Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friday's Breakfast Is Loving & Giving


We have a breakfast schedule here:

  • Monday is Levi's turn
  • Tuesday is Micah's
  • Wednesday is Tabitha's
  • Thursday is Rebekah's
  • And every other day gets argued over by Bep, Abby & Asa for the privilege of making breakfast.  :)
     The little girls wanted to make fry pies, so we did that this evening. It was a community effort and went by quickly. Even Maggie "helped" and no, I didn't mind at all. It reminded me of years ago when I let the older ones dump cornstarch on the wood floors to "ice skate" on. Time sure flies. 

     We used our own Old Fashioned Peach Jam as the filling and fried them in lard. Abby sprinkled the powdered sugar on them after she transferred each to the cookie sheet. In the morning we'll warm them up and then breakfast is served. Perfection!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We Shall Have To Begin To Think Very Differently

   A blog that I read had a recent discussion revolving around whether they (or me or you) had enough canning jar lids. The consensus was that, no indeed, they did not have enough lids stockpiled. People commented that they bought a box or two every time they went to the store and though they had 4,562 lids purchased that wouldn't see them through the apocalypse (OK I just made that part up, but you get the idea.) Let me tell you what our philosophy is and you can decide which approach you think will work the best for your family.

     My thought is that you can never, never, NEVER accumulate all of the lids that you will need to continue canning hundreds of jars of food for the rest of your life. The very thought exhausts me. Should a collapse happen I will immediately scale back what I can, not increase it. I will no longer can green beans or carrots or indeed any low acid food; if it can't be jammed or pickled then I probably won't can it. All of the jam that I make is with homemade pectin, you might want to consider learning to make jam the old fashioned way, by cooking until the jelling point rather than the faster sure-gel way. As an aside, jam made this way doesn't even have to be sealed, the sugar acts as a preservative and the jam won't spoil. I may can some fruit, but dehydrating just makes more sense for most things. Root crops will be stored in a clamp, green beans will be dried in a solar dehydrator as will sweet corn. Eating seasonally will become de rigueur for us here as it already is in many parts of the world.

     As I've mentioned before, I use a lot of bail jars but since most folks just don't have a ready supply of those I'd recommend one of two things. Either invest in Weck jars or Tattler lids. There is a learning curve to using any of these methods, but so too is there for modern bands and lids. Some people have begun reusing jar flats citing that the old timers did it. Well, that may be so, but jar flats 40 years ago were designed differently, they were a lot beefier and had a much thicker gasket. Jar lids are designed today to be single use, on purpose.

     Meat will either be eaten fresh or we'll dry that too. Traditionally, hams were smoked to preserve them and they were stored after they were very dry. That's why old cook books usually mention boiling ham and not baking it like we do today. We have these old fashioned hams here locally, Clifty Farms has the closest thing to farm preserved ham that I've ever bought. Another option is potting meat, Granny Miller talks about that here, so I won't repeat it. And though I've posted a picture of a loverly old crock, beware using antiques as they can have lead in the glaze. Stick with new ones unless you're certain.

     In order to meet our family's caloric requirements we will have to learn some old methods and some new ones as well. As with most things, the time to work out the kinks is now, not when you have hungry little ones hanging off your skirt.

Friday, January 16, 2015

How The Self Sufficiency Train Got Derailed

      There's a lot of talk in the Blogosphere about economic collapse/end times/self sufficiency these days, apparently it's a pretty hot topic. I rode the "Self Sufficiency" train for a while until I realized the futility of it. It can't be done. It's a pipe dream. When I read someone pontificating about installing solar panels to run modern appliances so when TEOTWAWKI happens they can still take hot showers and eat ice cream, I just shake my head. If any of us are to survive a collapse our lives will look so radically different from how we live today; indeed they'll be unrecognizable. We must adjust the very framework that our 21st century lifestyle rests upon and learn, perhaps for the first time in our lives, the difference between a need and a want. For help with this check out Material World , a book well worth the money, it highlights the possessions of representative families around the world. Hungry Planet is another gem, it shows weekly food purchases and really makes one ashamed of how wasteful we are here. We have so much and that is what will change rapidly should our country head down the road that some think it will.

  •      You might want to bathe daily, but you don't need to.
  •      You might like fast food, but you don't need it.
  •      You don't need 2,000 square feet of living space for 4 people.
  •      You don't need high fructose corn syrup. EVER.
  •      You don't need to purchase everything from the grocery store.
  •      You don't need 10 pairs of shoes and probably not even 5.
  •      You don't need an RV/boat/jet ski/vacation house.

     What do you need? The list is refreshingly short: clean water, wholesome food, a few changes of clothes, a shelter of some sort and the ability to keep it warm. But the 2 principles that under gird that list are knowledge and community, and unfortunately most Americans have neither. Knowledge about what? Well, quickly brainstorming a few ideas (or as my friend Amy says 'vomiting on paper') I'd include:

  •      How to grow/harvest/preserve food.
  •      How to save seeds and amend soil.
  •      How to sew/patch/mend clothing.
  •      How to keep your family healthy via diet/exercise/herbs. 
  •      How to purify water.
  •      How to do basic home repairs and as much plumbing as you can manage.
  •      How to realize that birth is a healthy normal process, but the ability also to recognize when            help is needed.
  •      How to fire a gun and hit your target.
  •      How to raise chickens/milk animals/hogs/bees.
  •      How to butcher an animal (and be able to kill it without a firearm should you need to.)
     Very, very few of us have community, the industrial revolution put to rest the notion of a mostly self contained small town. To build community takes work and an ability to practice gelassenheit or putting the needs of the community above the needs of self. This is where most intentional communities run aground; to even want to build an alternate community takes a strong will and determination, but it's those very qualities that shipwreck the experiment. We are an independent minded people and enjoy the notion of self determination, but to build a community we need to need each other more than we value our own opinions and ideas. I think post collapse most people will get their priorities in order quickly in order to survive because, as I stated above, self sufficiency is impossible. Unless you are willing to live a very primitive, and I mean very primitive, lifestyle then you will need  people with other skills than you possess and the optimal time to find them is now. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rye Bread For Haters

     I loathe rye bread, it's right up there with store bought whole wheat bread for unpalatability. However, as with many things made at home, I love my own rye bread. If you're a rye bread lover, this recipe probably isn't for you, but if you think you're no fan of rye then give this a try.

     Begin by grinding some rye berries until you have a cup and a half (more or less) of fine rye flour. Mix in a half cup of plain Greek yogurt (or buttermilk if you'd prefer) and as much warm water as needed to form a thick dough. Allow to rest overnight at room temperature. For the specifics of soaking grains see this.

     The next morning in a separate bowl combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1T molasses and 2T yeast. Let rest until bubbly. Combine with 1t salt and soaked rye (which may look grayish on top, this is fine) and a pat or two or three of butter, coconut oil, olive oil, mayo, applesauce, or whatever. Begin adding white flour until dough reaches proper consistency. Allow to rise until doubled. Punch down and form into 2 round loaves, cut 2 deep slits in the top.

     Micah made me 2 round cardboard bread "molds", they're approximately 5" high and 5" across, I line them with parchment paper and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Then gently place the loaves inside.

     Allow to double again in size and then bake in a 350-375 degree oven. Dust with flour after baking. We'll finish off both loaves tonight with sausage links, sharp cheddar and fruit. Yummy homemade goodness at its best!

     As you can see, the only real difference between mine and other rye recipes (other than the soaking step) is that my recipe lacks caraway seeds. It is solely the caraway seeds that account for the yuckiness factor in traditional rye bread. Now you know.  :)