For those of my generation (post baby boom), many of our parents were preppers in a sense. They just didn’t know it. That’s because basic self reliance practices were a way of life for many who grew up in multi-generational farming families. In my mid-western experience, this applies to practically everyone born in the early part of the 20th century. The octogenarians of today were largely the preppers of yesterday. EP isn’t a new concept. It walks hand in hand with the self sufficiency that was a part of everyday life for them.
Unlike the average American in 2019, they could take care of themselves by their know how and grit rather than their credit cards. They sewed and patched torn clothes. They drove horses. They swung axes and chopped firewood. They fished and hunted, not for “trophies” but for the more practical need of providing meat. They raised livestock and were skilled in animal husbandry. They grew their own food, and of course, knew various ways to preserve it.
I grew up with a mom who canned and preserved. Pickles and tomatoes mostly, but there were some jellies and apple butters as well, and maybe even a few things I’ve forgotten about. To be perfectly honest, as a kid, this did not interest me in the least. It was just something that mom did. But it certainly made an impression on me since I’m writing about it after all these years.
It took a long time for the EP bug to sink its fangs into me. Basically until middle age. The fallout from the Great Recession had a lot to do with that. In my 40’s, with an infant in the house and another on the way, pinched out of work and a diminishing severance, that bug bit hard. Thankfully there was no repellent. It was then that I decided to learn how to grow food. With that decision, comes the natural inclination to learn how to preserve it. It was also then that it occurred to me that I needed a lesson with mom on how to can pickles and relish. Oh sure, I could just watch some Youtubes, but experience is still the best teacher. Besides, it’s my mom. You can’t beat spending quality time with family learning skills. Even better, my better half and the kids got in on the act too!
My mother’s pickles have been presented on a glass serving tray at family gatherings alongside vegetables for as long as I can remember. While the cucumbers you see us holding had overgrown, and were destined to become spears, mom’s specialty has been baby pickles. Two or three inches typically. They have achieved some modest renown in our friends and family circle. One of these folks even swears that they are the secret ingredient that makes her ground bologna sandwiches taste so much better than others!
In order to grind bologna of course…. you have to have a grinder. In the picture here, you can see the top of my mother’s manual grinder. I have always found it a quaint throwback kitchen utility. It is heavy duty cast iron. Built to last. It has ground a lot of pickles and bologna thru the years. The quaintness aspect has been replaced by the sense of “valuable”.
As it requires no electricity, it is a perfect tool for a prepared lifestyle in a long term power outage. It can be used to grind much more than sandwich meat too.
A practical off grid kitchen utility like this is something I have had a mind to acquire for several years. Although available, I just didn’t want to buy a new one like the model pictured below.
While new grinders are affordable, I know that very few people use them anymore. And for a sentimental fool like myself, there is a charm value to useful relics which are still functional. As mentioned before, these grinders are heavy duty and built to last. They once were commonplace. If they have not been thoughtlessly thrown out, there must still be several lurking in dusty basement boxes and attic storage. Surely I would come across one at a secondhand store or garage sale. And I have previously. But each time, the set was not in tact. Either the handle was missing, or the tightening screw was bent. Some only had one of the cutting disks, and it was always the one I would use the least.
At last, on a rare garage sale outing with my family last weekend, I came across this beauty. It’s the oddly named Climax brand which I believe is what my mother’s is as well.
Assembled it right there at the yard sale to make sure all the parts were included. Its been out of service for a long time by the looks of it. A little clean up is needed to remove some surface rust. Beyond that it is ready, willing and able to meet the grinding needs of a grid down kitchen. This is an excellent addition for our emergency preparedness, and I couldn’t be more delighted with it. How much do you think it cost? Make your guess in the comments section.
Now, off to get some bologna….
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