July 29, 2015

How to use a military manual can opener: the P-51 and P-38

If you have some emergency food storage (which I hope you all do!) you probably have some of it in cans.  Assuming a natural or man-made disaster hits and your home is without power, or you've had to leave your home with your 72 hour bag and be evacuated somewhere and you have some canned goods with you, how do you plan to open those cans if you don't have or have never operated a manual can opener of any sort?

For me personally, I've never used electric can openers regularly by choice.  As a very small child (age 3-4) I learned to use our family's Butterfly Can Opener and although I remember my parents buying an electric can opener at some point in my elementary years, I never liked using it and usually opted for a manual opener of some sort.

After I grew up and was married, we purchased a nice, well made, Swing-A-Way Can Opener and that became our go-to opener.  I never realized knowing how to operate a manual can opener was a lost skill until my kids were old enough to have friends over and they would prepare snacks and food in the kitchen.  Of all the friends my three kids had over to the house over the years, I'm not sure any of them knew what a manual opener was - and their faces when they tried to operate the butterfly opener?  Shock and confusion.

If a time comes when you are without electrical power and you need to use some of your canned goods, you need to have a way to open them.  Having a couple manual openers in your kitchen drawer is a great idea for any household - but I'm going to take it one step farther.

A military can opener is a smart option to have in your 72 hour kits, your kitchen, your camping gear, on your key chain, your food storage pantry, etc.  I was throwing together a black bean salsa recipe this week that uses a number of canned goods in it, so I thought it was a great time to snap a few pictures and post about the importance of having a non-electrical can opener in your emergency storage.

The P-38 and P-51 are a pocket-sized can opener, approximately 38 mm and 51 mm long, and consist of a short metal blade that serves as a handle, with a small, hinged metal tooth that folds out to pierce a can lid. A notch just under the hinge point keeps the opener hooked around the rim of the can as the device is "walked" around to cut the lid out.

One technical explanation for the origin of the name is that the P-38 is approximately 38 millimeters long. This explanation also holds for the P-51, which measures approximately 51 mm (2.0 in) in length. However, use of the metric system in the US was not widespread at this point, and United States Army sources indicate that the origin of the name is rooted in the 38 punctures around the circumference of a C-ration can required for opening.

P-38s are no longer used for individual rations by the United States Armed Forces, as canned C-rations were replaced by MRE rations in the 1980s, packed in plastic pouches. The larger P-51s are included with United States military "Tray Rations" (canned bulk meals). They are also still seen in disaster recovery efforts and have been handed out alongside canned food by rescue organizations, both in America and abroad in Afghanistan.

To Use:  
First, the cutting point is pivoted (opened up) to its 95-degree position, from its stowed, folded position.
Then, for a right-handed user, it's is held in the right hand by the flat long section, with the cutting point pointing downward and away from the user, while also hooking the edge of the can through the circular notch located on the flat long section next to the cutting edge.
The can is held in the left hand, and the right hand is rotated slightly clockwise, causing the can lid to be punctured.
The can is then rotated counter clockwise in the left hand, while the right hand rotates alternatively slightly counterclockwise and slightly clockwise, until the can has been rotated nearly 360 degrees and the lid is nearly free.
The lid of the now opened can is lifted, most often with the P-38 or P-51 cutting edge, and the P-38/51 is wiped clean, and the cutting point is rotated back to its stowed, folded position.
Left-handed users simply hold the P-38/51 in their left hand, with the cutting point aimed towards themselves, while holding the can to be opened in their right hand, while also reversing the sense of the cutting hand movements just described.

The P-38 worked well for me except it did tend to slip often

Puncture the can

Continue to 'walk' around the can, puncturing it along the way

The P-51 is the same, except a little bigger so most people
find it easier to use.

Open the hinge until it clicks into place

This picture shows how you hook it under the rim of the lid

Again, puncture the tin to open

Walking it around the can

The edges will be jagged so be careful - they are sharp

You can use the flat end to lift the jagged edges of the can open

Click it back shut, and put it away until next time!

Print Friendly and PDF

July 28, 2015

Old Fashioned Butter Mints - either pillow shaped or molded

I normally make old fashioned mints with cream cheese and powdered sugar (although I'm not sure if I've ever posted them or not?) but with weddings on the mind today, I thought I'd put up a recipe for the butter style mint.  Butter mints are usually shaped like little pastel pillows.  These are easily made by rolling out the dough into a long rope and slicing them into tiny bite sized pillow mints.  However, I usually make the cream cheese version and I like to use molds to shape them.  I'll link to some molds at the bottom of the post.  (I personally own the yellow leaf mold and the same brand/style in roses and a couple other designs.)

I like to flavor my mints - using spearmint and green food color for leaves, and pink coloring with almond flavoring for the roses as well as sometimes, vanilla.  This recipe calls for peppermint but feel free to use whatever flavors you wish.    

**Important note**  Extracts are different than oils.  If you are using concentrated oils, you measure by drops - not teaspoons.  If it's an extract, your recipe for approximately 200 tiny mints will use about 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon but if you are using oils, start with drops or at most, 1/8 teaspoon and taste before adding any more drop by drop or you will overpower the dough.

Old-Fashioned Butter Mints

1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 t salt
3 1/4 c powdered sugar plus 1/4 cup if needed
1/3 c sweetened condensed milk
1/2 t peppermint extract
food coloring, optional

Combine butter and salt and beat for 1 minute on medium-high speed. Add the 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, milk, peppermint, and beat on medium-low speed until a dough forms. If the dough seems wet, add additional confectioners’ sugar until dough combines. The dough will be crumbly but will come together when pinched and squeezed into a ball.

Taste test. If you want a more intense mint flavor, add additional mint extract, to taste. Only add by drops as it's easy to quickly overwhelm with too much.

If you want different colored mints, divide the dough into separate balls and add food coloring of your choice.

If you don't want to use molds, just roll dough into long thin cylinders about 1 centimeter wide. Place cylinders on countertop and with a pizza cutter slice cylinders into bite-sized pieces, approximately 1 centimeter long.  To use molds, pinch off a small bit, press into a mold and then unmold carefully, laying the mint on foil or parchment.

Store mints in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they will keep for many weeks.

You might also be interested in these related products from Amazon;

Wocuz Heart Shaped Chocolate Candy Making Supplies Molds (50 hearts)
Leaf Yellow Soft Candy Rubber Flexible Mold
Lorann Hard Candy Flavoring Oils YOU Pick the Flavors 12 Pack + One Dram Dropper
Lorann Oils 4 Pak Mint Mix Flavoring


Print Friendly and PDF

July 23, 2015

The Best Homemade Blueberry Muffins

I admit I normally don't like to eat blueberry muffins.  Oh, I LOVE blueberry muffins but most blueberry muffins don't live up to the hype.  They are dry.  They are small. They are a bland, dry, crumbly muffin with a couple specs of blue in them, or the berries are kind of sour and the muffin is not sweet enough to offset it.  Take your pick.  But lately I've been in a blueberry muffin 'mood' and I've been trying many different recipes and tweaking many versions trying to find the best one I personally can make.

And then, do you know what happened?  I found I had been sitting on my favorite version this whole time!  I've been posted the recipe before - albeit in a different form - which is why it flew under my radar.

You see, I have a favorite blueberry bread recipe (here) that I have made for years and years and for whatever reason, I decided to make it into muffins this week.  They were fabulous!  So moist and delicious and the perfect blend of berries, muffin and a hint of cinnamon in a crumb topping I added before baking.  I was so very happy with them that this is now my "go to" recipe for blueberry muffins.

*Notes*  I used fresh blueberries a co-worker of my husbands gave him from his backyard.  Can't get much fresher than that!  Although you can use frozen or even rehydrate freeze dried or dehydrated - if you can, use fresh just because they are bursting and wonderful and happen to be in season right now.

I also used some sweetener substitutes in the crumb topping - I used real sugar in the muffins this time around but normally I would use substitute in those as well.   I'll link to my favorites below the recipe.

Blueberry Bread

1 c butter
3 c sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t lemon extract
6 eggs
3 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 c sour cream
2 c fresh blueberries - rinsed and completely dried on paper towels before using

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the extracts.  Add eggs, beat well.  Combine the flour and baking soda.  Add to the mixture alternately with the sour cream.  Fold in the blueberries.  Spoon into about 28-30 muffin tins lined with cupcake liners if desired.  Bake at 350 degrees 15-20 minutes or until the center is done.  Although you don't have to use the cinnamon crumb topping, if you choose to, it adds a great texture and flavor.  Just sprinkle some crumb mixture onto each muffin before baking.  

Crumb Topping:

3/4 c all-purpose flour
A scant 1/2 c brown sugar
2 T granulated sugar
dash salt
1/4 t cinnamon
3/4 stick butter cut into pieces

In a bowl, mix the 3/4 c flour, 1/2 c brown sugar, white sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter and working with your fingertips, work in butter pieces, until large clumps form.  Store in a baggy in the freezer and use as needed on pies, muffins, granola, ice cream, muffins, quick breads or desserts.  In this case - use it to top the blueberry muffins before baking.

Batter is ready for berries!

Folding in the berries

Fresh blueberry muffins

You might be interested in;

Freeze Dried Blueberries - 12 Ounce Can
Mother Earth Products Freeze Dried Blueberries, 1 Full Quart
Wilton Recipe Right Nonstick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan
Ideal Sweetener No Calorie 10.6 Oz 6 Packs
Just Like Sugar Table Top Sweetener 16 oz Pkg
Trader Joe's Freeze Dried Blueberries


Print Friendly and PDF