Is anxiety turning us all all into pandemic preppers?

My kitchen is THE room in the house where I spend nearly all my time during the day right now (that and the garden). I’m wearing myself out like a ‘prepper possessed’, a tad manic almost, trying to catch up with the mental to-do list playing over and over in my mind.  It’s even keeping me awake at night right now. I keep asking myself what difference will 4 jars of applesauce and several jars of pickled beetroot make and to be honest, I can’t find a ‘bona fide’ answer. All I know is that I’m driven to do it..

Although I can’t be sure, I believe it might be subconscious anxiety. Despite what is unfolding around us I’m calm and feeling some self-worth due to being productive. Being in the midst of a pandemic is the first for most of us and we are all going to cope in quite different ways. Certainly, with lockdowns, worrying about family and friends, food shortages, queue’s, rationing, alarmist negative media reports, and no longer able to do things the way we are so used to doing, HAS to be having an effect on us even if we think we are coping well.

Today, after another sleepless night, I made jars and jars of bread and butter pickles (because that’s what you did during the Great Depression right?), pickled beetroot and applesauce. It took all day, made a huge mess but it kept me busy. And last night, after dehydrating orange skins and grinding them I went to sleep creating in my head a recipe for a simple hand soap using the orange peels, a bottle of olive oil and some caustic soda convincing myself it would be a good thing to add to my ever-growing ‘prepper pantry’. If I had found the time I would have made that too!

Please let me know what you are doing, or what you aren’t doing and if your behaviours have recently changed.  How is your anxiety manifesting itself and how are you coping with it? How do you feel?

Stay calm, stay safe, stay home

C xxxxxx

PS: Yesterday and today in photos from my phone below xxx


28 thoughts on “Is anxiety turning us all all into pandemic preppers?

  1. That all looks wonderful Carolyn! Everything looks so delicious. I am continuing with my ration book cooking and baking and I’ve watched Wartime Kitchen & Garden and Danger UXB for the millionth time ha ha My family and I went on holiday to Nova Scotia in 2008 and had an amazing time. We rented a beautiful house on the shore at Feltzen South (?). We enjoyed days out at both Mahone Bay and Peggy’s Cove – both stunning places. Hope you and your family are all safe and well. X

    • Ooooo Wartime Kitchen and Garden… now there was a fantastic TV series! Miss Nova Scotia, it is such a lovely province isn’t it! Loved Mahone Bay and Lunenburg xx

      • Oh yes, Lunenburg, that was the other lovely place ! I just couldn’t think of the name ha ha x

  2. oh you did work hard Carolyn!! the pickles all look very delicious, and so nice to have in your cupboard. I believe the better the pantry, the more confident we feel. So few of the younger ones do not think of building up a pantry but it is the most important part of a kitchen.
    Love your water cleaner, that is precious. keep up your good work, no use worrying, just plan and go as you can. ann lee s

    • Aww thank you Ann, I think keeping busy just helps if you are feeling a little anxious. YES spot on about the pantry thought!!! xxxx Take care xxx

  3. Dear Carolyn,

    All of them look yummy, but especially your beetroot! I want to make that. Those are such lovely pictures. I know I would feel happy if I saw something like that lined up on pretty shelves in my house. Instead, I seem to not be sweeping or organizing as much as usual! (But I am spraying doorknobs and switches with bleach-water daily). Once again you are inspiring me. I have jams and marmalade that I canned last year, but they are hidden in my living room out of site for lack of shelving space.

    I would be doing more of that now (I’ve never done pickles), should be doing more of that and tidying my house, but the stress immobilizes me a bit, and I wish it didn’t. Every hour of life is precious and we should use it for good if we can, and for enjoyment, and not just sit in our houses like parked cars waiting. Waiting is not mentally healthy. I don’t see why not beetroot and picalily. I am baking bread about every other day, though, as it is getting devoured quickly by my family! And today I showed one of my sons how to make some awfully good sugar cookies.

    Your experience and knowledge is so valuable to us today, even before this stay at home time. I know you are a bit worried if you will have a job after this, as are most of us. Maybe you would consider writing a book in the mean time? I mean, for income. I know I would buy it. It could maybe be a mix of history and a manual for living today through lean times, with a smaller footprint on the planet, which I know you and I share that interest in common. So a bit of old, a bit of new. I really think you have a perspective that is unique and worth putting into a book, and that you know things we wish we did. That sounds like a book to me. And this website of yours, you could maybe work into being a whole business. It would not be the first time a passion got turned into a business.

    This morning I was trying to set goals for this year to hopefully urge me to move a little more. It includes canning 30 jars, preferably to include some tomato products later this year (never done tomatoes yet). And to make 52 loaves of bread (well on my way I think), a batch of cold processed soap (lye… never done this solo), a batch of cheese each month, and to put in a garden, an herb garden, and a couple of fruit trees (if i can get them). I have some seed catalogs in front of me now, as the seeds I have stored are old and not germinating very well.

    My family is stressed and I try to help them. My boys are bored. My husband is getting suckered in by conspiracy theories. My husband (who works at an airport) leaves for work at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get his car started this morning so he woke me up to tell me… like I’m a mechanic, now, too? Picture me in my driveway this morning with boots on (I was) and just in my nightie with snow on the ground and full dark seeing if he remembered to turn off the parking lights and ran the battery down. Anyway, he took my car, we think it is the battery, we are lucky we have two cars. No, I’m not stressed, hahahaha! Keep calm. There is nothing to see here. Everything is normal! Let’s make more pickles!

    • Oh I always enjoy reading your comments so much, they are so detailed and full of great info, do you blog? It’s great to have plans! Have similar plans to you…just want to build up a good pantry and garden and then just keep it going (all depends if we can continue renting this house I guess or otherwise will have to start from scratch again). Ahh yes conspiracy theories, there are LOTS right now. I errrr on the side of science and cold hard facts with a pinch of salt thrown in with regards to the way things are reported. Take care and yes let’s make more pickles! PS: Just had a message on Facebook, a friend I haven’t seen for 30 years is delivering some rhubarb from her mothers garden tomorrow for me! (all social distancing will be adhered too). I’m really excited to see my old friend at a distance briefly and also lots of rhubarb to stew! xxxx

      • Oh lovely! I have a little bit of rhubarb to plant this year, too. I can’t wait to see what we do with it!

        No, I don’t have a blog, but seriously should think about it.

  4. I wish I had the space and money to do this kind of stockpiling. This is a much more productive way of dealing with it rather than clearing the supermarket shelves, so I’m rather jealous of how amazing your pantry is looking!!!! I refused to panic buy and have always been a home cooker so now there are still things I can’t get to be self sufficient like flour. I have a tiny freezer so I can’t stockpile ready made bread for instance but I wish I had followed the trend and bought a little bit more of my usual things then I wouldn’t be so worried about how things are going to pan out. That said, I have been growing a lot more veg. I think it’s far better to do something rather than just panic. If it helps, do it! Those products will last a long time in their jars!

    • This is just small quantities from food I have bought but this will last me until my homegrown beetroot etc is ready to preserve some more this summer 🙂 I know what you mean about the freezer. we have 3 small drawers, I do store half a loaf incase we run out and most of the rest is fruit and veggies. What veggies are you growing? Am always looking for inspiration and ideas! xxxx

  5. It sounds to me, that you’re keeping yourself busy in a healthy and positive way. The things you are preserving are good no matter what the world situation may be. If things were to return to normal tomorrow ( which they won’t of course ) you’ll be in a good position to continue to focus on your garden or another project.
    Myself, I’ve been making masks for my family and other seniors,
    Made pickled beets, lots of baking and walking in my own neighbourhood and listening to some of my favourite music. I phone a few friends each day and I’m really not overly concerned about being self isolated, we aren’t being asked to go out and fight, just stay home and do our best.
    I realize I’m fortunate that I don’t live alone and that I have a great family and neighbours that check in with me a few times a week.
    Take care and remember any surplus canning can always be given as gifts.

    • Sounds just fine and lovely you are making masks xxxx I was saying to a friend that its weird that such awful stuff is going on and we are so very saddened about the loss of life and tragedy around us yet at the same time we are also enjoying the lockdown as it gives many of us time to be productive working towards our lives and wellbeing xxxxxx

  6. For years when I’d hear bad news…world wide I’d start makimg soup and freezing it. Over the years I have learned how to stock pile in a way that works for me: over the past 4 years I’ve bought 3 months of dried food snd stocked about 10 gallons of water. Stuff I use (flour etc..) I always have the one container I’m pulling product out and one unopened. I can enough stewed tomatoes to get me thru a year. This year I’ll add canning other veg. Like you..bread amd butter pickles that my mom taught me to make. A friend loves making jams so we swap products. Thanks to my interest in war time rationing I always have dried onions and eggs arounf “just in case” I feel pretty secure right now. Very thankful for my wartime recipes. Thank heavens most of them have become s normal part of my meal rotation. I think your cannimg and storage is normal. You are taking care of yourself and your loved ones the best you can. You aren’t helpless. Good going!!

  7. Your kitchen is beautiful! And I envy your well-stocked pantry shelves. 🙂 Would you please share your pickle recipe? Many thanks!

  8. Dear Carolyn, you are amazing! You have overcome so many difficulties in the past 10 years, not to mention running a marathon.
    The combination of moving house and not having a job are enough to unsettle anyone. Add the Corona lockdown and you are fully justified in finding ways to feel you are doing something positive.
    Personaly I have succumbed to Sour dough! Biggest problem is shortage of FLOUR, Today I risked my life and searched 4 shops for Whole meal- but none to be found, though at last there are a few bags of ‘ordinary white ‘ and even some ‘pale rye’ .
    After 10 years on my allotment I have limited planting to potatoes, broad beans and runner beans. Oh and Beet Spinach (but that has sometimes failed to thrive). A lot of veg are not worth the bother and if the slugs don’t get the lettuce 40 are ready all at once.
    2 of my 3 bee colonies died over winter but I still have honey from last year and the one hive is at least alive and enjoying the spring blossoms.
    Perhaps your Picalili will liven up a Woolton Pie.
    Best wishes for finding a job soon now that your pantry is prepared.

    • To fitfordenton and jaromer, I have been thinking about you and those folk who can’t find flour. You might see if you can find it online through smaller suppliers and farms. Before this mess I would buy from a farmer’s market and knew of local buying groups (co-operatives). Though they have a few shortages as well, many of them are having the opposite issue… lots of food and fewer buyers, and trying to stay in business until this is over. One of our local (almost “underground”) buying groups had lentils and rice throughout this time when our stores didn’t have them. Sometimes you can order and get flour or lentils or whatever posted to you, and sometimes there are weekly pick up locations after pre-ordering. Ask your local farmer groups what they know.

      You also might look into bread recipes for people who are wheat or gluten intolerant. You might need to start with the easier to make unleavened breads, like making tortilla wraps from beans or ground cauliflower, but I will do some research and share any good recipes I find for Carolyn’s cookbook update.. Loafs of bread from non-flours are often trickier to make well, or expensive if they use something like almond flour, but it still can be done.

      Food waste, always a problem, is now on a sharp rise at the same time we have more people going hungry. Some folk stockpile sensibly and s-l-o-w-l-y, and others panic and hoard, or just fail to judge what they will really need and use, and then they throw out food that spoils before they use it. It is very unfortunate that many vegetarians are having trouble getting lentils and rice… two of their staples… because a few people who never eat lentils or rice go to store after store and buy ten or twenty bags at a time they will never use up. We need to think of the other guy. Community sharing will ALWAYS provide more security than selfishness. Together we are strong.

      I’ve been making it a personal rule to not buy more than two of anything that is in demand, even if there are many on the shelf, and even if I really want it. We all have a responsibility to try to use up the food we buy before it spoils and that takes planning. Eat the most perishable foods first, and regularly use any foods you have in larger amounts, like dry beans. And I’m trying to buy more milk! I plan to make cheese and use more of it in our meals. Milk farmers are having a terrible time, and we should be helping them through this so that they are there when this is over. The U.S.D.A. just announced they are going to buy up milk and meat to help farmers as part of their aid..

      Anyway, thanks for being patient with me. I know I am very opinionated at times, but I hope I have given a few ideas to folk who are having trouble getting flour and bread.

  9. 4 jars of applesauce on their own won’t make much of an impact, but everything added together will. We have no idea what the future holds and keeping busy doing tasks such as these are an important coping mechanism.
    I have made soap, bread, jam and lemon and orange curd. I am planning on making grapefruit marmalade and lemony pickled cauliflower over the weekend and frankly, I have no intention of stopping, I’m enjoying it.

    • Oh Su that sounds absolutely wonderful! I’m on your side of the fence…I do believe these times are not just bringing sorrow but joy too and that is necessary xxxx

  10. Just a question. Do you leave the jars out on the shelves? Does light affect the contents? I always pop my home made jams and chutney in the dark – inside of a cupboard. I have lots of last year’s tomatoes in the freezer and so will be making a batch of pasta sauce. I have also been doing more baking than normal for me. Large Madeira cake made yesterday but I must admit I did think for a while before agreeing with myself to use the eggs that it required.

    • It’s quite a shaded room with curtains closed most of the time and they are out of direct sunlight so should be fine. xx ooooo Madeira Cake…LOVE Madeira cake but haven’t had it for years!!

  11. I always liked to read about history and that of Japan and China in particular. Things like Struggle Sessions and the like cause anxiety because I know they are a precursor for bloodshed. But I’ve learned so much about self sufficiency — so I’m glad to have experienced this Prepping Anxiety, it’s been good for me and my family to not depend on everything always being there.

    • hi R.M.,
      Yes, this has been a wake up call on the fragility of our supply lines, but if there is a silver lining to Covid, it is that a bit more self sufficiency in our homes and more complete local economies will also be very good for the planet and for reducing carbon emissions. I hope people continue their gardens, cooking, DIY projects, and helping out / swapping with neighbors.

      • Yes that and working from home which I’ve done for years with a corporation without losing anything … except the time in a commute!

      • That’s wonderful! I’m glad you have a job where you can do that. Before Covid, my brother had a very long commute for his work.. Now he gets to telecommute and he definitely prefers it, too!

        I’m working on a farm not far from where I live. I can’t telecommute to the plants! On hot days I sometimes wish I could! But I like how Covid has led me to simplify my life. I shop a lot less frequently, and always with a list. I don’t get as much as I used to. I’m so busy at the store getting what we need that I’m not tempted to get things we don’t need. My grocery list is more simple. I buy things like sugar and flour instead of pre-made cookies. They taste better when I make them and it saves money, too. I also like that with all of us changing together, it is somehow easier, and we can share our experiences with each other. Ironically, this disease which is requiring we stand and live apart, is in many ways bringing us together.

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