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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Carcass

Dear Lord, Thank you for this turkey and the carcass it is about to be. Amen.

(No blasphemy intended, seriously.)

The meat you will consume tomorrow is muscle tissue surrounding a skeletal system of a once living critter. I'm no vegan-greenpeace-animal rights activist sort of gal, but I think it is right, especially at Thanksgiving, to take a moment to reflect on the fact that we humans are part of the food-chain network. To be thankful for it. And to recognize our place in it. Just a thought.

On Friday, Sinky Day (the day people eat lunch over the sink), you will probably have turkey sandwiches, no doubt on homemade bread, with homemade mayonnaise... . Pardon me while I prepare for a food comma.

On Saturday, you may have a turkey casserole. Depending on the number of folks picking on this carcass, you may have enough meat to freeze. But at some point... .

When you are finished picking every last bit of muscle tissue worth picking off that carcass... you've made it to the really good part, the skeleton-- the bones. This means the best turkey gumbo you've ever had in your life is just as hop & a skip away. (Lord, thank you for Thanksgiving.)

Basic chicken stock recipe, adjust at will for the turkey carcass. The key is to fully immerse the carcass in water, to have the same proportions of seasonings (celery, carrots, etc.), and to boil it slowly to get the marrow from the bones. (So if it takes more than 5 qts water to immerse the carcass, adjust the quantity of celery, etc., accordingly.) From John's Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide:


CHICKEN STOCK

Makes 4 quarts, but freezes well

5-6 lb hen
1 medium onion, chopped coarse
3 ribs celery, chopped coarse
2 carrots, scraped and chopped coarse
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
5 quarts water

Put all ingredients into a large (2 gallon) stock pot. Simmer slowly until hen is tender, about 2 ½ hours. Let stock cool with hen in it. Remove hen and strain.


LEFTOVER TURKEY GUMBO


2 quarts turkey stock, made from leftover turkey carcass
½ C flour
½ C oil (can use bacon fat for real Cajun flavor and calories)
Leftover turkey meat, chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ lb andouille sausage (preferably homemade—see recipes in Meats section)
1 lb shrimp, optional
1 lb ckra, sliced (can use frozen—1 ½ boxes)
1 big onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped (mostly white parts)
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
3 (or more) cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ bunch parsley, chopped
Creole seasoning, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Steaming long-grain rice
File powder

Remove meat from the turkey carcass. Cut up and set aside. Boil the carcass in water to make the turkey stock. Remove carcass from stock and skim stock. Measure out two quarts stock in a large stockpot and have stock simmering slowly, covered. Chop onions, green onions, bell pepper, and celery and have ready in a big bowl while you make your roux.

Make a roux: blend flour and fat, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the roux—if black flecks appear, it has been burned and must be thrown away. Keep stirring until the roux gets darker and darker. You can stop at chocolate brown if you wish, but I try for the color of coffee. (The darker you get the roux, the darker will be the shade of your gumbo.) As soon as you reach the desired color, turn off the fire and add the chopped veggies immediately. (This stops the roux from cooking further.)

Stir the veggies into the roux thoroughly and keep stirring until the mixture begins to cool a bit. Add the roux to the turkey stock. Chunk the andouille and fry off. Drain fat and add andouille to stock. Add bay leaf and Creole seasoning and stir.

Bring stock to a boil then immediately reduce to simmer. Let stock simmer about 30 minutes uncovered. Taste occasionally and adjust seasonings. Add okra and cook another 30 minutes uncovered (long enough to make sure that the “sliminess” is gone from the gumbo). Add parsley and reserved turkey meat. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. Add shrimp if used. Cook for 5-6 minutes, just until shrimp turn pink. Taste. Add salt, pepper, and Tabasco. (This gumbo should not be too spicy hot.)

Let gumbo sit, covered, until ready to serve. If any fat accumulates on gumbo surface, skim it off. To serve, press ½ cup rice into measuring cup and place in a mound in center of gumbo bowl. Ladle gumbo around the rice mound. Sprinkle with file powder (1/4 – ½ tsp.)

Eat hearty—there’s plenty!


Dear Lord, Thank you for bringing John, who knows how to make the best turkey gumbo ever, into my life. Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prepper-inspired, diy, Christmas gifts

Stay tuned for a post on prepper-inspired, do-it-yourself (or on the real cheap) Christmas gifts for teachers, co-workers, the mailman (really?), and anyone else you can't afford to buy for, but would like to give something to. Kids can be involved. Gathering ideas as I type. (Actually, I posted to APN forum asking for ideas. They're coming in.)

[See-- you can post about nothing at all! You can ask others for ideas. It ain't hard. Shelly, got way-layed today. Will email soon. Remember-- a site can have more than one contributor!]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ohioans for Concealed Carry News

Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC) is THE gun-rights organization in Ohio. OFCC is more than a bunch of yackity-yack gun guys. It is the organization that affects real change at all levels-- legislative, community, and personal, in the state.

OFCC is having its regional Holiday Meet & Greets at the beginning of December.








We'd like to invite you to participate in the Ohioans For Concealed Carry Holiday Meet & Greets! 


Last year, we had five Holiday Meet & Greets across the state in Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Columbus, and Cincinnati/Dayton area. They were so popular that we’re going to do them again this year!


These informal get togethers are being held in restaurants in Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Columbus, and the Cincinnati/Dayton area on two weekends as noted below. They are held at local restaurants, and attendees are responsible for purchasing their own meals. Restaurants to be announced, mark your calendars and watch this site for details!


Join your fellow OFCC members in a little holiday fun, including an optional gift exchange (limit $10), and door prizes!


Dates
Cincinnati/Dayton: December 12 at Golden Corral (8870 Kingsridge Dr Dayton, OH 45458)
Cleveland: December 12 at Cracker Barrel (5100 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, OH 44144-2306)
Columbus: December 12 at Hometown Buffet (3670 Soldano Blvd. Columbus, OH 43228)
Toledo: December 5 (location TBA)
Youngstown: December 5 at Perkins Family Restaurant (1953 Niles-Cortland Road SE Warren, OH 44484)

Last year we went to the one in Cincinnati. It was at a Bob Evans. There were about 16 people there. A nice friendly group. Check out the OFCC web site. There's a link to the OFCC forum (lots and lots of discussions-- they're nice to newbies!), to current Ohio legislation (concealed carry in class D establishments, those that serve alcohol), and much much more.

[This took no time at all to write & post.]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

holiday baking goods sales & strategy for getting started

Cross posted to Mississippi Preppers. (See how easy this is?)

Herbalpagen (Emily) has a nice post up at on American Preppers about taking advantage of holiday sales on baking goods, and comfort foods like chocolate, cocoa, and so on. She also shares her strategy for food storage decisions:

--can I live without it?
--do I want to live without it?
--could I get it if the trucks stopped bringing it to the shelves?
... IF a big emergency came a long, would that item be available locally or would it be hard to get. Sugar can't be grown locally for me, neither can exotic spices and many other baking ingredients. ...
[I like that Emily doesn’t want to live without chocolate! When big stuff happens it’s important to keep things as “normal” as possible. (Aggie has posted about this.)]

Grocery stores are putting baking goods and things like dried fruits on sale, so now is the time to stock up. But if you’re just getting started, you may be wondering how much/many of these items you should be buying and storing? Here’s my strategy. It will take about an hour or so of your time. (Yikes! Not to read it, to do it!) Note that it will work for any category of thing you want to stock up on; I’ll stick to baking goods here.

First, go to the cupboard where you keep your baking supplies and take a peek inside. What’s there? What do you have? Make a list including the item, the size of the container, and amount you have. EX:

flour: 1 1/2 5-lb. bags (one opened, one in reserve)
crisco: 3 1-cup sticks

(This is also a good time to do a little purging of really old stuff.)

Record everything you have, get a cup of coffee, and have a seat at the kitchen table.

Organize your list by making categories: FLOURS (white, whole wheat), SUGARS (cane, brown, kayro), MIXES/MEALS (corn meal, jiffy mix). I do this by transferring the list to a spreadsheet, but you can do it in pencil & paper. At this point, you may see that you’re completely out of somethings. These would be things you’d usually buy just when you need them for a recipe, or things you threw away when you were purging the old stuff. Be sure to add these to the list. They have a quantity = 0.

An added benefit to organizing is that you’re able to see substitutions. Next time you’re baking cookies, substitute dark for light brown sugar if you found an extra box of dark. You may also see that you’re “overstocked” in raisins that are getting stale. Surprise the kiddies with some oatmeal raisin cookies!

Once you have the list in order, you’re going to start evaluating what you need, setting some goals, and making your prepper shopping list. Your first goal is to replace those things that you purged. Bear in mind that not every item on the list is equally important. If you threw away a five-year old plastic container of dried cherries... take dried cherries off the list. Using Emily’s strategy, if you lived without them for this long... . This means that even if you see dried cherries on sale for 20 cents, unless you are planning on making a lot of fruit cake, don’t waste 20 cents. If, on the other hand, you realized you were completely out of yeast... . You get the idea.

My strategy now is to say, “I need at least two of everything, even things we only use occasionally.” That’s my first goal. Remember that there are two overall goals: saving some money by taking advantage of the sales on baking goods, and building up your stores. Anything you have one or fewer (i.e., open packages) goes on the shopping list. It doesn’t mean you’re going to buy it right away-- not every item is equally important-- but it does go on the list, with either “1” or “2” (have one, need one; have none need two) next to it.

If your finances only allow you to achieve this first goal, you’re farther along than you might have been. Just be sure to always have “one on hand, and one in stock” (one back-up, like in your “stock room”). As you use one, replace it with one from stock in your own store, and put one of whatever it is on your normal grocery list. Ideally, buy it on sale.

The next step is to set another goal-- a time goal. One or two months is a good place to start. Go through the list, item by item, and ask, “How much of this do I use in two months?” Here it is critically important to think of some what-if scenarios, based on why you're prepping, and what you are preparing for. “What if I lost my job, had no income, couldn’t go to the store to buy bread, and had to bake my own. THEN how much flour would I use in two months?” That’s your two month set point. Do the calculations-- what do you have? what do you need for two months?-- and add/adjust your prepper shopping list.

Notice I said, "based on why you're prepping, and what you are preparing for." Job loss might be one thing, unstable economy (inflation?) another, hurricanes... . Just remember that you may not know what may come down the pike. If you are reading this is Ohio, where the threat of hurricanes is low... remember good old Duke Energy & Hurricane Ike.

About that shopping list... . Use discretion. It just isn’t smart to go out and buy everything on the list at one time. You may find better sales. More importantly, you may find you need to tweek your set-point. You may not really need/use 16 boxes of jiffy corn bread mix, even if it is on sale for 50 cents. (Although I admit, I’d find that pretty hard to pass up.) Unless you have unlimited CASH, use discretion. Not all items are equally important. And be flexible. If your set point on flour is 4 5-lb bags, and you are down to 3, and it’s not on sale... do NOT buy one at full price. Flour goes on sale all the time. You know your stores and what things are advertised regularly vs. only occasionally. Use discretion.

About shopping... . This may not work for everyone, but here’s what we're doing now-- in large part because we are seeing a lot of sales on basics and staples. We typically spend about $100-125/week on groceries, including preps. And we go to the store once a week with a list of what we need for this week’s menu, and for staples. We have our set point, we “shop” first in our own “store” to rotate our stock, and then (with discretion) replace those items. This amount includes stuff I’m stocking up on, too, because it’s on sale, because the move wiped out a lot of our preps, and because we have just established a new set point. Things were getting really confusing, especially when we unpacked the groceries: Do we need this this week? Am I replacing this? Is this extra?

To eliminate the confusion-- two shopping trips. One morning we go to the stores (ours and the grocery) to get what we need for the week’s menu. I make note of what’s on sale. John notes what’s on sale in the meat department. We spend far less than $100. Another morning I take our prepper shopping list, and we budget the difference between what we spent and $125 or so, and that’s what we spend on preps (including meat for the deep freezer).

We are odd in that John does the meal planning and most of the cooking, we have his and hers grocery lists, and shop together. So John is totally into prepping. (He keeps his own records of what meat is in the deep freezer, and he uses that to plan the menu.) But this two-part grocery shopping might be a way for those of you with... shall we say... less than enthusiastic spouses to illustrate the value of prepping. Once you’ve gotten your lists together, spend every extra buck you can find on prepper shopping-- only sale items! It won’t be too long before you see a reduction in your regular grocery bill, because you're first shopping from your bargain basement store. Point this out! “Hey honey, I only spent $75 at the store! Want to know why?”

Links of interest


Here are 1/2 dozen links of interest (I hope). They're all from Popular Mechanics, and I think are relevant to prepping in one way or another.


[Please read the sidebar. See how easy this is?]

Some good advise about leaf-raking, which pertains to your garden.


Using an emergency generator is both a balancing act and a guessing game: It's tempting to try to pull as many watts from the machine as possible, but plug in too many appliances and you'll trip the circuit breaker. The Generac Power Systems XG8000E Generator features a unique power meter called the PowerBar that indicates when the unit is approaching its limit. 

Window Theory: Seal Windows for a More Efficient Home

A window can be, basically, a hole in the wall. Or it can look great while cutting heating and cooling losses. Your choice. A PM primer on how windows work.

How Your Heating System Works: A Primer Anyone who has ever spent a night tossing and turning in a cold houseas a result of a busted heating system will never look at that particular equipment the same way again. It’s as unpleasant as being stranded on a dark and lonely road when a car quits. But it may not take outright failure to make homeowners examine how their home is heated. It might be the system’s noise or the fact that it simply doesn’t work all that well. Being uncomfortable and annoyed all winter is a pretty compelling reason to consider the options for fixing or replacing it. 


Then there’s a fuel bill that lays waste to household 
finances. Let’s say you have a boiler or furnace with 80 percent efficiency that produces a monthly gas bill of $279. About $56 of that has fueled nothing more than wasted heat that has gone up the chimney. Regardless of what prompts you to take a second look at your house’s heating system, or perhaps the first look, you do need to be conversant with what makes it tick. Here are the basics. 






Roof Repair Basics



How Your House Works: Insulation

More than anything else, our homes need to keep us dry and comfortable. While handling rain is straightforward--the roof leaks or it doesn't--keeping heat in its place is a slippery issue. Air leaks account for up to 15 percent of the heating and cooling budget in many homes, and more heat seeps through the walls. Insulation and sealing options are getting better, however. Some of these improvements make good DIY projects; others are best left to the pros. Either way, the first tool you need is knowledge.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

From a Mississippi Prepper

Here are a 1/2 doz links you may find interesting:

Perfect prepper muffin (batter lasts for 6 weeks in the fridge!)

Prepping for the long haul (where to get 10 trees for $10 and how trees save $$ on energy)

Declutter then you might have room (prepping in small spaces by 'wornout' in Mississippi)

$100 food storage list (a real list of items, amount, serving, cost; from Kentucky Preppers)

Prepping for college students (first of a 4-part post; from Kentucky)

Getting your finances in order (excellent, practical advise; from Kentucky)

[Please read the sidebar. See how easy this is? ;-)

Oh! About the pic. For those of you who followed our moving saga this summer... that's part of our 6 acre lake. For those who didn't, it's still part of our lake, but it represents a serious move on our part to become much more self-reliant than we could have been in Cincinnati (WhoDey!! by the way). We were at a point in our lives, and thankfully in the position, to take our preps to the next level: a 60 acre farm in rural Mississippi (there are few parts that aren't rural). Just moved in. Enough work to last a lifetime, literally. But it's ours.

Prep on!


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Be ready for the worst: What to do when laid off

Hey all-- I'm not really back, but I stumbled across this today and thought it might be useful. But before you read it, here's what Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) had to say:


Of course, prudent planning starts when you’re not laid off yet, with building up savings, paying down debt, etc. I’m always amazed on these financial call-in shows when people have all kinds of credit lines but no actual money in the bank. Credit is not a substitute for cash.


I couldn't agree more with Glenn. You? It begins (link to full article at Knoxvillbiz.com below):




Here are important things to do if you get a pink slip:




1. TAP YOUR (EX-) EMPLOYER FOR ASSISTANCE.
Getting laid off can be so stunning that the tendency is to walk away and say you’ll figure things out on your own. But many companies offer help beyond the basic severance package, such as access to legal counsel or clients and outplacement resources.
Human resources departments sometimes even will negotiate the terms, such as payouts for vacation time, or work with you on legitimate ways to extend your benefits, according to Heather Hammitt of the Illinois State Council of the Society of Human Resource Management.
For example, if you’re dismissed toward the end of the month, you might be allowed to stay on the payroll until the beginning of the next one so you’re covered under the group insurance plan for another month.
“Most organizations know that downsizing isn’t the greatest public relations move,” says Hammitt, who also is head of human resources at a bank in Ottawa, Ill. “So they know that if they help their (laid-off) employees, word will get out in the community.”
2. REGISTER FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.
Even if you don’t expect to be out of work for long, file for unemployment insurance benefits promptly. The sooner you do so, the sooner you’ll have that extra check to slow the drain on your savings.
To find your local unemployment insurance agency, call the U.S. Labor Department at (877) US2-JOBS or visit the following link: www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.asp.
In order to qualify, you must have been laid off, not fired, and have worked for a stipulated minimum amount of time — typically a year and a half. Once you’ve registered, you must show you’re looking for work in order to receive your weekly benefit.
3. SECURE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE.
Ohio Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Ohio Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.