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
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
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.
Today I was listening to a video by Healthy Prepper in which she shared the concept of dehydrating 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?
Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:
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.
Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:
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.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:
If you are warned of an approaching wildfire, get your family together, then:
- Evacuate your pets and anyone with medical or physical limitations and young children immediately.
- Wear protective clothing.
- Remove any flammable materials like trash, lawn furniture and vehicles from around the house.
- Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source. Check garden hoses and be ready to soak roofs, shrubs and trees with water within 15 feet of buildings.
- Close all windows and doors, and remove all flammable window coverings. Open fireplace damper and close the screen. Close outside attic, eaves, and basement vents. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat. Turn on outside lights and a light in every room for visibility in heavy smoke and distribute flashlights to all family members.
- Fill pools, hot tubs, garbage cans and any other large containers with water.
- Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
- Back your car into the driveway and close all windows.
- Disconnect automatic garage door openers so you can open the door without power, if necessary. Close the doors.
- Monitor news reports so you know the danger you’re facing. Prepare bug-out bags for evacuation and be sure to include your important papers and anything you “can’t live without”. Pack these items into the car.
- If you are told to evacuate, follow routes directed by local officials. Leave doors and windows closed but not locked. It may be necessary for firefighters to gain quick entry to fight fire in your home. The area will be patrolled by sheriff’s deputies or policemen. Fires can change directions quickly, be prepared to change your route if blocked.
- If you’re in a car, roll up the windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
- If you have to stop, turn the engine off, but keep headlights on for visibility. Keep windows and air vents closed. Get on floor of auto and cover yourself with a blanket. Call 911.
- If you’re caught in the open, go to a clearing. If you’re close to a road, lie down in a ditch and cover yourself with anything that can protect you from the heat.
- If you evacuated, don’t go home after a wildfire until you’re told it’s safe to do so.
- Hopefully your home is unharmed. Be sure to check roofs and attics for hot spots and sparks and extinguish them immediately. Check every few hours for a day.
- Use caution when entering a building and avoid standing water. There may be an electrical charge.
- Check all utilities and consult a professional if damage has been done.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Due to continued drought, the possibility of wildfire continues throughout the western states. When fires burn through areas, some homes are spared and others are not. Is there a way to make your property more fire resistant?
One way to help protect your home is to create a defensible space around it. What does this mean? It’s a buffer you create between buildings on your property and the trees, grass, shrubs or any wildland that surrounds it. This space will slow or stop the spread of wildfire and protect your home from catching fire. Defensible space will also provide protection for firefighters defending your property. To create a 100 foot space, divide it into two zones.
Zone one is 30 feet around your house or any other structure associated with it. In this area work on a major clean up removing all dead plants, grass and weeds from your lawn. Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters. Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees and from your house. Remove any dead branches that hang over your roof. Move any wood piles out of this perimeter. Remove any vegetation that could ignite and spread to decks or patio furniture.
Zone 2 includes the next 70 feet outside Zone 1 to make a total of a 100 feet perimeter. Cut or mow annual grass to a maximum of 4 inches. Create horizontal and vertical spacing between shrubs and trees. Remove all tree branches at least six feet from the ground. Lack of vertical space will allow fire to move from the ground to the brush and then to trees. Remove fallen leaves, needles, bark, cones and small branches that accumulate to a depth greater than 3 inches. When you landscape, consider planting fire-resistant plants and place them strategically to resist the spread of fire to your home. Have multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach around property.
Homes located up to a mile from wildland fires can be destroyed by flying embers. Here are some things you can do to harden your home to make it more fire resistant.
- Roof – the most vulnerable part of your home. Wood or shingle roofs are very flammable. Use composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between decking and covering to prevent embers from catching fire.
- Vents - create openings for flying embers. Cover them with 1/8” to 1/4” metal mesh. Don’t use fiberglass or plastic because they can melt and burn.
- Eaves and Soffits - should be protected with non-combustible materials.
- Windows - can break from wildfire heat before the house catches fire. This allows embers to get into and ignite fires inside. Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breaking during a fire.
- Walls - Wooden products on the outside of houses as siding materials are combustible and not recommended for fire-prone areas. Use ignition resistant building materials like stucco or other approved materials. Extend them from the foundation to the roof.
- Decks - should be made of ignition resistant materials. Keep combustible materials removed from beneath your deck. Use the same materials for patio coverings also.
- Rain Gutters - should be screened or have gutter guards installed to prevent gutters from accumulating plant debris. Keep them clean of dried leaves and pine needles.
- Garage - Have a fire extinguisher and fire emergency tools available. Install weather stripping around and under door to block embers.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Joe Nobody discussed the uses of the survival net during the Survival Summit. You can use it to build 10 life-saving items in a pinch. The survival net is lightweight, has a 1” grid weave, and is available at military surplus stores. The standard issue net is 6-8 feet wide by 12 feet long. It comes complete with “S” hooks, MOLLE pouch and paracord. It should cost less than $30. The “S” hooks should be rated at 200 pounds.
Survival Net Uses Include:
- Hammock – sling it between two trees; take some small twigs and cut some grooves in them and weave them into each end of the hammock to create a sleeping platform and keep it from bunching up on the ends. Practice doing this. Don’t under-estimate the time it will take to get this set up. String up a poncho or plastic bag above to keep moisture off. A hammock will provide better thermal comfort than sleeping on the cold or wet ground. It is much quicker to break camp with a hammock than a tent. It is lighter and takes up less space in your pack.
- Ghillie suit or camouflage cloak – weave plant branches and leaves into the opens. It breathes better than commercial ones. Make it mid-calf length to allow for more mobility and minimize snagging. Camouflage is not always wooded; use this in different environments. Take whatever is common and secure it to the net. It is always best to avoid confrontation. Use this to get through an area without being detected.
- Litter – it can be used as a stretcher to carry someone. Use thumb sized limbs for support. Weave the limbs along both edges and at the end. It is easier to drag an injured companion. The greener the wood the more flexible it is.
- Fishing net -
- Create a two man drag; one on either side of the creek. Add some rocks on one edge to serve as resistance so it sinks to the bottom.
- Add rocks on the corners and secure with hooks. Fling it like a Frisbee on top of the fish. rocks will sink and trap the fish in the middle of the net. Weave paracord around the edge to be able to retrieve it with ease. You do need to throw where the fish are. Find them next to structures they might use for hiding places.
- Make a fish pen by using stakes to create a fence with the net. Attach paracord or other rope to close it.
- Hiding place – local foliage can be woven into or stacked against the net. Hang one side and let one side fall to the ground and fill in with greens and twigs.
- Blanket, jacket or raincoat – strips of bark or shaved wood can be woven in for insulation. Plastic bags can be secured to the mesh to form a raincoat or poncho. Old newspapers can be woven in for insulation as well as pine needles, leaves, foliage and even vines. Rags and scraps of clothing can be woven into the net to create a barrier. Heat small rocks or stones in a campfire and secure them in the net for a large scale warmer.
- Climbing tool – roll up net to use for short ascents. Twist it into a rope. The girth of the twisted net provides sufficient hand hold. Gear ties can be woven into the net for hand/footholds. This works for descending also. Heavy gear can be raised or lowered in a bundle.
- Cargo Bag - the net can handle more weight than you can carry.
- Snare - use it to catch small game with some bait and wire.
- Door Security - securing the net with small hooks around a door frame can make any threshold extremely difficult to breech. This also works for windows. It is hard to cut through. Add something that jingles as a warning.
Reproduced with Permission
Additional Articles in this month’s issue:
- Mother Earth News Fair - a great preparedness educational opportunity. Look for one near you.
- Be Water Smart provides 12 tips on saving water
- Cheese Production – Made Easy gives step by step instructions for making cheese easily at home
- Creating a Sustainable Garden discusses ways to improve soil health
- Blackberries, Bain or Blessing? describes a way to safely pick wild blackberries, including a recipe for Solar Oatmeal Berry Crisp
- An alternative Protein Source – Raising Rabbits gives an overview for raising rabbits for meat. Did you know Californians prefer it to chicken?
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Cindy Rajhel at Home Grown Fun
- Banana Peels – Eating a banana helps replenish lost potassium. Roses love potassium too. Simply throw one or two peels in the hole before planting or bury peels under mulch so they can compost naturally. Get bigger and more blooms.
- Coffee Grounds – Acid loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love coffee grounds mixed into the soil, sprinkled on top of the ground before watering, or poured on top of the soil. If using as a soil drench, soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants.
- Egg Shells – Wash them first, then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot. Eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime, a tried and true soil amendment! I use eggshells in my homemade potting mix. This gives me healthy, beautiful fruits fit for seed saving.
- Seaweed – Fresh seaweed should be washed well before use to remove salt. Asian markets sell dried seaweed. Both fresh and dried versions are considered excellent soil amendments. Seaweed contains trace elements and actually serves as a food source for soil microbes. Chop up a small bucket of seaweed and add it to 5 gallons of water. Let it sit for 2-3 weeks loosely covered. Use it to drench the soil and foliage. 2 cups work well for a small plant, 4 cups for a medium plants and 6 cups for a large plant. Experiment with amounts. Combine seaweed with other tea fertilizers.
- Weeds – You’ve got your own fertilizer growing under your feet! Nettles, comfrey, yellow dock, burdock, horsetail and chickweed make wonderful homemade fertilizer. There are several ways you can use them to make your own brew or to speed up your compost pile. If your weeds have not gone to flower you can dry them in the sun and chop them up to use as a mulch. They are high in nitrogen and won’t rob your plants of nutrients. Borage (starflower) is an herb but for some people it’s a weed. It has many of the same nutritional properties as comfrey. I dry the entire plant, root and all, and put it in my compost tumbler. It helps break everything down and gives the pile an extra dose of heat. For this next brew, get out the bucket and your bandana! The bandana you’ll need for your nose because this technique gets stinky! Place a bunch of weed leaves and roots in a 5 gallon bucket. Weigh down the leaves with a brick to ensure the plant matter is covered and add water to cover. Stir weekly and wait 3-5 weeks for the contents to get thick an gooey. Then use that goo, diluted 1:10 or more as a soil drench fertilizer. To make it even more convenient, you can use two buckets and make a hole in the bottom of the bucket that contains the plants. The goo will seep through to the lower bucket. It’s always best to apply the liquid fertilizer diluted – it should look like weak tea.
- Molasses – Using molasses in compost tea increases microbes and the beneficial bacteria that microbes feed on. If you want to start out with a simple recipe for molasses fertilizer, mix 1-3 tablespoons of molasses into a gallon of water. Water your plants with this concoction and watch them grow bigger and healthier.
- Human Urine – Sounds disgusting, but urine is considered sterile if the body it’s coming from is healthy and free of viruses and infection. High in nitrogen, urea contains more phosphorous and potassium than many of the fertilizers we buy at the store! If serving tomatoes that have been fertilized with pee gives you the “willies”, try it in the compost pile. A good ratio of urine to water would be 1:4. You can collect a cup of urine and pour it into 4 cups of water in a plastic bucket used outside for fertilizing plants. Pour 2 cups around the perimeter of each SMALL plant. For MEDIUM plants add 4 cups and LARGE plants deserve a good 6 cups of your personal home brew.
- Grass Clippings – Rich in nitrogen, grass breaks down over time and enhances the soil. Fill a 5 gallon bucket full of grass clippings. You can even add weeds! Weeds soak up nutrients from the soil just as much as grass. Add water to the top of the bucket and let sit, covered for 3 weeks. Stir it once a week. Dilute your grass tea by mixing 1 cup of liquid grass into 10 cups of water. Apply to the base of plants using the same amounts as listed above in the urine recipe.
- Manure – Chicken, horse, cow manure. With a little effort, you’ll find folks that are giving away composted animal manure for free. Use manure that has been exposed to air and heat for at least six months. To speed up the process, add some straw, shredded paper or leaves. Add the composted manure to a small permeable bag made from recycled cloth, e.g., a t-shirt or old towel. Let it steep in the shade for a few days and apply it to your soil to condition it before planting. Bury or discard the used bag. Some people use manure tea to soak bare root roses!
- Cat and Dog Food – Depending on the dog food you recycle, this soil amendment may not be organic. However, even the cheap stuff contains protein and micro-nutrients that benefit the soil. To prepare a garden plot for planting, sprinkle dry pet food on the bed, turn the soil and water. Let it decay naturally. To discourage wildlife from visiting for a snack, cover with cardboard until the food decomposes. The cardboard will also trap moisture and discourage weeds. Make sure the cardboard get wet all the way through and cover with mulch. Water thoroughly every week for four weeks. Soybean meal and alfalfa pellets from the grain store work great too. Sometimes grain stores will sell for cheap or give away spoiled grains. Check the feed for salt content and try not to add pet or animal food considered high in sodium. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) recommends dry dog food contain a minimum of 3% sodium to support normal growth and development.
- WAIT, THERE’S MORE
- Cornmeal – Contains lots of phosphorus and nitrogen and acts as an effective fungicide. Add a cup of cornmeal to 5 gallons of water. Let it soak for several hours, then strain the liquid so you can add it to a spray bottle. Spray the leaves of plants that are susceptible to fungus. You can combine this cornmeal tea with compost tea for even more benefits. I use the leftover water from cooking corn on my vegetable garden.
- Worm Poo – Making my own worm tea is easy. I started with a handful of red wiggler worms about 6 years ago and haven’t stopped since. Check out our video below on composting with worms to see how easy it is to make this amazing fertilizer!
- Reproduced with Permission. To read more articles by Cindy, visit her website at Home Grown Fun
One inexpensive herbicide is a combination of vinegar and dish soap. Apply this treatment on a sunny day. The acetic acid in vinegar will burn the weed leaves on contact and lower the pH of the soil, making recovery difficult.
To a gallon of vinegar, add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap,
which helps the vinegar stick to the plant leaves. If you plan to use the area treated for something other than plants, you can add 1/2 cup of salt as well. This will add a final blow to the ground. Remember in history and Bible classes, reading about how a conquerer salted the fields? Just in case there were battle survivors, plants would not grow for some time and the survivors would starve.
Do you have nasty, woody, deep rooted weeds
growing in your garden amongst all the other plants you want to keep? I’m talking about the ones with taproots so deep you can’t pull them out, or even dig down to the end of the root to loosen it enough to yank! Some have roots longer than the length of plant above the ground. The problem too is that they are so close to desirable plants you simply cannot spray them with weed killer either! And for these plants you need poison ivy or “woody” weed killer and you need to somehow apply this ONLY to that plant.
“Guante de Muerto”
Here is the trick I came up with that I call my “Guante de Muerto” or “Glove of Death!” You need to mix up a small necked quart bottle of WOODY weed or POISON IVY or BRUSH killer, you can even make it a bit concentrated! For safety, I put a latex surgical type glove on my left hand, followed by a disposable polyethylene glove. THEN I put on only one left absorbent COTTON glove. They are very inexpensive! (All right handed if you are a lefty) Now, go out into the garden and pour some of the weed killer into your left glove to soak the palm and lightly grasp the stem of the plant you want to kill near the base. Carefully pull your hand up along the length of the plant, coating the undersides of
the leaves with the brush killer solution. You don’t want to grasp it so tightly that you strip the leaves off, but you need to coat the leaves because these herbicides by being ABSORBED INTO THE PLANT BY THE LEAVES!. The herbicide is distributed by the plant through its system and kills everything, roots and all. The neat thing about the Guante de Muerto (which has kind of a ring to it!) is that if you are careful, you are ONLY applying the killer to the plant you want to kill! You can keep reusing the glove. Be sure to extensively wash your hands when you are done!