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Monday, February 28, 2011

Emergency Preparedness --Revised-The Food that Never Spoils

Honey never spoils. It may crystallize, but as long as it's pure honey, it's safe.

Grocery store honey is better than none, but go "a-field" for your honey. Local producers will appreciate your business, and their honey contains substances native to your area that may help treat allergies.

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to find a keeper that doesn't use commercial frames with cells already in place. You can get beeswax then. There is something special about the hand-dipped beeswax candles Art makes. The color is a lovely gold, and the fragrance is heavenly.

Back to honey.... and sore throats. The old fashioned brew of hot lemonade with honey is soothing, and has anti-bacterial effects as it bathes your throat. Some folks like to add a bit of something "special" to kick up the effects. Whiskey is another kind of painkiller altogether. The non-alcoholic variety is good for kids past 18 months old. Never give honey to kids younger than 18 months old; it can cause infant botulism!

In a pinch I've treated chickens sick with upper respiratory problems with honey and lemon. On a Sunday when my supply of Terracycline in the vet box was used up I figured it was better than nothing. It held them over until the feed store opened Monday morning.

*Cruising the bookstore yesterday (3-2-11) I ran across an article in the February Acres USA magazine "Healing With Honey"by Nathaniel Altman. He discusses the use of honey to treat MRSA infections. Apparently the results are amazing. This excellent article is well worth reading for other medicinal uses of honey, too.

Try making jam with honey; the flavor is phenominal in pear preserves. Just remember to use sugar free pectin. It contains instructions for using honey, which may not jell using regular pectin.
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Received my copy of Dinner Is In the Jar through I shouldn't have been so stubborn about ordering it. It's well worth the money. The recipes are yummy, and the author gives instructions on making your own mylar food storage bags using a scissors and iron. Jars can be expensive unless youre married to a jar collector. Thanks, Art!

Shocked at the price of freeze dried meat, my next project is to can meat. First I need a new pressure canner. I'm sorry I sold mine ten years ago. I even found directions for home canning bacon!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Emergency Preparedness-- The "Outa-Backa"

We had one when we replaced the plumbing and put in a septic tank (when we first moved to the HomePlace).  Living outside the city limits, there were no regulations against one. Sanitation during an emergency is vital for your health and the health of those you protect and provide for.

Ours was located down a path through the woods at the edge of the back pasture, far enough away from the house to avoid nuisances like bugs and smells. It had a transparent moon roof at first. You could look up at the remarkable skyfull of stars at night, but during a hot summer day it suffered from the greenhouse effect and became an odd smelling sauna.  The moon roof was covered shortly after that. Want to see the stars? Open the door!  Small windows for light were added at the top sides instead.

TP was stored in a water-proof plastic box with top until needed. Rain occasionally found its way in through the ventilation.

We kept a covered coffee can of ashes from our fires next to the TP. After each visit a person sprinkled ashes over their deposit  to keep the smell in reasonable limits, discourages some bugs, and help the "product" break down fast. Save those ashes!

It had a lovely toilet seat installed to avoid fanny slivers, and add to the homey atmosphere. We posted a few pictures to improve the decor, provided some reading material, and it was perfectly adequate.

Built on skids, when the hole below reached capacity, Art hooked  the Outa-Backa up to the tractor and pulled it over to the new hole. Shovel a thick layer of dirt over the previous hole, mark it carefully, and begin again in the new location.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Emergency Preparedness -- Rabbits for Town and Country -- Grow Meat!

4 wks. old California Black
New Zealand cross

Whether you live in the country or city, in an emergency situation a source of fresh meat is welcome. Even country land can be hunted out after a time, so grow your own meat -- raise rabbits.
* quiet
* efficient converters of feed
* you can gather your own feed in the country
* high protien
* extremely low fat ( add fat to recipes when living off rabbit meat completely -- the dreaded "rabbit starvation" stories may not be all fiction)

* short gestation period (28 - 31 days, multiple litters per year)
* rapid maturation
* can keep live until needed (no refrigeration)

Information on raising rabbits is available online, at your bookstore, or in my article "Makin' Money with Bunnies" BackHomeMagazine March 2010 (Brag ! Brag!). If stumped, contact Art or I through our blogs with your e-mail. We also consult by phone if needed.

Occasionally you may need to buy or trade for new unrelated rabbits to avoid inbred genetic faults such as wolf teeth, or small litters. We added two new does this fall. Now there's 11 does and 4 bucks in our herd.

grade(not purebred) broken coat pattern due Feb.27  

French lop doe due feb. 28

Purebred rabbits, such as the Palominos we started raising a year ago sport ear tatoos for identification. We can get more rabbits which will be unrelated to our current Palomino doe and buck (below) from the local breeder.
Stick with rabbits from the large breeds for the most efficiency in meat production -- Californian, New Zealand, Palomino, French Lop, etc. A French lop Buck is on my "want" list: 12 -14 pounds with larger litters up to 13 in a batch.

I must admit we keep medium sized rabbits as well, for three reasons: coat color/pattern variety for pet sales, smaller bucks are best for first breedings of does - smaller offspring for easier first delivery, and the pure pleasure of seeing what colors/ patterns you get when mating two interesting rabbits. 14 genes determine coat color and pattern, so there are always surprises in store.

Lula, typical Silver Martin color/pattern, medium breed

The meat is delicious and can be prepared fried, stewed, roasted, and grilled with extra fat. Raising rabbits can provide meat for your family and extra income for sale as breeders or pets. In hard times, they make great barter items.
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Ordered from The Ready Store online today. Recieved an e-mail about delayed shipping due to unusual demand. I'll let you know how long it takes, and how the dry milk and dried green beans are.

Ordered open pollinated seeds from Terratorial seeds -- my usual seed company. OP seeds produce plants from which you may save seeds for the following year. Saving your own seeds is a very good idea!

Ordered Dinner's in the Jar this morning for more meal storage recipes. Amazon also carries the oxygen- removing packets that will keep your jarred dinners very dry and fresh.

Next Emergency Prep post : "The Outa-backa"


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Emergency Preparedness -- Your Pantry, part 3

  Hesitant to buy large amounts of cheese powder to try a recipe, I compromised on getting a generic mac and cheese dinner for 34 cents. The macaroni can go into a different dinner. Cheese powder isn't available at the grocery stores in the largest town nearby (60 miles).
Anyone have a good source for cheese powder in less than a 10# size?

 Taco Rice

In quart jar place:

3 TBS. Taco Seasoning from Your Pantry, part 1
1 c uncooked rice
1 packet dry cheese sauce from Mac and Cheese dinner

To cook:
In medium pan add 3 cups water, rice and Taco Seasoning, bring to boil, and simmer 10 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in 2 TBS. butter (optional), and contents of cheese packet. Carnivores add meat. Top with crushed corn chips.

Serve as casserole or in tortillas with refried beans.

variations: decrease water to 2 c and add 8 oz. diced tomatoes  
                           decrease water to 2 c and add 8 oz tomato sauce

Creole Rice
In 1-1/2 cup jar or bag
1-1/2 tsp Creole seasoning (Your Pantry, Page 1- add more to
                                              taste later, if needed -- HOT!)
1 c  rice
from your shelves : 8 oz can tomato sauce
Tomato sauce can be sealed in a baggie (more hygenic) and placed with rice/ seasonings in 1 qt. widemouth jar, instead.

To prepare:

In medium saucepan add 2 c water, tomato sauce, and rice/ sesonings. Bring to boil and simmer 15- 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

additions: chopped celery, diced sweet peppers, fresh onions, grated cheese
Carnivores add  cooked sausage, chicken/rabbit, meat, seafood (shrimp is very tasty) after rice is done. Allow to heat through.
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Check it out! Rooster tracks in the last snowstorm!  Antonio is getting stealthier since my post "The Night Before Christmas--Art  vs. The Rooster! Or maybe it's just too cold to go out chasing  Antonio Banty-Deras.

Warm spell due! Huzzah! Next Blog on Preparedness -- Rabbits.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Emergency Preparedness -- Garden : Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is one of the best vegetables you can plant for emergency preparedness. Once started from seed, it is tolerant to a variety of weather conditions with a bit of help from you. Swiss chard plants can produce for two years from your first seeding. Best results come from direct seeding in your garden, then thinning and replanting the seedlings you carefully lifted out. It can be started inside; be aware it needs much light to keep it from growing spindly. Grow it in large pots or containers if you don't have garden space.

Keep your chard production uninterrupted by seeding more in the spring of your first crop's second year. When it goes to seed, the second crop will be producing. Plant every year.

It doesn't take much room. The upright, bushy habit of growth makes it good for interplanting with shorter season plants such as lettuce. Once the lettuce is gone, the chard spreads out to take over the empty spaces.

Here in Texas, chard will grow year round, even through our blistering summers. Adequate water is key, and light shading during the worst of the afternoon heat helps keep leaves succulent. Plant them to the east of taller, bushy plants, or use row cover. Pick younger leaves in the morning for the best salad greens.

Winter temperatures below 32 degrees require sturdier covering. We use old sheets which allow some passage of light. Our chard has been covered for up to a week at a time with no problems. When the weather warms, uncover it. Toss the sheet back on it when it turns cold. In snow prone areas grow it in a cold frame or mini-greenhouse. Pick chard for greens, or to include in recipes, in the afternoon when the leaves have less moisture.

Swiss chard contains vitamins K and E, folic acid and niacin, calcium, beta-carotene, and as much vitamin C as an orange. Chlorophyll content helps with wound healing, ulcers and inflammation.

The mild taste combines well with a number of foods or with sauces. Add it when preparing soups or casseroles stored in your pantry to boost  nutrition.

It's in high demand from our veggie customers, and we sell out every time we bring it to town. We feed it to our small farm animals, too, helping cut the feed bills to save more $$$. It improves egg quality in winter months.

Not recipes for shelf storage, but yummy none-the-less:

Swiss Chard with Hot Bacon Dressing
Everythings better with bacon, right?Remove ribs and tear leaves of approx. 1 gallon container full of chard
Dice 4 slices of bacon; fry until crisp.
Drain off all but 1 TBS. bacon fat
1 TBS vinegar
2 TBS water
salt, pepper and sugar to taste
stir in torn chard leaves, continue stirring until leaves are covered with dressing and slightly wilted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Meatballs with Chard and Cheese

Use your favorite meatball recipe using 1 pound of meat (beef, venison, turkey, pork, etc.)

Remove ribs from 1 1/2 c raw chard
Use scissors to snip chard into small strips -- 1/2" x 3/4"
Place chard into  heatproof bowl, pour 3/4 c simmering water over chard and cover for 2 minutes.
Drain chard (freeze water for soup later), squeeze out gently
Mix into meatball mixture with 1/2 to 3/4 c. cheddar or parmesan cheese. Cook as usual.

The chard is very mild, nigh unto tastless, if you're hesitant to try it. It makes the meatballs "prettier" and more nutritious.
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  I have a thing about chard ribs. I read they could be stuffed and substituted for celery ribs. I don't think so!!! GACK! Ptooi! I removed the stuffing and fed the stems to the chickens.

I've also read the stems can be cooked and served buttered like asparagus. When I work up the courage, I'll let you know how that goes.

Next Blog: Back to "Your Pantry, Page 3"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Emergency Preparedness -- Your Pantry, Part 2

A special thanks to my husband, Art, the hoarder of jars!
Before I list dinner mix recipes, let's look at general storage time for selected dry foods/ingredients at room temperature (85 degrees max) :

white rice -- 1 year                  pasta -- 2 years
brown rice -- 6 months            whole wheat pasta -- 9 months
                       (whole grain requires longer cooking)
herb/spice mixes -- 1 year       ground spices -- 6 months
dry milk -- 1 year                    cornstarch -- 18 months
soup mixes -- 1 year                boullion -- 1 year

Your dinners will last a minimum of 6 months (ground spices), or longer with some decrease in flavor due to the spices.

Suppose you work through the supply of jars the hoarder has...what to do? Pack dinners in freezer weight baggies and collect in gallon glass jars. Iced tea jars appear in resale shops in the winter for around $2.00 a jar, or you might find some on sale. Deoderize glass pickle jars if available. Ball makes gallon storage jars for $12.99 + shipping. Draw your own conclusions.

Label each jar or bag with the dinner name, date, added ingredients needed, and cooking directions.

Seasoned Rice n' Pasta -- Beef or Chicken

 1--1 1/2 cup jar or sandwich size freezer baggie per recipe 
3/4 c rice                                      
1/4 c. small pasta ( broken vermicelli, estrella, etc.) 
1 TBS beef or chicken boullion
1 tsp mixed herbs                        
3/8 tsp garlic powder
3/8 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley

Combine rice and pasta into container, add seasonings.
To cook:  pour jar into 1 3/4 c. water, bring to boil, then simmer 10 minutes. May add 2 TBS butter. Makes about 3+ cups.
Add cooked meat and veggies to make a one pot meal.

Chicken/Rabbit Assistant

Combine the following ingredients in a medium bowl:

1-1/2 TBS black or white pepper
2 tsp. mixed herbs
2 TBS dried parsley
1/3 c dried minced onion
3 TBS onion powder
1-2/3 c. dry milk powder
2 TBS coffee creamer powder
4 TBS chicken boullion
( change to Beef/Vennison Assistant by omitting chicken boullion and substituting beef boullion)

Combine ingredients well.  Measure 1/2 cup of seasoning mixture into each of five  3 cup or quart glass jars. Add 1 cup uncooked
macaroni to each jar. Cooking directions follow.

Brown 1# boned chicken or rabbit meat cut into small pieces, or use leftover meat. Add 1 cup water, 16 oz chopped tomatoes, pour in macaroni and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 to 25 minutes (covered, stir occasionally) until pasta is tender.

Variations, add:
1 TBS chili powder, or
3/4 c. chopped celery,
 or 1 c. mushrooms, or
omit tomatoes, increase liquid,stir in cheese 
add a variety of veggies
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Still working on the rice pudding recipe, the texture is about right, but flavor needs improvement.
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Blast it! The hot water pipes froze despite efforts to drip them. Maybe they'll thaw starting on the weekend. Just collected the eggs -- half were frozen! Wed. 3:00 PM