Grams Image

Grams Image

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bits and Pieces II


Appliance Parts and Cooking Tools

This post is about the different appliances that will be necessary to have to make life more comfortable.  We will be living without electricity if the power grid is down.  So let’s look at the necessities in the kitchen first.

Kitchen gadgets, tools, and food preparation equipment.  -  Can openers, are super important items to have but make sure the can openers you buy are quality hand crank can openers.  I suggest Swing Away brand as they last for years and years being used every day.  I always hated electric can openers because they always got dirty and would have to be taken apart to wash the cutting mechanism and then the rest would have to be wiped off plus they took up space on my small countertop.  You do have to wash your can openers because food bits build up and can get bacteria in your food as you open the cans.  I suggest that you keep a stiff brush to scrub the cutting mechanism and soak in bleach water once in awhile to disinfect.  I also take a metal skewer to scrape around the blades and such to make sure all the crud is removed.  By the way you can buy a wall mounted Swing Away Can Opener at Amazon for $21.00 plus shipping if you are interested.  My mom had one when I was a kid but I prefer the ones you can put in the drawer because they are easier to clean and while I have electricity I can throw them in my dishwasher once a week to sanitize them.

Next item I think will be very important is the cast iron cookware.  It is practically indestructible if you keep them seasoned and learn how to season the new ones.  You can also buy old rusty ones and scrub them down and start from scratch on the seasoning.  If you can get Grandma’s cast iron skillet that is well seasoned you are going to be a lucky person.   There are sites on the internet that will show you how to season them.  Cast iron can cook on any heat method available with the exception of a microwave.  Study up on cast iron cookware and the different styles of cooking that can be done with them from making your soups and stews to using as a deep fat fryer and even as an oven to bake your cakes and breads.  Wonderful for when we have to cook over a fire or propane or a rocket stove after the stuff hits the fan.  Make sure to buy a few small cast iron trivets to put in the bottom of your cast iron dutch oven. They will be good to put your bread pan or cake pan on so the heat can circulate all around your breads or cakes.  You don’t want to put your pan directly on the bottom of cast iron or they will burn on the bottom and not cook evenly.

Number 3 on my list is good knives.  You will be using your knives for butchering, skinning, chopping, peeling, slicing, etc.  Get some good carbon steel and or stainless steel knives and a good whet stone to sharpen it with.  A steel to add a good edge is a good idea as well.  Just ask any chef and he will tell you his most prized possessions are his knives.  This is another time you should look up on the internet how to sharpen and care for your knives.   

Next let’s look at grain mills.  There are many kinds of grain mills but I would suggest you get one with a large hopper so you don’t have to spend so much time filling them over and over again.  Also you should have a hand crank grinder since there is always that possibility of power outage which will be temporary or semi permanent.  If there is ever a CME/EMP then it will be relatively permanent for up to several years. I am afraid that is even an optimistic assessment of what will be happening.  Of course it all depends on how widespread the CME/EMP effect will be.   I have a Country Living Grain Mill and love it but they are expensive and I had to save for over a year to buy it.  I also bought the corn and nut auger to make it more versatile.  I also bought the extra parts that they offer so that I would have replacements to keep it operational even it I broke a part.  So look at the very best that you can afford and think about replacement parts on anything that could break on it.

Pressure canners will be important if you want to preserve food without refrigeration.  Dehydration in the drier and warmer months is an options but food  spoils in a very humid/wet climate before it dehydrates.  My first choice for most foods is to can/bottle them.  If you hunt you will have lots of meat to preserve.  If you have very cold climates that stay below freezing for a few months then you could hang your meat in a shed or garage to freeze.   Otherwise you will be back to the canning process.  There are many brands of pressure canners.  I have a Presto, Mirror and All American canner and I will bet you can guess which one is my favorite.  My husband bought me a 921 series All American for my birthday this year.  It doesn’t have a gasket so I won’t have to stock up on extra gaskets for it and it hold 2 layers of pints or 3 layers of the small half pint jars.  This is going to be a great year of canning for me and I won’t have as many hassles doing it!  I still need to buy a few replacement parts for it to have on hand like bolt down handles and the pressure weight.

Meat grinders are probably going to be very useful items.  It my husband has a chance to kill a deer I will be able to make ground meat and cook my normal dishes with it.  I would miss ground meat if we ran out of my canned ground meats.  It would take way too much time to chop the meat finely by hand to make spaghetti sauce or chili. 

Hand cranked food processors are also a time saver.  I have two of them and I can make cole slaw in a flash or slice onions, potatoes, or carrots in a flash as well.  It also grates cheese finely or coarsely as well.  Love it! Also make sure you have one or two good box graters as well.  They sometimes come in very handy.

Air tight containers would be very helpful to keep bugs out and freshness in for things such as flour, sugar, coffee, and corn starch.  You can keep butter on the counter if you keep it in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Butter will last for about 2 weeks if kept in a cool dark corner.  Salted butter lasts longer than the unsalted variety.  I am getting ready to home can some butter with my new canner.  I will can it in half pints.  If the butter is kept sealed in these containers with the rest of the vegetables and meats in a dark cool pantry it will last for a year or more.

I am sure there are many more handy little gadgets like potato peelers, French fry makers, citrus squeezers, zesters, garlic presses and lots of other things.  If you have them already and use them then keep them and continue to use them.  Otherwise you could probably live without them if necessary. 

Coffee makers are an item most people can’t live without.  Yes, you could just boil your coffee in a pot but most people prefer drip coffee now-a-days.  You can buy non-electric coffee makers both drip and percolators.  I found a stainless drip coffee maker at Lehman’s for $90 but I found a speckleware percolator at a thrift store for $20.  I have made a makeshift drip coffee maker by putting a strainer on top of a pot put a coffee filter and the coffee in the strainer.  Then I poured boiling water in the strainer and let it drip.  It worked great.  You might come up with a better idea yourself if you think about it.  The last thing I would suggest is for you to stock up on whole coffee beans in bulk and buy a hand cranked coffee mill.  I have read that whole beans will last for years and won’t go bad. 

The last couple of things I want to suggest are toasters and mixers.  You can buy camp toasters which you put near a fire and then flip the bread to toast the other side. Works good but has to be watched closely.  The last thing is the mixer.  Without electricity you might consider buying a good new egg beater for mixing batters.  Whisks will do most other jobs.  Buy a few good wooden spoons for mixing stiff doughs and batters.

I guess that is about all for this post on “Bits and Pieces”.  Check back for other things later.






Monday, September 17, 2012

Bits and Pieces

The reason I named this post Bits and Pieces is that it is the whole idea of collecting and storing all the bits and pieces that we will surely need if things go South in the future.   I was reading a blog on the net and found someone talking about collecting games, cards and other things for entertainment in the worst case scenario.  I realized that even though I have collected these things, I haven’t discussed it on here.  So let’s break it down into a few different categories.  Let’s start with entertainment. I will post other articles under “Bits and Pieces”  later concerning other subjects.


With no power what would you like to do on long winter days shut indoors?  Play cards?  Play board games?  Put puzzles together? Draw or Paint artwork? Do you play and instrument? These are all good things to do but do you have the games, puzzles, cards, paints and art materials, puzzle books?  If not the Dollar Tree  have many treasures for your chest of sanity saving simple games such as checkers, chess, dice, cards, children’s card games, puzzles, puzzle books, and even some art supplies.  Check it out and pick up some for your future.  Check online and buy a book of card games and rules.  Hoyle makes one that is good.  For the kids don’t forget marbles, jacks, pickup sticks, baseballs and bats, basketballs and hoops, badminton sets, croquet sets, soccer balls, and any other game paraphernalia that you family is interested in.  If you need to be quiet you might consider the indoor games.  Older people might be interested in horseshoes and croquet or holey board (which is easy to make yourself). Buy a roll of the banquet table paper that comes in approx. a hundred foot roll.  The kids can draw for a very long time on this paper and use it to make holiday decorations and adults can play Pictionary with it as well.  Just have an adult cut it into smaller sheet size pieces.  It will save you a bundle!  Get recipes for play dough, sidewalk chalk, goop, silly putty, etc. on the net.  Print it out and put it in a binder reserved for entertainment ideas.   Make sure you buy the items to make some of the items above such as salt in bulk, flour, plaster, etc.  I will post the links to some of these items I have listed in this article at the bottom of each section.  Children will drive adults crazy if you don’t have a way to keep them occupied.  Noisy kids playing and having fun is much easier to cope with than noisy kids saying “I’m bored” or being fussy and crying because they are tired of sitting around or just doing chores and no play. 

I have set up a wooden box that is like a small footlocker with a padlock on it which is filled with lots of interesting things like small magic sets from the Dollar Tree, string for making different things like we did as kids by making a circle of string or a roll of butchers twine and making shapes, yoyo’s, domino’s, children’s puzzles, match game cards, old maid cards, jacks, pickup sticks, Nerf balls, army men, small dinosaur sets, farm sets, marbles, hot wheel cars, Noah Ark sets, chalk boards and chalk, crayons and coloring books, building blocks, etc.  Find the stuff as inexpensively as possible.  I have gotten many things from unlikely places.  Stop at a new construction site and ask if you can pick up the throw away pieces of 2 X 4’s which are not pressure treated!  Take them home and spend an hour or two sanding the edges and ends with a belt or orbital sander to make them safe, these will make the very best building blocks!  Go to a craft store and buy marbles which are meant for crafts and flower vases.  If you can’t buy different colors then buy some glass paint pens and paint them a few different colors to keep kids happy knowing which ones are theirs. Make your own chalk with plaster of paris, don’t throw away broken crayons! Put them into a box for later melting and making new ones in rainbow colors that will thrill your kids! 
I have lots of construction paper in my box as well as brads, stapler and staples, also lots of pencils, #2 and colored pencils.  I am not a big fan of markers because they dry up and the kids can destroy their clothes and your walls and furniture with them. You will have to choose what you want to store for your own kids, grandkids and other children who may be in your home.  The one thing I would like to suggest is to get extra games that have a lot of pieces because they will invariably get lost.  I have a couple of Monopoly games and Clue games for that reason. I do not ever let my grandkids know what is in my “Treasure Chest”  that way if they are good and I know that they are going to be stuck for a long time indoors I can pull it out and pick out something that is new and exciting even if it was cheap and ordinary in the old days.  Don’t forget printing out the instructions for playing – Statues, Mother May I, Simon Says, Red Light-Green Light, Tag, Hide and Seek, Hula Hoops, Frisbee, and many other games children played in the “Old Days” when I was a kid.  Kids used to be able to occupy themselves and taught each other these games.  My whole neighborhood got together and had foot races, baseball games, marble tournaments, Hop Scotch, Jump Rope and we performed in our own “Circus” for the parents and we just had a ball playing and being creative.  The kids today don’t know that kind of creativity any longer.  They think drawing in a computer program is ‘drawing’ and they think playing a game is playing it on a game system.

Maybe if we had an “Old Days” family night and taught the kids a few of the old time games and interacted with them they would be more receptive to these things when that is all they will have after a disaster happens. Think back to your childhood, what did you play with?  What were your favorite toys?  What were your favorite games?  Of course I mean those that didn’t require electricity or batteries.   Think about it.  Go to some yard sales, thrift stores, craft stores, and dollar stores and come up with your own ideas.  The internet is a great place for ideas if you type the right thing in you will be surprised how many ideas you will get.  Good luck!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

National Preparedness Month