Slow Cooking

Cheap Cuts

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 25, 2015

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In the last episode of the SNAP Card Gourmet, I wrote about Baa-Baa, a Baby Lamb from Oz whose Ribs I consumed a couple of weeks ago.  Those ribs came in at $12.99/lb, which is relatively average up here on the Last Great Frontier for your quality meat cuts, which come in anywhere from a low of around $7.99/lb for Ribeyes when I spy good ones on sale, to about the most I will cough up of around $19.99/lb for some dry aged T-Bones from Matanuska Meats.  I have seen some Prime Cuts on the racks for over the $20 mark, but I have yet to cough up that much for a slab of meat.

What has long been just a walk in the park for most Americans — food shopping — is about to become considerably more grueling. (Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr)

What has long been just a walk in the park for most Americans — food shopping — is about to become considerably more grueling. (Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr)

I’m no longer keeping myself to a SNAP Card budget, but I am inherently a cheapskate, always looking for bargains and trying to eat well while spending as little as possible on this.  Since besides being miserly I am also Paleo in diet with MEAT my major food source, I always cruise the meat fridge at 3 Bears & Fred Meyer to see what I can find on the cheap.

Now, if you go to Pork, you can get your prices down about half the usual price for a similar beef cut, but I’m not a huge fan of pork.  There is still one cut of Beef you find at prices even cheaper than Pork though, and that is Beef Ribs.  The package at the top of the page came in at $2.79/lb, and they came in with quite a decent amount of meat on the bone too!

The upside to Beef Ribs is that they are very tasty and juicy, with a ton of FAT on them.  The downside is that knawing it off the bone is tough to do even if you have good teeth, which I don’t anymore.  My solution to this problem is twofold.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe first part is to prepare the ribs as I always have, which is to baste with BBQ sauce and grill over the open flame.  When the ribs come off the grill and onto the plate, I cut off the larger chunks of meat that I can with fork and knife, and that provides one very nice meal from 3 Ribs.

What is left on the bone (which is still a LOT) goes into the Slow Cooker with the usual suspects of Carrots, Potatoes, Onions and Garlic, and in this case I also added some Brussel Sprouts.  You cook for an extra long amount of time at the low setting until the meat left completely falls off the bone, at which point it practically melts in your mouth when you eat it and you almost don’t need any teeth at all!

As Slow Cooker Meat goes, this has it all over the typical package of Stew Meat, which usually comes in around $5.79/lb around here these days.  Plus of course you get the added flavor and nutrients from the Bone itself, which you don’t get when just using stew meat.  The resulting Stew or Soup (depending on whether you thicken it up or not with some flour) is way richer than one made with stew meat, and in fact unless you are a real fan of FAT, it’s a good idea to chill the resultant liquid and skim off the fat after it cools and solidifies.  Sometimes I do this, other times not.  If you do leave the fat in there though, just eating a small bowl totally fills you up.  Usually I get 2 more full meals from the Rib Bones, for 3 total meals with Meat in them for the astoundingly low price of less than $1.50 for the meat per meal, and under $3/meal including all the veggies and other ingredients to flavor it up.  If you added some Rice to this to ladle it over, you could expand it to 4-5 meals easily without upping the cost more than $1.

http://www.lafujimama.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Pot-of-oxtails.jpgEasily the BEST cut of meat to use for making your Soups and Stews though is not Ribs, but Oxtails.  Tons of tender meat on them as well as tons of flavorful FAT.  The problem I have with Oxtails is that they generally come in around $7.29/lb or so these days up here, and because they are not a popular cut of meat you never find them On Sale.  For around the same price I often can find good Ribeye Steaks on sale, and in making the choice between an Oxtail Soup and a Flame Broiled Ribeye on the BBQ, the latter choice wins that decision every time at the Meat Fridge.

I have a similar problem as far as buying Fish is concerned, which is at the price that Halibut or Salmon comes in at even here where it is local production, it’s not any cheaper than the Beef I prefer.  So usually the only Fish in my diet doesn’t come from the grocery store, but straight from the River.  I’m still paying for it of course in the cost of the gas to get to the River, but it does come in a lot cheaper than Beef this way, so Fish is a big part of the Paleo diet as well.

Three other forms of animal protein, Chicken, Lobster and Crab have mostly disappeared from my diet, as I have lost my taste for them for the most part, these days they all seem rather tasteless to me.  Not sure if that is a change in me or a change over time in these foods.

So, for at least as long as both are available, Elsie the Cow and Baa-Baa the Baby Lamb are the ones I shop for.  Still available here at a price I can afford, and when they are not, I will last on the local Salmon & Moose as long as I can, and then after that take my trip to the Great Beyond after a very nice run as a carnivore through the Age of Oil.

In Memory of Baa-Baa

Baby_Lamb

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.

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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

Slow Cooking, Local Food Production and Barter Economics

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Published on Reverse Engineering October 13, 2011

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http://www.moonmoth.net/paelks/history/wayback.jpgNormally during the week these days I  post up articles from our Cross Posting Blogger friends, since I don’t have time anymore to write more than 1 a week these days as we get the new Sustaining Universal Needs website set up.  Very SLOW week though in terms of new Blogs from the regular Cross Posters, so tonight I went back into the Reverse Engineering archives to dig up some Oldie but Goodie material which is not generally available for reading (only our Founding Members have access to those archives).I went back in Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine 2 years just about exactly to dig up this series of posts I wrote on Slow Cookers and how you can use them to enhance your Food Security.  Even MORE true today than it was back then.  Hope you like the Blast from the Past.RE

Small Electric Cooking Appliances

Just back from my weekly Prep Run, this week’s purchase was a small 1.5 Qt Crockpot on sale during the month of “Crock-tober” for just $10. Why buy a small electric cooking appliance like this when the electric grid might collapse in the next 5 years?

Thing is I don’t think it will collapse that fast, at least not here in the FSofA. I think there is a lot of room for Rolling Blackouts, Brownouts and of course higher prices forcing rationing.

So, why the small Crockpot? I chose the smallest size because I’m single and 1.5 quarts of Rice, Beans and Beef Jerky is about as much as I would consume in a day. The thing about Crocks aka Slow-Cookers is that unlike a Microwave or even Hot Plate, they have a very low power draw, in fact I can power it with my Inverter and bank of Batteries. Of course if I used it that way I’d likely run down my power faster than my PV cells and Wind Turbines could replenish it, but in a short duration blackout I could do that for a couple of days I’m sure. I’ll have to calculate up the Amp hours at some point to get a real estimate, or more likely just wait until the problem arises and see how quick it eats up the juice.

In the most likely event of rolling Blackouts and Brownouts, say your neighborhood gets power twice a day for maybe 3 hours. This is when you cook up your stew. The low power consumption means even if your house is only getting say 10 Amps you’ll still be able to use it without blowing the fuses. Chopping each portion of the grid up into Quarters this way would conserve a LOT of power.

http://gregandcathsadventures.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/rio-de-janeiro-024.jpgAnother good small electric device to have is a small electric Tea Kettle or Coffee Pot. If the Water supply gets a bit contaminated, you can boil enough each day to have some potable drinking and cooking water available. Add a small Thermoelectric Cooler, and you even have some refrigeration.

With just slightly more power available, small electric appliances like Toaster Ovens and Hot Plates also can be useful cooking tools to have. So I have those also, which is also good in the event you Squat on some McMansion somewhere which has been stripped of its appliances or they are busted. Assuming you can somehow get power into the house (and there are ways to do that by pirating the main power line (which is how its done in the Favelas in Brazil and other slums), you can quickly set up a functioning Kitchen in the house.

Of course I also recommend having Propane fired Camping Cook gear as well and at least two 5 Gallon Tanks always topped off. However, I think for at least the next few years in most places in FSofA there will be enough electric power around to run the small appliances, which you should do rather than use up the Propane, which should be saved for real emergencies.

Of course the final cooking method is to have a portable outdoor Grill which burns either Wood or Charcoal, and you should have one of those also. Again in the event of an extended power outage, you use this before you use up your supply of Propane, unless the propane is readily available to buy which it probably won’t be.

So, the Order of Operations here to maintain your Standard of Living on a cooking level is low power electric first, wood/charcoal second/ propane as the last resort. When you run out of all 3 methods, you are in the deep doo doo and your days are probably numbered.

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I am now all enthused with my 1.5 Quart Pesonal Slow Cooker Crockpot! What I did today in the morning was throw some Beef Oxtails, Mushrooms, Onions, a can of diced tomatoes and some sour cream and seasonings into the crockpot while I scribbled some math problems on the Whiteboard at 8AM and let it simmer all day until I dismissed the students at 2PM. Man was it delicious, and still some left for tomorrow!

Now of course, I may have some problems getting hold of some of these items as we proceed along here with the crash, but I can substitute caribou or bear meat for the oxtails and I have seasonings enough for years. The Crockpot cooking method is one I have never really used but I love this low power electric method of cooking. I have nice cast iron Dutch Ovens also and can do a similar type of slow cooking in them over a low heat fire.

Good news locally on Food production, one of my co-workers now has 13 laying hens and she can’t give away the eggs fast enough, she is getting 7-11 per day. She gave me a dozen today. I suspect when things get bad, everybody around here will have Chickens. Main thing is keeping them warm in winter, but this doesn’t take much heating. Really, if you just keep say 4 Sled Dogs in a Doghouse/Chicken coop with wire fencing between them it probably would be warm enough even without artificial heat so the chickens would not freeze to death.

Bad news, there has been a shortage of locally produced Milk because of the closing of one Dairy and then a shortage of Cows because people who were producing milk got rid of them. We need to breed up or import some more cows or goats if I am going to have sour cream to drop in the recipe.

Not as worried today about Starvation Issues up here when the collapse comes. Low population, plenty of food production potential locally. Lots of firewood and coal even when the low power Crockpot doesn’t work anymore. Long as everybody pulls together, we will be OK.

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I read a marvelous article on the Low Tech website last night cateloguing the Dutch Golden Age and the use of Peat as a thermal energy source, which accounts for the main reasons the Dutch were such a powerhouse force in the pre-Industrial Era from around 1300-1600 or so. Gave me much to ponder on, and I’ll probably write something about this next weekend. No time to write such an article during the week. Thanks again to Peter for bringing this Website onto the radar here on Reverse Engineering.

For tonight, I just want to develop my thoughts on Slow Cooking, which since I bought my little 1.5 Quart low electric power Crockpot has been my latest “enthusiasm”. So enthusiastic was I today that I returned to Fred Meyer to buy this time a large size 6 Quart Crockpot which has a”Snap-shut” lid arrangement so after you slow cook whatever it is you do, you can Transport it without it sloshing out of the container in your Bugout Machine.

This 6 Quart Model ran me $30 in the sale month of “Crock-tober” at Fred Meyer, but with every purchase of a Crock over $25 in price, you got “fixins” to drop in it to make some Chili. 1lb of Fresh Ground Beef, Chili Seasoning, Tabasco Sauce, Cans of Beans, Diced Tomatoes and Tomato Paste all worth in total about $10 at current prices. So actual cost of the Crock to me was $20, since I will brew up the Chili and eat it as lunch for a couple of days here now.

Now, as we all know, much of the FOOD I am currently dropping INTO the Crockpot to stew up to a delicious Meal may not be available to me down the line here, but that is not a real IMMEDIATE problem in the FSofA right now. The foodstuffs are mostly still available, its PRICE issues the Family has to deal with that are getting difficult.

Thing I like right NOW about the Crock is how CHEAP I can eat a delicious and nutritious meal here by buying some canned and raw foods On Sale as they occur, along with of course whatever it is you grow in your garden or the Chickens you or a friend has laying eggs, etc.

The SNAP card program at the moment I believe will provide most Amerikans about $200/mo or $50/wk to not starve on. Using the Crock and sale foods, how CHEAP can I actualy eat here on a weekly basis? This is my Experiment for the next Month, but I’ll tell you my Early Returns based on just a couple of days, which is I think you can easily eat very well on about $2/day, similar to what the average Egyptian lives on, but likely with better quality food than said Egyptian.

Dump into your 1.5 Quart Crock 1/2 lb of Meat (oxtails in the first trial run) for about $3, fresh mushrooms and garlic about another $1, a can of diced tomatoes $1.50, a few scoops of Sour Cream another $1.50 and a Seasoning Package of Lipton Beef Onion Soup $1 and let stew, then spoon over 1 cup rice $.50 each meal. Total cost of the Crock stuff, around $7. Its VERY rich in calories, too much of it and you get lethargic, I know because I over ate my first batch and felt like napping the rest of the day. Anyhow, said Stew lasts about a week spooned over the Rice, about $1.50 a day total there.

So, while Da Goobermint will issue you enough Funny Money to BUY $50 of Groceries per week, in reality all you need here is around maybe $15 to stay well fed buying what is on sale or generally cheap to drop in the Crock. This leaves you a $35 SURPLUS each week if you stay conservative in what you eat.

What do you do with this surplus? Use it to create some Yummy Soups or Chili or Stew that you sell by the Cupful out on the street at say $1 per Cup. Cheap nutritious food you undercut the prices at Mickey Ds with. You turn your $35 surplus of Goobermint Snap Card money into at least $70 of CASH per week, probably more than that. Yo are now fed and have some cash to work with each day to buy some gas for the Bugout Machine. Not Big Money of course, but you stay above water this way. Remember, because the Crock is low power, you can use the DC Outlet in your Bugout Machine to cook up your yummy Stews and Chili, you don’t need a home to do this for your fellow Hooverville residents.

The key element here is to eat cheap and efficiently, and hopefully have surplus to sell to people at whatever price they can afford to pay. Long as you are eating well, any money you make is a Bonus. In the Great Depression, Pretzel Vendors would sell their Pretzels at a Nickel apiece. They would buy some flour and cook up the pretzels over some coal early in the morning, salt them up and get a few nickels to keep going. Same idea here, just you use your Bugout Machine and the Crockpot to make soup or chili to sell.

Not a strategy to get RICH, just a way to make it throough the ZERO POINT, while you ofer some food to pople they can afford to buy, long as you are working with a monetary system. Eventualy, you Barter it when the monetary system fails.

You’ll need some way of getting the FOOD to put in the Crock of course. If that is not available, junk the crock and figure out something else to make it therough the Zero Point obviously.

For myself up here on the Last Great Frontier, I don’t intend to try the “sell a Cup-a-Soup” paradigm out on the street, but rather incorporate the Food I am being GIVEN into my Education paradigm. Today another Mom gave me a Moose Roast letting me know the Moose Meat was rather Tough this year, which means its EXCELLENT to go in the Crock Pot! A few hours of slow cooking tenderizes even the toughest meat cuts. Stew it all day with some Alaska Grown Carrots and Potatoes and some of my vast collection of Spices, and besides teaching your kids all day while you Hunt or Fish, I’ll feed them as well as myself at Lunchtime a very Nutritious meal! Its my Barter Version of the School Lunch program run by Da Goobermint to feed poor kids, except better because I am a better chef than your typical Hairnet inthe School Lunchroom. LOL.

The KEY here is everybody has to start getting into the food production Bizness in some way, be it Greenhouses, Edible Landscaping, Hydroponics, Raising Chickens, Fishing whatever. To fill out the Calorie content, we’ll still need some large scale farms doing the Grain production and so forth, but long as your neighborhood has some tract of land suitable for such production, combined with the rest of personally produced and bartered foodstuffs, you should have enough and a decent variety also.

The further out you are into low population zones the more plausible this is, but I don’t think you absolutely must be on the edge of the Arctic Circle either. Actually, I think th paradigm could work even in Wisconson or Ohio or New York, though the Big Shities there are still TOAST.

================

From Nobody

This is your calling.  You were born to re and you can’t wait.  I think what will be a mortal nightmare for many will be great fun for you.  This is no revelation in this forum;   now and then I just like to shake myself and look again at something familiar.

There is something odd about all this obsession with slow cooking.  I’ve been, here in the land of granite kitchens, endless appliances and personal chefs – cooking for 4 for over a year now with a toaster oven.

..and a crock pot.   Bought em both Day One.  You’re right about the crock pot and for a while, it will suffice.  Don’t forget beans though; the slow cook is great on the legumes.  I get though, that you are in the land of meat.

Any community that gets you, having your fun, will be very lucky.

It isn’t going to be like you say though.  I mean, I live that way now – minus the SNAP.  It’s like you predict, for many people, now.  The working poor or the not-working poor with kids.  All it takes is kids and there you are.  No safety net if you’ve got kids.  That’s the first thing you notice when you become a parent; any illusion of safety or that sense that you’re alright; you’ll get by… just goes like it was never there.

Because you’re a teacher, you get this far more than most persons on their own.

When the mom gives you the meat and you cook for the kids; don’t some of those kids just love you?  You deserve it.  Finding the joy of feeding the hungry will be all that’s left but it won’t be that easy.  As smart as you are and as far-reaching as your thinking is, I just know there’s a wrench in the works for us.  It’s not going to be just staying in the saddle and thinking on your feet; it’s going to require a spiritual shift.

====================

I think it’s my calling to to write about the collapse, I’m not sure its my calling to survive it very long. If God had this plan for me, he would have made sure I took better care of myself so I wouldn’t be such a physical wreck already.

Far as the “great fun” I will have, I’m already having it writing. The collapse gives me endless topics to write on and has given me a better window into understanding human nature and human history. If it hadn’t begun while I was walking the Earth, I would have gone to the Great Beyond ignorant of many things I understand well now. So in this sense I am greatful it is occurring, which you could interpret as not being able to “wait” for it.

Once the Big Show really does arrive here in earnest, if I am still alive I don’t think I’ll have much fun with it then. I’m probably better prepared for it psychologically then most people though, I expect it and won’t be taken by surprise, but then neither will any of the other folks in this group.

The kids are another issue entirely of course. Since I don’t have any of my own, I’m not directly responsible for any of them, I am thankful for that. However, since I work with many of them for years in one way or the other, my relationship with them is deeper than the typical teacher, its part of the paradigm I am running. I have some melancholy moments when I watch them, really so clueless as to what is happening here. They all are getting their Iphones now at 9 or 10 years old, they all implicitly believe this world will continue on as they know it. I don’t burst that bubble because its just pointless to do so, the knowledge wouldn’t help them right now. Best thing for me to do is to try to give them a happy childhood where they learn some important skills, mainly how to THINK.

The Crockpot paradigm I’ve been writing about the last couple of days is far different in abstract than in reality, I’m sure after a few months of eating chili and stews of various kinds I’d be as bored to death with them as you likely are by now. Boredom in eating though is something we have to become used to again, go just a little ways back in history and most folks had a very limited diet. Spices to perk up foods were quite rare and expensive, and in fact were a driving force for the trade routes that sprung up over time.

What did Inuit eat? Well, Algonquins were the ones who coined the name “Eskimo” for all the tribes up here, they didn’t call themselves Eskimos. Eskimo translates loosely as “Raw Meat Eater”. They ate meat raw because generally they didn’t have much in the way of tools for cooking, no pots and pans, not even clay pottery.

Fortunately, even in the worst case scenarios I can come up with, we should have cooking tools of some sort available for quite some time to come, I’m sure my cast iron cookware will last a century at least. However, the spices will likely disappear from thsi part of the world pretty quick. Even just getting Salt may be difficult, and this is an essential from a nutrition standpoint, though if seafood is part of your diet you get enough salt eating just that. However, without salt food overall is pretty bland in taste.

Eventually, people who grow up without all the great varieties of food we have become accustomed to won’t miss these things, but anyone who did including kids now will have a difficult time adjusting to it. They’ll miss it even more than their Iphones.

==================

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_zuuz8in8UBM/TNgraA-_FII/AAAAAAAABls/irwOoCJbWPA/s1600/dumpster-dive.jpg

Crockpot Dumpster Diving

Despite the fact that Nobody pricked a bit of a hole in my Crockpot thread here with the REALITY of eating a Crockpot diet for an extended period of time, I’m going to continue on with Useful Ideas for Crockpots as the Collapse proceeds in earnest.

The place I REALLY see great usefulness with a Crockpot is in Dumpster Diving. As you all know, I used to work as a Chef for a brief period of time, after I left the Med Biz and before I took to the road in the Big Rig. The amoount of food we pitched into the dumpster each night was pretty astounding, not just the plates of half eaten meals served up to the customers, but also vast number of Bones with decent amount of meat still on them and all the marrow still in there. Lots of pieces of carrots near the tip or the end, pieces of onions, blah blah.

Now, all pitched into the dumpster, this stuff looks pretty gross, and left too long can smell pretty gross also. However, long as you Dummpster Dive pretty quickly, you can shovel out a lot of very nutritious food, just it looks very gross and not appealing to eat. What do you do about that?

Answer: You take a whole pile of the stuff and about an equal amount of Water and Simmer it for a few hours in the Crock. Then you strain it for the Broth. Allt he bacteria will be dead, and 90% of the nturients will have been extracted from the solids into the broth. Fish Bones, Chicken Bones, potatoes rendered to soluble starches,vitamins etc MOST of it will be in the liquid, and it will probably taste and smell pretty good, not unappetizing at all.

Add to that later some of the fresh veggies you grow in your garden or make an Egg Drop Soup with some of the eggs from your chickens, and POOF, you make a first class Soup that will keep you going quite well. You just need to be near enough to a still functioning restaraunt to Dumpster Dive it right after the lunch or dinner crowd leaves.

Obviously, once the restaraunts stop functioning this paradigm won’t function long, but its probably a good method for Big Shity dwellers to supplement their SNAP Cards with for a while here. The more nutrition you can access through Dumpster Diving, the more you can use the SNAP card to brew up Cups of Chili to sell to people below Micky Ds prices and so get some CASH to work with.

Besides this somewhat distasteful method of accumulating enough food and caloris to keep going in the Big Shity, out in the boonies where lots of plants grow, if you dig up enough ROOTS of just about any plant, there are starches and vitamins in those roots that are digestible. Cellulose is not digestable, though the roughage will help keep your colon clean, but roots contain a lot more than just cellulose. You do not have to be a wizard identifying Edible Plants for this, just start digging. If the root has some bulky portions, its likely to be starchy. Rinse it of most of the dirt, boil the living shit out of it, strain and eat. You won’t starve, you won’t get food poisoning either. Dont be afraid to throw a few Bugs into this stew either! Grasshoppers, Beetles, even Cockroaches will add good Proteins and Amino Acids to the liquid if you boil it for a long enough time.

Remember, ANY living organism has msot of the stuff you need in your body to make it work. Water is the Universal Solvent, and ANYTHING boiled for a long enough time extracts most of the nutrients. It even behooves you to throw otherwise Inedible stuff into such a stew, like Bark or Grasses. There are nutrients contained in them that will be extracted into the mix.

A FEW plants and Bugs have some poisons in them that also would be extracted here, but they are remarkably few, and mostly won’t kill you if you happen to make this mistake of dropping them into the stew. Hopefully you learn quickly which ones they are.

Mostly though, remember that you are TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN. You can eat just about anything that lives and gain something from it. Cellulose is not digestible for you, so you can’t get calories this way, you cannot eat grass like a Cow. You most certainly can eat just about any ROOT like a Monkey does though. The Crockpot will make it a lot less gross as well, and predigest it for you. The operation of the Stomach is to use acid to digest out these things, the Crock uses Heat to do it. Long as you can find enough living organisms to drop in the crock, you will SURVIVE.

Food SURROUNDS you. It just not food you are used to eating, but its out there anywhere where Life is out there. Your Crockpot can help you absorb it into your system, long as you still got some way to heat the crock.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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