Blog Archives

Foraging Garlic Mustard

 
Let me start off by saying I meant to blog this last week but I ended up with a sick kid and TWO emergency visits to the vet with my dog (that was an unexpected nearly $1000 bill!) and I’ve been making as much products for my business as I can to make up for the expense. 

Anyways, garlic mustard grows nearly everywhere. It’s one of the first plants to come up in spring and most people think it’s just a weed. It’s all over my yard right now and the park we go to is full of it, it’s very easy to get lots of it. 

The smell is obviously oniony/garlicky. I’ve seen people add it to salads but I personally like to make it into a pesto with lemon juice or just purée it. Then I put it in ice cube trays and freeze it, adding it to dishes as I need. 

(My camera did well for this pic! I love it)

There’s a close up of the leaves and flowers, when the flowers open they are small and white. There’s lots of information around the web on garlic mustard so make sure you research before you forage! 

Good luck finding it and I hope you like it! 

Advertisements

Dehydrating Citrus – and Why It’s Important

Vitamin C is a very important nutrient that seems to be lacking in a lot of survival foods. Getting enough vitamin C is vital in an emergency situation. It is necessary for collagen synthesis (collagen is what heals your wounds, and knits the skin back together), without it your new wounds may not heal properly and older cuts may start to fall apart.

Enough vitamin C can cut back on how often you get colds and flus and cut back on how much they affect you. It can also delay the onset of certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimers. It is essential for drug metabolism, helping medications to reach their full potential in your system.

Sources of vitamin C include: broccoli, sweet bell peppers, sprouts, kale, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries and of course citrus fruits. Citrus can be found easily and cheaply by almost everyone and it is so simple to dehydrate.

Pick nice, firm just ripened fruits. Cut into thin wheels (1/4″) and lay on your dehydrator trays. Using a temperature controlled dehydrator, set it to 125 F. It takes about 6-8 hours depending on the humidity in your area, it could also take more.

To use your citrus, you can place it in glasses of water or juice to add flavor or you can powder the inner parts to make juice mix. Make sure to store your fruit in airtight containers in a cool dry environment.

dehydrated oranges

Basic EDC

Basic EDC

An EDC, or Every Day Carry, is a kit that you take with you everywhere. It is smaller than a bug out bag and a bit more than most people usually carry. It is a good idea to carry one of these in your backpack, work bag or purse. Do not leave it in your car (I’ll cover car kits another day).

A basic EDC has enough stuff to get you home should you be stranded at work or school. You can think of it as an extended overnight bag if you will. A basic kit might include:

soap

shampoo and conditioner

toothbrush and toothpaste

a can of tuna or other high protein food

a higher carb option (as seen in the picture –ramen noodles)

chocolate or candy

hand warmers

space blanket

a way to start fire

a candle or other heat source

a flashlight or glow stick

tea, coffee or other hot drink

water

a higher sugar and energy content drink (soda or sports drink)

first aid items (the metal tin in my photo contains cotton, ibuprofen and other basic medicines)

 

Also included (but not seen in the picture) is some money, self-defence tools, a small notebook of basic survival information, basic maps of the city and surroundings, chap stick (which you can use as a fire starter in emergencies) and a book or set of cards in case you get stuck somewhere.

 

Bug Out Bags 101

A bug out bag is a bag that you keep full of supplies ready to go at a minutes notice in case of an emergency where you leave your home. It is also known as a GOOD bag (Get out of dodge) or a 72 hour bag. There is a few different types depending on what your plan is (covered in later posts). Be sure to use a heavy duty bag with good supports (such as a waist band and thick straps, possibly with metal framing).

A basic bug out bag contains everything you would need to survive for 72 hours away from home including:

shelter (such as a tent and sleeping bag)

food (usually light weight such as dehydrated or freeze-dried and a way to cook said food ie: pot, mini camp stove or fire making implements)

water or a way to purify water

First aid requirements (bandages, alcohol swabs, gloves, gauze etc)

Any medications you or your family requires

small amount of cash

hygiene needs (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, shampoo, fem care etc)

self defense

It’s also a good idea to have a survival manual of some sort and a copy of any important documents (birth certificates, deeds etc which you can scan and put on a thumb drive)

Many people carry an EDC (everyday carry bag) which includes a lot of the stuff already mentioned but it is said in the prepper/survival universe: “two is one, one is none.” or as I say “rather too much than too little”. Your bug out bag should be as individual as you are. No one can tell you exactly what to put in your bag because we don’t know where you are or where you are going. I do recommend the above list as a starting point and that every family member have their own bag in case someone gets separated from the group. It is a good idea to keep your bug out bag readily accessible (in the front hall closet etc) so you always know where it is. Keep in mind this is a very basic list to get you started on thinking about what you might need. Just remember, you will have to carry this at least part of the time so make sure it doesn’t weigh you down so much that you can’t function. A good exercise is to strap on your bug out bag and go for a hike, see how far you can make it with the weight and adjust as necessary.

Heat Illness

All over North America, we have been having crazy heat waves. In some places, people have been without power due to bad thunderstorms. Today its only 91 where I am but the other day was 114 and most of my family was sick due to the heat (not to mention sweaty and miserable).

Its important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses (hyperthermia), especially in a survival situation where you can’t just pop into the mall with air conditioning.

There are a few levels of heat illnesses which progressively get worse if you don’t take care of yourself.

Heat Cramps: are caused by not having enough water and being too hot. Symptoms include: thirst, sweating, irritability, gastro symptoms (nausea, vomiting) and of course cramps (particularly in the abdomen).

Heat Exhaustion: excessive sweating, diziness, headaches, confusion, COOL to the touch as well as all the previous symptoms. Treat these people as being in shock (but do not cover with a blanket, instead remove excessive clothing).

Heat Stroke: skin will be hot in heatstroke because the mechanism that makes you sweat to cool you down isn’t working anymore. The person suffering might be in shock, confused, as it gets worse you can start seeing things such as unconsciousness and seizures.

Always try to get the victim out of the heat (indoors or into shade). If they are conscious get them to drink cool water (but do not force them if they vomit). To increase cooling you can sponge them with cool water or cover them with cool wet sheets. Obviously, if available, get your person emergency medical attention as soon as possible.

Lavender Essential Oil, a Prepper’s best friend

Lavender essential oil is indispensable to a prepper.

You can use lavender oil on just about any skin irritation. Burns, scalds, rashes, bug bites (especially spider and mosquitoes I find), cuts, acne, seriously just about anything. All you do is put the lavender oil straight on the area of irritation, you don’t have to mix it with anything and you just need a tiny drop to cover a good area.  It doesn’t sting like some modern medicines, it soothes and reduces scarring. In a household with two chefs, we use it a lot and don’t have nearly as many scars as we should!

It can also be used as a bug repellent, an antiseptic, an antidepressant. The scent is used in aromatherapy to relax and calm the client. It makes a good treatment for head lice, sunburns, helps to treat clinical shock and muscle pain.

Its edible and can be used in cooking (although I usually stick to using it in desserts, it apparently goes well with rice or fish).

Basically this is a natural wonder drug that is so much cheaper than buying all the seperate medications needed to treat the above issues. If you had enough of the flowers you can make your own essential oil (you’d need a distiller, I’ll blog about that another day). But its easily found in health food stores or larger grocery stores and pharmacies. So let’s hear it for lavender!!

Image

Tips for Keeping Up Morale

Life post-SHTF will be very different than what we are used to. Different, harder, crueler and probably nothing like we expect it to be. We will have to deal with boredom (which can be a killer). People in the same environment for extended periods with a loss of privacy, a lack of hygiene, emotional issues, not to mention food fatigue and the digestive problems this can bring on will definitely need something to keep their minds off of things.

All of this is enough to bring anyone down. It is important to keep morale high. Boredom can lead to depression and depression can lead to a loss of will to live. This obviously is counter productive to our survival plans. So:

Give people a job to do, establish a routine. I’ve said it before, people thrive on routines. When you know what to expect and what your day looks like, it makes it easier to deal with.

Make sure you have entertainment. Books, games, decks of cards, coloring books for the kids, anything. If you don’t have a physical source of entertainment, put on a play, sing some songs or have a talent show.

Learn some skills that are fun and productive. Knitting or crocheting (which can be done with whittled sticks and plant made fibers!) can produce clothing, wash cloths, blankets and even nets for fishing. Wood working can make utensils (for eating and cooking), bows and arrows for hunting and improve your shelter!

Include some goodies in your preps. Candies or chocolates, stored in cool dark locations, can last almost indefinitely. (PLEASE do not throw out chocolate that has gone white! As a former chef I can tell you that it is NOT mold! It is called bloom and it is the fat in the chocolate separating. You can eat it as is or you can melt it down and mix the fats back in.) For the adults: a small bottle of your favorite liquor might be more to your taste. Or add a case of your family’s favorite soda to help ease the transition.

Above all else, never give up hope!

Strawberry Jam – no pectin

Strawberry jam is a yearly occurrence in our house. Everyone loves strawberries (so much in fact that last year when I purchased two flats of strawberries, they were gone in a few days before I could make the jam). I always use local strawberries because the flavor is amazing (so much more so than berries that have ripened on a truck).

This is the recipe my grandmother used, I’m pretty sure it’s the Bernardin recipe, so clearly I don’t own it.

Place 8 250ml size jars (1c) on a rack in a water canner and heat to a simmer (make sure water is covering the jars). Heat snap lids separately. Keep hot until ready for use.

Bring mixture of 8 cups strawberries (crushed), 6 cups sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice to a boil slowly. (make sure sugar is dissolved so it doesn’t stick to the bottom). Boil for about 30 minutes or until the mixture thickens and passes the ‘gelling test’. (Coat a spoon with the jam and move it away from your pot, watch the jam slide off the spoon, if it falls in chunks instead of drips, its ready).

Pour your hot jam into the hot jars leaving a quarter inch headspace. Keep your rims clean! Place your snap lid on the jar and screw the band on until finger tight. Boil filled jam jars for 10 minutes. Pull out and let sit for 24 hours (do not move them).

Traditionally, items canned like this last for about a year (not exactly long-term food storage).

Water Ban!

On Tuesday this week, a water main broke at one of the biggest reservoirs serving our area. We were originally on a water restriction that has now been replaced with a ban. Our city still has tap water but a lot of the smaller towns right around us don’t even have that.

According to our local media, our city uses on average 140 million liters of water per day (about 40 million gallons) but yesterday, our city used 200 million liters (about 53 million gallons). People were seen watering their lawns, washing their driveways and running sprinklers for their children.

Most people in my area do not have a water storage and now a lot of grocery stores are low or out of bottled water.  We haven’t had a water ban since 1998.We are surrounded by the Great Lakes so who would think you would need it, I guess is what most people think. BUT:

– this past weekend was Victoria Day, a long weekend that has long been the ‘safe point’ to start your gardening in our area. Many people that participated in the water ban now have dead plants because they don’t have a rain barrel or don’t use their grey water.

– the next town over has no tap water so no showers, no drinking water, no dishwasher and so on. Do you have enough water stored for at least three days of drinking, watering your veggie garden and  giving to your pets?

The weather was 30*C  (86 F ) yesterday and muggy, I can understand people want to cool down. Here’s a few ideas (based on what I saw in my neighborhood and on social media) for water conservation.

Instead of filling the pool or running the sprinkler for the kids, give them a popsicle, they’ll love you for it!

Stay indoors between the hours of 11-3 when the sun is at its hottest.

As a lesser evil, turn on your air conditioning unit rather than leaving water running.

Take a shorter shower (or use the dry shampoo recipe I gave a few posts ago)

Use paper plates or eat out of the pots that you cook in.

When you shower, leave the plug in and collect the water for use in your garden (grey water)

Buy (or make) a rain barrel

Don’t water your lawn, it will make it grow and then you have to cut it!

Moral of the story: you should probably have some cases of bottled water put aside for drinking and a rain barrel or grey water system (or both!) for your veggies.

Commonly Overlooked Preps Part 2

Here’s part two of the list I posted earlier.

Soil – I know people that have tens of thousands of seeds but no soil. What happens if you have to plant inside? Or if the soil where you are is too sandy or too much clay? A couple bags of decent quality potting soil are a good idea to keep around. I recently got 10 20 liter bags of soil for $10.

Pets- please don’t forget your four legged friends! Make sure you have food and water put aside for them. You can put aside a couple of bags of kibble that your animals usually eat but you can also make your own dehydrated pet foods. I have also begun to see dehydrated animal food at the specialty pet stores. Just remember if you’re using dehydrated foods to have enough water to rehydrate. Which brings me to the next point.

Water – Yes, most of us have enough to drink but a lot of preppers have dehydrated foods. You need to consider how much water these things will take to rehydrate. What about gardening? There’s really no way to calculate how much water you would need for gardening but using a rain barrel can offset that. But keep in mind, there could always be a drought and if you’re counting on a garden as a large part of your food you better have a back up plan.

Garbage Bags – most people plan to burn their garbage, which is fine. But how about disposing of a body? You don’t necessarily want to be handling that. Or if you have lice, you can bag your clothing and bedding for a couple weeks to kill the lice. You can also use it for quarantine purposes. Make your ill person strip down, bag the clothes and get them into something clean. How about blacking out windows? Using a heavy duty garbage bag taped over windows can help to hide any light showing through (you may have to double up though)