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This article will be about how to live from the truck or any vehicle such as pickup with cowboy camper or van. No truck stop food, no restaurants, no full service food, no fast food, no quick stop food. All the food must come from grocery store or Wal-Mart. I intend to take some photo’s of things need to cook with and cook on in the truck. I will tell you what has worked for me. I will tell you what recipe’s seem to work for me and what brands. I will tell you which cooking methods work best.
Boiling water. There are two or three main ways to boil water in a truck. The 12v appliances sold at truck stops work fine but are slow. Inverter powered 120v hot water heater pot from Wal-Mart works great and boils nearly half gallon in 1 minute. I mean rolling boil. Probably need a 1500 watt inverter for that though. Of course the inverter would power a microwave as well. The other two types of 12v water heaters is one that looks like a thermos. The other is called a smart pot and shuts off if tipped over or if the water boils dry. The thermos looking heater needs to be watched while it heats and not left alone for a minute unless unplugged. If you forget about it you could burn a truck down. I almost did that once. I forgot about it for 35 minutes, I ran from the house to the truck and it was at a rolling boil with about 2/3s of the water left that I had put in it.
I just picked up a little camp cooker from Wal-Mart camping section that sits on top of a small flat propane canister. A single canister seems to last about 5 to 10 meals for $5 in propane. I need to find a way to recharge the canisters using my RV propane to get that cost down. I also picked up a spatula, flat skillet like pan, and a small lid and more bowl shaped skillet for frying. Along with that I have the 12 volt lunch box oven which heats to 300 degrees. Those lunch box ovens work great by the way for some things and not so good for others.
For cooling in a truck we have 12v refrigerators, and 120v refrigerators. Some are almost affordable and others that work better are expensive. The 12v ones that rely on thermoelectric cooling barely work. The small ones I never got to work well at all. A larger one worked well but took a long time to cool anything down that was at room temp. And if it was in hot inside the truck it barely worked. Anything with a compressor would work well, but cost a lot. And I have seen some recently that are 12v and 120v combo that have compressors.
We have the ice chest and ice cooling as well. I am going to try a 1 gallon container with ice that I will bum from the coke ice machines. Will keep a few things cool but not much this way. With that there is always the pouring off of the water to do. I bought some bubble wrap to help add extra insulation to my 1 gallon cooler. I do not sit it on the floor mat but on the end of the bunk. I keep it insulated on top, bottom and sides. 32 oz of ice seem to keep it cool all day. I can get by with having to get ice only once a day, or sometimes twice.
I leave home for about 7 days at a time on my current job.. I hope to pack some meat in the cooler for the first few days. Deboned Chicken, Pork and Beef and maybe Fish. As long as I can seem to keep this stuff cool I will try to do a little grilling. Will also keep cheese and hot dogs cool in this.j
Truck Date:201203301249 (yyyy:mm:dd:24hh)
Well last two weeks I have cooked soups, roman noodles, pork chops, chicken breast, bacon, scrambled eggs, American fried potatoes,canned veggies, mashed potatoes (instant), Velveeta shells and cheese and grilled bread toast using the camp stove. I have had no ill effects from CO(Carbon Monoxide). The truck is pretty roomy, as an 8’x8’x8′ cube maybe. I also keep the a/c blowing while cooking. I might crack the windows but I doubt that helps much. I really don’t think I’m getting enough CO to be harmful in the minute or two that I have the stove on. I really do not think CO will be an issue. Though I’ll keep you guys posted.
I think it might be best if potatoes are parboiled then kept cool in the cooler. This would require less fuel for cooking and less cooking time. I could parboil the potatoes in the lunch box cooker. This would save space in the cooler.
I had some trouble in the cooler with water infiltrating the zip lock bags and soaking cheese and meats. And I had some egg white escape into the melt water. So I am thinking that better zip locks are needed or some other method of sealing the meats and eggs. Small plastic containers with sealing lids might be in order, however these may use up more space in the cooler. Vacuum packing in Mylar would work well but Mylar is not cheap, and this is very temporary storage. Buying something that is already individually vacuum packed seems to be a good way to go here. Another thing I will try is to wrap cheese or meat in saran wrap and twist tie, then put in zip lock.
If the ice melts to produce ice water things may become soaked, however ice water is good thermal mass. Addition of salt might also keep it cooler longer. As long as salt does not leach into the food this might work. I am also going to grab a space blanket to wrap the cooler in to see if that helps the ice to last longer.
I brought only enough bread to make toast for 4 or 5 days. Bread can mold quickly in a humid truck environment. The one thing I am missing so far is salads. I could keep one small bag of salad stuff on ice to eat on for a couple of days after I leave out. I could also just buy salads from the fast food and quick stop sections in the truck stops which I think might be a better plan for now. That might be cheating but its not cheating much and I can still save money that way. Also flying J truck stop sells boiled eggs. They will be more costly than keeping boiled eggs on ice but not nearly as costly as sitting down to breakfast in full service. I may have to make some compromises to make this workout better.
I have cheated and sit down to food in full service twice in the last 2 weeks. Total cost of that so far was $20. I ate light both times. I broke down and ate a good breakfast for $12 plus tip after that a day ago.
The net result here is that after more than 2 weeks I’ll go home to about $500 extra in the bank. I intend to use that to buy a 5×10 bumper pull trailer that I have been badly needing. Note that this amount saved would also buy a very good inverter or a 12v refrigerator with a compressor and freezer section. So has it been worth it? I’d say so.
Truck Date 201204082149
I wrapped this 1 gallon water jug in 4 or 5 layers of bubble wrap packaging material. I also wrapped it in a space blanket on top of that and duck taped it. If somewhat insulate the bottom and top with blankets or whatever you can keep it near freezing for 24 hours with 32oz of ice.
Here I show the 12v smart pot. It boils water in 10 to 15 minutes. I use it only for heating water. It’s too much of a mess to clean up to use it for heating anything with sugar in it in my opinion.
This is an article about 100 square feet of square foot gardening. The boards you see here are 2″x12″x10′ and 2″x12″x5′ Treated pine. I am combining SFG and Hugelkultur. The goal of SFG is to maximize the space. The goal of Hugelkultur is to make good use of waste wood from around the property and create a spongy mass underneath the garden bed for holding water. So the foot or so below the garden bed will be wood such as rotting pine, manure or bird litter and small bit of top soil from the hole. On top of that will be the 1 foot of garden soil mix. This will be 1/3 top soil, 1/3 manure, 1/3 composted leaves, wood chips, grasses and such. In our case the manure will be horse manure that has been composted. The Chicken litter that I will add to the Hugelkultur section has been composted as well.
We will get the compost for the soil mix from the city land fill at $20 per pickup bed load. I intend to sift this a bit and add the larger pieces of unrotted wood to the Hugelkultur section. We hope there will be little to no weed/grass seeds in the soil mix when its done.
We will not plant this year anything that uses up a lot of square feet per plant unless we can have it grow vertically. Some unusual things I’d like to try will be wheat, barley, buck wheat, oats, cotton, sugar beats, sugar cane. Everything will be annuals. No fruits to speak of, just survival veggies and foods mainly.
If I can get everyone’s cooperation we will log harvest by day, with plant type and weight in pounds and ounces. At least until we get good solid data on each plant type. In this way we can report on pounds of whatever per square foot harvested here on the blog.
The below chart is a list of plants that I propose we plant this year, at least some of them. I just took my best guess for yes plants based on what I have studied. Opinions and even facts may very a little from the chart below. If anyone notices any major blunder, let me know.
- SHTF (Stuff hit the fan) Survival foods (bad economy etc.)
- Protein (plants with higher protein content)
- Vitamin(plants with higher main vitamin contents)
- Sugar (plants high in sugar or starch)
- Aromatic (plants with mainly color or flavor enhancing qualities)
- Fiber (plants high in dietary fiber)
- Nitrogen (nitrogen fixing plants)
|Black Eye Peas||2.2||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
In the next slide show I am getting chicken litter from this 100 foot long 6 foot high pile inside an old chicken house. The guy I’m getting this litter from has 10 houses, each 500 foot long and 50 feet wide with about 50,000 birds per house.
Tommy Lane is loading it in a trailer I borrowed from my brother. This trailer has 1 foot sides its 16 feet long and 6.5 feet wide. If we leveled the chicken litter in it with the top of the sides it would hold 3.85 yards of litter. This would be around 3,850 lbs of litter. If we heaped it a little we would be hauling 2 tons of litter. I figured this by weighing a 5 gal bucket with a fish scale. It weighed 25 lbs and 1 cubic foot is 7.1 gallons. So 1.4 times 25 is 35lbs per cubic foot. I rounded it up a bit to come up with 1000lbs per yard (27 cubic feet) of litter. My van with a 350v8 pulled it fine. I stopped him about about 2.5 yards of litter(6 tractor buckets) thinking it would take us hours to unload it. I bought two plastic scoops to unload it with.
This litter had been composted 4 weeks and was fairly dry. It took two of us only 30 minutes to unload it.
For compost I traveled to a nearby lawn and gardener guy named Smiley Vinson from London Arkansas. He has huge mounds of compost. I was charged $40 for one bucket of his loader that should be about 3 yards of compost. This is leaf, grass clippings, twigs that has been turned routinely for over a year. It was nice and black and looked like manure. I weighted this out at 1350lbs per yard and it was a bit damp and wet. We unloaded the compost with scoop shovel and snow shovel. Took us about 30 minutes to unload it.
Now we need horse manure for the 1 foot deep soil mix. There is a neighbor with a nearby horse barn that needs to be cleaned out. The horse manure was amazingly light. It weighed in a about 600lbs per yard. Took about an hour to load and 30 minutes to unload it.
Here I have a chart showing plant types and planting arrangement and density. Circled number means number of square feet for one plant. Number without circle means number of plants per one square foot. I have a 3 letter designator for each plant type. There is no logical arrangement for the chart below, its merely an example. Light Green means spring planting(mar 1 to apr 1), and Dark Green means Summer planting (apr 1 to may 1) as a rough guide.
And this shows four beds 5×10 or 50ft2 and 200 ft2 total
Next I show more digging. Russ Terwillinger made sides for one of the boxes using sand bags. Because we were digging this seemed logical. We will have to find a way soon to UV protect the sand bags. Dry stacked stone would probably be the cheapest method. I began filling in wood and chicken litter in the first box.
Soil Sample Test Results
Of the images below we see 3 test samples. The first is 1/3 top soil, 1/3 leaf/grass/twig compost, 1/3 fairly old horse manure. The second is 1/3 top soil, 1/3 leaf/grass/twig compost, 1/3 4 to 6 week old rice hull chicken litter. The 3rd would be from last years beds which were made up of horse manure and soil and city wood chip compost. These 3 test were free. We also sent off a sample of chicken litter only but it cost $18+other fees and totaled $23.50 per non soil type sample. I wanted to test also the leaf/twig/grass compost but haven’t done that yet. I wanted to test the horse manure but have not done that yet either.
Concentrations Conversion Calculatormight be helpful.
Got the chicken litter report in. Remember this report cost $20 per sample (one in this case) and total of $23.65 with shipping.
|EC(Electrical Conductivity micro mhos/cm)||8820|
|nutrient||dry||as is(29% water)|
I did a quick search on the net and came up with these examples for nutrient contents of given nutrient sources. With the commercial fertilizers you can get just about any mix such as 10-20-10 or 20-50-10 or you name it.After talking with a man at the extension office I have a few things to share. First the Nitrates and Sulfates are a constantly mobile value. They go up and down depending on conditions. They basically are measuring gasses. I suppose certain nitrogen containing molecules or sulfur containing molecules give off nitrogen or sulfur as gas. The plants then absorb the gas through the roots.
|Commercial Nitrogen||37-0-0 or 27-0-0|
|Bone meal||4-12-0 or 1-13-0|
|Chicken Litter||2-1-2 to 3-1-3|
|Muriate of Potash||0-0-60|
After talking with a man at the extension office I have a few things to share. First the Nitrates and Sulfates are a constantly mobile value. They go up and down depending on conditions. They basically are measuring gasses. I suppose certain nitrogen containing molecules or sulfur containing molecules give off nitrogen or sulfur as gas. The plants then absorb the gas through the roots.
The values in the reports above that have — “dashes” instead of low, med or optimal or above optimal mean that they are in normal ranges. The NO3-N value for the Old bed was near optimal. The other two were OK but much lower. The recommendation to add urea or nitrogen fertilizer of 2 to 3.5 pounds per 1000ft2 is a minimal amount to add. Its only meant to bring the nutrients up a bit. To find out more on what plants can tolerate or need search the web for “plant nutrient sufficiency and requirements”.
We have 200ft2 of beds of which 100ft2 is going to be square foot gardening. At any rate we were going to use the horse manure mix for these beds. 200ft2 is 1/5th of 1000ft2 so 2lbs divided by 5 is 4/10′s pound. or 1/10th pound per bed. Its recommended we sprinkle this on top and water and mix into the top layer of soil. We may use feather meal or blood meal instead of urea. In which case the amount will go up by about 5 times. Or 5/10s pound per bed. We will also add muriate of potash to the beds 1/10th pound per bed. Its not more complex than that unless you use something other than what is recommended in which case the recommendations serve as a guide for calculating how much more or less you might need of something else.
In the following photo’s you will see us completing the Hugelkulture beds and then finishing off the planting soil. I was going to mix it but pressed for time I decided to layer it lasagna style. There was 4 layers of (top soil,horse manure, compost also layered) for 1 foot of bed depth. It took us probably 5 to 7 hours to fill in one bed. We were resting as much as working, being out of shape.
Below is the layout for garden box 1. 50ft2 or 5×10. MUG is mustard greens, COG is collard greens, LET is lettuce, TUR is turnips.
Conclusion this year. The garden this year didn’t end well. About all I was able to gather from it was greens. The greens did really well. After that drought set it across the USA and in Arkansas. The grasshoppers came in and made quick work of the entire garden. Beans were stripped bare. Tomato’s were stripped. Everything else was half eaten. I just gave up on it.
I think next year I won’t garden with folks where they don’t allow Malathion and 7Dust. My uncle used this and his garden was beautiful and produced much. I think the grasshoppers attacked because of the dryness of the plants and drought in the nearby fields.
One problem we had was that the Hugelkultur beds seem to be drying up quickly after watering. This may be because the wood and chicken liter underneath was not rotted enough to have the sponge like effect it was supposed to have. Also I didn’t pack the chicken litter tightly, there was lots of room for water to just drop down into cavities. The soil mix did not contain peat or vermiculite which might have helped in water retention. In my opinion the beds need more composting time.
Also when some plants reached a certain stage it seemed like they may have become burnt by the chicken litter in the hugelkultur section below. We are not totally sure about that. One bed was nearly all chicken litter and the plants didn’t do well there at all. So the litter was a bit hot. Ammonia is a big problem with fresh chicken litter. I think it was 6 week old liter. Would have been much safer if it were a year old instead.
And the way I did the corn with only 3 square foot for each type was wrong. Corn needs more plants for proper fertilization. It would have been better to dedicate 25ft2 to one type of corn.
A large bucket of sweet potatoes was harvested. And the Brussels Sprouts survived the bugs, heat and drought. They began to flourish in fall and winter months. I picked a few meals in Brussels sprouts so far.
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Larry Gray’s simple common sense guide to dieting and nutrition.
First, we are all on a diet. Maybe planned, maybe not planned. Warning! But first I must say that If you are on a planned diet that you must be under the care of a qualified physician. Disclaimer! I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist or a dietitian, I’m just a guy with observations and opinions. Continue to read at your on risk as I give you my 2 cents worth of ideas in this book.
1. Minimize intake of carbohydrates, starches and fats (combined form calories).
2. Maximize to 100% of Daily Required Values of Protein, Minerals, Vitamins, Fiber.
3. Get Exercise first from Work, 2nd from Play such as sports, especially outdoor sports, 3rd from a Gymnasium or fitness center.
4. Fast occasionally, not as much for dieting as for discipline. Experience hunger pains. Use other forms of food self denial. Save some $$.
The Bad Stuff.
Here is how it goes. Starches (which are called complex sugars) become (simple) sugars (after being broken down by enzymes) and (simple)sugars become stored fat. Carbohydrates which are sugars become stored fat. Fat becomes stored fat. Get the picture? Potatoes, Candy bars and Bacon turn into stored fat. Rice, pastas and breads, sugar waters such as Cokes and other sodas, sweet tea and sweetened coffee, vegetable oils or butter are stored as fats. I suppose since our body does store this energy in reserve, a minimal amount of fat is healthy and normal. But since the body is so good a storing this energy in mass quantities we probably need to avoid the foods it uses to produce this stored energy. Oh on a side note, alcohol can be stored as fat also. I’m not simply talking about alcoholic beverages which have carbs in them either. Alcoholic beverages with 0 carbs still have calories because of the alcohol alone which can be stored as fat. Most diets are some combination of limiting one or more of these 3 energy sources. Oh and calories reflect the combination of these 3 energy sources in a food item. Most adults need around 2000 calories a day, but this varies from person to person with age and activity. Most nutritional labels give you information about fats, carbs and calories. Starches are reflected in calories on nutrition labels. However, our body burns energy directly from fats and carbs but not starches. Starches are converted to carbs and then burned. Or starches are converted to stored fat after being converted to carbs first. For diabetics at least carbs from fruits (fructose) are better than processed sugars. The math is simple however, you have a given amount of energy burned for the amount of energy needed for the daily activities. Any energy taken in above this amount needed is surplus. If you burn more energy than was taken in it is a deficit. If you have a deficit then the needed energy is taken from the body itself, first from fats, probably second from muscle and probably third from organs. This is so that we don’t actually die after going 3 days without food as we would going three days without water. We can last up to 30 days or more without food. Saying it another way, we have an average daily energy need or demand and an average daily energy intake. If the average intake is less than the average need, then we burn fat. If the average intake is greater than the average need then we gain fat and weight. If its the same then we remain the same weight. In attempting to avoid these high energy foods we would most likely get enough of the rest of what our body requires, the good stuff.
The Good Stuff
Vitamins, can get this from supplements of course. However it has been suggested that you should try to get vitamins and minerals from foods because there may be vitamins or minerals that have yet not been discovered. Fiber can be taken as a supplement but from what I have seen its not cheap. Fiber usually comes from salad type veggies or cooked veggies. Beans are high in fiber and protein yet have carbs as well. Protein is easy to get from foods. Green veggies and green leafy plants have protein. Legumes which are beans have protein. Nuts have protein. Grains and breads have some proteins. Meats and Dairy products have protein. The average adult needs around 50 grams of protein per day. Research to see exactly what your needs might be. If you go over your maximum proteins, toxins may build in the body. So be under the care of a physician if you plan to go over 100% DVA. There was a liquid protein diet in the 1980’s that killed a few women who were drinking nothing but liquid protein for their only food source. Rice and beans together form a complete protein which is equivalent to what you would get from meats. Of the animal proteins, white meats such as fish and foul are considered healthier than red meats such as pork and beef. Lastly read the nutrition labels on everything you buy from the grocery store.
Work and play
All of us work at something. Some things that we do increase our heart rate and stress our breathing and circulatory system. This is called cardiovascular exercise. You usually check your heart rate by counting beats per minute to see how well you have stressed your system. 60 BPM is resting, 120 BPM is high stressed. Other work is fairly light and very repetitive and actually can tear down muscle. This builds endurance. Its also called muscle toning.
And lastly fewer repetitions of heavier loads and demands builds muscle. All depending on what your goals are you may prefer tone to muscle mass. Either way, all these activities burn up energy. If we are reducing the bad stuff and at the same time increasing the exercising then we burn fat reserves even faster. Most jobs burn some fat via work of some sort. Some jobs more than others. I am somewhat adverse to exercising just for the sake of exercising. I like to get my exercise on a job or via hobbies or work around the house and homestead. But I’d say we all need some supplemental exercise via exercise routines. A good start is the military pushups, situps and running or bicycle riding and swimming. Beyond that weight training. Lastly the Gym with its machines. But I much prefer to get my exercise via hobbies and sports. Especially outdoor sports such as hunting, fishing, rock climbing, caving, hiking, running, walking, bike riding, swimming, canoeing. When you get exercise in these ways the time just seems to fly by. But also on the homestead there is much work that can also be enjoyable, such as gardening, lawn care, animal husbandry, landscaping, cutting wood, splitting wood. The lesson is that if you want to eat everything you see and stay fit, you must pay for it in work.
Fasting means eating literally nothing. The only thing you should intake is water and any medications needed. This flushes out the system. It also causes you to have hunger pains. We can all endure hunger pain. I suppose you have heard that fish do not have hunger pain or fullness and will eat until they pop. Yes they will, just overfeed some tropical fish sometime in your aquarium and watch. But the point is they can’t rely on their bodies alone to tell them or not tell them what is proper when it comes to eating, and neither can we. We must take the hunger pains as a suggestion only. Just like endurance for muscular pain in exercise you can teach yourself endurance for hunger pain. Just make up your mind occasionally that you are going to save some $$ and not eat for a period of time. Once you make up your mind to set aside a period of time, force yourself to be committed to it. I like to use ¼ day periods of time. Such as noon to midnight or midnight to midnight or day and a half or whatever. I have fasted 3 days before. Try increasing the time the next time you fast. Aside from complete fasting you might also try doing without all foods except say peanut butter for a period of time. Might only use 0 carb drinks while fasting. This is not fasting but it is self denial. It saves money as well. You would also note how good nutritionally healthy foods taste after fasting. Such as corn without butter and salad veggies without dressing. Cake without icing. Triskets without cheese. Cereal without frosting. Also eating makes a person lazy and tired sometimes. So doing without can give you a needed boost for work which will in turn burn more calories. Don’t overdo it though. Our bodies do need the energy for work. However if you have fat reserves, your body will get its required energy from there first if it has no other source.
One more note. When fasting completely a person not only looses fat but also a percentage of muscle. Might want to increase protein the day before and after a fast to help make up for the loss of muscle a bit. This is also why fasting for dieting is not recommended by nutritionist. I would suggest some days where you nearly fast yet try to get near 100% of your protein. A couple of chicken breast, baked fish, canned tuna will do the trick. Some of the protein bars I’ve seen have way too much caramel in them. Protein bars are a good option as well though.
Fasting is a good spiritual exercise for those who are religious. I say more in the religion section.
About fat Cells.
One last note about Fat. This is my hypothesis from all I have read and heard. I have not scientifically backed this idea up. I think that when we first begin burning up fat reserves it simply means the fat cells are being emptied. Like a balloon being deflated. The cells do not go away for some period of time, but remain wanting to be refilled. As a matter of fact the body may signal the brain to refill the depleted fat reserves as if it were very very important. This is why some people go on a diet and loose the fat then drop the diet and gain it right back fairly quickly. I think the only way to get rid of the fat cells is liposuction or long term weight loss with no regain. I think its possible that after a long period of time without refilling a cell that it goes away. We do know and it is true that if you don’t use a muscle for a long period of time it goes away. This is called atrophy. But like I say, I don’t have any proof that fat cells go away.
About women and food and fat.
One note also about women and fat. In nature when female animals get stressed they actually produce hormones which cause them to desperately seek high energy food. This is a survival thing. Female animals under stress will crave the fattiest portions of the kill. I wonder if this has carried over to human females in the modern world where you no longer are running for your life in a wilderness when under stress. So women really need to watch out for stress related eating. Also I have also recently heard of a diet plan under a physicians care where a woman is given some of the same hormones which they have during pregnancy. This triggers the body to feed a baby that isn’t there to feed. It thereby depletes the fat reserves attempting to feed this non existent baby. This works to quickly reduce fat reserves but unless there is a lifestyle change the fat may come back. Its the same for all other forms of obesity treatments such as liposuction or removing stomach or stomach stapling. Also you have been told that when pregnant that you are eating for 2? Hold on there! Its really only 1.1!
And for men, uh grow a pair and endure some hunger pains in fasting. Survivor man Les Stroud went 7 days with no food on some of his shows. He said a body can only go 7 days without eating so many times in a year and it begins to take its toll on you. So 7 days might be a extreme case. However, No pain no gain!
Religion and obesity.
As I stated above in the section on fasting that religions teach to fast. Probably because its a great way to teach endurance for pain. Some religions also teach to stay away from some of the fattier foods such as pork. I love pork but if you do eat pork, its best to avoid the pork fat, unless of course you need the energy in your work routine. From the Christian perspective, God seems to favor and reward those who can and will fast. Its because of the training of the spirit. Saying no to hunger is very similar in saying no to many other suggestions our bodies have for us in many areas of our lives. So its a good learning metaphor or analogy and exercise. The same God that created pleasure also created pain and suffering. It is written, “He who can suffer in the body is through with sin.”. Also, “Should we expect to experience pleasure and yet no suffering?” Also, “ Man shall work by the sweat of his brow all the days of his life.” Also, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Also there are a few scriptures that speak negatively about this thing called Gluttony and Gluttons. Gluttony is a deadly sin under the catholic tradition. And in fact it literally can be, in the form of Heart disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and Stroke. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is within us.” Its a kingdom of self-control. I think the key is in never giving up by always trying. We simply must try. And this is what diatitions are calling “life style changes”. We must always try.
Mmmmm.. Bean Sprouts, so tasty.
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I am a national trucker and as a trucker, I have consumed Iced Tea all over the USA for 9 years now in every kind of eating establishment, but mostly from truck stops. First I need to say that Tea is a product that is made in a kitchen and it is therefore as important as steaks and shrimp and everything else that is prepared in a kitchen. In general, I have encountered the best Iced Tea in the southeastern region. Northerners drink soda’s and care almost nothing about Iced Tea. They drink hot tea. So do I. But I drink hot tea in 32 oz glasses, not in little 8oz cups lol. Tea is grown primarily in tropical regions of India, China, Asia, and Africa. I think there are different species of tea tree’s which are grown as bushes. Black Tea is the famous English Breakfast Tea. Black tea is not actually black when brewed but a ruby red color with possibly a tinge of brown. The leaves are black after fermentation. I have no idea how this fermentation process works. If any reader knows more about tea growing and production please leave a comment and cite your sources.
In my opinion “Black” Tea is the best. American teas such as Lipton, Tetley, Louisiana are Black and Orange Pekoe mix (Orange Pekoe is a cheaper tea). Earl Grey is another common hot tea. It’s my opinion that Lipton hands down is the best and taste more like Black Tea than the others. Any other source of straight black tea from the east might be best. A hotter brewed tea (one that is brewed with water closer to the boiling point) will end up with more of a bitter taste. This is from the caffeine content. I like tea that is made with water that is between just barely hot enough to touch and just under boiling point, but not too close to boiling. If your water does come to a boil and you stop it quick enough the result is not too bad. But boiling for too long makes a very bitter product that even sugar can’t cure.
Never make tea in the same glass containers which are used to make coffee. And never use water from containers which are used to make coffee for the hot water alone. A glass container will get some coffee residue on it which will leach into the tea or tea water and create an off flavor. Some municipal waters are horrible for tea making. Restaurants with bad tap water should use reverse osmosis filtered water or possibly 5 gal. bottled water. If a restaurant were to keep a usage count of tea produced and used, they would know how much water is needed to be ordered just for tea. DIY Reverse Osmosis.com has a great filter system. But I would add that you will want a ceramic silver filter on the product side of this filter to make sure any bacteria that might by chance get through are killed. I have heard that bacteria can get through imperfections in the membrane and cause gastrointestinal illness. Also, add an activated carbon filter on the product side to remove any membrane taste or odors. I have experienced really bad water in Texas and near Chicago in Illinois. I think Texas water has oil in it (pun).
Next for managers, please find employees that like tea and have them monitor the tea for quality once an hour by tasting it. Sometimes there is a situation where none of the employees working a shift happen to like tea, including the waitresses. They get a really bad attitude when the patron tries to tell them the tea is going bad. The first response is always, that “tea going bad is to be expected” and “what else would you want instead?” It can then become a fight to get some fresh tea made and the patron is not guaranteed that the equipment will be properly cleaned before the fresh tea is made. They can have the attitude “mind your own business” if you try to explain to them what you think happened to their Tea to make it bad. In other words, if you try top play manager and help them with this they may spit in your food or even wiz in it. That’s the fear anyway, which is why patrons rarely tell the staff about bad tea. This is why the staff make comments like, “no one is complaining” if other staff including management, suggest making fresh Tea.
The end of the shift is a bad time also to request fresh tea to be made. And then they may simply dump the bad tea, leaving lots of nice sour bacteria on the surface of the container. They then give this bacteria a warm bath and fresh food by making fresh tea in this container. When they bring you a glass of this and you taste it, they will exclaim “We just made it, it is fresh.” So now you as the customer are utterly wrong in saying that it still tastes bad. I have often told them, “Well it tastes like you just made it but it has this off sour flavor in it as if the container had not been cleaned first”. I always get denial from them.
As a patron, I often ask for unsweet tea at this point. I hope that since it has no sugar in it that there is less chance of it having gone bad. If a patron exclaims that they think the tea has gone bad management may test this by taking a glass of unsweetened Tea, adding sugar to the glass, stirring with no ice, and then taste test it against the sweet batch. Management may easily detect off flavors in sweet Tea this way. When I request unsweet Tea I always request unsweet tea in one glass with no ice and ice in a separate glass. Some restaurants refuse to serve sweet tea because of the souring problem. I feel it is rude to ask your patrons to sweeten their tea with ice in it. Unsweet tea can develop off flavors as well over time if the equipment is not properly cleaned and sanitized often enough. A solution we came up with when I worked at Shoney’s was to only make sweet tea in 1/2 gallon pictures. It was only made as needed 1/2 gallon at a time. This was a great solution because if by chance on sit around too long and began to sour, we only threw out 1/2 gallon or usually less. Also, a fresh half gallon was quick to make. The unsweet tea was still made in bulk 3 or 4 gallons at a time.
So what is proper cleaning and sanitation of the equipment? Well, first I need to explain what is happening when tea sours. Bare with me as I briefly explain the art of home winemaking. Everyone should make a gallon of homemade wine in their lifetime. You take some Welches grape juice, which has sugar in it. You use bread yeast which has been started by adding it to a cup of lukewarm water. This water should have a small amount of sugar in it such as a few tablespoons. After this water begins to froth and foam up it is added to the grape juice. What happens next? You will see the yeast floating around as if it is swimming. It begins to discolor the juice a bit and make it more cloudy looking. It also produced CO2. Yes, carbonation. In winemaking, it is very important to sanitize all equipment. This is because you only want the good yeast(a bacteria) working on the wine. So wine is not made in an open container. It is corked with a tube in the cork which can be run down and into a quart jar of water. This creates a vapor lock. As the CO2 is made it bubbles out the jar of water. No air can get back into the container of wine. If no air can get back in then no bad bacteria can either.
What happens if bad bacteria enters the wine? You end up with wine vinegar. Vinegar is fine as a matter of fact I love vinegar on salads. But I don’t want vinegar in my wine or in my iced tea. Yes, this is what happens to tea and most especially sweetened tea. Bad bacterias begin feeding on the sugar or otherwise breeding and begin to turn the tea into vinegar. At the slightest off taste, the tea is no longer worth serving or fit to drink at all. Yet how many times have I been handed a glass of soured tea and been expected to pay $2 for it? Countless. What I really love is the waitress or waiters who try to make you think its personal and that you just don’t like their tea. I once had a waitress manager at Shoney’s say to me, “They are not complaining” after, as a Shoney’s kitchen manager, I had told them that the machines needed to be cleaned and the tea needed to be changed out. Much of the time the customer just doesn’t want a fight. So they drink the tea anyway if its borderline tolerable, however, they won’t drink much of it. But they don’t forget. I will go out of my way to go to a restaurant that has good tea. I will also go out of my way to avoid one that has bad tea. By the way, I want to congratulate McDonald’s for finally getting the sweet tea right! After like 60 years of being in business they have really good sweet tea. I think the brand of tea has had something to do with it. But more so is the preparation and handling.
How does a restaurant combat bad household sugar loving, vinegar producing bacterias?
- Clean equipment with a proper sanitizing solution. Such as a tablespoon of bleach mixed in a gallon of water. Do not pour bleach into any container and then add water! A bleach residue may be left over after cleaning and then create an off flavor in the product.
- Clean equipment in the very hot industrial dishwashers.
- Clean equipment with boiling water. Hot water is not good enough, it must be near 212 degrees F.
- Clean the tap valve (spicket) and washers and threads thoroughly with brushes if that is part of the tea holding containers. Look for nicks and crannies where bacteria would love to hide and grow.
- Cover Tea containers any way you can. Use cellophane or aluminum foil or lids or whatever.
- Cool tea to refrigeration temperatures if possible as soon as possible after making it. Bacteria love room temperatures. If you usually add cool water to the freshly brewed tea, which is usually concentrated, then consider adding ice instead to bring the tea temperature down to refrigeration temps. It may warm back up to room temps but at least this gives it a lot more time before it could go bad. I hesitate to suggest this but if a container is perfectly clean such as a glass fruit jar or plastic container, zip lock bag etc., it could be used to cool the tea back down, just fill it with ice, Make sure its sealed and put it in the tea batch. This is for situations where tea cannot be kept under refrigeration (in a sealed container). Be careful with this idea, as the container which holds the ice might introduce bad bacteria into the Tea batch.
- Make up sweetened tea as needed in small quantities such as 1/2 or 1 gallon at a time if possible.
- If you do not offer sweetened tea then serve the customer tea in one glass, ice in another. Let them pour self-sweetened tea over the ice.
Nest Tea has come up with some kind of fountain tea drink as of lately. It’s not bad, but its no replacement for freshly brewed tea. I do not feel that any restaurant should completely replace fresh brewed tea with this product. It probably has some kind of sanitizing agent in it to keep it from going sour. This contributes to an off flavor. I’m guessing here. And this is a personal opinion.
Tea leaf bags or loose tea should be stored in sealed containers. If not moisture will get into the tea leaves and cause stale off flavors to develop as well as off-color. More red is good in tea, more brown is bad. Though I’d say the ruby color always may be a little bit on the brown side.
Tea sweetness? Some people like syrup tea. I do not. I like a medium sweetness. Sugar can overwhelm good tea flavor in the same way that the bitter taste of caffeine can. Balance is needed. But this balance also depends on how strong the tea is. Strong will need more sugar to offset the caffeine bitterness. Weaker less. If you make tea and it looks like slightly brown off colored water it is too weak. If it is super bitter it is too strong. I like to hold a clear tea class filled with tea up to a light or sunlight. If it has a near ruby red color it is just right for me.
Tea should be served in a clear glass or clear plastic glass. The customer should be able to inspect its color and clarity. It should not be served in red, brown or blue soda glasses for sure.
Any time you, as a patron, experience bad tea at a restaurant please give them the web address to my blog and tell them to read this post. Managers can feel free to print this and post it where employees may read it. Thanks.
For Truckers and people on the go.
I make a lot of tea in the truck (18 wheeler). I can use 2 family sized Lipton tea bags in a 32 or 48 oz cup and still save money over buying tea in the convenience sections or truck stop restaurants. I usually buy tea first in the store to get the cup. Then I re-use the cup a few times making tea in it.
For heating water in the truck, I use the 12-volt appliances that you find in the truck stops. One looks like a thermos and one looks more like a coffee pot and is called “smart pot”. Be careful with the thermos shaped one. With this one you, if you have any common sense, you will know to babysit it closely. If it were to tip over or boil dry the truck would burn down. I wonder how many trucks have burned up because of this thing. However, it is relatively fast at boiling water. That one takes about 10 to 15 minutes to boil 20 oz of water.
The Smart Pot has a Teflon coated heating element in the bottom of it. It will shut off if it boils dry. It takes a hair longer to boil water.
Wal-Mart sells a 120-volt hot water heater that looks like a coffee peculator. It will boil water in near one minute. Make sure you idle the truck while using this because of the power it draws. Of course, you have to have a very good inverter for this one, one that would also support a microwave.
I, after 8 years of making hot tea in the truck still prefer Lipton Full Brew Tea to any other method. The cold brew is the next best option and this is a great product. I use it when in a hurry a lot. And you can get away with only partially heating the water. It’s not exactly cold brew. It’s more like barely warm brew. It will sun brew well. And very hot water will make a product with this that is way too strong and bitter. Non the less it is much better than instant tea. I have used instant tea some in the past. I almost have to consider this to be a different drink that somewhat tastes like tea. It is better than no tea sometimes. And of course, it requires no heating at all, can be made with very cold water. I like instant coffee for coffee way more than instant tea for tea in comparison.
If you do bring water to a boil in the truck, then you can sanitize your cup really easily. You can get more use out of some cups this way. This is also why I love that 120-volt water heater from Wal-Mart. You can put a 1/2 inch of water in it and it takes like 10 seconds to bring it to a boil. This product appears to be extremely safe with regards to fire hazard too. Maybe a restaurant would benefit by having one of these on the waitress line. The waitress could make boiling water in a few seconds to use in sanitizing the tea machine.