Tues. Oct. 19, 2021 – gaps in shelves, gaps in preps

Cool, dry, sunny and nice. Like Monday was. This is the great Fall weather we look forward to. I hope we get a bunch more of it.

Spent the day yesterday messing around. My productivity is poor. I did get one sold item packed and shipped. Got a few items listed. Picked up D2 for our afternoon together, and hoped to get just a couple things at the store on the way home, and then work on our shelf painting project.

The store turned into a full grocery run. I went to the “big” HEB in the area. I haven’t been there in a while, and I figured they’d have more choices and stock, and they have some items our “little” store doesn’t carry that I needed. I was wrong.

They did have more choices for some stuff. They carry a large selection of non-alcohol beers and it got even larger. The whole display is 6ft x 6ft, but they cram a lot of choice, if not a lot of actual bottles, into that area. I stocked up on beer that I haven’t had in months. I was also able to get the diet ginger beer I love, and they had 4 six packs on the shelf (in the ‘mixer’ section). It’s imported and always low stock. So that was good and accomplished about 80% of what I went in for.

The other stuff was either targets of opportunity, or “while I’m here I might as well grab another gallon of milk” stuff, except for soda for the kids (and me, diet Dr Pepper is a vice.) Thinking that the big store would have more stock, I was very surprised by the limited choice in the soda aisle. Soup was the same. Few varieties of Campbells, a few varieties of HEB brand, and that was it. The little store had more choices, more brands, and more stock for soda and soup.

There were empty shelves all over the store. Most aisles had at least one section with a couple of empty shelves, about 6ft at a time. I had the noisy and inquisitive child with me so I didn’t deep dive into it, but it was more than normal daily restocking issues. That store is some sort of test bed for corporate. They are always messing with the layout and moving things around. There are always groups of corporate weinies standing in clumps in the aisle armwaving and ‘directing’ something. I was still surprised that they rearranged most of the store, outside of the edges and freezers. The location of 70% of the SKUs must have changed. It was therefore hard to compare with previous trips whether aisles were wider, or number of ‘faces’ for each type of item had changed.

I guess the moral of the story is, we are still seeing shortages of food. There was a store full of food to eat, but there were missing items, and missing categories of items. I can see that expanding very easily. My freezers are full. My wife thinks we have too much food. She doesn’t think the US will ever be generally short of food, SOME kind of food will be available, but she does expect that you might not be able to get exactly what you want when you want it. When I pressed her for WHY she thinks that, she didn’t have a good reason, except essentially, “Murika Yea!” I’ve got LOTS of reasons and arguments to support my point of view on the subject. She just can’t imagine America short of food. My feeling is, it’s happened before, it can happen again. It’s happened elsewhere, it can happen here. I hope I’m wrong. Honestly, I do.

But I’m still gonna stack…

nick

Thur. July 1, 2021 – more running around today

Still rain in the forecast, and heat, although not as much. It wasn’t actually unpleasant yesterday, although it was wet. There was a lot of regional rain, and areas of town that didn’t get any. As I was driving across town it would go from downpour to dry and back again. The bayous are filling up though.\

Today I’ve got another Dr appointment for oldest, a vet appointment for the pup, and youngest is having a play date and sleepover at a friend’s house. I’m chauffeur dad today.

Yesterday I took the kids to the doc for camp physicals. Freaking GS form was just bizarre. There was a whole section of body parts and the doc was supposed to select “satisfactory” or “not satisfactory”. No other explanation. Heart, lungs, teeth, genitalia. F me. Genitalia, not satisfactory. WTeverlovingF? Why is that an option, what does GS’ing gain from the exam and paper record, and WTF is the criteria? We got neither the exam nor a comment for that section, just a vague line drawn next to the body part in the listing. People want too damn much information that they have no business even asking for. ONE line would be sufficient– “In my professional opinion, after examining the child, I find her healthy enough to participate in GS camp activities, with the following exceptions or modifications….” That is all GS needs to know.

It’s probably too late, but take control the amount of information you reveal to third parties. Have a set of answers you can use if you like, possibly transposing digits “by accident” or shifting dates or other numbers by some set amount. Start pushing back, ask if the info is ‘requested’ or ‘required’ and push for privacy and retention policies. Refuse to answer questions that aren’t relevant.

Yeah, I know, there is a certain amount of irony in me saying that… given the nature of blogging. Still, Nick is a subset of me, and I do try to obfuscate and especially to not “out” people who are unaware of what I do here, like my siblings. The resulting prose can sometimes be very awkward, and unnatural, and I try hard to smooth it out, usually with only limited success.

Anyway, with that said…

Dinner last night was home made fried chicken and southern fried veg– green tomatoes and onion rings. Youngest child wanted to make fried chicken and even though it makes a mess and the whole house smells like fried food for 3 days, it was a lot of fun. Green tomatoes were fresh from the garden, and were delicious. I used a batter mix, cast iron “chicken fryer”, and peanut oil. Biscuits were from a tube, for time and simplicity’s sake. Good stuff. Older child thinks she’ll be able to learn cooking “just before she needs it”. Yeah, good luck with that. Like gardening, it’s both simple and hard. Unless you count the soup kitchen, post SHTF you’ll be doing your own cooking. If you don’t already have some knowledge and skills, it’s time to start practicing. There has been much discussion here about the subject, the keywords are on the right… or ask in a comment.

Maybe you can survive on re-hydrated Mountain House, or microwave popcorn alone, but most of us will need more than that. Either way, stack what you need, don’t forget the tools, and practice the skills.

nick

Fri. June 11, 2021 – a third of the way thru June already…

Hot and humid with very little chance of rain. Yesterday was hot, humid, sunny, and generally a nice day, with some overcast in various parts of town. That is one of the features of Houston weather, lots of variation depending on location. Some is consistent enough I call it a micro-climate, although the pros would likely take issue with that. Since the pros can make stuff up without ever paying the consequence for being wrong, I don’t particularly care what they would say in this case.

It’s funny that the same thing can be said about economists and financial pundits. Even investment advisors and financial pros always have a good reason why they didn’t get it right. And yet we LIKE the idea of hidden knowledge and revealed secrets. We keep going back to them for more. It must be part of our genetic and memetic heritage, although I can’t see a benefit to it. At least with everyone but the weathermen, you can simply say “their goals may not be our goals” and that offers possible explanations for why they are wrong so often.

Anyway, keep in mind that if 80% of everything is cr@p, (and I believe that is a pretty good estimate, if possibly low), that includes any predictions about the future, or explanations about the present.

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I spent yesterday running errands and avoiding my MIL. Took eldest child and puppy to see my gun store buddy. A puppy brightens everyone’s day right? The mom and pop stores should be raking in the dough in the current climate, and yet they are mostly in jeopardy of going out of business. Two gun stores in one day, and the differences were pretty dramatic. If you have inventory, you have sales and income. If you don’t, you don’t. Having other income (from a range, gunsmithing, transfers) can help, but it is only part of the equation. Stores without stuff to sell don’t last long. And that might be the biggest irony and disaster to come out of this past year- the destruction of the mom and pop gun store by extreme demand for guns.

Today I’ve got some pickups if I can fit them in, household stuff again. Then I’ve got a site visit at my client’s house. There are a couple of questions that need answers that I just can’t remember even knowing, and that I can answer by going and looking. So I’m going. Sometimes you just have to be there.

The pot roast in the slow cooker was a success. The only side was a loaf of shelf stable sourdough bread, and the veg and gravy from the pot. Every ounce of 3 pounds of meat got eaten, and even most of the veg disappeared. For seasoning, the CrockPot ™ seasoning mix single use pouch is nice and savory without being particularly overwhelming. It’s one of my ‘goto’ meals when I know I won’t be home to make dinner, and I’m not sure when exactly dinner will be.

Stews and one pot meals are great to use up food that might be getting a bit older. In this case it was some potatoes, turnips, and carrots that had been around for just a bit long. On a plate, by themselves, they might not have been really nice (although very nice compared to Little House on the Prairie at the end of a long winter) but in a pot with 6 hours to stew and blend, they were awesome and indistinguishable from fresh.

This is one of the keys to economical cooking and meal planning, and a skill that you might have to learn or re-learn with hard times on the way. Use what you have, in a way that plays to its strengths. If you have more bread than you expected, make french toast, Texas Toast, or bread pudding. If you have extra milk, use it in a dish that calls for a lot of milk. Too many veg? Make a chutney or salsa. The goal is to get the best use possible out of what you have, and avoid wasting any of it. In an economy based on abundance, you can get exactly what you want. In an economy based on scarcity, you take what you can get, and if you are smart, creative, or prepared, you make the best of it. Most people lived this way throughout most of history, we can do it too. Old recipe books can be a big help. Any recipe book sold by Williams Sonoma probably won’t be.

Of course, one of the ways to mitigate scarcity is to have big stacks of stuff, so don’t stop stacking…

nick

(it pays to know what to do with it, and to have practiced too…)

Sun. June 6, 2021 – more rain? yeah, probably.

We did have most of the day without rain yesterday, then in the late afternoon, something blew in. 30-40 MPH gusts, heavy rain squalls, temperature drop, the whole deal. And it passed just as quickly. Today the national forecast looks a lot like yesterday’s did, so I expect similar. We’ll see 😉

Did my errands. Didn’t do much around the house. Got a bunch of stuff for the household. I guess the canning jars qualify as preps, although I currently have more than I’m using. If things got bad, that wouldn’t be true. They were in very short supply after the lockdown started. It’s a traditional prepping item (along with the infrastructure and the rings/lids) and I’ve got more than I need. Right now the only thing I’m canning is bacon fat, and I just put it in the jar, seal it, and freeze the whole thing. I’m generating more than I use, and it seems very wasteful to just throw it out. It’s about $7 a pound in the store, and I’m recovering part of the cost of the bacon, so it’s a win-win.

Some of the old recipes start out “melt 5 pounds of fat…” so I may use it yet.

I like collecting and reading old recipe books. My “go to” book is an older Joy of Cooking, and I’ve talked about recipe books several times, so I won’t repeat that part. I’ll just add that I’ve picked up a couple more old books, and I am a sucker for the ‘Church Lady’ books, or the ‘Woman’s Service Organization’ books*. If there is anything at all special about them, I’ll grab it and read through it. Lately I’ve picked up some from very rural Texas in the mid ’50s, and New Orleans, and other parts of Louisiana, from the same time frame. I really like the recipes because they tend to use canned ingredients (good for preppers), are often fairly simple, and they don’t require a lot of specialized equipment or a lot of time. The service organization books are often very funny too, as a ‘slice of life’ from the time and place. One I remember in particular called a punch that was essentially 100 proof rum with a bit of fruit juice, “a great punch for the ladies”. One book has a section of “men’s” recipes and they are VERY loose compared to the ladies’ directions. Several are on the order of “do some general thing, and when done, do something else” which the lady editors gently mock in the commentary and introductions…good fun!

I find it interesting to see that the older books use a lot of different flavors compared to modern cooking, use a lot of gelatin (which led me to consider that I don’t have a single gelatin mold, and my mom had several), and use canned ingredients. They also have recipes for local favorites, using local veg and fruit in season, and wild game in the area. If you want to cook squirrel, the book from the First Church of Bugtussel Ladies Auxiliary probably has a couple of recipes to choose from. If you need five different ways to make a cake without xxx or yyy or zzz, times were tough, and there is probably a good recipe for each. If you need to make anything for 25-50 people for a church social (or a disaster kitchen) some of the books are right there with (presumably) tasty choices.

Right now, we can go to allrecipes.com or some other site, and get several choices, some even based on what food you have available for a dish, but that might not always be true. I also find the constant nagging about health and lifestyle to be tedious in any modern book or recipe site (add salt if you wish, substitute real butter if you want a richer flavor, etc….) and I LIKE the personality of the old books. Those books are filled with the recipes that were the best that Momma Jones knew, the ones all the other ladies asked for, and they were proven crowd pleasers. They are also a window into the past, and a link to the land and the area. Pick one up next time you see one, or get out the one from your church or civic association, (or your parent’s anyway.) Read through it. Try a recipe.

Add it to the pile of knowledge, and stuff. Keep stacking.

nick

* the absolute BEST ones have little slips of paper sticking out to mark someone’s favorites, and food stains on the pages. Those books got USED, and someone LOVED those recipes.

(and just for completeness, I’ll add RBT’s wisdom, ALWAYS use the newest canning guide, the same way and for the same reasons you’d use a newer First Aid book.)

Mon. Mar. 8, 2021 – did some cooking and cleaning

Cool again today, and hopefully dry.   It stayed cool yesterday and was sunny and bright.   A beautiful day.  A day for . . . yardwork!

Well, my wife did some planting, and I did some cleaning.   She got some new plants into the herb garden and replaced some of the decorative stuff that froze.   She cut back the stuff we’re hoping recovers.

I raked some more leaves, especially by the citrus trees.   I shook and knocked most of the dead leaves off the trees and then I cleaned up around them.   I didn’t quite get everything bagged, I’ll have to finish later.  In the back yard my wife planted some tomatoes (and the herbs) while I picked up debris and ran the lawnmower.   Put the fire pit cooker back in the middle of the yard.   Pressure washed some spots on the patio and a few things I’d missed, basically just to run  the gas tank dry.  And then, because the firepit was just sitting right there, we decided to have a little fire.   And if we’re going to have a fire, might as well use it to cook dinner, says the 9 year old… wisdom from the mouths of babes.

So that’s what we did.   The firepit is enclosed with mesh all the way around and has a cast iron grill that you can cook on.   We re-heated beef stew, put some mushrooms in butter in foil, and grilled some kielbasa sausages.  I put a can of red beans and rice on too and that made a real nice meal with the sliced sausage.   During the blackouts we ate a couple of cans of the stuff, and gave some to the neighbors too.   Recommended.   Tasty, hearty, and easy to make.

(And of course dessert was s’mores.   We had the fire going anyway…)

Canned and ‘instant’ versions of food and ingredients should be high on your stored food list.   They take less time and less heat energy to prepare and you might be short on both of those things during your emergency.   I’ve got lots of regular rice, but during short term events, I reach for the Minute Rice.  Everything we had for dinner had already been cooked, and really just needed to be heated.

Speaking of shortcuts, for breakfast I made eggs, and biscuits with sausage gravy.   First time for me and the gravy.   It was from a can too.  Biscuits from a tube, gravy from a can, and eggs (ultimately from a chicken, but yesterday just from the store.)   The gravy was pretty good, the family all ate it and my wife got seconds.   It was FAR better than the white goo I got from a gravy packet last time I tried biscuits and gravy.  Younger daughter also got fried sliced spam.  She loves it.

So breakfast was from medium and long term storage, and dinner was from the pantry but cooked over a wood fire.    Eat what you store…   and store some stuff you don’t normally eat so that you have some novel foods if you get bored.

Cooking over a wood fire is fun when you don’t have to do it.  Practice using some of the different ways you have stacked to cook, clean, heat water, etc.  MUCH easier to do so in the daylight on a nice day, when the indoor stove is there for backup…

And of course, keep stacking the stuff you need.

nick

Thur. Jan. 21, 2021 – 012121 – yep, easily amused

Cool and damp, may be even damper later in the day.

Yesterday was pretty nice for mid-winter high with 60s and low 70s.  Overcast all day, but shorts and t-shirt weather for me.  I got a couple of things around the house cleaned up.  Finally got the last of the Christmas decor down and most of it put away.

Because I was at home in the afternoon, I cooked a lamb roast.   It’s a great example of saving money with a freezer, vac sealer, and buying in bulk.  I like lamb.  If you haven’t had it since you were a child, it’s different than it was.  Most of the ‘lamb’ taste, the mutton/gamey flavor is gone because of the farmers growing a different breed.   We enjoy it rare to medium rare.   Anyway, I buy the bigger roast and cut it in half.  Vac seal and freeze the resulting 2-3 pound roasts, and you’ve got a roast that is perfectly sized for two adults with leftovers, or a family like mine.  It doesn’t take forever to roast at that size either.    You can get a much better grade of meat in lamb roast for the same money, than you typically can for a beef roast.  Better living for less….

I buy hamburger in a bulk pack and repack it as 1 1/3 pound slabs.  I press it into a shallow square plastic food saver package then vac seal that shape so it will stack better in the freezer.  I used to do 1 pound packs but the kids are growing.

I buy pork roasts in the 10 pound tube, and slice into center cut pork chops any thickness I like.  I also cut a couple of 2-3 pound roasts out of the whole.  All get vac sealed and frozen.   The 10 pound pack is cheaper than smaller roasts, or pre-cut chops.  I usually season the chops in the vac bag with garlic salt and chinese oyster sauce.  The family LOVES the sweet brown sauce on pork and I don’t have to make a mess at cooking time, or worry about marinading it ahead of time.  Another win!

Beef ribeye roasts get the same treatment as the pork roast, some steaks, some of the best beef roast ever.  I season the steaks before vac bagging with Adkins seasoning.  It’s a nice mix of garlic, citrus-y something, and black pepper.   It’s a lot like Penzey’s Chicago Steak seasoning, without all the hate for conservatives.

Bacon in the bulk pack is 24c/lb.  It’s double that in smaller packaging.  I re-pack it in 3/4 lb blocks which is just a bit more than we need for breakfast.    It rarely lasts until lunch.  Vac seal and freeze into one meal portions…

I should note that I’m not Rockefeller.   The vac seal and freeze routine means the meat lasts as long as it’s frozen, so I only buy the stuff on sale.  I buy a BUNCH when the price is right and store it for later.  There are significant savings to be had if you shop this way.   There are shopping trips where I might not even buy any meat if it’s not on sale, because I have some at home in the freezer.

Another thing I do is freeze the leftovers from holiday meals.   I do the same “shape them into a flat block” trick of pressing them into a plastic storage container before freezing.   It’s easy to gauge the number of portions when it’s time to eat, just look at the bag.

If you want to vac seal something wet or squishy, put it in the plastic container and freeze it first, then take it out of the container and vac seal the block of soup, or chili, or whatever.

You can vac seal and freeze partially prepare foods too.   I like to sear the meat before using the slow cooker to make stew or pot roast or carnitas.  I don’t like the smell in the house (and I didn’t have a working exhaust fan) so if I’m going to get out the cast iron and make the mess, I like to do at least 2 or 3 meals worth.   After searing,  I put the meat and juices into vac sealed bags and freeze them.  The next time I want stew or pot roast, or pork carnitas, I defrost the meat and put it right into the cooker, no muss, no fuss.

I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that have written or ‘tubed about the vac sealer more eloquently and more completely than I have, but these ideas should get you started if you are holding out.  I consider the vac sealer to be essential, so I have my daily driver, then another spare of a similar type, then two more  spares of the ‘seal a meal’ manual type.  I just picked up another one from goodwill this week to have on the shelf.  You’ll find uses for it, if you have one.

So that’s some ideas for stacking, get to it.

 

nick

Tues. Nov. 17, 2020 – the wheel turns…

Cool, damp, but sunny and clear.  I hope.

Stayed cool and clear all day yesterday. It was 45F at midnight but 70s and maybe into the low 80s at some point during the day.  Cool in the shade though.

I got stuff done around the house.  Moved the rest of the insulation into the attic.  Broke down a whole bunch of scrap.  Messed with the pool liner so it will hopefully finally dry out.  Poked at a couple of other things.

It doesn’t sound like much but it was forward progress.

On the other hand, my cough and sore throat don’t seem to be getting better.  I’m going to try to get a test today or tomorrow.  I don’t have a fever, or any of the other serious and definitive symptoms, but I’m supposed to be driving to Florida to spend a week with my mom at the end of the week…  I’m still not comfortable with that, and especially so if I’m not feeling well.  Maybe I’ll try a rapid test this time, and pay for it.

I’ve been feeling tired and run down, but then I’m not sleeping enough either.  Being tired is a natural consequence of not sleeping.  Anyway.   Better to test if I can.  And if I can trust the results.  And if I can actually get a test.   To be honest, I stopped paying attention, and the pictures out of El Paso shocked me.  Daily Mail had this to say,

it has become a particularly heavy burden upon rural America.

Counties with fewer than 10,000 residents now have the highest rate of new daily coronavirus infections per capita of any size county, according to an Axios analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

These rural counties – referred to as ‘non-core’ by the National Center for Health Statistics and US Census Bureau are suffering an average of 60.4 new cases per every 100,000 people, whereas 35.4 out of every 100,000 people living in large central metro areas are being diagnosed a day.

As a result, the national rate of infections seemed to be climbing more slowly, but hospital systems are more likely to be imperiled now than they were during the first spring peak of the pandemic in the U.S.

Rural areas have fewer beds to begin with, meaning that they can quickly become overwhelmed, as El Paso, Texas, has. That means that even if the absolute numbers of new cases and hospitalizations remain low, facilities may run out of space and personnel to treat patients, and people may die faster than space an be made in small local morgues.

Aesop and others had mentioned this very scenario way back in the early days…  Other than total deaths, most of what was outlined before this became political has remained on target.  Waves.  Of decreasing size.   For years.  Rural areas with no resources quickly overwhelmed.

No one called the political aspects. Always there are second and third order effects.  Those are much harder to predict.


Violent rhetoric and  actual violence against conservatives are increasing.  The radical elements on the left are becoming emboldened (or the ones who are in the know are becoming desperate.)  If I was a conspiracy guy, I’d say we’re due for a major incident that will overwhelm the election stories.  Bonus if it kills Americans, bonus if it can be used to bludgeon Trump for not giving up and letting Biden in the door.  And if it looks like Trump might actually be successful in his challenge, expect someone to try for him.  It’s kinda amazing that he’s made it this long considering the forces aligned against him.  They’ve tried smears, they’ve tried legal action, they’re trying election fraud, what’s left?  And Harris is waiting in the wings to step in…   The flip side is some antifa/blm/black bloc kids get sacrificed to create a narrative that Trump’s nazzi white supremacist thugs are out of control and need more crackdowns…

Or dozens of other potential scenarios, most of which end in increased violence and lead toward civil ware…..

The good news is, if you are prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for most of the rest of the threats too.   Don’t get caught short this time.  Stack what you need.  Stack it high and deep.

nick

 

 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Happy Birthday USA!

09:56 – It was 64.4F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0640, partly cloudy. We’re mostly taking the day off for Independence Day, although Barbara is volunteering at the Historical Society museum from 1000 to 1330 and I’m making up some chemicals for forensic science kits.

I suppose it’s human nature, but I always put off the most obnoxious ones until last. One of those is Kastle-Meyer reagent, which is a concentrated hydroxide solution that needs to be refluxed (simmered) for an hour or so, until the metallic zinc in the flask reduces the bright magenta alkaline solution of phenolphthalein to a colorless (or straw yellow) solution of phenolphthalin (note the different spelling).

The other obnoxious one, for a different reason, is the gentian violet solution used for detecting fingerprints on sticky tape. That one’s obnoxious because it turns everything purple. It’s a very fine powder that wants to go everywhere, and even the tiniest grain–literally one one-thousandth of a grain of sand–is enough to make large purple stains on everything: our skin, the sink, anything it comes into contact with. Fortunately the stain is fugitive. It wears off skin pretty quickly, and any oxidizer (like dilute chlorine bleach) renders it colorless.

As long as we’re making up stuff, I think we’ll make up a test batch of caramel/butterscotch sauce. Barbara used to buy it at the supermarket, but we haven’t had any in the refrigerator for quite a while. Here’s the recipe I intend to try, which was provided by a reader:

⊕ 6 ounces water (0.75 cup; 178 g)
⊕ 12 ounces white sugar (1.75 cups; 347 g)
⊕ 0.75 teaspoons salt (4.3 g)
⊕ 12 ounces evaporated milk (1.5 cup; 192 g)
⊕ 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (7.5 g)

1. Combine water, sugar, and salt in a 3-quart pan over medium heat. Stir until syrup comes to a boil, about 3 to 4 minutes, then simmer without stirring until syrup is honey-colored, about 6 minutes, swirling to ensure even caramelization. Continue cooking until syrup is light to medium amber, a minute more.

2. Add evaporated milk and reduce heat to medium-low.

3. Stir constantly to eliminate foaming, and simmer until syrup reaches 225F, or for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, transfer to a canning jar or similar container, and set aside to cool. Syrup will be thin and runny while hot, but thickens as it cools. Refrigerate the container for storage.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

10:02 – It was 57F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, gray, damp, and foggy. We’re to have rain on and off over the next several days. Barbara is volunteering this afternoon at the historical society museum.

When Barbara was down in Elkin a couple weeks ago with Frances and Al, she bought some fudge at the general store. I’ve been wanting to try making fudge ourselves, but was put off by the memory of the last time I made it, probably 40 years ago. Back then, I used a double boiler (which we don’t have) and a candy thermometer. Temperature was critical, and the procedure was pretty involved.

But I came across various “easy fudge” recipes on the internet, and decided to give one a try this afternoon. It’s indeed pretty easy, calling only for semi-sweet chocolate chips, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and part of a stick of butter. The procedure consists of putting everything in a microwave-safe bowl and zapping it several times on medium until the chocolate is just melted.

I’m making one change. Instead of sweetened condensed milk, I’ll use evaporated milk with sugar added. The materials are pretty straightforward:

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
1/3 cup of butter

And the directions are equally straightforward:

  1. Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium until chocolate is just melted (5 – 7 minutes), stirring occasionally to mix.
  2. Pour mixture into a greased 9×9-inch glass baking dish and refrigerate until set.

All of the ingredients except butter are suitable for long-term storage, and that can be substituted for with a third of a cup of oil (or even water) and four tablespoons of butter powder. We’ll cheat and use the microwave, but in an emergency we could easily use a pan on the cooktop instead. I’ll post tomorrow about how our fudge turned out.

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Saturday, 4 March 2017

09:50 – It was 21.3F (-6C) when when I took Colin out this morning, with light winds. Email overnight from Jane, with the subject line “I copied you again”. She and Tom didn’t have any powdered eggs in their pantry, so she ordered six #10 cans of them, which is about 35 dozen worth.

We had dinner last night again from long-term storage; Keystone beef chunks in barbecue sauce over rolls. Actually, the rolls were store-bought, but we have everything we need in LTS to make them ourselves.

In a prepping fail that turned into a prepping win, it turned out that we didn’t have any bottled barbecue sauce in the pantry. No problem, we just made it up ourselves from an old family recipe that we just made up:

1-1/2 cups white sugar + 1-1/2 Tbsp molasses (or substitute brown sugar)
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup prepared mustard (or substitute 2-1/2 Tbsp dry mustard)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp liquid smoke hickory sauce
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on medium until it just begins to bubble. Yields about one quart/liter.

We reheated the pound or so of frozen leftover Keystone beef chunks in a smaller pan, poured about a pint of the sauce over them, and then served the beef and sauce over rolls and froze the excess sauce.

I was expecting our sauce to be at least okay, but it turned out better than that. Barbara and I agreed that it was better than all of the name-brand barbecue sauces we’d tried. Yet another advantage to cooking with LTS foods. Homemade tastes better.

* * * * *

10:43 – I just finished getting Barbara’s Dell notebook up and running under Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon. It was harder than it should have been. The first time, I installed from DVD, told it to restart, and removed the DVD. It came up normally, but was missing some drivers, including the one for the Broadcom Wifi chip. I fired up Driver Manager and told it to install from the DVD. When I came back a little while later, it hadn’t installed the WiFi driver, and the DVD drive was just sitting there making seeking noises. I suspect the drive itself rather than the disc, but I’ll check that out.

So, without a DVD drive, presumably, I used USB image writer on my own system to create a bootable flash drive image of Linux Mint 18.1, and installed that on Barbara’s notebook. Everything worked normally, and I now had WiFi connectivity. The next step was to restore Barbara’s Firefox and Mozilla profiles. As I’d done in the past, I simply deleted the default profiles for both and copied over her old profiles from her Windows system backup. But when I tried to fire up Firefox and Thunderbird, both failed with an error message about profile errors.

No problem, I thought. I’ll simply remove Firefox and Thunderbird in Software Manager and then immediately tell it to reinstall them. SM refused to delete either of them. So I went in and manually deleted the .mozilla and .thunderbird directories and then fired up SM again. It thought they were both still installed, and refused to do anything about it. So I fired up apt-get to try uninstalling/reinstalling them from the command line, but with no joy.

At that point, it seemed the easiest course was simply to blow away the contents of the SSD and reinstall. I did that just before dinner yesterday and then bagged it for the day. This morning, I fired up her system, copied the contents of the new default profile directories to backup directories, and then copied the contents of her Windows backup profile directories to the new default directories. When I fired up Firefox and Thunderbird, both came up and worked normally. The only minor issue was that I had to reinstall Adblock Plus on Firefox, but that took only 30 seconds.

Barbara’s system is now fully functional except that I still have to recopy her spreadsheet and other data from the backup flash drive onto her new SSD. And, yes, the notebook is now noticeably faster running from the SSD than it was running from a 5,400 RPM hard drive. I’ll stick the old hard drive in a box and put it on the shelf to cover the remote possibility that I’ll ever want to run Windows on her system again.