"There are four kinds of wisdom ... giving, kind speech, beneficial deeds, and cooperation."

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Survive part 2

 I have been cleaning up the garden and setting it up for next year with shade cloths in mind. So changing from short east-west beds back to long north south ones, a smaller garden in the same footprint with generous path widths, grow a little less food but hopefully we'll be able to water it better.

 Now back to our thought experiment. You're still very poor, getting by on rice and greens, with some fruit and maybe mushrooms, but winter has come and you're becoming interested in varying your diet a bit.

It's time to crawl the Web and the thrifts and see about finding a hand cranked grinder. Something like an old Universal might do, but I'd hold out for the Corona (sorry about that name!) grain mill.

These things usually come with a large hopper but you don't really need that. Affix it to a good working surface (screws will help), put a lid on it to keep dust out when it's not in use, and find a large dish to catch your makings.

We're not out to make fine flour here, though you can if you grind twice and then sift. We're making cracked grains to speed cooking and save on fuel, be it electricity, gas, or wood.

I use this to grind wheat, spelt, rye, barley, millet, quinoa, amaranth, oats, corn, buckwheat, sorghum, teff, wild rice, and brown or white rice as they come to hand. I may add dried vegetable powder flakes, sunflower or sesame seeds, brewer's yeast or the like, and perhaps some lentils. The idea is that if a) the ingredient will go through the grinder well enough and b) is sufficiently appetizing (never the first consideration where survival is concerned), mix as you go --pour a little of this in, and then a little of that. 

If you fill the machine's chamber to the rim, you will find it supplies you, in about thirty turns of the crank, with a single serving of fairly quick-cooking porridge. Pour from the receptacle dish to your pot, bowl or cooker bowl, add powdered milk or salt or fresh or dried fruit or whatever as desired, add water, and either let soak for awhile or take it straight to the heat. I find that three minutes in a microwave does it for me, or five minutes on "steam" in the rice cooker, or just a short while in the Dutch oven on top of the wood heat stove.

If the granularity is fine enough, and it helps to have eggs and baking powder or yeast and sugar (or honey) for this, you can make pan bread or pancakes with this. I usually just have it with a spoon. I'm well enough off nowadays that I can add butter, but, seriously -- as most of these ingredients store well without refrigeration, you could keep a grinder and some loaded one gallon food buckets in a rudimentary shelter and get by.

For best results in such a case, find a steel bucket or large can and make a simple rocket stove (we have done this, but currently have a manufactured one we bought for under $50), or build a fire ring, set up a tripod, and hang a pot from a chain over the flames. 

You can cook whole grains in a saucepan over an open fire, but you may find you are spending more time gathering wood than you were prepared for; so this is a way to save your energy. You may want to economize as well if you are using camp stoves that run on fuels such as propane.

In cold weather when a fire is desirable, don't fret if there's no coffee or tea; you can make a greens tea as I have mentioned before or just drink hot water. As a bonus, ground grains will cook up even faster if you use some of your boiling water to start the cooking; or you can even just add boiling water to your other ingredients in a pot or bowl, cover it with some insulating material such as coats and towels (or make a hay cooker), set it aside for a bit, and it will cook up nicely unattended.

We used to "go camping;" a fine way to cosplay being homeless (BTDT); we have always prepared our barley/oats/millet/dried apples porridge in advance and stored it in the vehicle or tent in a tight container and it makes for us a hot meal that seems to have more staying power than just oats alone, or any processed breakfast cereal or even granola. It's good to have such a thing to fall back on if one's circumstances suddenly dictate making do instead of checking out the restaurants and quick-stop markets.




"[Grains] have sustained human life since the Old Stone Age became the New Stone Age. They are the foundation of your diet, the staff of your life, the contents of your food storage system that guards you from disaster." -- Carla Emery

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Stony Run Farm: Life on One Acre