Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Pectin, a bio polymer
 of (among other constituents) 
D-galacturonic acid,
shown here in a powder form. 
     Pectin is a fiber found in plants, extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as a gelling agent particularly in jams and jellies.  Also, pectin is used by people for high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and to prevent colon cancer, it is also used for diabetes.  

But, you must know, I sing the praise of pectin as a thickening agent for jams and jellies!  aaaaaAAAAhhhh! did you hear the angels sing, or, was that just me?

     Pectin is now readily available at the grocers in it's modern tech rendered form as a dry powder.  It was only available in it's liquid form for jam and jelly making when I was a kid, but we made our own or only made jellies that were high in pectin and therefore thickened on it's own.
    To make your own pectin, you must render a large amount of fruit, peels and all, by boiling in water until the fruit just about falls apart.  It's a mush mess!  After rendering, you strain the fruit mush through a cheesecloth draped over a strainer or a jelly strainer for $6- $11.  

    When making your own pectin, you can use a citrus fruit like oranges or lemons which will render a lot of pectin as it contains about 30% in the peels.  But, and there is a good one to know here, BUT, oranges and lemons have a distinct flavor that should be taken into account, it could change the flavor of your jam.  An orange pectin would blend well in pineapple or orange marmalade.  Apples contain a lot less pectin, by volume (1.5%) but, the flavor is easily blended into stronger fruits, so you will have a true grape flavor in the jam, not a lemon-grape.  

     After all the trouble of making your own pectin, jar it.  Seal it in a sterilized jar (simmering temp or 185 degrees for 15 minutes)and date it.  Pectin will keep jarred for about four months.  

    To use the pectin, 2/3 cup liquid pectin equals one packet of distilled dry pectin.  Write that down inside your cookbook in the margins of the jelly making recipes.  Even if you never forget, the next generation needs to know what you know, Make a note, then make jam!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Clever design

     Our family attends the ultimate fun convention.  We do Megacon, a convention for sci-fi, comics, anime and all around fun alternative living and cosplay.   When we go, we see some pretty creative uses for ordinary items.  It isn't exactly prep, but I will be using it as a stepping stone tonight! 
     This year, the costumes we will wear will be a mix of gaming heroes and steampunk ladies.  I have been looking for a few ideas for gadgets for the ladies, not too heavy, not too complicated when I came across a butane lighter "gun" instruct able.  It is made with a complicated cutting, bending and shaping of a brass plate into a holder with a coat hanger as a pistol grip.  Cute.  Also, very clever, but you know I am not going to all that trouble when I know I can use a lipstick holder or vintage lighter holder from a thrift store as the base piece!

     It just got me thinking that almost anywhere you go, you can find some clever person designing new uses for everyday objects.  These inspirational designs can get you started on a road of your own.  So, we went from Megacon, to steampunk butane ladies 'plasma' gun to isn't that a clever little personal defense weapon that looks harmless and fashionable?

    Speaking of harmless and fashionable.  I am teaching my grand daughters to have some jewelry about their person, not too flashy, but of precious metal, should cash become futile.  I used to have a collection of "poison" rings when I was a teen.  Now I only have two.  I know they were originally for secreting poison to do away with the king.  They are great to tuck away an aspirin in.  If you need to carry a glycerin tab with you, this is real handy.  It is also fashionable and they are not hard to find in men's styles, too. 
     This was a fun road to go down.  It also got me thinking about things and how you can use a few simple items to go from a harmless clothespin to a good and proper stinging clothespin rifle.  You could keep it simple like my sons did, just make it as a toy for a gift or an afternoon of stinging fun target practice!  Or, you could learn the basics of handgun technology.

     Looking around your life and learning how things go together is good for you.  The mind needs exercise.  The spirit needs a break from the fear factor of preparing for the of end of days.  Look how things are made.  Learn how to make them when there is no one else to produce goods.  Redesign them for fun or for better use in self defense.  Take a break and create something of your own. 


Monday, December 9, 2013

Gift basket for the prepper

You can fill a bucket or a basket with under $20 of items and make a prepper happy, happy, happy, this holiday gift giving season.

Make a first aid basket with gauze(several sizes), band-aids, peroxide, alcohol, swabs, anti-itch cream, triple antibiotic cream, a knee brace, ankle brace, wrist brace, ace bandage, hot/cold pack, adhesive tape, aspirin, acetaminophen, eye drops, ear drops, saline solution, burn relief spray,.  That's 19 items and a basket!

Make a light up the night basket.  Fill a basket with glow sticks, flashlights (regular and led), batteries, matches, butane lighter pack, road flares, reflectors, and a mirror.  Suggest the shredded paper that pads the basket is a firestarter!

A personal hygiene basket could contain: antibacterial soap, body wash (unscented), compacted hand towels, baby wipes (unscented), razors, a shave cream, antifungal foot cream, body powder (medicated and unscented), a mirror, comb or brush, toothpaste and toothbrush, and an unscented deodorant.

A camp kitchen basket can hold metal measuring cups and spoons, waterproof matches,  fire starters, eating utensils (metal reusable), a knife with a smooth and serrated edge, a mess kit with cup cook pot and pan.

Get creative.  The basket can be part of the gift!  Pack the camp kitchen gifts in a cook pot, tape the lid shut, add a bow and a tag.

Pack the first aid supplies in a toolbox that can become the med kit.  Paint a metal box red like these and fill it with the goodies.

I bought a creel at a yard sale.  It sits in the back of my car under and behind the housekeeper's business supplies.  It holds tackle and two compact folding fishing poles.  You could do the same for your prepper.  Get a good sized bait bucket and fill it with tackle, pliers, a roll of stren in several weights, hooks, and a compact folding fishing pole.  It's a gift basket that is a gift in itself.  But, then, because I like a twist....Fill a tackle box with all the things that make a sewing kit.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Last Minute Winter Prep

     The definition of preparing for hard times is to prepare ahead of time.  But life often gets in the way.  Sometimes, we believe we have an extra day or so.  Then, suddenly the cold front washes over and we are a day late and always short of a dollar.  So, let's explore some of the things we can do when the weather slips up on us.
     If you have to travel for work, pack the car properly.  In the trunk, store a bag of cat litter, the cheap clay kind, water (yes, you can dehydrate surrounded by snow), food, shelter and first aid. 

     Pack an emergency get home bag that caters to the needs of winter.  This pack should include hand warmers, thermal natural fiber blankets as well as the mylar emergency kind that pack so well.  With extra blankets, you can use the mylar blanket as a signal for help.  

     This is the time to raid the pantry for MREs, meals ready-to-eat.  In the package, you will find more than food.  There you will have warmers for heating the food that could keep you alive if you slide into a snow bank and have to spend the night waiting for rescue.  

     You can use some of the insulating techniques you would use at home if you are trapped in or near your car.  Trash bags are easy to pack in your car.  If you have to sleep in your car, put down a plastic barrier.  Better one down than two over!  You can cut a slit in the bottom and put the bag over your head to add a wet weather barrier to your clothes if you have to walk out.   

      And, just because I believe it needs saying, pack black bags to contrast against the white snow.

     Pack a roll of duct tape.  You can build a small city with a roll of duct tape and a roll of trash bags!  Cut squares of duct tape and join barriers at the corners and the occasional point in between.  If you use a whole roll of tape to cover a single seat, you will eventually have to scrape off the adhesive.  

    At home, you will have a bit more time and security to prepare for a snowed in survival prep.  Practice what you have been preaching to the family.  

     Duct tape and plastic over interior of windows, roll plastic bags into a tube and tape them to the bottom of doors against drafts, create curtains to keep heat in central rooms.  

     Separate foods that require heavy consumption of fuel to prepare from your more 'instant' prep foods.  For common sense, cook the hearty stews or roasts first.  Should power go off, then fall back on the easily reheated or easily warmed foods.  For these foods, you will need an alternate source of heat such as a small propane or butane burner or a sterno stove. 
     A candle burning chafing dish will heat some thin soups or water given enough time.  But, in dire straights you can make a stove from a tin can and use your sterno for heat.  I have also posted some other how-tos in the post CAMP STOVES AND GRILLS  in the Make it Yourself tag.  So, click over if you need a substitute for your electric stove this winter.  

     In the Warming up your Wardrobe post, you can get some suggestions for dressing warmer.  Inside or outside, you must keep heat from escaping your body.  Wear socks in home and keep shoes or boots nearby if you must leave suddenly.  Stack all your blankets for sleep in the corners of your winter retreat room.  It's best to sleep in a group in a single room that you can keep warm than to try to spread out.  If the power goes out in the night the cold children will be wandering the cold house looking to you to to find the warm cuddly blankets in the middle of the night.  

Get ready, it's going to be a long cold winter.  Grab your gear and get ready.