Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Long Term Storage of Dried Beans

Dried beans are a must for any food storage program.  Beans are cheap, they are a good source of protein, they taste good, and they are easy to store.  You can buy sealed, nitrogen packed, buckets of dried beans; but that is not really necessary unless you just want to do it for convenience and you have a lot more money to spend than I do.  One problem with buckets of dried beans is that when you open a bucket, you now have about five gallons of the same kind of beans to eat.  If the only reason that you are buying the beans is for emergency food storage then that’s not too big of a problem.  But, I like to eat and replace my stored foods, and I don’t want to eat five gallons of pinto beans before I can get my first bowl of black-eyed peas.  So here’s how I store my dried beans.  I don’t know if they will last 30 years like the nitrogen packed ones, but I am eating beans that were stored 8 years ago and they are perfectly fine.

First buy your beans.  You can go to places like Sam’s Club, Costco, or many health food stores and buy them in 25 to 50 pound bags or you can buy them at the grocery store.  Most grocery stores don’t carry bags larger than 5 or 10 pounds.  I usually go to the grocery store and buy bags of pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, lentils, and etc.

When I get home I repack the beans into 1 quart storage bags filling the bags as full as I can and still get them sealed.  
I use a marker to mark each bag with the date (this is easier to do before you put the beans into the bag).

I place the quart bags of beans in the freezer and let them stay in there for a week.  This kills any bugs or larvae that may be in the beans.

After the beans have been in the freezer for a week, I take them out, open each bag, drop a 100cc oxygen absorber pack into the bag, and reseal the bag.

Next I place the assorted bags of beans into a 5 gallon food grade bucket that has been lined with a plastic trash bag. 

Be sure that the trash bag is not treated with a deodorizer or insecticide (the cheap bags usually don’t have any of these fancy additives).  A lot of people recommend using food grade mylar bags, but in this case I don’t really see the point.  The food is actually contained in food storage bags.  The plastic trash bag is just another layer of protection against moisture, and the food never comes into contact with it.  Now, just seal the trash bag and seal the bucket. 

If you want, you can place a small piece of dry ice in the bucket before you seal it.  The dry ice will sublimate into CO2 gas which is heavier than air and will force the air out of the top of the bucket.  If you do this be sure to not seal the top of the bucket until the dry ice has melted down to a sliver about the size of a nickel.  If you seal the bucket too early, the CO2 gas that is forming will expand the bucket and possibly blow the lid off.  Not good.  I personally don’t go the CO2 route and I have never had a problem with the beans going bad.  Which ever way you do it, be sure to label the bucket “BEANS” and put the date on it.

Now you have a sealed bucket full of assorted bags of beans.  You can remove a bag of pintos, and when they are used up, you can pull out a bag of navy beans.  This keeps your diet from becoming too monotonous.  When you have gone through an entire bucket of beans (probably a couple of years depending on how many you are feeding and often you eat beans) you can refill and re-label the emptied bucket and start eating out of the next bucket in your rotation.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Are You Fit Enough to Survive?

The worst has happened and the social order is in a state of break-down.  You had hoped that this wouldn’t happen, but you were smart enough to plan ahead in case it did.  You have a comfortable home in the country.  You have stored food, medical supplies, hunting and defensive weapons, a good stock of ammo, garden tools, and heirloom seeds.  There’s no live water on your land but you had the foresight to have a 75 foot deep well drilled.  You installed a good wood burning stove in your house and cleared off a good size piece of land where you can plant a garden.  You and your family are safe; it’s day one and you are ready to survive.

First things first, you need water and fire wood to start the day with breakfast.  While your wife is digging through the food storage you go out to draw some water from the well.  There’s no electricity so it’s a rope and bucket.  You need water for 4 people to wash up, fix breakfast and do the dishes.  Three buckets ought to do it.  So, you spend about 15 minutes pulling on the rope, hand over hand; and then haul the five gallons (41 pounds) of water up to the house.

Now for the fire wood.  There are plenty of downed and seasoned trees from where you cleared your garden spot, but you will have to cut them up with a crosscut saw and split them with an axe.  You could use your chainsaw but you know that’s not a good idea.  Too much noise that might attract unwanted attention, and besides you need to save the gas.  So, you spend the next 45 minutes sawing, splitting, and carrying firewood for breakfast.  You can come back after breakfast and cut more for the rest of the day’s cooking and to heat the house tonight.

After breakfast you decide to get started on the garden spot.  You have food stored, but it will eventually run out so you need to start right away getting the ground ready for a spring garden.  This will require digging up three or four stumps, digging up roots, hauling out rocks, and hand turning the soil.  You want to put in a 40 foot by 60 foot garden so preparing the ground will occupy most of your working days for the next several weeks.  Of course then it will be time to start building a fence around the garden to keep deer out.  You walk to the tool shed and get out your grubbing hoe, shovel, long pry-bar, and a pair of leather work gloves.

OK.  Now go look in the mirror.  Are you physically ready to live like this?  Everything that you do will involve muscle power.  We are so used to modern conveniences that we have totally lost sight of how physically challenging life is without them.  Our great-grandfathers had to consume about 4000 calories a day just to maintain their body weight.  Today many of us gain weight on 2000 calories a day.  We have to make a special effort to indulge in any physical activity.

In our very uncertain future, the term “survival of the fittest” could mean exactly that.  The physically fit may be the only ones that survive.  I would suggest to you that physical conditioning is just as important to your survival plans as food storage, or self defense.  You could join a gym and take the traditional route of jogging, resistance training, aerobics, and etc.; but I’ve never really understood the logic behind paying one guy to do your yard work and then paying another guy to let you work out in his gym.  Wouldn’t it be more productive and more realistic to get out and do some physical labor similar to the types of things that you would need to do on a self-sufficient farm.  How about starting a garden using only hand tools, splitting firewood with an axe, or hand digging post holes for a new fence.  You’ll get some great exercise, and you’ll have something to show for it besides muscles.   If a survival situation never arises you haven’t wasted any effort.  Being fit will improve the quality of your life no matter what happens.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pancakes and Syrup from Your Food Storage

For years I made pancakes using a recipe that called for eggs, milk, and oil.  The pancakes were good, but they were kind of a hassle to make.  Also, eggs and milk kept me from making pancakes when going light-weight camping because it would entail taking powdered eggs (yech) and powdered milk and reconstituting them before cooking.   About 20 years ago I went camping with a friend of mine who taught me how to make pancakes the quick and easy way, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make these pancakes using nothing but items from your food storage.  I have also thrown in my mother’s recipe for pancake syrup; again, this requires only ingredients that can be part of your food storage.

Here’s the pancake recipe.  It will make four to six pancakes depending on the size.


1/2 cup all purpose, or whole wheat, or fresh ground flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar, honey, molasses, etc
1 tablespoon shortening, lard, or oil

Yes, that’s all there is to it.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together.
Add water a little at a time, stirring until the batter is a little thicker than heavy cream
Use shortening, lard or oil to grease your skillet or griddle
Pour out batter onto griddle in pancake size pools
Cook until bubbles form in the top of batter and burst
Flip pancakes over and brown the other side
Stack pancakes on a plate
Add butter, margarine, or butter spray if desired
Cover with syrup
Eat and enjoy

The great thing about this recipe, other than tasting good, is that you can pre-mix the dry ingredients and carry them trail camping.  Another alternative is to by self-rising flour which is nothing but flour, salt, and baking powder already mixed together.  My friend that taught me how to make this kind of pancakes always carried some brown sugar on the trail.  He would mix a little water with the brown sugar to make syrup.  Not as good as maple flavored syrup, but not bad at all.

When I was a kid there was no way that we could afford fresh maple syrup.  Mama made our pancake syrup.  Here’s her recipe:


2 cups white sugar
1 cup water (yeah, that's right, twice as much sugar as water)
1 teaspoon of maple flavored extract

Mix sugar and water in a cooking pot
Heat over a low flame. Do not boil
Stir as the mixture heats until sugar is dissolved
Add maple flavored extract and stir

That’s all there is to it.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mossberg 4x4 .30-06 - Review

I have been in need of a new deer rifle, so I recently traded for a bolt action Mossberg .30-06.  The rifle that I acquired is one of a family of Mossberg rifles known as 4 x 4’s.  They come with either a long-bolt or short-bolt action depending on the cartridge length.  Mine, being chambered for .30-06, is a long-bolt.  The 4 x 4’s are available with a variety of different stocks including synthetic, wood, and laminated wood.  Mine is a plain Jane with the black synthetic stock. 

The barrel is free floating and fluted to reduce weight and help dissipate heat faster, although I don’t anticipate firing enough rounds fast enough to overheat the barrel.  Not at a dollar-and-a-half a round, anyway. 
The barrel also has a nice threaded muzzle brake to help reduce recoil. 
My 4 x 4 has a 4 round box magazine, which is a feature that I prefer over the tube feed magazine.  Replacement mags are available for around $20.00, but I figure that anything I can’t hit with five shots is going to be long gone anyway.
These rifles come equipped with weaver bases and can also be purchased as a package with the scope already mounted.  Mine already had the scope when I traded for it.  Mossberg has the retail price for this rifle listed as $534.00, but I have checked on the internet and found prices of around $450.00.

Now for my impressions about this rifle:

First the stock.  As I said, I have the black synthetic stock.  It is not pretty.  If you are looking for skip checkered, burl walnut, this is not your gun.  The stock feels fine, and it comes with a recoil pad which is nice because the .30-06 is not a gentle round, especially with a light stock. 

Sling mounts are molded into the stock which looks kind of cheap, but they hold a sling just fine.  All of this is fine as far as I am concerned because I hunt to eat, and neither I nor the deer are interested in style points.
The bolt on this rifle is very smooth, much smoother than on my son’s Remington 770.  My rifle is used, but it has not been used much, so I am assuming that it comes out of the box with a pretty smooth action.

A small, push-down button located to the left rear of the bolt allows for bolt extraction, which makes it easy to examine and clean the bore.

The thumb lever safety is located just behind the bolt handle when the bolt is closed.  The safety is crisp and firm so that you will know if it is engaged.

My 4 x 4 already had the scope mounted. It is not a high quality scope.  The brand name is CP (never heard of it) and it is made in China.  That being said, it seems to be a decent enough scope, only time and use will tell for sure. 

One feature that I like about the scope is that it has attached, flip up lens covers.  I have a hard time keeping up with the removable lens covers that are connected with an elastic string. 

I fired a few rounds on the range to make sure that the scope was sighted in correctly.  I had to adjust it just a little, probably due to my glasses which seem to make me group a little low and to the left of where other people shoot with the same weapon.  Grouping was good and the bolt cycled smoothly. 

Trigger pull was smooth and crisp; not to long or short. 

The trigger pull is adjustable.  If you want to adjust the trigger pull you will need to use a 5/32” Allen wrench to remove the two bolts that are located just to the front and rear of the magazine well.  This allows you to lift the barrel and trigger assembly clear of the stock.

The trigger pull adjustment screw is located on the front of the trigger assembly.
The trigger pull felt fine to me, so I left it where it was.

I added a padded sling and an adjustable bi-pod to my rifle and I am good to go.   

I am happy with this rifle.  It is no work of art, but it is a good, solid, functional firearm.  It will put meat in the freezer.