Friday, January 31, 2020

The Time is Now

There is no good time to slow down on the preps.  With all that's going on in the world now, we need to be as prepared as possible.  The cold, hard fact is, when disaster strikes, we are on our own.  Take a look at China.  Millions of people are locked in their homes under quarantine from the virus that has spread all across China, with no way to get food when theirs runs out.  If you think that can't possibly happen here, I envy your ability to happily live in a land of fairy dust and unicorns.  But most of us here live in the real world.  We take precautions.  We prepare.  And because we do, our chances of survival are better than most.  But if you think you can start preparing tomorrow, you will find that once the crisis hits, supplies will be gone from the store shelves within a couple of days.

Earlier this week I canned 12 quarts of Great Northern beans.  The reasoning behind doing this is that in a situation where I would need to cook on my camp stove, it takes much less fuel to heat beans than it does to cook them from scratch.  And cooking dry beans from scratch takes more water which also might be at a premium.  I used the easy method which is putting 1 cup of dry beans in each quart jar and then filling the jar with water.  I also dropped one chicken bouillon cube in each jar to add a little bit of flavor, and processed the beans for 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my altitude.  When I can dry beans in pint jars, a half cup of dry beans go in each jar and the time is 75 minutes.  They came out perfect.

My grocery order arrived yesterday.  Included were 8 lbs. of fresh carrots.  I have lots of sliced or diced carrots on the shelf, but I like larger chunks of carrots for making candied carrots or stew.  So I peeled the carrots to get rid of any chemicals that commercially grown carrots were probably sprayed with to prevent them from sprouting.  Garden fresh carrots would only need to be well scrubbed.  The carrots were cut into about 1 1/2 inch pieces and they filled 14 pint jars, which are happily bubbling away in my pressure canner.  If I were canning quarts they would need 30 minutes in the pressure canner.

I have a couple of items on the canning 'to do' list to work on over the weekend before deciding what to include in the next grocery order for my food storage.  I'm thinking it might be a good idea to can up some kidney beans.  It is cheaper to can them myself than to buy them already canned and I know what's in them.  I could use more dehydrated potato slices so I will order potatoes as well.  It's all good.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Every day brings more and more videos and articles concerning the Coronavirus that had it's beginnings in China.  What to believe.  Do governments tell us the truth or do they withhold information to prevent panic among citizens.  Do those reporting on the virus know what they are talking about or are they just guessing like the rest of us.  I don't know.

Yesterday one of my blog friends (thanks, Red) left this link in the comment section.  Turns out it is the most informative video I have seen to date, without all the sensationalism of other videos.   It is worth your time to view.  I'll wait.

Me...I am taking a 'wait and see' attitude, but I don't intend to wait too long.  I am vulnerable due to my age and health issues.  The one thing I have going for me is that I am housebound.  I go out once a year in April to visit my doctor and get prescriptions renewed.  If this virus seems to be spreading here I will take steps to severely limit visitors.  My goal in life, after all, is to live long enough to be a problem to my children.  Some declare I have achieved success in that area already.  :)

I don't think anyone on the planet really knows how this all will play out.  Mostly we need to pay attention and take common sense precautions.

And pray.

Monday, January 27, 2020

She Is Back...

The bacon is canned and 38 half pint jars await washing and labeling.  There probably would have been a couple more jars, but Oldest Son took home about a pound of bacon and I, of course, had to do some taste testing.  I am really glad to have those jars to add to my food storage.

Yesterday was sort of a 'rest day.'  I have those once in a while in between days of much activity.  Today is 'catch up' day for all those small chores that were left undone while canning.

I have been reading about the Coronavirus that began in  China.  As of this morning Chinese news is reporting 81 deaths and about 2,500 known cases.  I am skeptical of the numbers.  China has quarantined several cities with a total population of at least 50 million people.  Stores and schools are closed.  Public transportation and flights from the area have been halted.  Citizens are being told to stay in their homes.  Hospitals are overrun.  Thousands of medical workers are being brought in.  A normal flu season has thousands of casualties every year without quarantines or lock downs of the population.  Just saying.

As of this morning there are five cases of the virus being reported in the United States with others sparsely scattered world wide.  I do not believe there is any reason to panic.  But there is sufficient reason to avoid crowds and take precautions, for this virus is reported to be airborne.  And it is communicable before the symptoms surface.

I have to wonder what will happen to those people who are confined to their homes when their food runs out.  Stores are closed.  Exits from the cities are blocked.  They have no way to get more food.  I don't know if the people in China or elsewhere are into food storage, but if they aren't, they are in deep trouble and not just from the virus.

I know very few people who take food storage seriously.  I am in no way saying a pandemic will happen here.  But, what if...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Going AWOL Again

This afternoon 25 lbs. of bacon landed on my kitchen table.  The next couple of days will be devoted to cutting the slices into 1-inch pieces, browning them and canning them up in half pint jars.  I am  really glad to have the bacon, but the process is time consuming.  So I will return when the job is finished.

Take good care and keep on prepping.  :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Ode to a Bus Driver

I saw this photo among the memes Gorges over at Gorges' Grouse that he posts daily and which I thoroughly enjoy.  So I stole it.  Gorges says it is OK with him.

The bus reminded me of a couple of stories told me by my Dad.  He had, in the late 1930's or early 1940's, driven a school bus in the wilds of northern Minnesota.  Dad had his own methods of  dealing with problems that can arise among students on a bus ride.

Dad said there were two teenage boys on his bus route who couldn't seem to get through the ride home without fighting with one another.  When "Don't make me come back there" no longer worked, Dad pulled the bus off to the side of the road, hauled both boys out of the bus and onto the grass along side.  Then he told them to fight.  When they just stood there looking dumbfounded, Dad proceeded to show them how to stand and how to position their arms in order to sock one another in the nose and repeated his order to fight.  All the while, the rest of the kids on the bus were at the windows, laughing at the two would be fighters.  Dad said the two boys, thoroughly humiliated, both climbed back on the bus, quietly sat down and never after gave him another minute's worth of trouble.

There was one bus rider who seemed to enjoy being a bully.  He would do things like pick on the little girls until they cried or pinch the younger boys until they yelled.  He would knock books from the hands of older students or taunt them with nasty remarks.  And one afternoon, my Dad had just about enough of this kid.

After another bullying incident, Dad stopped the bus and set the kid off on the side of the road, telling him that because he wouldn't behave on the bus, he could walk the three quarters of a mile to his house.

Dad knew this kid's father and as he got to their farm, Dad stopped and had a word with the him, explaining why his son was walking and suggesting that he might want to wait for his son at the end of the driveway.

Now in those days, a trip to the woodshed was the usual punishment for an errant son, but Dad said he later heard that in addition to the woodshed, that kid spent all of his free time doing the nastiest chores on the farm.  He mucked out the chicken house and the pig barn.  He pulled weeds in their large garden.  He hauled and stacked firewood.  And when he next rode the bus and thereafter, he was the best behaved kid there.

Dad had a way of working out problems.  I know.  I spent many hours as a young girl, scrubbing and cleaning and weeding and pushing a lawnmower to pay for my transgressions.  As an adult, I am grateful to have had a Father who cared enough to see to it that I understood right from wrong, even though at the time I wasn't exactly happy about the lessons.

I think if we had more parents willing to find solutions to their children's bad behavior, we wouldn't be adrift in a sea of precious little snowflakes today.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Canning and Cookies

On this past Friday I got out my big electric roaster and dumped in the 6 lbs of Great Northern dry beans that had soaked in water overnight, 2 lbs. of diced carrots, 2 lbs. of diced onions, 5 lbs. of diced boneless ham and the left over ham from a nice ham bone that I had simmered the day before.  The broth from the ham bone plus enough water to generously cover all the ingredients went in next along with a small jar of ham soup base plus a couple tablespoons each of garlic granules and celery powder.  The soup slow cooked all day until the beans were nearly tender.

Saturday morning I started canning the soup and when all was said and done, there were 14 quarts and 9 pints of seriously good ham and bean soup. In the same canner load of pints of soup went 4 pints of chicken breast that I found while cleaning out the freezer in my fridge.  I really need to pay better attention to what I have in the freezer.  Occasionally I will find a surprise that I forgot was in there.  :)

Sunday was devoted to putting my kitchen to rights as it sort of looked like someone had set off a bean bomb in the middle of it.  I had several bags of beef scraps left over from the last time I canned beef.  I thawed the beef and it went into a stock pot with the peels from the carrots and onions I put into the bean soup along with plenty of water.  That simmered all day and then I strained off the broth.  The broth is in the fridge keeping cool so I can skim off the fat.  I will go through the meat scraps and salvage any pieces of meat big enough to can with the broth.

But today I need a bit of a break from canning.  The aroma of chocolate chip cookies is wafting through my apartment.  Soon that will be replaced with the smell of peanut butter cookies and possibly a batch of sugar cookies.  Sometimes cookies are just necessary to a person's well being.  At least, that's what floats my boat today!

Now that I have half pint jars I will can bbq pork tomorrow.  The meat is thawing and the bbq sauce is ready.
But for today, it's all about the cookies.  :)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Kitchen Table

A friend with whom I share frequent emails remarked that our email chats feel like coffee and conversation at the kitchen table.  Which, of course, got me to thinking about life at the kitchen table.

Growing up, everyone in my family was expected to be seated at the kitchen table at 6 P.M., hands and faces washed, ready for supper.  We actually talked to one another.  Of course, there were no cell phones then.  We talked about Dad's day at work, about our days at school, about what Mother had done that day.  We talked about Mother's phone conversation with her sister, about the letter from Grandma and about what we would like to do on the weekend.  There was never a time when there was nothing to talk about...until Dad brought home a set of TV trays and then supper at the kitchen table faded off into memory.

Before my family had a TV set, the evening entertainment was often held around the kitchen table.  A radio often played in the background while rousing card games of Rook, Old Maid and Go Fish were played.  Sometimes board games were brought out and we would challenge each other to Sorry or Parcheesi or Yahtzee.  The older ones often played Scrabble and many years later my Dad could be found playing the game in Mothers' room at the nursing home.  Mother nearly always won and Dad nearly always, with a twinkle in his eye, accused her of cheating.  :)

In rural Minnesota, neighbors often dropped in for a visit, which always took place with coffee at the kitchen table.  And in rural Minnesota, it is almost a sin not to have cookies or brownies or cake to go with the coffee.  I would save the plastic buckets that ice cream came in and fill them with cookies and freeze them, just so I would have something sweet to go with coffee.

The kitchen table at my Grandmother's house was the scene of several two-day Monopoly games between my cousin and me.  And when it was time to leave after a weekend visit with Grandma, both of us would argue that we could have won, given another day.

Homework these days is mostly done on a computer, but way back then, workbooks, three-ring binders, lined paper and pencils were the tools used and nobody had a desk.  The kitchen table worked just fine for solving math problems and writing book reports.  And Mother was conveniently close at hand to help if needed.

Once in a while, usually on those long, cold winter nights in Minnesota, someone would commandeer the kitchen table with a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, leaving the family to its own devices for meals and homework.  Every now and then, someone would sit at the table and fit more puzzle pieces together and after a few days, it would be complete.  We would have to admire the completed puzzle for a day and then the kitchen table was back for business as usual.

Even now when my family gets together, the conversation is best around the kitchen table.  When my kids or grands stop in, we sit at my kitchen table and talk.  Sometimes I think this silly little blog is kind of like sitting with friends at the kitchen table, preferably with a cup of coffee.  I write about something and you all chime in with comments.  That has the feel of kitchen table conversation to me.

I sort of feel sorry for those who don't take the time to join others around a kitchen table.  Our busy, hectic, crazy world could use more kitchen table time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Nothing Much

It is the middle of January and here in the wilds of Minnesota suburbia, that means there isn't much going on.

We had a couple inches of snow with more predicted for the remainder of the week.  Some years January finds us somewhat frozen with sub-zero temps, but so far it has been relatively mild.  And some years we have been up to our hips in snow by now, but this year - not so much.  No complaints here.  :)

The store where my grocery delivery service shops has fresh coleslaw mix on sale for 10 packages for $10.  I have ordered 15 packages to dehydrate.  Drying this mix is easy.  Just spread the mix out on mesh lined dehydrator trays and it is good to go.  It doesn't take long to dry and this stuff makes a good filler for soups, plus it adds flavor.  Win - win.

Youngest Son brought me 2 tubs full of canning jars.  There were 35 quart jars and 53 pints.  Score!  I have two cases of half-pint jars ordered so I am back in business for canning.  Up to now, the stacks of jars were getting pretty small.  Thank you, Son!

I have the ingredients all prepped for canning ham and beans.  Thursday is grocery delivery day, so canning will take place over the weekend.  Because I move at the pace of a herd of turtles, putting groceries away and canning are not compatible on the same day.  My days of multi-tasking have come and gone these days.

However, just so I won't be accused of lounging on the sofa, remote in hand, I spent time last evening going through boxes of quilting fabric and supplies.  I found several Ziploc bags of already cut out quilt pieces - some already pinned together ready for sewing, that my aging brain had forgotten about.
That's one really nice thing about getting old.  We put things away for safekeeping and when we find them again, it is like getting surprise gifts.  Who says aging can't be fun!

So I think I will spend the rest of today and tomorrow playing with fabric, which is one of my favorite things to do.  Plus, when the lights go out, we in the Minnesota tundra will need all the quilts we can lay our hands on, just to keep from freezing.  Food is important, but there are many other things to consider.  So keep on prepping!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Ice Age Farmer

One of my commenters passed this video on to me.  I find it important enough to pass on to you.  Thanks to 'Red.'

I have to say that I have found Ice Age Farmer to be a good source of information, particularly about our food supply and the Grand Solar Minimum we are now experiencing.  He has both a YouTube channel and a web site.  Both contain information that includes documentation.  It is all well and good to impart information to viewers and readers, but to extensively back up claims is unusual in this age of digital information.

There are many who believe life will continue as it always has, with store shelves holding every conceivable food known to man being available at all times.  To those folks, I am happy for you, living in a world of rainbows and unicorns.  Must be lovely there.

However, there are those of us who stay aware of conditions around the world.  Our food supply depends not only on what happens here in our homeland, but also depends on conditions world wide.  And taking those conditions into consideration, I, for one, intend to continue to put back as much food for my family as is humanly possible.

Anyone who is familiar at all with history knows that there have been periods in history when weather has had a dramatic effect on the food supply.  We have gone through times of drought and times of excess rain, snow and the resulting flooding.  This has nothing to do with the ever popular 'climate change' hoax, but with the natural cycles in our weather patterns.

Throughout history there have been tyrannical governments who chose to control their citizens through limiting their food.  The resulting deaths due to starvation was horrendous.  If you think that just because we live in America, those who wish to maintain power won't use some of those same tactics to keep us in line, think again and pay attention to all the rules and regulations that now exist concerning food production.

Procrastination is not an option.  Pay attention.  Stay aware.  And keep on prepping!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Back At It

Having taken some time off over the holidays, I am back at the preparations, full force.

I was able to score two pork shoulder roasts on sale for 99 cents per pound.  The ones that arrived with my grocery order totaled 18.25 lbs.  I slow baked one of them today and will cook the other tomorrow.  Both will go in the freezer until I get my hands on the BBQ sauce preferred by my family.  My son said he would pick up a gallon of Sweet Baby Ray's sauce for me next week.  The shredded pork in sauce will be canned in half pint jars, which is just the right amount for sandwiches for one.

This afternoon I transferred 20 lbs. of sugar and 35 lbs. of flour from the paper bags they come in to ziploc bags.  Bugs and mice like paper but are less likely to get into plastic.  I have never had a bug or rodent problem here in my apartment, but I am not willing to take a chance.  The ziploc bags are safely stashed away.

To my delight I found that my grocery delivery service will allow three items each order that are not listed in the catalog.  Since the store where they do the shopping carries canning supplies, I do believe cases of jars are in my near future.  This will be welcome news to my kids who have before carried countless cases of jars up the stairs to my apartment!

I was pleased when Oldest Son told me that he was also buying extra food each time he shops.  This week it was more coffee.  In my opinion, one can never have too much coffee.  Or chocolate.

The past few days have included rearranging shelves in order to make space for more canning jars of food.  When I described the process to a friend, she remarked that it sounded like a game of Tetris.  Move this here - fit something else in there.  I think she is right.  Thankfully Oldest Son helps me with storage.

That's pretty much what is happening in my little corner of the world.  Things around us look somewhat dicey.  Keep on prepping!