Matches To Go

by Sheena Kohlmeyer

As a wilderness traveler and advocate of being prepared, I appreciate those small boxes of ‘strike anywhere’ matches. They’re inexpensive yet can be life-saving if one’s vehicle breaks down beyond cell reception. They’re in my camping gear, kayaking bin, emergency evac go-bag, bedside table, and in my kitchen ‘everything’ drawer. I also keep a box of these matches in my vehicle. In the vehicle is where it’s especially important to pay attention to the amount of matches remaining in the box. In my world, travel bins and tins with wooden matches have a qualifying feature: matches are secured.

Years ago a friend showed me the burn scar caused by a fiery eruption in his shirt pocket while driving on a pitted backcountry road. He’d tucked a box of a few remaining ‘strike anywhere’ matches into his shirt pocket as he headed down a bumpy road. He had no idea the friction from the constant jarring could shake those match-heads enough to ignite them against each other. He recovered thankfully, and his story can help others. I certainly ensure my matches ‘to go’ cannot jostle. No accidental fireballs on my person or in my vehicle! Hopefully not yours either. So let’s keep them snug.

Transfer matches out of your homestead supply into the travel matchboxes to help keep those boxes full. Using an elastic band around the box keeps it handy for securing matches together into a bundle as their numbers dwindle and bumpy roads are ahead. Then you can rest assured that no matter how rough that backcountry road, your bound matches will not rub against each other and ignite. That’s my little tip today to help us all stay safe.

A Great Kitchen Knife

Art by Nancy Gail Ring although this painting is of a paring knife  her work of art sends me to summertime
Art by Nancy Gail Ring
while my post is about a chef’s knife and this is of a paring knife
Nancy’s work of art sends me to summer and I wanted to share it

Having at least one quality chef’s knife is essential for any home cook. And once we have one, let’s remember and practice these important safety tips.

Never Put It Down.

Okay, sure we occasionally have to put it down to answer the door or stir a pot and the knife will be left [as in these paintings by Artists Nancy Gail Ring and Patrick O’Driscoll]. In these instances we leave the knife on the cutting board where we’re working and return to it promptly. If there are children in the home, push the board and knife back from the edge of the counter and let’s teach them to respect our working area.

Art by Patrick O'Driscoll
Art by Patrick O’Driscoll

A quality knife is a terrific tool, but it can be a risk if left on the counter or dropped into soapy water. I like to give my kitchen knives the O.H.I.O. treatment: Only Handle It Once. I hold onto it for chopping, julienning, dicing, mincing and crushing, and when I’m finished I clean, dry and store it immediately. It’s a good habit. I encourage you to make it yours too.

Another tip that I find really helpful with utilizing my kitchen knife is something I learned from chef Alton Brown. Here’s his one short comment that really stayed with me as I mulled over the implied riddle, and then I understood it!

“Any knife works best when going in two directions at once.” ~ Alton Brown

See what I mean? Seems like a riddle, doesn’t it? That is until you hold this sentence in mind while using your kitchen knife to break down a large butternut squash or whole roast into cubes for example. Applying firm pressure while moving both down and forward, or down and backward, is an excellent way to use a knife. It’s utilizing force and momentum to the best advantage. If you don’t already think about this as you use your knife, give it some attention and you’ll see why Alton’s tip is a good one.

Also, here’s a Good Eats one minute video with Alton Brown on why Happiness Is A Sharp Knife, as well as a pdf from chef Jamie Oliver on knife safety. This post is my celebration of owning and caring for at least one excellent kitchen knife. Spend for the highest quality you can afford because a well-crafted knife is an excellent investment. Chef’s knives of quality that are well cared for become heirlooms. And taking care of my well-appreciated knife helps me spend joyful time in my kitchen peacefully.

Knife safety Jamieshomecookingskills 700

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Keep pets safe in the heat

Let’s Be Sure To Take Care Of Our Pets In Hot Weather

Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin like humans. They release heat primarily by panting. If they cannot effectively expel heat with this act, their internal body temperature will rise. This can damage the animal’s internal organs, which can be a cause of death if not treated promptly.

“Leaving a dog in a vehicle in hot weather can be fatal. A parked vehicle can get heated in no time and can bring on a heat stroke in your pet dog.” 
Dr. Jagath Jayasekera, the Chief Veterinary Surgeon of the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwela, Sri Lanka.

After a recent death of a one-year old lab left in a car in the summer heat, people in Toronto, Ontario were outraged. The owners were charged and fined, bringing hope of further penalties to seriously warn careless animal owners. Michael O’Sullivan, chairman of the Humane Society of Canada, said each summer brings its share of needless, easily preventable tragedies.
“I’ve heard every excuse under the sun for why somebody’s dog gets really sick or dies … and I’m just sick of hearing them,” O’Sullivan said in a telephone interview. “The bottom line is that animals are living, breathing creatures, and they depend completely on us for care.”

Stages of overheating 

Your pet will look tired and distressed

Its tongue will be very floppy and very red in colour

Your dog may begin to heave as it pants, or even “roar” – described as sounding like severe asthma 

Its body temperature will rise (normal temp approx 38.5C) 

Its airway will swell and throat may become full of white foam (caused through the excessive panting) 

Most of these symptoms are also warning signs in cats, especially panting

How to help prevent heat strokes

NEVER leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day, regardless of whether you parked in the shade and the windows are open. 

Avoid vigorous exercise on warm days. When outside, opt for relaxing in shady areas.

Keep fresh cool water available at all times. If heading away from home with your dog, even if you think it’s just a ‘jaunt to the store’ bring a bowl, just in case, and bottles of water for both of you.

Provide shade and cool water to dogs living in outdoor shelters. 

Certain dogs are more sensitive to heat, especially obese dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds. Use great caution when these dogs are exposed to heat. Never expose dogs with airway disease or impaired breathing to prolonged heat.

First aid

First, move your dog or cat out of the heat and away from the sun right away.

Begin cooling your pet by placing cool, wet rags or washcloths on the body – especially on the foot pads and around the head.

DO NOT use ice or very cold water! Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body’s core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. In addition, over-cooling can cause hypothermia, introducing a host of new problems. 

Offer your pet cool water to drink, but do not force water into their mouth.

Call or visit your vet right away – even if your pet seems better! Internal damage might not be obvious to the naked eye, so an examination is necessary (and further testing may be recommended). 

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