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Puckerbrush Preps

OK, confession time. Less than a decade ago my pantry was thin and my teeny RV freezer was chock full of Lean Cuisines, Hungry Man dinners,  State Fair Corn Dogs and Heat’n’Eat Hot Wings.  I didn’t own a water bottle because I drank a 12 pack of unleaded Pepsi every day.  A microwave was indispensable because – frozen dinner.  I distinctly remember buying Hungry Man’s  because it screamed out on the package they contained 2.5 lbs of food.  Mebbe not good and healthy food but Jesus H. Christ  -2.5 lbs of food!!!  How could you go wrong? The RV freezer was so small that I could maybe get a week-10 days of frozen goods in there – nada mas.  But hey, I was fat and happy; chock full of MSG,fructose syrup and killer doses of sodium.

AcuTemp AX56L milsurp freezer/refrigerator

Well sir, In 2010 I got all tangle footed with Little Blondie and one of the things she heavily advertised was the fact she was a gourmet cook………… and that was a fact true enough.  The smart question at the time would have been “Ummmm, how often do you do this gourmet cookery?” and the honest answer would have included the phrase when hell freezes over. So if she grudgingly put a pot on the stove it was usually gruel and hardtack.  Lucky me!   When she went to the store, she went down the frozen food aisle and stopped next door to where they kept the Lean Cuisines – you know the door with the ‘bargain’ frozen dinners.  Evidence pointed to the fact she would just back the cart up and scoop a shelf or two into the cart helter skelter.  I am NOT a vegetarian so why did my freezer have 4 packages of eggplant parmigiana in there?  BTW, I am still partial to those Hot Wings.

Wait, it gets better.  I have told y’all before that somewhere along about 2013 I decided I was gonna learn to cook – even though I was payin’ the freight and doin’ the heavy liftin’ for a gourmet cook in situ.  The catalyst for that decision was Little Blondie had a gourmet food stash.  She would do the gruel/hardtack thing for me and buy me dollar store TV dinners and then rathole her own personal stash of goodies.  When I called her out on that she was unabashed and said ‘ You can’t have ANY of that.’  F that Noise!   So I bought a set of Lodge Cast Iron Cookware and started to learn how to be a cooker man.  Over the years I have developed quite an affinity for Cajun cooking.  Those folks can take the most commonest stuff and make it taste good.  I swear I believe somewhere there is a Cajun recipe for bermuda grass clippings and garden slugs. Think about it — who was the first fella that picked up a mudbug and said ‘Wonder how this tastes?’  or gator tail or garfish?   My cooking bible has been Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen ca. 1984.  It is all tatted and worn with scribbles in the margins — well worth it!  In 1984, you would have gone to the Crazy House if you told ’em one day there would be a TV channel just about cooking. Time’s change but some things never will.

Last week I talked about My Katrina and that epiphany.  Some folks say they are doomsday preppers or end of the world-type survivalists and they do some of the same-same things I am doing.  I don’t lump myself in with those doomsday preppers because I don’t do this stuff part time and then put my shiny shoes on every Monday to go to work.   I learned to cook so I wouldn’t have to endure gruel or eat frozen dinners that had more chemicals than meat in them.  When Little Blondie flew out down south this time 3 years ago,  I was left on a job that traditionally required at least two people.  My lifestyle requirements radically changed and I adjusted.  With certainty,  living down here in the puckerbrush and not going to the store for months makes me more self-sufficient and better prepared.  That knowledge is a welcome safety net in this chaotic world for sure.

Danby chest freezer paired with two Rubbermaid Action Packers. That is some trapper cabin shit there for sure.

If we get down to brass tacks, refrigeration is a key factor for a deep pantry that eats well.  My little Danby Chest Freezer is a key player. It has been a tough soldier over the last 4 years. I have run it on grid power, generators and solar and it just keeps chuggin’ along. When I can see the bottom of the freezer, I know a supply run is soon at hand.  I do not know if I could get along without it honestly.

In 2015,  I did 5 months at the Secret Hideout because the oil field played out.  I saw it coming and planned accordingly;  the pantry was full when I turned out the lights and headed north.  That 5 months was all off grid with power coming from a 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator and a small RENOGY Solar Kit .  As the Spring months rolled by I really, really dreaded the heat of Summer with no AC.  One of the things I discovered quickly was how much cooking inside an RV heated it up.  I know now why the early pioneers had outdoor kitchens!

I cooked on the smoker or used the Lodge cast iron outside. It was really no big deal.  The Lodge Dutch Oven Cooking Table sure made it easier on my back! A recent addition was the Camp Chef Outdoor Oven and my SIL tells me UPS delivered a Camp Chef High Output 2 Burner Stove to the Hideout soon after I left. How about some down and dirty info on propane stoves and burners? A typical RV stove has 3 burners. The big center burner is 9500btu and the smaller rear ones are 6500btu. My most used piece of cast iron is my Lodge Cast Iron 12 inch Skillet and that center burner is marginal for that big a skillet because the outside edges don’t get hot enough.  A 10″ works just fine; keeping in mind all the while that goods left stacked in the corner and not used until the lights go out is a recipe for disaster.   There is a learning curve with all this stuff and reading it in a book is just not good enough when the chips are down.  The Camp Chef oven is great………  the two top burners not so much.  They are only 6500btu so as evidenced above, their utility is limited. You just gotta know what you are working with because they will simmer up a big pot of beans just fine.  .  BTW, it fits very tidily on the Lodge Cooking table.

AX56L with the Hardigg lid off

If you have been visiting here long enough you know I prefer to purchase quality equipment – just like maybe one day my life might depend on it.  Good equipment is not cheap…. I call that philosophy  Buy Once – Cry Once.  Amazon can be a weird marketplace.  Sometimes they will do an insane price reduction on a product for a short time and that is what I troll for.  I have a wishlist with equipment I need and I patiently wait for a price reduction.  That is what happened with the 2 burner Camp Chef stove.  I caught it at almost 70% off.  And why do I need another outdoor stove?  Simple – the burners are 20,000btu!  And why would I need a 20kbtu burner?  Simple again…… An All American Pressure Cooker is on my purchase list and you are not going to do any decent canning on a puny propane burner.

Same same with a big ‘ol cardboard box currently taking up valuable floor space in the NO Princess Palace.  It is another item that has been on my wishlist since day one….. an Excalibur Food Dehydrator that I just picked up at almost $80 off normal price. As soon as I can make a supply run to pick up some fresh produce, we are gonna test drive that rascal.

Interior of AX56L

The last addition to my equipment was the AcuTemp AX56L freezer/refrigerator AKA the bad ass fridge.  I had the opportunity to pick one up milsurp and NIB for pennies on the dollar vs. new cost.  BFF Cait and I discussed its’ usefulness  at length and finally decided we could not pass it up because of its’ versatility and rugged construction.  Basically, it is a military blood product transfer case with approximately 2cu ft capacity.  It will run on any power source  from 12vDC to 240vAC.  It has onboard AGM batteries that will run it standalone for 12 hrs in freezer mode or 48 hrs in cool mode.  It only has two temp settings –  minus 8 degrees and 39 degrees.  It is a true compressor fridge inside a Hardigg case and I have enjoyed piddlin’ with it.  So far I see two cons — it is big and bulky and it weighs 142lbs!!  Plans for its’ use right now is overflow capacity for the Danby chest freezer which will stretch my necessity for supply maybe as much as 30 additional days.


End Note: Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road by Shelby Lynne for the Revelation CD.

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My Katrina

Prickly Pear in bloom. McMullen County, South Texas. April 2017

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered –

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”

A few weeks back I saw some reference to Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast almost 12 years ago  and it got me to thinking back on how that affected me.  Because it really didn’t  — at the time.

Move forward to 2011 and I found this first hand account and it did affect me.  Might be a good idea to go read it for yourself — it is a good piece of writing.

Katrina 2005 Revisited

The same patch in bloom. July 2017

When I posted that blog in 2011, it really marked a watershed turning point in my thought process.  I am no stranger to catastrophic events with a history of living through blizzards and hurricanes where services were interrupted for days and even weeks.   I had been gate guarding in the oil patch for over a year at that time. Remote locations, off the grid and more dependent on my resources than ever before so my daily mindset was changing to match my enironment.  When I read John’s account of his Katrina several things hit me with clarity like never before:

  • You cannot rely on the GOV to come to your rescue.  Their response was too little – too late and people died as a result. We saw it again with Hurricane Sandy.
  • Politics is a vicious game even when thousands of lives are on the line.  Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin  withheld aid  and delayed efforts because they both wanted to be in the sole spotlight of national attention.  Their bickering was criminal… Nagin paid the price in a way…he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014 for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor — including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
  • People are animals and turn feral PDQ when TSHTF.  Big cities are death when the rule of law is removed.
  • Self sufficiency and preparations for future catastrophic events should be the order of the day for each of us.

I guess if you trace back through the blog, right about this time in 2011 is when I started thinking preparedness for any eventuality was the way to go.  I reckon it was about the same time I asked My Bro what his goal was up at the Secret Hideout.   Sure, he wanted electricity, water, a place to live and a shop but he also said he wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible because it was the prudent thing to do. Makes sense, don’t it? Tomorrow is a brand new day.  How often do we squander the promise it holds?

This is not about gate guarding or working,  it is about adjusting to a coming groundswell of change.  How much of our stupidity regarding basic human needs is orchestrated and according to some plan put in place by elitists that have no true regard for our well being? How long will our fragile way of life continue when the White Witch Janet Yellen said just this week it is is not sustainable?

“Sometimes those who don’t socialize much aren’t actually anti-social. They just have no tolerance for drama, stupidity, and fake people”

Everything happens for a reason and I feel so blessed that I fell into this oilfield gate guard gig.  The freedom and versatility it gives me suits me to a T; yes, it does.  It has allowed me to focus on the basic human needs and refine the process.  Every single one of us requires

  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter

Prickly pear fruit – these are called tunas; don’t ask me why.

…….. and pretty much in that order of importance.  I know I nag on y’all incessantly that you can’t buy end of the world/catastrophic event type goods and then let them sit in the corner of the garage until something happens when your life might depend on them.  It will be an epic fail because you won’t have the knowledge and experience to use them.

How many folks do you know these days that could be called a jack of all trades?  Not many I wager and it is because once upon a time you had to know a little about lots of different things just to get by.  Our new and improved brand of living doesn’t require that anymore. Hell, BFF Cait orders two hunnert dollars of groceries online and then when she gets to the store the fella is waiting at the curb with her order and loads it right up in her Jeep.  I don’t blame her one bit– I would do it too if I had that opportunity!  But don’t all this convenience make you wonder what happens when it ain’t there no more – ala Katrina 2005 or Venezuela 2017?

Some of the stuff I get myself into is fairly bizarre by normal standards and I can do that sorta stuff because it is just me and a dog.  The nieces and nephews call me Crazy Uncle Andy with reason.  I spent 5 months at the Secret Hideout off grid during the heat of a Texas Summer in 2015. When it got so hot I couldn’t sleep,  I figured out a solution that cost me 2 gallons of gas a day. in 2016, I went over 110 days without going to the store settin’ right here on this gate gettin’ by with what I had on hand. I didn’t have to do either of these things but I did and it was a learning challenge.  You can’t let your stuff sit in the garage remember?

The new bad ass fridge in action

Back in the day, folks could not pull up at the the curb in air conditioned comfort and have a fella throw a weeks worth of groceries in their car.  Amazon didn’t deliver their latest purchase with a drone and a NYC robot didn’t bring them a pizza.  Not hardly.  They had gardens and chickens and pressure cookers and smoke houses –  and not because it was a chic, cool thing and not because they had time on their hands with nuthin’ to do.  They did it because that is how you fed yourself – and it was hard work – and it required knowledge.

When I read these first hand accounts from Katrina, Sandy and now Venezuela;  there are common elements in every story.  Problems with potable water, personal hygiene, food spoilage due to no refrigeration and food supply-period.  Then there is the shelter thing and during the suspension of normal and polite human behavior maybe I would better voice it as safe shelter is a requirement.  I had full intention this week to talk about additions to my livin’ life that got me further down that road of being increasingly self sufficient but I do believe I will save that until next week.  I got refrigerators and stoves and dehydrators and all manner of things to talk about.  Until then…..


End Note: Last of my Kind by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit from The Nashville Sound cd.  Even though the title says so this is NOT Trashville music.  The whole cd is shit hot- give it a listen.


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Not My Reality

July 5th marks the third anniversary of the absence of female companionship in the NO Princess Palace.  Certainly there have been some half-hearted attempts to remedy that situation.  Mostly they fizzle when the discovery phase reveals I live in an RV.  One exchange that showed promise evaporated when I was asked to describe the interior of the Palace.  When I replied “think trapper cabin like on one of those Alaskan reality shows” that was the end of that.  Adios chica!  🙂  Seems to me a fair percentage of women my age (from personal observation only with no empirical data

Continue reading Not My Reality

There and Back Again

What I did on my vacation

It is always a relief to make the 550 mile round trip to the Secret Hideout without catastrophe; especially so in the heat of the summer.  The trip was made easier due to two factors.  I left here and all my outside gear stayed in place.   All the lights, water system, front porch, utility table and even down to the high dollar Dakota Alert driveway alarms. I just unhooked the umbilicals from the NO Princess Palace and pulled outta the slot.  Tennessee Red and her husband just pulled right in and they were

Continue reading There and Back Again

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