also like Goya salsa verde, salsa roja and Mexican salsa.  They come in little cans, but it’s good stuff.
  • Then there are the canned potatoes, both whole and sliced.
  • You gotta have your fruits so have a variety of fruits in cans and the little plastic tubs.  Stuff like mandarin oranges, pears, fruit cocktail, pineapple,peaches, tropical mix with mangoes (!), applesauce and a good assortment of canned fruit juice, coconut juice and coconut milk.
  • Get a shelf with proteins on it like canned roast beef, canned chicken, some small canned hams, tuna, also that real tasty Italian tuna in olive oil, Spam, potted ham and Vienna sausage.  Get some cryovacced sausage that can be stored at room temp.  Can’t forget about the anchovies, sardines, canned crab, oysters and smoked trout.  Seafood is high in fatty acids that are good for you.
  • You know you need a good pile of spaghetti, pasta, egg noodles, rice, Chinese and Japanese noodles.
  • Boxed stuff like ramen noodle and macaroni and cheese.  The ramen noodles are incredible.  They are so small and so cheap and I don’t think they ever go bad.  I like them.  They can be spiced up by adding spices, proteins or veggies to them.  Add a can of tuna to mac n’ cheese and all is good.  Also in here would be the hamburger helper, boxed scalloped and au gratin taters along with stove top stuffing.   Don’t forget about bags of soup mix.  These things are great too.  A package of soup mix, 8 cups of water, a can of this or that and you can feed 10 people if you had to.  Charity, helping and assistance are a good thing.
  • Canned beans of all sorts.  My favorites are small red beans and garbanzo beans.  Cans of baked beans are good too.  You can make a nice spread from mashing garbanzo beans.
  • Also have some dried beans.
  • Some snacks like crackers, granola bars, poptarts, bags of chips, pretzels, and cans of pretzels, chips and tater sticks.   Can’t forget to get chocolate pudding and chocolate bars.  Some old fashioned popcorn is a great snack too.  It pops fast in a little hot oil.
  • Then there are the drinks.  I like juice so I have canned juice concentrates.  I water them way down because corn syrup is death.  Also need tubs of Tang, ice tea, funky red stuff, lemonaide and whatever you may like.  Tea is great because it tastes good.  Plus you  can teas for specific ailments or if you can’t sleep or have a cold.  Don’t forget powdered milk if you like milk.  Coffee and teas and non-dairy creamer. Hot chocolate.
  • You need your spices: garlic and onion powders, lots of black pepper corns.  Don’t ever buy pepper that is already ground.  You don’t have to know why, just don’t do it. Get peppercorns and smash them yourself, with a hammer if you need to.  Walgreens sells already filled salt and pepper grinders for a buck a piece.  So you hhotsaucecatalog_2046_7327548ave chili powder, dried herbs like: oregano,  Italian, rosemary, basil, thyme, dill, crushed red pepper and so on.  Any special rubs you may like.  I like Jamaican jerk and Paul Prudhomme redfish magic.  If you like grated cheese on your pasta you better buy a bunch and store it.  The dry kind in a jar can last a long time.
  • You also need your sauces and condiments like bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, hot sauces, terriyaki.  I like things spicy so I have Tabasco, Franks, Buffalo, Siricha (that is Sriracha to the right.) It’s from Vietnam and it’s spicy and flavorful.  Don’t forget relish, pickles, jalapenos, pepperoncini and other hot peppers.
  • Sweeteners – I like that natural brown sugar for my coffee.  You need maple syrup and honey.   I don’t think honey ever goes bad.  Also try to get a good pile of sugars both brown and refined.    I like molasses so we got some molasses.  Might as well put jams and jellies here too.
  • Don’t forget gravies.  A gravy will make anything more palatable.  You can buy cans, jars and packages of gravy that you just need to add a cup of water to and heat.  A can of roast beef, a pack of gravy, a cup of water and some egg noodles or rice and you got a good dinner.
  • Salt gets its own bullet point. You need lots of salt.  Salt will last forever as long as you don’t let it get washed away.  Salt can be used to pickle things and cure things.  You need lots of salt.  Near the ocean you can at least make some salt through evaporation.  Inland I don’t know.  Get a variety of salts: pickling, kosher and iodized.  You should also get some one pound containers because that size would be good for bartering if it ever gets that bad.  You should make sure that you have salt and pepper in your bug out bag.  Store pounds and pounds of salt.  I’d say you need to think in the tens of pound range for storing salt.
  • Vinegar also gets its own category. Vinegar can be used to cure and pickle things.  Vinegar is also a great all natural cleaner.  Get cider vinegar, red wine, distilled and balsamic.  You can get most of them in gallon containers for small money and vinegar lasts a very long time.  I’d say you need to think of vinegar in gallons.
  • Baking stuff like flours and packaged goods like pancake mix, corn bread mix, Bisquick, bags of pizza mix and yeast.  The bags of pizza dough mix are great, under a buck on sale.  Might as well throw in the corn meal, oatmeal, corn starch, evaporated milk and such other things in this category.
  • Fats – I like olive oil a lot so I buy it by the gallon when it goes on sale.  Olive oil can last a long time if it is kept cool and in a dark spot.  You also need to get lots of corn or vegetable oil.  By it by the gallon and keep it in a cool dark spot.  You need fats in your diet and it makes clean up easier which may save you water.  Some folks like canned butter.  I don’t have any, but I’d like to try it.
  • I’d also give bouillon it’s own category.   There are all kinds: chicken, beef, fish and pork.  You can add bouillon to rice or make your own soups from scratch.  A few cubes, a box of elbows, cans of corn, beans and tomatoes and you got some minestrone soup.

Get outside everyday.  Got a day off midweek last week so went skiing with a friend.  It was my first and only time downhill skiing this year that I didn’t hike up in order to ski down.  The tickets were $62 each!!! But, but, but, but they got six inches of snow the day before and this day promised to be sunny, warm and not too much wind.  it was a great day.

sk17The ski area we went to was Mount Sunapee.  That’s Lake Sunapee there that you are looking at.  You probably can’t make it out, but there are still ice fishing huts on the ice and snow mobile tracks criss crossing the lake.

When we pay that much, which we never do, we make sure to get as much out of the day as possible so of course we got there well before the lifts opened.  The lifts generally open at 9, but we were lucky to be riding up at 8:55.  We skied until 1:30 or there abouts, ate lunch outside on a picnic table and back on the lifts by two.  The lifts close at 4 and we managed to still be riding the lift after 4.


We were the third persons on in the morning when the place opened and the third from the last in the afternoon when the place closed.  I bet we skied over 35,000 vertical feet.  We’ve both been skiing a long time.  It’s good when you go with someone that skis like you do becuase you can ski the same trails without holding eachother up.

Ice storm

December 16, 2008

We got a rainstorm the other night, 3+ inches of rain.  Folks a few miles away got an inch or more of ice.  My house was drying out today.  Folks a few miles away were chilling out.  Literally, no power, no heat.  Are you prepared to stay warm?  Are you prepared to vanquish the darkness?

One of the places that I go walking is a little hill.  The summit is maybe 700 feet or so.  The base is around 300 feet, so the gain is 400.

At the base of this hill it was drying out from last night’s rainstorm.  At the top it was covered in ice.



It’s amazing what a small change in elevation can do.  You have to keep that in mind when you are getting dressed or packing.

p1010061What you see on the ground isn’t snow.  It’s ice that’s falling from the trees as the day warms.  If you look closely at the ground you can see all the branches that have snapped off the trees from the weight of the ice.  Ice weighs a lot.


Some tree covered in ice.  It’s like a winter wonderland.  As if each branch was dipped into glass.


I like the way the sun is shining through the ice on the tree.

p10100441This is a good picture that really shows the weight of the ice and how it bends trees and branches to the point of snapping.  You should take a look around your property and make sure there aren’t any branches or trees that may come down during a storm and knock out your wires.  If you haven’t laid awake listening to trees and branches snapping during an ice storm it is something else.

p1010055You can see next year’s buds being kept on ice for the spring solstice and Greenman to arrive.

p1010054I call this construction, “White Pine Amidst Ice.”  Just kidding, but it is pretty.

p1010047Nice trail.

So what was I reminded of today?

You gotta get outadoors everyday.

I have to check around my house to make sure nothing will come down on wires, roof or sheds if there’s a storm.

Weather can change dramatically and rapidly.

If your power goes out do you have another way to stay warm?  And another one after that? If my electric goes out I can’t use my furnace, but I have a woodstove.  If that doesn’t work I have a propane heater.  If that doesn’t work I have a little camping heater.   Can you cook without electricity?  Do you have a backup plan to that one?  Do you have the cast iron to cook over a fire if need be?  Do you even have a spare propane tank or extra bag of charcoal for your grill?

Generators, batteries, solar chargers, Coleman fuel, propane, blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights, lanterns, candles, propane heater, charcoal, firewood, saws, mauls, light sticks, fleece, long underwear, head lamps, cast iron cookware, handwarmers, hats, gloves, Dutch oven, grills, axes, matches and lighters, portable TVs, wind up lights and radios.

Lastly, you need to know how to shut off the utilities to your house.  Learn how to shut off the water main and drain the heating system, shut off your natural gas, turn off the furnace and pull the main breaker to your house.  The time to figure out how to do it isn’t when you need to.

BTW our power went out today.  It didn’t take me long to pull out a couple of battery lanterns, the b attery TV set and a radio.  We weren’t affected in the least.  I did find out that the batteries died in the radio.  No problem, we have lots of extra batteries.  It feels good to be prepared.  Are you?


November 19, 2008

Do you sprout?  Sprouts are great.  Maybe it’s not as exciting as grinding your own grain or guns, but hey you guys can shoot it out over the last few cans of peas at the 7-11and I’ll be safely sitting at home reading my books munching on fresh sprouts.

You can grow sprouts in the dark in a cool area.  How many other ways are there to grow something fresh even if you are locked in your house for an extended period of time?

You can sprout all different kinds of seeds.  I like a mix with some radish or arugula seeds in it so there is a little bite to the sprouts.  Find a mix that you like.  I like something called the French Mix.  The seeds I sprout have 35% protein, amino acids and vitamins and minerals.  That’s 35% protein that grows in a cool dark place in less than a week!!

Sprouting seeds is easier then making pie.  Basically all you do is measure some seeds into a jar and rinse and drain them twice a day.  I rinse them in the morning and then sometime after dinner.  In less then a week you’ll have a jar full of sprouts.

Bell jar and sieve top

Bell jar and sieve top

This is what you start with, a standard Bell jar and a top that has holes in it to drain the water.  I bought this green drain top and you can get them in different sizes.  Before I bought one I just punched a bunch of holes in a metal top and used that to drain the jar.



This is my one pound bag of French seed mix.  It’s made up from: clover, arugula, radish, fenugreek, cress and dill seeds.  This one pound bag would probably sprout enough seeds to fill a 55 gallon drum.  You can get seeds, a jar and a drain top for less than $10.

Seeds in the jar

Seeds in the jar

This is a few tablespoons of seeds in the jar after the first rinse.  Just dump a couple spoonfuls of  seeds in the jar, add water, put the top on and drain the water.

Day two

Day two

This is day two.  If you look closely or click on the picture you can see that these babies are already sprouting.  They look kind of like chlorophylic little tadpoles.  Can you see their little white “tails?”

Day three

Day three

This is only day three and you can see that the sprouts are getting some volume to them and beginning to fill the Bell jar.   Rinse, drain and stick back into the cabinet.

Day  four

Day four

Now we’re really cooking.  Rinse, drain and stick back into the dark cool cabinet.

Day five

Day five

Just about ready.  They’ll be ready tomorrow morning.  Rinse, drain and stick back in cool, dark cabinet.

Day six

Day six

The jar is full enough.  I’m going to clean them up now.  I put in a little too much seed.  They could have grown another day maybe, but the jar is full so I’ll finish them up.

Sprouts in a bowl

Sprouts in a bowl

I dump the sprouts into a large bowl and fill with water.  I then agitate the seed hulls off of the sprouts.  The hulls float to the surface of the water.  You can see the hulls have all been washed to one side of the bowl.  The hulls are all that brown stuff on the left side of the bowl.  The hulls aren’t bad for you, they’re just a little crunchy and get caught in between your teeth so I wash them out.  I then drain the bowl and away go the hulls with the water.

Sprouts in colander

Sprouts in colander

Last, I rinse and drain them in a colander.  Then I store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.   I usually also put a paper towel in the plastic bag too to absorb excess moisture.

That’s it.  If you don’t have sprouting seeds as part of your preparations, you have a hole that needs to be plugged.  Sprouts are a great way to introduce fresh produce to a canned, dehydrated or dried diet.  If there is a pandemic and you don’t want to leave your home for a week or two or a month then sprouts can give your body the fresh stuff that it will be craving.  They’ll help to keep you regular too.

I like these folks a lot.    I have no interest in the company other than them providing great service, great advice and a great product.  Plus, I think that they’re hippies so they get a few points for being anti-establishment.


Suburban survival

November 4, 2008

What is survival?  To me it’s being prepared for anything, being open minded and keeping your six senses working enough to acknowledge the world around you and adapt to ever changing circumstances.  Having a grain mill is great, but we also have to live in the everyday, that is go to work, go shopping, pay bills and tend to the homestead.

This is a wild turkey feather.

Wild turkey feather

Wild turkey feather

Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird because he thought that the eagle was too warlike.

Today I went to the big orange box store and bought some insulation.  I framed out a walk-in closet a few years ago.  One side of the closet is basically an exterior wall and the other side of the closet is an interior wall where we hang out a lot.  I noticed this closet stayed pretty cold so I figured that I should insulate it.  I also notice that the interior wall where we hang out is pretty cold to the touch.  That means it chills the air in the interior room.

The nice thing about having a cold, dark closet is that I can use it as a root cellar.  I’ve cured homemade cured pork tenderloin.  Check out this recipe.  It’s the easiest sausage in the world and involves no cooking.  I also store my root veggies in the cold closet.  When I make KimChi I store the fermenting bottles in the closet.

At the big box store I bought three rolls of Owens Corning Kraft R13 insulation.   I got the rolls that were 15″ wide which made it really easy to fit between the studs.   Kraft means it’s paper on one side.  R13 is the insulation’s insulative property.  The higher the R number the better the insulation.  Each roll cost about $10.  I had about 10 spaces between studs to slide the insulation into.  I kind of screwed up because I should have put the insulation in before I put up a bunch of pegboard for my tools, but I did not.  Luckily I was able to slide the insulation behind the pegboard and pull it up.

Owens R13 Kraft 15" roll

Owens R13 Kraft 15

It only took me about an hour and we will be more comfortable hanging out and also save energy.  Twenty dollars is a small price to pay.

Another product I like is the blow in foam insulation that comes in a can.  This stuff is great for electrical outlets and cracks near windows and doors.   You shake the can, spray it in to fill about 1//2 the cavity and as it cures it expands.   I highly recommend this stuff, but be careful not to over apply or the pressure it exerts on your windows/doors as it expands will make it tough to open or close the doors/windows.

Great Stuff

Great Stuff

With the cost to heat and cool being so great, you need to take advantage of every angle that you can.

Don’t be brave.  Use the correct equipment.  You wouldn’t remove a crew with a hammer or use a screwdriver as a chisel.  When working with insulation wear a mask, safety glasses, long pants and long sleeves.  When you shoot or use power equipment wear safety glasses and hearing protection.

So fills those cracks.  Fill those gaps.  Fill that empty space.

Some pics of a recent foray along the power lines.

Power line sunset

Power line sunset

Power line sunset 2

Power line sunset 2

There is beauty every where if you just open your eyes to receive.

Kitchen Knives

November 1, 2008

You need good kitchen knives.  I like to cook so I may have more than people that don’t cook.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good knife if you know what features to look for.    You should be able to get any one of these knives for less than $20.  Anyone will tell you that you need to keep your knives sharp. I also think that using a sharp knife to cut onions will make you cry less then using a dull knife to crush your way through the onion.

You can probably tell that I like a full tang.  To the uninitiated it just means that the blade runs all the way through the handle.  You can tell that a knife has a full tang by looking at the handle.  If you see the metal run all the way through between both sides of the handle than it’s a full tang.

Large kitchen knives

Large kitchen knives

Moving from left to right: The knife on the left is a Faberware.  It has a full tang.  Some sort of Japanese design.  Those little dimples on the blade cut down on the friction when you’re slicing something like cheese or tomatoes.  Second from left is a Victorinox bread knife.  It has a serrated blade.  Besides slicing bread, it’s also good for cutting through the joints of a bird.   Second from right is Ecko Eterna 12″ chef’s knife.  You rock this one back n’ forth on the cutting board to chop stuff really fine, or you can use the flat edge for smashing garlic and nuts or to slice up beef.    The method is to hold the front tip down on the cutting board and you move the handle up and down, so you move the knife in a rocking motion.  I generally don’t like wooden handle knives, but this one is a beauty.  Farthest to the right is a Joyce Chen cleaver.  This one is great for hacking apart large roasts or smashing through bone.

I don’t care at all what the name is.  If it looks and feels like a good knife I’ll buy it.  Don’t get tied to names.  Quality can be found anywhere.

Medium kitchen knives

Medium kitchen knives

The medium knives are the ones I use the most.  Cut apart chicken or fillet fish, slice an onion or make a salad.  The medium knives from left to right.  Farthest to the left is a 6″ Henckels.  The Henckels is a nice knife and easy to sharpen.  I like a more curved blade though like the two knives to the right.  Do you notice the curve? In the middle is a 6″ Chefmate made in Taiwan, but it’s full tang, sharpens easy and holds a good edge.  I’m sure I didn’t pay more than 10 bucks for it.  All the way over to the right is a Cold Steel fillet knife.  It has a very thin and the blade has a lot of flex in it.  This is my first Cold Steel kitchen knife.  I can recommend this knife without hesitation.  I think that this knife can also be found around ten bucks.  I’ll be buying more Cold STeel kitchen knives.

Small kitchen knives

Small kitchen knives

I probably use these the least.  These are almost like carving knives that you use for very fine kitchen work.  Once again left to right.  All the way on the left is a Kershaw carbon stainless steel knife made in Japan.  This was a cheap knife and it’s sharp.  The handle is an easy soft grip rubber.  In the middle with the blue handle is kind of a strange story.  It’s an Ontario knife.  I think it’s carbon steel, not stainless.  I don’t like it.  It stained, I guess because it’s carbon and it didn’t even come very sharp and I can’t get it to hold a good edge.  I think Ontario is a good company.  I have one of the RAT knives so I was disappointed to get this one.  Can’t recommend the Ontario kitchen knife.

Don’t let you knives remain dirty over night.  Don’t let them sit in water or the kitchen sink over night.  I don’t care how much fun you are having you gotta clean em as you use em.

I keep saying you have to keep your knives sharp.  I have some old fashion stones and a knife iron, but my favorites are the diamond stones. I like the ones that have two different grades in one unit. One side is course and the other side is fine. The sharpening surface also folds into the handle which is nice.  Plus, all you need for these stones is a few drops of water.

dmt stone

dmt stone

You turn it over to the red side and it’s course.

The other stone I like is a Smith’s double-sided stone. Same story as the DMT stone, one side is course and the other side is fine. Once again, the whole thing inserts into the handle for storage. The nice thing with this stone is that it has a little groove in it to sharpen fish hooks.



I have the Smith’s in my silverware draw.  Keep it handy and it won’t take more then 1/2 a minute to put a nice edge on it when you are cooking.

Here’s a nice tutorial put out by the good folks at DMT on how to sharpen different tools.

Don’t be dull.  Stay sharp.


October 31, 2008

Today’s post is about skills.  I have two posts in the works.  One will be on knives and the other on getting out.

Just got back from the range.  I tried out some subsonic Remington .22 rounds.  Quiet, but they still make too much noise to shoot stuff in my suburban neighborhood.  I was hoping for a pfft rather than a crack.    Also shot the 7.62 * 39 Saiga.  That is fun.  What an easy gun to shoot.  Also, fired off a few .357 rounds from my S&W model 60.  Getting better.  Practice makes you better.  My goal for a rifle is to be able to shoot a paper plate from 100 yards with iron sights.  For my handguns it’s to shoot a small plate from five yards.  Of course I try to shoot from all different ranges, positions and angles.  I don’t want to try using a scope until I have the iron sights nailed down.

Onto today’s post on skills-

Napoleon Dynamite: No, but who would? I don’t even have any good skills.
Pedro: What do you mean?
Napoleon Dynamite: You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills… Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.
Pedro: Aren’t you pretty good at drawing, like animals and warriors and stuff?

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

What skills do you have? This is my list of skills that I think are important to have. Of course it’s not all inclusive. There are many things that I can’t do that I wish I could.  Let me know what I’m missing.

Start a fire. If you don’t know how to start a fire, the main thing to keep in mind is that it is like painting, you need to get all your prep work done first. Before you touch the flame to the kindling you need to have everything ready. Start with tinder, then kindling then larger logs. You want to have all your gathering done before you start the fire.  You fire kit should contain matches, a steel and lighters.

Sharpen a knife. I like diamond stones. I’m going to have a separate post just for knives once I get the camera back from the wife. There’s a Halloween party where she works so she wanted to take pictures of all of her clients in the costumes.

Understand a variety of firearms. How to make safe, load, unload, field strip and clean. Learn how to use a pistol, a revolver, a lever action rifle, a center fire rifle and a shotgun. If you understand the basics for each one of these you will be in pretty good shape. You won’t be an expert, but if you come upon one you will at least (hopefully) be able to make it safe.

Cook a meal just using what you have in your pantry. I love to cook. You need to be able to mix a can or two of this or that and a bag of noodles and make a good dinner. Understand about cross contamination and how to avoid it. Know how to store food safely. Know what various herbs and spices taste like and how to use them.

Set up a camp and cook over a campfire.  Know to look overhead for widowmakers.  Don’t set up too close to some river or stream that may rise up.

Use a Coleman stove and lantern. Know how to fill them, pump them, light them and change a mantle.

Gardening skills. Know how to compost, understand NPK and micronutrients. I used to work with a very well paid lawyer (like $450 an hour, yup, that’s right). She went to all private schools that were very expensive for her education. She was interested in gardening. One day I was explaining to her about bees. She had no idea that bees pollinate and that without bees we wouldn’t have any fruit. Imagine that, not knowing that bees pollinate? Learn what USDA zone you are in. If you don’t garden buy a book and some seeds and start.

Be able to fix simple things around your home like a toilet that runs, fix a clogged toilet or clogged sink, a bad light switch or prime and finish the walls of your home. Know how to use simple hand tools.  Be able to replace a cord from an appliance or a switch from a lamp.

Understand the basics of how your car works. I don’t mean just turning the key and having it start. You should understand the basics about fuel, air and spark. Know where the battery is and how to jump start a car safely. If you have a standard transmission you should know how to pop the clutch to start it. You should know how to change a tire safely, how to check the fluid levels – brake, transmission, coolant, oil, washer, how to put air in your tires.

First aid skills. Understand how to spot an infection, redness, hot to the touch, maybe drippy fluids and how to treat an infection. Know how to perform CPR, how to take someone’s temperature, how to stop bleeding (direct pressure and raise the wound), how to prevent shock in someone. Know the difference between a virus and bacteria. Know what kind of bandages, dressings and ointments to use. Know the difference between different degrees of burns and how to treat them. How to get something out of someone’s eye, remove a tick or sew someone up. Know the basics of anatomy and physiology. Where your arteries and veins are and the basic bones of the human body.

That is all for now.  Knives and getting out coming up.