Starting Seeds

Starting seeds doesn’t have to be rocket science. You don’t need green houses and heat lamps. Kindergarten children plant beans in their classrooms to learn about spring time.

All you need is a cup, some paper towels or napkins, some water and a window sill.

I use clear plastic party cups to start my seeds. I stuff a little bit of brown paper towel in the bottom and then add water. I let the paper towel absorb as much water as it can, then pour any extra out. I put two or three seeds in each cup then set the cup in a warm, sunny window sill. After a couple days to a week, the seeds should start showing some signs of life. If they haven’t, don’t give up, recently my cantaloupes took almost three weeks to start sprouting. Keep your paper towels moist (but don’t drown your little roots) and wait. Once your plant has developed a good size tap root (the biggest root in the middle that the other roots sprout from), carefully pull the plants out of the cups and put into some good quality potting soil until it’s warm enough to plant outside.

This is how we start the majority of our seeds. Currently we’ve got every window sill full of beans, peas, carrots, peppers, chilies, butternut squash, sunflowers, radishes, cucumbers and countless herbs. This is also great for any little helpers you might have hanging around (children, grandkids?), they usually get very excited to see their little projects grow.

 

I’ve personally used these seeds in the past and was very pleased with quality.

Regrowing Your Celery

The next time you’re working with celery, don’t throw out the little bit at the end. If you save the end piece, you can regrow the celery and have another whole stalk for free. I’ve been doing this personally only for a few months but I have very impressed with the results, I’m sure you will be too.

Cut off the end of your celery stalk and place the bottom piece in a container. I usually use a bowl or a little Tupper with a wet napkin or paper towel. Place the bowl in a sunny spot, like a window sill and leave it there. Make sure the napkin or paper towel stays moist. The outer pieces of the celery will brown and rot but the middle pieces will shoot up.

When you have about an inch or so of growth, stick the celery piece (which should now have a little bit of roots) into some good potting soil and watch it grow! When you need some celery, cut it off of this plant but leave the plant in the ground, it will continue regrowing as long as you take care of it.

I love this idea because I like to dehydrate celery; it works so well and is a great flavor to add to many recipes. So having free celery instead of paying over $3 each time is awesome.

I have also used green onions the same way as well as cooking onions, leeks and garlic. Experiment with it! Have fun!

Dehydrating Broccoli and Using It

To dehydrate broccoli, first cut it into bite sized pieces and blanch for about a minute in boiling water. This will help to maintain the green color (otherwise it goes a nasty brown).  Plunge the hot broccoli into some cold or iced water to stop the cooking process. Drain to get as much water off as possible. I then spray with a bit of lemon juice (also helps the green color). Place on your dehydrator trays (not touching otherwise you get damp spots). It usually takes my dehydrator about 6 to 8 hours to dehydrate broccoli. Store as you would other dehydrated foods. Here is the dehydrator I use: (Excalibur Dehydrator)

To use your broccoli, here’s a simple but tasty broccoli soup recipe using things that are probably already in your food storage.

Broccoli Soup

3 cups chicken broth (approx 2 cans. You can also use water or water with bouillon cubes)

5 cups rehydrated (or fresh) broccoli (approx 2.5 cups dehydrated)

1.5 cups fresh (or rehydrated) onions (approx 3/4 cups dehydrated)

2 bay leaves

6 tbsp butter (can also use canned butter or butter powder)

7 tbsp flour

3 cups milk (can use reconstituted powdered milk)

Bring chicken broth (or water etc) to a boil. Add broccoli, onions and bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is tender. Remember to remove your bay leaves.

In a separate saucepan melt butter and stir in your flour to make a roux (paste). Slowly stir in the milk and incorporate it into the roux. Cook until thickened. Add your broccoli mix slowly. Heat and stir until thick.

If you have no butter and flour to make a roux you can also thicken your soup with cornstarch (make sure it boils to cook out the cornstarch) or potato flakes.

Home Made MRE’s

Have you ever opened an MRE (Military ration) and thought half the stuff was gross? Or been allergic to some of it? What about people with gluten allergies or dairy allergies? That stuff is loaded with wheat, soy and milk products. And honestly, a lot of people are just plain picky.

So I made my own MRE. I took apart some of my MRE’s that I got through the army and also searched through my cupboards. Here’s my example:

Freeze dried Chili Mac (made by Wise Company – thanks to TF for sending it!!)

Instant Vegetable Couscous (from a MRE you can make your own, just throw couscous in a bag)

Tomato Basil Rice (from a MRE but you can make your own)

Vegetable Beef Cup of Soup (grocery store)

Bread (from MRE – limited shelf life but I have seen people use vacuum packed tortillas)

Orange sport drink powder (from a MRE but you can get individual sizes at grocery stores)

Peanut Butter and Jam (from MRE but can get from restaurants)

Oatmeal (grocery store)

LaraBar energy bar (availbable here)

Salt, pepper, tea and sugar (available at almost any restaurant… well, buy your own individually wrapped tea bags)

Once you have everything you want, throw it in a bag and vacuum seal it. Or put it in a Ziploc and use a straw to suck out the extra air. I’ve seen people do their own MRE’s with ramen noodles and dehydrated vegetables, macaroni and cheese (out of the box), packets of tuna, soup mixes, anything really. It is easy to go to the grocery store and buy shelf stable items. Just pick something you like and that you’ll eat and throw it all together! Later on, I’ll give you some ideas for the little ones in your survival group

Reusable Crocheted Bandages

Reusable Crocheted Bandages

I’d like to start out by saying this is not my pattern, I lay no claim to it. I got it from @yycbusymom and she got it somewhere else. If it’s your pattern, let me know.

So anyways, the idea is to make a bandage that is durable and reusable in a SHTF scenario. These bandages are easily made and can be boiled or bleached or washed to use again. Obviously there is a concern about blood borne diseases but I wouldn’t be reusing one unless I knew who it was on and what they have/don’t have. So family yes, strangers no, you can keep it, it’s really ok.

To make these bandages you need a 2mm sized crochet hook  (get a basic set here) and #10 cotton crochet thread. (here’s what I use: Crochet thread )

To start, chain 26 stitches. Turn and single crochet into your last stitch (there by making your bandage 25 stitches long.) Single crochet across your row. At the end, chain one, turn and single crochet into the first stitch.

Continue to single crochet the bandage until the desired length is reached. (You can do several, some 3′, some more. Yycbusymom was going to do some 10′ in case of a chest wound etc.)

When you’re done, tie off like you normally would, roll the bandage and put it into a plastic bag to protect it. (If you’re like me, you’ll have to wash it first, too much stuff gets on it while you’re making it).

Dehydrating Carrots

I like to dehydrate my own vegetables. I find it is cheaper than buying the #10 cans of dehydrated vegetables. My own dehydrator is sort of lack luster. It was $30 and has large holes so I can’t dehydrate everything I would like to (saving up for a nine tray Excalibur though! ~ update: I got one and love it! You can find one here )

One of my favorite veggies to dehydrate is carrots. They are easy, get super small and I add them to a lot of different dishes (soups, stews, in the pan with roasting meats etc).

To dehydrate carrots, I first peel them and chop off the tops. I then slice them very thin ( 1/8 “) on a mandolin but I have also used a knife (doesn’t take me too long because I was a chef but could take someone with lesser knife skills all day to do the amount as thin as they should be). You need to blanch the carrots next. To do this, plunge the slices into boiling water for about a minute and take them out and put them in ice water. I usually use a metal strainer to put the carrots in the boiling water then I’m not fishing after all the little bits with a slotted spoon. I don’t normally have ice so I just rinse the slices with very cold water to stop the cooking process.

After your carrots have been blanched and cooled quickly, you arrange your carrots in a single layer on your dehydrator trays. My dehydrator has a recommended setting for vegetables so I set it and leave the carrots for a good 6-8 hours. I then test a couple of pieces of carrots by taking them off the trays, let them cool down then try to bend them. If they bend, put them back in. If they snap or crack, they’re done!

In the picture are raw sliced carrots and the dehydrated carrots. For size comparison, I’ve added an American penny.

Another Storage Recipe: Scones!

Here’s another recipe you can make using your food storage. I have made this with dehydrated versions of the ingredients and it works well.  This is a traditional Irish scone, passed down through the family.

2.5 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2.5 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 c butter

1 egg

1 c buttermilk to mix. (you can also use water or 2% milk for this, it just tastes way better with buttermilk)

You can add a great deal of different things to these. My favorite is to add cheddar cheese (about a cup worth). I have also added raisins, currants, lemon zest, garlic powder, poppy seeds, etc, etc.

Mix it into a thick dough. (You may need to add more milk or more flour). Roll out to 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick. Bake at 375* F for 12-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Basic Bread

I wanted to share with you a simple bread recipe. I use this recipe all the time at home and it is really easy to make with things that most people have in their long term food storage.

The recipe:

1 lb flour (regular, all purpose flour or whole wheat)

2 tsp of yeast (we keep our yeast in the fridge once opened)

1 tbsp salt

1.5 cups of warm water (not hot)

Mix your ingredients to form a dough and knead for about 10 minutes.

Place your dough in a greased bowl (I use olive oil to lightly coat the inside of a mixing bowl). Cover the bowl with a towel and put it in a warm place for about an hour to let the dough rise.

After the dough has risen and roughly doubled in size, preheat the oven to 500* F.

Punch down the dough and shape it. (It doesn’t have to be pretty. I’ve down round loaves, baguettes, regular loaves and buns with this recipe.)

Place in the oven and turn it down to 450*F. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting. It is still cooking during this resting period.

Cut and enjoy. Bread may not be glamorous but in a SHTF situation, it can keep you alive and stretch out any sort of stew or soup you may be eating.

Simple Jar Candles

There are a lot of ways to make candles. This is only one of them and it is fairly simple. You can get fancier if you want, but this is survival and preparedness, not a dinner party. As such, I have not included instructions for colorants or scents.

Needed:

A jar … you can use anything from baby food jars to pickle jars and mason jars are great, I’ve used small jars that I got at a dollar store, but I’ll use a small mason jar to show you. I like jars because they have lids and can be kept dry but feel free to use anything such as a milk carton, a tea cup or an old washed apple juice tin.

Wax: beeswax, paraffin, old used candles anything!  I’ll show you how to use recycled wax since it’s easy and cheap. Paraffin is easily found at a grocery store with the canning supplies (it’s not usually used for candle making but will do in a pinch. It has a lower melting point than candle paraffin that’s all) Pictured: old candles about to be chopped.

Wick: I buy these from a wholesaler but you can get them at craft shops or make them with string but the string doesn’t work as well as a proper wick. The easiest thing is to use a wick that has the metal piece at the bottom. ( Get wicks here )

Pot and bowl: I usually use a container specifically for melting wax but most people will be fine with using a bowl over a pot of very warm water. You don’t want the water to be boiling over and you don’t want to heat the wax directly over a heat source because the wax can ignite at a very low temperature.

Safety Notice: Hot wax can burn! If you get it on yourself, run cold water over it and then peel off the hardened wax. If your wax catches fire while on the stove (never happened to me but you never know…) DO NOT USE WATER to put out the flames! Turn off your heat source and smother the flames with a pot lid or fire blanket etc. I shouldn’t have to say this but I am not responsible for what you do! If you hurt yourself during this project, you are on your own and I am not liable.

Put a pot of water on the stove at a medium heat. Put bowl over the pot. Cut wax into smaller pieces to allow quicker melting. Do not allow your wax to get past 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  While the wax is melting, heat up your jars a bit. I usually use another pot of water to do this. You want the jars to be warm when the wax goes in to prevent the glass from cracking and to let the wax set nicely; otherwise it pulls away from the jar as it dries.

When wax is melted, use a ladle or something similar to pour the wax slowly and gently into the warmed jars (make sure you dry them off inside first). Let them sit until hardened. (probably a few hours for all of the wax to be completely set.

Pictured: my finished product… smells vaguely cinnamony (due to old candles being scented).

Welcome to 2012

Happy New Year readers! I’d like to start off by thanking each and every one of you that has read my blog, it is greatly appreciated! I would also like to thank the people that have subscribed and commented, you cannot believe my shock as I got the emails that people have actually paid attention, I was , and am, flattered.

I have gotten some great reviews on my knitting post, and have had several requests for hats. I’d like to thank you, again, for the compliments.

 As we enter a new year, I think it’s a great time to review and improve our preps. While I do not believe in the Mayan 2012 theory, I feel a sense of urgency to get prepared. Maybe it’s the rash of weird weather, maybe it’s the political atmosphere and the condition of the global economy but something is bugging me and I just can’t prep fast enough. I am trying to do something every day to prep. Whether it’s reading a book or a website for more information, watching how to videos via the wonderful creation of YouTube or whatever, I would like to do something each day. This isn’t a new year’s resolution because no one ever keeps those, but rather a serious intention.

Yesterday (January 1, 2012), I took inventory of what I have (and found it lacking of course). My DH and I decided which foods we would like to dehydrate and have on hand, wrote a list and now we know what we’d like to grow in our gardens and what to watch for in the sales at the grocery stores and farmers markets.

I get a little bit of income from online survey sites and the like and will be using this income to purchase prep things, since I can be paid out in PayPal or Amazon gift cards. (Before I would always just get them to send me a cheque, but without a credit card, PayPal and Amazon would be convenient for buying online).

Today is a day of lists. I have made a list of things that I would like to buy tomorrow for my preps (a lot of stores still closed today), I have finalized my list of things to grow in the garden, I have made a wish list of gear I would like to have and organized it in order of priority. (I do not expect to be able to get anything of these things, but it gives me a goal to work towards and I am very goal driven).

On top of my lists, I have been knitting today as I have arranged a few trades with other preppers. I’m making them hats (the same ones from my previous knitting post) and some of them are sending me prep things that are a bit harder to come across where I live or are cheaper in the United States.

Another list I have made is a list of things I’d like to purchase in the United States. While I normally try to buy local and support independent businesses (as an independent business owner, I feel this is extremely important) but there are just some things that I can get at a ridiculously better price on the other side of the border and these days, my budget isn’t exactly huge.

Oh, and before I forget, I have also arranged to get some venison with which I will be making jerky and pemmican!! I will blog about the whole process as soon as I get my hands on that meat! (Shout out to my friend JW who is providing the deer).

I hope 2012 is a great year for everyone, but please, be prepared, and I hope I can help you learn something over the year. Cheers!