I have been slogging my way through Mrs. Curtis’s Household Discovery and Cookbook for a couple of days now and I’m gleaning a lot of excellent information. I have, for instance, learned that if I’m ill it is permissible to refrain from ironing my sheets assuming I hung them up properly after hand-washing them in my home-made soap. I know you all feel better now. I do.
All kidding aside, I often find myself running across bits of information or directions for doing something that I know I want to keep. Often, that information is from an on-line source or buried in a lengthy book. However, not being able to lay my hands on the information I need when I need is just the same as not having it at all. This is where your notebook comes in.
I am getting in the habit of printing out information as I come across it. If the power was out, you couldn’t go running to the computer to find necessary information. It’s an easy task to punch some holes in it and pop it in a 3-ring binder with some divider tabs. I have a lot of books but if I’m in a rush, I don’t want to be searching through 6 books for that one thing I know I read someplace. I have seen a lot of directions for making a rocket stove. I want to do this with my 4-H kids this spring. Do you think I can remember where I saw the really easy directions for a very small stove? That’s just one example. I got my notebook several years ago and it’s getting pretty full. I love all my books but my preparedness notebook is often my go-to place to find what I need.
Last week, I wanted to make bread on my wood stove. It has a good cook surface and I wanted to make better use of it since it’s going anyway. I had printed off the directions for baking bread in a Dutch oven and used those to bake the bread. I put a rack in the bottom of the Dutch oven and heated it along with the lid while I got the bread ready to bake. The dough was then placed in a round cake pan. This works best with free-form loaves. I did have to watch the bread as there is no way to monitor the heat. One problem was that the bread just about reached the level of the lid and didn’t brown as much as I would have liked. I would probably have had better luck with a smaller loaf or rolls. I made an artisan sourdough dough that’s one of my favorite recipes and calls for nothing but starter, flour, salt and water. If the power was out, I would be mighty happy to have the makings for this bread and a way to cook it right on hand. If i didn’t have a rack I would have used some old canning rings.
Speaking of canning, I just read that Ball is making 1 1/2 pint jars again. I love this size. A quart is often too much for me and a pint not enough. I love pickled asparagus and it fits just right in these tall, narrow jars. They use wide-mouth lids. I’m so glad to have an excuse to buy more jars. As you have probably figured out by now, I’m a jar junkie. I can’t resist them. Bruce used to look at me funny when I would bring home yet another case of jars but when he started keeping track of how many we go through each week he decided I was right rather than crazy. 1000 jars may look excessive but I have three sons and 4 grandkids who all live within spitting distance in addition to the four of us. If I go through three quarts of food each day (1 each of meat, fruit and vegetable) it begins to look reasonable. Add in cider, syrup, jam, pickles, applesauce and tomatoes and you get a pictures of just how many jars I need. Now I will say that I don’t have all the jars full all the time. The syrup is going into the jars emptied of cider. Spring asparagus is going into the jars emptied of pickled carrots. Strawberry jam will go into the recently finished apple butter jars. It’s a cycle. Still. If the power went out, I would have a freezer full of pork and chicken to can up, not to mention all the beef left. You can never have too many jars.