This is a guest post by DocJ and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
As many readers of this forum know, I had become a Vegan for health reasons two years ago. This article is not to influence anyone to take similar steps. I have found over the last two years many new skills that enhance my ability to provide for myself, my family, and my neighbors. Simply writing down a few recipes will not pass on skills following the tenant of “Give a man a fish…..” The first article I want to write about is my application of what I learned from a trained botanist in Oregon named Carol Depp, author of The Resilient Gardener. I will include a couple of recipes. A good many I use are copyrighted so I will give links to several good sources.
Getting calories into the diet means a few changes in gardening or buying practices. A survival garden is not about growing salad vegetables. It is about growing staples. Carol Depp proposes 5 stables to have in the diet: corn, dried beans, winter squash, potatoes, and eggs. She proposes that we raise these on our own land, leased land, shared land, or whatever arrangement that can be made. The first food she discusses is why she chooses corn besides the fact she cannot eat wheat or similar grains due to Celiac disease. Corn is relatively easy to grow and to process for storage. Grass grains grow easily, but are subject to being destroyed with late rains, etc. Grass grains also require threshing and winnowing before storage. Varieties of corn have been developed to grow in different regions of the country.
The corn Carol grows is a flint type suitable for cornmeal and corn flour. Flint corn comes in many colors and varies in taste. One of the best tasting varieties for me was a blue cornmeal I found at the food coop. Yes, I bought some seed to try my own blue cornmeal this year. I have yellow seed corn for flint corn for planting in the garden plus I buy flint corn by the 25 pound bag at our food cooperative for just over one dollar a pound. I am keeping my bag in the deep freezer to extend shelf life as corn is a high fat grain which will get rancid with age. This year, we will be building an old-fashioned corn crib for this summer’s crop.
- I purchased a corn sheller on Amazon as my 73 year old hands will not be able to shell my corn. Of course, I put a good grain mill up there in priorities with a good water filter in prepping supplies.
- Remember that cornmeal sold in this country is GMO. If GMO is a concern of yours and you cannot grow your own, buy from a health food cooperative.
Now for the vegetable that is most peoples favorite that can be eaten at any meal in countless ways. Potatoes are classified as Irish or Sweet. Northern gardens usually have the Irish potato growing in them while Southern gardens usually have the sweet potatoes or jams growing in them. More and more people are growing both types in their gardens. I grow both here in NW Arkansas. Potatoes are long-storage keepers making a good prepper food.
Potatoes are higher in protein than any grain. I have found store bought Irish potatoes do not keep as well as home grown ones. Irish potatoes can be canned or dried very easily. I prefer drying so I can add to my soups and slow cooker. The texture is excellent. Be sure not to over dry to the point the potato begins turning a little brown. If unable to grow your own Irish potato, buy local and use the dehydrator. In the fall, potatoes are very cheap. Now sweet potatoes have become a real favorite once I learned to just steam them and mash. If the garden is small, sweet potatoes now come in a bush variety. Store bought sweet potatoes and yams keep beautifully in the house. I have a second bathroom I do not use. I put some shelves in there and the sweet potatoes and squash keep very well. Keep storage area dark and cool.
Carol’s next choice of vegetables is winter squash. Winter squash is filled with nutrients and carotenes. They can be eaten in many ways and not just mashed. I will try to remember to include a recipe or link to some recipe ideas in a later post. Store bought winter squash keeps beautifully right alongside the potatoes. Winter squash varies on how long it will keep; the harder the shell, the longer the storage. Acorn and spaghetti squash need to be eaten first, then the butternut types, and finally, the Hubbard types. The blue Hubbard will keep 6 months or more. All winter squash can also be frozen for the deep freeze or dried in a dehydrator, but fresh is the best. Most of these squashes are heirloom-types which means you can keep their seeds for next year’s garden.
Carol’s fourth vegetable choice is dried beans. There are lots of cookbooks published covering nothing but dried beans. I have bought them in one and two pound bags at the store, in 25 pound bags at the food cooperative, and I have grown dried beans in my garden. Some of my favorites are black turtle, chickpeas, small red, any white bean, and a 15 bean soup mixture. This last year, I bought an half ounce of a special variety of seed for $5.95. Expensive! I planted it and let it mature for seed. This year, I will be planting almost a pound of seed. I will keep half of my crop for meals and half for seed in next year’s garden. This is a new skill for me. Now I feel confident about buying small packets of seed and making my own collection.
Another thought on dried beans: To get the most production in the garden, try pole beans and half runner types. Beans and rice are known to all to be vegetarian food, but beans can be made into a burger, a meatloaf, a bowl full of meatballs, a batch of brownies, a gravy, or a white sauce. A can of white beans added to a batch of pasta makes for a protein powerhouse. Italians use the cannellini beans in their pasta dishes. As I cannot have ground meat, I buy TVP which is closely related to tofu. With a little water and soy sauce to rehydrate, I can have a Manwich sandwich which I love.
Burgers can be simple or fancy. This is an easy one:
- 1 can drained black beans mashed with a fork. Do not make mushy.
- Add to beans about ½ cup of quick oats
- 2 tablespoons of ketchup
- 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder
Mix thoroughly. Make 4 balls and flatten into patties. Bake at 400 on a none-stick pan for a full 10 minutes. Carefully flip to second side and bake for another 5 minutes or until surface feels dry to the touch. The center should remain soft.
My favorite lunch soup:
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can of drained corn
- 1 cup of salsa of choice
Pulse beans and corn 2-3 times in food processor. Add salsa. Heat and eat. A meal in less than 5 minutes.
My family’s favorite crock pot meal:
Before bed, put a pound of 15 bean soup mix in the crockpot. Cover with water with about 2-3 inches above the beans. Cook on low overnight. First thing in the morning adjust water level and turn heat to high for a couple of hours. Lower the heat to low about mid-afternoon. When the beans look about ready to serve, empty about a 15 ounce jar of salsa to the beans. Serve with cornbread. I have kept this pot going for 3 days on warm. Each day the beans are better than the day before. The soup mix has lentils in it which is a super protein source.
Bean Dip for tortilla chips
- 1 can of chickpeas or bean of choice
Put beans in food processor with onion and garlic powder, a healthy squirt of mustard, and lemon juice. Everything is by personal taste. Process until creamy and enjoy. Healthy snack for the kids and cheap.
One of the most important beans to grow for resilient gardening is not mentioned by Carol is the soybean. Soybeans are so easy to grow and a very high protein food. They can be turned into soy milk when “regular” milk runs out or out of choice. The cost is very low. From soy milk, one can make tofu and with the right seasonings make a good meat substitute. Soybeans have a shorter shelf life because of the fat content.
Now I keep soybeans in the freezer like the corn, but SHTF, I may lose the freezer. I will need to deal with it then, but hoping with good storage, I can get a year of shelf life. Soy milk is nothing but soaked soybeans processed in a food processer with water and then strained through cheese cloth. If drinking, add some type of sweetener and some vanilla, chocolate, or flavoring of choice. If cooking a savory dish, leave out the flavorings. Here are is a couple of links to show how to make both soy milk and almond milk. The method is the same.
Here is an idea I found in the comments for the almond fiber.
“I put the almond meal over cookies before baking. It’s like adding hidden almonds to your cookies.”
Now for the tofu:
Tofu is soybeans (soymilk) and nigari. Nigari is a coagulant used with soymilk to separate the whey from the solids. I found nigari on Amazon for $5.39 for a pound package. It will take about 1 tablespoon per batch. Nigari is basically a salt, magnesium chloride and being a salt will store forever. Tofu has no taste. It is the most bland food I know. The secret to tofu is using seasoning; dry or in marinades. Tofu can be crumbled, cubed, sliced. It can be baked, deep fried, or stir fry. It can be made into chicken nuggets or into a slice of “chicken” breast. It can even be made to taste like fish for a fish sandwich. Here are two links showing the process of making tofu. The first is using electrical appliances and the second one is using off the grid techniques.
The last food Carol suggests for a resilient gardener is eggs. She keeps ducks for her eggs, but eggs are eggs. They are high in protein and one hen may lay 5 to 6 eggs a week. I love keeping chickens, but I cannot eat the eggs or the chicken if I want to keep my blood work normal. Staying healthy and off medications is the best prepping one can do. Neighbors and friends take the eggs love my eggs. I keep a broody breed because if SHTF and we have no electricity, the hens will do what they were bred to do. Yes, they have a rooster with them named “George.” I expect them to keep the flock growing. Eventually, I hope to sell chicks, pullets, and fryers. They will make a good trading source in bad times.
I will write another post with more recipes and sources for the beans and the tofu. I will also address how a vegan can bake without eggs and oils/butter. I will also share with you a chef who has written 4 cookbooks. They are all vegan and every recipe could be made with what we have in preps in 30 minutes or less. She is amazing.
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of Fish Antibiotics courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a Survival Puck courtesy of SurvivalPuck.com and a SurvivalistBlog.net Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.
Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014