Archive for August, 2012

Wild Edibles: How to Eat the Giant Puffball

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Disclaimer: Eating certain wild plants can be deadly!!

Be certain to consult a professional (or a really good field guide) in order to positively identify this plant before trying this for yourself. The owners of this site will not be held responsible for any lapses in judgment or stupidity when handling or consuming wild plants.

My first introduction to the Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) was as a kid roaming through the nearby woods and coming across these big brown balls in the woods (they turn brown in their non-edible spore stage).

My friends and I called them ‘smokebombs’ for obvious reasons — when you stomp on them in their spore stage they explode in a giant cloud of spores. It wasn’t until later that I read that breathing in those spores wasn’t the healthiest thing to do but, hey, as kids we had a lot of fun.

In my college years as I was getting more involved in improving my wilderness survival skills I came across this plant in one of my wild-edible guides and up until then did not realize you could eat them…man, did I miss a delicous wild edible all those years!

Although I have pretty decent wild-plant knowledge and identification skills, as a rule I tend to stay away from eating any mushroom — even if I know that they are edible. That rule applies to all fungi I encounter to this day except for four: the Morel mushroom, Chicken-of-the-Woods, Hen-of-the-Woods, and this mushroom, the Giant Puffball.

How to Identify the Giant Puffball

The Giant Puffball is one of the most easily recognized and easy-to-identify wild edible mushrooms. There really isn’t anything else that looks like it (except maybe a softball or volleyball you may encounter in the woods). For that reason they are an excellent edible mushroom for beginners to get comfortable with.

Here’s what you want to look out for:

size and shape: On average, giant puffballs can range anywhere from golfball size to volleyball size (some are even larger!) and given their ball shape they can be sometimes mistaken for those balls as well! For the most part they are spherical but you will find anomalies that are mishapen.
soft, completely white center with no gills: Be sure there are no gills! This is probably the most important identification trait since some poisonous mushrooms (particularly the amanita species) — when young — look like small puffballs. However, when opened there are gills (and sometimes a stem) inside.

Where and When to Find Giant Puffballs

Season and Range

The best time to find giant puffballs is from late summer through mid-fall anywhere in the U.S.

Location

You’ll want to look for giant puffballs on the ground in well-fertilized fields and pastures or open woods. They also grow in urban areas where there is bare earth and where people tend to discard their trash.

How to Eat the Giant Puffball

Giant puffballs are a great addition to any meal or can be a meal in itself eaten raw or cooked.

Here are two of my favorite ways of enjoying this wild edible:

Fried in Butter

This is a delicious way of eating puffballs. You simply slice them into 1/2 inch slices and fry them in butter:

Made into Tempura

Another favorite method of mine is to fry them in a tempura batter. The recipe is as follows:

  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour (sifted is ideal)

Mix the above ingredients, dip some puffball chunks in the batter and fry in your oil of choice…yumm:

I like eating these with a bit of maple syrup. The breakfast of champions:

Making the Best of Basics Book Review

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Full Disclosure: I do receive a small commission if you purchase this book through one of my links below, however in no way does this affect my review of the book. If you do decide to purchase one through my link then I thank you very much for your support!

I recently picked up a copy of James Talmage Stevens’ bestselling book Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook. This is a book that I’ve seen advertised for some time now on the web but haven’t (up until now) picked up a copy.

As far as I know, I think this is the oldest “prepper” book around that is still regularly updated.

It’s been the all-time bestselling volume in the preparedness industry for almost 4 decades and is now in its 12th-edition printing, with it’s first-edition printed in 1976 (before I was born!) However, don’t be turned off because of the age of the book. The latest edition contains every bit of up-to-date and accurate preparedness information as any other quality book out there.

First impressions

From a first impression, I found this book to be refreshing since it is not filled with a lot of the doom-and-gloom that other more modern preparedness books out there contain. It’s primary purpose is to help the reader become more self reliant and I think it does a great job at that.

What’s under the cover

As far as content goes, Making the Best of Basics covers most of the basic prepper topics you would think of:

  • creating an emergency plan for your family
  • food and water storage (which makes up the brunt of the book)
  • energy and fuels storage
  • dehydrating fruits and vegetables
  • as well as preparing game meats, and even creating a precious metals strategy

Keep in mind though if you are looking for other prepper-related subjects like canning, gardening, or firearms, you’ll have to look at other resources for that. However, I think the book follows the title well in that it expects you to make the best of the basics — and for that it is a fantastic resource.

The negatives

One of the things I didn’t like about it (I have the digital version so it may be different in the actual physical version) was that it was interspersed with different advertisements (although they are prepper related). If that type of thing doesn’t bother you then you should be fine. I found it to be a bit of a distraction.

Also, the flow of the book can be monotonous at times and I find the format (since it’s packed in pretty tight at times) can be sometimes difficult to read. Given that, I would not recommend it as a cover to cover read but is much better served as a reference guide for your survival library.

Final thoughts

All in all though I think it does a great job at walking you through how to become prepared. For those who are able to purchase, put together, and use the things the author recommends in his various checklists and worksheets (which are spread throughout the book), they will be well prepared for tough times ahead.

Despite some of my criticisms, I think it is still a fantastic book and should be part of every preppers survival library.

Get your copy by clicking here!

Condom Water Boiling Fail

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Thought you guys would get a kick out of this.

Today I was experimenting a bit more with the condom water bottle I made in the last article and was thinking to myself, “what would happen if I forgot or lost my water disinfection tablets to help clean the water I collected in the condom?”

So I came up with the idea of boiling it over a fire.

After all, you can boil water in a plastic water bottle without issue so why would a condom be any different? And in fact, just to quickly test it I took a water-filled condom and took a lighter to it. Sure enough it didn’t burst or melt even though I put the flame on it for around 30 second.

With that initial test complete, it was on to the field test…

Here’s my pics of my field test:

First step: I set up a tripod and hung the water-filled condom off of it:

Second step: Set up a fire under the condom (you can see the flames hitting the condom without issue):

Results:

The water began to bubble slightly after around 7-8 min of direct fire contact but then suddenly the condom started to contract and suddenly burst, putting out the fire…fail!

Conclusion

Here’s my thinking as to why this experiment failed (and maybe you can give me your thoughts as well):

Since the condom did not start to deform (contract) until the water temperature reached near-boil, the warmer water-temp must have allowed the external latex to reach a hotter temperature that was enough for it to become too weak to hold the water and eventually burst.

If you’ve ever boiled water in a plastic water bottle, you see a similar behavior. When the water is cooler, the bottle does not deform. Only after you get the water temperature to approach the boiling point does the plastic start to deform a bit. However the plastic bottle must have enough plastic to still maintain its integrity to hold the water allowing you to boil and purify the water inside.

Definitely try it out yourself. Perhaps I’ll give this another go but this time not fill the condom with as much water. Maybe then it will still hold the water even when the water reaches the boiling point.

Be sure to get out there and experiment yourself! Practice and experimentation is so important for preppers. After all, the more we do, practice, and fail now the better we will be when thing really go south.

How to Make a Field Expedient Water Bottle from a Condom

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

For all my disaster kits — whether it’s a Bug-Out Bag, Get-Home Bag, or Emergency Car Kit — I make sure they cover the 5 Pillars of Survival: Personal Health & Security, Shelter, Water, Fire, and Food.

Even with my EDC (Every-Day Carry) gear — despite the premium on weight and space — I make no exception.

However, this wasn’t always the case.

As I was initially putting together my EDC kit, I always left out the water component. It just wasn’t always practical for me to carry a water bottle or any other container for that matter. And even though I carried water disinfection tablets from time-to-time, I was still dependent upon finding a suitable container (to hold the water I found) that I could drop the tablets into.

It wasn’t until my friend told me about a condom water bottle that I was finally able to satisfy this requirement. Now a condom is just another part of my daily EDC gear (don’t laugh).

Here’s how to make one:

How to make a condom water bottle

Step 1: Take the condom out of its packet and unravel (be sure the lubed side is on the outside).
Step 2: To fill the condom you can hold the opening under running water until it expands and fills, or if you only have a non-running body of water available you can stick a couple fingers in the opening and quickly drag the condom through the water to fill it that way (as demonstrated in the photo below):
Step 3: Now with the condom full of water, you can drop your disinfection tablets into the opening, tie it off, and let it sit for the required time. Once complete, just pinch off (with your fingernails) or bite off a small hole and drink from the stream (I know, I know, it looks gross).
(optional) Step 4: Given it’s lack of durability, if you need to travel with the water-filled condom it’s a good idea to tie it off and place it in a sock. The sock provides excellent protection against sharp sticks, brush or anything else that would scrape against or poke your “water bottle”:

A note on disinfection

One question you might ask is “how many tablets do I need to disinfect the water?”

For the tablets I use (Katadyn Micropur Forte MF 1T) the directions indicate 1 tablet per liter (around a quart).

So how much water does a condom hold?

An unexpanded condom (filled without running water) will hold around 1 cup. A condom filled in a strong stream of running water will expand much more and hold around 4 cups (1 quart):

So given the amounts above and the instructions for the tablets, you’ll want to either divide the tablet into fourths (using 1/4 for the smaller amount of water) or for the 1 quart size, use the whole tablet.

Try it out and add it to your kit!

It's Time to Stock up on Ammo

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

With the recent tragedy in Aurora Colorado, anti-second amendment lawmakers are waisting no time in ensuring that no “crisis goes to waste” by pushing their gun-control agendas.

This past Monday, democrat Senators Carolyn McCarthy and Frank Lautenberg introduced legislation that would effectively ban online ammunition sales and force dealers to report large sales of ammunition to law enforcement agencies:

Two Democratic lawmakers on Monday will announce new legislation to regulate the online and mail-order sale of ammunition.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.) said the new law would make the sale of ammunition “safer for law-abiding Americans who are sick and tired of the ease with which criminals can now anonymously stockpile for mass murder,” in a statement released Saturday.

The lawmakers cite the recent movie massacre in Aurora, Colo. for spurring their bill.

“The shooter who killed 12 and injured 58 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater this month had purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition anonymously on the Internet shortly before going on his killing spree, according to law enforcement officials,” the statement reads.

Lautenberg and McCarthy, who will unveil their new proposal at New York’s City Hall say they intend to “make it harder for criminals to anonymously stockpile ammunition through the Internet.”

(The Hill)

Lautenberg and McCarthy’s proposed Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act would require ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians. It also requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.

…Lautenberg said he thinks the bill’s chances are “pretty good.”

“It’s going to be acted upon next week, and we’re very optimistic,” Lautenberg said.

(CNN)

The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act works through four components:

  • It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
  • It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
  • It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
  • It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.

What does this mean for the rest of us? Well, if you haven’t been already, it’s time to start stocking up. Also, it’s time you learn how to reload (this is something I’ll be covering in future articles).

One of my favorite online ammo dealers btw is LuckyGunner.com. Check out their great prices:

cheap in stock ammo