New Gear and Food Finds

We’ve had some good items come across recently, from gear to food.

NASAR (The National Association For Search And Rescue) has out two guides that are pack ready. Essential Knots and Basic Navigation, the guides are palm sized and ultra light and most of all…..waterproof. The guides fold out similar to a map, and are more than worth the cost. Full color, the guides walk you quickly through what you need to know – without fluff. Want to teach someone how to use a topo map correctly and how to use a compass? This is it. Need to know how to make a basic anchor off a tree? Yes, you can learn it quickly. Every knot is shown in diagram that you need to know.

They can be found on Amazon as well: Navigation and Knots.

Smoked Salmon Sport Pouch. We found this treat at QFC, a chain owned by Kroger, in the canned fish section. It’s US caught, and packed in the US, not shipped to Asia for this. Taste wise, it is great. Firm texture. It’s good for both eating by itself (with crackers) or added into meals. Not the cheapest treat, but well worth it.

Alpine Aire Chocolate Cranberry Crunch trail mix. This was a fun trail mix, and I think I liked it even more than the Mango Fire I had previously.

The apples and cranberries pair well with the almonds and pepitas, and multiple types of chocolate. Easy to grab on the way out-of-town, it’s ready to go. I love a simple mix, where there is many choices of flavors.

FTC Disclaimer: Some of the products reviewed in this post were sent to us by the manufacturers for potential review. All thoughts expressed our are our own.

On The Dehydrator

Some months my hard-working dehydrator runs often, other months it sits tucked away. This has been a busy period for it. It’s time to fill the pantry back up, to replenish what I have used, but also to be prepared for winter and power outages.

Pasta is the item I dry the most of, outside of dried fruit.

Why? Once precooked and dried, you have nearly “instant” pasta on hand. It dries to about the same size as before, so is easy to bag up for trips. If cooking a long type, break in halves or thirds before cooking. To rehydrate, bring enough water to boil to cover the pasta. An average serving per person is 4 ounces. Add in pasta to boiling water (or cover it with the water in a freezer bag or mug), and let sit insulated/covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off any remaining water (which won’t be starchy). And yes, you can do gluten-free pasta as well!

Cook pasta as normal at home, just cut off 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time (it will finish cooking when you rehydrate it). Drain, rinse and dehydrate at 135°. Check after two hours and break apart any clumps. Rotate trays to ensure even drying.

Advantages?

  • Less fuel used (you only need to boil water, add pasta in, and let sit insulated for 10 to 15 minutes. It saves about 7 minutes fuel use for each meal.
  • Smaller cooking pot. You need a lot less water to cook in as well.
  • No overflowing pot or starchy water to deal with.

A fun treat for children is dehydrating mini marshmallows. It’s a lot cheaper than buying the tiny Kraft ones (if you can even find those).

Spread a bag of mini marshmallows on a couple of trays, separating as much as you can. Some brands are stickier than others. Dry at 135°, checking after two hours. Break up clumps as needed, and rotate the trays so they are evenly dried. You want them marshmallows to be dry on the outside, and preferably dry inside. The drier, the longer the storage time.

Add to hot cocoa in camp, or for kids? Let them add it to their tail mix!

~Sarah

Harnessing The Sun On Adventures

Kirk and I have undertaken urban homesteading as (more than a) hobby the past few years. When we moved a little over 3 years ago to our current house, we finally had an open and very sunny area to work with. Recent projects the past three years have included water tanks, bee hives, and a greenhouse we built together. Which brought us to the quandary on solar panels. We’d love to cover our steep roof with them, but most likely the payback won’t be great, and it will take forever, especially as we live so far North (we are parallel with Mount Rainier). This is a huge issue in the darker months (for example today we will have less than 10 hours “light” and only half of that is even good enough). (Side note: we did have a couple of companies come out to give bids, and all agreed we didn’t have a great layout for solar up high – and that’d be 15 years to payoff)

But we could play with portable solar panels that actually work. Ones that we can take with us on travels, put the panel on the truck’s roof when in camp, and use it to fill a battery, so we can power things at night. That was feasible, and well within our reach. The entire set-up we have, is entirely portable. During the summer for example, we run our greenhouse on solar, and as well we charge all our devices off solar. We can’t run an entire household, but we can make it work for the rest of our needs. This is important to remember: if you are using solar while traveling and for example, power all mobile phones, laptops and various other hungry items, these are all things you can keep running without being tied to a grid.

Some of the parts we use:

Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator:

GZ

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel:

GZ2

Goal Zero 12″ MC4 Solar to 8mm Adapter Cable:

GZ3

One Pair Black + Red Solar Panel Extension Cable Wire MC4 Connector 10 AWG or 12 AWG:

GZ4

All combined….leads to this:

We have a deck box we repurposed for this, and it holds deep cycle batteries (these are not fancy, nor expensive, but work well) for storing in, along with inverters and various other items. We also keep in it battery charger bases for all our power tools, so it’s easy to snap those in to charge.

At some point we are installing the panels on a setup, but as with all things in life, we haven’t had the time. So for now the panels are on a table (well, here on the hot tub we got rid of), and we shift them as needed to get full sun, as the months change. The big advantage to this is our panels are easily disconnected and taken along on adventures.

Even make a milkshake when you are sick….and it’s winter. And a huge storm knocked the power out for days.

Can you do something similar? Yes! Is it worth it? YES. Being able to get off the grid, even a bit, is huge. You become more aware of how much energy you use, but also ways to reduce it. And you become less fearful of what you would do without electricity on hand.