Every year, I make my own salsa and can it. Every year I make more than the previous year and I still haven’t managed to be able to make it last over the winter. My vegetables this year in the garden did terribly, so when I saw that the grocery store had 50 lbs of tomatoes on for $10, I jumped all over that chance.
Here’s my favorite salsa recipe. I got it originally from my friend Judy (may she rest in peace) and altered it because she doesn’t add nearly enough heat for my family.
8 cups of Roma tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
4 cups onions, chopped
4 cups sweet peppers, chopped
1/4 cup vinegar
5 cloves garlic (or to taste)
Jalepeno pepper or to taste (I usually add a lot of jalepenos and Thai chilies but we like it really spicy)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp oregano (to taste)
1/2 tsp coriander
2-3 tbsp salt
Cook until veggies are done then add a small can of tomato paste. Cook for another
5-10 minutes then put into sterilized jars. Place your filled jars in a water bath canner and process for 20 minutes.
Home canned foods can last a long time but are usually best if consumed within a year to 18 months of canning.
Its coming up to back to school time and you know what that means. People are going to be sharing their coughs, colds and flus. Even if you don’t have kids, chances are one of your friends does, or the person behind you in line at the grocery store. The coming of fall just brings out all the fun illnesses that we get to deal with every year.
In our house, we like to be prepared for that sort of thing so we have what we call “sick boxes”. A sick box is just a kit of the typical things that you need while you are sick, all in one place, ready for the next time someone is sick without having to run to the drug store while feeling (and looking) miserable.
A typical sick box might include:
acetaminophen or ibuprofen
vitamin c/Echinacea or other herbal supplements
And whatever else helps you feel better without having to go get it.
A great advantage to doing up a couple sick boxes is that you can get all the supplies while they are on sale or with coupons and don’t have to pay full price or run out at 3 am when your kids are suddenly sick.
An EDC, or Every Day Carry, is a kit that you take with you everywhere. It is smaller than a bug out bag and a bit more than most people usually carry. It is a good idea to carry one of these in your backpack, work bag or purse. Do not leave it in your car (I’ll cover car kits another day).
A basic EDC has enough stuff to get you home should you be stranded at work or school. You can think of it as an extended overnight bag if you will, I usually have most of this stuff in my purse. A basic kit might include:
shampoo and conditioner
toothbrush and toothpaste
a can of tuna or other high protein food
a higher carb option (as seen in the picture –ramen noodles)
chocolate or candy
a way to start fire
a candle or other heat source
a flashlight or glow stick
tea, coffee or other hot drink
a higher sugar and energy content drink (soda or sports drink)
first aid items (the metal tin in my photo contains cotton, ibuprofen and other basic medicines)
Also included (but not seen in the picture) is some money, self-defense tools, a small notebook of basic survival information, basic maps of the city and surroundings, chap stick (which you can use as a fire starter in emergencies) and a book or set of cards in case you get stuck somewhere.
This is a subject that I haven’t really seen a lot of information on out there so I thought I’d let you all know what I do to prepare for those fun once a month times. Men, you may want to stick around too. (Got women in your family? Need something to barter?)
A while ago, I started a non-profit organization that makes and sends reusable menstrual pads to women in need. Before sending my first package (it went to Africa), I decided I can’t very well send a product that I don’t know anything about so I tried them for myself and never looked back.
The premise is simple. Why fill your valuable shelf space with packages and packages of plastic pads and tampons that you will only use once and then throw away. (Throw away where? Now a days to the dump where your biological material can seep out into the water system- gross. Or after an emergency, well I guess you could burn or bury it). I found a simple pattern online (using an envelope style pad with an insert) and make the pads from donated sheets, pyjamas etc. When done with it, throw it in the wash (or to avoid stains, soak in cold water first).
So, we’re saving space and the environment so far (not to mention the almighty dollar!!) Find a pattern online, sew together some pads and hang on to them. Even if you don’t want to use them now (or you’re a guy, or your daughters are too young) it’s not a bad idea to have a sustainable option for when you might need it. Again, you can barter with these if you don’t need them for yourself. My non-profit runs a program where if you buy one pad, one gets donated (we also just donate anyways but its nice to have a little bit of help in the running costs).
Want to make your own? Google it! There’s plenty of free patterns out there and most people have an old flannel shirt or something they can part with.
Strawberry jam is a yearly occurrence in our house. Everyone loves strawberries (so much in fact that last year when I purchased two flats of strawberries, they were gone in a few days before I could make the jam). I always use local strawberries because the flavor is amazing (so much more so than berries that have ripened on a truck).
This is the recipe my grandmother used, I’m pretty sure it’s the Bernardin recipe, so clearly I don’t own it.
Place 8 250ml size jars (available here) on a rack in a water canner and heat to a simmer (make sure water is covering the jars). Heat snap lids separately. Keep hot until ready for use.
Bring mixture of 8 cups strawberries (crushed), 6 cups sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice to a boil slowly. (make sure sugar is dissolved so it doesn’t stick to the bottom). Boil for about 30 minutes or until the mixture thickens and passes the ‘gelling test’. (Coat a spoon with the jam and move it away from your pot, watch the jam slide off the spoon, if it falls in chunks instead of drips, its ready).
Pour your hot jam into the hot jars leaving a quarter inch of headspace. Keep your rims clean! Place your snap lid on the jar and screw the band on until finger tight. Boil filled jam jars for 10 minutes. Pull out and let sit for 24 hours (do not move them).
Traditionally, items canned like this last for about a year (not exactly long-term food storage) but I’ve used them after the year has come and gone.
On Tuesday this week, a water main broke at one of the biggest reservoirs serving our area. We were originally on a water restriction that has now been replaced with a ban. Our city still has tap water but a lot of the smaller towns right around us don’t even have that.
According to our local media, our city uses on average 140 million liters of water per day (about 40 million gallons) but yesterday, our city used 200 million liters (about 53 million gallons). People were seen watering their lawns, washing their driveways and running sprinklers for their children.
Most people in my area do not have a water storage and now a lot of grocery stores are low or out of bottled water. We haven’t had a water ban since 1998.We are surrounded by the Great Lakes so who would think you would need it, I guess is what most people think. BUT:
– this past weekend was Victoria Day, a long weekend that has long been the ‘safe point’ to start your gardening in our area. Many people that participated in the water ban now have dead plants because they don’t have a rain barrel or don’t use their grey water.
– the next town over has no tap water so no showers, no drinking water, no dishwasher and so on. Do you have enough water stored for at least three days of drinking, watering your veggie garden and giving to your pets?
The weather was 30*C (86 F ) yesterday and muggy, I can understand people want to cool down. Here’s a few ideas (based on what I saw in my neighborhood and on social media) for water conservation.
Instead of filling the pool or running the sprinkler for the kids, give them a popsicle, they’ll love you for it!
Stay indoors between the hours of 11-3 when the sun is at its hottest.
As a lesser evil, turn on your air conditioning unit rather than leaving water running.
Take a shorter shower (or use the dry shampoo recipe I gave a few posts ago)
Use paper plates or eat out of the pots that you cook in.
When you shower, leave the plug in and collect the water for use in your garden (grey water)
Buy (or make) a rain barrel (this one is similar to the one I own)
Don’t water your lawn, it will make it grow and then you have to cut it!
Moral of the story: you should probably have some cases of bottled water put aside for drinking and a rain barrel or grey water system (or both!) for your veggies.
Here’s part two of the list I posted earlier.
Soil – I know people that have tens of thousands of seeds but no soil. What happens if you have to plant inside? Or if the soil where you are is too sandy or too much clay? A couple bags of decent quality potting soil are a good idea to keep around. I recently got 10 20 liter bags of soil for $10.
Pets- please don’t forget your four legged friends! Make sure you have food and water put aside for them. You can put aside a couple of bags of kibble that your animals usually eat but you can also make your own dehydrated pet foods. I have also begun to see dehydrated animal food at the specialty pet stores. Just remember if you’re using dehydrated foods to have enough water to rehydrate. Which brings me to the next point.
Water – Yes, most of us have enough to drink but a lot of preppers have dehydrated foods. You need to consider how much water these things will take to rehydrate. What about gardening? There’s really no way to calculate how much water you would need for gardening but using a rain barrel can offset that. But keep in mind, there could always be a drought and if you’re counting on a garden as a large part of your food you better have a back up plan.
Garbage Bags – most people plan to burn their garbage, which is fine. But how about disposing of a body? You don’t necessarily want to be handling that. Or if you have lice, you can bag your clothing and bedding for a couple weeks to kill the lice. You can also use it for quarantine purposes. Make your ill person strip down, bag the clothes and get them into something clean. How about blacking out windows? Using a heavy duty garbage bag taped over windows can help to hide any light showing through (you may have to double up though)
As I talk to more and more people about their preparations, I’ve noticed some things that a lot of them seem to have over looked. (This, of course, is no judgment on them). Here’s a bit of a list of the ones that I’ve noticed over and over.
Entertainment – there is no way I can express how important this really is. It doesn’t matter if you have 30 years of food and water in your location, if you have nothing to do, you WILL go stir crazy. Put a book in your back pack and have everyone in your group do the same, or stock up your retreat location with some books you’ve never read. You can get books cheaply at garage sales or for free on websites such as freecycle.org. Get a deck of cards or some board games. If, for whatever reason, these things are not feasible for you, make a routine as soon as possible in the situation you’re facing. People thrive on routine. (example: wake up, make breakfast, check traps, have lunch, tend garden, make tools, etc). The last thing you need to deal with in a SHTF situation is cabin fever.
Oven mitts/Pot holders – almost everyone I’ve spoken to has the plan to cook over fires but none of them have oven mitts or pot holders to protect their hands. While this isn’t necessary and there are tools that you can fashion out of sticks to do the same thing, pot holders will protect your hands from the burns that you ARE going to get. You can get a pot holder at a dollar store or use a bandanna or scrap of fabric.
Burn care- this goes with the pot holders. People will get burned; a lot of people are relying on fire to cook, clean and heat. There will be burns. I see the med kits people have and most of them focus on cuts or illness. While living in a SHTF scenario, yes, there will be a lot of cuts too but burns require care to prevent infection. Get a tube of burn ointment and bandages or whatever your preferred method of burn care is and have lots of it! (I use straight lavender essential oil for burns, more on this in a later post).
Water additives- it is easy to get diet fatigue when you’re drinking nothing but plain, sometimes boiled, tasteless water. I recommend, especially for those of you with kids, that you stock up on some additives such as Kool Aid, Crystal Light or whatever your favorite drink crystals are. These don’t take up much room and can add a sense of normalcy to your situation. (We use these in our bags, the kids love them)
Again these are just some of the things I’ve noticed and I’m sure I’ll add to the list. Make sure you think of how you’re going to survive and all things required if you had to start from scratch. A big part of prepping is planning!