Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rain and Gumbo

The aftermath of that hurricane in the gulf is a lot of rain here. It has been raining all day and we are currently under a flash flood alert.

Being rainy, overcast and not above 80 degrees it actually feels like fall now. Fall is soup weather.

 Paw Paw decided to make Gumbo today and that got me craving it. So I decided to make some. Since this was the first time I have attempted gumbo I did not make the roux myself. The roux is really the soul of gumbo.

Gumbo is for all intensive purposes Cajun stew served over rice. Like stew the exact ingredients are somewhat flexible. Folks tend to either go smoked sausage and chicken or seafood but those are not hard and fast. It can vary by what you have on hand or your groups taste buds.

I went smoked sausage, chicken and shrimp. Of course there were bell peppers, onion and celery. The peppers were from my garden. The soon to be ex would point out they were like $50 peppers but still kind of cool.

Got it cooking and when it was about 20 minutes from being done did up a pot of rice.

The roux was weak but overall the result was pretty good. It made about a 2 gallons. I will freeze half of it. Next time I am going to try making my own roux.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's Just One Of Those Days

So far today everything I have tried to do has gone very badly. I tried to make coffee this morning which is a simple thing I do every day. The pot spewed water, half made coffee and grounds all over the counter making a huge mess. It looked like maybe the filter had collapsed down which happens sometimes.

Tried to post Prairie Patriot's Fighting Load Contest Entry and the interweb kept eating it. Not once or twice but a half dozen times.
After cleaning up the kitchen and the coffee pot I tried to make coffee again. Same problem but the filter was fine. Might be that I need to better clean or just replace the coffee pot. At least this time I got a quarter cup of shitty coffee. Cleaned up the kitchen AGAIN.

Tried to post PP's contest entry again by breaking it up into 2 parts to use less space but that didn't work. Tried again and had all his pics and text in, was just writing my little discussion at the end part and it crapped out AGAIN.

I'm at my wits end and it is just over halfway through the day. It would be one thing if I was trying to rebuild an engine while doing organic chemistry but making coffee and doing blog stuff are routine things I do every single day.

I've been sick for the last 3 or so days. Thankfully I'm over the hump so to speak but still not feeling good.  Have a lingering cough and just enough of a headache to be annoying. So today I don't think much of anything is going to happen. Given the way things have gone so far I don't want to have this terrible luck pour over into other areas.

Last night I started soaking some beans to make chili and now they are boiling in a big pot on the stove. Since I already started that it will continue. Need to go get the rest of the stuff later today. Honestly I'm sort of winging this one which given the way today is going may not be a good thing. However since I free poured random beans to soak there isn't much going back

My plan is as follows:
beans -.5lb red, .5lb black, .75lb pinto (all rough wts)
chuck roast or other cheap beef- about 2 pounds
a can of stewed tomatoes or 2
a big onion
a bell pepper
some garlic finely chopped
cumin, red pepper flakes and seasoning salt to taste

I plan to serve it with corn bread. The goal is for me to have a few extra meals out of this batch.

Think I'll fire up the world band radio tonight. It will be the first time here in Louisiana so that is sort of special. Sitting by the fire listening to the radio sounds like a nice way to pass the evening hours.

Well here is hoping today picks up for me and that yours is going better than mine. We should be back to normal posting tomorrow.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bug Out Dinner- Ramen Style

As usual this bug out meal starts with the Solo Pot 900. My Solo Stove is sitting this one out as open flames are sort of uncool during the spring/ summer in dry fire prone Arizona.

The convenient measuring marks on the side were helpful. Just don't have enough good things to say about this pot.

Good old Top Ramen. Not what you call peak nutrition but it will fill you up and keep you going.

I substituted an egg for the tuna fish. The reason is those little foil packets are fairly expensive and eggs are cheap. Dinner was good. Had a couple of the little candy bars that live in our food bags for desert.

Dinner was cheap and pretty decent. Would get bored eating it every day but thankfully I do not need to do that. Since dinner and lunch are the same thing this pretty much covers me going through the meals individually. Some day this coming week I will eat a whole day of bug out food as a trial run.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bug Out Breakfast- Oatmeal Solo Stove Style

My Bug out Cooking setup. A day's worth of food, trusty Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900. The case is for the camera, not sure why it's in the picture.
I cannot claim credit for this idea. Stole it from Viking Preparedness some time back. My food bag contents is 2x oatmeal, 2x top ramen, 2x tuna, a half dozen random granola type bars (whatever we had), 1x big snickers bar, 1x peanut butter, a few instant coffee packs and some various munchies. My food setup is pretty 'bar' heavy. Generally in the field I don't stop to eat. Tend to snack a bit during the day then eat a big meal before going to bed. Aside from mild personal taste differences the only difference between Pastor Joes setup and mine is that I put the accessories into the day's bag. The reason I did that is so I could put the day's food into a side pocket or other more accessible place and go all day. Also it helps IMO to keep a day's munchies separate so you can make easier rationing choices and not all of accidentally eat the last day's munchies.  Don't think there is a right or wrong there, just different techniques.  

My cooking tools. The Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900.  Like this setup a lot. The stove not having the fire rest on the ground is good in dry terrain like the desert where I currently live. I would be comfortable scraping away a small spot (or finding a rock to set it on) then cooking, albeit carefully, with the solo stove. For packing it really helps that they nest together. An MSR type 1qt pot and some other sort of stove would function similarly but take up a lot more space since they would not nest. When the stove is inside the pot there is some empty space. I'm thinking about putting together a little spice and condiment bag to keep in there. It would give me some more options for flavoring.

Breakfast and the pot it goes in. Simple and easy. I did not go with the instant coffee, sticking to the normal drip instead. The reason for this is that instant coffee sucks. I know it sucks and do not feel a need to practice drinking it when an option I like is available.
The measurements on the side of the solo pot help you measure water which is nice.

Didn't bother to take pictures of myself cooking with the solo stove or eating oatmeal. You all know what that looks like. Anyway all was well on the chow front, my oatmeal tasted like oatmeal.

Today I learned a couple thing about my bug out/ whatever food system. 1) Need a plan for washing dishes. A little thing of soap plus a sponge is probably the answer. 2) Before I do this for lunch a fork would be really nice. A spork might be the long term answer.

Probably going to do my bug out lunch tomorrow. The reason I am doing these individually, aside from lunch getting away from me today, is to evaluate the meals individually before putting it all together. This way if for example I feel a bit weak or hungry I will know a given meal (the only change from my normal diet) was the problem instead of it being something in the overall food plan. After testing all 3 meals I will do a day of bug out food.

What are your cooking and food plans? Have you tested them? If so how?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Solo Pot 900 Trial Run

The Solo Pot 900 and Solo Stove as packaged. The stove fits right inside of the pot. This is huge as it saves a whole lot of space in your bag. While the Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900 are both nice pieces of kit how they work together is what matters. The combination is far more valuable than the two parts are on their own.

It comes in this very nice little bag. The bag will be useful to keep the inevitable soot that will gather on the stove from getting on the other things in your bag. Just one of the many well thought out touches that exist in the Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900.

The pot handle.

The top of the pot, it has a lift tab to grab to open it. There is a little recess in the piece that attaches the tab to the lid that lets you keep it upright.

The Solo Pot 900 has a pour spout which is really nice. This is a huge advantage over the various competing products.

The pot has volume markings which are very useful for following recipes and such.

The lift tab set upright.

In assessing any product I think you have to look at other comparable products. Sitting beside the Solo Pot 900 is an MSR pot that is pretty representative of that size of light weight hiking type pots. As you can see the Solo Pot is much taller and looks significantly larger. The other pot is short and far more like a tuna can while the Solo Pot is taller and thinner like a Campbells soup can.

The Solo Pot 900 inside the MSR pot for a size comparison. The solo pot has a tiny bit larger capacity (like an ounce or two) but they are essentially the same size. Note the different handles.

The tools for the test. Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900, my Pathfinder Trade Knife and Cold Steel Pipe Hawk. The hawk was really handy for processing a larger piece of wood into the little finger sized pieces that seem to be the best way to feed the stove. The more I use this thing the more I like it. The trade knife and pipe hawk are looking like a very nice combo for realistic field and camp cutting tasks.

Getting the stove going. Used some fire starters I made back in boy scouts. They still work really well. After the stove got going I put the pot of water on. Tonight I am making a pot of tea because we already had dinner.

The stove cooking away. Not sure why this pic turned out so much better than the rest but here it is.

The flames from the stove engulfing the pot. The only weak spot here is that the handles get hot. You need to use a leather glove or folded up (not synthetic) piece of clothing to grab the pot handles. This is the only sad face that has jumped out about the Solo Pot.
The tea doing its thing. Not sure what is up with the yellow at the bottom of the pic.

My knife and the oven mitt used to grab the pot off the stove. It seemed like a nice picture so I included it.

Letting the fire die down.

The Solo Pot 900 after the cooking was done.
It is a touch early to do a full review on the Solo Pot 900 but from what I have seen it is a pretty neat piece of gear. Just the right size, nests with the stove and has a lot of well thought out useful features. A significant part of my BOB cooking plan for sure.

You would be well advised to consider purchasing a Solo Pot 900.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Solo Pot, Perfect to go With Your Solo Stove

The good folks at Solo Stove have got a pot to go with it called the  Solo Pot. They look like a solid piece of kit which is to be expected considering the source. Aside from being stainless steel and generally well made another big plus is that the Solo Pot can nest with the stove inside it. The capacity is 900 ml AKA just a bit less than a liter. Right about perfect for 1-2 person cooking of simple dishes. The pour spout and volume markings in ounces and liters are also nice touches.

I really enjoy using my solo stove and am looking forward to testing the companion pot in the near future. Maybe I will use it test some more survival food. Likely the pot will go right alongside the stove in my bug out bag. Anyway I figured you all would want to know about this cool product.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sun Oven In Progress Review

Since we are in Arizona, the land of the eternal sun there are a lot of opportunities to play with the Sun Oven.The picture is not mine I shamelessly stole it from this gal who uses her Sun Oven to make bread.

First it is worthwhile to talk a little bit about the Sun Oven. Here are some basic stats. The SUN OVEN is 19” x 19” with an average depth of 11”. The total weight is only 21 pounds. The back of the outside outer box is 14″ high and the front of the outer box is 9″ high. The back of the oven chamber is 11″ high and the front is 7″ high, with an average depth of 9″. The door opening for the oven chamber is 14″ in diameter. When opened the reflectors are 32″ in diameter.

The following materials used to make a SUN OVEN®:
Reflectors Anodized aluminum (which will never oxidize, rust or corrode)
Outer shell ABS plastic
Bezel Poplar wood (kiln dried)
Inner shell Anodized aluminum
Door Tempered glass
Between the aluminum inner shell and the plastic outer shell there is a thick batt of food grade fiberglass insulation.

The fit and finish are very nice.

Using the Sun Oven is fairly easy if you read the instructions and watch the videos. However if you do not do those things it is much harder. Don't ask how I know this. It is really important to position the Sun Oven properly. It needs to be facing the sun or slightly ahead of it and the elevation needs to be adjusted so as much sun is hitting the inside of the oven as possible.

Today I did a test to see how the Sun Oven does at getting up to real cooking temperatures. After setting it up I started a timer. After 15 minutes the temp in the Sun Oven was a bit above 300 degrees. At the half hour mark it was sitting at about 340. At the hour mark it reached a peak at 360. The temp would slip down a little bit when the sun moved away before time to adjust it. Someplace on the website I read that they recommend checking it every half hour and making a minor adjustment to keep it in the suns path. Also some folks will position their ovens so they will get the prime afternoon sun and go to work leaving the oven to do it's thing.

It is a bit early for a review but we will use the same format to discuss initial experiences and impressions.

The Good: A well made product. Some folks use theirs regularly for years. There isn't really anything on it that could break through normal use (obviously if you run it over with a truck or something that is an issue) which would not be easy to fix.

Capable of cooking using the power of the sun so it will not run out of fuel. Being able to bake and do the kind of long duration cooking that will just suck fuel on a Coleman stove is really nice. Like a lot of folks right now we do not have a wood stove, let alone one with an oven. We will not necessarily have one all the time (we are semi nomadic due to my job) until we settle down. A solar oven goes a long way towards filling that niche.

The Bad:

The Sun Oven does have some downsides. It is fairly large at 19"x19"x12"ish. You could fill the inside space with anything light like clothes or bedding but the thing is still pretty big.

Weather is a consideration. I am not exactly sure how much sun these ovens need to work but they do need some. Folks in perpetually overcast places might want to do some research before making a purchase.

Also Sun Ovens are not cheap. I think for the right person in the right climate they could definitely pay for themselves in normal times and be priceless in an emergency situation. On the other hand it would be a pretty expensive item to purchase and have just sit around.

There is a learning curve with solar cooking. You really do not want to try it for the first time when normal options are not available and wasting or ruining food is a serious problem. This is something that pretty much needs to get figured out before you need it.

The Ugly: No ugly at this time.


I see a couple real roles for the Sun Oven.  The first is as a way to save some money on the old gas/ electric bill. Along these lines it is just fun to fiddle around with. The second is as a way to cook in a set location be it a retreat or home or whatever. Being able to bake without an oven would be really nice in such a scenario. This oven could be the difference between having mediocre flat bread as your staple and real genuine bread. It is not really so good for a bug out type situation but in a basecamp or home type situation it has real potential to be an important part of ones cooking plans.

It is true that there are other solar cooking methods including DIY projects based on cardboard boxes and aluminum foil. The Sun Oven folks put a lot of time and energy into making that thing gather and hold as much heat as it can. They are really efficient which means you get more cooking out of the available sun than a less efficient solar cooker.

I think deciding if a sun oven is for you or if you should go another way depends a lot on what you want a solar cooker to do. If it is going to be a novelty you want to play with once or twice then a Sun Oven would be a hard sell. On the other hand if you are looking at a solar cooker being a key part of your overall cooking plans do you really want to be relying on a cardboard box and some aluminum foil?

As I start cooking with the Sun Oven we will talk about it more. Hopefully some of that will happen this coming week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Skill Saturday: Curing and Maintaining Cast Iron

I have been slacking on this feature. On a tangent I was recently asked if it would be possible for me to do some stuff with video. There are some PERSEC concerns. I am not putting my face out there on the web any time soon and would probably use backdrops or whatnot. We have a video camera but I am not entirely sure of it's capabilities. Will have to do tests at some point.

Anyway today I am going to talk about cast iron. Cast Iron and I had a love hate relationship but seem to have figured it out. If you haven't picked it up I like low maintenance things that can take a beating. It is not an accident that I shoot Glocks and drive Japanese/ Korean cars. Non stick stuff is easy but it doesn't wear very well. My observation is that it needs to be replaced every couple years even if you buy quality. I hate products that do not wear well and like ones that last forever, or at least a long time. Obviously pots and pans that last forever have some preparedness benefits. This leads to my cast iron dilema.

I used some cast iron while camping as a kid but not extensively. Being quite heavy it is relegated to car camping or long term base camps. As an adult we got a cast iron frying pan a couple years ago. I never did a lot with it, the thing sort of got rusty and then sat in a cupboard. Since redeploying I wanted to get this sorted out.

The method I have found successful for curing cast iron is as follows: Clean and wash the pan (or whatever), if there is rust take care of it with an SOS pad, steel wool or fine sand paper. Wash, immediately dry with a towel then put it on a burner set to high (or in an oven) to heat it up and get rid of any remaining moisture. You can let it cool or not after this, my observation is that it doesn't actually matter.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. [If your pan has some baked on junk or residue put it into the oven for an hour, this should burn it off. ] When the oven is up to temp take out some crisco (do not use vegetable oil, it leaves resedue) and use a rag or paper towel to LIGHTLY coat the pan. Stick the pan in the oven bottom side up and put a cookie sheet, ideally an old nasty one, or covered in tin foil, below it to catch drips. This is important because I have heard that if you do not a bunch of junk will drip onto the bottom of the oven and burn. Set the timer for an hour. Go do something else.

In an hour take the pan out using a potholder because the pan is quite hot. Use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe off the excess crisco or any burned on junk. If nothing comes off then you are done. If stuff comes off then grab your crisco rag or paper towel and LIGHTLY recoat the pan then put it back in the oven for an hour. I found two cycles of coating and an hour in the oven left a nice shiny black pan that is easy to cook with. YMMV.

During this whole thing be careful because the pan will be hot. Also it will stay hot for a suprisingly long time.

Cooking with cast iron: Cast iron needs some sort of oil like product to prevent stuff from burning and getting stuck. Not a lot necessarily but some. It cooks very evenly which is nice.

Maintenance: Water is to cast iron what crack is to Charlie Sheen, a significant problem. DO NOT LET CAST IRON SOAK IN A SINK FULL OF WATER. DO NOT LEAVE CAST IRON WET. Scrape off all the food or residue, wash it normally, dry immediately with a towel and then into the oven or onto the burner to heat up and burn off any remaining moisture.

One benefit of cast iron being a big piece of metal is that you do not need to be afraid of hurting some finish like you would a nonstick pan. You can ruin the nice black oil coat (called a Patina for some reason) but that can be fixed by curing it. I once used a steel wire brush attachment on a drill to clean up a particularly abused dutch oven.

Note: I am certainly not saying this is the only way to cure, clean and use cast iron. Other folks might do something that is better. This is just the way that works for me.

With some reasonable adaptations cast iron can be rewarding and enjoyable to use.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Finally Friday!

It is Friday and thank goodness for that. Work was quiet today so I got a bunch of various stuff which has been waiting forever done. The kind of things that you need to do but always linger slightly below more pressing matter. That was nice.

Getting off work at a decent time set things off to a good start. Wifey made enchiladas and spanish rice which was great. There is beer in the fridge, scotch in the cabinet and ice in the freezer so that front is covered.

We do not have any big plans for this weekend. We will probably take Walker for a ride in his wagon both days. He really likes it, a comfortable seat but freedom to move around a bit, a place to put his milk and Dad doing all the work, what is not to like. It is also a pretty good activity to get out of the house when we don't have anything we need to do. Maybe we will go out to lunch or something. The last few things for my Get Home Bag came in this week so I am going to try and get it all put together. You will see a post on that sooner or later.  There are some various blog admin things I would like to do.

Anyway my weekend is off to a pretty darn good start. I hope yours is also.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life is What Happens When You Turn The News Off

I seem to go into a sort of cycle with the news. Right now I am about sick of it. I still check out the drudge daily and if things get boring cruise the BBC. Instead of listening to the news at work I have been using a comedy show as background. I keep up enough to have a clue what is going on but really am having a hard time pretending to care.

The issues of police abuses has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind lately. Over a short time (since my being able to pay attention to these things at a relatively adult level) the changes which have occured are widespread and universally negative. Right now I do not have any additional thoughts on this topic which I am willing to share in a public venue.

Gang/ Mob attacks seem to be on the rise. The perpetrators, victims and area demographics seem to be quite consistent. The only thing that concerns me more than this is the total ambivalence of law enforcement about these crimes. The widespread efforts of government and media to conceal these events does not weigh positively into the mix either. I am not personally concerned about this. I do not frequent the kind of areas where this sort of thing has been happening. Also my life patterns, like being home at 7 to put the kid to bed, drops the odds even further. In any case it is still troubling.

Greece getting out of the Euro may almost be a foregone conclusion at this point. The idea of Euro bonds is laughable. Like cosigning for a loan your deadbeat brother in law/ whatever to get a loan it would require Germany be on the hook for things in the end. Like cosigning in general it is just a terrible idea. Banks or private markets are far better judges of who is a worthwhile risk than friends and family. I get what is in it for everybody but Germany, who actually has their financial house in order.

Also to complicate things there is significant risk to the Euro itself. As Tam put it "So Greece's profligate habits are threatening to drag the Euro under. Germany, the only wino at the bar keeping a squinty eye on the tab, is urging some restraint on Greece's part, which makes the Jerries the no-fun bad guy of the story."

The biggest way this inconveniences me is that it means I am not going to Greece which sucks. It was definitely on our short list before the mess of the last few months. Now the risk of getting stuck somewhere with a toddler in tow makes it a no travel zone for us. I guess it is a significant global risk, blah blah blah but I don't care about that.

So what did I do today?

After getting off work I came home for some quiet family time. For no clear reason I decided to make home made pizza. I had never done this but with some help from Wifey utter disaster was averted. I learned to do something new and we had a pretty good dinner. It was a nice quiet evening and I got something out of it.

It is worth noting that Dave Duffy wrote an article that inspired this one but was much better.

Anyway I hope you all have a nice quiet evening.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Ramblings: Food "Best By Dates", Premium Ammo in Storage and Other Great Stuff

After further consideration (See my last post in on this topic here.) I am really starting to think that "best by" dates on shelf stable food are about meaningless. The ketsup we have been using was purchased in January 2010 and had a "best by" date of July 2010, it seems to have suffered no deterioration. Today I had a can of chili for lunch. I purchased it in December 2009 and had a best by date of March 2011. A bit of oil had separated and risen to the top and the thick content had sort of separated from the thin but it smelled fine so I heated it up and ate it. The texture had changed slightly but not enough that I would notice if I hadn't been looking for it. Lunch was 8 hours ago and I haven't had any ill effects. If I start dumping my guts out I will tell you all but I suspect it will be fine.

It bears repeating that I am just some yahoo sitting at home eating expired food and writing about it on the internet. Just because something worked once for me does not mean it is necessarily so for all people under all circumstances. Do your own research, consult experts if necessary and use common sense before eating any food that is beyond the best by date or has been preserved/ stored questionably.

Commander Zero wrote an interesting post today on FMJ vs Premium JHP ammo as part of your Ballistic Wampum. As Zero notes premium defensive ammunition costs somewhere from about .75 cents to a buck or more a bullet. This stuff is seriously cost prohibitive. Like most folks I load my carry pistols with premium stuff like Federal Hydroshocks, Speer Gold Dot or Corbon JHP's. Typically I have a few boxes per gun of this really good stuff.
I tend not to worry about it with rifles because centerfire rifles produce so much energy that all BS aside they do the job if you do yours. Though as Gabe Suarez noted if you have to shoot a goblin near a family member do you really want to be using ammo made in Russia 50 years ago? Probably not. It might be worthwhile to pick up a couple mags worth of something good that shoots comparably to whatever bulk ammo you use. For shotguns as long as shot is the right size for your task (birdshot for birds, whatever is appropriate for game and something that starts with "buck" for 2 legged predators) and patterns OK it is G2G. The idea of premium buckshot kind of escapes me.

So the premium stuff is great but cost prohibitive, on that we can all probably agree. Personally as a sort of stop gap between premium defensive ammo and FMJ I store more affordable JHP ammo in quantity.

I didn't worry about the bullet type of my stored pistol ammo much when I mostly shot .40 and .45. Both are big, heavy bullets that do fine with FMJ's. Since I shifted to 9mm this has been a bit more of a concern. The 9mm with modern JHP ammo is quite effective but ball ammo isn't great. Thus I care more about having JHP ammo on hand than I used to. Initially I got some of the 100 round JHP packs from Wally World which calmed my immediate paranoia. Down the road I ordered a case of Federal Classic 115 grain JHP from the good folks at Lucky Gunner for a very reasonable price. With this purchase made I feel pretty secure about our 9mm defensive ammo situation. Somewhere between 30-50% of my 9mm ammunition is JHP.

When available at reasonable prices I have picked up JHP ammo in .38/.357mag, .223 and 7.62x39.

I have really been enjoying homemade bread. Wifey makes wheat bread that is soft, hearty and filling. Unlike some junk from the store where I can eat 3 sandwiches and still be hungry a sandwich with this stuff goes a long way. Add in a can of soup or some fruit and whatever is lying around and you have a solid lunch. Two sandwiches is a good dinner. Pretty regularly I have toast with strawberry jam for breakfast these days. Suprisingly this happens just after baking day.

Anyway that is about all that comes to mind. I think rambling posts may be a weekend feature here. That will leave short discrete topics for the week when I am busier.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

We did some garage saleing. I got a great deal on a hardigg foot locker. Also got a nice barely used BBQ for free and a propane tank to make it work. Looking forward to firing it up and doing some grilling. We have a charcoal one but the turn around time is such that we don't use it much. For gas I can just fire it up and cook dogs or burgers or whatever. I picked up some new boots to replace the aging and not pretty enough to wear every day at work ones I was wearing. Once I have worn them for awhile I will do a review.

Also we put together a car kit for kiddo. Clothes, sleeping stuff, some food, a cup, bowl and spoon. I am generally not too worried about that stuff as we stick close to home but A) kiddo manages to get dirty in the most suprising places/ ways and B) a minor annoyance for us is a big deal for him.
I have scaled back lifting to twice a week and am putting more energy into conditioning and endurance. I put on a ruck for the first time in awhile and while I wasn't as fast as I have been it wasn't terrible. Will make sure to keep that as a weekly thing for the foreseeable future. All in all a pretty good week here.

Next week I am going to try and order some stuff. Also if the sun comes out I want to test out the solar charger.
What did you do to prepare this week?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pic Post

 Got to love Vladmir Putin. He really is a bad mama jamma strait out of a Tom Clancy novel.

Not sure if this last one is an authentic old terribly un PC ad or a newly made terribly un pc ad. Regardless it is so steriotypical but with that shred of real life that is just great. Makes me think it is something Red from That 70's show would have said.

I spent the whole day writing at work so you all get pictures. Lots of things are in my head but I am totally wrote out. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Drunk Kitchen: MRE's

I was going to take a bunch of pictures and talk about gear I regularly use today. Really I had a great post planned, honest I did. However it just didn't happen. No reason in particular, just all of a sudden it was 8 oclock at night, I hadn't started and had not motivation. I stumbled onto this great youtube video where a girl who apparantly drinks and does food reviews tries an MRE. Warning there is a bit of foul language.

I hope you all find this half as amusing as I do!

The "leftovers" are pretty good also.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Building Food Storage in Small Spaces

My long time friend Maggy dropped me a line the other day. She has been on hiatus from our sister blog for awhile as she has been busy having a kid. Anyway she has relocated to a very small apartment (she said the size of a postage stamp) and is looking to rebuild some food storage that got eaten up. She asked my advice on small spaces noting that under the bed was full of baby stuff and thoughts on stocking up beyond ‘if you need one buy two’ plan. Here is my sanitized and slightly edited reply to her:
First of all it has been awhile so I want to congratulate you on the kid and all that stuff. I am happy for you guys. Next there are two separate issues: space and stocking up.

For space: I am really not a huge fan of under the bed. Been there and done that, it just didn't work great. The issue with it is that stuff under there tends to stay under there and not get used, because it is a pain to get to under the bed. Not an issue for a water filter, a case of rifle ammo and some MRE's but for food you want to rotate regularly it is problematic. In my experience if accessing and thus rotating stored food is hard folks won’t do it. If you don’t somewhat regularly rotate food the whole storage thing doesn’t work so well.

I would say first to be more organized in the kitchen (example instead of having 3 drawers of tupperware and other crap have 1 or 2 organized ones) to get the most of the space you do have. Throw away any junk and organize the rest. This should free up some space. Next I would say to look at other shelving/ storage areas in your place. Wifey and I did this with success in the RV. Having a cupboard full of food in a different place isn't ideal but we have to work with what we have available.

Another idea to free up some space is to use small quart or whatever sized containers for staples, rice, beans, flour, etc and keep those in the kitchen. The big bags could then live in a closet or someplace a bit less accessible as you don't need to access them daily, just to refill the jars/ tupperware things.
Really it comes down to prioritization. Thinks we decide are important tend to happen and those we prioritize lower often stall out when they meet any resistance. If you start from the perspective of “I am going to fit X amount of food in my residence, where is it going to go” instead of “How much food can I conveniently fit in the kitchen as it is organized now, without adjusting anything?” there answer is going to be very different.

So in review; first organize the kitchen and then consider using other available cupboards and such outside the kitchen. If it is important, and food is important, then you can find a way.

Restocking on food: The buy 2 cans/ boxes/ packages when you really only need one plan is good. It lets you stock things you are actually eating in better varieties than say buying a case of chili and a case of stew.

The thing is that nobody, except maybe Redacted (her significant other and my longtime friend who doesn’t have a name on here, or I can’t remember it) and he probably did it because he is lazy, wants to eat chili for a month in a row. Far better to have 6 cans of chili, 3 cans of stew, 3 cans of clam chowder and 6 meals worth of pasta with both red and white sauce, etc.

One good way to give your food storage a sort of jump start without getting sucked into too much of any one thing is to get a good baseline of staples. A 20 pound bag of flour, 20 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of corn meal, 10 pounds of beans, a big bag of pancake mix with a large jug of syrup, some peanut butter, jelly, oil and spices and you can eat for a pretty long time, especially since you can cook. That stuff just about doesn't go bad (you can't store a ton of it just in bags but if you cook at all a big bag will get used up well before it would go bad). It doesn't cost a lot and in a pinch you could eat off it for awhile. Maybe do that to get the ball rolling and keep up with the need one buy two and pretty quickly you will accumulate a lot of food you will actually eat.

FWIW the one shelf stable food we probably can't stock enough of in my house is pasta. It is cheap and easy and can be used a lot of ways. Cook a package of pasta, maybe do up some meat and veggies (or not) and toss it in some sauce and you have an easy dinner. In my observation one of the biggest ways for a plan of staple cooking to break down is getting busy. If you get busy and don’t have some reasonable options to get dinner on the table in 15-20 minutes with minimal hassle it is going to be convenience foods or pizza. Pasta is great for this.
Also we eat a lot of rice and I have cereal for breakfast most mornings so we usually have a dozen or so boxes of whatever has been on sale recently.
I hope this gives you some ideas. Feel free to hit me up with any questions it may bring.
If you have anything to add please do so in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Staple Cooking and Random Thoughts Theiron

-You need to prepare to have failures. I am not going to say you will be a failure of that everything you try to make is going to fail the first time. Just that at least now and then you are going to fail. I suggest having a backup plan so that at 8 oclock at night (speaking from experience;) when you've been waiting for dinner for two hours and the recipe has failed twice (so everyone is hungry and the cook is really upset) you've got dinner. Not saying you need a whole extra menu but a frozen pizza or a takeout menu might be wise to keep around.

-You've got to learn the rules before you try to break the rules. Some elements of cooking like BBQing, pasta and making salad's give a lot of flexibility. They are more like art where you can just sort of toss things which generally sound good together and usually it works out at least OK if not well. However staple cooking, and baking (especially with yeast) just doesn't work that way. It is a lot more like chemistry in that there are lots of rules as well as some hard and fast ways to go things. You've got to learn some rules and start with recipes that work. After you get those down you can start adding a little of this and a bit less of the other thing. People like professional chef's and bakers can just toss stuff together and have it work because they have internalized the rules and best methods for doing things. Until you get to that point you should get a recipe book or hop onto google and find some stuff to make.

-Start small. The first time to try staple cooking is not the main course when you are having your in laws, boss and 20 best friends over for a fancy dinner. A side dish (biscuits, beans, etc) on a random day is probably a better idea. The learning curve is steep so it is best to keep your expectations modest at first.

-Cook stuff you like. This should go without saying but sometimes people get sucked into the staple cooking idea and carried away. No matter how wonderfully you make it a thing you don't like isn't much of a success. If you like soup then make soup. If you like like beans cook beans.

-Don't give up. The learning curve is steep and you are going to have failures. The good thing is that once you start to figure out the rules of a certain type of cooking (bread, beans, etc) you are all of a sudden able to do all kinds of things in that category. You will be able to save lots of money and eat wonderful healthy food. You will turn a bag of this and some boxes of that into great tasting food. All of the work is well worth the end results.

Remember you have just until early Saturday morning to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Just wanted to make sure you are aware of it. You can get a whole bunch of free ammo for no money and a very modest investment of a few minutes of your time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homework Assignment for the Week

Cook dinner using a new recipe composed mostly of staple foods

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

 On the bright side I am finally starting to feel normal again. However between work and life nothing amazing happened this week. I did some cooking which was good. Wifey has been taking it easy so Miley and I have been cooking. Nothing too crazy but if you don't use those skills you start to lose them. I have also been reading a lot which is cool. Got all caught up on blogs plus also some select chapters of various field manuals. Learned some interesting stuff and was pretty entertained in the process.

Moved some money around and I should be getting a plate carrier and rifle plates this week. Also I have been looking at optics. Awhile back I was thinking EoTech but after a recent trip to the range I really like and shoot better using an optic that has some magnification. I LOVE the ACOG but alas, hangs head in shame, it is too expensive. I am looking at the IOR M2 scopes. Got to do some more research and run the numbers. Still might be awhile.

I also tore up our place and finally found my P Mags. Unfortunately I have a few less than I thought I did. Oh well that can be rectified later. Think I'm going to start using some at work to evaluate them.

I started working on next years Wish List which makes up at least part of the New Years Resolutions. Nothing new or huge there. Working on protective gear as well as some outdoor type stuff. Just kinda coming up with ideas now. Then I will weigh different categories and think about what I can realistically do in a year. More to follow in a month and a half or so. Come to think of it I need to look at where I am on this years New Years Resolutions. Don't have much time to finish things off.

My home brewed beer is better after waiting another week. They said it needed 3 weeks but 4 turns out to be more accurate. It is less cloudy and the carbonation seems to be more uniform. Also the bitter after taste has gone away. It is a relatively light, slightly sweet and refreshing ale.

For a slow week I guess it wasn't too bad. Next week is going to be pretty packed. Posting may be abnormal this coming week.

What did you do to prepare this week?
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