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SNAP Card Gourmet: Soup Ammendation

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Published on The Doomstead Diner January 1, 2017

Miso Soup- No Ammedation                     Miso Soup- With Ammendation

Miso-1  Miso-2

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In my last Snap Card Gourmet article, I wrote about Pizza Ammendation, which is the technique of taking a fresh commercially produced Pizza available at the Deli Counters of most major food emporiums, and then adding to it various extra ingredients of your choice to make your own custom pizza, practically as good as the great pizza you remember from the small family owned Italian Pizzerias that were sprinkled around NY Shity in the 1960s & 70s.  My particular favorite from my youth is the Mushroom Pizza, but I have been experimenting with some more exotic ingredients like Hearts of Palm and Smoked Salmon.

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Even including the exotic ingredients, the price of a freshly baked Take n' Bake Pizza meal comes in extremely cheap.  For the Pizza, I buy the "medium" size 8" Pizza which comes in at Walmart at $6.  I divide that into 1/4s which I each bake separately for a Pizza meal, so the basic cost is $1.50.  Additional ingredients can cost as much as $1, for expensive stuff like Hearts of Palm.  1 Can of those, usually imported from Brazil generally goes for around $5, but I get usually at least 5 if not 6 pizza meals out of one can, so slightly less than a dollar there.  So for $2.50 or less, I come in with a scrumptious freshly baked pizza slice, which along with some sausage and eggs for breakfast is usually plenty for me to eat in a day.  I stay well under my SNAP Card budget of $5 for the day.

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpg For the person still with their own roof and fully equipped kitchen, this is excellent, cheap and quickly prepared food.  It has a big problem though as far as a Homeless person is concerned, which is that you need some form of conventional oven (not microwave) to bake it in.  At least a Toaster Oven for this, but they are electric and homeless people don't usually have accss to electricity, nor can they be toting around a toaster oven even if they can pirate electricity somewhere.  Homeless cooking is generally confined either to small camping stoves with a single burner, or to open pit or trash can fires with a cooking grate over it.

If you are just working with a single burner, you are generally limited to two types of cooking, Boiling or Pan Frying/Sauteeing.  The two main foods of the homeless as a result are cans of soup or vegetables which can be boiled, or eggs and bacon or sausage which can be pan fried.  Rice also can be boiled or steamed, Potatoes boiled and chopped up with an onion for home fries in the pan.  A big combined scramble or omellete also possible to do in one pan, although given I have more burners I don't usually do that.  This is really all the cooking a homeless person needs to do, otherwise you mostly eat prepared foods at fast food joints or if you are the more healthy type of homeless person, fruits, nuts and vegetables which can be consumed raw with no cooking at all.

For today's topic and Recipes, we are going to talk about another type of ammendation, Soup Ammendation.  What soup ammendation does is take a comercially produced packet of soup mix or canned soup, and adds to it more ingredients to make it more hearty and robust as a meal.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51pvCUupZVL._AC_UL320_SR240,320_.jpg The main one I will talk about here is Miso Soup, a favorite of mine from the many Japanese restaurants I have frequented over my life, usually for a sashimi lunch.  With the lunch special, you always got a cup or bowl of Miso Soup, which varied from average to excellent, depending on the restaurant.  The main ingredients in a Miso soup are the Miso (a type of fermented bean curd), Tofu, Seaweed and green onions.  In a good Miso soup, there were a decent amount of all the ingredients in there and a rich broth with plenty of Miso added, in the average ones they were thin on the miso and cheap on the amount of tofu in the soup.  Kinda thin and runny.  Rarely though at a restaurant did I get a truly bad Miso Soup.

In trying to make my own Miso Soup at home back in the day, the best I could find was dried package soup sort of like Lipton's Onion Soup, which is still the main one available although there is one other variety I picked up a while back.  Basically the same though.  In both cases, the Miso Soup you get by adding a cup or so of boiling water to the packet is beneath bad, it's awful.

Not that it tastes bad or anything, it does taste like Miso Soup.  However, it is incredibly thin in texture, and the amount of dried tofu and seaweed that reconstitutes is miniscule.  You can pretty much drink it like you would a cup of tea or coffee, or a cup of beef broth.  It's not a real "soup experience".

So, even back then what I did was to buy a Tofu block and cube up some of it to ammend this soup, along with buying a package of dried seaweed and some fresh green onions to slice into thin disks and add to the soup also.  This filled it out nicely, and was a good facsimile of a Japanese Restaurant Miso Soup. The miso broth though was still kind of thin.  Recently though I found full quart size packages of miso paste in the refrigerated section of Carr's, which is the local variant of the Safeway chain.  One tablespoon of this paste thickens up your home brew miso soup and with all the ingredients added, is now BETTER than any miso soup at even the best Japanese restaurant!

At the top of the page you see Before & After photos of Miso made at home in the digs here.  Which one looks more appetizing to you?

https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/house-foods-tofu-firm-101552.jpg In addition to the normal ingredients, I also add some canned mushrooms, which have a great texture and are a terrific addition to the normal recipe.  So, how much does the ammended Miso Soup cost me?

The initial packet of Kikkoman comes in packages of 3 for around $5, so that is $1.66 per serving.

A block of firm tofu comes in around $2.50 average here, and I get about 4 servings from one block when I cube it up.  About $.60 for the tofu.

The seaweed comes in at $1.20 for a small package, which gets about 6 servings. $.20

The Miso Paste comes in at $6 for the quart size, but I get at least 20 servings out of that for $.30.

The green Onion come in at $1 for a bunch of around 6, one per serving for around $.16

Total cost for the Gourmet, Rich and Beefy Miso Soup, slightly under $3.  However, I have now found that I can substitute for the expensive package of dried Miso Soup from Kikkoman the much cheaper generic dried Onion Soup mix similar to Lipton under the store brand.  Utilizing this as base, I take a full dollar off the cost here and the result tastes practically the same and the nutritional value is exactly the same. You get fabulous nutrition out of this soup, tons of protein in the Miso and the Tofu and Vitamins in the seaweed and green onion.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nKFKrsPWL._SY300_.jpg Far as the homeless person is concerned, this is all easy to boil up in one small pot (my next Snap Card article will cover lightweight and portable cooking gear) and very amenable to homeless cooking.  However, it does have the refrigeration problem, both the Tofu and the Miso need to be kept refrigerated until you actually use them.  This problem can however be resolved with a Cooler and Ice, if you have a semi-permanent tent arrangement in a Homeless Encampent, aka Obamaville.  If you dispense with the Miso paste and brew up the soup with just the fresh Tofu, then if you share with 3 other homeless people you go through the whole block in one meal, so no refrigeration necessary.  It's unfortunate Miso Paste isn't available in small packets like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, that would get rid of the storage problem you have for a large quantity of Miso paste.

Miso Soup is not my only Soup Ammendation recipe, I have another big favorite which is Southwest Blackbean soup

Now, if you want to make Miso Soup for yourself at home (or homeless), it's not so EZ as just cracking open a can of Campbells Chunky Soup.  There are no canned Miso Soup varieties available here in the FSoA I have ever been able to locate.  There are any number of quite good canned soups coming from both Campbell's and Progresso, although in both cases I have seen deterioration of the quality and "chunkiness" in both brands of soup.  The Clam Chowder in both cases has taken a really big hit. A lot thinner now and less clams and potatoes.  A lot of ammendation is necessary to get a decent bowl of clam chowder now from either company, but not going to cover that ammendation here today, I'll stick to just the Southwestern Black Bean soup for this article.

https://gianteagleproducts.blob.core.windows.net/images/376/00041196458930-GE-20150804095304.jpg The SBB soup is a very tasty one from the Progresso folks, but like all the Chunky varieties from Campbell's, they aren't so Chunky anymore.  These soups come in around $2/can now up here on the Last Great Frontier, although I usually wait for sales and stock up when they come in at 3 for $5 or so, $1.66 each.  By itself with no ammendation, a single can of this soup is good for 2 meals, in combination with a bagel or a part of a Subway Hero.  Ammendation though makes the soup a meal in itself, and in fact transforms it from a Soup to something more like a Gumbo.

To ammend a can of SBB soup, I usually add 1/2 can of Seasoned Black Beans, which come in at around $1/can.  Then another 1/4 can of sweet corn kernels, coming in around $.90/can.  The soup is now a whole lot thicker and richer, and there is a lot more of it.  I'm not done yet though.

For fresh veggies, I add some chopped up and sauteed green peppers and a diced habanero pepper to make it spicier.  Then I pan fry or BBQ an Italian Sausage or Bratwurst and cut it into thin disks to add to the soup, which adds animal protein and fat to up the calorie content.

The mixture is so thick and rich now that although you can still eat it solo with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top, what I usually will do at this point is steam up some rice and and ladle it over the rice pile.  Now, instead of 2 meals out of the original can of SBB soup, I have more like 4 meals of Gumbo over Rice.

The original can comes in at an average price of $1.75.

1/2 Can of Seasoned Black Beans, $.45.

1/4 Can of Sweet Corn Kernels, $.25

1/4 Green Pepper, $.50

1 Habanero Pepper, $.50

1 Sausage, $1

Total cost for the base Gumbo, $4.45.  Divided by 4 approximate meals (I usually get more though, like 6), that comes to around $1.11/serving.  This gets ladled over the rice, which costs very little, maybe another $.30.  It's a huge, tasty and filling meal for under $1.50.  Adding some cheese and sour cream to it you might drive the total cost up to $1.50, but no more than that.

As with the Miso Soup, the big problem here for the Homeless person is not in the cooking, but in this case the refrigeration of the leftover soup from the initial preparation.  You have a pot of soup you need to keep refrigerated for at least 4 days, which also means eating the same soup for 4 days straight.  As tasty as it is, by day 3 you are ready for a change but the more days you eat something else, the longer it is leftover in the cooler, and by about the 6th or 7th day, your really don't want to eat it.  It might still be OK biologicaly speaking and not make you sick with Tomane Poisoning, but even so week long leftovers are not very appetizing, even if well refrigerated.

So in this case once again you are best off to work in at least a small GROUP or TRIBE of similar Homeless people, and all share the meals and the costs together.  Then the entire preparation can be consumed in one sitting.  A group of 4-6 people is ideal for this, a family or a few refugee buddies.  However, once you start to cook in bulk for more than just yourself, now you start to need some cooking gear beyond a persoal aluminum or stainless steel mess kit that can handle larger cooking taks for more people.

I will cover the nature of such cooking gear and how it should be used in the next installment of the SNAP Card Gourmet.

Cook-kit

SNAP Card Gourmet: PIZZA!

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on October 16, 2016

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I've been writing Snap Card Gourmet articles and recipes for over a year now, with at least 8 articles on the topic of eating well and eating cheap.  As a former Chef, I love to cook, and as an Epicure I used to love to eat too!  My own concoctions and stuff served up by fine restaraunts, whatevah, eating was a great pleasure for me over the years.

https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/3DbU-KM7Ib0ecr1Mns_Tgw/ls.jpg I was pretty good in terms of controlling my total intake and never got ridiculously obese, although in my trucking years I did load up an extra 40 lbs or so on a relatively small frame, so I was kinda fat then.  Long days behind the wheel with little physical output of energy required, followed by a stop a some truckstop buffet with an all you can eat buffet tends to put on the fat layers, even if the food is not all that good.

I shaved off most of that fat though in the years following the life on the road, and balanced out at a reasonable set point of around 165 lbs.  Not my trim weight of around 145 from my 20s-30s, but not unreasonable either.

In developing the Snap Card Gourmet series, I focused on many of my favorite foods, mostly EZ to cook up recipes created from fresh meats and veggies which shouldn't strain your budget and also have good nutritional value.  I have encountered problems with this menu recently though, due to artifacts of my spinal injury.

http://www.restaurantnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Ruths-Chris-Steak-House-Surf-Turf.jpg The main problem here is first off I have little to no appetite most of the time and actually have to FORCE myself to eat these days.  Nothing really "tastes good" to me anymore, I can hardly taste the difference between a Big Mac from Mickey D's or a Prime Cut Fillet Mignon  & Lobster Tail Surf & Turffrom Ruth's Chris or another "Fine Steakhouse".  The main difference is the price, around $5 for the Big Mac and around $100 for the Surf & Turf.  In both cases, I have trouble finishing the whole meal as served, usually the best I do these days is get through about 1/3rd of what is on the plate and the rest comes home as leftovers.  I can't eat a lot all at once, that makes me nauseous.  So normally these days I just eat a few bites of some food in my fridge a few times a day, then I take a vitamin or two or three of different types to make sure I am getting my vitamin requirements fulfilled.

There is a secondary problem to not being able to eat much when you want to buy fresh food, which is the size of the packages of meat, which usually come in the smallest package size of around 1lb.  I never ate a full pound at one sitting exept maybe a few times with a big ass Porter House steak in my teens and twenties when males of just about any size can eat through an entire refrigerator in a day.  Even a "Quarter Pounder" Burger is a lot for me to eat now, usually I eat about half and then the other half as leftovers, or it gets thrown out.  Cooking tiny portions is a complete waste of time, you have all the same prep time and cooking time as with a large meal for 2-4 people, and who wants to bother with that for just yourself, particularly if you are not getting any great enjoyment out of the eating?  So I have this same problem with leftovers whether I cook at home or go out to eat.

What's the solution here to this problem?  I want my food to be cheap & relatively nutritious and I want it in small quantities but relatively fresh when I eat it without long stays in the fridge as leftovers.

http://www.bellisiofoods.com/files/cache/5ca99f92c5238cfa1f2c84379335aec0_f360.png The small cheap frozen food dishes that Michelina's and Banquet puts out ALMOST fill the bill, they come in about $1 each and are just about the portion size I can eat at one sitting.  The problem with them of course is they are not nutritious in the LEAST.  I do resort to them now periodically though.  I have however come up with some somewhat more nutritious and tasty (insofar as I can taste them anyhow) alternatives to this diet of frozen foods, which not only are tasteless but have the consistency of soggy cardboard.

My first and current favorite are the "Take & Bake" Pizzas on sale near the deli counter of most major food stores these days.  They come in 3 usual varieties, the 5-Cheese pizza, the Pepperoni Pizza and the Supreme Pizza, which has sausage, pepperoni, onions, green peppers and black olives on it.

When I buy such a T&B Pizza, I don't bake the whole thing at once, I cut it into 1/4s and bake each quarter slice on its own in the toaster oven.  The smaller 8" size is big enough and runs around $6, so that is about $1.50/meal for just the pizza, but I do add-ons sometimes.

http://images.bizbuysell.com/shared/listings/115/1157689/5f881a57-9669-402f-b209-d4c71701fbb2-W640.JPG When I was a kid in New York Shity, there was a small Pizzeria on just about every block, wedged into the ground floor Store Space of the typical NY Walk up tenement style building of the 1900s-1930s or so.  These places were all laid out the same, narrow and long.  They had to fit the about 20' wide storefront and they went back probably 100' or so.  There was a door in and a Window/Counter open to the street where you could buy a slice without actually going inside, the Walk-Up version of the Drive Thru windows at all the fast food joints we have today.

Inside the store, there was a counter with full pizzas of various varieties which you could buy by the slice, around 25 cents a slice at the time as I recall.  A narrow aisle spearated this from 3 or 4 two person tables, and then further in the back were a few 4 person tables and the bathrooms.  On the far side of the counter was the Pizza Oven, which in the best old pizzerias were still made of brick or stone at the time, but increasingly replaced by stainless steel electric or gas models.  The Pizza Chef was always out front tossing the dough circles in the air until you were sure the dough would break but never did, always tossed to the perfect consistency of thinness befor breaking.

https://amusingthezillion.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/photocopyrightgeorgedaniell1997_coneyisland.jpg?w=500 Over time of course these small family owned pizzerias were replaced by chains of Pizza Huts housed in more square buildings and now with a drive up window rather than the sidewalk windows on the streets of NYC.  No Pizza Chefs toss dough circles in these places, they were replaced by fast food workers who got pizza dough shipped in frozen from some dough factory which probably had machines to toss the dough.  Then the Frozen Pizza market exploded, and for half the price or less of a Pizza at Pizza Hut you could pick one of innumerable varieties from innumerable manufacturers of Pizza in the Frozen Food aisle of your local food mega store.  Some of them are actually not too bad, and there are a lot of interesting varieties.

The latest varient of this are pizzas made up in the deli counter area of your food super store, they are not frozen but made up with fresh veggies and other ingredients and when you bake them yourself, almost as good as those great slices of pizza you remember from your youth.  They generally come in only 3 varieties though, the 5-cheese, the pepperoni and the supreme, although sometimes also you see the "Hawaiian" pizzas with pineapple and ham on them which have become quite popular.  These were never available in my youth and I have never developed a taste for them.

https://67.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lsyiex72DW1qai5m3.jpg  Mainly I buy the Supreme Pizzas which have a variety of veggies already on them, plus pepperoni and sausage which gives me some meat protein for the day, and no further prep is necessary other than cutting out a slice and baking it in the toaster oven while I write or surf doom on the internet.  However, my favorite pizza type from my youth was the Mushroom Pizza, which had on top of the tomato sauce and cheese mushroom slices.  So what I do sometimes now since such pizzas are not pre-made in the store is buy a 5 cheese pizza and then add on my own mushrooms sauteed in garlic before baking.  In some respects this is BETTER than the mushroom pizzas of my youth, because I carefully lay on the shrooms so there is a "shroom in every bite".  Sometimes in the pizzerias they were cheap on the amount of shrooms they dropped on or they were poorly distributed around the pizza and if you were unlucky you got a mushroom pizza slice with too few mushrooms to have one in every bite of pizza.

I also can add other things I like, like some sliced black olives or even hearts of palm or artichoke hearts, all of which come conveniently out of the can and keep for weeks in a tupperware container in the fridge.  Addition of materials probably adds another 50 cents to the cost of each slice of the pizza I create this way.

http://ipjournal.law.wfu.edu/files/2011/03/Subway-Sandwiches.png Besides the Pizzas, another prepared food I have as part of my main diet now are Subway Heroes.  After you pick your meats and cheese, you can have the fast food worker load it up with lots of different fresh veggies, and in addition nowadays guacamole which drives up the calorie content quite a bit.  Add Mayo or Oil and Vinegar, still more calories.  Get home and add a few more slices of cheese, more calories.  I have the original hero cut into three parts, each of which is enough for me for 1 day, and each part is still pretty good on the third day as long as it is kept in the fridge wrapped up in its plastic bag.  I stay away from stuff like tomatoes which will make the bread soggy if kept in the fridge this way.  If I want tomatoes, I add my own right before consuming that part of the sandwich.

The final prepared food which is part of my main diet are the Rotisserie Chickens available in most food stores running anywhere from $5-$8 depending on the store and size of chicken they offer up.  Cheapest are of course at Walmart.  Such a chicken will last me at least 4 days for the main parts I like to eat by themselves, the breasts and the drumsticks.  Then I take what is leftover from those and the thighs and wings and and chop it up and make a chicken salad which lasts another day or two.  Then I take the stripped carcass and throw it in the slow cooker to make chicken stock, add a can of commercial chicken stock to that and make some Jewish Penicillin out of it, aka Matzoh Ball Soup.  One of these chickens easily gives me a full week of animal protein, fat and vitamins from the fresh carrots that go in the soup as well.

http://img.sndimg.com/food/image/upload/w_555,h_416,c_fit,fl_progressive,q_95/v1/img/recipes/15/08/79/pic9F4al0.jpg All in all, this diet pretty much fulfills my needs and is EZ to prepare and quite cheap, pretty much as cheap as buying raw foods and preparing them myself, which these days I really have no inclination to do anymore.  I do still enjoy preparing foods for others to eat, but I don't really have much opportunity to do that anymore.  I do miss the days when I would BBQ up a nice juicy ribeye steak with a dry rub and marinated a day or two in my secret marinade and then slathered with some BBQ sauce to carmelize, but today most of that generally goes to waste and it's just too much trouble to cook it up too.

Even if you don't have a good kitchen to prep in, the single person can still eat relatively well on a low budget here in the FSoA with the Pizzas, the Heroes and the Rotisserie Chickens.  These don't have to be the ONLY things you eat, I also drop in there ocassionally some sausage and eggs, or some canned soup I like, or I buy a garlic bread to toast up in the toaster oven, etc.  The main thing is to reduce the leftovers and the wasteage of food, which absolutely drives me nuts when I have to throw out food and think about all the people out there currently going hungry.  I can't do too much about that, but I can try not to waste so much food for myself.

SNAP Card Gourmet Weekly Menu

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 27, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Diner Pantry inside the Diner

Since I began the SNAP Card Gourmet, I have put up quite a few individual recipes that come in under the SNAP Card Budget of average $5/day eating.  However, I haven't yet put up a Weekly Meal Plan that meets the budget and provides good Variety so you don't get bored eating the same stuff every day.  Rice & Beans every day or Spaghetti & Meatballs every day gets OLD very fast.  You can do this for a 3-day stretch if you really have to, but if you plan carefully in what you will buy in any given week and then also have a Fridge of some kind to store the fresh food and the leftovers, there is no reason to be eating this way as long as Da Goobermint is dropping $150/mo on your SNAP Card.

Before going through the Weekly Menu, a few things to note.

First off, I dropped in a different meal for each day and time, breakfast lunch and dinner.  In a normal week, I wouldn't have different meals every day and every time period.  If I make a big batch of Seafood Gumbo for instance, I'll probably have that 3 times during the week, not just once.  Same with stuff like chili or chicken soup.  In the week I make stuff like this, I have it in 2 or 3 meals.  The rest goes in the Freezer to be eaten the following week.

The next important thing to note are the Prices I dropped in, which were all in Whole Numbers of $1, $2 or $3 for a given meal.  I generally overestimated to the Upside on this.  In fact, something like a Ramen Noodle and Peanut Butter Sandwich comes in at more like 70¢, and most of the breakfast meals I list come in under the $1 they are listed at.

The next reality is that I in fact hardly ever eat 3 meals of this size in a day, I usually only have 2 of them, depending when it is that I actually drag myself out of bed.  LOL.  I also don't usually have everything listed as part of the meal either, I'll just have a cup of oatmeal and no banana, or a banana and no oatmeal, etc.

Another reality is that I just about ALWAYS have leftovers, because my appetite is very depressed as a result of my neck injury and lack of mobility.  My Eyes are almost ALWAYS bigger than my Stomach these days, particularly when cruising the meat freezers at 3 Bears.  It's almost impossible for me to resist buying a nicely marbled Rib Eye Steak that is ON SALE,  despite the fact i have plenty of steaks vaccuum sealed in the freezer already.  So if I make a mega-Burger meal, if I can eat half of it that is doing good, and I have the other half for breakfast the next day.  My biggest issue is eating leftovers before they go bad, or finding space in the freezer to keep the leftovers more than a week.

Then I dropped in also some Premium food, like Avocados.  One nice Avocado by itself around here comes in at $2.50 usually, and this is not necessary to use half of for a burger or half for breakfast either.  Dispense with the Avocado, you save $2.50 for that week.

So my weekly menu generally costs less than this, although periodically I buy what I call Super-Premium foods, like Alaska King Crab or Filet Mignon or Rack of Lamb or Camembert Cheese etc, so that brings the weekly cost up some.  Not much though, because even the Super Premium doesnt all get eaten in one week.  If I buy a Rack of Lamb for $15, I'll have it in 3 parts over 3 weeks for 3 meals widely space apart.

All in all, I just about never spend more than $40/week on Food even though I am not on a SNAP Card budget of necessity.  Most weeks it is around $30, and I never have a problem with good variety and tasty meals to eat in a week.  As I mentioned above, the biggest problem is the Leftovers.  I hate throwing away food, it feels sinful to me to do that.  At the same time, I don't always feel like eating the other half of last night's dinner for breakfast the next day, and after 3 days in the fridge I REALLY don't feel like eating it!  lol.  So I am trying to adjust how much I cook up on any given day to just what I will eat that day.  Not so EZ to do, because some things like Gumbos only cook up well in quantity, plus usually the ingredients come packaged in quantities bigger than I will eat in a week.  If you are feeding more people, it becomes a bit easier not to run into the leftovers problem.

With all those caveats in mind, here is a Sample SNAP Card Gourmet meal plan for a week:

  Breakfast Cost Lunch Cost Dinner Cost   Weekly Cost
Mon Bacon Egg Cheese on a Roll 1 Peanut Butter Sandwich & Banana 1 Spaghetti w/ Meatballs & Sausage & Salad 2    
Tue Oatmeal & Banana 1 BLT Sandwich & Cup of Chili 1 Chili w/ Rice & Steamed Veggies 2    
Wed Western Omellete & Home Fries 1 Chicken Salad Sandwich & Cup of Chicken Soup 1 Sausage w/ Peppers & Onions on a French Roll 2    
Thu French Bread w/ Cheese & Orange 1 Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Ramen Noodles 1 Chili-Cheese Dog & Steamed Veggies 2    
Fri Smoked Salmon Omellete 2 Tuna Sandwich & Cup of Fish Chowder 2 Seafood Gumbo 3    
Sat Egg-Potato-Bacon-Cheese Scramble 1 Meatball Marinara Sub 2 Chicken w/ Rice & Beans & Salad 3    
Sun Avocado Half & Boiled Egg 2 Broccol-Cheese Soup and Loaded Baked Potato 2 Cheeseburger w/ Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato 4    
    9   10   18   37

Now, to make these meals in a week, what do you need to buy or have in the fridge or freezer already?  This is where it gets difficult to figure the precise cost of any single meal.

Bacon shows up often in the breakfasts and lunches, but usually I get around 2 weeks out of a 1 lb slab of bacon, which I can usually pick up ON SALE for $4.  So the Bacon cost for a week is $2.  The Chicken which I usually buy pre cooked as a Rotisserie Chicken for $6 also gets me 2 weeks usually, half of it I eat the first week with a Breast/Wing and Leg/Thigh/Wing on 2 days, and the rest of the good meat  from the other half goes into making a chicken salad, then the Carcass goes into the slow cooker to make a Chicken Soup base, which also lasts 2 weeks.  A package of Hot Italian Sausage to use in Spaghetti Sauce and for Sausage Pepper & Onion  Subs also goes 2 weeks at least.. Ground beef for chili, meatballs and hamburrgers only lasts a week, while a package of Hot Dogs for chili-cheese dogs will last a month.

Then there are Staples like Spaghetti and Rice, which I buy in Bulk and last a couple of MONTHS.  The per meal cost of these is pretty negligible, 25¢ or so maybe.  Cooking Oil, Mayonaise, Butter etc also bought rarely, but part of many of these meals.  A gallon bottle of cooking oil will last me 6 months EZ though, so per meal that i use it for cooking it does not amount to more than 10¢ either.

So on my weekly shopping trip, I go in with a $35 Budget, but I don't buy all the items necessary for the Meal Plan in any given week.  A typical basket full of industrial ag food goodies when I get to the checkout counter might look like this:

Food Quantity Price Total
Ground Beef 1 5 5
Hot Sausage 1 4 4
Bacon 1 4 4
Scallops 0.5 12 6
Eggs 1 3 3
Black Beans 2 1 2
Red Beans 2 1 2
French Rolls 2 2 4
Kaiser Rolls 4 0.5 2
       
    Grand Total 32

In another week, I might leave out the bacon and sausage and buy a rotisserie chicken.  Other weeks I might load up on staples like spaghetti or rice.  I always come in under my $35 budget for a given week by $2-3, because I keep a running tally in my head, always rounding up on the prices.  So by the end of the month there is always extra money to pick up stuff like chili powder or a gallon of cooking oil or pound of butter etc.

Now, lets go through some of the key meals in detail!

Bacon-Egg-Cheese on a Kaiser Roll

https://ramblingcookiemonster.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/bec.jpg This is the true NY Deli Breakfast Meal, picked up on the way to school or work before getting on the subway.  The Egg McMuffin is a poor imitation of this delicious morning meal, which in the old days was all cooked on a griddle behind the counter rather than microwaved up.  I usually don't load it up so big as the one at left, I find that one egg, one strip of bacon and a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese sliced off the bar of cheese is plenty for me for breakfast.

 

 


Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato Sandwich

http://www.bonappetit.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/blt-set-free-overlay-bg.jpgThe Classic "BLT"

Shown here on typical Toast, but I modified this to have it on half of a Fench Roll instead of the sliced bread loaf toast. Although they are more expensive, I like the artisan baked breads you find nowadays in the big food superstores that have their own bakeries and kitchens.  Some weeks I may buy a loaf of bread for making peanut butter sandwiches and so forth, but these loves last a while and I only use them for BLTs if I have used up my French Rolls and Kaiser Rolls for other meals.

The BLT forms the base for many other sandwiches and burgers.  Add a hamburger & some cheese to a BLT, and you have a Bacon Cheeseburger.  Add some Smoked Turkey slices and you have a club sandwich.  However, I am partial to just the straight BLT, although again I don't load mine up with quite as much bacon as is on this one.

Chili with Rice

http://nutmegnotebook.com/wp-content/uploads/photos/TamalesChili-Food-Finds-033.jpgUsually I will make up my own batch of Chili from scratch and keep a bunch of it frozen, but I admit to being lazy on this also and just buying Canned Chili, which also comes in quite cheap.  A Can of Napa chile comes in around $1 a can, which you can then spruce up by adding some slices of an Italian Sausage, some green pepper and onions, etc.

The Rice really fills out the meal, and in fact I usually only use the equivalent of half a can of chile with the rice for a meal, so 1 can will make 2 meals.  I rarely will eat it by itself as a bowl f chile.  I'll use the other half of the can for a Chili Dog or Open Face Chili Burger.  This is another change of pace from the Bacon Cheeseburger which adds variety to your menu.

 

Seafood Gumbo

Around here because everybody fishes, I always have some halibut or salmon in the freezer, I never have to buy these even though I don't fish myself anymore.  Friends are always giving me some fillets or steaks during the fishing season and I vacuum seal them and throw them in the freezer.  So to make a gumbo, I will take one out and cut it up into chunks, and then buy some scallops or shrimp or crab to add as well to the gumbo, and then whatever else I have available gets thrown in the slow cooker.

Like the Chili, Gumbos are best when served with rice to fill them out with some carbs.  Also like the Chili, a batch will last for several meals, so you usually will want to freeze a portion of it, unless there is more than one person in your household in which case you might all consume a batch in one meal.  This is the advantage of cooking for a larger number of people for anything you do in a slow cooker.

There are of course numerous other meals listed in the Weekly Snap Card Plan above, and many others possible also.  Each week you can evaluate what you still have in the fridge as fresh food, what leftovers you have and what you might want to buy in the next week.  Sometimes I have so many leftovers that I need to skip a week of buying new food just to work through the leftovers before they go bad.  Same with fresh produce, lettuce, tomatoes etc.  These weeks off from buying new food also provides the money to buy things like fresh produce, mayonaise and spices you want in the pantry to flavor up the food.

Careful planning and watching your weekly budget makes having a healthy and diverse diet quite possible on a SNAP Card allotment.  Dont waste your money on junk foods like Potato Chips or cans of Soda, and you'll have plenty of good food to eat each month, at least until the supermarket shelves go empty or they stop issuing SNAP Cards out, in which case we will have even bigger problems to concern ourselves with.

Eat Well, Eat Cheap with the SNAP Card Gourmet!

 

 

 

 

 

SNAP Card Gourmet Gumbo

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 8, 2015

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What is a Gumbo?

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions.

That's the official definition anyhow.

To me though, a Gumbo is anything you throw in a pot to make a fully nutritious and filling meal.  It should have everything you need to eat for the day in one pot.  Animal Protein, Corbohydrates, Veggies etc.  It should also be spicy and flavorful.  You throw into your pot whatever is available.

Gumbo ingredients should also be CHEAP (relatively speaking of course these days).  So no expensive cuts of meat in there.  In fact, if you can get the meat for free by nailing a squirrel with your slingshot, even better!  Same with the veggies, if you can get them out of your own garden instead of buying the overpriced GMO versions in the food superstore, this also is better.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31vMUhKeJcL.jpgGenerally speaking though, the SNAP Card Gourmet Homeless Person or Road Warrior doesn't have these options most of the time.  For this week's edition of SCG, I made two Gumbos utilizing only my Homeless Cooking Apparatus, a portable propane grill and a 2 burner portable propane stove.  The key in both cases is you want to make maximum use of your propane once you start cooking.  When doing my SCG experiments, I try to get a full week out of 2 one liter size cannister of propane.  One cannister goes to run the grill, the other one to run the stove.  They run about $3 each right now here on the Last Great Frontier, and I have dozens of them in the Preps.  You can also refill them with adapters available in the camping department of your local Walmart.

It's cheaper still and more efficient to use a typical 5 gallon Propane tank that most home BBQs work on, but for the Homeless person unless well set up in a  semi-permanent Tent City, such a large cannister is tough to move around, although if you still have car and storage unit, this is the cheaper way to go than the individual cannisters.

The portable Grills and Stoves are also relatively inexpensive, anywhere from $30 to $60 usually.

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These are the models I use for SNAP Card Gourmet Cooking

You also want to keep yor cooking utensils to a minimum.  Even if you still have your car, too many pots, pans, knives etc clutters up your valuable private space. I keep my SNAP card utensils to 2 sizes of pots which nest, and 2 sizes of sautee pans that nest.  I also have a small electric slow cooker which is great to use if you have a source of electricity.  Also worthwhile to have is an electric single or double burner to use when electricity is available.  This can save you money on propane and has the bonus you can use them indoors just about anywhere, for instance in a cheap motel room once a week or bi weekly, where you additionally can shower and clean up, hopefully for a Job Interview the following day.  You also do laundry on these motel vacations.  So when you arrive at the job interview, you don't appear to be a smelly homeless person, but rather still a normal member of industrial society.  You will of course need to be able to scrape up the $40-50 necessary for a night in such a Bates Motel.  Motel mini-vacations from the Road Warrior lifestyle should be judiciously chosen when on a limited budget.

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OK, now that you have all your SCG Cooking apparatus in place and ready, it's time to go SHOPPING! 🙂

http://static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/kroger-italian-sausage-hot-4086.jpgAs mentioned, you want to go with the cheapest cuts of meat available, which is usually chicken or pork.  Chicken is great for the chicken soups and chicken salads you can make, but pork in the form of sausage is better for the gumbos.  Some form of Beef is best for the stews, but beef usually comes in pricier than the chicken and sausage.

For the sausage, I usually get the generic house brand of sausage at the local Kroger, which comes in at around $1/lb less than the Johnsonville National sausage brand.  I like the Hot Italian sausage, but you can also get mild, or Bratwurst, all the same price around $3.75 for a 5-pack, $.75 per sausage around here.  One sausage is enough for your Animal Protein needs for the day, although I usually also have an Egg with a thin slice of breakfast meat and cheese on a roll as breakfast also on SCG experiment days.

The pack of sausages doesn't just go in the Gumbo, I like to have a Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagie/Sub/Hero also, a favorite of mine from street vendors  at the Festival of San Gennaro back in Little Italy in NY Shity in my youth.

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Fresh Green Peppers, Onions, Potatoes and Carrots are the best choices of veggies for the Road Warrior.  They require little to no refigeration and will stay good for a week at least.  You get some needed roughage and vitamins from them as well.  An EZ one pan morning meal is to chop up some peppers and onions, chop up a leftover potato from a slow cooker stew, then crack a couple of eggs over the whole mess and swish around untile the eggs congeal.  Slide that onto a plastic plate for eating, then just wipe down the pan and the plate with a paper towel!  Pretty EZ Cleanup!  A multi-vitamin with this breakfast is also recommended.

I'll also usually throw one in with some Spaghetti Sauce to have a Spaghetti Sausage Marinara meal, and sometimes use 1/4 of one for breakfast meat on the morning roll, although I like a thin slice of nice smoked ham instead, and I'm not really broke and homeless (yet!).  So you can get a nice variety of meals out of one package of sausages that will last you all week  easily.  Your biggest problem here if truly homeless is the refrigeration problem.  However, at least with the Gumbos and Spaghetti Sauce, the way around that is to Reheat the gumbo the next day to boiling temperature.  Any bacteria that might have got going overight gets killed off.  I have eaten both Gumbos and Sauces 3 days old without refrigeration simply by reheating them each day.  If you do still have a car or van and drive around regularly enough in it to keep the battery charged, you can use a thermoelectric cooler to keep your letovers good for a couple of days usually.

Better still than this method if truly homeless in a Tent City is to work together with other Homeless People.  5 people can be fed pretty well with 1 package of sausages and the rest of the ingredients in your Gumbo, so each Homeless person buys one set of ingredients a week which you all cook and eat together on the day the food is purchased, handed out at a food pantry or shoplifted perhaps.  lol.

OK!  So now it is time to GET COOKING on the porch and imagine my future life as a homeless cripple gourmet chef in a Tent City while Industrial Civilization progresses to Complete Collapse! 🙂

Step 1 is the meat preparation.  As mentioned in prior SCG recipe articles, I prefer my meat cooked over an Open Grill for the nice smoky flavor that it gives it, plus all those tasty carcinogens that get created over the flame.  lol.  I also want to maximize the use of my propane cannister, so I usually do not cook just one package of sausages, but rather fill up the grill space with other meat for other meals, which then gets stored in the refrigerator since I still have one of those and still can afford to pay my electric bill.  In this case, I filled up the rest of the grill with Beef Back Ribs, perhaps the cheapest beef cut you can buy that has some meat on it at around $2.79/lb up here these days.

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Right after the initial grilling, I'll eat the best parts of the ribs straight off the grill.  Then what is left on the bones goes in the Slow Cooker with some beef broth and simmers until the meat falls off the bone, and then I use that to make a Grilled Ribs Beef Stew, which I have gone over before in a prior SCG article.

http://www.progresso.com/~/media/images/heart%20healthy/southwest-style.ashxFor the Gumbo with the Sausage, I'm going to go with the single size batch I make, which only takes one or most 2 of these sausage links. You can easily upscale the recipe for a family or other Homeless Compadres.  For this, in good Homeless Person fashion, I use mostly canned goods off the shelf at Kroger.  My current favorite is a "Southwestern" style Gumbo that starts with a Base of a can of  Progresso Soutwestern Black Bean & Vegetable soup.  I usually can pick these up ON SALE for between $1.50-.1.75, current regular retail price is $2.15 up here though.

To me though, the soup by itself doesn't have enough Black Beans or Corn Kernels.  So I add to it a can of generic black beans and a can of generic sweet corn kernels.  $.80 each here for these cans, again ON SALE.

Then I take about 1/4 cup of rice and steam it, and add the steamed rice into the gumbo for the carb component.  No more than $.50 worth of rice here.  Then I dice up some fresh green peppers and onion, not too much maybe another $.50 worth, sautee until soft and carmelized, and dump that in the Southwest Gumbo.  Meat component is the Sausage, which after cooling from the grill I slice into thin disks that come in around 20 in number from a single sausage link.  Each disk fits nicely into one soup spoon dip into the Gumbo.  Finally I splash in some Habanero Pepper Hot Sauce which usually comes in around $3/bottle, but one bottle lasts months even unrefrigerated. $.10 for the seasoning here.

So total cost for this 1 person Gumbo is ~$5-6, and it usually lasts me 2-3 days.  So call it $2/day for this component of my daily sustenance.  The Egg/Cheese/Meat/Bread Breakfast comes in around $1.  Together, this is usually enough food for me in a day.  Days when I eat spaghetti, or leave out the fresh veggies I can get the feeding cost lower than that, and it's still pretty tasty eating.  If you can qualify for a SNAP Card, use Food Pantries and still have a place to do your cooking, at this point here in the FSoA you should not be going hungry yet, and neither should your kids if you have some.  Watch your food budget carefully, buy ON SALE foods of good general quality, balance your meals with protein, fat, carbs and roughage.  You should have enough left over at the end of the month to buy some Multi-Vitamins too, which should be added in because so many of the canned foods and even fresh GMO veggies are rather devoid of vitamins these days

Good eating, on the cheap, here on the SNAP Card Gourmet. 🙂

The SNAP Card Gourmet 004 – Chicken SNAP Alaska RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 23, 2014

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Week 4, the BONUS Week in the SNAP Card Budget has finally ARRIVEDAT LAST I will be able to start varying my meals and doing some more creative cooking!

As opposed to my roughly $25 Budget in the first 3 Weeks of this Adventure, this week I have about $65 to spend on FOOD left on my SNAP Card!  I am feeling positively WEALTHY as I head over to the Food Emporiums with this hefty load of Digital FRNs still left on the Card!

I start by cruising for BARGAINS on items I could not afford earlier while I made sure I had enough calories and basics in the larder to make it through the first 3 weeks.  I am in better shape now with a decent amount of basics, plus leftovers from the first 3 weeks.  I’m not gonna go hungry here in the next 10 days no matter what I buy.  However, I am still not going to be stupid and buy super expensive meat cuts quite yet for full on gourmet.  I’m looking for bargain fixin’s to make quality meals with.

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Even though they are not Prime, these steaks are well marbled with FAT and will cook up well on the Grill.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn the Meat Dept, I find On Sale Organic Chicken Breasts, thin cut for $6.  That is a BUY!  Also an odd cut of beef ribs that sold at $2.50/lb, also a BUY for another Stew.  Finally in the Meat Dept, I found a Twin Pack of New York Strip Steaks for around $6, a little thinner than I usually like for BBQ, but with a high flame and quick cook, should be OK.  These steaks are small enough I will not have leftovers and they just are single meal jobs.  They will both be Grilled, because given the choice, I ALWAYS grill steaks rather than do pan or broiler cooking with them.  However, the rest of the prep will differ some so not exactly the same meal.  I am thinking I will have one or two Premium Steak & Eggs Breakfasts, and another Steak Dinner with Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms.

Altogether here on the Meat End, I am around $15, now I need to fill out the meals here with the remaining $50.

I head first to the Fresh Veggies produce dept of the Food Emporium, as so far I have not had any fresh veggies in my meals and I MISS them.  Besides, they are healthy for you to eat.

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Some of this week’s Veggies! Note the colorful Organic Carrots! Mostly I Steam Veggies if they are not cooked in a stew. Zucchini I like sauteed in butter or bacon fat with some garlic.

I get a Crown of Broccoli for $3, 1 Pt Mushrooms for $2.50, 1/2 lb of Brussel Sprouts for a bit over $1, Spinach for $3, Zucchini $2 and an Avocado for $2.50.  I also still have carrots and onions and potatoes leftover from earlier purchases.  Total on the Fresh Veggies here, around $14.  So now up to $29 Spent, around $35 left.

Given the stuff I have just purchased, plus what is left from before, I now plan in my head my meals, and have to buy some premium stuff I do not have.

I need some spice, Tarragon for $3.  I need cooking sherry and marsala cooking wine, ON SALE for $4.59 each.  Two cans of Seasoned Black Beans, $2.  The Beans are to go with Rice in the larder as one of the Carb choices of the week besides the Spaghetti and the Potatoes. I have plenty of dried beans in my Preps, but canned beans are WAY easier to prepare and they aren’t very expensive. Unlike many other veggies also, canned beans don’t have much different texture than if you prepare them from dried beans.  I absolutely cannot stand anything like Canned Asparagus or Green Beans though.  Yuck Mush and tasteless, never buy them on ANY budget!. Total here another $15 or so, down to $20 left.

With the remaining, I buy some Staples, Sour Cream to go with my Baked Potatoes, $2.50, Hot Sauce $3 , 1 lb Ground Beef, $5, Spaghetti Sauce $3, Peanut Butter $2, Loaf Oatbread  ON SALE $3.

10 Day Plan as it evolves during the Shopping Expedition is this:

2 Nights Steak Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

3 Nights Chicken Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

2 Nights Stew Dinners

1 Night Gourmet Hamburger Dinner

1 Night Leftover Chili Dinner

1 Night ALL LEFTOVERS Dinner.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor the Stew this week, besides the riblets, it gets potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, some onion soup mix for broth and a little BBQ sauce.  Main difference from normal stew is that prior to dropping the meat into the Slow Cooker, I seared it on the Grill, which adds some nice smokey flavor.  You could just eat these off the grill, but this meat is a little tough even though there is plenty of fat.  Added benefit of doing a quick grilling first is that you render off some of the copious fat in this cut, which would be way too much in your stew.  Even so, I will probably have to cool it and skim some fat off after the slow cook, although in a real starvation scenario you would never do this.  In terms of calories, the more fat the better in your meal.  You have to balance this against having so much fat in there you clog up your arteries and die from Cardiac Arrest instead of starvation.  Overall though, on a Paleo type diet you can leave most fat in as long as you don’t overdo total consumption.

For the Chicken Dishes, my plan was to make two from the package of thin sliced organic chicken breasts, my own recipe of Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, and a typical Chicken Marsala.  However, I ended up just making the one Chicken Alaska since I didn’t have time and just did all 4 Chicken Breasts the same way. The Preps are not too much different for Marsala, and mostly the cooking is the same although you do have to bake Chicken RE a little in the oven to melt the cheese, which you do not have to do for Chicken Marsala.  For Chicken Marsala, you can go to Emeril or the Food Network for a recipe and cooking method, I won’t do that one here.

Now, I have to make an admission here, the recipes I am including do NOT include some spices that I have in my Preps that I could add to flavor these meals up a bit more.  They are still pretty tasty without the additional spices, and equally nutritious either way.  If you have some available spices, don’t hesitate to add them to make the recipe even BETTER!    For the Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, I suggest Tarragon and Sage in the saute phase.  Tarragon is a real good spice to use with Chicken, and the Sage accentuates the aroma.

Chicken SNAP Alaska RE Recipe

Ingredients

1 lb thin sliced Chicken Breasts

2 Tomatoes

1 Avocado

Cheddar Cheese

6 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup Flour

Cooking Oil

Directions

Pound chicken breasts thin, flour both sides.  Add chopped garlic to hot cooking oil, sear the breasts 2-3 minutes each side, remove from flame.  Add Sliced Tomatoes to the Hot Oil/Garlic, fry each side about 1-2 minutes.  Lay Tomato slices over chicken on skillet or baking dish.  Lay cheese slices over chicken & tomatoes.  Bake in Oven @ 350 F for around 10 minutes until the cheese melts nicely.  Lay Avocado Slices over the cheese and Serve.  Serves 4 people, or four meals for one person.  Approximate cost: $3-4 per serving.

This brings us to another issue, Cooking after TSHTF, or Cooking from just what you can Grow or Raise on your Doomstead.

Tons of things you drop into a Recipe are only available while JIT Shipping is still up and running to some extent.   Who grows Peppercorns on their Doomstead?  Can you get Avocados?  Paprika?  Cooking Sherry?  Lemons?  Probably not on many things, so your meals will not have such flavorings in them, even if you have access to Fish, Chicken, Moose, Potatoes, Carrots etc.

http://gallagher-photo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Mongolia_Homeless_07.JPGYour actual ability to “cook” also gets limited down, while I can pound chicken breasts and flour them, you can’t do this if you are homeless, or at least it is real difficult.  Once you are homeless, your either boiling stuff or roasting it over a flame if you are working with anything fresh, but mostly you are not and just heating up canned food or microwaving in a convenience store. Homeless people do not have lots of cooking utensils, cast iron pans which are heavy to carry around etc.  Cooking with NO Utensils at all is just either open flame roasting or burying the food wrapped in leaves with hot rocks for a slow cook.

In fact “cooking” as we know it today really did not begin until Metallurgy was pretty well developed to make Pots, Pans, Griddles, Dutch Ovens etc.  Cookware in the old days was very valuable and handed down from generation to generation, along with things like Silverware and Fine China dishware.  With the Industrial Era though, mass produced cooking and eating utensils got very cheap and everyone takes these things for granted now.  Once out on the street though as a Homeless person, most of these things are baggage you just can’t carry around with you.  Most of what you eat off of and with is disposable paper and plasticware.  I have a couple of Stoneware sets, but I almost never use them.  Paper Plates!  Yes, I know it is wasteful.  However, I save on the energy used to wash the dishes!

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpgThis ends the first month, and what it does demonstrate is that you most certainly can survive on a SNAP card allotment, at least as long as you are not yet Homeless.  In fact you can do way better than I did this month by accessing Food Pantries if you qualify, and next month I will figure into the equation what is possible with food issued out to low income people and the elderly at a Food Pantry like the one I Volunteer at.  If you add in this stuff, at least twice a week you can eat premium foods if you watch the total budget and your consumption and food type distribution.

As long as both the SNAP Cards are issued out AND the Food Pantries continue to operate, any real “Food Riots” here in the FSoA such as you see already in MENA are unlikely.  If you are starving here in the FSoA right now, it’s either because you are already Homeless or do not have knowledge enough to be able to access the Food Assistance that is available in most neighborhoods, or you simply do not know how to Budget and spend your SNAP allotment on stupid things.  Like a Bag of Potato Chips that runs $4! Soda and high fructose corn syrup “Juices”!  Drink WATER from the Tap on a SNAP Budget!  For many people though, they simply don’t think about this and spend the whole $140 on junk which is gone in a week or two,  which is sad.

At the moment, the problem Economically for most of the population is not a Food Problem, there is plenty and it is getting distributed out for the most part, although you definitely have instances of people being poorly nourished due to their own ignorance and the poor choices in food available they make.  That food plenty will probably not last in perpetuity of course, but neither do I think it will drop off the map here in the FSoA that rapidly either.

Finally for today, in the next month I am not going to delineate the weekly purchases from here on in, but rather do an Estimated Cost Per Meal, since the accumulation of stuff over time means you do not always buy new stuff every month.  For instance, one quart of cooking oil lasts me at least 2 months.  Same with a pound of butter.  There are always leftovers to every meal, so you cannot make an absolute on exactly what you need to buy in any given month once you get going on this.

Generally speaking, most meals will come in between $2-$5.  Daily expenditures will mostly stay under $5, but after a few days of CHEAP EATING, a Gourmet Meal that might run $10 or even $20 might be cooked up here on the Diner Stove.  You cannot do many of those though and stay under a total monthly budget of $140.  However, I will do one SUPER PREMIUM meal each month and still stay under Budget.

Besides looking at what you get in a monthly box from the food pantry, I’ll also look more at how a Homeless person might use his SNAP Card and try to stay under budget with just Canned and Microwaveable foods in the next month.  Then we’ll examine the total economics of living on Poverty level income.

Until next week then, Eat Well and Stay Healthy!

RE

 

The SNAP Card Gourmet 003: Eggs Toba Flambe

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 16, 2014

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As we move into Week 3 of the First Month on the SNAP Card budget, I’m doing quite well with some decent amount of leftovers here in terms of Eggs, Potatoes and even some Chili and Spaghetti in containers.  So for Week 3 Purchases, I am going to get even CHEAPER, and just buy some Stew Meat to make a simple stew, along with Flour, Butter, Cooking Oil and Cheese so I can make Cheese Omelletes this week for breakfast, in addition to the Eggs Toba Flambe Video Special of the Week you see above.  BE CAREFUL when you make this breakfast!  You don’t want to burn down your Doomstead!  LoL.

Note: I did have to CHEAT for the Flambe with the SECRET INGREDIENT for a spectacular Egg Skillet dish.  This really perks up your Eggs! (Hint: This Recipe was Illegal from 1920 to 1933 in the FSoA) 🙂

So this week’s expenditures are

1 lb Stew meat $5

5 lbs Flour $2.50

2 lbs Cheddar Cheese $7

1 qt Cooking Oil $3

1 lb Butter $5

Dry Onion Soup Mix $2

The Cheese, Flour, Oil and Butter will last quite some time since you don’t use too much of this stuff usually for most things you whip up.  Total for the week here around $24.50.  So for the first 3 weeks, this will be a total of around $77, which leaves me $63 to finish out the month until JP Morgan Chase Recharges my SNAP Card.

A few issues were raised in SCG002 regarding just how cheap you can go here in what you buy.  For instance, my friend and fellow Gourmet Stucky pointed out that you can make Pasta cheaper than you can buy it, but the savings are pretty inconsequential here.  I only spent $2 on Pasta to begin with even buying the premade stuff.  Similarly, you can buy  Beans and some various other Staples very cheap, especially in Bulk, but if you try to live on JUST these mostly empty calories (though beans have good protein content too), the diet is ridiculously bland, not to mention totally lacking in vitamins.

http://nrn.com/site-files/nrn.com/files/uploads/2013/08/TacoBell_Breakfast_sign_300.jpgWhat runs up the cost is getting variety in the diet, and all the less cheap foods you need to fill it out and be able to do some decent cooking with.  So far, the “recipes” here are super basic, and really this is mainly “Bachelor Cooking 101”, at least it used to be.  Nowadays the typical Bachelor doesn’t even do this much cooking, because you can buy Frozen Foods to microwave up just about as cheap as doing most of these type of preparations.  I’ll go through the economics of that in another episode.  Besides that, if you are still employed and making a decent paycheck, most bachelors don’t cook breakfast for instance, they just stop in at Taco Bell on the way to work and buy a Breakfast Burrito. Lunch comes in the form of a Subway Sandwich. On the way home you stop at the Hot Counter of the Deli section of your local Food Emporium and buy some General Tso’s Chicken and Fried Rice.  You spend $20/day on food this way, it’s not real healthy, but it is well within the budget of most people employed in jobz above the Min Wage.

The other criticism came in the Meat department, with the idea you can get cheaper meats to eat that are not usual in the Amerikan diet, Liver, Tripe, Pigs Feet & Neck Bones yadda yadda.  The thing is, in Food Emporiums in this neighborhood, they aren’t that available usually, and they are not much cheaper either, if at all cheaper.  You’ll still pay $3/lb for most of them, even freaking Soup Bones with no meat at all on them!  On the other hand, I can about always find some cut of Boneless Pork for the same price.  The most I would save in a Week if my Meat consumption is 1-2lb/week is maybe $2 most by buying a cheap cut or some gizzard.  It just does not make a big difference to the total budget, which gets consumed elsewhere.

These 3 Vine Ripened Tomatoes cost $2 on SALE!

These 3 Vine Ripened Tomatoes cost $2 on SALE!

Besides spices, the main area that consumes your budget is if you start buying a lot of Fresh Veggies.  Another criticism came in is that instead of buying Canned Tomato Sauce, I should make my OWN Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes!  Issue here is a 1 qt  Can of Tomato Sauce comes as cheap as $1.25 on sale, to make this much tomato sauce with Fresh Tomatoes would cost $10 EZ.  If you are growing your own Tomatoes, this obviously is the way to go, but not if you are buying them.  Another thing to remember with the commercial tomatoes is that they usually are ethylene ripened and are not much more vitamin filled than the canned ones.  If you go and buy hothouse on the vine tomatoes, you can double your cost again here.  You’re ot gonna make much Tomato Sauce on a SNAP Card budget if you try to do it with Fresh Tomatoes, unless you are growing them yourself.

OK, that covers the critique from the last episode of SCG, now let’s get on with this week!  Since I am just making Stew and the only Main Ingredient I am currently missing is Stew Meat ( I have Carrots, Onions, Potatoes and Garlic still left from my Week 1 purchase), the fun part of this week is SHOPPING for the Meat!

I have 4 basic choices for buying Commercial Meat around here, Carr’s (a Safeway Chain store), Fred Meyer (a Kroger Chain store), 3 Bears (a discount Food Warehouse) and Matanuska Meats, a local place that will prepare your hunting and fishing meat as well as providing meat for sale from the local farms.

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I am fortunate all of these places are on my route to and from work more or less, I don’t have to go much out of the way to check in on them for what is available.  3 Bears has BY FAR the largest selection, and usually the lowest prices, but Carr’s comes in pretty low also sometimes, relatively speaking of course.  The meat fridge you see above at 3 Bears is only one of several, others have whole sides of beef, lamb etc in them.  With the MASS QUANTITIES of meat present in these freezers every day, it’s hard to imagine the day they will all be empty.  Until that day arrives though, plenty to choose from, and so far the prices aren’t too bad yet.

Fred Meyer overall for meat is not usually a good choice, although they come in cheapest on other stuff often enough.  Matanuska Meats has the highest Quality and is my usual choice if I am being Meat Picky, even though the price is usually a bit higher.

 photo matvally-1.gifFor Stew Meat, the difference is between paying $5/lb at Carr’s or $6/lb at Matanuska Meats, and just choosing here I would go with MM for a lousy $1 difference.  However, I am also torn in what cut I want to use, there are some real nice Ox Tails also on the rack at Fred Meyer.  This would make a much RICHER stew with more FAT in it than typical lean stew meat.  They want $7/lb for the Ox Tails.  This week, I decide to go medium with the Stew Meat from Matanuska Meats.  I’ll save doing an Ox Tail Stew for when I have more in the way of spices to make it super duper.

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Some of Francois’ dried meat selection.  He gives classes in preparing your meats as well.  Old School stuff.

I’m not going to video making Stew, because it is brain dead easy, and besides I am out of time here if I want to have the article ready for Sunday Brunch.

Much like the Spaghetti Sauce, the first proceedure is browning the meat in a pan before slow cooking, so it has nice color.  With the cubed meat though, I roll it around in some flour before browning it.  This adds calories and also will help thicken the stew.  Later you can add more flour to thicken more if you like.  I’m using whole grain flour for this.  A bag of flour is a great way to add in some extra cheap calories to any meal, even without making pasta from it.

Once browned up, you just chuck it in the slow cooker with the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, and make the broth from the Onion Soup mix.  OK, I am cheating again here and adding some Marsala Wine to flavor up the cooking broth some more.  It was a cheap bottle though and I only used 1/2 a cup.  Whisk in a little more Flour if you want it thicker.  Feel free to dump in your favorite spices if you have some also.  A Bay leaf definitely helps here.

3-4 hours later, ladle it out over some rice and Give Thanks to Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase for another day of Industrial Food Living on your SNAP Card!

After 3 weeks here of “just getting by” on the SNAP Card Budget, in Week 4  I am FINALLY going to be able to start doing some REAL COOKING with REAL RECIPES!  I have $63 to spend for the final week or so here in the month, so I can buy some more expensive spices and ingredients.  Also, I’ll stock up on some staples like cooking oil, butter, sour cream etc to have available to make next month’s dishes perkier.

What I will go for at this time is dependent on what I see On Sale in the markets, but probably will include Last Great Frontier Fish Chowder RE and a Chicken dish, maybe Chicken Marsala, Chicken Paprikash or Chicken Parmesian.  Chicken is always relatively cheap animal protein, so a good meat choice.  Just have to watch out for the GMO fed chickens, which tend to be stringy in texture.

We also have Thanksgiving coming up, so we probably need to do something special for that.  No way I will do a Turkey though for just me, I’d be eating the leftovers for MONTHS, even with a small Turkey.

Until then eat well and watch those shelves for disappearing products!

RE

 

The SNAP Card Gourmet: 002

Off the keyboard & camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 9, 2014

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kuroda-laughingIn this week where the Japanese have gone FULL RETARD in their Monetary Policy and Vlad the Impaler gave a Speech which actually made some political sense, making our local Politicians look like the hacks they are, it’s tempting to use my Sunday Brunch space once again to look at the Big Picture, but I also want to follow up on my first SNAP Card Gourmet episode and get rolling on the great experiment of eating on a SNAP Card budget.  So for a while here, the Sunday Brunch offering on the Diner will be all Food Related, and I’ll save ranting and analyzing the ongoing Geopolitical and Economic Clusterfuck for other dishes served up during the week.

Getting rolling on the SNAP Card Budget isn’t easy, particularly for the individual.  It’s a bit easier for a family, because you can buy more Bulk purchases, which drive down the cost quite a bit.

Eggs are an EZ example here.  If I buy eggs by the Dozen (about as much as I will usually eat of eggs in a week), around here they come in around $3/Dozen right now.  However, if I buy 5 Dozen, I get them for $2/Dozen, a HUGE 50% savings! The same is true for a 5lb bag of Potatoes vs a 20lb bag, etc. So you want to buy in bulk as much as possible, especially for Staples that have a long Shelf Life.

In order to get started on this as an Individual, my first week I am going to focus on buying Staples in medium bulk, which will insure I won’t go the least bit hungry the first couple of weeks, but it will be a mighty limited Diet overall, eating pretty close to the same damn things every day which gets very boring.  Boring is not the only problem though, you don’t want to eat the same stuff every day because to capture all the vitamins you need, variety is important.  However, for 2 weeks you can eat the same stuff over and over again and not die from Scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency. The important Criteria for Week 1-2 is to have plenty of food for the period, keep the price down below $25  to save for better foods and more variety, and begin some storage of longer lasting foods to improve variety as time goes by.

DAY 1: JP Morgan Chase just dropped $140 on my Newly Issued SNAP Card!  I recently lost my job as a NASA Engineer after they shut down our SETI program.  I have applied for a job with Richard Branson at Virgin Galactic to develop Space Tourism for the 1%, but haven’t heard anything yet on my Resume.  At least I can EAT this month though! Thank you Jamie Dimon!

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My Future Job with Virgin Galactic

Until Richard gets back to me, my Food Purchases for the next 2 weeks are…

5 Dozen Eggs- $10

5 lbs Alaska Potatoes- $6

2  Green Peppers- $2

2 lbs Onions- $2

4 Heads Garlic- $2

2 lbs Spaghetti- $4

2 lbs Rice- $3

1 pckg Breakfast Sausages (14)- $2.25

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce: $2.50

1 pckg Hot Sausage: $6

1 lb Ground Beef $5

1 Container Italian breadcrumbs- $2

2 Pkgs Bear Creek Chili- $6

For the next 2 weeks, I will be eating 2 meals a day, a Breakfast with Eggs, Meat, Potatoes & Onions, and Dinner of Spaghetti with Meatballs and Sausage or Chili with Rice.  The only real variety will be in how I prepare the Breakfasts, it is going to be very boring 2 weeks of eating.  However, it is only costing me $52 out of a $70 Budget, and I should have plenty of Potatoes and Eggs left at least, and possibly other leftovers as well.  So $18 will be conserved in this initial period.

If hungry between the Breakfast and Dinner, I will simply eat a couple more eggs or some leftover Spaghetti.

So now, let’s have some COOKING FUN with this simple set of ingredients!  I’ll start with the eggs, since there are a lot of ways to prepare them and even if you don’t have a lot of variety here in ingredients, at least you can make things different from day to day with some different preparations.

 photo PICT0600_zpsed9e854f.jpgMy personal favorite for the Morning Breakfast is very traditional, 2 Eggs Over Easy, Breakfast Meat of some type and Hash Browns.  If you can’t get hold of breakfast sausage, you could always substitute Squirrel or Earthworms for Breakfast Meat of course. For the Hash Browns, you use leftover Baked or Boiled potatoes usually, but you can also just Nuke a Potato in the microwave and then throw it on the skillet with some onions, garlic and peppers. Usually to have some potatoes available for hash browns,  I let the potatoes and garlic slow cook for 3 hours along with a couple of soy sauce packages and a ketchup package all scarfed up for free and in the larder here.  I’m not using any of my preps I BOUGHT, but I will use freebies I have collected at the beginning to add some flavor to this stuff until I can afford some decent spices.

I like Over Easy because you can thicken up the Yolk to make it like a nice Sauce if you don’t break the yolk in the cooking, which of course is something of a challenge depending on your cooking utensils.  When I first started cooking Over Easy Eggs, I would drop both in the pan, cook over medium flame until the egg white firmed up, then split them with the spatula and flip each half individually.  Here is a demonstration of this basic method, which is very Low Class overall as cooking technique goes.  lol.

After a few months of making my own breakfasts though when I was a kid, I decided I should get COOL and flip both eggs in the pan without a Spatula like I saw the Pros doing on TV.  Needless to say, I messed up numerous times doing this, and even now it is still a bit of a challenge to catch the eggs just right so the yolks don’t break on you when you do it.  However, if you really want to impress your girlfriend with how good a cook you are, if you pull this off flawlessly its just about as good for getting laid as playing the Electric Guitar. LOL. Thank God I am Left Handed, because with my now Semi-Paralyzed Right Arm, I couldn’t flip an egg with that one to save my life, and impressing Babes with cooking technique is the least of my concerns these days. LOL.

Obviously, there are many other ways to prepare your eggs, scrambled, omelletes, soft or hard boiled etc, but right now I’m limited on both type and amount of ingredients inside the SNAP budget, so you can’t do too much here.  I’m looking forward to buying some Cheese, but I want to buy in bulk for this so I am saving up for it.  In next week’s episode, I will have some more interesting egg breakfast preparations than just Eggs Over EZ.

The two main Lunch/Dinner meals are equally simple and basic, though with the Spaghetti and Meatballs/Sausage there are a couple of tricks to extend out your limited meat supply.  I’m taking 2/3 of the 1 lb of ground beef to make Meatballs, and the other 1/3 I will brown with onions and garlic to go in the Chili.

To extend the number of Meatballs I can make from 2/3rds of a pound, I smush in 2 raw eggs and some seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 a cup.  This also makes the meatballs more flavorful and they have a nicer texture.  The first order of bizness is to brown all the meat in a skillet, and then drain off and conserve the fat.  Here’s that proceedure:

After you have browned and drained the fat off the meat, set it aside and then saute up whatever veggies you have to put in to the Sauce and Chili.  Veggies up here are fairly pricey, although I often get them free from friends who do gardening.  However, since many SNAP card recipients don’t have access to fresh veggies friends grow, I am not going to use those in the accounting here and just stick to what I can afford on the SNAP card budget.

Once the meat and veggies have been initially prepared, all that is left to do is throw everything into the slow cooker and let simmer around 3-4 hours.  If you do have some spices in the larder, add your favorites here!  Oregano, or Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme!

Just one Word here…PLASTICS!

Once you have your Spaghetti Sauce and Chili cooked up, you transfer it to a container and drop it in the fridge.  Each day all you cook up the rest of the week is some Rice or Spaghetti, ladle out a helping into a small pot to heat it up and then pour it over the carbs.  Alternatively, you can cook all the spaghetti and rice at once also, and then make portions for each day in Microwaveable containers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis gets us through Week 1 & 2, and there should be leftovers of some things at the end of the 2 weeks, we’ll see how much.  In Week 3, I’ll buy some more bulk goods and try to stay under $30.  With the $52 spent in weeks 1&2, that is total $82, leaving me around $58 to finish out the month with.  I should be able to put together some nicer meals in Week 4 with the savings.  What they might be depends very much on what I see On Sale in my visits to the Food Emporiums, so I can’t predict at this point.

https://s.yimg.com/ea/img/-/100127/homeless-family-400x300-15m069s.jpgOne final note as far as Doom is concerned.  Obviously, this paradigm assumes a kind of Bizness as Usual, with food available at markets and money that functions to buy it.  I am NOT here developing cuisine and recipes to live on if you cannot get hold of any food at all this way.  The objective here is to simply see how little you can spend each week on food in the BAU paradigm currently operating to help keep your overall expenses down.  it is also applicable only in 1st World countries, much of the stuff you might currently still buy simply is not available in 3rd World countries.

There are many other things you want to do to reduce total expenses also, such as moving into smaller living spaces, carpooling with friends and neighbors and limiting and consolidating trips you take that require Gasoline to accomplish.

Probably the most important way to reduce expenses is to get together with others and pool resources, such as moving in with friends or relatives, or creating buying cooperatives amongst people who live separately.

My current goal with this project is to see if I can reduce my total monthly expenses to what a Minimum Wage worker earns each month, around $1200, for a yearly income gross around $14,400.  Hopefully I can get under that so I can have Savings besides.  I will be including my monthly communications bill in this total, for my phone and internet connection, because really it is not possible to live in this economy without these things and have a semi-normal existence.  Without good communications connections, if you are a laid off IT worker for instance from NASA SETI, you can’t post your Resume on the net or have a cell phone for Richard Branson to call you at.  These are basics in the society we live in now, if you fall so far off the cliff you lose access to this, your downhill spin to homelessness will be very rapid.

As you can see from the Videos & Pics, my package of ground beef made 9 Meatballs, and I divided the sausages into 3 parts each, for a total of 15 sausage sections.  Total of 24 Meat servings, which I divided into 3 pieces each serving.  Each meal comes in around 1000 calories, and the breakfasts similarly at 1000 calories for 2000 calories/day.  Both meals are very filling, and more than I really need, so actually I end up with some leftovers.

http://www.lousfoods.com/wp-content/uploads/0076026300029_500X500.jpgThe other main Dinner meal for the 2 week initial period is very EZ, and is good for storage too, the Bear Creek Chili is dried food requiring no refrigeration.  I ended up just using one of the packages, so the other package will be used next week and reduce my expenses for week 3.  All you do to prepare this is add water to the mix and throw it in the slow cooker, brown the remaining ground beef in a skillet with onions and garlic and add that to the mixture with a can of tomato paste, then ladle it over rice to serve.  Hopefully you know how to make rice.  You boil it or steam it.  Duh.  Make as much as you need to fill out your calorie requirement for the day.

With my leftovers, all I am going to buy for next week is some stew meat $6, a large block of cheddar cheese $7 so I can make cheese omelletes, baked potatoes with cheese etc, butter $4 sour cream $2.50, flour $2.50 and cooking oil $2.  $24 total.  Together with the $52 from the first 2 weeks, that is $76, leaving me $64 to finish out the month.  I will make my first “gourmet” meal during this week, and buy more staples to fill out the larder and make more variety possible in month 2.

It is worthwhile to note this is much harder to get going for a single person than for 2 people living together.  You can get to more variety quicker with 2 people.  Also worth noting is that you can supplement a lot from Food Pantries if you qualify, but in the first month I am not considering that part of it.  Since I do not qualify for food pantry assistance in reality, I can’t get one of these boxes of food, but I know what goes in them since I volunteer at a Food Pantry.  So next month I will also buy what goes in a Pantry Box but not include what I spend on it in the food budget.

In SNAP Card Gourmet 003 next week, we will make a simple Stew and Cheese Omelettes, and maybe a Surprise Meal as well.  See you then!

RE

The SNAP Card Gourmet 001

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 31, 2014SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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A while back I wrote an article called The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook, which I intended on becoming a series with Recipes for meals you can cook up on the cheap, but it’s one of those ideas that got lost with all the rest of the stuff going on in Doom, along with all the other projects we are always undertaking on the Diner to get the message out about the Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Podcasts, Vidcasts, yadda yadda.  These days, just Blogging Text doesn’t reach enough people, because they simply do not READ.  You have to use the whole panoply of media to capture an audience.

However, I recently moved to New Digs, and took the opportunity last weekend to do some Home Cookin’, which I rarely do anymore since it is much easier to just buy prepared foods or microwaveables, and I’m not really on a SNAP Card budget, although I don’t usually spend too much more than the SNAP allotment each week on food anyhow.

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With some 47 Million People in the FSoA now living on a SNAP Card budget, developing good recipes with the current food available that you can access either low priced at Food Superstores or sometimes free at Food Pantries is very important.  So over the next few months, I will be keeping my Food Purchases under the typical SNAP Card allotment for the individual of around $140/mo, $35/wk or for simplicity sake here $5/day.  File this under the idea that even if you are currently flush, it’s a decent idea to learn how to live CHEAP BEFORE you actually are faced down with the challenge for real.  Not the $2/day many folks in the 3rd World live on, but the economy here is different and making it on $5/day in food is something of a challenge in the FSoA.

FoodDonationsIn order to be better connected to the people who actually are currently in this situation and to become more active Locally, I have begun Volunteering at one of the local Food Pantries that serve the folks around here who have already fallen off the Economic Cliff, people for whom Collapse is  not a “Someday it Might Come” thing anymore, Collapse is already here for them.  I hope over time to be able to develop connections between my friends who own Local Farms and who are Commercial Fishermen and the folks already off the cliff or soon to be in need of sustenance to develop a comprehensive food distribution system ready to drop in place when JIT shipping and the Dollar fail.  I am in a unique position to do this for many reasons, and it is probably the most “real” way I can be of service, beyond writing on the Internet.  While I still believe it is important to try and work on the Grand Scale of the Global Internet and Blog the Collapse, I also realize that most solutions will need to be local, so ya can’t just Blog on this stuff, you gotta do something in your neighborhood too.

I decided to change the name of the Series from “The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook” to “The SNAP Card Gourmet” for a few reasons.  One is to highlight how large a segment of the population is already in the situation of needing Food Security Assistance here in the FSoA.  The other reason is it is an Homage to my favorite TV Chef from my youth, Graham Kerr, The Galloping GourmetWAY better than Julia Child! 😀

If you watched about the first 2 minutes of this, you should be able to tell Graham generally did his Cooking Show 3 Sheets to the Wind, and often enough would consume an entire bottle of wine in recording the show.  LOL.  He had a ton of fun doing Galloping Gourmet, and it was hilarious because it was all impromptu.  I’ll be trying to do my Doomstead Diner Cooking Show in the same tradition. 🙂

I’m not going to try recording 20 minute shows yet, this biz will take some practice.  However, I will include a few clips along with the recipes and an accounting of the costs and cooking means, which I am going to adapt for Doom.

For this Week’s Episode, the two Dishes are Grilled Peppered Steak RE and Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs & Alaska Veggies RE.

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Now the first thing you are probably going to say is “RE!  There is NO WAY you could afford to make meals like this on $5/Day!  That Steak BY ITSELF cost $23!!!!”

http://www.scuffproductions.com/scuff/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/mban490l.jpgYou would be right also, if you tried to eat this stuff EVERY day, and if you consumed all of it in one day at a single sitting like the typical patron of an All You Can Eat Buffet like Golden Corral.  You also can’t buy such stuff the FIRST week you start eating on a SNAP Card budget, you have to work your way into it by eating cheaper than $5/day for a couple of weeks, then use the savings to start buying some Premium Foods to sprinkle into your diet later.  I’ll demonstrate how to do this in succeeding episodes of The SNAP Card Gourmet, here on the Doomstead Diner.

Let’s begin here with the Pepper encrusted USDA Prime Ribeye, which is a very typical BBQ preparation utilizing a Dry Rub, a little BBQ Sauce, a couple of days marinating and about 20 minutes on the Grill.

The reason the price comes in so high here for this piece of beef is that it is USDA Prime, which generally you only get in Fine Dining Restaurants that serve the 1%, or in Gourmet Markets serving the same crowd.  However, here on the Last Great Frontier, at 3 Bears Food Warehouse, they occasionally get USDA Prime in their huge meat section, and this one looked so perfectly marbled and the right thickness for a good grilling I just HAD to buy it in Celebration of my move to the new Digs, which I chronicled recently in The Great Moving Adventure I & II.

Here is what the Steak looked like after a couple of days of marinating, but before being seared on the portable propane fired BBQ.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOriginally I was going to go the full 9 yards with this and fire it up on a traditional Charcoal BBQ with a soaked Hickory Plank, but I got lazy and besides I have so many canisters of Propane in my preps I might as well use them.  Overall the improvement in flavor doing it this way is marginal, and it’s a pain in the ass so I just screwed in a canister and AWAY we go!

As you can see, this piece of beef is Picture Perfect with just the right amount of Fat Marbling, which is what gets it that USDA Prime designation.  If you scope out the Meat racks regularly though, you can often find USDA Choice cuts that are just about as nice, at about half the price of Prime.  I just about always buy Choice cuts for the BBQ, this was just a Special Celebration so I splurged on the Prime Beef.  NEVER buy Select Cuts for the BBQ, unless you really like chewing a lot.  Select is only good for the slow cooker.

Far as Spicing it up goes, here you do need to rely on Preps because some stuff like Peppercorns are going to be hard to come by when JIT fails, so you need a good supply of Spices laid in here.  Fortunately, Spices are one of those Preps that last a long time without Refrigeration, and as long as you Vaccuum seal them they will be good for years.  Salt will be good FOREVER.  Your main spices are Salt & Pepper of course, this I am good for 5 years at least.  Garlic after that is pretty easy to grow, and then many other spices like Rosemary, Thyme etc can be grown indoors hydroponically, so you can have a continuing source of those.

http://www.mccormick.com/-/media/McCormick/Categories/Products/GM_Bottles_289x194.ashxNo need for this right now though, I just used some of my copious prep supply of McCormick Old Monterrey Spice, one of my favorite meat spice mixtures.  Basted on a little hickory flavored BBQ sauce and let it sit a couple of days so the flavor penetrates into the meat and doesn’t just sit on the outside surface.

As you can see from the Cooked Picture above, the Ribeye is pretty well Blackened, so you might think it is burnt.  No, this is how I like BBQ meat, it’s called “Pittsburgh Rare“.  Black on the Outside, Still MOOING on the inside.  I came pretty close to perfect on it, just maybe 2-3 minutes longer than I should have had it on the grill to be perfect for me.  If you like a less black outside and pink inside, use a lower flame or move the grill surface higher off the flames.  Here’s the Taste Test of this BBQ:

In terms of Meals out of this Steak, I got 4 of them.  I can’t eat a Steak this size with all that FAT at one sitting anymore, I ate about 1/3rd of it right off the Grill and the rest went into Steak Sandwiches I had for lunch the rest of the week.  You can do all sorts of things to make them their own Gourmet meals, to one I added herb infused Brie I picked up on sale, to another I added some grilled onions and mushrooms, etc.  Still beyond the daily budget of $5, but not by too much, and within it if you buy a more economically priced Choice Cut.

OK, on to Dish #2, Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs & Alaska Veggies!

As you can see in the background of the Steak Taste Test Vid, there’s a bunch of Batteries, a Slow Cooker, rechargeable Diode Lights and a Power Inverter (converts 12V DC to 120 V AC).  This is my “Battery Corner” with stored Power for short 1-2 Day power outtages, generally coming from weather related phenomena these days, but in the future possibly coming fro Rationed Electricity and Rolling Blackouts.  The main battery storage here on the counter is a 12V Lawn Tractor Battery, and one of the Battery Packs from my EWz Electric Scooter, which runs on 36V but is actually 3 12V deep cycle batteries in series which can be separated to work with a 12V Inverter.  Not necessary for this experiment, the Lawn Tractor Battery was sufficient.  Besides these batteries, I also have a much larger Deep Cycle battery in the Bugout Machine and its starter battery, and of course the starter batteries that are in my 2 Carz, a 1983 Mazda MPV and a 2003 Ford Explorer, and the other 36 Volt battery pack that is aboard the EWz.  Altogether, without recharging this is enough electric juice for a couple of weeks well rationed easily.

Why was a small 12V Lawn Tractor Battery sufficient in this case?  Because Slow Cookers have a VERY low power draw overall, not much more than an incandescent Lightbulb.  You can’t run an 1100 Watt Microwave Oven off a small SLA battery like this, but it will do a Slow Cooker no problemo.

Slow cooking is great for numerous reasons besides the fact it is low power draw.  Overall it retains the Vitamin content of the food better than when you cook rapidly at high heat.  It also blends flavors better, plus the broth you end up with makes fabulous and very nourishing Soup as well.  Besides that, you are by no means limited to doing it off your stored battery power, you can quite easily do the same thing by digging a hole in the back yard, burning some charcoal or wood and heating some rocks, then cover with some dirt, drop the Crock in on top of that and cover up the whole thing with more dirt.  Dig it out after 5 or 6 hours, same result as using the electrics.

http://www.sunoven.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/G-cooking-rice-and-beans3.jpgYet another way to do the same thing is to drop the crock into a Solar Oven.  Even here in Alaska, for most of the year if you do this on a sunny day, if you drop your Crock in the Cooker in at 10AM, the food is ready by 4PM.

The only downside of Slow Cooking is that except for stews and such, it doesn’t present all that well, so in this case with the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs, I threw them on the grill for a few minutes after the slow cook to caramalize the sauce and blacken the meat a bit.  This is tricky because the meat is pretty much falling off the bone at this point.  On the upside though, the veggies you cook along with the meat absorb all the flavors, and are as good or better than the meat itself!  They also really fill out the meal with both Calories and Vitamins.

Anyhow, without further ado and explanation here is the Taste Test on the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs and Alaska Veggies RE dish:

For those of you wishing to try this dish on your own Doomstead, here’s the Ingredients:

1/2 Slab Baby Back Ribs

1/2 a Large White Onion

4-6 Large Cloves of Garlic

Enough Carrots and Potatoes to fill the rest of the Crock Pot (1.5-2 Quart size)

2 Soy Sauce Packets (I save these so I never buy Soy Sauce)

1/4 Cup Teriyaki Marinade (you can substitute other marinades, whatever you got on the shelf)

1/2 Can of BEER! 🙂 (drink the other half while loading the Crock)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Cut the slab up to size to fit the Crock.

Chop the onion into about 1/2″ size pieces

If the Potatoes are Large, cut to around 2″ cubes.  I use small potatoes though even though they are a little more pricey

Use Baby Carrots or cut the carrots into 2″ long sections

Throw in the whole cloves of Garlic or chop them up, your choice.

Throw everything into the Slow Cooker and go Surf the Net looking for Doom Storiez for 5-6 hours

Fish out everything with a Strainer Spoon, and take the Ribs over to the Grill for about 3 minutes on each side to caramalize.  Do it carefully or the ribs will fall apart and through the grill and you’ll lose some tasty meat.

Conserve the remaining Broth to make Onion Soup with Stale Bread and some Swiss or Gruyere Cheese.  Another meal there.

——————–

Now, as mentioned, you can’t start off on your SNAP Card Budget with these kind of meals, you have to get very BASIC at the beginning.  Your nourishment for the first couple of weeks on the SNAP Card Budget is going to be pretty dull if you don’t have at least a few spices and other basics in the cubbard when Da Goobermint courtesy of JP Morgan Chase issues you your first month’s SNAP Card.  Obviously I have a ton of stuff to perk up meals stored, but for the purposes of demonstration here I won’t use them as we begin this exercise.

Next Week here on the SNAP Card Gourmet, we’ll start with the basics, and work our way up the Culinary Ladder from there.  By the end of the month, I should have enough saved up for at least 2 meals worthy of a $100 Ticket at a 1% Restaurant.  Not sure what I will go for with this yet, first I gotta see what I can conserve and what ingredients I can find on sale over the course of the month.

In the mean time, eat well, enjoy the Plenty while you can.  This is bound to get more difficult as time goes by.

RE

Eat it Raw

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 17, 2017

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As regular readers of the Diner know, I have numerous health issues stemming from my spinal injury.  Among these issues for me is an almost total loss of appetite and difficulty eating more than just a few bites of food at any time.  Also a reduced ability to actually taste the food I eat. I was thrilled down in Seattle when I actually managed to eat about 3/4s of a Tuna Sandwich at the Museum of Flight.  It was a very good Tuna Sandwich too, consistency wise.  For someone who was as big a Foody as I was, this is perhaps the most depressing aspect of my injury, even worse than the issues with walking.  The only upside to it is I am not getting fat despite my lack of exercise, in fact I am steadily losing weight.

http://cdn.foodfacts.com/195399.jpg At home in order to get some nutrition down my pie hole, I have experimented with numerous gimmicks and enthusiasms of various foods I can tolerate eating a little at a time.  For a while it was Soups.  I would heat a can of one of my favorite Progresso or Campbells Chunky Soup, and then spend a couple of days eating it by the spoonful right out of the pot on the stove.  I would reheat as necessary, and add a little water to replace the water that boiled off during each reheat.  However, I got tired of this and bored with it and 2 days on the stove turned into 3, then 4.  I started having to put the soup in a tupperware and refrigerate it to keep it from going bad.  Then this leftover soup started sitting in the fridge for a week or two and going bad anyhow.  I stopped opening cans of soup at this point.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/tomato-cucumber-feta-salad-horiz-a-1200-180x120.jpg My next enthusiasm was Salads, mostly augmented Greek-Style Tomato salads.  I could buy just 2 or 3 Roma Tomatoes in the produce aisle, a block of Feta Cheese, a Red Onion and Kalamatta Olives in a jar and this formed the basis for my salad.  The only thing perishable in there that doesn't last that long in the fridge are the tomatoes, everything else will last a month and more with a vinagarette dressing of some type.  Keep your block of Feta wrapped up tight in plastic, that lasts a couple of months easy.  Kalamatta Olives in the Jar?  Probably last a year in the fridge even after you open the jar.  Further augmentation came from canned gourmet veggies like marinated artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, straw mushrooms etc.  These salads lasted easily a week in the fridge a few bites at a time, but I became bored with them too.

Then I went on a Fresh Fruit & Cheese enthusiasm. Clementine Oranges (the small ones, didn't they used to call these tangerines?), Bananas. Cubed Watermelon & Seedless Grapes mostly for the fruit; Brie (and other soft cheeses), Havarti, Gouda, Gorgonzola and really whatever appealed to me in the Gourmet Cheese display at Fred Meyer or was on a half-price sale.  The Bananas don't last long, you have to eat all of them inside a week or so or they start to turn black and get mushy inside.  Grapes and Clementines last pretty long in the fridge, but they start dehydrating and after about 3-4 days are not so juicy.  Cubed Watermelon lasts a surprisingly long time in a tupperware container in its own juices, up to a couple of weeks it is still pretty crunchy, sweet and juicy.  The cheeses you have to remember to wrap well in plastic after you cut off a hunk for a meal, and always use a nice clean knife rinsed with hot water to remove bacteria on the knife.  Not a bad idea to hold the blade over the stove fire either to further sterilize it.  This also important later for the meat and fish cutting.  If you do all that, your wedge or block of cheese should last in the fridge at least a month before you start seeing Green Mold growing on it.  You can often just cut this off, because it is only growing on the outside surface, the interior is still fine.  In fact, you can eat the part with the mold on it too, that won't kill you and it doesn't change the taste that much.  Just looks a little gross.

This brings us to my current enthusiasm, RAW ANIMAL PROTEIN.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DHY7vsdV0AEd_Wl.jpg

I moved to this enthusiasm for a couple of reasons.  First was the EXTREME Edema (swelling due to fluid retention) condition I have in my legs, which on top of the spinal injury and general loss of strength from that has brought it to the point I can't even stand up if I don't have hand holds and bracing to do it with. The Nurse Practioner I was seeing as my Primary Care Provider before I ditched her for a Physician's Assistant who is equally clueless suggested that the Edema problem might stem from a lack of protein in my diet.  I am fully aware of this nutrition problem, however she did not have a good suggestion on how to SOLVE it since I can't hardly eat anything at all.  I pitched the idea of a feeding tube, but she informed me Medicare won't pay for that unless you are on your death bed in hospital.  So I have to get the right foods down my own gullet myself, somehow.

https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/07/54/72/a0/kansai-japanese-restaurant.jpg So, OK, on the assumption a lack of protein is the proximal problem causing the edema, how can I increase my protein intake?  Well, I have always liked Fish, and even got into eating Raw Fish in the form of Sushi & Sashimi in my college years when I started haunting Japanese Restaurants around NY Shity.  Today, there are Sushi Bars in the major Food Superstores which provide a pre-rolled Sushi plate for anywhere from $8-$15 depending on the type of fish and the size of the plate.  So I started with this.

Of course, due to my low appetite, I can't finish a typical Sushi Lunch plate from Fred Meyer, which usually has about 2 rolls worth of some decorative Sushi concoction that appeals to the Amerikan palate.  Around here, this is mainly Tuna Rolls, Salmon,and California Rolls which have the fake Crab Meat in them with some avocado and cream cheese.  Thing is, while the fish inside is still good the second day, the rice starts to dry out very fast and the texture isn't as nice. Still edible even after 3 days, but really only good the 1st day. Besides that, these rolls are MOSTLY rice, the amount of fish in them is pretty small.  I am interested in JUST THE FISH, not all the decorations or the rice either.

This vid is the shorter one which doesn't show half what gets pitched out when sectioning up a Salmon for Sashimi.  I figured I would spare you watching the head, spine and skin getting pitched out also.  Waste, Waste, Waste.

Back in Edo Japan, I suspect Sushi was what the Peasants ate, while Sashimi which is JUST THE FISH is what the Samurai ate.  The fish was the expensive part of the meal, the rice was filler and calories so the Peasants would have enough energy to work and feed the Samurai.  Samurai needed the fish protein to develop big strong muscles to wield swords with which they could behead the peasants.  The Sashimi JUST THE FISH meal is made even MORE expensive by the fact that in preparing sashimi, only the very BEST parts of the fish are used.  You can't believe the amount of WASTE when a Sashimi artist goes about filleting and slicing up a fish to lay out on a decorative plate.  In modern restaurants, I suspect most of the parts discarded by the Sashimi artist go in the trash, not even composted.  However, going back to Edo Japan, I suspect these parts were collected to make Fish Broth, which again the peasants got to use to make soups and supplement their protein intake above the pitiful amount of fish usually contained in a Sushi Roll.

https://shizuokagourmet.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/sushi-dep-cenovab-5.jpg?w=474 The only platters that have a little more fish on them in the plastic containers at Fred Meyer are the Nigiri Sushi, which is basically a slice of raw fish on top of a pile of rice.  You only get 8 pieces total though, again up here usually Ahi Tuna and Salmon.  The box costs you $12, and I suspect there is no more than 1/4 lb of fish there.  That is working out to $48/lb!  They don't serve a straight Sashimi plate at Freddie's, for that you have to go to the Sushi Bar at our local Japanese Restaurant, Tokyo.  Here you will pay around $25 now for around 12 pieces of fish, usually Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail and Octopus.  Maybe about 1/3rd lb total here.

So, I decided that instead of shopping for my Sashimi at the Sushi counter, I would go straight to the Fresh Fish counter!  Bring it home and slice it up myself!  This cut the cost for JUST THE FISH by at least half.  There are pluses and minuses here with doing this.

https://9woclymefe-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Raw-Ahi-Tuna.jpg Some fish like the Tuna is really EZ to slice up into nice bite size pieces to dip in your Wasabi-Soy Sauce dipping mixture and eat with a bit of pickled ginger.  You do now have the added cost of buying the wasabi and soy and pickled ginger, which all comes included on the pre made Sushi plate, so this reduces your savings, plus you have the work of slicing the fish so the savings aren't quite as much as you hoped for overall.

Salmon is much harder to slice into nice Sashimi size chunks.  It tends to fall apart as you slice, plus you have to get the skin off the back side of the fillet.   They also use larger salmon at sushi bars than you normally find at the fish counter or would buy just to feed yourself.  There is no way I can get the size chunks of salmon equal to the size of the tuna with the salmon I have bought for this so far.

Octopus is usually not available at the fish counter here, and neither is Yellowtail.  So recently I tried Sea Scallops, which I never had in a Japanese restaurant as part of a Sashimi plate.  Had them cooked as an appetizer Scallops Bata Yaki which is quite good, but not raw. I didn't like the texture raw too much, they are a little too soft eaten raw for me.  I am now sticking to cooking the scallops in butter and garlic which is pretty fast and EZ to do.  Finally, I am trying Rockfish (Striped Bass), but it is still in the freezer so I can't report on that one yet.

http://pictures.brafton.com/x_0_0_0_14111881_800.jpg Speaking of Freezing, this is a significant aspect of eating all raw meats and fishies, unless you catch them yourself right out of the water or hunt it down and eat the meat right after the kill.  Raw fish and Raw meat can contain bacteria and parasites which can be quite harmful and even cause death.  Most of the time they don't, and in my long history of eating this stuff raw, I have never had so much as an upset stomach, whereas I got Tomaine Poisoning twice off of cooked meat which practically killed me.  Only in recent years have I taken to the practice of freezing and thawing raw meats before eating.

The reason is this.  If there are parasites and bacteria inhabiting your fillet, if you freeze to -4F for about 4 days, this will kill them as effectively as cooking does, and it doesn't destroy the flavor or texture like cooking does.  So as an additional security/health measure here, I do the Freeze/Thaw before slicing up my Sashimi.  In fact, just about all the "fresh" fish you buy at the fish store nowadays has already gone through one or more of these cycles.  The fish are collected up on large industrial fish processing ships where they do the fillet work, vacuum seal them and throw them in a Liquid Nitrogen Bath which flash freezes them down to something like -321F (-196C).  Then they go through a series of transports generally finally ending up on a Reefer truck where the temp inside the box maybe is around 20F, depending how hot it is outside.  When they get to the Food Superstore, they go in another Freezer, this one down to maybe -10F until they are ready to sell it.  Then it thaws slowly in a refrigerator set around 35F over a couple of days and is put out in the refrigerated display counter for sale.  Pretty much no bacteria or parasites live through this, and your fish is generally quite safe to eat raw right out of the counter, assuming the minimum wage paid fish mongers working behind the counter clean as they are supposed to every night on closing.  I basically took to doing an additional Freeze-Thaw cycle after buying just to add a little insurance here, but at least for Freddie's Fish, I would eat it raw straight out of the counter.

https://www.copykat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/butcher.jpg This brings us to the next RAW counter down at Freddie's, the MEAT counter.  I actually took to eating raw meat quite a bit before I got into eating raw fish in my college years as the Japanese restaurants proliferated around NY Shity.  After returning from Brazil in my late preteen years, I missed the Churascaria's we often ate at there, where the meat was brought to you on the spit at your table and sliced off right onto your plate.  So I took to BBQing meat myself on a little cast iron Hibachi in the small back yard we had in our NY Shity Queens McMansion which mom got as part of the divorce settlement.  I started with Hamburgers of course, and quickly discovered that a really JUICY burger should have a nice pink inside.  For me, pink turned to RED after a while, although for anyone else I was cooking a burger for I kept it to pink or even well done if they asked for that.  I could never understand that though, well done dries the meat out and it's like eating leather, albeit in the case of burgers its ground up leather.  A well done steak though is like eating the soles off a Cowboy Boot.

Once I realized I liked my meat on the BBQ "Pittburgh Rare" (charred on the outside, still mooing on the inside) I started experimenting with eating the meat RAW right out of the package immediately after I brought it home from the grocery store when it was still nice and bright red straight out of the grinder.  Just ground beef for hamburgers at first on this, and it was DELICIOUS!  Just a pinch or two at a time at first also.  I didn't get sick, even though I had already heard about all the dangers of eating raw meat.  Then I read about "official" gourmet meals like Steak Tartare which featured raw meat, and I decided it was OK to eat this stuff.  After all, carnivores in nature who don't have control of fire eat their meat raw all the time.  I suspect by eating it a small amount at a time for a while I built up my gut so it could digest the stuff well without my getting sick.

http://www.steak-enthusiast.com/wp-content/uploads/primeFilet_lores09_lrg.jpg With the beef, I tried some other cuts  besides hamburger raw, but really unless it is ground up the only one that is any good for raw eating is Fillet Mignon, which is fairly expensive.  Around here these days it comes in aroun $16/lb.  Good ground sirloin though you can get for $4/lb on sale, and the taste and texture are pretty close to the same as Fillet Mignon.  I do occasionally buy the Fillets though, because when you slice them up they LOOK a lot nicer and the visual component of eating is part of the pleasure, one of the parts I can still enjoy.  Up at the top of the page here you see one of my Steak Fillets sliced up Sashimi style, with some Au Jus dipping sauce.

It's the dipping sauces that throw a fly in the ointment as far as keeping your costs down when going with the raw eating, both with fish and with meat.  These days, if you mosey on down the sauces and marinades aisle in the Food Superstore, the choices are endless and these bottles go from anywhere from around $2/bottle if you catch a sale to $8/bottle.  You don't really NEED a dipping sauce of course, and some of the time I will do without a dip to just enjoy the flavor of the RAW MEAT by itself.  However, many of these sauces are REALLY good and enhance the raw eating experience.

https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/vmY1G93fQBh6NVJjQ8FTIA/348s.jpg On the upside to this, once you buy a bottle of a particular kind of sauce it lasts a long time.  You only need about a tablespoon worth for a whole fillet for dipping as you go.  My current methodology on this is to pick one sauce I haven't tried yet each time I shop and buy a bottle of that, hopefully ON SALE.  One that came in very cheap recently was Dumpling dipping sauce and it's my current favorite.  Thai Peanut sauce is also very good, and of course Teriyaki sauce.  I've had a few failures too, I thought Chinese Hot Mustard might be good, but it was too overpowering for the meat.  The choices are pretty endless here particularly in the Asian Foods aisle, just find your own favorites.

While I am comfortable with both Beef and Fish raw, I don't eat either Pork or Chicken raw.  With pork, I have been told too many stories about Trichonosis and never could bring myself to trying it.  On the BBQ, I always cooked it through until there was no pink showing in the middle, still trying to keep it juicy though.  Similarly with chicken, a few times early on I under-cooked my chicken on the BBQ and it was still gooey and slimy on the inside when I bit into it.  This grossed me out and I always make sure my chicken is cooked through now, however I prepare it.

Now that I have given a not so brief history of how I developed a taste for eating RAW animal protein, I'm going to tie it into collapse issues.  As with my prior post on Luggage, it might not be immediately clear how my diet relates to collapse.  It doesn't really HAVE to relate, since the Diner is both a Collapse Blog and my personal blog, but in this case there is a connection.

One thing for me personally is that these days I am more consumed with my own personal issues of Health Collapse than the collapse of the society at large around me.  When you have the Grim Reaper stalking you all the time it's tough to fix your mind on anything else but fending him off for another day.  However, there are many issues with the food consumption here which apply more generally in the World of Collapse.

https://www.nceagletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/high-food-prices.gif The first issue is one of COST.  The fact here is that despite not being a very rich Amerikan (in fact a pretty poor one by measures here), I CAN afford to buy what are some of the most expensive cuts of meat and fish on the market to try and up my protein intake.  That's partly because I don't buy much of them because my appetite is so depressed, but much more it is because producing this food is so heavily subsidized in Amerika, and relative to income food is a pretty small part of your daily living expenses, even if you are fairly poor.  If you are SUPER poor and qualify for a SNAP Card, you can STILL afford these foods if you are wise about how you spend your monthly food budget.  I have demonstrated that on numeros occasions in the SNAP Card Gourmet series.  For the vast majority of the world though, these foods are out of the question, they have daily food budgets in the $2/day range (and even less!).  In all probability these foods aren't even available in the markets to buy, even if you had the money.  I doubt sashimi quality Ahi Tuna steaks are available at the markets in Rio, for instance.

The next issue is the cost to the environment.  As most of us Kollapsniks are aware, cattle ranching is extremely water intensive and overall pretty destructive to the local ecosystems.  The space the cows take up and the land used to grow their feed is land taken away from all the other creatures that might be living there.  Over in Brazil, square miles of rainforest are burned every day to make room for more cattle ranching. This argument is often made by vegans who want to get the whole human population to swear off eating meat.

http://southeastagnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/brand-taglines-beef-cattle.jpg Here in Amerika though, this leads you to a major Economic problem if Amerikans actually did this.  Meat is the staple food of the Fast Food industry, from Burgers to Tacos.  Every Mickey Ds and Taco Bell would have to shut down.  Those places are among the few still employing people!  I doubt you could convert them over to selling fast food Bean Sprouts and Soy Burgers either, the consumers would riot.  "What?  No BEEF?  It's What's for Dinner!"

Not only do you lose the fast food workers, you lose all those people employed in the Feedlots and Slaughterhouses as well, not to mention the folks doing the local butchery and packaging up the meat into scrumptios looking foam & plasic containers!  While many of them might be re-employed growing bean sprouts, this will take a while in transition.  Shifting the Food Economy here off its focus on Meat is not something you could do overnight, anymore than you can shift the Carz & Trux economy back to Oxen drawn carts.

Finally in terms of the Collapse Blogosphere, this brings up an old debate I had with Gail Tverberg, and one which in fact led to my quitting her website and quit cross posting her blogs.

Gail is a pretty good actuary, and she had some good insights early on to the direction things were going.  However, she also fancies herself to be an Anthropologist and she is a believer in Near Term Human Extinction as well, although she doesn't explicitly admit that in her blogs.  You can read it in the subtext though of the commentary on Our Finite World.

Gail has a theory that because Homo Saps have evolved Small Jaws, we have to cook our food and thus require fire to survive.  So in her opinion, once we can't access fossil fuels anymore, Homo Saps will burn down all the remaining forests on earth in order to cook their food and heat their homes.  This is just nonsense.  Homo Saps will die off much too fast to burn down all the forests, and where most of the remaining forests are is where most Homo Saps are NOT.  Mountainous regions, regions with no available ground water, etc.  No way to transport the wood from where it is growing to the places people live for them to burn it.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/7a/d6/7c/7ad67c4041ba51209e6c77f6ebd7f200--wine-cheese-goat-cheese.jpg The fact is of course, small jaws or big jaws, you don't need to cook most foods for them to be digestible by a current Homo Sap.  My current diet is just about ALL raw foods, or fermented ones.  Besides the Raw Meat & Fish, the fruits I eat are all raw and the cheeses are all fermented.  I don't eat grains that need to be cooked.  My diet is basic Paleo, Fat and Protein.  I don't think I turned my stove on once in the last month, and I am not starving (although granted I am losing weight).  If my appetite was better though and could eat more, I would have no problem existing withough cooking my food, and in fact without most most of my teeth either!

The need to heat your home is also a pathetic argument.  Inuit and Aleuts up here had almost no fuel to work with, they simply lived in small dwellings where their own body heat kept the domicile warm enough through the winter to survive.  Gail is so thoroughly middle class she can't even imagine that, I doubt she has ever been winter camping a day in her whole life.  So to her, when she can't get heating oil for her McMansion, she will go Extinct one winter as she freezes to death.

In order to live on this kind of diet though, those foods you can eat raw do need to be available for you to access.  So if you are going to survive on raw fish, you do need to live near the coast and have a boat to go out and collect fish with.  If you are going to eat raw meat, you either need to be raising it yourself or live in a neighborhood where there is wild game sill roaming around.  If you are going to eat fermented cheeses, you need to be raising Goats or Cows that provide the milk for this.  If you are going to live on fresh fruits, you need to live in a warm climate where these things grow on trees reasonably rapidly.  Finding ONE spot where you can get them ALL is pretty tough of course.

Also true is that currently there are too many people walking the earth to live this way.  That however will NOT be true moving into the future.  A significant percentage of the population is bound to die off.  As more people go to the Great Beyond, there will be more food resource for the remaining population.  Unclear at the moment is precisely how big a percentage of the population needs to buy the farm before this becomes feasible, but I suspect a 99% Dieoff would do it.  That would still leave 75M Homo Saps walking the Earth, which is a long way from Extinction.

Meanwhile, for myself it is a challenge every day to find stuff I can eat to keep this meat package motoring along for another day while I chronicle Doom on the internet.  The RAW MEAT is the current leader of the pack here for me these days, in some tasty dipping sauce.  YUM!

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The Endless Salad

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Published on The Doomstead Diner May 14, 2017

Tortellini-Kalamata Olive-Hearts of Palm Salad

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Today we had our first Community Potlatch (Potluck) Dinner here in the RE Community. 🙂

Our new Property Managers, a Husband & Wife team organized this meal as a way to introduce themselves and to discuss some important issues we have here, including our water quality ( we have our own micro water treatment plant now), maintenance and safety not to mention of course the Dog Poop, the Cigarette butts, and the Domestic Arguments and other yelling which penetrates the walls.  I personally have a schizophrenic upstairs from me who is decompensating all the time.  She's not dangerous, but she is very loud and very vulgar, usually in the wee hours of the morning.  She can go super fast, like Tourette's on Steroids, and pitch out 100 Fucks and 100 Shits and 100 Cocksuckers & Mother Fuckers  in no more than 5 minutes of one of these episodes, which sometimes go up to an hour in length before I suppose her vocal chords are exhausted or maybe the voices in her head get tired of her yelling at them.  Next door to her upstairs, there is a couple with young kids, and they don't understand biological psych problems like this, they just hear all the cursing and so do their kids.  They are not happy about this problem.

Anyhow, I will go into more about the meeting that followed the Potlatch Meal in a future article, for today I will just talk about the FOOD end of it! 🙂  It dovetails nicely with an article I wrote a couple of months ago but haven't had opportunity to publish, with a lot of other shit going down in the world of Doom these days.  The article is about feeding yourself a healthy diet with Salads, focusing on homeless people who get their nutritional allowance from the SNAP Card program administered by JP Morgan Chase here in the FSoA, at a tidy profit for JPMC.  By sheer chance (or the Finger of God), our building of the 10 or so in the complex was assigned Salads.  Since I have been experimenting with Salad recipes for the last couple of months, I was able to whip up my current favorite, a Tortelloni-Pomodore salad with a variety of veggies cooked Al Dente.  The Salad at the top of the page here is similar, just without the pasta.  I forgot to shoot a picture of it before it got devoured.  It was about 3X the size, came in around $12 and served about 15 people at the meal. Quite a few got left out if they were too late lining up at the buffet.  However, there was plenty standard Potato Salad and of course the Burgers and Hot Dogs so nobody went hungry.

Anyhow, lets now go into the principles of the Endless Salad in a little more detail.

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The task of feeding oneself on a limited budget and with limited cooking ability that is typical for the Homeless Person is the main focus of the SNAP Card Gourmet Series. In the early stages of Homelessness, the victim of this aspect of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization these days probably resorts to eating mostly from fast food outlets, where you can get convenient and calorie laden foods with no cooking ability at all. The price these days for a fast food meal isn't all that cheap though, even a 1/4 Pounder, Fries and a Coke meal from Mickey D's comes in at over $5, which is the daily limit for the SNAP Card Gourmet budget. Obviously, nutritional value of this meal is quite low as well, and it doesn't even taste all that good either!  So it's a pretty big waste of your limited budget for nourishing yourself.

RE Preps his Chicken Soup

Once the budget drops down sufficiently far, the next step for the Homeless Person is to go to Canned goods like Chili and Soups, which can be purchased at the grocery store for between $1-2 a can and then heated up either over an open flame in a homeless encampment, over  single burner propane camping stove or in a Microwave at the nearest Convenience Store.  This reduces cost, but it's not much tastier and not very nutritious either.  The whole commercial canning process removes or destroys most of the nutritional value in any of the veggies or meat items dropped into a commercial soup or can of chili. It will keep you alive though, it is within budget and if you supplement with some also commercially produced vitamin tablets, you probably won't get scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency relted disease.

Can the Homeless person do better than this and have a really nutritious diet at a price affordable on the SNAP Card Budget of $5/Day in the FSoA?  Yes he/she CAN!

One of my current solutions to this problem is what I now call the "Endless Salad".  I started with the endless salad a few months ago after dropping into one of the local Food Superstores (Carr's, the Safeway affiliate up here on the Last Great Frontier) and passing by their deli section, which had one of those "make it yourself" salad bars.  Lots of nice choices of fresh veggies to include in your sald at this bar, although coming in pretty pricy at around $9/lb.  Depending what stuff you drop in the salad, 1 lb is probably enough nutrition for the day, but $9 is almost double the SNAP Card Gourmet Budget.

The Food Goodies at the Salad Bar at Safeway that day were quite a nice selection, they had a Greek Style Tomato Salad with Olives and Feta Cheese, a Pasta salad with Cheese Torteloni and chunks of Ham, fresh Green Peas, Cottage Cheese and numerous other possible selections for your fully loaded plastic container of your finished Salad mix.  For the Homeless person, this is a great and healthy way to eat, as it requires no cooking whatsoever and is coming in slightly cheaper than Fast Food meals, although still above the Snap Card budget of $5/day.

http://calgaryiscool.com/files/2016/02/SaladBarweb.jpg The thing is, all the INGREDIENTS in that salad are much cheaper than $9/lb, for the most part.  Tomatoes for example which formed the bulk of the weight in this particular salad I composed can be purchased as cheap as $2/lb for Roma tomatoes from Mexico, and I can often get hothouse organic Tomatoes-on-the-Vine for around $3/lb. So as I ate through about half the salad that day, I went out and bought some tomatoes and refilled the container with them,and also some Hearts of Palm from a can which I really like for nostalgic reasons, they were a favorite of mine when I was a kid in Brasil.  Then as this started to run out, I bought a small avocado for $1, and this now refilled the container.  I had to add now a bit more salad dressing to the mix, as the original salad dressing was mostly being digested in my alimentary canal, somewhere along the path out the door anyhow. lol.

Now, many of the contents of your salad can be consumed raw, but some cannot be at least if you want to make a salad that will really provide you with all the nutrition you need in a day.  The pasta is the main one here, that requires boiling some water in a small pot and throwing some frozen cheese tortellini into it for 5-10 minutes, depending how al dente you like it.  You want this pasta in there for carb energy and protein and fat from the cheese.  This is EZ Homeless cooking, no harder than heating up a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup.  You can pick up a 1 lb package of frozen cheese tortellini around here for around $3.50, and actually when cooked it close to doubles its weight because of the water it absorbs.  So the original tortellinis I paid $9/lb for get replaced by the same tortellinis that cost me only $1.75/lb when cooked up.

The problem here for the Homeless person now is the storage of the forzen tortellini prior to cooking it and throwing it in your new salad.  Not a problem for me because I am not homeless and do have a refrigerator, so I think about these issues when composing up my meals and feeding myself.  For quite a few months after my injury, there was a decent chance I would end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska, so my mind became preoccupied with solving this problem in advance just in case it came to pass, which thankfully it did not.

https://images.heb.com/is/image/HEBGrocery/001572423-1?id=o-IQf2&fmt=jpg&fit=constrain,1&wid=296&hei=296 Far as the tortellini goes, you don't actually need to keep it FROZEN until you use it, at least if that is within a couple of weeks.  Refrigeration is enough, I experimented with this to make sure.  So you could keep your 1lb bag of formerly frozen but now just cold tortellini in your cooler with a block of ice in your Stealth Van.  Similarly, you do need to keep your leftover salad cold from day to day in some sort of refrigeration, so a Cooler is pretty much an indespensible item for the Homeless Person.  If you are so far off the cliff you are pushing around a shopping cart, this is pretty much impossible, so you need to be up at the next level of homelessnes minimum, where you at least have a car with a trunk you can store your cooler in or a Storage Unit runs around $40/month for the smallest ones which are more than sufficient for keeping your cooler and and all your gear like tents and sleeping bags and food safe while you hang out all day at the library or an internet cafe and run your Homeless Cripple Guy Blog & Forum over the free WiFi. lol.

Now, in terms of "recipes" and what you actually will drop in your salad, this is in large part up to you and what stuff you like, but there are some limitations here, at least if you are not consuming the whole salad same day and storing it in your cooler overnight as leftovers to eat the next day.

Traditional Amerikan Salad Food like Lettuce is really bad.  It gets wilty and brown overnight, even if refrigerated.  It also doesn't have all that much nutritional value for the price, its main value is in fiber and roughage to scrub out your colon. lol.  I don't include Lettuce in my salads, for Green Leafy Veggies I use Baby Spinach leaves usually, which are quite good and tasty even when soggy and a great source of vitamins and minerals, particularly high in iron which is good for your blood cells.  Although usually I dispense with the leafies altogether and use other green veggies like asparagus or zucchini. Baby Spinach doesn't brown very quickly though, particularly when coated with a dressing that has some vinegar in it, which tends to keep everything in the salad better looking and does some preservation as well. So if you like some leafy in there, it's a good choice.The whole salad is often better the second or thrid day after composition after marinating in the dressing, as opposed to most leftovers which deteriorate in quality over a few days.

https://www.californiaavocado.com/getattachment/412db3db-b024-40f2-af24-eb660e17435f/Guacamole-Autentico?width=640 Also bad if you are keeping the salad around for a few days are Avocados.  They also quickly get brown and ugly even if coated with a dressing that is acidic.  However, they do have good nutritional value unlike lettuce, particularly in the area of adding vegetable fat to your diet, and I like them for their texture whether a little stiff in chunks or smushed up to make Gaucamole.  So if I do feel Avocado inclined on a given day for my salad, I buy a small one for around $1 and add that to the salad mix for the day.

As with most Food preparation and consumption, you do a lot better if you work in small groups rather than as an individual.  In this case, you can usually consume everything in one sitting with no leftovers, so no storage problems.  Food packaging also tends to come in sizes good for 4-6 people to eat at one sitting.  For a single person, given the food storage of leftover problem, you often will do better with individual portion microwavebales, although nutrititon & taste quality is low.  However, you can buy Michelina's Frozen Dinners at around $1 each, and 3 of those plus a vitamin is enough for me in a day.

To finish up this SNAP Card Gourmet installment, I will list some ingredients which work very well and last several days nicely as you keep adding new ingrediends to make your Salad and Endless one.

http://www.houwelings.com/gifs-2/Roma-Tomatoes-on-the-Vine.jpg Tomatoes

Tomatoes are my #1 Ingredient in a Salad.  High in Vitamin C and Vitamin A, good roughage, nice texture and very tasty!  They also keep well for several days when marinated in the salad dressing of your choice.  They are the base component of all my salads.  The best are the hothouse organics and now recently available are Heirloom Tomatoes as well.  The small grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are nice, but overpriced coming in double the cost of Roma Tomatoes, which are my choice if I am going cheapy.

http://www.seriouseats.com/images/2014/09/20140910-olives-vicky-wasik-2-kalamata.jpg Olives

Along with the Tomatoes, Olives are an essential for my salads.  They provide a nice counterpoint to the Tomatoes.  Here it depends on your own taste as to which olives to use.  To me, the typical Green Olives are a little too salty.  Black Olives a little too bland.  My favorites to use are Kalamata Olives, which are a bit more expensive but JUST RIGHT!  Sometimes I do mix in some Green and Black Olives though to fill it out and keep the overall cost down.

http://www.greek-islands.us/traditional-greek-products/greek-cheeses/greek-feta.jpg Cheese

You want some cheese in there for taste, texture and fat and protein nutrition.  I generally use crumbled Feta Cheese and crumbled Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola.  Sometimes shredded Parmesan, and occassionally I will chunk up a block of Sharp Cheddar or Swiss Cheese.  If you are using either Feta or Gorgonzola, buy it in block form and crumble it yourself.  It's a better value that way and it keeps better in the fridge too.

http://benihbunga.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ASPARAGUS-350x233.jpg Asparagus, Green Beans, Eggplant etc

I like to add these veggies, but you do have to do some preparation before adding to the salad.  I do a fast steam or sautee with them to soften them up just a bit, when raw they are too crunchy for me with my limited set of teeth. lol.  If you sautee also, you can add some chopped up garlic to the mix which adds flavor and nutrients. This is especially good with the Zucchini and Eggplant, which absorb the garlic flavor during the sautee.  Not so good with asparagus or green beens, here steaming is better.

http://www.specialtyproduce.com/sppics/874.png Hearts of Palm, Artichoke Hearts, Baby Corn, Bamboo Shoots

These are "Premium Items" which come canned.  A can of Hearts of Palm around here usually comes in around $5 by itself, but you don't use the whole can in one salad. I recently found them on sale for $3 though, and stocked up with several cans. I usually get 5 salads out of one can, for $1 cost per salad.  You can pick the exotic ingredient of your choice for any given salad.  You will need refrigeration and tupperware though to keep the ingredient good for more salads after cracking the can.  By themselves, Hearts of Palm are really good with just a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil sprinled over them.  Fabulous texture.

http://brightcove.vo.llnwd.net/e1/pd/1033249144001/1033249144001_1398168323001_ari-origin05-arc-141-1326843239426.jpg?pubId=1033249144001 Beans

I don't usually include these, since if I am in the mood for beans I usually have them in a Black Bean soup or ladled over a pile of rice as tradition Brazilian style Feijon, sprinkled with "Pimiento", aka HOT Sauce!  I'll meat that up with an Italian Hot Sausage or a Brat that I usually can pick up for around 70 cents each in a 1 lb pack of 5 for $3.50.  Sliced into discs, I usually get 16-20 of them, enough for almost a meat bite in every scoop of soup!  One sausage is plenty of meat protein and fat for the day, the only issue is with refrigeration, you have to finish the whole package within a week or so, and I can't always do this so ending up throwing out some of this food.  Kills me when I have to do this.  If you work in larger groups though, this should not be a problem.  4 people is about right for meals for a day for typically sized food packaging with no leftovers.  For single person meals, sadly if you do not want the leftovers problem generally you need to go with the Frozen Michelinas dishes and Canned Soups as your main sustenance. In my last few years in the working world, that is what I lived on, along with vitamins.

Including the beans in the salad though they keep as well as everything else, and pretty much any canned beans are good for this and they are CHEAP!  A can of beans goes for $1, and you use no more than 1/2 can for any salad of 1 lb size.  Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Garbanzo Beans or Black Eyed Peas all work well here and provide protein and carbs to your salad.  "3 Bean" salads are pretty popular because of this, but I still prefer beans hot in soups or gumbos.

https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/UT8StVfXWXXXXagOFbX0/tofu-for-sale.jpg Tofu

Tofu is an ingredient not to everyone's taste, it's pretty bland on its own.  It is however a great ABSORBER of flavors (mainly the dressing you use in this case), as well as a great source of protein.  Like with some of the veggies above though, you need refrigeration of some sort to store it for a week or so.  Cubed up for your salad, you use no more than 1/4 of a block of Tofu for a given salad, and to keep the remaining Tofu good, it needs to be refrigerated for the next salad construction.

Meat & Animal Protein

All in all, this gives you a pretty comprehensive and nutritious meal, but for me something is missing, which is ANIMAL PROTEIN! I'm not a Vegan Vegietarian type.  There is some animal protein in there coming from the Cheeses and Tofu, but I like some MEAT in my meals!

There are a few ways to do this.  You can buy a cheap canned ham and cube it up as one choice, or do similar with a hard salami. You can fry up some Bacon and crumble it into the salad.  You can dice/cube up a chicken to add to the salad.  The choices here are endless, but I don't usually add the meat directly into the salad, what I do is have a Meat Side Dish that goes with the salad instead.  Below are a few of my favorite El Cheapos.

http://www.tupperware-katalog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/landscape-1458570310-delish-deviled-eggs.jpg 1- Deviled Eggs – I make these with my own special Deviling recipe, and two deviled eggs plus half a pound of the super salad is about as much as I can consume in a day.  There are endless ingredients you can drop into a deviled eggs recipe, traditional is to drop in pickle relish but I am not a big fan of that.  I like to spiice mine up with some Wasabi or Hoseradish. I don't decorate them when just making for myself, but if you are contributing to a Potlatch, doing decoration is a nice touch.

http://del.h-cdn.co/assets/cm/15/10/54f93752912cd_-_del1010-bumble-bee-canned-tuna.jpg 2- Canned Tuna or Salmon–  A can of Fancy White Albacore goes around $2 up here usually these days, but this is enough animal protein for me for 2 days, so adding this to the salad meal is only about $1 extra. If you buy the large size cans you save a lot of money, but you need sdeveral people to finish it quickly. I also jazz it up with Mayo, chopped onion, lemon juice and whatever else I have hanging around in the cubbards, although of course the Homeless Person does not have the extensive cubbard I do to get real creative with this.  However, Canned Tuna + Mayo is enough to add all the animal protein you need or want in a day plus fat from the Mayo.  Canned Salmon is better mixed up as a dip with cream cheese & sour cream, then add some fresh dill and green onions to that.  Whether it is Tuna or Salmon, you place an ice cream scoop size lump in the middle of your salad for a nice presentation for yourself.   Or you can just put it in a separate tupperware container and eat together with your salad.

http://images1.phoenixnewtimes.com/imager/u/original/6547316/brown_tinned_anchovies.jpg 3- Anchovies

Not usually too popular with most people, because they are so salty.  However, once dropped into the salad with all the dressing and tomato liquid, the salt disperses and they are a nice counterpoint to the tomatoes along with the olives.  Anchovies also come in small cans and one is just right for your 1 lb salad mixture, plus you get the olive oil they were packed with for more good vegetable fat.  The main issue is one of price here, at $1.75 a can for only one salad, this is expensive.

http://stockfresh.com/files/s/saddako2/m/65/3259498_stock-photo-canned-smoked-oysters.jpg 4- Smoked Oysters

This is on the pricy end of canned fish products, although if you spread it out over 2 salads not too bad.  It might be a nice variation to throw in for your animal protein once in a while.  I haven't actually dropped these in a salad though.  If I buy a can of smoked oysters, I just usually have them plain or on a piece of french bread.  Used to be on a cracker, but with my limited dentition, crackers are mostly out these days. lol

https://i2.wp.com/imperiodosfrangos.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/herbes-de-provence-rotisserie-chicken-1085252l1.jpg?fit=350%2C350 5- Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie Chickens cooked for you in the supermarket are a great value even if you have an oven and home to cook a raw chicken which comes in around half the price of a cooked one.  It's great convenience, they are marinated and spiced nicely usually in a few varieties, and around here they still come in at only around $7 each.  Right out of the rotisserie they are great to eat just by themselves with no prep at all and the second day pretty good just microwaved.  I'll usually eat about half the chicken this way, The Breast and a Leg on day 1 and the Thigh and both Wings on Day 2.  The other half of the chicken then gets chopped up into small cubes to make a chicken salad, good for at least 3 days added to the rest of your salad.  Preparation is basically the same as with canned tuna, although with the chicken I prefer to add Tarragon and/or Paprika for spicing it up.  Major bonus here also is that once you have got most of the good meat off the bones, you throw the stripped carcass into a slow cooker to make chicken broth for use in Matzoh Ball or Wonton Soup which will feed you for still another 2 days.  There is plenty of meat still left on the bones and after stewing a few hours it all falls off the bones into the broth, and then you just sieve it and pick out the bones.  You easily get all the animal protein you need for a full week out of 1 Rotisserie Chicken, so that comes out to $1 day, well inside the SNAP Card Gourmet Budget of $5/day.  The only downside of these chickens is they are all industrially raised and fed on GMO crap and injected full of hormones and antibiotics too, and sometimes the meat can be stringy.  You have to shop around at your local stores to find the best of the lot here, I have 4 different places to go, Carr's (Safeway), Fred Meyer (Kroger), Walmart and 3 Bears.  Although the cheapest, Walmart's are the worst. Carr's has the best ones and most expensive, and Freddie and 3 Bears about the same.  Because 3 Bears is right next to me, those are the ones I usually buy when in a chicken kind of mood. lol.

Steak

Steak is a great animal protein addition to your salad, and what I like best of all here is to buy fresh Fillet Mignon and slice it thin raw and add it to the salad as Steak Tartare.  This is however very expensive by the pound, about the best I can get on sale for Fillet Mignon is $15/lb. I only will use maybe 1/4 pound most for a given salad, but that is closing in on $4 for that ingredient alone, which is getting way over normal SNAP Card Gourmet pricing.  More commonly if I want to add Steak as the animal protein component to the salad, I will buy Ribeye or New York Strip cut, Barbecue them Pittsburgh Rare (black on the outside, still mooing on the inside) then slice thin like the Fillet.  These cuts I can often find on sale for $6/lb, and recently 3 Bears had Ribeyes on sale for $4.59/lb, and astonishingly low price since usually that is the price for ground beef around here.  Even at $6/lb though, 1/4 lb of this thinly sliced into your salad is only a $1.50 addition, so still well within budget.

Note: Photo at left is my Valentines Day Ribeyes from 2015 charing over the BBQ. 🙂

Eggs

The easiest thing to do with eggs is simply to hard boil them, then chop up and add to the salad.  2 eggs is plenty for the 1 lb salad mixture and they come in super cheap, around $2.50 a dozen around here, so call it 20 cents an egg for 40 cents to add your animal protein to the salad.  You may however prefer to make an Egg Salad, mixing up with Mayo and other ingredients of your choice and have on the side like you would a Tuna or Chicken salad. A particular favorite of mine these days is to make Deviled Eggs out of them (as detailed above), and then have 2-3 Half-Eggs along with the salad.  I add Horseradish Sauce, Stone Ground Mustard and Wasabi alog with the Mayo to make the Deviled mixture out of the yolks to refill the White half egg container, but you can choose whatever Deviling ingredients you like for this.  Many people like various types of Pickle Relish for this.  Besides adding flavor and variety, this also adds calories from the mayo as well so gives you a bit more nutrition for each egg.

The possibilities for stuff you can add to your Endless Salad are of course themselves endless, at least right now while the cornucopia of food is present on the shelves of your local food superstore and you have a working debit card or SNAP card to buy the stuff with.  You can also make it cheaper if you grow your own tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, bean sprouts etc to add to the salad.  Raise your own chickens, you can now add your own chicken meat and eggs to this too!  You probably could cut your costs down to $1/lb this way and be more self-sufficient, but of course not if you are homeless, you need a Doomstead to do all that.

Eat smart, eat tasty, eat cheap & eat healthy with the SNAP Card Gourmet! 🙂

 

Holy Guacamole! My Excellent Mexican CHEAP Dinner Recipes

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 23, 2017

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The general focus of the SNAP Card Gourmet series is to find ways to feed yourself with "relatively" healthy food at a price you can afford on a SNAP Card budget, which generally comes in the neighborhood in the FSoA right now of $140 per person, or somewhere around $5/day.  So whenever I write one of these SNAP Card Gourmet posts, I try to stay inside this parameter of $5/day for your nutrition needs.  This meal goes a bit over the target price, but it's a huge meal and you could shrink it some to stay inside the $5 target.

In this episode of TSCG, we're going to discover how to make a fabulous Mexican style meal for 4 people, coming in around $6/per person.  There's very little in the way of "real cooking" in this recipe, it mostly uses off the shelf frozen or canned foods, along with some fresh veggies, like Avocados for your Guacamole.  You can of course make it somewhat healthier if you make your Burritos and Chimichangas from scratch, but it won't be any cheaper.  In fact it will probably be more expensive that way.  So this falls under the category of cheap and filling calories, but not too high on the Nutrition scale.  It also falls under the category of EZ to prepare, you only need a Microwave and a couple of pots on a double burner electric hotplate.  So if you are wedged into a Section 8 one room Bates Motel with your wife (or husband) and 2 kids, you can probably cook up this meal and save a lot of money off the cost of the same thing at a Taco Bell, Chipotle or Qdoba, where it will cost you around $12-16.

The meal starts with the main entree of either two Burritos, Chimichangas, or Enchiladas your choice there.  They come in packages of 8 from El Monterey for around $5.00 around here, probably somewhat cheaper in the lower 48.

http://www.elmonterey.com/shared/2014/04/8-ct-family-pack-beefandbean-burrito.png

To these frozen delights, prior to microwaving you spruce them up with slices of cheddar cheese, around $4.00 for an 8 oz package which you lay over the top of them so it melts over the Burrito.  You might want to use Pepper Jack cheese instead, your choice. You further add calories to this by serving with a dollop of Sour Cream, a pint of which comes in around $3.00.

The real piece de resistance is your Guacamole, which you make from 2 avocados mashed up and a package of Guacamole mix so you don't have to buy all the separate spices like cilantro and lime, etc.  $4.00 for the Avocados, $1 for the mix, total $5.00 for the guacamole.  You can sometimes get avocados cheaper than this on sale.

https://www.californiaavocado.com/cmspages/getfile.aspx?guid=c9815aa2-bd0b-4442-9e00-178a5498dbcd

A bottle of Salsa, another $3.  You'll probably have left over Salsa to use in another meal, but we'll count the whole cost of the bottle here.

Your final addition to the meal can be either refried beans at $1/can, 2 cans probably enough but if you have big eaters maybe 3 cans.  Other choice would be Black Beans & Rice, which comes in around the same price of $3.

Total cost for the meal per person is $6, which is over the SNAP Card benchmark of $5, but for a once a week Mega Meal, not too far over and you can easily make up for it through the rest of the week with some days of cheaper eating, like making spaghetti or peanut butter sandwiches, etc.  To be honest for myself, this would be 2-3 days of meals for me, not one.  I am perennially eating more leftovers than I do freshly cooked meals these days.

Since the meal is pretty heavy on the Calories but thin on the Vitamins, you're also going to want to be sure to take a multi-vitamin with it, which adds maybe 50 cents to each serving depending on the quality of vitamins you buy and the size of the container.  Vitamins always need to be accounted for in your total SNAP card budget for the month, and one should always try to buy the largest size and have it last a few months than buying smaller sizes every month, it comes in cheaper that way.  Vitamins keep a long time, you don't need to worry about them going bad.

In the next episode of the SNAP Card Gourmet, we'll look at a much HEALTHIER style of eating and which takes no cooking whatsoever.  It's also one of the few meal types you can put together for a single person without ending up with tons of leftovers you need to eat every day for a week so you can work through it all.  I call this the "Endless Salad".

Until then, Bon Apetite Diners!

Food Insecurity

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on May 1, 2016

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It was announced recently that some 500,000 to 1,000,000 or so Amerikans currently receiving SNAP Card bennies are in danger of having their monthly allotment of food CUT OFF.  If you are between 18 & 50 years old with no dependent children, are able bodied and capable of some kind of work but you have no job paying any money, you get to STARVE.  Here in the Land of Good & Plenty where the Golden Corral will serve up all you can stuff your face with if you can just come up with the $15 Entrance Fee to the Palace of Fat People.

From the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities:

More than 500,000 and as many as 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children.  These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work.  The impact will be felt in the 22 states that must or are choosing to reimpose the time limit in 2016.

More than 500,000 and as many as 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP over the course of 2016.One of the harshest pieces of the 1996 welfare law, this provision limits such individuals to three months of SNAP benefits in any 36-month period when they aren’t employed or in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week.  Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program — which is the case in most states — have their benefits cut off after three months irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job.  Because this provision denies basic food assistance to people who want to work and will accept any job or work program slot offered, it is effectively a severe time limit rather than a work requirement, as such requirements are commonly understood.  Work requirements in public assistance programs typically require people to look or work and accept any job or employment program slot that is offered but do not cut off people who are willing to work and looking for a job simply because they can’t find one.  In fact, SNAP has separate work requirement authority much like this, where states can require individuals to participate in job search or a training program but cannot terminate them if no program is available.

This is a long article and I am tempted to paste the whole thing because there is so much important information in it, but hopefully you will go to the site and read it there.  I'm just going to comment on this travesty and present a few strategies to work around these rules.

First off, I don't see why "ABAWDs" (Able Bodie Adults Without Dependents) are any less deserving of food than people who have dependents.  Are you less of a citizen if you don't have children?  Did you pay less taxes than they did?  No, in fact you paid more because you don't get any of the deductions for having dependents.  Then there is that Age Cutoff at 50 years old.  Why does a 51 year old get to keep her bennies, while a 50 year old loses his?  You are more worthwhile to keep fed if you are 51 than 50?  Whether you are 50 or 51, if you lost your job these days, your chances of getting re-hired for any kind of work that is going to pay a living wage become slimmer by the day.

Now, it's not like folks receiving Food Stamps are being showered with money.  The allotment is somewhere between $140 and $170/month depending on the state.  The whole program currently costs a measely $75B or so.  Compare that to the $TRILLIONS$ showered on the Banksters to bail out their sorry asses.  Compare that to the $TRILLION$ Pentagon Budget to drop Death from Above on a bunch of sorry ass Syrians and sprinkle mayhem around the world on a daily basis.  You can't find a few extra billion to keep these folks from starving?  The Print Key on Dammit Janet Smellin' Yellen's laptop has malfunctioned?  What?

http://www.bluenc.com/sites/default/files/styles/node_body/public/homelessincharlotte.jpeg?itok=9jxY4ylr Fortunately, there are some private charities which will try to take up the slack, but these charities are already overwhelmed   It means their supply of food will be spread that much thinner.  If it were true that we really had a food deficit here in the FSoA and there wasn't enough to go round, you could make a case for triaging off some people, preferably Banksters & Geochemists who are Scum Sucking Leeches on society.  However, at the moment there is PLENTY of FOOD for EVERYBODY in the FSoA to get as fat on as they like!  Just take a walk down the aisles of Safeway sometime or a trip to the aforementioned Golden Corral, or any Trucker Buffet served up at Truckstops of Amerika, Petro or the Flying J.

The justification for this stupidity is that these folks just don't WANT to work, so if you cut off their food they will hustle their asses and GET A JOB!  Now really, do you think anyone currently receiving SNAP bennies LIKES living on around $40/week worth of food?  They're not working because they get this huge supply off food every month?  OF COURSE NOT!  They're not working not because they get free food, but because there aren't jobs for everyone that the industrial society will pay everybody a living wage to do anymore!

Another effect often brought up on Libertarian sites like The Burning Platform is that occassionally you see SNAP Card recipients with Premium Foods like Lobster or Filet Mignon in their baskets.  This may periodically be true, as I have demonstrated with the SNAP Card Gourmet Series, if you are real careful about how much you spend for 3 out of the 4 weeks of the month, in week 4 you have enough extra credits left over to buy some premium foods and enjoy a little taste of what the upper class gets to eat every day.  However, by NO MEANS is a $40/week Food Budget an exorbitant amount of money.

If it really bugs you so much that occassionally a poor person gets to eat a Lobster, then instead of the SNAP program you could run Soup Kitchens like they did back inthe Great Depression, and just serve up Spaghetti and Meatballs or Chili, etc.  But you know what?  Running Soup Kitchens on such a large scale would cost FAR more money than just handing out a Plastic Card for people to go pick up food at the regular retail outlets.  They are already staffed and their distribution systems are in place.  Setting up Soup Kitchens would require a whole new staff, a whole new distribution system and even more costly, a whole new Goobermint Bureaucracy and more folks on Da Goobermint Payroll.  SNAP Cards are the CHEAP alternative here, unless of course you believe letting people STARVE is a valid alternative, which apparently many Libertarians do think is valid.

http://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu//his1005spring2011/files/2011/03/b-w_living-1937-bread-lind-during-louisville-flood.jpg

So now let's get on to the really important task, which is devising STRATEGIES not to get yourself cut off from at least $40/week to stay fed.  Remember folks, this is about the ONLY Benny that everyone in the society is eligible for, and it's not going to pay your rent or your transportation costs to go job hunting or your cell phone bill to stay connected so your prospective employer has a place to call you with the Good Newz she has a job for you.  http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/pictures/jesus_multiplies_loaves.jpg Folks who are this far off the cliff are the poorest of the poor, the kind of people Jesus Christ was concerned about helping.  Besides not having jobs, they often have no home either.  Most often from the long term underclass, poorly educated and even if there were jobs for them, often unemployable.  There are more people than just this of course, and new ones created each day as Industrial Civilization winds down to a close and more formerly Middle Class people fall off the economic cliff.  If you do fall into either of these, what can you do to keep your SNAP Card charged up and some food in your belly?

Well first off, if you read the various rules carefully, on the "official" level, if you are in some kind of Job Training program or can at least find 20 hours of work a week, even if that is not enough to pay rent, you still will likely be under the minimum income required to be eligible for food stamps.  Problem of course here is you may not be able to find 20 hours of work, and Job Training programs are few and far between because they are expensive to run.

However, there is nothing I have read that stops you from being in your OWN Job Training program.  One of the Diners, JDW suggested the possibility of training in areas of post collapse resilience, like permaculture etc.  You probably would need to get some sort of official recognition of the training program by the bureaucracy for this to work though.

In many states there is also the Loophole that if you Volunteer for a certain number of hours/month doing some kind of Community Service, again you are not cut off, so go find someplace to volunteer at.  Obvious Choice here would be to volunteer at a Food Bank.  Other possibilities are to volunteer at a Senior Center or volunteer as a Big Brother/Big Sister.

http://yourcoolcityblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/volunteers.png

What do you do though if the State you live in is so scum sucking awful they won't even give you $40/week for food if you show you are willing to work by volunteering to work for FREE, for the community benefit?

https://img.rt.com/files/news/42/ce/e0/00/michigan-prison-food-maggots.jpg One option is already being taken by many people, which is the GO TO JAIL option.  3 Hots & a Cot! 🙂 This of course costs the state WAY more than $40/week, it costs somewhere around $40-50K to keep you in jail which is a LOT more than $40/week which if you collect 52 weeks a year only comes out to a measely $2000 or so.   If you are going to choose this option pick a crime with a fairly short average sentence time and commit it in a state that has a reputation for fairly well run prisons. You'll also have free medical care and dental care during this period.  You may of course not want to choose this option for many reasons.  You may be morally opposed to criminal acts, although choosing your criminal act wisely you probably can avoid the moral quandary there.  If your criminal act is say Spray Painting a Bank Glass Window with "Banksters are Evil", that is not morally too bad.  LOL.  Of course, that may not be criminal enough to get you prison time, so you have to find the right crimes which both get you prison time AND are morally defensible to yourself.

There are other reasons for not wanting to choose Jail as an option of course.  You may value your "Freedom", although how free you really are if you are starving on the street is an open question.  Then of course also if you are young and attractive male, some other prison inmate may want you for a prison wife, as well as sharing you with a few of the prison guards for a pack of cigarettes.  This may not appeal to you as a way to spend a few years until you are next eligible for  SNAP bennies.  lol.

http://appx.sanook.com/rip/r/w300/ya0xa0m1w0/aHR0cDovL3AzLmlzYW5vb2suY29tL2d1LzAvcGljZnJvbnQvcGVkaWEvMjY3NjMyX18xNjEwMjAxMjExMDIyMC5qcGc=.jpg In terms of picking crimes that are morally defensible and possibly will NOT land you in jail but also keep you fed, one option might be to go into Burglary, just targeting the homes of the 1% living in upscale gated communities.  Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists and Accountants primarily here.  You case the place and find out when nobody is home, so you don't run into some Prepper Dentist with Gunz & Ammo out the Wazoo who might shoot you as you come in through the window. lol.

After you do the break-in, what do you steal?  Not the Big Screen TV, not the Laptops, not even the artwork on the walls or the Mercedes in the garage.  No, you just steal the FOOD out of the refrigerator and pantry!  Then you leave an IOU Note to this person on the Kitchen table beforeyou exit the scene of the crime.

Dear 1%er Friend,

I recently became Homeless after losing my job working for Intel as a manager in their personal computers division, which they are downsizing. My McMansion was foreclosed on by JP Morgan Chase, my SNAP Card bennies have been revoked,  I am currently living in my Stealth Van and have tried to no avail to find new work of any kind. I am almost 50 now, and nobody will hire me even to flip burgers at Mickey D's.

I am Greatful for your help here in keeping me from DIEING OF STARVATION, and it appears to me you will be able to restock your fridge and pantry without too much trouble with overpriced Organic Vegetables from Whole Foods.  I leave you this note as an IOU, and promise to repay you IN FULL  if/when I get back on my feet again and get a job or means to repay.

Now, what self-respecting Dentist would prosecute this guy, or even call the Gestapo to report the crime?  If said Dentista was stupid enough to prosecute, can you IMAGINE the publicity when the Media gets hold of the story?

"1% er Dentist prosecutes Homeless Man for stealing Spaghetti from his Pantry"

This would not be too good for bizness. lol.

OK, off the topic of Criminal Means to stay fed here (and also tweaking my fellow Diners 🙂  ), let us look at a completely LEGAL means of maintaining your SNAP Card Bennies in the face of these current regulations.  There is in reality no need for Volunteering and no need for a job training program available in your neighborhood either! 🙂

Each year when you file your Form 1040, there is a spot on it for you to list your “Occupation”. You can list just about anything here, you could even list “Prostitute”, although I think few who pursue this profession (the world's oldest) actually list that way here in the FSoA. They probably list as “Professional Escort”. lol.

irs-occupation

You can also list yourself as “Self-Employed”, and there is nothing illegal about that, in fact self-employment is lauded as being entrepreneurial and a good thing by Capitalista Pigmen. Self-Employed people are respectable go-getters! lol. If you do file as self-employed, you will also have to file a Form 1099 with the IRS for “Miscellaneous Income”. Do not neglect to do that.

http://www.diybusinessinabox.com/images/mainpage/Handyman.jpg So what is the plan? Well, as a self-employed person, no Minimum Wage laws apply, you can contract to work for WTF you want to charge, whatever the market will bear here. You list yourself as a “Self-Employed Handyman”, and you do whatever needs to be done for friends. Like sweep the garage, trim the hedges, wash some windows, whatevah. You have your friend video record you on your smart phone doing these tasks, you also Log the Hours spent in a log book, and you have a Receipt Book for when your friend pays you for the service. What do you charge? Any Non-Zero Number, say 10 cents, whatever your friend can afford.  If he can't afford 10 cents, loan him a dime to pay you with. lol.

You RECORD all these payments scrupulously, and you list them all on your Form 1099. You have now PROVED you worked and PROVED your income, which of course is WELL below the maximum income for SNAP bennies.

I cannot see how under the law as written that you could be denied SNAP card bennies if you do this.  You fulfill all the requirements of working, and it is all documented with the IRS.  You file your taxes with your Total Income for the year as $66.66 evil4 , and you pay your taxes on this, although there won't be any.

Of course, long term here the SNAP Card program, Social Security, Medicaire, Pension Funds and even Stock Portfolios will all fail.  However, when that comes to pass, the whole system is FUBAR, and as soon as it is made truly impossible to acquire food for millions of people, the food riots will begin and Da Goobermint as it exists now will cease to exist.  Nothing brings down a Goobermint faster than hordes of starving people.

Ideally, you should also be working on Personal Food Security by other methods also, growing your own as possible with Permaculture, Hydroponics and Aquaculture, as has been discussed on many occasions here on the Diner.  Goobermint Food Distribution will eventually fail, but here in the FSoA I don't think complete failure will occur that soon.  So in this situation in this country, your goal is to make sure you do not get yourself cut off by the system.  Your personal food security entails understanding the system rules and manipulating them to your favor, and not getting caught with your pants down unaware that these bennies are being cut off piecemeal to others like yourself caught in the maelstrom of Industrial Society collapse.

Awareness is EVERYTHING.  Stay aware, and seek alternatives and work arounds.  That is the KEY to SURVIVAL.

RE

Portable Electric Cooking Preps

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 17, 2016

electric-hot-plate

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When discussing emergency preparedness for cooking, often ignored by preppers are electric cooking devices.  Usually you will find discussion of either Propane or Kerosene fired cooking gear used for camping as the main emergency cooking prep.  The reason they tend to be ignored is that one of the main scenarios that preppers are concerned with is a "grid down" emergency, where electricity is unavailable everywhere in your neighborhood.  In that case, electric cooking gear is pretty much worthless, although if you have a generator or a large battery system and inverter you can still use them.  Still, in that situation it is a pretty inefficient means of using your fuel.  You're better off just to siphon some of the gas and use that for a cooking fuel directly.

However, there are many other types of situations to prep for where the electric cooking gear is actually superior to the propane and kerosene fired gear.  The main one is personal economic collapse, where you lose your job and your McHovel gets foreclosed on and you move into your van to do Stealth Van living.  You still need a source of electricity of course to be able to use the apparatus, and with a powerful enough inverter most any cooking apparatus can be run while your car engine is running.  Again though, this is a relatively inefficient use of fuel overall.

'What you need to do is find sources of electricity you can access while parked.  The easiest and legal methods are to park in a campsite that has electric outlets, or to stay in a motel for a night, where as part of your fee you get all the electricity you want.  If you have friends in the neighborhood you are Van Dwelling who will let you plug into a garage outlet while you visit with them, you can charge up your auxiliary battery system this way,  A couple of hours pulling down 20 Amps or so @ 120V (2400W) to charge your Deep Cycle batteries will cost less than a dollar on their monthly electric bill, typically a kilowatt/hour costs around 15¢.  So 2 hours plugged in here runs around 80¢ or so maybe.

https://www.polartrec.com/files/members/cheri-hamilton/images/img1881.jpgAnother method that is "quasi-legal" here in Alaska is to park in places that have external outlets for block heaters.  Block heaters keep your engine warm on the sub-zero days and make starting up the engine much easier.  On a diesel, you can't live without them in sub-zero temps.  Many restaurants have these external plugs by the parking spots, and many motels do also.  However, if you aren't actually patronizing the restaurant or staying in the motel, then it's not really legal to be plugging in to their juice.  Also, the juice may only be on during the winter, so it's not going to work during the rest of the year if the establishment shuts down the outlets.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/3/18/1395161639328/Power-cables-in-Rocinha-009.jpg?w=620&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=5a4427ec6f69e3cb0a332c9e8fcf16d6The illegal method is to pirate electricity that runs to street lights in any community. In the 3rd World countries this is common in the slums. This is NOT RECOMMENDED!  Besides the legal problems you will run into if caught doing this, you better know your shit as far as wiring and splicing goes.  Quite EZ to electrocute yourself or start an electrical fire when you tap juice from a street light or straight off the electrical conduit serving a residential area.  DEFINITELY do not try to tap long range High Voltage lines!!!!!!!  Unless you are a fully licensed electrician with a ton of experience, you have a DEATH WISH if you fuck with long distance high voltage lines.

OK, with all that in mind, in ths article we're going to look at the FULLY LEGAL methods of Campsites with electric power and Motels.

First is the question of what apparatus you need/want?

The most basic and necessary is the single electric burner, featured at the top of the page here.  These burners come single or double, from around 750W draw to 1500W.  On just the single burner, you can heat your soups, steam your rice, stir fry your veggies in a Wok, fry bacon & eggs, etc.  In other words, there really is nothing else you absolutely NEED other than the single burner.  These burners are lightweight, small and CHEAP.  $15 will get you one at Walmart.

However, for more variety in cooking methods, there are some other portable electric cooking devices you might want to add to the prep arsenal, depending how much room in your Stealth Van you wish to allocate to this type of cooking apparatus.

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/productImages/300/aa/aaf7adf0-e8f3-4a9f-baf2-fc1aae92b546_300.jpgThe first thing you probably want to go for is a double burner instead of a single burner.  This speeds up your cooking a lot and allows for more complex dishes to be prepared.  On one burner you can have your rice steaming, while on the other you are doing a stir-fry in your Wok for a Chinese-style dinner, or you can be heating some Oatmeal on one burner while your fry bacon & eggs on the other one for breakfast.  In both cases, you use up about 15 min worth of juice @ around 1000W, which doesn't draw down your batt set too much.

The next device you might want to add is an electric slow cooker.  These have the advantage of drawing very low power, a typical slow cooker draws about as much power as a 100W lightbulb on the low setting.  If you have some kind of Solar PV system, you may be able to run such a slow cooker when the sun is shining without drawing down your batt storage at all!  Of course, if you are in a motel room, no issues here at all, slow cook up your favorite stew or gumbo or chowder and then package in some tupperware and store in your cooler to eat during the week after short reheating over a kerosene stove or the like.  Or you can even eat it cold if you are a tough guy.  lol.

http://sites.ecovillage.org/sites/default/files/cooker.jpgOther possibilities for reheating while not connected to a power outlet include using a Solar Oven.  These can be constructed from a cardboard box, aluminum foil and saran wrap at the real basic level, but you'll do better with a more robust and well insulated arrangement.  If the sunlight is available on a given day for heating up your food, why use precious electricity stored in your Batt Set or propane or kerosene?  Use what is available for FREE first here, and conserve your other power/heat sources only for when the free sources are not available!  If you are traveling around in a Stealth Van in a neighborhood with a lot of trees, there' probably enough fallen deadwood around to cook or reheat over a wood fire.  Use that before you go to your stash of proane or kerosene.

http://www.gehousewares.com/products/169014%20rotisserie%20large_1098902701653.pngAfter the burners and the slow cooker, the next device you might want to add to your electric cooking emergency apparatus is a Toaster/Oven/Broiler.  these go from super basic to pretty complex, anywhere from $30 to $100 can be spent on one of these.  Some even have built in Rotisseries if you buy a chicken or leg of lamb, have access to juice and want to do your own Rotisserie instead of buy an already rotisseried chicken at the food superstore.  You'll save a bit of money this way as long as you're not paying for the cooking juice.  Generally speaking though, it's just easier to buy the chicken already rotisseried and not too much more expensive overall.  I find that generally 1 Rotisserie Chicken a week purchased at the food superstore provides all the animal protein I need in a week at a cost of around $6 pre-cooked on the hot rack.  I can buy a similar uncooked chicken for $4, but then I have to do the cooking, use the energy, do the cleanup etc.  Not much savings for the week to buy the raw chicken, not worth the trouble either in normal circumstances.  However, if you are getting your electricity as part of your motel bill and you have the time to do the rotisserie yourself, you'll save about $2/chicken you rotisserie this way.  You pay off the investment in the rotisserie oven after maybe 10 chickens the most.  So it's worth spending a little extra for this option.  How you use the chicken over the week is the key here in REAL SAVINGS, and I will be writing a new SNAP Card Gourmet article on the Incredible, Edible Chicken in the near future. 🙂

http://73j7e1utrow1c3hha1rfv18d.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/05/egg-sandwich_02_dougyoung-550x410.jpgBesides the chickens though, your Toaster/Oven/Broiler comes in handy for many other things, not the least of which is making Toast!  After a couple of days, whatever bread you are using is starting to go stale even if you keep it well wrapped up.  Toasting up the bread you use in your sandwiches makes them much more tasty!  You also can melt some cheese on the bread while toasting, great for making Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a Kaiser Roll breakfasts, and Cheeseburger Lunches & Dinners. You can Bake Lasagna in your toaster over too, so as long as you have enough juice to run it, you et a huge variety of possible foods to cook up you could not do with just the hot plates or slow cooker.

https://www.cuisinart.com/share/images/products/full/1291/ceg-980t.jpgThe final recommended device in the electric cooking arsenal is an Electric Grill.  I like my steaks, burgers etc cooked over an open heat source where the fat drips sown and then smokes up the meat some, giving it the classic BBQ flavor.  While ideally you want to do this over charcoal with perhaps some mesquite wood chips, in fact you can get most of the same flavor with a propane fired grill or an electric one.  Not the George Forman type of grill where the grill surface itself is heated, but one where the heating element is below the meat, heats up some glass rocks or a metal radiator and then the fat drips down onto that during the BBQing.  You don't want to use these things indoors though, since they produce too much SMOKE.  However, long as you have a source of electric power and can place the device outside, it's a great and EZ way to do a BBQ.

There are of course innumerable other specific devices such as electric steamers and electric skillets that are available, but the hot plate will do what they do as long as you have the right pots and pans.  For instance I have a Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet I can use over a campfire, but it will also drop right on top of either my 2 burner electric hotplate or my 2 burner propane stove.  Why do I need a separate electric skillet here?  I don't need a dedicated electric Wok or dedicated electric steamer either.  So the basic 4 devices are all you really need here, and total cost can be kept under $200 if you shop wisely for Low, Low Prices Every Day at Walmart.  LOL.

How do you use the Electric Cooking devices in the Campsite/Motel Van Dwelling Paradigm?

http://www.remodelingcalculator.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Foreclosure-pic.jpg

http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2009/03/29/1225697/711409-family.jpgNow that you have all your devices stashed in the Van ready for your Bugout when the Sheriff arrives to foreclose on your McMansion, how are you going to live and do your cooking, and how much is this going to cost you a month?  First off let's stipulate this is for the single person, or at most a couple.  If you have kids, the Van Dwelling paradigm becomes much less plausible, although to be sure there are plenty of examples of families living in their cars.

At the time you purchased the McMansion, you were a successful network engineer making $80K/year.  You had a $2000/mo mortgage, utility bills of $300/mo, insurance etc.  You were pretty good with your money, not buying a new car every year, and your 4 year old Mercedes is almost paid of.  You also have your prize Harley you rode on summer weekends, it's paid for.  Since you were also a Doomer prior to getting your pink slip, you ALSO have your Bugout Machine, a 10 year old Chevy passenger van and a 15' enclosed Utility trailer.

http://i0.wp.com/images.cheaprvliving.com/choice-me.jpg

You're hopeful for a couple of months, sending out the resumes and meeting your bills out of your savings, but they are depleting quickly with your high monthly bills.  At the end of the 2nd month you still can't find any job at close to your old salary, but you have landed a part time low wage job as an Asst. Manager at Safeway.  You make $12/hr to start and get 20 hours/week for a $200/week paycheck after taxes and SS are taken out.  At the end of month before you completely deplete your savings you implement your Emergency Plan.

http://www.all-secure-self-storage.com/theme/allsecure/img/galleries/100_1156.JPGYou sell your Mercedes and after paying off the remaining debt on the car loan actually come out $2000 ahead.  You get $3000 for your Harley, less than the $5000 you bought it for but it was purchased for cash.  You have a yard sale and get rid of what you can of your furniture and old clothes and other junk, and raise a few hundred ths way as well.  The few things you want to keep go in a Storage Unit you contract for $50/mo.  For an extra $30/mo, you can park your utility trailer on the storage unit property also.  This is your new "rent" bill of $80/mo.

On the 1st of the month, you send in the Jingle Mail.  Since you were a Doomer before buying the McMansion, you made sure to get a non-recourse mortgage so as soon as you send in the Keys and the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, you are out from under all the debt there, even though the McMansion was underwater.  You also have eleiminated all your utility bills, home insurance etc.  You no longer have a car payment.

https://groceryoutlet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Mark-and-Stephanie-Stocking.jpg

"I'm just happy to have a job"

How do you now budget your $200/week, $800/mo income?  $20/week is already gone to your storage unit rental, and you have a $40/week SNAP Card Gourmet  food budget, still have $160/week left here.  You get a gym membership for $60/mo, $15/week to shower daily and stay in shape, now down to $145 left.  Your smart phone with internet costs you $80/mo, $20/wk, now down to $105 week. Your insurance on the van costs $40/mo, $10/wk, now down to $95.

You now develop a circuit of sleeping spots around town not too far from your job at Safeway, keeping your gas costs down quite low, you drive no more than about 10 miles a day at most, usually much less.  Gas costs you $1/day, $10/week with some bonus driving on weekends.  Now down to $85.

For the most part just this small amount of driving each day will keep your deep cycle marine battery pretty well topped off to do typical reheating type cooking.  You can bring your slow cooker into work with you and plug it in to have a nice hot stew ready by the time you finish your 4 hour shift.  You can quickly fry up some bacon and eggs for breakfast on your hot plate.  If not connected to external power you only use your hot plate for maybe 15 minutes a day off the deep cycle marine battery.

Once a week you get either Camping spot with electricity or a motel room $20 for the camping spot or $50 for the motel room (Tom Burdett will leave the Light on for you at Motel 6).  You check in at 4PM after work and check out is noon the following day,  During this 20 hours you do laundry, you shower, you plug in your deep cycle marine battery to top it off for the week and you cook up a big batch of chili in the slow cooker and bake a lasagna in your toaster oven.  After stuffing yourself with the freshly cooked food, you take the rest  (most of it) and package into individual servings which go into your cooler with ice you get from the motel ice machine.  If you're a regular at the motel they'l probably be OK with you stopping in during the week to refresh your ice, but even if not worse case scenario you buy block ice for $2 once a week.  Winter when it is below freezing you won't need to buy ice at all, just leave a bottle under the van to freeze up and put that in the cooler.

RE-EwzYou can of course scarf up additional electricity on visits with friends as mentioned earlier, and you can even develop a portable battset/charger arrangement to charge up in places like internet coffee shops and laundromats.  I have 3 10AH SLA batteries wired in series for 36V which run my Ewz scooter.  Together with the 36V 2A charger, they fit inside a Briefcase (a HEAVY briefcase though! lol).  From almost dead to full charge takes about 5 hours, but rarely do I discharge that far down.  If I ever really had a need for it, I could disconnect the batteries, connect up one of the 12V batts to a 500W Inverter and run a hot plate long enough to fry an egg or something short like that.  However, between your daily driving and your weekly motel visits for charging and full scale cooking, you're unlikely to need such a supplement.

Does this mean you need to go ALL electric with your daily cooking while van dwelling?  Of course not, in fact most of the time when not connected to an external power source you'll probably use your propane or kerosene fired stove instead, or if out in a park that allows BBQing or even provides outdoor BBQs, you will throw in some charcoal and grill an nice juicy rib-eye for dinner instead.  Besides that, your workplace or a convenience store probably has a microwave you can use as well, providing another way for you to get some hot food each day without using your own electricity or fuel.

http://cdn.tegna-tv.com/-mm-/bf36b4c6941ee8531d0aa6cc129086fad95ded7c/r=x404&c=534x401/http/www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/29d215570eaa3c21f8299595dadea3fd20738899/c=95-0-1527-1077/local/-/media/2014/12/11/KXTV/KXTV/635538576530020263-shelter-church.jpgThe advantages to having portable electric cooking apparatus are many though.  You can use them in places that otherwise might not permit you to use a propane or kerosene stove, a public Storm Shelter for instance.  If you have to leave your McMansion due to a flood and go seek shelter at the local HS gymnasium, you'll probably have access inside the gym to a power outlet to run your hot plate.  Having  hot cup of soup to eat while the hurrican blows through town can make all the difference between being glum and depressed or feeling safe and warm and relatively happy to be alive.

Eventually when the grid goes down for good, your protable electric cooking devices will be all but useless, unless you have access to a mega large Solar PV array, but that day is probably still quite a ways off for the FSoA.  Temporary power outages and brownouts become more likely as time goes by, but a complete & permanent electrical grid collapse is ultimately a Mad Max scenario in places currently wired up and dependent on this power.  As long as there is some BAU going on, there will be electricity to be had somewhere.  For this period, portable electric cooking apparatus is a must-have prep.

Of course, the scenario I painted above does presuppose the former Network Engineer is able to find at least a part time job at a low wage for some monthly income in order not to be draining savings.  However, even if not, it's going to make what savings he does have last a whole lot longer.  He also won't even appear homeless at all if he is careful.  He'll be clean and presentable every day at work with his daily workout and shower at the gym before going in to work.  He'll be readily accessible to receive job interview phone calls and emails.  He'll be eating well on a budget he can afford, without having to buy expensve restaurant meals.  With luck after a few months or even a year of living this way, he will finally get a full time job again in IT, although probably not at the old wage and be able to afford a regular apartment again, smaller than the old McMansion but bigger and a bit more comfortable than the time spent living in the Van.

Having such an "off the cliff" economic plan to tide you over an extended period of unemployment can be the difference between being able to climb back out of the chasm, or falling completely off and plunging to the valley below in the final crash of your life.  It doesn't take a lot of money to create such a plan, for a single adult.  A good used van can be had on Craig's list for $3000, a trailer for another $1500.  Another $2000 in equipment you otherwise don't already have probably will fit it out OK to begin with.  It's an Insurance Plan you dont want to be without, if you can afford to put it together.

Coming Soon on Diner You Tube: Van Dweller Part 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Descent into Darkness: Collapse 2015 in Words & Pictures

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 1, 2016

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Audio Only

Download the mp3 on Diner Soundcloud

Full Transcript for non-native speakers of English

http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/graphics/fathertime-babynewyear.jpgCollapse in 2015 is now in the grave, a thing of the past, an artifact of history.  Not to be forgotten though, because of course those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Of course, those who do learn from history are doomed to watch others repeat it too.  lol.  Regardless of that, I wanted to chronicle the watershed year of 2015 in Collapse Dynamics, which I have been an active student of for the last 8 years, the last 4 of which have been spent mainly here on the Doomstead Diner.

To do this chronicle, I began it as an audio rant, but along with the other new things and changes that 2016 Collapse will bring, the Diner is expanding our YouTube Channel where you found the Video Collapse Cafes and I Spy Dooms and SNAP Card gourmets in the past.  They are all still there, in a much more organized and user friendly interface now.  The Audio Rants and Audio Collapse Cafe Interviews have been housed on Diner Soundcloud, and will remain there at least for a while, however as we move into 2016 all our media presentations will be published on the Diner YouTube Channel, which can be accessed directly either from the collapsecafe.com URL or the youtube.com/c/doomsteaddiner URL.

In order to spruce up the Rants with Visual input for the viewer, I have begun creating slide shows that will accompany the rants.  My work here at the beginning is rudimentary, video editing is a new skil for me and I am teaching myself as I go.  It will improve, I promise.  This first one I did for the New Year's rant doesn't match the pictures to what I am ranting about, it's just a mostly random selection of photos we used for Thumbnails on the Diner Blog at one time or another, not necessarily in 2015.  However, it will evoke memories of collapse as it has played itself out so far as you listen to the rant.

Since I know there are some non-native speakers of English who read the Diner and who have trouble following my rants because I speak quickly, the full transcript of the Rant is available Inside the Diner.  A short Snippet from the Rant here on the Blog as well:

…It's been a Banner Year for Doomers, 2015 has seen a marked increase in just about all areas of Doom, from the Economy to Geopolitics & escalating Warfare to the ever deteriorating Climate Problems. In fact, there are so many fucking Doom Stories from 2015 that I doubt I can cover them all here, no matter how long I run on this rant. However, I will endeavor to run very long and you can listen while you recover from your Hangover on New Year's Day-Morning. LOL.

2015 Doom began with a BANG, with the crash in Oil Prices starting around November-December of 2014, just as my good friend Steve from Virginia of Economic Undertow predicted with the Triangle of Doom. However, that early crash was nothing compared to what has taken place through the rest of 2015, we are now down to a $34 Handle and our good friends at the Squid are predicting $20 handles too! “Lower for Longer” is the Battle Cry in the Energy industry these days, and the big question is who can withstand the low prices the longest here before they finally go BK, unable to access more credit to roll over the mountain of debt already accumulated here?

Rumour is of course that it's all the fault of the Saudis, they are going to keep pumping no matter how low the demand in order to drive everyone else in the Oil extraction biz…OUTTA BIZ! If that was the goal, they have already been quite successful with it, as the Frackers over here shut down one drilling rig after another and Venezuela itself has basically shut down.

While 2015 certainly saw accelerating Collapse in many areas, 2016 promises to be even more eventfull, "Doom on Steroids" if you will.  Difficult as it was to keep up with the Tsunami of Collapse stories in 2015, I suspect 2016 will be even more difficult.  Here on the Doomstead Diner Blog & Forum, Diner You Tube and on our associated other Collapse Information Dispersal websites, we will endeavor to keep the readers, viewers and listeners abreast of the latest developments.  Visit our collapse.global Portal for quick access to many collapse information sources with a quick poke to your Smart Phone screen. 🙂

DOOMSTEAD DINER.  #1 FOR DOOM ON THE NET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Spy Doom: Tea Light Slow Cooking and Heating

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 20, 2015

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Bed-Superstar
RE recuperates after the Neck Job

Over the last few months as I contemplated the possibility of my descent into Homelessness as a new CRIPPLE, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to negotiate life on a very limited budget with no fixed domicile to live in. 

Fortunately, this does not now seem so near on the horizon for me since my Bennies came through, but I know it is for others, so I want to share a few more strategies that I have come up with, beyond the SNAP Card Gourmet recipes for cheap eating without much in the way of a kitchen.  The recipes are tasty though regardless of your circumstances, so I recommend trying them out even if you are not on the cusp of Homelessness! 🙂

Insofar as Energy is concerned, beside the cooking you also have Heating requirements if you are in a cold climate (I live in Alaska), lighting and refrigeration.  These are the primary energy intensive needs you have to plan for once you fall off the economic cliff so far you cannot afford a fixed domicile anymore.  Hopefully, you still have at least a Stealth Van and a Storage Unit to live out of in this situation.  In this article, I am going to cover just the Cooking & Heating Energy needs, not lighting and refrigeration.  These will come in another article down the road a piece.

http://ll-us-i5.wal.co/dfw/dce07b8c-2726/k2-_02df1d66-387f-4f61-a787-6123d6292296.v1.jpg-88cf4f1e48f30aa6de47685475c31c5eb31b4386-optim-450x450.jpgNow, there are certainly many commercially available camping stoves and heaters on the market, the most popular these days being the ones run on propane cannisters which cost about $3 each.  You don't usually get much more than an hour or so of cooking time with them, and used for heating they also burn the the fuel quite rapidly.  It's convenient, but it's not very economical portable cooking and heating.  The stoves and heaters that use these cannisters also are fairly pricy, going anywhere from $30 to $200 or so depending how big you get with them.

Kerosene heaters and wick stoves are more economical than this, and besides that you can store a lot more fuel safely as kerosene than as propane.  A 5 gallon can of kerosene will last you probably 6 months just used for cooking, according to my podcast with Van Dweller,who relies mostly on kerosene.  So this is definitely superior to the propane systems, but it is still not as cheap as you can get if really in a pinch to provide some heat for yourself and ability to heat up some soup or cook some eggs to get some nice hot food into your stomach.  This isn't just important for the Homeless Person, even in your own McMansion if the heat goes out after an ice storm, how are you going to keep warm and do some cooking?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Tuna-Soup Can Rocket Stove

At the left of the page here you see my design for a "rocket stove" made from a can of Bumblebee tuna and a can of Progresso Soup.  These cans were chosen because they have the same diameter and are designed to "nest", so the bottom of one fits neatly into the top of the other one.  The top can of Hunt's pasta sauce is what holds the soup or whatever I am slow-cooking in it.  Alternatively, you can drop a small fry pan on top for frying an egg, although the frying goes rather slow and it comes out more like a poached egg than a fried one.

As you can see, both cans on the bottom are perforated with holes, done with a hand drill.  You can punch holes too with an awl, but this tends to bend up the cans and they don't nest so well once bent. (click the pic to see more detail)

The tuna can on the bottom allows air to flow in from the bottom, and it also keeps the fire in the upper can off the surface you are using to cook or heat on.  Further holes are punched into the bottom of the soup can to let the air flow up through the fire in the can, and then further holes are punched into the side of the soup can to let the CO2 exit the can while cooking or heating.  You need to ventilate it or the fire will extinguish itself quite rapidly.

What do you use for fuel in your Tuna/Soup Can Stove/Heater?  Well, the absolute cheapest is twigs and small branches you collect up (FREE! 🙂 ), but this is rather smoky to use indoors, so if you are using this as fuel you need to do the cooking and heating outside before transfering it into your Tent or Stealth Van.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAlmost as cheap though and way more convenient and usable indoors is to use Tea Lights as your fuel source.  These come in packages of 100 for around $5, for 5¢ apiece.  They have exactly the correct diameter so that you can fit up to 3 in your Stove/Heater, though I find that 2 is enough for most purposes, and even one is usually enough.  You will notice in the pic at right that the currently burning tea lights are actually sitting on top of some old tea light shells.  Reason for this is to raise the heating element closer to what it is heating for less waste of heat.  You do need a couple of inches space at least though or it won't ventilate well.

For cooking, obviously your Tea Light stove will not heat up a can of soup as fast as a propane camping stove.  You can heat up a can of soup with that in 5-10 minutes.  Over a double tea light, the same can takes about 30-40 minutes to heat up to good eating temperature, depending on the ambient temperature.  Further insulating the soup can with a "sleeve" made from a space blanket will help conserve the heat while heating in very cold temperatures.  However, the temperature inside your Stealth Van or Tent should not be going below 10F or so no matter what.  Extended periods at such low temps no matter how good your clothing is an invitation to hypothermia and/or frostbite.  Every Alaskan Musher and Canadian Hoser knows this.  Even with really good cold weather gear it's just plain uncomfortable to have your living environment that cold, and I like it cold, I'm well aclimated to it.  32F is shirtsleeves weather to me. When the temps go down to 10F though, you just have to burn more tea lights or fire up your kerosene heater.

How long do the tea lights last?  Generally about 3 hours of continuous burn time.  You can use larger candles for longer burn times, but I just replace the tea lights when they burn out.  They tend to come in the cheapest, and 3 hours of burn time is plenty

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat covers the cooking side of things, how do you use them as Heaters?  For this, instead of a can of soup heating up, you put a Rock or Brick on top of the heater, and let the tea light heat that up.  After about 10 minutes, the rock is radiating heat at about 120F with one tea light under it.  It becomes a miniature Radiator.  In a small tent, just one of these will take the chill out of the air and raise the internal temp of the tent about 5-10F, depending on external temps, how windy it is and how many people/dogs are in the tent. If you have one person and 4 dogs in a 3 man tent, forget the tea lights, you're going to be sweating just from the body heat if you don't ventilate.   In a larger space such as a Van on a cold night you would use 4 heaters, one in each corner of the Van.  3 hours of steady heat while you are awake and keyboarding at the laptop costs you about 20¢.

Why do you need the Rock or Brick?  Won't the tea light by itself heat the air?

Well yes it will somewhat, but heat capacity of air is very low, and it circulates around inside the space and is quickly dissipated into the environment.  By heating the rock up, it concentrates the heat into this location, and it stores and radiates it more efficiently.  The rock will continue radiating heat for quite a while after the flame goes out also, and you can pull tricks like taking a medium warm rock and throwing it inside your sleeping bag to warm it up before going to sleep.  DON'T DO THIS WITH A REALLY HOT ROCK THOUGH! You'll melt the nylon of the bag or start a fire!  You should be able to pick up the rock with your hand with no glove on and it should be warm/sightly hot to the touch, maybe 120F or so max.  Then wrap it in a hand towel and stuff it into the bottom of the bag.  It will keep your feet warm for hours.

Do you need to run the tea light heaters all night?  Well, you can but it is not really necessary if you have a good sleeping bag for most temperatures you would normally deal with, say 0F-50F where you might fire up a tea light heater.  If you are subject to temps lower than this, then you are going to need more than tea lights!  You'll want a kerosene heater for this eventuality, but even in the part of Alaska I live in (the Mat-Su Valley) there aren't too many sub-zero F days in the winter anymore.  Maybe a couple of weeks worth the most.  You can conserve your kerosene for nights like this and not waste it on more average cold temps.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou can further increase your heating efficiency by isolating the heat source to just where you are, and setting it up to mainly heat YOU, not the whole Tent or Stealth Van.  In this image, I have taken the Heater and placed it underneath my desk chair, which then also has a throw/blanket on it.  When I sit down on the chair, I take the blanket and throw it over my lap.  Now the heat being radiated by the rock is mostly trapped under the chair, and the Heater is right next to my feet, keeping them toasty warm.  Then the heat radiates upward to my butt, keeping my core body temperature up as well.  In a real pinch, this will keep you from freezing to death or losing your toes to frostbite.  If you have a bag of 100 tea lights in your SUV, a Tea Light Heater and a Space Blanket, you can set the heater down on the floorboard, sit in the passenger seat with the space blanket over you and keep warm while you wait for the Blizzard to die down without wasting gas running your engine.  If you use 10 tea lights/day, you have 10 days at least where you won't freeze to death stuck in a snow drift.  Start the car once a day for maybe 1/2 hour of run time to keep the battery charged without using up too much gas.  Cut that to every other day if you get below a quarter tank.  Have a supply of Oatmeal and Bear Creek Soups also in the SUV to heat up for food during this period.

Now, what about the situation where you can't GET tea lights?  The shelves at Walmart have been ransacked of them and your Dollars are worthless and won't buy any even if they were available.  Nobody who has Tea Lights in a cold climate will even trade them for GOLD!  What do you do then?

Answer: Make your own tea light!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn this example, I took one of my old used up tea light shells, filled with some vegetable oil and made a wick out of a scrap of a paper towel.  On another occassion I filled it with some leftover Bacon Fat and made a Wick out of some Jute Twine.  The amount of fat was about half the amount left over after frying just one strip of bacon for my morning SNAP Card Gourmet breakfast!  Bacon and cooking oil aren't the only things you can use here for this, even motor oil for your car will work.  Pine Tar will work too, and so will a stick of butter or margarine.  However, I think Tea Lights will be available for a while longer, and you certainly can stock them in your preps, they never go bad far as I can tell.  I have about 5 bags of them, around 500 in the preps.  Great Barter Item too.

Stay Warm, Stay Well Fed with Hot Food with your Tea Light Tuna/Soup Can Stove!

Gumbo Recipes: Uncle Ben Camps Out at Bear Creek

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 6, 2015

http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/dce07b8c-5a5d/k2-_e7876a86-2c2b-47ee-af50-8f1212adc974.v1.jpg   https://www.unclebens.com/images/default-source/products/long_grain_wild_rice_original_recipe.png?sfvrsn=0

Bear Creek Soups and Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice:  A Marriage made in Doomer Heaven

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I've put up a few Gumbo Recipes for the SNAP Card Gourmet series over the last couple of years, but since there are endless possibilities right now while the shelves are still chock full of food goodies at your local Food superstore, I thought this week I might clue the Cheap gourmets here on a new recipe I came up with this week.

To review the Rules here on SNAP Card Gourmet recipes, they have to come in at $5/day or under for enough calories for an individual to make it through the day without getting progressively skinnier, unless of course you were obese to begin with in which case you should only be spending $1/ day for vitamins and some roughage until you slim down.  LOL.

The other rules of SNAP card recipes is you have to be able to cook them up on simple cooking apparatus, as simple as a single burner propane or kerosene wick  or rocket stove if absolutely necessary.  Open campfires also can be used for SNAP card recipes, and Solar Ovens too.  The main thing for a SNAP card recipes is it is not dependent on all the conveniences you find in a typical McMansion Kitchen.  You can of course cook up these recipes in such a kitchen, you don't HAVE to be foreclosed on and Stealth Van living to enjoy these Epicurean Delights! 🙂

http://www.offroaders.com/reviewbox/data/90/Coleman-Fold-N-Go-2-Burner-Stove.jpgUsed for this recipe were my two usual cooking apparati, the Two Burner Folding propane stove and the portable grill.  In this case the grill was not used over the open flame, I dropped an Iron Skillet on top of it to sizzle some bacon.

The Base of this Gumbo is a package of Bear Creak Tortilla Soup, a dried soup mix in a vacuum sealed bag which will last until you personally go extinct if it is under 20 years or so before you normally would get your final Ticket to the Great Beyond.  Said soup comes in ON SALE here at 3 Bears Food Warehouse for $3.00/package, when it does I usually buy around 10 of different varieties.

http://barbecueorboogaloo.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Weber-1520-Propane-Gas-Go-Anywhere-Grill.jpgSecond major base of the soup is Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, one of the first Seasoned Rice packages of which now there are a bazillion varieties, but this is one I made in my youth and remains a favorite.  I haven't made it in a few years though, and I never thought to include it in a Gumbo before.  As I was cruising 3 Bears I spied this also ON SALE for $1.50/box.

Now, this is really expensive for rice and you could do a similar Gumbo just using regular rice and it would only cost you maybe 25 cents.  However what you also get with the package is the flavorings and spices, and you would need several different bottles of spices to mimic that, which if you are homeless or Van Dwelling is generally not practical to do.  So you pay a premium for the rice for the package of spices, and as a bonus you get the Wild rice in there which has a nicer texture IMHO than regular white or brown rice.

Next ingredient is your can of beans for some good vegetable protein, in this case I used black eyed peas instead of my usual Black Beans or Red Kidney Beans.  Doesn't matter which one you choose though.  Can of beans costs around 80 cents.

For your Fresh Vegetable/Vitamins in this gumbo, I used two large Alaska Grown Carrots.  The whole bag costs $1, there are about 8 carrots in the bag so 2 carrot is about 25 cents.  Cheapest ingredient in the gumbo and probably the most nutritional value in vitamins.

Finally in this Gumbo the Anmal Protein & Fat choice was bacon, which doesn't come too cheap most of the time these days.  However, I didn't use that much, just 3 slices.  Call it $1 for the bacon.  So total cost for the Gumbo:

Bear Creek Tortilla Soup: $3

Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice: $1.50

Can of Beans: $.80

Carrots: $.25

Bacon: $1

Total Cost:: $6.55

Now you are going to say, "But RE, you exceeded your SNAP Card Budget of $5/Day!".  That would be true if you ate it all in one day, but you don't, it is 2 days worth of Lunch (cup) and Dinner (Bowl).  So actual Daily Cost is $3.25 roughly. This leaves over $1.75 for your Breakfast.  Total calorie count here per day for the Gumbo is around 1100 calories.  Add in my traditional Breakfast of Smoked Ham, an Egg and a Slice off the Sharp Cheddar Cheese block on a half a French Roll and you are now at 1500 calories, which is generally plenty for me.  What's the cost of that?

French Roll $.60 (Cut in half, $.30/day)

Egg: $.25

Cheese $.25

Smoked Ham Slice: $.50 (High Estimate)

Total: $1.30

So the total Daily cost for the 2 days eating this delicious Gumbo and staying well fed is $4.55.  The $.45 you saved on thhese two days of eating goes in your Monthly savings for a Premium Meal each month of your choice.  If you average saving $.50 each day for 20 days of the month, that is an extra $10 to spend with the normal $5, for a total of $15.  You can buy a nice thick and juicy Ribeye Steak to BBQ for that!  In fact, about half the time I actually only spend $3-4 just having my breakfast sandwich and some Ramen Noodles or a Baked Potato with some sour cream or something like that.  So in the monthly budget there is more like one Premium or Semi-Premium meal in there each week.  Semi-Premium substitutes something like a Hamburger with all the fixins on a Kaiser Roll for the Ribeye Steak.

OK, so what is the cooking proceedure for the Gumbo?

It depends if you are working with 3 burners as I was, or if you are doing it all on one Burner.  In the latter case you work sequentially, frying the bacon in the skillet first, simmering the rice until done 2nd, then simmering the Tortilla Soup and beans, and finally combining all the ingedients at the end.  Takes more time this way obviously, so I do it on 3 burners since I have 3 burners.  No difference in fuel usage either way.

Step 1: Fry Bacon in skillet until crisp, remove and plac on paper towel to cool.  Reserve the fat in the frying pan.

Step 2: Slice and Dice the Carrots into small chunks of about 1/4" in size.

Step 3: Add 2 cups of water to a small pot and the Uncle Ben's Rice and the diced Carrots.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer until the water is absorbed by the rice and the carrots are softened.  About 20 minutes.

Step 4: In a large pot, add the tortillam soup mix and 8 cups of water and simmer around 30 minutes on a low flame or in a Slow Cooker.  Add the beans and let simmer another 20 minutes, then add the rice.

Step 5: Crumble the bacon into the pot, then take the reserved Bacon Fat and pour that in the pot also.    This makes the gumbo much richer and calorie dense, and also more flavorful.  You can however instead make it a gumbo lite without adding the fat to it.  Save the bacon fat though if you don't use it in the Gumbo, it's great for frying your morning egg.

Step 6:  Let simmer another 15 minutes for the flavors to blend, then ladle into your Bowl and ENJOY!

Total cooking time with the 3 burner method is around 1.5 hours, add an extra hour or so if you do it all on one burner.

Eat Hearty and Eat CheapTM, the SNAP Card Gourmet Way!

 

 

View from the Bugout Machine: Stealth Van Living

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 15, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Bugout Table inside the Diner

You can find out a lot more about Stealth Van living at Cheap RV Living

RE-BM-LadderRead Part 1 of View from the Bugout Machine

As most Diners know, I am a big fan of "Bugout Machines", aka RVs.

I don't see BMs as a Vacation Tool or something you travel around in regularly, they are a PREP, an emergency means to keep a roof over your head if things go south for you in one way or the other.

The classic example would be something like Katrina, where you need to evacuate PRONTO, but would prefer to have a more solid roof over your head than just a tent, if you are even wise enough to at least have one of those.  The BM also provides you with on board cooking facilities, storage of water and fuel, refrigeration, toilet & shower, in fact just about everything that a typical McMansion would have, just packed into a smaller scale on a Fossil Fuel powered vehicle.

Economic Events like losing your job also make having this option available a good one.  You're not homeless immediately when you can't pay the rent.

Said BMs can get extremely huge and complex, the big Class A Diesel Pushers that the more successful Boomer Retirees have purchased over the last 20 years or so to tour the country make the Rock Star tour buses of the 70s pale in comparison.

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Slide outs to expand living space, hot tubs, some of these suckers just have the WORKS here in terms of amenities!

For the Prepper though, they have a lot of issues.  First off of course is the mpg you get with your gallon of Diesel, which while it has now cheapened some as Demand Destruction does its work, still will run you into a decent chunk of change if your drive it around often enough.  Which if you actually do live in the thing full time, usually you do although some folks rent out a space and keep them parked most of the time.  In that case though, instead of the Diesel bill for the month, you have the monthly rent check to pay on your parking spot, hopefully with Full Hookups for water, electric and sewage.

https://www.teamrunsmart.com/assets/TeamRunSmart/article_images/Truck%20Stops/lodi-travel-center.jpgThe next problem for the Prepper hoping to use his BM to live in if he loses his job and his McMansion gets foreclosed on is the fact that in most places, the Local Gestapo do not look kindly on your parking anywhere you feel like doing so and setting up your living arrangement.  You're not paying Property Taxes!  A Big Ass Class A Diesel Pusher is so fucking obvious that you are bound to get harassed by the Gestapo if you stay too long in any given location, other than an official RV park you pay rent on.  There are a few exceptions to this, Truckstops primarily.  The Truckstop is generally happy to provide you with free parking, because they figure to make some money off you buying Diesel, meals in the Truckstop Restaraunt and potato chips in the convenience store.  In my years doing OTR Trucking, there were many occassions when freight was not moving too well that I stayed parked in a spot for 2-3 days at a stretch,

Similar with Interstate Highway Rest Areas.  Generally speaking, you can park in one of those for a day or two also before you start getting harassed by the State Troopers usually handing out speeding tickets on the highway, but who will hit the Rest Areas when they get bored.  Eventually, you have to move on, and of course every time you do move on it costs you more money in the form of Diesel.

This still works out OK and pretty cheap as living goes, at least as long as you own the BM free & clear.  New Big Ass ones can cost as much as a McMansion, so unless you are positively loaded you don't want to spend that on a Prep you may never use.  So for myself, when I woke up to oncoming Collapse issues back in around 2009, I bought an older BM on the used market for $5K.  In great shape for a vehicle 30 years old, only 50K miles on it!  Many people who boughts these things as "Recreational Vehicles" hardly ever used them.  They sat in driveways across Amerika for DECADES unused or barely used!  Maybe once or twice a year for a family vacation to Yellowstone or some other Tourista Hot Spot for RV "Campers". A very good value here, but they suffer the same problem as the more expensive new models, which is that they are fucking obvious as living arrangements and unless you are parked in an "official" RV Campground paying rent on your parking spot, you're bound to get harrassed by the Gestapo at some point.

So, if you are down to the bone here, full scale BM living has its own costs and problems.  Besides that, most folks who just woke up to these problems can't afford to go dropping $100K on a bugout machine anyhow.  Also, as long as some form of BAU is ongoing in the Big Shities, you may want to keep living in those neighborhoods, pulling down a $20/hr paycheck even if that paycheck is not sufficient to pay the rent in this neighborhood because Rich Chinese are scarfing up all the good apartments at Bubble Prices.  What to do here about this problem?

Answer, the Stealth Bugout Machine!

Stealth BMs are most often Vans, in this video the BM Dweller goes through the amenities he so far has installed in his van.

You can find out a lot more about Stealth Van living at Cheap RV Living

Ideally, from the outside the Stealth Van should look either like a typical working van for something like a Plumber, or as a typical Family transport vehicle.  If it has windows, they should have tinting or shades that prevent people outside from looking in and seeing a person sleeping in the back.  The exterior should have no signs that it is being used as a dwelling.

Another alternative to the van is the cargo trailer.

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The trailer arrangement has the advantage that you can use it with any car that has a trailer hitch, so if your old clunker gives up the ghost, you pick up another one on the used market and you don't have to move all your systems from one van to another one.  You can also detach it if you have a safe place to leave it where somebody else won't hook up to it and drive off with it.  Storage Unit facilities often provide such spots with 24/7 access with gates and fencing.  I rent space in such a facility for $40/month to keep my Bugout Machine ready for an evacuation if a Wildfire threatens to burn down my regular digs.  If you have friends in a given neighborhood you might borrow their driveway, or better yet garage if they have a space.

The downside of the trailer arrangement is it is much harder to park, particularly in urban environments, plus you have to get out of the vehicle you are pulling it with to go sleep in the trailer.  You also need to have the door to the trailer set up so you can close and lock it from the inside, which most storage trailers are not set up to do.  So that takes some modification

There are two main areas which can prove difficult for the BM Dweller, cooking and bathroom facilities.

http://www.colemanmontana8tents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Coleman-2-Burner-Fold-N-Go-InstaStart-Stove-0.jpgIn the case of cooking, you can mostly resolve this with 12V DC cooking apparatus that truckers use, plus some propane fired camping gear as I wrote about last week.  It's also worthwhile to have a few inverters in various wattage ratings to use with AC apparatus.  If you are going down that route, you'll need additional power storage as well, in the form of a Deep Cycle Marine Battery.  6V Golf Cart Batts also work well wired in series.  It's mostly not a huge problem though, you can buy prepared food or frozen foods in many supermarkets and just use their microwave ovens.

For Leftover storage, you'll want to have a Thermoelectric Cooler which runs on 12V DC.  In most circumstances, this will keep your food cool enough for a couple of days of storage without it going bad.  Also keeps your beer cold! 🙂  You also can use portable icemakers, or buy a DC powered fridge.  Whichever method you use, you will need to have enough electric storage and a way to keep your batteries charged.  This can be done with a generator or Solar Panels if you have enough room and a safe place to deploy them.

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-toilets-tanks/porta-potti-320P.jpgA bigger problem is bathroom facilities, because neither vans or cargo trailers are really big enough to have a fully functional toilet system, forget showering.  You mainly need to use convenience store and Walmart bathrooms for the most part, and hopefully also still have enough money to buy a membership in a Health Club where you can shower regularly.  You don't want to get stinky and dishevelled looking, this makes getting a job almost impossible and also will target you by the local Gestapo.  Maintaining a clean appearance is IMPORTANT!

However, quite often you can find yourself in the position of having to GO, with no nearby toilet in the vicinity.  What to do?

For Urination (Pissing), it's not usually too big a problem, you can mostly use the great outdoors for this.  A bit harder for women then men, but still possible.  In urban areas though, if you get caught doing this, you'll have a nice fine to pay.  So you don't want to piss outdoors unless you absolutely have to.  For myself during the trucking years, the solution to this problem was simple, I kept a 1 gallon empty water container and would just piss into that if I woke up in the middle of the night with my bladder needing a release.  The following morning, if in a remote location I would just go outside and fertilize the nearest tree from the container.  If in  truckstop, I would go to the bathroom in the morning with the piss container in a backpack and pour it into the toilet.

For women, the problem is a bit more difficult, but not by that much.  Women just need to use a jug with a wider mouth than men can get away with using,  My ex-wife could piss into a wide mouth jar in a moving van without spilling a drop!  So this solution works for both genders.

Defecation (Shitting) is a bigger problem, particularly in urban environments if you are not near a public bathroom.  Hopefully you have a fairly regular timetable on bowel movements so you can be near a bathroom when necessary once or twice a day, but unfortunately the call of Mother Nature on this is not always perfectly regular.  What to do if you are parked in some lot and there are no stores open in the middle of the night and the Mexican food you had last night from Taco Bell gives you a case of diahreah?!?!?!?!  Acccckkkk!!!!

For this unfortunate circumstance you need a good bucket that seals well at least, a small Porta-Potty is better of course.  Once you have emptied your bowels into this, you seal it and then store underneath your vehicle until the next day (even sealed this can stink up your living space).  Then the following day you find a public bathroom to dump the shit into and after flushing it down the toilet use fresh toilet water to rinse out the container.  Do this at least twice before leaving the stall to clean the container as well as possible for the next emergency use.  During the OTR years, I only had to resort to this method twice in 7 years, most of the time I was near enough to an open public bathroom I could get there in time to dump straight into the local sewage system through some toilet somewhere, or in few other cases go take a dump in the woods.  lol.

http://static.bootic.com/_pictures/411608/120w-folding-solar-panel-60w-x-2_1.jpgAfter these main problems, there are a series of smaller ones to deal with.  Daily Energy needs are an important one, keeping your cell phone and laptop charged, etc.

If you are driving regularly and have a good budget for gas or diesel, this is not an issue at all, your alternator produces all the juice you need for low power draw appliances.  However, if you stay parked for longer periods and don't have money to burn by burning gas to keep your batteries charged up, then you start looking into things like Solar PV panels and RV Wind Turbines.  The problem with these auxiliary forms of renewable energy production is that if installed on the outside of your vehicle are yet aother DEAD GIVEAWAY that the vehicle is not a Work Van for a Plumber or a Transport Van for a Soccer Mom, but rather a Residence for an Indigent, non-Property Tax paying itinerant Gypsie in the society!  The Gestapo does not like people like this and neither do Doctors and Dentists paying beaucoup Property Tax in their neighborhoods!,  There are all sorts of laws on the books to keep you from pursuing this lifestyle in such neighborhoods, so you need to avoid them for the most part.  However, even in less wealthy neighborhoods, if you have stuff on the exterior of the vehicle that pegs it as a residence, you will run into problems.  Not just from the Gestapo, the locals may see it as a nice target for a rip off of your stuff too!  While street parking in NYC with my Astro Van, it was broken into twice and I lost most of my stuff.

So maintainin Stealth while at the same time providing Energy to live inside the industrial culture is a bit difficult to do.  If you do have a Solar PV Panel and RV Wind turbine, you probably want to keep it inside the van or trailer, and only Deploy it when in certain SAFE locations like campgrounds, which you probably have to pay a nightly or weekly fee on.

Keeping your energy collection apparatus inside you Bugout Machine runs you into another problem, which is obviously quite limited storage space!  It's tight enough already with just the basics for carrying around water enough, food enough, cooking equipment enough etc.  Add to that inside such a small space  storing electric generation apparatus and you are going to start running out of room to sleep, even for a single guy!  Given the amount of time and places you could deploy your energy apparatus effectively, do you really want to fill up your vehicle with these things?  If you have in addition a Storage Unit it becomes more feasible, but this will cost you anywhere from $50-100/mo these days in most urban locations.

It's not just the tech hardware that is an issue with storage space, it's basic items like Clothing also.  Look at the Stealth Trailer pictured above.  Where in there is his storage of Winter clothing, jacket, boots, gloves, hat etc?  What about just regular changes of clothing?  Socks, Undewear, shirts & pants, etc?  To negotiate the mobile lifestyle in a vehicle this small, you need to seriously reduce your total wardrobe!  If you are retired and no longer seeking work, you can probably cut it down to three sets of basic clothing (shirts, jeans, shorts), but if you are still seeking work you're going to need at least one set of more "formal" clothing for job interviews, and you alse need to be able to store them in a way they won't look rumpled when you need to don this attire.  That takes some kind of hanging closet arrangement.

http://www.sleepersmattress.com/images/image/products/freightliner-trucks-coronad.jpgTo have enough clothing available in my truck for a 3 month long stint out Over the Road, I used a net camping hammock strung up over the bunk.  I didn't need to worry about having "nice" Jacket & Tie type clothing, but I did need to have clothing for a variety of weather situations.  In any given week, I could be anywhere in North America, from Mexico to Canada.  Temperatures varied widely.  I also need foul weather gear, you don't want to be outside hooking and unhooking trailers in a T-Storm without good rain gear, good boots, etc.  Same deal in a Blizzard, good parka, gloves etc.

You also need good sleeping gear for a variety of temperatures.  While you can run your diesel engine all night when the weather gets real cold (and actually have to do that if you expect to get rolling in the morning when the temperature is -20F), for any temperature above around 20F you don't want to run the engine all night because that diesel costs MONEY!  So a good sleeping bag is essential, and a 12V DC heating pad or blanket is also useful.  If you drive enough miles every day, your battery is plenty charged up to run one of these things all night and still will start your truck the following morning.  Better still is to add a Deep Cycle Marine Battery for more electric storage besides the starter battery for the vehicle.

Then you have all your communications electronics.  For a trucker, a CB Radio was a must as well as a Cell Phone.  I was one of the first truckers out on the road with a Laptop, now that is an essential.  Same with a portable GPS unit and mapping software.  This gear got me out of a lot of bad situations you really don't wanna be in with 70' of tractor trailer to negotiate on some dirt road somewhere.  You're going to need some means of keeping all that stuff charged up, which can be done directly off the DC outlet (cigarette lighter) of the vehicle, or you can have an AC Power Inverter arrangement as well.

I went over cooking apparatus last week in the SNAP Card Gourmet Gumbo article, so I'm not going to cover that territory again here.  The one apparatus I didn't go over was a Microwave Oven, which some folks swear by and can't live without one of their own in the vehicle.  Microwaves are pretty big power hogs though, so you'll need a good electrics system and powerful inverter to run one.  I personally never found it necessary to have my own microwave, usually I was in areas where I could just use one in a convenience store.  If I was out in the sticks, I would just use my camping gear or DC electric hotplate and slow cooker.

The mobile life has a lot of rewards, among them it can bring down your cost of living substantially and you can travel far and wide looking for work if you are not yet retired and pulling down SS and a pension.

On the downside, this lifestyle probably has a limited number of years left where you'll be able to get hold of affordable gas to run the machine.  Until that day arrives though, living on the road brings with it a sense of freedom that is rapidly disappearing in this world.

Homeless Internet Admin Electronic Preps

Internet-Junkiegc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 25, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Science & Technology inside the Diner

LAST CHANCE HERE TO TAKE THE COLLAPSE PYSCHOLOGICAL PROFILE TEST BEFORE THE FIRST COUNT!

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a really fine article about how to negotiate and survive becoming Homeless, Homeless Survival : Practical Tips And Advice Derived From Personal Experience

In this article, the author details many good strategies for the Homeless person to continue onward looking like more or less a "normal" person who still has a home, although he didn't go over Homeless Cooking in the detail I have in some of my SNAP Card Gourmet articles.  He also covered maintaining Internet communications to an extent, using the Free Wi-Fi available in many places, but this was not detailed enough for me, because I am more of an Internet Junkie than most people.  So in this article I am going to detail all the hardware you need to not just get on the net, but to be able to Admin your websites, keep your hardware charged and operational, etc.

Internet-JunkieFirst thing for me is this is an ESSENTIAL, almost as important as my Food Preps!  I run or co-Admin about a dozen different Collapse Websites on the net now.  They are:

collapse.global Portal

Doomstead Diner Blog

Doomstead Diner Forum

Doomstead Diner Facebook

Doomstead Diner Twitter

Collapse Cafe You Tube

Collapse Cafe Soundcloud

Collapse Surveys

Doomstead Diner Legacy Blog

r/globalcollapse Reddit Sub

r/overshoot Reddit Sub

So I have a LOT of Internet responsibilities now to my fellow Kollapsniks TM!  It's obviously important to ME to run these sites (keeps me bizzy!), but it is important to the rest of the Diners too, and I don't want to let them down and not keep running these sites even if I become Homeless!  Which granted is not an immediate possibility since I still have money in the bank and the monetary system here in the FSoA is still working and there is a decent chance I will get my Bennies after becoming Disabled and a few Diners have offered me Shelter in the worst case scenario, but still I could become Homeless and without an official net connection and my own source of electric grid power for at least a period of time.  This could happen if for instance we had a major quake up here in the Mat Valley or if Mount Redoubt blows and drops a few inches of ashfall down which collapses the roof of my digs or there is a big wildfire in the neighborhood and I have to Bugout FAST!  Many Possbilities exist for my ability to Admin my websites to be compromised in some way!

Can I bring my Laptop and home electric security preps with me?  I have stuff like a generator, Deep Cycle Batteries, large solar panels, the WORKS here to survive a temporary loss of power in my location as long as the roof is still over my head and I can pay the rent.  However, either in a fast bugout situation or in the long term homeless situation, I can't be hauling these preps around with me all the time.  The Deep Cycle Lead-Acid Batteries are HEAVY!  The Yamaha Generator while probably the lightest and smallest in its class is ALSO pretty heavy.  So you can nix both of those for the Homeless person, although you probably could keep them in a Storage Unit.  No, what I need is a compact & lightweight kit for maintaining my websites in all but the most dire circumstances where the internet itself goes dark.  Then this whole bizness is OVAH and it is my time to Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  When the Internet Goes Dark TM, so does RE.  No more Reason to Live.  LOL.

What my goal here in creating the Internet Admin Survival Package TM was  was to put together everything I need to maintain connection to the net and do my Admin tasks until the day arrives that the Internet Goes Dark TM.  Most of the items in my Kit I already had, but I just invested in another couple I deemed necessary to complete the kit this week.  I will detail what they are as I go through the kit items.

bugout-electronics

#1- Smart Phone/Tablet Computer

The CRITICAL item in your kit is your Smart Phone.  Your choice of phones is important here, and you also need BACKUP!  This was driven home to me during our Diner Convocation down in Texas in 2014.  On that occassion, I destroyed my original Galaxy Mega Smartphone by dropping it on the concrete parking lot of our Motel Hell estabishment in ButtFuck TX where we stayed for the course in building Monolithic Domes.  In order to resolve this unfortunate problem, I had to borrrow Eddie's Mercedes and drive to the nearest ATT Store (a couple of hours away) to purchase a NEW Galaxy Mega at the full price of around $650 at the time.  Upon returning home, I was able to get yet another one of these devices for $150 off the Insurance Plan for having your device lost, stolen or broken, and I also have an older Iphone 4 which still works in the kit as well.  So triple backup on this lynchpin item.  If one craps out, I simply shift the SIM card over to another one and it connects to my ATT account., back on the net to do my Admin tasks. 🙂

The main PROBLEM with smart phones is generally their SIZE, and the fact they do not sport a real Keyboard.  You need to be a real Thumb Jockey to be able to even write a Twitter message of 140 Characters, much less the 3000 word articles I usually will write (like this one!  lol.)  So your Smart Phone is no good for real Admin work without a KEYBOARD!  "Have Keyboard, Will Travel!" 🙂

#2- Keyboard & Mouse

Perhaps some people can get along without these devices, but for myself doing Admin tasks without them is ridiculously difficult.  Fortunately, Folding Bluetooth Keyboards and Bluetooth Mice are available for the Android OP system the Galaxy Mega runs on, and in fact they work with the Apple shit too, so in the worst case scenario BOTH of my Galaxy Megas crap out, I can still use my Folding Keyboard and Bluetooth Mouse with the old Iphone.  Still a ridiculously tiny screen to work on though, so I hope things don't get that bad.  lol.

#3 Electricity

None of the above preps work without some access to electricity to keep them all charged up and operating.  You probably do want your own means of keeping your Comunications Equipment charged up, so I did invest in a couple of new items this week for this purpose.  First was a Folding 6.5A 5V output solar PV Array I could fit in my Kit Sack.  Probably not too necessary in most circumstances on the Homeless paradigm, I'll probably be able to keep my devices charged by going to the Library, a Coffee Shop and so forth and plugging in to their Grid Power..  For this purpose I bought  20,000 Mah external Li-I Battery which I can use to recharge the cell phone and the various other devices in the kit.  In conjunction with the Solar PV panels, on a decently sunny day in about 4 hours I should be able to charge up this battery in about 4 hours, and that then will enable me to keep the Smart Phones and Cameras and Diode Lites all charged up.

#4 Lighting

Since the smart phones themselves are lit up, you don't absolutely need auxiliary lighting.  However, if you are in a Tent or some other temporary shelter and want to be able to see your keyboard, you are going to want some other lighting besides the Smartphone itself.  Besides that, the Diode Emergency Lighting often is set up so that not only can your Crank Charge the light itself, but you can ALSO use this to charge your Smart Phone! 🙂

I have 4 lights in the Emergency Kit bag.  2 are Crank Lights, and also can serve to charge up my Smart Phone.

Light 1-  A Crank Up emergency flashlight which also has AM/FM Radio and can charge my smart phone.

Light 2-  A Lantern style Crank Up to give me enough light to keyboard by and also charge the Smart Phone

Light 3- A POWERHOUSE 350 Lumen Flashlight which runs on 3 AAA Batteries, rechargeable or single use, whatever I can get hold of.  This little light by itself can light up your entire digs pointed at the ceiling.  350 Lumens is BRIGHT!  You do not need any more than this to light up a room anywhere.    Trust me on this and do not look directly into the light.  You will go BLIND in an instant.  LOL

Light 4- A 100 Lumen flashlight which stands on it's own tripod and can be used together with my Camera in low light conditions to do an Interview.  Also works on 3 AAA rechargeable or single use batteries.

Ancillary Items

I have a few items in the Kit not absolutely necessary for my Homeless Internet Admin work:

GPS Units:  Not necessary for most circumstances, but handy for Locating myself anywhere if I need help from another Diner.  I can issue out the Lat & Lon coordinates within 10 feet anywhere on earth for an emergency pickup point.                                 

A/C & D/C Transformers to Charge 5V USB Devices: Essential Items to keep your equipment charged up as long as there is some Grid Power available somewhere or soe car that still has juice in the battery.

Audio Headse/Mict and Speaker.  Not essential in most circumstances, but for myself doing a lot of Audio interviews and the fact I like to listen to old favorite music, its and addition I like having in the kit.

Camera & Table Top Tripod for doing Video and Pics:  I can record with my Smart Phones, but even the El Cheapo Digicam does a better job for this than the Smart Phones.  As a modern era Reporter, I need means to get good pics and video up on the net, and a smart phone just is not good enough for this task in general.  OK in a pinch, but you really want a decent camera available if possible.  I have still better cameras then the El Cheapo, but I need a whole other bag for them.

Cables:  You need to be able to hook everything up of course, so you will need some USB cables.  USB comes in a few sizes, so adapters for these sizes are handy to have as well.

Now, all of this stuff is extremely light and portable and fits in a Shoulder Bag or Backpack and it is sufficient to fulfill my Diner Admin responsibilities if I need to make a Fast Bugout.  However, is this all I have for the bugout situation?  Of  course not. 🙂

If I at least still have my SUV to bugout in and to live in as a Homeless Person I can carry with me a whole lot more than this.

The next level up of Electric Preps is contained in a brief case. It consists of:

#1- 5W 12V Solar Panel

This panel is different than the folding one which outputs at 5V for charging the portable devices, instead it outputs at 12V good for charging typical automotive batteries.  However, because it is so small and only outputs 5W, to charge up a full size auto battery would take several sunny days without draining the battery for the purpose of charging other devices.  of course, if you have money to buy gas and do some driving each day, you probably generate enough electricity this way even without the solar panels.  In most cases though it will keep the battery nicely topped of with juice if you are judicious about how much you drain your other devices.

#2 10 AH 12V Deep Cycle SLA Battery

This is one of the spare batteries I bought for my Ewz Electric Scooter. It runs on 3 of these wired in series for 36V, but you can split them up and just carry one for the typical 12V use.  It is relatively small compared to an automotive battery and designed for deep discharge/recharge cycles.  Automotive batteries are designed to give a lot of cranking amps all at once to turn over an engine, not to deep discharge regularly.  SLA stands for Sealed Lead Acid, so despite being fairly small and compact, these batteries weigh a fair amount.  I would rather have a 12V Li-I battery which are lighter and generally do more recharge cycles, but they aren't available up here at Batteries & Bulbs, and getting them shipped here is bear also, since they are considered a Hazmat for air shipping.  However, since I am not carrying around this briefcase all the time, the extra weight doesn't matter very much.  They are also about 5X the price and that is hard to justify.

#3 200 W Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Your inverter converts the 12V DC to 120V AC which powers most household appliances.  The 200 W Inverter won't run stuff like a Microwave, but it will run low power draw items like a lamp, a slow cooker and most importantly, a REAL laptop instead of the Smart Phone/Folding Keyboard/Bluetooth Mouse combination.  While that combo works pretty good, it's still not as good as a real laptop for writing and doing Admin tasks on the net.

Other 12V aficionados often warn me about the dangers of using modified sine wave inverters and recommend I spend the extra money for a true sine wave inverter.  Reasoning being that modified sine wave can damage some complex electronics that run on AC.  Thing is, I don't use an inverter for running any such equipment.  Lightbulbs and the slow cooker don't care what the sine wave configuration is, and the Laptop actually runs on DC, you have a transformer between the inverter and the laptop which converts the electricity back to DC at whatever voltage your laptop runs on, which is usually somewhere between 15V DC and 22V DC.  These transformers don't care what the sine wave looks like either.

In addition to the 200W Inverter, I have a tiny 75W cigarette lighter size inverter, a larger 500W unit you clip to the battery itself and a behemoth 1000W inverter capable of running a Microwave Oven if you have enough juice and big enough battery to drive it.  You want to use the smallest inverter which will drive whatever device you are running, since there is more power wasted the larger the inverter.  The big ones require a fan to run to keep cool, which wastes still more power and is something else that can break down.  The 75W unit is JUST enough to run a typical laptop computer and keep its own battery charged up.

In order to reduce power wastage still more, I recently bought a DC-DC Transformer which takes 12V DC and directly changes it to anywhere from 5V to 24V to run just about any laptop computer on the market.  It also comes with 12 different Plug Tips that will fit any laptop you happen to have on hand for your Admin work.  I'm not sure precisely how much waste you are saving here, but I estimate about 25% which is significant if you have low storage capacity for your juice and limited generating power.

#4 AC-DC 6V-12V Battery Charger

This device plugs into the wall and will charge up any 6V or 12V battery you can scavenge up, so as long as power periodically shows up in your wall outlet, you can keep your batteries charged this way and then have power available for the times the juice is NOT flowing from the local electric plant into your outlets.  In normal daily use, I keep it hooked to a large 12V Deep Cycle Marine Battery about 2X the size of a typical car battery.  This battery when topped off (as it always is) will run all my portable electronics for at least 2 weeks, probably a month.  If I run my laptop off of it, probably still get a week without any generation from the Solar Panels.  This battery is of course way too big and heavy to carry around or drop in a brief case, but in a bugout situation with the SUV easily fits in the storage area of the vehicle.

Finally, in addition to the stuff that fits in the brief case, I have a larger 120W Solar PV Panel which can strap on to the roof rack of the SUV.  This provides plenty of juice to run all the equipment as much as I normally do without significantly draining the battery storage each night when I run a couple of diode lights and the laptop too.  The overall key here is to be aware of how much power your equipment is drawing, and choose low power consumptive devices as much as you can.

As long as you are just talking communications equipment and lighting, you really do not need a whole heck of a lot of juice available.  It's only once you start to add in stuff like Refrigeration to your bugout package that you need significantly more generating power.  As long as you can still get gas for the vehicle though and can afford it, your car alternator will provide plenty of juice to keep all your portable electronic devices charged up even without the addition of Solar PV panels.

Now, in most cases for the near future, I expect Grid Power to remain available somewhere, even if I am Homeless and can't afford to pay my electric bill.  For instance, if I go to the local Internet Coffee Shop where I did many of my early Collapse Cafes, at every table along the wall there is an electric outlet where I would plug in my laptop so as not to be discharging the battery unnecessarily.  This conserves the battery lifetime for your laptop battery.  Don't run it off the battery unless you absolutely have to.  In normal use they will last about 2 years of discharge cycles, mine is 4 years old and still going strong, because I simply do not run the laptop off of it's battery.  It's plugged in just about all the time.

In a real Homeless or Bugout situation, I could do more than just keep the laptop charged up though.  I could for instance walk into the local laundromat with a bag of clothes for washing and the big ass deep cycle marine battery below it with the 12V DC charger on my folding luggage carrier with wheels, disguised in a bag.  I plug this into the wall while my laundry is in the washing machine and drier.  In a couple of hours, I have scarfed up enough free electricity (for me anyhow) to not only power my communications equipment, but in fact enough to run a 12V Heated Sleeping pad as well so that I can sleep in toasty warm comfort in my SUV even if the outside temperatures drop to 20 Below.  You combine such a heating pad with a good sleeping bag and have enough juice to run it, you won't freeze to death no matter how cold it gets.  I can also cook my food in the slow cooker and not have to burn propane cannisters.  I can of course go into numerous Convenience Stores and use their Microwave and electric power to heat up more of my food.  Hot food, a toasty place to sleep, the only other thing you really need is water, which you can collect in a bottle each day at the convenience store in the bathroom sink as well.

Back to the main issue of communications and Internet Admin responsibilities though, once Homeless or in a Bugout situation, obviously you have lost your own high speed, high bandwidth connection to the net over cable or DSL, whatever you have at home.  You certainly want to keep your own 4G connection to the net on your cell phone, but this is an additional expense of around $50-100/month, which you may not be able to afford over time once becoming Homeless.

If that is the case, you're going to mostly need to use the Free Wi-Fi available at many internet cafes, libraries and even Mickey Ds.  You won't have a 24/7 connection to the net this way, but you can still do most of your writing while offline, and then simply upload your stuff when you do drop into a location with free wi-fi.  You're also going to want your own Skype Number for possible jobs to call you where they can leave a message and you can then call them back and seem like a "normal" person, not a Homeless one.  You can buy enough minutes for a Skype Number for this purpose for around $10, which probably lasts you a year given you probably will not actually use it for talking too much.  Most talking with friends goes across Skype itself for free skype to skype account.  In addition, you can use Google Hangouts for conversation with friends rather than the skype phone line.  The only purpose for this phone number is to have a number to hand out to possible jobs or perhaps the occasional person you don't want to give your Skype ID to.

Not being connected 24/7 to Global Communications is not something most of us net junkies are used to anymore, but of course this was the norm before the Cell Phones became ubiquitous.  In da olden days once I left the McHovel with its land line telephone, I was disconnected and nobody could get in touch with me until I got back home and checked the "answering machine", the predecessor to Voice Mail and itself an invention which only came around maybe in my early teens or so.  Prior to that, if you weren't home when a call came in, you simply missed the call and no message about it.  The person trying to reach you just had to do it again at another time.

The Homeless situation without your own (fairly costly) regular cell phone number puts you back in that situation more or less, and to maintain the illusion that you are still a "normal" person and not a Homeless one, you want to maintain a cell phone number and account as long as you can.  Once you drop below the poverty line, many of the cell phone providers offer a "basic" service for around $10/month which will at least allow you to get phone calls 24/7 and will take voicemail.  You won't have an internet connection with that service, bit it is cheap and keeps a line open for you even if you can't scarf up some free Wi-Fi somewhere.  Advisable to keep such a connection as long as you can afford it.

Now, this may seem trivial and inconsequential to you if you are more worried about FEEDING yourself with veggies grown in your raised beds or hydroponics tank, but it's not for me.  Internet Communication is Priority #1 for me!  The only reason I eat anything to begin with is to have enough energy to keyboard out some more Doom Newz!  LOL.

Seriously though, I think most people, even Doomers don't like it much when there is a Power Outage for one reason or another and their cell phone and laptop run out of juice after a day or two.  There are safety issues involved here as well, in terms of calling for help if you are sick or your house is floating downstream in a flood.  So you want to keep these things running as long as you can, and the above are my best strategies for doing that at a semi-reasonable price.  You DO NOT need a $20,000 Off the Grid Solar PV setup for your Doomstead to do it.  It can mostly be done in 1 or 2 bags with the right selection of preps.

Chicken Soup

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 6, 2015

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Matzoh_Ball_Soup

 

Discuss this article in the Diner Pantry

Also known as "Jewish Penicillin"

    If you were brought up by a Jewish mother, chances are you have been prescribed a hot bowl of chicken soup at a time you felt under the weather. Dr. Mom may have insisted it was a type of "Jewish penicillin," that it would lessen your sniffles and perk you right up. She was, in some regard, correct. In a 2000 study published in the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, researchers found that chicken soup could help reduce upper-respiratory inflammation, which leads to those annoying qualities of a cold, like a stuffy head and incessant sneezing. Many doctors believe that colds are caused by viral infections. The body responds to these infections by sending over white blood cells to take charge, though they are not really effective in killing the virus. Instead, they lead to those cold-like symptoms that make you feel crummy. Stephen Rennard, M.D, Larson Professor of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and one of the study's leaders, found that fewer white blood cells attempted to be heroes when the body had chicken soup in its system. The soup had some "very modest but clearly measurable" ability to promote an anti-inflammatory activity, he explained in a UNMC video about the research (watch here). Even more, fluids — not specific to soup alone — loosen congestion and support hydration.

Chicken Soup is actually ubiquitous through just about every culture that raises Chickens for food.  Besides the Matzoh Ball variety favored by Jewish Grandmothers, there are many others.

http://img1.cookinglight.timeinc.net/sites/default/files/styles/400xvariable/public/image/2012/01/1201p116-good-old-fashioned-chicken-soup-m.jpg?itok=bKzZLSpr http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/roasted-garlic-and-chicken-soup-updated.jpg http://www.dailyperricone.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/coconut-chicken-soup-660x430.jpg http://amysuestastybites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/wonton-soup.jpg

   Chicken Noodle Soup    Clove Garlic & Chicken Soup        Thai Chicken Coconut Soup    Chinese Won Ton Soup

 

This of course doesn't even scratch the surface of all the types of Chicken Soups out there, many of which you wouldn't know from the name that use a Chicken Broth as a Base.  For instance, here's a recipe for Alaska Halibut Chowder:

Great Alaska Halibut Chowder

Great Alaska Halibut Chowder• Two pounds cubed halibut (approximately ½ inch by ½ inch cubes)

• 1 small can clams (reserve half of the juice)

• 1 cup diced celery

• 1 cup diced onion

• Vegetable oil

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 2 cups heavy cream

• 2 teaspoons dill

• 2 cups diced red potatoes

• Salt –to taste

• Pepper-to taste

• ¼ cup cook diced bacon (optional)

• 1 cup cooked, drained spinach (optional)

 

Sneaky using Chicken Broth instead of Fish Broth in this Chowder!  🙂  

Here's another one, Borscht:

Chicken Borscht Recipe2 pounds skinless chicken thighs

8 cups chicken stock

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes (not drained)

3 large beets, peeled and shredded

1 large carrot, grated

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bay leaf

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Now, why is Chicken Soup so popular with so many variations?  Partly because it is DELICIOUS of course, but much more historically because it makes the maximum out of the the nutritional value in your Dead Chicken.  Nothing goes to waste. Whether you Roast it, BBQ or Fry it, everybody knows that after you finish off eating the meaty parts of the chicken from its bones, there's always still a ton of good stuff left on them, not to mention inside them in the case of the leg bones and thigh bones (Crack them before simmering with a Hammer or Rock).

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpgThe best way to get all that good stuff off is to simmer the remaining leftover bones (and gizzards) slowly over a few hours and create your base Broth, which you then can use in all the Chicken Soup recipes you can find. As Diners who follow my SNAP Card Gourmet series know, I'm always looking for ways to EAT CHEAP but EAT WELL, and Chicken Soup is one of the best ways of doing that. So I decided this week to see just what I could get out of 1  4.5 lb Organic Chicken as my entire Animal protein consumption for the week.

I also added another limitation here, NO REFRIGERATOR.  I just used my Cooler with 2 bags of Ice for the whole week.  The concept here is that if I was living in the Bugout Machine and couldn't afford to keep the Fridge running, could I keep my food good a whole week for eating?  Or if I was living in a Tent in a Homeless Camp, etc.?  Of course, I'm not living that way yet, but it seems to be getting closer by the day.  Best to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best of course.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe experiment began with the Weekly Shopping Trip at 3 Bears.  The Organic Chicken which came in at exactly $6.66 On Sale  🙂 actually was purchased some time ago and has been in the Freezer, so I took that out to thaw.  I could have bought a new chicken just as easily though, even a precooked one hot off the Rotisserie.

In addition to the Chicken, I bought the usual Fresh Veggies you drop in Chicken Soup, Carrots and Celery.  Both keep quite well in a cool place for a week, in the case of carrots a good deal longer than that.  The carrots in particular are a good source of vitamins, so make your soup even healthier once brewed up.  I also bought Fresh Garlic, which not everybody who makes chicken soups likes in there, but I like it plus it also adds vitamins and wards off Vampires & Zombies too!

https://www.atncorp.com/night_vision_images/products/318/images/big/04.jpgJust about every form of Chicken Soup also has its Carb Content, whether that comes in the form of simple Potatoes, Noodles, Couscous or Rice or more creative ones like Matzoh Balls, Dumplings or Wontons.  In the case of Matzoh Balls, you get some additional Protein and Vitamins because you use Eggs with the Matsoh Meal; in the case of Wontons you get additional from leftover meat (sausage usually).  For my purposes this week, I did the KISS principle, utilizing Rice and Noodles (mini-shells I found ON SALE) and Rice I have many vacuum sealed bags of as the Carb Component of my Chicken Soup.  Both of these dried forms of Carb even without vacuum sealing last months without refrigeration, so they are ideal as long as you the Homeless Person has a safe place to store them.  For this, you should have a Storage Unit, which you can usually find for $30-50/mo for the size a single homeless person would need for safe storage of personal possessions.  I don't need one of those yet, I still have my cubbards and a lock on the door so my preps are *relatively* safe at the moment.  However, at this SAME moment My Future is So Bright I Have to Wear Night Vision Goggles TM. As I outlined in last week's Sunday Brunch article, it's really remarkable how fast you can fall off the economic cliff if you run into Medical Issues, even if you HAVE some savings.  I'm fortunate that I do, because if I did not, I would already be cooking my chicken soup behind my Bugout Machine in some Walmart parking lot.  Not there YET though, so I can still tell the tale here on the Diner! 🙂

OK, off the tangent of my personal trials & travails these days as I inch towards Homelessness, Quadraplegia and inevitable DEATH, and back to the topic of Chicken Soup and this week's Experiment!

After simmering the leftover chicken carcass overnight in the Slow Cooker, I strained off the bones and meat to have just broth, which I put in the Fridge to cool overnight.  Purpose of that is to skim off the FAT from the top which solidifies, to reserve for use later in making Matzoh Balls for another Chicken Soup down the line.  You can also just leave the fat in the soup, and have it that way though it makes the broth very rich.  Afterwards, I picked off the best remaining meat chunks and added them back into the soup.

http://stephanieodea.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2-quart-slow-cooker.jpgNow, obviously I got two things here which the Homeless person probably does not have, a Slow Cooker and a Fridge, both running on electricity piped into the digs by the local electric Co-op.  The Homeless person might be able to pirate electricity from some source though, but probably needs to use his Cooler and Ice for that process.  For the Slow Cooking though, this can be done by heating up some rocks over a fire, digging a pit and dropping your crock pot in over the stones and covering the whole biz with dirt for overnight slow cooking.  Basically the same way you do a clambake.  Other alternative is just to keep the pot simmering over a low flame, but you have to maintain that low flame for many hours which is a pain in the ass.  With a group of Homeless people much more possible than for a solo, as you can rotate the job of maintaining the fire at the right level.  Burying the crock is more energy efficient too, if you are short on firewood.

Another possibility for the Homeless Person is a Solar Cooker, escpecially in the warmer and sunnier parts of the country.  You can put these things together with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and saran wrap if necessary.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6e/ab/37/6eab375eaf165f28f85eb900bfb9dddc.jpg

http://cdn.recipes100.com/v/5eba6fa84e9abcce8c84bd6efaac20f9.jpgIn terms of Total Nutrition, I got more meals and more than 1 person needs in a week of Animal Protein out of this chicken.  I consumed the nice Meaty Parts over 4 days, together with Rice & Beans or Baked Potato.  Some of the nicer leftover meat I made a Chicken Salad out of with some Mayo, tarragon, chopped onions and celery etc and dropped on nice fresh Kaiser Rolls.  The Soup itself by the time all was said and done adding the veggies and noodles and rice made 3 HUGE Bowls of very tasty Chicken Soup.  Utilizing a larger crock, adding a few more of the carbs and veggies to this equation, easily you can feed 2 people for the week this way, for a likely total cost of under $20, $10/person.

http://cdn.ebaumsworld.com/picture/gionet2454/fatty.jpgThe great problem here in the FSoA and in Industrial Culture as a whole though is that many if not most people never learn to Cook at all, and all the prepared foods have come so cheap for so long, you have an entire generation of people who know nothing more about how to prepare food other than Microwaving it or buying cooked up already at Mickey Ds.  Why are people starving on a SNAP card allotment of around $140/mo per person?  Because they buy bags of potato chips that run $5 a bag with the SNAP Card, that's why!  FAT and STARVING at the SAME time!

You might not be able to make it on the $2/day Egyptians and Indians and many others in the 3rd World have for their food budget here in the FSoA, but you DEFINITELY can make it on $5/day if you don't buy all the junk and stick to the basics.

Of course, the food DOES need to be available on the shelves at Safeway, and the Money or SNAP Card does need to work to buy it.  Still working as of today, so enjoy it while you can.

Eat Cheap, and Eat Well! TM

 

I lost my Wallet (and my Marbles)

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on May 12, 2015

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marbles

Discuss this artilcle at the Medicine & Health Table inside the Diner

Amongst the many problems you face when you have a Spinal Injury is that it starts to affect your Brain Functions in many ways. The higher up the spine the injury is, the more things get affected.  My problem is in the C4-C5 area of the cervical vertebrae in my neck.  Complete severing of the spinal chord in this area results in Quadraplegia.  I don't have that problem…YET!

http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/wp-content/media/spinal_map.jpgIt's just compromised and being SQUEEZED, and this results in many physically debilitating problems.  You can lose muscle control in any area of your body, for me currently the biggest loss is in my right arm, but I have muscle weakness everywhere now as well.  Difficult to walk, difficult to get out of bed and so forth.

It also affects your appetite, and sense of Hunger.  I just about never feel Hungry and actually WANT to eat, I have to remember to feed myself every day.  I mainly keep eating because I still like (and can experience still) the taste of my favorite foods.  I love to cook, as readers of my SNAP Card Gourmet series know.  Also, I know I HAVE to eat if I want to stay alive, and I do for a while longer anyhow.  More on the reasons for that later here.

Your Bowel and Urinary functions are affected as well.  You can become completely incontinent.  Again, so far I am fortunate this has not occurred yet, but I do have what you call an "immediacy" issue, which is that as soon as I do feel the need to piss or shit, I have to get to the bathroom inside a minute or two or I will have an "accident", as my mom called it while I was being Toilet Trained.  I try not to venture too far from a bathroom because of this.

It affects your Hearing as well, you can get a symptom known as Tinnitis, which I have.  Described sometimes as "ringing in the ears", for me it is a constant High Pitched SQUEAL, that if I keep myself bizzy I can ignore, but it is always there.

Tinnitus (/tɪˈntəs/ or /ˈtɪnɪtəs/; from the Latin tinnītus "ringing") is the perception of sound within the human ear ("ringing of the ears") when no external sound is present. Despite the origin of the name, "ringing" is only one of many sounds the person may perceive.

Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. Other causes include neurological damage (multiple sclerosis), ear infections, oxidative stress,[1] emotional stress,[2] foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain, earwax build-up, and exposure to loud sounds. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may cause tinnitus as well. Tinnitus may be an accompaniment of sensorineural hearing loss or congenital hearing loss, or it may be observed as a side effect of certain medications (ototoxic tinnitus).

There are two main types of tinnitus, subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Tinnitus is usually a subjective phenomenon, such that it cannot be objectively measured. The condition is often rated clinically on a simple scale from "slight" to "catastrophic" according to the difficulties it imposes, such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.[3] Subjective tinnitus has been also called "tinnitus aurium" "nonauditory" and "nonvibratory" tinnitus, objective tinnitus "pseudo-tinnitus" or "vibratory" tinnitus.

All of this I became aware of as I researched my injury, so I expected and understood it, and why it was occurring.  What I did not expect was how it would affect my higher cognitive functions, aka THINKING & MEMORY.

All those higher functions are ABOVE the injury to my spinal column, so in theory should not be affected.  But they are affected because of feedbacks through your nervous system, or lack of feedback.  I have become "forgetful", misplace things all the time now and cannot find them. I briefly lost my keys to my digs a couple of weeks ago, had to go out and make a replacement set (I had some copies fortunately), although I did turn up the original set a few days later.  I haven't lost my Wallet once in the last 30 years, but last week I did.  After fruitless searching for it, I bit the bullet and headed over to the DMV AGAIN to replace my Driver's License, and over to the Credit Union to cancel my Debit Cards and order new ones.  I'm still without the Debit Cards, that will take a couple of weeks probably before I have working ones again.  I got a Temporary License (good for 2 months), and now I wait for the permanent replacement to come in the mail as well.  The DMV here in Alaska doesn't issue Driver's License/ID out on the spot anymore, it has to go through Facial Recognition and Background Checks before you get your Full License, good for 6 years if you don't lose it, but anytime you do need to replace it you have to go through the same rigamarole.

Once you are without ID and a Bank Card in this society, you are totally screwed if you don't have Backup.  I'm fortunate I am a Doomer, so I have multiple backups on most things, in the case of the Driver's License I was able to use the last Temp License they issued me which had not yet expired.  Same with getting my new bank debit cards.  I also had my Passport and my Birth Certificate as well.  So I could more or less PROVE that I am ME to the Goobermint and the Banking system and get the process going of replacing the lost ID items.  Still haven't received them though, and I won't be resting EZ until they are once again in a NEW Wallet that certifies me as part of this society.

Meanwhile as I wait to get issued my New Cards, how am I surviving?  Again, fortunate I am a Doomer, so I have a Stash of Cash to use for purchases until I have some working Plastic again.  I have a PayPal account with digibit money in it also.  This is mainly just a temporary inconvenience for me, but it really does show how connected to and how dependent you are on the whole system all the time.

Now, to address a topic I brought up at the beginning of this article, is WTF am I trying to STAY ALIVE at all here now?  The world is a MESS, I am a MESS, just fucking end it all here and do a Bullet-Brain Meeting!

The main reason I don't do that is because I remain curious about how this bizness of Collapse will play itself out, and I continue to want to write on the topic until I absolutely cannot do that anymore.  We often run into the question of "What is the Purpose of Living?" on the Diner.  MY purpose for living these days is to be a Chronicler of Collapse.  In a sense I am fortunate in this regard, since now besides charting the Global Collapse, I also have opportunity to chart my own Personal Collapse as well.  I shall chronicle this in all its glory & gory detail as long as my keyboard fingers still work.  I won't QUIT, no matter what, no matter how awful my life gets.  I will go out fighting to the end. It's the Terminator in me.

What all of these experiences have driven home to me is the importance of having FRIENDS, which is where all your REAL WEALTH is truly stored.

In the case of my Spinal Injury, my FRIEND Agelbert on the Diner researched my problem and dug up a Study being done in Atlanta that I may qualify for, and so get the repair job done on the tab of the Pharma Companies that are sponsoring this study.  Without The Diner, this never would have occured.

In the case of my potential Homelessness prior to my trip to the Great Beyond, this also is unlikely to occur now.  I have offers from 2 more FRIENDS from the Diner who have offered me Shelter if things continue on their Southward Trend Line for me.

Anyone who says Blogging and the Internet are a waste of time and you can't really CONNECT with people this way are ABSOLUTELY, INCONTRAVERTABLY WRONG!  I probably won't last a whole lot longer (although I am pretty tough to kick off, so who knows there?), but today I am confident I won't die alone in some snowdrift in Alaska, I DO have FRIENDS who care about me.  They are my friends from the DINER!

MapI have met more truly compassionate and caring people on the Diner than I have ever encountered IRL.

LONG LIVE THE DOOMSTEAD DINER!

RE

 

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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Battling the Titans"Just as the cold air that precedes the arrival of Nosferatu, a deep and foreboding chill is be [...]

Malthus was Real"Must we not go with either a bang or a whimper, but in an orgy of mutual self-gratification, a [...]

Peak México"México is a poster child for the present schizophrenia."The transformation of México in t [...]

Big Bird takes the Prize"We need to walk through walls with a new genre of quantum solutioneering." In the fall of [...]

A Matter of Degree"Did we really imagine people would feel threatened by the number 2?"USAnians are a very s [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Democracy and politics would be messy business even if all participants were saints. But America doe [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Let's celebrate.... the end of the xxx xxxx ho ax..... I think I'll have a smash of single [...]

I still can't believe this ..... I am flabbergasted .... I am speechless... Al ... Leo..... Bar [...]

https://hips.hearstapps.com/ver.h-cdn.co/assets/15/15/1428338513-leodicaprio.jpg [...]

http://2.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/71/29/fbf55e8da2d515fd195c7f884d6bbfa2-fabulous-touchdown-vict [...]

It's that time AGAIN! Time for Fast Eddy to https://i.ytimg.com/vi/DH_EscT5lZk/maxresdefault.jp [...]

http://peakoil.com/publicpolicy/will-the-dollar-survive-the-rise-of-the-yuan-and-the-end-of-the-petr [...]

://www.marketwatch.com/story/economist-james-k-galbraith-isnt-celebrating-dow-25000-2018-01-08 [...]

How is MMT compatible with stringent energy conservation? Proponents think debt can outpace income f [...]

According to Art Berman, Permian is the only oily game in town ... The other LTO plays are in declin [...]

Banks make money by borrowing very low short-term money and lending it at a higher rate. This is a v [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

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Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

The urban climate, especially the near-surface air temperature ( T ), is influenced to large amounts [...]

Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, ensuring that Climate maintains high qu [...]

The decadal oscillation of rainfall in Europe that has been observed since the end of the 20th centu [...]

Ecosystem services (ES) were conceived to emphasize the role of ecological processes in supporting s [...]