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Friday, October 30, 2009

Solar Cooked Cake

Yep, you can do it.  You can cook a cake just fine in 2-3 hours in your solar Cookit.

Make cake as usual.  Prepare the dark blue/black roaster pan by spraying it with cooking spray, then putting a layer of wax paper on the bottom and edges (it helps to take the cake out later without any stickiness).  Pour the cake mixture into the pan.  Put in plastic bag, and put out in the solar cooker in the sun. Depending on the hotness of the day, it will cook up just like in an oven within 2-3 hours.  Take inside, let cool a bit, then remove it onto a plate.  Frost and eat!  I do apologize that the frosting doesn't look as good as it should, but I was lazy and whipped it up by hand instead of by hand mixer!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Garden and How it's Doing

Well it's been about a month since I started my Fall/Winter garden. All that's left now is a very small portion of the zucchini plant that I have allowed to stay because there are flowers on it that may turn into zucchini. I'll give it more time.

Meanwhile, the red potato is doing GREAT. I'm very impressed and if it produces as well as it looks (such a pretty plant too) I'll definitely plant potatoes whenever possible. The sweet peas are starting to "tendril" and "vine" and I plan on guiding them up the tomato cage and up onto the porch. I hope it goes well.

The broccoli is doing well, although I honestly can't tell if any growth has occured. The broccoli seeds I planted have done absolutely nothing. The spinach and red chard are coming up, but very very slowly. I believe I should have stated them indoors and transplanted them. The lettuces and red chard are doing well, altho the local cat is still digging and pooping in the box. I put a bunch of strong onion/garlic/red pepper around them in the hopes that he will go elsewhere. Not sure what else to do...again!

I bought another solar oven, the CookIt, to supplement the one I have. It's a beautiful clear day out today. I should have put something out to cook.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Choose This Day

Choose This Day

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Survival in the Wilderness

Well my husband and I had a great time today. We got to the Magnolia trail up past Folsom Dam where we met the instructor Doug Huffman, who has taught Special Forces all over the world how to survive in the wilderness. There were 10 of us altogether.

We started walking on the trail about 8: 15 a.m. What a beautiful morning and day it was. Clear skies, very quiet wind. First we went past a little stream where he reminded us never to drink the water no matter how pure it looked unless you boil it first, etc, as there is commonly pesticides and worse from up stream in most areas. Then he showed us many plants that thrive in riparian areas (interface between land and a stream), such as black alder, which can be used to induce vomiting if you discover you have eaten something bad, and blackberrie (ONLY the tender young shoots) to help diarrhea (older leaves are actually very toxic, so caution is important). I ate a fresh blackberry next to a small stream and it was very tasty. We discussed Laurels, which are bay leaves. They are very strong, but tiny bits of the leaves can be placed in boiling water as part of the soup making process. You can line your tent and sleeping bag with the leaves as most insects won't walk across them.

I am simplifing many of the stuff he said but he did give us an exellent handout. Thank goodness, as there were so many things discussed there's no way I could absorb them all! The only problem with it is there aren't any photos, but they can be found online and in books.

We also discussed Curly Dock, dandelion (which is one of the most beneficial plants, as you can eat any part of it anytime and be fine), Evening Primrose, which flowers taste delicious. We saw fiddle necks, cedar trees, Oregon grapes, horsetail, mints, mugwort and mullein. Mullein is pretty fasciating, as you can use the soft leaves as toilet paper if you need to, and then the stalk can be used to make excellent arrows for your bow and arrow. You take the seeds and crush them and put them in a bandana, and swirl it into water where fish are located, and the fish will be poisoned and you can then just take them out and eat them (after cooking, as the toxin goes away when you cook them).

Lots of the items could be used as teas for various purposes too, and he made a point of saying that nothing we ingest should be eaten in more than an ounce (a tiny handful) at a time as our bodies aren't used to these things.

There is Willow, which you can chew on to make an aspirin product, or use as a tea for the same reason, and the branches are great for making baskets, arrow shafts, tools, chopsticks, etc.,

Before I forget he also discussed how drinking hot water with honey from the region you live in, along with a tsp of cinnamon can cure allergies. I'm going to try that one!

We also got a lot of basic survival skills, with a list of over 40 items to be sure to take with us at all times...which works out fine because the entire list isonly 1 1/2 pounds! so it's very easy to pack. We learned what trees can be used to make good shelters, how to keep warm in snow, how to track people by their footprints, and more.

There are tons of classes that Doug teaches, and he is also forming groups where for $35 a couple or single you can come up to Placerville and learn about survival in all of it's forms, from home security to personal security to wilderness training, and much more. We are going to do this, even if we don't start until after Christmas.

Here are his absolute essentials:

Shelter, which is to be constructed the moment you arrive in the wilderness for a stay, or the moment you realize you are lost there., then water, which should be purified/boiled, then a method to procure fire, an extra day supply of food/snacks, signal devices, like a whistle and mirror, a good map that you know how to read, GPS whatever, and a good multi tool pocket knife setup. Of course you also need a form of first aid supplies, and a good flashlight or lantern, and then good seasonal clothing, including sunscreen, sunglasses, a good hat, poncho (he recommends black trash bags), and good gloves because some of the stuff, liie wild blackberries, can really hurt your skin!

We got ourselves some walking sticks and I got to say, I doubt I would have done very well today without it.

I recommend Doug without reservation. He is funny, totally professional, and extremely knowledgeable. I wish I could tell you .10% of what he said! We discussed as we walked along these trails for about 4 miles or so. The training dates are available on his webpage

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dehyrating Food

I went to a wonderful class today given by Dennis Prendergast through the County Extension service. Here are some of my notes plus some notes given to us in the handout. These will not be in any particular order.

He suggested dehyrators that have a thermostat on them to control the temperature. Currently the one I have does not have that, but merely goes on when plugged in. So the temperature is about 120 degrees when it might need to be 140 or more for meats and other such items.

Don't try to dehydrate onions or garlic as they leave the smell throughout the house for a month. At first we had some protests, but he pretty much convinced us to just buy them dry!

Cut all vegies and fruits on the thick side versus thin, as they will have that much more substance when dried.

You can dry ANYTHING, except fats and high fat items. You can dry whole meals, like soup and spaghetti. We tried both of those and also catalope, tomatoes, dried yogurt, applesauce and more! The soup and spaghetti dehydrate wonderfully and reconstitute to the exact same flavor and almost the same texture. Awesome!

Most good dehyrators can dry everything I'm discussing in 8 to 10 hours.

For uniform flavor, cut items using a mandolin, such as the type shown here. Apples can be sliced without being cut up or seeds/skin removed.

You can slice up zucchini and such and dry them and then use as a "chip" for use with dip. I'm excited about that one!

Tomatoes can also be done easily by quartering them (small ones) or quartering and then cutting one more time (bigger ones), and then scoring the skin a couple times, and pushing out the tomato inside out with your thumb to expose as much area as possible. Dry as usual...they are delicious!

Spaghetti: Just make as usual, but don't put in anything more fatty than 7% hamburger. Meat must be well dried and reconstitute easily, so make sure the chunks are very small. Then put dollops of it on your fruit leather trays, start drying. When half way through, use your fingers and move it around a bit more to make sure all areas get a chance to dry. Yum!

Fruit should be pliable to some extent when done, to retain best flavor.

He mentioned persimmons (which I adore!) and cantalope (which we tried), both of which sounds fantastic!

Once the item is dried, you can store it in a vacuum seal bag like Food Saver, or you can "make your own" by putting the food in a regular plastic storage bag and then using a straw to suck out the majority of the air (keeping the rest of it zipped shut). Hard to explain without seeing it, but it might work.

Oh and when you dry stuff, to avoid bugs that might be still there, FREEZE the packaged product for two days. That will kill any bad stuff.

Blend up V-8 juice with other vegies if you want and then make leather from them.

Cut up yams thinly and dry.

Fruit halves, skin side down.

Season whatever you want to dry for a different flavor. Do so while food is still in it's natural form.

There is so much more to it, but it's basically an easy way to preserve food!! Try it!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Witness of the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ

This talk is from our Church's General Conference by Elder Holland. I add my testimony to his that this church is true. I urge all who read this blog to read his message in it's entirety and pray about it, as it is true.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lettuce, Broccoli, and more

Today I pulled out the two remaining tomato plants, and put in lots of romaine lettuce. So far for the winter I have planted red potato, sweet peas, chard, romaine lettuce, 3 other lettuce varieties, and broccoli. The zucchini and bell pepper will remain a bit longer, and when I pull them out I will plant more of whatever of the above vegies are doing the best, so that it keeps producing, hopefully. This will be a very exciting test for me to see how well I can grow fall/winter vegetables.