Self-Sufficiency Series

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"And they say preppers are crazy..."

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A reader just sent me a link to the photo below.


This photo is worth at least two thousand words...

Always be kinder than necessary

There was a poignant column by Larry Elder on WND today entitled "My apology to my junkyard dawg dad." It revealed the hardship and sacrifice behind his father's rages and beatings. Please, go read the column. It's worth it.

But it was one of the comments at the end that struck me. A fellow wrote,

Larry Elder's father is a superb reason all of us--ALL of us!--need to be mindful how we treat others and keep our judgements in check. "Always be kinder than necessary...." After all, we never know what private Hells people are battling that we cannot see. The rude waitress may only have been rude that day--was she grappling with a family tragedy and trying to do her job at the same time? Give the benefit of doubt when dealing with family, friends and strangers...(just don't be a fool about it and put oneself in danger with the obvious troublemakers!)

ALWAYS BE KINDER THAN NECESSARY.


I can think of innumerable times when I was ruder than necessary to those who were rude to me. Or of times when I was just plain rude, period, to those who certainly didn't deserve it. Thinking back, it makes my cheeks burn in embarrassment. Haven't we all had those moments?

Such simple words, aren't they? Always be kinder than necessary. After all, this person is correct -- we never know what's going on in someone else's life that could be causing them to act unpleasantly.

I'll try.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Curry chicken

Well, if you can stand another recipe from my (cough) "filthy" kitchen (LOL), here's a quickie for curry chicken.

A couple of days ago, I was pressed for time when dinner rolled around. The day had been one of howling wind and miserable temperatures. What we all needed was a hot, filling meal. What *I* needed was a quick and easy hot, filling meal. And what's easier than curry chicken?

Before I began, I started a pot of rice. We use rice as the base for many meals.


Curry chicken starts with a white sauce.


I altered and multiplied the proportions for the sauce, since (a) we like lots of sauce over rice, and (b) we also like lots of leftovers for additional meals.

I started with a cube of margarine and a quarter-cup flour.


By adding the flour bit by bit while the margarine melts, it doesn't form lumps. And when the margarine/flour mix gets too thick, drizzle in some milk (ultimately I added three cups).


When the margarine and flour (and bits of milk) are smooth, add the rest of the milk. Keep stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Then add curry. The original recipe calls for some wimpy amount. Not for us! We like curry! I didn't exactly measure how much I added to the sauce, but it was at least 1/2 cup, maybe more. Stir until the sauce becomes thick.


Then I got a jar of canned chicken from the pantry.


I like using canned chicken in recipes like this because it shreds so beautifully.


Add the chicken to the thickened sauce.


Stir it until the chicken heats up.


This can either be a one-bowl meal, or served with a vegetable of your choice.


Either way, it's a quick, easy, hearty meal for a cold evening.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fascinating women

I must thank you all for your heart-warming defense and support after the snark I received a couple of days ago. I loved getting your comments!

A post came through this morning which was so funny I laughed out loud, read it to the rest of the family, and decided I had to put it up separately:


"Boring women have spotless homes. And, honey, I come from a long line of FASCINATING women!"


Another good quote from this same reader: "Do-ers do. Critics criticize."


Let's hear it for fascinating men and women who DO.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

For all those in the path of Hurricane Sandy, I pray you'll be safe! Please make sure you have water, food, flashlights, etc.


If you can, send me updates of your general location and situation, and I'll post them here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

If it fits... I sits.

A reader sent me to a link with this amusing photo.


She said it reminded her of Smoky and her Bandits.

Speaking of whom, look how big the Bandits are getting!


Smoky was grooming herself, which is why she looks so raggedy.


All nine babies are still alive, doing well, and (as you can see) getting big.


(For the story of Smoky and her Bandits, see here, here, and here.)

SCORE!!!!

I was low on canning jars. And I mean really low. I was actually reduced to buying new jars (unheard of!), but I have been doing lots of canning lately and, well, I was low on jars.

I've scoured every thrift store I could find, but Fall is not the best time to search thrift stores for canning jars -- they're usually sold out.

I tried searching Craig's List and the Nickel's Worth and similar sources, but I found more people looking for jars than were selling them. Besides, our region is so widespread and far-flung that any available jars were likely to be a two or three hour drive (one way) distant.

New jars range anywhere from $9 to $14/dozen, so buying new jars is impractical for someone who cans on the scale I do. But what else could I do? I needed jars.

My youngest brother, bless his heart, sent me $50 for my 50th birthday. I kept the money in the card and earmarked it for canning jars, figuring I could buy about five dozen pint jars (with a bit of change left over) for this amount.


But then I had an idea. Putting a "wanted" ad in any regional ad source was counterproductive. But what about putting an ad in our local once-a-week newspaper? Duh, why didn't I think of that sooner?

So I did.


My hope is I'd find an older woman who was past her canning years who might be willing to give up her jars for an affordable price.

Well, it worked. BIG TIME.

I got a call from a woman named Barbara who lives in the next town over, who said she had "lots" of jars in her basement. I tentatively asked how much she was willing to sell them for, figuring my top price would be $6/dozen (any higher, and I might as well buy them new). But when she hesitantly said, "$2 a dozen?" (as if that was too much to ask!), it was all I could do from gasping. SCORE!!

Barbara said she was glad to get rid of them, and she would pull all the jars out of her basement and stack them on the front porch for me. I combined a trip into town with Older Daughter's evening Venture Scouts meeting. It was a little hard to find Barbara's place on a dark rainy evening, but I finally did. And look what I saw!


Barbara showed me her tally: twenty dozen jars. For $2/dozen. SCORE!!

I even got change for my $50 bill. Hmmm, what shall I do with this money?


I loaded the car to groaning and rattled my way home. I brought them into the house the next morning and spread everything out to see what I had (and let me tell you, I felt like a kid at Christmas). From the bits of old newspapers used to line some of the boxes, I gather these jars haven't been used since about 1998. No wonder she was anxious to get rid of them.


It took me a couple of hours to re-box everything into old empty canning-jar boxes I had stored away, which also gave me a chance to more accurately inventory and/or label everything.


Final tally: eight dozen quarts, nine dozen pints...


...and three dozen miscellaneous smaller (i.e. jelly) jars. SCORE!!


Rather miraculously, I managed to squeeze ALL the boxes of empty jars into my canning closet.



Twenty dozen new jars. That should last me awhile, don'cha think? I have to thank the Barbara's of the world for passing on their treasures to a younger generation. Maybe someday, when I'm a lot older, I'll do the same.

Altogether now: SCORE!!!!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Snark du jour

Looks like I have a self-appointed critic. This just came through as a comment:

Someone should send the health department to your kitchen and condemn it. Your floor is filthy, your blender is filthy and disgusting. You stove is dirty and filthy. I can't believe you have a dog so close to your food. Get dog hairs in the food much????

And all you people ate that crap?

DISGUSTING! You should be ashamed of yourself.

Dropping like flies

We have wasps -- specifically bald-faced hornets -- dropping like flies.

If you remember, we have a large nest of bald-faced hornets on our front porch. For the entire time they've been building this condo, they've minded their business and haven't stung anyone, canine or human. Bald-faced hornets are excellent predators who control pesky fly populations (I've watched them in action, it's pretty impressive), so we left the nest alone.

This is what the nest looked like in early September.


This is what the nest looks like today. They've made this weird hook-shape near the bottom. I'm estimating the diameter is about eleven inches at its widest, and about sixteen inches from top to bottom.




But now that cold weather is here, the hornets have not been happy campers. In fact, they're dropping like flies, straight out of the nest and onto the porch and wood pile beneath.

This lady isn't dead, but she's dying.



While we're careful to make sure any firewood we bring into the house doesn't have wasps on it, once in awhile one does come into the house on a piece of wood. In here, the warmth revives them and they are capable of stinging. Not that they're acting aggressive, but it's always a possibility someone can step on one. Most of the time we just scoop them up and put them back outside.


In a couple of months when we're positive the wasps are dead, we'll take down the nest and dissect it to see what's inside (probably a bunch of dead wasps, right?). We'll do this outdoors just to be safe.

Personally I don't mind having these wasps around the house. They're beneficent insects who do an important job controlling pests. Nonetheless if they start building a new nest on the porch next spring, we'll probably spray.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Strawberry pie

A couple days ago, Older Daughter suddenly had a hankering for strawberry pie. Don't ask me why. I've never even made one, so where she got this hankering, I can't say.

But no matter. She looked up a recipe online -- here -- and we proceeded to give it a go.

We used one of the pre-made pie crusts I froze a few days ago, when I made quiche.


I baked it until it was browned. For the first half of the baking time, I snugged a slightly smaller pie pan inside the crust, so it wouldn't poof up. (My pie crusts will often do this, even though I poke them with a fork.)


Older Daughter sliced some strawberries.


Meanwhile I whipped some cream.


Lydia, we found out, loves strawberries and promptly begged for more after one fell on the floor.


Next we took some strawberries and ground them up in the blender, to make the start of the glaze. This turned out to be WAY too many strawberries. Next time we'll use about a third of this amount.


Heating up the crushed strawberries.


Adding sugar.


I mixed some cornstarch into water...


...which I then added to the boiling strawberry/sugar mix.


While the glaze was cooking, Older Daughter poured the sliced strawberries into the baked shell.



Once the glaze was boiling...


...I poured it over the sliced strawberries.


It made a pretty pie.


After the pie had cooled a bit, I covered it and put it in our "outdoor refrigerator" (on top our chest freezer on the porch) until morning.


As mentioned, I had a lot of leftover glaze. Make a note: do less next time.


The kids dipped into the pie the next day.


Let's just say it didn't last long.


I think I have a new recipe for our dessert repertoire for the weekly neighborhood potlucks.