Tuesday, September 25, 2012
My garden is slowly winding itself down. It's looking very weedy and overgrown (in case you were wondering if I weeded or not. haha!) I harvested our popcorn and got two more pumpkins! There's been a slow trickle of peppers and red zebra-stripe tomatoes. The most exciting thing was that I dug up the potato plant I planted from a sprouting red potato in the compost and we got 3 potatoes! I love growing potatoes. They're just so fun to dig up!
I still have one more pumpkin on the vine, and some watermelons. How do you know when they're ripe? And the sweet potato that sprouted in my kitchen and I planted later has grown into a large, beautiful plant. I had to ask someone how to harvest them - I didn't even know! She said I had to dig them up, just like potatoes. I'm really excited to see what's down there.
I realized that I haven't posted a recipe for awhile so, here's my recipe for baking pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds!
- 1 Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin, Sugar Pumpkin, or any smallish pumpkin (the flavor is better than a large one)
- parchment paper
Set your oven to 375ºF to preheat. Line a jelly roll cookie sheet (the kind with a lip around the edge) or large cake pan with parchment paper.
Cut out around the stem and remove. Then slice your pumpkin in half. Scrape out the stringy pulp and seeds (save the seeds for toasting later). Don't worry about being too meticulous and getting every single string out. We're not carving a jack-o-lantern! Place the pumpkins, cut part down on the cookie sheet. Slide them into the oven and allow them to bake for about 1 hour or until a knife passes cleanly & easily through the tough skin and inner pulp without resistance. Take them out and allow to cool for an hour or two. .
Turn the pumpkins on their back and scrape out the pulp, gently scraping as close to the skin as you can to get as much pulp as you can. Place all the pulp in a bowl and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth (there will still be some lumps.)
Now you're ready to bake! I made some Pumpkin Muffins and they were delicious!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- seeds from your baked pumpkin
- olive oil
Grease a jelly pan cookie sheet (with a lip around it) with cooking spray or oil and set aside. You can use parchment paper instead if you'd like.
Place the pumpkin seeds in a colander and run a trickle of water over them as you remove the threads. The water will help the seeds slide through your fingers instead of sticking to them. Remove all the pulp and threads, preferable watching a Jane Austen movie. It's a tedious job! Once that's done, set your oven to 350ºF.
Shake the colander to drain as much water as you can and transfer the seeds to a bowl. Drizzle 2 -4 Tbsp. of olive oil over your pumpkin seeds. You might want more or less, but the goal is to make sure the seeds are coated well. Shake salt to taste over the seeds and mix thoroughly. Pop a seed in your mouth to make sure the salt ratio is enough (you don't have to chew it if you don't want!).
Once it's to your taste, spread the pumpkin seeds over the cookie sheet so that it is an even thickness. You want a single layer here, without much overlap of seeds so that they roast evenly. Put the seeds in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes. Stir the seeds and roast for an additional 10 minutes or until the seeds are golden and dry.
Enjoy them with the rest of that Jane Austen movie!
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
My actual design is based off Amy Butler's beautiful "Lotus Brick Path" quilt design:
Here are the players:
|That yellow is an awesome splash of color, just like vivid yellow autumn leaves!|
- Evacuate your house within 15 minutes of getting today’s email. You do not know if your house will be destroyed while you are gone so plan accordingly. Stay away until after lunchtime
- Eat/drink ONLY out of your 72 hour kits until you return home
- While you are out, make a list of potential reasons you may be forced to evacuate. For each scenario, write down where you would go, what type of stuff you would need in your kits, how long you’d be gone, etc. Use this list to re-evaluate what you may or may not include in your kits.
- Make a list of all of your valuables to submit to your insurance company since your house was destroyed while you were gone (this is more valuable to have BEFORE you actually lose everything)
- Using the daily report card, make a list of things you could do/buy to minimize your losses in a complete house loss (i.e. Fireproof/waterproof safe, computer backup options, safety deposit box for valuables, etc.)
TIME: Post a picture or description of one of your 72 hour kit meals on
our facebook page or in the blog comments
- For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants
- You can’t eat or drink anything besides what is in your 72 hour kits until dinnertime
- You must stay away from home until after lunch
- Eat out of your 72 hour kits for dinner too
- Evacuate overnight using only supplies from your disaster kit
- Contact your insurance company and find out details about what would be covered in a total loss situation like this
Sunday, September 16, 2012
- Cook all three meals without electricity
- Make a NICE Sunday dinner from scratch (no opening up a can of ravioli)
- Do something FUN that doesn’t involve power
- Do an inventory of your fuel storage, how many meals can you cook with the fuel you have stored?
- Review one of our powerless cooking classes (online class or recorded live class)
- SHARING TIME: What tools/fuel did you use to cook without power today? Share a picture or description on our Facebook page or on the blog comments!
This challenge was great, because it really brought out the glaring, gaping holes in our supplies and skills when it comes to powerless cooking. My goal is eventually to work up to doing one powerless cooking meal a week. Right now, maybe every other week since my husband is in school.
P.S. If you're interested in a volcano stove (they are so awesome!), I'd recommend you'd get one from Emergency Essentials during Black Friday after Thanksgiving. They have them for an awesome sale!
It's Day 4 - Helping Those in Need! This one is an interesting one. As I'm the primary cook, cleaner, teacher (we homeschool), child-care giver this would be quite the challenge for our family. I'm not sure how realistic it would be for me to leave without my children. We can't afford childcare, so realistically I would probably bring the kids with me and maybe enlist the help of family members? My mom is in Utah and so are my husband's parents. I think I'll have to do some tweaking to this challenge to fit our family's situation...
- Teach the other members of your household how to do any tasks that normally fall to you (i.e. laundry, cooking basics, mowing the lawn, car maintenance, etc.)
- Make sure to pass any financial information on to your spouse, significant other, or another family member. (Use this questionnaire we made last year as a starting point of the type of info you should pass on)
- If you’re the one in charge of managing the family schedule and routines, write it all out and make assignments or arrangements for how the family could make it without you
- If you live alone, make a plan for who would look after your house/affairs if you had to leave suddenly
- Make a list of all your logins for important websites that family members may need to access. Either print it and put it somewhere secure or save it in a secure manner on your computer
- SHARING TIME: What is the ONE task that would be hardest for someone else to take over if you were gone for two months? Share in the blog comments or over on our Facebook page.
- For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants.
- No other limitations today.
- After teaching your family how to do your “jobs” actually leave for the day and make them DO THEM.
- If you’re single or don’t have a large household, pass along the information to a friend or family for taking care of your house and affairs FOR REAL. Not just a plan for “in case”.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Goal: Get your family’s medical history & supplies in order and get healthy!
- Prepare a family medical plan to include in your Emergency Binder (see this sample medical plan a reader sent to us. You can be this thorough or just jot down some simple info for your family.)
- Do an inventory of your home medical supplies. Add items to your daily report card that you need to purchase. (There is an awesome comprehensive list of suggestions found on this post Modern Survival Blog)
- Print out instructions for basic first aid procedures (there are some helpful guides found at this link)
- Review our notes from the CPR/First Aid class we attended at our church, then look up when there is a formal class in your area and SIGN UP for it
- Research any specific medicines you are taking, find out how you can stock pile some, make a plan for how to keep them refrigerated if necessary, etc. (Also consider if making lifestyle changes could help reduce your dependency on them)
- Since living a healthy lifestyle is so important for disease prevention, cook healthy meals AND do a physical activity as a family (if applicable) today
3. In Excel, I created a basic medical record with each family member listed with their blood type, past and present health conditions, medications being taken, major surgeries, major dental work, and a list of known vaccines received.
4. I just got my prescription filled for 3 months. I feel very fortunate that my medication is very common, inexpensive and it's not a problem to get 90 days worth.
5. I have our home address, emergency phone numbers, mine and my husband's cell numbers and our house phone printed off, laminated and put in a prominent place so my son can see it. Next to our phone numbers we have our photo so he doesn't have to worry about having to read our names.
6. We got outside as a family and did some yard work clearing out a part of our woods. Hooray!
Somethings that's dawning on me - Never put off what you can do today.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Water Service Interruption
- Cook all meals (and CLEAN UP) using only stored water
- Take a shower or bath using stored water (Don’t cheat and skip this one!)
- Use stored water for flushing toilets
- Calculate your usage for the day and use that number to determine how much of a water supply you actually have
- FILL any empty water containers you have been procrastinating on filling
- Make a plan for how you will collect/purify additional water if/when you run out (use your daily report card to help)
- SHARING TIME: Post a picture or a description of the task you found most difficult to do using stored water today on Facebook or in the blog comments.
- For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants
- Do NOT use running water at all. To help you not cheat, you can turn off your main water supply for the day
- To conserve water, use a sanitation kit rather than flush stored water down the toilet.
- Get ambitious and do a load of LAUNDRY with stored water.
- Go to the nearest source of fresh water and fill up several water containers and purify it.
So, what we did, because I know I would accidentally turn on a tap or flush the toilet, was to turn off our water. That's right! We went hard core! And for even more realism, I asked my husband to show me how to do it (he works half time and goes to school half time, so he's home today) and he said he wouldn't show me, but would tell me how to do it. I guess that was more realistic. If he wasn't home I could call him at work and he'd tell me over the phone.
Anyway, I had to overcome my fear of our cellar (cellar = HUGE spiders!!!), and just bite the bullet to bring up 18 2-liters from our water storage and turn off our water. It wasn't so bad, but there was a gigantic spider hanging out on the underside of the cellar door. My goal today is to sweep out those steps and clear out the cobwebs, so it's not so scary.
Then, of all the inconveniences, last night we chose not to do the dishes. This morning I had a stack of dishes to wash with NO RUNNING WATER. That was a joy, let me tell you! But it was definitely a learning experience.
The whole day went rather well. Even my 5-year-old handled the whole situation rather well. Turning off the water was a good idea. It definitely kept us from cheating. By the end of the day, though, I could feel the stress of not having running water. I don't know how well I'd do for a few days or even a week without running water. I'm sure we'd find a system, but dishes were my biggest enemy even with using paper disposables. We had to cook which creates dishes...
I needed to do laundry today, but don't really have a good way to do it. I'd like to get a laundry plunger.
1. We had drinkable, usable water in our storage. Hooray!
2. We used 9 2-liter bottles of water. By that estimation we have enough water for about 3-4 days and that's if we only take sponge baths.
3. We used our portable toilet that uses enzymes and liquid absorbing pellets.
4. We had paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic utensils to use, thus cutting down on dishes to wash.
1. I wasted 6 1/2 2-liters of water on the boatload of dishes I had to do.
2. Dishes. It was hard to keep the pile of dishes down.
3. Procrastinated pulling out the solar shower and therefore didn't get to use it.
Need to Buy:
Paper towels (we use cloth normally, but some disposable would be nice), more paper plates, paper bowls, and disposable sippy cups.
Canvas bucket in case we have to haul water from the two rivers on either side of us (down a steep hill and across some railroad tracks or across our neighbor's property.) I guess we could drive our car down to the river and fill up our empty 2-liters. That sounds much better than hauling water up a steep hill by hand!
Also, I'd like one of those big wash tubs to use for baths. That way we could use the gray water afterwards.
We need to have a way of storing more water. 2-liters work well and we have lots of room in our cellar to put them, but I'd like to get a couple 55-gallon drums. We'd have to find a way of filling them though. We only get so much water from our well every day. Our hillside is on the dry side.
I also need bleach to use to refill our 2-liters using our well water since it's not treated.
Need to Do:
Need to Learn:
Water conservation techniques
I am hoping tomorrow isn't a challenge not using electricity. I know they've done them before! I don't know if I could cope!
Global Food Shortage
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Our house is cool, a hot apple crisp is on the stove and now all I need is a warm, crackly fire in a woodstove. Alas, we had to remove our stove for insurance purposes (it wasn't installed up to code, blast it!). But I guess I could always turn to the fireplace on Netflix! haha!
I've been meaning to share this, but kept forgetting. About a month ago, in an uncharacteristically fit of food inventiveness, my husband got the kids together and made up a new, yummy dessert. He dubbed it:
He heated chocolate chips with peanut butter and then they dipped ripe bananas in it. They were in love! I gave it a try later on and it's absolutely delicious! When I told him the chocolate/peanut butter mixture reminded me of Nutella, but better, he was a little disappointed to feel it wasn't as original as he thought. I assured him that it was different because he used peanut butter instead of hazelnuts and Ghiridelli chocolate chips which are a darker chocolate and so, sooooo good! It was amazing. My husband is so clever! :-)
Speaking of chocolate. I have now created 2 new converts to making S'mores with dark chocolate. You should give it a try. Really. It is so much better than with milk chocolate! I never liked S'mores because of the milk chocolate (too sweet!), but with dark chocolate, it's almost like a whole different dessert and so, so amazing.
Friday, September 7, 2012
I have been busy. Perhaps a bit too busy. I tend to overwhelm myself. Last week we went to Larriland Farm and picked the last of the season's peaches and tomatoes. A few days went by and I finally canned the peaches in a spiced honey syrup (YUM!). I had a lot of syrup left over, so the next day I reduced the honey syrup a bit and canned the rest of it to use for other things.
Finally, today, I cut up the tomatoes and boiled them. When they cool down I'll run them through my food mill, boil them down a little more and then make it into salsa. I know. It'll be a thin, non-chunky salsa, which suits me just fine! I am not a fan of chunks. I might add a few cans of diced tomatoes for more texture and to make my husband happy. He likes the chunks. Why go to all this trouble? Because I didn't want to skin the stinkin' tomatoes! It was too overwhelming to think about and because of that the tomatoes just sat there with a few of them rotting in the mean time. So I did what I could cope with and I just cut them up and boiled them. Aaah! I feel so much better! I need to finish it today. I don't want to be canning on my birthday tomorrow!
I've also been busy working on a Regency corset so I can get started on making some dresses. You can read all about it over at my history blog.
My garden is overrun with weeds, but I have 6 watermelons growing about about 3 pumpkins! I've been planting some perennial flowers and some spring bulbs (not daffodils, thank you very much!) so it doesn't look so bare around here. It's slowly starting to look fairly presentable! I have visions of a well established herb and flower garden in the same tradition of well established, old-fashioned kitchen gardens like you see at historical homes. It'll take some time to get there, but it'll be a beautiful goal to achieve!
Saturday, September 1, 2012
1) Update our financial binder.
We keep all our financial documents together in a binder in our safe. It gives me a great peace of mind that they are easily accessible and portable in the case of emergency or evacuation.
We first put the binder together about 3 years ago. We've moved a few times since then and had a baby (who is now 2 1/2!), so it is in sore need of being updated.
Along with the updates, we need to put some protocol in place with both my husband's and my parents in case something should happen to us so that they can know the location of and how to access our documents. It's not something that anyone likes to think about, but it's all part of being prepared for emergencies.
2) Fill out our wills.
Erik and I purchased some state-specific wills online through Dave Ramsey's website for a great deal. Now the next step is to fill them out which is a time-intensive project. However, the wills are no good if they're not filled out! So, this is definitely on the list of things to do to be better prepared.
3) Participate in the 7 Day Challenge sponsored by Food Storage Made Easy.
I got the e-mails for it, but I didn't participate last year. This year I want to see exactly how prepared (or not!) we are.
4) Finish the other half of our storage/food storage shelves.
My husband built these awesome food storage shelves in the side room of our new house. He made a partition to section off the end of the room for a food storage "room", which is more like a food storage "hall". One side has floor-to-ceiling wooden shelving, while the other has our old, recycled university bookstore metal shelves. These shelves are heavy duty and great for storing cans, but there's a lot of wasted high wall space above them, so we'd like to take them out and replace them with wooden shelving. This will be a great project when we have some family in town visiting for a week. :-)
Do you have any projects planned or things you'd like to do for National Preparedness Month?
For fun, check out this article from National Geographic in this month's issue about extreme weather. Very cool! (I used to want to be an earth scientist, but I'm horrible at math and biology eludes me. Hooray for History degrees!)
Here are some links to help you become better prepared for emergencies this month:
1) Join the Seven Day Challenge with the gals over at Food Storage Made Easy. The challenge will begin on an undisclosed day in September, so sign up ASAP!
2) Check out Ready.gov for good, basic information. If you have kids, be sure to click on the "Kids" tab for some fun preparedness activities you can include your kids on.
3) Learn about the great learning opportunities over at The Survival Mom. She's got some interesting looking preparedness videos too.
4) Pledge to prepare at Fema.gov.
5) If you need to stock up on things, Emergency Essentials, and I'm sure other emergency prep online stores are having sales for National Preparedness Month.