Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Woe Unto you When Your King is a Child...

Once upon a time, the pulpit was used to shape the nation.  Preachers held the church accountable to the word of God and the church, in turn, held their civic leaders to the word of God.  Once upon a time the church held sway over the people.  Now, the people hold sway over the church.  The nation has been turned upside down.  What follows is a portion of a sermon that was delivered to the Honorable Council and the Honorable House of Representatives of the State of Massachusetts-Bay on May 31, 1780, by Simeon Howard, A.M., Pastor of the West Church in Boston.    I ask you - when was the last time you heard a sermon preached from the pulpit that would set fire to your belly?  I dare say never.  Woe unto us.


"Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers".  Exodus XViii.21 (18:21)

Let us now consider, the qualifications pointed out in the text necessary for rulers:

They must be able men.  God has made a great difference in men in respect of their natural powers, both of body and mind; to some he has given more, to others fewer talents.  Nor is there perhaps a less difference in this respect arising from education.  And though there are none but what may be good members of civil society, as well as faithful servants of God, yet every one has not abilities sufficient to make him a good civil ruler. "Woe unto thee, O land, when they king is a child," says Solomon, hereby intimating that the happiness of a people depends greatly upon the character of its rulers, and that if they resemble children in weakness, ignorance, credulity; fickleness, etc., the people will of course be very miserable.  By able men may be intended men of good understanding and knowledge, - men of clear heads who have improved their minds by exercise, acquired a habit of reasoning, and furnished themselves with a good degree of knowledge, - men who have a just conception of the nature and end of government in general, of the natural rights of mankind, of the nature and importance of civil and religious liberty, - a knowledge of human nature, of the springs of action and the readiest way to engage and influence the heart, - an acquaintance with the people to be governed, their genius, their prejudices, their interest with respect to other states, what difficulties they are under, what dangers they are liable to, and what they are able to bear and do....

By 'able men' may be further intended men capable of enduring the burden and fatigue of government, - men that have not broken or debilitated their bodies or minds by the effeminating pleasures of luxury, intemperance, or dissipation.  The supreme government of a people is always a burden of great weight, though more difficult at some times than others.  It cannot be managed well without great diligence and application.  Weak and effeminate persons are therefore by no means fit to manage it.  But rulers should not only be able men, but, 'Such as fear God.'  The fear of God, in the language of Scripture, does not intend a slavish, superstitious dread, as of an almighty, arbitrary, and cruel Being, but that just reverence and awe of Him which naturally arises from a belief and habitual consideration of His glorious perfections and providence, - of His being the moral governor of the world, a lover of holiness and a hater of vice, who sees every thought and design as well as every action of all his creatures, and will punish the impenitently vicious and reward the virtuous.  It is therefore a fear of offending Him productive of obedience to His laws, and ever accompanied with hope in His mercy and that filial love which is due to so amiable a character.  Let me observe, once more, that it is of great importance to their happiness that religion and virtue generally prevail among a people; and in order to this, government should use its influence to promote them.

For, they must be men of truth.  This means men free from deceit and hypocrisy, guile, and falsehood, - men who will not, by flattery and cajoling, by falsehood and slandering a competitor, endeavor to get into authority; and who, when they are in, will conscientiously speak the truth in all their declarations and promises, and punctually fulfill their engagements..."


Do the people that you have elected fulfill these qualifications?  The overwhelming answer is "By no means"!  Oh, what we have lost.

Our pastors must re-take their pulpits and use their influence to shape the nation.  "Woe unto thee, O land, when thy king is a child".

Monday, February 25, 2013

Raising Rugged

We are raising our children in alternate realities.  One reality sees us hopeful for the future.  In this reality we prepare our children for success in higher education, for securing a happy marriage and creating a solid retirement plan.  We hope to see them chase (and catch) the American Dream.

The other reality is far less appealing.  This reality sees our children leading the new American Revolution (at best) or living the meager, horrifying existence known to those that experienced the atrocities of the "Enlightened One" during WWII.  It sees our children as either casualties of a cruel social experiment or hardened, war-torn shells of their former beings.

Sir Knight and I love our children fiercely.  It is our conviction that we are to equip our children with the skills and mind-set necessary to do what needs to be done.  And it is our opinion that the world our children will inherit will be far different than the world that we inherited.

Don't get me wrong - I don't believe that we should stop instruction our children in music and in the arts.  I don't think we should throw reading, writing and arithmetic out the window.  However, I do believe we need to start training our children to work, to think and to be resourceful.  I think they need to be tough and resilient.  I think they need to be allowed to suffer so they can learn the lessons that only suffering has to teach.  I think our children need to learn how to govern themselves, how to serve others and how to think outside the box.  I think they should be allowed to do dangerous (within reason) things and be in situations that make us uncomfortable so they can learn their limits.  I think they should be allowed to fail so that they can learn to succeed.

Recently, I read a sobering book called "Weeds Like Us".  It followed the life of a 7 year old East Prussian boy as he and his family became war refugees during the late winter of 1945.  The privation was unthinkable, the suffering beyond comprehension.  However, because this little boy knew how to work, knew the hardships of farm life and had great faith in Jesus Christ, he endured.  Not everyone he knew was so lucky.  One family, with whom they shared tenement housing, was highly educated.  In their former life, they had been moderately wealthy, enjoying music, poetry and the arts.  Never having had to provide for themselves, they simply had no idea how to go about it.  Rather than scavenging wood from the local forest, they read poetry.  Rather than digging through Russian garbage cans in search of potato peelings, they relied on the meager rations of 300 grams of bread a day.  They gathered flowers rather than nettles and sang songs rather than knitting scarves and mittens.  When winter came, they lay down and died.  Literally.  They knew nothing of hard work and suffering.  They placed their faith in an ungodly State and paid for it with their lives.

We are a society so consumed with "educating" our children that we have forgotten to "train" our children.  We are so consumed with keeping them "safe" that we have forgotten to allow them to "live".  It is time to let our kids get their hands dirty.  Kick them outside, teach them to work (I mean really work, not just piddly chores), expect them to govern themselves, even when it means denying their own selfish desires.  Teach them to shoot, to hunt, to run a chainsaw and to fix a car.  Have them build a fort and live in it (no running home to mom and dad - no back up, no reinforcements, no cell phones) so they can figure out how to handle situations without your intervention.  Don't always catch them when they fall.  No more of this "Raising Soft" nonsense - It is time to "Raise Rugged"!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Was Going to Hold Out....

But I just couldn't!  I had to share this recipe with you so that you could whip a batch up and enjoy a perfectly lovely Sunday Tea.  These bars are renowned in their native Ireland, however the original boasts a shortbread crust and pretzels mixed into the caramel.  After trying a batch by following the directions, Maid Elizabeth and I did a little tweaking and Oh My Goodness....they are, well they are worth writing home about.

I implore you to cuddle up with a cup of tea and a delectable Turtle Bar and enjoy this glorious day of rest.  (I copied this recipe directly out of The Prepared Family Cookbook - please let me know if it is readable!)

Turtle Bars

Oh, my goodness!  I don’t even know what to say about these bars, other than that they are out of this world.  The original recipe is of Irish origin, where they are served at every coffee shop throughout the country.  The Irish version has a shortbread crust and broken-up pretzels instead of pecans.  We tweaked the recipe a bit and came up with this take on the original classic.

2 C graham cracker crumbs
¼ C sugar
½ C butter, melted

Caramel Layer:
½ C butter
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
½ C brown sugar
2 T corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C pecan pieces

Chocolate Topping:
6 T butter, melted
1 C milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 13x9” pan.  In pan, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.  Stir until combined.  Press the crumbs evenly in the bottom of the pan.  Press firmly.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.  Remove from oven to cool.

To make the caramel, combine the butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar and corn syrup in a heavy-based saucepan.  Place over medium heat and stir continuously until boiling.  Boil for 6-7 minutes, till caramel thickens enough to leave the side of the pan, stirring all the time.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, stirring well.  Fold in pecan pieces.  Spread caramel carefully over the cooled graham cracker crust with a knife.

When caramel has set, melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir till smooth.  Cool slightly before spreading over caramel layer with a knife.  When chocolate is firm and set, cut into square.

Graham Cracker crust pressed into the bottom of the pan

Adding pecans to the caramel

Carefully spreading the caramel/pecan mixture over the crust

Chocolate on top and ready to adorn the tea table

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Redoubtably Normal

Last week, I met a couple of my wonderful friends at a local diner to visit, celebrate a birthday and just enjoy each other's company.  The three of us have been friends for many years, sharing joys and sorrows, life and death.  Our relationship's ebb and flow, have highs and lows, but somehow manage to remain constant and comforting.

As we shared our lives with each other, we laughed and grew solemn and we encouraged each other in a way that only true bosom friends can.  Others joined us, if only for a moment, to partake of our frivolity and then bustled off, resuming their busy schedules.

As one of my friends noted later, we cut quite a figure, disembarking from the tiny diner.  All of us, in long skirts, hair upswept, wore sturdy, serviceable boots on our feet.  Each lady, unswervingly feminine, carried a weapon, concealed on her person and all of us daintily climbed into mud encrusted 4 wheel drive vehicles.  In the back of each vehicle were multiple gas cans and propane cylinders, a testament to our rugged lifestyles.

And this, my friends, is a perfect picture of the American Redoubt.  The rugged and refined, the prepared and pampered.  We are the Redoubt.  And this is our normal.  We are "Redoubtably Normal".

Friday, February 22, 2013

Striking Blows

Today, in utter astonishment, I read these words.....

How would you feel if you received a letter from the U.S. Government informing you that because of a physical or mental condition that the government says you have it is proposing to rule that you are incompetent to handle your own financial affairs? Suppose that letter also stated that the government is going to appoint a stranger to handle your affairs for you at your expense? That would certainly be scary enough but it gets worse.

What if that letter also stated: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2).”?

That makes is sound like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world. Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me. It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of America’s heroes. In my capacity as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF) I have been contacted by some of these veterans and the stories I am getting are appalling.  Read more.....


It would appear that our illustrious government is implementing "rules" that supersede the constitution.  Our liberties, once chipped away bit by bit, are now being crushed in striking blows.  

We are approaching the point of no return.  If we continue to absorb each new infringement on our rights, hoping to appease an unethical tyrant, we will find ourselves little more than dogs, begging for scraps from the master's table.

Shots have been fired.  Are you willing to stand?  If not here, where?  If not now, when?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tough as Nails

I have a confession.  There have been times when I have resented our hard-scrabble lifestyle.  Everything we do, we do the hard way.  We can't just flip a switch and turn on the lights.  We have to fuel the generator, charge the batteries and monitor every watt of electrical usage.  Doing laundry hasn't always been as simple as tossing a load of clothes into the washing machine and later transferring them to the dryer.  It entailed making laundry detergent, hauling water, washing clothes in a 5 gallon tub on the top of a wood cook stove, lugging soaking, hot clothes to the bathtub and wringing them by hand.  Even food preparation is done the hard way.  Rather than going to the grocery store and buying a loaf of bread and a package of meat, we have to grind the wheat, chop the wood to heat the oven, bake the bread (turning it often and monitoring the stove closely so that the bread doesn't burn), open the jar of meat that we killed, gutted, skinned, butchered and canned.  Nothing is easy.

Even raising animals and preserving food proves challenging when you are off the grid. Rather than having the luxury of a stock tank heater to keep the stock tanks ice free, we have to chop ice morning and night with an axe, making sure we smack the ice hard enough to break it but not hard enough to chop right through the stock tank.  When the garden is in full production mode, there is not an option but to process the harvest - right now!  No putting produce in Ziploc bags and tucking them in a freezer - everything has to be canned immediately.

Challenges mount upon challenges during the winter, with no alternative heat source and nothing but sheet metal and a bit of insulation and sheet rock protecting us from the elements.  It is not at all unusual to wake up in 40° temperatures (inside) and have to chop kindling to coax the fire to life so that we can heat water to make tea.  If the night has been particularly cold, we have to thaw pipes to get water to heat tea.  That certainly makes for an invigorating start to the day!

As I think about the lifestyle we have chosen, I realize that we are gaining by far more than just hard work and independence.  We are becoming, and training our children to become, tough as nails.  We have learned that hard work is not something to shy away from, but something to be tackled with vigor.  We have learned to think (and live) outside the box - creating new and ingenious ways to deal with life's little challenges.  In reality, our hard-scrabble existence has been phenomenal life training.  If the world continues limping along as it is, we have learned the value of hard work and discipline - our arms are strong for our tasks.  If the world spirals into the abyss of societal collapse, our lifestyle will have prepared us for what lies ahead.  Either way, our hard-scrabble life will have served us well.

In the end, I would much rather be tough as nails than soft as butter.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Home Grown Hygiene

I love being industrious.  When my children were little I learned how to make bread, grow a garden and can just about everything.  I bought a cow and taught myself how to make butter, cheese and every other dairy product I could think of.  Then I took up soap making, followed by lotion bars, candles and lip balm.  I love knowing how to make everyday necessities just in case there comes a time when they are no longer commercially available.  And to tell the truth, I generally like the homemade versions of things much better than the store-bought versions anyway.

One of the products that I had considered off and on but never attempted to make was deodorant.  All of my experience (which was limited) with "natural" or "home-made" deodorant consisted of baking soda and cornstarch (puffed under the arms) or that crystal thing that was popular for awhile.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.

Recently I was reading an article about beauty and hygiene products and was shocked to find that a number of ingredients in most mass produced products were actually poisonous!  Apparently, because the toxins are in such small quantities, they pass the FDA inspection process with no problems.   Not really wanting to introduce toxic chemicals through my sweat glands, but also not wanting people to be able to smell me before they saw me, I started to research making my own deodorant.

After looking at a number of recipes, I decided to try one that created a solid deodorant. That was what I was used to and was comfortable with.  I also wanted a recipe that contained ingredients that I had in the cupboard from my other health and beauty endeavors.  In the end, I found a recipe that looked good, tweaked it to suit our family and gave it a whirl.  I have to say, I am immensely pleased with the results.

The first thing I did was carefully wash out two used deodorant tubes.  I could have bought new tubes, but until I perfected a recipe, I didn't want to incur any unnecessary expenses.  One of the tubes I washed had a bottom that wasn't solid, so I cut a piece of waxed paper and fitted it over the bottom frame so that the deodorant wouldn't just run through.  Then I gathered all of my ingredients and went to work.

Waxed paper fitted over the frame

A solid bottom tube

Bottoms screwed all of the way down and ready for the deodorant
Here is the recipe that I used, along with my adjustments....

Solid Deodorant
4 heaping T grated beeswax (or pellets)
2 T Shea butter
10 T Cocoa butter
1/4 C cornstarch (or arrowroot powder if you have sensitive skin)
1/4 C baking soda (aluminum free)
10 drops tea tree oil (optional - it is an anti-fungal)
5 drops vitamin E oil (optional)
15 - 20 drops essential oil (for fragrance)
2 - 3 new or used deodorant tubes (rolled all the way down)
  1. Melt beeswax 
  2. Add Shea butter and Cocoa butter and heat just until melted.  Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and add cornstarch and baking soda.  Stir until the lumps are gone and the texture is smooth.
  4. Add vitamin E oil and essential oils and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into deodorant tubes and let sit a few hours before putting on the tops (you can cool in the refrigerator).  You will want to fill them to almost overflowing (the deodorant will settle).
  • Don't over-apply.  2 to 4 swipes is ideal.
  • Only twist up as much as you need.  It will be slightly softer than store-bought deodorant and may fall off if you twist up too much.
  • You will need to give the deodorant a good 2 - 3 weeks use before deciding if it works for you.
  • This deodorant will stay solid at room temperature.  If you live in a very warm climate, you may want to refrigerate it to harden it up a bit.
  • This is deodorant - it will not keep you from sweating, but it will keep you from stinking!
Grating the beeswax

Everything measured and ready to go

Grated beeswax

Measuring the wax into the saucepan

Melting the wax (on the wood cookstove)

Melting the Shea and Cocoa butters with the beeswax

All melted

Stirring in the cornstarch and baking soda

Adding the oils (I'm not sure why it looks so yellow - it is ivory)

Pouring into the cleaned tubes

Filling to the top
This recipe makes enough for 3 large deodorant tubes.  I only had two, so I improvised.  Sir Knight had the idea of pouring the excess into a toilet paper tube.  We "greased" the inside of a toilet paper tube with shea butter and set the tube on a piece of waxed paper.  After the deodorant solidified, we cut the toilet paper roll down to the top of the deodorant and placed another piece of waxed paper over the top to act as a cover.  To use this tube, we just tear a small portion of the paper tube off the top of the roll and use the deodorant until we need to tear another bit off the top.  It works like a charm!

Pouring into the makeshift tube

A custom "tube" of deodorant
I have large quantities of beeswax, so I just take out a chunk and grate it with a cheese grater, however, you can buy beeswax in pellet form if you are so inclined.  The Shea butter and the Cocoa butter I buy from the same company I buy my tallow and lye for soap making, Essentials Depot.  They also carry essential oils if you don't have those on hand.

Because this deodorant is "custom", you can make a special batch for each member of your family.  I like pretty, "girly" scents like jasmine and sandalwood, but the boys prefer manly scents, such as Fir Needle Balsam and Cedar Wood.  Miss Serenity likes hers to be scent free, so we don't add any essential oils, leaving just a hint of the shea butter and cocoa butter.  

There is something comforting about having supplies on hand for all of our "Home Grown" hygiene needs.  Not only do we get to luxuriate with custom cosmetics, we also save money.  And an added bonus?  We can pronounce every ingredient on the back of the bottle!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Greatest Love

A happy Valentine's Day to you!  The kids and I spent the day baking cookies and tea bread so that we could surprise Sir Knight with a special Valentine's tea.  As we partake of our sweet repast, we will think on these words....

"But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

May you know the greatest love of all.

Grandma Adam's Sugar Cookies
1 C butter, softened
1 1/4 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 C flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Stir in flour and baking powder.

Turn out onto a floured surface (or refrigerate until ready for use) and roll 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown.  Remove to wire rack to cool.


Raspberry & Almond Teabread
3 C flour
3 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 C butter
1 C sugar
1 C ground almonds
4 eggs, beaten
1 T almond extract
1 1/4 C milk
2 C raspberries, fresh or frozen
4 T flaked almonds (optional)

Grease and flour two standard sized bread pans (9x5).

Preheat oven to 350°

Sift the flour into a large bowl along with the baking powder and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar and ground almonds, then gradually mix in the eggs, milk and almond extract.  Beat until smooth (the batter will be rather thick, add a little more milk if necessary).  Fold in the raspberries, being careful not to crush them.  Spoon into the prepared bread pans and sprinkle with flaked almonds (or Turbinado sugar), optional.

Bake for about 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

This bread improves with age and is perfectly lovely slathered with a generous layer of butter.

Butter cut into the flour mixture

Adding the sugar and ground almonds

Folding in the raspberries

In the prepared bread pan

Fresh from the oven

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chimney Fire!

Cherry Red stove pipe
It has been roughly 5 months since we began consistently burning wood for the season.  Generally speaking, we burn hot fires almost constantly, except when we shut the stove down for the night.  Because of that, we rarely have a problem with creosote building up in our stove pipe.  Occasionally, when we have a really hot fire, we hear the tell-tale sound of a freight train coming from our cookstove and immediately shut all of the dampers, tap the stove pipe (freeing loose creosote) and give the fire a chance to settle down.  Taking care of the problem quickly has always kept us from having a chimney fire emergency.

Chimney fires are a real danger.  We have known a number of people who have lost or nearly lost their homes to chimney fires.  Because of the threat of fire, we have taught our children what to do in the event of a chimney fire.  It is a little trick that Sir Knight learned years ago, when he worked at a fire station in Issaquah, Washington, but it has proven to be incredibly effective.

When our chimney is on fire and the dampers have done little to starve the fire of oxygen, we quickly submerge a large pile of newspapers (we keep them on hand in the kitchen to use as firestarter) in a sink full of water.  Once the paper is thoroughly soaked, we open the stove, dump the papers in the firebox, closing the lid and all of the stove dampers.  As the paper hits the burning coals, a large amount of steam rises from the wet papers.  The steam puts out the fire in the stovepipe almost immediately.

A wad of wet newspaper in the firebox
Just last night we put this fire suppression method into practice.  We have been burning with the stove shut down due to unusually warm weather.  Last evening, the wind whipped up and the fire began to draw, catching the built up creosote in the stovepipe on fire.  Soon, the stovepipe was cherry red and the stove was roaring.  Closing the dampers had little effect (the wind was driving the fire) so we immediately soaked newspapers.  Within seconds of dumping the soggy papers in the stove, the chimney fire was squelched.

Fire is a very real risk when you heat with wood.  By having a pile of newspaper in your kitchen, you will always be prepared to take care of a chimney fire quickly and effectively.  Tell your neighbors and teach your children.  Don't let a chimney fire ruin your night.

***NOTE:  Remember, there are times when wet newspaper won't be enough to put out your fire.  Don't hesitate to call the fire department!  They are there if you need them!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Prepared Family Cookbook is Taking Form

I have been working, working, working my fingers to the bones trying to get this cookbook out!  And it is most definitely taking shape.  I am still finishing off a few chapters (hospitality and wood cook stove cooking, among others) and I will have to do some intensive editing, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Because I am so excited, I thought I would share a "taste" of the book.  And so, I present you with a few excerpts from "The Prepared Family Cookbook"....

Jelly Making
Water Bath

Bring jelly to a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Dip a spoon in the boiling jelly.  As it nears the jellying point it will drop from the side of the spoon in two drips.  When the drops run together and slide off in a sheet from the side of the spoon, the jelly is finished and should be removed from the heat at once.

A candy or jelly thermometer may be used.  The temperature of the boiling juice at the jellying point will be from 220° to 222° at sea level.  At higher altitudes the temperature will be lower.

Remove the foam from the jelly and pour at once into sterilized jars.  Fill to thin ½ inch of the top of the jar. 

Process:          5 minutes in boiling water bath

Pectin is a substance in fruits that, when heated and combined with fruit acid and sugar, causes the fruit juice to congeal or “jell”.  Not all fruit contains pectin, but you may extract pectin from fruits such as apples, plums, etc. and combine it with other fruit juices, or use commercial pectin.  When using commercial pectin, be sure to follow the recipe that comes with the pectin. 

The juice may be tested to determine whether it contains sufficient pectin to make jelly.  The amount of pectin will indicate the amount of sugar to be used.

Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon Epsom salts,  2 tablespoons cooked fruit juice.  Stir well and let stand for 20 minutes.  If mixture forms into a semi-solid mass the juice contains sufficient pectin.

Juice high in pectin may lack acid to make good jelly.  The fruit juice should be as tart as one teaspoon lemon juice mixed with 3 tablespoons of water.  If necessary, lemon juice may be added to the fruit juice.  Usually one tablespoon lemon juice to each cup of fruit juice is sufficient.

The amount of sugar to be added will be determined by the pectin content of the juice.

JUICES                                 SUGAR (for 1 cup juice)
High in pectin                        ¾ C sugar
Low in pectin                         ½ C sugar

Juice should always be boiling when the sugar is added.  Boil jelly as rapidly as possible.

  • Select a mixture of slightly under-ripe and ripe fruit
  • Wash fruit
  • Cut hard fruit (apples, quinces) into pieces.  Slightly crush berries
  • Add enough water to barely cover hard fruits.  Berries and grapes need only enough water to start them cooking.  Boil until fruit is tender
  • Pour the hot, cooked fruit at once into a jelly bag (or cheesecloth) and let drip.  When done dripping, press jelly bag.  Re-strain juice through a clean jelly bag (or cheesecloth) to make juice as clear as possible
  • Jellies and preserves made is small batches turn out better.  Don’t use more than 6 to 8 cups of juice at a time.  Unsweetened fruit juices may be canned and made into jellies later.


Bunny Sausage
Pressure Canner

6 lbs. rabbit meat, ground (I like to put through the hand grinder twice)
2 small onions, minced
2 T salt
2 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. paprika
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. ground sage
½ C ground crackers or bread crumbs
1 or 2 eggs, well beaten
¾ C milk

Mix well together and mould into small cakes and fry until nicely browned.  Pack into clean jars to within 1 inch of the top and add 3 or 4 tablespoons of grease in which the cakes were fried.  Put on cap, screwing band firmly tight.

Process:          Pints               75 minutes
                      Quarts            90 minutes
                        10 pounds pressure


Caring for Milk and Milking Equipment

One of the first things we learned when we began our milking adventure was the importance of cleaning milking equipment and properly caring for the milk. 

Our first purchase (even before we bought the cow) was a stainless steel milk bucket and strainer.  Milk buckets are more than just stainless steel buckets, they are unique, in that they are seamless.  The lack of a seam allows the entire surface of the bucket to be cleaned and sterilized.  We not only sterilize our milk bucket, we also sterilize the stainless steel strainer, the cheesecloth (if we aren’t using disposable filters) and the jars.  Dairy products absorb bacteria very easily, rendering the milk putrid or even dangerous.  Sterilizing your dairy equipment results in milk that stays fresh longer and tastes sweet.  It is well worth any amount of time and effort.

To sterilize our milking equipment we first wash the bucket and strainer thoroughly with hot, soapy water, followed by a quick washing with Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.  The Super Washing Soda is a miracle cleaner when it comes to banishing rotten dairy smells.  Milking equipment washed in Super Washing Soda will smell sweet and fresh.  After our initial washing, we fill our milking pail with water, submerge the strainer (along with all the parts) and the cheesecloth (if using) and boil for 15 minutes. 

Another crucial element of properly caring for fresh milk is the straining and cooling process.  During the milking process, small particles fall into the milking pail.  Even with careful cleaning of the cow’s udder, it is impossible to keep every hair or barn spec out of the milk.  Straining the milk through a filter (available at most farm stores) or a sterilized double layer of cheesecloth, is essential.

After the milk has been strained, it must be cooled immediately.  In the “old” days, farmers often plunged their milk cans in an ice cold creek.  Now, we often don’t have creeks at our disposal, but we do have ice.  The method that we have used for years is filling a laundry tub with ice water and putting our jars in the tub up to their necks.  Cooling the milk quickly ensures the sweetest, most wonderful milk.

During the cooling process, it is important not to cover the milk with a solid lid.  If you cover your milk, any off flavors will condense on the lid and drip back into the milk, giving it a characteristic “barnyard” flavor.  We cover our milk with cotton lids that I sewed out of old flour sacks and secured with elastic.  As the milk cools, the cotton lids allow evaporation, expelling any potential “off” flavors.

Once the milk has cooled (about ½ hour), cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap, put the lid on and refrigerate.  Including the date (with both date and a.m. or p.m.) is particularly nice when wanting to use the oldest milk first. 

Our regular milking routine:

  • ·      Set sterilized 1 gallon jars on counter, awaiting fresh milk
    ·      Fill wash bucket with hot, soapy water (for washing the udder)
    ·      Go to the milking parlor with sterilized milking pail and wash bucket  in hand
    ·      Fill feed bin with grain ration and hay
    ·      Add a handful of loose salt to the grain
    ·      Bring cow into the milking parlor
    ·      Wash udder with soapy water (sterilize with udder wash, if you prefer) and pat dry with clean towel
    ·      Squirt first few streams of milk  from each quarter onto the ground (this cleans any debris out of the teat)
    ·      Milk cow, being careful to strip each quarter
    ·      Wash udder again, Bag Balm the end of each teat
    ·      Return cow to the pasture
    ·      Bring milk and wash bucket into the kitchen (or milk processing area
    ·      Weigh milk bucket with milk (is a good indication of your milk cows health) and record
    ·      Strain milk through filters into sterilized gallon jars
    ·      Put cotton cap on jars and put in ice water to cool
    ·      Wash milk bucket and strainer with hot, soapy water
    ·      Fill milk bucket with water, put in strainer and cheesecloth (if used) and boil for 15 minutes
    ·      Steam sterilize glass jars for next milking
    ·      Retrieve your milk, cover it, date it and refrigerate
    ·      Sterilize (bleach) wash bucket


Please excuse formatting and editing errors, I haven't gotten to the fine-tuning part of this book yet.  Anyway, this is just a sample of what is coming.  I am dizzy with excitement!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

The other morning during family bible study, the kids and I were talking about slothfulness and covetousness.  The verses that we had been studying were Proverbs 21:25-26 "The desire of the slothful kills him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He covets greedily all the day long; the the righteous gives and spares not".  We started to talk about being slothful and what that meant and why the slothful covet.  It was pretty easy for them to come to the conclusion that the slothful didn't want to work and because of that they always wanted what they didn't posses.  Pretty simple.  But that got us to talking.  What is it that we value in this world and how are we teaching those values to the next generation?

When was the last time you heard about a public school teaching children that it was important to work, no matter what the job?  That work itself was not just a means to an end but a reward in and of itself?  When did you hear of a school (or a parent for that matter) teaching children to hold their tongue and control their urges?  As we sat discussing all of the character qualities that are essential to the maintenance of a polite and free society, we realized that everything we need to know, we are indeed taught in kindergarten....

  • He who is the most disruptive, will get the most attention
  • There really is such a thing as a free lunch
  • Your rights end where mine begin
  • Children are always right, adults are always wrong
  • If someone else has what you want, crying about it will, at the very least, get it taken away from him
  • Life is supposed to be fair and it is the  job of teachers, police, government to make it so
  • You get extra points for tattling on your friends
  • All of your behavioral problems can be excused by your family life
  • If someone doesn't like you, it's because they are "haters" (you certainly didn't do anything wrong)
  • If you won't control yourself, you have an illness
  • It's your teacher's fault if you fail your classes
  • Government is good, free enterprise is bad
  • Nature is more important than people
  • Pets are people too
  • If you are disruptive in class, you are just "highly intelligent" and bored with the schoolwork
  • "Intolerance" is never tolerated
  • No one is your "superior"
  • The "good of the group" always comes before the good of the individual
  • Rich people are greedy, poor people are downtrodden
  • It is your job to know what everyone else should be doing

When we teach our children upside-down character, how can we expect them to grow up and maintain moral integrity?  We can't.  Our society is perfectly reflecting what we are teaching our children.  We are successfully implementing everything we learned in kindergarten.   And now we know what it's like to live in a country run by children.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mother for Hire

Late last summer, the producers from the television "reality" show Wife Swap came calling.  They were very excited about the prospect of putting together an episode centered around an off-grid type mother trading places with a suburban mother for a week.  The bait?  $10,000.

Once we stopped laughing, Sir Knight and I talked about the implications of such an endeavor.  Can you just imagine?  This poor, unsuspecting lady would be subject to such atrocities as....

  • Joining our family in the middle of hunting season....meaning hauling game out of the woods on the back of a 4-wheeler (or in the back of a Toyota Landcruiser!), gutting, skinning, butchering and canning said deer - all within 24 hours of killing the beast
  • Cooking and baking exclusively on a wood cookstove
  • Chopping and stacking too many cord of wood to count
  • Chopping small wood at 5:30 in the morning to get the fire hot enough to heat water to brew tea
  • Hiking 3 miles every day (don't think Maid Elizabeth would take it easy on her!) in full combat gear (including the AR-15)
  • Starting the generator to pump water (including before taking a shower in the morning)
  • Juggling a huge battery bank so that we don't lose power in the middle of the evening
  • Gathering a young adult, two teenagers a 7 year old and a preschooler every morning to study the Proverbs in depth and answer all of their life questions
  • Thawing frozen pipes behind the toilet (on the floor) with a hair dryer
  • Canning a years supply of apples, pears our favorite tomato, onion & pepper mixture
  • Making every meal from scratch (including grinding wheat to make bread)
  • Hanging innumerable loads of laundry on the clothes horse in the kitchen
  • Meeting Sir Knight every morning for tea and having tea awaiting his return from work (always with fresh "tea treats" of course)
  • Troubleshooting the generator in a 45 mile per hour wind, in the driving rain
  • Hauling gas cans and propane bottles to be filled, and lifting them into and out of the vehicle
  • Tossing 50lb bags of animal feed around
  • Running a work-intensive internet business
  • "Shopping" in the container for stored foods items rather than going to the grocery store
The list could go on and on.  

Of course, the other side of that coin is that I would be stuck in the middle of the city.  I'm pretty sure I would do O.K. (I did live in Seattle for about 7 years), however, going to the shopping mall might be the death of me and I'm not sure that I would do well with children that were plugged into gadgets and afraid to get their shoes dirty.  

When all was said and done, $10,000 was not even close to enough to make us even consider such an outlandish scheme.  In fact, I don't think any amount of money could tear me away from this peculiar family I call "mine".  I never have been, nor will be ever be a "Mother for Hire".

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Pretender and His Minions

I have to admit it - I miss the good old days.  You know the ones - the days when we spent time cataloging our gear and equipment, testing new survival skills and preparing for every "what if" we could think of.  Back in those days, life was pretty secure.  Everything we planned for was in some unknown future.  We had time.  We could live life to its fullest as we prepared for future uncertainty.  Survivalism was a hobby.

Sometime, when we weren't looking, that "unknown" future caught up with us.  And it isn't pretty.  Suddenly (or not so suddenly), we have been thrust into the reality of a nation that is spiraling the drain, not only economically, but also morally.  A pretender is on the throne and his minions are at our door.  And we have flung the door wide open.

We are no longer dealing with a theoretical, "what if" scenario - we are now balancing precariously on the precipice of a full-fledged, all-out battle.  And the resounding clash of arms is getting closer.  Truth be told, gun stores and gun shows aren't being sold out because people think there is a gun ban coming - they are being sold out because the United States population is gearing up.  People aren't running scared - they are preparing for insurrection.

The battles we are facing are not battles against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities.  We are not fighting to keep our guns or choose if we want to vaccinate our children, we are battling to live our lives as free men - "So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondswoman, but of the free woman" Galatians 4:31.

The enemy has breached the gate - are you ready for the battle?

"....choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".
                                              Joshua 24:15

Friday, February 1, 2013

Baking for Survival - Denver Biscuits

Contrary to the deceptive title of this post, these biscuits aren't survival food in the classic sense, but in more of a "help mother make it through the week" sense.  I don't know about you, but between homesteading, homeschooling, living off-grid and everything else that takes up precious minutes, I don't always have time to knead up a batch of fresh biscuits or rolls to accompany every meal - and really, what is dinner (or breakfast for that matter) without warm, soft homemade bread?  And so, to retain at least a little bit of sanity, I make up a big ol' batch of Denver Biscuits and always have fresh, warm bread at the drop of a hat.
Sealed and ready to put in the fridge

Pinched off a piece of dough to make into a roll

Ready to rise

Fresh from the oven

The perfect accompaniment to a hearty dinner

Denver Biscuits are much more reminiscent of dinner rolls than they are true baking powder biscuits.  The dough improves with age, so making a batch of biscuits at the beginning of the week and still having fresh rolls by the end of the week is easily achieved.  I store my biscuit dough in a large ziploc bag in the fridge and just pinch off bits of dough to form enough rolls for the evening meal.  Sometimes, for a quick, special weekday breakfast or afternoon tea I will roll out a chunk of dough and prepare it as Cinnamon rolls.  It takes very little work and only enough time to allow the dough to rise a bit and bake.

This recipe works well with either all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour and the butter can be replaced with lard or shortening.  I love the fact that these biscuits use up left-over mashed potatoes so that nothing goes to waste.

Denver Biscuits
4 C milk
1 C mashed potatoes (or 1 large potato, peeled, cooked and mashed)
1/2 C water (or left-over potato water)
1 C butter
1 C sugar
3 T salt
3 T yeast
3 T baking powder
10 - 12 C flour

In a medium saucepan, heat milk, water, butter, sugar and salt.  Add mashed potatoes.  Cool to 110°.  Pour into a mixing bowl.  Add yeast, baking powder and 4 cups of flour to make a batter.  Cover with a dry towel.  In warm place, allow to rise until double in bulk.  Stir in enough additional flour (up to 8 cups) to yield a good, soft bread dough that does not stick to the hands.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Use dough immediately, or cover well and refrigerate for later use.

To make the biscuits, pinch off a piece of dough the size of an egg, form it into an oval ball and dip it in melted butter.  Fit biscuits snugly against each other in a baking pan.  The biscuits should be crowded a little, as they need each other for support as they rise.  Let rise uncovered until very light (mine don't usually rise a lot, but they do once they are in the oven).  Bake in a preheated 400° oven until the rolls are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.


Master Calvin helping with Cinnamon Rolls

In the pan

Ready at a moments notice

Tea is served!

Fresh bread at a moments notice -  these biscuits are every mothers dream!