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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where To Start

Last week while I was browsing the American Preppers Network, there was one theme that seemed to pervade the posts of all the new members...


I remember feeling that way.  Overwhelmed.  Insecure.  Fearful.  Completely out of my comfort zone. 

I found this list to be so incredibly helpful.  Of course it's not the "be-all end-all" guideline to beginning preparedness, but it did give me a sense of direction and made me think in terms of survival.  I printed this list and kept it on the fridge, crossing off items as we acquired them.  I also kept a copy in my purse, for staying organized while shopping clearance sales, yard sales, auctions, etc.  Hope you find this as useful as I did!   

100 Items to Disappear First
1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:
Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents and
friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate
    near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war
   quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to
   do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without
    heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of
    the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs
    enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more
    valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival
    guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll
    have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many
    people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of
    toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to
    lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches

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Incorporating: Grains Part 1

In my humble opinion, grains are often the most difficult food items to incorporate in our food stores, especially for folks my age. 


Because my generation is the Wonder Bread/Instant Gratification generation.  We're worldly and we know the score:

Bread is white, light and airy and comes with a 3-week shelf-life.

Flour is white and comes in 5lb bags from the grocery store.

Rice is white and can be prepared in under 1 minute.

Popcorn comes in a microwaveable bag.

Barley, Kamut and wheat berries are nutty and crunchy and are generally consumed by people who are nutty and crunchy themselves...

Yes sir, my generation knows where it's at :)

I jest, but really, my generation is one of processed, convenience foods, uneducated when it comes to using whole grains and maybe a bit biased against them.  (Yes, that's a sweeping generalization and I know there are folks out there who don't fit that description.  Just sayin....)   But I'm sure it's not only my generation that's at a bit of a loss when it comes to using whole grains.  When you begin prepping, it's easy to go out and buy a couple hundred pounds of whole wheat, barley, rice and popcorn; it's more difficult to actually use them and be satisfied with the results. That's the true test of food storage; using and enjoying the food.

Before I begin sharing my experiences on using stored grain with you, let me just get this out of the way: I am not an expert on grains nor do I portray one on TV.  I AM however a mama to 2 healthy kids with huge appetites and sophisticated palates and these are the lessons I've learned.

Storing whole wheat is easy.  You need 5 gallon buckets, oxygen absorbers, maybe a food saver and a block of uninterrupted time.  Using whole wheat, however, can be much more difficult.  It can take a long time to develop your bread-making technique and you may go through a dozen recipes and dozens of loaves of rock-hard bread before you find a technique, recipe and flavor that you appreciate.  Start learning now, for the love of Pete!

Hard red wheat is the wheat we're all familiar with as it's a staple food around the globe.  It's what bakeries use for their wheat bread.  It's what we buy ground in sacks at the grocery store.  It's inexpensive and stores well but has a strong, nutty flavor that may not appeal to all palates.  Hard red wheat produces a bread that has definite texture, real flavor and depth as opposed to white bread which is just a carrier for meats, cheeses and condiments.  When you've eaten a slice of homemade wheat bread, you know it.  It's a meal in itself and not just a gut-filler like many baked products.  Here's a link to the wheat bread recipe I use: again, it takes practice, learning how to knead the dough and perfecting the flavor to your taste.  Don't give up the first time if it fails you.  I promise you'll enjoy the end result, even if it takes a little trial and error.       

If using whole wheat frightens you, may I suggest you start out with hard white wheat?  Hard white wheat produces a slightly loftier bread that is more akin to the loaves we buy from the store.  It contains all the goodness of hard red wheat but has a flavor closer to white bread and may be a good way to begin your journey into grains and whole-wheat bread baking.  It also makes great soft wraps, quick breads, pancakes and just about anything else you'd use traditional flour for.

I've only touched on wheat in terms of baking bread, but there are numerous other uses for whole wheat.  It can be cooked whole and made into a delicious cold salad, it can be ground and simmered with milk and sugar for cream of wheat cereal and it can also be sprouted for a real boost of nutrition.  If we step outside of our comfort zone, we'll see that wheat has much potential beyond plain old loaves of bread. 

I'll not tell you how much wheat to store; it's a losing battle that I refuse to take part in.  I will tell you that we store equal parts hard white and hard red wheat, plus a bit of soft white wheat for more delicate pastries like cookies, pie crusts, crepes and the like...(if you're wondering the difference between hard and soft wheats, it's all in the protein content.)  You can find storage calculators around the Internet that make recommendations as to how much wheat and grains to store.  Take that information with a grain of salt.  If you don't eat bread or have a gluten allergy, it's pretty useless to buy a ton of wheat.  If you supplement your food stores with other grain products like pasta, you may not need as much wheat as the calculators recommend.  Use some common sense, start small and learn how to use wheat in simple, practical ways that will benefit your family.

Now, onto rice.  We've had it pounded into our heads for the past 20 years from various 'experts' that brown rice is great and white rice is not. 

And they're right. 

Brown rice is by far healthier and more nutritious than white rice.  It's nutty and delicious, full of fiber and vitamins, and works beautifully in hundreds, if not thousands of recipes.

It also has a 6 month shelf-life.

Suddenly brown rice doesn't seem so spectacular does it?

Those of us in prepper circles generally look to white rice for our long term storage.  Admittedly it's not as nutritious as brown rice, but it boasts a 25-30 year shelf-life when stored properly, making it a staple item for food stores.  An added plus, very few people are allergic to rice so it could/would be a very valuable commodity in a SHTF situation.

An extremely versatile grain/grass, rice can be used as a main dish with the addition of beans, or fried up with an egg and leftover veggies for a quick fried rice dish.  Adding rice can stretch a pound of meat, creating filling meals like soups,  'porcupines', or good old-fashioned favorites like chicken and rice.  Combine rice with some milk,  dried fruit, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch and you have a delicious rice pudding for breakfast or dessert.  And for infants in the household, grind the rice and cook with water or juice for a simple, easily digestible meal.  Here are some great, simple recipes that you may want to try!

There are so many varieties of rice out there, from basic long and short grain rices to aromatic varieties like Jasmine and Basmati.   All of them are delicious.  All of them store well.  All of them can be useful.  If you haven't tried rice beyond the instant minute variety, now is the time to broaden your horizons and discover which varieties best suit your family's needs.

Next up: Corn!


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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sing the health praises of parsley and sage

Those of us who go back a few years likely remember the line about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in the huge Simon and Garfunkel hit song about two ill-fated lovers, "Are You Going to Scarborough Fair". Many have speculated that the reference to the four popular herbs was due to their use in Medieval Europe to help cleanse the air and ward off the infamous black plague. Others have thought that the reference to the four herbs was because the combination may have been used as a love potion. Whatever the reason for their inclusion in the popular song, the many health benefits of parsley and sage are worth loving and singing praises about in their own rights.


Parsley is an amazing medicinal herb with a world of health benefits. The root contains calcium, B-complex vitamins, and iron, which nourish the glands that help regulate the uptake of calcium. It is a source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Among the many benefits reported for parsley are:

*It is a diuretic which helps the body produce more urine to keep the urinary system operating smoothly and which helps prevent problems such as kidney stones and bladder infections.

*It is wonderful for removing toxins from the body, such as heavy metals.

*It is an effective breath freshener. It is believed that the practice of including parsley on a dinner plate began due to its breath freshening abilities and not merely for its decorative effect.

*The root and leaves are good for the liver and spleen.

*It helps relieve bloating during menstruation.

*It provides relief for edema, often helping when other remedies have failed

*Parsley root and seeds help relax stiff joints, often making stiff and unmanageable fingers work again.

*It helps remove gallstones when used properly by taking a pint of the tea daily.

*It is beneficial for the adrenal glands.

*It is a powerful therapeutic aid for the optic nerves, brain and sympathetic nervous system.

*Parsley juice is an excellent tonic for the blood vessels.

Note: It is best to avoid large amounts of parsley if you are pregnant, especially the use of the volatile essential oil.


Like rosemary, its sister herb in the mint (Labiatae) family, sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids, including rosmarinic acid. The oils found in sage are both antiseptic and antibiotic, helping it fight infections.

Besides the antioxidant and other properties shared with Rosemary, sage`s other health benefits include:

*It is effective for symptoms of menopause, night sweats and hot flashes because of its estrogenic action and because its tannins help dry up perspiration.

*Sage helps provide better brain function and has been used in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease for over a thousand years. It helps provide better recall and research has suggested that it may be an effective option to help treat Alzheimer`s.

*There`s also compelling evidence that sage may be of value to people with diabetes for whom the hormone insulin does not work as efficiently as it should. Lab studies indicate that sage may boost insulin`s action.

* The ability of sage to protect oils from oxidation has also led some companies to experiment with sage as a natural antioxidant additive for cooking oils that can extend shelf life and help avoid rancidity.

In an upcoming article, we will also sing the praises of the other two herbs mentioned in the popular song - rosemary and thyme.

Sources included:


About the author

Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year.
Mr. Isaacs is currently residing in scenic East Texas and frequently commutes to the even more scenic Texas hill country near San Antonio and Austin to give lectures in health seminars. He also hosts the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs - featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and he serves as a consultant to the "Utopia Silver Supplement Company".

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030824_parsley_sage.html#ixzz199MCeUCU

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Monday, December 20, 2010


I know.  It's not even Christmas, and already I'm thinking about 2011.  Every year about this time, I give thought to what I want to do for the following year and how I intend to accomplish it.  I'm kind of weird that way, but NOTHING motivates me more than seeing that list of goals hanging on the refrigerator door, items being crossed off one at a time over the course of the year.  That really gets me going and makes me want to do even more! 
We all have those jobs/goals projects we need/want to accomplish but as we have noone to hold us accountable, they normally don't get done.  There's no shame in that; it's just the way it is. 

But what if we DID have someone challenging us to do all we can do and be all we can be?

I'd like to issue a challenge to all you crazy Bucknuts out there; we'll call it the Goals/2011 Challenge! How about we each draw up goal/project lists for 2011; you can include anything you need to do or want to do, no matter how mundane or outrageous.  You can include 1 goal or 101 goals, whatever you're up for!  You can post them here or you can keep them private, whatever you're comfortable with but the goal is to accomplish SOMETHING, ANYTHING that will lead you towards greater preparedness and self-sufficiency.  Whether that's learning to can or finally planting that blackberry patch.  Maybe taking your concealed carry training?  Or learning a skill like plumbing or carpentry.  Anything goes.  Within reason : )We'll check back in once each month to see what we've accomplished and encourage our neighbors.  Are you up for the challenge?

Since I'm not bashful, I'll post my Goals/2011 Challenge list.

First, the typical stuff:
-Trim down, eat healthier 'whole' foods on a daily basis and eat out less.
-Exercise more, specifically riding bikes with my children in the cemetery down the road.
-Finish paying off our debt, hopefully by March.
-Spend more hours serving God and my community through the church garden ministry.

And now the atypical stuff:
-Start my medicinal herb garden, probably in March.
-Make better use of the crawlspace portion of our basement.
-Learn to age hard cheeses.
-Build an outdoor shower.
-Add to our food storage, at least 3-6 months worth of extra food.
-Experiment with homemade sausage blends and sprouted wheat bread recipes.

I know those are some strange goals, but each of those items will contribute in some way to greater health, security, comfort, preparedness and self-sufficiency in bad times (and in good times too!)   So think outside the box and get busy on those lists!  And while I have the opportunity to say so....

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!      

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day Prep

Admittedly, it's probably a little late to ask if you're ready for the snow. 

Mea Culpa. 

We'll categorize this post as 'Day Late, Dollar Short', and go forward with it anyway.  

So how much snow did you end up with?  We're somewhere in the 4-6 inch range, but it's difficult to say exactly because of the blowing and drifting.  Our schools are closed this morning and the road is only recognizeable due to it's proximity to the mail box.  That's to say if you didn't KNOW the road is there, you wouldn't be able to find it. 

I love snow days, but in our area, a little bit of snow can add up to big problems:

-The N/S roads drift shut regularly.
-Older trees overhanging electric lines come down.
-Power lines whip in the wind.
-Our roads are low-priority/secondary roads so they're the last to be treated by the plows and when they ARE treated, the lack of traffic slows the affect of the salt.

Though I love it here, I learned very quickly that wintertime preparedness is not something to put off til later.  In mid-October, we begin preparing for the inevitable.  And it IS inevitable.  We WILL be snowed in at some point.  We WILL lose power at some point.  We WILL need to prepare food without using the stove.  So what do we do? 

-Make sure the heating oil tank is full at all times.  If we DO have power, we'll need the fuel to keep the house warm.

-Make sure there's at least 10 gallons of kerosene, a full tank in the kerosene heater and a fresh wick to ensure a clean burn.  1 kerosene heater in the central area of the house can keep us warm and cozy until the power comes back on.   

-Keep a supply of flashlights, oil lamps and candles for light, plus the necessary oil, batteries and matches.

-Keep a supply of food that requires no/little heat.  Ramen noodles, sandwich fixings, instant/canned soups,  tea and hot cocoa mixes, MREs and freeze-dried meals are great to have on hand.  I know from experience they can be prepared with only the heat from a kerosene stove and on a cold wintry day, Ramen noodles are better than nothing!

-Store water.  No power means no well and no well means no water.  We COULD melt snow if need be, but a situation like this is EXACTLY why we store water.  You  DO store water, right? 

-Keep a closet full of fluffy comforters, warm quilts, thick blankets.  Never, ever get rid of blankets, quilts, comforters!  They're absolutely invaluable as draft-dodgers, window and door coverings, and extra layers for sleeping when the power is out.

-The obvious stuff: salt/sand for driveways and sidewalks, snow shovels, chains, a snowblade and gas for the lawn tractor.

-And most importantly---supplies for the car.  Never leave home without *at least* the bare basics: a blanket, boots, mittens, hats, a change of socks, candle and matches for heat and light, water and shelf-stable food.  Extras like a collapsible shovel, a flare, kitty litter, toilet paper and an emergency radio are also great to keep in the car.

-Stay on top of the situation.  Watch the weather channel, listen to an emergency radio, keep the cell phone charged and be aware of what's going on. 

-Stay home.  Bring out the board games, the classic movies, the footy-jammies, mugs of hot chocolate and be prepared to stay home.  If it isn't life and death (or job-related), you probably don't HAVE to go anywhere.  Hunker down and enjoy the time with your family.  


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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Incorporating: Dairy

  As you've figured out by my previous posts, I'm big on food storage.  Having a full larder has proven invaluable to me, through lay-offs, winter weather and even routine, non-emergency tight spots in our budget.   Food should be tops on all our To-Do lists for the coming year and with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts on incorporating different types of foods into our storage programs, both for long-term storage and for everyday use.  And as always, I welcome your feedback.

 I'm sure you're well aware by now that I'm a mama to 2 little ones, so dairy is high on our list of necessities.  My children love milk, especially the chocolate varieties and consume several servings each day.  As my daughter was unable to talk my husband into a backyard cow, I've done a good deal of research on how to store milk, what varieties to store and what we can do with it once we've stored it.  I'll touch on a couple ways we store dairy products and then I'd love to hear your methods.

First, the dreaded powdered milk.  There's a couple of different types of powdered milk (non-instant, instant) and dozens of different brands but for the most part, powdered milks are essentially the same: milk that's been freeze-dried in order to remove the water content without cooking the milk.  Instant powdered milk dissolves quickly and easily in cold water, non-instant/regular needs warm water to dissolve.  Both varieties are fat-free to create a longer shelf-life and for the most part, they have similar flavors.  I've tried several different brands and by far my favorite is the Provident Pantry Instant Fat Free Powdered Milk from Emergency Essentials; it's in the blue can!  It's not a cheap purchase, but per serving, it's fairly comparable to buying fresh milk by the gallon.  And the plus side is that, unopened and stored sensibly, PP powdered milk has approximately a 20 year shelf life. 

So what can you do with powdered milk?  Drink it of course.  I can't really tell a difference between Provident Pantry instant milk and regular old skim milk, but that's just my opinion.  It's also great for adding an extra boost of calcium and protein to breads, yogurt and kefir.  You can stir a bit into your morning bowl of oatmeal, or use it to add body to soups and sauces.  And it's invaluable when the roads are closed due to a winter storm and the kids are out of milk.  Add a bit of Hershey's syrup and an ice cube and they'll be happy enough.

Next, on to canned milks.  Evaporated and condensed milk were among my first provisions when I started prepping.  Both products have a decent shelf life of up to 2-3 years and are useful in so many ways.  I use evaporated milk in homemade cheese sauces, cream soups, casseroles and desserts.  Condensed milk, with all it's sugary goodness, is excellent for baking, candy-making and even in your cup of morning coffee.  I enjoy both products and feel like both of these products have their place in a well-stocked pantry.  That said, don't expect a fresh milk flavor.  It's cooked milk, and it tastes like cooked milk so don't expect to reconstitute a can of evaporated milk and end up with a product that tastes like fresh milk.  It won't happen.  Both products are extremely useful as long as you know their limitations.

Finally, powdered milk products (just-add-water cheese sauces, gravies, flavored milk substitutes and hot cocoa mixes)  can be an invaluable addition to your larder.  I'll admit that nutritionally, they're not top shelf, but in an emergency situation powdered cheese sauce could go a long way towards improving the taste of rice, pasta or beans.  When it comes down to surviving on our food stores, appetite fatigue could be a real problem, especially for the very young and the very old.  If adding a package of powdered cheese to a grain, bean or pasta dish stokes the appetite, well then yay for powdered cheese!

And in my humble opinion, hot cocoa mixes (and flavored milk substitutes) shouldn't be relegated to being a luxury and unnecessary.  You hear that a lot in prepping circles: instant cocoa mixes are nice but not a necessity.   My thinking is that hot cocoa mixes are a great source of calcium that pretty much everyone will consume without complaining.  Kids love it, most adults love it and it offers at least a bit of nutrition (calcium).   It's a wonderful comfort food during times of stress, whets the appetite and soothes the body during sickness, and warms you against cold weather.  And maybe the best argument for hot cocoa mix: it covers the flat flavor of bottled/boiled/stored water.   How can we afford NOT to include hot cocoa mixes in our food storage???  Hot cocoa is practically a miracle food!

There are literally dozens of other methods of incorporating dairy into our food storage; canned butter, powdered butter, canned cheese sauce, home-canned milk, just to name a few.  Now is a great time to stock up on the products you enjoy and learn how to prepare them to suit your needs.  And if you're lucky enough to have access to fresh milk, now is also a great time to learn how to preserve that milk through home-canning, culturing and cheesemaking!

Onward Preppers!


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Culturing Milk

At first I thought the practice of culturing milk might be a strange topic for a survival/homesteader blog, but the longer I considered it, the more I thought it appropriate.  If things go south, as many are predicting they will, it's a strong possibility that life as we know will be turned on it's head.  Every aspect of our lives will be affected:

-how/where we live
-how/where we work
-how/what we eat
-how we educate our children
-how we care for the very young and the very old
-how we celebrate
-how we reproduce
-how we worship

Every aspect of our lives will be affected.  It's hard to wrap your mind around that, isn't it?  It's hard to imagine that we'll be living *intentionally* and our every action can and will impact almost every aspect of our lives.  Life will be about getting the most "bang for our buck", from food, money, clothes, education, faith.  There will be no more disposable income, disposable appliances, disposable family and friends.  No more throwaway cars.  No more junk food.  We'll be playing for keeps.

So what does all of this have to do with milk?

Let me tell you.

In the world to come, I can see us eating very differently.  Once the price of food has skyrocketed and the MREs run out, we'll likely return to a system of local/seasonal diets and food will have value beyond that of gold and silver.  In that case, preserving food and getting the most nutritional value possible out of that food will become top priority, especially for the mamas in the family. 

Thus, culturing milk. 

Cultured or fermented milk is a very practical way to extend the life of milk as well as adding a real punch of nutrition into an already nutritionally-dense food.  There are so many ways to culture milk, some simple, some more sophisticated, that I'm only going to cover a couple.  Yogurt and kefir are by far the easiest ways to culture milk.  All you need is fresh milk, a culture additive and a thermos.  That's it. 

For yogurt, start with the freshest milk you can locate and warm it to 180 degrees then allow it to cool to 100-110 degrees.  Add yogurt culture, stirring gently and then process in a thermos for 6-12 hours.  When the yogurt begins to set up, pour it into a covered container and refrigerate.  I like extremely thick yogurt, so I strain mine using a collander and cheesecloth (and a big bowl to capture the whey for later use.)  There you go.  Fresh yogurt.  What's wonderful about this process is that you can use a small amount of your fresh yogurt as a culture for your next batch.  As you all know from the various TV commercials, yogurt is crammed full of calcium, Vitamin D and probiotics and is especially nice topped with some homemade jam or honey.  When you're feeding someone with a tiny tummy or diminished appetite, yogurt packs a lot of nutrition into a very small portion.

Kefir is another simple cultured milk product.  Like yogurt, it is packed full of probiotics---the good bacteria---and is supposed to be a real boon to the digestive/immune system, especially following a course of antibiotics.  Again, you start with fresh milk, culture or kefir grains and a thermos.  Warm the milk to 86 degrees, add the culture and keep warm in a thermos for up to 24 hours.  The result is a tangy, slightly carbonated milk product that can be used in smoothies, drank straight up or used in baking or cooking.

Other ways of culturing milk include cheese, butter, buttermilk and I'm sure there are dozens of other practical ideas.  I just wanted to throw out a couple.  If the time comes that we need to eat food with the greatest nutrional and caloric impact, cultured milk products should be high on the list!  Not only do they keep a long time, but the probiotic boost can do wonders for our immune systems during times of stress or sickness.  If you've never tried your hand at homemade yogurt or kefir, now is a great time to start!



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