Mama’s Last Gift

As a child growing up on a farm in Virginia, we learned to grow our own food as well as raise a cash crop. Our Mom spent many hours working with us to harvest and preserve food. As she aged, Mom slowly reduced the items she preserved, but still kept making some of those things like jellies. After she passed away in 2008, my sisters and I were clearing out the household goods. In my stash were two jars of jelly, which I saved, probably because she had made them more than that I expected to eat them someday. Mama grew up during the depression and didn’t waste anything, including jelly jars. The two I brought home were old 40 oz., JIF  Peanut butter jars, with the labels still attached, which she used for the jelly, put up in 1981. Who would expect 33 year old jelly to be any good?

The other day I went looking for a jar of jelly and decided to open one of those old jars. Well, shut my mouth. When I opened that jelly, it was “goood.” The seal was sound and there was no pitting or etching of the inside lid. The jelly was firm and no crystallization or mold was apparent. An initial taste test confirmed the goodness within. We toasted homemade bread, buttered it and slathered it with Mama’s homemade goodness.

One jar was made from Scuppernong grapes, which Daddy would have received in trade for watermelons or canteloupe. The other jar was wild berries which he would have gathered on our farm. Some of Mama’s favorite memories were of Daddy, grinning from ear to ear just like a kid, as he walked across the back yard with his baseball cap filled with blackberries.

Mama's Last Gift

A 40 oz. jar of jelly was too big to handle. We decided to divide it into smaller containers. While we were at it, we sterilized new jars and lids and heated the jelly to boiling and reprocessed them in a water bath without adding additional pectin. Each of these large jars made three 12 oz. new jars.  The USDA recommends using home canned items within one year, so I’m not encouraging anyone to do this.

As we enjoyed the homemade bread and jelly,  I remembered my mother. Throughout her life she unselfishly gave of her time, experience and values. It was wonderful to be wrapped in Mama’s arms one more time with her last gift.

Billie Nicholson, Editor
December, 2014

This month’s issue includes:

  • During our conversations with Pearl Harbor Survivors, they continued to warn us of the importance of being prepared – on every level, from our national military down to each individual. During World War II, everyone sacrificed to insure that world peace would be restored.

  • Preparing for a Pandemic ~ A pandemic is basically a global epidemic. Learn how to protect your family should a viral sickness begin to spread around the world.
  • Generosity during the holidays often includes contributions to food banks. Think about contributing something healthy in your Food Bank Contribution.

Preparedness Lessons Learned from Pearl Harbor Survivors

A History of Preparedness

Since 2011, my husband, Robert, and I have been working with a group of  Pensacola, FL  Pearl Harbor Survivors. They expressed a desire to return to Pearl Harbor to say “One Last Goodbye” to their comrades who had served and died during World War II, especially at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. A day that started out quiet and sunny until bombs began falling from the sky, turning that idyllic place into a burning, death-laden horror. The Pensacola community came together to provide funds for our Survivors, care-givers and a documentary team to return to Pearl Harbor. The 70th commemoration service allowed these heroes an opportunity to honor their fallen comrades and to visit the locations where each man was when the attack began.

During our conversations with the Survivors, they continued to warn us of the importance of being prepared – on every level, from our national military down to each individual. During World War II, everyone sacrificed to insure that world peace would be restored.

Awareness was the first lesson. “It is easy to just go through life day by day and not be aware of what is going on in the world,” said Cass Phillips, “pay attention.”

Work with honor. “Do the work that’s assigned to you with pride, to the best of your ability,” said Bill Braddock.

Take care of your family. Frank Emond said, “Plant a garden to help feed your family and keep the kids out of trouble. Teach them a trade and a hobby. Encourage them to help others. Life is more that just going to work every day.”

Get an education. “Growing sugar beets for a living was really hard work, but it taught us to get an education and find a job doing things you love,” chimed in Jake Gallowa.

Love your countrymen. “In the Navy, we all worked together to keep one another safe,” commented Jay Carraway. “We should always watch out for our neighbors and pray for protection of our active duty military. They are putting their lives on the line to protect us.”

Preparedness Reminders

During our research to complete the book “Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye,” we came across vintage war posters. They serve as reminders for us today: Plant a garden, don’t waste food, preserve food for later… Remember Pearl Harbor and Always Be Prepared. World War II veterans are our National Treasures. If you know one, thank him for his service to all of us. Ask him what preparedness means. Be ready to take notes.

Be Prepared

Billie Nicholson, Editor
December 2014
This month’s issue includes:
  • Preparing for a Pandemic ~ A pandemic is basically a global epidemic. Learn how to protect your family should a viral sickness begin to spread around the world.
  • Mama’s Last Gift ~ Who would expect 33 year old jelly to be any good? The jelly was firm and no crystallization or mold was apparent. A taste test confirmed the goodness within.
  • As you make your list and check it twice for holiday gifts, (even from-you-to-you gifts), check out our “Prepared Family Combo.”
  • Deer hunting season is a highlight of the winter months. Here is our favorite recipe made in the Sun Oven®. Served with warm Artisan bread, this makes a hearty meal in any weather.
  • Persimmons are a sweet and delicious fruit filled with vitamins and minerals. The Fuyu variety makes a nutritious persimmon leather.
  • Generosity during the holidays often includes contributions to food banks. Think about adding healthy items in your Food Bank Contribution.

Super-Size Your Rain Barrel for Water Storage


Super size water storageIt’s nice to have a supply of rainwater for gardening purposes and, with that in mind, we put a rain barrel to collect water from off the roof of our shop. The usual rain barrel system has a single plastic drum placed under the downspout on the corner of a building. About 30,000 gallons of rainwater falls on the roof of the average home per year. So there is plenty of water to go around. Excess water overflows the barrel and is absorbed into the ground.

We do not want to use valuable stored drinking water for cleaning, washing and hygiene if we lose access to our regular water supply. We decided to expand the amount of rainwater storage by adding two additional water barrels next to our existing one. We used sturdy plastic trashcans we had on hand.

When installing any water catchment system it is necessary to make sure that each barrel is on a sturdy base and is level. As a base we used cinder blocks and 2×4 pressure treated lumber.

Super size water storage

We drilled holes into the trash-can lids and installed garden hoses from one barrel to the next. To keep the hose ends from floating we placed a weight on the hose end. Before inserting the hose fully in place we charged each hose with water so that there would be a siphon-effect between the barrels.

When the water is used from one barrel the other barrels drain too. They also fill up the same way through the siphon-effect. As a final touch we placed a screen barrier at each hole so the mosquitos would not breed in the stored water. We treated the water by adding non-scented, not detergent bleach in the amount of 12 ounces per 50 gallon barrel. This prevents algae from growing in the water. We now have 150 gallons of rainwater storage capacity.

Super Size water storage

 

Robert Nicholson
November 2014

This month’s article includes:

Thanksgiving Day – An American Tradition  a change of economic systems led to this holiday for expressing gratitude  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12222

A Winter “To Do” List  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12232  Don’t let cold weather catch you unprepared.

Use household items to make your own Gel packs for sprains and swollen joints.  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12238

Inviting pests to leave your home this winter, naturally. http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12260

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter. http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12243

Squash Chips – an alternate way to preserve summer squash without freezing.  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12272

French style Stew   http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12032

 

French Style Stew

 

Beef Stew

There’s nothing like a hearty stew on a cold night. And like most stews, this one is even better the next day.

Provençal Beef Stew

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces salt pork or thick cut bacon, diced

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into chunks, patted dry with paper towels

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry red wine

2/3 cup beef broth or stock

1 bouquet garni, (sage, thyme, basil or herbs of choice)

1 small onion, peeled and studded with 2 cloves

grated zest and juice of 1/2 orange

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salt pork and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a large pot. In the same skillet, working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, transferring it to the pot as it browns. Add oil as needed. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and continue cooking until just softened, about 4 more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the garlic. Pour the wine and broth over the meat in the pot. Add the onion studded with the cloves and the bouquet garni. Add the vegetable mixture from the skillet. Cover and transfer the pot to the Sun Oven. Cook until the beef is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove and discard the bouquet garni and the whole onion. Stir in the orange zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?

Are You Prepared Every Day?

 Every Day CarryNot long ago I attended a bridal shower where one of the games gave points for a list of items in your purse.  As I went down the list, a picture of preparedness emerged. All of us have items we carry every day, like photo identification in the form of driver’s license, credit cards, membership cards, cell phones, and money. Don’t confuse this with a Bug-Out-Bag or the emergency kit you have in your car. In an emergency, if you couldn’t get to your auto or home, how would you get along? What do you carry with you every day?

What Do You Carry?

The items you carry everyday are often based on your health, profession and vanity. By rethinking these with a preparedness mindset, perhaps you may modify what’s in your EDC. We are limited by how much weight we are willing to carry and how we attach it to us. We are also limited by the number of pockets in clothing and by the number of free hands we have, so minimalism is critical.

      The items in your EDC will be determined by several factors: do you live in an urban or rural place, where do you go every day, are you traveling on public transportation or on foot, what is the climate and the season of the year, is your route socially safe, and what are the local laws regarding what you carry?

Add These to Your Every Day Carry Kit

  • Items that can help you get food like coins, cash or other small barter items.
  • Energy bars that are high in calories and have a long shelf life.
  • A 3 day’s supply of any medicine that you take regularly.
  • Water purification tablets or a straw water filter and an empty (for storage) wide mouth water bottle.
  • A Mylar survival blanket can provide shelter.
  • Tools that will help you scavenge for food, like a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool.
  • Remember the Speedhook?
  • Edible plant guide.
  • Fire starter or lighter to build a fire to cook food on or keep you warm.
  • Cell phones can contain emergency contact information. Even without service you can call 911.
  • Rope or string, including unflavored dental floss or 550 paracord, for many binding purposes.
  • Mini flashlight will provide light when you need it. Check batteries every few months.
  • Personal protection devices (where permitted by law) can range from a whistle, pepper spray, self defense tools like tactical pens to hand guns.
  • Hand sanitizers will help you avoid infection if you are exposed to others that are ill or if you sustain a wound. Bandaids got me extra points at the bridal shower.
  • If you wear contacts or glasses, extras are a must along with saline packets.
  • Remember knowledge trumps equipment every day of the week.

      Whatever items you choose for your Every Day Carry, make sure you know how to use them.

Billie Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
Emergency Medical Assessment 
How’s Your Battery Health?  
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup

Prepper Camp™ Recap

Prepper Camp

In the foothills of western North Carolina, over 600 serious preparedness citizens gathered for a 3-day, total immersion experience in survival at Prepper Camp™. Attendees had opportunities to learn from the best in the business about topics ranging from alternative power solutions, cheese making, first aid, herbal medicine, how to grow a camouflaged food forest, solar cooking and water filtration. In addition, they had time to talk to vendors and practice some of the skills they learned during evening activities as they camped on the meeting site.

Prepper Camp™

 

Billie  Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
Emergency Medical Assessment  
How’s Your Battery Health?  
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier, 
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our solar Chef presents Solar Apple Soup

 

 

Solar Meatball Stew

Meatball Stew

The spices in this stew are reminiscent of  Northern African cuisine and go best with couscous, but it could also be served with a good, crusty bread or pasta.

Solar Moroccan Style Meatballs

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground lean ground beef

2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a large pot, combine the oil, onion, and garlic. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the onion is soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare the meatballs while the onion mixture is cooking. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using damp hands, shape the beef mixture into 24 meatballs; set aside.

Bring the pot with the onions in and leave Sun Oven out. Add the tomatoes, water, and tomato paste. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add the meatballs. Cover and return the pot to the Sun Oven. Cook until the meatballs are cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pot from the Sun Oven. Stir in the lemon juice and mint. Serve over couscous.

 

Are You Losing 40%

Today I was listening to a video by Healthy Prepper in which she shared the concept of Dehydratingdehydrating fruit and vegetables at their prime ripeness. She had just purchased many bags of price-reduced items. The groceries were beautiful, just really, really ripe. Studies reveal that 40% of food we purchase goes to waste. You can dehydrate almost any fruit or veggie, so there is no reason food should go to waste.

The SUNOVEN® is perfect for dehydrating produce. Green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, grapes and figs are in abundance in my refrigerator. Rather than hope that we’ll get around to eating them all before they spoil, I decided to begin a dehydrating project.

When dehydrating with the SUN OVEN®, focusing the  oven into the sun is not necessary. The goal is to have a consistent temperature that ranges from 110º – 155º F. Keep the latches open for moisture and excess heat to escape. A higher temperature will effectively cook the produce rather than dry it. Use parchment paper and the racks provided with the oven. Drying time will vary depending on thickness. Try to be consistent so the pieces will dry at about the same rate. Check the oven from time to time to see how things are going. If your fruit or vegetables have not dried by the end of the day, simply leave them inside the SUN OVEN® over night. Collapse the reflectors and latch the door. The next day, resume drying with the door unlatched. For more details, watch our video on Dehydrating with the Sun Oven®.

After the produce has dried, there are a variety of ways to store them. The figs were packed in FoodSaver® bags and vacuum sealed. The Bay Laurel leaves, were stored in a plastic container. The tomatoes were stored in a glass jar with an oxygen absorber and vacuum sealed. What a great way to increase your food storage, reduce waste, and use the sun’s energy. What are you drying?

Dehydrating

Billie Nicholson, editor
August 2014
DehydrateDehydrate

Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:

Are You Water Competent?

Ebola Update by Dr. Bones

Fasting

The Fascinating Fig

Sun Oven Demonstrations coming to a location near you

Survival Skills for Teens

Meatless Monday Pasta Sauce

Sun Oven® Demonstrations Coming to a Location Near You

Check your calendar and make your reservations to attend one or more of these upcoming emergency preparedness training expos. We will be there with lectures and demonstrations using the Sun Oven®. Plan to take one home along with lots of other preparedness ideas.

Mid-Atlantic Emergency Preparedness and Survival Expo  August 16-17 Boonsboro MD 

Sun Oven Demonstrations

 

Prepper Camp™  September 12, 13 & 14, Orchard Lake Campground, Saluda, NC

Sun Oven Demonstrations

 

Mother Earth News Fair October 25-26, Topeka, KS

Sun Oven Demonstrations

Fasting

Fasting is not a new concept. It was written about in many Holy Scriptures. Fasting is often used to teach self-control and humility and is enhanced with prayer. Fasting does not have to last for 40 days, it can be just a few hours or a few days, performed intermittently.

What is intermittent fasting? It is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. It is a conscious decision to reduce the number of meals eaten during a 24 hour period. This means eating the calories during a specific time during the day. Eating three meals a day has not always been the norm. There are several different ways to participate in intermittent fasting. One is to regularly eat during a specific time period, for example, eating during an 8 hour window and not eating for the remaining 16 hours of a day. Another way is to skip two meals one day and wait a full 24-hours before eating again.

Why would you want to do this? When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, using part of it to generate energy. Your body prefers to burn carbohydrates/sugar as energy over any other source. During a fasting state, your body doesn’t have that recently consumed meal to use for energy, and begins to pull from the fat stored in your body or glycogen in your muscles or liver. 1

          Both your liver and muscles store sugar in the form of glycogen, which, when needed, can be broken down into glucose (sugar) and burned for energy. During a water only fast, your glycogen stores are depleted within about 24 hours. After this is used, your cells begin burning fatty acids for energy – from your fat reserves. Blood cells and brain cells can not use fatty acids to fuel their energy needs. They need glucose. They go looking for glycerol, another component of your fat tissue and your muscles. Muscle tissue is broken down into amino acids to make glucose.  It’s not the best idea to eat up your muscles to meet the energy requirements for your blood cells and brain. To compensate for this, sometime between the second and third day of a water only fast, your liver begins to generate ketones, again using your fat reserves.

The bulk of toxins in your body are stored in fat reserves, so the longer you fast, the more fat you’ll burn and the more toxins you’ll eliminate.  Significant detoxification only begins if you fast for more than one day; however, your body will increase its rate of ongoing detoxification with more rest or by eating less food, because the less digestive burden means there is more energy for detoxification and healing.

The main benefit of a one day a week fast, is to allow your body an opportunity to rest from food digestion and focus on health-promoting work. The fast does not have to be water only, you can also spend the day eating all raw fruits and vegetables or drinking their freshly pressed juices. 2

Fasting has also been used to lose weight. There are a number of fasting plans available. One of the most successful ones I’ve seen is the Fast-5 Life diet. This intermittent fasting plan includes a five hour window for eating and the remaining time with no food, but plenty of water. The major concept here is to eat when you’re hungry. There are no dietary restrictions. Eat what you want. The Fast-5 way of eating works because it restores appetite to an appropriate level for the amount of stored energy (fat) you have and the amount of energy you expend in a day. By taking in less food, your body burns more fat, about a pound a week. Many participants notice a loss of inches before pounds and they are reporting diminished symptoms of inflammation.

How does this work? Our bodies react to energy consumption with insulin production. The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely your body will consume what you eat more efficiently.  Fewer meals, means less food is needed and less time spent preparing meals.3 In an emergency situation, this procedure may make even more sense.

References

1.  http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/08/06/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

2. http://www.preppersnewsletter.com/Archives/2014-00012.php

3. http://www.fast-5.org/content/summary

Billie Nicholson, Editor

August 2014

 

Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:

Are You Water Competent?

Ebola Update by Dr. Bones

The Fascinating Fig

Sun Oven Demonstrations coming to a location near you

Are You Losing 40%?

Survival Skills for Teens

Meatless Monday Pasta Sauce

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