Country Living Series

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Roundup

I saw this article on Drudge the other day: DOE warns 'modern life' threatened by terror, climate threats to electric grid.

It kind of surprised me that mainstream news site would address the problems with our national power grid so candidly. "The Department of Energy warns in a new report that the aging electric grid, which provides most electricity to the nation, faces threats from terrorism and storms caused by climate change that could knock out Wall Street, hospitals and the Internet if left unfixed ... In the new report, the Energy Department warns that modern life could be endangered if the grid went down. A congressional report has warned that a solar flare or terrorist attack could darken the grid for a year, during which most of those supplied by the grid would die."

Reading over the article made me want to do something preparedness-related. As such, I decided to look over the canning closet.

My canning closet, if you recall, used to be a superfluous bathroom which Don gutted and installed with shelves. (And yes, we're working on putting in earthquake bars across the shelf fronts.)


Since I'm an avid canner (actually that's an understatement -- I'm a passionate canner), I needed a dedicated space to store all our canned goods. The canning closet's original shelves filled up quickly, so Don installed additional shelving which relieved some of the space issues... although it's still cramped quarters.

But last year for some reason, I didn't do much canning. And, since we're constantly using the stocks in the canning closet, I was showing distinct "holes" in my formerly well-stocked pantry

So -- time to do some canning and fill in those holes.

Our budget is tight this month, but I have some things on standby waiting to be canned. I had this big ol' bag of bulk frozen peas that was taking up room in the freezer, so I decided to start with that.


I heated the peas...


...and started filling jars.


How many jars? I have a hand-written note in my canning book that says ten pounds of frozen peas fills about 17 jars. I washed 18 jars, just to be safe (the maximum my pressure canner holds).



In preparing my Tattler lids, it always amuses me to see a sampling of what we used up.


Pre-heating the lids and gaskets.


First layer in the canner.


Second layer in the canner.


Processed them for 40 minutes at 12.5 lbs. (for our elevation). They came out of the canner just before bedtime.


Uh-oh, now I've been bitten by the canning bug. I decided to soak, simmer, and can some pinto beans for easy refried beans. I was out of canned pinto beans in the pantry, but I had a ten-pound bag of dried beans waiting for me. I can only can five pounds at a time, since five pounds of beans comes out to around 17 or 18 pints, canned.


I soaked them overnight...


...then let them simmer for several hours the next day.


All canned up and ready to store.


I took a quick inventory of the canning closet, and here are some of the things I want to stock up on:

  • Bacon bits
  • Chicken breasts
  • Carrots
  • Peaches
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mustard
  • Chicken stock
  • Chili
  • Mushrooms

As I said, we're on a tight budget this month, so I'll stick with canning up stuff we already have on hand, such as the rest of the pintos. That's the best way to stock a pantry: not with massive one-fell-swoop activities, but little incremental steps.

It occurs to me I haven't posted much lately on the topic of preparedness, so it might be worth putting more emphasis on the subject. The reason this post is called "Friday Roundup" is because I want to start a new Friday habit of posting whatever we've done during the week (big or small) that inches us toward increased self-sufficiency or self-reliance.

And since everyone's circumstances and situations are different (meaning, we can all learn from each other), I invite everyone to pitch in during Friday Roundups to explain to other readers what steps you took during the week -- remember, big or small -- toward preparedness.

This may also encourage people to do something, anything, that may prove helpful if, like the article above suggests, the power grid goes down.

So... what's your Friday Roundup?

46 comments:

  1. I guess it's just because I grew up in earthquake country, but it's strange to see shelves of bottles without a bungee cord or other sort of Please Don't Let 'Em Fall Off stuck on it.

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    1. Hey, that is quite pertinent since north Idaho had 3 on Thursday evening: 4.1, 4.2 (that brought us all out of bed) and a 3.3. Did not feel the other two but I made a beeline for my pantry. We just moved to north Idaho last year and my pantry hasn't been "finished" with extra shelving and a board to hold the jars in. I checked the pantry and then son and I checked live stock (that all wanted out, as did the neighbors). All was well but it was definitely a wake up call to get the extra shelving and edging installed.
      sidetracksusie

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  2. This weekend is busy, 53 assorted trees to plant, 100 asparagus plants to plant, 75 strawberry plants to plant, finishing touches on my 10 new bee swarm catch nucs and then bait and hang them. Next weekend 3 acres of orchard grass gets planted and somewhere in all this we have a left over bushel or two of potatoes to can. Then fire wood collection for next season starts. Want to come help?

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    1. Holy spagoli! You are definitely gettin' with it!

      Well done!

      I'd sure like to hear more about this....as bee hives are high on my priority list of next things. Care to elaborate? Thanks!

      "finishing touches on my 10 new bee swarm catch nucs and then bait and hang them."

      A. McSp

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    2. Good morning, most swarm traps are just crude boxes that hold at least 5 deep hive frames. But because I plan on using my catch boxes for rearing queens and splitting my established hives in the future, I built complete hive nucs. Bees are attracted to lemon grass oil, a little wiped on inside of entrance and some queen pheromone if have some, hang the box about 8 feet high in a tree along a field edge and wait. Swarm season is usually late April thru June depending on weather. Bees swarm when they feel over crowded. Two reasons I wish to catch my own, 1 to buy them it's a minimum of 140.00 and your getting bees from who knows where and possibly all their problems too, 2 I'm actively seeking bees that have been living in hollow trees for years. My thought on the latter is these bees are Feral and have learned to deal with all the problems that haunt our honeybee colonies. Check out Michiganbees.org the beekeepers workshop Steve Tillman, I used his plans except for the joinery, I box jointed mine. Hope this helps, Good Luck!

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    3. We don't keep bees, but I saw the most amazing innovation in bee hives recently. I think it's called the flow hive - made me want to keep bees, just because it looks so easy.

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    4. Flow Hive? Neat idea, however I'm one that likes having bees wax candles, lip balm, royal jelly, bee pollen and many other things that can made or used from the hive. I don't think it's a good idea to let a hive get lazy and with this new invention that's just will happen as the bees don't need to make comb, they reuse their cappings over and over. Just like my Angels, I don't let them get lazy.

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    5. I also saw the flow hive information. My neighbors would have a cow if I invited bees and bats to my yard, but I sure would like to have both.

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    6. Sounds like a good trade, neighbor has cow and you have bees. Ha Ha..

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  3. Would you PLEASE review, step by tiny step, exactly how you apply the Tattler Lids to the jars for the pressure canner? Our extension service has no experience with them. And I am losing too many jars....I can fish, veggies and fruit, and would like to do the beans now too.... thanks so much, Anchorage Fan

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    1. I'd vote for this as well. If they can be made to work reliably, I'd love to know how. We've stashed our Tattler lids away for now, because they kept failing on us.

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    2. Good idea. I'll start working on a future blog post on how to use Tattlers. I'm a big fan and have used them exclusively for the past several years.

      - Patrice

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    3. Yeah, me too! I invested heavily in the Tattler lids, but they are too much of a failure to use, so I am back to stocking up on regular canning lids...

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    4. Patrice, for those who don't want to wait for a new post on Tattler lids, your early review of them is a good overview: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2010/07/reusable-canning-lids.html
      I use a mixture of Tattler and disposable lids at this point; next time there is a sale I'll get more Tattler lids - their biggest drawback is the price.

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    5. Tattler has actually addressed this on their website with a video explaining the process. Essentially, while you put the band on rather loosely at the start of processing, when you remove the jar from the canner at the end of the processing time, you then cinch down the band tightly before the jar cools. Since I've started doing that I haven't had any failures. I did invest in a couple of "OveGloves" to make it easier to do this.

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  4. My friend Lorna is an avid canner! I sure like the look of your pantry! Beautifully arranged and colorful! I know I need to get into the swing of things! We have two free standing pantries filled to capacity! Plus a freezer and three refrigerators! Big phamily but now our oldest son just purchased his own home so we will be sharing the rewards of the pantries and fridges. He lost over 100 lbs. going on three years ago and he is a real healthy guy preparing all his meals from scratch! I admire your love of canning. My mother canned tomatoes and apples.I love the refried beans because we eat a lot of Mexican dishes! Thank you for sharing, keep canning and enjoy your weekend.

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  5. Didn't can any last year because we sold our home and lived in our 40' motor home while building our new 1940's farmhouse (1500 sq ft).
    August 1 to mid-March was quite a while! However, garden will be complete this evening and will purchase strawberries in a couple of weeks to put up. My husband is in the process of building plans for a wood-fired grill for our backyard. I always have felt it was a "when" and not an "if" for the grid.

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  6. This post is just another excellent reminder of why RR is my homepage, Patrice. Has been for years, and, God willing, will be for many more.

    A. McSp

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  7. Small steps, have been buying non gmo and organic vegetable seeds, looking into ?hugelculture gardening techniques, talking with my daughter on buying a few chickens and turning our unused garden shed into a poultry house, and discussing having a neighbor look into what would make my electric pump well, into a hand pumped well. I would say lucky for me, my well is inside the house, so it would be hard for someone to swipe the handpump, if I need to get it installed. I'm also going to take more classes at the extension office on operating a pressure canner, I can't help it, even after watching my parents for YEARS, the dog gone thing still scares me to death. I put up pickles, fruit, jellies and syrups.

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    1. I called our local county extension office today, and signed up for their class in pressure canning, water bath canning, dehydrating and freezing. In fact I signed up for the same class, twice! One is in June and one is in July. I figure as afraid of pressure canning as I am, two classes couldn't hurt. I thought it was a reasonable price, 30.00 per class, from 9am to 4pm, with lunch thrown in. I want to learn how to can so badly, would y'all mind sending a few prayers my way? TIA

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    2. Sure wish you were local, I love to teach pressure canning. I'm simmering the rest of the pintos as I type this and will can them this afternoon.

      Once you learn the art of pressure canning, you'll never look back.

      - Patrice

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    3. Oh, and here's a secret the Extension classes may not cover: when canning, ALWAYS have one of those little clip-on kitchen timers attached to your collar, to go off every five minutes and remind you to check the pressure. The biggest danger in pressure canning is forgetting to keep an eye on the pressure.

      - Patrice

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    4. I wish I lived closer too, I'm a transplant to the state of KS, a bit far to go for classes. I will keep your timer idea in mind, and hunt for one, that and get my very old pressure canner out of the garage, and to someone that can make sure it is working properly. THANKS!

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  8. When the government or other special interest groups advocate spending billions to upgrade the electrical distribution system you have to follow the money. This isn't about making the system safe from terrorists or EMPs it's about billions in contracts to cronies and unions. The electrical distribution system is as good as it's always been. If someone predicted gloom and doom in 1950 and we spent billions back then it would have been wasted since 65 years passes without serious problems. It's the same system today. Bigger, more complex, some parts are better or newer than other parts but it doesn;t justify a huge expenditure of money. If the system goes out tomorrow there will be an army of well trained and experienced linemen working on it within mintues of it going down. They know how to fix it, this is what they do. They would have to do the same exact thing even if we spent billions and billions making the current system more robust. Does anyone really think terrorists are so stupid that they cannot find the weak link no matter how much we spend making it stronger?

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  9. Have you ever tried canning your dry beans without pre-soaking? Works great but you have to be careful with the amount of beans you put in so you don't end up with a bean brick (what we call all beans and no or very little liquid)..

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    1. There's actually a great book with recipes for canning dried beans: I can can dried beans!! by Jennifer Shambrook. I can't remember where I came across it, but I ordered it and really had good luck with it, though I haven't tried all the recipes. Mostly I can beans for chili and soups.

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    2. I quite agree with trying this method. A sauce can be added as part of the liquid total. Meat can also be added. Chicken, white beans, green Chile sauce and a bit of water becomes a jar of green chicken Chile. Tweak as desired with salt and spices; serve with sour cream.

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    3. I have been caning my pinto beans dry for years, just fill the jars 1/3 full of beans and add filtered water, put in the caner for 90 min. They are ready to make into refried beans when every I want. Dee in the South West

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  10. I'm desperate to try canning but in the UK there really are so few canning supplies and they are so expensive. It's actually cheaper to pay international shipping from the US with both US and UK tax and shipping. I've not heard much about tattler lids so a post on that would be great.
    Our small step toward preparedness this week, some trees have blown over on the common where we live and as we live on the common, I exercise my commoners rights to take them home for firewood. So they'll be seasoning for the upcoming winters. We're lucky that most of our neighbours would rather pay for someone to deliver pre cut wood for the burner than do any work themselves.

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  11. Strawberries on sale. Strawberry Jam made.

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    1. Ditto! got 20 jars made. 40 more to go!

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  12. Peas were planted 3 weeks ago and are up and growing. Some will be eaten fresh, but most will be canned or frozen. Garlic came through the winter in great shape. Two weeks ago the broccoli and cabbage went in along with the green onion transplants. Beets, chard, kale, carrots, radishes, and green onion seeds were also planted and just starting to come up. Last week tomatoes and peppers went in (with walls of water as protection... our last frost date is mid-May). While waiting for the outside garden to roar to life we are harvesting the last of the dill, cilantro, sorrel, carrots, green onions, spinach, lettuce, chard, various kales, and beet greens from our high hoops house. I am drying the excess kale, chard, & spinach to use in our green smoothies in the summer. Next week the plan is to plant the high hoop greenhouse with the summer crops of tomatoes and peppers, harvest the honey from our top bar beehive so the girls will have room for expansion this summer. Never a dull moment!

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  13. An abundance of dewberries...let the jelly making begin!

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  14. Hello from North Carolina. I blocked off two areas of field from back hoeing that is full of milkweed, clover and other native wildflowers for the bees and butterflies. Supporting them benefits my garden and fruit bushes/trees producing more food for me to can at harvest.

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    1. I totally love that you did this. What a great idea.

      Just Me

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  15. I didn't can much last year, myself and I too have "holes" on my pantry shelves. I'll spend the weekend canning 30 pounds of frozen peas and 30 pounds of frozen corn. If all goes well, I'll have planted more potatoes and green beans...cross your fingers.

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  16. Everyone seems to be doing kitchen, yard things. My great accomplishment for this week is eliminating many items we no longer have a use for or need. Out on the curb went some small children's chairs, several plastic trash bags of old soda cans, on the line strung between the two front yard trees were old, clothes, still looking good, still useful. Outgrown, unwanted with lots of wear still in them. A lamp we have no use or room for, We emptied some shelves, and gained room for what we do need, want. It is so freeing to have those items gone. They were burdens to care for, time and space takers.
    Selene

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  17. It's always so fun when the readers contribute!

    My own Friday Roundup:

    Got two new fruit trees delivered this week. Heeled them in. Too wet to plant yet.

    Worked on the spring garden.

    Cleaned up the asparagus bed.

    Cursed the deer for ravaging my rhubarb. (The leaves are supposed to be poisonous. What the!?) Totally covered now. Will have to wait another year for my first crop. Live and learn. When the deer are hungry, all bets are off.

    Just Me

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    1. We have had deer eating tomato vines! ?? A first in over 50 years. Have lost our corn to raccoons and squirrels, and believe it or not, lost 2 years of cantaloupes and watermelons to FOX! Gophers took down our okra, also a first. We've lost our will to garden for a while, other than onions, garlic and sage.

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  18. last weekend i did a little clening of the freezer and found some beef that had been in there about 6 months...so it got canned...6 quarts of rump roast..there was also a half off ham shoulder that made 5 quarts...one failed to seal, so 4 went on the shelf...a total of 0 quarts of meat added to long term preps...

    as for the garden...it's easier to show you them tell you...

    http://xtronsgarden.blogspot.com/?view=classic

    i try to keep a blog of the garden...it's easier than keeping a journal and typing the same info on posts like this and others

    tomorrow i hope to put out more cabbage and tomatos, plant beets, lettus, and spinich...weather permitting.

    God bless you all and keep your hands in the dirt

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  19. Great post, Patrice.

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  20. Question for you: there are some things I can that really taste great, even over time... like chicken, beef, tomato sauce.... but most everything else I have canned turned out like flavorless mush.... like beans, carrots, potatoes, peas, etc.... any suggestions?

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    1. You might add a bit of salt to your jars, usually 1/2 teaspoon for pints (except to fruit, of course). Salt in this case is a flavor-enhancer, not a preservative. But the fact remains, exposing foods to high heat will, to some extent, alter the flavor. Try using your canned foods as part of a larger dish, i.e. mix your canned veggies with rice and a bit of meat and some spices, etc.

      - Patrice

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  21. Ok....I'll get busy. I used up my last jar of seasoned pintos last week. I'll get to sorting and soaking tonight. The husband likes these so well, I can't slip a store bought can past him without him saying something.

    I'll have to watch a store that opened up here for bags of veggies like yours. Its some sort of over stock, close sell by date store. I bought a 5# bag of Ore Ida tater tots for $3. It was packaged in a brown bag, maybe for restaurant or food service. I'll bet they will get in some big bags of veggies.

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  22. We have been working hard around here. We moved the chicken coup and pen, cleaned out all the manure and gave them a fresh start. Our neighbors have a horse barn where they board. The previous occupants left behind piles of old fence material which they graciously let us have. So we have been building raised beds out of it and filling them with what else but old composted horse manure and chicken manure. We have planted beets, peas, kale, chard, onions and one bed of potatoes outside... Oh and some cabbage and broccoli. Inside we have started a bunch of hard squashes, tomatoes and peppers. We are not out of the woods for frost yet though. So we moved our greenhouses(we use them for the chickens in the winter) and put stuff in them that needed transplanting. Our sons 6 baby chicks got moved to our outside chick accommodations(fiberglass truck caps) and we purchased 6 barred rocks and 6 Rhode island reds chicks to keep our flock laying. We are trying desperately to grow many storage veggies this year like hard squash, potatoes and onions since we use so many. This week we have fences to work on because mid may we are getting sheep(read lamb), and a dairy goat hopefully. June we should be getting our freedom rangers and pigs. So much to do yet. We are also working inside on cleaning out/simplifying/organizing. I'm so ready for spring.

    Did you ever name your good Friday calf or did I miss it? Also... have you ever thought about raising pigs(why/why not)?

    Learning in NY

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  23. For several years I have run my CPAP on a small off-grid solar electric system. It has been a great comfort to know that I am not dependent on the grid (or fuel for a generator) for power for this essential to my life device.

    Recently I got an improved and updated CPAP which has been a big improvement, except that it needs a lot more power. This week I have at long last been able to update the solar system to a lot more power so I once again have enough power for my CPAP each night without charging the batteries from the grid.

    Next step will be a off-grid solar system that will power our refrigerator.

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