Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Murphey's Preparedness

     Well first of all I'm glad I'm prepared. Sunday night I had the privilege of finding out that my washer broke. I usually don't do laundry on Sundays, however since my husband works the night shift he starts a little before midnight. I had such a busy Saturday that I looked over doing his work clothes. The washer did a good job up until the rinse cycle and then... kaput. I think I busted the belt, as I can still hear the motor humming. We'll have to see. What could I do? Would he have his work clothes on time? Thanks to preparedness the answer was yes. Several years ago I had purchased a Rapid Washer from Lehmans Non-Electric and an antique (vintage?) wringer in excellent useable condition off of Ebay. After a good rinse in a bucket in the tub and a squeeze through the wringer I threw them in the dryer to be done just in time.
     A lot of time when we and others discuss preparedness the assumed reasoning is to be prepared for the big stuff- loss of an income, natural disaster, economic collapse, nuclear bombs, EMP's etc. But as the quote on my home page says:
Preparedness, when properly pursued, 
is a way of life,
not a sudden, spectacular program.
     As the Bible tells us, its the little foxes that spoil the vines. Being prepared when a major appliance goes out doesn't sound like the breathtaking situations we prepare ourselves for, but they do occur, and when we least expect, or can afford them. Preparing for these things in small ways can keep a situation from becoming critical. You don't have to spend big bucks on fancy equipment- grab a couple extra toilet plungers from the dollar store and a couple free icing buckets from the local bakery. A length of cordage scrounged from the garage (provided its grease free) and your problem is solved for under $5. 
     I have really been debating for the last year if I would benefit from a Wonder Wash. I have seen many stellar reviews about them, and several reviews that say they are garbage. What have you heard, do you have one of your own? I have wanted one for several years, but then after reading reviews I must admit I'm a bit skeptical.
     In case you want to brush up on your hand washing knowledge and skills, here is a good reference page on the art of washing clothes by hand HERE. Until next time, I hope you appreciate your electric machines. My back knows I sure do!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dry Bean Conversion and Chili Recipe

     Beans Beans the musical food storage staple! Ok Its been a while for recipes, and what better food storage staple to use than beans?  Beans have a long and glorious heritage, and so does one of our most common foods made from beans- chili. 
     The star of the south, beans can be used in multiple ways, from soups and stews, mashed and fried (or refried as it were) and even as flour! Click HERE for an excellent article on using beans and some little know ways to sneak them into foods without the family noticing.
     One of the things that always gets me though, is how many dry beans equals a can of beans, and vice versa when it comes to recipes. So I'll let you in on a little secret chart I keep written in my recipe book whenever I forget. Also remember that this is for the average bean sizes. There are of course the Limas and then the tiny little beans that you can find as well such as black beans or the smaller red beans. You would probably have to work out your own conversions with these oddball sizes. But for the average joe bean (no not coffee beans) this will work well:

1# dried beans = 2 cups (uncooked)
1# dried beans = 5.5 - 6.5 cups cooked
1 cup dried beans = 3 cups cooked
One 16oz can = 2 cups (with the liquid) or 1.5 cups drained
3 cups cooked beans = 6 servings
1/6-1/8 cup dried beans = 1 serving

     The chili recipe we use is (surprise!) from and listed as a Wendy's copycat recipe. Even for those that haven't tried Wendy's chili (which anymore doesn't taste as good as it used to) this is just perfect. I have since tweaked the recipe as the one on is a bit hotter than Wendy's usually makes it. But otherwise it is exactly the same (and I worked there for three years when I was younger, so I know). Here is my tweaked version:

1# hamburger fried and drained
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans with liquid
1 can pinto beans with liquid
{Note: with our handy dandy conversion chart this equal s 1/2 cup each of kidney and pintos prepared in the usual manner}
1/2 c. chopped onions
2 cans rotel tomatoes (or you can used diced tomatoes and add in 1/2 c. diced green chillies)
1/4 c. diced celery
1-3 t. cumin 
1 T. chili powder (or to taste)
3/4 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1-1.5 c.  water

     Throw all together in a slow cooker or dutch oven for 3+ hours, stirring occasionally. If your from the west serve it with fry bread, if you're from the south serve it with corn bread, if you're from the north eat it with rice, if you're from the east, eat it on a hot dog.
     When I make the chili anymore I cut way back on the chili powder if I use the Rotel tomatoes (my son doesn't like a lot of spice), probably about 1 t. Those Rotels can be pretty spicy on their own. I also use more cumin (yay for cumin!) than most people so I use a whole tablespoon (hint 3t. = 1 T.). 
     This chili also cans up really nice as it is easy to double (or more) the recipe (just process for the same time as hamburger). This is also a good recipe to use with dried foods! I have on occasion thrown this together using nothing but the ground beef and the dried vegetables and water. Turns out just the same. Now with my canned hamburger I can have chili whenever I want. AWESOME!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Projects

     A couple days after Lilly was born I woke up at night to feed and change her. Upon my waking I had an urgent sense of "must be ready for the cold". Again a couple hours later, it happened again. Now usually I don't have foreboding type "premonitions" but this really hung heavy on my mind. This wasn't the kind of fun fall-itchy-knitting-fingers ready, or the kind of enthusiasm for the 101 projects I want to start at the first hint of cool breezes. It definitely had a heavy ominous feeling that didn't make me giddy or thrilled inside.
     Since then I've been really concerned about being ready for the cold. As it is a little vague, I'm not sure what areas I need to be ready in. I feel like getting a general swath of readiness in the clothing, food, and bedding areas of our lives.
     To start off with I decided that my zig-zag afghan needs to be getting finished. I also started a two tone blue granny square afghan for Nathans bed out of some acrylic (yeah I know- I cringed too!) that was given to me. The next afghan will be for the girls bed. I have even had inklings of some cardigan-type sweaters trying to force their way into my thoughts.
     In the sewing department, I'd like to have a new quilt for each bed. I plan on doing plain jane square or puff quilts, one for each bed as well. I've finished up the curtains for the living room and kitchen this week and am also going to start working on some for the kids' room and mine as well. I would also like to do some window quilts if I can squeeze the time out for them. It also goes without saying that that the kidlets will need warm p.j.'s and nightgowns (I'm due for some new ones too) and some heavier type clothes.
     The food department is pretty self explanatory- generally: 1.Get food. 2.Dry or can food 3.Try to find some place to put food.
     I've also been thinking about how this is all from an attempt at being ready for "something", when long ago this was the norm for everyone. Everyone had to store up for the cold seasons in this way. Its such a shame that we, as a "civilization" have had to re-learn the art of "survival" which was just normal everyday life for thousands of years, regardless of where a person lived or how rich or poor they were.
     So Ive been setting up goals through these last few weeks to get small things done in order to see larger long term results. I pray that it gets done, and in the proper capacity in which it is needed.
     What about you? Have you had any feelings of this kind? If so (or not) what are the projects you are working on now, for your benefit this fall/winter? Share with us!