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Prepare Time for Year 2009

How much of the following have you started on?
  • Bury cash money, food and a gun with ammo in the back yard (under a “shed”).
  • Buy a diesel truck, know how to fix it and make your own fuel for it.
  • Buy alternative heat backup, like a small propane heater.
  • Buy alternative sanitation system, like a waterless composting toilet, or learn how to build an outhouse.
  • Buy food from local suppliers, and in bulk from big shopping clubs.
  • Cancel extra luxuries like cable, eating out at fancy restaurants, etc. Find free entertainment, like free days at museums, story hour at the local libraries, etc.
  • Close your bank accounts. Pay with cash or money orders, and if you can’t afford it with cash, don’t buy it.
  • Figure out a way to do laundry if you lose plumbing and other utilities. We have a small hand-turned washer and wringer (called a Wonder Washer:[[ProductNameURL]] ), and bars to hang clothes in the basement as well as outdoors.
  • Get a pattern, and sew reusable and washable sanitary pads, diapers and underwear.
  • Get reference books on gathering edibles in the wild, and identifying plants, like mushrooms. Supplement your diet.
  • Grow a garden, even if you have to use a corner of your bedroom. Preserve by canning, dehydrating, smoking, etc.
  • Have 72-hour kits in your front closet, your car, and your desk at work – just in case of emergency.
  • Have a yard sale or two. Get rid of your clutter, and anything that can’t be used by your family. There is a place, however, for small amounts of sentimental items.
  • Have various sizes of candles, waterproof matches, lighters, lightsticks, flashlights, and extra batteries.
  • Keep a couple thousand dollars (as an emergency fund) in a safe or other hiding place in your home, in small bills. Don’t dip into it except in a case of extreme emergency, like a further economic crisis or major weather situation.
  • Keep alternative lighting and heating ready at all times.
    Keep at least 50 gallons of drinking water (stored in your home) at all times.
  • Pay off ALL of your debt. Canceling your cable and other luxuries will help you pay your mortgage, and cutting out fast food will let you pay extra on your mortgage. Remember, don’t buy what you can’t afford with cash.
  • Practice living without utilities – turn off the water, unplug the fridge and lights. Bundle up warmly if you do this in the Winter. Cook, eat, do dishes, shower, etc. outside. Then do what you can to live “off-grid” with solar or wind power (or other renewable energy) and alternative sources of water.
  • Store extra cleaning and personal hygiene items.
  • Store extra food – enough to provide for your family plus 2 for an entire year. Remember luxuries like hard candy and pudding mix. Learn how to cook with your stored foods (this blog - gives a lot of suggestions.
  • Store extra over-the-counter and prescription medications and eye-glasses.
  • Store parts for your car, like air and oil filters, oil, brake fluid, battery, battery cables, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid and gasoline.

Recipe: How to Make Rice Milk

As you know, Hubby's lactose intolerant. We posted a recipe to make soy milk on January 28, so this is our easy recipe to make rice milk.

4 cups hot water
1 cup still-warm cooked rice (either white or brown)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon honey or brown rice syrup

Whip all ingredients in a blender until very smooth and frothy (about 4-7 minutes). Let it sit as is for 30 minutes without disturbing. Then, very carefully strain and re-strain, pouring the milk through a cheesecloth into a mason jar. Label the jar so when you make other milks, you can keep track of what's in what jar.

This recipes makes about 4 cups of rice milk. Good for a few days in the refrigerator. Use the sediment/remains to your rice recipes, muffins, pancakes, etc.

  • To make creamier rice milk, re-cook the rice with some of the 4-cups of hot water until the rice is very soft. Add the sweetener now. Then do the blender step.
  • If you don't like the taste, blend it up with a banana and some berries for a smoothie.
  • Soak a cinnamon stick in the drink pitcher. Yum!
  • You could add a cup of organic coconut milk to the final product to give it a nice texture.
  • To add more flavor, add 1/4 cup ground almonds, hazelnuts or cashews to the cooking rice. Almonds would add more minerals, including calcium, to the milk.


Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Hoarding Food is Illegal...

... at least, that's what I've been reading. According to some sources, USA federal government has laws on the books, since Clinton, about stashing food. Some local/state governments too.I'm curious - Mormons require a year's worth of food to be stored. Would they be exempt for religious reasons? If so, are there any other religions that would be exempt?

Here's a few links about food hoarding regulations:
This link: has excellent detailed information and is absolutely unbelievable. I'm still reeling. Basically, it says that at any time FEMA declares a National Emergency, they can authorize the seizure of our assets, our food, our homes, our farms, our money, our schoolbooks/schools, our medicines, and even our persons for forced work.

Have we really become a Police State/Nation?

Personally, we've recently begun to buy lots of rice, but not just to store because prices may rise later. We buy it because I grind it into flour to make foods for my gluten-intolerant child. And we use the rice to make rice milk for my lactose-intolerant Hubby. And, we just like to eat rice. One 25-pound bag now lasts us just a little over 1 month. (From 4 months last year to a little over a month - wow!) So, if someone storms our house and sees six or ten 25-pound bags of rice in our pantry, would we be accused of food hoarding? They can take our three chickens, 1 mini-cow, and our horse and plow?

We don't mind sharing if we can, but ...
  • family comes first.
  • it's ours to give, and not anyone's right to take.

p.s. Mostly from (with a few additions)

Recipe: Mushroom Chicken-N-Rice Bake

This is a recipe designed to use your stored foods... and it's cheap!

2 cups of rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups dehydrated chicken dices
1 10.75-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients. Put into baking dish and bake uncovered for one hour.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

What Do You Tell People?

What do you tell people about all of the boxes and tubs and buckets of supplies you bring home or have shipped? About the closets full of toilet paper, and the pantry stuffed to the gill?

Do you tell people the truth, a half-truth, or tell them to mind their own business?

We're curious.

Meals for $5.00 a Day (Per Person)

Prices of food continue to rise. Meanwhile, we are struggling to keep our heads above water. Some people talk about eating for only a dollar day, and some blog about $5.00 a meal. We're trying to do $5.00 a day (per person) so for our family, it would be $15 total a day. Here's the info we've researched:

Here's a list of what NOT to do if you're watching your pennies, like we are:
  • DON'T buy frozen dinners - they are full of salt and chemicals and not good for you anyway
  • DON'T buy the pre-packaged cereals
  • DON'T buy hot dogs or lunch meat
  • DON'T eat out or bring home fast or restaurant food
  • DON'T use refined flour or buy bread
  • DON'T buy pre-made cookies, puddings and other desserts
  • DON'T even look at the junk food, chips, crackers and soda pop - empty calories
Here's a few suggestions:
  • Buy rice, flour, salt, oil, popcorn, honey, pasta, nuts, sugar and beans in bulk from a bulk food club.
  • Make your own bread and other baked goodies.
  • Watch your portions. Americans eat way too much. Use smaller plates and follow the "per portion" suggestions on packages. You'll get used to it.
  • Stock up on dented but still good canned goods, and other canned goods when they go on sale. That means watching circulars and unadvertised sales.
  • Clip coupons. But if you're going to pay more for the item even with the coupon versus store brand, buy the store brand.
  • See if your grocery store has a discounted meat or discounted dairy section. If they do, ask when is the best time to find the best deals. Go then.
  • Don't buy deboned and deskinned meats because you're paying for that extra service. Buy whole meats on sale, cook, and freeze in meal portions. Use the bones to make broth.
  • Rely on soups, stews and stewps (thicker than a soup, thinner than a stew).
  • Grow as many fresh fruits and vegetables at home as you can. Make every bit of your landscaping edible - fruit trees, berry bushes, asparagas, rhubarb, and annual vegetables.
  • Learn to raise animals (like fish, chickens or rabbits) for meat, or hunt. Keep chickens for eggs - more bang for your buck!
  • Sprout your own seeds to eat the sprouts - a little goes a long way for nutrition.
  • Use your slow cooker (crockpot) regularly to make your dinner meal easy. If it's ready when you get home from work, you won't feel as tempted to order in.
  • Use aromatics (strong-smelling herbs, onions and garlic) to make the food more pleasing to your sense of smell and taste.
  • Be sure to have 2-3 different colors on your plate to make the food more pleasing to your sense of sight.

Here's a suggestion for one day:

  • Breakfast ($.69) - 2 eggs (.22), cheese (.1o), grits (.34), tea (.03)
  • Lunch ($1.22) - chicken salad (.67), 7 yellow pear tomatoes from garden (0), sliced apple (.55)
  • Dinner ($1.12) - black beans (.22), double serving rice (.12x2), vegetable salad from garden (0), salad dressing (.66)

Wow! The above total is $3.03 per person! We even have money leftover for snacks like dried fruit, nuts, or homemade flatbread. And VHTS could have a big glass of soy milk with his breakfast!

Most of the above is good info for people who are working to exist on their stored foods. Hopefully, our blog will help you find a way to eat your stored foods, like that big bag of rice or making your own bread.

So... who has tried to eat on $5.00 a day? Or less. We are trying, but with a Very Hungry Tween Son (VHTS) who is always hungry but can't eat wheat, we are averaging about $8.00 (gluten-free bread is expensive). However, we've discovered we can grind our bulk rice and bulk almonds to make an unbelievably delicious cookie-thing. We'll keep trying to reduce our costs.

Recipe: Coconut Cookies

Yummy, cheap, and easy! And VERY sweet!

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix all ingredients. Combine well. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

The Gray Man (from

I've been reading for a while. We actually got the idea for this blog from something a reader wrote there.

I read a letter about the Gray Man (, and the ensuing letters for and against what he wrote. Some people believe they too would be the Gray Man, on the outside following the orders of the new government while quietly preparing to fight and/or disappear when the time comes. Others believe that's cowardly - stand up and fight when someone comes to confiscate guns or place an i.d. tag in your arm.

While we don't particularly give our viewpoint on politics (or religion), we definitely feel some change is coming, and have discussed, as a family, what we would do.

Let's just say: we're storing food, learning new skills, and looking for that special piece of land for several reasons.


Cream Cheese, Yogurt and Sour Cream

Last night we looked through the grocery sale circulars for this week, and with the great sales going on for SuperBowl Sunday party supplies, a few questions came to mind. Thought we'd post them:

Cream Cheese:
Can cream cheese be frozen and successfully thawed for regular use? Hubby can't have it (lactose intolerant) so I don't usually buy it, but King Soopers (Kroger) is having a sale this week, plus I found some almost-expired marked way down last week. So, again, could I buy it when I find it on sale/marked down and freeze to use later? Will it be a similar consistency once thawed? Will it blend and whip the same way? Bought some yesterday and is now in the freezer. We'll see.

Even though I'm learning how to make my own yogurt, I often find yogurt discounted at King Soopers with an orange sticker, sometimes for $.26 each, and with a coupon, sometimes we get these for just one penny. We buy these and try to use them before they turn bad, but sometimes we still have to leave several on the grocery shelves because we just don't have that much room. In addition, VHTS loves goat yogurt, so when we find it discounted to more than 50% off, we'd love to bring it home and freeze it for later (otherwise, it's soooo expensive). So... can we freeze yogurt in the same container, or would we need to pour into a different kind of container to freeze? Is it like "frozen yogurt" that is in the freezer section of the grocery?

Sour Cream:
Same question: Often almost-expired sour cream gets an orange sticker so we pick up one or two. VHTS uses lots of sour cream on his baked potatoes, which he gets about 2-3 times a week, and on his nacho chips. I use a little sour cream about once a week, if that. Would love to stock up on sour cream when it's discounted very low, and freeze. Is this possible? Does it thaw to original consistency?

We already buy block cheese and freeze. It makes a little crumblier texture when grating, but that's ok because we just melt it anyway. We also buy bags of grated cheese and freeze those.

Thanks for your opinions!

Inventory Check: Honey

How much honey do you have put away? And why should you?
  1. It's a good healthy sweetener.
  2. It has lots of vitamins and minerals. Full of nutrients.
  3. Has a VERY long shelf life. Honey has been found in ancient tombs, still viable. It will keep for (probably) forever.
  4. It has anti-allergen properties. If it's honey grown near your location, it will have been gathered by your local bees, from local flowers. Eating local honey on a regular basis will help your body build up immunities to local pollens.
  5. It's a good substitute for pancake syrup.
  6. It's anti-bacterial. Smear a little on a small wound to help it heal.

Remember to never feed honey to a baby. Most experts say baby should be older than one year old. Honey may contain bacterial spores that can cause infant botulism, a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies. As kids get older, their bodies are better able to handle the bacteria.

Warning: Honey imported from China has been found to be tainted. Be sure to buy local honey only.

We go through about 3 pounds a month. So we buy 3-4 of the 5-pound bottles at Sam's Club each month. Good deals.

Note: Keep your honey containers after emptying. When you get a chance to "keep bees", be sure to harvest their honey and wax, while leaving the bees plenty of honey for their own needs.

Recipe: How to Make Soy Milk

Hubby is lactose intolerant, so, although we will get a mini milk cow and possibly a goat when we get our little farm, we'll make milk from soybeans that we've grown ourselves. And since we'll probably make a lot, we'll need an automatic soymilk maker (soy milk machine). Meanwhile, here's a recipe for making soy milk without a machine.

Ingredients and Directions:
  1. Gather about 125 g whole soy beans. * This will make 1 liter of soy milk.

  2. Crack the soybeans.

  3. Soak and dehull the soy beans.

  4. Clean the soy beans.

  5. Soak in water for 6-9 hours.

  6. Remove hulls by rubbing in hands (kneading).

  7. Rinse soybeans again to get rid of loose hulls. This helps the process.

  8. Microwave the wet soy beans for 2 minutes (to destroy enzymes that could make it taste beany instead of milky).

  9. Add the soaked soy beans and 1 liter of water to a blender. Grind well.

  10. Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth to get the soy milk. The leftover part is called okara and can be used to make bread, crackers, or cattle feed.

  11. Boil the soy milk for 5-10 minutes.

  12. Cool and refrigerate in a mason jar. Label with date and kind of milk. Use within 3 days.

* Gram is a measurement of mass. There are 4.5 ounces to 125 grams.

Can add a bit of salt, chocolate syrup and/or vanilla extract to flavor the milk. Can also add a few teaspoons of brown rice syrup while warm - stir well. Can use as with any other milk to cook or make smoothies.

We're researching recipes to use our soy milk. Do you have any?

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Buy Food Now Before Prices Rise More


Prices for food basics like wheat, rice, and beans (among other things) have risen so much these recent months. And now, prices in grocery ads says they are "fixed" until April 2009. Wondering just how much grocery/food prices will increase as of April. We will be stocking up between now and then, but meanwhile, take a look at the following links:

Did you read our posting yesterday about how Sam's Club is limiting purchases of big bags of rice to 4 per member?

Make your lists of your basic foods needed. Be sure to stock up on your basics. Get that membership for food clubs now. Buy in bulk there and everywhere else.

Gardening: Grow Potatoes in Tire Towers

The picture to the right
was taken in Summer 2008.

See the bushy-ness in the two 3-tire towers? (That bushy plant towards the back is a rhubarb.) Potatoes are relatively easy to plant, and growing them in tire towers takes a lot less room than hilling rows. The other tires were later used for additional tiers, and a couple were moved for the pumpkin patch. But that's another posting!

Here's how to do the potato tire towers:
  • Drop by your local tire repair place (like Big-O Tire) and ask if you can have some of the tires they are throwing out. Be sure to wear gloves, and get some tires that have NOT used fix-a-flat or don't have steel edges showing. VERY important.
  • Pick a location that will give your potatoes lots of full sun. This section of the fence got about 8-10 hours of full sun.
  • Loosen the top layer of the ground, OR if your soil is as bad as ours, cover the ground with mulch-fabric, or cardboard & newspapers.
  • Lay one tire on top of your prepared area (we did one tire for russet potatoes - left, and one tire for red potatoes - right).
  • Line the inside of the tire with newspaper or plastic.
  • Fill entire tire with topsoil or potting soil.
  • Take 4 seed potatoes (per tire tower) and place them 2 inches down into the soil. Water.
    Watch your potato plants. When they are about 8 more inches about the soil, add another tire, and fill it, leaving a couple of inches sticking out. We had to place enough potting soil to fill only half the tire. When the plant grew a few more inches, we added more soil. Water regularly.
  • Continue with the next tire. And a fourth. Remember to leave some of the foliage out of the soil to allow it to catch more rays. Don't go any higher than 4 tires.
  • Dig out 2-3 weeks after the potato plant has flowered. UNLESS you want more matured potatoes... then you wait until the foliage is dead then dig them up. You can do a tire at a time, if you'd like.

Very easy and a good way to conserve space.

Recipe: Sweet Flat-Bread

A cross between a cream-puff and a pancake, this is served with homemade preserves or butter and honey. It's made in the oven, and serves several people.

3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (reconstituted ok)
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Beat eggs till light-color. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Spray, oil or butter a 10" baking pan or pie plate (cover bottom and sides). Pour in batter. Bake 20 minutes, or until brown.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Rice Prices and Availability

I went on to Sam's Club online because I was working on a spreadsheet to calculate cost per serving (trying to figure out how to feed our family on $5.00 a day). I went to the 25 pound bag of rice that we buy regularly, and couldn't believe what I saw.
Limited quantities of 4 bags per Member.
Riceland Extra Long Grain - 25 lb.
$11.88/25 lb bag

4 bags per member? Is that per trip? Per day? True, it takes our little family several months to go through a 25 pound bag of rice, but with the constantly increasing price of rice, we need to continue to stock up. We don't have nearly enough.

I shop at Sam's once a month. Next Wednesday, the 4th, I'll be buying my allotted 4 bags. Maybe I'll go back the next day for 4 more.

Limiting food purchases. What's next?

Recipe: Corn Chowder

This is a rich wonderful stew (Rachel Ray would call it a stewp - cross between a stew and soup) with lots of yummy goodness. The potato flakes thicken the broth and makes it surprisingly creamy-ish.

3 cans corn
1 14-ounce can creamed corn
1/2 cup dried onion dices
2 14-ounce cans chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 cup dehydrated potato flakes
salt/pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in small crockpot. Stir carefully to mix. Cover. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve topped with crackers or green can parmesan cheese.

Add 1 cup dried chicken or turkey dices for a hearty-protein stewp.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Inventory Check: Birth Control

Not really something we've seen mentioned very often on other "preparation" websites, but it's pretty essential. Assume, for a month, a worst-case scenario. TSHTF. Catastrophe. Complete anarchy. Earth changes. No more condoms or birth control pills, IUDs or etc. You get that urge, and have no more condoms or anything else left. Do you NOT, um, you know, do it?

Yeah, right.

And a month later, a pregnancy is discovered. Do you have any "birthin' " books on hand? A doula or midwife nearby? How is an 8-month pregnant woman going to help defend the property, chop wood, plow the land?

Did you give this any consideration?

Quote from:

Numerous herbs have been used historically to reduce fertility, and modern scientific research has confirmed anti-fertility effects in at least some of the herbs tested. Herbal contraception may never reach the level of contraceptive protection as the pill, but it offers alternatives for women who have difficulty with modern contraceptive options or who just want to try a different way. Very little is known about many of the herbs, or about long term side effects or safety concerns. Most herbalists don't recommend herbs for contraception, because of their potential unreliability. Many herbal methods have been tried with mixed results. People who are not interested in getting pregnant are usually not interested in mixed results. With any method of contraception, there is some risk of pregnancy. Each woman has to decide how much of a risk is too much. Most modern forms of birth control are 70% to 99% effective depending on the method chosen. For women who can't use modern forms of contraception, herbs can offer alternatives, and reducing fertility would be better than no birth control at all.

Here's another link that gives a lot more information:

So... you can stock up on condoms and sponges and jellies and cervical caps (pills will grow old), and/or take advantage of herbal knowledge. Remember, these will NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Just, please, be prepared.

NOTE: Expired condoms can be used to cover the muzzle of a gun when out in damp/raining/snowing weather.

DISCLAIMER: We are not medical professionals so please consult your medical professional before using anything other than prescriptions.

Gardening: Wonderberries (aka Sunberries)

Wonderberries. They are also called garden huckleberries & sunberries. They are a small shrub and not as picky as tomatoes. Gotta remember to NOT eat the green berries (possibly poisonous!). Eat when blue - cook with sugar like in a pie. Here's a good reference:

We'd gotten the seeds from Baker Heirloom ( I'd planted the seeds in a cup, and when they got about 2 inches tall, transplanted into a planter and placed outside near our strawberries. I hate to say this, but except for watering (sprinkler), I forgot about them. It grew into a very small bush, about a foot high. When it got cold and we started bringing in the plants (October), we brought that in. As we were figuring out where to place it, Hubby noticed the bush had a lot of dark blue berries on it! Guess we missed the unripe/green stage. We were quite brave, and each tasted one. Yum! They are quite sweet, like a blueberry, but much smaller. They have a good Winter home in our family room, under the grow light, with the tomatoes, banana tree, and blueberry bushes.

We can't find any nutrition data on them, but we're somewhat confident they are similar to other berries in nutrition, antioxidants, probably vitamin C. Now that we've experimented with the seeds, and like the taste, we plan to have a LOT of wonderberry bushes next year. Planning on a huge crop of these okay-to-ignore berry bushes.

We have only the one plant this year so no experimenting with processing and preserving, but next year, we'll try to dehydrate, make jam, and freeze. Anyone have experience and/or knowledge of wonderberries?

Recipe: Millet-Rice

Since we have to prepare most of our meals to be gluten-free (VHTS), we have to constantly experiment. This is a simple way to vary the plain-ole rice.

2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 tablespoons millet
4 1/2 cups water or apple juice or broth

Cook as usual (microwave, crockpot, rice cooker, etc). The millet adds a bit of crunch to the rice.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Taking Advantage of Sales

Around the holidays -- well, any holiday -- there are some great sales at grocery stores. If you get the sale circular in the mail or newspaper, examine it. Take advantage of it! Remember your coupons too. SuperBowl Sales should be starting any day now ... take advantage of them!

Sale: Last November and December, Wal-Mart had a sale on sweet potatoes at 38 cents a pound! That's a great deal, so bought quite a few, and stored in our basement. We also regularly check out the meat section in King Soopers (Krogers/City Market) and when we find stew meat for .50 cents a pound, we snatch it up, cook it, and either freeze it or can it. They also recently sold gallons of milk for .75 cents each so, if we'd had room, we would have frozen them (letting a little out first to prevent splitting).

Neighbor: A neighbor didn't feel like harvesting his apples this year so when we asked, he gladly exchanged all we could carry for a bag of our homegrown tomatoes. We processed the apples into applesauce and dried cinnamon-apple rings.

Farmer's Market/Flea Market: When you can find a farmer's market, take advantage of it! We live near a huge weekend year-round flea market that has fresh fruit and vegetable stands throughout. We love to buy local produce to slice and dehydrate.

Absolutely take advantage of sales, and when you can, harvests and farmer's markets. See what you can do. Do you have any other suggestions?

Gardening Seed Order to Baker Heirloom

Here's our order to our favorite seed store (Baker Heirloom:

Summer Squash:
Many of these are also used for winter too! The species is C. pepo.. 20 seeds + per packet. Summer Squash are grown for immature fruits which can be harvested all summer long. Very heavy feeders, they need soil heavily amended with manure, compost, or other source of lots of nutrients. Sow in place in full sun after last frost; or start a couple weeks earlier indoors, but never let squash transplants become rootbound, and do not disturb the roots in transplanting. Seed are sown up to one inch deep. With the exception of Zucchino Rampicante, summer squash are bush-type (non-running) plants that may be grown 4-5 feet apart.

Crookneck - Early Golden Summer 50 days. An old favorite heirloom, this is one of the oldest types of squash dating back to pre-Columbus times and has been popular ever since. Easy to grow and good tasting. NOTE: We grew straightneck in 2008 but Hubby wants crookneck this year. $1.50/pack.

Striata d'Italia 50 days. Medium-long zucchini fruit, somewhat thicker at the blossom end, light ribbing, 8-9" long. The skin is striped in light & dark green. Superb flavor and texture, this variety is popular in Italy for its flavor & early yield. NOTE: We grew these in 2008 and didn't plant nearly enough seeds (only 2). We want at least 10 in 2009! $2.00

Winter Squash and Pumpkins:
20-35 seeds per packet. Grow winter squash in very rich soil, amended with manure, compost, or other rich source of plant nutrients. Plant in rows, 5-8 feet in both directions, sowing one seed every 6-12 inches. Or plant in hills, 5 seeds per hill, with the hills 6-8 feet apart, thinning to best three plants. Full sun, ample moisture and insect control as necessary should allow good production from the vigorous plants. Harvest in autumn when skins are too tough to be easily punctured with a thumbnail.

Butternut - Waltham 100 days. (C. moschata) An old favorite, good yields with excellent tasting, rich orange colored flesh. Great baked! NOTE: We grew these in 2008 but started them too late so only 2 squash got big and hard enough to store. These taste a lot like sweet potatoes, especially when backed into a pie. $2.00/pack.

Connecticut Field 100 days. (C. pepo) The heirloom pumpkin of the New England settlers and Indians, several hundred years old, golden fruit weigh about 20 lbs each. This is a truly old variety, can be used for pies, the traditional American pumpkin. NOTE: This is the pumpkin that we usually see for sale in groceries, etc. around Thanksgiving. Good for roasting seeds and pumpkin flesh for eating/pies. $2.00/pack

We planted way too many squashes in 2008 and they ended up cross-pollinating. So, although we'd like to plant Mexican Xtop again, or Table Bush Queen , or Vegetable Spaghetti , we'll have to wait and see.

An Old World crop that requires cooler temperatures to grow really well. In hot climates, sow spring and fall crops. In cooler climates lettuce may be grown straight through the summer, as well as spring and fall. Rich, moist soil is necessary. Plants may benefit from a few hours of afternoon shade in hottest summer weather, full sun at other times. Succession plant from earliest spring until very late summer. Leaf and heading types all need the same conditions, but leaf lettuce is easiest to grow, as are Romaine and Butterhead types. Sow seed on soil surface and rake in lightly or otherwise barely cover, but not too deeply. Do not allow seedbed to get really dry. Thin gradually, enjoying the thinnings in an early salad or two. 700 seeds per pack.

Henderson's Black-Seeded Simpson 60 days. Introduced in the 1870's by Peter Henderson & Co. Sweet and tender leaves, light yellow-green, very popular. NOTE: We grew this last year, and it gave and gave and gave. Wonderful delicious leaves. $1.75/pack.

May Queen 60 days. Early maturing butterhead lettuce for the earliest spring plantings. Pale green heads are tinged with red, and the sweet, pale yellow hearts have a pink blush to them. A wonderful 19th century heirloom. $2.00/pack.

Tomatoes can be grown simply enough by the backyard grower. Start from seed indoors 4-8 weeks prior to the last frost of spring. Seeds are surface-sown or covered only slightly to allow light which sometimes assists germination. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Containers are held in warm conditions until sprouts appear, which may take anywhere from 3-10 days, depending on temperature, moisture, etc. Move sprouting plantings immediately to bright light conditions, such as a south-facing window or under a grow-light setup. Inadequate light is a frequent cause of failure of young seedlings. At about the time of last frost, set out seedlings into rich, moist soil, well amended with compost, manure, or other good organic soil amendment. Set the plants more deeply than they grew in their pots, removing any leaves that would then be below soil level. Most indoor seedlings are too leggy despite best efforts, and the extra stem becomes an active part of the root system. Mulch to keep water from splashing from the soil onto the leaves, which is thought to spread blight. Most heirloom tomato plants get pretty large under good conditions, and should be staked to avoid sprawling over the mulch. Fruit laying on the surface is apt to rot, even on a well-draining mulch like coarse straw. Mulch also keeps soil temperature and moisture conditions more constant. Judging ripeness is largely a matter of watching for a color change, or a softening of the fruit. A few heirloom varieties don't get quite so large. Called "determinate" varieties, these get to a certain size and then set all their fruit more or less at once. Determinates may be a better choice where tomatoes are grown in a very small garden, or in containers, or where a large crop is desired all at once, like for canning. Tomato seed may be easily saved and grown another year. Most tomatoes (so-called "regular leaf" types) are self pollinating, and it is very difficult for the flower to be pollinated by any other flower. These types need only be separated by 10-15 feet to breed true in most conditions. The major exception is the "potato leaf" varieties such as the Brandywines. Due to differences in flower structure, these are more prone to crossing by insects; isolation of 50 to 500 feet is recommended.

Amish Paste 80 days. RED. Many seeds savers believe this is the ultimate paste tomato. Giant, blocky Roma-type tomatoes have delicious red flesh that is perfect for paste and canning. World class flavor and comes from an Amish community in Wisconsin. NOTE: Although some people say this doesn't have much of a flavor, it doesn't matter to us. We'll use this one to can for spaghetti/pizza sauce and ketchup. We will sow probably 15 of these because we use a lot of these sauces during the year. $2.00/pack.

Moneymaker 75-80 days. RED. An old English heirloom; greenhouse variety; produces 4-6 oz globes that are intensely red, smooth and of very high quality. This variety grows well in hot humid climates and greenhouses, sets in most any weather. Flavorful and becoming rare. NOTE: We love slicer tomatoes, and eating a BLT on homemade bread with homegrown lettuce and tomato is beyond heaven. $1.50/pack.

Yellow Pear 78 days. YELLOW. Very sweet, 1 1/2" yellow, pear-shaped fruit have a mild flavor, and are great for fresh eating or for making tomato preserves. Very productive plants are easy to grow. NOTE: Hubby LOVES these. $2.00/pack.

Orange Banana 80-85 days. ORANGE. Unique, orange, banana-shaped paste tomatoes. These tomatoes are bursting with fruity sweetness. Perfect for drying, canning and paste. Also delicious fresh and great for specialty markets. NOTE: These are firm paste tomatoes with a sweeter taste than romas. Makes for an odd but beautiful spaghetti sauce! $2.00/pack.

Big Rainbow 80-102 days. ORANGE/STRIPED. Huge fruit up to 2 lbs.; delicious and sweet tasting. These tomatoes are very striking sliced, as the yellow fruit have neon red streaking though the flesh. An heirloom preserved by members of Seed Savers Exchange. NOTE: We grew this in 2008 and it was the most delicious sweet orange slicer tomato we had ever tasted. Hubby and I split each one equally because we loved these so much. $2.25/pack.

800 seeds per packet. Most of our varieties mature around 65-70 days from sowing. Early sowings can be made 2-3 weeks before spring’s last frost date. The tiny seeds should be surface-sown and not covered, or covered only minimally, and kept uniformly moist until seedlings are strong. May be sown throughout spring and summer at 2-3 week intervals, until about a month before first frost in autumn. Deep, mellow, well-worked soil suits long types; half-longs and round types are better bets in heavier soils. // We love growing carrots - indoor and out, and do just fine in containers. 2008, our first year of gardening, we only grew about 100 carrots (testing, I guess). No where near enough. The atomic red and cosmic purple were odd and delicious. VHTS loved the red carrots and could never get enough. This year we're trying the yellow and this version of white as well as the little orange ones. We'll have a rainbow!

Amarillo 75 days. Lovely, lemon-yellow roots have sweet, bright yellow flesh. Good for a summer to fall crop, large 8" roots and strong tops. $3.00/pack

Atomic Red 75 days. Brilliant red carrots are so healthful and unique-looking, sure to add color to your garden. The 8" roots are high in lycopene, which has been shown in studies to help prevent several types of cancer. Crisp roots are at their best when cooked, and this helps to make the lycopene more usable. Very flavorful. $3.00/pack

Cosmic Purple This one is causing excitement at farmers' markets. Carrots have bright purple skin and flesh that comes in shades of yellow and orange. Spicy and sweet-tasting roots are great for marketing. $3.00/pack

Little Finger A superb baby-type carrot with deep orange color; developed in France for canning and pickling. Sweet 3" carrots are great for snacks. $1.50/pack

Lunar White 75 days. Here is a vigorous producer that has creamy white roots that are very mild, delicious, and have a fine flavor; very small core. White carrots were grown in the Middle Ages, but now they have become very rare. $3.00/pack

It took less than one week to get our order in the mail. And they changed the way they packaged the seeds. Still could use improvement, but much better.

Very helpful people, there. But we're not done ordering. We still have to discuss radishes, cucumbers, herbs, etc. Gotta watch the money, though!

Recipe: Peachy Sweet-Taters

5 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 can peach pie filling
2 tablespoons almond, walnut or vegetable oil

Grease bottom and sides of crockpot with oil. Place chunked sweet potatoes in crockpot. Add pie filling and mix well. Cover. Cook on low for 3-4 hours until potatoes are cooked through.

If no fresh sweet potatoes are available, open a few cans of "yams", drain and use those. This will cut the cooking time down considerably.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Protein: Incomplete Vs. Complete

I was recently doing some research for more stored food recipes, and came across this wonderful link:

I had been trying to figure out food combining to make sure that we got protein at every meal with limited supplies. After reading the above article, which I tend to believe, I've come to the conclusion that if we just eat a balanced diet, our protein intake should be fine.

Sure would make things easier. What do you think?

Inventory Check: Grain Grinder/Mill

Here's today's inventory check: do you need a grain grinder?

Have you bought wheat berries? Do you plan to grind rice into rice flour, or beans into bean flour? Perhaps you will plant corn so you can make your own cornmeal?

You need a grinder. A hand mill. Preferably one that doesn't use electricity, unless you want to be stock with 400 pounds of wheat berries, and no way to grind them into flour. There are many different kinds of grinders and hand mills. Check them out. Make your purchase. Make a back-up purchase. Then practice using them. Get out those wheat berries and rice, and grind them into your flour.

You'll be glad you practiced. It ain't easy!

Recipe: Italian Chicken-N-Taters

4 potatoes or 4 cans new potatoes (drained)
1/2 cup dried bell pepper dices
1 cup chicken broth
2 large cans chunk chicken (with liquid)
1 cup Italian salad dressing
salt/pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into chunks, and place into crockpot with bell pepper dices and chicken broth. Drizzle with half of the salad dressing. Top with the chicken chunks. Drizzle with remaining salad dressing. Cover. Cook on low 4-6 hours, until potatoes are tender. Serve garnished with parsley.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Dehydrating Apricots

Apricots are full of vitamins and minerals, major benefits you don't want to lose by not preserving your apricots. Buy fresh at the store/farmer's market, or get canned apricots on sale!
  • Choose the apricots that look the best. Cut out any bad parts.
  • Wash, cut in half, and turn inside out. Slice into quarters.
  • Soak 5 minutes in water with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Arrange in single layers on trays. They can touch because they will shrink some.
  • Dry 8-20 hours until piable - Temp: 135 degrees F.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie for 2 days to kill any bug eggs that may have been laid while dehydrating. If you're 100% sure there aren't any, you can skip this step.
  • Store in moisture-proof jar with a moisture absorber. Seal. Cover with dark paper to keep light out. Label with contents and date. Store in cool, dry, dark area.

You can rehydrate the apricots to use in a recipe, or eat dried as a snack.

Inventory Check: Salt/Pepper (and Sodium Content of Foods)

Do you have enough salt?

How many of us live near a salt mine or ocean? Easy access to salt. Not many of us. Personally, we're landlocked, and the closest salt "mines" are about 400 miles away. I've already warned Hubby that if things happen like "Jericho", he will be taking horses and buggies and a bodyguard detail to go mine salt and bring back as much as possible. Okay, maybe not.

We looked. There really isn't a good substitute for salt.

Recommended Dietary Salt (sodium) Intake:
"Low" salt diet ... ... 400 - 1000 mg/day
"Normal" salt diet ... ... 1100 - 3300 mg/day
"High" salt diet ... ... 4000 - 6000 mg/day

Sodium Content of Common Foods (from:

All values are given in mg of sodium for a 100 g (3.5 oz) food portion. These values are a guide. More accurate values are given in the Nutritional Information on the package of most products, in the form of mg of sodium per serving. Edited for space:

Apple, raw unpeeled 1
Apple juice, bottled 1
Applesauce, sweetened 2
Asparagus, cooked 1 (regular canned 236)
Avocado 4
Baking powder 11,000
Banana 1
Barly, pearled 3
Beans, Lima 1 (regular canned 236)
Beans, snap green, cooked 4 (regular canned 236)
Beans, white common, cooked 7
Beans, canned with pork and tomato sauce 463
Bean sprouts, cooked 4
Beets, cooked 43 (regular canned 236)
Beverage, water 0
Blackberries 1
Bouillon cubes 24,000
Broccoli, cooked 10
Brussel sprouts, cooked 10
Cabbage 20
Cantaloupe 12
Carrots 40 (regular canned 236)
Cashews, unsalted 15
Cauliflower 10
Celery, raw 126 (cooked 88)
Cereal, Corn grits 1
Cereal, Cornmeal 1
Cereal, Farina, dry 2 (cooked salted or instant 160)
Cereal, Oatmeal, dry 2 (cooked salted 218)
Cereal, Rice flakes 987
Cereal, wheat flakes 1000
Cereal, wheat, puffed 4
Cereal, wheat, shredded 3
Cheese, Parmesan 1,862
Cherries, Raw 2
Chicken, cooked, without skin 60 to 80
Chickpeas, dry 8
Chicory 7
Chocolate, plain 4
Clams, raw soft 36
Clams, hard, round 205
Cocoa, dry 6
Cocoa, processed 717
Coconut, fresh 23
Coffee, instant, dry 72
Collards, cooked 25
Corn, sweet, cooked 0 (regular canned 236)
Cowpeas, dry, cooked 8
Crabmeat, canned 1000
Cranberry juice or sauce 1
Cucumber 6
Dates 1
Duck 74
Eggplant, cooked 1
Egg, whole, raw 74 (whites 152, yolk 49)
Endive, curly 14
Figs 2
Flounder 78
Flour 2
Fruit cocktail 5
Gelatin, dry 0 (sweetened, ready-to eat 51)
Grapefruit, fresh, canned or juice 1
Grapes 3
Haddock, raw 61 (battered 177)
Herring 74
Honey 5
Honeydew melon 12
Kale, cooked 43
Lamb, lean 70
Lemon, juice or fresh 1
Lettuce 9
Lime, fresh or juice 1
Liver, beef 184
Liver, pork 111
Lobster 210
Macaroni, dry 2 (commercial with cheese 543)
Milk, evaporated 106
Milk, dried 549
Molasses, light 15 (Dark 96)
Mushrooms 14 (canned 400)
Mustard, prepared yellow 1,252
Mustard greens 18
Nectarine 6
Noodles, dry 5
Nuts, in shell 1 (processed nuts may contain high amounts of salt)
Oil, corn 0
Okra, 2
Olives, green 2,400
Onions, green 5 (mature 10)
Orange peeled, juice, canned or juice 1
Oysters, raw 73
Papayas, raw 3
Parsley 45
Parsnips, cooked 8
Peaches 2
Peanuts, roasted 5 (salted 418)
Peanut butter 607
Pears 2
Peas, cooked 2 (regular canned 236)
Peas, dried 40
Pecans, shelled 0
Peppers, green 13
Perch 79
Pickles, dill 1,428
Pickles, relish, sweet 712
Pineapple, raw or canned 1
Pizza, cheese 702
Plums 2
Popcorn, salted with oil 1,940
Pork 65
Potatoes, baked, boiled or french fried 2 to 6
Potatoes, mashed salted 331
Prunes 4
Pumpkin, canned 2
Radishes 18
Raisins, dried 27
Raspberries 1
Rhubarb 2
Rice, dry 5 (cooked salted 374)
Rutabagas 4
Salmon 64 (canned 387)
Sardines, canned 400
Scallops, 265
Shrimp 150
Spaghetti, dry 2
Spinach, raw 71 (cooked 50)
Squash 1
Strawberries 1
Sugar, white 1 (brown 30)
Sunflower seeds 30
Sweet potatoes 12
Tapioca, dry 3
Tomato 3 (canned 130)
Tomato ketchup 1,042
Tomato juice, canned 200
Tuna in oil 800
Turkey, 82
Turnips 34
Veal 80
Vinegar 1
Walnuts 3
Watermelon 1
Wheat germ 827
Yeast, compressed 16 (dry , active 52)

= = =

Even though you can get sodium from natural foods, salt is important. Dole it out carefully. Too much can dehydrate you, making your need to drink more, and could send your blood pressure through the roof. Use it sparingly, to pickle vegetables from your garden, to preserve/smoke meat, and so forth. See if you can make it last as long as possible.

Meanwhile, we're buying 25-pound bags, 3 at a time, from Sam's club. It's about $4.00 a 25-lb bag, which is much cheaper than buying the little containers at the grocery store. We store the bags of salt in storage buckets with moisture absorbers. Since we don't use much salt, a 25-pound bag will last us about 3 years (including pickling veggies harvested from our garden).

Note: iodized salt changes chemical composition over time, and even becomes somewhat poisonous, so store just plain table or sea salt.

We don't use black pepper. Son and I hate the taste, and Hubby is getting used to doing without. But we know some people like it, so we've stored a couple of shakers of it.

What about you?

Recipe: Cheezy Chicken Chips

Just threw this together for Very Hungry Tween Son (VHTS) and he couldn't get enough. Must be that hollow leg!

shredded mozzarella cheese (dehydrated works fine)
tortilla chips
canned chunk chicken

Lay out tortilla chips (or tortillas) on baking sheet. Sprinkle shredded cheese on the chips, then bits of chicken. Bake until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, chilies, or sour cream if desired.

Place on large sheet of heavy-duty foil, fold into a foil-pocket, and grill until cheese has melted.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Water Purification and Storage

We recently found this link:, and had to share it. Great information on the different ways to store water, and in case you can't store much, how to purify water to drink.

Thanks to Connor Boyack for putting that information together (here's a link to his blog: And, as he recommends at the bottom of his water link, be sure to do your own homework. Things could change, new products could become available, etc.

Recipe: Ground-Beef Stew

Easy Beef Stew, and not previously canned! A good way to control the salt intake, and quality of ingredients.

4 cans new potatoes (drained)
2 cups dried cooked ground beef
1/3 cup dried potato flakes
3 cups water
1 cup dried carrot dices
1/2 cup dried bell pepper dices
1/2 cup dried onion dices
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (don't drain)
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to crockpot. Stir to mix. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Add more or less water as desired.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

The Sept 3 Harvest by Novice Gardeners

Here's another picture
of what we grew in our
first-year garden. We
picked this past
September 3 2008
from our little
backyard grocery.

At the top are three white scallop squash. Obviously the two smaller are the ideal size - we didn't notice the bigger until too late. However, after our first free in October, we found an even bigger one that we'd missed. Not very tasty, even baked. No, these are best harvested a couple of inches in size, and eaten raw.

Then there are our carrots - we planted so many different kinds that we're not sure what these were. Very sweet and tasty. Washed the dirt off and ate raw. Freshly harvested carrots don't last in our house very long. We planted and harvested atomic red, cosmic purple, orange Danvers 126 half long, and a cremey white carrot that we can't remember details about. We plan on sowing seeds for red, orange, purple, yellow and white carrots in 2009 - lots of each.

The one long cucumber in the picture is a Boston Pickling. The big tomato is a Big Striped Rainbow (slicer - sweet), and there's a lot of other various tomatoes in the colander. The odd-shaped yellow squash was a result of cross-pollination, but dehydrated well.

We love talking about our garden - even if all the plants are dead and the harvests are preserved now. Don't you?

Recipe: Turkey Cranberry Crockpot

This tastes just like Thanksgiving!

4 cups dried turkey dices
4 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 can cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 package onion soup mix (dry)

Place all ingredients in small crockpot, and cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve on stuffing/dressing or toast.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Dehydrating Apples

Whether you grow the apples yourself, harvest them from your (sharing) neighbor, or you buy at the local farmer's market, apples are so easy to dry.

  • Choose the apples that look the best. Cut out any bad parts.
  • Wash, core and peel. Slice into 1/4 inch slices, placing each in lemon juice mixed with water to prevent browning. Soak for 5 minutes.
  • Note: Sometimes we add ground cinnamon to the lemon water. The cinnamon sticks when you arrange the slices on the drying tray. The smell and resulting taste is heavenly.
  • When all the apple are sliced, soaked and ready, arrange in single layers on trays. They can touch because they will shrink some.
  • Dry 6-12 hours until piable - Temp: 135 degrees F.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie for 2 days to kill any bug eggs that may have been laid while dehydrating. If you're 100% sure there aren't any, you can skip this step.
  • Store in moisture-proof jar with a moisture absorber. Seal. Cover with dark paper to keep light out. Label with contents and date. Store in cool, dry, dark area.

You can rehydrate the apples to use in a recipe, or eat dried as a snack. Either way, this is a great way to store apples.

Shop for Supplies at Salvage Grocery Stores

We recently discovered this link: - it discusses how people on a budget can find good deals for food. It may be a little dented, or the label might be a little crooked or off-color, but if the government had a problem, the food wouldn't be allowed to be sold.

So, we used the following link: to find a Sav-A-Lot nearby us. We checked it out. They have some great deals, and some are perfect for storing.... like canned hams, and so forth. They also had toiletries, paper products, pet food, etc. Just about anything you'd get at a grocery store. We found a few decent deals, but not a lot that our particular weird family likes to eat. The Vienna Sausages and corn meal are actually cheaper at Sam's Club.

Here's the link for "grocery outlet" stores: but they don't have stores but in a few states. Check it out - you might be luckier than we are.

Gardening: Kitchen Composting

What is Composting? It's when one-living things (plants, eggshells, leaves, grass, etc.) decompose to make "healthy dirt" - full of minerals and good things to make plants grow when added to soil. It's also a way to help save the earth: recycle yard and kitchen waste, and reduce what gets put to the curb to taken to landfills. Very necessary when doing container gardening, lasagna gardening, square foot gardening, and more.

What should be Composted? Here's a good alphabetized list:
-Aquarium Plants
-Bird cage or other vegetarian pet wastes
-Bread, stale
-Burned oats, rice, bread, etc.
-Cardboard & cereal boxes (shredded)
-Cereal and chips, stale or soggy
-Coconut fiber
-Coffee grounds
-Corncobs (chop to help decompose)
-Cotton and Cotton Swabs (no plastic)
-Dead bees, flies, mosquitoes, etc.
-Dried flower heads/leftovers from prunings
-Egg shells (rinse)
-Fruit peelings
-Glue, Elmer’s
-Grass clippings
-Hair, pet or human
-Houseplants, dead
-Kitchen waste: old salad, cheese, greens, fruit, veggies, bread, rice, pasta, etc.
-Lint from dryer, behind refrigerator
-Liquid from canned fruits/veggies, old wine, old beer
-Matches (paper or wood)
-Nail clippings (fingernail, toenail, dog nails, etc.)
-Newspapers, shredded
-Nut shells (no salty ones)
-Onion and garlic skins
-Outdated spices or herbs
-Paper napkins, notes, towels, junk mail, tissues, receipts, paper bags
-Pasta, old
-Pencil Shavings
-Pine needles
-Pits, olive/date/cherry/etc
-Popcorn (unpopped or popped)
-Potato peelings or stale potato chips
-Razor trimmings (beard, mustache)
-Rotted vegetables, fruits
-Shells (shrimp, crab, lobster, etc.)
-Soil, from the yardStraw, hay, wheat, bark
-Sweepings: Whatever you sweet or dust-mop up or vacuum up
-Tea bags, used
-Vegetable peelings
-Watermelon rinds
-Wood chips, ashes, saw-dust

Can Composting be done Inside? Yep. Not everybody has a backyard to compost. No problem... there are other ways to compost in even just your kitchen! We took a plastic gallon milk (or water!) jug, and cut a hole near the top, opposite side of the handle. Place in the fridge. Add things from list above. Then we have two small sealable trash cans just outside our kitchen door that we add potting soil, our scraps from the fridge-jug, and worms when we can find them. Mix it around every 60 days or so. Add to indoor planters after it's become dirt!

There are also actual countertop or other kitchen composters you can buy. Here's a few links:

Happy Composting!

Recipe: Apple Summer Sausage

This can be done in the crockpot (start in the morning and eat at dinner) or as a foil-pocket on the grill:

4 cups chopped Summer Sausage
. . . . (the kind that stores without refrigeration)
2 cups chunky applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried garlic granules

Combine all ingredients and cook in crockpot (on low) 6-8 hours. Or wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil and grill for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Reading Canned Food's Expiration Dates

We found the following information at:
In a well-run supermarket, foods on the shelf will be rotated on a regular basis, so there is continuous turnover. Each canned food manufacturer has a unique coding system. Some manufacturers list day, month and year of production, while other companies reference only the year. These codes are usually imprinted on the top or bottom of the can. Other numbers may appear and reference the specific plant manufacturing or product information and are not useful to consumers. Below is a sampling of how some manufacturers code their products so consumers know when the product was packaged. If you have specific questions about a company's product, contact a customer service representative at the phone number listed.

Note: For month coding, if a number is used, numbers 1 through 9 represent January through September, and letters O for October, N for November and D for December. If letters are used, A=Jan. and L=Dec., unless otherwise noted.

Note: For year coding, 8=1998; 9=1999; 0=2000; 1=2001; 2=2002, etc.

Bush Brothers & Company (voice: 865/509-2361)
Four digits
Position 1: Month
Position 2 and 3: Day
Position 4: Year
Example: 2061 (February 6, 2001)

Chiquita Processed Foods (voice: 800/872-1110)
Ten digits (only 6-8 are pertinent to consumers)
Position 6: Year (A=1999, B=2000, C=2001, etc.)
Position 7 and 8: Julian Date
Example: A195 (July 14, 1999-July 14 is the 195th day of the year)

Del Monte Foods (voice: 800/543-3090)
First line, four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
Example: 9045 (February 14, 1999)

Faribault Foods
Consumers can send inquiries and product coding numbers via an online contact form, and a company representative will help them understand the coding.

Furman Foods (voice: 877/877-6032)
Second line, first four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
Example: 9045 (February 14, 1999)

Hirzel Canning (voice: 800/837-1631)
First line, four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
Example: 0195 (July 14, 2000- July 14th is the 195th day of the year)

Hormel Foods Corporation (voice: 800/523-4635)
Five digits on the top line
Position 1-4: Information about plant and manufacturing
Position 5: Year
Example: XXXX0 (2000)

Lakeside Foods (voice: 920/684-3356)
Second line, second through fifth digits
Position 2: Month (Jan=1, Sept.=9, Oct.=A, Nov.=B, Dec.=C)
Position 3 and 4: Date
Position 5: Year
Example: 4A198 (October 19, 1998)

Maple Leaf Consumer Foods (voice: 800/268-3708)
Top of can, grouping of last four digits
Position 1: Year
Position 2, 3, and 4: Julian Date
Example: 9130 (May 9, 1999)

Mid-Atlantic Foods (voice: 410/957-4100)
Second through fourth digits
Position 2: Month (letter)
Position 3: Date (A=1, Z=26)
Position 4: Year
Example: MDE0 (April 5, 2000)

Pillsbury/Green Giant and Progresso (voice: 800/998-9996)
Five digits
Position 1: Month (letter)
Position 2: Year
Position 3: Plant information
Position 4 and 5: Date
Example: G8A08 (July 8, 1998)

Seneca Foods (voice: 315/926-6710)
Two digits on the first line
Position 1: Month (letter)
Position 2: Year
Example: L1 (December 2001)

Stagg Chili (voice: 800/611-9778)
Second through sixth digits
Position 2 and 3: Month
Position 4 and 5: Day
Position 6: Year
Example: S02050 (February 5, 2000)"

Information provided by the Canned Food Alliance."

A huge thanks to the people at for doing all of this research. Very helpful!

Inventory Check: Duct Tape

Duct tape. You need it. For almost everything.... repairs to plumbing, vents, machines, boxes, plastic tubs, clothes, hair removal ... no one's survival kit should be missing lots and lots of duct tape.

Here's a few suggestions (from:

-Hanging posters.
-Decorative book cover.
-Fix broken tail light on vehicle.
-Twist a long piece into rope (thousands more uses).
-Tape wires down on floor or out of the way.
-Tape wires back together after splicing (much wider than electricians' tape).
-Reattach rear view mirror.
-Repair cracked windshield/window.
-Patch ripped clothing.
-Hide unsightly wallpaper seams.
-Repair broken hoses.
-Repair broken fan belt.
-Use as art medium.
-Fix broken book binding.
-Band-Aid for really big cuts.
-Attach leg splint to broken leg.
-Wallpaper your house (may be slightly expensive, but well worth it for the resulting sophisticated look).
-Reinforce pages in 3 ring binder.
-Cover up empty drive bays.
-Fold in half and use as bookmark.
-Disk labels.
-Rappelling harness.
-Toilet paper.
-Hinge on cabinet door.
-Repairing leak in tire/inner tube.
-Taping annoying people to walls, floor, ceiling, or bed.
-Holding together computer cases.
-Hold up exhaust pipe (doesn't last very long).
-Repair upholstery.
-Make lawn furniture.
-Make lawn decorations.
-Fix racquetball racquets.
-Roll into a ball for hockey practice.
-Mark lines on a sporting event field.
-Clothing (all sorts).
-Can be use to wrap duct work, but doesn't seal or hold up ducts very well.
-Use to pull unsightly hair.
-Keeps pledges in their place (also applies to siblings).
-Patches holes in vinyl siding.
-An entire roll can be used in place of a bedroom door to keep someone in for hours.
-Twisted correctly, can be used as a billy-club.
-Wrapped around newspaper to make a dog chew toy.
-Holding on book covers.
-Reflective lettering.
-Mute function for humans.
-Contraceptive device.
-Climbing rope.
-Cover old pocket folders -- lasts forever!
-Shoe designs.
-Sealing envelopes (in case you hate the taste of envelope glue).
-Replacement for airplane glue.
-For store owners: great way to keep the wigs on mannequins.
-Seat belts that'll REALLY keep the kids still.
-Closing chip bags.
-Make the stapler obsolete!
-Putting up Christmas lights (easy removal).
-Why bother with waxing...
-Add several layers to your car's bumpers for a much safer ride.
-Fix vacuum cleaner hose.
-Tape ski boot to your ski when the binding breaks.
-Repair seams of ski gloves.
-Wrap around your waist when your zipper splits in a one piece ski suit.
-Lift and separate when you don't want to wear a bra or can't have straps showing.
-Hold temple onto eye glasses.
-Fix printer.
-Make a wallet out of it.
-Hold car hood shut.
-Patch hole in canoe.
-Fixing sets for the school play.
-Making props look more realistic.
-Make letter for letter jacket.
-Hold your letter to your letter jacket.
-Re-enforce the phone cord.
-Hold batteries in remote control.
-Play a CD (reflect a laser beam onto a CD to play it).
-Stick pictures up in your locker.
-Fix holes in your Airwalks.
-Use instead of nail polish.
-Hold pens together.
-Wrap your ankle for sports.
-Can be used in place of handcuffs.
-Hold file cabinet together.
-Hold shoe laces together.
-Can replace shoe laces.
-Can be used in place of Velcro.
-Write term paper on it.
-Graduation present.
-Can be used to put back together a shredded term paper.
-Stop your jeans from fraying.
-Hair ties.
-Hold spikes to your cleats.
-Make a book shelf.
-Note cards.
-Remove lint from clothes.
-Makes great bumper stickers with a sharpie!
-Cook a baked potato in it.
-Hold car door shut.
-Tape plastic over broken rear window in car.
-Tape down ripped carpet.
-Tape sole of ratty sneaker to body of sneaker.
-Hold speaker wire to the back of speaker.
-Use it as a Biore strip.
-Practical joke toilet paper replacement.
-Makes a good bib.
-Put it on your lawn and paint it green. Say good-bye to mowing.
-Mouse trap.
-Fly paper.
-Tape your little brothers' mouths shut.
-Use as vinyl flooring.
-Cover rust holes in your car.
-Roofing shingles.
-Make a clothes line.
-Window coverings.
-Use a roof rack on your car for carrying luggage and other items.
-Fix a broken plate.
-Patch a hole in your swimming pool.
-Make a swing for your kids.
-Make a tent for camping.
-For the annoying mother-in-law.
-Lock people into their house, school, office, etc.
-Hold your car's bumper in place.
-Seat covers in your car.
-Fix holes in your sock.
-Fix the hole in your favorite coffee cup.
-Make a coffee cup.
-Retread your tennis shoes.
-Repair work gloves.
-Make work gloves.
-Home security system - tape up doors and windows.
-Watch band.-CD case.
-Wrap a soda can or bottle in duct tape to keep it cold.
-Makes stylish notebook decorations.
-Use it to fix old instruments.
-Use it as a dog/cat/rabbit/frog/lizard/etc. leash.
-Hold on toupees.
-Duct tape annoying, rambunctious students to their seats.
-Reupholster the roof on a '83 Mustang convertible (or any vehicle for that matter).
-Attach it to the end of a yard stick (sticky side out) as a way to get pennies out from behind the couch.
-Surgical bandage.
-Fix a cigarette that is broken at the filter.
-A clothesline when you're out in the middle of nowhere. (Peace Corps favorite.)
-Use it as a substitute for Bondo.
-Makes excellent streamers for bicycle handlebars.
-Toilet seat cover.
-Replace broken screen in your screen doors to create an excellent storm door for those cold -winter nights.
-Makes great posters with the aid of magic markers.
-Make a sheet for your bed.
-Wrap freshmen up in it.
-Use to make the lines in the middle of the road.
-Make a space suit out of it so you can walk on the moon.
-Use as a musical instrument.
-Make a hat.
-Make a wallet chain out of it.
-Stare at it and try to find new uses for it.
-Make a boat out of it.
-Throw it at people.
-Write on it and stick to someone's back.
-Put a few rolls on their side and roll them to have a duct tape race!
-Tape a hedge trimmer or chain saw to a long pole in order to trim or cut tall trees.
-Use it as hockey tape.
-Tape Tupperware containers together in a way that you can stack them on top of each other for more storage space.
-Use to keep the cover of an old ice cream maker securely attached.
-Cut a hole in a piece of cardboard, wrap duct tape around it and get a really inexpensive original looking picture frame.
-Tape Nerf basketball hoop to the back of a door because they just don't stay on their own.
-Make a pouch and attach it to a door so you can hold stuff.
-Repair smashed pumpkin.
-Waterproof sun screen for bald men.
-Snowmobile/motorcycle seat cover.
-Hold broken U-joints together on truck so you can make it home.
-Makes a good replacement for chrome.
-Patch holes in convertibles or soft top jeeps.
-Resurface your trampoline.
-Artificial lighting.
-Use it to tape 10 year olds with sugar highs to trees during boyscout trips.
-Can be made to fashion weapons in a pinch.
-Emergency limb replacements.
-Make fantastic puppets and other toys.
-Can be used to clean the floor when no vacuum is available.
-S & M.
-Make a ball.
-Repair trim on cars.
-Patch up fish tank.
-Halloween costume.
-Waterproof footwear.
-Make a makeup case.
-Repair leak in pilot gas line.
-Gagging device.
-Pin striping.
-Wrapping Christmas presents.
-Patch seams in carpeting.
-Patch a hole in a tent.
-No need for lunch box - just tape all your food together!
-Use to keep President Clinton's pants up.
-Cute plant holder.
-Keep hair in place.
-Make a tie out of it.
-Chastity belt.
-Blister repair.
-Censor speech on softball uniforms.
-Repair pantyhose.
-Roll it over a pool and make a trampoline.
-Keeping guitar strap on your guitar.
-Taping mic to mic stand (or a hockey stick).
-Taping mic stand to amp.
-Hold a float together.
-Fix mini blinds.
-Get rid of plantars warts.
-Hold telephone together.
-Hold computer mouse together.
-Write on vehicles.
-Make a Halloween mask.
-Decorate guard rifles.
-Make really cool underwear.
-Make a mummy costume for Halloween.
-When you get in a really boring conversation pull it out and ask the other person if they can name 101 uses for it (plus or minus 70 or 80).
-Attach underwater flashlight to underwater strobe for night dives.
-Hold a car battery in.
-Attach glow-in-the-dark bugs to people's houses.
-Fixing the toilet seat.
-Window shade.
-Hair extensions.
-Seat covering for a 1963 Vespa GS 160 (or any other vehicle for that matter).
-Wrap around cardboard tube to make fake swords for the kids.
-Waterproof apron.
-Beverage holders.
-Pet rain gear.
-Toilet paper roll cover.
-Cell phone holder.
-Tool belt.
-Shower curtain.
-Repair speaker cones.
-Poor man's Viagra - two Popsicle sticks and duct tape.
-Hold the plastic (or Mylar) on your car where the window should be.
-Wrap a "365 Uses For Duct Tape" calendar for Christmas.
-Hold up worn out socks.
-Tape keys to bottom of car so you never lose them.

Ok.. some of those were jokey and funny (do we need to remind you of our disclaimer?) but honestly, there are soooo many uses for duct tape.

'Nuf said.

Growing The "Three Sisters": Corn, Squash, Beans

Have you heard about the "Three Sisters" method of planting corn, beans and squash?

From ( ): The Iroquois believe corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sisters spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or “Our Sustainers". The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honor them, and a festival commemorates the first harvest of “green” corn on the cob.
Native American People used corn as the staple in their diet. Parched corn plus prevented starvation for many days. Corn was boiled, roasted and also ground and used as flour for many dishes. Corn was easy to store by braiding the leaves and hanging upside down from rafters. Husks for used as dolls, masks and mats. Corn stalks could be used as fuel. Keep a watch on the corn, and soon after you see the silks and pollen (which gets everywhere!), watch for the cobs. After a while you'll get the hang of seeing the brown silk tassles, and the feel of the cobs, you'll know when to harvest.

Pumpkins (or other winter squash) provide the ground cover. The pumpkins from even a couple of centuries ago weren't our jack-o-lantern but more of a crookneck. Pumpkins could be stewed or dried to use during the coming winter. Not sure if the seeds were roasted, or just kept for planting the next year.

Fresh young beans were cooked in stews, while the dried beans provided meals later - rehydrated for soups and stews, or ground into flour. Great source of protein when meat was scarced. The vines were braided together and also hung from the rafters. Pole beans, chosen appropriately, will use the corn stalks as a trellis without strangling the stalk. Planting the corn with plenty of room in between will help you find the beans. Once they start flowers, keep careful watch. They will quickly become edible size and ready for eating as cooked "green beans". If you plan to dry the beans, leave them alone until harvesting the corn, to dry on the vine. Still, keep a watch on them so that predators don't steal them or they don't split once they've dried.

Sunflowers have recently been found to do excellently in this arena. They break down the earth with their strong roots, and stretch out to provide a living trellis for the beans. The sunflowers are harvested when the back of the heads turn brown and bend from the weight of the seeds. Cut the stalk near the ground, hang upside down, with paper bags around the head to catch the seeds as they dry. Good for snacks, but also good for grinding into flour, and making sunflower seed oil.

Why companions? The squash/pumpkin provides ground cover to keep moisture in, and the prickles of the leaves and vines prevent predators (like raccoons) from getting to the corn. The corn provides stalks for the beans to climb. The beans fix nitrogen into the soil, which the corn needs. Together, this is companion planting at it's best. PLUS, when you mix corn, squash and beans in your diet, they make a complete protein. Also called succotash, which we don't like, but we do make our own various recipes even tastier!

Picture: Our Three Sisters
Corn-Patch on August 20 2008

As novice gardeners, we tried the "Three Sisters" in Summer 2008. This year we planted "Early and Often Sweet Corn", several different kinds of beans, and several squashes, including pumpkins, Mexican X-Top, zucchini, and yellow crookneck, plus some sunflowers and cucumbers. We tried to follow the "Square Foot Gardening" method but having difficulty finding how to plant using the Three Sisters, we guessed. BOY, we were WRONG!
  • We planted the corn seeds too close together.
  • We didn't plant enough sunflowers.
  • We planted too many kinds of corn, and they all intermingled, which was ok with us, but the different heights and maturation rate gave us problems.
  • We planted too many kinds of beans. At the end, we froze all of them because we couldn't remember what was good to dry and what was good fresh-eating.
  • We planted way too many kinds of squashes and cucumbers and etc. They all cross-pollinated, and came out very strange. Mutants. Plus, some of our choices (zucchini and yellow straightneck) were bush kinds which grew up to push aside the corn stalks, making them weak.
  • We didn't mulch and keep up with the weeds. Thus, by the end of August, we couldn't keep up and the weeds (bind-weed in our case), strangled all of the plants. We would have had a much better harvest if we'd kept up with the weeding.

So, here's what you need to do:

  • Start corn in peat pots, one corn seed per. When the seedlings are an inch high (you'll notice a long taproot starting), plant entire peat pot in corn bed. One corn per square foot.
  • Two rows of corn, about 10 feet long. Then 4-5 feet before starting another 2 rows of corn, 10 feet long. And again. The 4-5 feet in between gives you room to pick your beans, check the corn and squashes, and pull weeds without getting a corn stalk hitting your heiny.
  • Same with sunflowers - make sure they get the northern side of ALL the cornbeds because if you get the mammoth sunflowers, they will block out sunlight for everything else. These need 3 square feet for each flower as their roots are quite strong, and their stalks and leaves and faces need more room up top.
  • A week after planting the corn and sunflowers, start seeds indoors (in peat pots) for pumpkin (or your chosen vining squash).
  • When corn is at least one foot high (prefer two feet high to give them a good head start), plant entire peat pots of squashes - one per TWO corn plants and one per TWO sunflowers. Your squash seedlings should be a few inches tall by now.
  • At the same time, sow three bean seeds per corn or two per sunflower - make a triangle around the corn/sunflower. They will quickly grow up and around the stalks.

Our plan for next year: we've chosen:

  • Black Aztec Corn (heirloom - not hybrid) (sweet when ripe, and black when dried, perfect for flour) ORDERED
  • Connecticut Field Pumpkin (heirloom - not hybrid) (perfect for making pies and canning puree, and this is the pumpkin we see for sale in October for Jack-o-Lanterns) ORDERED
  • Missouri Wonder Pole Bean (heirloom - not hybrid) (old-time cornfield type - loves winding around the corn stalk and won't strangle it - good for string beans and for drying) NOT YET ORDERED

We have ordered Sonoran Gold Bush Tepary Beans (low on gas-producing, high in protein, don't need much water, excellent fresh or dried for storage) but as you can tell from the name, they are a bush bean. We'll grow the tepary, soybeans, anasazi, black turtle and other beans elsewhere.

As to the squash choice... in the following years, we'll replace the pumpkin (year 1) with Mexican X-Top Cushaw Squash (year 2), Butternut Squash (year 3) and Spaghetti Squash (year 4). Then we'll start the rotation all over again. This will prevent cross-pollination, and give us a variety. When each squash is harvested, half of the harvest will be put into cold storage, and the other half will be sliced and dehydrated (saving some seeds for toasting and some for planting in the next appropriate year).

You absolutely should try planting the "Three Sisters". It's companion planting at it's finest.

Peanut Butter Products Contaminated

To date, more than 470 cases of salmonella have been linked to the tainted peanut butter in 43 states and Canada, including 22 hospitalizations and 5 deaths. According to the Center for Disease Control, California has the most cases of any state in the nation.

Because identification of products subject to recall is continuing, the FDA urges consumers to first visit FDA’s website to determine if commercially-prepared or manufactured peanut butter/peanut paste-containing products (such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream) are subject to recall. If consumers do not find the product of interest on FDA’s website they may wish to call the toll-free number listed on most food packaging or visit the company’s website.

PCA manufacturers peanut butter and peanut paste , a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts. Both distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream. In addition, PCA peanut butter is distributed to and institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias.The expanded recall list is quite extensive and includes major snack food brands such as Keebler, Famous Amos, Little Debbie, Hyvee and others as well as some cookies and fudge containing peanut butter or peanut paste sold through Wal-Mart bakeries.

Major brand-name peanut butter sold in jars are not believed to be affected.Consumers are urged to discard all products containing the tainted peanut butter or peanut paste. If a product is not listed, you can call the phone number for the product manufacturer listed n the label. If you can’t determine whether the product is safe, the FDA urges the public not to consume questionable peanut butter products and to discard them instead.

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This is rough. We bought about 15 jars of peanut butter last month, and were about to buy a #10 can of peanut butter powder. Thinking we'll wait a month or so, because updates to the contaminated list happen daily.

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The following is a list of Kellogg products recalled because of possible salmonella contamination:

Austin Quality Foods Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes
Austin Quality Foods Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
Austin Quality Foods Mega Stuffed Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes
Austin Quality Foods PB & J Cracker Sandwiches - all sizes
Austin Quality Foods Super Snack Pack Sandwich Crackers
Austin Quality Foods Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
Austin Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes
Austin Quality Foods Reduced Fat Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
Austin Quality Foods Reduced Fat Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
Austin Quality Foods Cookie/Cracker Pack
Austin Quality Foods Variety Pack
Keebler Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
Keebler Toast & PB'n J Flavored Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
Keebler Toast & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes
Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies (2- and 3-ounce)
Keebler Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies (2.5-ounce)

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Kroger's brand of ice cream (Private Selection) that has peanut butter is also being recalled.

Please check your product and the available lists before consuming peanut products - use this link and it's search capability:

Source: ,,

Recipe: Chip-n-Chicken Nuggets

We've discovered that my Very Hungry Tween Son (VHTS) does best with no wheat in his diet, and unfortunately he loves chicken nuggets. Instead of paying so much money for the frozen gluten-free nuggets, I devised this recipe and now make it at least once a week.

Remember, since I don't usually measure when creating a recipe from scratch, you'll have to gauge your own measurements too.

olive oil
crushed potato chips (Son prefers sour cream and onion)
boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)

Crush potato chips. Pour a little olive oil into a medium skillet and heat to medium. While heating, cut chicken into "nugget" size. Place the chicken into the chip bits and kinda squish them around to make them stick. When pretty-much coated, place chicken into skillet and fry. Turn when brown to do the other side. Remove when chips are golden brown and chicken is cooked through.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Dehydrating and Drying Basics

Everyone's heard of dried food. Have you ever opened a package of onion soup mix to make onion dip with sour cream? Ever eaten a raisin? A prune? Beef jerkey?

Dehydrating is the oldest way to preserve food. A long time ago, people would use salt to dry food, or place the food on rooftops any other way to be in the sun. They took the chance with insect bugs, or scavening critters, or a sudden rain that would prompt starting the drying process all over again.

These days, we have machines built specifically for dehydrating food. Food dehydrators are safe because they were created to gently pull out the water from the food. Once water is removed, it won't spoil because bacteria and mold won't grow where there isn't water. There is, however, a slight loss of some vitamins, like A and C, and it takes time to dry (anywhere from 6 to 48 hours). Besides drying fruit and vegetables, your can also dry meat, stews, cassaroles, jerky, fruit leathers, herbs and more.

Keeping the temperature below 200 degrees F is essential to drying versus cooking your food. Most electric dehydrators have regulators on them.There are several ways to dehydrate your food:
  1. SUN: To use this method, you need 3-4 sunny days of about 100 degrees each day, with no moisture. Plus you need a screen or netting to keep bugs away from your food. This process is inconsistent because you can't really assume the sun will stay hot, and you have to bring them in every evening.
  2. CAR: As we all know, cars left in the hot sun can get quite hot. We have a friend who placed trays of netting-covered food in her non-working car. She left the windows down a crack to let out the moisture. This worked very well.
  3. OVEN: Some people have succces with gas ovens, placing trays of food inside with only the pilot light on. You could also use an electric oven turned the lowest it can go, but you'd still need to keep the door open to circulate air and to not over-cook the food. However, the food doesn't end up tasting the best, and it's not energy efficient.
  4. HOMEMADE: Some people make their own. Another friend built his house to have a "drying room" - on the South side of his greenhouse. It was enclosed, with fans that circulated filtered out from outside. There were many spaces for trays (like baking racks). This is a good thing for people with the need to dehydrate huge harvests.
  5. ELECTRIC DEHYDRATORS: There are so many of these on the market, ranging in price from $40 to well over $800 each. Some are circular, some rectagular. Some can add additional layers, some have fruit leather trays, and some have temperature control. Some even rotate the trays so you won't have to. They are all energy efficient and operate at the low temperatures needed to keep nutrition in the food. Make sure the one you choose has a fan to circulate the air which will aid the drying process.
How To Dry:
  • Keep the temperatures steady. Under 110 degrees will not dry it properly and will cause the food to spoil sooner. Temps around 110 to 115 degrees F will dehydrate it enough to prevent bacteria growing on the food as it dries, while keeping it RAW. Most electric dehydrators have a set temp of around 120-140 degrees F, which is fine. Going a little higher, up to 200 degrees, will dry the food between RAW and COOK. Over 200 degrees F and the food is not only cooked, but also will cause the food to lose its nutrition and flavor.
  • Most instructions recommend turning the food about halfway or 3/4-the-way through the drying process to help get both sides.
  • Slice your vegetables, fruit, etc to be even in size. If you have a very thin slice of zucchini, and a thick chunk, they will dry at different rates. It will be easier to gauge drying times if the sizes are consistent.
  • Your food is dry when it's crisp or leathery to the touch, with no moisture. Tear it in half - if there are moisture beads at the tear, or if it just bent, it's not dry enough. Meat is a little different; it should NOT snap apart but should be leathery.

Storing Dehydrated Food:

  • When your food is appropriately dried, we place it in a baggy and place that baggy in the freezer to kill any bugs that might be on the food. After 2-3 days, we take it from the freezer, let defrost, check it for moisture, dehydrate it additionally if needed, and store the baggy in a container.
  • You need your final storage to be containers that will not allow any moisture in. Mason jar, empty-clean-dry mayonnaise or mustard jar, plastic freezer "tupperware", etc. You could also use a sealing machine or plastic freezer baggies.
  • Store fruit leather by laying the leather on plastic wrap and rolling it up. Cut to fit your storage container.
  • We place oxygen and moisture absorbers in our containers before we seal them. Never allow moisture to get into the container.
  • Store your containers in a cool, dark, dry place. Under 60 degrees F is best. If your storage container is glass or see-through, wrap it with dark construction paper. That is also a good place to put your label.
  • Label each with contents and date dehydrated/stored. Very important. Use the oldest first.

Coming soon: we'll post dehydrating information for fruits, veggies, stews, meats, fruit leathers, and more - each with it's separate post.