Help Me Understand Why I Need A Year’s Supply Of Toilet Paper?

Let me be forthright in saying I am not mocking or ridiculing in any way the prepper mentality.   That being said, I just don’t completely understand or appreciate the extent many people appear to be taking this end-of-the-world survival concept.   Seriously, a year’s supply of toilet paper?   Check out this video:

Now, ever since my Cub Scouts days I have been groomed to be prepared for many of life’s challenges, but sometimes I think people take matters to an extreme.   I suppose at any one given time my household has a two month’s supply (or more) of toilet paper, but that’s only because we often shop at Costco and nothing comes in small packages sold there.   I view a video like this and afterwards I’m left wondering…just how ill prepared am I for the future?

Seriously, I am a big proponent of being prepared for emergencies, but mostly this has been to the extent of a winter survival bag in my truck, maybe a pantry full of dry goods to get us through an extended power outage after a storm, you know…the usual preparatory activities.   But call me foolish, if you will, I fail to see the value in prepping for emergencies lasting months or years in duration.

I guess people have to do what they need to do to achieve peace of mind.   Oh yeah, given this current state of our world affairs and political climate I can envision things going south quickly.   It could certainly happen.   I don’t view it as inevitable, but during my lifetime I have seen enough “surprises” taking place in this world to know nothing is completely certain from one day to the next.

Still, this possible “uncertainty” does not fuel my desire to spend boat loads of money for a year’s supply of food, medicine, various hygiene items, etc…all of which do not last indefinitely.   I get it, some people purchase insurance and if you don’t use it the money is gone.   Yet, stockpiling food and various other supplies seems like such a waste with no imminent threat I can detect.   Obviously, time will either show me as the fool I am or confirm why a prudent person can reasonably maintain these doubts.

Honestly, the extent of my “prepper” activities will probably end this spring at purchasing some heirloom garden seeds that are not hybrid varieties or some Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).   Why?   Mostly because many of these historical seeds have some great stories to them.   Not to mention, if handled and stored properly can have a viable shelf life for 10 years or longer.

In reality, a small container of heirloom seeds (I purchase mine from Seed Savers Exchange where a former high school classmate manages the store) is a good investment in the future.   Many of these seeds worked well for our ancestors during a time when all they had to depend on was themselves, so it can work that way again if heaven forbid it has to.

So, tell me where I’m wrong.   I’d love to hear your comments and rationale for having a more aggressive approach to taking measures on preparing for an uncertain future.

The Tool Every Sportsman Should Have In Their Kitchen

Can you believe one of my favorite tools as a sportsman isn’t a gun…or a knife…or a flashlight…or even a multi-tool of some sort.   Nope.   It’s a gadget, and quite honestly a device that should be found IN EVERY KITCHEN!   I’m talking about a trusty thermometer used specifically for cooking.

Now, let’s get something straight.   Most kitchen thermometers suck.   That’s right…if you have the old dial thermometer that takes 15–20 seconds to slowly react to the cooking temperature, that’s not good enough.   Let me put it to you this way…if you were shooting at a flock of geese and pulled the trigger with a long delay in firing would this situation please you?   More importantly, a gun with a long hang-fire time such as this scenario holds the potential for being a true safety hazard in the field.

Well, guess what…a slow thermometer not only slows you down as a cook.   But chances are quite good that it’s slow in reacting because it doesn’t incorporate the latest in thermocouple science.   This could mean it’s simply not accurate.

For the past couple years my go to device has been the Splash-Proof Super-Fast® Thermapen® produced by a company called ThermoWorks.   I wholeheartedly endorse this product and I can say this IS NOT A SPONSORED EVALUATION.   I can honestly say I spent the $96 plus freight to get the product just like you would.   In fact, I am so impressed with a whole host of this company’s products I have purchased several types of thermometers, timers, etc.   The entire product line appears to be top notch in quality.

It’s important to note you can’t purchase these products in stores or even on Amazon.   Well, technically you can buy it on Amazon, but it simply directs you to their corporate store.

So, why invest nearly $100 in a thermometer?   Good question.   My first response would be because the safety of your family deserves it.   If you’re cooking any type of perishable meat or fish attaining the correct minimum temperature is not something you should be guessing about.   In fact, see the graphic (below) and click on it to enlarge.   This gives you the minimum temperatures as established by The National Restaurant Association and provides a good guideline.


As you will see, in general if you are cooking any large muscle like a steak or a roast the minimum internal temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.   Ground meat which has had more surface area exposed to knives or cutters is more prone to bacteria growth and must attain a temperature of at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit.   Poultry and most any game birds are even more highly susceptible to nasty organisms and should be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just a few simple rules to observe for safety.   Also, one of the main benefits of using the Thermapen is the slender probe to easily penetrate muscle.   Yet, the main benefit in buying quality is this probe reads the temperature at the very tip of the probe.   Other cheaper types of devices use different measuring technology and the reading could be an inch or two higher along the probe shaft.   With the Thermapen there simply is no guessing as you know what the temperature is within a split second…not several seconds later.

Check out most cooking shows on TV and you will see how many professional cooks tend to gravitate to the Thermapen because of the superb quality.   But what prompted me to write this post today is something new ThermoWorks is offering.   Check out the new ThermoPop at almost 1/4 the price ($24 introductory price) of the Thermopen.


Sure, you sacrifice a bit of speed(this probe states a reading in 5-6 seconds), but the quality of this device very likely is second to none you will find in any store near you.   I’ll be getting several of these to test out in upcoming weeks to come.

In closing, we all know about the importance of food safety when it comes to cooking and checking temps.   But there is another important quality factor involved in the cooking process.   To be a consistent cook it requires taking the guess work out of where things are at during the cooking process.

As many of you know, I come from the world of competition BBQ and often times when a piece of smoked muscle attains a specific temperature it gets pulled from the smoker to rest.   Even a 5 degree variance can spell the difference between food that is outstanding and food that is simply just good.

And when you are constantly checking temps you want to do things fast.   As the saying goes, “when you are looking, you’re not cooking.”   Hence the need to open door, insert probe, get the reading and shut that oven door quickly once again.

As a sportsman, you should take as much pride in how you present things at the dinning room table as you do in the field or the waters where the food is obtained.   If you’re one who downplays the importance of a good meat thermometer, than you’re missing out on an important element of enjoying the total sportsman experience.   In other words, why sacrifice good food to a $3 piece of junk when you’ve already likely spent several thousand dollars to bring that meat into your home.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Deer Camp Rules Gleaned From Over 35 Years Of Hunting Experience

With the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season just around the corner (on November 9th) I thought it might be appropriate to share some of the wisdom gleaned by attending over 35 years in hunting camp.   As you prepare for your hunting camp this fall, please take this sage advice into careful consideration:

  1. Never trust a skinny person to pick up the morning donuts for deer camp.  They will either severely underestimate how many are needed or pick up some healthy crap nobody wants to eat.SLD_1557
  2. The snoring in deer camp will be far worse than ever imagined.  Just trust me on this.
  3. Never complain about the cook’s grub.  They might actually tell you what they put in it.
  4. Don’t be the first hunter to come back to camp because you’re cold.  Deservingly so, this person should receive a great deal of harassment from the other hunters who all wished they were back toasty and warm near the camp stove.
  5. Don’t bring your clothes and hunting gear to camp stored in garbage bags.   Duffel bags tend to reduce the chances of getting old coffee grounds and food waste being thrown into your pseudo-luggage bag by mistake (or on purpose)?
  6. Position your sleeping cot as far away from the bathroom door or tent entrance as possible.  Is it necessary to elaborate on this one?
  7. Don’t be the youngest person in camp.  Always make sure there is someone more junior than you who has a stronger back for chopping and carrying heavy firewood (or a host of other menial tasks likely to be assigned by camp elders).
  8. Never bet more than $1 on either the first deer or during a game of camp poker.   There are always hunters in the camp who will find a way to take your money.
  9. Beware the hunter who seems overly willing to let you use his favorite deer stand.   What they’re failing to tell you is it was their favorite deer hunting stand a decade ago when it last witnessed a deer kill.
  10. And finally, even if you get a cell phone signal NEVER TELL YOUR SPOUSE or significant other that fact.   Let them continue to think how you’re hunting so deep into the woods reaching you by text or voice is simply not an option for the upcoming few days.

There you have it.   Just a few suggestions (some tongue-in-cheek) on how to best survive deer camp.   What other thoughts might you add from your years of experience hunting in deer camp?   Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.