Thursday, October 29, 2009

California Pine Nuts... eldest daughter and I parked at a car wash...and walked a short distance up a trail in a forested area of the city. On our way we saw Toyon berries...Black Sage...Black Alder...and a host of other wild edibles...but that wasn't what we were stopping for...we wanted some pine nuts.

If you didn't know...

Pine nuts are high in nutrition. They are not cheap to purchase at the free is great! While they are well known for their inclusion in is also used in many other recipes (including salads, sauces, fish garnishment, puddings,cookies, cakes).

While all pine nuts are edible...not all pines have nuts worth collecting. In California...if you are wanting to harvest pine are looking for the following trees....
  • P. torreyana ("Torrey Pine") - Found in a very small area in SW California
  • P. coulteri ("Coulter Pine") Mostly Southern CA...a little of Central CA.
  • P. sabiniana ("Digger or Gray Pine") Across most of California
  • P. lambertiana ("Sugar Pine") - Found in California and S Oregon.
  • P. monophylla ("Single-leaf Pinyon Pine") E & Central California, Nevada, W Utah & Baja California Norte.
  • P. quadrifolia ("Parry Pinyon Pine") Far S California & Baja California Norte (mixed with above).
Up the road in Tahoe one can find Pinus Lambertiana or "Sugar Pine". As a result of their presence there...many Tahoe sites are named "Sugar Pine" Point..."Sugar Pine" restaurant..."Sugar" Bowl...etc... They hold a couple of records in that they are the worlds largest pines...with the longest pine cones! The pine cones are so remarkable that people sometimes sell undamaged specimens at fairs for top dollar. While these do have edible nuts...they aren't widely the tree is just too darned tall to take down the cones! One has to be content with what is leftover when they fall from the tree.

In my immediate region...the one that is Pinus Sabiniana...or "Gray Pine". This same tree is also known as "Digger Pine" (which may be viewed as politically incorrect)..."Ghost Pine"(because of how the gray green needles look ghostly)...or "Foothill Pine" because that is generally where it grows. Like three good friends hanging will often find the Gray Pine with it's buddies "Blue Oak" (Quercus Douglasii) and "California Buckeye" (Aesculus Californica). Thankfully...all three of these friends have use as food for humans (when prepared properly).

A few identification points for the Gray Pine...

1. The needles are in fascicles (bundles) of 3...are droopy...and are 8-10 inches long.
2. The color of the needles is a pale gray/green.
3. They have a "pole" stage when they are young...but when they get older they branch out in forks and grow as tall as 160 feet! From a distance they are quite noticeable with their spindly dark trunks and sparce gray/green needles. See the photo above.
5. The cones are apple to pineapple in size and often have a lot of sap on them.

If you desire to learn which conifers are which in CA...HANDS DOWN the best book to get is "Conifers of California" (apt title!). The paintings are beautiful...the photos are crisp and clear...and the descriptions are thorough.

Other than for pine nuts...the pinus genus has many other uses. Here is a video with some tips on how to use pine trees and how to harvest pine nuts. One thing that I would add to what he said with regards to to not assume that because a cone has opened that all of the nuts have been released never to be found. I have found many opened cones on the ground still filled with nuts! In fact...we probably picked up $100 worth of pine nuts just off of pine cones we found on the ground in opened cones! Sometimes the pine cones would leave a nice...neat little pile of their nuts right where the cone had initially struck the ground. We also found many that had fallen from the tree...took to the wind...and were littered all over the ground. They can easily be found and eaten for free...if one doesn't mind a little bit of sap on one's hands...and taking a bit of effort to crack their little shells to expose the white nutmeat.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Acorns For Food and Home Oil Production Class...

If you live in the Sacramento should consider coming to a class I am doing on November 21st, 2009 from 9am-12:30pm at 110 Foxridge Drive in Folsom.

Those that attend will learn how to make the acorns that litter your lawn into a delicious and nutritious food to feed your families! A great skill to have in good or hard times. Ancient and modern processing methods will be discussed…as well as in depth information on our local Oak trees. We will make a dish from an acorn recipe for all to eat!

The second portion of the class will be on how to process vegetable oils out of seeds and nuts that you grow yourself…or harvest in the wild. These vegetable oils can then be used in cooking, as a fuel, medicinally, and in a myriad of other applications. Use of the Piteba oil press will be highlighted.

The fee for the class is $30 or free (as promised) for those that purchased a Piteba press with our group order a while back. It's going to be an awesome class!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PATRIOTS...A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse

Fiction Books

As a youth...demanding english classes lassoed me back from playing on the streets to force my wiggly body and active imagination to calm down...and focus on a world of another's creation. As an experienced homework procrastinator...this often meant that I would sit and read a book the whole night through so that I could turn in a book report the next day.

Over time...I learned to love reading and to actually do it because I wanted to...not just out of the fear of what would happen if I turned nothing in. As a result...I ended up reading many of the classics. The Dickens...the Twains...the Wells...etc...and lots' of "just for fun books"...the "Choose your own adventures"...the Hardy Boys...Bradbury...comic books and so on. The great books of fiction can truly be a transport to another world. It's remarkable how while sitting in a can find themselves emotionally compelled to cheer out loud as Atticus Finch decries the ugly face of racism in court in "To Kill a Mockingbird" or crying when Old Dan the dog dies in "Where the Red Fern Grows". Those many powerful books shaped the way I view the world.

Somewhere along the way...after realizing how much I need to learn about the gospel and how short my time on earth is to learn it...and the Spirit of God relentlessly pressing me to learn the principles of reading of fiction books came to a screeching halt. Nowadays...I really only read the scriptures, doctrinal books, or preparedness related books. In my mind it's kind of like how President Hunter gave up playing music even though he really enjoyed pursue things that he felt were more important for the time being (238).

While it is not my intention to knock anyone who does read there is a place for such works among "the best books"...and there is a place for entertainment...I will say that for myself...with my schedule...and with my growing stack of non-fiction books I feel compelled to know...the most fiction I am currently willing to tackle is basically just a children's book before bedtime.


Over the last several months I have had a few people recommend the "Patriots" book to me. I admittedly had apprehensions...not wanting to "waste my time" on fiction. Still...I knew it was written by James Wesley, Rawles an editor at Survivalblog...a website that I had gone to many times searching out information...and found to be a reliable source. When a friend brought it to my home to lend it to me...I figured I'd check it out a bit...unsure if I would get far.

A few pages read...turned into chapters...turned into the whole book! Here is my two cents. The story leads you through a highly probable scenario involving the devaluation of the dollar...hyperinflation...and subsequent socioeconomic collapse. It was printed so recently that it uses current events...making it seem almost like you are stepping forward in time to see what may soon unfold.

You know when you are watching a movie and the star picks up a can of Coke and drinks it as he's driving his brand new BMW and talking on his Sprint mobile phone. You know...blatant product placement. That is what this book is...only not in an annoying intruding way...but in a helpful thorough sort of way. You are being entertained by the fascinating and often grim story of people trying to stay alive and make sound moral choices through very tough experiences...all the while you are learning why they chose the survival gear they did. You are learning in depth why they decided to install certain doors on their home. You are learning about gun rights and court to do emergency medical...and even where you can buy the stuff!!! The list of topics covered in the context of the story goes on and on. If you missed it along the can even go to the index in this most recent printing to find where in the book you read about "tooth extraction"..."Wiggys sleeping bags" or whatever else caught your eye. There is also a section to explain all of the acronyms they use! I wish I'd have known that prior to reading the book!!

I will say that sometimes the information on certain topics got a little too technical for me. There is a LOT of information about guns in this book. Sometimes it felt like pages of describing gun setups. Gun connoisseurs love it...but the layman might get a bit bogged down. Many times I kind of skimmed over those parts when I got lost. There is also like a whole chapter on communications that experienced HAM operators or military communications personnel will get...but not a lot of others. When I get my arsenal growing a bit more...and want to get more on the communications...this book will be a great resource.

This book "Keeps it real". People die...and it describes it. People are evil...and it describes them. It is not all bunnies and rainbows...but neither are the days to come likely to be either. It is a sobering walk that makes you ask repeatedly..."What would I do in that situation?!!" Also...helpful is the fact that many or most of the characters are Christians seeking to do the "right thing" and share scriptures to affirm their positions. In writing to what I would think would largely be a Christian audience...I think that the author tried to leave a lot of the "unnecessary" bad stuff out. I don't remember any real bad language (I remember female dog). He does a good job of painting the picture without getting too coarse. Admittedly a few parts were coarse for me...but probably not any worse than you might hear on the evening news....or heck...even in the Old Testament!

Perhaps one of the greatest values of this book is to help you see the holes you have in your personal preparedness plan and to help you have resolve now with regards to how you will act if confronted with various situations.

I will be reading the book again...and will buy it to have as a reference. Next time I will have a pen and paper out to write down the things I want to investigate to buy or skills to work on! If I were a librarian and had to find a place to put this would be found under "Useful Fiction". A non-guilty way for us non-fiction readers to have some fun with some fiction.

Here are two different places that sell the book and reviews...

Perhaps their reviews may help you to make your decision on whether or not to pick this book up. Don't's free at the library!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Free Escargot!!

Just the thought of having a snails chewy little meat sliding down ones tongue sounds like the makings of one of those reality shows where people are dared to do unreasonably gross things for the viewers morbid pleasure.

It is an interesting exercise in self understanding to kind of step back out of ones point of reference and ask "Why do I feel that way?" "Why is it gross?" "This food is enjoyed in other cultures...why not mine?" Food prejudices that are developed in a culture may or may not be based on good reasoning. Silly superstitions...prejudices based upon a food being what "poor" people eat...or some such reason could be keeping you from enjoying what could be your favorite food!

American's generally have a taste aversion to eating snails and yet the common garden snail that is to found in our yards is closer on the family tree to the clams...mussels...oysters...and squid that many eat at their fine restaurants...than they would want to hear about. I wonder if anyone would notice if that clam dip at the party was in fact a snail dip?

That common garden snail that we are fighting to keep from eating our garden greens is in fact the same snail that is hunted for eating in France!! It is called the European Brown or "Helix Aspersa"

While I don't expect that you are going to be thrilled about the prospect...and give up hamburgers in favor of snailburgers. I think it is worthwhile to know that in hard times...or true survival situation...there is meat available that...

You don't have to shoot!
You don't have to fish for...
It won't outrun you...
It won't bite or scratch you...
It won't make awful sounds...
You don't have to clean out bloody guts...

Here is an article about a man in San Franciso who eats snails that will teach you a bit about preparation and give some other useful information. While some people do eat raw snails...know that you could run the risk of getting sick if the snail recently ate snail bait...or if it is carrying parasites. The simple preparation described in that article will ensure that they are safe.

If the thought of eating snail grosses you out...or you say "My family would never eat it". My reply is..."Then you don't know how hungry you could get...and how desperate!" Your family might find it more palatable...first of all...if you don't tell them what it is!!...but second of all if you have it in the context of a dish like some food storage pasta! Snail Rigatoni...YUM!!