Tag Archives: baby steps

  • Baby Steps: Spice up your holiday

    With Halloween over and Thanksgiving soon to arrive, before we know it Christmas will be here and those who start prepping for it now will have an easier, less stressful holiday season.

    The Christmas season is a time of parties, a stream of festivities, a never-ending row of colorful lights, and a lot of fun.  Start preparing now so that you can enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds Christmastime without being overloaded and overstressed. One huge stressor during the holidays is trying to get gifts at the last minute—this is never a fun way to spend the few weeks before Christmas. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what gift you’re giving all of your friends, neighbors, and family members this year.

    Usually for Christmas we all seem to get the cookie platters, baked goods, or holiday decorations. Although these standard go-to gifts are fun (and for some of us, allow us to indulge in our weakness of candy!), why not step away from the crowd and give an inexpensive, unique gift to those you love most?

    My sister actually gave me a fantastic, delicious recipe that will both sweeten and spice up your friends’ holiday—Pepper Jelly.

    Small colorful sweet peppers isolated on white background

    Mmmm! Pepper jelly matches sweet with spicy in a delicious blend of flavors using bell peppers, jalapenos, and a few other ingredients. This recipe is easy to make in large batches, and only uses a few ingredients per batch, making it perfect for a holiday gift.

    Pepper Jelly
    Yield: 8 ½-pint jars

    *You could even do both colors (in separate jars) to create a Christmas season feel

    1. Combine peppers, vinegar, sugar, and cayenne in a large pot
    2. Cook on medium until it boils
    3. Add the Certo, boil 5 minutes (let it boil for the full 5 minutes, or it won’t set.)
    4. Remove from heat
    5. Add food color
    6. Pour into jars

    Pepper jelly is a unique recipe that a lot of people haven’t tasted before, but is savory nonetheless. If sweet and spicy aren’t quite your taste, other traditional jams and jellies make great holiday gifts as well. For a variety of delicious recipes see our Jams and Jellies that please post.

     

    Storing your Jam/Jelly

    Short-term storage is a great way to seal your jelly, protecting it from bacteria until you are ready to dive into it. There are three ways to package your jelly for short-term storage: Traditional Canning, Freezing, and Storing to eat.

    Traditional Canning

    Traditional canning involves cooking your ingredients before sealing them in their individual jars by processing your batch in a boiling water bath. This process takes longer to do because of the cooking time, but ensures that all of your ingredients are clean and ready to eat.  As soon as the jelly is poured into their individual jars, cap them and place in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.  Remove jars and set aside to cool. Soon after removing from the boiling water, you should hear a ‘pop!’ indicating that the jar has sealed itself. If you are unsure as to whether or not it sealed, just poke the lid. If it concaves and then bounces back at your touch, then it did not seal properly. In that case, store it in your fridge and eat within the next few weeks.  You can store traditionally canned jelly for up to a year.

    Freezing

    Freezing is another way to package your jelly for storage. This process takes much less time than the traditional canning method.  After the jelly has been poured into its individual freezer-safe containers, let it cool before capping it, and then place it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Freezer jams can last up to a year in the freezer or a few weeks in the fridge.

    Store to Eat

    The last way to store your jelly is to store it to eat. Once you have poured the jelly into its individual jar and have let it cool, cap it and place it in the fridge. The recommended storage life is about a month, but I have had my Pepper Jelly in the fridge for two and it still tastes delicious. This type of storage is perfect if you plan to eat your scrumptious jelly right up.

     ***

    Jams and jellies are fantastic gifts to give anytime of the year because they’ll last. When you give jam as a gift, your friends can either break into the bottle immediately or save it for a time when their own sugary supply of holiday goodies gets low.  Jams and jellies are able to store for up to a year depending on how you seal it.

    Jams and jellies give you an inexpensive option when you want a unique, desirable gift for your loved ones. Freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and vegetables are perfect for adding into your jams/jellies without having to break your bank, just use a little here and a little there and still have plenty for later.

    -Kim

    Sources:

    http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/storing_jams.html

    http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish/2011/07/27/how-to-make-homemade-jelly/

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: holiday, freeze dried food, Budget, preparedness, baby steps, skills, recipes, food storage

  • Baby Steps: Gathering Fire Making Supplies

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    Gathering fire making supplies

    We’ve been talking a lot about fire lately—how to Build a Fire without Matches, how to Prevent Kitchen Fires, etc. Most of us have matches and maybe a lighter on our list of emergency supplies, but how many of us would have to scramble for everything else (you know, wood?) if we needed to get a fire going?  Here are some things you may not have on that list to help you gather fire making supplies.

    Tinder –Lots of different things can be used for tinder, and some are easier (and cleaner) to store than others. My personal favorite is dryer lint—I keep a jar in my laundry room and fill it regularly, then transfer it to a plastic ziplock for emergency packs. Discounting what you could find in the wild, here are some other easy tinder materials you could collect and store for your fire making supplies: wood shavings or sawdust, cotton fabric or cotton balls, frayed natural (jute) twine, char cloth, paper (Kleenex, toilet paper, newspaper, paper towel), or steel wool.

    Fire starters – You can’t go wrong with a supply of waterproof matches, like UCO Stormproof. Watch the video below to see UCO Stormproof matches in action.

     

    Some survivalists recommend keeping matches in a few different places (emergency pack, car, coat pocket), just in case. A less disposable idea might be getting a more durable fire starter and storing it with your fire making supplies. They won’t last indefinitely, but they’re good for anywhere from a hundred to a couple thousand sparks, depending on the material, and they store a little more conveniently than matches.

    Another way to get your fire started is using a gel fuel like Utility Flame. Simply squeeze the gel onto your tinder then light using a match or lighter. The gel will heat up and begin to burn your tinder, starting your flame. The gel burns for fifteen minutes, giving you enough time to collect kindling and fuel to keep the fire going. Utility Flame comes in handy little packets that are perfect for backpacks and emergency kits. 

    Fuel – For those of us who grew up without gas fireplaces (what do you mean, ‘switch it on’?), woodpiles were a part of life. They’re a rarer feature these days, but could be a lifesaver in an emergency. Whether you buy it by the cord or cut down your own tree branches and logs, there are important considerations regarding storage. Primarily, you want to keep firewood covered, but not enclosed; good ventilation is key to “seasoning,” or properly drying the wood.

    Alternatively, if you need to get and keep a fire burning somewhere away from your immaculately stacked woodpile, a firestarter like Fired Up! can save time and space. For fuel in bulk, Fired Up! comes in 12 oz. cans , 2.5 lb. cans, or 13 lb. buckets, and can store for 30+ years.

    First aid – So, maybe you got that fire burning just a little too hot. Don’t forget burn treatment along with all your other fire making supplies. BurnFree’s comprehensive line of burn treatment products includes everything from a fire blanket to treat full-body burns, to single dose packets of pain relief gel. Burnfree is specifically developed for first aid use on burns and scalds. By storing Burnfree in your camping or emergency supplies, you can begin to care for burns properly before it creates any devastating effects to your body. Burnfree allows you to treat burns in a variety of situations and of various degrees.

    Any other fire-related storage must-haves? What’s in your supply?

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, Survival, baby steps, skills

  • Baby Steps: Time to Winterize Your Grab and Go Bag

    With the change of seasons, it’s time to update your Grab & Go Bag—or 72-hour Kit, Bug-out Bag, Emergency Kit, Evac Kit, or whatever you prefer to call it! Update both your personal kit and one for your car.

    BABY STEP 1:  Update Your Personal Grab and Go Bag

    Items for a Winter Grab and go bag

    Think about what items you’d be glad to have if you had to leave your home in the spur of the moment with chilly weather waiting to greet you outside. You’ll definitely want things to help you stay warm and dry, right? Depending on your climate, consider adding a few items to each person’s grab and go bag.

     Reminder: have your kids grown enough to need larger disposable diapers or pull-ups? If so, you’ll want to remember those and store them in your grab and go bag.

     

    BABY STEP 2:  Update Your Emergency Car Kit

    Winter Car Emergency Kit

    Reminder: are your tires and windshield wipers in good condition? If not, consider getting them changed out before winter weather hits.

    Like it or not, Old Man Winter is on his way, and knowing that your grab and go bags are ready to go and you’re as prepared as possible will help you sleep when the wind blows—or when the snow falls.

     

    Sources:

    www.beprepared.com

    www.ready.gov/winter-weather

    www.quakekare.com/emergency-preparedness/winterstorm-preparedness.html

    weather.about.com/od/winterweather/ht/autosafetykits.htm

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency kit, baby steps, Car Kit

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