Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Being prepared isn't always Beans Bullets and Band aids!

Ah the joys of home ownership...

Well last week we made a wonderful discovery... our furnace is on it's deathbed (note the sarcasm).  Then you might also consider that this past summer, fortunately two weeks before our home owners warranty expired, our air conditioner went dead.  Combine those two events into a single point in time and you have what many people would call a disaster!

Beans Bullets and Band Aids

When people on the TV or mainstream media talk about "preppers" and "survivalists", they often picture somebody stockpiling food and medical supplies with a small arsenal on their back.  But I'd like to shake that rotten apple from the tree and consider our own little personal disaster here.

Having been laid off a few times in my short career I am probably one who would be considered slightly more conservative with my money and it doesn't bother me to hear good old Abe Lincoln cry uncle when I rub my two pennies together.  But one thing we have learned, and has been reinforced when we attended Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University was that it's a good idea to have a financial emergency plan in place!

Sure its easy for some people to romanticize different end of the world scenarios... zombies, Red Dawn, things like that.  But the problem is with those scenarios is that you can't prepare enough!  If an asteroid hits the earth, I don't think it matters if you live under a mountain in the Rockies, we're all dead!  This one has a huge impact on millions of people, but very little chance of ever happening.  The other end of the spectrum is a disaster that impacts you and your lonesome.  Whether it be stubbing your toe (a lady at work had to have surgery for that recently!), coming down with the flu or getting laid off.  Now those things don't impact a whole lot of people, but the chances of it happening are sure a lot higher!

So at this point in time, we are still waiting to hear back from a handyman recommended by our Pastor who said he can help us save a good bit of money.  In the mean while, we are limping along with a semi-working furnace and some borrowed electric space heaters, a few we borrowed from the neighbors.  Next week when it gets down in the teens again, I have a backup kerosine heater we might have to pull out of storage (I had my Amanda grab a few gallons of Kerosine last week).  All that to say, preparing for things that do go wrong doesn't make you a nutcase, it makes you ready! 

"A failure to prepare on your part does not necessitate an emergency on my part."

On another note...
Amanda and I had a few discussions in the past two weeks and I can't help but think we're not going be here in five years.  It saddens me to think about leaving behind all the plans I've invested in the property, but I "need" a barn and a house with a fireplace!  Where we live now is great... but Amanda informed me that I can't keep any pigs on our property... let's just say I have some motivation to fix this house up!

Friday, January 16, 2015

An Initial Review - Back 2 Basics Food Mill

The Back 2 Basics Model 220 Food Strainer & Sauce Maker

You might remember my recent posting, Food Mills vs Food Strainers, where I talked about the differences and the benefits of a food strainer.  I also mentioned a purchase I made over at of my Back2Basics Model 220 Food mill.  Looks like the price went up a little - was $28 now $35... inflation is hard at work, get yours now before its too late!  Just kidding...

Well I got it in the mail and just now have remembered to bring the pictures to work so I can tell you all about it!  So here are a few pictures, right out of the box...

Installed on my kitchen table


Mounting it to the table

The first thing I notice when I clamp this thing down to the table is that the clamp feels pretty rock solid.  This is actually really important because if you are going to be cranking down on the handle trying to push production as fast as possible, you're not going to want it to wiggle around!  That said, make sure the table or whatever you mount it to is also solid!  Our kitchen table is a 1970's chunk of looks-like-wood plastic... it's not the best for the job, but it works.

Add handle here
Hopefully it's obvious, but this is where the handle gets installed.  Not sure if you can see it or not, but the shaft the handle mounts to is threaded on the end and then the slotted handle fits over a larger portion (I'm struggling with the right words here).  Make sure when you install it, the slotted handle slips down over this portion of the shaft.

The handle, crank and the nut that holds it on.
Maybe now it's a little more obvious?  Anyway, there's the handle and the screw that goes over it.  Caution!!!  Don't crank down too hard on the screw... the plastic housing has the potential to strip out... but if it does, you could still go to the hardware store and get a nut and washer to replace it and be back in business.

The handle and nut installed.
Of course one you install the handle and screw the nut down, it never hurts to have a buddy to test it out for you to make sure it works!  To the left is the adapter that goes into the hole in the top and the basin/reservoir/hopper that goes on top of the adapter.  I don' know why they didn't just make the hopper the right size... anybody have any ideas?

The inside of the frame... with the spring installed.
You can see here how the inside of this thing looks.  The spring in this picture pushes the spiral/auger into the screens to ensure a tight fit, forcing the juice/sauce out and the solid skins, seeds, etc out the end.  Here's what that looks like...

The default screen with the regular auger... don't miss the gasket inside the screen though!

If you look inside the red auger you'll see part of a shiny piece of stainless steel, or so it appears.  This is slotted and fits over the shaft in the previous picture.  The spring also pushes against this piece of stainless forcing it against the screen.  You can also see on the RH side of the screen a little set screw... this needs to be all the way out, as it will get in your way when you install the screen if it's not!

Installing the screen and auger.
Okay, this one is big for a reason!  If you look at the frame, just on the LH edge at the center of the rotational axis, you'll see that there is something of a ramp going up and a horizontal line at the top of it.  The screen also has the words "OFF" and "ON", with arrows indicating direction of rotation.  The screen needs to be pushed over the frame, rotated in the "ON" direction until the set screw is above the horizontal line and then tightened down.  (If you have any questions, just ask and I'll try to answer as soon as possible!)

Auger and Screen installed.  Notice where the set screw is?
Pretty self explanatory what you are looking at here...

Spout and squirt guard installed.
Ya know, I don't know what those things are really called... but you got my best attempt.  These two plastic pieces just slip over the screen, for the spout, and the screen and frame, for the squirt guard.  Also shown at the very tip top of the picture is the "hopper base" and the "hopper" installed... those are the technically correct names!  So there you have it, now you know how it goes together.


Amazon was good to me this year!  I wasn't sure how it would work out, but I went out on a limb and purchased the accessory kit for the Roma food strainer for $12 (it now costs ~$25 at the moment). 

The box.
I took a gamble on this one, but since it was only $12, I figured it was worth the risk!  Each screen from Back 2 Basics Mill is around $17, so what do I have to loose?  Well I got them in last week... lo and behold, they fit!  So now I have a screen for Salsa, Pumpkin/Squash, Berries and a Grape Spiral (for juicing grapes), for less than I would have paid for a single B2B screen.

B2B Auger (left) and Roma Grape Auger (right).
There was one difference that I noticed... the gaskets on the Roma screens are a little smaller.

Roma gasket
Back 2 Basics gasket

The gasket on the B2B is thicker, beefier... but on the model I used in the past, it didn't have any gasket... only time will tell how much of a difference this makes.  I'll let ya know when I figure it out!

Manufacturers website
B2B Food Strainer and Sauce Maker Manual

Take care and God bless!