Tuesday, January 28, 2014

While Walking In The Woods

One of the greatest pleasures that I have in working at the location where I work is the ability to go outside and walk on my breaks. I am fortunate enough to have several strands of woods nearby. It is there that I heard a slight sound of rustling leaves today. I paused and waited and was rewarded with a glimpse of an animal trotting through the brush.

I looked towards an opening in the direction of his travel and saw a beautiful red fox cross a 30' clearing approximately 10 yards in front of me.

Just seeing that made my afternoon. God is truly amazing and creative.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Homemade Tortillas

Yesterday, we had taco night and one of the things that we wanted to do was to make our own tortillas. We had made them in the past and wanted to try them again, so we searched the Internet for a good recipe and came upon this one below by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.

We found that each batch made 15 tortillas and followed the instructions word for word with the exception of the second wait time. My comments are also below in red.

Anyway, the recipe is below...

  • 2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preparation Instructions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together.

Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour.

Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes. (We did not wait the addition 20-30 minutes following rolling them into balls.)

When you're ready to make the tortillas, head a dark or cast iron griddle to medium/medium-high heat. (We used medium low heat in a cast iron skillet.)

One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin.  (I didn't roll some too thin and they came out more like gordita shells from Taco Bell)

Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots.

Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container.

To warm, nuke tortillas in the microwave, or wrap in foil and warm in the oven.

Helpful tips:

* Make sure the water you pour in is very warm.
* Allow the dough to rest, both after kneading and after forming into balls.
* Roll out very thin.
* Get the heat right on your stove: Too hot, and the tortilla will burn in spots. Not hot enough, and the tortilla will begin to crisp before you can get it to brown. I get my stove between medium and medium high heat; that seems to do the trick.
* Use a dark griddle or cast iron skillet to brown the tortillas.
* Cook just long enough to lightly brown the tortilla in spots; don't cook too long or tortillas will crisp. You want them to be soft and pliable when you serve them.
* Finally: Have fun! And enjoy them. They're absolutely scrumptious.

Friday, January 10, 2014

CPR Refresher Course

Yesterday, I had the chance to complete a refresher course on CPR. It has been several years since my last course and 26 years since my EMT training. The course covered pretty much all that I remembered, including chocking and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device. The only difference was the inclusion of hands only CPR and the introduction of the song, Staying Alive, which we were told if we gave CPR to that rhythm that that pace would be enough pace in order to help.

Maintaining a level of knowledge about safety and basic life support is very important because in the event of an emergency, when your body is stressed, you will default to your level of training and practice.

According to the American Heart Association, 75-80% of all sudden cardiac arrests happen at home, so don't forget to share that knowledge with your family, so they can assist you in the event of an emergency.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Prepper Christmas - Conflicted: The Survival Card Game

For Christmas we as a family don't focus on gifts, but on the greatest gift that is Jesus. Usually, we give each other inexpensive gifts that we think would be useful for the other person.

This past Christmas, I was fortunate enough to receive something that I've wanted since hearing and reading about it. It's a game called, "Conflicted: The Survival Card Game" and it's  tough, thought provoking and fun.

Conflicted: The Survival Card Game is a post apocalyptic scenario game that was developed for preppers. The game comes in a plastic case and consists of 52 cards along with 2 two cards.

According to the web site, here are 10 reasons to purchase the game:

  1. It opens up in depth discussions regarding what kind of world we’ll live in after the collapse of society.
  2. It shows to you where others in your group draw the line between their will to live vs their own morals.
  3. It helps you create a mutual understanding among the members of your bugout group when it comes to who’s more suitable for what role after the collapse of society.
  4. It helps you discuss with significant others what kind of survival philosophy your camp will have after the collapse and why that philosophy is important.
  5. The game will raise an awareness regarding other areas of prepping that perhaps you didn’t think about.
  6. Practice your barter, negotiating and leadership skills to perfection on the subjects that matter most.
  7. Conflicted: The Survival Card Game is like a mirror that exposes your real survival philosophy to yourself.
  8. Over 50 scenarios that will reveal how unprepared emotionally humanity really is to the collapse of modern civilization.
  9. See what other preppers all over the world think a post apocalyptic society will be like, as they submit scenarios and we publish more decks periodically. Have a way to bring this knowledge to your bugout group.
  10. It exposes who the true leader of your bugout group really is. Hope you and your group can handle that….

The creators of the game say that its to educate, entertain and inspire people and I agree, but I would also add challenge. I had read through some of the cards and knew that I liked the game, but wasn't sure how others would react.

I brought the game to a small group function and showed it to a friend of mine who I knew was interested in survival/doomsday themes. He looked at it several times with great interest, reading the rules and thumbing through the deck, finally asking anyone if they wanted to try it. After he and I explained what the game was about, we played a few rounds.

I have to say that I was surprised to see that there were non-prepper-types that were interested in playing and the game took off.

As players received their information from the card and explained their logic and reasoning, a lot of discussion took place. During this time, we learned a lot about each other and the extents that people will go to protect and provide for themselves, their friends and their families.

As a group we decided to host a follow-up "apocalypse party", which I am hoping will provide another avenue to speak with people about prepping.

This is a highly recommended game as a great way to facilitate discussions as well as gauge likemindedness on survival topics. It will challenge you in a fun way and allow you to gain insights to others and their survival philosophies.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Proper Preparedness Pays Off

Today is January 7, 2014 and it's 0° on our back porch. Our phone Internet and cable TV are out, which is not a really bad thin, since it gives one other (more important) things to do.

This was the second in what has been a small series of events to test our preparednessss. It's the first event that I would like to address.

Last night we had company (our oldest daughter's boyfriend). With no warning, our power went off. Immediately, the kids sprang into action. With the whole house in darkness, someone grabbed an emergency flashlight that was illuminating the kids hallway. After making sure that everyone was OK and accounted for, I went to grab the flashlight in my hallway as our youngest boy was on his way to get our "Lights Out Kit". Our oldest daughter took her little sister (who was scared) to be with my wife in our room.

We broke out out "Lights Out Kit", which is essentially a Wal-Mart tote, labeled and kept in a location that everyone in the family knows.

Inside the kit are flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, lighters, extension cords, light sticks, electronic camping lanterns, and several battery powered radios with AM/FM, weather and shortwave frequencies.

We then distributed flashlights to all of the people in the house and got our oil lamps from a hutch in the dining room, lit them, placed them in the living room, where there was also a fire going. We then had a quick family meeting laying down our action plan which was who was going to do what along with some safety procedures such as no one goes outside without a partner, etc. Following this, two of us went (cautiously) outside to size up the extent of the problem, which looked to be impacting our entire neighborhood.

After all that, we broke out our Family Disaster binder, which among other things has the contact information for the electric company. We called the electric company to report the outage and with noting left to do, my youngest son and I went outside to check our "light discipline" to see how much light was "leaking" from the house. This is not a big problem in this situation, but in a larger one, having the only house with some form of lighting may make one a target.

After rejoining the others in the living room, we broke out a game called Apples to Apples and played until the lights came on.

Our daughter's boyfriend was eager to help the whole time, but there was really nothing else to do. As we were going through the outage, I explained to him what we were doing, what the kit was, what our Preparedness Plan was, etc. so he would be aware and maybe be able to bring back some information and preparedness planning to his family.

Lessons learned:
  • We need more emergency flashlights (the ones that come on in a power outage) around the house. We used to have more, but they were never replaced as they died.
  • We need more lamp oil and wicks. Although we were fine and do have some spares, thoughts go though ones mind about what would happen in a much longer outage.
  • Having others witness your plan during an event is a great way to positively spread the message of preparedness.
  • When you step up to lead in an emergency, other see that you know what to do and will follow the plan.
I hope reading this helps you to think more about preparedness!