Monday, July 29, 2013

Safety; Avoiding cross contamination...

I am an absolute stickler about cleanliness, sterilization and cross contamination. It may seem to be common knowledge, but it is always good to be reminded of safety procedures.
First: Always cleaners on hand. Clean your preparation surfaces & your sink. I also do my stove.

Insure your sink is super clean & wash your hands often.

Sterilize ALL your equipment you use. I always have two sets of various items prepped (sterilized), just in case. Yesterday, I was pressure canning some ground sausage and my funnel became contaminated by making contact with raw pork. So, I tossed it in my contaminated pile in the sink and used my second funnel, which was already sterilized.

When I am canning, my sink it set up something like this:
I have a spot to place utensils that are being used and are in contact with raw meat.
I have container that holds items that have only been in contact with cooked meat.
Then I have a bag, to place items that have been cross contaminated. 

Probably the most important things to remember is ALWAYS avoid cross contamination between raw meat and cooked meat. Hope this reminder is helpful. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Financial Stability & Money (part 2)

There are just a couple of points that I didn't cover in the initial post that I thought I would clarify.
I failed to mention that our "emergency fund" is NOT kept in a bank. I don't trust any bank's solvency. In fact on payday, I take what is left from my previous pay (yes, sometimes I actually have money left over) and pull it out and put it in the "fund".
With the “fund”, we also work on increasing our "hard commodities", which are items that we know there is a market for.
While we are at it, I will also bring up precious metals. What we have we keep. What we find (in change etc.) we keep.
On our “team” we have differing opinions on precious metal and junk silver. DH & I, have strongly differing opinions. We have spent a lot of time discussing the issue. We worked out a compromise that works for us. He is more in favor of precious metals. I am old fashioned. He is my husband and he is the main bread winner and I trust him. Together, we established guidelines to follow. He is a good man and respected my opinion in these guidelines.
I am more in favor of increasing our “hard commodities”. While we still always discuss large purchases, we use a carte blanche approach to adding certain commodities.
Over the years, DH & I have had different opinions about the paying down the mortgage, I think he is finally starting to understand what I have been talking about and is now willing to apply more money to paying off the mortgage.
I also failed to mention, I do have one credit card. I use it for specific online purchases. As soon as I place on order, I immediately do to my bank online and pay that amount off. There is never a balance on the card.
Lastly, Peter Bendal Kear  had some excellent suggestions I wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to read his thoughts.
"A couple things I would like to add. A bank is not a good place to store all of it keep an emergency fund on hand. Along these lines realize that paper and even hard currency will lose it's monetary value when the system crashes. One words about debt and bills which comes in 2 types IMO. Things like electricity, phone, food, etc. which are either the same or variable monthly charges can be budgeted for but hey if you don't pay and something is shut off be able to do without are not something to worry much about. Budget for them and well if you can't afford them or the system goes down be ready to do without. Other things like mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc have a set monthly payment on a debt you owe. All of these things can be paid with 10% added to the payment (less or more is okay I make 20% on our vehicle) in order to pay them off and get out of debt quicker. This also has the advantage in some cases depending on your financial institution of being ahead in payments so that if you say had to stop paying for a time you would be covered. Now keep in mind secured loans are ones that they will take the collateral (home, vehicle) so in my mind part of prepping is making sure that does not happen thus the extra payments. Thing is if the system crashes who is to say I owe this and force payment as well so I guess I could put that same 10% into a savings but then what do I know my house is paid for and I am about a year ahead on my only vehicle loan."
If you missed the first part of the discussion click here -> Financial Stability & Money
Thank you all for your contribution!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Financial Stability & Money

Honestly, I don't believe a lot of people will read this post. So, yes that is sort of a challenge. No pictures, just me talking to you about money & prepping. This is a topic that I don't usually go into a lot of detail about. I tend to be very straight forward and matter of fact. But, what is really interesting I have had 5 conversations with various people this week about developing financial stability.
Early this week I posted about “coming out” of the closet with my mom about our being prepared for various emergencies. She asked my about the bills, like electricity and the mortgage. I told her we have a plan. A couple people asked what my answer to the question really was...
Our primary reason to start preparing for emergencies was, we don't have a lot of faith in the current stability of the economy. Personally, I don't believe that social security will even be available to me (possibly my DH, he is about 10 years older). We have held this belief for several years. In the beginning, we just had a simple plan.
Initially we got out of a rather huge amount of debt. Personally, being in debt had bothered me for a very long time. I really believe that we should “owe no man anything”. This took some strict tightening of our belts and lifestyle changes, but we managed to eliminate our debt, except for the mortgage.
As we began to understand “prepping”, we started creating our “store” of foods.
Almost from the beginning we planned what I call “depth” (sustainability) into our process.
A simple example:
We have water stored.
We have rain barrels to replenish our water supply.
We have high rated water filtration systems to filter water, if we need to transport it from a local creek. We also have our bug out location that has a spring fed water system and more...
Applying that process to the things that would be “bills” and cost money.
With our preparations, we have thought most everything out to include the possibility of not having electricity.
The cars are paid off and my husband is equipped to handle any necessary maintenance & repairs.
The only things that are not completely accounted for would be taxes, etc. and the mortgage.
What I want you to understand, we don't have high paying jobs. We are simple people. We are thankful that we have jobs. We have multiply ways of earning income and everything is handled with a loose budget.
We firmly dedicate a portion of our income for large purchases & “emergencies”. It isn't in savings.
We keep about 2 months worth of cash on hand. When I say dedicated, I mean dedicated. One of my husbands jobs goes to that “fund” & 10% of my money goes to the “fund”.
If the monetary system crashes; we have items, what I call “hard commodities”, that we would be able to barter with... We also have skills to barter with and work on increasing our skills.
We hope to sell our home in three years (retirement LOL), and purchase another home with only the equity. Completely debt free. This will be more of a self sustainable homestead, which will still be close to our bug out location.
This isn't perfect. But, it is what has worked for us. It took a lot of hard work.
I have shared before, on payday (for me): I set aside 10% cash for my tithe, 10% for the “fund”. I recently went through a “Twisted $250 Challenge” where I could only spend $250 for one month. It really was a tough challenge & I learned a lot about my spending habits, which honestly were pretty good. After the challenge I was able to increase my “prepping money fund” from 10% to over 20%. When you think about it, this is what my great-grandparents did. They didn't have credit cards, they paid cash, when they ran out of money, they stopped spending.
If I could give people any advise is don't go into to debt, live within your means & start budgeting from the beginning.
If you are in debt. Get rid of credit cards immediately. Budget & get out of debt. I know it may seem insurmountable, but you CAN do it. It is simply one of those things you decide to do or not. I know some are without jobs, some are getting assistance, some are on social security here. Don't tell me what you can't do, tell me what you CAN do!
If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.” (attributed to Henry Ford)

There you have it. Have you made it to the end? If so, go back to Facebook and respond with a $ sign. Tell me what you you think you CAN do. Hee, hee..

In the Beginning...(part 3)

By the summer of 2012, I had stored canned foods from the store & various dehydrated and freeze dried foods from East Coast Food Storage. 

I had purchased a small three tray Oster dehydrator. I had already started dehydrating various veggies that I knew we would use. Cabbage, corn, green beans, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, celery & mushrooms... just basics for us.

BASIC TIP: “Store what you use & use what you store”. By using what I store on a regular basis, I know what to store more off. One thing I didn't realize was, I use A LOT of mushrooms. But by using my storage I was able to see that, so I dehydrated A LOT of mushrooms. This will also key into my garden & sustainability planning. I am starting to learn the basics of growing mushrooms & probably will start that next year.
The only storage I used was vacuum sealing with our Food Saver & storing canned food items from the store (in banana boxes).
I was also using PET jars with oxygen absorbers for dry goods. Which I later repackaged, when I started focusing on the shelf life of the various foods I was storing.
It would probably be accurate to say part 3 of our journey began when we found out about “Doomsday Preppers”.
We watched two seasons of Doomsday, which included the one with Kellene Bishop of Preparedness Pro blog. Over all we would glean some information from each show; but what it really did, was get us talking about various means of preparing ourselves. We don't really plan to watch it anymore.
I took the time (two weeks) and read 95% of Preparedness Pro's blog posts. All the various things I was learning were starting to converge. As I was expanding my knowledge and deciding what I wanted to store next. Pressure canned meat. In part 2, I discussed Vonda showing me her canned chicken. I asked my friend to teach me how to pressure can. I knew she canned, but she had never done meat.
It was so funny, she was so very concerned about canning MEAT!!! I just gently coerced (forced) her to do it. LOL.
That was early October 2012, my first canning experience was ground beef.
That is when I started my Perky Prepping Gramma Facebook page. I really started the page to simply be able to comment on other “prepping” type Facebook pages without being exposed on my personal fb page. To share what I was learning and doing as I was doing it.
Honestly, I had no clue at that point in time what this would lead to...

In case you missed parts 1 & 2:
In the Beginning (part 1)
In the Beginning (part 2)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Coming "out"...

It had been over a year & a half since my mom had last visited my home. That visit was B.P. (before preparing).
So there were a lot of interesting conversations while she was here. I tend to avoid the word “prepper”, since it now has many negative connotations. Instead, I use a softer approach when explaining “why I do, what I do” to others.
She was asking about my dehydrated veggies (she thought they were strange looking). So, one night I made chicken soup from my storage. I asked her if she needed crackers to go with her soup, then pulled out some saltines I had stored.
She wanted cereal one morning for breakfast, so I told her what we have “on hand” & then gave her cereal.
Though the best one was, I had shown her my sweets & treats storage. I also had pulled out some chocolate biscotti for her morning coffee. She wakes up a little earlier than I do. One morning she ran out of the biscotti; she said she had to think about it for a little while, then she remembered. “Ah, under the t.v.”. She pulled out another jar and opened it.
She observed while I taught my friend how to wax cheese. 
She saw my garden, the grandbabies garden and listened while we planned a start garden for the other grandchildren next spring.  
She would walk around and look at my preps that were out & ask questions. She got the fact that we could survive about a year with the food & water we have stored. She even asked about how we would deal with the electricity & mortgage. Instead of going into detail, I explained we have a plan for that too.
She has always known we keep “defense” items at home.
Well, at least I am “out” with her now. Though she doesn't know what I do here in cyber world, i just didn't think she would know what to do with that information. I have no clue what she will say to my brothers back in Indiana. LOL.

Monday, July 15, 2013

White stuff from cows...

Why pressure can milk?
I personally pressure can milk and this is my personal favorite way to store milk. When I began to focus my storage on "Store what you eat, eat what you store", I realized that a majority of meals I prepared involved some sort of sauce, gravy, etc.

I don't really like the other types of stored milk (instant), but I have them stored for the long term & will use them. The milk I use is hormone free, 1/2 & 1/2,  milk from  a carton, like you would buy from a store. But, there are those who have done raw milk. I can not attest to their successes. I recommend that you do the research & determine what is best for you & your family. Here is what i have found about What the National Center for Home Food Preservation actually says about pressure canning milk.
I continually test jars of 1/2 & 1/2 that I stored in October 2012. (0614) I have finished using all of that batch of milk and now am using milk canned in early 2013.

How I pressure can milk and yes it milk needs to be PRESSURED CANNED because it is low acid, protein. I do not, repeat do not water bath any protein based food.
I start with sterilized jars, and carefully pour the milk in cold, straight from the container. Cleaned the rims with a towel soaked with a little vinegar. 

 After applying the sterilized lids and rings; I pressured canned the jars for 10 (15 for quarts) minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure for pints. 
After the pressure dropped, I took the jars out & let them cool overnight. Checked the lids. Then the next day I washed the jars off (to remove any milk residue) and let them dry. Generally I leave anything I have canned out for a few days to make sure that the lids have sealed properly. Label with date canned & what it is. Then I store them in a cool, dark, dry location.

NOTE ADDED June 2014: When using my milk, every now and then I will find a jar that has what looks like clotted milk. I believe I have a hot spot on my stove top. See below. Initially I was hesitant, but I took care in testing it. Each time I smell it & taste it. This one was particularly thick, remember I use 1/2 & 1/2. 


I just whisk it smooth and haven't had any problems. Here I was making bread pudding from storage, the link to "how to" ----> Do you remember bread pudding? Made from 100% storage items.

Thank you for dropping by & please feel free to like Perky Prepping Gramma on Facebook  share & pin. I actually do what I post & share my actual journey of preparation. From dehydrating, canning. water storage or something as simple as how to use a P-38 can opener, I test it out and share the results. The the time to look around and see what type of work helps you get you better prepared for an emergency. Thank you!

Edited: 06/06/14 Someone asked about the timing difference between this and butter. What I try to remember to recommend is talked about here is this post Controversy, education, wise choices..


I also have an online Amazon Associate/store called Perky Prepping Gramma's Store. This allows me to show you the products I have personally used and endorse, while monetizing my work. What I found early on was people would ask me where I got such & such an item and I would simply share a link.  Perky Prepping Gramma's Store So, I created a store of these items I use frequently or recommend. It doesn't cost you anything extra, but I do receive a small percentage as an advertising bonus, if you purchase from my store. You are even able to just link in and do any of your regular Amazon shopping. Thank you for your consideration.
I know there are established, long term canning, prepping bloggers that have canned & dehydrated milk. 
New USDA Guidelines
Water, Juice and Milk (pasteurizing milk)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How XXX Wax Cheese...

Dear Prepper & Homesteader
Chances are you found this post through one of several "click-through sites" that has hijacked this post for their personal profit, without actually doing any work or original writing. 
If you are truly preparing for your family we would love to have you become part of our community, where we actually do the work. I have moved the original post here: How to Wax Cheese for Long Term Storage. Please enjoy.

We spend a lot of real time preparing for our family, taking pictures and writing all the details out for you to learn from. We appreciate your understanding & would LOVE to get to know you better.
What you see here on my blog and on facebook is original work (and all the pictures) that I actually do myself. I simply share my journey on preparing. If you liked this article, please feel free to like our community (Perky Prepping Gramma) on facebook & keep up to date on things posted. Thank you. ~Perky


Also I participate in Amazon's associate program, where I receive a small percentage of recommended purchases. These are the items used in dehydrating milk. I only recommend things that I have personally used and like. There is no additional charge to you

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How To Store Dessert Mixes in Mylar Bags...

I have to admit, I really find using the mylar bags a simple way to dry store & more cost effective. You are able to get the mylar bags and OA's (oxygen absorbers) from a lot of places. I am now getting mine from the Store LDS website and they will ship for free.The initial cost may seem high, but you get 250 bags for $94. That is a cost of 38 cents per bag. 
First, I took the mixes out of their boxes & labeled them with a sharpie, cut out the directions. Then I placed two mixes in each bag & labeled the outside of the mylar bags.

I poked little holes in the inner bags, to allow the air to escape.

I set up the OA's (oxygen absorbers), pulled out what I needed...

...then stuffed the rest into canning jars to save.

I had found out yesterday, the Food Saver doesn't take the air out of the mylar bags, but it does seal the bags. That's why I added the OA's, to take out the air.

Honestly, we don't do a lot of cakes and such for dessert. So I cleared out the cabinets over the refrigerator  where I found stuff I NEVER use (giving most of it to Good Will). Stored the mixes in that cabinet.

What I do here is simply share our preparedness journey. We would love it if you joined our Perky Prepping Gramma community on Facebook.

Perky Prepping Gramma is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to