Thursday, 17 November 2016

10:02 – I know it’s trivial, but I love to watch what oxygen absorbers do to containers. Yesterday afternoon, I added an oxygen absorber to each of the 21 bottles of pinto beans we’d repackaged in 2-liter soda bottles. A couple of hours later, I looked at the bottles, all of which were by then dented in, indicating both a good seal and that the oxygen absorbers were doing their jobs.

Incidentally, if you need oxygen absorbers, buy them from the LDS store. A pack of a hundred 300cc absorbers costs only $12, versus typically twice that or more from commercial resellers. In the original package, they remain good for years. If you have any left over from a pack, store them in the smallest glass jar you can find that has a metal lid. Wide-mouth canning jars work well. If you’re ever in doubt about whether oxygen absorbers are still good, just bend one between your fingers. A good one is soft and flexible; one that’s exhausted hardens and loses flexibility.

More email from Cassie, the newbie prepper I mentioned a couple days ago. They’re rural enough that their nearest Walmart Super Center is an hour’s drive one-way, and the nearest Sam’s or Costco is farther still. So she plans to stock up from Amazon and Walmart on-line for stuff she can’t get at her local supermarket, where she works as a checker. They live in her husband’s parents’ house and her husband has his own plumbing business, so their combined income is solidly middle-class and they have much lower expenses than a typical young married couple.

They’re focusing on food first. They’re on well water, but they have a year-round spring on their property, so Cassie figures they’re in good shape for water. Her husband hunts, and they have a couple of rifles and a couple of shotguns, which they figure is enough for now. They’ll add some more ammunition, first-aid supplies, and so on, but otherwise the concentration will be on food, food, food. Yesterday, Cassie came home from work with two five-pound bags of sugar, two ten-pound bags of flour, several one-pound bags of pasta, a jug of cooking oil, two boxes of iodized salt, several jars of pasta sauce, and two cases of soup. She intends to do the same thing two or three times a week until they’re stocked at a level they’re comfortable with.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

09:03 – With zero days left until the election, we’ll just make popcorn tonight and watch the game. If the vote is counted honestly, Trump should win in a landslide. Of course, the chance of an honest count is near zero, so the supposed outcome will depend on how successful Clinton supporters are at stealing votes.

I just realized yesterday that I no longer had the means to prepare sterile culture media or agar. In Winston, we were at about 800 feet (244 meters) elevation. In Sparta, we’re at about 3,000 feet (914 meters) elevation. That’s a huge difference for sterilizing things in a pressure canner.

The pressure canner I used down in Winston is a cheap Walmart unit that tops out at 10.7 PSI. That was fine for working at 800 feet elevation, but it’s totally inadequate at our current elevation. So I just ordered a pressure canner on Amazon that will do 15+ PSI. In addition to sterilizing culture media, the 15 PSI unit can be used safely to home can meats and other low-acid foods, which the older unit cannot. We’ll just re-purpose the older unit as a large cooking pot and pressure cooker (versus canner).

I thought about ordering an All American pressure canner. They’re US-made, built like tanks, and if we were going to do a lot of canning I’d have bitten the bullet and paid the price for one of them. They cost more than three times as much as the Presto 23-quart unit I ended up ordering. This unit can process 7 quart jars or 18 pint jars at a time, and is more than sufficient for our needs. I will need to order some spare parts, like a gasket, pressure regulator, and pressure gauge. Even with all of those, the Presto unit comes in at just over $100 total.

As regular readers may remember, I’m not a big fan of home canning for general food preservation. It’s very expensive in terms of equipment, supplies, fuel, time, and effort. For veggies and other low-cost foods, it makes more sense to dry them or just to buy them in cans to start with. I mean, what’s the point to using a $0.75 canning jar and lid, along with all the work it takes, to preserve a can of vegetables that you could buy for $0.60?

One place home canning may make sense for some people is in preserving high-value foods like meats, particularly if you buy them in bulk when they’re on sale. Versus commercial canned meats like those from Keystone (via Walmart), it’s about break even cost-wise, but the real advantage to home canning meats is that you can can stuff that’s not readily available commercially. For example, white-meat chicken is readily available commercially canned, and indeed we keep a fair amount of it on-hand. But Barbara and I also like dark-meat chicken, which is very difficult to find in commercial cans. And then there’s bacon. A pint canning jar holds about a pound of meat, and a quart about two pounds. That means that with six or eight dozen wide-mouth quart jars, we can keep 150 to 200 pounds of home-canned meats on hand.

The danger with home-canning meats is botulism. The bacteria itself is destroyed by boiling, as is the toxin that bacteria produces. But the spores of that bacteria are destroyed only by extended heating at temperatures well above boiling, which is why proper canning is essential for meats. The spores themselves are not dangerous to consume, except for infants (which is why infants should never be fed honey). The danger is that in an improperly canned container of meat, those spores may germinate, producing deadly botulinus toxin. That’s why all responsible authorities always note that home-canned meats should always be cooked very thoroughly before consumption. If they are tainted by botulism toxin, cooking them thoroughly renders them safe to eat.

Our 400W off-grid solar power starter kit showed up from Amazon yesterday. Now all I need to do is get batteries to charge and an inverter large enough to drive the well pump. Before I finalize plans, I need to get a well guy out here to look at our well. I have no idea how deep the well is, how deep the pump is, or how deep the water table is. I’d like to know all of that, and perhaps get him to install a new pump. I’m assuming the one in there is quite old and probably over-sized. This well was here long before the house was built, and no one seems to know anything about it. There’s not even a plaque inside the well casing, which is a pretty good indication by itself that this well is very old.

Monday, 7 November 2016

09:02 – With one day left until the election, we’re settled in here, awaiting developments. Federal authorities have said there’s a heightened likelihood of attacks by muslim scum in Texas, Virginia, and New York today, and there have been other calls by muslim scum leaders to attack tomorrow to disrupt the election. Authorities are also on heightened alert nationwide for attacks by BLM scum, progressive scum, and other scum. Just as an aside, I noticed a possible solution yesterday when I picked up a bottle of household cleaner. Right there on the label it says, “Removes Scum”.

There’s been a lot of talk about how this election has meant the death of the MSM. No one on either side believes them any more. They’re talking to themselves and precious few other people. But this election may also mean the death of political polling organizations, whose results have been all over the map. Many people, again on both sides of the divide, no longer believe anything polling organizations have to say. They perceive, correctly in most cases, that polling is now purely politically motivated and that, rather than accurately forecasting results, the goal of polling organizations is now to provide an advantage to one or the other side. Everything is now political.

Tomorrow is not really the election, as most people think. Tomorrow is the first day of an election that’s likely to be drawn out for weeks. Whichever side “loses” tomorrow is very unlikely to concede and get on with normal business. There are likely to be an ongoing series of appeals, court cases, and possibly violence before this thing is settled. Oh, well. We’re prepared for the aftermath, come what may. We’re living in an area that’s as safe as any, where we can just sit back and watch what happens. Unfortunately, at the end of it all, whatever happens, it’s going be Meet the New Boss, The Same as the Old Boss.

There’s a lot of bad information in prepping literature about long-term food storage, both in terms of methods (no, freezing will not reliably kill insect eggs) and in terms of nutrition. Much of the advice is simply a repetition of something someone read somewhere.

With regard to LTS nutrition, many sources claim that you need to store x amount of various categories, including honey/sugars, fruits, vegetables, and so on. All of that is wrong. One can survive quite comfortably without any of those items. A human requires exactly three macro-nutrients (foods consumed in relatively large quantities) and numerous micronutrients (vitamins and minerals, elements, salt, and other things consumed in relatively small quantities).

Calories are an umbrella measure of overall nutrition. A human needs a certain number of calories per day, which varies according to that person’s basal metabolic rate–how many calories you need for basic body functions, assuming you’re just lying around and not doing any work at all–sex, weight, age, amount of work being done, environmental temperature, and many other factors. A small older woman who is not doing any heavy labor, for example, may need 1,400 calories/day, while a young man who is engaged in heavy physical labor may need 4,000 calories/day or more.

All of the three macro-nutrients contribute to caloric intake. Fat contains about 9 calories/gram, while carbohydrates and protein both contain about 4 cal/g. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences publishes a list of Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) that provides the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges by age range. That information is summarized here:

Assume that you’re calculating nutrition needs for an adult who requires 2,000 cal/day. Fats should provide 20% to 35% of those calories (400 to 700 cal/day). Since fats average 9 cal/g, you’d need about 45 g to 78 g of fats per day for that person. Carbohydrates should provide 45% to 65% of those calories (900 to 1,300 cal/day). Since carbohydrates average 4 cal/g, you’d need about 225 g to 325 g of carbohydrates per day for that person. Protein should provide 10% to 35% of those calories (200 to 700 cal/day). Since protein averages 4 cal/g, you’d need about 50 g to 175 g of protein per day for that person.

Unfortunately, you can’t go to the store and buy a container of fats, carbohydrates, or protein. Well, you can, kind of. Vegetable oil, lard, shortening, and so on are essentially 100% fats, sugar is essentially 100% carbohydrates, and eggs or meat is mostly protein. But most of what you can actually buy is a mixture of two or all three, in varying proportions. Flour, for example, is mostly carbohydrates, but has a significant amount of protein and a tiny amount of fats. Most dairy products contain large amounts of fats and lesser amounts of proteins and carbohydrates.

And the amino acid balance of proteins is also important. Because different vegetable proteins have different balances of specific essential amino acids, one can starve to death eating only grains or only beans. Eating some of each provides complete protein. That’s why our ancestors for a million years have been eating a mix of vegetable proteins, such as rice and beans or wheat and beans or corn and beans. Animal proteins are inherently balanced, so if you can store lots of meat and eggs and dairy you needn’t worry about amino acid balance.

Of course, most people don’t want to deal with all these calculations. The simple way to balance things out is to store 30 pounds of grains (flour, rice, oats, pasta, etc.) per person per month, 5 pounds of beans per person per month, and one quart/liter of lipids (oils and fats) per person per month. Add half a pound of iodized salt and 30 multivitamin tablets per person per month to take care of micronutrient (vitamin/mineral/elements) needs, and you’re set for iron rations, at a cost of maybe $30/person-month.

Of course, that diet would get very old very fast, so assuming you have money left over, you can supplement it with things like a lot of canned meats, soups, vegetables, and fruits, a good stock of herbs and spices, cans of powdered eggs and butter and TVP bouillon, cans of powdered milk, and so on. It’s important to be able to continue eating whatever the situation.

Friday, 28 October 2016

09:54 – We got more flour repackaged yesterday. Today we’ll finish up repackaging rice and oats. The oats will use the last of our 3-liter bottles. The rice will go into 2-liter bottles because rice flows very freely through the narrower mouths of the 2-liter bottles. Any additional fluffy stuff (flour, oats, etc.) we repackage will go into LDS 1-gallon foil/Mylar bags. We’ll continue to use 2-liter bottles for free-flowing stuff like sugar and rice.

When Lori, our USPS carrier, stopped by yesterday to pick up a shipment, I asked how she was doing on repackaging the bulk staples she’d picked up at Sam’s Club last weekend. She’d finished repackaging the sugar and rice, but was waiting for her brother to deliver more 2-liter bottles for the bagged flour. I told her we had plenty of empty 2-liter bottles and that she was welcome to a trash bag or two full of them, but she said she didn’t need them right now. I offered to lend her a flexible silicone funnel with a stem that’s a slip fit for the inside of a 2-liter bottle and makes it much easier to transfer flour. She accepted with thanks. I asked if she was using oxygen absorbers and she said she intended to order some on Amazon. I told her we had plenty and offered her some to use with her repackaged flour and rice. She insisted on paying me for them, although I told her that I bought them in packs of 100 from the LDS on-line store, and they only cost twelve cents each. I then gave her a small Mason jar of the oxygen absorbers and a one-minute tutorial on how to use them.

Barbara and I have been trying different main courses that can be made exclusively with LTS food. Last night, we made a skillet dinner with one pound of ground beef (we actually used frozen, but it would work just as well with the Keystone canned ground beef we keep in stock), one pound of macaroni, one can of green beans, two cups of Augason Farms cheesy broccoli soup in four cups of water, and three tablespoons of onion flakes. It was quick and easy to make, and turned out very well. In fact, we’re having the leftovers for dinner tonight and decided to add it to our main meal rotation. Barbara did suggest dropping the onion from three to two tablespoons, but she’s not a big fan of onion or garlic. These ingredients make sufficient to serve as a main meal for four to six people.

We’re spending some time today and tomorrow on inventorying kits and components. We’re at a comfortable level of finished goods inventory for this time of year, when we’re shipping an average of only one kit per day, but I want to get ready to build a lot more as kit sales ramp up in late November and through December and January.

Clinton and Obama’s wife made a campaign stop in Winston-Salem yesterday, at the Lawrence Joel Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum. The front-page article in the paper this morning said the crowd was estimated at 11,000, with a vast majority being women, but I have my doubts. The photograph they ran with the article showed Clinton and Obama on-stage with maybe a hundred people in the stands. There was a large section of empty seats visible, and a few populated rows of seats with a large curtain blocking off the seating behind them. My guess is that actual attendance was probably a few hundred people. Clinton rallies are notorious for being lightly attended, while Trump rallies are invariably standing room only.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

09:24 – With less than three weeks to go until the election, I see that some Democrats are now claiming to fear widespread violence committed by Trump supporters if Trump is elected. They apparently believe that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of white supremacists and skinheads and Neo-Nazis and KKK waiting in the wings for Trump to gain power and turn them loose. They’re apparently expecting black people to be hanging from lampposts in every city and town and black churches to be firebombed across the country. Geez. They really believe this. Someone needs to tell them that something like 99.999% of Trump supporters hate those racist assholes as much as anyone else does.

And that’s been true for a long, long time. Thinking back to the 1979 shootout in Greensboro between the Communists and the Neo-Nazis/KKK, I remember thinking I hoped they all shot each other. I think that was the general reaction at the time. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

We certainly won’t be anywhere near Winston or any other large city on or around Election Day, but not out of fear of violence by conservatives. I can’t remember the last time that conservatives engaged in violent civil unrest. Progressives, on the other hand, do so routinely. They’re the ones to watch out for. If violent civil unrest does break out on or around Election Day, it won’t be happening up here in Sparta. No doubt a lot of local residents would be locked and loaded, just in case any scumbags show up here. But that’s not likely to happen even if Trump wins and the big cities burn. We Deplorable Normals up here have had more than enough of this shit, as have Deplorable Normals everywhere. And if any Walking Progressives show up here, we’re prepared to deal with them.

Other than one 50-pound bag of flour, we’ve gotten all our bulk staples repackaged in PET bottles, labeled, and with oxygen absorbers. Now we just need to get them downstairs into the LTS pantry and up on the shelves.

Monday, 17 October 2016

06:54 – We repackaged 100 pounds of sugar and 50 pounds of rice yesterday, using a mix of one-gallon Costco water bottles, 3-liter bottles, and 1.75-liter orange juice bottles. Sugar and rice go much, much faster than flour. Barbara had no objection to repackaging sugar and rice, but said she’d really, really rather not do the remaining 50-pound bag of flour.

And speaking of repackaged LTS bulk staples, email over the weekend from another correspondent who wants to remain anonymous. I’ll call him Jeff. He and Laura are in their mid- to late-40’s and have two sons of high school age. They live in the exurbs of a mid-size city. Jeff runs the family engineering business, which he took over when his father retired a few years ago. Laura is a stay-at-home mom. She homeschools their sons and runs a profitable eBay business on the side.

They’ve been preppers since 1999, when they became very concerned about Y2K. They’d bought a house shortly after they married, and in early 1999 they started stocking up food and other supplies. Jeff built a false wall in one of their below-grade basement rooms. He framed it out with 2X4’s, they filled it up with food and other supplies, and then he screwed plywood sheets to the studs. They ended up with a concealed storage room that’s 12 feet wide by about 2 feet deep. To camouflage it further, they installed steel shelving units in front of the plywood wall. Then they pretty much forgot about it for the next 15 years or so.

A few weeks ago, they noticed the basement floor on that wall was damp. The following day, there was actually standing water in puddles along that wall. So that weekend they pulled everything off the steel shelves, disassembled the shelving, and took down the plywood panels. Behind the panels were piles of supplies that hadn’t seen the light of day in 17 years. There didn’t appear to be much damage to the supplies other than soaked cardboard boxes. They moved all the stuff that had been behind that wall to another room and then called a contractor to fix the leak.

The food they had stored behind that wall was a mix of cases of LDS #10 cans, cases of supermarket canned goods, and long-term staples they’d repackaged themselves in soft drink bottles. All of it at least 17 years old, and everything other than the LDS #10 cans at least 15 years past its best-by date.

Their first thought was just to throw it all out and start again from scratch, but Jeff decided to check things out before doing that. The LDS cans were in pretty good shape, with some light rust on some of them and a few labels peeling off. The commercial canned goods were in about the same shape. The soft drink bottles looked pretty much the same as they had the day they’d filled them. The only thing that looked like it had aged was the oil in plastic jugs, which had darkened and become a bit cloudy.

As is usual for women, Laura was much more concerned about the age of the stuff than Jeff was, but she finally agreed to test some of it. First up was a 3-liter bottle of white flour. Jeff says it may have darkened a bit, and it was caked in the bottle, but it passed the sniff test. As Jeff said, it smelled like flour. So they sifted it to break up the caking and used it to bake a loaf of bread. It rose normally and the finished loaf tasted just as home-made bread always tastes. No one clutched their throats or keeled over.

They next sampled some of the commercial canned goods. The soup smelled normal when they opened it, as did a can of baked beans. Laura cooked both of them very thoroughly, and they tasted normal. Again, no one keeled over. They opened a can of shortening, which looked and smelled normal. They used it along with some of the antique flour to bake biscuits, which turned out normal. The only fail was their stored oil. When they opened a bottle, it smelled a bit off. Jeff says that he’d have been willing to use it in an emergency if they had no other source of oil, but Laura was greatly relieved when Jeff decided to pitch it without testing it first. As Jeff says, oil is cheap.

They decided to hold onto everything but the oil, as a last-ditch source of food in an emergency. They’re not going to rebuild the hidden room, so they’ll just stack it against the repaired wall. The steel shelving had been mostly filled with more recently purchased food, and that along with stuff they’re still adding will serve as their deep pantry, with the really old stuff as their deepest pantry.

11:06 – Barbara points out that she didn’t say she didn’t want to repackage the remaining 50-pound bag of flour. What she said was she’d really, really rather not transfer it to PET bottles because they’re such a PITA to fill. She wants to transfer it to one-gallon LDS 7-mil foil/Mylar laminate bags. That’s fine with me. For flour, they’re immensely easier and faster to fill, and they’re what we’ll use for flour we purchase in the future.

Barbara is spending the afternoon volunteering at the Friends of the Library bookstore. Tomorrow, we’ll finish labeling bottles, adding an oxygen absorber to each, and transferring them down to our deep pantry shelves in the basement.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

09:40 – Barbara is down in Winston today, running errands and having lunch with a friend. As usual when she’s gone, it’s wild women and parties for Colin and me.

Most people really are stupid. I was just reading an article about Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to affect Florida in more than a decade. As usual, everyone panics and heads for the supermarkets and hardware stores to lay in supplies. One stupid woman who was interviewed had gone to her local Publix supermarket, in search of bottled water. She was upset to find that they were sold out of the store brand stuff and had only the more expensive name-brand bottled water left in stock. The article wasn’t clear about her actions, other than that for some reason she lay down on the empty shelf where the cheaper bottled water had been. Presumably, she left without any bottled water because it cost a few cents a bottle more than the house-brand stuff. Jesus wept.

As is usual this time of year, my component inventory system has completely broken down. The problem, as always, is that we’re doing so many things at once, and updating component inventory is often overlooked. For example, we’ll be running short of biology kits and are out of chemical bags for them. So I check inventory and find out that we have only eighteen bottles in stock of the limiting chemical. So we build 18 of the chemical bags and start assembling more biology kits. Meanwhile, we get a bulk order for chemistry kits. We ship those and realize that we’re now short on chemical bags for those kits. So we check our inventory and see that it shows that we should have 27 of the limiting chemical for those kits. But it turns out that another chemical is really the limiting chemical because I hadn’t updated the inventory records after we used 18 bottles of it to make up biology chemical bags. It turns out that instead of having enough to make up 27 chemistry kit chemical bags, we actually have only 11 of that second chemical. So we make up 11 chemistry chemical bags and start building kits. As Barbara is assembling those, I make up the solution for the chemical bottles we’d run out of. So it’s really a matter of us having so many things going on at the same time that stuff slips through the cracks. Multiply that confusion by the scores of different chemicals included in the various kits, with significant overlap between types of kits, and things quickly turn chaotic. Fortunately, things have now settled down to a dull roar, so we’ll have time to rectify the inventory count again by physically counting all of our component inventory SKUs.

With Barbara away for the day, I’m going to spend some time washing and sanitizing bottles that will contain bulk staples. I wish Coke were still sold in 3-liter bottles, because their wider mouths mean they’re immensely better than 2-liter bottles for repackaging LTS bulk foods. Someone mentioned that dollar stores still carry off-brand soft drinks in 3-liter bottles. I may pick up a couple of those to try, because I’d really like to have more 3-liter bottles. I much prefer them to foil-laminate Mylar bags for LTS food storage.

In fact, nearly all of our repackaged LTS food is in PET bottles. We use them for just about everything other than bulk storage of oxygen absorbers, for which we use glass canning jars.

11:32 – Ooh. Almost a prepper fail.

I just started a load of laundry, darks and towels. We use Chlorox II rather than chlorine bleach. When we moved up here, we knew nothing at all about septic tank care, and I decided not to risk killing the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank by using chlorine bleach. Granted, I’d only be using a cup (250 mL) or so a week, but chlorine bleach is an extremely effective bacteria killer. In retrospect, I suppose I should have run the numbers. Assuming a 1,500 gallon septic tank, I’d be adding 1/16 of a gallon of bleach, or one part 5% hypochlorite bleach to 24,000 parts water, assuming the tank is full. Call it maybe 2 ppm. Not enough to kill many bacteria, but probably enough to make them feel unwell.

I have another load of laundry queued up. All of our whites, none of which have been washed with chlorine bleach since last November. Chlorine-free bleach just doesn’t cut it for whites. All of our white underwear, socks, t-shirts, etc. are starting to have a faint yellow cast, which is what happens when you don’t use real bleach on them. So, since I was going to use a mixture of dishwashing liquid and chlorine bleach in the kitchen sinks to wash and sanitize 3-liter bottles, I went off in search of the chlorine bleach. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It wasn’t on the laundry room shelves. It wasn’t under the kitchen sink, where Barbara used to keep a supply of it for sanitizing work surfaces. It wasn’t under the sinks in any of the bathrooms. It wasn’t downstairs anywhere, including in the unfinished area.

I have enough calcium hypochlorite (pool shock) stored with the prepping supplies to make up about 30 gallons of bleach, but I didn’t want to open it. I was actually considering walking down to the convenience store across the road to buy some, but I thought to look in the cabinet under the laundry room sink. Sure enough, there was an unopened gallon of chlorine bleach nestled behind a bunch of 2-liter bottles filled with water.

The takeaway here is that if you don’t know where something is stored, you don’t have actually have it even if it’s listed in your inventory records.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

09:20 – I called Barbara first thing this morning to make sure she knew about the Colonial Pipeline break, that the governors of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee had declared states of emergency, and that South and North Carolina may not be far from doing so. According to Google, it’s 532.1 miles from Cape May, New Jersey to Sparta, North Carolina using the most direct I-81 route. That’s more than she can get on a tank of gasoline, even driving at the most efficient speed. I suggested she fill up her tank today. I didn’t suggest that she buy a 5-gallon gas can or two and fill them as well, although I probably should have. There’s no good estimate on how long it’ll take Colonial to get the pipeline running again, but they’re building a bypass so it’ll probably be at least 10 days or two weeks if they work around the clock on it. As it stands, the East Coast has lost something like 50 or 60 million gallons a day of gasoline, which is a significant portion of the supply to the East Coast from Georgia up to New York City. I checked my Trooper, which has 4.7 miles on the trip odometer since the last fill-up.

I decided to re-watch Jericho while Barbara’s away. I notice new stuff all the time. For example, I hadn’t realized until last night that there are mountains or at least foothills right outside Jericho, Kansas. Until now, I thought of Kansas as flat. If I didn’t know the series was set in Kansas, I’d almost think they’d shot that footage outside Los Angeles.

Colin and I ate dinner from long-term storage last night: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As still more evidence on the mythical nature of best-by dates, the jar of peanut butter I used had a best-by date in March of 2013, 3.5 years ago. It was opened 18 months ago, and has been sitting on the pantry shelf since then. The odor and taste are indistinguishable from a fresh jar just opened. I’ll keep what remains in this old jar for further testing months or years from now, but I think it’s safe to say that the real shelf life of a jar of Jif Creamy peanut butter is at least five years, and probably a lot longer. At about $1.50 per pound, it’s a good shelf-stable way to store both oils and proteins that supplement grain proteins. Oh, the Welch’s Grape Jelly I used had a best-by date about a year and a half ago, and has been sitting open in the refrigerator at least that long. It was fine as well.

Bombings in New Jersey and New York City, a musloid slasher at a Minnesota mall, a cop ambush and mass shooting in Philadelphia. No word on just what caused the pipeline break. Things may be ramping up for the election. Historically, Committees of Vigilance arise when the government can’t (or won’t) protect citizens. I hope that never happens in the US, but I’m afraid it might.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

09:14 – We had Jen’s Bean Gloppita recipe for dinner last night. I’m not much of a vegetarian, but it was pretty good. Barbara wasn’t able to find coriander at the supermarket yesterday, so we made it up without it. I tried to convince Barbara that bacon was a reasonable substitute for coriander, but she wanted to try the Gloppita as the original vegetarian recipe. We made up a half of the original recipe, which makes a very large pile of Gloppita. There was enough left that I’m having the left-overs for dinner tonight.

I was thinking about ordering some dry black beans and repackaging them for long-term storage, but I think instead I’ll just buy the canned version. The nice thing about the canned beans is that they’re ready to use right out of the can. Just open the can, drain them, rinse them, and they’re ready to go. Dry beans need pre-processing, which is time- and fuel-intensive. Even if you soak the beans overnight, you’re still supposed to boil them for an hour. In an emergency, that’s a significant amount of fuel. The downside of canned is that a one-pound can of the beans costs $0.60 to $1.50+, depending on brand and vendor, versus maybe $1.50/pound for dry black beans. And most of that can is water weight. I’m guessing that on a dry-weight basis, that can of beans probably costs $4 to $5/pound. On balance, I think I’ll store a few cases of the canned for regular use and maybe 30 pounds of the dry beans in foil-laminate bags that we’ll reserve for SPMF emergencies.

Barbara is cleaning house this morning and then heading over to volunteer at the historical museum this afternoon. We’ll wait and do more kit stuff tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

09:38 – We had another monsoon yesterday afternoon. It dropped more than an inch (2.5 cm) of rain on us in about 20 minutes, accompanied by very high winds and lots of lightning where there was only a fraction of a second gap between the flash and the boom. Colin was beyond terrified. He’s a high-attention dog all the time, but heavy rain, high winds, and lightning/thunder scare the hell out of him. I finally went back and stretched out on the bed, where he went into four-paw drive and climbed up on top of me. I went out to my desk. He hid under the desk for about 30 seconds and then forced his way up between my legs and climbed up into my lap. I wouldn’t mind so much, except that he also claws me the whole time, demanding that I do something about the problem. After the rain, wind, and thunder slacked off, the sirens started. I suspect there was some significant property damage, and maybe some injuries. Every time he hears a siren, Colin heads for the front door or windows to bark at it. If it’s particularly close, he does synchronized howling.

Some people are unaware that one can actually starve to death even with an unlimited supply of wheat, rice, and corn or foods made from those grains. The problem is that the amino acid profile of grains is low in some essential amino acids (those that the human body cannot synthesize from other amino acids). The same is true of beans, but the essential amino acids that beans are short of are present in abundance in grains, and vice versa. That’s why all cultures, going back to prehistory, have eaten grains and beans in combination. Together, they provide complete protein.

Meats, eggs, milk, and other animal-based foods include complete protein, and may be used to “fill out” the protein profile of beans or, more commonly, grains. We store a lot of canned meats, but in a long-term emergency additional meat will be harder to come by than beans. Also, obviously, animal-based proteins are much more costly and difficult to store than are vegetable-based proteins.

The problem is that most citizens of the first world are used to getting their complete protein by combining grains and meat. Beans generally play a relatively minor role in our diets. People generally prefer to eat what they’re used to eating, so few people would regard a combination of grains and beans to be appetizing.

I mentioned this issue in passing to Jen, and told her that we aren’t storing any dry beans, although we have about 100 cans of Bush’s Best Baked Beans. We don’t store dry beans, because neither Barbara nor I knows how to make a bean-based dish appetizing. I got email from Jen yesterday with a recipe she suggested we try. She and her family felt much the same about eating beans as we do, but she said this recipe turned out extremely well. She says the herbs and spices are what makes this dish worth eating. This recipe makes enough to feed four to six people. We’ll probably halve it for our first test run.

Bean Gloppita (Feeds four to six)

2 cans (15-ounce each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
6 cups of water
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 cup of fresh chopped onion (or equivalent rehydrated dry onion)
1 cup of fresh bell peppers (or equivalent rehydrated dry bell peppers)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped (or equivalent rehydrated dry garlic flakes)
2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of dried oregano
½ tsp of dried coriander
½ tsp of ground red pepper
¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Bring five cups of water to a boil. Stir in rice, return to a boil, turn down heat, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add fresh or rehydrated bell peppers and onion. Cook until tender, about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add the remaining one cup of water and all of the remaining ingredients other than the cheese. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until rice is ready.

Serve bean gloppita over hot rice and sprinkle cheddar on top.

FedEx showed up yesterday with three more #10 cans of Augason Farms dehydrated potato shreds from Walmart. Those three cans are equivalent to about 10.4 30-ounce packages of the Ore-Ida frozen shredded hashbrowns, but at a total cost of $24.72 plus tax, versus $31.10 for 10.4 packages of the Ore-Ida frozen shreds. (Walmart has since increased the price from $8.24/can a week ago to $9.77 now; they bounce prices up and down regularly.)