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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Skills, Knowledge and Action

Got skillz?  Got knowledge?

We take a lot of what's around us for granted.  We run down to the store or some sort of specialist (doctor, mechanic, plumber, etc) to get done what needs doing.

I HOPE that as preppers, you've already built the skills and knowledge to take care of the very basics:  Make fire, potable water and shelter.

But what about some of the other stuff?  Some info and ideas -

Making black powder.  Careful, boys and girls.  Got salt peter and sulfur squirreled away?

What edible "weeds" (this guy is a wealth of knowledge), fruits, vegetables and nuts are indigenous to your area?  Do you know when they are in season?  Do you know the ones that will make you ill or dead?  Do you know how to preserve your bounty?

Make buttermilk by adding one tsp of vinegar to a cup of milk.  Wait 5 minutes then use/consume.

How to set a broken bone.

Dressing a rabbit (squirrel, too) - GRAPHIC and lifesaving.

Like biscuits but you're out of baking powder?  Make baking powder by combining  2 tsp of cream of tartar and 1 tsp of baking soda.  You've stored up some cream of tartar and baking soda, right?

You know that pine needle tea is full of great stuff, dontch?  Big on vitamin C, antioxidants and lots of other great things.  Be sure to read the warnings, especially if you are pregnant.

How to make soap.  Scroll down, and see how to render the fats and make the lye you'll need.

Every freshwater fish in North America is edible.

Lost your measuring cup?  A quarter cup is 4 tablespoons.  Do the math.  Oh, and there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.  Do more math.

Lost your scale?  181 pennies weighs about 1 pound.  Do the math.

Pain/anxiety management - please, no fist-shaking prohibitionist comments.  No suggestion here to break a law, even one you may find ignorant or unconstitutional.  Prepping is about making do with what's available.

If things get ugly, your stress level will soar.  If someone is injured and medical assistance is not available, whatcha gonna do?  How are you going to "take the edge off"?

Alcohol is nothing more than the by-product of yeast eating sugar.  As I used to explain to my boys when they were little kids watching me brew beer, yeast eat the sugar, then pee out alcohol and fart out carbon dioxide!

You can make a basic alcohol by adding one pound of white sugar to one gallon of warm water.  Completely dissolve the sugar in the water.  Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of any kind of yeast you have around - make sure the water is no more than 90F.  Keep the mix in a warm, draft-free area, loosely covered (remember the farting yeast!).  In about a week, you'll have alcohol.

Not tasty alcohol, just alcohol.  It will be around 4-4.5% alcohol by volume.  It has a yeast-y, and for some reason citrus-y taste.  Consume with some sort of mixer if available.

Don't add more sugar to get a stronger alcohol, as most baking yeasts are brewing wimps.  They die from alcohol poisoning!  Beer and wine yeasts are specially bred to withstand the higher alcohol levels.

If you can get your hands on some beer yeast, double up the sugar (NOT the water), and you can get an alcohol of around 6-8%.

With a wine yeast, triple up the sugar and get an alcohol of 10-12%.

Don't have any kind of sugar available?  Learn how to mash.  This is the process of extracting the natural sugars out of grains - usually barely or corn. 

In reality, you're extracting the starches and converting them to sugars.  This requires the introduction of some enzymes to facilitate the conversion process.  Luckily, nature provides a way to do this as well.  It's called malting.

And of course, there are fruit juices - grape, apple, etc - that can be fermented as well.  A simple hard cider might be very well received in a difficult situation...

Even here in California, marijuana is technically illegal (though greatly de-criminalized).  If TSHTF, even us non-pot smokers might think it a decent option!

Extracting the THC

MJ recipes.  Very interesting stuff, actually.

Honestly, if I were going to use this stuff, I wouldn't smoke it.  Maybe it's just me, but I can smell pot from a mile away.  I figure others are the same, and sending up a Smoke Signal to, "come take my stuff" doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Accept The Challenge

Start figuring out what you don't know, but need. 

Everything seems to be in a state of flux.  The stock market tanks, then recovers.  Gold and silver soar, then sink - and back again.

Ask yourself:  What does your gut tell you?  Looking at the Big Picture (not your own micro-economy), do you think things will improve or worsen in the US over the next 12 months?  24 months?

I keep getting mixed signals.  I see reports that food prices are going through the roof, yet I see prices falling at the store.  A number of big food companies have announced price increases.  My gut says BUY!, so I am.  As much as I can afford.

The Federal Reserve announces to the world that they're going to devalue our currency.  The result:  At least so far this week, the dollar has gotten stronger and precious metals have tanked.  WTF?   The bulk of the reason for the dollar getting stronger was supposedly due to the euro getting weaker.  Big concerns about Ireland again. 

What I see is that the US economy isn't getting better, the rest of the world is just tanking faster than us.  It's all relative.  We're still going to see big inflationary price spikes because of QEII and the coming tax increases.  My gut says BUY!, so I am.

Image credit - Knowledge Mag

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

Being able to find edible plants is high on my list. But be warned that many who publish and recommend eating various things are not careful. Some of those plants are questionable, that is eating too much of them will make you sick or kill you. In my part of the country some people dabbled with tansy making a tea out of it and one of them died. The authorities were stumped because everyone knew tansy is poisonous and even the dead guy knew it. But they think because they get away with it once that they have figured it out. Another survival blog has advertised magic mushrooms (magic in that they cure cancer etc.) And the person pushing mushrooms claims he will eat a death cap and offer some to people attending his seminar. Be aware that not everyone doing this is intelligent some are phonies.

suek said...

>>And the person pushing mushrooms claims he will eat a death cap and offer some to people attending his seminar.>>

Mushrooms are notoriously difficult to distinguish from one another.

My husband says I'm the only person he knows who can walk among our horses at night and tell which one is which. Impressive, right?? And funny - because I could tell him any horse was any horse and because _he_ can't tell them apart, he'd never know the difference!!

Far as I'm concerned, same with mushrooms.

suek said...


You can't get higher than about 12% alcohol because it kills off the yeasties. To get higher alcohol % than that, you'd have to distill it. As is "build a still".

If you're reduced to making your own soap, it might be just as easy to buy lard as render your own fat. I use animal fat as appropriate for cooking. Lard will keep pretty long as room temperature, and is pretty cheap - now, anyway. In my local groceries, it runs about 1.25 per lb. It's also called Manteca - Mexicans use it more than anglos do these days. Hmmm. Why not just buy _lots_ of soap? I've never heard of an expiration date on soap...

Oh yeah...and my understanding was that there were 5 Tbsp to a quarter cup... Not positive, though. You have your older edition of "Joy of Cooking", though, right? it's in there. (Prego..."it's in there")

Don't bother with the baking powder substitute - just buy several cans now. It keeps. You should also have plenty of baking soda on hand because there are other uses for it, but to be honest, I can't think of much else you'd use cream of tartar for. Unless you're doing a lot of souffles or angel food cake. Or meringues. Somehow I doubt that's really likely...

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, it's so important to figure out what's edible and what's not NOW before being forced to figure it out if a bad situation exists. Personally, I'll never do the wild mushroom gig. Way too many of the killers look like edible ones.

Sue, too funny about the horses!

I've actually made a 17% alcohol with this stuff called Turbo Yeast. Amazing stuff. It can go up to 20% just through fermentation - no distillation needed.

Soap - yeah, we've got a bunch of soap stored away, but I also want to make my own from scratch. Besides the "cool factor" of creating a cleaning substance from fat and ash, you will eventually run out of your stuff it things get truly ugly.

Baking power - once opened, it goes inert fairly quickly - something like 3 months or so. The acid in the cream of tartar reacts with the moisture in the air, and goes weak on ya.

TBS - ya made me look, but there are 16 Tbs to a cup, or 4 to a quarter cup.

suek said...

Disagree on the baking powder - I've had some for years, and it still seems to pack the appropriate punch. Metal can, plastic lid. Of course, I'm in dry dry Ca as are you. That might make a difference. Is there a test to check for efficacy? With yeast, for example, I buy the 1 lb pack at Costco, take some out to leave on the counter in a tight jar, freeze the rest. It keeps a long time, but I always put it into hot to the touch water with about a 1/4 tsp of sugar and wait for 10 minutes. If it bubbles and foams, it's still good. If not, get the frozen out or buy

Yeah. I checked on the 4 Tbsps as well. I guess because I never use Tbsp measurements for quarter cups, I don't think of them in Tbsps. The 5 Tbsp (plus 1 tsp) is for 1/3 cup.

Can I assume you already own the first couple of FoxFire books??

suek said...

By the way...baking cookies for my mid-east serving son, I found that weighing flour as opposed to measuring volume is much more accurate. I tend to "scoop" flour rather than sieve, spoon and measure. How you measure volume can vary pretty significantly, and while it won't matter for something like bread, for cookies and other baked items, accuracy can be important. I have a fairly inexpensive electronic scale - $20 at Harbor Freight - that weighs up to 11 lbs, and shows the weight in lbs or ounces. It tares as well. I've had it for at least 5 years, and although I don't use it very frequently, I haven't had to replace the battery yet. Size is about 6" x 12" x 1.5". Approximately. So it stores well.

Chief Instructor said...

Sue (sorry, somehow I missed your last two comments) - you can verify baking powder power by stirring some into warm water. If it foams, it's still kickin'. When moisture hits the acid/base mixture of the tartar/soda, it foams up.

Weight measurements are much more accurate than volume, as you noted. Most pro chefs will weigh when making large recipes.

The rub is, most recipes are by volume! Something I've noticed with the cooking shows on TV is that the Euros tend to do much more of their cooking by weight.

suek said...

>>The rub is, most recipes are by volume!>>

True. When I was baking cookies for my son - and will be again - I noted the weight on my recipe cards. It doesn't take much difference in the weights to make a difference in the cookies! (they're supposed to be flat and sort of soft. If I wasn't careful, they got kind of humpy and a bit on the crunchy side.

Oblio13 said...

My wife and I do a lot of foraging and mushrooming. Our favorite field guides are by Samuel Thayer.

Of course it's important to identify what you eat. It's also important to realize that ALL foods are toxic. The only question is dose. If you want to prove it to yourself, try getting all your calories for even one day from nothing but, say, broccoli. What could be 'healthier'? Yet your body will violently reject it before you can even come close.

Education and then 'everything in moderation'. Happy foraging.