Wednesday, December 2, 2015

DIY Making Vinegar from Scratch

DOB August 19
From cooking to cleaning, hair care and laundry, I go through a ton of vinegar around here so this summer I decided to try my hand at making my own. I found plenty of How-To articles online, but almost all of them were cheat directions that involved buying Bragg's ACV with the mother already in it. I wanted to go really old school for this, and after a lot of searching ran across a comment in a forum that gave me a clue on how to pull this off.

We make a lot of wine and booze here at the Halfassed Haphazard Ranch, so I knew how the fermentation processed worked. Vinegar is basically just wine that's turned, so it seemed like it couldn't be that hard. I mean, all I had to do was make wine, then ruin it. I'm down with ruining things.

After canning peaches I was left with a bucket load of peels. Normally I toss them to the chickens but I decided to give peach peel vinegar a whirl. I threw a handful into a gallon pickle jar, and another into an old latch lid jar that was just taking up space. Added a cup of sugar and filled up with water.

Yes I said filled. We'll get to that later.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

DIY Dog Food

When I was 19 I worked for a specialty pet supply retailer located in a wealthy suburb of Dallas. The stores would later be bought out by a little California upstart named Petco, but before that happened our focus was entirely on pet supplies. No fish, no birds, no pets for sale of any kind. Part of my job was to know the premium brands of pet food inside and out, from the ingredients to the protein/fat percentages to the most important detail... what our markup was.

At the time Eukanuba was a favorite to push, along with the ever popular Science Diet. My personal favorite at the time was NutroMax. We all made fun of ANF, referring to it as Assholes Necks and Feet (a moniker we learned from the Science Diet rep). And Purina? Pedigree? *gasp* ALPO? That trash was not even allowed through our back door. As far as we or the sales reps were concerned, it was barely a step above feeding your dog table scraps. Just barely. To allow your dog to dine on your leftovers was considered the ultimate idiocy, and we heaped scorn upon those who dared to confess to that particular crime.

Fast forward a few decades and my how the worm has turned.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I got seeds

My earliest memories of gardening involve my grandmother's massive garden and a fistful of prickly okra. There were many a summer night spent shucking a mountain of corn with my assorted cousins outside under a tree... I'd like to say it was a magnolia but I don't know for sure any more. I do remember there were fireflies and lots of them. I remember my grandmother and aunt and more assorted cousins up in the big house stripping corn from the cob and canning and freezing like a team of corn processing tornados. I remember the sticky aftermath, every surface in the kitchen coated in corn bits and starch, and the smell of the bleach used to clean it all up. And I remember looking into that freezer full of frozen corn and the shelves covered with gleaming glass jars of corn and being filled with an odd sense of satisfaction that we all made those.

Actually come to think of it all I remember is corn. No clue what she did with the rest of the haul.

Gardening is in my blood, and I've been doing it in one form or fashion since I was old enough to poke a stick in the ground and toss a seed inside. And yet I'm far from an expert gardener, and some years I feed more birds and grasshoppers and escaped chickens than I do ourselves. So when I hear a newly minted prepper proudly state they've bought a bunch of seeds and talk about how when TSHTF they will plant a garden and eat just fine, I can't help but roll my eyes. And if they called those seeds "survival seeds" I will struggle not to cough "douchebag" immediately after. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Take it with a Grain of Salt

I love salt. Salt on sweet corn, salt on cucumbers, hell I even put salt on bananas. I can get completely lost and drooling clicking around the Salt Works website, lusting for smoked salts and black salts and flavored salts. I mean, Sriracha Salt? Who knew?

Salt is probably one of the most overlooked items in prepper pantries, although many hardcore survivalists insist that salt will become one of the most highly sought after items during any long term disaster. If you watched the short lived post-apocalyptic series "Jericho", you know two towns went to war over a salt mine. Fiction sure, but it's an event that has played out repeatedly throughout human existence. While the idea of shooting my neighbors over a bag of flaked sea salt holds great appeal for me (especially after their kids keep banging on our door and running away in the middle of the night) it's probably better in the long run for me to keep stocking up on salt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cheese Crack

I've been picking up #10 cans of freeze dried goodies on and off for a few years, but like a lot of others I mostly just stuck it in the cabinet for long term storage and forgot about it. I figured the day I woke up needing to eat it, I wouldn't get too worked up over the taste. There've been the occasional camping trip where I dipped into a 2 serving pack of Mountain House or Wise but the #10 cans have remained untouched.

Until today, when I found myself obsessed with a bowl of mac&cheese and no mac&cheese to be had. When I went Primal, I wisely relocated my massive hoard of instant mac&cheese to mylar bags, where I'd be less likely to break into them for an occasional fix. Rather than rip open a 6 box bag, I decided to pop the top on a can of Thrive Cheese Sauce and use it over the last of my Banza