All posts by Tony Cataldo

Flavored Syrup Teas

These teas use the flavoring syrups used for Italian soda and in coffee stands. I am still experimenting with these recipes.

1 gallon Filtered water
5 bags Tea — Tried English Breakfast tea
1 cup Flavoring — So far I have only tried blueberry
1/2 cup Sugar


  1. Pour water into a pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add the tea and sugar.
  3. Allow the tea to brew on medium-low heat for about 30-40 minutes.
  4. Turn off the burner and allow the tea to cool for several hours.
  5. While tea is still warm (but not boiling) add the flavor syrup.

Recipe: Backpack Chicken with Vegetables

This recipe uses Thrive freeze dried ingredients to create a backpacking meal that only requires boiling water. This can be used as an alternative to the expensive pre-packaged backpacking meals. Making your own meals costs much less and you can vary the recipes depending on your personal preferences.

2 tbl Thrive Chicken (any style) finely crushed
1/2 cup Couscous
2 tsp Thrive Chicken Bouillon

1 tbl Thrive Carrots
1 tsp Thrive Onions
1 tsp Thrive Spinach
3 Florets Thrive Broccoli (finely crushed)
2 Florets Thrive Cauliflower (finely crushed)
Dash Pepper, parsley, basil
1-1/4 cup Boiling water

Combine all ingredients in a backpacking bag and seal. When read to ear add boiling water, seal, and let cook for six minutes. Mix thoroughly and eat.

Cast Iron Skillet Bread

This is an very tasty and easy to make bread. This is based on the recipe by Tessa Arias. My version uses garlic, onion, and pepper. This recipe is quite good but I am still fine-tuning the recipe.


2¼ teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons Dried rosemary, crushed
2 teaspoons fine salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Thrive chopped onion
1 teaspoon Thrive spinach
¼ teaspoon Fine, ground pepper
4 teaspoons Minced garlic


  1. Combine the yeast and water in a large mixing bowl and wait a few minutes for yeast to activate.
  2. Add half the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and the remaining flour and stir until combined.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Or, you can let the dough rise in the skillet (next step).
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  6. Brush 2 tablespoons olive oil over the bottom of a 10″ or 12″ cast iron skillet. Dust bottom of pan with a little flour to make the bread easier to remove. You can also sprinkle some salt and pepper in the skillet, if desired.
  7. Sprinkle the dough and your hands with flour before shaping it into a rough disk (dough will be sticky). Place the dough in the skillet, cover loosely, and let it rise about 30 minutes until puffy.
  8. Drizzle additional olive oil over the top of the bread. Slash the dough with a sharp knife to create an X shape. Sprinkle with rosemary leaves. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle all over with the Parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Coronavirus Silver Linings

While the COVID-19 has been a serious blow to the world we have seen some positives come from this crisis.

  • Truckers are getting supplies to the stores.
  • People are stocking store shelves all night and letting old people shop first.
  • Carnival Cruise line told Trump “We can match those big Navy Hospital ships with some fully staffed cruise ships”
  • GM said hold our cars and watch this; we can make those ventilators where we were making cars starting next week.
  • People are making homemade masks and handing out snacks to truckers.
  • Restaurants and schools are using their facilities and staff to feed kids.
  • Churches are holding on-line services and taking care of their members and community.
  • NBA basketball players are writing checks to pay the arena staff.
  • Construction companies gave masks for the medical staff and doctors.
  • Breweries are making sanitizer out of the left-over ingredients.
  • People are ordering take-out to help restaurants.

Some items came from Dennis Hehn

Past Virus Epidemics

Avian (Bird) Flu
H5N1 – HPAI virus
Nearly 60% of those infected died

Spanish flu
1918 – 1920
Infected 500 million worldwide (about 27% of the world population)
Fatalities: {estimated} 17-50 million

Swine Flu
Infected about 700 million to 1.4 billion or 11–21% of the global population (of about 6.8 billion)
Fatalities: about 150,000 – 575,000

highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus

Recipe: Poultry Infusion

I am still experimenting with this recipe but it worked nicely in a turkey breast last Thanksgiving.

1/2 cup Chicken broth
4 tbl Butter
1/4 tsp Pepper, finely ground

1/2 tsp Parsley, very finely chopped
1 clove Garlic
2 tbl Onion, very finely chopped

Be sure the onion, garlic, and parsley are chopped extremely fine or chop them in a food processor. Warm the ingredients gently and inject into the poultry before cooking.

Review: Fenix UC35

The UC35 is my first experience with Fenix and the UC35 is a serious flashlight and may be my new favorite. AT about $90 the UC35 is priced as a premium light and it operates as one. The UC35 is a reasonable size, produces a very bright beam, has exceptional power options, and is easy to operate.

The UC35 is on the larger side and the machined aluminum body of the light fits in the palm of my hand and extends past my palm. This extremely rugged tactical light produces a 1,000 lumen beam with 17,700 candelas. A beam of this intensity is powerful enough to temporarily blind an attacker. The flat front bezel is a smaller diameter and would inflict damage on an attacker even without crenellations. The rear bezel has two raised area for attaching a lanyard but these would also increase the striking effectiveness. The finely knurled grip is easy to hold but I would prefer a larger knurled area with a more aggressive pattern.

Two areas that really caught my attention are the power options and the operation. The UC35 comes with a 18650 rechargeable battery and USB charging cable. The battery can be charged in the flashlight using the USB cable. It can also run on two CR-123 lithium batteries. Operating the light is easy and intuitive. The side switch selects the brightness level. The tail switch can provide momentary light or clicking the button provides sustained light. The tail switch turns the flashlight on at the level at which it was last powered off. Holding down the selector switch activates the tactical strobe at maximum brightness. The selector switch also has a battery indicator light.

  • Power: The UC35 includes a 3500 mAhr 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery and it can alternatively use two CR-123 batteries. The 18650 battery can be charged in the flashlight using a USB connector on the head of the light.
  • Construction: The light is machined from aircraft grade aluminum and has a smooth front bezel and two raised areas on the back bezel. The threads are tight and very smooth and a O-rings provide additional water sealing.
  • Size: 5.5” (140mm) long, 0.9” (23.5mm) body, 1.0” (25.4mm) head. The diameter is large enough for my fingers to wrap around the flashlight when I grip the light.
  • Waterproof: IP68 waterproof to 2 meters.
  • Durability: Withstands 1-meter drop.
  • Features: Five light levels from turbo (1,000 lumens) to moonlight (1 lumen).
  • Light Output: (turbo) 1,000 lumens at 17,700 candelas for 2.25 hours, (high) 350 lumens at 6,400 candelas for 4.17 hours, (medium) 150 lumens at 2,400 candelas for 10.67 hours, (low) 50 lumens at 1,000 candelas for 28.17 hours, and (moonlight) 1 lumen at 25 candelas for 800 hours.
  • Beam Pattern: 50″ x 6″ at 3′ (Beam Scale)
  • Power Fail: Each time the light is activated the battery level indicator display2 the battery status for 3 seconds:
    • Green constant on: saturated
    • Green flashes: sufficient
    • Red constant on: poor
    • Red flashes: critical

    Note: There is no power indication when CR123A battery is used.

Before purchasing this flashlight my favorite lights were the Steamlight HL or HL -x and the Streamlight 1L-1AA. I used the Streamlights for years but I have to say that I now prefer the UC35 as a pure tactical flashlight. The modes are easy to operate and the tactical strobe is activated by merely holding the side button. The Streamlights require double tapping the tail switch. In an extreme situation it will probably be more difficult to activate the Streamlight strobe. The one HUGE advantage with the Fenix is the power indicator. With my Streamlights they will be working fine one day and have almost no light the next. If you have to use it tactically you need the light to have full brightness. The UC35 power indicator, in my opinion, is a critically important feature. The power indicator does not work when using CR-123 batteries but I plan on using the rechargeable 18650 battery almost exclusively and using the CR-123 batteries when I need emergency power.

I will still carry the Streamlight 1L-1AA because this small flashlight is very useful. It has a double-sided clip which is very handy in a small flashlight. I can quickly clip the 1L-1AA to the bill of my cap and have an instant headlamp. I can also use an AA battery which I can recharge using my solar panels. For these reasons the 1L-1AA will remain a component in my emergency kits. However, for a tactical carry light I prefer the UC35.

Additional Reviews & Information


***** This section is under construction *****

You may be able to significantly reduce the effects of disaster through mitigation. Mitigation involves taking steps to prevent potential from happening. Mitigation can include structural updates, non-structural measures, purchasing appropriate insurance, etc.

Recipe: Fruity Brine

I am still experimenting with this recipe. It produced turkey with a nice, fruity flavor.

1 gallonFiltered water
2 quartsApple juice
2 quartsOrange juice
2/3 cupSalt (or 1 cup of coarse salt)
2/3 cupBrown sugar
10cloves (whole)
1 tablespoonnutmeg (ground)
1Carrot, diced


The basic fruity brine was very good but I want to experiment with adding some savory notes to the fruity flavor. I have not tried this yet but I want to add another carrot, diced onion, and some parsley to the brine. I do not know how this addition will work but will update this post after I try it.

1/2 gallonFiltered water
2 quarts
2 quarts
Apple juice (if using concentrate reduce water by 1/2 can)
Orange juice (if using concentrate reduce water by 1/2 can)
1/2 cupSalt (or 1 cup of coarse salt)
2/3 cupBrown sugar
10cloves (whole)
1 tablespoonnutmeg (ground)
Several Sprigs
Carrot, diced
Onion, finely chopped
Parsley, chopped


  1. Bring water to a boil and add diced carrot, salt, brown sugar, cloves, and nutmeg. Allow it to boil for about 10 minutes to release all of the flavors.
  2. Remove the pot, add juice, and allow to cool.
  3. Add meat so that it is completely covered by the cool brine.
  4. Allow meat to brine for 24 to 48 hours.
  5. Remove meat, rinse, and pat dry.
  6. Rub olive oil on the meat and cook or smoke until internal temperature reaches 165°