Fun with eggs

Have you ever actually eaten powdered eggs? I know theres all sortsa stories from military folk talking about the horrors of such tings, but those stories are also usually pretty dated. Food preservation (and fabrication) technology has changed a bit.

Being an unapologetic bargain hunter, I always peruse the ‘marked down’ shopping carts in the back of the store where my local supermarket dumps the stuff it wants to sell now. Usually it’s things no one wants like sugar-free cake frosting, squirrel-flavored olive oil, dill pickle flavored barbecue sauce, and other ‘food’ items that are obviously not moving and taking up valuable shelf real estate.

So, the other day as I was sifting through the cart I found this:

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My history with powdered eggs is a long one. I originally wanted some back in the late ’90s but had no idea for a source. I found this particular brand, Deb El, but found out they did not offer any larger quantity of them than these cans and some industrial-sized 50# bags that I was in no position to repackage. A few years later I discovered ‘Wakefield’ powdered eggs (an excellent product) but its availability was spotty since it was basically manufacturer overruns from .gov contracts (they can sometimes be found through REI). Finally, I found that Mountain House offered #10 cans of eggs and I picked up a few cases of that. Later on I found that Augason Farms offers whole eggs in the far more convenient #2 size cans…and scrambled egg mix in the larger #10 cans. I got a buncha those as well.

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The first time I used powdered eggs I was extremely skeptical… the powder, when mixed with water, made this foul-smelling, orange-colored, pancake-batter-consistency mix that looked amazingly unappetizing. but, after a couple minutes in a frying pan with some butter it was like some sort of culinary magic trick – the orange turned into that lovely scrambled-egg-yellow that we all know and love, the smell was just like regular scrambled eggs, and the texture, while quite uniform, was also very similar. In fact, the giveaway that fresh eggs were not used came from the even coloring of the eggs….’real’ scrambled eggs have random flecks of white among the yellow. These were an even yellow across the board. But….absolutely delicious and indistinguishable, taste wise, from fresh eggs.

The powdered eggs are a bit more orange-y colored that fresh eggs, but in the half-light of your average apocalypse-induced power failure you probably won’t notice the difference. However, here’s a comparison of the powdered egs [first photo] cooking versus the fresh eggs cooking [second photo]:

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Takes about two  minutes to cook. Powdered:

IMG_1928Fresh: IMG_1931

Side by side on a plate you can see the color difference. (Too be fair, I used much more butter with the powdered eggs and virtually none with the fresh, so that may contribute to the color difference.) However texture is identical:

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The powdered eggs come out looking not as good as the bright-yellow fresh eggs, but they have a far greater shelf life and lend themselves to mass feeding. Ever go to a hotel that has a breakfast bar and you can get all the omelettes you want? Notice the cook often has a juice bottle or container full of egg mix he pours or dips from? Yeah. Thats powdered egg (or liquid egg mix from powder) that he’s using.

So what good is this stuff? Well, for starters, if your breakfast includes scrambled eggs, french toast, or anything that requires an egg….well, heres your egg. No refrigeration necessary (although refrigerating eggs is, I am told, a mostly American notion. In Europe eggs are left at room temperature.) When Hurricane Sandy knocks out the power and the morning promises a long day of grunt work it’d be nice to be able to have scrambled eggs to go with the canned bacon, canned hash, or other breakfast fare. (According to my research, a post apocalyptic breakfast can be pretty impressive – scrambled eggs, hash, bacon, breakfast cereal with milk, oatmeal, canned fruit, orange drink, and coffee….a better breakfast than I have now.) And, of course, anything that requires egg like pasta dough, breaded foods, etc, etc, are going to be needing this stuff as well.

So…for those of you who may be curious about powdered eggs but don’t feel like cracking open a $40 #10 can of them for an experiment…well, I risked $4 to show you what to expect:

My suggestion to you? Buy the long term eggs in the smaller cans (because once you open a can of powdered eggs it’ll start drawing moisture and if you dont use it soon it’ll cake solid). Don’t expect it to taste/look exactly like fresh eggs, but don’t be terrified about it either. Its about the same quality as fastfood/breakfast bar/college cafeteria eggs.

 

That long, quiet nap that guns take…………

There was a time in my life when I had very few guns to my name. I can recall some money-tight college days where my personal collection was whittled down to three or four guns. Nowadays, its a different story. I’m not going to say how many because telling folks how many guns you own is a lot like bragging about the size of your johnson – unless youre ready to show it off to disbelievers, shut up.

Anyway, I’ve hit the point where I’m getting too much gun clutter around the house. Quite a few of these guns are ‘just in case’ guns. Tertiary-(or more)-level copies of things I already have. As such, there is the very high likelihood that once they get an initial once-over and range trip to verify function they will probably not be handled again for many years. So, really, it’s time to put some of these things away in deep storage.

My usual choice fo packing away things long term are Hardigg and Pelican cases. For handguns, I rather like the Pelican 1170 case for holding a handgun and a couple magazines. Theyre about $40 and worth every penny. But if you’re going to salt away a large quantity of handguns, it can add up in a hurry. As I was diddybopping around the internet, I found this..pre-cut foam inserts that turn a .30 or .50 caliber ammo can into a gun case. Since ammo cans are still pretty reasonable, this shaves the cost down and they stack nicely.

Here’s a couple of reviews elsewhere..here and here.

For my intended purpose, which is sealing up a pistol, some mags, and maybe a little ammo, sticking it on a shelf in my basement and forgetting about it for a decade….this should be perfect. For those of us who may need to sock away a pistol for some long term planning, these may be a good choice.

 

 

Update on space blanket from earlier post

So, a couple posts back i was commenting that while I liked the space blanket I was critical of its lack of certain features. Well, I guess I need to look harder next time because the company that makes it also makes a version more conducive to what i was doing the other day. A hooded version with pockets for your hands to help keep it wrapped around you. And, naturally, conveniently available offa Amazon. (Space Brand Sportsman’s Hooded Blanket/Poncho: Olive, Box)

Guess I’ll take the ones I already have and bump them down to secondary/backup status and replace them with this handoer version. (“Handier”…see what I did there?)

I should also point out that 9 times out of ten, when Im out in the sticks the one thing I use these sorts of tings for more than anything else is….to keep my but dry when I sit on a log or on the ground. I usually just take the folded product out, unfold it enough to be about the size of a phone book, and park it under my butt so I I can sit on wet/snowy ground. Hey, multi-taskers for the win!

Links – Cold War History sites

Two websites about Cold War facilities and fallout shelters.

Coldwar-Ct.com

Massachusetts Cold War History Site

Both sites feature pictures and small histories of various fallout shelters and other ‘doomsday’ real estate. One thing I found interesting and that I was unaware of was that the .gov had, in some cases, built small shelters for radio stations to allow them to continue to broadcast in a crisis. I never knew that.

The pictures of the hardened communication facilities is interesting as well. Having gotten to explore a couple of those microwave relay outposts, I can tell you that for the era they were built in they were very serious about survivability.

Anyway, entertaining links with some fascinating pictures…I especially enjoyed this series. Every now and then these facilities come up for sale. You’d have to spend some serious coin on your own to come up with an equal level of protection.

Admin – issues

As many of you have noticed, there’s still a buncha bugginess going around. Mostly issues with page loading and connectivity. Yahoo, whom I would think would have the financial and technical backing to avoid this sort of thing, have apparently been having this issue for several weeks now ( http://www.ysmallbizstatus.com/ ).

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Its an issue for me, too, since it inhibits my ability to make posts and upload images quickly. Still, I’m very reluctant to make the move to another host because of the colossal pain-in-the-ass-ness that these sorts of moves entail. But, if Yahoo doesn’t get this crap squared away soon I’m going to have to find another place to plant the flag. I’m willing to give them another couple weeks and if it isnt markedly improved then its time to go shopping.

Silver stuff

Silver is still below $16 and to me that is still a bargain. Even if silver drops to its old price of less than $10 an ounce I will continue to buy all the way down. Why? Because I know that it will go up again.

Speaking of silver, the Metals Pimp dropped by the other day and handed me one of these:

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Said one of you crazy guys bought some from him and told him to pass a Maple off to me. So, to that kind soul, I say ‘Thank you’! When we come crawling out of the fallout shelters to face the new, currency-less world of the post-apocalypse I’ll have a head start on every one else as I use this to purchase pre-holocaust Twinkies and post-holocaust pole dances.

Heavily armed nature hike

Went hunting yesterday, although  it might be more accurate to describe it as a heavily-armed nature hike, As the day went on, some weather moved in and it became prime hypothermia country – lowering temperatures (45~ degrees), freezing drizzle, and gusty winds. The classic scenario for hypothermia. I’d been wandering up and down the hills so I was pretty warm but I decided to find a comfortable spot under some cover and have some lunch and just wait a while and see if something walked by. Problem is, once you come to a stop you start to cool down.

When I was getting ready to leave that morning I was debating on what to wear. I didnt want to wear too much and overheat, or have to carry discarded clothing….but I didnt want to underdress and be cold and miserbale. I went with the ECWS undershirt with a Woolrich wool shirt over it. (And although they are expensive, and they require a certain degree of specialized care, everyone should have a couple quality wool shirts) I was wearing an orange hunting vest over that, so that was pretty warm. I was originally gonna wear the synthetic gloves but went with the wool mittens since I figured if they got wet theyd stay warmer. As it turned out, that was the good call.

So I found a comfy spot under some low branches and set up to have lunch.

IMG_1904[2]It’s hard to tell in the image, but it was a steady drizzle. Fortunately, it was time for lunch.

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Lunch was some Mountain House spaghetti which has either gotten spicier since I last had some, or my growing old has made me more sensitive to such things. Still, just about anything eaten out in the sticks tastes good. The Esbit stove worked well and got 12 oz. of water to boiling in a few minutes with time to spare. The Mountain House is in their Pro-Pack packaging. This differs from their normal packaging in that they vacuum seal it to reduce the overall size of the package…this makes it a bit smaller to pack into a bag. Other stuff: titanium spork and Snow Peak Hybrid Summit Cookset. The cup normally has a silicone lid with it and a silicone bottom cover to protect the hand from heat. Since I normally stuff a Nalgene bottle into the cup, that leaves no place for the lid. But, the bottom cover fits over the top to act as a lid, so I use that.

So I had lunch and sat around in growing cold waiting for Bambi to show up. No luck. So, I figured the day was pretty much a bust so lets take advantage of the crappy weather to test some gear.

I used to pack the classic mylar ‘survival blanket’ in my gear. You guys have seen them, right? They’re about the size of a pack of playing cards and gossamer thin. In fact, theyre packaged too well for such a thin material…try opening one up sometime with frozen fingers. Imagine taking a stack of Kleenex out of the box and soaking it in water…now try to peel away one tissue at a time….thats what its like. I went old-school to one of the older style ‘blankets’..specifically the older space blanket. It is a bit more bulky (you can see it folded up on the ground in the second picture, next to the binoculars on the ground) but it is a much more durable material. I figured I’d wrap myself up in this one and see how it fared against the wind and rain.

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It actually worked quite well. You have to understand, the material has virtually no insulative value. Wrap a piece of aluminum foil around your finger and then lay it atop an ice cube. Finger gets cold, right? The value of the material is in its windproofness and its reflective properties. Or, put another way, if you wrapped your finger in a piece of insulative material (a wool glove, for example) and then wrapped your finger in foil, you wouldnt feel the cold from that ice cube. So, in this case, draping the space blanket around myself, and drawing it closed around me created a nice pocket of warm air and the warm package of food held in my lap certainly heated things up nicely. (In fact, this sort of arrangement with a small tealight-style candle [or candle lantern] generates plenty of heat in that enclosed space. The space blanket did a very good job of keeping me warm and keeping the wind and wet at bay. Drawback: It would be nice if there were a velcro closure system..I had to grasp the edges of the blanket and hold it around me to keep the wind from pulling it open. In a real pinch, though, I could just use the medical tape out of my first aid kit. If you had some compact insulative layer like a Woobie or poncho liner with you, you’d be in awesome shape. The tradeoff, of course, is just how much crap youre willing to carry around.

So I sat around for a couple hours in the weather waiting for Bambi to show up and was pretty comfortable all things considered.

So there you go – minor field testing of some gear under the guise of a hunting trip. The next day, by the way, we had a blizzard-like weather system move through. Temperature dropped 30 degrees, powerful gusty winds, and a good deal of snow and sleet. So, good timing.

Article – Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway

I’ve seen pictures of this place before,  but this is the first article I’ve seen with this much detail. But I admire the kitschy over-the-top attempts to make an underground concrete room look like a green backyard. Then again, isn’t Vegas home of fake Eiffel Towers, Stutes of Liberty, and enormous fake boobs?

The underground house at 3970 Spencer St. was built for comfort, too, with two hot tubs, a sauna and an in-ground pool in a room larger than some houses in the valley.

It was also constructed to withstand a nuclear blast. It had to be. Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who had the home built in 1978, planned to wait out the end of the world inside the structure. Now it’s on the market for $1.7 million, which includes the two-bedroom underground house, the one-bedroom underground guest house, the two-bedroom, two-story caretaker’s house, a four-car garage and more than 1 acre of surface property.

“I’ve been told when he built it, he had a million dollars of marble imported from Italy,” said Winston King of Kingly Properties, which is handling the sale of the house. “It’s here on the fireplace and around the pool now.”

When it was built, the only signs of the house on the surface were an unusual number of ground-mounted air-conditioning units camouflaged by clusters of large rocks. A few larger rocks concealed stairways and an elevator. A caretaker’s house was added later, and the main entrance to the underground house now runs through it.

When visitors reach the ground level, they’re in the front yard of the house looking at the entrance to the 40-foot-by-46-foot room. To the left are the dance floor and the stage. The décor still greatly reflects the original owners’ tastes, from the indoor fountains and waterfalls to the abundance of pink in the kitchen and bathroom.

“They had it all down here,” said King, opening up an artificial rock to reveal an underground outdoor grill. “This vents through the tree behind it.”

Repurposing Christmas lights

I’m not going to get into posting a commentary about the election. I’m fairly confident that, by and large, things in this world have reached a point that playing musical chairs in Washington won’t do much to change the path we’re on. As Kosh pointed out, once the avalanche has started its too late for the pebbles to vote.

This isn’t to say I’m one of those ‘If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal’ idiots. I vote every chance I get. While it may not make much of a difference in terminal performance it might affect the exterior ballistics a touch.

And before I move from the topic, let me leave with a joke: Did you hear the one about the Illinois Democrat who said that when he died he wanted to be buried in Chicago so he could remain active in the party?

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My wife, sadly, like many wives, has a ‘crafty’ bent that can only be appeased by sacrificing greenbacks on an altar at the local Michaels shop. I go with her to help keep her under control but also because, if youre creative enough, you can find something preparedness-related in pretty much any store. One thing I found of interest was a string of tiny LED Christmas lights that ran on 3 AA-batts. Something very similar to thisproduct. My planned use was to splice the wires to an old solar panel that was used to charge some yard lights and use the string of LED’s to illuminate the house numbers. However, I discovered that these are excellent lights for odd places that dont require huge amounts of light…like the interior of my gun safe. Affixing them inside the gun safe around the interior of the door frame lights things up perfectly. I’d like to mount a photoresistor or pressure switch to turn them on/off when the door is open/closed, but they appear to do a nice job of showing me where things are. Since they run on three AA-batts and LED’s draw low power, its not too hard to imagine some useful emergency lighting options…most notably to light a pathway to emergency gear…much like the lights on the floor in the aisle of a plane.

I’ve seen pictures of peoples storerooms and basements where light ‘ropes’ are used to provide a sort of emergency area lighting and it seems an interesting idea. Most of the ‘ropes’ you come across this time of year (CostCo and WalMart are full of them right now) run on household current but use a 12v transformer, so you could, I suppose, just run them right off a DC power source. On the other hand, since my use would be for emergency lighting to guide me to my stash of gear, they could be considered a ‘one time’ use item. That is to say, in a hypothetical scenario, the power goes out and I’m standing in the dark. I hit the Big Red Button and five or six of these daisy-chained lights light up guiding me to where I keep all the gear. Since all the strings are running off a battery pack meant for one string they’ll remain lit only for a brief amount of time….but by that time I’ll have gotten to my gear where my other illumination supplies are. I suppose I could use a larger battery pack but then I’d have to get some resistors or something in there to keep from putting too much current through the LEDs and burning ‘em out. Should be an interesting project.

Camouflage ice cream

Apparently Baskin Robbins has a new flavor for Veterans Day:

Despite the color palate of Baskin-Robbins’s new Veterans Day flavor, we have to admit that the camouflage-patterned treat sounds mighty tasty.

The military-themed ice cream, formally dubbed First Class Camouflage, is available throughout November and is a combination of three flavors: chocolate (brown), “salty” caramel (tan) and vanilla cake (green).

There are other stealthy-colored items joining the menu as well, including bright green (almost neon) waffle cones and bowls and a First Class Camouflage Layered Sundae, which includes Oreo pieces, caramel praline topping, hot fudge and whipped cream.

 

Be nice if they were free to anyone who shows up in uniform or with a military ID.

Kinda makes you wonder if theyd have a Chocolate Chip desert camo to match the old chocolate chip desert camo.

Or dessert camo, I suppose.