Tuesday, March 27, 2012

MRE to freeze dried to other foods comparisons

I thought that this information was very well laid out and meshed nicely with my series on MREs. So here's the link

Or if you want to cut and paste:



Monday, March 26, 2012

MRE Monday - Chicken, Pulled with Buffalo Sauce (+ Recipe)

My Third MRE is Chicken, Pulled with Buffalo Style Sauce for $2.60.

Calories: 260 Calories for entire package (from fat 70)
Total Fat 8g or 12% Daily Value
Saturated Fat 2.5g or 13% DV
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 80mg or 27% DV
Sodium 1460mg or 61% DV
Total Carbohydrate 20g or 7% DV
Dietary Fiber 0g or 0% DV
Sugars 2g
Protein 28g
Vitamin A 25% DV
Vitamin C 10% DV
Calcium 2% DV
Iron 8% DV

Expectations: I really didn't have any major expectations. They were actually quite low.

Reality: The package once heated and opened didn't look very appetizing. The pulled chicken tasted like a shredded hot wing. The spice was too hot for the boys, so I wouldn't give it to any kids. I didn't care for it, but my wife thought it might be good over rice mixed with cream cheese and ranch as a dip ( I  had to correct this glaring mistake ).

Final Thoughts: I will not be buying this MRE again. In my opinion, this is a lousy product. I might not eat it, even if I didn't have anything else. The MRE did not get any votes from the family, so I would call this one a loser. If you do happen to like this, I have an easy solution to recreate this MRE for about the same cost, but with more yield.

RECIPE: Pulled Chicken with Buffalo Sauce

Favorite Hot Sauce
Butter ( dehydrated butter may be used - hydrate as directed)
Canned Chicken 

Start by mixing 1 oz. Hot sauce to 1 oz. melted butter. Make about  2-4 ounces to your preference. Open can of chicken then dump into mixture. Heat or microwave until it reaches 165 degrees F. Serve.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Prepping Part Two - A new Hobby

 This is a continuation of my prepping series.

My brother-in-law and sister have started to take an interest in emergency preparation or prepping. This is what I would tell them.

I am not advocating spending a ridiculous amount of money on preparing. I am instead advocating spending a little time and money now as insurance...just in case. Prepping items should always be an item that you are going to use, otherwise it is wasting money. I actually consider prepping to be a hobby of mine.

I like to backpack, so all of the gear that I do purchase will be used for family camping trips. It just so happens that if an natural disaster destroys our house. If our gear is available, then we will have a place to stay, and more importantly, know how to use it. We will also have alternative ways to cook in case the electricity goes out: a Coleman Stove and a Propane grill.  I currently have about 2 gallons of Coleman fuel and two full 15 pound Propane tanks. I always seem to run out of propane when I just start cooking some BBQ chicken. These two are more than enough to last an above average power outage. I really need to purchase a new water filter and those Berkey water filters sure look nice.

I also like to save money at the grocery store. I use coupons, track the cyclical prices of groceries, and stockpile excellent deals until the next one rolls around. I recently purchased five 14 oz Frenchs mustard for a final price of 39 cents each ( the usual cost is 2.49 ). This should last us well into the summer until the Labor Day Grilling sales roll around. By using this technique, I am preparing for inflation. I'll only find fools to argue that inflation isn't happening. No wonder the Core Inflation Index does NOT include energy or foods prices. Anybody gotten gasoline lately?

I know that I'm not normal and think that grocery shopping is a game. I try to see how much I can buy for the smallest amount of cash. My waist line can testify that we eat good at our house. I'll buy those T-bone steaks that are on sale this week in a minute. Do you see where I'm going? Moderation in your preparations.

 Actually Old Photo of some of my short term food supply. The buckets have rice,beans, and sugar.

Now that I have gotten completely off on a tangent, back to what I would tell them. Start by looking for sales at the grocery store. They already track the prices. Stockpile food that you use, use it, and rotate it. Buy multiple papers for the coupons.  I strongly recommend storing enough water for at least one week. Our family has a water supply that will last us about 3 weeks. This doesn't include the hot water tank that holds 40 gallons. That is 35 gallons for their family ( 2 adults, 2 kids, and a dog --- 1 gallon per day ). Wally world Megamart has a seven gallon container for around $10.

Action Steps:
  • Stockpile water. ( 1 gallon per person per day )
  • Expand food and water supplies for 3 days.
  • Expand food and water supplies for 7 days.
  • Expand food supplies for 2 weeks.
  • Expand food supplies for 1 month.
  • Expand food supplies for 3 months.
  • Use sales and coupons to your advantage!!!
Water and Food. Moderation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One Skillet Camping Breakfast

Smoked Egg Croissant with Bacon

Butter or Squeeze Margarine
Smoked Cheddar
Precooked Bacon

  1. Split the croissant in two, butter and brown in skillet.
  2. Set the croissant off to the side. Add small amount of butter to the skillet and begin to fry the egg hard.
  3. Flip the egg, add sliced smoked cheddar, and top with bacon. Cover to melt cheese and finish cooking the egg.
  4. Combine into sandwich. Serve on a paper towel to make clean up easier.
This is a usual backpacking staple when the crew goes out into the woods. Two is average per person per morning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

They Already Tax Stupid

Normally, I'm not a big fan of bumper stickers, but I had to buy this one.

I'm not sure if it is going on my school satchel or my old paid off car. I think that the satchel will get more mileage, plus I like to be the gray man. I can't understand why anyone wants a flashy car. Loaded with an annoying muffler that sounds like a vuvuzela. Just to have the cops look at you while you speed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Advertising

I signed up for Adsense to help draw some revenue into the preps. Full time school is rapidly approaching, and I wanted to get another revenue stream going. I was really leaning towards not having advertising because it would distract from my message. However narcissistic that might be. I hate advertising. I'll do away with it once other means become available and I'm exploring those options now.

The commercialism of today's society is rampant. We Americans use way too much, and it seems like we have a throw away society. This is contradictory to being frugal.
(Art taken from groaction.com)
Being frugal is not about being afraid to spend money. It is about buying quality and making what you have last longer. It is about getting the most for your money. It is about enjoying what you already have, rather than what you want. It is about discipline - yes, it is very unpopular in today's society. It is about saving first, then paying with cash. Remember, interest is just another tax. It is about patience, and waiting for that sale to stock up on dry goods. For example, I loaded up on green beans for .39 each, and they regularly sale for almost a dollar. It is about stretching a dollar. It is also about being kind, and making that donation to the food bank or church. It is about giving. A closed fist that is holding onto the money is not open to receive anything either.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Prepping Part One - A baby step

The task of prepping can be an intimidating action. It is too easy to say that, "Oh, it will never happen". Do you have insurance? This is a common form of preparing. Preparing for an accident or just in case. I know that this is a lame example and it is often overused, but it is true.

 My sister and brother-in-law have started to think about preparing. What would I tell them to do? They have two small boys and a pet dog. So basically, five people in the house to be taken care of in case of an emergency.

The first thing that I would recommend is to have an evacuation plan in place. Talk about the steps that would be taken if either parent is at work and the kids are at daycare? What would they do? Who goes and gets the kids? What if the cell phones aren't working? A SOP ( Standard Operating Procedure ) needs to be discussed. Such basics need to be covered:
  • Documents should be together with all relevant information. Passports, IDs, Insurance Papers, Account Information, Cash , UBS Thumbdrive with electronic info etc...
  • Discuss if each member is at a different place and how the family regroups. Rally point(s).
  • Low Tech Communication if cell phones don't work. We use our refrigerator as our message board.
  • A quick list of what needs to be taken. Plan ahead with a BOB ( bug out bag ) or be able to get everything in 5 minutes or less. Make a list.
  • Where are you going? Plan A and a Plan B, even a Plan C would be better. Does anyone need to know where you will be going?
  • Make sure that a vehicle is reliable with a reserve gas stash to make the trip without being dependent on gas stations. 
  • Talk about security. If things get bad, the unprepared will want your stuff.
  • Water and/or food to get you to your location.
Communication would be my first suggestion.

USS Alabama

On our most recent trip to the beach, we stopped at the USS Alabama in Mobile, Alabama for a sack lunch. We usually bring sandwiches to eat somewhere along the route. They taste better and we can eat a little healthier.
The parking costs $2.00 and is well worth the price for a few picnic tables and a nice gulf breeze. The park area is loaded with a lot of military vehicles, but you can't climb on them. I would have really liked for the boys to be able to climb into and on some of them to get an idea of what our Grandfathers rode in WWII.
You can get the idea of size by the people on the bow and the ramp. 
Lots of equipment around.
An interesting bit of info, the ship also serves as a Hurricane Shelter.
The boys had a great time feeding the seagulls too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Basin Park Hotel Review

After a hard drive from the coast yesterday,  it's good to be back home. It's amazing the amount of pollen that has been released from the oak trees. My car is a solid pollen color. We are expecting rain soon, so that will be a huge relief for my sinuses.


The Basin Park Hotel located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas was built in 1905. This was my first trip to the city, but will definitely make another trip there. The above picture was taken from the hotel bar that is located on the second floor. The Spa is also located on this floor. We had a couple of drinks, She had a margarita on the rocks, and I had two Jack and Cokes before our massages. The drinks were $5 each, they were made like I make'm at home: half Jack and half Coke. Needless to say, two got me good and relaxed for the massage. The spa was reasonable - unlike the cruise massage costs, but not as cheap as the beach massage in Costa Maya, Mexico. The hotel was very cool and supposedly haunted too. We didn't see or hear any ghosts though.

You can see the hotel on the left, right after a town park. If you look hard, you can also see the sign from the first picture too. About the town, the town was built around the turn of the century and along a steep hillside. The houses in this area are distinct. They are not the cookie cutter houses of today. The town also offers some very eclectic shops. I was surprised by how friendly the town is towards pets too. The only thing I didn't like about the trip was the hippies and their patchouli oil. They stink.
 This gives you the idea of the terrain that the town was built around. The room was small compared to modern hotels, but the room was very clean, distinct, and had a nice bathroom. The bathrooms were an added convenience to make the hotel palatable to the modern day traveler. I wish I had taken a picture of the Cave Room where we had breakfast pastries and coffee one morning. The pastries were made in a local bakery and very good. The trip was an excellent anniversary get away - and much needed. The town gets 5 stars and the hotel gets 5 stars too.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day and Sand

I'll be taking a few days off, but still taking pics, to enjoy the beach. We are meeting some family, and discussing the future homestead with them. The homestead is one of my family's long term goals. We'll be bouncing some ideas back and forth and working out some details. They will eventually be joining us on the homestead, if things go south. I'll also be collecting One Second After , so that I can reread it when I get the chance to do a book review. If you haven't picked up the book, it is available through my Amazon store linked at the bottom of this page. This book really got me thinking and it is an easy read. If memory serves me correctly, I read it in 3 days. Remember to drink a beer tomorrow - I'll be having one for all 3 of my loyal readers. :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ultralight Backpacking First Aid Kit

My Backpacking Mentor or Guru, Larry Williams, encouraged me to build my own first aid kit when I asked him, "What should I carry?" He did give me some advice based on his personal experiences : a small mirror and tweezers. I built my own first aid kit based on my own experiences. I have yet to use the tweezers, but can see where they could come in handy. A mirror in case you get something in your eye, or forget what you look like. Blisters will happen on the trail if you aren't careful, so moleskin or duct tape is useful. Duct tape will last you the entire trip once applied to the skin, otherwise carry enough moleskin for each day's hike. I have burned myself more times than I have had blisters, but thankfully cool water was nearby to soothe the burn. With any large burn, dehydration is your first twenty four hours concern, then infection. This leads into a antibiotic cream, salve, or spray. Of course, Band-aids are a required item to carry too. I usually carry a variety, fingertip, regular, and at least one good sized one. The amount should be varied for the length of the trip. Keeping the cut clean and infection free is your prime concern. Fingernail clippers have also been quite useful. A piece of paper and a pencil nub to make notes is a good idea (think wishlist). Butterfly closures are the newest item that I carry. Always, always replace what you have used after the trip and check expiration dates of medicine ( aspirin or Tylenol ) before each trip.

Pack what you think you might need, then hope you don't have to use them. Assess what you used, and what would have been nice to have on hand. Each person's first aid kit will be different, but similar.

Due to emails and requests, I have updated this page.

The List:
  • Hard Case Container: I have used a Ziplock baggie in the past to shave a few ounces, but prefer the harder case to protect the contents. I have broken too many items to justify the weight difference.
  • Tweezers
  • Small Mirror: It can also double as an emergency signal device.
  • Moleskin
  • Duct Tape Strips :attach these to the outside of case in a few layers.
  • Neosporin Antibacterial  Cream
  • Knuckle Band-aid
  • Large Band-aid
  • Butterfly Closures
  • Pencil nub and paper for notes
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Tylenol ( 1 per day of trip ): fever reducer and pain reliever
  • Aspirin ( 1 per day of trip ): fever reducer and anti-inflammation drug
  • Benadryl if allergic to bees and wasps
  • Alcohol swabs: doubles as eye glass cleaner

Monday, March 12, 2012

Indian Creek - Buffalo National River

The trail to Indian Creek is very well marked from Kyle's Landing. Just follow the beaten path upstream and look for the markers.
The first part is a scramble and lots of photo opportunities.
At one point, you can either keep heading into the creek and eventually get stalled or hike up onto the bluff line. I chose to head up the creek and see the waterfalls.
Why should I miss the water action?

Life is good in the woods.


   I had a pleasant surprise yesterday while looking through the blog stats...I am listed on a blog roll that I knew nothing about. Deliberate Independance had my site on her/their blog reading list. Thanks. We share a lot of the same ideals and seem to be kindred spirits. A homestead, independence, living within our means, and the satisfaction of hard work all some of our shared values. Check her out and click through a few links if possible. TIP: I like to right-click and open in a new tab, that way I don't lose the page I really want to be on. 
 So, check out someone's blog list and see what you might find.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quick Update

My lovely wife and I got back from Eureka Springs, Arkansas on Saturday evening. We went down there to celebrate our anniversary, it's been a good eight years. We also made a long detour, and went by Tyler Bend that is on the Buffalo National River. It was a scouting trip and a trip down memory lane, we were sizing up the area to introduce our kids to river camping and canoeing. That will be in a few years though...The smallest needs to listen better before we go out on the water.

Lets see, in the future I have a review of the hotel that we stayed in this weekend. I'll have to get MRE Monday going again....I have really bombed on keeping up on that. It's not the lack of MREs, it's the time to post. We are planning a quick trip to Florida for a few days to see some of our family. I'll have to work in a few posts on MREs since they have a few kids too. I need to post a review and recipe on canned Cheese Blend Powder from Emergency Essentials. I have math to figure, and a cost comparison to write for the cheesy noodles. The recipe still needs to be tweaked, but the reviews from the boys are excellent.

I also need to finish a few posts on the trip to the Buffalo National River in February. Two tips to post that my crew likes to use. Oh, and of course some photos.

Busy week with school, work, packing, and blogging.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kyle's Landing - Day and Night

This was our campsite along the Buffalo National River, those are our tents on the lower left. The bluff is named Buzzard Bluff, and yes, there was a family of turkey vultures that made it home. It was nice to watch them play on the updrafts.

The picture below was taken in the same spot facing a ninety degree turn counterclockwise.

 Can you name all of the planets in this picture? (This was one of LAW's favorite astronomy jokes).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 Star Food and 6 Star Scenery

Once again, another campfire recipe from the crew. This one is pretty straight forward...Steak and pan-fried potatoes. The cast iron skillet ( read: car camping ) was a nice addition to the trip.

The dinner was rounded out with loaf garlic bread,  sauteed burgundy mushrooms, and a Caesar salad kit. Each person got half a salad kit. There is something about the the taste of a salad out in the woods. They taste so much better.

The filets were 14 oz. monsters.  Once again the portable fire grates did an outstanding job. I am going to invest in one of these for the family outings.

Campsite Burgundy Mushrooms
Red Wine

  • Start by slicing the mushrooms and place in a skillet with a small amount of butter. 
  • The mushrooms will "juice up" while they cook.
  • Pour about half the juice out of the skillet when the mushrooms reach the halfway point.
  • Add about a half cup red wine and another small amount of butter.
  • Simmer the mushrooms and reduce the sauce to half. (TIP: Anytime you see reduce- simmer on low boil and it means to cook off the liquid. Instead of a reduction, try a slurry mix of corn starch and water.)

Here is a better picture of the day's work. This was my birthday meal after a hike up into Indian Creek.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Half a Six Pack

Here is some of what we carried.....Two .45 ACP and a 9mm.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Campfire Fajitas

Like I said in my earlier posts, we eat horribly when we go camping. This is one of my crew's recipe for Campfire Fajitas.

  • Raw Shrimp - deveined and shelled
  • Chicken Thighs - skinless and boneless
  • Flat Iron Steak
  • 2 Large red onions - (TIP: the red kind caramelize a lot better)
  • Baby Portabella Mushrooms
  • Any colored bell pepper besides green ( TIP: green bell peppers are immature and tasteless )
  • Tortillas ( TIP: Authentic fajitas are corn tortillas, only gringos like flour tortillas )
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Water (amount from taco seasoning package)
Do all of your preparation before starting this one skillet meal. Preferably before it gets dark, slice the mushrooms, thinly slice the red onions, and take the center out of the bell pepper and slice.

Cook the meats first except for the shrimp.

Remove the cooked meat from the grill and allow to slightly cool, enough to be able to slice into pieces. Place your biggest cast iron skillet onto the grill space, and add all of your vegetables. Cook for a few minutes then add the taco seasoning and water (amount called for on the package of seasoning).

When the onions begin to become translucent, add the meats and the shrimp into the skillet. It's time to serve when the shrimp is done. Depending on the heat of the grill, maybe 5 minutes. Hint: warm the tortillas so that they become pliable and don't fall apart.

We also had Black beans, several homemade hot sauces, shredded cheese, and sour cream. Life is good in the woods.

Friday, March 2, 2012


(© Buffalo National River Between Steele Creek and Kyles Landing - Feb. 25, 2012)

My backpacking Mentor always said,"Remember that most backpacking accidents happen at river crossings". My backpacking crew used to always joke at river crossing, and say "Remember..." and we would all laugh. That changed a few years ago on a cold February morning when the crew was trying to return to our vehicle from a wilderness trip.  It had snowed while we were in the back country and the river also rose while we camped at a dry shelter. We rested well before the first river crossing, because we knew once we got wet, it was non-stop hiking for generating body heat. One of our own got swept at our third of five river crossings, and the temperature was below freezing. Damn near killed a good friend. Remember...