Those Who Care

If you really care for your friends and family, you will prepare yourself to care for your own needs and have a little extra for those less fortunate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ultimate Easy Bread

I love to bake bread!  Through the years I've tried just about every good sounding recipe I've come across with varying results.  I learned that we all have different ideas about what makes a good loaf of bread.  Many bakers insist upon special ingredients and thermometers and baskets etc.  Recently, in my effort to find a bread that did not make my blood sugar spike, I came across some interesting reasoning which goes thus: very little yeast and a slow rise forces the yeast to use the starch found in the flour for food and this will produce a product that will cause less of a spike in blood sugar.  Well, that sounded promising.  I decided to give it a try.  Yes, my blood sugar does spike less but it does still spike, even with plenty of butter to slow down the absorption rate.  The really great discovery is that it takes few ingredients, no special equipment (only a bowl, spoon and towel) and it tastes wonderful, at least to us.  So here it is.  Let me know what you think.

Slow Rise Bread

1 1/2 c warm water
1/2 t yeast (really, only 1/2 teaspoon)
1t salt
4 c flour (can use all white or a mix of whole wheat and white)

Add yeast to warm water and let bloom.  Add 2 c flour, salt and mix.  (I have discovered that, unlike many recipes, it is not necessary to mix vigorously.)  Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto board and knead, adding flour as needed.  This is a softer dough than many recipes.  Let rise in well oiled bowl until doubled, about 4-6 hours.  Punch down.  Shape.  You can make a loaf for a loaf pan or a ball for a dutch oven.  Cover (if a dutch oven just use the lid) with plastic wrap and a towel.  Let rise until doubled again, this will take less time than the first rising.  (Once, I went to town and it rose up and over the top of the loaf pan so I punched it down, clean and oiled the pan again and let it rise for a 3rd time and it was great.  A very forgiving recipe.)  Bake 350 degrees (with lid if using dutch oven for 30 min then and additional 15 without the lid)  or for 40 min for a loaf pan.

The ease of this recipe is fantastic.  I can leave the dough for hours, I don't have to haul out the heavy mixer and it really comes out great every time.  Plus, it makes great toast!  Have fun.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are There Any Old-Fashioned Cooks Anymore?

My herb garden did beautifully this year.  I have an abundance of fresh herbs.  My two parsley plants are the size of an old style washtub.  I've used and dried and still have far more than I need.  So, of course, I have offered to share.  As prices for fresh herbs are $1.99 for about an ounce, you would think someone would be interested.  But no!  Everyone just looks at me with either a blank look or a look that asks "What cave did you just crawl out of?"  I've yet to find anyone that uses fresh herbs!  I'm not talking about unusual herbs, just common cooking herbs (I only share medicinal herbs with those who have shown me knowledge).  You know, parsley, chives, dill, oregano, sage.  Really common ones.  Once they understand what I'm talking about I get another common response.  Either "I don't cook like that" or "I just use what comes in a can."  And so I am worried.

Those little cans of herbs are very expensive, the nutrients are long gone because of age and I don't trust the ingredients.  The cheaper herbs may be sweepings for all I know.  I sure hope they aren't but how can I be sure?  With my own homegrown herbs I am sure.  I am also sure of receiving all the precious vitamins and nutrients from a living food.  Even if I dry them, at least I know how the plant was raised and that it is very fresh.

So, if any of you are new to using herbs, here is a great starter recipe.  My husband loves this salad dressing.  Although it takes a little time, it is worth it.  And the time is mostly in allowing the flavors to meld.

Mama's Ranch

Thinly slice 1 clove of garlic and 2Tlb of shallot.  Sprinkle with Redmond Salt and mash with a fork. Allow to stand for about 20 min, occasionally mashing again.  (This allows the salt to cook the shallot and garlic for a less biting flavor.)  Add to 1/4 c buttermilk. (I make my own with dried milk and a half teaspoon of lemon powder or vinegar and let stand 5 min.)  Add dill and parsley to taste. (I use about a tablespoon of dried dill and a tablespoon of dried parsley.  Less in the summer with the fresh herbs, just adjust to your taste.)  Add 1 Tlb of dried onions and a dash of onion powder.  (This is a lot of onion I know but the flavor is just not the same without these different types of onion.  Each adds its own taste.)  Add a bit of fresh or dried lemon peel.  (This lightens the whole dressing but you can do without.  Since I use a lot of lemons for medical reasons, I have a lot of dried lemon zest.)  Let stand awhile for the flavors to meld.  (This is the best point for adjusting to your own taste.)  Place 1c mayonnaise (can use a lite version or homemade) in a bowl.  Add 1/4 sour cream (or yogurt or even just more mayonnaise).  Stir and add the buttermilk and herbs.  Taste and adjust.  This has kept in my fridge for over a month without spoiling and just improved in taste as the flavors mingled.  This is such a basic recipe that any of you could improve it or change it to suit your family while allowing you to be sure of what you are eating.  It also costs a lot less than bottled dressings from the store.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Peach Pie Filling

I took the last of the peaches, a few weeks ago, and canned the most delicious peach pie filling.  Although I've canned apple pie filling before, and learned a few great tricks I'll share sometime, this is the first time for peaches.  The taste was wonderful and we are excited to make a few crunches and pies this winter. 

I found the recipe and directions here: 

I chose to use the almond extract and it really added a new dimension to the overall flavor. 

Here is the results, absolutely fantastic!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rhubarb Crisp

It has been a little hectic around here lately.  We've had tremendous thunder storms this week.  Sunday's was probably the worst I've ever experienced.  We had spent Saturday harvesting garden herbs and were we ever glad on Sunday as the remaining plants were beat into the ground. I had intended to wait until the next day so the strawberries would be perfect but alas they are no more. I still can't go into the garden as it is too muddy.  We needed to bring the awning in and were drenched, as in just a few seconds, and had to hang our clothes up in the shower to dry! 

In addition, I began teaching early morning Seminary (a religion class for high school age) this week and have been busy preparing for that new adventure.  So the blog has been a little neglected but today I want to post the best ever (in my opinion) and easiest Rhubarb Crisp recipe.  I made it just a couple of week ago as our rhubarb was finally ready.  We have enough growing for one more this year.

Rhubarb Crisp

1c flour
3/4 c oats
1c brown sugar ( I use white sugar and add 1Tlb of molasses)
1/2 c melted butter
1tea cinnamon

4c diced rhubarb
1c sugar
2Tlb cornstarch
1c water
1tea vanilla

Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly.  Press half of the crumbs into a greased 9" baking pan.  Cover with diced rhubarb.  In a small saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla.  Cook, stirring until thickened and clear.  Pour over the rhubarb and top with remaining crumb topping.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 min. 
Yield: 8 servings

I like this recipe because there is no need to cook the rhubarb first.  That always seems to make such a mess.  I baked it in the Sun Oven with great results. 
Notice the upside down bottle of molasses.  That was the end of that bottle!

All done!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Baking With the Solar Oven

We've spent this summer experimenting with alternative cooking methods and we've learned a lot.  Today, I would like to concentrate on baking with a solar oven.  I love to bake!  I think it must be genetic as my Grandmother had her own bakery at one time and she taught her joy to me.  But baking in a solar oven is a little different.

The how-to books on solar cooking all claim that it is as easy to cook with a solar oven as a stove.  Well, if it were truly that easy, why would cook stoves be the norm all over the world?  However, it does have a lot of advantages.  Free fuel and a cool kitchen are not to be sneered at.  There are a few drawbacks though.  For proper baking (not emergency I'll take whatever I can get kind) you need to have good control of the temperature.  Especially when baking cookies.  Despite what many claim, the angle of the sun does make a difference for this type of baking.  I have found that here, even on the hottest summer days when the sun is right overhead and no clouds, that I need to bake in the middle of the day.  After 3:00 pm, forget it.  An inferior product will result later in the day or too early in the morning.  This info is important when planning your evening meal.  I've discovered that it is best to have our main hot meal at noon as it is hard to have properly prepared hot food after that magical 3:00 pm.  The sun angle (despite our adjusting of the oven) just doesn't allow the food to get hot enough unless it has had that magical middle of the day.  In fact, the oven begins to cool and so does the food.

It also helps to allow the oven to heat 25 degrees above the baking temperature you need as you will lose about 25 degrees when you open the door to place the food inside.  No matter how fast we are, we always lose 20-25 degrees.

By following this advice though, we are able to bake cookies at the right temperature for the same amount of time as in the kitchen oven.  I love that free fuel.  Have fun and experiment with some cookies.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Extra Strawberries

We were given some lovely ripe strawberries last evening.  There was about 1/2 of a gallon bag.  Well, right now we have plenty of fruit so I made some chunky strawberry syrup today.  I first washed and hulled them and then, using my pastry cutter, because tools have to useful for more than one thing, I mashed them.  Then I came up with this recipe which is delicious and has less sugar because of the clear jel.

2 1/2 c crushed strawberries
1/2 Tablespoon dried lemon peel
3c water
3/4 c sugar
3 Tablespoons clear jel

Bring strawberries, lemon peel and water to simmer.  Add red food coloring until you are happy with the color.  Add sugar and clear jel (which are mixed together, very important).  Simmer a few minutes.  Can and process for 10 min at sea level.  Here I processed for 15 min.  Yield: 8 half pints

We tried it over some butter pecan ice-cream  Talk about good!  The great thing is I now have some for us and some to give as gifts is needed. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Canning Peaches

Why can peaches while living in an RV?  Why do any prepping while living in an RV?
Truthfully?  Most people don't.  RVs are designed for camping trips of a weekend or a couple of weeks at most.  The fridge is small, counter space almost non-existent and storage space is more for a few clothes and some sleeping bags. Some of the newer and very expensive ones are designed for rich retirees who want to travel and not be tied down to a home somewhere.  Wish we all could enjoy such a life but in today's economy that just isn't happening for most of us.  We live in an RV because that is what we can afford.  We want to take care of ourselves, and honestly, does anyone really think that housing prices were reasonable a few years ago?  When the average worker could not afford a house without taking on crippling debt, I knew that something was seriously wrong and it would come crashing.  We almost bought a couple of times but felt so uneasy that we didn't.  Hence, we do not worry constantly about losing our home.  And that, is peace of mind.  Is it hard to accept living this way?  You bet, at least for me for some years. I groaned and complained but now I'm grateful.  The most important lesson I've learned is "Be happy whatever your living conditions."  You only make others miserable if you aren't.  Learn to make the best of wherever you find yourself and if you really don't like it then work on changing it.  There are more and more people finding that living full time in an RV can be a blessing.  Most are forced to it via the economy or natural disasters.  However you've come to it, remember, it can turn out very  nice.

So, why am I spending so much time canning?  Most stock some canned beans, cereal and paper plates and then plan on going to the store every day or so.  Many give up all self-respect and turn into slobs, never or seldom even cleaning.  I cringe at the way some live but I figure they would probably live like that anywhere they crashed. We want to live a good life, a healthy life with our self-respect intact.  So we choose an RV with lots of windows for light and light bright colors so we don't get depressed in the winter when the days turn gloomy.  For the most part, we live as we would in a house.  And that includes canning.

 Now, how do you can in an RV.  Well, if you've never canned before, find someone to teach you in their home.  It is a little trickier in such a small space.  We have added a small, free standing, light weight, butcher block that adds enormously to our counter space.  Without it, I would soon have the screaming meemies.  But, even so, I have to carefully plan every step of canning.  I also only have so many pans and bowls, once more I have to carefully plan.  Because of this, I have to finish one step at a time, clean and then go on to the next step.

  1. Wash the jars
  2. Put the jars into my 20 quart stock pot
  3. Place the stock pot onto a heat diffuser on the stove.  (This prevents the extended heat from warping the stove grate.)
  4. Bring the water to a boil and leave the jars in until I'm ready to fill them.
  5. Pick over the fruit while the jars are sterilizing.
  6. Preparing a large bowl of water and lemon juice to prevent the sliced peaches from browning.
  7. Peel and slice the peaches.  The peelings go into a wash basin or pie plate until I can throw them onto the compost pile in the garden.
  8. When I have enough sliced peaches, I drain them on paper towels (I will use the lemon water again so I don't pour it away through a colander.)
  9. Remove the jars, one at a time, placing them on a pie plate (in case of spills it is easier to clean) and then fill with peaches.  
  10. Wipe the jar rims carefully (the rim must be clean or the jar will not seal)
  11. Place the lid, that has been simmering in a pan of water on the back burner, on the jar.  Put on the ring and tighten.
  12. Move the stock pot to a trivet on the table.
  13. Place the canning pot on the diffuser on the stove.  
  14. Add the jars and add water until the jars are covered by at least an inch or two.
  15. Bring to a boil.
  16. Process according to jar size and elevation.
Then I repeat the process for each batch.  I don't pour out the sterilizing water until I am done.  No sense in heating fresh water each time.  And I only pour out most of the water in the canner as well.  I have to cool it down with some fresh water so the jars won't break but I can leave in about a quarter of the water that I used to process the last batch.

Obviously, this is time consuming and not very cost effective if you only count money and time. We feel it is worth it.  While on our mission I could not can and had to purchase commercially canned products.  That was a terrible waste of resources, (i.e. money)  Hard little green peaches from China!  They were terrible.  They were so hard that the peach would fly out of the bowl when you tried to cut it with a spoon.  You were forced to use a knife and there is no way I will ever believe those peaches and pears had any nutritional value.  In canning my own, I know exactly what I've got.

And the most important reason?  Because the Lord has told me to care for myself and to be prepared.  I know that if I do my part, no matter how small that is right now, He will make up for my deficiencies and that folks, is real peace of mind.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


When I was a kid, Mom taught me to soak a sour sponge in a little bleach and water and it would sweeten the sponge right up.  But that no longer works!  What have they done to our sponges?  I really like those little yellow sponges with the scrubber on the other side.  But now, they only last about 3 days before they stink and everything they touch, dishes, counters and hands, stink too.  I've tried soaking the sponges in a bleach solution which buys me about 1 extra day before I throw them away.  I know you can 'nuke' them in the microwave but that doesn't last long and I use our microwave as a breadbox.  (Really dislike microwaves and wouldn't be able to use mine if the power was off and we were using the generator anyway.)  I've never cared for dishcloths as they don't scrub as well either.  So, anyone out there know what they've done to our sponges?

Prepping is All About Doing It!

Could I have picked a worse time to become ill?  Well, yeah, but it was still rotten timing.  As soon as I felt as though I could stand for awhile, I was out in the garden weeding and burning the germs out of me.  My mother always swore that you never get better until you can get some sun.  So I was out there early, before it became too hot, weeding.  I was able to work about 10 min and then rest 10 but eventually the garden was beautiful again.

This is a first year garden.  For who knows how long, this has been willows and wild roses crowding out everything else.  Now those monsters are gone, the weed seeds have found the sun and have really taken off.  Especially the wild tobacco and mustard but, the soil is beautiful.

Unfortunately, the week I was down, most of the peas became too old for preserving.  I really like young peas and neither of us will eat peas that have turned to mostly starch.  So I pulled out all but the few plants that I'm saving for seed.

I planted my herbs in the worst part of the garden area, lots and lots of stones.  This area has flooded many times over the years as we are alongside a creek.  I would never build a house here but since we are on wheels we are not worried.  We keep a close eye on the creek during runoff season or when there is a lot of rainfall and are prepared to evacuate if needed.  The herbs love where I placed them.  I have never had calendula grow so tall.  And the parsley, it's hard to believe that it is only two plants!

This week I've been busy drying herbs and peaches and canning peaches as well.  We have a great produce guy who comes up every Tuesday from the valley bringing fresh produce.  The first box of peaches I dried (okay, we ate some too) but the second box I canned a dozen pint jars and am drying the rest.  I use pints because we can't eat a whole quart at one sitting and an RV fridge is too small for the rest of the jar and the jars are harder to store because of their size.  A dozen is all I'm doing because of storage space.  Mostly I'm drying.  At times I feel like my great-great-great grandmother coming across the plains.  Heavy bulky items just don't cut it.  Dried fruit and veggies are easier.  I like drying my own because they taste better.  I can be picky about waiting until the fruit is ripe.

Trust me, canning in an RV is not for the faint of heart but well worth the effort.  I hope to purchase a propane camp stove to can on in the future.  I have pears ordered and will can a dozen pints of those as well.  We can use the camp stove for many other things as well and I truly do not want all my eggs (or cooking methods) to be in one basket.  I trip and fall too much!

When it comes to prepping, there are times when I'm too busy doing it to write about it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Prepared to Be Ill?

Are you prepared for illness?  A week and half ago we went to the city and neglected some precautions.  Before we go out into large masses of people we always slip an Elderberry and Zinc lozenge into out mouth.  This helps kill any germs we may breath in.  Well, we had to go to the VA hospital and FORGOT to use the lozenge!!!!  Of course, I caught some nasty bug that is still with me.  Hopefully I will be feeling much better by next week and can post better advice on preparing for illness.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alternate Routes

            This week we took a long anticipated excursion and, like Winner the Pooh, we took a little smackerel on our Great Explore.  There were three reasons for this trip:
1.     Alternate routes if we should need to leave the area in the event of natural disasters
2.     Research for a book I’m writing
3.     A break from life

Concerning number 1; we live in an area where wildfires abound, trains carrying chemicals come thru multiple times a day, snow and rock and mudslides take out roads every year and no matter which direction we go, there are very old bridges of suspect design.  These conditions are standard in any mountain town.  So we like to have choices and we like to know the pros and cons of all the various ways to leave the area.

Number 2: I’m working on a novel that uses parts of the Beckwourth Trail and we are slowly following all of it so I can get a feel of what it was like for those early pioneers.  Jim Beckwourth (or Beckwith) discovered the lowest elevation pass in the Sierra Nevadas.

               That white stuff in the background is snow!

Number 3: When you both live and work at the same place you really have to leave in order to have a break.  Someone is always intruding on our together time.  Besides, who doesn’t want to spend a day meandering through the mountains?  And meander we did.  It was wonderful. We saw very few people and enjoyed the peace and quiet enormously.  

          Become aware of the reasons you may need to leave your home and find all the routes that you can.  Hopefully you will never need to use that knowledge in an emergency.  However you may use that knowledge for a day out!  Have fun and remember to carry a some food, water and first aid supplies at the least.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Thing Leads to Another

Have you ever started a simple project and found yourself knee deep in something larger?  Well, that was us.  It started simple enough, we just wanted to steam clean the carpets.  As anyone who has lived in an RV knows, carpets are a bug-a-boo.  No matter what precautions you take, the carpets soon look dirty, ratty and worn.  So we rented a fantastic (the best we've ever used: The Carpet Butler) steam cleaner.  We figured just a few hours, since there is so little carpet.  Of course there was the initial moving of furniture and items that spend their lives on the floor, and then vacuuming the carpet and then, oh dear, maybe a little more spot cleaning than we'd figured on and whoops there are some repairs we need to make and then, by golly, since everything is out of the way we might as well clean the woodwork.  After that, of course, the windows and then the inside of the cupboards and might as well just do the fall cleaning now as it feels like fall anyway (38 degrees this morning).  So what was a morning's work is still being finished.

Every few months we routinely go thru what we have and attempted to elimate the clutter and excess.  We enjoy garage sales and thrift stores because we can often find wonderful buys for our prepping but, things can get a bit cluttered.  Our rule is: if something comes in, then something has to go out!  However, at times we get a little behind on the getting out part.  Especially in the clothes department.  Good buys are good buys and clothes do wear out but we only have so much room.  The clothes wear out a bit faster because we can't have too many.  Of necessity we have to wear and wash them more often which, of course, wears them out faster.  We are closer to being done now however and are glad we did it while it was still hot enough to dry the carpets quickly.

Yesterday I made a meatloaf in the sun oven.  It was great, not at all dry and since I let the oven get up to 375 F before I added the meat, it never got below the 350F needed to cook the meatloaf.  So it was done in only an hour and very moist.  I may never cook a meatloaf in a regular oven again.

Have a great day!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rocket Stove

          Since there are times when the sun doesn’t shine and since there are times when I want to make a dish for the sun oven that requires browning meat or something first, I asked my husband to make a rocket stove.  A rocket stove uses a small amount of fuel, wood, that can even be sticks or other trimmings from your yard.  We live in a National Forest area with lots of downed wood available so it seemed like a good fit for us.  

          There are a lot of rocket stove plans and instructions out there on the internet but most are confusing so my husband just took a general look at them and built his own.  Many call for the use of #10 cans and smaller fruit and vegetable cans but these are only good for a few uses.  Some people build larger ones and encase them in clay for both heating and baking.  We decided to go with a 5 gallon metal can and 3” used metal stove piping.  My husband feels that 4" would be better.  He also put a used stove grate on top and even painted it.  It looks good, but even better, it cooks fine. 
          The first time we tried it out the fire was too hot and I had bacon and eggs in about 2 minutes.  Since then we’ve learned a few tricks. 

Trick #1: have all ingredients ready and at your side.

Trick #2: learn how to manage the fire by pushing and pulling the wood in and out

Trick #3: use cast iron and be prepared to clean the soot off the bottom.  It will be a mess.

          For the 4th of July we cooked Sloppy Joes.  Food takes on that campfire taste because of floating ashes etc.  Be prepared for that.  It is easier to cook on than an open campfire, takes less wood, is cooler, and since we set it on a stump, is easier on the back.  When I cook on the open campfire I have to bend over a lot more, get more smoke in my face and use a lot more wood.  The rocket stove is far nicer.

          Since it was so hot here on the 4th, I appreciated not having to heat up the RV by cooking inside it.  I do consider the Rocket Stove and the Camp Ring to be mostly for emergencies although I am using them a lot this summer because of the heat and wanting to be comfortable cooking with them.  In a real crisis it would be too stressful to be learning to cook with a new and difficult method on top of everything else.  Our visitors, including some grandsons, really loved the way we were cooking.  It kept everyone entertained!  Bon a’ petit!  

I'm an Author!

Yesterday I became a published author!  I went the e-publishing route as it seems it is the future of publishing and after spending a few years trying to figure out how to find an agent who wasn't a crook, it just seemed the better way to go.  It is not the Great American Novel but it's what I call a good beach read.  Fun and not too demanding.  I read a lot, in fact I worked as a library clerk when in grad school and it remains one of my favorite jobs, even though I'm a music teacher.  So a few years ago, with my family's encouragement (especially my husband's) I began writing and am finding that I'm slowly turning into a writer, something I wanted to do when younger but figured I had too much time and money involved in my music training.  It is really wonderful to fulfill a lifetime dream, especially at my age!  If you are interested, it can be found at Amazon's Kindle Store:  Lauren's Run by Cheryl Nielsen.  Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alternate Cooking Methods

          One of our goals this past year has been to learn alternate cooking methods.  Sure, we have a propane cook stove in the RV and a propane camp stove but both rely on propane.  This is a concern as we live in an area that is prone to being cut off.  Avalanches, roads sliding off the mountain, wild fire, bridge failures (we have very old bridges and a lot of them) etc, all can disrupt propane deliveries.  Hence our concern as we like to be able to eat on a regular basis.  Storing food isn’t enough, we need to be able to prepare it as well. 

          Last year we purchased a solar oven.  Originally we intended to make one but then we attended a presentation by the owner of Sun Oven.  They can be found at  This company is great and their product is wonderful.  My husband carefully looked it all over and decided that this was far better than any of the designs we’d looked at because of the rubber seal.  The guarantee is fantastic: 3 meals a day, every day for 15 years.  Can’t beat that!  So we purchased one and have enjoyed learning to use it.  The only caveat is Don’t use it in the wind!  We lost a good beef stew that way and had a little cleaning up to perform.  We are working on a tie-down system of some kind that isn’t too hard and makes sense. 

          There are different ways of using it.  You can track the sun and keep the temperature close to or at regular oven temp or you can position it where the sun will be generally within a time frame and let it go like a slow cooker.  Either way has produced great results for us.  It is also the best herb dryer that I’ve found.  It is fast (so don’t leave it too long) and the herbs retain their color (and their vitality) better. 

          For the 4th of July we cooked an apple pie.  This was a first for us.  My brother and sister-in-law had canned the apple pie filling and we were waiting for the perfect day and reason and by golly, the 4th was it.  I left it for two hours and rode to town and came back to a beautiful apple pie!  And it was good!!  Can’t get better than that and the best part was: no heat in the RV and no monetary outlay for fuel.  Free fuel!!!!  Yeah, gotta love that!

          For cloudy days, we have a Rocket Stove that my husband made.  We made Sloppy Joes for dinner that night and that came out great as well.  I’ll detail that adventure another time.  We also do open fire cooking in a fire ring; sort of Dutch Oven type cooking. I’ll write more about that later.  In the meantime, start thinking about what alternative cooking methods you need. 

                                                                   Baking beautifully

                                                                       Proud result!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What's Next?

          After a month of keeping track of everything you use, you will have a rather frighteningly large list.  The next step is to organize it and then have the whole family look it over again.  No matter how diligent you are, you will leave something out.  Don’t worry, this is a process and there are no grades.  Next month or next year when you remember an item, just add it on.  The purpose of the list is reference.  You will refer to this list over and over again when making your weekly (or monthly or even quarterly) shopping list.  It will jog your memory and keep you on track. 

          Now, how do you afford all this stuff?  Some people use their savings or take on another job.  Realistically speaking though, most of us just plug away at it.  I look for sales on a weekly basis.  Then I also look for sales (including free or cheap shipping) on a monthly basis for the items that I purchase in bulk over the internet.  Then, once a quarter, we make a trip to a larger town and buy in bulk at restaurant supply stores.  Others may go to places like Costco and bulk buy.  Still others join buying clubs.  I like to purchase some items from a dollar store.  Recently we’ve been getting some great batteries that last longer than a certain well-known bunny’s brand. This is also a wonderful place to stock up on pencils! All these are good options that pay off if, you only buy what you will use in a reasonable time.  A gallon of mayonnaise for a couple who only has a small RV fridge is not a good idea!

          And that brings me to storage.  Food especially needs to be stored in a fairly cool stable environment.  How to do that in an RV?  When we first began RV living full time we rented a storage shed.  Many will criticize that plan as not cost effective and will thus do nothing.  Trust me; doing something is always better than doing nothing!  We only did this for a short period of time.  Now we have an extra trailer that we insulated and can take with us wherever we go.  Be creative and you will find somewhere that you can store a little bit of food that will, at the least, help out in a storm when the stores are closed.  Just think outside of the box!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Easier To Start Than You Think

          Beginning preppers are often overwhelmed.  Even though I grew up with this mindset, I find much of the advice given to be overwhelming, which is frightening because I’ve lived this prepping lifestyle my whole life. 

          So what can you do to get started without all the frustration?  Well, chances are that you have already begun without even knowing it.  Do you have an extra can of soup or anything really, that you will not use this week?  Well then, you’ve already started.  Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?  That is the kind of thinking you need to move towards.  A bite at a time, do not, repeat DO NOT allocated more money than you can afford.  Using your resources wisely is an important prepping mindset.

          Now, what should you store?  Here is a little exercise that I like to do every few years.  During the course of one month, write down absolutely everything you use.  Dental floss, car oil, hand lotion, veggies etc.  Don’t forget to include the paper and pencil you use to make the list.  At the end of the month you will have a better idea of what your family uses and what you purchase on a regular basis.  Why do we do this every 4 years or so?  Because our life changes, diets change etc.  I begin to notice that we are no longer using a product and have too much but I’m running to the store for something new we now need.  And by the way, include medications, both prescription and over the counter or any herbs or other complimentary remedies you may use.  Also include first aid supplies and look ahead to different times of the year.  For instance, if you use sun block and you do this activity in the winter, you may forget that come summer you’ll need sun block. 
          Organize this master list and keep it handy.  You never know when a great sale on an item will happen.  Taking charge of your life and finances is an important part of taking care of you. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Every Little Bit Helps

          Prepping can be overwhelming.  The trick is to find what approach works best for you and your circumstances.  For us, just a little bit at a time is best right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the ‘I’m canning ten lugs of peaches in the next 24 hours because I got such a great deal and they are really beautiful and delicious’ thing (and I will never do it again).  But that was how I was raised.  My Mom was always doing that and I continued the practice while raising my own family.  But it is just my husband and I now and wisdom does come with the years.  It also helps that since we live in an RV I have to be very careful of what we store and how we store it.

          One of my favorite preservation methods is dehydrating.  I can do a little at a time, as I find it on sale or raise it, and the final product is lightweight and easily used.  I’m comfortable with using dried food as my Mom had a dried food business for years.  I still love to nibble on dried fruit.  Scent memory is very strong and one of my favorite memories is the way Dad’s briefcase smelled, like dried apples, because he always carried some in case he got stuck in a Church meeting too long. 

          We are on our second Excalibur Food Dehydrator.  My Mom purchased a fairly large one in the late ‘70’s and she and I really used it hard.  After she passed away I continued to use it until finally, in 2002, it gave up the ghost.  We now have a small 4 tray version that fits beside the sink.  I know of no other dehydrator that does the job like this brand.  My little one does not have a timer, we have to pull the plug to turn it off, but that is not a bad thing.  So many variables come into play when drying food that I usually didn’t use the timer anyway!  The company runs sales and we got a great deal on ours.  Their web address is  Check them out, I highly recommend their product.

          Last Thursday I found some beautiful strawberries.  The cost was high but I figured that these were about the last local berries of the season and were cheaper than my driving down to the valley to purchase them.  They are delicious dried.  If you’ve never tried drying strawberries you are in for a treat.  Find some really sweet large berries, slice them about ¼”, lay the berries on the trays, set the temp (about 130° F) and leave them until dry.  I don’t usually dry mine until crisp because I like a little chewiness.  We thrown them into trail mix or muffins or you can even make jam or syrup with them later.  The point is to put a little away at a time.  It all adds up!

                                             Don't they look beautiful?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reclaiming the Garden

Oh boy, it has taken all week but we have reclaimed our garden.  Those weeds were ferocious!  And so many of them!!!  This morning I put in the last of the seeds.  I really don't know if we will harvest all that I planted.  There is always the possibility of an early winter here in the mountains.  We are so late with planting but we are not the only ones.  Everyone I talked with is in the same predicament.  We will hope for the best and enjoy what we get.  I've already began harvesting a few lettuce leaves, beet tops and three strawberries that weren't quite ripe.  I love going to the garden and harvesting lunch or dinner. 

The marigolds are planted next to the squash to deter insects.  It doesn't hurt that they look pretty as well.  Please ignore the crooked rows, I've never been able to plant or draw a straight line, even with a ruler or string, as the case may be.  At this point, I've given up.  After awhile, when the plants get big enough, only a perfectionist would be able to tell.

We've also planted yarrow off to the side to discourage deer.  In addition, we've planted mint in hollow logs and chives.  Deer do not care for these plants and so far they've not eaten anything even though they rest not ten feet away, on the other side of the electric fence.  They are beautiful and we enjoy seeing them but attempt to discourage them from coming too close.

We are grateful for our little spot here in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Happened to Our Garden?

It has rained, or snowed, almost every day for over a month here.  Where it didn't rain there was cloud cover.  Our poor garden!  I was careful to only plant what could handle snow so we didn't lose anything but, I couldn't get into the garden to weed.  Finally the sun came out while I was gone for a week and everything went crazy, especially the weeds.

I spent the morning cleaning up just two rows as I'm recovering from food poisoning, picked up on my trip.  It looks a lot better though.

This is the first year for this garden.  Last February it was a jungle of willows and wild roses.  My husband worked so hard to clear all those roots out but there are still quite a few!  But after we cleared the land we found beautiful soil, the result of many years of leaves composting.  We.  have great hopes for the harvest.  Now the challenge is to clear the weeds so I can plant the warm season crops.  Here's hoping for another beautiful day tomorrow.  Just a little every day.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Food Storage Basics

In January our ward, along with other community members, sponsored a Prepardness Fair. We presented the workshop on Food Storage for which I prepared a handout which I'm posting.  It is a good starting place.  I'll cover different aspects in later posts. 

Food Storage Basics

  • Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Family - Security
  • Store What You Eat  or ( Learn To Eat What You Store)
  • Rotate!  First In, First Out
  • Inventory It!

    1. Store a 3 months supply of everything you use everyday
    2. Store a year’s supply of basic items: grains (multiple kinds), milk, sweeteners, salt, oils, legumes, etc
    3. USE your food storage daily
    4. Include spices, yeast, baking powder and soda

  • Freeze Dried Meals vs. Basics
Basics – can be used for multiple purposes including cleaning
  • Food Fatigue
  • Comfort Foods
  • Fresh Food Dilemma:  Sprouts, Garden Seeds
  • Eggs: Own, Local, Powdered, Substitutes - unflavored gelatin, flaxseed meal
  • Oils
Shortening – Only a 1 year shelf life
Coconut Oil – Indefinite shelf life
Olive Oil / Vegetable Oil
Butter – canned, powdered, frozen
  • Meat
Frozen, Canned, Dried, TVP
  • Other Protein Sources
Grain, Legume and Nut Combinations
Cheese – fresh, frozen, waxed, canned

  • Milk
Country Cream – great taste, can make yogurt, can be mixed stronger for condensed milk substitute and sweetened for sweetened condensed milk

Morning Moos – a milk drink – great for baking as well as drinking, can be mixed stronger for condensed milk substitute and sweetened for sweetened condensed milk, smoothies etc.,  cannot make yogurt or cheese

Non-Fat Dry Milk – great for making yogurt and cheese as well as adding dry to casseroles for added nutrition or making your own Hamburger Helper Mix or Gravy Mixes, not so great for drinking

Instant Powdered Milk – good for making Hot Chocolate Mixes, Orange Julius, smoothies, more expensive but easier to mix

  • Climate control: temp, moisture, animal/vermin
  • Buckets vs. Cans vs. Pouches
Mylar liners

Other Items to Consider
Alternative Cooking Sources
Tortilla Maker – a plate in the hand
Jello to flavor yogurt and for desserts
Pet food
Grain Mill
Canning Equipment
Alternate cooking methods
Family Friendly Recipes using stored foods

Internet Suppliers

Preparation Info

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prepping in an RV

     How in the world do you prep while living in an RV in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains?  Well, it takes courage and determination.  Also, a conviction that it's right.  And we have all three.

     We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we follow the advice of our Prophet to live a provident life-style.  We also live full time in our 5th wheel and work as camp hosts for a small RV Park.  It is an adventure and we are enjoying the journey.  We hope you will come on this journey with us.