Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Prep 101: Things Probably Not Found On the Government Website

Hurricane Sandy is making her presence known on the East Coast, the effects of her felt from Kentucky to Canada, an area not as used to preparing for a hurricane as we are in the Deep South.  Preparations should have already been made for the big blow, bottled water having already disappeared from the shelves of most retailers.  There's a little more to getting ready, though, that you might not be aware of besides the basics.  This is just a quick post, not meant to cause panic, but to help you and your property survive well.

A category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale has winds from 74 to 95 miles per hour.  These are the winds that blow constantly.  There are few lulls in the wind - it rattles and moves everything in the hurricane path at this speed -- allllll the time.  Wind gusts above those of 74- 95 mph occur as well.  Lawn furniture, grills, yard tools, garbage cans;  everything outside needs to be secured in a shed or brought in a garage.  What can't be moved needs to be tied to something substantially larger.  I've several skiens of ski rope that are used for the specific purpose of securing The Fellows jet go cart to the tree by the shed in the backyard.  Swings, plants, yard art, etc. all have the potential to become projectiles when hurricane winds blow.  You keep your family and neighbors safe by making sure your outdoor stuff doesn't end up stuck in the side of their dwelling.

Water.  You have a supply of bottled water for a few days.  Are you going to cook and use that water?  Make coffee or tea or koolaid?  What happens if the purification plant for the city water goes out?  If Sandy has the far reaching effect predicted you may run out of bottled water.  Potable (drinkable) water can be made by the addition of 2 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.  Let it sit for 12 hours.  Several of the prepper/survival sites have said that 1/8th of a teaspoon can be added to a gallon of water and used immediately.

I've a supply of empty five gallon buckets that I'll put under the drip line of the roof and let fill with rain water, bringing them in (yep - blowing wind and all to retrieve them) as they fill.  After a pass through the Brita filter for suspended particles, the water is treated with bleach and tadadaaaaaa, potable!

Those five gallon buckets of rain water are also handy for keeping clothes hand laundered (it's my big OCD thang) and toilets flushed.  Mama has a well at her house.  We scrub her bath tub and fill it with water before the electricity goes off so she can have an uninterrupted water supply.

Laundry.  Wash and dry everything you can up until you can't any more.  You've no idea if you'll lose power or not and you'd be surprised how quickly the dirty clothes start accumulating once the washing machine can't work.

Cell phones.  Do you have a spare battery?  Get it in the charger.  I've an old Nokia phone so I don't know, but I understand that music, games, and the internet sap energy quickly from smart phones.  Reserve that precious battery life.      If you're in the middle of a hurricane, keeping up with how everybody else is doing on FB is not tantamount to talking to family once it's all over with.

Tarps and duct tape.  When Isaac came through a couple of months ago, I added to my hurricane preparations a half-dozen inexpensive painters tarps.  Most home insurances will pay for hurricane damage but won't pay for possessions lost because of water damage inside the home as a result of a tree punched through the roof.  Painter's tarps are large in size and can cover much with a good band of duct tape around the perimeter to hold the tarp on, keeping possessions from heavy water damage.

If you've a freezer mostly full of food, fill every inch of freezer space with bags of ice and DON'T open the freezer until absolutely necessary.  Turn the setting to the coldest possible.  Foods will stay frozen for two to three days in a loaded freezer.   When ours started thawing, it was a simple matter of cooking it and feeding it whoever would eat to keep the food from wasting.  I despise food waste, especially after laboring diligently to get it in the freezer, but knowing it can be consumed somehow makes the thought of a freezer full of thawed food not quite so bad.  Soups and stews can feed a bunch of friends and neighbors.

Toilet paper.  It never fails.  You've purchased the 12 pack of toilet paper so you're feeling pretty good about that.  And then someone in the house develops a stomach virus or has a bad case of nervous stomach.  You'll need extra toilet paper.  I swear, it happens every time.

You all have flashlights and batteries for them, but what about emergency lighting? Flashlights aren't meant to be turned on and left on.  Do you have candles or oil lamps or Coleman lanterns?  The stubby emergency candles are all probably gone from the shelves now, but ANY light will do, scented candles and all, to keep little ones and adults calm in unfamiliar darkness.  Speaking of candles... how 'bout something to light them with?  Lighters won't reach all the way down in your favorite jar candle.  Matches are needed.

Irreplaceable photos and artwork need to be put in ziplock or garbage bags and then put in a big plastic tub. Not everything - just the things that can't be replaced. Take them out as quickly as its safe.  Irreplaceable photos and artwork don't store well in tubs.

Gather health, life, car, and home insurance policies in one place.  Just in case.  I've a zippered binder with those documents plus an extensive list of phone numbers and addresses of friends and family.  Just in case.

Now that I've hastily put together a list of things you may or may not have thought about, you need to know one more thing:  the wind will blow.  It will blow and blow and you'll begin to think it will never end as it howls through every crack and crevice in your dwelling.  And it will rain hard blowing rain driven by hurricane force winds.  It's unsettling -- all that wind and rain.  It will pass, leaving one big mess of an aftermath to deal with.  Keep your wits about you.  It does no one any good to become hysterical.

Ice storms, driving in snow, hurricanes, and dentists have all served to help me get over my fears and become a strong parent for my sons.  Sandy is not that strong of a hurricane, just a big one hitting an area unaccustomed to hurricanes and complicated by two other merging weather fronts.  You can deal with fear.

I guess that's about it.  It's not an exhaustive list by any means - just a small one compiled from life experience.  I wanted the folks dealing with Sandy that stop in here at Mayree's to know I'm thinking about y'all, praying for your safety.  If you want to get completely out of the way, I've three empty beds and a front porch begging visiting.  Come on...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Tale of Two Banana Nut Breads

I'm an absolutely horrible blogger, the posts coming in fits and spells.  I'd thought about doing a histiocytosis awareness post back in September when it was Histiocytosis Awareness Month.  I thought about doing another dental visit post similar to the last one.  I also thought about doing a combined post, championing histio awareness and dentistry, considering most of us adults with the disease (even in remission) seem to have a host of dental difficulties.  A recipe post on the fresh apple cake was almost written but, at the last moment, it was decided that posting it straight to the notes in FB would be a lot easier. I'd even considered writing a post on how I've gotten over food, previously my best friend, and lost 60 pounds this spring/summer/fall.   Days and weeks came and went.  Words didn't gel together.  Those five posts didn't get written.

And so it goes.  There's nothing much to tell these days, no amusing stories coming forth from Mama, no misadventures beyond taking a wrong interstate and driving completely around Birmingham, Alabama.

And it isn't that there's less free time to be a better blogger.  Free time exists.  Life gets complicated; minds get tired of thinking.  At the end of the day, I'd rather open a book and disappear into it than think another thought. Unless the book is thought provoking.  I like thought-provoking books...

Annnnyways.  I'm using a lot of words to apologize for not keeping to my own set standard of a post a week (on average).  I'll try to do better.  I will.

To kick off getting on the proverbial bandwagon, I've two recipes for Banana Nut Bread.  TWO.  Both of them start with a cake mix.  I'd been to the Pig earlier in the week and spotted a big bag of bananas in the reduced-for-quick-sale produce cart.  There must've been five pounds of bananas in the bag for a dollar.  A dollar!  Even after sharing half with Mama, there was still a huge bunch of bananas to do something with.

 Holidays are quickly approaching.  What better time to get a headstart on holiday baking?  Banana nut bread freezes very well, you know...

Except there were other cakes to be made and icing to be whipped and cardboard to be cut and covered.  I needed a recipe that wouldn't require a lot of preparation.  I googled recipes for banana nut breads and combined a couple of them to come up with two very tasty, quick and easy recipes beginning with butter cake mixes:  Pumpkin Spice Pudding Banana Nut Bread aka The One with Pudding In It, and Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread.  I didn't photograph for tutorials;  just the ingredients and finished breads.

So, without another moment's procrastination, here are the ingredients for
Pumpkin Spice Banana Nut Bread

One butter golden cake mix
Four eggs
One half cup oil
Two to three bananas - mashed
Three fourths cup of buttermilk
One box of Jello brand instant pumpkin spice pudding mix
One teaspoon vanilla
One cup nuts

Despite all the directions to combine all the wet ingredients first and then add all the dry ingredients, I absolutely dumped everything but the pecans together in the KitchenAid bowl and let it do the work all at once.  Life is easier if you plow around the stumps.  It worked a charm.  Try, yourself, and see if it doesn't.  Stir in the pecans when it's all mixed well.

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans or a small bundt pan.

Bake at 350 for an hour or so until it's done.
Maybe I should've rechopped Mama's chopped pecans.
Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
Five bananas - smashed
Three eggs
One butter cake mix
Eight ounces cream cheese - room temperature
One tablespoon vanilla
One cup chopped pecans
Seriously.  Just dump everything together and mix well, stirring in the pecans before pouring into two greased and floured loaf pans.
These are larger sized loaf pans 8 x 4 x 2 1/2.  If you've smaller
loaf pans, best to grease and flour one more.

Bake at 350 and hour or so until done.
At the point this was photographed, I was already well
into an insulin response over having consumed a slice of the
first banana nut bread.  It's a fuzzy photo.  My body was
feeling fuzzy and warm, too!

Both recipes yield a less bread-like i.e. dense loaf of tasty bread.  The pudding recipe, with oil in it, not to mention buttermilk, definitely is the moister of the two.  And the flavor the pumpkin spice pudding gives it is out of this world.  BUT, the cream cheese and banana-ness of the second recipe???  It's difficult to decide which recipe is the better one.

I've only found pumpkin spice pudding at WalMart.  Other food bloggers had been ranting and raving over it and I had to have it also.  It's worth tracking down, but you can use whatever pudding tickles your taste buds.  The original recipe had, of all things, instant banana pudding in it!

There.  It's a two-fer:  Two recipes for banana nut bread in one blog post after a month's slacking...

Y'all enjoy!