Author Archives: S

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Every year I have a bumper crop of chives, regardless of the weather. I’ve started using the blossoms as I can’t possibly eat all the chives themselves, especially if I let them spread their seeds everywhere. My favorite way of using the flowers is making flavored vinegar.

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Simply fill a mason jar with the fresh beautiful flowers and top off the jar with white vinegar. (If you want to get fancy, white wine vinegar is amazing in this.) Let the jar sit in a dark place for a couple weeks. When the vinegar is a pretty pink color, it is ready to use. Strain out the blossoms and use the vinegar on everything! Its got an awesome light onion flavor, it tastes so good on salads, raw veggies or anything potato.

Let me know if you try it!

Supplies:

Jars (https://amzn.to/2UrfDTh )

Chive seeds ( https://amzn.to/2yWd3hq )

Vinegar

My New Greenhouse

Guys, I’m so excited about my greenhouse. It was a birthday gift from a friend but I’ve finally got the chance to set it up and start using it. If you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen it but here’s a quick pic and the promised review:

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Greenhouse!

It recommended two people to set up but it really was only a one person job, the trickiest part was getting the tarps on. It’s 6x6x8’.
It has stood up to strong wind and rain in the Canadian spring season. My plants inside are super happy. It has two built in shelves with lots of space for more shelves of your own.

Here’s a quick amazon link if you want to check it out for yourself (https://amzn.to/2ZfFMIR)

Dehydrating Apples

I try never to waste food, but especially right now during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s not so simple to just go to the store.
I had a bag of apples that the kids just weren’t eating fast enough so I decided to dehydrate them before they went bad (they were already on the soft side).
I used a mandolin slicer (you can get the same one here) to slice the apples thinly. I put them in water with a bit of lemon juice while slicing to keep them from turning brown.
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I then spread them out on my dehydrator and turned it on low for about 12 hours. I like to add the chips to muffins and loaves but you could also rehydrate them and turn them into apple sauce. My dog likes to eat them as treats and they’re a lot healthier than some other treat options.
To store, I put them in a mason jar with an oxygen absorber. You could also vacuum seal them but I don’t expect mine to hang around too long as I’m already planning ways to use them.

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Unsure Times

For about the past month or so, my Facebook, Instagram and email inboxes have been overflowing. My texts almost constant. So, rather than type a response a hundred times, I’m now directing people here to my blog. (Yes, I’m back to writing after much too long).

First; preparedness is not about hoarding. I have 4 boxes of Kleenex, maybe 9 rolls of toilet paper and 6 cans of chicken noodle soup. Preparedness is about knowing what to do.

To survive, the human being needs: air, water, shelter and food, pretty much in that order. So, I know how to purify water, I can walk outside and find an edible plant within 5 feet of me pretty much wherever I am. I constantly learn as much as I can. All the gear in the world is nice,  but if it ran out, or you had to leave it behind, knowledge weighs nothing.

I’ve always been open to teaching people how to garden, how to can, how to forage for wild edible and medicinal plants. (Hopefully starting a YouTube channel soon!) If it gives you peace of mind, let me help you. I’m not interested in opening a survival school, but one on one, small groups or online, I’ll teach you what I can to help you sleep better at night, knowing you can take care of yourself and your family, without 300 rolls of toilet paper.

Specifically related to the current virus (covid-19): stay hydrated, rest up, eat healthy. Don’t panic. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to soap and water at the moment. Reach out to your friends and family, take care of each other. The human being is a social creature, we need our community. Be decent.

Its ok to be afraid, things are a little uncertain right now. But I’m afraid of everything (thanks a lot PTSD) and I’m actually very calm about this, surprisingly, given the immune status of some of my family.

Try not to give in to panic, keep your cool, and figure out what’s actually important. Most of what’s truly important can’t be found in any store or bought for any amount.

Be safe, be prepared and be kind.

 

Sour Cherries

Hey! I was lucky enough to find a sour cherry tree in my neighbourhood. So I took the kids and we loaded up. 

We got a good amount in a short amount of time. The trees are almost always full of fruit because people try one, thinking they’re regular cherries and don’t like them due to the sourness.

I had enough to make jam so I tried a new recipe. It didn’t set for me but next time I’ll either add pectin or boil longer. It’s still delicious and is being used in drinks and on ice cream.
I took 12 cups of pitted sour cherries and 5 cups of white sugar. Bring to a boil and left it boiling heavily for about an hour while my jars (8 250 ml jars) were in a hot water bath.


At this point I’d recommend testing for viscosity by taking out a bit and doing the wrinkle test.

I was impatient I guess and just canned it at that point. I left 1″ headspace in my jars and then boiled the jars for 10 minutes. They then sat on the counter for 24 hours while they sealed and cooled.
If you didn’t want to go this route, sour cherries are also good dehydrated with a bit of sugar, or frozen and added to baked goods.

Foraging Garlic Mustard

 
Let me start off by saying I meant to blog this last week but I ended up with a sick kid and TWO emergency visits to the vet with my dog (that was an unexpected nearly $1000 bill!) and I’ve been making as much products for my business as I can to make up for the expense. 

Anyways, garlic mustard grows nearly everywhere. It’s one of the first plants to come up in spring and most people think it’s just a weed. It’s all over my yard right now and the park we go to is full of it, it’s very easy to get lots of it. 

The smell is obviously oniony/garlicky. I’ve seen people add it to salads but I personally like to make it into a pesto with lemon juice or just purée it. Then I put it in ice cube trays and freeze it, adding it to dishes as I need. 

(My camera did well for this pic! I love it)

There’s a close up of the leaves and flowers, when the flowers open they are small and white. There’s lots of information around the web on garlic mustard so make sure you research before you forage! 

Good luck finding it and I hope you like it! 

Seed bombs! 

Here’s a fun little project you can do with your little preppers! Seed bombs are little balls made of seeds and growing medium.  The ones we made were clay, soil and seeds.

You need:

4 parts air dry clay (found here)

1 part potting soil

1 part seeds


Mix your clay so that its pliable, add in your soil and then add in your seeds. We made two types of seed bombs: one with local edible and medicinal herbs and the other with wild flowers.


Let them dry 24 hours and then spread them around! A great way to beautify (or make usable and an additional prep!) an empty space!

Here’s the ones the kids did!
Love the idea, don’t have the time? These things seem to be popular on etsy and you can find them there (including my shop soon!). Get out there and guerrilla garden!

Prepping with Pumpkin

Tis the season of the pumpkin!

A couple days after Halloween, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted some pumpkins left over from landscaping. They were large and hadn’t been carved so I said sure! I hate to see them go to waste.

  This picture is the smallest of the three I received.

Two I opened up, gutted and saved the seeds then cut up and roasted the flesh for puree (more in a sec). The third made for great machete practice!
To make the pumpkin purée, I cut the flesh (after scraping etc) into manageable sized chunks and put them on a cookie sheet with skins up. I baked them at 350 F for about 2 hours (they had super thick flesh, start at 45 minutes, it’s ready when a knife passes easily through). Let them cool a bit then scrape all the good stuff off the skins with a spoon and let cool further. The skins then went into my compost.


The roasted flesh then went through my blender (but you could easily use a food processor or food mill) then into freezer bags.

If you’re freezing it, get as much air out as possible and freeze flat. You can also dehydrate the pumpkin purée, if you don’t have the fruit leather tray covers, use parchment paper to line your trays.

Half the seeds I roasted for a snack for my family and the other half will be planted come spring.

Pumpkins are cheap and plentiful this time of year, with many grocery stores putting them on clearance after Halloween or thanksgiving. Don’t pass up your chance for a whole lot of food for little money!

  About 3/4 of the above pictured pumpkin.

Medical Adventures and SHTF

As you know, I’ve been absent for a while and I’d like to share with you a bit of what happened and how it would play out in an emergency scenario.

In January 2014, after having tried unsuccessfully for years and being told it was impossible, I became pregnant. Almost right away there were issues. I started bleeding heavily and was told I had miscarried. We ran some blood tests and my hormone levels weren’t going down so the doctor scheduled an emergency ultrasound to be followed by a dilation and cutterage (d&c) to remove the failed pregnancy. The tech at the ultrasound place asked if I was dating the pregnancy and sadly I replied that no, we were confirming my miscarriage. To our surprise, the baby was still there, heart beating and jumping around. The problem was not the baby, it was a huge sac of blood between my uterus and the placenta. This is called a subchorionic hemorrhage and can be very dangerous, so I was sent to the top high risk obstetrician in the city. The blood, it turns out, could do a few things; it could grow and disconnect the placenta thus ending the pregnancy. It could stay as is and not allow the baby room to grow. It could bleed out or it could re absorb. In any case, I wasn’t allowed to lift more than 5-10 lbs, raise my heart beat or sweat or do anything strenuous. I continued to bleed until I was 17 weeks pregnant.

At my 13 week tri-scan, I screened positive for neural tube issues. The baby could be missing its head and/or part of the brain, could have an open spinal cord such as spina bifida or could end up having Down syndrome. The doctors encouraged me to think of my options because there was the chance of miscarriage, stillborn or no quality of life. I chose to keep on and get more tests. After rigorous testing, it was determined that baby was healthy and I had screened positive due to the extra blood protein from the hemorraging.

At 23 weeks (1 week before viability here), the baby had stopped growing. At this point I was at the high risk clinic about once a week so we listened to the heart beat and booked yet another ultrasound for the baby. If he still wasn’t growing, we’d need to get him out of there and into the NICU. Thankfully, he put on an oz between visits.

Then, as if this wasn’t enough fun, I developed gestational diabetes at 30 weeks. I was expecting this as I had it with my previous pregnancies but it showed up late this time. This meant a huge diet change, multiple blood tests a day and 4 shots of insulin into my abdomen a day. My doses kept changing because the way the baby was reacting to the sugars and insulin.

Because of how high risk I was, the doctors encouraged labor as much as possible. I endured 3 painful membrane sweeps, ate ridiculous food and tried every old wives tale. Nothing worked and the little guy stayed where he was. Turns out he was transverse (so across my belly instead of head down). I then, very hugely pregnant in the middle of August with no a/c, had to do all sorts of crazy yoga poses etc to get baby head down. I wasn’t allowed to go past my due date and my OB booked an induction for the day of. I could be called in anywhere from 6 am to 10 pm but if not by noon, it probably wouldn’t be happening. I of course couldn’t sleep so was wide awake by 6. No call. Took my big kid to school for 9. No call. Finally had early dinner at 4, with still no call. At 5:30 I was rushing to the hospital with bad cramps and broken waters. Around 5 hours later I had my boy. He was healthy but with low blood sugars so the NICU was still an option. Finally they let me go home after two nights and then it was just me and a newborn and my big kid.

I was supposed to take things “easy” after child birth. Yeah right. Landed myself back in with the Dr because I was hemorrhaging from too much strenuous activity (aka taking care of the household). Finally, everything got sorted and I thought life was back on track.

Fast forward to February. Baby H was now 5 months old and the rest of us had adjusted to the new addition fairly well. Around the 21st I had a stomach ache but attributed it to the crappy dinner we had eaten to celebrate a birthday. But it didn’t go away all night. By morning I was fine but anytime I ate, it hurt within an hour again. So I thought I had a stomach flu, which was going around anyways. By the 24th I called the Dr because maybe I had something viral? It was a yucky stomach bug but I didn’t think much of it. Saw the Dr on the 26, she palpates my stomach but I had no pain response etc so she prescribed me pills for acid reflux but ran some blood tests just in case. February 28 I got a call before the Dr office even opened telling me I needed to go to the emergency room.

In the emergency room they told me my pancreas had shut down, my liver was almost pooched and my gallbladder was definitely shot. I had several blood tests, ultrasounds, an MRI etc. Turns out I had a gallstone stuck in my common bile duct. I should have been in excruciating pain but I have a high pain tolerance (which the Drs have said before). The other patients with the same problems were taking morphine. I only took anti nauseants because I wasn’t allowed food for 6 days. On the 5th day I had an endoscopy where they stuck a camera and tube down my throat, through my stomach and cut a hole in my bile duct to push the stone into my intestines so I could pass it that way. Well the stupid stone got stuck on the camera and I have it to this day (it has been named Herman by one of the nurses). I immediately felt better and my toxic blood levels dropped significantly. I stopped looking like Mr. Burns.  On day 6, I had 4 incisions made into my abdomen and they pulled out my gallbladder and repaired a hernia that I had no idea was there (turns out the hernia was of their own making and is quite common with abdominal surgeries). It was around a 5 hour surgery. Finally, I was allowed to go home and have my kids again!! This emergency room visit that my Dr had said would take a couple hours had turned into the hardest week of my life. The Drs then dropped the bombshell on me that I couldn’t lift 10+ lbs for a month or I could pop the hernia right back out or rip my stitches. They expected me to somehow be a mum and basically not move. My mother showed up twice a day to move the baby from the bedroom to the living room and back. I could barely nurse since I was able to lift him (or be on my sides). I lasted two weeks before I started lifting him (which out of 4 wasn’t too bad for stubborn old me).

My most recent medical adventure (besides of course the regular sort of flus, colds, childhood illnesses and mastitis) has been a breast cancer scare. So far the results have been negative (ultrasound, antibiotics etc) but we also have no answers. (update march 2020, it wasn’t breast cancer, but now have a new breast cancer scare in the middle of a pandemic. Mammogram/ultrasound/biopsy scheduled for next week)

Sorry for the long explanation, the point is: if the SHTF, I probably wouldn’t have survived most of this. I have medical training but I certainly not a doctor. Even my surgeons were stumped, I had a 4 mm stone blocking my duct and I felt fine. I was literally dying and had no clue. After my gallbladder went through pathology, I was told there had been a 9 cm stone in there as well. So think like a grapefruit or just shy of a softball. My gallbladder could have easily ruptured. How do we prepare for this? I might have been able to (poorly) perform the surgery on someone else but there’s no way I would have a diagnosis without blood tests and imaging.

My best answer I suppose is to make sure yourself or someone in your group is medically trained in some form and to keep everyone at peak health through diet, exercise, proper sleep and regular doctor visits.

Chive Seeds

Tis the season for gardening and any prepper can tell you that the more food you can grow on your own, the better.

I have a huge clump of chives in my back yard. They come back every year and spread from their roots so I had no idea they had seeds or that I could harvest the seeds to share.

To start, you need to find a clump of chives that has flowered. Select flowers that have mostly dried out.

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The tips of the flowers should be white and thin like tissue paper. The next thing I do is separate the flower blooms from the stem, to make them easier to sort.

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The dry flowers I set aside for processing and the not so dry flowers I either let air dry for a few days or compost if they are not even close to being ready.

When you pull apart the flower, inside you will find a dark green to black ball, this is where you will find the seeds. Cut this apart, it should divide into three parts, leaving you with some sacks covered in a thin green film.

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In each of these sacks is two chive seeds, gently remove the green film to reveal two small black seeds. Set the seeds aside to dry (I put mine on a paper plate away from any breeze) and then store. Chive seeds can be finicky and may only last a year even under optimal storage, so be sure to share with your friends.

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Here is a link for some chive seeds if there are none local to you : https://amzn.to/2UcXfyR