Saturday, September 8, 2012

Family Preparedness

As some of you may know Kent and I are into preparedness for any contingency; so to motivate myself and share what I am doing each week I am writing this blog. Here are some recent activities:

I have baked brownies in the sun oven a couple- maybe three times. They've turned out just great. If the electricity goes out for long I can still make comfort food.

Mmm-Mmm Better Brownies
Original recipe makes 1 9x9 inch pan
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease & flour a 9x9 inch baking pan or use parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Toothpick test about 2 ½ inches from edge.

Today was my first time baking a loaf of whole wheat bread in it.
I adjusted the oven position toward the sun to maintain 350 degrees. I had read on-line that the bread wouldn't brown up as well in a sun oven, but as you can see, it definately did!

One Loaf Whole Wheat Bread
Makes aproximately a 1.75 lb. loaf
1 cup warm water (temperature is about like a baby’s bath water)
1 ½ tsp. SAF instant yeast
2 tbls. oil
2 tbls. honey
2 1/3 cups *Freshly Milled Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Vital Wheat Gluten
1 tsp. Dough Enhancer
1 tsp. Real salt
2 tsp. liquid lecithin (optional)
*may need additional Freshly Milled Whole Wheat Flour

PROOF YEAST: In a small bowl combine the warm water, yeast and honey and let stand in warm place 5-10 minutes until yeast bubbles up to make sure the yeast is active.
Meanwhile, combine 2 2/3 cup of the wheat flour, Vital Wheat Gluten, Dough Enhancer and salt in large mixing bowl (or in an electric mixing bowl). Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour the yeast mixture, oil and lecithin (optional) into the well of dry ingredients. Mix all wet ingredients slowly pulling in the flour mixture from the sides of the well until smooth.
ADDITIONAL FLOUR: The amount of flour you add next will depend on the moisture and protein levels in your wheat. Add the flour until the dough doesn’t stick to your floured finger when you “tap” it lightly. You might stop stirring and tap the dough gently with your floured finger occasionally to see if it sticks. If it does just add a little more flour.
Knead the dough on surface dusted with flour for 5-10 minutes until gluten forms. **Let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to one hour or until doubled. Then punch it down and form dough into one loaf to place into a 4x6 greased loaf pan. When it has doubled in size again in the loaf pan you should be able to put a small dent in the side of the loaf with your finger and the dent will not come back out, or it will come back out very slowly.
Place loaf into the preheated sun oven or if baking indoors a cool oven (not preheated).
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Keep rotating the sun oven to keep the temperature up to 350 degrees. Remove baked bread from oven onto cooling rack. If desired, brush butter over top of loaf. Let cool slightly before cutting with serrated edged knife.
**Proofing Tip:
Place dough to rise in an oven with the oven light turned on, this brings the oven temperature up to around 100 degrees, the desired temperature for rising dough.

Here is another idea I found in a book titled Nuclear War Survival Skills. You can download it free from the internet. Last week I made this 2-handled fan for sheltering-in-place so you can circulate the air inside your shelter easily. Using this simple fan you will be able to pull some oxygen back into the shelter to replace the carbon dioxide being exhaled into the shelter by its occupants. The first symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning are a headache and labored breathing. You might want to make a couple of these fans.

You will need:
a hammer; wood saw; Needle nose Pliers; lightweight wire; work gloves

For the frame you will need:
2 dowels or sticks 14 inches long- about ¾ inches wide or in diameter
2 dowels or sticks 22 inches long- ¾ inches wide or in diameter
4 pieces of wire or strong string about 15 inches each
4 very small nails

For the blade you will need:
Glue; scissors; 1 piece of old pillowcase or bed sheet cut to about 16 x 18 inches

You may want to use work gloves. Start by making the frame. Measure and mark the wooden rods to the designated length and cut with a saw. (Two 14 inches and two 22 inches) Mark the 22 inch long pieces at 6 inches from the end.

This is where you will nail the crosspiece which leaves two 6 inch handles. Be consistent so that the cross pieces are nailed to the same sides of the long pieces.
Use one very small nail to connect each corner;

Then tie securely with wire or string.

Now you can attach a cloth blade to your frame. Use waterproof construction glue and attach a small piece of fabric to the sticks of the frame and let it dry.

For comfort using the fan wear lightweight gloves or you can do as I did and tape the handles with Duct tape. You're now better prepared for sheltering-in-place.


  1. This is great. You have done your research and it is wonderful that you are taking the time to share your knowledge. I've eaten your solar oven brownies and they are delish! Good job on the bread.

  2. Rick and I would love the directions on making the sun oven or how much do you charge to make us one! great tips! We all need to Prepare in case of many types of disasters...from losing your job to losing electicity and water and the way of life we call shopping is taken away!