Archive for August, 2013


I am all about saving money and getting the most bang for my buck, however, I do live by the rule ‘pay now, pay later, but pay you will’… in other words, you can buy the cheapest or mid-grade item right now, because its ‘cheap’, but you wind up having to replace it later on down road because it wears out faster, quits working or doesn’t work properly because its ‘cheap’.
The flip side to that saying is that sometimes you can find great items, expensive ones on ebay, craigslist or yardsales and be cheap but get the ‘expensive’ product. And that is what I usually like to do, find what I what I want at the cheapest price available.

But sometimes, like with pressure cookers, you really don’t want to buy used (too much of a risk and many time pieces are missing and yes, you can buy the replacements, but that just adds to the cost doesn’t it?) so last year, when I went looking to purchase a pressure cooker I turned to Amazon to get one at ‘cheaper’ price. There were two available by Presto and here is my tale of two pressure cookers:

Of course I wanted to save money so I went with the cheaper 6 quart Aluminum pressure cooker (about $25 at the time) by Presto. And this is a direct quote:

• Cooks three to ten times faster than ordinary cooking methods, saving time, energy, and money.
• Pressure regulator maintains the proper cooking pressure automatically.
• Strong, heavy-gauge aluminum for quick, even heating.
• Includes cooking rack and complete 64-page instruction/recipe book.
• 9-3/4 by 16-2/3 by 8-1/2 inches; 12 year limited warranty.
4 and half stars from over 300 people…heck yeah I thought! The other one available was the Presto 6 quart Stainless Steel pressure cooker and at the time was almost twice the cost…nope, I thought, why spend the extra money for something ‘fancier’ and honestly what I thought was just a ‘shinier’ version designed to make Presto extra money?
And of course, I had done my research on pressure cookers and found mixed comments on using them on induction and glass cook tops (I have a glass one). So…I went cheap, ignoring my ‘pay now, pay later, but pay you will’ rule….

Fast forward over the past year…I used this aluminum pressure cooker weekly, not one problem…everything came out perfect, no problems, quick, easy meals…until one day last week…I put in my meat, proper water amount, etc. did everything I was supposed to do, got it wobbling properly and knew I had at least 20 minutes before it would be ready so I jumped in the shower (that one of the pleasures of using a pressure cooker by the way, get it going and move on to something else). When I got out of the shower I smelled the food, which is not usual, but this was really strong…something was a foot. Got dressed quickly and went to check on the cooker and the closer I got the more burn smell I got and then I noticed the whole POT was wobbling along…NOT A GOOD SIGN!!!
Alright, even though the timer said I had at least another 10 minutes to finish cooking I took it off the burner and did my quick cool down, the pot itself definitely no longer sat flatly on the stove, in fact it very rounded at the bottom. Got it open and the meat was burned beyond recognition, 1 inch think burned crap on the bottom of the cooker…lets just say, something went horribly wrong this go around. Warped and burned beyond saving it was…sigh…trash…complete failure on many levels…so much for trying to save money…

So, I bit the bullet and purchased the stainless steel version, a bit more money, but having used stainless steel pots and pans for YEARS I know this one will last forever….it even clearly states:

• Chicken, fish, meat, and vegetables cook to perfection fast; Helps tenderize economical cuts of meat
• Pressure regulator maintains the proper cooking pressure automatically; Complete 64-page instruction/recipe book included
• Ideal for use on regular, smooth-top and induction ranges; Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
• Cover lock indicator shows when there is pressure inside the cooker and prevents the cover from being opened until pressure is safely reduced
• Helper handle for ease of handling; Extended 12-year limited warranty

You can check the stainless steel one out here:
<a href="Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

Good news is that now that the old one has died I now have another base plate, weight regulator…threw away the seal as I suspect that the seal also failed since the pot warped on the base…at least I was able to salvage something from ‘trying to save money’…sometimes its just not worth it and in a SHTF situation, or another situation where you might not be able to replace something easily, just keep this little story in mind… cheaper is not necessarily ‘better’.

I have used my stainless steel pressure cooker and to be honest, wow! What difference I notice in the texture and taste of the food and the clean up was so easy (the aluminum was a bit of scrub to clean well)…all over the type of metal used…who woulda thunk it? So ladies and gents, do yourself a favor and spend the extra money if you are wanting to get into pressure cooking…it’s a great way to save time, money (energy bills) and get the slow cook taste in no time…get stainless!!

And be sure to browse the books for pressure cooking for great recipes and a few other favorite things I have found:

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Soo…there ain’t Brown Recluse Spider in Virginia eh??? Or so ‘they’ say according to ‘their’ maps. I personally know better from about 20 years ago when I was bit one time on the shoulder doing new construction work and then about 6 years ago when I was bit not once, not twice but THREE times on my calf.
Never saw one though up front and personal until yesterday afternoon…looky what I saw on my ‘screen’ to my workshop only 3 foot away from me:

Yep, that’s a Brown Recluse spider, born, breed and hiding out waiting for me to walk through the ‘screen’ (which is actually a sheer curtain I hang up at the shed door).

Here is ‘map’ where they are most commonly found:
map recluse

The below information is taken directly from an OSHA Fact Sheet (link at end)

The brown recluse belongs to a group of spiders commonly known as violin spiders or fiddlebacks. The characteristic fiddle-shaped pattern is located on the top of the leg attachment region (cephalothorax). Because they are secluded and withdrawn, as their name implies, the brown recluse avoids open spaces. Brown recluse spiders are dangerous and they can bite and inject toxic venom.
Identification
• Body size: 1/4 to 3/4 inch
(6.4-19.1mm)
• Color: Golden brown
• A dark violin/fiddle shape
(see top photo) is located on
the top of the leg attachment
region (cephalothorax) with
the neck of the violin/fiddle
pointing backward toward
the abdomen.
• Unlike most spiders that
have 8 eyes, the brown
recluse has 6 eyes. The eyes,
arranged in pairs – one pair
in front and a pair on either
side – can be readily seen
under low magnification.
Habitat
The Brown Recluse Spider
builds small retreat webs
behind objects of any type.
Symptoms
• The severity of the bite may
vary. Symptoms may vary
from none to very severe.
• The bite generally becomes
reddened within several hours.
• There is often a systemic reaction
within 24-36 hours characterized
by restlessness,fever,
chills, nausea, weakness
and joint pain.
• Tissue at the site of the bite
and the surrounding area dies
and eventually sheds.
Protection
• Wear a long-sleeved shirt, hat,
gloves, and boots when handling
stored boxes, firewood,
lumber and rocks, etc.
• Inspect and shake out clothing
and shoes before getting
dressed.
• Use insect repellants, such as
DEET or Picaridin, on clothing
and footwear.
Treatment
• Clean the bite area with soap
and water.
• Apply ice to the bite area to
slow absorption of the venom.
• Elevate and immobilize the
bitten extremity.
• Capture the spider, if at all possible,
for identification purposes.
• Seek medical attention.

https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data…Facts/brown_recluse_spider.pdf‎

Here is something that they don’t tell you: most of the time you won’t even KNOW you have been bitten, let alone actually SEE the sucker that bit you. I know the times I have been bitten I didn’t even think about a brown recluse bite until after the tissue in the area started necrotizing and the fist time it got so big (the necrotized area) that it was the size of half dollar and I wound up at the ER for something else and the nurse saw it (the wound) and freaked. The next time I was bit I thought they were bug bites until they began ‘pitting’ (necrotizing) and I immediately remember the first time I was bit by a recluse.

And medical attention? They give you Keflex and send you home and tell you ride out the WEEKS that it will take your body to fight the venom and heal…yeah, no joke…nothing to do except prevent and ‘infection’ and keep the wound clean…seriously..
And in a shtf situation or you can’t afford to go to the doctor just to be patted on the head and handed an antibiotic for hundreds of dollars, what are you going to do?

The ‘treatment’ advice above is great general ‘bite’ advice…but personally here is how I have always taken care of brown recluse bites (for some reason I am a recluse magnet) with EXCELLENT results:

BERGAMOT ESSENTIAL OIL DROPS STRAIGHT ON THE BITE
4-6 times a day

Seriously, that it…the first bite since it was so large I used hydrogen peroxide to clean out the dead tissue…let it dry out and then applied the bergamot essential oil, but the wound healed within 10 days and I used no antibiotics…minimal scaring too.

The next I was bitten I immediately applied the bergamot essential oil straight on the bites and while the skin discolored the necrotization only got to be about the size of eraser head and then healed within 4 days…
And that is all I DID…and now, living out the woods almost any bite that I know for sure isn’t a tick bite or mosquito or fly bite (ugh, May Flies and these little orange flying things around here), out comes the bergamot and I forget about it…no issues…

One strong word of caution: this is just what I do and I am not advocating that YOU do this…use your head and if you can see your doctor, especially if you become very sick…just use your head please… I believe that prevention is key in avoiding the doctor and what I have written is what works for ME. You may want to try it yourself or keep a bottle of the bergamot essential oil in your bug out bag or if you go camping just to ‘prevent’ infection, etc. especially if you are not sure of what bit you (since normally you won’t feel the bite from this spider). Everyone will react different and I am writing about what works for me and hopefully you will never need this ‘emergency’ advice from one prepper to another. But it might be worth the small investment of a few dollars just in case…save the antibiotics for something really bad!

Other notes: when self treating when professional medical help is not immediately available I like to use the rule of thumb…treat aggressively and often and don’t IGNORE anything. Don’t down play something new or unusual…

And one last thing: All citrus essential oils are oils that make the skin photosensitive…meaning, if you use the oil on your skin and go into the sun with that area where the essential oil was used…it can cause a bad BURN. So keep it covered….

One more thing to go into the woods with!

You may find more information on this subject at:

Survivalmedicineblog.com

woodsLast year was a personal TEOTWAIKI (the end of the world as I knew it)…from the suicide of my youngest daughters father (whom I found only 10 minutes after speaking to him in person, leaving and then feeling something was wrong…oh yeah it was…and going back to find him dead by his own hand), to the SWAT team at my door at 8 am, to a down turn in business, loosing a business and just about every imaginable small shtf that could happen happening. Over the past year and a half I have worked really hard getting to a new normal while still dealing with life changing events…it has been wave after wave, but fortunately, I learned how to surf! It was full of bumps, bruises and backslides and some painful mistakes, but I have finally learned to surf (figuratively) in getting through the crap life throws our way, big and small. That is the hallmark of a survivor by the way…I have truly learned in many ways what Tim Gunn (okay, I admit it! I do sometimes watch Project Runway) “make it work” as he is looking at a hot mess that aspiring designer has made. But somewhere along the line, my world of preparedness and my thinking became so narrowly focused upon my home and my immediate surroundings that a simple day outing in the woods with my friend became a real eye opener in situational preparedness.

Knock, knock…what the (bleep) are you thinking?

The started off well enough, coffee, breakfast, discussion what to do…common everyday talk between people…suggestion…lets go out to the WMA are nearby where he hunts regularly so he can take a look around (hunting season coming up)…okay…so here I am getting dressed for a walk in the woods, no biggie, I live in the woods…I know how to get dressed for going into the ‘woods’, do it everyday after all…so on go jeans, tank top and sturdy trail shoes…I get looked at and he looks at my shoes and says ‘you’re wearing those???’ in that tone of voice that only someone who does something all time can only have talking to someone that has broken some unspoken ‘rule’ of the road. Okayyy…it quickly dawned on me that we weren’t go onto some nature trail…so off the shoes came and on came the ‘real woods’ boots, you know the kind hunters wear? yeah those kind of boots…I was thanking God at that point that I had spent the previous week walking around in them to break them in (much to the dismay of my 15 year old, apparently your mother wearing camo/woodland hunting boots out in public is NOT cool). I at least had the presence of mind at that point to pull my socks up to my knees, after all, ticks love to climb up shoes/boots onto legs. I also changed my shirt to a loose short sleeve one.
Alright, all set and up to snuff approval wise for what to ware…out the door we go…
Its been a long running discussion between us about ammo, where to find it, prices etc…so we’re headed out to the WMA and he decides to show me where he has stopped before to buy ammo before hunting. Of course, me and my big mouth, having lived in my small town for a few years, I begin to explain to him about one side of the highway and the other and how you just don’t cross that line (its like the railroad tracks)…uhhuh…that went over like a lead balloon…dead silence…smack, upside the head I am confronted with a prejudice that is so ingrained in me that I didn’t even realize it until it came out of my mouth and got a strange look…you know the one, the slightly raised eyebrow real quick with no comment. Anyway, we stop at this little hole in the wall (and that is being not an untruth) gas station that has a sign for ‘check-in’ (as in for hunters with deer and turkey)…and lo and behold! walk back into the back and bingo! AMMO!!! no .22 but they had plenty of other including 9mm (haven’t seen that in MONTHS) and .17 and well, you get the idea…and the prices? pre-Sandyhook!! man, did I feel about stupid, again…so I bought what I could afford and on the way back to the car I have to acknowledge about eating crow on this one. Basically something along the lines about getting over my snobbery (yeah, I admitted it) and thank you for showing me someplace new…the answer was something along the lines of ‘well, its always good to have more than one place to get something’ (nuff said on that subject, point well taken)…but of course on the way out of the area I have to defend my position and my line of thinking (just keep on digging Laura)…anyway, at this point I feel absolutely DUMB and shut up. But I swear, I still won’t go there at night…nope…not…

So over the river and through the woods, nice ride, he’s busy scoping out places to go fishing in the area, pointing out upcoming places to look at from the GPS and we are looking for the no trespassing signs or private property signs (which by the way, I learn from him later that even when its posted you can’t restrict access to public water ways within reason).
Fast-forward, we are on WMA land, he’s pointing out the WMA land, private property, where you can and can’t park, etc, etc. up and down gravel roads, being educated about what Bucks do and what to look for, looking at the ‘weeds’ growing trying to figure out what some are and aren’t…Wild passion flower is an intoxicating smell! Wind up on the water, he does some fishing off the public dock…back in the car…down another road to nowhere…he finally pulls into this parking area and we get out…looking at the weeds…and I need to use the restroom but of course…lol, its the woods…not an issue, not the first time with no bathroom or toilet paper (hmm, remember for future, baby wipes, flushable stuff, paper napkins even better as they server more than one purpose or really, do guys worry about it?) but ladies, remember, when out in the woods, find a slight hill…water runs downhill (at least I remember that). But he had to remind me about bug spray (seriously Laura? I mean, really?) He had some thank goodness, I should have sprayed myself down BEFORE leaving the house!! And off we go through the woods down to the water…come up to a rather large tree that had fallen down across the path and up and over…and me, like an idiot, just walks OVER IT…yep, got the look again…never, ever in the woods just walk over a fallen tree, always step up onto it, look down and then step down…snakes like to hang out under dead wood…I shrugged and said, well, I figured you went first and would have found it and I was safe (ha!), got the look again. Point taken. Where I live these little buggers live, cottonmouths, timber rattlers and copperheads…in general they will run from you, but corner them, step on them, forget it, they strike in defense..
Cottonmouth, the only viper snake in the US:
cottonmouth
Timber Rattlesnake:
timber
Copperhead:
timber

copperhead

And just as a side note, I noticed where people had recently camped in the area…what a frickn’ mess. Not good caretaking nor OPSEC…take out what you bring in or burn it out…better yet, don’t leave yourself ‘noticed’ for being in an area (ha, now why I can remember that and not bug spray…)

Yadah, yadah, yadah…mess around for a while at the water, (at least I didn’t embarrass myself by falling on my butt going down a step hilly area to get to it, like I have done before) I explained to him about WHY it wasn’t a good idea to eat the arrownroot from the water where we were at (duh, plants draw up water and act as filters for the water ways and if the area is known to have high levels of mercury and other contaminates…duh..what will you be eating???) not to mention you can’t just pull a water plant out, you really have to dig them out…of course he had to prove me wrong on that point…I won, I managed not to give him a look.
Back to the car we go…and yes, this time I remembered to step up, look and then down, and I learned a little something on that one, I need to go to the gym, I can walk forever, but stepping up two feet onto the top of the dead tree easily…hahaha…crap…not as in shape as I thought I was. Endurance yes, strength no…sigh…another lesson learned…
But the biggest lesson learned with this simple walk in the woods came a bit later…we are out in a clearing looking at the weeds, checking things out and he tells me to stand dead still. So I freeze immediately, nothing happens so I start to think he’s messing with me and move slightly and then BUZZZ, I scream because I thought it was a wasp, turns out it was a horsefly that had landed on me…but all I could think about at that point was ‘crap, it has been a wasp I had nothing with me to stop the anaphylactic reaction I would have if stung and we are MILES from help’ …DUH!!! I am ready to go at this point.
Another side note, that bug spray I used? yeah, okay, kept the suckers off my clothes and exposed skin, but you know what? they found their way to exposed skin UNDER the clothing…bites around the waist band and a few other places…I now understand the use of pyrethin on clothing…screw the bug spray…

Long and short of this tale is that I had become complacent and non-thinking about my potential situation and circumstances simply by going out in the woods…from shoes, to bug spray to the more serious side of nature, snakes, bees, wasps…it was an eye-opener for me…I had isolated and insulated myself so much that the possibilities just didn’t register in my brain and here I sit calling myself a survivor and prepper…really? I can tell you how to prepare yourself to bug in and tough it out at home, but put me in the woods…and I USED to do this quite a bit before, but because I went into protective mode due to circumstances from the past year or so, it all went out of my brain, and honestly, it could have gotten me seriously hurt or even killed and possibly put my partner in jeopardy. NOT GOOD….
And then it got me thinking…I was depending upon someone ELSE to keep me safe out there….trusting your partner is good but what if? I will be the first to admit that I will never be the woodsman he is, after all, he grew up in the woods has spent his whole life out there, tracking animals, camping, hunting, fishing…but me, I am a liability to him and myself simply because I don’t have even a few basic skills and knowledge of being ‘outdoors’. I got off easy this time and am taking steps to not let the same mistakes occur again, but it made me really wake up…If I had to leave my home on foot or get home on foot, I probably wouldn’t make it over some ‘trivial’ mistake or oversight on my part. They say we are given situations to make us grow, the first is slap on the hand, then a knock on the head and then a hammer and then well, the building falls in on you. I got the slap on the hand and have no intention of getting hit on the head.

So, I did buy the pyrethin spray to treat my clothes and boots and socks…
I have a very small kit together for going out that can be put in a pocket for short trips for bug bites/stings with things in it just in case I go into anaphalytic shock…and a small ace bandage too that will fit in my pocket easily since I am NOT known for being graceful.

And I count myself lucky that I have someone who is a good man and knows ALOT more than me who doesn’t put me down but supports me in my learning.
I also count myself lucky that someone is watching out over me from above.
Moral of the story, we get so used to our ‘normal’ in prepping and survival that we forget to look outside of ourselves and see ourselves outside of the normal routine or what we have planned….while I in no way plan on bugging out or leaving, its always good to have some sort of idea of what may happen if you had to abandon your plans and go do something else.

Lessons learned from a simple walk in the woods….and a blessing in disguise…

chicken
Protein is an invaluable source of long term energy in a survival situation or in any situation in which we are called upon to exert more energy than usual (camping, running, etc.) and/or a time when you can’t really cook or want to keep it simple during and emergency…prepackaged dehydrated food is great if you can find it cheaply, but knowing how to properly dehydrate protein NOW, yourself, before something happens is something to learn how to do and after the initial expense of buying a good dehydrator you will wind up saving yourself tons of money, not mention YOU get to control what goes in your food.

Previously I had dehydrated chicken breasts using one of those smaller, cheaper food dehydrators and honestly, after rehydrating and trying to eat it on the go, I thought that perhaps there could be a better, more flavorful way of doing this.

I wound up buying last year an excellent Excalibur Food dehydrator at a good discount from ebay simply because I was becoming frustrated with the limited amount drying space I had with my old round one. It wasn’t very efficient at drying, the middle ring took forever to dry, with the bottom and top ones drying very quickly and uneven drying on all rings so I was constantly moving the food I was drying around and the large slots meant a lot of food fell through as it was drying…nope…I bit the bullet and bought a good, solid Excalibur and I highly recommend that if you are serious about drying foods for storage or use during camping that you get one…well worth the money!

So here we go again on how to dehydrate chicken, while the first article I wrote on dehydrating chicken is a great and simple start to doing so, I have tweaked my technique and have learned a few tips to add to dehydrating your chicken to make your chicken turn out so much more better.

What you will need:
Dehydrator
Chicken (whatever you can lay your hands on cheaply)
Large pot for boiling your chicken
Powdered Seasonings for infusing flavor into the chicken

One thing I have learned since last writing about dehydrating chicken is that DARK MEAT is the best when dehydrating chicken. When you go to rehydrate or eat it like jerky, it rehydrates much more readily which can be important if you are carrying it with you to eat on the run.

I also like to use thigh or leg meat verses the breast…again, just easier to rehydrate. But use what you have, white meat, thigh, breast, leg, whatever, the process drying is the same. My only note on chicken breast is that it rehydrates more slowly and is tougher after rehydrating (not to mention it COSTS more money unless you can get a real deal on it). And don’t forget you can use bone in or bone out.

So, I found on clearance boneless chicken thighs (mostly dark meat) at the local market…spent maybe $2 for the package. If you are using chicken with bones in it, you will just need to spend the time taking the meat off the bone before putting in the dehydrator.

In one large pot I put 12 cups of water, seasonings to taste (I like to use garlic and onion powder with a touch of salt) and put about 1/3 of cup of each into the water. Then in goes the chicken.

At this point I bring the water, seasonings and chicken to a roiling boil and allow it boil itself until done. You will have to gauge for yourself when it is done cooking as boiling/cooking time will depend upon what you are using. To speed up the process of cooking and if you are using chicken breasts, I have found that by cutting up the breast into chunks FIRST (raw) and then cooking saves time and you don’t over cook the thinner chicken.

When the chicken is done cooking you will then need to do one of two things at this point…if you are using chicken that has a bone in it, you will need to get the meat of the bone place the meat on a plate covered with a couple layers of towels.
If you are using boneless meat you may just place the meat on a plate covered with a couple layers of towels.
20130821_13

FYI: That water you just added spices to and boiled your chicken in? Excellent stock/soup base…don’t throw it away! Extend your money! Can it, freeze it, etc. IF you find yourself without power you have ‘instant’ soup base to rehydrate your chicken in!

Next, you will want to take two more towels, lay them over your meat and press the ‘juice’ out of the meat…this helps to speed up the drying time and keeps the meat from becoming too tough from ‘over dehydrating’ which can easily be done since everything you dehydrate is from the outside in and meat likes to retain its moisture! It wouldn’t to ‘burn’ (over cook so to speak) your meat!

Then allow to cool to room temperature, to speed this up you may place in the refrigerator. I am not sure WHY this helps, but by accident and then by design I have found that this really helps with retaining texture, taste and helps prevent the meat from being tough after rehydration (even with chicken breasts).

After your chicken meat cools off you will need to pull or cut into bite size pieces or whatever size you want. I just like bite size because its faster to dry and easier to rehydrate in your mouth if you want to eat it like that and if using in soups or casseroles you require less water/time to rehydrate (which is important especially if using with noodles or dehydrated veggies which rehydrate faster).

Very lightly spray your trays with an oil (not a lot, just a very, very light coat). This will prevent sticking which is very important if you are using one of the dehydrators that cheaper ones with the big slots. Not so important with an Excalibur as the screen is flexible, but I still spray, makes clean up easier!

Now you are ready to put your chicken pieces on the drying racks…
20130821_18

At this point, close up your dehydrator…if you have one that allows you to set a temperature on it, you will use 155 degrees temperature setting, if not, just turn it on.
Leave the dehydrator be for at least 3 hours before opening and checking on the chicken. After 3 hours I found mine almost done. You may or may not have the same experience. But if not almost done at this point (and there are many factors that control this) close back up and check again in a couple of hours.

For those with the smaller, cheap dehydrators you may find yourself having to move trays and chicken around to get more even drying. If I am dehydrating A LOT of meat in my Excalibur I wind up moving the racks around once, the top one and bottom one go into the middle and the middle racks go on the top/bottom. But with only 2 racks in I did not have to do this.

IF almost done, shut it down and allow to cool again. I left mine overnight.
The point being is that you will want to shut the dehydrator off when the meat is almost completely dry and allow to cool off.

After cooling off, restart your dehydrator to finish dehydrating. Be careful at this point to check about every half hour so you do not over dehydrate and potentially burn your chicken.

You will know its completely dehydrated when it is no ‘spongy’. I like to ‘sample’ a piece. It will be ‘dry’ and crunchy but easy to chew. Don’t worry if it’s ‘hard’ that happens, but the more you dehydrate meat the better you will get at gauging when its ‘perfect’.

Allow to cool again before packaging by the method you want to do so. If you will be using within the week, ziplock baggies are great…anything longer than a week and you will want to vacuum seal the chicken some how, in a jar or a food saver, though the old timers never did this! For long term storage you will want to remove all the oxygen for best results and longest shelf life. Will store this way for AT LEAST a year, depending upon storage conditions.

Dehydrated properly, chicken (or any meat) is a great way to save money on food storage, make ‘fast food’ meals with little to no mess (one pot! Ever tried cooking after a hurricane? The less ‘pots’ the better!) or it’s a cheap way to make your own camping/bug out food.

My end result:
About 4 cups of protein and weighs in at just over 2 ounces.

To use:
Pretty simple, you can either just munch on it using your own spit to rehydrate it or you can add to water, soups, and so much more! Put together with veggies and noodles in water for a fast meal. Takes about 15 minutes in boiling water to completely rehydrate and heat depending upon the size you make the ‘bites’.

corned beef

With inflation rising, your money getting you less and less finding ways to stretch everything, or repurpose is becoming more important to live a comfortable lifestyle.
I will be writing a series of blogs over the coming weeks to spark the inner imagination for you on how to stretch your money and food (including leftovers!) and some great ideas on repurposing packaging and other odds and ends that you may have in the past just thrown out. Not only will you save money, but time and also get to have a hand in going green and keeping things out of the landfills!

Today as the title suggests I am stretching the dollar regarding food….This past weekend I made an absolutely YUMMY cornedbeef and cabbage dinner in my trusty crockpot. Cornedbeef (which is basically a bad cut of beef that has been brined/preserved in a saltwater solution) can be tricky to cook without drying it out and making it tough. Enter the CROCKPOT (and I am sure a dutch oven would work well too if you are camping out or find yourself without power but have access to a fire or wood stove).

Simply Sweet and Tangy Tender Cornedbeef and Cabbage In a Crockpot or Dutch Oven

1 Cornedbeef (and actually you can use ANY not so good cut of meat or game)
Crockpot or Dutch Oven (if you use the dutch oven be sure to coat the inside of it to keep things from ‘sticking’)
Potatoes (as many as you add to the crock/dutch oven)
Cabbage (one large head or two small ones) If you don’t like cabbage, skip it.
Apples (3 medium ones)
3 cups water
6 tablespoons minced garlic with the oil (not dried garlic)
4 tablespoons of yellow mustard
2/3 cup honey OR ½ cup brown sugar

Cut up your potatoes, cabbage and apples to your liking…I tend to just thickly slice up the cabbage in chunks, the potatoes the same way and cut the apples in quarters removing the seed area.

In a small bowl combine your water, mustard, minced garlic and honey/sugar, mix well.

Place your cornedbeef or other meat (deer roast is awesome this way) in the bottom of your crockpot or dutch oven.

Next, add your cabbage, potatoes and apples

Pour your water mixture over this.

Put lid on.

If you use a crockpot, low setting it will take about 10 hours if your piece of meat is large, high setting it takes about 5-6 hrs. Adjust time according to size of meat. Typically I use about about 2-3 lb piece of cornedbeef. Less time for smaller, more time for larger.
Dutch Oven users: It will be about the sametime…the key is to keep the heat LOW…I have used my own electric oven and set the temperature on about 250 degrees.

EAT and ENJOY

Now for the ‘reusing’ and stretching the dollar…after you have eaten your fill (and typically the meat disappears and I have veggies and the broth leftover) take your leftover veggies and put into a container or baggie (put in the frig AFTER it has cooled of, this is important! If you put the hot or warm veggies in the frig before they cool off enough to handle by hand when you go to reheat them they will go to MUSH and the taste is off) and then SAVE THE BROTH you have leftover in a jar or another container…this you can put immediately into the frig.
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Now you have a fast way to make another crockpot dish in a few days! No muss or fuss though it won’t make as much…in this case I used a small pork loin that came from the depths of my big freezer…yes, you know that piece of meat that has been there forever and maybe you would throw out…DON’T…slow cook it!20130821_9

Defrost the meat thoroughly, place in the bottom of the crock (this time I am using my small one) and get your broth out from frig and pour this over the meat (it is about 1.5 pounds in this case). Low temp setting for 6 hrs or high temp setting for 3-4 hrs. When the meat is close to being done (about 45 mins or so) take out your left over cooked veggies that you saved and put this on top of the meat and recover the crock, this will reheat them slowly and not over cook them and re-infuses them with the previous ‘seasoning’ making them even better tasting the second time around.

Bingo…time is up and everything is hot, tasty and delicious the second time around and no one is complaining about ‘leftovers’ and the pork that ‘freezer dead’ came out tender, delicious and falling apart!

Enjoy again!


Softwater Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
3 ingredients!!

Ever wonder about all those homemade laundry detergent soap recipes that you see around? Many of them are made for places with ‘hard’ water, but lucky me! I have soft well water and have come up with this particular recipe that can be made for pennies per load that works well for those with soft water. If you have softwater you do not need all that soap to get things clean. And if you use too much soap in the laundry and you have softwater you can wind up with dingy looking clothing that actually HOLDS THE DIRT since normal rinse cycles are not enough to get the soap out.

I like to pre-make a lot of the soap ‘ingredients’ at one time so I have plastic containers that I keep them in ready at hand whenever I need to make laundry detergent or whatever out of the ingredients.
I prefer to make the liquid over using the powdered version since soap doesn’t easily ‘melt’ in cold water.

Note: the harder your water (and if you are on city water you have very hard water) the more ‘soap’ you need in the ‘soap’ and I will list an alternative reciepe to compensate for this.

What you will need:
Fels Napa or some other soap such as castile or even homemade soap
Borax
Washing Soda (not BAKING SODA)
5 Gallon Bucket with lid
Long Wooden Spoon
Metal Pan
Containers for finished soap- gallon milk jugs, old laundry detergent jugs, etc.
Grater
Funnel
Measuring Cup
Plastic Containers (if you want to make up more than one 5 gallon batch to set aside for future use, recommend!)

Gather the required items, the soap, borax and washing soda can typically be found in almost any grocery store or big box store, but you may have to check around for the washing soda.

Using a grater (I have a big dedicated ‘soap grater’ that I picked up on ebay for next to nothing which is actually an old cheese grater) grind up the Fels Napa Soap Bar or whatever soap bar you choose to use (just avoid ‘commercial’ bath soap…will NOT WORK). You will wind up with quite a bit from one bar…set aside.

In a metal pot, put 4 cups of hot water (from the tap is fine) and place ½ cup of grated soap (do not pack it) into the water. Put pot on stove and set your settings to medium-low…Stir this continually with wooden spoon until soap is dissolved/melted.

DO NOT LET IT BOIL

It will be slightly foamy. You are not done melting the soap until you have no chunks or flakes left.

Get your 5 gallon bucket with the lid.
Fill the bucket half full with hot water (the hottest water you can get from the tap will work just fine!) and put on the floor.

Take your melted soap water and add to the bucket
Next add ½ cup borax and ½ cup of washing soda to the bucket
The measuring cup shows 1 cup of the washing soda/borax mixture (1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup is 1 cup)

Stir WELL until all powder is dissolved.

At this point, finish filling your bucket with more hot water to about 1 inch from the top.

Stir WELL again…be sure to get down to the bottom of the bucket while stirring…this soap mixture will NOT hurt your skin at all and easily rinses off.

Cover and let sit for 24 hrs.

After this cooling off and waiting time take the lid off, you will find that it has thickened on the top and bottom into a ‘gel’ like substance….it may look runny or separated…or with chunks of goo through out the bucket…this is OKAY and NORMAL….STIR AGAIN WELL!

Get your containers and funnel and measuring cup now. I recommend putting down towels on the floor just in case of an opps so you don’t spend a lot of time cleaning the floor (trust me on this!)

Fill your containers now…I like to use the measuring cup to scoop out the liquid detergent from the bucket and then pour through the funnel into the containers…at this point if you would like to add essential oils then add 5mls per gallon and shake well…All done…no fabric softener needed.

OF NOTE: Shake well in the smaller containers before use each time, it will separate again.

Since I use laundry detergent containers I just use the same amount that I would as if it was store bought. So use the ‘normal’ amount that you would use of liquid laundry detergent. This is for softwater ONLY.

HARDWATER

If you have hardwater/city water you will need to INCREASE the amount of soap, borax and washing soda, but the directions on how to make are the same.
If you are making up a lot of soap at one time for future ‘making’ just be sure to grate one bar at a time and place what you get from ONE BAR into a baggie. Alternatively you may weigh out 4.5 ounces of grated soap bar.

Hardwater Recipe:

1 Full Bar of Fels Napa (or other soap) Grated or 4.5 ounces
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing

Follow the same directions for making softwater liquid laundry detergent.
When you are using this homemade liquid laundry detergent you will want to use ½ cup per load (about 160 loads or so) and slightly more for heavily soiled clothing.

Enjoy!

UPDATE 8/23/2013
I have been using this batch of homemade soap for softwater for the past 2 weeks…EXCELLENT!!! no pre treating of light stains, clothes are brighter, softer and best of all, they smell CLEAN and not soapy!
If you try this, let me know how it turns out for you!