Monthly Archives: April 2013

  • Last Saturday, March 30 was our Sport Solar Oven cook-off. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The skies were clear with plenty of sunshine and temperatures were close to reaching 70 degrees.

    All locations reported that the oven easily hovered between 200 and 275 degrees.  As in past weeks, we tried new recipes to try and challenge the capabilities of the oven. Here are a few of the foods we successfully cooked:

    Delicious meatballs (and a delightful carrot cake that isn't shown).

    2013-03-30_14-57-43_772 meatballs

    Chocolate cake! Yum!


    Tender pieces of roast cooked at two locations, and cheesy bacon bread (yes BACON!).

    Cheesy Bacon Bread

    Unexpected Mishaps

    The Sport Solar Oven at our Orem was hit by an excited shopper. The pot lid opened up, and the oven lost heat—not to mention roast juices that splashed all over in the oven. After cleaning up the mess, they still were able to heat the oven back up and finish the job. We’re happy to report that the oven is doing fine.

    What did we learn from the cook-offs?

    Here are a few of the lessons we learned:

    • Put the Sport Solar Oven on the ground in a place where it won’t get trampled, run over, or bumped!
    • Solar ovens actually work! After trying more than 10 different recipes, they all turned out delicious and fully cooked.
    • Always have another option to cook your food in case there is no sunlight. Our dutch ovens and charcoal came in handy on the stormy days. As long as you have sunlight, the oven is a perfect source of cooking for a small group.
    • The Sport Solar Oven will work in cold temperatures. We experienced below freezing conditions and we still cooked a variety of meats, desserts, and baked rolls.
    • Everyone should become familiar with their solar oven and know how to use them before an emergency hits.
    • Save on your power bill and have fun at the same time!

    As you can see, the Sport Solar Oven can cook just about anything, not just bread. Get creative with it and let us know what you cook in your Sport Solar Oven.


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: solar power, Sport Solar Oven

  • Once in a Hundred Years 

    In 1955, I was 6 years old and lived in the small Northern California town of Blue Lake. Our family lived next to a creek—the type of creek that completely dried up in the summer. It was about a mile away from the Mad River. In December of 1955 we had a major flood in Northern California. It was later called a one-in-a-100-years flood by California’s Governor. I remember my father putting me on his shoulders and walking over to the bank of the creek. As we looked at the creek we realized that it was ready to go over the bank to our home—which it did the next day. My father then took me—still on his shoulders— a short distance away to my grandparents’ house, which was about 10 feet higher in elevation than ours. There my grandparents fixed a meal for my family, on a wood stove, by the light of what they called a coal oil lamp. I don’t remember what was served, but I remember it being one of the best-tasting meals I’ve ever had. At that time I felt a sense of security—a feeling that in the midst of something that was really terrifying, I would be okay. It is an experience that I will never forget.


    Once in a Thousand Years 

    Another flood came nine years to the month later—Christmas of 1964. Northern California, along with Oregon and Washington, got hit with a flood that Governor Edmond G. Brown of California said could “happen only once in 1,000 years,” and it was later often referred to as the Thousand Year Flood.

    It was significant how these storms came about:

    "They resulted from meteorological conditions similar to those of the December 1955 floods. An arctic air mass moved into northern California on December 14, 1964, and precipitation on December 18-20 produced large quantities of snow. Beginning on December 20, a storm track 500 miles wide extended from Hawaii to Oregon and produced unprecedented rainfall on northern California and melted much of the snow from the previous storms. In the Mattole River basin, just south of the Eel River, nearly 50 inches of rain was reported during December 19-23, 1964 with 15 inches observed in 24 hours. In most of the coastal mountains and many locations in the northern Sierra Nevada, the December 19-23 rainfalls totaled 20-25 inches." [1]

    And the resulting damage was extensive to say the least:

    "Many communities in Humboldt county suffered massive power outages and were left isolated (or completely cutoff from the rest of the state for a period), including the region's larger populated areas around Humboldt Bay, such as Eureka and [my home], Arcata, despite the fact that those cities were located on higher ground and not in the path of raging rivers. Unfortunate riverside communities like Klamath, Orleans, Myers Flat, Weott, South Fork, Shively, Pepperwood, Stafford, and Ti-Bar were all completely destroyed by flood waters, some of which were never rebuilt and none regained their former status. Metropolitan, Rio Dell, and Scotia were significantly damaged. Crescent City, still recovering from the tsunami created by the 1964 Alaska earthquake only nine months earlier, also suffered from the floods.

    Over 22 inches of rain fell on the Eel River basin in a span of two days. By December 23, 752,000 cubic feet per second of water rushed down the Eel River at Scotia (still upstream from the confluence of the Van Duzen River), 200,000 cubic feet per second more than the 1955 flood, and more than the average discharge of the entire Mississippi River basin. Just under 200,000 cubic feet per second of water flowed down the South Fork Eel River alone, causing severe damage along its entire length. Every single stream gage on the Eel River was destroyed. The flood crest at Miranda was 46 feet. Signs were later placed on top of tall poles to mark the unusual height of the water.

    The flood killed 19 people, heavily damaged or completely devastated at least 10 towns, destroyed all or portions of more than 20 major highway and county bridges, carried away millions of board feet of lumber and logs from mill sites, devastated thousands of acres of agricultural land, killed 4,000 head of livestock, and caused $100 million in damage in Humboldt County, California alone." [2]

    By this time our family had moved from our home in Blue Lake (the one next to a creek) to a safer location in Arcata, California, which was further away from the river. Although we still experienced power outages and were cut off from all normal benefits of the transportations system (we couldn’t evacuate, no supplies could be brought in on trucks), we had made preparations and were able to weather the storm.  But I will never forget going in a Safeway supermarket and seeing the shelves completely bare. There were two people fighting—arguing—over a small can of mushrooms. I also remember seeing an entire house float down a swollen, muddy river. The influence this flood had on me and my family was a powerful reminder of the principle of preparedness. We knew floods could happen where we lived, but not like this! We moved to higher ground. Higher ground is not just a physical location, it is also a state of mind and a way of life. Being prepared for emergencies is “moving to higher ground.” It means thinking of those you love and “putting them on your shoulders” like my father did with me in 1955.

    Symbolically, when you prepare your family you are putting them on your shoulders. Over the years my parents tried to regularly update their supplies and succeeded in passing this wise principle on to me and my siblings. I am grateful they did.

    --Don Pectol

    Thanks for sharing your story and insights, Don. There are several important lessons here; these ones in particular stood out to us:

    • Involve your children (if you have any) in your preparedness efforts, even if they are too young to understand the concept of a disaster. If a disaster strikes, they'll certainly remember feeling safe and protected if you're prepared, just like Don remembers.
    • The importance of food storage and water storageWatching those two customers fight over a can of mushrooms is something Don will never forget, and it's something we hope you don't ever experience first-hand!
    • Knowing the possibility for certain natural disasters in the area where you live. These flood were created by out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, but after the first flood, Don's family moved to higher ground and weren't affected as much by the second, more severe flood.

    Learn how to prepare for a flood.

    Learn about emergency preparedness in your state.



    [1] http:// Accessed March 8, 2013.

    [2] "Christmas Flood of 1964." Retrieved March 8, 2013. (Author's Note: See especially footnote #7: California Department of Water Resources (January 1956). Flood!. Sacramento, California: California Department of Water Resources. OCLC 8135568.)

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, Lessons Learned, flood, flood preparedness

  • Last month we wrote about raising rabbits as food storage. We noted that you’ll quickly have a lot of rabbits on your hands. Do you have plans for those rabbits? Here’s a post about canning rabbit (and chicken) meat. You’ll definitely have enough meat to eat fresh and to store.

    For ideas on how to prepare rabbit, check out's rabbit recipes. also recommends rabbit as a tasty, lean meat. Click here for recipes on how to bake, barbeque, or stew rabbit meat.

    For putting up your own rabbit meat, you might consider salt curing, brining, smoking, or pickling the meat. Or you can try one of these more common techniques:

    Can it

    Granny Miller has a lot of information on how to can rabbit and other small game. Step-by-step instructions give you background, and then walk you through the process. She also gives you some good tips like this about what to do with giblets,

    "can the livers in their own jar because the liver taste will transfer to the other giblets. I always save the livers, kidneys, hearts and other bits when processing harvested animals. Even if I don’t eat those parts, my dogs and cats will."

    Make jerky. has a brief post on turning rabbit meat into jerky. You’ll need a food dehydrator, or a reliable oven that will maintain a temperature of 150-200° F for about 8 hours.

    Freeze it.

    You should probably use frozen meat within a few months; it might last longer if you vacuum pack it. Here are some guidelines on "shelf life" of frozen meats, from

    "Label and date each package with a permanent marker. Then practice FIFO - first in, first out - which reduces the risk of freezer burn and spoilage. Plus you'll know what's in the package. Even when properly packaged, frozen meats have only several months of shelf life. For quick reference: chops, 6 - 12 months; ground meat, 2 to 3; roast, 6 to 12; steaks, 6 to 9; and stew meat, 2 to 3. A whole bird will keep up to 12 months; pieces up to 9 months."

    We’re interested in hearing about your experiences preserving meat. What kinds of meat do you preserve, and what method do you like best? Let us know in the comments.



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: dehydration, Meat storage, freezing, canning, rabbits

  • What do fashion, design, and food storage have in common? Innovative furniture, that’s what!

    Here’s an interesting idea from the Friday Project.* They’ve designed a food storage shelf based on the food pyramid. The shelf gives you more compartments for the foods you should be eating more of (like fruits and veggies) and less compartments, higher up for foods you should eat less of  (like chocolate. Sigh.). While this shelf is not ideal for long-term food storage, the concept is still applicable.

    If you’re wondering how to organize your food storage pantry, consider creating a larger space for foods you’ll eat more of (like grains) and leaving a smaller space for items you’ll use less frequently (like oils). You may also consider putting the most frequently used items in areas that are most accessible. Of course weight will be a consideration; you wouldn’t want to put your SuperPails at eye level even if you do open them every day.

    It’s a pretty common-sense approach, so you’re probably already doing it. In fact, we’d love to hear how you organize your food storage. Send us pics and we might feature them in a follow-up post.

    Click to read more about The Friday Project Food Storage

    *Via and

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, furniture, pantry

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