Compact DIY Emergency fishing kit

No one can predict when an emergency will happen. It can be anything from as simple as having your vehicle break down, to a natural disaster that effects the entire area you are living in. One thing that is good to keep in a vehicle just for an emergency is a small kit filled with basic fishing supplies. For this kit I use a small metal altoid can. But any container that is small enough to fit in a glove box will work. The nice thing about these little metal boxes is that they can be used for several purposes once you have removed the fishing supplies. This also makes a great 5 minute craft to put together with children

Simple kit with basics in it. I do recommend more hooks and weights then what is shown in the picture.

Possible list of what you can put into your box:

Still some room that more weight and hooks can be added and a small folding knife

This list is for a very basic kit and can easily be customized to whatever works for you. As you can see from the pictures there is still lots of space inside the tin to add some other things to the kit. One additional thing that would be good to have in this kit is a compact knife. I always carry a belt knife so it is not needed for my kit. this would be very useful for gutting any fish and cutting a pole to use as a fishing rod.

The best way to store the line is to wrap it around the box and then secure it with tape. For this kit I am using 100lb nylon braid. Very strong and can also be used as cordage for any needs.
Wrap multiple layers of tape around the kit to secure the line and also to use in an emergency.

If making your own mini kit is not something you would like to put together then there are several pre-built kits available on Amazon that can be purchased.

This is a good list of books that are fairly compact and can be carried in the glove box or in an emergency bag.

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts (Regional Foraging Series)

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere This is the go to guide for most people looking into survival

And some good survival gear

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

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How to make a stove out of a soda can

If you have ever wanted to make your own stove this is your chance at an easy stove for day trips, hiking, or to cook after the zombies arrive. With all the trash that tends to be anywhere in the world you should be able to find some type of can that can be used to make a simple stove. To make this stove you will need two cans of the same size.  Even though most cans look like they are the same size there is a small difference between brands so if you can find tow of the same kind it would be best.   The fuel used for this type of stove can be any type of denatured alcohol that is over 60% alcohol. If you use 60% rubbing alcohol you will get a sputtering burn and a cleaner burn with a higher percentage of alcohol.  I typically use the bottles of HEET used to treat gas tanks.  They are inexpensive, and as long as they are sealed will last for years until an emergency.  Typically a stove will burn for 10-15 minutes on one ounce of alcohol.  Which if you have a full bottle will give you at least 160 minutes of burn time total. Just remember to let the stove cool down in between adding more alcohol.  I did some testing with different pin hole sizes for the burner, and didn’t get too much variation on the burn time.

Items needed to make a can stove:

  • utility knife
  • two aluminum cans of the same type
  • thumbtack or something of similar size to use to poke holes through the can bottom
  • needlenose pliers

Start off with two of the same type of soda.  Different soda cans may look the same size but often are not
Start off with two of the same type of soda. Different soda cans may look the same size but often are not

Use an exacto knife or utility knife to slowly etch around the bottom edge until you cut through the bottom of the can.
Use a utility knife to slowly etch around the bottom edge until you cut through the bottom of the can.

Remove the bottom carefully.  The edges can be sharp where you just cut.  Some emery cloth or steel wool can dull the edge so it doesnt cut you.
Remove the bottom carefully. The edges can be sharp where you just cut. Some emery cloth, or steel wool can dull the edge so it doesn’t cut you.

Use a marker and mark off 16 holes evenly spaced apart.  then use a thumb tack and poke a hole in your marked spot.  The size of the hole will determine the size of the flame
Use a marker and mark off 16 holes evenly spaced apart. then use a thumb tack and poke a hole in your marked spot. The size of the hole will determine the size of the flame.

Use a book or a block to draw a line around the can with a permanent marker.  This line is about 1 1/2 inches up
Use a cloth measuring tape (or a piece of paper) to draw a line around the can with a permanent marker. This line is about 1 1/2 inches up.

You can poke a hole above the line and then use sizzers to cut the bottoms off the can.  Take one can and cut an even strip as in the top of the picture.  The strip should be just a little taller then one of the bottom sections of can.
You can poke a hole above the line, and then use scissors to cut the bottoms off the can. Take one can and cut an even strip as in the top of the picture. The strip should be just a little taller then one of the bottom sections of can.

Take the strip you cut and insert it into the bottom section.  It should fit right inside the inside rim of the section
Take the strip you cut and insert it into the bottom section. It should fit right inside the inside rim of the section.

use a small pair of needle nose pliers and crimp the edge of the can on the upper section with the pin holes in it.  If you crimp and do it the other way the alcohol will leak out when you light it.
Use a small pair of needle nose pliers, and crimp the edge of the can on the upper section with the pin holes in it. If you crimp and do it the other way the alcohol will leak out when you light it.

And you now have a completed stove.  now you can add one ounce of alcahol to the center of the can and light it up.
And you now have a completed stove. Now you can add one ounce of alcohol to the center of the can and light it up.

These are very simple stoves to make and cost very little.  They are surprisingly durable considering that they are made out of aluminum cans.  I have used them for cooking many times while out in the woods.  The only thing you will need is a way to keep your pan above the stove.  Two flat rocks side by side work very well to rest a pan on.  If you would like to see one burning you can go to this you tube link.  There are many variations to making this stove.  I have tried several of them and they all work well.  This version is the easiest to light out of the ones I have made.  But if you make one try different hole sizes and designs until you find one you like.

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Cold smoked jerky

All of my jerky recipes normally ask for putting liquid smoke into the brine.  So in an experiment to make something a bit different I am going to brine the entire flank steak then use my cheese cold smoker and cold smoke it for two hours to add in the smoky flavor then slice and dry it.  I have never cold smoked meat so this by itself will be something new.  It is going to be a different brine also.

  • 4 lbs london broil beef or 4 lbs flank steaks
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, more if you like it hot
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s red-hot sauce

I am using hickory chips in my cold smoker to smoke the meat.  60 minutes per side of the beef, with a refill of the chips at the 60 minute mark.

Skirt steak layed out in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the cold smoker.  I am seeing how much smoke flavor I get if I smoke them whole then slice and put in the brine
Skirt steak layed out in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the cold smoker. I am seeing how much smoke flavor I get if I smoke them whole then slice and put in the brine after.

Brining marinade all mixed up and ready to have some sliced meat put in it.
Brining marinade all mixed up and ready to have some sliced meat put in it.

Sliced meat added to the brine.  After it is mixed up it is covered in plastic wrap an put in the fridge over night.
Sliced meat added to the brine. After it is mixed up it is covered in plastic wrap and put in the fridge over night.

The meat smelled nice and smokey while I was slicing it up.  Hopefully it will retain the smokiness tomorrow when I put it in the drier and finish it up.  So far it is very promising.  I have a 2nd batch brining also where I used liquid smoke in it.  This way I can compare the two.

Foraging for Acorns

I have always wondered what acorns tasted like.  It seems that everywhere you look in the Willamette valley you see oaks trees.  Which is a remanent of the oak savanna that used to exist across the valley years ago.  The most common one in the area is the Oregon white oak.  During my daily lunch walks at work I pass several oaks that are loaded this year with acorns.  On a good year a mature oak can have close to 2000 pounds of acorns on it.  I havent seen any with close to that many on them this year.  So with my handy bucket I picked up a couple of gallons of acorns to experiment with and see how they taste, and how long it takes to process them to eat.  Acorns are high in tannin and cannot be eaten in their raw form.  The tannin makes them very bitter and if you eat them it will bind with proteins and make you constipated.  Which is also why if you get diarrhea while out in the woods you can make a quick up of hot acorn tea and it will bind you back up.

The first you need to do while gathering acorns is to make sure you don’t pick up any with little holes in them.  The holes are caused by the acorn weevil grub.  This hole is not caused by it getting into the nut it is caused by them boring out from the inside.  By the time they get through the shell they have eaten almost the entire nut.  After you have gathered them fill up the bucket with water and remove any that float.  These are the ones that the grub has not broken through on yet.  It will save you from having to open them and then tossing them out. After you have sorted your acorns you can either dry them in the oven at as low a setting as it will do or put them in a dehydrator.  I put mine in the dehydrater at 120 F for 3 days.  This accomplishes two things, the first dry the nut, and the second kills any eggs or grubs that might be inside the nut.  Out of the gallon nuts I have cracked open I only saw three with grubs in them.

There are two main methods for leaching out the tannin that I found after doing a little research.  Well methods that are used today anyway.  There are many ways that have been used by cultures all over the world to leach out the tannin.  The first method is to leach out the tannin in cold water.  Grind up the nuts and put them in a jar with twice the amount of water as you have nuts.  Each day pour off the colored water and refill with clean water.  Depending on the type of acorn that you have will determine the level of tannin in the nut.  The white oak have low tannin levels so will only require 3-5 days to leach out the tannin.  take a pinch of ground nut and taste it to see if it is ready.  You will get a slight bitter taste at first then it will be a bit bland to sweet.  Pour the water and nuts into a cloth lined colander and drain off all the water. After you get all the water out you can dry it out in the oven or a dehydrator.  This method will give you a flour that will bind together and will work great in breads (I have yet to try this)

The second method is to boil the tannin out of the nuts.  This involves using two pots of boiling water to leach out the tannin.  If you put the acorns in cold water at any time after starting the boil it will lock in the tannin and you will never be able to get them out. Bring both pots of water to a boil and add your acorns to one of them.  Boil for 10-15 minutes and drain.  Then pour the acorns into the other pot of boiling water.  Then refill the first pot and bring it back to a boil.  Repeat until you can taste an acorn and don’t taste any more bitterness from the tannin.  For the white oak acorns I had pick it took 4 changes of water to get them to the point that they didn’t taste bitter. Kinda taste like boiled peanuts at this point.  Drain off the water from the last boil and then dry the nuts either in the oven on low or in a dehydrator.  After being dried my acorns were very hard and not really a nut you could just grab a handful and eat.

The first thing i made with my acorns was a batch of trail bars.  I replaced the hazelnuts I normally use for some coarsely ground acorns.  They gave it a different flavor and more of a crunch then the normal.  Once I run the course ground nuts through the coffee grinder I am going to try some in a batch bread and see how they taste.  Homemade bread sounds good anyway.

Shelled raw acorns before they are processed
Shelled raw acorns before they are processed

First boil less then a minute after I dropped the acorns into the water.  The water was almost black.  I saved the water from the first boil to put on my poison oak to dry up the blisters
First boil less than a minute after I dropped the acorns into the water. The water was almost black. I saved the water from the first boil to put on my poison oak to dry up the blisters

Acorns after all the tanning is leached out of them
Acorns after all the tanning is leached out of them

Dried acorns in the grinder getting ready to get a nice course grind
Dried acorns in the grinder getting ready to get a nice coarse grind

ground acorns
Course grind of the acorns made them about the same size as corn grits. For a fine flour they just need to be ran through a coffee grinder

Squash chips

Squash chips seasoned with a little cajain seasoning
Squash chips seasoned with a little cajun seasoning

Since all it takes is one squash plant to give me more squash then I can ever eat it is nice to be able to make other things out of it that will last a while.  A quick and easy one to do is to make chips out of them.  I use the dehydrator to make them.  Slice them into 1/4 inch slices then spread on dryer racks.  Season to however you like.  I have 3 different flavors going in this one today,  Ghost pepper infused salt, cajun seasoning, and some garlic salt.  The next batch will be just plain dehydrated squash which are made the exact same way minus the seasoning.  Dry for 6-8 hours at 130F.  Then store in airtight containers for up to 6 months.  They are still good after that but will lose some of their nutritional value.

A couple of squash from the garden
A couple of squash from the garden

Dark Beer Jerky recipe

With one batch done of basic jerky it is time to make a different variety. This one goes with all my stout cheeses that I like to make. Beer marinated jerky! I always do the same type of jerky and need some variety.

  • 2 pounds beef cut into strips
  • 2 C Stout beer of choice (Black butte porter from Deschutes brewery)
  • 1 C Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 C soy sauce
  • 1/4 C molasses
  • 1/4 brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 bottle Tiger Sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic (rough mince)
  • 2 Tbl dried onion
  • 1/2 C granulated garlic

Mix up marinade and pour over sliced beef. Seal and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. Then dehydrate as per instructions from manufacturer. For me this will be about 24 hours. I hope this one comes out well. I have never tried this recipe before. I think my next batch will be hot and spicy. Maybe with some Frank’s hot sauce.

Homemade Jerky

With hiking and fishing season starting it is nice to have a good high protean snack to take along with you. And it is a good survival food to know how to make. In the most basic form jerky is lean salted meat that has been air-dried. In the olden times many a traveler would put meat under the saddle of their horse as they traveled. The salt from the horse sweating was enough to preserve the meat for a short period of time. Since I don’t have a horse or a reason to ride around the countryside I use two different types of salt to make my jerky. It is plain salt or soy sauce. Soy sauce has more than enough salt in it to provide all you need.

For this recipe I am using soy sauce as the salt source for this batch of jerky. Jerky is extremely easy to make with little effort. The main thing you want in making jerky is a good quality lean meat. This same recipe works great with wild game also. This recipe is for two pounds of meat. You can increase the amount if you want to do more at a time. This is about all that my dehydrator will hold also. After you get your meat cut it across the grain into strips about 1/4 inch thick. If you do not cut it across the grain it will make it much chewier. I don’t like mine to take 30 minutes to chew one piece. Put all of your sliced meat into a glass or ceramic bowl. Do not use metal because the marinade will dissolve some of the metal and change the taste of the meat. This is true with almost all marinades.

marinade :

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • and a little water to cover the meat

Mix up the marinade and pour over the sliced meat. Mix up well then add as much water as you need to just get to the top of the meat. For this batch it was only 1 cup of water.

Meat sliced up and marinade added
Meat sliced up and marinade added

Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. Drain and pat dry the meat after it has marinated, Then lay the strips out in a single layer and let dry in the dehydrator until the meat bends but doesn’t break. In mine this takes about 24 hours. After it is done let cool back off and put into ziplock bags. If you are not eating it within a week or two you can put it in the freezer. With little to no water or fat in the meat it will last a long time before it goes bad. I tend to eat it quickly so none of mine lasts more than a month before I have to make more.

Spring time Dandelion uses

Dandelion boardering the yard.
Dandelion bordering the yard.

Spring is a season of renewal and new beginnings.  All of the trees break out in bright green growth as the leaves unfurl from their winter sleep.  Ahh the joys of spring, I can go on and on about it.  It is by far my favorite time of the year.  One of the great things about spring is if you like to forage and try some of the bounty of nature you can get many delicious greens.

The easiest one for anyone to find is what many people consider an annoying weed.  The common dandelion is the easiest of all edibles to find.  The plant is native to Eurasia, but was brought by settlers as a hardy green to grow and eat.  Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the tap root is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness.  The bitterness is mostly in the leaves late in the growing season when water starts getting in short supply.  In the spring it is only mildly bitter and makes a great addition to salads.  I am actually thinking of growing them on purpose. Every part of the plant can be used for something.

The flower petals, along with other ingredients, are used to make dandelion wine. This is very very strong, but also very good. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. I add mine to roasted chicory root for a tasty coffee alternative.   Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, Dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry mostly in salads and sandwiches. Dandelions leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.

They grow everywhere.  Even in the cracks in the walkway
They grow everywhere. Even in the cracks in the walkway

Roasted dandelion root is a simple thing to make if you are interested in trying to do it yourself.  First gather up a dozen or so plants with as much of the root attached as you can get.  The two-year old plant will have a nice large root on it.  Remember to save the leaves and any flowers for a nice salad or to add to a sandwich. Cut the individual roots into 1-inch sections and cover with water. White sap will leach from the roots causing the water to cloud. Agitate the roots with your hands to remove any remaining soil and to remove the sap. Pour off the water and repeat the process until the water is clear. If you skip this step you will have a much more bitter tea.  Process the roots in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped.  Spread a 1/2-inch layer of chopped dandelion roots on a cookie sheet, and set the oven at 250 degrees, leaving the oven door open a crack to allow moisture to evaporate. Roast the dandelion roots for 2 hours or until the roots are the color of coffee grounds. Stir the dandelion roots every 15 to 20 minutes to allow them to dry evenly. Remove from the oven when the roots are the color of ground coffee. Allow to cool and store in glass jars. You can further grind them with a coffee grinder, but if you don’t have one, that’s okay too, as they can be used as is.

Dandelion root has long been known for its healing and medicinal effects. It has long been thought that dandelion root is a liver tonic, and can be used to detox the body of toxins; however, research does not support this at this time. I wish they would do more studies on medicinal herbs. What dandelion root can do for you is treat digestive disorders and constipation, and stimulate appetite. Those taking insulin or medication to reduce blood sugar levels and those taking diuretics or lithium should consult their physician before consuming dandelion root. The root has a mild diuretic effect when consumed (as does the coffee you are using it to replace). Otherwise, the herb is considered safe for human consumption.

Emergency bag for your vehicle

An emergency bag is something that everyone should carry in their vehicle.  Even if you will never need it will give you some peace of mind knowing you are ready. Since the only real natural disaster that the pacific northwest might have for long-term damage is a massive earthquake we will focus on a bag for that.

The earthquake that happened in Japan is an example of what could happen in the pacific northwest is an earthquake hits off the coast.  From what experts predict what we would have would be much worse than what happened in Japan.  The Cascadia subduction zone runs for 600 miles along the coasts of Oregon and Washington.  If a major quake happened it would be along this entire fault line with a size of 9.0+. This would put a wall of water up to 100 feet high hitting the entire coast line.  In addition the size of the quake would cause most of the Willamette valley floor to liquefy into a sinking mass of muddy disaster.  Nearly every bridge along the majors rivers would collapse cutting off aid and food supplies to large amounts of people. Power will be cut off for months to years as power poles, transformers, and infrastructure is destroyed.  Hopefully this scares you a little, because the chance of this happening in the next 50 years is predicted to be around a 40% chance.  I know if it happens while I am at work that I will have a 40 mile walk through potentially flooded fields (also our local dam’s may collapse).  This will be a 2-3 day walk so I will put together a bag that can help me with travel for up to 4 days or more.

things to have:

  • backpack to hold everything
  • pop can stove (a well made one will burn 10-15 minutes on 1 ounce of alcohol)
  • bottle of ethyl alcohol (the yellow bottles of HEAT work great)
  • cook pan of some kind.  You can get military mess kits for fairly cheap.  I got mine for $4 each just add some silverware to the inside of the kit.
  • Sharp knife and sharpening stone
  • 4 days of easily prepared food such as the MRE’s, Hormel microwave meals are good, beans, rice, hardtack.  Try to have a good mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  Freeze dried meals are nice and light to carry and easy to cook.  Just adds a bit to the total expense of your pack
  • Snare kit/fishing kit to supplement your carried food. In an emergency there are a lot of Nutria and opossums here in the valley.
  • laminated or waterproof map of the area.  Due to roads being out you may have to take back roads that you are not familiar with.
  • First aid kit (make your own)
  • emergency thermal blanket
  • some type of waterproof fire starter
  • spare change of clothes
  • water purification tablets and a strong metal bottle to carry water in.  A collapsible water bladder would be good to carry water if you are any distance from a source of water.  In the event of a disaster most water will most likely be contaminated so this is very much a necessary. If you have a water filter, you should carry it also.
  • small roll of toilet paper in a seal able bag
  • Cordage of some type.  I vote for paracord 550.  One strand will hold up to 550 lbs, and you can pull the inner strands out if you need to for smaller cords for fishing or snares
  • 6 or more bullion cubes. (when you are cold and scared a hot salty cup of broth helps a lot)

Optional items:

  • Small handheld axe or Machete
  • Emergency flares
  • Tarp or small tent
  • Lightweight sleeping bag

This may seem like a lot to carry, but most of it is very small and easy to carry.  An emergency pack shouldn’t be over 20 pounds.  Anything that is used for hiking/camping is a great.  Most of it is lightweight and packs easily.  There are several stoves that you can purchase that will burn almost any kind of fuel. Know the edible plants in your area.  Foraging as you travel will reduce your pack weight and provide healthy greens to keep your energy levels up. There are always things that will be unique to your situation that you need to include.  If you take a medication then you should have extra with you at all times for these kind of situations.  My list of things to include grows and shrinks all the time as I see new items that would help me or replaces something I already have packed.

Emergency water filter

In the event of an emergency getting clean water is the most important thing you can do (other than shelter from the elements).  After a natural disaster water lines maybe broken and local water sources would be contaminated.  Boiling the water will destroy any microorganisms in the water, but you will still have bad flavors and murky bits in the water.  It is easy to make a water filter out of easily accessible items.

Needed items

  • empty 2 liter soda bottle
  • clean piece of cloth
  • knife or other cutting tool
  • sand
  • gravel
  • charcoal from a fire or aquarium filter

First cut the bottom off of the soda bottle.  Only cut off the very bottom of the bottle, you want to use most of it as a funnel for the water.  Put the cap back on the bottle and put a small pinhole into the cap for the water to drain out of.  Wad up your cloth and put it into the bottom of the bottle.  Next put the charcoal into your filter.  This will filter out the flavors and smells from the contaminated water.  Also it will remove some of the toxic metals from the water if there are any present. Then add a layer of sand than a layer of gravel.  You have now completed your basic emergency filter.  You can get about 10 gallons of water filtered with it depending on how bad the water coming in is.  A simple cloth filter used on the water before you use your purifying filter will prolong the lifespan of it.  This filter will not filter out microorganisms, and the water will still need to be boiled to kill them off.  Just because water is clear doesn’t mean it is safe to drink!  Always be careful!

A good variation that you can store of this filter is to use a 2 inch PVC pipe in place of the 2 liter bottle.  Seal a pipe end cap on one end and make it as you would the 2 liter.  When you finish you can seal the top with food grade wax to keep the layers from shifting or getting contaminated.  When you need it drill a small hole in the capped end and pull the wax off the other end.  And you have a ready-made filter for an emergency.