Monday, September 28, 2015

Autumn Olive Thumbprint Cookies

It is a little hard to explain my strange thing about jam and jelly. If asked I say I don't eat them. It's not that I don't like jam or jelly, it's just I only eat jam or jelly in one item: Thumbprint Cookies. Last year I made some with muscadine grape jelly, which I received as a gift.

Very recently I was given some Autumn Olive Jam, so after a taste test, I was off on another cookie making adventure.
Now, I have only recently heard of autumn olives and in fact it was just over a week ago that I receive that jam. What a difference a week makes. It seems to be a forager's secret, for these tasty treats seem to be a very common wild fruit. I particularly like that they have just a little bit to the taste.
While it is considered an invasive plant, the berries have some very high impact nutritional value, particularly they are high in lycopene.
Then Sunday morning, I was sitting on my back stoop and I spied what I thought may be a bush of this new delightful treasure. I snapped a pic and threw it up on a plant identification site and BAM! After I got back from church they had i.d.'d my bush as autumn olive. I had already tasted them.
Later my grand babies came to visit and we were walking the property and what to my wondering eyes did appear, an entire wall of autumn olive bushes. They enjoyed tasting the olives, particularly my brave youngest who tends to like tart things.

Now I know the secret...

Autumn Olive Thumbprint Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg (How To Store Eggs With Coconut Oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract)

1/3 cup jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, whip the butter and the sugar with a hand-held mixer until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in sections, mixing until combined..

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press your thumb into the center of each ball, about 1/2-inch deep (the thumbprint). Fill each thumbprint with about 3/4 teaspoon of the jam.

Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
By the end of the day I had picked a large container of these little berries, which I didn't even know about last week ready to learn about making them into jam. That is how I like life - a learning adventure.

What you see here are things I try. If you like this article, please feel free to join our community on Facebook (Perky Gramma Teaches).

Items I have used in some way today:


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Friday, September 25, 2015

My Favorite Fried Chicken Recipe

I thought I would share our very favorite fried chicken.
I got my "recipe" from "Tips from Heloise", the mom not the daughter, early in my life. So simple:

  • Rinse the pieces of chicken
  • Shake in a bag with flour
  • Let sit for 30 minutes
  • Then fry.
  • Season after it comes out of the pan

The only change I have made over the years is I now use coconut oil to fry with.
Of course it is better fried in a cast iron skillet.
No matter what, it is our favorite! Here I am making chicken gizzards and livers.

 What is your favorite fried chicken recipe?

Items I used or ordered this week:


I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

Perky's Bloopers

I have always said I would share my prepping successes and failures. Success is a process of learning what doesn't work and paying attention so we may learn.
I strongly believe that we learn more from what doesn't work. What I am about to share really emphasizes the importance of rotation in storage, using what you store.
I am willing to try things to see how they work. As I was working through storing various types of milks in the beginning, I seriously tried many things. i don't drink milk, but I use a lot of milk in my cooking. So I started trying to find thins to store, I already knew that I wasn't a fan of low fat milk.
i have a habit of literally searching high and low on the grocery shelves to see what pops out.
This is a collection of some of the milks I gathered to test out for storage. i stored a few of the Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk. UHT is the process of heating milk to approximately 280 °F for just 2 seconds and then chilling it back down rapidly. The result is milk that's 99.9% free from bacteria. You have a shelf stable milk that doesn't need refrigeration until after you open the package.

The Nido and the canned milk have held up well so far. But, since I don't use lower fat milk in cooking, the Parmalat milk didn't last. To be fair it wasn't designed for long term storage.
If you rotate and use the product it will be fine, but it doesn't work for long term storage.
Here is the proof, this was stored in 2012 & over three years later the milk was curdled:


I wasn't a fan of the various tastes of these milk and that is why I decided to figure out if I could dehydrate and pressure can milk. That is how I got started on the journey of How to Dehydrate Milk for Long Term Storage and pressure canning White Stuff from Cows. While dehydrating milk takes up less storage space and is more convenient to travel, note that you will still need stored water to reconstitute. Overall, now I only pressure can my milk. You will also what to read What the USDA Actually Says About Pressure Caning Milk.

I had a cabinet that was extremely deep and honestly it existed before I started prepping. It was separate from my prep storage, so I wasn't rotating. When I was cleaning it out for the move I found some really frightening things that I will be honest about and share though it is a bit embarrassing. But, I felt it really emphasizes why rotation is very important.
Below are two pictures. The one on the left is a jar of really old mayonnaise and the one on the right I honestly have no clue what it was, but it was a can of something. Learn from my mistakes.


The one on the right I actually treated s a very hazard item. i used rubber gloves and wrapped the can out in several layers of plastic before disposing. The cabinet was actually going to be trashed anyway.
There will be mistakes that you able able to learn a lot from. I think one of things that separates me from others is I am not afraid to try and I do share the successes and the things that didn't work which I learned from. I wanted to end by sharing something Mandi wrote to me.
"If I had any one tid-bit advise for any one journeying into endeavors not yet experienced before, it would simply be: Don’t ever grow discouraged because there is no such thing as perfection; the more you try and try again and again, the more experienced you will become. No matter what you attempt it will never be perfect but instead it will be much better because it will become your own, a unique creation that only you can create."

So go forth and do something, learn something, get your prep on...

Items I used or ordered this week:


I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Are You Prepared For a Holiday?

One thing I don't believe I have ever seen mentioned is prepping for the holidays.
In the aftermath of of a "s" hit the fan scenario, I believe that holidays will be a stabilizing factor for families.

Since in the beginning I started storing items as I used them through out the day, then seasonal items easily started making their way into my storage. 
First let's start with the birthday cake. I am not a fan of cake, but my dear Mr. Perky enjoys cake. He likes cold chocolate cake, without any fanfare. 
As with any prep, you want to have a primary and secondary back-up stored. I also am not much of a baker at this time, though that will be changing.
So, in the beginning I simply bought and stored some cake mixes and stored them in Mylar bags. I haven't really been a baker in life in more recent years, though I did when I was younger. I have eggs stored with coconut oil, coconut oil which I now substitute for any oil & the mix.
I cut the directions out which I keep with my recipes. While doing this yesterday, I realized that I don't have birthday candles stored. Mr. Perky doesn't want to big deal made of his birthday, but you may want to store birthday candles if it is important to your celebrations.
About that baking is technically a brownie pan that bakes all edge piece brownies. After I got married I learned there are people that prefer inside chewy, moist pieces and those that like outside, crisp brownies.
I am an inside chewy and Mr. Perky is an outside crispy.
I found it works for cakes also. So when something is just for Mr. Perky I use this special pan.

Also, I stored two mixes at a time to conserve space. I just wanted to share this TIP. I opened the Mylar bag with my Food Saver to create a very straight cut line, which enabled my to reseal my package with the Food Saver again. Using the vacuum sealer only will seal a mylar bag, it will not extract the air.


You may also use an iron or flat iron for hair to seal the packages.
While I do have all this stored. I also have plenty of the items stored to bake a real cake again as needed. I will be using my grandmother's recipe.

Now gift wrapping. Paper is something that I believe will become valuable. Eventually we will start saving what wrapping we have and reuse it over and over again. We will use practical things we have on hand. Like these gifts for Mr. Perky. One is wrapped in some craft paper I have and tied with string (which I have stored for cheese waxing).
A second method I have been using is now being called "furoshiki". Actually it is a method that has been utilized for ages, but is coming back into style and really easy to do. Here is the second gift I wrapped and a simple graphic to get you started.

But it really is fairly simple to do. 
Sometimes "thinking" is an important part of prepping. For example thinking about what would be needed to be stored to make holiday traditional treats? Like for a birthday. As the next few months roll along, I will be sharing specific things that I stored to make some of our traditional holiday foods. Some of the items will eventually run out (pineapple for example), but for the beginning we would be able to maintain some of our family traditions which I pray will give my family extra heart doing tough times.
How have you prepped for holidays?

What I do here is simply share our preparedness journey. We would love it if you joined our Perky Prepping Gramma community on Facebook.
Here are some items I used or ordered this week:


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Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Prepping Gramma Amazon link.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Luck Won't Exist...

Almost everything about being prepared is simply repetition. Each day is the same right now, I take a few boxes, wash everything, then determine if I am going to find a storage place for the items or put it with the every growing yard sale pile. At this rate I may be unpacked within a year. But the thing is I manage to do something everyday, that also applies to our preps.
I consider this time the calm before the storm, which works on so many levels.
Practice Skills
Once I started prepping, it didn't take me long to determine I needed to learn how to grow my own food. We are gearing up for preparing our garden plot for next year. We will be utilizing the “Back to Eden” method again, which worked so well for us in the past.

Use What You Store, Store What You Use
Actually this is such an ongoing dilemma. I find I will store something somewhere, then I move it. But since I am basically setting up my home for the future from the beginning I want to take time to insure that everything has a logical spot. Easier said then done. Moving things around, buying or creating shelf space so that I am able to maximize the space we have. Doing inventory of what we have...
Along with that, I am cooking a lot more from storage. What I am learning is that some stuff I stored in the beginning really wasn't based on what we are eating. But, as time progresses, I learned to really store what we eat (drink).


"But about that day or hour no one knows...”
We really don't know what will happen nor when it will happen. But, the storm is coming,
But, isn't that life is about anyway?
I firmly believe there won't be any luck in those days, it will all come down to how well you have prepared and that starts today.

Items I used or ordered this week:

I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Gift of Preparing

Those very early days when Mr. Perky and I began prepping, we felt so alone in many ways. It seemed to be no one saw the the vision and it was a tough road to understand.
Yet there have been several times when our preps have come to the rescue for everyday happenings. For example being snowed in and having everything we needed.
The biggest one for us was when our heat pump went out over the holidays. Preps to the rescue. We had ample tools we had stored to keep us toasty and warm without having to call in an emergency repair person, which saved us a ton of money.
Prepping set us on the path of getting out of debt and purchasing our lovely farmette. We are now working on a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. and reawakened dreams of our youth. There is such a comfort in knowing that we are far better prepared than most people. While we can't foresee everything, we just keep learning and growing our skill sets.

The biggest gift of all is the blessing of having all of you in my life. Albeit most of you are cyber friends, I have had the pleasure of meeting several people in real time.  Meeting people dispels the stereotype of preppers being odd people. Each and everyone I have met or chatted with are normal, sane people who have seen the truth.
You all are such a blessing in my life.

Items I have used this week:


I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

3 Helpful Tips for Spider-geddon

Once we got settled in the farmette, we started getting spider bites. Not fun.
I did a little research and found some chemical free solutions for spider repellents and one solution to kill the spiders over time. I found that all appeared to work well. 
I used to be terrified of spiders, but somewhere in my 40's I no longer was afraid of them. I mean nightmares since I was very little, had to close my eyes every time a spider showed up on t.v. My family was trained to tell me when the spider image was gone so I could open my eyes again. 
I do know spiders are helpful little critters, BUT I still don't like them biting me. What I wanted is to keep them in nature and away from my porch and doors to the house.
First I created a solution of 1 part food grade 
diatomaceous earth (D.E.) to 4 parts water. Using the spray bottle didn't work really well. Eventually, I settled on basically painting the solution with a brush around the railing and edges of the porch. Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic, organic mineral is made up of crushed fossils of freshwater organisms and is used to control hard shell insects (fleas, ticks, ants, roaches, beetles, bed bugs, etc), but will not harm earthworms. I only use food grade D.E. since it is safe for human or animal consumption. Basically D.E. works when the critter walks through the dust and eventually the D.E. gets into their system and they die. 

I actually have used food grade diatomaceous earth in my storage from the beginning. I sprinkle a little in various areas of storage to deter various infestations.
Next, I mixed up two different solutions using fractionated coconut oil with lavender essential oil & one with hemp seed oil & peppermint essential oil. These essential oils are found to repel spiders. i used a base oil to extend the application time. In other words, the oil allows the essential oil to set longer and not evaporate as quickly. Basically I was using what I had on hand so I also used a hemp oil base. 
I put the a few inches of the oil in the spay bottle, then added enough drops of essential oil that I could smell it. Gotta love my exact measurements. 


One note: You will see I didn't add a recommended bottle in my picks below. What I found, I had two types of bottles. The one on the left had sort of a small filtering system on the end and the one on the right had an open tube. it was better to use a bottle that had the open tube system, since the filtered one seemed to clog up very quickly. I just ordered some small bottles from Plant Therapy on Amazon today.   

All three if these solutions seem to be working equally well. We haven't been bitten since I have applied them. I would say I prefer the essential oil solutions, simply because it was a little easier to apply. I found I need to re-apply in an open area about once a week. In a more protected area like the porch, it seems to have lasted about a month.
I have have already purchased some lavender seeds to plant around the porches in the spring.

Items I used:

I participate in the Amazon Associate program, where I receive a small % commission for linking products that I recommend. I only recommend products I personally used and like. Your support is very appreciated, anything you choose to purchase through my link, is helping me to be able to share more things that I do with you. Perky Gramma Teaches Amazon link.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Welcome to the 30 Days of Preparedness Giveaway!

Welcome to the 30 Days of Preparedness Giveaway!

September is National Preparedness Month and the Prepared Bloggers are bringing you an amazing giveaway sponsored by Valley Food Storage and various preparedness authors. These authors are authorities on topics from gardening and chickens to natural medicine and water storage, all to help you become prepared for what life brings your way. Enter for a chance to win one of 3 great prize bundles: Each bundle winner will receive:
  • 1- Year Round Gardening Udemy course by Rick Stone valued at $30.00. "Learn everything you need to know to extend your growing season to 365 days a year no matter where you live. Not only will you learn how to have peas in June and tomatoes in August, but you will also learn how to grow tasty veggies in your garden all year long. Including the dead of winter! All using simple, inexpensive structures like mini hoop houses and cold frames", from the Udemy website.
  • 1- How To Embrace An Off-Grid Lifestyle by Tammy Trayer eBook valued at $9.99. To date, this eBook is unpublished; if you win, you will be one of the first to receive it!
  • 1- The Trayer Wilderness Cookbook - Homesteading The Traditional Way by Tammy Trayer eBook valued at $5.99. "The cookbook is 72 pages of the Trayer family’s favorite recipes, tips and tricks in the kitchen as well as the use of essential oils in the kitchen. The cookbook included information on gluten-free and dairy-free cooking and Sun Oven cooking along with so much more", from Trayer Wilderness website.
  • 1-  The Urban Chicken by Heather Harris eBook valued at $4.99. "With clear photos showing you step by step, you’ll have more confidence in raising chickens, knowing how to store your eggs, how to cut a whole bird and even how to can your chicken for long term, off grid storage. Learn what some of the different breeds of chickens are, and what we thought of them in terms of laying ability, friendliness and whether or not they could be used as dinner themselves (dual purpose or not)", from The Homesteading Hippy's website.
One bundle winner will receive all of the above items PLUS:
  • 1- The Survival Group Handbook by Charley Hogwood paperback valued at $17.99. From Amazon, "s the first and most comprehensive book ever written on the subject of survival with others. It is designed to walk you through all the steps required to safely and securely find, and work with other people just like you who realize that going it alone in a dark world is not an option."
  • 1- Prepper's Natural Medicine by Cat Ellis paperback valued at $15.95. From Amazon, "When disaster strikes, it will take more than food and water to keep your family alive. Prepper’s Natural Medicine empowers you with all the information needed to safely create your own medicines when a major disaster has rendered doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies unavailable. Using healing plants widely available and easily grown thorough out the US, expert prepper Cat Ellis explains how to craft renewable medicines from herbs, lichen, fungi, and other natural ingredients."
  • 1- Start Prepping! by Tim Young paperback valued at $14.95. From Amazon, "Start Prepping! is the ultimate guide to personal emergency preparedness. It will help your family comfortably survive manmade and natural disasters and stay safe from everyday violence. You can't hide from the risks we face, but you can prepare for them. Read Start Prepping! now and give yourself some peace of mind--because the day after disaster strikes, it'll be too late."
For a bundle total valued at $100! The next bundle winner will receive:
  • 1- Fresh Eggs Daily, Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens Naturally by Lisa Steele paperback valued at $20.00. From Timber Creek Farm website, "Beautiful gift book for you or a friend, packed with information on raising chickens from chicks to laying and beyond. This is a book every chicken owner should have in their library! Useful tips and recipes included."
  • 1- The Prepper's Water Survival Guide by Daisy Luther paperback valued at $14.95. From Amazon "You can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water! When catastrophe strikes, having enough water can spell the difference between life and death. The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide offers a step-by-step plan with straightforward information you can easily follow."
  • 1- Chickens From Scratch by Janet Garmen paperback valued at $12.00. From Timber Creek Farm website, "In Chickens from Scratch you will learn how and where to purchase your chicks, how to house, feed and care for them and ultimately enjoy the delicious fresh eggs the chickens will provide for your family."
PLUS the four eBooks and Udemy course mentioned above for a grand bundle total valued at over $95! One grand prize winner will receive: 1- 72 hour kit provided by Valley Food Storage valued at $123.25. This 1 person kit includes everything you need for a grab and go bag or just a daily readiness kit. Whether a natural disaster hits or you just get lost on that mountain road, this 72 hr kit is perfect for the active adult. With a rugged backpack that can double as a hiking pack, you’ll always be able to take your preparedness with you. The 72 hour kit includes:
  • 1 x Backpack (colors vary)
  • 10 x Servings of Food
  • 1 x Gerber Blades Multi Tool
  • 2 x Emergency Light Sticks
  • 1 x Cooking Pot
  • 1 x Berkey Bottle Filter – Purifies up to 110 Gallons.
  • Survival Equipment
  • 1 x SOL Emergency Blanket, (56″x84″)
  • 1 x Fire Lite Fire Starter
  • 4 x Tinder Quick Firestarter
  • 1 x Slim Rescue Howler Whistle
  • 1 x Button Compass
  • 1 x Duct tape, (2″x26″)
  • 1 x SOL Survival Instructions
  • Medical Supplies
  • 2 x Antiseptic Towelette
  • 1 x Ibuprofen (200mg) 2/pkg.
  • 1 x Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 0.5g
  • 1 x Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, Knuckle
  • 2 x Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric (1″x3″)
  • 1 x Safety Pins
Valley Food Storage offers a wide variety of high quality, great tasting, 25 year long shelf life foods, 72 hour emergency kits, water purification and water storage products. The long shelf life foods have no fillers, no unhealthy preservatives, no hydrogenated oils, no MSG and are nonGMO. This is what you would consider the "real food" of food storage, the ingredients are individually sourced for their quality. Gluten free, and dairy free menu options are available, they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and to top it off, they're a made in the USA company! Check them out here: Valley Food Storage Also included in the grand prize is:
For a total grand prize package valued at over $200!
This giveaway is open to US residents only and entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify. Giveaway runs from September 10th thru 30th. Winners will be chosen randomly, notified by email and given 24 hours to respond before another name is drawn. This giveaway is sponsored by Valley Food Storage and various preparedness authors and organized by Prepared Bloggers Network. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the sponsors and not the participating bloggers. Prize values are estimates only. Void where prohibited by law. 

Please visit our 30 Days of Preparedness round robin!

Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We'll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage


72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags