Monthly Archives: October 2008

Spaghetti, Kidney Beans, Mushrooms

It’s time to focus again for a moment on increasing your food storage by spending just ten dollars. Here are three things that are good to have on hand — mushrooms (pieces and stems), dark red kidney beans, and three 48oz. packages of thin spaghetti noodles.

Remember, do not let building your food storage become overwhelming. Take it one “bite” at a time so to speak. It is especially good to take advantage of case lot sales when they happen. If you pay close attention to sale ads, you can get these items at a good price.

After buying the Ottavio’s (a local restaurant) Extra Virgin Oil a couple of weeks ago, I went right home to try it to see if it was as good as I had hoped. It was. My family especially liked this recipe that I tried out of desperation to get out of a hot kitchen.

I boiled 1 box of the Farfalle (small bow tie) pasta, steamed a vegetable mix (broccoli, sugar snap peas and baby carrots), fried some mushrooms in the oil with a little bit of garlic, salt and pepper. I tossed everything together while it was still hot and drizzled a little more olive oil on it, tossed it again, salt and peppered it to taste and served it with Parmesan cheese. It was REALLY good. I hope that if you try it you will enjoy it as much as we did.

This week’s suggestion (prices may vary according to sale ad prices and location):

1 case mushrooms (stems and pieces) = $10.00

OR

12 cans kidney beans = $6.00
three 48oz. packages of spaghetti = $4.50

So, set aside ten dollars this week and go spend it on these suggested items to build up your food storage.

Ready or Not #18: Coal

Every year, I ask Santa for coal, but every year he brings delicious cheese and beautiful gifts instead. I just don’t get it – what am I going to have to do to get some coal? I guess I’ll just have to buy it myself. As you can guess, coal doesn’t smell nearly as nice as wood when it burns, but it is easier to store, it is much less labor intensive to use (unless you are the one mining it), and it doesn’t have to cure like wood.

Actually, what I like to do is to burn both wood and coal. During the day we burn wood, but at night we like to put a couple of really nice BIG chunks of coal in the fire before going to bed. The big pieces of coal burn a lot slower than wood and it lasts all night. In the morning, our house is still warm and we generally have some nice coals left to start up our wood fire again.

It is important that you have a stove that is made tough enough to burn coal so that it won’t be ruined. The highest grade coal is called anthracite and it is very low in sulfur. You can still effectively burn a lower grade coal, but it will be higher in sulfur. Either way, there is sulfur involved and it will eventually cause corrosion to the smokestack and it can eat its way through the grate, or the bottom of the stove, if it isn’t made for burning coal. Fortunately, I have a stove that can burn either, but I do have to use the heavier grate if I’m going to use the coal exclusively.

As far as storing coal, it is much easier than storing wood. For one thing, insects don’t burrow into coal like they can with wood (and then come back to life when the wood warms up inside your house.) Also, coal can’t rot or deteriorate like wood…., but wood smells so good when it burns.

You can store coal in a pile out in the open, but I would suggest that you keep it covered because it just makes it easier to pack it up and bring inside the house without making too much of a mess. You can also bury it if you want. Just think about it, where do you get coal? Out of the ground of course. I have a friend that doesn’t use coal on a regular basis for heating, but their family wanted to have a year’s supply of alternative fuel. So, they buried a large amount (a ton or two) in their yard. So that they would not forget where it was when they needed it, they planted a lovely flower garden over it to mark the spot. Brilliant! Prepared and yet beautiful too!

Coal fires are a little trickier to start than wood fires, but I found a really good step-by-step set of instructions at: hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/coaltips.

They have lots of really good information. If you don’t know if your fireplace can burn coal, my suggestion would be to contact the manufacturer of your stove and ask them. You could probably Google the name and find it. If you have the model number I’m sure that they could send you the information you need. If you don’t have the model number, then take a picture of it and send it to them electronically to see if they can help you.

Get prepared to stay warm before it starts to get really cold – and get your water stored!

Ready or Not #17: Wood Storage

A couple of years ago my friend called me and asked, “What kind of wood are you burning?” I thought that it was an odd question. But I asked my husband what we were burning and he said peach wood. After I told her, she started laughing and said that she had driven around the block three times with her car windows rolled down, in the middle of winter, because it smelled so good.

She was right. It did smell good and, even more important than that, it kept my entire house warm. Some nights I burned apple, or pine, or “I don’t know”, and peach – like on the night my friend called. She was lucky that my husband was home because for me most of the woods are in the “I don’t know” category, except pine. I can usually tell pine pretty easy by its shape – 2×4, smooth, no bark. Just kidding. Actually, I’m pretty good at picking out apple wood because there is nothing better than slow grilling a good steak over a smoky apple wood fire. Yum.

I want to talk about alternative fuels for the next few weeks, starting with wood and wood storage. An alternative heating source is vital during the winter months. In our first house, we had a fireplace insert and it saved us several times. Not just with heating bills, but literally with keeping us warm when the power went out in the middle of a very cold winter. A transformer was knocked out in Nevada and it affected most of Utah, and two other states, for the majority of the day. I also cooked our meals on top of the insert during that crisis. It was a lot of fun. I had another experience where I didn’t have a back up heating source and it wasn’t pleasant at all.

Part of using wood to heat and cook with, is getting it started. You can use crumpled newspaper, kindling, commercial starter sticks, OR my cheap, easy to start method. First, you need to buy a dozen eggs in a cardboard container and save your lint from the dryer. You will also need some paraffin wax or, what I use is old, doesn’t-really-have-much-of-a-scent-anymore candles.

Stuff a fair amount of lint in each of the little cardboard cups, melt the wax, and liberally drizzle it all over the lint and cardboard. Let the wax cool and harden. These make wonderful fire starters. They cost nothing to make because you have all of the necessary items by default.

These little starters are great for starting fires in your stove or insert, backyard fires, or for Boy Scout campfires. If traveling with them, tear off as many as you think you need and put them in a water proof plastic bag so that they will travel well and stay dry. They will start the most stubborn of fires.

When you are buying wood, it is usually sold by the cord. A cord of wood, properly stacked, measures four feet wide by four feet high by eight feet long. A “face-cord” isn’t really a cord, but is a pile that measures only four feet high by eight feet long and is generally only the width of whatever the wood has been cut, probably about 12” to two feet.

If you are paying for a cord of wood, make sure that it is a true cord. It is also a good idea if you stack the pile yourself because if the wood is stacked haphazardly you could be getting a smaller load than expected. A ½ ton pickup will hold approximately 1/3 of a cord.

It is important to have both softwoods and hard woods when burning in your stove or fireplace. The softwoods, like pine, start quickly, but they also burn faster. Hard woods, like any fruit tree or ash, takes longer to start burning, but it burns hot and lasts longer. To start a really good fire, stack it correctly by putting softwood on the bottom with some hard wood on top. Make sure that it is stacked loosely so that there is enough oxygen around the wood that you are trying to light (that is why you stack the wood like a teepee or other loose frame buildings). The softwood will burn long enough to get the hard woods going and will give you a very satisfying and hot fire.

Store your wood in a covered area. It is important to keep the water and snow off of the wood that you want to burn. Wood needs to be dry to burn efficiently, effectively, and without a lot of smoke. We’ve all heard tales of having to “go out behind the wood shed.” That was because wood really was stored in a shed, or at least a small lean-to with a roof and a couple of walls to protect the wood.

It is also important to keep wood dry so that it won’t rot. Make sure that the wood isn’t stored directly on the dirt. This will help to stop the decay and it will also help keep some insects out of your pile.

Check out the following wood table that I found in the Readers Digest “Back to Basics” preparedness book. It shows some interesting information about wood and what you can expect with different species. Always season your wood long enough to make sure that it is ready for a fire. Some trees only take six months to cure. Most need 12 months, and others take up to 24 months before it would be advisable to use.

Characteristics of Different Kinds of Firewood
Wood Species Approx. weight of 1 cord (in pounds) Value of Air Drying Resistance to Rot Ease of splitting
Shagbark Hickory 4,200 Little Low Intermediate
Black Locust 4,000 Little High Intermediate
White Oak 3,900 Some High Intermediate
American Beech 3,900 Some Low Difficult
Red Oak 3,600 Some Medium Intermediate
Sugar Maple 3,600 Some Low Intermediate
Yellow Birch 3,600 Some Low Intermediate
White Ash 3,500 Little Low Intermediate
Cherry 2,900 Little High Easy
American Elm 2,900 High Low Difficult
Sycamore 2,800 High Low Difficult
Douglas Fir 2,800 Variable Medium Easy
Eastern Red Cedar 2,700 Variable High Easy
Tulip (yellow poplar) 2,400 High Medium Easy
Hemlock 2,300 High Low Easy
White Pine 2,100 Variable Medium Easy
Basswood 2,100 High Low Easy
Cottonwood 1,900 High Low Intermediate

Technically you need to have two years worth of wood stored in order to say that you have a year’s supply of wood – one year’s worth that is dry and ready to burn and one year’s worth that is in the process of drying. It is hard to say how much you really need because it all depends on how often you fire up your fireplace or stove, how much hard or soft wood you are using, and if the wood is fully cured.

Final thought. If you are going to store your wood, don’t store it on the ground, put it in a place that is easy to access, make sure that it is covered and I would advise you to not store it in a garage that is attached to your house because of the fire danger. Safety firs –t and happy heating.

Ready or Not #15: Hurricane Ike Lessons Learned

The following observations are reportedly from a letter sent to a friend from people in Texas who just experienced Hurricane Ike. In turn, my friend sent it to my e-mail and I wanted to share it with you because it gives you a real life look at what can happen during an emergency if you have prepared yourself, and glimpse of what will happen it you don’t. (Get your WATER STORED. Store your food and get prepared for emergencies.) What a testimony for being prepared. Trials and hardships will come – let’s prepare and avoid making it that much harder.

“Dear Friends:
We have a 6’x6′ hole in our roof, no electricity or running water. Trees down everywhere. However, because we listened to the counsel of our (LDS) prophet we are prepared. In fact, it seems to me that it’s only the members of the church who seem to be calm, prepared, and helping one another with trees in roofs, flooding, etc.

There is a POD, or Point of Distribution, in Tomball, where we live. There, you get water and ice IF you have enough fuel to wait in the 3-hour lines. We don’t have to do that because we have 3 full water barrels, 75 juice bottles filled with water, and our pool, which is dirty, but we use it to flush.

It is very difficult to get gas. Police guard the stations when fuel is delivered and you might wait half a day to get up to the pump just to have them say, “Too bad, we are out”. I am grateful that we have a generator. We run it 4 hours a day to keep our fridge cold and for light. I am grateful that we have had fuel for it. You can’t even buy gas containers, as they are rationed. We can only buy bread once a week and (are) limited to 2 loaves at a time. Water is rationed by the case at the grocery store – 3 cases per family.

The ATM machines do not have power. For the past 6 months I have stashed small bills away because I have had such a feeling of foreboding. We have cash because of that. LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT. Get cash in small bills because the stores can’t make change and credit and debit cards often don’t work. I had to pay 5 dollars more for an item because they couldn’t make change for me. And . . .PHONES ONLY WORK OCCASIONALY.

Believe it or not…I have not had a bath in 4 days. Today was the first day I got to wash my hair with pool water. I haven’t fixed my hair in a week!!! It just doesn’t matter anymore. We cannot do laundry because we don’t have water. So, we wear our clothes until they are literally disgusting. When we do finally get water we will have to boil it since it is contaminated.

I am grateful for my parents. When we got low on generator fuel, they drove 45 minutes to help us. They filled up their cans and brought us 10 gallons of fuel, which kept us going until this morning at 6:00 a.m. when we finally found some gas.

A prepared family, and a loving extended family, is the key to survival and making it through right now. I know that my parents would drive to the end of the earth to help me and it’s nice knowing they are there. I know that I would do the same for my children.

I want all of you to know that I have such a testimony of following the counsel of our living prophet. There really is safety and peace in your heart if you are prepared.

Please get your generators, 5 gas cans full of gas, canned goods, baby items, baby wipes to bathe, and all the water you can store…even if you have to trip on it in your home.

Have your lanterns, crank flashlights, tarps, rope, etc., ready to go because you never know when it will be your turn to endure the test. It’s overwhelming, but it’s going to be OK eventually. I have a home, I have food, and I have water, because I listened to the counsel of the prophet. Please make sure you do the same. It’s time to have your life in order. Tomorrow may be too late.”

There you have it. GET YOUR WATER STORED! Please. I pray for all of the people who are struggling because of all of the destructive hurricanes and tornadoes this year. I listened to the weather report today and they said that Hurricane Marco is on its way. When a disaster happens here there will be two kinds of people: 1) the ones that prepared ahead, stored food, had 72-hr kits, and stored WATER, and 2) the ones that don’t.

Only you can decide the depth of your tragedy by the action, or inaction, you take today.