issue 116 – letters – self-reliance – preparedness – homestead

Letters To The Editor

From Issue #116

Meltdown and bailout

Having received this issue a few weeks back and finally getting a chance to read the Last Word from Issue #115 (Jan/Feb 2009) I was struck by the simplicity that could have prevented the current meltdown. I have a 14-year-old stepson. He is given a set amount each weekend that is enough money to pay for his school lunches for the week and give him a small amount of pocket money. If he goes to the mall and spends it all on something that is not my problem. The money was there if he could not be responsible with it when it is gone it is gone. I refuse to bail him out by giving him more money. If it costs more than he is willing to spend that is what saving your money is all about.

If governments acted like a tough love parent and kept their hands out of our pockets this could have been avoided. Yes, the less efficient companies would have failed. So what? You’re in what is called business, not what is called bail me out. Show the backbone I show to my stepson when someone comes whining for more. Suck it up, companies, your mommies are not in government.

Jamie Allen
Sacramento, California

Making softer whole grain bread

Just got my first issue, #114 and appreciate the home made bread articles, and the beautiful illustrations. Regarding “Whole Grain Breads” by Richard Blunt, my family also prefers soft bread like you get from the store, for sandwiches. They said my bread was fine for toast or with soup, but would not eat it for sandwiches. So I have discovered the secret of making my own whole grain “balloon” bread for them. I have a bread maker that will make a two pound loaf. I use the recipe that came with it for whole grain two-pound loaf, and adjust it as I wish for amounts of which flours I use. Sometimes I use one cup of white, and sometimes all whole grains. I use bread machine yeast. Set on dough cycle. When done, I knead out all bubbles. Divide in half and put into two greased regular size loaf pans. Cover and let rise, not double, but triple or more. Then bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Butter tops for soft crust. Presto, you have really soft bread for sandwiches, with nice texture. Thank you for the great magazine, I wish I?had discovered it when you first started.

Nancy Hoppe
Kirkland, Washington

Recipe for barley bread

To my fellow readers of this fine magazine, lovers of good food, and Miz Claire Wolfe.

I have created a recipe for a good barley bread, which is simple in production and goes well with almost everything. It is as follows:

1/3 tsp. fine Kosher salt
1-1½ tsp. fast rise yeast
6 oz. dry-roasted barley flour
16 oz. unbleached white flour
8 oz. whole red wheat flour
2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
enough water to form elastic dough

First, sift together the first five components.

Add the oil and mix thoroughly with one hand ‘till crumbly.

Slowly add enough water to produce an elastic dough.

Preheat oven to 400° F and allow dough to rise.

Punch down and form into 18 balls and roll on floured surface to 1/8 inch.

Cook on an iron or ceramic comal (flat griddle) placed inside the oven prior to rolling out the dough.

Once cooked, it will have a similar texture to pitas or flour tortillas. Remove from oven, press with towel to force steam to escape, then stack under towels to keep soft. Repeat.

Note: all measures by are volume.

I sincerely hope that all who partake of this slightly addicting bread enjoy the experience to the fullest.

P.S. I wish the Hardyville column was in the printed magazine.

Ryan Hobbs
Fayetteville, North Carolina

Love your magazine

I love your magazine & books & have used many ideas out of them. As a widow living on the edge in Montana, a gal must learn to be creative & have a sense of humor too. Today, as the snow piles up to nearly 5 ft., I’m sitting here in my kitchen writing to you. Smelling a grand pot of beans cooking on the stove, bread baking in the oven, and am planning out my garden for the Spring! Thanks for all you do.

Carol Jones
Libby, Montana

We love your magazine! We hope to one day live off of our 42 acres here in North Central Florida without having to rely on grocery stores. We already butcher our chickens and occasional cow, our garden gets better every year (we have the most beautiful tomato plants right now loaded with fruit, almost ready to harvest and it’s about the middle of December!). We also milk our jersey cow and alpine goats and hope to soon sell the extra milk. My husband is in the process of building a new milking parlor so it will be more convenient to milk, store, and clean-up. We have 3 kids that love to help out and share in the responsibilities of the farm life.

Stephanie and Andrew Chiappini
Melrose, Florida

You will go to hell

I have read “Can America be Saved from Stupid People.” All I can say is that I am extremely upset with you. I resented you anti-Catholic attitude regarding the 17th century. Galileo admited that he doubted his own theory.

I am not happy that you divorced and remarried. You are wrong! I will pray for you. I am extremely upset with you. You curse too. You will go straight to hell!

Discustingly yours,

Vincent J. Scire, Jr.
Valley Stream, New York

Environmental and survival movements can be friends

I am a new reader of Backwoods Home Magazine. My husband brought it home from the grocery store and I have to admit I thought he was ridiculous, but then I read the entire issue several times, and we have made many lifestyle choices because of your magazine"storing food, buying chickens, learning to make jam, scavenging lumber, making all of my own Christmas gifts this year, and making plans for solar power and our own well. My next goal is to bake my own bread!

I just wanted to put in a plug for the idea that the environmental and the survival movements can be friends! They complement each other SO well! I have always considered myself an environmentalist, but am intrigued and excited about the ways that I could not just love the earth but live off of it and conserve it at the same time. Thanks for all of the info and inspiration!

Matthew and Molly Rose
Twain Harte, California

I agree with you, although I consider BHM more of a preparedness and how-to magazine and not a survivalist magazine. People who live on the land are natural environmentalists because it is in our best interests. We make do with what we have, throw nothing away, not even a scrap of food waste (it goes to the chickens).

We sometimes have a problem with big city environmentalists who either don’t understand the wild or ride environmental issues like a political horse in an underhanded attempt to gain political power. But you’re right"honest environmentalists and the preparedness types who read this magazine have an awful lot in common. " Dave

Jackie Clay book out soon

Thank you so much for putting all of the Starting Over series in one place. Now if you would only go back and pull all the “Ask Jackie” and any other articles and put them all together I’d greatly appreciate it.

I have bought your magazine for years, you have many wonderful writers and interesting articles, but Jackie Clay is still my first read.

I really thought you outdid yourself on Issue #111 and #114 was also very good.

Jean Kelley
Tacoma, Washington

Hopefully by next issue we’ll have brought out Jackie Clay’s big gardening and canning book, tentatively titled, “Growing and Canning Food.” Jackie’s been working on it for months. " Dave

Don’t get stranded in winter

I’ve been a subscriber for several years, and have the following feedback on the “Don’t Get Stranded In Winter” article from your Jan/Feb 2009 issue.

Freeze plugs: The primary purpose of the holes these go in is to drain the sand (from the cores) after the engine block is cast. Protection against freezing is a secondary purpose, and should not be relied on. Also, while steel plugs corrode more readily than brass, brass brings its own problem: copper and its alloys have a stronger tendency to grab electrons than iron or aluminum, so brass freeze plugs increase the rate at which the water passages in your cylinder block corrode (although with the plug being much smaller than the block, this is unlikely to be the limiting factor in engine life).

Engine block heaters: The article mentions that block heaters are a problem for off-grid people due to their high power consumption. There are fuel-burning block heaters available (e.g. the Espar Hydronic series, and the Webasto BlueHeat coolant heater, both of which have gasoline and diesel models), although they cost more than electric block heaters. These have no “outside the vehicle” connection required, so in addition to not draining an off-grid power system, one of these will let you run your block heater when you are away from home with no electrical outlet available (e.g. out in the bush on a hunting trip).

Winter specific “must-have” items:

– A bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt, or kitty litter (good for added traction). While salt is used for de-icing pavement, it takes time to work, and the resulting slush gives even less traction than the original packed snow. Grit is a much better solution. Also, some of the “traction sand” available is so fine as to be virtually useless"you need fairly coarse (1/16″ to 1/8″) sand with sharp-edged grains (i.e. not the rounded grains from river-bottom sand). With kitty litter, you need the conventional (clay-type) litter, not the newer clumping or “pearls” type. Finally, don’t carry a bag of it" after you’ve opened the bag and used some, it can’t be re-closed properly, so it’s likely to spill all over the trunk of your vehicle. Instead, save and dry out some empty washer fluid jugs, and fill them with the grit.

– Jumper cables: Be sure to get a set that is both heavy-gauge (able to handle the current needs of a starter motor) and long enough to reach (you can’t always get the helper vehicle “nose to nose” with the dead one) "the 10 gauge 8 foot cables commonly included in automotive emergency kits are virtually useless. I carry a set of 6 gauge 16 foot cables (long enough to reach even if the dead vehicle is parked “nose-in” with other cars on both sides) in my car, and 2 gauge 20 foot cables in my work vehicle. Also, not all vehicles have a good ground easily accessible and within cable reach of the battery (last connection is made to a ground, **NOT** the negative battery terminal, on the dead vehicle, since a spark can ignite hydrogen gas). I have a “cheater cable”"simply a battery cable with the battery end replaced by a jumper cable clamp. Attaching this to the negative terminal of the dead battery provides a good electrical connection far enough away to avoid igniting the hydrogen gas. Finally, some jumper cables have a retractible “tongue” on their clamps for side-terminal batteries (used on GM vehicles), or you can get side-terminal adapters (look like a large spade lug with a tapered throat). Good to have even if your vehicle has a top-post battery"the other one might have side terminals.

Robert Wolff
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada

I appreciate your information regarding the use of these “sand drainage holes” in the casting process; I felt it best to use the common terminology for these items (freeze plugs) to avoid any confusion as to what the article was speaking to. The article states that the freeze plugs, either brass or steel, are not a 100% effective solution and that the block usually cracks anyway when the engine freezes, or that they rust away from too much water in the system in warmer weather. Proper maintenance of the coolant and its systems is the best way to keep any problems from occurring.

The information on the off-the-grid block heaters sounds good to me, as we all are always looking for new and better ways to get by during the colder months, as does the information concerning the traction material, jumper cables, and such. My article was almost eight pages long as it was, and was not intended to be all-encompassing, but rather a general discourse on some things a lot of auto and truck owners tend to overlook in the cold weather, and things that I have seen firsthand, based on my 20+ years’ experience in the auto repair industry, that can be used to avoid more costly repairs. I did recommend buying a “good” set of jumper cables, but in a pinch a “not quite so good set” is better than none at all. Usually, when using an inferior grade set of cables, you merely have to let the jumper vehicle charge the disabled vehicle’s battery for a little while before attempting to start it. Thank you for your interest and I appreciate your feedback.
" Len Torney

What a sausage!

As a health conscious sausage lover and my partner just a sausage lover, we recently tried the recipe in “Letters” (Issue# 98, Nov/Dec 2005) sent in by Bill Guiher. The combination of bulgur wheat, lean turkey, and spices makes exceptionally good sausage, good enough to satisfy any sausage lover. If Bill Guiher is still a reader we, as well as I am sure, others would like to share his spice mixtures that he uses to make Italian sausage, Bratwurst, and Kibbi.

Susan Ketchum and Austin Barnes
Yellville, Arkansas

We couldn’t get in touch with Bill about his spice mixtures, but we will reprint his original sausage recipe."Dave


1/3 cup bulgur wheat (whole cracked toasted wheat) soaked overnight in the fridge with 1 cup water (covered)
1¼ lb. extra lean ground turkey (white meat only)
2 Tbsp. rubbed sage
1 tsp. raw sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. fresh coarse ground black
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (adjust if you don’t like it too spicy)

Drain the bulgur and mix it well with all the spices. Add the turkey meat and mix well.

Separate into 10 or 12 equal patties and fry (covered) in a little olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side. You want it to be nice and brown on both sides, as aesthetically it just looks better if it’s a bit browner.

By changing the spice mixture I have also made Italian sausage, Bratwurst, and Kibbi, using the same basic meat/bulgur mix.

Comments are closed.