Monday, June 28, 2010

Moving to a new blog

I've moved to a new blog,
See you there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cooking Corn Tortillas for Tostadas

We love tostadas as a light summer meal, especially when it gets near 100°F. In the winter we usually we bake them in the oven; you can also deep fry them but they often get bubbles that way which makes them structurally weak.

My current favorite is to pan fry them, it doesn't heat up the kitchen so much and is pretty fast. A little oil brushed on and cooked in the pan. I noticed that it was beginning to curl so I put the bacon press on top, they turned out nice and flat and crispy.

There are a architectural rules you need to follow when building a successful tostada. Refried beans are great for forming a foundation, they are sticky so the food stays on the tortilla and not just slid off. It will also hold the tortilla together a little when it breaks. But after a layer of meat, cheese and salsa the beans will be blocked so they can't hold onto the higher toppings. 

Now a layer sour cream or guacamole under the top layer of lettuce and tomatoes and the whole thing holds together even if you drop it, which of course I did. I just used my fork to flip it back over and expect for a few stray bits of lettuce it had held together.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Storm is Coming

There's storms a coming, not just one but several and they look to be coming together as a perfect storm. They will affect the whole world.

Terrorists who want the blood of Americans to run in our streets. 
Dictator bullies who envy everything we have, and want to take everything, even life itself.
Bugs and blights that spread from field to field and destroy crops.
Pandemics that sicken and kill.
Natural disasters that destroy cities.
Politicians that waffle on important issues.
Man-made disasters that pollute. 
Economies that dip and weave.

Then there are small disasters, that are disasters for our families but that go unremarked by the world. A job loss, being hit by a drink driver, or just getting sick.

Why do we prepare? Because we can see these storms coming, these things have happened before and they'll happen again. So we learn from what happened to other people and apply the lessons learned to us and our families and our communities. 

We go outside in the summer time and when we see clouds building, towering into the stratosphere we know that a thunderstorm will soon be upon us. There will be rain, and wind, maybe even hail and tornados. 

Do we still go out on the picnic we were planning? No, of course not, we batten down the hatches. We put the resin chairs in the garage with the bicycles and shut the windows. We run to the store for milk, bread, batteries and ice. 

The storm may miss us like it did last time and the time before that, but we remember the storm that did hit us a few years ago. We talked to the widow down the street who told us about the Big One all those years ago that nearly leveled the town. We hear on the news what's happening to other lands. We read in books what happened in other times. 

Like the ants and the grasshopper, ants live many seasons and so they prepare for the winter. Grasshoppers only live for a season, long enough to mate, lay eggs and die. Grasshoppers will die even before fall, much less winter, comes.

How do you feel when you run out of toilet paper? How do you feel when you're out of toilet paper and you were just at the store? Building a home reserve let's us completely lose that feeling. Oh, out of paper, just go downstairs and pull one off the shelf. No fuss, no muss.

If you're laid off, how would you feel if all you had was that 2 weeks pay severance check, versus if you had 3 months of food and cash stored up at home? What kind of job would you take, what would you sell, if that severance check was all there was between you and foreclosure?

Being prepared is not about being scared, it's about moving beyond fear and getting ready so you don't have to be scared anymore. If your city is shut down because a pandemic has quarantined everyone for two weeks, you know you'll be fine because you have a months food at home and you don't need to go to the store where people are fighting over the last of the milk and bread. 

Preparedness is also about freedom. Say you get a new boss, who's a bully. Who's going to stand up to him or walk away when the economy is in the tank? How much of a hold can he have on you if you have 6 months cash in the bank and a food in the pantry and a garden to grow more.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Preparation 101 What Parts of Your Life Readiness Touches

I thought to list out the major things you need to be conversant with to help put some bounds on the problem of become ready for future events we can see coming or have a distinct possibility of happening. And I found it touches all parts of your life. When it comes to readiness it is in many ways a lifestyle. 

But that is okay, I don't want to spend all my time going to work and staying inside the lines and all that. I want something more, I am okay with doing some things now that will pay off in the future. 

Bad things happen and having an emergency fund and food storage as a cushion let's you absorb the shock and allows you to rebound much more quickly to get back on your feet. Is that really all that different from taking night classes for a better job in the future? 

Taking night class is preparing for something good to happen, an emergency fund and food storage is preparing for something bad to happen. Look at history, then look at the news and what do you think you need to be ready for?

Food Storage
Home Design
First Aid
Personal Finance
AM/FM/TV/Weather Band
Amateur Radio
Mobile Phone
Chemical Spill
Utility Failure
Job Loss
Medical Emergency
Computer Failure
Solar Flare

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thoughts on Guerrilla Food Gardening

One of the big problems with living in an apartment is not having anyplace to plant a garden. A few pots of herbs and other small plants is better then nothing but is not going to produce anywhere near enough to feed a family.

While I really like the idea of permaculture it really does take some actual ground to really pull off a self-sustaining food source. Actually, Oma in East Germany pulled off something that could be called permaculture.

I recently came across Guerrilla Gardening. And while mostly they seem to be about planting flowers and ornamental stuff but only a little bit on vegetables. This is a good strong idea that we can adapt for survival production.

While planting flowers in the median isn't going to keep you alive, even if it is something like an edible nasturtium. There are ways we can leverage this for something good.

We are not going to be plopping a full-on garden in the middle of some park or forest and hope nobody finds it. Where we can get to, someone else can get to, too. Some places, like federal lands, may have other illegal growers already doing stuff. We have to think different.

Seed balls are a great way to get started. Using a little fertilizer, some native edible plant seeds and some clay you can make lots of marble sized seed balls. Now where can we drop them?

Suburban Colorado has a lot of Open Space and Nature Areas. These are often irregular block areas between neighborhoods to provide some buffer space. Most are just empty lots with a sign on it, that are over grown, though the edge will be mown to keep the sidewalks clear and the chance of wildfire down.

Most are full of native prairie grass, which is fine, but even if we use native edible plants they would be out competed by the grass, especially since it is usually so dry here. What we need is some water and shade.

I have noticed a few open spaces that have some trees always are by a creek that runs through them. This is a very good thing. The creek may only be seasonal but with the shade and mulch from the trees it should be okay. The land around a creek is uneven so it is unlikely to be mown.

There is often plenty of trash around blown in by the wind, so people will be coming through cleaning up a few times a year. So expect it to be discovered, so hide it in plain sight and since seeds are cheap spread them out over a large area so there is something left somewhere.

This is not the kind of thing you'll want to visit often, it'll have to take care of itself. To not call attention to yourself you'll want to look like what people would expect, a hiker or birder. A daypack, binoculars and a camera would be expected. A bag for trash would be good too, leaving a place better then you found it is always a good thing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Apartment Survival Strategies

One of the problems of living in an apartment is that you are highly dependent on infrastructure: water/sewer, power, trash and the like.

While an ultimate solution is to bug out to a family member's home in the country; that isn't always possible for many reasons, like if you are trapped because of a blizzard.

So remember the basics: food, water, shelter (heat and light) and medical supplies.

An apartment doesn't have a basement so you'll have to get creative with storage.

Bottled water is easy to store. A great place is under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, because water bottles aren't concerned about moisture and those spaces are often not completely filled anyway.

Food is a little more interesting. Obviously, you are not going to have a big freezer so most of your food will have to be boxed or canned. But that means we can fit it practically anywhere they can fit.

A note about boxes. Food tends to be heavy so don't get big boxes, think small like large shoebox sized.

To make them more useful organize the food in the boxes so that you have several meals ready to go. That way you don't have to dig through a bunch of boxes looking for the right ingredients.

Putting labels of what is inside on the outside so you can find things easily. You could even put recipes in there to make it even easier. If you are worried about peekers, just use a generic label like taxes 1999 and reference code and keep the master list in a safe place, but add the location so you know where to look.

At home improvement and home deco stores you can usually get inexpensive side tables that are some legs, a round top and a fabric covering. There is plenty of room under there for several boxes worth of dry goods.

There are underbed storage boxes that allow you to easily slip lots of stuff under the bed.

There are risers for sofas and beds that give you an extra 6 inches under them. They are made for people who have a hard time getting in and out but this also gives us extra space to store food.

If you pull the sofa out from the wall a little you can stack boxes behind it and disguise it with a board on top and  a fabric covering.

And over the toilet storage rack opens up space for soap, toilet paper and cleaning chemicals.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dr. Wes: The Day After

Dr. Wes: The Day After: "In business, nothing changes quickly. Especially big, money-hungry, bureaucratic machines. But the paranoia will grow amongst the administrative and medical supplier ranks as senior leadership looks to cut back. You see, doctors are just the first.

And then there's the patients. If you're in a big town, you won't notice the difference. That's because in the operating rooms, there will still be one nurse where there had been two. In the ICU's, your nurse will visit you a bit less, but thanks to electronics, she'll still be watching or listening for you. You might notice it's harder to understand the foreign accent of your doctor, but he or she will be pleasant. At least until the next doctor arrives on the night shift.

But for the rural patients. Best of luck. Hope you've got frequent flier miles or low mileage on your car. You're going to need it. I have no doubt that you'll be able to get a telemedicine doctor to see you, provided you have more than a dial-up connection and a new computer with a videocam. What, you can't afford one? Better ask the government for a computer, then, okay? And while you're on the phone, ask them how possible acute appendicitis will be handled, will you?"

So what do you do?
Move to the city? Don't get sick? Don't have accidents?

Think outside the box.