Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cast Iron cookware p2

Selecting and Buying a Dutch oven

A camp Dutch oven is made of cast iron.  It is a pot with a flat bottom with legs and the lid has a flange around the outside of it which helps hold  coals while cooking.  Because it is made out of cast iron it will heat evenly with very little heat and hold that heat for a long time.

In the early pioneer days, the families considered their Dutch oven as one of their most valuable possessions.  The same was true for the mountain men.  You will find this a valuable tool for cooking in your yard or in the hills.  As a valuable tool you should take some care in selecting the oven because they will last for many generations if properly taken care of.

When you shop for a new Dutch oven, you should be aware that all ovens are not the same.  There are ovens ranging in size from eight inches in diameter to 22 inches in diameter.  And there are various depths available.  Most average families start out with 12 or 14-inch ovens and then add ovens to meet their particular needs.

A few of the things to watch out for follow: I would check the fit well.  The lid, during cooking will make a seal and turn the oven into a form of low pressure cooker, so the fit is very important.  Check the oven finish and be sure that it is smooth, not uneven.  The walls should be the same thickness all the way around.  There are some new imported ovens on the market where the walls are not even.  I would avoid any oven that doesn’t look even and of good quality.  It may break and surely will not heat evenly.  The surface should be an even gray color and should not show too many signs of grinding where they have had to fix imperfections.  Remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for.”  This holds true with Dutch ovens and other cast iron in the same way it does for many other products.

You will notice that the bail or handle sets different on one side of the oven from the other.  When you are cooking with the oven you should try to keep the bail in the position which holds it up above the level of the lid.  When you are storing the oven put the handle in the lower position.  You want the handle in the upper position while cooking to keep it away from the fire so it won’t overheat the bail causing it to bend and so that it is easier to grab a hold of to adjust position and remove it from the fire.


Cast iron cookware p1

Cast iron has been around a long time.  In fact, for centuries.  Early settlers who came to America brought black iron pots with them and used them as their primary cooking utensil.  When Lewis and Clark made their famous expedition to the Northwest, they depended upon the tried and true Dutch oven.

In the early days of the West, the black iron Dutch oven played a very important role.  To the mountain man it was one of his most prized possessions in which he cooked stews and wild game to perfection in his black iron kettle.

The pioneers who came across the plains to the Rocky Mountains also prized their Dutch ovens.  As they traveled to Utah, California and Oregon, they always had a Dutch oven on their wagons.  Sometimes it would be tied on the side of the wagon, or perhaps you would find it swinging from the tailgate of the wagon, but you could count on finding at least one.

Another important part of the early history of the West was the numerous cattle drives that went across the country in the late 1800’s.  Nearly every drive had a chuck wagon which followed along to feed the cowhands, and they always had several Dutch ovens stored in the “boot” of the wagon.

In later years the Dutch oven became the standby utensil for the sheepherder.  He would cook his lamb stews, sourdough breads and dishes famous of the Basque.

Dutch oven cooking is more than just dumping food in a black pot and putting it on the fire hoping that it will be good to eat.  Choose the type of cooking that fits a food and you will have much better results.

There are several types of cooking you can do in the Dutch oven.  Some are stewing or boiling, steaming, roasting, baking, poaching and drying.  Each of theses types of cooking have their place depending on the recipe.  Learn to use them all and your group or family will enjoy your cooking even more.

You can cook anything in your Dutch oven that you would normally cook in your home oven, like bread, rolls, homemade pies, pizza, crown roasts, meat-loafs, lobster and even prime rib.  I have never tasted anything that didn’t seem to taste better cooked in a Dutch oven.  As you become more proficient at Dutch oven cooking, you will become aware of the scope of recipes available to you which will leave your family and guests in awe.  Remember, anything that can be fried, boiled, baked, steamed or poached can be cooked in a Dutch oven.

Another important point in favor of the Dutch oven is its versatility in times of emergency.  Just think, if your power or gas were off for a prolonged period of time, you could still fix great meals for your family using your Dutch ovens in the fire place, on a camp gas stove, an open fire or in the BBQ outside.  That is a comforting thought.  So as you use your Dutch ovens regularly, you will be able to become proficient enough to do just that.

The Dutch oven has another great feature.  You can take off the lid and turn it upside-down and level it on three rocks or bricks, and use it like a griddle or crepe pan.  This way you can cook bacon and eggs, hot cakes, French toast, or even fancy crepe.

PLAN to Prepare Survive Thrive

We all know to have a 72 hour kit, however, what if (where we live there are lots of forest fires) you were told you had 45 minutes to gather your stuff and leave, and you may not ever see your home again if the fire could not be stopped. Forty-five minutes is a bit of time that you could gather some things from your home and put into your car that you would not want to loose, but with time counting down most people would freeze and not know what to gather or end up getting things that you don’t really need and leave things that you could use or that mean a lot to you.  This has been proven time and time again. The best way to prevent this is to have a few different [time frame] plans and to organize and gather things together. One thing is to have a concrete plan just like a 72 hour kit and written down in a notebook that if you have 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes and an hour, exactly what you would gather from your home to take with you.

Also included you might want to have what you could bury in a hole already dug with a trash can already in the hole and the top on it and a pile of dirt beside the hole and a shovel close by or bags of dirt that you could throw on top, that you could come back after the fire and retrieve. Or just go ahead and build a fire proof root cellar that you can secure stuff in. That way you would not have to take it with you, but it would be safe even if your house went up in flames. There are places that would not burn in a house like the refrigerator, freezer and if you have a safe.

Write a separate list for each time frame that might happen, this will be a “What if” scenario. Also you need to think of what type of disasters could happen where you live, like tornado, hurricane, fire, flood, tsunami, or radiation leak. Taking the time now, saves time and added stress at the time something might happen. Have different tabs for the different scenarios. Also included in the notebook needs to be what is in your 72 hour kit and a page for when you come up with something you would like to include in it for the next time you go through it or something you would like to purchase for your kit. Also anything that may expire before the next time you would go through the kit. It is best if you go through your kit at least every 6 months [for example the fist full weekend of April and October] to change out clothes and food. And it is a good idea to keep the notebook next to your 72 hour kit and maybe a sack to place the items that you would like to include in it next time.

PLAN Prepare to Survive and Thrive ;]


traffic circles

We have a new round about / traffic circle in our town, this makes a total of 4. as far as I know, we are the only town in our state which has them. I have driven in other countries that have round abouts and they are not [generally] bad or hard to deal with. Part of my duties in some of the countries that I have been to was manning an ambulance and picking up after traffic accidents. Typically those round about accidents have been worse than accidents on other road ways. Having said that, I do like them, but only where the general population is used to driving on them.


Earlier today I coming from the other side of town and going through the new round about which has 2 lanes with a high center decorative feature which blocks the view of the rest of the circle, the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. Many people drive faster than that. I was in the right hand lane intending to stay on the outside as I was going to exit the round about onto the first road. To the left of me was another car who turned LEFT onto the round about and proceeded to drive in the wrong direction. Fortunately traffic was light and he/she did not meet up with anyone head on.  IF everyone were doing the speed limit, a head on crash would have been at a combined speed of at least 60 mph which easily could have been fatal for both cars.


I, like most people, have seen too many people going the wrong way on one way streets. This is one of the big reasons that I always drive in the right hand lane no matter what type of road that I am on.

Water West Virginia

Last Thursday [2014 –Jan- 09]  in West Virginia, a chemical spill was identified that flowed into  a river a mile or so up stream from the intake point that was the water source for 9 counties. Other towns down stream from this also harvest water from this river. This chemical [4-methylcyclohexane methanol ] which is a hydrocarbon, can cause eye & skin irritation, headaches and breathing difficulties, among other not so fun reactions.

The best solution for most people is to have water storage PRIOR to any contamination incident.

It is difficult at best to process this type of contaminated water. The 4-methylcyclohexane methanol has a boiling point cooler than water. This makes it hard to process the water by distillation in a field situation. As with most hydrocarbons you can clean it up with activated carbon which is basically ground up charcoal which you can make at home.

We will discuss water treatment later.

Many if not most eateries who could not afford to truck in the volumes of clean water needed simply closed for the duration. To say that the economy in that region was adversely affected would be somewhat of an understatement.

On the Monday following the chemical spill I was listening to the news on the radio. Part of the report was that people were ‘abandoning their homes” and going to out laying communities ‘in search of food”.  This ties into a conversation that I had with S.W. about the declining ability of people to cook for themselves.

Late in the week the water department reported that the levels of the contaminate had fallen to ‘safe’ levels and the affected residents were told to run all of their taps to finish flushing out the water system and that after words the water would be safe to drink. BUT out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should boil their water before consuming. This seems to be a ‘feel good’ bit of advice as discussed earlier.

The take away from this is [A] to have water storage in your home and office for consumption, [B] learn the actually facts of whatever you are faced with. [C] learn how to cook and do other stuff for yourself – which does not mean that you have to personally do everything yourself – so that you can tell when you are being lied to.

Fire safety – batteries

This is from a friend….   I did know about this sort of thing… back when I was teaching fire safety and wilderness survival I would demonstrate starting a fire with 9 volt batteries. One of the issues that I see with the lackadaisical way we treat a LOT of things around the house. Another thing is cleaning with bleach and ammonia TOGETHER, a big NO NO. XXXX and I used to be ‘used parts dealers’ -medical body parts harvesting for transplant- and that combination was what killed a girl in her early 20s …
some people have been injured by carrying batteries in pants pockets which short out on contact with keys and coins.
Take a few minutes to watch this video.  I have never heard of this, but it makes sense.  As the man in the video says, it’s something no one thinks of.
Good information;  scary stuff!
I wasn’t aware of this.  I hope that you too will benefit from its message.

A Time for Travel ~ The Christmas Project Check out the new kids time travel book on Amazon.



Freedom isn’t free,

Ask a veteran-and their family



Forming a GOOD habit

Forming a good habit is more difficult than forming a bad habit. Usually a bad habit has its own rewards, however a good habit you have to reward yourself until the habit is formed then you realize the benefits of the good habit.  For example forming the habit of Journaling, exercise or eating healthier you will not realize the reward until you do these for a while. What habit do you need to form to further your preparedness? Remember when a disaster happens you will need to be in pretty good shape to survive. Do you need to lift weights to become strong? Do you need to start walking or running to become more fit or to lose weight? Do you need to change your diet to incorporate eating wheat? Do you need to work on projects to get ready? Do you need to walk with your backpack to build up your endurance? Whew, I get tired just thinking about all of that. Let’s talk about the steps we need to take to get to our new habit.

The first step is to identify the one habit that we need/want to make. Only work on one habit at a time. The habit needs to be somewhat specific like walking every day at a certain time. You may want to use one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals and make it a habit. Decide on how far you want to be able to walk without a break. Then you can add carrying your backpack with 10 – 50 pounds of equipment in it. And last but not least, how much time will it take for you to be able to accomplish this?

Give yourself a little more time than you think it will take.

Next, write down the benefits of starting this new habit. Taking the habit above the benefits would be when a disaster happens you will be able to evacuate to a certain point in a certain time limit. You will also be in better physical condition & healthier, and hopefully you will have your backpack filled with what you will need for the trip.

The next step will be to commit your self to starting the habit. Is the habit something you can accomplish? Do you have the time worked out that you can do the habit everyday? Decide on how you are going to keep track of the times that you do the habit. Will you mark it on the calendar? Will you make a sheet that has blocks to check off? It is widely accepted that it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, so decide when you have everything in order to be able to start.

The next step is to set your goals and what type of reward you will give yourself along the way of the 21 days. And it is better to make the rewards more often. You may want to set a goal of after the first 2 days you will be able to walk ½ of a mile without stopping and you will reward yourself with watching a particular movie that you have been waiting to see. Then in 2 more days you should be able to walk 1 mile and your reward will be taking your friend out for coffee. These are just examples, make yours particular for you and something that you normally don’t do. If you are not able to walk that distance you may need to change your goals, but at least you did walk every day. If you don’t walk a day, then you will start back over to the first day of developing the habit.  You have 52 chances in a year to start a new habit, and don’t beat yourself up because you failed.  Just start over again. When you are writing everything down, write the habit or goal on a piece of paper or on a 3X5 card and post it in a few places in your apartment or house. Post it where you will see it everyday, this will remind you of the habit and increase the likelihood of you accomplishing it. After the 21 days and your habit is established, you can start a new one.

Tell your family and friends that you have started the habit. It will make you accountable to other people, because they will ask you how your habit is going.

Use this guide to help you start good habits that are essential in your preparedness.

Organize your family

To start the New Year off right, get 1 calendar that will hold all the birthdays, appointments, events, holidays, etc on it. [This would come under the heading of daily Survival. ]

If you use more than 1 calendar, you take the chance on getting two appointments at the same time, so it is best if you only use the 1 calendar for all family events.

First thing to do is to write all holidays and birthdays that you need to remember, school days off, and anything else that is already scheduled. Write your times in that you will do your journaling and when you will post your spending for the day or week and any reading that you do daily and anything else that you do every day or week like exercise time and the time that you do it. If it is on the calendar just like an appointment then you are more likely to do those things that are recorded with a time.  Once everything that is already scheduled is placed on the calendar then when you start making Doctor, Dentist, etc appointments or any meetings that you need to schedule will be placed on the calendar as soon as you get home or after the phone call there will not be any conflicting times.

Once this calendar is done, if family members want their own calendar then they can copy what is on the family calendar as long as they remember that every event goes onto the family calendar as soon as it is known.

You can decide on different color markers for each family member so that you can tell at a glance who has what appointment. But whatever you decide on the colors of the markers make sure that the markers stay with the calendar for the entire year.  Do not allow anyone to take the markers and use them on something else.  You can purchase calendars that have stickers that go onto birthdays, anniversary, school vacations, etc. You can also go onto the computer and pull up calendars for the year and print them out.

For the calendar to work, it has to be hung up in its own place where everyone can get to it and whatever you use (pencil, pens, markers, stickers) are all in the same place at all times.

Once a week, usually on Sunday it is best that everyone sit down and calendar. In this case ‘calendar’ is a verb, for everyone to get and stay on the same sheet of music.  This is the time to write down any special needs like birthday cake, invitations, etc basically the logistics of the activities. Go over the calendar for the next month so that everyone is aware of what is coming up. I have heard of some people that say if there is an event that is not placed onto the calendar then it will not be acknowledged (such as an event from school that the child does not let the parent know about until the night before).  This will prevent emergency matters that you have to go out late one night so that someone has something for the next day for that activity. Get the kids started young that they need to let everyone know about events from school ahead of time.

With our families being as busy as they are now days, this is one of the best ways to keep everyone organized so appointments and events are not missed.

Prepare by planning ahead to Survive and Thrive.

10 Essentials part 5

3. Insect repellent (or clothing designed for this purpose)

Bugs can all but ruin a trip. So protection must be taken. Your most effective options are: 1) Lotion or spray repellents containing DEET, and/or 2) Clothing that has been treated with permethrin.


4. Signaling devices, such as a whistle, cell phone, two-way radio, satellite phone, unbreakable signal mirror or flare.

A whistle is a compact, lightweight, and inexpensive way to signal for help. Although a person cannot shout for a long period, he can whistle for extended amounts of time. Moreover, the sharp sound of a whistle travels over longer distances than the human voice, and provides a much more distinct sound. Although environmental factors such as wind, snow, and heavy rain may drown out a voice, the sound of a whistle is clearly distinguishable in the field.

A cell phone, two-way radio, and satellite phone  offers a way of communicating with the outside world should you need assistance. While these are all limited to signals, the sat phone is by far the most reliable of the three.

A signal mirror can be used to signal airplanes or other hikers by reflecting the light from the sun.


5. Emergency Shelter such as a plastic tarp and rope.

The shelter is targeted at day trippers. (Most overnight wilderness travelers already carry a tent or tarp.) The thinking is, if getting lost or injured leaves you stranded in the back country, something is better than nothing if you have to deal with wind or rain or snow. Options include an ultra-light tarp, a bivy sack, an emergency space blanket (which packs small and weighs just ounces), or even a large plastic trash bag.




Of course the trip that you will be taking will determine how much of the essentials are actually needed. A short day hike may only require a few of the items, while a full day of hiking may require more. An overnight trip should encompass all of the essentials.


Some of the items are recommended to keep on your person. Some wear a lanyard around their neck with a few of the items attached to it. As it is though, it is your hike, so hike it how you want, but know that these items are listed for your safety. They will not require much room or add much weight, and if you need them you will be very glad that you have them!

10 Essentials part 4

Some other items that are recommended and can supplement the 10 Essentials are:

1.  Water treatment device (water filter or chemicals) and water bottles.

A water treatment device (filter or chemical treatment) makes water potable. All water, including that from streams, lakes, or pools, needs to be treated for bacteria and viruses in order to ensure safety. Most back country travelers carry a water filter: low end models are inexpensive and provide protection against many pathogens, but not viruses. Some more expensive filters and improved chemical treatments get rid of most health risks, including giardia and other protozoa and viruses. Treating the water reduces the likelihood of gastrointestinal diseases. Since some chemical treatments such as iodine or chlorine may leave a bad taste, many suggest mixing in a flavor to hide the taste. These include powdered lemonade or fruit drinks, Tang, Gatorade, or Crystal Light.

Water bottles are useful for transporting a water supply. You can use the filter to pump clean water into the bottle, or use a bottle to scoop up water and then add the chemicals (drops or tablets). Most any kind of bottles can be used. The Aqua Fina bottles are a popular bottle that backpackers carry. It is cheap, and light and easily replaceable.

2. Repair kit, including duct tape and basic sewing materials.

If you carry a self-inflating mattress or tent, you need to carry a repair kit for it. Many sleeping pad and tent manufacturers sale these kits to accommodate their particular product. Here’s a classic tip for carrying the basics of a poor-man’s repair kit: Wrap strips of duct tape (the universal fix-it product) around your water bottle or trekking poles so you can repair who-knows-what in the back country. A basic sewing kit is recommended to repair any clothing or backpack or other type of material that may become damaged and require a quick fix.


3. Insect repellent (or clothing designed for this purpose)

Bugs can all but ruin a trip. So protection must be taken. Your most effective options are: 1) Lotion or spray repellents containing DEET, and/or 2) Clothing that has been treated with permethrin.