dehydrated cooked rice

back when I was still with a prepper FB group, mentioned I was experimenting with dehydrating cooked BROWN rice.  We all know that BROWN rice has a limited storage life and I wanted to know if cooked and dehydrated BROWN rice would keep better.

The immediate response to that was why are you doing that. Rice keeps forever if you keep it dry and seal it, etc., etc., etc.  And we all know BROWN rice goes rancid.

and that is part of why I am no longer with that FB group . . .

The answer to the question is not going to be found because today, needing some cooked rice in a hurry for a fast lunch as I was late, used that dehydrated BROWN rice.  It was only 3 months old and it was GOOD!!

So guess I’ll make another batch and set some aside and see how it tastes in a year or two.

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short story as prepping tool

Have always wanted to be writer.  Specifically, wanted to be THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST.

But as Mike Rowe points out, following your passion doesn’t work if you aren’t good at it, and I’m not.

Which doesn’t stop me from trying to write. At least I get out what ever frustration is rising to the surface and I write until its gone and that’s been good enough for the last 50 years.

My latest is attempt is a post apocalyptic novel.

Write what you know the experts say, so my characters are drawn from real life, the story takes place in my hometown.  This is a land of pollyannas; Reiki practitioners, Yoga instructors, Massage therapists, crystal healers.  Ex-hippies who did well in their in between lives have now retired, showing up at the Whole Foods store in town in their tie dye, birkenstocks,  and long grey hair. They buy organic foods, organic wine in great quantities and they belong to groups that seek to bring rainbow leaping unicorns into reality.

On the other hand, we have young idealists who live in campers, drive cars that say Save Mother Earth while belching out black oily smoke, and beg on the street corners or set up shop selling hemp macramé jewelry.

We also have a lot of homes that belong to rather wealthy people who are intent on saving the Earth and therefore are solar powered with giant arrays, and driving their Prius and Teslas if they really have boatloads of $$$$.  Town code prohibits Earth Ships like you see outside of Taos, sadly.

We even have a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes.

Average age of the population is 54. Lots of older retired folks in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Not actually the folks who are going to survive a great SHTF event.  Need to much medical care and on going prescription refills.

So it is within this setting that I’ve written about a woman and the loss of the national power grid on her 70th birthday.  and this is written looking back from her 75th birthday.

Amazingly, it has allowed me to go through a scenario with how well prepared am I?

There is a certain amount of Pollyanna in my story as I expect the capable in town, the solar power installers particularly, to come together to keep the water pumps going. That the local ranchers will work out a way to bring meat to the table. That the local farmers will also help supply food.  But distribution of the same is part of the story. Those who feel they deserve to have it because they are starving, but have no skills and no wish to even be a laboring body in exchange.  And those who are older and do not have the physical means to help. How do we cut out our neighbors?

But it does all fall back on what WE do at home.  We don’t live right in town, so some of the angst and chaos isn’t happening here.  We have to figure out how to heat our home (it takes place in January), how to get the garden up and running earlier,  how to cook, how to dispose of our waste – human and just plain old garbage, how to hunt and fish.  And how to do collect and bring home enough wood for all the above when it is our SOLE heating and cooking supply and we’re 70 years old!!

It turned out to be quite the eye opener and think I will do this again using different SHTF scenerios . . but first, am cooking up some beans and ham to can and dehydrate . . .

age and the prepping dream

Almost everyone has a dream for when they no longer have to work, or for when they have enough money, or , or, or.  They’re dreams right? for the future.

A lot of people step forward and begin living their dreams when they retire.  For those who have managed well, they get to retire in their 50’s.  Most don’t retire until their 60’s, mid to late.

For preppers, the dreams are things like bunkers full of food, a source of water, good soil for gardening, lots of ammo, etc.

Know someone who has just purchased his dream acreage in the high desert.  The only development to the land has been putting in a well, and electric to run the well.  The lots around him are so far undeveloped.  and he is 62.

Know he has plans for solar, greenhouse, chicken, some other livestock, barn, house of some sort, etc.

and I admit to some envy  -mostly because of his isolation.  People are really rubbing me wrong lately.

But began thinking of his plans.  How long will it take to get all this set up for full homesteading?  he’s 62.  If we works fast and throws a lot of money at it, less than 5 years to get a garden in, barns, chickens, livestock, manure piles, compost, root cellar, cisterns,  solar panels, batteries, wiring, some sort of grey water and composting toilet set up.  Then he’ll be 67.  He’s single right now, and while know he is looking for a partner on the land, he’s unlikely to find a hard working 40 year old  – unless its someone thinking the old man will croak and they’ll have this fine homestead . . . . . the preppers version of a sugar daddy . . . .

anyway, at 67, presuming he threw out a lot of money to get it done, how hard can he work this acreage? managing that livestock, turning those manure piles, moving the compost into his garden beds, harvesting, preserving, managing, etc.  And if he’s doing this mostly by his own sweat, rather than with beacoup $$$, really how hard can he keep going?

Five more years, how strong is he now?  how hard can he work?

and notice I’m not considering any health issues, presuming that fresh air, good food, and hard work will keep him healthy!

So my envy of his fulfilling his dream is countered by my being 68.  I’ve got arthritis and am losing strength in my hands.  Eye sight is going, cataracts are common for those living in the desert.  Husband is a year younger but he has stenosis of the spine, and his eyesight is also going.  hopefully, he’ll get his cataracts operated on this year.   both of us have noticed a loss of hearing (too much rock n roll!!)   We do not have beacoup $$ to spend on land and its development, even if we sold off what we do have now.  Even if we decided to go that way, I’d be at least 70 before we closed and moved on (it took mr. 62 about 2 years to sell his old property and then time to find the perfect new place).  70 years old to be starting to learn how to homestead, deal with livestock, plant and harvest and preserve.  Kill and skin and preserve.

What kind of strength will have? what kind of skills would be able to develop to counter our lack of strength and knowledge?  How long and far could we push our soft citified bodies?

So the dream is changed, reality sets limitations, and we move on in a different direction.   And lets be honest, with what’s going on in the world now, prepping does seem like it was a really good idea!

Think its time to check the inventory and see what holes I have in my stores . . .

and?

With the change in administration, it seems that a lot of people have stepped back from their preps.  At the same time, hear that a lot of those people who identify as liberal have started theirs!

Do people really think that a change in administration is going to stop the train?

honestly don’t know what YOUR reason for prepping is, mine cannot be defined.  My hope is that all this is just stuff I’ll be using as an old lady so I don’t have to use my social security (if there is any) $$ on buying groceries!

Still, do not see an end to air and water pollution, see an increase in the instability of the world’s economy, a heightening of the tensions between the big players on the world state (as I write this, NATO -led by the US is moving troops into Poland, something that is basically a direct confrontation with the Russians).  China is feeling a deep economic and environmental pinch as they are dealing with environmental issues that they ignored for decades in their push to become an economic super power as well as the overall decline in the world’s economy as we seem to have about reached our limit as consumers.  North Korea is more threatening, Iran is getting uranium which they have PROMISED not to make into weapons though they do have the facilities to enrich it for that purpose. Meanwhile, they are harassing our big ships in the ocean; pushing, provoking.  Terrorism is spreading.  The split between so called liberal and conservatism is growing.

Yesterday was checking out my storage room, which has unfortunately become a storage catch all, and its pretty full!  too much of it though is storage; Christmas decorations, office files,  and the camping equipment takes up WAAY too much space when you consider we don’t camp anymore!!  Yes, consider the need to “bug out”, but we have decided to “bug in” except under very specific conditions.   While the little camper is currently not running, we do have a pick up and if gasoline is an issue, we aren’t going anywhere to camp anyway!

So with the room full of stuff, its becoming harder to find a place for the food and water supplies and there is no doubt we need more of that as I don’t think I have a month’s worth of food, and certainly not more than a week’s worth of water!  There is a piece of property nearby for sale with “creek access”.  Am familiar with the property and know the creek is a good 200 feet DOWN from the main part of the  property.  Quit a narrow steep path to haul water, but it would be OUR access, not having to fight others for it. haven’t asked about the price, and doubt that I could afford it anyway, so will keep up my saving for an electric tricycle so I can haul and transport water a little more easily.

But back to my assessment of what to get next, what to get next?  Other than continuing with food preps and the electric trike, what do I really need? How do we know just what we will need so we can be prepared?  There has become a bit of doubling up with certain things to keep in the camper; smaller, more compact duplicates of things for the home.  Rocket stove, dried food, solar shower, etc.

Just feel like I’m missing something . . and probably am.  But will keep on putting by food, from canned goods to dehydrated meals.

and, Oh Yeah, am not having a good time with the Tattler reuseable lids.  Not consistent enough and do not feel that they are really secure enough for long term storage. Anyone have any experience?

solar power

Finally saved up enough to purchase a Goal Zero 1250. and then discovered there is a new product, made in America, that is a 1000W unit with built in solar panels.  More expensive, but not really more than the goal zero kit w/ panels and easier to move around – as long as you have a cart, even with the lithium ion battery in the latter.

SO

am not doing it.

Have looked carefully at how long it takes to charge these things up using just solar power.  And while I do have an away use for the bigger battery, its not something I’ve ABSOLUTELY GOTTA HAVE.    And outside of the fridge/freezer, have nothing that can’t be powered with my Goal Zero 400.  For lighting have fallbacks of oil lamps, candles, as well as rechargeable lights.   If the S really HTF, things like phones and TV’s aren’t going to matter.  And even these bigger solar power battery units will only do the fridge for 12 hours and will take 2 days of strong intense sun to recharge, so WTF!  About the only thing they bring is buying the time to get all that stored food into cans or dehydrated.

so will look more at an extra 12v battery for the camper and a set up to use my solar panel (and maybe another) for charging it and a 12V run fridge for that.  The GZ unit I’ve got is easily transportable for using with a pump for moving water if necessary – either at home or away, like grabbing creek water to filter or purify.

If I were 40 years old or so, might be looking at using that bigger GZ for powering a small house and hooking up panels and a wind generator.  But I’m nearer to 70, not planning on going anywhere, so will look to use my money in better preps OR better technology.

solar cooking

I’ve tried making my own, with moderate success.  Unfortunately, wanted something light weight, that could be put away when not in use, yet capable of handling pretty much anything – and nothing I made came to that. They were big and bulky.

So I turned to commercially made and my first was a solar flare parabolic cooker which was fortunately cheap as it was far too limited.

Then my slow cooker died and it was replace or really go solar.

hence the Sunflair portable solar oven kit.  So simple, once you see it, you will see how you can make it for far less. Its maybe too light weight, a good gust of wind will send your meal into the next county.  and unlike the for more expensive Sun Oven, it only gets to between 200-225F depending on its alignment to the sun.  So as a slow cooker, its perfect.

The Sun oven gets over 300F.

The kit came with two racks, two trays, 2 silicone cooking pots and one larger metal pot to be used as a roaster or saucepan as well as a thermometer and a carry bag to put it all in.

With shorter winter days, and our eating our main meal at noon, this will have some use to re-heat food cooked the previous day.  During the summer, the days are long enough to allow for cooking for mid-day eating.

Today made rice – one cup brown rice, 2 cups water.  have no idea how long it took, put it up and went about my business.  When I realized the sun was getting low, about 3 hours later, went out to find it done, and still warm though the oven temp was all the way down. It wouldn’t burn, it can’t overcook.  So pot roast, chicken, stew, beans, can be cooked all day, then reheated the next for dinner.

The one caveat is always use a sealed / covered container.  heated chicken today in an open roaster (a precooked rotisserie chicken) and the moisture condensed on the inside of the plastic and acted as a cloud, cutting the temperature significantly.  It would have been okay with another hour at that temp, or in a cooking bag or covered pan to keep that from happening.

This unit comes with instructions for cooking bacon, eggs, making omelets and even using it as a dehydrator. Can see it starting to show wear and tare with every day use though, while at the same time, can see how to keep it working one way or another for a long time to come.

dehydrating

Did a batch of turkey, rice and vegetable soup.  Using these cool trays, dried the soup.

img_0918  did have to keep the soup stirred as it was drying as the top part would dry while the bottom wasn’t as quickly.  Can also transfer to sheets once its not so liquidy.

img_0934 six quarts of soup in a one gallon bag.  Weighed this out (10g tare for the bag) and divided by six. then measured out how much that was

img_0937 each measure went into a plastic sandwich bag, labeled with contents and instructions, then sealed in a vacuum sealer which protects the labels as well as the contents. Ready for storage, the back pack, the go bag.

img_0938 did the same with some refried beans, but instead of smaller packages, just put it in jars with instructions as to how much equals a serving.  We use refrieds often, so just ladled some out of the cook pot with our breakfast the first day. each ladle became one side serving.  After the top of the trays had dried, flipped the rest out onto sheets and when fully dry into the jars with instructions. counted how many ladles went onto the trays.  Weighed it all out, divided by the number of servings, and measured that weight by volume. In this case, 1/2C.

img_0935 Drying Chili.  Each sheet is one quart which is enough for two to three people depending on whether they are 60 or 20, and what else is being served with it.   Will just jar this as I did the refries. Our grand nephew is coming for a couple of months so expect this will go quickly.  In the future, will likely package some up as I did the soup.