Friday, January 29, 2016

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week- The Hard Knocks Education

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - The Hard Knocks Education

Dutch Oven
The Pot Of Possibilities

Heavenly Father has a unique way of helping me learn the things I need to know. If He wants me to learn how to wash laundry by washer breaks. And, if he wants me to learn how to use alternative ways of baking...the element goes out on my oven. I'm just glad He knows that I know how to purify water, because I really would rather not have to be tested on that...moving on.

So, this week I have been practicing other ways of baking. What alternatives are out there?

#1 The Good Ol' Fashioned Dutch Oven:

The Dutch oven has been used for literally HUNDREDS of years! The Dutch had it all figured out a long time little buggers. Dutch ovens are more versatile than just about any other way of cooking. They can be used for soups, stews, frying, and baking...even bread and pies! Dutch ovens work really well with Volcano stoves too. There is a REASON the Iron Rod was made out of iron...because like the Dutch oven, it is steadfast and faithful...and when seasoned correctly can sparkle.

I have really tried to avoid learning how to use the Dutch Oven because, honestly, wood fires and even charcoal can be intimidating. Modern spoiled people (me) aren't used to that kind of stuff, and what if I mess up? I could burn something. Yes, there is a learning curve. But Dutch oven cooking has so much potential! In the home of Paul Revere, they have an example of how a typical Colonial kitchen was. Now is the time to go and hug your counter tops and sink, and maybe even give them a little kiss; because a lot of fire poking and squatting was involved. Dutch ovens minimize that. If someone happened to fall into the cooking fire, life threatening injuries could result. Vigilance is key around open fire, but it can be done and some amazing culinary masterpieces can happen with a little practice.

For dinner last night I made Chicken Pot Pie with all FSF (Food Storage Friendly) ingredients: Here is the recipe I pretty much made up as I went along:
8 C of Water
Handfull of deh. onions
handfull of deh celery
handfull of deh carrots
handfull of deh potatoe dices
handfull of deh peas
2 tsp salt
diced chicken (I used fresh, but canned can be used also)
Brought to boil, thickened with flour/water mixture

Biscuit topping (this was actually from a recipe)
4 1/2 C wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 C oil
2 T sugar/honey

mix well
Added 2 1/2 C water - very wet mix...
I plopped the biscuits on top of the chicken soup and put my dutch oven lid on.
I used 25 charcoal: 8 underneath and 17 on the top. It was ready in about an hour. The family loved it.
For more information on recipes and how-to's for the Dutch Oven, check out Jas-Townsend videos on Youtube. I love them!!

#2 The Solar Oven

I have a Solavore Solar Oven. I love it. When there is sun. All you have to do is warm the oven and help it follow the Sun while stuff is cooking. That's it. When it is cloudy, well, look elsewhere because this honey isn't working for you today.
I have made biscuits, bread (more like rolls), casseroles, sweet potatoes, cookies, the BEST chicken ever, etc. in my Solavore oven. It has been well worth the investment.

For more information check out:

It is ALWAYS better to practice alternatives BEFORE the School of Hard Knocks knocks on or even bursts through your door and you land on your hiney. It is better to burn stuff now than when you might need the ingredients to sustain life. If you mess up, you can always go get pizza and try again tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Better the Second Time Around


Last Saturday my family was really excited to go to our mountain and play in the newly fallen snow on our mountain. We layered up with our Southern Arizona gear (which would make an Eskimo shake a head) and headed up. Man! Who knew snow could be so cold? Within only a short amount of time, we realized how under-prepared some of the kids were. My three year old was uncomfortable quickly. We had fun, but it could have been so much better if we would have been better prepared. So, Monday we were headed back up the mountain to try again. I had found some small snow suits for the younger children that I had tucked away and had forgotten about. We stayed and slid and played for several hours completely comfortable. The three year old didn't want to get off the sled. 

What was the difference? I believe it is because the first time we didn't have the experience that we fixed the second time around. 

The world has experienced some unusual, extreme and downright crazy weather lately that has left many people without homes, electricity, and other necessities. If people were to practice before an emergency, wouldn't they have a better time the second time around because they kind of knew what to expect? 

That was our experience. Lets focus for a second on electricity and how necessary...or rather unnecessary it may be. Our ancestors for many, many generations lived without it. It sure is convenient, but can we live without it? Sure!

What alternatives do we have if we do not have electricity? What substitutes are available? I found this list on

Think about every thing you do each day which uses electricity and technology, and come up with things that you can substitute.  Ask yourself, "What if I had no electricity.  What do I need to store NOW, to substitute for that item."

Here are some:

No electric washing machine?  Get some washtubs, and a wringer.

No Dryer?  Get a clothesline and clothespins.

No Electric drill, power saw, chain saw?  Get a hand saw, a handpowered drill, regular screwdrivers, etc.

No Electric wheat grinder?  Get a hand wheat grinder.  (I also have an antique meat grinder, hand powered.)

No electric sewing machine?  You might be able to find a foot-powered treadle machine somewhere.

No Computer or ipad?  Learn to hand write again.  Get pencils, pens, paper.

No computer files anymore?  You better have printed out all your recipes, and other important documents, in case you never have a computer again.  

No internet?  You better have all that stuff in regular old books, on the bookshelf, because you might not be able to look it up anymore.

No grocery stores, or trucks bringing food from faraway farms?  Better have food storage, plus garden tools and garden seeds, because you will need to grow your own food sooner or later.

This might be scary to think about, but if you have the low-tech equivalent, you will be able to make it through most crises and disasters better than someone who relies strictly on electricity.

I challenge you to become electricity free for a day or two and practice. You may not know how this will make your "second time around" better...maybe even enjoyable!