Be Prepared! Tips & Tools for Cooking with the Sun

National Preparedness MonthA free interactive online class

Who Should Participate? Anyone who wants to learn more about how to harness the power of the sun to cook, dehydrate, purify water and be better prepared for emergencies.

Date: Monday August 31, 2015

Time: 7 pm CDT (Replays on Demand through September 12)

Duration: 60 minutes plus live Q&A

Overview: Paul Munsen, of SUN OVENS International, will cover everything you need to know about using a SUN OVEN.  He will show how practical and easy it is to cook in a SUN OVEN and discuss the many economic, health and environmental benefits of cooking with the sun.

Learn how to never have to worry about burning dinner again. Discover how to use a SUN OVEN to naturally dehydrate fruits and vegetables. Find out how to reduce your utility bills while helping families in developing countries around the world.

Title: Be Prepared! Tips & Tools for Cooking with the Sun

Time: Monday, August 31st at 7 pm Central Time

Listening Method: Web Simulcast

Space is limited reservations on first come first basis

To Reserve: CLICK HERE




When you listen to the news from around the world, does it make you wonder when society will fall apart? You can sit and worry or you can look at the situation and understand that you are responsible for your own survival, if the social order as we now know it falls apart. So being self reliant means second guessing what might happen and devising a plan on how to handle it. We call it preparedness, but where do you start? Sometimes the thought of getting prepared can be overwhelming. Procrastination leads to paralysis, so doing nothing is not an option. We’re advised to make a 72 hour kit,have 90 days, then a whole year’s worth of supplies – WHOA!!

Where do you start and what do you put together? Let’s start here: take those empty 2-liter juice containers, wash them out and fill them with water. Or, buy a case of water from your grocer and put them in the closet. Now you’ve started on your water storage! We need 2 gallons per person per day.

Next, when you go to the market, instead of buying one can of corn, spaghetti sauce, or canned meat, buy three and tuck the extras away on a shelf set aside for food storage. If you do this each time your budget allows, you will see your food storage grow.
Do the same with non-perishables like toilet paper, alcohol and bandages, and soap. Gradually as you collect extras of the things you use every day, you can begin to look critically at what life would be like without services like running water and electricity. You will learn to prioritize what is important for you and you’re off.

Billie Nicholson, editor
August 2015

30+ Ways to Prepare for an Economic Collapse

Today I asked several people what would they do in the event of an economic collapse. The blank stares I received in response were not funny. After a moment one person said, “Without banks and money, people would lose their homes.” Then he said, “I think I should go ask my dad, he remembers what happened to his parents during the Great Depression. I think they had to start a shoe repair business to make ends meet.” Just in case you haven’t thought much about the economic impact of nations verging on the brink of economic collapse, here are some tips on how to prepare should that collapse impact your community.

  1. Store food – how long could your family survive on what you have right now?
  2. Clean water – do you have a plan or some stored around your property? Plus get some water purification tablets or use your Sun Oven® to pasteurize the water
  3. Shelter – where can you stay, do you have a tent and sleeping bag?
  4. Warm clothing – blankets, sweaters, rain ponchos
  5. Ax – may help with gathering wood for fuel
  6. Lighters or waterproof matches
  7. Comfortable shoes
  8. Flash light or lantern with batteries
  9. Radio
  10. Communication equipment; walkie – talkies etc. Have an emergency meeting place
  11. Swiss army knife
  12. Personal hygiene products
  13. First-aid kit and other medical supplies; pain meds; extra prescription meds
  14. Extra gasoline with Stay-Bil® added for long term storage
  15. Sewing kit – for sutures and buttons
  16. Self defense equipment – pepper spray and more, plus ammo
  17. Compass and printed maps to help find your way
  18. Hiking backpack for a bug-out-bag filled with food, water & clothing
  19. Community – some way to get together with others
  20. A back up plan – how will you provide for your family without centralized services like water, sewer and electricity?
  21. Special needs of babies and pets
  22. Card games, etc. for entertainment
  23. Stock up on vitamins – survival food may not be very nutritious
  24. It could get to be too late to grow some of your own food
  25. Move away from the big cities
  26. Start a side business – look for a community need and prepare to fill it
  27. What expenses can you reduce?
  28. Acquire some silver and gold
  29. Get out of debt
  30. Keep some cash at home/ in your vehicle and coins
  31. Have money in more than one financial institution
  32. Build up an emergency fund to cover all your expenses for at least six months
  33. What small items can you use for trade/barter? Learn the art of trade and barter
  34. Keep your plans a secret
  35. Physical fitness
  36. Spiritual preparations – prayer and scriptures


Billie Nicholson, editor

July 2015

Non-Edibles to Add to Your Emergency Supplies

Non-edible Emergency Supplies

Non-Edible Emergency Supplies photo

Of course, we recommend that everyone have a Sun Oven® in their cache of emergency supplies. In addition, and not related to food there are over a hundred other items that every family should have. recommends these four easy to carry items that should be with you every day:

  1. High Quality Knife – useful for more than just cutting, some versions have additional tools as well.
  2. Paracord – with over 100 uses itself, don’t leave home without it! Using it you can secure a tent, make a tourniquet, tie up bad guys, and floss your teeth, just to name a few.
  3. Small Flashlight –  night without electricity is really dark.  Remember to stock up on the batteries, too. Solar lights and luminous packs are also helpful.
  4. Fire starter – featherweight fire starters consisting of flint and magnesium will spark a fire in the worst situations.
  5. Cell Phone – has multiple uses including sending messages via voice or text if phone lines are down, signal mirror, night light, GPS locator beacon. Look for a solar charger to add to your supplies, too.

The Survival Mom also recommends:

  1. Deodorant/antiperspirant – will be an instant morale booster when you’ve been hunkered down in a stressful situation for a few days or weeks.
  2. Feminine products – menstrual cycles don’t stop for crises. A six month’s supply of tampons or pads will greatly improve your quality of life. Plus, they can be used as sterile pads to reduce blood flow from wounds.
  3. Bar soap – always welcome to wash everything from laundry to hair.
  4. Zip-Locs of all sizes – seal everything from food to waste products.
  5. A pack of new underwear for each family member.
  6. A battery-powered CD player & CDs with music to calm all the savage beasts.
  7. Medicine – any prescriptions you must take should be stocked. Pain meds will always be welcome.
  8. Toilet paper – obviously.

Angela from Food Storage and Survival  suggests we include:

  1. First-aid kit, bandages and hydrogen peroxide
  2. Vinegar, hand sanitizer and an emergency toilet
  3. Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  4. Insect repellent
  5. Assorted paper products from plates and napkins to paper towels and tissues
  6. Clothesline, clothes pins and a large bucket for washing
  7. Tent, sleeping bags and plastic sheeting or foam pad
  8. Alternative season clothing like gloves and hats
  9. Sewing supplies for mending
  10. Battery powered radio or two-way radios
  11. Hand tools like hammer, saw, wrenches and screwdrivers

The list goes on and on. We also need to think about multiple uses for everyday items. What’s on your list?

Billie Nicholson, editor
May 2015

An Adventure with Celery, Peppers and Onions

Robert Nicholson

A few weeks ago I was dabbling around the kitchen close to dinnertime. I noticed that our garden had produced an abundance of fresh vegetables that were begging to be used. Out of the refrigerator came lots of celery, green peppers and onions (CPO). These chopped vegetables mixed with ground beef, spices and fresh breadcrumbs, made a tasty meat loaf that everyone enjoyed.

In my chopping fervor, I created lots of extra chopped CPO. In the past when we had extra salsa, pesto, or tomato paste, the extra was frozen for later use. Could CPO be frozen in the same way?  Let’s experiment.

I first par-cooked the CPO in a skillet with a small bit of olive oil. When the CPO was cool I brought out a muffin pan, covered it with a sheet of plastic wrap, and depressed the muffin area with my hand. I then placed a lump of par-cooked CPO in each spot. A second sheet of plastic wrap was placed on top and the muffin pan was placed in the freezer. The plastic wrapped, frozen CPO was divided into individual sections and stored in a zip bag. The bag was marked with the contents and a reference date.

One morning while fixing breakfast I retrieved one of my frozen CPO packets, unwrapped it and popped it into a moderately warm skillet. Within just a few minutes, with the addition of eggs and cheese, a delicious omelet was ready for our family.

We have now added CPO to the list of basic portion control ingredients that we store in our freezer for later use. The next experiment will be to see how long it stores and remains edible. I’ll let you know.


Billie Nicholson, editor
May 2015

Disaster Plans for Pets

Humane Society

disaster plan for petsWhen preparing for an emergency situation, don’t forget to make plans for any family pets. Just like any other family member, pets are your responsibility, too. Here are some ideas to help you create your disaster plan to care for their basic needs. 

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute, start your plan now. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tag that is up to date and visible at all times. Getting a micro chip inserted will greatly increase your chance of being reunited should your pet get lost. If your pet is adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, make sure the registration has been transferred to you. Add your cell phone number to the tag as well.
  1. Put together a disaster kit to include:
      Food and water for at least 5 days, bowl, and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. Keep an extra gallon of water on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
      Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a pet first-aid kit and book.
      Cat litter box, litter, scoop and garbage bags to collect all your pet’s waste.
      Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to avoid run-aways.
      Current photos of you with your pets and a written description to help others identify them.
      Written information about your pet’s feeding schedule, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and contact information for your veterinarian in case you have to board or put them in foster care.
      Grooming items, newspapers or paper towels for clean ups.
  2. Find a safe place to stay. Be sure to check your local shelters and select ones that allow for pets. This includes checking with hotels and motels that might be along your evacuation route.
  3. Plan for your pets in case you’re not home or can’t get there by asking a trusted neighbor or nearby family member or friend to take your pets and meet you at a specified location.
  4. If you must wait out a storm at home, decide on a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Pet-proof the area. Bring your pet inside as soon as local authorities announce trouble is coming. Put all your emergency supplies in your safe-room. Stay inside until the “all clear” sign.
  5. Following an emergency event don’t allow your pets to roam loose. They can get disoriented, lost or hurt in some situations.
  6. Be aware of the dangers high temperatures can cause for your pets. Heatstroke can be fatal. Apply cold towels to pet’s head, neck and chest; let her lick ice cubes and go to the vet immediately.

Billie Nicholson, editor
May 2015

Creating a Sustainable Farm

At the edge of a sparsely developed neighborhood in Milton, Florida, you’ll find Ray and Wanda Davis’ “Clear Creek Farm.” When they decided to retire from their original careers, they thought it would be fun to try their hand at farming as a way to maintain activity and to grow their own food. Their 30 acre property, just west of a Naval Aviation Training base and backing up to a land preserve, has hills, flood plains, hardwood and pine forest areas and is bisected by Clear Creek as it winds its way to the Blackwater River.
From the property description, you can imagine, there are lots of ecosystems, but level fertile ground is missing. Ray and Wanda accepted these challenges to create their version of a Sustainable Farm. Here are some of the techniques they use.
One of the first problems to be addressed was controlling run-off and erosion. They created a series of terraces and concrete drainage streams, including a pool. Square foot garden beds and narrow long beds were built on the terraces.  Trees cut down on the farm as they cleared areas were milled into lumber that they use to make the long beds. Tree height determined the bed length.

Clear Creek Farm1

To extend the growing season and protect some delicate plants during the winter months, they have built high tunnel (hoop houses). Ray also has some hydroponic lettuce beds where he grows individual lettuce plants in a nutrient rich liquid supported by styrofoam.
All plant material that is left after harvesting is tossed into compost bins built from throw away pallets lined with hardware cloth and tied together with zip-ties. They use straw and shredded paper as the carbon component and toss in a shovel full of manure to keep it “hot.”

Solar panels installed on the farm buildings generate electricity for farm use as well. As a result of their hard work, farm tours, plant sales and consultations provide additional income. Now that’s sustainable.

Sustainable Farm


Billie Nicholson, editor
May 2015

Salt – Fact or Fiction


  • Salt is one of the most precious natural compounds known to man. The word salt comes from the Latin word for salary – when people were actually paid in salt.1
  • Table salt is composed of 97.5% sodium chloride. It is dried at more than 1,200º F. which separates out other naturally occurring minerals, making it a toxic compound to the human body.2
  • For the body to metabolize chemical table salt, it must waste tremendous amounts of energy to keep the body at optimum fluid balance – 20 grams of cellular water for each gram of table salt.2
  • Americans consume over 5 grams of sodium chloride per day. Much of this is found in pre-processed foods, used as a flavor enhancer. Doctors recommend diets much lower than this.2
  • Crystal salt like Pink Himalayan and Artisan salt contain 84 trace elements that are vital to health. They are alkaline minerals that help keep us hydrated, balance sodium-potassium rations and include electrolytes.3
  • Iodine was added to salt during production in America around 1924, at the request of government initiatives, due to iodine deficiency disorders. Lack of iodine had been related to thyroid disorders resulting in goiters (enlarged growths in the neck) and in mental deficiencies in new-borns.4
  • Recent research into iodine levels in 80 types of iodized salt brands showed that only 20% have enough of the micronutrient to be considered enough for daily level consumption.4
  • Benefits of consuming sea salt include building a strong immune system, enhancing digestion, reducing inflammation in the respiratory system, enhance heart health, prevent osteoporosis, and preserve hormones that help you deal with stress.5

The literature is filled with conflicting information. Is it good for you or not?

Billie Nicholson, Editor
March 2015




March Newsletter Articles:

Add Sprouting Seeds to Your Supplies

How Bleach Kills Germs

Salt – Fact or Fiction

Onions More Benefits Than You Know

Veggie Balls for Pasta from the Solar Chef

Every Day Uses for WD-40

Sun Ovens Teach Solar Energy Concepts

Starting Seeds and Caring for Seedlings

Add Sprouting Seeds to Your Supplies


Sprouting seeds

Top left to right: Peas, Mung Beans; Bottom left to right: Lentils and Wheat Photo:

Sprouts are one of the most concentrated natural sources for all life’s building blocks. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, amino-acids, and trace elements. Seed sprouting is a capability everyone has, no matter where you live. It is a simple technique and with only the need for clean water, requires no energy to prepare.1 As a matter of fact, you can sprout seeds while you’re on the move, if necessary and will create no cooking odor to give away your position.

For survival preparation and self reliance, there are few better foods. Sprouting seeds can be stored for a long time – up to four years at stable 70º F, and even longer if stored in a colder environment. From time to time we test our supply for viability simply by sprouting some. Buy them in bulk and package them yourself in glass canning jars with rubber ringed lids. These will keep out vermin.2 Sprouted seeds increase in nutritional value exponentially over cooked dried seeds. Being natural nutrition, the components will fully penetrate the cell membranes and even help oxygenate cells.


Nutrition Packed and Ready to Go

In a survival situation and you’re hungry now, simply soaking seeds, nuts, grains or legumes in water for 30 minutes will activate some enzymes, increasing their nutritional value.3  Starch begins to disappear and is replaced by enzymes and an increased quality of protein, fat, certain amino acids, total sugar and B-group vitamins appear.4

Sprout different types of seeds to add more variety into your diet. In addition to good nutrition, many studies are showing that they have health benefits to protect us from diseases. Some sprouts have components that lower bad cholesterol and fat. Others offer protection against cancers. Alfalfa, broccoli and soybeans have been extensively studied.5

Preparedness Pro recommends 15 pounds of veggie seeds and 5-6 pounds protein seeds per adult for a year’s supply. For more information on how to start sprouting, see Sprouting 101.



Billie Nicholson, Editor
March 2015


March Newsletter Articles:

Add Sprouting Seeds to Your Supplies

How Bleach Kills Germs

Salt – Fact or Fiction

Onions More Benefits Than You Know

Veggie Balls for Pasta from the Solar Chef

Every Day Uses for WD-40

Sun Ovens Teach Solar Energy Concepts

Starting Seeds and Caring for Seedlings

Home-Made Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Billie and Robert Nicholson

Tomato Vinaigrette DressingTired of purchasing salad dressings with all kinds of “secret” ingredients and unknown preservatives? Here is an alternative. Compare this with store-bought salad dressings and you will find: a. Cost savings b. Tastes better  c. Known contents (what you know and trust)  d.  You can vary the ingredients to your taste  e. Gives you the satisfaction of being independent, more in charge of your food sources & improving your family’s quality of life. Send us your modifications for comparison.


2 Sun dried tomatoes (or 1/2 cup dried slices – we dried our tomatoes by slicing & putting them in dehydrator – Sun Oven® works great – on parchment, added some herbs and dried them @ 95º F)

1 large clove garlic, sliced

1 tsp capers, rinsed

3 sprigs fresh Oregano (dried will work)

3 sprigs fresh Parsley

1 TBS Tomato Paste (we open can of paste & freeze the leftover paste in ice cube tray, wrap each spoonful in plastic wrap and store in zip-lock bag in freezer for later use)

1/8 cup filtered water

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pinch of Red Pepper (we dried ours, then ground up seeds and all for more kick)

Pinch of fresh ground Black Pepper

Pinch of salt (optional)

sun-dried tomato vinaigrette


Start with the dry ingredients first in a blender on high, then add other ingredients and blend together. Decant into bottle of your choice and refrigerate between uses.  This delicious salad dressing will thicken over time and you can add a touch more water to help it pour easily. We serve one to two tablespoons per 2 cup salad.


Billie Nicholson, Editor

February 2015

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