Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Which I Turn My Kitchen Into a Hazmat Site

We grew 18 pepper plants in 2011. One of those was a cayenne pepper and it was a bit of an impulse buy. Hubby Dear and I were looking at the pepper transplants for sale at a big box store in the next county and it caught our eye. We had never used fresh cayenne peppers before, but we felt that surely we could find something to do with them.

The collection of dried cayenne pepper pods

The plant did really well and produced hundreds of slender green fruits that ripened to a dark red. We decided that the best use of the cayennes would be to turn them into either crushed red pepper flakes or ground red pepper, so we laid them out in a corner of the kitchen to dry.

They have been dry for several months now, waiting for me to get off my tuchus and get around to grinding them. Yesterday was the fateful day.

Although you may wonder after you read about the rest of my misadventure, I'm not entirely clueless when it comes to chile peppers. I knew I should wear gloves while I was working with the cayennes so I didn't get any of the oils on me.  I put on a pair of gloves and began pulling off the stems of the peppers. After the stems were removed, it was a simple matter to shake out the seeds and then pop pieces of dried pepper into my spice grinder. Easy peasy, right?

When grinder was full of pepper pieces, I put the lid on and let it rip. It didn't take much grinding before I noticed pepper dust sprinkling my counter. Hmm, I guess the lid isn't exactly airtight. No matter. I proceeded on.

Then I started sneezing. Huge, messy, half-choking sneezes. Ever heard an elephant sneeze? Me neither, but I imagine that's what I sounded like.

Hubby Dear helpfully hinted that perhaps one of those N-95 masks I have stored would be useful at a moment like this. Since my gloved hands were covered in cayenne dust, he ventured out from living room, held his breath and hurriedly put the mask over my nose and mouth. He retreated quickly to watch his basketball game and thanked his lucky stars that he had an excuse for missing the kitchen shenanigans.  

In his haste to exit the premises, the Hubster hadn't properly situated the mask on my face. My exhalations were somehow getting channeled up towards my eyes. The moist air (keep in mind that the amount of cayenne pepper dust I had already inhaled had me breathing like Darth Vader) fogged my glasses. I'm not sure exactly what I did or how it happened, but the culminating event was a puff of cayenne launched into my eyeball.

To his credit, Hubby Dear did use the DVR to pause the game and check on me while I frantically washed my eye out with cold water. He sympathized with my irritated lungs during TV timeouts. Thanks, honey. I'm glad to know that I rank only slightly lower than our alma mater's basketball team. ;)

Nearly 1/2 c. of very potent ground red pepper

I only made it through half of our dried pepper pods before the above-described disaster. That yielded me nearly 1/2 a cup of ground red pepper, plenty for the next few months. It is much brighter in color than the cayenne I buy at the local grocery store. Hubby Dear says it smells really good, too. I can't say I've tried it yet. After the Unfortunate Incident and the following Hazmat-style cleanup, my lungs seize up if I even think about cayenne!

This may be my most painful exercise in self-sufficiency yet.

Postscript: Our 2012 garden plan includes more cayenne peppers. I guess some people will never learn!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Yet Another Deal Alert

The new year has brought some great bargains on preparedness products. Hopefully the deals will just keep coming! The next one is from Honeyville Grain. As per the email I received yesterday:

"OUR BIGGEST SALE EVER!  SAVE 20% ON YOUR ENTIRE ORDER* from Thursday 1/12/2012 through Tuesday 1/17/2012.  Stock up and save on all of your favorites, and try some of our great new items.  Simply enter coupon code 2012 during checkout.  ORDER NOW!  SALE ENDS ON TUESDAY the 17th of January."

I have bought many products from Honeyville, from 50 lb sacks of hard white wheat to freeze dried fruits and vegetables. I can vouch for their quick shipping and fine customer service. I think I'll take advantage of this sale and add a few cans of freeze dried meat to my food storage. 20% off makes a big difference on such a pricey product!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Deal alert!

As posted by the Tattler Company on Facebook:

"‎40% OFF!  That's the deal TATTLER will be offering this Thursday, 1/12/2012 on !  This is a limited, one time offer of 100 Regular lids and 100 Wide Mouth lids bulk packed and shipped for $85.75!  Quantities are limited on this custom pack, so tell your friends and visit this Thursday 1/12."

I use Tattler canning lids and love the fact that I am able to use them over and over. You'd better believe I'll be jumping on this deal!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My 2012 Prepping Goals

Happy New Year everyone! Do you remember when you first heard about 2012 being such an ominous year? I do. I learned about the whole Mayan calendar deal from my seventh grade science teacher. Mrs. Spracklen delighted in sharing tidbits of knowledge that were either outrageous or disgusting. I still refuse to walk barefooted across the lawn because of her lesson on how hookworms get transmitted to humans.

Back then, 2012 seemed light years away and I couldn't fathom being 30+ years old. Of course I thought that anyone over thirty was over the hill. The intervening years melted away surprisingly quickly and I'm thankful that, although I'm now a prepper and presumably paranoid about such things, I'm not too worried that the world will end in December. I trust what Jesus had to say about this issue.

TEOTWAWKI, on the other hand, is a different story. There's been a few bits of positive economic news recently, but there is still the potential for a complete crash of our economy or some other mayhem. We continue to prepare.

My goals for 2012:

Homestead related:

1. Chickens!

  • I ordered 17 chicks to arrive in March. We need to get a coop and finish building the chicken moat. I'm really looking forward to fresh eggs and (possibly) meat.

2. Gardening

  • Hubby Dear and I have spent the last month pouring over seed catalogs and made our orders for 2012. We're going to be growing some of our favorite crops from 2011 with a few changes and new additions. We are growing more open pollinated, heirloom varieties this year. 
  • We are also expanding our garden slightly as we work towards our goal of doubling our garden's size.

3. Composting

  • We haven't really done much in the way of composting before. Our two existing pet rabbits plus the chickens we have coming will provide us a lot of manure that we can use to boost our garden's fertility. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock has given me a lot of ideas on how I can get the chickens do most of the work of incorporating kitchen scraps, garden waste, etc. into our garden fertility plan. 

4. Research other methods of adding fertility to our garden

  • I'd like to learn about what cover crops I can use in a raised bed.
  •  I'd like to plant comfrey, stinging nettles, and other dynamic accumulators. This is not only a wise practice for organic gardeners but it is also great for preparedness since it will make us less reliant on outside inputs into our garden.

 5. Continue to build our orchard

  • We need to take care of our newly planted pecan trees. 
  • We hope to plant apples, pears, blueberries, and hardy almond trees in 2012. We're going to try again to expand our raspberry and strawberry plantings after last year's plants failed to thrive. 

General Preparedness: 

1.  Finish getting the remaining odds and ends of food storage.

  • We more or less have a year's worth of food stored. I have a few more items I need to add to our food storage. We will be replenishing our supplies as we use it.

2. First aid and hygiene items

  • I want to finish our first aid preps this year (finally). I've got quite a bit of the basics, but we need both a deeper and broader base of supplies. 

3. Miscellany

  • We will stock up on some of the basic tools and miscellaneous items we are missing - things like socks, work gloves, aluminum foil, etc. The Master Preparedness List from the LDS Preparedness Manual will be our starting off point. 

9. Add more books to our survival library

  • In case you haven't figured it out by now, I like books. :) Information is important so I have an excuse to indulge my book addiction.  

7. Diet/Exercise

  • I'm trying to attain a more healthy lifestyle. I have a thyroid disease which makes losing weight challenging, so I'm going to focus more on nutrition and fitness than on the scale.  

What are your goals for 2012?