Saturday, August 17, 2013

Zucchini Chips

Zucchini chips:

Peel and gut the zucchini and chop it into chip sizes. I cheated and used the fine slicing blade on our Kitchen Aide food processor.

Sprinkle generously with a flavor of your choice - we tried white cheddar and Parmesan popcorn flavors and Splenda/cinnamon and that was what we like best. The dried chips seemed to have a slightly sweet natural flavor that went better with the cinnamon.
Don't be shy about putting on the flavorings. The moisture in the zucchini dissolves the flavorings and prevents the fan from blowing off the spices.  It takes about 10 hours at 125 deg F.

So they probably aren't cheeto's, but then they have almost no calories either.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hot Water Heater Safety Valve Maintenance or Blow Up Your Home.......

Here is a great little tutorial on maintaining your hot water heater relief valve:

Now of course if that is too much trouble......:


Aren't these all great videos?  Amazing what an exploding water heater can do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Get Ready, Get Set.......Garden

We have a lot of snow on the ground right now, and I think that more is coming.  But I can't help but feel good about spring. 

The garden books have been coming fairly regularly, and even worse, the baby chick catalogs.  I'm not really thinking of getting any chicks yet, but I know that it is about time to get ready to plant the early garden.

I was just in a planning meeting for our coming spring outage.  We will be totally concentrated on the outage work from about March 16 until the end of April.  So I know I only have about 6 weeks to get in the cool weather crops.  If I don't get them in before the outage, they will still grow, but it will get hot, and they won't really like it.

What to plant for the early garden?  You can plant these crops as early as you can turn the soil.  It doesn't matter if there is still some frost in it.

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Peas, both garden and snow
  • Onions, both seed or sets
  • Carrots 
  • Beets
  • Swiss Chard
I think you could also plant 
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
I'm a little nervous about the potatoes that early, but I think the rest of them would be OK.  The thing is, the seeds won't germinate until the soil warms up, and then when the little plants come up, they are already pretty used to the outdoors and are tougher then if you got them from a green house and transplanted them (think broccoli, cauliflower,  and cabbage).  I'm sure that you could get a hard enough cold snap late in the spring to kill them, but they are pretty tough.  Not like apricot blossoms or tomatoes.

Anyway, this is just a little reminder to my Nearest and Dearest.  I like to buy my seed from Mountain Valley Seeds.  They come in a foil pouch, and are resealable, and you can buy in quantity at a reasonable price.  Happy digging!

Home Made Batteries

Here is a fun little video on how to make batteries from pennies, cardboard and vinegar, or pennies, washers, cardboard and vinegar.  Oh, and of course, electrical tape.  Seriously this could be a handy thing if you badly needed a battery.  It's probably  a lot easier to keep some extra batteries around the house, but this was pretty impressive anyway.

This guy has a lot of interesting things on his site.  This project reminded me of Phoebe's brother melting things....  :)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anatomy of a Breakdown

I thought this was a great article.  Tess Pennington analyzes just what happens when you are caught up in a large scale disaster.  

She outlines the stages that are experienced when people are separated from the electrical grid, from clean water, sewage, transportation and/or gasoline, and normal food and water distribution.  You should probably read the article as it is good and informative, but not hard, but I'm going to give a short outline of it if you are pressed for time.

1.  The Warning: 

There usually is a warning, and often times the warning comes several days in advance of the disaster, earthquakes being exempted from this generalization.  Tornadoes sometimes only have scant warning.  For one reason or another there is a part of the population that decides to stay behind.

2. Shock and Awe: (1 to 2 days)

What a great phrase, but accurate.  It is hard to wrap your mind around the colossal forces that are unleased by these huge and/or violent storms, or the earth moving around like a carnival ride.  It is so far out of our experience that we can't comprehend it.  Those that stay behind are almost always somewhat unprepared for what overtakes them, and the majority are very unprepared.

3. The Breakdown: (3-7 days)

Here is the time when people run out of water, out of food, out of fuel.  The find themselves stranded and shocked by the loss of home and community.  Many of these unfortunate are the ones that the news guy sticks the mic in front of and asks how they feel.  Duh....not great.  Those news guys can be so annoying.

People are expecting things to go back to normal, but with powerlines down, substations trashed, often water mains broken, pumping stations damaged, things don't come back to normal very soon.  The roads might be torn up, rescue resources are stretched to the max and people are hungry, thirsty, cold/hot and very pissed off that their entitled needs aren't met.  Looting begins. You are pretty much on your own then.

4. Recovery: (8-30+ days)

Sometimes this takes years, and things are never the same.

We have a long history of self sufficiency, but we often are lulled into complacency as well.  Lots of times we think that a year's supply of food is a ridiculous amount to have, or we despair that we can hardly afford to pay for this weeks food, yet alone to build up a reserve.

We can't do it all at once.  It is a day-by-day process.  We have to learn to eat differently.  We have to take advantage of all the little resources that are at hand.  Often a good source of food is to process the food that we normally would throw away as being out-of-date, or fruit that is a little soft or bruised.

You can dry it, bottle it, make soup out of it, and bottle the soup.  We throw away hundreds of milk and beverage conatiners that would work just fine to store water in.  We throw away many glass jars that can be used to can jellys and jams, many with pop up lids can be used again and again (we will talk another time about what can be safely bottled in what jar), but you don't always have to buy brand new jars.

WalMart has a hundred camping items that will work pretty well in an emergency.  Buy one per week. 

Try to get by even for a night eating out of your food storage, cooking and lighting with your alternate sources of heat and light.  We had a power outage for a couple of hours early in the Spring.  We were fine for the essentials but couldn't sew, couldn't blog, couldn't surf, couldn't watch embarrassing that was.

The truth is that is we don't prepare ourselves for troubled times, we will be unprepared, we will be afraid, and we will probably have to go out into the crowds of frightened and anxious people and won't be able to stay quietly in our homes.

Just a few thoughts.  Read the article, there is a lot more there than I have.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Zucchini Casserole....or Soup

OK, so I haven't got this dialed in yet to have the same texture and consistency as a potato or rice based casserole. But for that small failing, it is darned good if I say so myself, and it has two other benefits.

  •  It is a very low carb receipie
  • It gets rid of monster zucchini
  • You probably won't mind eating it fairly frequently
  • It is easy to make

1/2 Sweet onion
1 Bell Pepper
Zucchini - quite a bit.  About 1/2 of a club sized zucchini, peeled.
1 pint of chicken broth (mine was canned)
2 Tbl spoons tapicoca
1 cube of bullion
1 package of bratwurst, or sweet Italian uncooked sausage
1 chunk of cheese, cheddar or colby
Parmesan  cheese to taste
Pepper to taste
2 med sized tomatoes

Optional - to add to the chicken broth:
Celery seed - some
Oregano - some
Hot red peppers- some, depending on how tough or crazy you are.

Here is how I make it:

Drop onion and bell pepper into food processor and chop into a mince.

Replace mincing blade with slicing blade.  Slice zucchini into long slices with kitchen knife. Drop long slices into food processor with slicing blade and hence chop into small pieces.  The food processor bowl should now have minced onion and pepper on the bottom, covered with sectioned, sliced zucchini.  Empty the bowl into a casserole dish - long, flat and wide, according to how much zucchini you used.

Pour in the seasoned, tapiocaed chicken broth.  Dice the tomatoes, or more if you want, and spread over the top.  Press the raw bratwrust or Italian sausages into the zucchini.  Shred the cheddar or colby cheese on the top, sprinkle on a little parmasean cheese and bake, covered in the oven for 60 min at 350 deg F.  Uncover and brown with the broiler, but be careful as it is easy to get distracted and burn the whole thing to a crisp. Theoretically easy to get distracted.

I'll get a picture posted the next time I make it, but I wanted to publish it now.  You can probably add more tapioca, and it will just thicken it up.  


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall Planting Guide

This year's garden wasn't as big in square footage as some of our past gardens for a variety of reasons (big tree removal and a busy summer), but it was somewhat saved by a three row, late summer planting of beets, chard, and arugula.

I don't know how many of you like to eat boiled greens, and actually there should be a fancy French term that would make them sound better.  Boiled Greens.....if I didn't know that they were so good, I wouldn't have anything to do with them either.  What is so good about them, you might ask?  Well they are easy to grow, fresh, and full of vitamins, a good source of calcium and fiber.  And.....basically not fattening at all if you don't put a pound of butter on them.

There are a lot of crops that you can plant in the late summer/early fall that will give you another crop.  Most people look at you strangely if you tell them you just planted another row or two in your garden, and it is late August or early September.  But that is fine.  The weather is typically warm enough to allow the seeds to germinate quickly and to grow well, but not so hot that they plants get stressed from lack of water, or become strong flavored from the heat.  You won't get a second crop of sweet corn, or any watermelon etc, so don't even think about it.  You can get great crops of salad greens (lettuce, cabbage, arugula etc.), and boiled greens (verts bouillis..... as the FrAnch are fond of saying...) (chard, collard greens, beets, spinach, mustard greens etc.).  If you had known and planned well, or have a time machine, you could probably get a second crop of peas.  Onions will over winter...beets and chard will be very mild flavored from growing in cooler weather.  We have had chard overwinter, but it usually in the really cold weather.

Sometimes, in late summer or early fall the stores have moved the seeds to the back of their storage room, or have gotten rid of their stock of seeds completely.  This can be a frustration.  We get our seeds from Mountain Valley Seeds, and they are always ready to ship.  They ship all of their seeds in airtight mylar covered zip baggys, so they are protected from light and moisture.  If you keep them in a cool place the seeds will last for a long time.  Also, Mountain Valley ships in quantity if you want.  So if you think you will be eating a lot of one variety, or want to plant a small field, they are the ones to order from.

Here is a good guide to fall planting that you can save to your computer as a PDF or print or not.  Not only does it give you an idea of days to harvest, but also of frost tolerance and of other characteristics.  For instance, it shows that beets have a better flavor when grown in cool weather.  We have noticed that broccoli is mild and sweet when grown in cooler weather, and gets a really strong taste in the heat of the summer.  I haven't planted a late crop of broccoli, but we noticed that the second growth after the main harvest was always better tasting than the main crop.  I don't know if our plants were water deprived in the heat, or if it was the heat itself that gave it the strong taste, but the second growth was always better.

I guess that is about it for now.  Happy harvesting!