Thursday, June 30, 2011

Would You Eat A Four Legged Chicken

A four-legged chicken is waiting to find out its fate. A slaughterhouse in Isreal is waiting to hear from a Rabbi to see if it is kosher to eat it. I dont know about you but I would not want to eat it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Harvesting and Drying My Garden Herbs

Rosemary & Oregano
Today I harvested some of our herbs from the garden. Sage, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme were growing well. In fact my Thyme is flowering!

I cut the herbs early in the morning. Not so early that they were damp from dew but a bit later after they were quite dry.

I love the smell as I cut them and placed them on paper towels inside my wicker basket.

Herbs on Paper Towels
Next I shook the herbs to get rid of dust and bits of debris, then I placed them all on paper towels. I wanted to be sure they were fairly clean and dry before bundling them for tying.

Herbs Drying on Racks
Herbs are tied together in small bundles, then hung upside down to dry on my antique towel rack in the kitchen.  You would not believe how good it smells in there!

The tea towel is placed to stop direct sunlight from hitting the herbs. It's a south facing window, not the best spot for drying herbs but it's the only place where I have the wooden racks that are perfect for drying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Survival Planning: Vinegar, a Potent Food Storage Item

Vinegar the magical food item. That's what I call it. It's something you should have on hand for long-term food storage.

What can you do with vinegar? Vinegar can be used as a disinfectant. Put it on wounds, or with your laundry, or dilute it and wash floors and bedding with it.

Vinegar has medicinal properties and is useful for treating bedding in a sick room. In the 19th century vinegar was an important item for ships' surgeons to have on board. Entire ships were disinfected using vinegar and water to wash floors and bedding and clothing.

Vinegar was in use as a healing medicine and antibiotic in ancient Greece and during the Civil War. 

You can also make a salad dressing with vinegar, oil and sugar.

Indigestion can be treated with a dink of vinegar and baking soda.  Yes the old "Make a volcano for science fair" trick. But if you drink a bit, it helps a burp and thus relieves the indigestion. It works better if you use apple cider vinegar.

My father used to drink a small glass of vinegar after every meal. He claimed it helped him digest his food! And my grandmother swore that a tiny glass of vinegar daily helped thin the blood. Who knows, maybe there's some truth in these old home remedies!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Onions are Popping Up in the Vegetable Garden

The Onions we planted are coming up! Considering we've never done a vegetable garden before this is pretty cool.

Did I mention that I can't weed due to physical challenges, and hubs refuses to weed? So our garden is being left to nature and our crossed fingers!

Now if only we had a root cellar.... 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yay for Chives!

The chives that hubs replanted for me are doing well in the new vegetable garden.

They'll come up every year and should spread nicely too. I don't use a lot of chives in my cooking but they do go nicely with eggs or baked potatoes with sour cream. Mmmmm...

Besides they look pretty and they smell good!

If you haven't planted chives, you might want to try. They're hardy, easy to grow and they survive even the harshest Canadian winter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Survival Planning: Storage of Food Items

Storage of your food items for a crisis is very important. You want to keep them all together if possible and in a convenient spot. You also want to be sure your food doesn't spoil so you need a dry spot and it has to be rodent and insect free.

I keep most of my food stores in a basement room which has the heat and the overhead lights turned off. I protect the food items from insects and rodents and dampness by placing most of them in sealed tubs.

I label the tubs so that I know what I have on hand.

I also have curtains up for the powdered items, spices and other light-sensitive items. The curtain means  that they are kept in the dark.

I keep most of my extra spices in a pantry in my kitchen. This pantry has quite a bit of room for jars of day to day spices and extra jars.  Some extra spices are kept in my basement room in the dark.

I store many different spices as I want to be able to jazz up my main meal of beans, rice and tortillas with different flavors. So one day I might make curried beans and rice; another day I could do chili flavored beans in a tortilla.

The more spices I have, the more variety in taste I can provide to what would otherwise be some pretty boring meals for my family in a long-term emergency situation.

I also keep lots of boullion cubes on hand. They make a great taste addition to any soup or stew and are high in salt (a basic survival need). You can also cook rice in water with a boullion cube for a change of taste. And best of all you can toss one in some hot water and make a nice broth, flavorful and gentle on your stomach.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sad Little Zucchini in the Vegetable Garden

This is the one and only zucchini plant that is growing in our vegetable garden.

I don't know why the rest aren't growing. Maybe the seeds were too old.

Yesterday hubs and I went and bought more zucchini seeds plus one plant and now they're in the garden. Fingers crossed.

We'll see how the new zucchini does. I'm looking forward to freezing it for winter zucchini bread!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Survival Planning: Food Storage - How to Master it

Okay you have a good start to your emergency food buying but where and how do you store it?

Store your grains in a cool dry place. I put mine in plastic tubs with lids or pails with lids, clearly labelled with the name of the food item and the date purchased. Then I store them on shelves in a dark cool basement and to be extra sure I'm keeping light out, I put up curtains across my food shelves.  If it's a food I might not be used to cooking, I also add instructions and recipes, plus a nutrition "label" that tells me what % of my daily nutrient requirements the food has and how much of it I need to meet those requirements.

Keep them out of the light for optimum storage

I never buy canned beans because I don't want to rotate them every 3 years. So I buy dried beans in bulk which I store in their original bags and inside a plastic tub with lid. I label everything with its name, date of purchase, nutrional value and instructions for cooking. Dried beans have a shelf life of 25+ years if stored  in a cool dry place.

I keep my sugar and salt in their original paper containers inside sealed plastic tubs. Dryness is important for these foods. If you have honey just keep it out of the light. And be sure you buy pure honey for indefinite shelf life

Same deal as sugar and salt. Keep them dry and in a sealed container.

These will last twice as long if you refrigerate them. If you put the seeds in a freezer their shelf life is quadrupled. So most (but not all) sprouting seeds will last 25+ years in the freezer. I keep mine in  plastic bags and then inside a plastic tub (with a lid) which fits nicely in the freezer.

I've always grown my own herbs, and  this year I decided to only plant herbs that will come up every year. Since I garden on a deck in window boxes, I have to bring my herbs inside during our Canadian winter or they die. In the fall I harvest the herbs and let them dry, then I store them in green glass containers. Why green? Herbs lose their potency very quickly if exposed to light. So store any herbs in a dark and dry place. Don't put them in direct sunlight.

The worst thing you can do with any herbs or spices is open them over something hot on the stove. Spices and herbs don't like heat or humidity so open them away from that hot stove or oven.

I store spices and herbs in my pantry which has a door to keep out light. Extra emergency supply herbs and spices are stored in glass jars inside cardboard boxes which are sealed and placed behind curtains on shelves in my dark cool basement room. I could put the ones I'm not using on a daily basis in the freezer or fridge to store them.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Planting Tomatoes in the Vegetable Garden

Hubs is planting the one tomato plant we were able to buy.

You heard me.

We went out to purchase several tomato plants for our vegetable garden and to our dismay (and disbelief!) were told the store was sold out. Except for this patio plant which was not exactly what we wanted.

I mean c'mon... I know we were later than the traditional May 24th planting weekend but only by a week. Sheesh

Monday, June 06, 2011

Survival Planning: Water Water Everywhere...

Water Water everywhere and not a drop to drink? Hopefully you've planned your water storage for emergency situations. An adult requires 1 to 3 litres of water daily so for one month you need 30 to 90 litres! That's for ONE ADULT. Phew. That's a lot of water.

This past weekend hubby and I purchased several rain barrels. They hold 200 litres of water so a full one is good for the two of us for at least one month, perhaps longer. Hubs set one up yesterday on our deck and has gone to town to buy a spigot so I can have a tap and a hose to drain the water out. I'll use it for watering my herbs grown in window boxes on the deck. And it will be one of three that we're going to set up around our house and outbuildings.

We have a small garden shed which only needs a bit of eaves troughing and bingo we can set up another rain barrel. We have another larger shed which can be set up easily too. That gives us 3 200-litre rain barrels, enough water to last the two of us for 3 months or more.

Rain barrels plus large containers of water stored in your basement or closet are a good way to be sure you have enough water on hand for any crisis or emergency situation. 

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Survival Planning: Basic Survival Food Groups Choices

We've talked about the 7 basic survival food groups my family uses to plan and store emergency food for a crisis. I've also mentioned spices and dried soup mixes as an extra to provide more variety. But do you know what food choices there are within each group?

Rice, oats, wheat, pasta, cornmeal, flour

Dried beans, split peas, lentils, dry soup mix (my fav!)

Vegetable & Olive Oil, Mayonnaise, Peanut Butter, Shortening

Sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, flavored gelatin, powdered fruit drinks

Powdered milk, canned milk - evaporated and condensed

Remember that different foods have different shelf lives. So for example I only buy vegetable oil, not olive oil, because vegetable oil lasts indefinitely but olive oil does not.

Canned goods only last about 3 years then you must use them and buy new. So I don't buy canned goods, but that's a personal choice. I'm far too lazy to rotate my food supplies!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Survival Planning: Dried Soup Mixes & Pasta

I've mentioned my love for dried soup mixes in a previous blog post. I'm totally sold on these as a valuable addition to basic food supplies for emergencies. In our emergency planning we keep a 3 month supply of 7 basic suvival foods on hand.  To supplement these 7 basic foods, I also keep dried soup mixes, pasta, and other food items (more on those in future blog posts)

Why pasta? It goes on sale regularly and keeps forever. It can be used in a variety of ways to extend your meals, and it counts as a grain. You could use it in place of rice or other grains. If you have enough stored you can just consider it an "extra" to be used to extend a planned meal. You can make a cold salad from pasta - just cook it and let it cool then add a dressing (oil and vinegar or whatever else you can create) and some  of your lovely sprouts or onions or chopped vegetables from your garden or re-hydrated from dried vegetables.

Pasta & Chili
I can make a bean "chili" and have it on top of cooked pasta. Chili's a great thing to make even if you only have pinto beans to put into it. Add some ketchup (you do have ketchup stored I hope), lots of chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika (remember those 3 spices were all high in Vitamin A), and other items such as parsley (hopefully you are growing your own or have it stored as dried parsley), onion flakes or dried onions or garden-grown, garlic - fresh or dried - and you've got emergency chili.

Mac & Cheese

With pasta and a couple of other items, I can use some of my powdered milk and powdered cheddar to make macaroni and cheese. Add my wonderful sprouts to that and I've got mac & cheese plus a salad. Pretty good for emergency cooking.

Pasta & Dried Soup Mix

With pasta I can break it into small pieces and add it to a big pot of soup - made from those amazing dried soup mixes! Remember that dried soup mixes are very high in sodium (salt) so you probably don't need to add more. But go ahead and add other food items that you have on hand - maybe you've got some dried carrots? Or some fresh from your garden if the season is right. Or some from your root cellar. Carrots are a powerhouse of nutrition so if you've got some, add 'em!

I tend to concentrate on stocking one soup mix which I buy in bulk, and that is beef vegetable. I buy that because it has that little bit of meat (for protein and flavour) and vegetables which are missing in the 7 basic food storage plan I follow (grain, beans, fats, milk, sugars, water and salt).

My husband accidentally bought mushroom soup in a dry mix in bulk so I plan to use that  to  create a mushroom sauce for pasta for a different flavour. I can also make soup from it but I'm not crazy about mushroom soup so that won't be high on my list.  I can add it to stew if we are lucky enough to have meat. It'll help the flavour of the stew and give us  more nutrition.

Bouillon Cubes
I also like to stock up on bouillon cubes when they are on sale. I buy vegetable, chicken and beef because they keep indefinitely and can be used to make soups if you don't have any dried soup mix, to add to dried soup mixes for more robust flavour, to toss into stews or chili or almost anything you can dream up that has water or some other liquid. They add salt and flavour to your diet. They do dry out over time but just chunk 'em up and toss them into your liquid and they'll dissolve.