It’s Time Again for Hurricane 101

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Heather says:

June 1st marks the beginning of hurricane season. For those of us on the East and Gulf Coasts, we know this means anxious meteorologists glorifying every thunderstorm that appears in the oceans. Although the public tends to become jaded with media saturation, there is no reason to get caught with your pants down.

Hurricane Hugo was the landmark event of my childhood. Thankfully my family made it through safely with relatively little damage. I remember not only the storm, but the camaraderie that developed during the clean up. Everyone in my neighborhood pitched in, adults cleared downed trees and grilled defrosting meals. Older kids babysat and entertained the younger ones so the adults could work unhindered. I was only eleven, so my memories consist mostly of the awesome forts we were able to build with scavenged materials. I was too young to understand what a nightmare filing for damages or dealing with FEMA could be.

Hurricane Season Preparedness

Here are some tips to be sure you and your family are safe should a storm make landfall. (Many of these apply to those living near fault lines or in tornado country who don’t have the benefit of prior warning.)

  • Check your insurance coverage. Do you have adequate protection from both wind and water? Are they with the same or competing companies? Keep these documents in a safe, dry place and remember to bring them along if you must evacuate.
  • Have enough food and clean water for each family member to last at least 72 hours.
  • One gallon of water per person per day.
  • Food should be ready to eat or only require minimal preparation. Please don’t forget to have a manual can opener on hand. You may end up the most popular person on your block.
  • Candles, batteries, flashlights, and a crank or battery operated radio are a must.
  • Keep your gas tank filled at least half way at all times.
  • Keep an emergency cash supply on hand, as ATMs do not work without power.
  • Have an evacuation plan. Shelters are only for those in the most dire need, those who have no where else to go.
    • Take identification and proof of residency with you. If an area is badly damaged law enforcement will restrict access to people trying to return.
    • Have a plan for Fido and Fluffy as well. Most shelters do not take pets, know what you are going to do before a warning has been announced. As a pet owner this is an important responsibility that is frequently overlooked.
  • Have a well stocked first-aid kit.
    • Keep all prescription medications filled and take them with you, if you must leave.
  • Have sturdy work gloves.  Keep an extra pair with your emergency kit.
  • Have sturdy shoes, you don’t need to be nailing a tarp to your roof in flip flops.
  • Except for emergencies, stay put after a storm. Emergency personnel have enough to deal with: restoring utilities and rescuing those who were injured in the storm. Don’t add to their workload.
  • Curfews may be established. Obey all law enforcement personnel. People under severe stress may act erratically.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly.
  • Remember snakes and other wildlife may become disoriented after a storm. Watch where you step and never put your hands where you cannot see when removing storm debris.
  • If you live in a rural area, learn how to safely operate a chainsaw. This goes for you ladies, too. Downed limbs are pretty much a given. STAY AWAY from  power lines.
    • Own one, keep it in good condition, and have gasoline, oil,  and chain oil on hand.
  • Have plenty of  propane or charcoal for your grill.
    • I’ve brewed coffee using a grill in the past. My neighbors loved me for it.
    • NEVER use a grill indoors. The flames produce deadly, odorless carbon monoxide.
  • If you have to board your windows, make sure you already have the plywood on hand. It can be reused each year.
  • Have a couple of tarps ready, they can be used to temporarily cover a broken window or a hole in the roof until more permanent repairs can be made.
  • Remember cell towers may be damaged in a strong storm and communication may be spotty or non-existent for a while.

And finally, if you’re watching a storm with potential to become a threat and you’re not in an evacuation zone,  it’s time to check and make sure everything is ready.

Go ahead and get the laundry caught up, find the cooler, check the generator –if you have one–, swap the stored gasoline if you have / need that.  Make ice if your freezer isn’t full.

A full freezer will stay at temperature for 48 hours, only 24 if it’s only half full.

If the kids have electronics, go ahead and make sure they are fully charged, be ready to ration their use.

If a storm does look like it will hit, let the people who haven’t thought ahead deal with each other in those last few hours. You’re ready; stay home, safe and dry, and make your own version of Harriet McLeod’s Go Away Cookies.

And while the drama is what the media plays on, remember it’s the little, preventable accidents that are most common.

Here is hoping for a quiet season!

Menu Monday Memorial Day 2015

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Heather says

It’s Memorial Day once again.

Many of you will be celebrating with picnics and cookouts. If you haven’t figured out what to pack yet, here’s a list of picnic possibilities  and if you’re looking to easily feed a crowd Lowcountry Boil is always a good option. Don’t forget as host / hostess of an event it’s your job to make sure food safety guidelines are observed, as no one wants to spend tonight curled up on their bathroom floor.

I’m currently trying really hard to relax. I’m not good at relaxing, I find it takes a lot of effort and restraint and here I am breaking my promise to not work this weekend. (Home Ec 101 never really feels like work anyhow, so don’t tattle, please.)Steak over grilled vegetables Photo credit: Ray Bergman

Last night’s dinner was a quick, use lots of vegetables because more are coming, dinner. I made Easy Foil Veggies with a splash of balsamic in the packets,  and marinated a chuck steak in balsamic, olive oil, and Chef Prudhomme’s Redfish Magic. I the vegetables got a headstart on the grill. After the steak was flipped, I topped it with blue cheese. Not too bad for a let’s use what we have kind of meal.

While it is a holiday, people around here are still going to expect to be fed throughout the week, so here’s this week’s Menu Monday.

Menu Plan Monday

Saturday / Sunday are to be determined based on produce and protein on sale this week.

What are you making this week? Did you try anything new?

Stupidly Simple: Radish Slaw Recipe

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Heather says:

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was finally able to take advantage of our local CSA. If you’ve never participated in a CSA, it’s a program where you pay a farm a predetermined amount at the beginning of the growing season. The farm then divides up the produce harvested between those who have contributed. Some CSAs also require a labor or time investment as part of the share, the one I belong to does not.

Joining a CSA isn’t a sure thing, if the crop is wiped out in a hailstorm or the weather just isn’t conducive to a productive year, you are susceptible to the same risk as the farmer. While I am a big advocate for supporting the local economy, a CSA may not be for you, if you are a super tight budget and having to buy vegetables after investing in a CSA would be a hardship.

There’s a little bit of adventure involved in being a part of the CSA, while you may have a good idea of what will be included in your share, sometimes some produce you normally wouldn’t buy shows up. I like the challenge. Not everyone likes to play Iron Chef though, so I’ll gladly do it for you.

This week’s challenge vegetable? Radishes. I don’t mind radishes, but I’m not the person who sits there and thinks, Gee a radish would really hit the spot.

So, when a bunch of radishes were included in my share I tried to think of how I could convince everyone else to eat them, since they weren’t my go to vegetable for spring side dishes.

Everyone in this household loves tacos, if I can put it in a taco, I guarantee that there will be no complaints. When I make fish tacos, I use a ridiculously easy cabbage slaw. I decided to experiment and see if this technique would work for radishes, which have a significant bitter bite. The acidity of the lime juice and the sweetness of the honey mellow out the bitter to a pleasant heat and crunch that is an excellent taco condiment and I bet it’d be good on a Southwestern wrap or burger, too.

Enjoy.

Radish Slaw on Chicken and Black Bean Taco Wraps

: Radish Slaw

: Easy condiment for tacos, wraps, and burgers

 Radish Slaw 2

  • 1 small bunch of radishes, cut into matchsticks (think thin strips)
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro

  • Whisk the lime juice, honey, and cilantro together.
  • Toss with the radishes.
  • Allow to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
  • Re-toss before serving

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour refrigeration

Number of servings (yield):

 

Help! The Laundry Smells Like Rotten Eggs

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

I followed all of the advice in your how to deal with stubborn body odor in laundry article and my clothes still stink. There’s sort of a rotten egg odor and nothing I do gets rid of it.

How do I get rid of this sulfur smell in my laundry?

Signed,
Sick of the Stink in Stinesville

Heather says

Did you know that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers? When I was a little girl, I went to Girl Scout Camp (Camp Loco for you South Carolinians) and they had a serious sulfur issue in the groundwater. It was so bad that neither Kool-Aid nor sweet tea could cover that eggy taste. It’s been –well, we won’t say how many years– a long time and the slightest whiff of sulfur takes me to that hot, sweaty summer.

Sulfur odor in well water has two potential sources and it takes a little bit of household detective work to determine which is the likely culprit. In both cases, Hydrogen Sulfide is the offending chemical, but how it gets into your water determines the solution to removing the offensive odor.

1.  Sulphate reducing bacteria:  H2S is often the result of bacteria doing their bacterial thing and processing organic matter into waste.

2. Hydrogen sulfide gas: If your well is in shale or sandstone hydrogen sulfide gas dissolved in the water itself is possible. You may notice other symptoms of this issue around your house – corrosion of your pipes and silverware that quickly turns black for example.

Unfortunately this sulfur compound, as you have noticed, can build up on your clothing. In order to solve this issue you’ll need to address the actual cause or you’ll quickly understand the plight of Sisyphus. I contacted the reader and asked if the smell was present in only the hot water or in the cold water, too. In her case, the odor is found in both, which was a little disheartening as this hot water only has the simplest fix.

If sulphate reducing bacteria has colonized only the water heater, it is possible to kill it by raising the temperature of your water to more than 140°F for 48 hours.

If you choose to attempt this fix, please be careful if you have an elderly relative or young child in the home. Water over 140°F can cause scalding and extra care should be taken.

If the odor returns, bacteria is likely colonizing the magnesium and aluminum anode rod in the water heater. You can try replacing it with an aluminum-zinc rod -go ahead and flush your water heater at this time. If you also utilize a water softener in your home, you’ll find that this tactic likely won’t be effective. The salts that condition the water negate the effect of using zinc instead. Isn’t chemistry fun?

Call your county extension office and ask if hydrogen sulphide gas is an issue for groundwater in your area. If indeed this is the case, you should consider treating the water before it comes into your home. Unfortunately there isn’t a simple solution and requires either aeration or chlorination of the water at a point between the well and your home. The option you choose depends on your budget and longterm plans.

If hydrogen sulfide gas is not of local concern, again it’s probably sulphate reducing bacteria, only this time it has colonized your well and pipes rather than just the water heater.

Thankfully sulphate reducing bacteria in your well can be treated with household bleach. Here is a guide that gives step-by-step instructions to determine how much bleach is needed based on the depth and size of your well and how to shock the well and your pipes.

Before starting, know that you will not be able to use your water supply for 12 – 24 hours and you should plan accordingly. Remember this includes flushing the toilets! If you choose to remain in the home during the time of the shock you can use buckets of water filled before the shock to flush your toilet. If you are also on a septic system you must use care when flushing the bleach from your pipes, you don’t want to overwhelm your septic tank. Too much chlorinated water can kill off the good bacteria in your septic system and cause it to not process the waste. Collect the shocked water in buckets and dispose of it anywhere but down the drain.

If the sulfur smell begins to return shortly after shocking your well, it is definitely time to have your well inspected. Bacteria may be entering your well through cracks or your well may need to be moved to a better location.

Once you eliminate the hydrogen sulfide from your water source normal laundering will remove the rotten egg smell from your clothing. It may take a couple of washes to completely eliminate the odor, but you’ll get there.

I’m sorry there wasn’t a just use vinegar or borax style answer to the problem.

Best of luck!

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com

Solve Household Odors

References:

 

Back to Life, Back to the Menu Plan

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Heather says:

Back to life, back to reality, not the whole song, just that one line is on repeat in my head. In the last 45 days I’ve been all over the country attending work events, conferences, meeting bloggers for my day job, and visiting family. While I had some fantastic meals (and wine) on these work trips, I am ready to eat a bit healthier. Currently in the fridge I have almost half a box of produce to use up and more to pick up tomorrow.

Last night I made a sausage and squash soup, it was quite possibly the ugliest thing I have ever eaten, but it tasted good. I am just glad that everyone trusted me to just try it, don’t look at it. I am quite certain that soup will be the butt of jokes for years to come.

It happens.

Menu Plan Monday

After a long couple of years, I’m finally in a place where I have good lighting, a nice kitchen set-up, and I have some mental bandwidth to spare. I’m excited to break out my camera and seriously begin shooting pictures again. As I’m able, these recipes will be linked to the versions I use for this site. In the interim, I’m linking to my starting points.

  • Monday -Squash and Zucchini Carbonara: Place holder Carbonara Sauce Recipe  I’ll be tossing the sauce with the sauteed vegetables
  • Tuesday – Chicken tacos in lettuce wraps with a radish slaw – lime, honey, and cilantro in place of the normal shredded lettuce
  • Wednesday – Lentil burgers with tzatziki, vegetables marinated in homemade Italian dressing
  • Thursday – Vegetable fajitas – don’t tell the kids, I’m just not going to add any meat – guacamole 
  • Friday – Hamburgers and sweet potato fries
  • Saturday – Some kind of grilled meat on skewers, over rice, with lots of vegetables… I’ll get it figured out
  • Sunday – Clean Out Refrigerator Night

What are you having this week?

Do you need a printable to start planning your menu?

Have you tried anything new lately? How did it turn out? More interestingly, have you had any failures? What did you learn?

Do I ever stop asking questions?

Why would I?