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

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


Old Fashioned Butter Mints - either pillow shaped or molded

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.

Print Friendly and PDF


The Best Homemade Blueberry Muffins

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

Print Friendly and PDF


Homemade Chocolate Mocha Almond Ice Cream - NO MACHINE NEEDED - so creamy and delicious!

Homemade Ice Cream
No machine or bags of ice needed!

16 oz. container heavy whipping cream  (2 cups liquid)
1 can sweetened condensed milk  (not evaporated milk)
*optional items for whatever you flavor you like

Whip the heavy cream just to stiff peaks.
Fold in 1 can sweetened condensed milk.
Any flavorings or additions you like.
Place in a freezer safe container.  Freeze overnight.  Serve!

Vanilla:  Add 1-2 t vanilla extract
Chocolate:  1/2 c chocolate syrup, 1-2 squares melted Baker's chocolate
Caramel:  1/2 c Caramel syrup
Cherry Nut:  1 t almond extract, fresh chopped cherries, chopped walnuts or pecans
Chocolate Mocha Nut:  1/2 c chocolate syrup, 1 melted square Bakers unsweetened chocolate, 1/4 c strong coffee, 1/3 c toasted chopped almonds
Cookies and Cream:  1 c crushed or chopped Oreos, 1 t vanilla extract
Lemon:  1 t lemon extract
Try:  Marshmallow creme, mini chocolate chips, candies, crushed cookies, nuts, butterscotch, strawberries, raspberries, maple extract, mint extract with mini chocolate chips, 1/3 c dry cake mix with colored sprinkles, espresso, melted caramel with a sprinkle of sea salt, bits of chopped brownies or cake, spoonfuls of cheesecake, bits of apple pie filling and a sprinkle of cinnamon, chopped candy bars... the options are endless!!!!

Whip the cold heavy cream
Whip just until it thickens are forms stiff peaks
Add 1 can sweetened condensed milk (in the baking aisle)
For chocolate mocha I added 1 melted square unsweetened Baker's chocolate with 1/4 c espresso and 1/2 c chocolate syrup
Toasted some salted almonds... Mmmm
Fold everything together til smooth
Place in freeze safe container (I used Rubbermaid style with lid)
Freeze overnight and you get perfectly creamy, delicious ice cream!

Print Friendly and PDF


Dry Rubbed Grilled BBQ Beef Ribs with Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce

My husband raved about these ribs and was hinting heavily and waiting for me to make them again.  I did so last week and during that few minutes of cooking I topped them with the yummy watermelon bbq sauce that has become a staple in our house, and served extra sauce along side.

I prefer beef ribs over pork, but this can be used on either - as well as on fish or chicken too.  It's just a generally good dry rub.  Makes a nice amount so if you don't use it all, just store it in a glass jar and you'll have it on hand for 'next time'!

Dry Rub for Beef or Pork

1 T cumin
1 T paprika
1 T granulated garlic
1 T granulated onion
1 T chili powder
1 T brown sugar
2 T salt
1 t ground coriander seed
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
1 t white pepper

Mix in a bowl.  Sprinkle on damp beef ribs as heavy or light as you wish for your personal taste. 
I chose to wrap the ribs in heavy aluminum foil and slow cooked them on 200 degrees for a few hours in the oven (it was a cold day and I was happy to have the oven going).  I also use the crock pot if I'm making a small amount that will fit into it. I turned off the oven around 3:00 and left them in it  until I ready to start making dinner around 5:00.  Opening one side of the foil, I poured off the juices into a pan on the stove and then unwrapped the ribs completely.   

Finish these under the broiler or on the grill.  Turn the heat up on the stove under the juices and proceed to make a sauce out of it by adding a heavy dose of low sugar ketchup, brown sugar sweetener, and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.  I simply kept spoon tasting until I got the sweetness I liked.  (about 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup brown sugar sweetener).   Medium high heat to boil until it's reduced to a thick sauce.  Broil the ribs under the broiler for a few minutes each side until golden brown.  Drizzle with the sauce and serve.

I like to use beef ribs - but you can use pork

It makes a LOT of spice mix.  Use it sparingly or heavy; up to you.

Heavily sprinkled with the spice mix and ready to wrap up and oven bake for a couple hours

Although I could link to it, I thought I'd save everyone the trouble of jumping to a new page and repost my watermelon BBQ sauce here for you!

If you don't like things too spicy, cut back on the crushed red pepper.  If you don't have crushed red pepper flakes, substitute with a bit of minced jalapeno or if you don't like spice, try some canned green chilies.   I opted to make my a syrup from scratch because I wanted to make it with a sugar substitute for less sugar and I don't buy corn syrup.  If you regularly have dark corn syrup on hand, you can use that instead of the sugar/water/cream of tartar syrup.  Lots of ways to play with this and make it your own!

Sweet and Spicy Watermelon Sauce

Watermelon flesh and pink/white rind (but don't use any of the bright white or bitter green)
1 1/4 c brown sugar (or white sugar and 1 heaping T molasses)
3-4 T water
1/4 t cream of tartar
dash of salt
1/4 c ketchup (reduced sugar is fine too)
1/4 c white vinegar
3/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t liquid smoke flavor (hickory or mesquite)
1/8 t ground black pepper

Chop watermelon and pink/white rind into chunks.  About 3 cups full of chunks.  Place in a food processor and pulse briefly to puree.  You want about a cup full more or less and you want it to stay thick.

To a saucepan on the stove place the brown sugar (or white sugar with molasses added) into a pan.  Add the cream of tartar, dash of salt and about 3-4 T water.  I used a mixture of white and brown sugar but found I was out of molasses. No worries, you are just making a general syrup.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 3 or 4 minutes until it's thickened. Add the watermelon puree, ketchup, vinegar, red pepper flakes, flavoring and pepper.  If you want to use less crushed red pepper flakes you can, or substitute similar measurements of minced jalapeno, canned green chilies, or for a completely sweet sauce, leave out the spice.  Bring to a boil again, reduce to s simmer and let simmer for 1-2 hours until it reduces down, becomes dark and thickens.  The longer you simmer, the thicker and darker it becomes.

I canned mine in sterilized jars with lids and used a water bath process for 30 minutes.  But then we ended up using it that night anyway because it was SO good I couldn't wait!  We used it on grilled chicken (basted, grilled, basted more, grilled more and finally, final basted and served extra with dinner).   We are saving the rest to use with Cream Cheese Won Tons like a spicy, sweet plum sauce.

Making a simple syrup

Cleaning the watermelon

Scraped and chopped. You can use these rinds for watermelon pickles or discard.

Pureed watermelon and the pink/white part of the rind
Bringing to a boil

Simmer until it's as thick as you need or want it to be

Print Friendly and PDF


Homemade DIY Deodorant - (Cornstarch and Baking Soda Version) Yes it really works!

To make this you will need a container to keep your deodorant in.  If you have some (or friends or family do) - wash them and reuse them.  Great money saver.  However, if you have thrown them all out or the center piece that holds the product and moves up and down the container is gone, you can order empty containers from Amazon (I'll link at the bottom of this post!)

You can put it into a muffin tin and apply it with your hand each morning (messy) or put it in a jar and scoop some out to rub on if you wish, but if you have an empty deodorant container, you can use it and it will 'roll up' as it's being used, just like regular deodorant does.  This recipe will make enough for 1 really large container or about 1 1/2 of the normal smaller sized.   I also sometimes add a fragrance oil to this but it doesn't need it and it's optional.

Homemade Deodorant

2 empty deodorant containers (or 1 but you'll have a little left over)
1/4 c baking soda
1/4 c cornstarch
5 T coconut oil (when you buy it, it's solid, like shortening)
2 T beeswax (I like white for this but you could use yellow)
1/4 t vitamin E oil (a preservative)
8 drops tea tree oil (natural anti-bacterial oil with a strong scent so you may not want to use this)
drops of your favorite fragrance essential oil

Melt the coconut oil and beeswax in the microwave in a small bowl or container and stir until smooth (about a minute or so).  Add to everything else in a small bowl and stir until smooth, blended and incorporated.  As it starts to cool, the coconut oil starts to make it thick.  You can pour it directly into your container (if you stir for a minute or two more, it gets to the consistency to scrape and push it into your container if that is what you prefer, although  it's messier.  If you take too long and it's thickened up too much, just pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds and melt again. 

Gently tap the container on the counter during the filling process and after to get it completely to the bottom, and release air bubbles.  Then, refrigerate or let set in a dark, cool cupboard until it completely sets up.  When you use it, you gently glide it on your skin. 

*NOTE - the reason I was going to 'update' my deodorant post (that I never posted in the first place) is that I have found through my own trial and error that BRAND NAMES MATTER.  The first 3 or 4 times I made this, I used the coconut oil I had on hand that I always buy for cooking, baking, salves, etc.  It's a cheap brand I pick up at almost any grocery store or Walmart.  My finished products were fine and useable but it wasn't until I happened to invest in better quality coconut oil on my last shopping trip, and also happened to pick up a different brand of corn starch that I made this latest version of deodorant and OMGOSH I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.  Yes, I typed that in caps.  Using a little bit more expensive brand of coconut oil and a different brand of cornstarch completely made this an even better quality product and it's ON PAR with ANY deodorant I've ever tried that was store bought and full of chemicals.

Print Friendly and PDF


Homemade Applesauce in a Slowcooker, Crock Pot OR in your SOLAR OVEN! Yep - So easy!

When I started making this last year, I created a monster!  This is a 'must have' on hand at all times for my husband.  I started to can all of my homemade applesauce in pint sized jars as he takes one to work with him almost every day but the funniest thing is that almost every morning I get up to make my coffee and find an empty container and a spoon next to the sink.  Yep!  This is his 'go to' snack at night while he watches TV after I go to bed!

Lucky for me this is so incredibly easy to make and takes almost no work.  Lucky for him it's healthy.

Depending on the apples I use, I usually don't add any sweetener at all, so it's all natural.  When I do decide to mix it up a little and add a cinnamon stick and a bit of sweetener, I use natural, healthy sweeteners - (not sugar) so it's still sugar free and so healthy for him.  

I've also found my husband eats these so quickly I don't can and process them unless I'm doing a large batch, as he'll eat 1-2 pints a day between work and late night snacks!

Homemade Applesauce

About 10 medium apples of any variety reds you have on hand
About 1/3 - 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice (this is needed if you are canning them, but I add a splash of it anyway even if I'm not)

optional:  sweetener and/or cinnamon to your taste

Combine the apples with just enough water to coat the bottom of your crockpot or slowcooker so they don't stick.
Cover and heat on high for about 2-4 hours depending on your brand, size and style slow cooker.  Do not let them burn, but turn it off when the apples are completely soft.  You can also cook them on the stove if you wish.  On the stove, add enough water so the bottom of the pan is covered and the apples won't stick or burn.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately educe heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

You can add sweetener and/or a cinnamon stick either when you start to cook them or add a bit of ground cinnamon when you process them.  It's up to you.  Process in a food processor or blender in batches until as smooth as you wish.  You can eat immediately, place in a container in the refrigerator to eat that week or can them in a water bath for longer storage.

Solar Oven:  With temperatures hovering at 100 degrees, I've been using my solar oven as it's just so quick and easy.  This batch of applesauce is made just like the instructions above for a slow cooker or crockpot.   Place your apple slices into a pan that fits in your solar oven.  Add just enough water to coat the bottom of the pan (your apples won't burn in a solar oven like they might in a crock pot or slow cooker, but the tiny bit of liquid just adds a bit of juice to the processing later).

If you are choosing to add sugar, cinnamon or a natural sweetener you can do that now or when you process them.

Place the lid on the pan, place in the solar oven and forget about it for at least 2 hours, or until the apples are soft and you are ready to process them.  Unlike stove top cooking or slow cookers, your apples won't scorch or burn.  They will just cook nice and soft and wait for you, on your schedule.

Process in a food processor or blender until as smooth as you wish.  You can eat immediately, place in a container in the refrigerator to eat that week or can them in a water bath for longer storage.


Get your canning supplies ready while the apples are almost done cooking and ready to process.  The jars should be clean and hot; kept in simmering water until you need them.  The rings and lids clean and hot. Have a pot on the stove with water ready to process them in boiling water.

Working in batches depending on the size of your food processor, process them on pulse with the S-blade until just smooth.  Don't over process.
Place apple mixture in a saucepan. Add lemon juice. Bring to a simmer slash boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. 

Ladle the applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a butter knife or skinny spatula around the jar and jiggling it a little to settle the sauce. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp rag or paper towel. Center lid on jar. Screw on the band just to hold the lid in place, not too tight.

Water bath process the jars in a boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove jars and let set on the counter to cool slowly. The lids should all be sealed down tight and not 'give' when pressed in the center with your finger or thumb.  That's it!  You're done.

Print Friendly and PDF

BERRIES: PART 2 - Blackberry Raspberry Butter from freeze dried fruit

The previous post for the berry sherbet was the result of actually starting to make this recipe!  In the middle of making it, I saw a can of sweetened condensed milk I had bought for a second Key Lime Pie and decided on a whim to use it to sweeten the berries, then during a taste test to see how much sweetener and what flavorings I needed, I decided it was incredible as a frozen dessert and made half the batch into the sherbet!  But THIS is the recipe I was actually making. 

This was a complete trial recipe - tweaking, substituting, brainstorming.  Really, I was just using up the berries I had been picking this summer from our wild blackberry patch growing by the creek.  The end result is pretty good.  It's just a very thick, spreadable jam really.

Here is the original recipe I was going to follow...  it's a long term food storage recipe using freeze dried berries.

Blackberry Blueberry Butter

2 c freeze dried blueberries
2 1/2 c freeze dried blackberries
2 c water
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T lemon juice

In a blender, process the freeze dried fruit until it's a smooth powder.  In a saucepan on the stove, add the water, sugar and lemon juice to the berries.  Cook all on a low boil for 30-40 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning on the bottom.  Cook it down until it's as thick as you like and then jar and seal.  Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator.

What I did

Since I had fresh berries to use, I got all the berries I had been picking and storing in my deep freezer.
Processed them until smooth in the food processor with the S-blade
Placing them into a saucepan on the stove, I added 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 c sugar and 1 T lemon juice and about 1/2 cup water.  I didn't add all the water because I was not using freeze dried berries that needed to be reconstituted. 
Taste test yours.  I think most people would like to add about 1/2 cup more sugar at this point.  Cook down until it's as thick as you like.  Pour it into your clean, warm jar and seal.  Let cool and store in the refrigerator. 

Print Friendly and PDF


BERRIES! Homemade Berry Sherbet

If you follow me on Twitter you might recall seeing my excited Tweet last month, with photo, that our blackberries had started to ripen. I spent just over a week, 'picking berries' each evening as they slowly ripened.  It was a great way to slow down, relax, do some deep thinking and enjoy the quiet that picking berries forces on you.  If you attempt to go quickly, not only will you miss plump, ripe berries hiding under leaves, but the thorns will get you and your clothes and rip both skin and fabric into little shreds!

As I pick berries I popped them into the deep freezer until I had enough to do 'something' with.  That something turned into 2 different things.  I intended on making some Blackberry Butter (a thick jam) but as I started to make it I ended up making a homemade sherbet out of this batch!  Completely random and unplanned.  No recipe - it just made itself.

 Frozen berries into a food processor with an S-blade
You can use all one kind of berry or mix blackberries, raspberries, etc.  It's up to you!

 Process, scrape the sides and process more until as smooth as you can get it.

While I planned to use a sweetener substitute and make jam or butter out of it,
suddenly I spied an extra can of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry from
my Key Lime Pie shopping trip.

Added 1 can of sweetened condensed milk to the berry puree

Upon taste-testing I decided just a smidgen of vanilla Torani flavored syrup would do.
(You could add more sweetener and/or vanilla extract)
Taste test to get the sweet level to your liking.

When you like how it tastes, put it into a container that can be placed in the deep freeze.

After freezing at least a few hours, scoop out and serve!

Print Friendly and PDF