Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Emergency Preparation: Beyond the food

Well, for this post, I am going to be liberally cutting, pasting, and linking. I will start out with a large portion of an e-mail that my best source (Mom) sent out recently, that underlines the importance of having the tools you need to work with the food and other items that you store. After all, food doesn't cook itself, and clothes don't come with self-mending mechanisms... :) The following is an excerpt from said e-mail:

"I know most of you will have most of these. However a large number of you may never have cooked EVERYTHING from scratch so may be missing some of them or not know where they are among the wedding and shower gifts that have never been unpacked! :) This is just a check list to get you thinking of what you need...ESPECIALLY THE NONELECTRIC ITEMS.
Anyone who can add to this list of "indispensible items" please let me know and I will update it!

Please make certain you have GOOD QUALITY basic tools for preparing food:

Two or three pots/pans with lids
At least one skillet, preferably two, one small and one large
Large soup pot with lid
Dutch oven
Baking/roasting pan
Bread pans
Cookie sheets and cake pans
Two or three mixing bowls of graduated sizes

Measuring spoons
Measuring cups
Egg beater for use if there is no electricity
Potato masher (Yes they still exist!)
Wire whip
Sturdy spoons for mixing heavy dough (wood or stainless steel)
Rolling pin

Sharp knives of several sizes Make at least one a serrated one for slicing soft veggies
Cutting board that can be easily cleaned and sanitized
Some type of chopper/ shredder and grater that is nonelectric (think nonelectric food processor)
Vegetable peeler ( I always have two so I can get help to make a tedious job go faster!)

Sewing/Mending Items These can be acquired very inexpensively a few at a time with the sales and/or discount coupons at the fabric stores (Be sure to use a coupon for the scissors)

At least a dozen assorted needles ...both sharps and ballpoints
100-300 pins Choose some sharps and some ball point
One or two large spools each of thread in black, navy, white, brown and cream colors (watch for sales)
One or more regular sized spools of favorite colors for family's clothing
Seam ripper (As ye sew, so shall ye rip) This will save a LOT of time
GOOD cloth scissors....hide them in your sewing supplies so no one will ever cut paper or plastic with them
Pin cushion.... so you don't lose the pins and needles
Sewing ruler with slider to make hemming easier You may have to shorten or lengthen pant legs or skirts.
A few buttons, snaps and /or hooks and eyes and maybe some velcro
Lots of safety pins in several sizes (my favorite emergency tool)
A few zippers in favorite colors to replace broken ones
Several packages of "universal fit" sewing machine needles...for yourself if you have a machine or for whomever you ask to help if you don't have your own machine.

Most experienced seamstresses will be happy to help or show you how to do something, especially if you have your own tools.

Thank you for preparing. "

End of e-mail excerpt.

I would welcome any suggestions in the comments--and hey, I'm pretty sure my best source reads my blog :), so if you have any input on basics like this, it will probably be shared far and wide.

My first priority is to get the food supplies in stock, and then I try to figure out ways to use them. If you have read my blog in the past, you will likely have noticed that I have had varying success with how these little projects turn out. However, having good tools to do the job makes it easier, and practice can only improve my skills. My latest purchase? A new wire whisk has been ordered, and will hopefully be a little more sturdy than previous utensils of that nature that I have owned.

Riverwalker, over at Stealth Survival, recently had a post on food peelers, and pointed out that if you have a good peeler, you eliminate a lot of food waste. I also appreciated his post, Eating--A Necessary Adventure, where he asks crucial questions about what we will do if our food supply is cut off for whatever reason. Things to think about and prepare for--hopefully these things won't happen, but it's always good to have a plan B. Or to reconfigure and/or supplement our plan A...

Finally, I like this idea, found over at Today While the Sun Shines, taken from the "Weekly Wisdom #8" section:

" Timely Tuesday – Today is a day to think and make a list. What I am going to do today is write a list of all of the skills I believe my children will need in the future. And then attempt to check off that list as I teach them. I believe that our days of "normal" education are no longer adequate for the lives our children will live. They need to have real life skills, survival skills, back to basic type skills, as well as education, high tech skills, and low tech skills. Skills to deal with economic trials, and leadership skills. I do not like to knock the public school systems, but the reality is, they don't teach all of these kinds of things to our children, and we as parents have that responsibility to do so. So today make that list, think into the future of your kids / grandchildren and try to imagine what they may need to know, (I know that is a tough one) and then get to work teaching. Make use of those family home evenings, and any teaching moment. Teaching something is also the best way to really learn it."

I love this idea, because you have to know what you're doing with and/or how to supplement your supplies, (at least you should know :) and why not enlist your children to help you by teaching them ? And if you are just learning, (in many cases, like me) why not have more people learning at the same time? I definitely need to make a list of this nature--and then work on it.

Food storage will be better used if we try to use efficiency in our efforts. We can have more efficiency if we use the appropriate tools. We will be more efficient in taking care of our needs food-wise if we learn the necessary skills. And we can be more efficient if we work together. Food storage goes beyond just stockpiling the food, and I need to work on my efficiency. It'll likely be a lot of work, but in the end, if our food supply is better for us, lasts longer, and can be perpetuated, what's not to like?


Davilyn Atwood said...

Glad to see my thoughts are welcome in many places. I am a firm believer that we are the only ones who care enough about our own children to educate them in the ways they will need. Thanks Marie.

MeadowLark said...

Just curious, remind me again how I'm storing things without aluminum foil or saran wrap. I've forgotten. And I KNOW that I won't have enough canning jars to use those... I'm nearly out as it is! :) So, advice please.

Anonymous said...

Marie, this is an excellent post, Thank you. I wish My grandkids lived closer so we could teach them what I know that my DL isn't.

If I may I'd like to comment on your comments and MH's comment from the previous post.

It is typical of the representatives of the chemical companies to trivialize things like so called perfectly harmless chemicals and thier affects and effects on us peasants. They do not giva a darn about us or our health, they only care about selling and expanding thier profits selling poison. After all there are so many of us peasants who cares if they kill or mame a coupel million of us.

Carl In Wisconsin.

Bustednuckles said...

I would add an assortment of plastic funnels, sturdy tongs and a flour sifter.


Marie said...

Davilyn--I agree that we have a responsibility to teach our children, it can't hurt to teach them all the good skills that we can, and it will almost certainly help with the way that things seem to be going in the world lately. I enjoy reading your insights and suggestions on your blog--thanks for your comment!

Meadowlark--Point taken! I may not have that much saran wrap (but still have some, and this reminds me to get more), but the aluminum foil is down in the storage room as I write. Wouldn't want to have to use those canning jars unnecessarily... :) Thanks for your comment!

Carl--I've been looking to improve the utensils/cookware I have so that they would last for the long haul, and so they will hold up under teaching the kids to use them. I'm sure that your grandkids remember what you teach them if they are like my children, who still talk about what my mom has let them do to help in the kitchen when we visit.
As for the previous post, I totally agree that just because someone says that I can eat it doesn't mean that I want to and/or should eat it. I found MH's comments interesting because it made me realize that maybe some people really don't see it the way that I do--after all, I have no intention of eating escargot, but that doesn't mean that lots of people don't pay lots of money to do just that. Not the same as chemical additives, but it does indicate different levels of tolerance about food. I tend to be suspicious about food, and when in doubt, for whatever reason, (expiration date, additives, ingredients) will throw it out. What I took from MH's comments is that we have to be careful of bias on the part of the author of what we're reading --that someone might write something about food additives that he/she knows will be "shocking" or whatever, just so more people will read it--after all, it's more interesting to read about beetles than beet juice, I guess. My take on the article I linked, though, was closer to yours, from what I take from your comment. I think that the food people's "bias" is to make their food look more appealing by using more appealing terms to describe their products--after all, "natural coloring" probably nets more consumers than "crushed beetle eggs" would. So, I find MH's comments something to think about--we probably need to look at both the information provided as well as the writer's motives sometimes, even when the article isn't "political" per se. It seems like there would always be a reason why a subject was being addressed.
Sooo, that was probably more than you wanted to read, but in the end, I do think that we should have more clear information about what exactly is in our food, and just because it isn't "poisonous" doesn't mean that we should eat it. I do think that people are motivated by money, and while something may not hurt you and is approved by agencies, it doesn't mean that it is good for you either. Sorry for the lengthy reply--I appreciate your comment!

Busted--Excellent suggestions, duly noted! Thanks for your input!

MeadowLark said...

Actually, it wasn't a point but a true question!!! I remember my grandma putting these little covers that were elasticized over all the bowls. But if I don't have those, what's your suggestion? I have been saving glass jars lately, but when every penny counts, my budget may not have room for even foil or plastic wrap. So help me remember how they did it in the proverbial "olden days". Thanks.

Marie said...

Meadowlark--Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to that, but I am intrigued and am going to try to find out. If any readers know about these, please let us know!

riverwalker said...

Thanks for the link Marie.

Here's a little tip for your readers. When using old mayonaise, jelly jars, etc. to put food stuff in, the original seal may not be good enough to maintain freshness.
Just use some plain old waxed paper to create a good seal. We store rice, corn meal, etc. in old 1 gallon pickle jars and use waxed paper to get a good seal. Works great!


The Scavenger said...

Marie, I have been out of town over the holiday's and I am here now catching up on your recent posts. I love the way you make us think of things we may not have thought of. Like kitchen tools. I have a good supply of them that I have picked up at flea markets and yard sales over the last few years but, many may not have a good supply. I also view these as good barter items in the very near future. Thanks


Marie said...

Riverwalker--You provide excellent information, so thank you! Your tip may be what Meadowlark was looking for, and is excellent advice--thanks for your comment!

Chris--We recently got a flea market in our area that takes place on Saturdays, and I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. After seeing what you've been able to find, I will definitely be paying it a visit. It may also be a place to pick up barter items for the future, so that is a great idea--thanks for your comment!

I was out of town over the holidays as well--I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!