Category Archives: Book & Movie Reviews

Wondering if you should watch it or read it? Here is our humble opinion.

Introducing the Sous Vide Cooking Method

Introducing the Sous Vide Cooking Method

Though based on ancient cooking principles, sous vide technique is a new method of cooking that is gaining popularity among home cooks today. Consequently, a lot of people have various questions about this process and the equipment used. To help you get the hang of it, we’ve put together some answers to various questions you may be asking about this cooking method.

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Gardening Like a Ninja: Giveaway, Free Course, & Interview

Giveaway, e-course, and interview

The secrets to food production in landscaping are here!  You’ve got a front row seat.  I’ll wait while you go get a cup of tea.

We’ve got a fantastic giveaway and a huge announcement about how you can take an edible landscaping course for free.  So stick with me.  But to truly understand how far you can still come on your journey to food production, you just must read this interview!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know Before Reading This Blog

5 Things You Didn't Know Before Reading This Blog--Pantry Paratus

This blog is a shameless plug for my favorite winter pastime–snuggling up in fuzz gear with my favorite tea and a good read.  Now, I’m not much of a fiction reader, although I do enjoy a good classic now and again.  The truth is that my time is shredded in 10 different directions on any given day, and I have to make the most of my reading indulgence during the winter so that I am better equipped for summertime food production, preparation, and preservation.

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Preparedness & The Simple Life: Announcing a Free Summit to Get You Started

Preparedness and Simple Living

Preparedness.  The Simple Life.  Self-Sufficiency.

 

God never meant us to live this way, I’m convinced.  There are people who never see the light of day, never talk to a neighbor, never eat something out of the ground. They may never sit at the table for a meal, be asked how their day went by a loved one, or pet an animal.  This is not normal.

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Giveaway: 2 copies of “Creative Containers” (a craft project book)

 GIVEAWAY

2 Copies of “Creative Containers” by Jill Evans

Creative Containers

 

 

 We thought this would be just pure, random fun.  We do not even sell this book–I will tell you how I got my hands on it.   As a book seller, we have access to a million great titles, but we just cannot carry every book that we wish to carry; we have it narrowed down to the books that will substantially add to your self-sufficiency.  We believe that if you start with our booklist, you will be lightyears ahead in your quest for preparedness, self-sufficiency, or a homesteading lifestyle.  We sell the best-of-the-best, like “Storey’s Basic Country Skills”, “The Home Creamery”, and many more.  

 

With that said,  I am thrifty by nature and so I am always attempting to re-purpose things that would otherwise be discarded.

 

 

 

I saw this title and was immediately drawn to this book.  Indeed, I love it!  I think many of you will too.  When it comes to the book shelf at Pantry Paratus, though, we want to keep our selection true to the heart of what we do here–equipping you to produce, prepare, and preserve your own harvest.  As much as we think this book is doggone-cute, it falls outside the realm of our expertise.  We can assure you that if we sell something, it is something we routinely use, have tested thoroughly, and/or have researched ad nauseum.  It is a promise to you. 

 

 Let’s just have fun!  

 

Oh, and after you register for the giveaway, be sure to check the list of all of our great deals, listed below the newsletter signup form.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pantry Paratus Sales

Like a good treasure hunt?  Find our advertisement in Zone 4 Magazine for $5.00 off the Roo apron.

Get a FREE  Sport Berkey Water Bottle when you add it to your cart with a purchase of $150 or more.  Valid through June 30th.

FREE: Get both the “Preserve It Naturally” book  & the Jumbo Jerky Kit when you purchase a 9 Tray Excalibur Dehydrator.  Valid while supplies last.

Get FREE SHIPPING on any 5 lb bag of Hard Red or Soft White Palouse Brand Wheat.  Valid while supplies last.

Do you like knowing that your money supports a worthy cause?  100% of all proceeds from the Stronghold Haywire Klamper goes to support difficult work in South Sudan, such as providing clean water and education.

Looking for other great deals?  Check out our clearance section!

 

 

 

www.Hypersmash.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pantry Paratus Radio, Episode 021: Interview with Millie, from Real Food for Less Money Part I

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Pantry Paratus Radio, Episode 021

Interview with Millie, from Real Food for Less Money Part I

Millie joins us from RealFoodForLessMoney.com and she is incredibly wise.  Nothing like a seasoned Wyoming Mom who shops in bulk, prepares wild game for her family and can make a healthy-food-choices dollar stretch to provide great conversation.  The upside is that you get to listen in as I chatted with her and took copious notes.  She has learned the value of a dollar and she shares many of her tips with us.  I think for me, I enjoyed our discussion of the “why” even more.  Come join us, and share your thoughts about it in the comments section below.

 

Real Food For Less Money

Right Click Here to Download This Episode

 

 

 

Listen to internet radio with Preparedness Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

We talk about:

 

-Chaya’s transition to real food and changing her shopping habits

 

 

 

-Are organic foods actually real food?

 

 

 

-Getting to know Millie from RealFoodForLessMoney.com

 

 

 

-Making the transition from traditional American food diet to real food

 

 

 

-Answering the timeless question: “What is for dinner?”

 

 

 

-First line of defense for saving money with food: menu planning

 

 

 

-What is for dinner? What Millie keeps on hand as “quick meal” starters: frozen pizza crusts, canned salmon, canned antelope, etc.

 

 

 

-Protein: okay, let us get down to brass tacks on the “less money” part

 

 

 

-Making use of wild game

 

 

 

-Farmers Market

 

 

 

-Living between seasons at the farmer’s market

 

 

 

-“Dirty dozen” and the “Clean fifteen” lists

 

 

 

-Prop 37 just failed and some of the surprising sponsors of the negative PR campaign behind its demise

 

 

 

-Offering yourself out as the “clean up” person for the extra produce or game that other people do not want

 

 

 

-Herdshares, what it is and the raw milk situation in WY

 

 

 

-Raw Milk foodies are generally well informed and yet their protests are not as well publicized

 

 

 

-“Our freedom is our heritage”

 

 

 

-Why store food and what prompted Millie to stock her pantry

 

 

 

-Building community through preparedness

 

 

 

-Storage buckets

 

 

 

-Getting the tour of Millie’s pantry

 

 

 

-Preparing, the why

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

 

RealFoodForLessMoney.com

 

Menu planning with Millie from Real Food For Less Money (learn the benefit of “stretchy beans”)

 

Menu planning guest blog with Chef Nancy

 

SimplyCanning.com

 

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen lists

 

Chaya’s Butter Video

 

Weston A. Price Foundation

 

The Pantry Paratus Facebook page

 

Non-stick bread pans

 

Chaya’s blog The Chronicle of a Reformed City Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proviso:

 

Nothing in this blog constitutes medical  or legal advice.  You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes.  Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.

 

 

 

Pantry Paratus Radio Episode 006: Interview with Lynn Donaldson Food and Travel Photojournalist

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Every now and again you get to meet someone with a job so cool, you did not even know that people get paid to do such neat things.  Meet Lynn Donaldson, she is a food and travel photojournalist and she does fabulous work (and she gets bonus points for being from Montana).  Take a listen from our favorite food and travel blogger as we get her perspective on capturing the soul of a travel destination by getting to know the people through their food.

 

Food and Travel

 

 

Right Click Here to Download This Episode

 

 

Listen to internet radio with Preparedness Radio on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

 

 

Lynn Donaldson Photo Composite

We talk about:

-Bio

 

-Lynn’s experience with the MT office of tourism

 

-Food is what gets you out of your car and to experience the people and the places.

 

-How and why certain people succeed

 

-10,000 hours to be an expert in any field

 

-Growing up on a wheat farm, looking through the perspective of “farm to fork.”  Being connected to the food.

 

-Facebook and yelp to find out about a place before hand

 

-How to ask for where the good places to eat are

 

-How do you get to know a place or event while on assignment.

 

-Photo equipment that she uses: Nikon D700, a 20-35mm wide and a fixed 50mm.  Best food close up lens 1.4, “It just makes the light sing.”  I say, “Cool!”

 

-Lynn was not able to pick her favorite photo shoot, but she retells a story of her latest shoot up in Northeast Montana where she stumbled upon the local favorites—every place has a favorite.  It is like a scavenger hunt for a photographer. 

 

-Being a professional tumbleweed: how she explores the great outdoors with a young family.  Finding and celebrating those little things about a place that make it special.  Make the memories!

 

-Lynn’s new professional project, a cook book called Open Range written by Patrick Dillon and Chef Jay Bentley who owns The Mint in Belgrade.

Links:

LynnDonaldson.com

PlacesBetweenSpaces.com

Get Lost in Montana video clip—how we first found Lynn’s work.

-A travel photo piece Lynn did for Big Sky Journal

-One more video clip featuring Lynn’s great work, “Food gets me off the road and out of my truck.”

-Dusan Smetana’s work in a video clip

-Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers

Sweetwater Travel Company (hint: check out the photo gallery)

-Another great travel food article about Yellowstone National Park by Lynn

– Michael and Jane Stern wrote many books, have a blog called Road Food and also had a column in Gourmet Magazine for which they won three James Beard journalism awards!

-Lynn likes the SpoonForkBacon blog

NY Magazine article about Brooklyn how it has become artisanal and very farm to fork focused

-Lynn recommends the Tartelette food blog as a great example of food photography

-wrap up about food and travel with Lynn

 

Wilson

Pro Deo et Patria

 

Photo Credits:

All photos are by Lynn Donalson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaya’s Review: Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

Note:  We do not sell Gaia’s Garden.  We thoroughly enjoyed the book and would like to share our opinion of it with you as well as some basic Permaculture principles that you can find within its’ pages.  If you would like to read the book for yourself, you can find it here.

Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway

 

What is Permaculture? Hemenway barely catches his breath when he tackles this question, and I’m rather glad he did in his typical systematic way because I’m asked this constantly in different forms—“What makes it different than organic gardening?”, “Isn’t that gardening-for-hippies?”.  Just last week I was asked, “If my mom went to a Permaculture meeting, would she just think it was another gardening club?”

 

“Permanent Culture” and “Permanent Agriculture” have joined to mean an interconnected ecosystem that is rich, diverse, and healthy by stacking the functions of the soil, water, and animal life.  Every piece of the garden impacts the other living organisms in that garden and you plan accordingly.  For instance, one plant attracts a pesky insect, another attracts the bird that dines on them.  You have now created a relationship between two otherwise unrelated plants.  Perhaps one of those plants is also known to improve the nitrogen content of the soil, but another needs strong nitrogen to flourish.   What that means is that the end goal isn’t just food or floral output.  It isn’t just about attracting birds or butterflies, nor is it just about preventing soil erosion or even just about rich soil. It’s about all of it—and using all of the pieces simultaneously to improve the quality of the other pieces.

 

It’s more of a gardening paradigm.  Organic gardening refers more to what is not done to the plants; it does not necessarily encompass the sets of processes by which those plants are grown (i.e., irrigation, recycling, composting, monoculture vs. polyculture, or harvesting practices).  Organic principles are excellent and Permaculture utilizes those, but it does not stop there.

 

And as for your mother, would she think it was another gardening club?  I would hope she’d bring her experience to the table for others and walk away with a few solutions, a few “never-thought-of-that” moments, and a few new friends.  She would likely see some distinct differences in approach.

Gardening Pottery

This book opened my eyes to both the beauty and purpose to ecological design.  It is not about color coordinating flowers.  It’s about creating a living, multifunctional, thriving ecosystem.  One of Hemenway’s stronger suggestions is to think of your garden in terms of zones.  Start right out your door!  Zone 1 is where you spend the most time, and so it needs to be logical for you; what do you need most from the garden?  This zone is also for those high maintenance plants, like things that will need to be covered and uncovered during those frosty nights, or the herbs that are easily choked out by weeds.  If this is out your door, you are far more likely to pick a weed here, or notice yellowing leaves in time to apply much needed water. These are your most utilized plants (if you eat tomatoes everyday in the summer, for instance) and the plants that are the neediest to grow. The zones going out from there should require less care, eventually leading to the “food forest” zone that only requires minimal maintenance.  In this way, you can increase your garden production without enslaving yourself to the garden.

 

Hemenway also focuses heavily upon multifunctionalism, and it’s this emphasis that brings the best charts to this book!  You can see the many functions of many, many plants in order to plan your garden for optimal performance.  He speaks of “stacking functions”; if every carefully chosen plant provides multiple things to the garden, and multiple things in the garden provide each one of those functions, you will not have a “weak link”.  No plant only does one thing and yet many of us grew up gardening that way.  For instance I have always loved lavender and used to grow it for the beauty in the garden and as a cut bouquet.  Apart from beauty and scent, what role does this single plant play?

 

A chart on page 278 shows this to grow well in my current zone (yay!) and shows that it’s an evergreen shrub (meaning that it retains foliage all year around and is a woody perennial with multiple stems arising from the base) and it does prefer full sun.  Okay, so most gardening books would have told me as much.  But continuing on I can now see the multiple functions of lavender: It does have aesthetic uses (as I mentioned),  and it’s a wonderfully plant for human medicinal use.

Bee on Lavender

It attracts many beneficial insects, it’s a windbreak species, and it’s also a hedgerow species.

Lavender as a hedge

So perhaps I can plant it next to species that need pollinating insects, perhaps I can plant that tender partial-shade plant next to it that would benefit from the wind break, and it would make a wonderful border to separate garden areas.  This is what garden design and “stacking functions” is all about.  Now, “Butterfly Bush” has the same windbreak and insectary functions, and would look quite nice interplanted.  Why repeat myself? Because if something were to happen to one plant, I have a backup plan!

 

If a chicken is something that only outputs eggs, then it is hard to understand Permaculture.  But if you look at a chicken as something that eats insects, and that my garden is an insect nursery.

Chicken in garden

Consider further that if I require the outputs of both the chicken and the garden—now you can see that stacking the functions is beneficial for every living thing involved.  My backyard (whether I realize it or not) is a complex ecosystem.  If I address it as such, start stacking the functions of all the components involved, now I am practicing Permaculture.

 

I have spent much of my life fighting the natural succession of plant life; I never understood the greater principles at work.  Think of plant succession as linear.  Bare earth, followed by fast-growing weeds and grasses.

prairie grasses in Colorado

These would then be replaced by taller perennial grasses and bushes.  Animal and bird life really move in at this stage, bringing life, insect management, and fertilizer.  Ultimately, grass lands are teenagers striving for the “adulthood” of forest.  This explains all of the thousands of oak saplings I’ve pulled from between my peony buses!  Those “weeds” are part of the process of healing barren earth.  The roots penetrate hard ground, the weeds die back and compost, and there is now food for a whole host of other living creatures.  Left alone that oak would start producing leaf litter by the metric ton adding precious organic matter to the soil.  How do we get this process to work for us?

 

Hemenway does a great job—better than I—of explaining these principles and giving practical application in this Permaculture primer.  The photos were inspirational.  I have seen mature permacultured gardens firsthand and so I know the wisdom of this methodology.  I didn’t know quite where to begin myself, though, until Gaia’s garden.  I now have a starting point.

 

Design, water constraints and solutions, extending the growing seasons, utilizing microclimates, building humus-rich soil, balancing the insect and animal life, developing nurse plant relationships, how to interplant for maximum production, and “guild building”—this book was not like the other gardening books I have read in the past.

 

The Negatives

 

For those of us who look at this amazing design and see a Designer, we often have to swallow the meat and spit out the bones of the modern evolutionary cliché.  I have heard Hemenway lecture with tremendous passion about Permaculture in which he makes great conclusions based on evolutionary assumptions.  I would depart with Hemenway in his assumptions, but his conclusions for a positive way forward are largely correct. Moreover Hemenway approaches Permaculture with a heavy hand in science (which I love), so his conclusions are even more convincing.  This book does reflect his evolutionary paradigm but is not heavy-handed with it.

 

I am naive enough that I did not know where the title came from—“who’s Gaia?”  According to some traditions, she is the goddess of earth.  Apart from the title of the book, there is no other mention of her.  I did see a pagan paradigm come through in the smallest of ways, such as the personification of earth as “mother”.  Again, those of us who worship the Creator and not the creation can agree with the large strokes of the conclusions but disagree with the philosophical underpinnings.

 

Conclusion

 

I could say that this book, listening to Paul Wheaton’s podcasts, along with the documentary “Back to Eden” have shifted my gardening approach 180 degrees.  I think that if you have the least bit of curiosity towards Permaculture, or if you have watched “Back to Eden” but do not know where to start, this book will put feet to that vision!

 

 


 

 

Photo credits:

Gardening pottery 

Lavender as insectary

Lavender as hedge row

Chicken in garden

Prairie grass

Wilson’s Book Review: Composting for Dummies

In ground, on the ground, in a bin, on your counter top—if it was once living, chances are you can compost it.  There is so much great information in this little book that it will really make you want to start reclaiming so many of those “waste” items.

Counter Top Compost Keeper

Cathy Cromell definitely has the bona fides to write such a work.  Moreover, she has the correct approach to gardening by starting with the soil.  And she is in very good company when she talks about soil with the likes of Joel Salatin bucking the trend of those who advocate for “plant food.”  You know “plant food,” it comes in a bag, has a price tag so that you can put it in the shopping cart and feel good about hauling it home.

 

If you take the other course of action in building the soil first, rest assured your plants will have everything they need.  As a matter of fact if you walk into the forest, kneel down and pick up a scoop of chocolatey brown coffee-ground like soil (or humus), you are getting to see the natural order at work.  Nature seldom wastes anything and is constantly composting.  “Compost is a mixture of decayed and decaying organic matter that improves soil structure and provides nutrients for plants” (Cromell, 2010).

 

I could go on and on about specifics in this book that I liked so much.  The graphs, pictures and side bars in this book are a great means to tell the story of how nature produces topsoil.  I contacted Wiley Publishing, Inc. to get permission to reprint the following three graphics from the book to help give you the scope and expertise captured so well here.

 

1. On page 43, we see the different phases of decomposition require different organisms to accomplish that.  They each work in their own temperature range.  Amazing!  (Cromell, 2010).

Temperature Chart P. 43

 

Excerpt from Composting For Dummies®, posted with permission from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

2. Great sidebars throughout the book.  Here is one on page 171 that I like particularly well that talks about the importance of Rhizobia bacteria.  They are the secret weapon of legumes to pull valuable nitrogen out of the air and convert it into a form that plants can use (Cromell, 2010).  The natural order is simply fascinating!

 

Fixating on Nitrogen P. 171

 

Excerpt from Composting For Dummies®, posted with permission from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

3. The biggest and most valuable thing that I learned from the book is the Chapter 7 covering the relationship between Carbon and Nitrogen.  I knew that they were both important, but I did not know how much that they depended on each other (30:1 to be precise).  This chart on page 108 is an excerpt of just how rich with useful facts this book is.   (Cromell, 2010).

 

C-N Chart P. 108

 

Excerpt from Composting For Dummies®, posted with permission from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

 

 

In the classic For Dummies style of top ten lists, here is Wilson’s top ten things about this book:

10. Composting is one of the least expensive hobbies that you can do (p. 15).

9. Classic 5th Wave comics throughout the book.

8. Compost takes billions of participants (primary, secondary and tertiary consumers) all working together (p. 31).

7. You can compost with children (p. 14).

6. If you can construct a container—you can compost. Failing that, you can just stack it up on the ground and you can still compost (p. 77)!

5. Compost needs 35-40% moisture.  Ants like very dry conditions and flies prefer very wet conditions—the upside is that if you like the benefits of compost (good soil) and you also like chicken, but you do not want to measure the moisture, chickens like both flies and ants (p. 73-74).

4. Compost (as a process) is extremely observable, and is a great project for science fairs and home schoolers (p. 38).

3. If done properly, compost should not smell (p.33).

2. Worms, the more you know about them the more you love them.  They actually get their own chapter (p. 149).

1. Compost happens—you can help on the time scale, but Nature is ultimately driving.

 

 

It is wintertime folks, not much gardening to be done these days.  Other than daydreaming with seed catalogues, there is not much else that can be accomplished.  The good news is that the compost process happens year round, albeit much more slowly in winter.  This book is a quick read and a great resource.

 

Please check back on Friday so that you can help me welcome the author of Composting for Dummies Cathy Cromell as she stops by to chat with us!

 

 

Wilson

 

Pro Deo et Patria

Cromell, C., & Association, T. N. G. (2010). Composting for dummies. (p. 7). For Dummies.

Ibid. (p. 43).

Ibid. (p. 171).

Ibid. (p. 108).

test

Photo Credits:

Composting for Dummies book cover, Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Humus, photo by moptop8

Leaves, photo by mHdZdfM