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Saturday, May 29, 2010

DIY Cheese and Gardening

Today, while in town, I found something I have been wanting to try for quite some time now, it's powdered whole milk. The one I found is called Nido by Nestle,  (Wikipedia link), a friend told me about this and it intrigued me. I have always known about non-fat powdered milk, but not powdered whole milk. I haven't tried it yet, well I just opened one can and gave it a try. While I'm not a fan of room tempertature milk, this isn't bad at all, it's better than the other milk powders I have tried in the past. I imagine if it were chilled, it would be even better. It should work great for cooking and baking purposes. It did dissolve in the coolish water I have in the Berkey. It does have a slight toasted flavor, I suspect it is because of the way they dried the milk. I'll have to try some chilled to see if I like it better.

I received an update to my YouTube subscriptions a while ago, and one of the videos is about making your own mozzarella cheese, I haven't tried this yet, but it looks like something good and fairly easy to do. It goes with the theme of this post, milk, cheese. I have seen other recipes for making cheese using low fat (or reconstituted dry milk) and vinegar to curdle the cheese, I think I might like this one better. It calls for raw milk, I suspect it could be made with pasteurized milk as well.

Making cheese, seems hard, it's not, at least not in this video. check it out, try it and let me know what you think.



I went to the local nursery and picked up a package of NoLo grasshopper bait, last year the grasshoppers decimated my garden, by the end of the season, there were grasshoppers big enough to ride and spraying them seemed to have little effect. This year, I'm attacking them before they have a chance to do much damage. I also found one of my favorite herbs at the nursery, it's called lemon balm. It's in the mint family, but has no mint flavor, it has a nice lemon flavor, not too strong, not too weak, perfect for making tea by itself, or adding to regular tea. It's used in cooking, though I haven't used it in cooking too much. I saw a recipe for lemon balm pesto, yum! It also has many medicinal properties, it is said to be soothing to the stomach, soothing to the nerves, it possesses antiviral and antibiotic properties. It will also repel mosquitoes if rubbed on the skin, I certainly don't mind smelling like lemon, it's much better than the chemical smell of commercial mosquito repellent.

I used to grow this when I lived back in the big city, I didn't bring it with me when I moved off grid because the containers it was growing in had been infested by fire ants. I knew there were no fire ants where I was going and I didn't want to be responsible for importing them. So I abandoned my lemon balm and hoped I could get another start later. It's been nearly 3 years now and I now have my lemon balm again, I purchased 2 plants, a habit I have always had, that way if something happens to one, I'll have a backup. I remember once, I had purchased 2 rosemary plants, PB wanted to paint the house, so he did, right on top of one of my rosemary plants. I went outside to find one of my plants had "developed" white spots, I am very glad I had another plant that didn't get spattered with paint.

The nice thing about lemon balm is it's a pretty hearty plant, it dies back in the winter, but grows back in the spring. It grows pretty fast too. I'll replant one of them in a pot immediately, for the other one, I'd like to start an herb garden somewhere, I'll have to make sure it's protected from the critters, though I think nothing much will bother the lemon balm, most animals stay away from plants in the mint family. Maybe I'll tuck it in an out of the way place and see what happens.

All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blueberry Twig Update

As of yesterday, I hadn't received an answer to the email I sent to the Blueberry Giant (twig) company, so I sent this message last night:

Hello, I wrote you a week ago and have received no answer, I received 3 twigs in the mail in a dry baggie of dirt, 2 of the 3 plants are alive, one is dead. I would like either a refund or a replacement twig.

If I don't hear something soon, I'll be going through my credit card company to get a refund for the whole thing. It's your choice how you want to proceed. 

That got their attention, they replied with this today:

As requested we will replace the order for you please allow at least 10-14 business days for delivery 

Maybe I'll get a full delivery of 3 twigs, I'll let you know what I receive. Two of them are still alive and seem to be doing just fine, for twigs, the third one is dead, I placed it in a cup of water to see if I could get some roots to grow, and so far it's a no-go.


All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Coffee Liqueur Recipe

Here's a fun recipe, kinda different, it's an "adult" recipe. If you like Kahlúa, then you should love this! It's a coffee liquor, I made and bottled up some and it's really good, especially mixed with milk to make a White Russian.

Yeah, I tried some, see the bottle on the left? Yeah, it's good! 




Coffee Liqueur

Ingredients

4 cups white sugar
4 cups water
3/4 cup instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups vodka

Directions

1. In a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in instant coffee, and allow to cool. I always skim off the foam that forms on top when it's cool, before adding alcohol.
2. When cool, stir in vanilla extract and vodka. Pour into clean bottles. Close bottles tightly, and store in a cool dark place.

One thing I have found is you have to shake it just about every day, the sugar wants to crystallize, so shaking it helps keep everything together.

I got this recipe from here
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Coffee-Liqueur/Detail.aspx
There are other variations on this recipe.
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Coffee-Liqueur/MoreRecipesLikeThis.aspx
I made mine with Everclear instead of Vodka, it's what I had on hand, it made it much stronger, I'm going to try it again with Vokda soon.


All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Recipe-Cream Of Soup Mix

Let's get back to some fun stuff, I found a great recipe for those "cream of" soups, we all make those caseroles that require a cream of soup, if you don't have a can on hand, or you want to try to save some money, try this recipe.

Dry Cream Of Soup Mix

2 C dry milk
3/4 C cornstarch
1/4 C dry chicken bouillon powder (you can substitute beef, vegetable, or other bouillon)

Mix all of this together, it's recommended that you use a food processor to make sure it's all mixed. Store in a sealed container.

Take 1/3 C dry mix, add 1 C water, mix well, cook in a sauce pan until thickened. This equals one can of soup.



All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

No More Politics...

 ... at least not here. :)

I have tried very hard to keep politics off of this blog, it's not what this blog is all about, though some of it does bleed over from time to time, and it's not what I am all about either. So, I decided it was time to start a new blog so that if I have a political rant that I need to get off of my chest, I can post it over there.

I'm warning you right now that the other blog will probably offend some of you, so if you tend to be more left leaning, then you should probably stick to reading this blog and stay away from that one. I can say that I read many blogs where I disagree with the blog author's political leanings, but I'm willing to overlook that to get to the good stuff that they write. I hope you are willing to do the same for me.

So from now on, I'll do my utmost best to keep the politics off this blog and keep it about off grid stuff. Go here to read about my political musings.


http://conservativewithlibertarianleanings.blogspot.com/



All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Win A Go Berky Water Filter System

It seems that Creekmore is having another contest, if you have a blog, just copy and paste the following on your blog and shoot an email to Creekmore about it. 

M.D. Creekmore over at the The Survivalist Blog – a survival blog dedicated to helping others prepare for and survive disaster – with articles on bug out bag contents, survival knife choices and a wealth of other survival information is giving away a Go Berky Water Filler System (a $139.00 value)! To enter, you just have to post about it on your blog. This is my entry. Visit The Survivalist Blog for the details.
Good luck

Thanks!


All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader),  

Thanks for visiting!

BlueBerry Giant Infomercial

How many of you have seen the infomercial for BlueBerryGiant blueberries? They show large, lush blueberry bushes with dozens of fat blueberries on each one. They tell you that you can have your very own blueberry bushes for one small payment of $10.00 plus S&H, but wait, there's more, you can get one more blueberry plant for free, just pay separate S&H. You get 3 plants in total. My order came to $21.90. I anxiously awaited the arrival of my order.

A few weeks later, with no notice, I received a small box in my mail. The box was very small, something you would expect to carry a hamster home from a pet store. It said there were live blueberry plants inside, I picked up this box and it weighed mere ounces. I wondered if they only sent one plant and the others were on their way. When I opened the box, I saw an open baggie of dry dirt and three twigs. Yes, I said twigs, these twigs are 3 inches long and maybe a quarter inch in diameter. Two of the three twigs had a couple of leaves and some roots, the third twig had no leaves (they had fallen off into the baggie of dirt) and no roots.

Understand that I am not so stupid as to expect to receive full grown blueberry bushes for that price, but I certainly expected something more than twigs. On their website, there is a FAQ, one of the questions on there is How long until the blueberry plants bear fruit? Their answer:
They will likely bear a light crop this season, a lot more next season and an even heavier crop during the third season and beyond.

Yeah, it will likely bear a light crop this season, and I'm likely to go to the moon this season too.

I planted the twigs in small pots, there is no way these are going outside this year. I tried to revive the dead twig with no luck. I emailed the company, they do have a guarantee on their twigs. Here is what I wrote:

Hello,

You should really let your customers know that they are getting three 3 inch twigs, and that it will be at least 2-3 years before they can expect to get any blueberries from them.

With that said, 2 out of the three twigs seem to be alive, the 3rd is not, it arrived with no roots or leaves, all were in a baggie of dry soil, I'm surprised that any of them were alive. I tried to revive the dead twig, but it is quite dead with no activity coming from it at all, no new roots have grown and no new leaves have grown.

I don't know how you normally work these things, if I get a refund or if you send out more twigs. if you send another twig, I think I should get a couple of them in case one of them is DOA.

I'm pretty shocked that you can charge $11.90 for S&H on these, even with the "free" twig, it takes up no more space in that little baggie of dry dirt, it certainly can't add any more weight, you can probably stick a dozen more twigs in that little baggie of dry dirt and not incur any more shipping costs.  I suppose you have to pay for all those infomercials somehow, and for all the lush, blueberry bushes that you show on the infomercials.

To the customer service person who is handling this email, I am not angry with you personally, I feel quite sorry for you, I'm sure you have to read and deal with angry emails and customers quite a bit, I wish you all the best in your life, you should probably get a better and less stressful job, hope they are paying you well for this.

As far as the company, BlueBerryGiant is concerned, this is a pretty sad way to do business, I can just imagine the excited customers going to their mailboxes after ordering from your company, I can see the puzzled look on their face when they see the size of the box and wonder, "Did they only send one plant? Did they really put 3 plants in this little box?", and I can see the disappointment on their face when they open the box, and see those 3 sad twigs, hopefully with leaves and roots but more than likely not, in that little baggie of dry dirt.

I don't know what else to say, so I'll stop typing now, please reply and let me know what you are going to do.

I wonder what they will do. I'll post their response as soon as I get one I had the opportunity to purchase real bare root blueberry plants from Home Depot when I was in town (3 hours away), but I thought I would try getting them from the local nursery, and if the local nursery didn't have any, I could always order them from BlueBerryGiant. The nursery didn't carry any, so I ordered from BlueBerryGiant on line. I suppose next year I'll get some from Home Depot or order them from a reputable nursery. I don't think I'll find any the next time I go into town, of course if I do, I'll buy some and hopefully have a small crop of blueberries by next year. Oh well, live and learn.
Click for larger images.






All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader),  

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another One...

The same friend who sent the contents of my previous post is on a roll, she sent this to me today:
 



ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA NEWSPAPER-New Immigrants


This is a very good letter to the editor. This woman made some good points...

For some reason, people have difficulty structuring their arguments when arguing against supporting the currently proposed immigration revisions.. This lady made the argument pretty simple. NOT printed in the Orange County Paper...................

Newspapers simply won't publish letters to the editor which they either deem politically incorrect (read below) or which does not agree with the philosophy they're pushing on the public. This woman wrote a great letter to the editor that should have been published; but, with your help it will get published via cyberspace!


From: "David LaBonte"

My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined. Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany , Italy , France and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan . They were defending the United States of America as one people.

When we liberated France , no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty , it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

(signed) Rosemary LaBonte

KEEP THIS LETTER MOVING. FOR THE WRONG THINGS TO PREVAIL THE RIGHTFUL MAJORITY NEEDS TO REMAIN COMPLACENT AND QUIET!! LET THIS NEVER HAPPEN!!

I sincerely hope this letter gets read by millions of people all across the nation!!


I have a multitude of nationalities coursing though my blood, English, Irish, German-Dutch, Comanche and Apache, those are no in any particular order, it's just how I memorized it as a child. Even though my ancestors came from many countries/nations, I was born in the USA and when asked about my nationality, I state that I am an American, nothing more, nothing less.



All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

MOVING TO MEXICO

Dear President Obama:

I'm planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me.

We're planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. Into Mexico, and we'll need your help to make a few arrangements.

We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws.

I'm sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon, that I'm on my way over?

Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.

2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.

3. Please print all Mexican government forms in English.

4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.

5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.

6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.

7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.

8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.

9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico , but, I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.

10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.

11. I plan to fly the U.S. Flag from my house top, put U S. Flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.

12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.

13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on their economy.

14. I want to receive free food stamps.

15. Naturally, I'll expect free rent subsidies.

16. I'll need Income tax credits so although I don't pay Mexican Taxes, I'll receive money from the government.

17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican Gov't pays $4,500 to help me buy a new car.

18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I'll get a monthly income in retirement.

I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the U..S. From Mexico . I am sure that President Calderon won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely..

Thank you so much for your kind help. You're the man!!!

***********************************

Not all immigrants, legal or illegal represent what is stated above, most are hard working people who want to improve their lives and the lives of their families. There are many USA born who feel that they are entitled to these things in the USA, and would like to change our capitalistic lifestyle to a more socialistic mode of government.
I have no problem with LEGAL immigration, I can understand why people would risk their lives to try to enter this great Country, just do it the right way, or better yet, do what you can to improve the living conditions in your own country.

I might remove this post in a few days, not because I've changed my mind about any of it, I'm just in a bad mood today, a friend sent this in an email and I decided to post it here. Tomorrow I will probably be in a better mood and will not want something this dark on my blog, it's not what I'm about. Read it while you can.


All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

It's a very special day, Happy Mother's Day to each and every one of you Mom's out there. I miss mine very much, though the years has softened that hard edge quite a bit.

What I think about today is how my mother saved my life, literally, at least 2X, if she hadn't been there, or if she hadn't acted, I would not be here writing about this now.

The first time was a fire, we were living in a tiny travel trailer, behind the house we were going to move into once it was fixed up. I was not quite ready to start school yet, my little sister was still in diapers, my brother was not yet born. My dad was not home, I assume he was at work. The travel trailer had a front door, small living room, a galley kitchen and a bedroom, the bedroom had a door to the outside, but it was jammed, it wouldn't open.

At some point during the day, an electrical fire broke out in the kitchen, my mother, sister and I were in the bedroom. The fire spread quickly and there was no getting out the back door. My mother knew she couldn't carry both of us though the flames, so she put my sister into a pan of water she has right there, she picked me up and threw me, as hard as she could, through the flames! She said I rolled into the couch next to the front door. She then picked up my sister and ran through the flames herself, grabbing me on the way and out the door we went.

The second time she saved my life was not too many years later, this was a water rescue. We were living in California, we liked going to the beach, but the waves were too much for us younger kids, so we would go to a man made lagoon, the water was calm and easier for young kids to play in.

I must have been 6 or 7, my mother had her hands full with 3 kids to watch, mainly my youngest brother who managed to get into everything he wasn't supposed to. None of us kids could swim, but we generally didn't go very far into the water. I was chasing a potato chip wrapper in the water, I would hit it then follow where it went. It was going into the deeper water, the water was up to my neck but I still felt comfortable, I thought I would hit it one more time then turn around and go back to the shore. As I leaned out to hit the wrapper, I stepped into a hole, I immediately went under water. What I thought was a hole was in reality, where the bottom dropped off steeply. I came back up but not for long, each time I came up I had a mouth full of water, I was trying to scream but couldn't. Each time I went back under, I stayed there longer and longer. After a few times up and down, I knew I wouldn't be able to come back up again. At that point, I relaxed, it was no longer scary, I felt a peace like I have never felt before or since, I felt warm and safe, I was ready to die.

Then I felt a hand, someone was pulling me up, I could breath again! My will to live kicked back in full force and I began to struggle. I could see that the person who was saving me was my mom, I grabbed her and started climbing up her as hard as I could. She pushed me away, hard. I didn't understand why she did that, she had to get me turned around so that I couldn't grab her, otherwise I would have drowned us both. She turned me around, grabbed me and started swimming back to shore, apparently in the process of drowning, I had managed to get pretty far out into the water.

At the time, she didn't know it was me who was drowning, she just saw a child in distress and did what any good mom would do, she dove in to save me, it wasn't until she pulled me up and saw my face that she realized it was her first born who was in the process of drowning. Turns out that was a good thing, she told me later that if she had known it was me, she might have panicked for a second or two before reacting, and that might have made the difference to my condition when she pulled me from the water.

I came out of that with flying colors, I am not afraid of the water, I am not afraid of death either, well, not as much (grin), for what it's worth, drowning isn't a bad way to go.

I lost my mother some years ago, she was in a car accident and died on the way to the hospital. I do wish I could have been there with her when she passed, but circumstances dictated otherwise. I fully believe that things happen for a reason, even if we don't understand the reason at the time, or even years later.

Besides teaching me how to keep my head in an emergency, here are some other things she taught me,

In honor of Mother's Day...

I OWE MY MOTHER
1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."
2. My mother taught me RELIGION. "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
4. My mother taught me LOGIC. "Because I said so, that's why."
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC. "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
7. My mother taught me IRONY. "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS. "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."
9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM. "Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"
10. My mother taught me about STAMINA. "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."
11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."
12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY. "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"
13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE. "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION. "Stop acting like your father!"
15. My mother taught me about ENVY. "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."
16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. "Just wait until we get home."
17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING. "You are going to get it when you get home!"
18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE. "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."
19. My mother taught me ESP. "Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"
Ours was always "I know about the things you do even when I don't want to know.
20. My mother taught me HUMOR. "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."
21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT. "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."
22. My mother taught me GENETICS. "You're just like your father."
23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS. "Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"
24. My mother taught me WISDOM. "When you get to be my age, you'll understand."
25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE. "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you."


Thanks Mom for bringing me into the world, thanks for making sure I stayed safe (and alive), thanks for teaching me humor and humility, thanks for teaching me how to be independent and do things for myself, thanks for teaching me how to cook and crochet, thanks for keeping me safe and at the same time allowing me to get into just enough mischief to learn how to get myself out of trouble, thanks for being there to save me when I couldn't get myself out of trouble. I hope you can see how well things have turned out for me. 



All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poo Digester

This is something I have thought about doing, making an anerobic poo digester. Click on the image to see it full size.

This looks fairly simple to make, of course everything has challenges, I think this is doable. Here is the text that goes with the image:

Organic waste is introduced through the screwed filler cap where it is broken down by bacteria in the slurry. Heat is an important factor, the process working best at around 40° C (around 105° F). Locating the Digester tank in a sunny area will supply the necessary heat.
As gas is produced, it is forced through the Scrubber, which helps to remove any sulfur compounds in the gas.
The methane then passes through the cleaner tank, which removes any carbon dioxide from the gas. The gas is under pressure from the header tank.
The header tank ensures that the Cleaner Tank has a good level of water, and also puts the collected gas under pressure. The higher the header tank, the more pressure is produced.
From time to time, (about 6 months) the sludge is removed from the Digester tank. This sludge, and any liquid recuperated, makes a very good, sterile fertilizer. Any pathogens that may have been introduced are killed off at 40°C, the working temperature of the digester.
Link to the original story: http://kcisupport.awardspace.co.uk/Projects/biogas-mk2.htm
Another link about making methane
http://www.afrigadget.com/2010/05/03/building-a-one-stage-anaerobic-digester/

What do you think?




All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 3, 2010

DIY-Canning Cheese and Butter

Canning cheese and butter. I received an email ad today from one of my regulars about buying up the last stock available on their website of canned meats, cheese and butter, once it’s gone, it’s gone. That prompted a flurry of searching for the best prices on these items. In the process I ran across an article about canning your own cheese. I already knew about canning butter, but didn’t think about canning cheese too.


DISCLAIMER: The methods discussed in this article for canning cheese and butter are not approved or recommended by the powers that be (FDA), neither I or anyone associated with this website are responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using anything discussed here. You are responsible for your own actions and consequences of trying anything I write about here.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled article. There is nothing new about canning, you can find commercially canned butter and cheese. But if you are willing to put in a bit of time and effort, you can easily can your own cheese and butter. Just think, you find a great deal on cheese and butter, you pick up a large quantity of each, you go home and get out your canning supplies and get to work. In a few hours you will have your own supply of cheese and butter that doesn’t have to be refrigerated and should last quite a long time.


First we can discuss canning butter, it’s the easiest of the two to make, it doesn’t even require a water bath! Be sure to use a good quality, full fat butter, salted is better, it lasts longer. Do not try this with margarine or spreads, it will not work.

Canned Butter

1. Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see #5 below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.

2. Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.

3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #5 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

4. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4″ of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

5. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids “ping,” shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

6. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

7. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. (It does last a long time. We have just used up the last of the butter we canned in 1999, and it was fine after 5 years.) Canned butter does not “melt” again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

This recipe came from


there are many other great ideas on this site, including “hamburger rocks”, that’s canned hamburger pieces.


Here is a recipe for canned cheese.

CANNING SOFT CHEESE
Home canned “soft cheese” has better cooking properties than store bought bottled cheese meant for snack food. It contains no preservatives and is more economical than commercial products for cooking purposes. These instructions yield a product that is similar to “Cheese Whiz”, yet better tasting for a recipe of macaroni and cheese. This simple to do recipe for home canned cheese will keep for 2 years plus.

Ingredients:

* 1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
* 1 T. vinegar
* ½ tsp. salt
* 1 lb. Velveeta cheese or any processed cheese
* ½ tsp. dry mustard

Melt milk and cheese in double boiler. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Fill pint jars about 3/4 full and seal. Place in Boiling Water bath for 10 minutes.

This recipe came from



Here is another recipe for canned cheese.

CANNED CHEESE
When I heard about canning butter, I was also told that you can do cheese the same way. Here’s what I do. I’ve only canned cheddar cheese, but I suppose it would work for any hard cheese. As with the canning butter recipe, I could not find any “approved” method in any of my books, and when I called the extension service, I was told that canning cheese like this was not an approved method by the FDA. Sooooooo, use at your own risk. This is just for information and to let you know what I do. Remember, this is not an FDA approved method.

Since the original writing of this post I have used this with Cheddar Cheeses, Swiss Cheese, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, and even Cream Cheese (regular, not the soft kind in the tubs). All have worked beautifully, even the Cream Cheese. I have used them as long as 5 years after canning and have not become sick from any of them, even when eating the cheese right out of the jar. But, again, the FDA says that this is not an approved way to preserve cheese, so . . . use at your own risk. I have found that the flavor of all the canned cheese intensifies a bit over time, but it is not at all unpleasant. We prefer it. The Mozzarella Cheese darkened a bit, but it did not seem to affect the flavor, except that like the others, it was more flavorful.

There are really 2 ways. I used to melt the cheese in a double boiler, then spoon it into the sterilized jars. Sometimes the cheese sticks to the bottom of the pan, and the whole thing is a big, gloppy mess.

Here’s better way that’s cleaner, faster and easier.

1. I sterilize wide mouth pint jars (wide mouth half-pint jars may be used) in a 250 degree oven for at least 20 minutes. Since it’s harder to regulate a woodburning cookstove oven to that low a temperature, mine is usually hotter. Since you’ll process the cheese in a boiling water bath for awhile, this probably isn’t necessary, but I think it’s safer, so it’s what I do.

2. Sterilize new canning lids according to package instructions. I let them simmer in water about 5 minutes, then keep them in hot water until I need them.

3. Now I either cut up the cheese, or if it’s frozen I crumble it and pack it into clean, dry pint jars. Then I place the jars (without lids) on a rack in my boiling water bath canner, to which I have already added some water. Do not put the lid on the canner while the cheese is melting. You want the water to come about halfway up the jars. Any higher and it bubbles into the jars if it gets to boiling. Then, as the cheese melts, I add more cheese until the cheese fills the jars to within about ½ inch of the top.

4. When all melted, I remove the jars from the canner, wipe the rims, and seal the jars. Then I proceed with the boiling water bath for 40 minutes. (I use the Extension Service method of doing a boiling water bath.) When ready, remove jars from water with a jar lifter. Leave undisturbed until completely cooled. Check to make sure all the lids have sealed before labeling and storing.

As with butter, 11 pounds will fill about 12 1/2 pint jars — or just over 3/4 pound per pint jar. We keep ours in the cache year round. We’ve eaten cheese that I canned like this several years earlier and it was delicious. It tends to get a little sharper, which I like. It doesn’t melt as good as fresh cheese, but when you’re in the bush and don’t have fresh cheese, it’s more than acceptable any way you’d use fresh cheese! During the winter, we usually keep cheese stored in buckets outside so it stays frozen. But, like meat, come springtime with the warmer temperatures, I start canning.

To remove the cheese from the jar, there are basically two ways. You could place the jar in a pan of water (loosen the lid a bit first), and then place that pan in another pan of boiling (or hot) water. This melts the outside of the cheese and will help it slip out of the jar. But, it also heats the cheese, which may or may not be desirable. I usually just run a knife between the cheese and the jar. Sometimes the cheese will slide right out, but usually I have to sort of cut and pull it out in chunks.

I usually can butter in regular mouth jars because I don’t try to take it out of the jar all in one piece. That would be hard with cheese.

This recipe came from
http://www.frontierfreedom.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=32

Thanks Jenny for the update!

I hope I have inspired you to dig our your canning jars and run to the store next time there is a sale on butter and cheese! Be sure to visit the websites listed above, they have lots of great information.


All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Turn Blogs Into Audio Books

I awoke today to snow, yes it was snowing big fat flakes, and not just a few, it was a mini-blizzard I couldn't see the mountains across the road! Fortunately it only went down to 36 F, it didn't freeze, so I think my tomatoes will be OK. Now it's sunny and  54 F, and you'd never know it ever snowed today.

I also started my tobacco seeds, actually did this about a week ago, right now they are about an inch tall, I started them in plastic drinking cups, I have been saving them for over a year just for this purpose. I cleaned the cups with bleach water to sanitize them, then poked a hole in the bottom of each one. The tobacco seeds are tiny, very very tiny! What I did was I folded a white piece of paper in half, creased it then unfolded it. I tapped out as few seeds as possible onto the paper, then tapped them a few at a time into each cup. I had already moistened the soil before packing them into the cups, I found it much easier that way, the first ones I did, I put the dirt in dry, then tried to water it, the dirt would not absorb the water, so I put the dirt into a large bowl, added water and stirred it like a cake batter until the dirt was evenly moist, not soaking wet, then I packed it into the cups.

I put a few seeds in each cup of soil, then I used a spray bottle to make sure the soil and seeds were moist. I used plastic wrap to cover the cups to keep the soil (and seeds) moist. It only took a few days for the seeds to sprout. They are a bit leggy because I didn't have them close enough to the window, I was afraid they would bake in the sun. Now I have them pushed up all the way to the window to get full sunlight. I mist them several times a day to keep the soil moist. I can't wait to get them outside and in the ground. I have about 34 cups, most of them have at least 2 plants growing, some have 3 or 4. I'll try to take the extra plants and transplant them into their own containers later.



OK, this part has nothing to do with living off grid, but I find it interesting and fun to do. I enjoy learning, reading books, but I don't have the time to do much real reading any more. When the sun is shining and it's light enough to read, I have other things to do, when it gets dark and I'm at home with the time to read, it's often too dark inside the skycastle to read, I don't want to waste power by having higher wattage lights on just to read.

I love listening to audio books, any time you see me with my MP3 player, I am listening to an audio book, not music. I solved the problem of not being able to read when I want. I get a digital copy of the book (or any other reading material I wish to listen to). I create a new blog, then I copy each chapter to the blog, this is easily done with copy and paste. One thing, you will want to copy your book in reverse, starting with the last chapter and work your way backwards (by chapter) through the book, the reason being is Blogger puts each new post first, so if you start with chapter one and work your way through all the chapters in order, then the last chapter would be the first post. Hope that makes sense. You can also create the chapters in order, then go back and change the date and time to make the chapters go in reverse order so that they appear in the correct order on the blog.

Be sure to respect copyright, don't make this available to the public at large, I always go in on Blogger and make sure that it doesn't show up on my blog list. I also tell it to not show up in search engines and not show in Blogger lists. But do not make it a private blog, otherwise the next step will not work.

Once the entire book (or other text) is copied to your new blog, this next step is optional, but I go ahead and do it. Go through each chapter, just scan through, I remove chapter numbers and anything else that will not work well as spoken word, anything that you would not normally read aloud when reading, I remove, I also go through and any sentences I see that do not have punctuation at the end, I add a comma or a period, the reason is when this is read by the computer, any sentences with no punctuation will be read with no pause at the end, it will treat it as one continuous sentence with the following sentence. For example:

Test Sentence
Often you will see a title with no punctuation, the computer will read the title and the following sentence as if it were one sentence with no pause.

I would do this:

Test Sentence,
Often you will see a title with no punctuation, the computer will read the title and the following sentence as if it were one sentence with no pause.

I added a comma to the title, that way when it's read by the computer, there will be a pause after the title. Also anything in brackets ( ) or anything with ... will be read as a whole sentence with the next sentence with no pause, I just remove ... and replace with one period, and I add a comma after a closing bracket, especially if this comes at the end of a sentence. Often lists of things will not have any punctuation, I just add a comma after each one.

A list of numbers,
one,
two,
three,
four,
five,
Also, anything that has a dash - in it, I remove the dash, when you read aloud, you don't usually read the dash aloud:
one-two
is read normally "one to two", the computer would say "one dash two" which is incorrect, so in that case, I would replace the dash with the word "to" or I just remove it all together, just depends on how it would be read aloud. If it's a hyphenated word, then leave the dash.

Now, you will want to go to Odiogo.com, sign up with your new blog, this is a free service, it reads your blog out loud, after you are set up, it takes a few minutes for them to finish and make the MP3 available, then you can go in and download the MP3 versions of your book making it an audiobook. The voice is a computer voice, and it's not perfect, it will mispronounce words from time to time, but all in all, it works pretty good, especially for something that is free. You can have as many as you want. I just create a new blog for each one I want to do. Be sure to download your MP3s as soon as possible after creating them, I have found that for some reason, especially if the blog is not active, the MP3s of your blog (on line) will not be there, they will stop working, so go ahead and download them within a few days, the same day is best.

Download the MP3s, put them on your MP3 player and listen.





All written text and audio podcasts from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute (text or audio) without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message. Wretha, properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader), Thanks for visiting!