Marti’s Corner – 44

December 03, 2021

Marti's Corner at City PreppingHi Everyone,


*  My husband said it was time to inventory what was under the beds.  Ugh.  I’ve pulled out everything under the bed in the empty bedroom, now I just have to decide what to put back under there.  MY bed is next.  The mental image of me on the floor, trying to push out all the boxes, makes even ME cringe.

*  My garden on the north side of my house is winding down.  It is getting limited sun now, and I’ve pulled out all the squash.  I’m still holding out for the last tomatoes to ripen.  It’s like watching a bad TV show, but not changing the channel because you keep hoping it will get better.  That’s me and my garden.  But when I finally pull out those struggling plants and do some cleaning up, I find a sense of peace about it and how good the bare garden looks.

*  Meanwhile, I have plants that are in the sun and doing well.  The gardening lady I watch (An Organic Farm, Paonia CO – The Living Farm) is always reminding viewers to look at the back of the leaves.  Here is what I found today.

Back of Leaf

Those are aphids.  I spray with BT twice a week, and those little buggers STILL survive!!!  You really have to stay on top of this.  This was the worst leaf, and I just cut it off and threw it in the trash.  I sprayed the rest.

*  I’m still planting in the garden (one of the advantages of living in the mild climate of So. Cal.)  When I took out the potatoes, I prepared the bed for carrots.  Once it cools off a little more, I’m going to try some peas.  They do NOT like it really hot, so I’m going to wait a while still.

*  The Kellogg’s gardening guide I sent last week recommended cutting back all the grape and fruit vines.  I worked yesterday and today to really prune the grapes and blackberries.  Looks so much tidier now.  


Sugar lasts a LONG time.  If you have #10 cans of sugar, just keep them in a closet and they will last for years!  After the canneries shut down, I started vacuum-sealing bags of sugar right from the store.  Now, the current advice is that you should NOT use oxygen absorbers when you store sugar, whether in plastic buckets or mylar bags.  But, doesn’t vacuum sealing do the same thing?  THIS was the question I asked myself.  So last week I pulled out a 4 lb. bag of sugar that I vacuum-sealed in 2015.  Six years ago.  I opened the sealing bag, and sure enough, the sugar was hard as a rock.  It sat on my counter for a few days as I thought about the best way to “unstick” the sugar.  I finally poured it into a big bowl.  Only PART of the sugar was clumpy.  The rest poured easily.  

I used a strainer, about the size of a soup bowl, and just sifted the sugar.  It took all of 5 minutes to do the whole bag.  Sifter for Sugar

Results:  I’m going to continue to vacuum seal sugar to kill the bugs and keep ants away.

When I’m shopping for sugar, I try to look for prices about $.50/pound.  That would be $2 for a 4-pound bag.  Even Winco is not this cheap.  BUT, in their bulk section, it IS that cheap.  

When you are watching for prices to drop on baking items, check the sugar.  If it gets down to $2, buy lots of them.  Enough to last the whole year.

THAT’S how you save money.  Buy low and preserve it.

Comfort recipes using sugar are below.

SHORT TERM FOCUS: Cake & Brownie Mixes

I NEVER use cake mixes.  Well…I hardly make cakes anymore, but when I do, I have a few recipes that I really like, so I use them.

I also have some good homemade brownie recipes, but I find a brownie mix works well for me, so I do store those.  Plus, cakes have leavenings in them, and those expire.  Brownies don’t, so they last longer.

If this is something you use often, pick up a couple when they are $.99 each and stick them away.  They will be good for at least a year.

72-HOUR FOCUS: Matches

ZMatchesThere are several ways to “waterproof” matches.  One way is to dip them in wax.  I did this once.  I wrapped about 10 matches with dental floss.  After tying a knot, I held one end of the floss and dipped the matches in melted wax.  I let them dry on some wax paper and dipped them several times.  BUT, what I found was that if I put more than one into a baggie, and into my kit, when it got hot in the car, the wax tended to melt together and I got this BIG match waxy thing.  LOL

You can make the wax matches and individually wrap them in plastic wrap, or tin foil.

You can get a BIC lighter, just remember that the fluid will go bad after a year or so.

What I do now, is get a big box of matches, and vacuum seal them into small bags that fit neatly in the backpack.  You just have to make sure you have a pocket knife to open that bag when you need the matches. 

You can get little square “snack baggies” and put matches in there.  I’m just leery about how “waterproof” those bags are.

Frankly, if we are in a real disaster scenario, matches will be truly valuable.  Get lots – and then get more.


These are really handy.  Extremus Trench Folding Shovel, Carbon Steel Handle And Blade, Folds to 8”, Storage Bag.

Folding Shovel Zombie Killer

If you keep it in your car, you can use it if you get stuck, or if you have to bury a body.  Hahaha.

Actually, if you need to make an emergency latrine, in the wilderness, or even in your backyard, you’ll have a tool.  I don’t keep mine in my backpack, but it is in the car with the spare tire.

My son has a story about being stuck on a mountain dirt road in early spring, patchy snow on the ground, above Seattle.  His tires were spinning and he was stuck.  No traffic anywhere near.  He gets out of the car and starts looking for rocks, or sticks, or something to wedge under the tires for traction.  Suddenly, a man appears walking down the road.  He is carrying a shovel.  He says, “It looks like you could use this.  Here, just keep it when you are done.  I have others.”  And on he walks.


Marti’s Chocolate Cake

I think I found this somewhere and altered it just enough to call it my own.

3/4 c. butter
2 c. sugar
     Cream together
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
     Add and beat 1 minute (does anyone actually EVER time this?)
Mix separately
2 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Then in a measuring cup mix
3/4 c. buttermilk and 3/4 c. water
Add the flour to the sugar mix, a little at a time, alternating with the liquid.
Pour into a greased and floured 13 X 9 baking dish.
Bake 350 degrees for 40 min until a toothpick comes out clean.  I made a note in my recipe book that it took me 55 minutes for my last cake to bake completely.  Ovens vary.
Frosting (my favorite for this cake)
1 stick butter softened
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Texas Sheet Cake
I love this for a large crowd because you make it on a baking sheet as you would use for cookies.  It is very rich, so you can cut small squares, and it just makes a lot.

2 sticks butter, 1/2 c. shortening, 4 TB cocoa, 1 c. water
     Boil this together.  While it is heating, mix separately:
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
      Then pour the heated chocolate mix into the flour mix and stir well.
1/2 c. buttermilk – add and stir in to reduce the temperature
2 eggs – add and mix
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
     Add and mix.
Grease a baking sheet and pour mix into the pan.  Bake 375˚ for 20-25 minutes.  Remove immediately.
While the cake is baking, rinse out the pan you heated the butter in and reuse it for the frosting.

Melt together:
1 stick butter
4 TB cocoa
6 TB milk
powdered sugar to make it VERY stiff.
nuts are optional (I like them but others may not)

As SOON as the cake comes out of the oven, begin to drop little spoonfuls of frosting on the cake.  The heat of the cake will melt the frosting, and allow you to spread it over the cake.  Be careful as you spread NOT to break the top of the cake and get crumbs.  Just go slowly.  The frosting will cool and harden back up.  

They taste like frosted cake brownies.  SO GOOD!!!

Chantel’s Brownies

This recipe is from my daughter-in-law.  She says she grew up making them.  They are REALLY good.

2 c. sugar
2/3 c. cocoa
dash salt
4 eggs – mix in
3/4 c. minus 1 TB flour – add
2 sticks melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips
     Spread in a greased 11X7 glass pan.  Bake 350˚ for 25-30 minutes.

( I wanted to make them in a 13X9 and increased the ingredients:  3 c. sugar, 1 c. cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt, 6 eggs, 1 c. + 1 TB flour, 3 sticks melted butter, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla.)


Hope you are all looking forward to the holidays.  This time of year is busy for me.  I have to work at NOT stressing!!!


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Kelly Maybee
Kelly Maybee
1 year ago

Very informative article and more recipes to try. Do you vacuum seal in mason jars by chance?

Donna Roberts
Donna Roberts
1 year ago

Excellent article!

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