Archive for the ‘Experimentation’ Category

I recently had a bit of extra money.

Okay, so it wasn’t “extra” I wanted to spend it on food storage but I didnt decide until I was thinking about pressure canning a little over a week ago. My father in law gave me a couple of pressure canners about a year ago. I have been putting off using them because they are old, and the guages are daunting. I was afraid that they would be off, and they way that my pressure canner gauges is different than my smaller new one (or any of the others I see online, except the ones that are antiques like mine.)

For several months my father-in-law, then my guy told me that they would get me pressure gauges but they never seemed to get around to it. Recently one of my prepper friends told me that I should just test my All American Pressure Canner, because they are very reliable and accurate. I also found out that they sell everything to replace all the parts on their website.

So I test it, although I have to adjust the temp often and tap the gauge occasionally to ensure its accurately telling me the pressure it seemed to be working very well.

After I tested it, when I made the chili, I didn’t have to adjust the temp on the stove as often, I think it may be a matter of getting used to it, finding what works with your stove, and with your gear.

I digress.

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So this is a question I posed to myself about 6 months ago. I don’t like regular prepackaged salsa and the salsa you buy in the store always tastes… not so fresh.

I’m known for my salsa. Well its not mine. I will explain where I got my amazing recipe, even though I will not share it here (I’ll give it to you if you email me) My friend Inez made it for me, all the time, Whenever we had a get together. One year for my birthday, she brought a grocery bag with the ingredients in it, rather than the salsa and she proceeded to show me how to make it, for my present. :)

Inez learned how to make it from her ex-husbands mother (from central Mexico) her son loved it so much that she wanted  to make sure her son could have it all the time, so she taught Inez. Yay for me… right?

I’ve since tweaked the recipe – made it my own.  Not that I didn’t love Inez’s salsa, I just like more garlic,  and a little more cilantro is all.

So now, whenever we have a game night, or a BBQ, or any get together I make salsa. When I don’t I am asked why I didn’t. I normally make a big batch and keep it in the fridge.

Sometimes I am busy though. tomatoes are better late spring/early summer. What if I didn’t have all the fresh ingredients I needed. And now, I worry about the shit hitting the fan….I refuse to store prepackaged salsa, like I said before, its gross and over cooked to me.

I spent sometime online researching my question. I found a few recipes, but the salsa was so heavily cooked it almost ended up being pasta sauce instead of salsa, and to me, that’s just not what I think of when I think of good salsa. I like the fresh taste.

So D recommended that I speak to one of is friends about it and he said that with the amount of acid from the tomatoes and the lemon juice you can just heat the salsa just to the point of boiling, pack it, and place in the water bath for 12-15 minutes and there ya go.

So I tried it out. It IS a little different from my fresh salsa – but FAR superior to any prepackaged salsa I’ve ever had. You should consider canning your own salsa…. If you haven’t made your own salsa, its not as hard as you might think and fresh is fabulous!!!

When I started researching, one of the things I found is that using FOOD Grade plastic buckets are very important. I have said this before, and I will say this again, the way you store your food is just as important, if not more important than the money that you spend on the food itself.

The reason that I say that is that many of the foods you buy, you will buy a bulk of it in the first couple of years while you are gathering your greatest amounts of food and then after that you will only be purchasing to rotate. So in essence, the way you store your food may be around 10-30 years for the long term staples. Its okay to save money though if its at all possible.

D uses pickle buckets for his work, what he does is take things apart to work on them and while they are in pieces he will place those pieces into a 5 gallon bucket so that they stay with the rest of that particular machine. One of his customers brings them by occasionally, he manages a place where they make sandwiches.

So I know they are food grade, but I didn’t know how to get rid of the god awful smell. I did some research and some of what I have found works and others totally didn’t. So I will give you a running tally of what I found, what I tried and whats worked for me. There is only one method that I found that I haven’t tried and I would give credit but I found it on a forum and it was only a 3 line paragraph by “anon”

I digress.

So plastic food grade 5 gallon tubs CAN be purchased. But they really are rather expensive, and like I said D has a friend who gives them to us for free. Which is totally worth putting a little bit of effort into them.

I found this basic list with a few ideas on on how to implement (on most) on various forums, not in the same place, sometimes only one idea on a page. It probably took me 2 hours of searching for all of these ideas. I am not complaining, I just want to paint a picture. Its easy to find one or two of these answers everywhere but the biggest one I have found is to use vinegar on copious amounts or bleach.

Ideas Found:

  • used coffee grounds mixed with warm water
  • oxy clean with water left in the sun
  • a bowl of charcoal briquettes and leave the lids on (5-10 days)
  • lemon juice
  • dish washing liquid
  • tomato juice watered down
  • news paper

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I am not a huge fan of going without deodorant. I don’t like smelling either. I don’t think that the commercially available “all natural” stuff works very well. I stock pile deodorant and toothpaste just like I do food and water, but just as I mentioned in my post about going without shampoo… Its a good idea to understand the basics of doing it an alternative all natural way with products that you will have on hand anyhow. Right?

I cant remember where I found this recipe. I have tried the recipe, and used it. It worked all right. I think that I have friends who are really much more into the Granola side of things than I am and I know that this along with a few other homemade things would be an awesome gift for them, especially if you knew what scents they really liked. This is really cheap probably $2-3 a batch.

The recipe I have used is

3 tbs Shea butter

3 tbs baking soda

2 tbs cocoa butter

2 tbs corn starch

1/4 tsp vitamin e oil (or you can puncture and drain 2 or 3 gal caps of the same)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp essential oils (Whatever scents you like)

You CAN add 1-2 tbs of vegetable glycerin or bees wax to make it softer if you’d like.

Microwave the Shea butter and cocoa butter until melted, mix in the cornstarch and baking soda, mix until smooth and then stir in the vitamin  e oil and the essential oils.

Once you’ve completely combined, place in a 4 ounce jar, which is perfect for this recipe. Put the contents into the fridge and let it set for 24 hours. If you make more than one, leave the one you will not be using daily in the fridge.

The deodorant should be melted by rubbing the amount of a pea in your hands to soften and then wiping onto your under arms. If its a warmer day they mix will already be somewhat softer but if you chose not to add the bees wax or glycerin it may be a little harder (it will still soften it you warm it up thought.

It worked for me, though I couldn’t trust it on a sleeveless black shirt. I noticed that it left a noticeable residue, but it doesn’t stain.

Sorry I didnt take any pictures of this, but you can find them if you do a search online I think, I have seen them.

It looks milky and off white, kind of like a light colored cocoa butter.

Even though this isn’t my cup of tea, it worked rather well and I would rely on it if need be. Its always good to be prepared with alternatives.

So I tried to sprouting before, sort of. I  talked about it before “Oregano Sprouts” But they died.

I bought this sprout pack and seeds like 3 months ago I think. Never used it because I just hadn’t had time. Till now.

So here is my adventure in sprouting, that actually worked! “I didn’t kill them!!!” (I have such a black thumb)

So here’s what we start with.

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This is not about food storage exactly but it is about self sufficiency,  and about knowing how to take care of yourself and your family.

The reasons that people generally state that they want to go without Shampoo are normally the organic type (or as I grew up calling them “granola“) and they want to lessen the chemicals in their lived or they want to be, well, more organic.

So the idea behind the “no poo” movement is that by eliminating shampoo and allowing your hair and scalp  to return to its original state will eventually give you the end goal of being able to wash your hair with water alone.

So how is this done?

Some people will sprinkle dry baking soda in their hair, comb it through and then rinse in the shower after allowing the oils of your hair to soak into the baking soda.others will use baking soda and water as a paste (approximately one tablespoon baking soda and one half teaspoon water.) Another option is 2 tbs of vinegar in one cup of water. You can use them both also.

Another way that others have tried (or started rather) is using less shampoo over time and shampooing less often until shampoo is eliminated completely.

Some people say that it is a very small inconvenience, others say that it was an oily mess. I have seen the no shampoo thing work. I knew a bunch of granola’s when I was younger and not using shampoo was just the tip of the ice burg. But I know, it is possible for it to look and feel clean even though its only been washed with water.

But for the most part in my opinion, it looks gross, and feels worse. Hygiene is so important to me, and being deficient in that area is unacceptable.  obviously I see that this movement has its need, its time, and its place.  But while I can appreciate this movement, I don’t plan on actually doing it myself. Unless I absolutely had to, its important to know how to do things like this. Really.

Also, in my research, people have said it takes them anywhere from 3 weeks of no washing to 8 months before the oil in their scalp evens out. Most people who stuck it out, say that if you just stick it out, it makes it worth it.

Here are a few things I’ve found that are all natural that can help clean and/or  condition/improve hair health of your hair.

Burdock: root helps prevent dandruff

Catmint: leaves encourage hair growth and soothes scalp irritations

Chamomile: flowers soften and lighten hair

Flannel Mullein: lightens hair

Goosegrass: tonic and cleansing, helps prevent dandruff

Henna: red hair dye and conditioner

Horsetail: non-fertile stems and branches strengthens the hair

Lavender: antiseptic, antibiotic, stimulates hair growth, and degreases

Lime: flowers clean and softens

Marigold: lightens hair color

Nasturtium: for hair growth

Parsley: enriches hair color and gives a nice luster

Rosemary: tonic and conditioner, one of the best herbs to use, gives luster and body, also slightly darkens the hair. (This is good to use if you notice your hair lightening due to baking soda use.)

Rhubarb: the root makes a yellow hair dye

Sage: tonic and conditioning, darkens the hair

Southernwood: encourages hair growth and helps prevent dandruff

Stinging Nettle: tonic and conditioning and helps prevent dandruff

Witch Hazel: leaves and bark are astringent and cleanses oily hair

Most recipes using these herbs call for dried or fresh, you can boil it into a tea and infuse it into your rinse routine (or make it a rinse all by itself). The oils will work as well, but make sure they’re pure, and use very little. A few drops can go a long way!

~~~

Sometimes things just aren’t working. I found this list of trouble shooting techniques:

Long Hair:
Comb your hair from scalp to tips before you go into the shower to loosen dirt and detangle. You may need to use a bit more baking soda in your mix (one tablespoon per 250mls/1 cup of water. If you need more, use two tablespoons and two cups, or three tablespoons and three cups. Don’t overuse your baking soda, or you will end up with dry hair! Less is more.)
Frizzy Hair:
You’re probably using too much baking soda, or leaving it in your hair too long. Try adding honey, or rubbing a little bit of moisturizing oil onto your hair (coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, extra virgin olive oil…).
Greasy Hair:
Some people experience an adjustment, or “de-tox” period of greasiness as they transition to no-poo. Do not over-wash, it will pass soon! If you’ve been using your routine faithfully and experience greasy hair, try using less ACV in your rinse, cut out honey if you’ve been using it, try switching to a citrus rinse, or use a comb instead of a brush to style your hair.
If you have greasy hair and need a quick fix on a day when you’re not washing your hair, try applying a tiny bit of cornstarch to your scalp and combing through to the ends. Remember, greasy hair does not mean dirty hair, it probably doesn’t need to be washed!
Dry hair:
If your hair is very dry, you may have used too much baking soda and should lesson the amount. You may also need to use more ACV in your rinse. Also, try smoothing a tiny bit of oil into your hair either after you shower, or in the morning. A tiny bit is all you need. Coconut oil works well, and smells great!
If you find your hair is chronically dry, and you like the idea of a hot oil treatment every so often, you can follow one of these recipes, the latter is best for dry hair and the former is a hot oil treatment for occasional use :
– 1 teaspoon soybean oil
– 2 teaspoons castor oil
Combine ingredients then warm on low heat. Massage mixture into the scalp and hair. Wrap hair in a hot towel for 15 minutes. Shampoo & rinse out.
– 1/2 cup of dried rosemary leaves
– 1/2 cup olive oil
Combine ingredients then heat up until warm. Strain. Coat the entire scalp and ends of hair with the oil mixture. Wrap hair in saran wrap and a towel over that, leave on for 15 minutes. Wash hair twice to remove the oil. Use this treatment twice a month or when your needs a deep conditioning. Leaves your hair shiny and rehydrated.
If you want, or need the occasional deep condition, especially if you have very long hair with breakage at the ends, you can try a mix with one small jar of real mayonnaise and 1/2 of an avocado. Mash them together in a bowl with your hands until it’s a minty green colour, then smooth onto your hair. Put on a shower cap, or wrap your hair in saran wrap and leave on for 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing clean. If you’re using this only for the tips of your hair, or for very short hair, half the ingredients.
If you swim regularly in pools, or have very chlorinated water you may find your hair dries easily. To help prevent chlorine damage after you’ve gone swimming, try mixing one egg, one eggshell’s worth of olive oil with one quarter of a peeled cucumber. Blend together, spread evenly onto hair, leave in ten minutes and then rinse well. See also [I have hard water!]
If you regularly blow-dry, stop! Scrunch with a towel and then let your hair air-dry. Curling, straightening or kinking your hair using hot irons can also attribute to drying and breakage. You can also try using a boar-bristle brush to brush your hair with, this will distribute your hair’s natural oils evenly. Though be warned that you don’t need to use it all the time, and using it too much might actually make your hair feel more oily then usual!
White Build-up:
You’re probably using too much baking soda! Remember, you only need one tablespoon per cup (250mls) of water, for long hair, you only need a maximum of 2-3 tablespoons. It doesn’t seem like much, but it goes a long way. For easier distribution, keep a little cup with some baking soda in the shower and take a pinch and apply to wet hair, then rub in.
Itchy hair/scalp:
Try infusing your rinse with tea tree, rosemary or lavender essential oils (only a few drops at the most!) Try changing your rinse routine. Add a bit of honey, try a rosemary tea rinse… experiment! For itchy scalp caused by build-up or dryness, try adding a few pinches of brown sugar (not white, as it will dissolve) to your wash and rubbing it through. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. If you use any oils on your scalp (like jojoba, or coconut), stop and see if that makes a difference. See also [I have hard water!]
Dandruff:
Skin cells flake and slough off the body all the time, normally skin go through the cycle of dying and being replaced once a month. If this process is sped up and the skin cells aren’t removed, you get dandruff. Although the real causes of dandruff are still unknown, most theories involve the sebaceous glands being plugged, or overproducing.
To help control dandruff you can use a mild acidic solution on your scalp, before shampooing, about twice a week.
– 1/2 cup Water
– 1/2 cup of White Vinegar
Combine ingredients then apply directly to the scalp. Use before shampooing. Apply twice a week.
If you’re using any oils on your scalp (coconut, jojoba, etc – not essential) stop and see if that helps. Also try adding some brown sugar to your baking soda wash and massage it into your scalp to help slough away flakes. Don’t use white sugar, it will just dissolve.
Limp or weak hair:
You are over-conditioning! Cut back on how often you use a conditioning rinse. If you’re using hot oil treatments, try going a little longer between them. Think about which moisturizing ingredients you’re using in your routines, and cut back where you can.
I have hard water!
There are several things you can do if you have hard water, which can be very drying and cause damage to hair. If you can afford to install a water softener, which range anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, have it done. If you can’t, use distilled water or boiled water to wash your hair with. It won’t remove all the impurities, but it can make a difference.
Here are a few recipes for making your own hair spray and hair gel.
Hairspray:
1/ Chop 2 lemons, add 2 cups water, and simmer in a pan over low heat until lemons are
quite soft. Cool, then strain through cheesecloth. Pour into a spray bottle, add 1 Tbsp.
vodka, and shake. Dilute with water if too sticky.
The vodka ensures it lasts a long time.
2/ Chop one lemon (or an orange for dry hair). Place in a pot with 2 cups water. Boil until half of the initial amount remains. Cool, strain, and place in a spray bottle. Store in the refrigerator. If it is too sticky, add more water. Add one ounce rubbing alcohol as a preservative and then the spray can be stored for up to two weeks unrefrigerated.
Hair Gel (#1 is not vegan, #2 is):
1/ 1/2 to 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup warm water
Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup warm water. Keep refrigerated and use as you would a purchased gel.
2/ One cup water
2 tablespoons flax seed
1-2 drops of essential oil of your choice.
Combine the water and seeds in a small saucepan, bring them to a boil and then remove from heat. Set aside for a half hour. Strain through a colander. When completely cooled, add the oil and mix through. Transfer to a wide-mouthed jar with a tight lid (mason jars work well!), and use as you would any other gel product.

So yesterday I picked up the netted bag I’d purchased the day before of peaches from the “Fresh and Easy” market down the road from where I live. I totally love shopping at that store. But I think, because of the heat the peaches were angry because overnight they got so soft, and some of them had spots on them.

Now granted, they were relatively small and werent hard to begin with, but they went south fast. So I parboiled them, and peeled them, mashed them up and made jam with them.

the recipe I used, is as follows:

Sweet Peach Jam

Juice of 1 medium lemon

3 cups mashed peaches (about 2-2 1/2 pounds)

3/4 cup peach Schnapps

1 pouch liquid pectin (3 ounces)

7 cups sugar

I was afraid it wouldn’t gel with so much liquid but it did. It doesnt taste anything like alcohol and I boiled it for 7 minutes or so, so I am sure there isnt any actual alcohol left in it. But it really really does give a lot of peach flavor.

I processed it, in 15, 4oz Kerr Jars. I decided to make it in smaller jars because I wasnt sure what I would use it for (other than making thumbprint cookies and maybe adding to a chicken marinade for some dish.)

A while ago, someone suggested smaller jars for smaller batches so that I could kind of test of flavors and recipes, and be able to give them out and let more people try them while not spending more incase they didnt like them. Also I think that being able to make several flavors in the small jars will be awesome because then I can give 3 or 4 jars away at a time in sampler sets. which may be awesome for Christmas.

D has a huge family and they always do a Christmas thing, no need to remind me, I am still away that I am a Jew, but I do give gifts to my children for Christmas, its about family and fun for us, not religion.

So, its super yummy, amazing really. But even D asked me what the heck I was doing making Jam on SUCH a hot day. I told him, its either today or not at all tomorrow the peaches will be dust. (Ok maybe not that bad, but gross enough to not want to make them into something else.)

So this totally isnt my idea nor is it my pictures.  But I found this while bouncing around looking at easy tips for getting started with gardening.

I am of the mind that you should start on a small scale if you don’t really know what your doing, buy books, do research and talk to people.

The reason that I think that this is such a good idea is because you can do it in your house, near any window and its a cheap easy way to get started with gardening.

The page I found this on was an untitled document page. I don’t even realize that anyone could see it. I’m not trying to take information from anyone’s page (If you know the address that this page came from, please let me know and I will give proper kudo’s, its just that I found this at work, saved all the pics and data and emailed it to myself. Its easier than making notes (which I do a lot, but notes are time consuming) Bookmarking ar work is difficult because I cannot research further from home.

I appreciate finding things like this though and being able to share it, I think over all it enhances the ability to share without having to charge anyone for what I find, and it makes it easier for people just starting out to find all of the information they are looking for without finding snippets of information in 100 different places (or more).

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I thought that I would announce, that my oregano sprouts died.  I forgot about them.  they were in a brown standing back with a plastic bag and they were in a corner. I should have put them somewhere more prominent. I am going to continue to try.  I WILL get better at it.  I am certain that I will.

I was reading over some of my posts and realized that I never followed up on that. I messed it up and I should take responsibility. We are all going to falter and flop. Its trying again and not worrying about the previous mistakes that helps us to persevere.

Because of the work that D does, there are a lot of his customers who store food, know about storing food, wish they were storing food, or atleast understand storing food.

D’s work is from home. His workshop is partially in the garage and partially in the basement. So if he wants to show someone something or they are hanging out while D works on their stuff they go down to the basement which is where my food strage space is. Its not hiding away. Where we live and what my D does means that we dont worry what people see, since most people already know what they should be doing. Also the ones who would be welcome here if the SHTF already know that they would be welcome, just bring your gear along with them.

Anyhow my point was that 2 of his associate/ customers have given me some really amazing tips in the last few days. The alarm system guy who did the alarm/camera system in our house had a chat with me about seeding in Arizona. I was talking about how I wanted to purchase a collection of seeds from http://www.arkinstitut.com and he said that he had actually, not only done that but planted a lot of them but, because we are in arizona it is not the best place to grow all of the vegtables but there are a bunch of amazing veggies that grow really well here that they don’t offer here. So J mentioned another website that I should look at……http://www.rareseeds.com.  I haven’t checked it out yet but I have a lot of faith in it. Also its made me think a lot about looking for a book about gardening specifically in Arizona. I think that might be a good idea for any state you live in, when I buy it, I will let you know what book I find, and if I find any useful information. He also mentioned a local Arizona norsery called Baker Creek nursery for seedlings and seeds. I gotta check them out too.

Also I was talking to another friend/customer of my man’s today and he mentioned Honeyville Farms, He said it was near the 10 east of the 10 actually, he said that it was on Chandler… (note to self more than anything***) He said it was a place like a mormon store house for food storage but more stuff and although a bit more expensive it really was reasonably priced and ALOT in number 10 cans.

So that had nothing to do with my actual post but I honestly think that these insights from locals AND people who have some experience means a lot.

Because of a recent death in our family, I havent been able to even try out my bread maker let alone experiment with it. :/….. But today I prepared a bunch of potatos for dehydrating and then I started in on the bread. my first loaf of a basic white french loaf. I thought it was lacking a little in the salt department even though I actually followed the recipe to a T…. But with a little butter on the warm bread it was amazing, my kids all had some, D’s dad had some, so did our roommate and they all liked it a lot.

I am now baking another loaf “basic white” I would have started with that but I didnt have any “Open” dry milk, I didnt really want to break out a 5 gallon bucket for bread…. not for this. So D’s father picked some up for me at the store and that is actually running right now. Tomorrow morning I am going to make some cinnomon raison swirl bread and we will go from there. I really wanted to try some basics before I stepped into experimentation. I purchased a book on bread machine recipes and I will expound upon different recipes once I have tried the basics and try newer different things from there.

I am rambling. But I really am excited about this step and am glad i have finally had the opportunity to make a few loafs of bread in my new bread maker! YAY!