Don’t Panic

November 21, 2008

So it is written in large, friendly letters on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and so it shall be.

This is pretty much another disaster preparedness post. Again, scroll if it’s not your thing.

Vital stats: Dow down 445 to 7552 (down 2076 points since Mr. Obama was elected); silver down $0.36 to $9.32 an ounce; gas $1.76 a gallon.

There’s a lot there to panic about–even those of us who live simply and don’t have much or any debt do feel the tension of seeing our retirement plans dwindle for a few years. We’ll either bail out the American auto industry with taxpayer money (bad) or take even more of a hit in manufacturing (also bad). Not even the pundits seem to understand what’s going on.

Still, panic fixes nothing. Panicky people make bad decisions. Panicky governments throw the people’s wealth at problems with no understanding of how to fix them. You cannot control the Dow. You cannot control the worth of precious metals. You cannot control what Mr. Obama may or may not do. What you can do is to strive for greater self-sufficiency. Pay off your debts. Dave Ramsey has awesome advice for this. Cut back on lifestyle so that you can pay debts, save some cash, and store supplies for you and your family–food, how-to books, water filters, health supplies, clothes, weapons and ammo, etc. Develop skills–learn to hunt, fish, grow your own food to the extent you can, can, knit, sew. People in the last Great Depression had the advantage of living close to the land–we have the advantage of suspecting what is coming and having the time and health to prepare for it.

There’s a preparedness tip coming up, but first a cautionary note. This is something that I’ve seen repeated on Rawles and du Toit’s blogs, and it bears repeating as times get tougher.  I am a Christian (yep, true, I’m not a pure Objectivist), and I believe people have a moral obligation to help each other out (on the other hand, I don’t believe the government has the right to coerce people to help each other out, or to confiscate people’s wealth for redistribution). I believe in helping others out. I post these tips on this blog, and I give to churches and charities. However, my charity is not a suicide pact. Some people know I have preparations.  They should know this–except for those I have invited to come, if the absolute worst occurs, I will turn others away. We’ve all heard the “joke”–‘Well, if the zombie apocalypse happens, I’ll come to your place.’ No, if you’re not invited, you won’t. Most all people who prep do not have enough to provide for everyone. That’s why so many preppers work so hard to educate others. It’s part of the self-sufficiency thing. Be prepared to do for yourself. It’s not that hard, and it’s extremely satisfying. Teach a man to fish, be an ant and not a grasshopper, and all those other cliches are true. If you are reduced to trying to join up with someone who didn’t previously invite you, be prepared to offer something–money, skills, food, shelter, supplies, etc. You’ve seen photos of Katrina refugees walking into the Superdome with nothing–not a bottle of water, a toothbrush, or food–don’t be like them. It’s a scary, panicky, powerless place to be. You are at the mercy of others, or of the state.

Preparedness tip of the day: Bread. Bread is so key–a good, simple, whole wheat bread (ideally with a little butter), some protein, and some carbs will keep you going on the cheap. If you’re into basic preparedness, store plenty of flour (all purpose or wheat, your choice), yeast, and salt. If you’re a serious prepper, buy whole wheat by the 5-gallon bucket and invest in a sturdy hand grinder. If the weather goes bad for a long time, or the stores empty out, this no-knead bread will make you happy happy. It’s a recipe from the Mother Earth News adapted from the New York Times. There’s a loaf of it rising in the Gulch’s kitchen right now. Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf.

  • 1/4 t active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups flour (your choice)
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • Cornmeal, wheat bran, or flour for dusting

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. Dough will look shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rise at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature (room temperature in the Gulch is cool, so I let mine rise on an electric heating pad turned to low–a gas oven with a pilot light also works).

2. Dough is ready when surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and put dough on it. Sprinkle with flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for 1 or 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (I use a cast-iron dutch oven, but you can use an enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic pot) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t sweat it–it will even out as it bakes.

5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is browned. Remove the bread from the dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Dense, dense, but satisfying and good. Awesome with soup or stew.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: