The Gracious Ladies have hit the road!

Dearest readers,

Well the colony has had to hit the road once again. Next Monday we’ll explain the reasons for having to abandon our plantation home and head west in a great hurry. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the zombies made us flee.) So far we haven’t found a home and Mr. K says it could be weeks before he is ready to  hunker down for more than a day or two. Those of us who survived the upset — and there were casualties! — have been huddled together in our tricked-out school bus that we keep on hand for these unfortunate fight-or-flight occasions.

So far, our road trip across the Virginia Territory has given us some fresh perspective on how to both thrive when “on tour” so to speak. Mrs. K and I are looking forward to sharing our practical insights with you in the coming weeks.

Yours,

Miss E

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Rats! An Urban Dweller’s Guide to Catching and Eating Rats

An urban delicacy, rats are full of protein! (Picture by Victor Habbick.)

An urban delicacy, rats are full of protein! (Picture by Victor Habbick.)

After March 3, 2019 when the world ended, I ran south from my home in DC to Alexandria and Arlington.  I lived there for six months, trying to make a go at it on my own. This was before I met up with Mrs. K (nee Miss W).  At the time I considered these northern Virginia cities to be “country,” having dwelled in large cities for the majority of my life. Of course, these areas were overrun with undead as anywhere else, so it was a difficult time in my life. I barely had time to brush my hair!

One of you recently asked how I survived the first six months of the great panic in relative isolation given my distinct lack of survival skills. The answer?  I caught, lived with and ate rats.

While I usually try to discuss topics that have more to do with thriving than merely surviving, I’ve decided to give you a little overview on how to catch and eat urban wildlife.  While we live in the country in the Virginia territory, I don’t want to leave out those of you who live in our urban markets.

Get a cat, be nice to it .  Why catch a rat yourself when you can get someone else to do it? Cats are notoriously fickle creatures, but a little affection can turn your cat into a killing and fetching machine. Female cats are generally better hunters, so keep that in mind when you are picking an animal companion. Be sure to give some of the catch to your pet cat! You want to promote loyalty if possible…. or rather, as much loyalty as a cat is capable of.

Become one with your prey. Go where the rats go – dark, dank areas are always best. I spent a lot of time in sewers in the early days. Rats love trash, so I would create elaborate trash piles to isolate and then trap them in. Try to think about the environments rats would like and then try to recreate them.

Be patient. It may take a while for your next meal to show up. Be quiet and still while waiting for your rat to show itself. However, once it does, move fast!

Word to the wise:  as I’ve said before, all animals have a natural aversion to zombies. Rats in particular scatter when zeds approach. Pay attention – if rats don’t want to be where you are, maybe you shouldn’t be either!

Not only are rats a great source of protein, they can be delicious when prepared correctly! I always preferred to roast my rats over a fire. Skin the rat, slice it down the middle and clean it thoroughly. Cut the meat into chunks and put on a stick, like a kabab. Roast to your taste, using whatever spices are available.

While I now have access to more types of protein (chickens, deer, etc.) I still enjoy the occasional rat dish from time to time. It really is quite a delicacy. In my experience, if you don’t tell your guests what they are eating, they will enjoy it too!

With affection,

Miss E

Sunday Roast Chicken: A Feast for the Week

ChickenIt has been such a hectic few weeks around here!  One of my favorite tricks when things are extra busy is to roast a whole chicken on a Sunday. This way you have meat to use in meals all week.  It eliminates so much mess and time from the cooking process for the rest of the week!  I have listed the quantities needed per chicken, but feel free to scale up or down to suit the size of your group!

Here is my recipe for easy roast chicken:

Ingredients:

  1. Whole chicken
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 2 tablespoons butter
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper

Directions:

  •  Let butter soften.  Grate entire lemon peel and mince garlic.  Once the butter is softened, cut in the lemon zest and garlic until well mixed.
  •  Wash chicken and pat dry.  Loosen skin and work butter under skin.  The butter should be as evenly distributed as possible (but don’t sweat it if its not perfect, all that lovely butter will melt and coat the skin).
  •  Once the butter is under the skin, I usually rub my still buttery fingers on the outside of the skin just to give it a good base.  Rub salt and pepper over the outside of the bird.
  •  Cut lemon and squeeze out most of the juice, set aside.  Insert lemon halves into chicken cavity.
  •  Set oven to 425 and cook (general rule of thumb: 1 hour per pound).  Baste chicken will reserved lemon juice and pan drippings.
  •  Let rest for 20 minutes when done cooked.  Carve, enjoy.

Any leftovers can be used throughout the week for sandwiches, pasta dishes or my famous chicken pot pie!

Very truly,

Mrs. K

Ask the Gracious Ladies: Spelling Bee Edition

Misspellings often lead to fatal misunderstandings. Correct spelling: "All Dead Here."

Misspellings often lead to fatal misunderstandings. Correct spelling: “All Dead Here.”

Dear Gracious Ladies,
 
My daughter hates practicing her spelling, but my survival group’s spelling bee is coming up in a few weeks.  I really want her to do well, but she keeps saying that since we are living in a zombie world, why does it matter if she can win a spelling bee?  What need does she have to spell things correctly? Please help!
 
Desperately,
Stickler for Spelling

Dear Stickler for Spelling,

I understand your frustration. I have this same very same problem with Little Maude and Little Lydia a few months back.  At first, like you, I tried to reason with them. I warmly explained that what separated zombies from us (in addition to dietary preference and a living heartbeat) was the proper use of language skills. Furthermore, I listed all the uses for language in our current landscape and provided examples of how a simple misspelling or grammatical error could lead to death or dismemberment.

For example, I once mistakenly entered a grocery store which had “AL DED HEAR” spray painted on the entrance. While I came out of that situation unscathed due to my superior rifle skills, correct spelling might have saved me the ammo.

But I think your problem is not your explanatory skills, it’s the fact that you are trying to reason with a child using logic and communication. Amateur mistake! Instead, I recommend you try the time-tested punishment: dinner-deprivation. It may be harsh, but after a couple of days they’ll learn to S-P-E-L-L  or they will S-T-A-R-V-E.

Parentally Yours,
Miss E, the 2003 second grade Spelling Bee Champion

When the Zombies Get Too Close: Mrs. K’s Guide to Packing Up

While Miss E has been helping the men locate new real estate possibilities and the rest of the men have been busy fortifying our defenses at our current shelter, I have been organizing and packing our belongings to get ready for the move so everything is ready to be transported to our new shelter as soon as we find it.

It may seem premature to be packing up items before a suitable new home has been found.  However, our survivor group has lost vital items in moves before because of disorganized packing and a rushed exit.  Now it is group policy to start packing as soon as it has been determined that we need to find a new shelter.  This way we are ready to move as soon as possible.  Below are a few of my tips for efficient packing.

  • Always have a ‘go bag’ ready for those times that you need to get out immediately.  We have mentioned this before, but it always bears repeating. My go bag has my travel crossbow, mittens (my hands are always cold!), a can opener, snacks, toiletries, a small recipe book, and three sets of underwear.
  • Take this time to separate out items that you don’t really need.  Of course there are non-essential items that you will keep forever (the beautiful guitar I raided for Mr. K comes to mind) but moving into a new shelter gives you time to think about items that you can do without.  I have a simple rule, I separate out all the items that are neither useful nor sentimental and then go through at the end.  Maybe a enterprising raider will find it one day and treasure it!
  • Start packing off-season clothing and other seasonal and non-essential items first.  Make sure everything is nicely labeled, just in case you do need that teapot one more time before moving!
  • Leave the arsenal to pack last.  And don’t forget your labels!  A weapons room is the heart of any good shelter.  Make sure to keep yours intact until right before you move out of the current shelter for good.  You never want to be caught without adequate firepower; safety first!

I hope these tips help if you find yourself in a position to move.  I do hope that the scouts find a new place soon. Last night we could hear dreadful moaning outside our gate all night.  As much as I love this quaint little house, I do hate to miss my beauty sleep!

Very truly,

Mrs. K

Real Estate Shopping: How Find a Refuge in a Zombie World

Our colony has been busy as a beehive the past few weeks! Last week I was on a scouting mission with Mr. K, Mr. Wade (a former engineer and our group’s main handyman) and Mr. Caputo to find a new safe haven for our survivor group since we determined our current one is dangerously close to a zed hotbed. I don’t want to brag, but I was handpicked to accompany the gentleman on the initial scouting mission. This is not because of my women’s touch, but because of my scouting and map-making skills that I discussed previously in my handbook entry on raiding.

Searching for real estate is never easy!

Searching for real estate is never easy!

One of the little silver linings of this current situation is that you no longer have to worry about boring paperwork, bank loans or pesky credit checks. You find a place, your rid the home of ghouls and it is yours to decorate! 

Then again, finding a suitable place for 23 survivors with competing needs is no easy task. Of course, you can’t please everyone but to help us focus our efforts we have come up with a short list of our minimum requirements for property.

  • Remote – One thing that has not changed since the panic, the most important thing in real estate is location, location, location. A suitable shelter should be far away from all major roads. Remember that you aren’t only trying to avoid zeds, you’re also trying to avoid cannibals and marauders.
  • Fertile soil for outdoor and indoor gardening.
  • A large enough kitchen for all of the ladyfolk. (You know how territorial we women can be!)
  • A well or other easy source of water.
  • Natural defenses that we can build upon (such as a fence).
  • At least five bedrooms (one for the Governor and First Lady, one for orphaned children and single women, one for men, two for couples).
  • Close to a stream or forest for hunting and fishing.

We checked out an abandoned motel which would have been perfect, if it had been more removed from a major road. We also found a near perfect location in an old tobacco plantation house—but given the human bones we found (which were cracked open to get at the marrow) we felt it was too risky to live in an old cannibal lair. Even though we did not find a suitable home this trip, we did find ammo, food and toiletries left in a few shelters by less fortunate survivor groups, so I can’t call the trip a failure.

But that’s how the real estate market goes, I suppose. For now, I am back at our survival shelter and ready for a long nap!

Happy House (and Husband) Hunting!

Miss E

Great Panic Remembrance Day

On March 3rd we celebrate a new world holiday called “Great Panic Remembrance Day.” Well, celebrate is a misleading word. The end of the world as we knew it in 2019 is hardly a happy moment in history to commemorate.

I have an etiquette rule about never talking about the past but in the spirit of the holiday, I will break that rule to tell you a little about my own Great Panic story.

It is hard to imagine it has been only six years since zombies took over the planet. In December 2018 it was just a matter of a few pictures posted online of a zombie-like horde somewhere in Central and South America. The pictures were dismissed as a Photoshop hoax and mostly forgotten… By January there were reports on fatal illness and related bouts of cannibalism internationally. It not longer seemed to be a localized phenomenon. In March the USA, all of Europe and most of Asia was plunged into a state of complete unrest.

Where I lived in DC, all city transportation was cut off, businesses were closed, and highways were jammed with people attempting to flee the city. Even my junior league meetings were cancelled! I worked as a management consultant downtown. My co-workers and I, who were accustomed to working all the time anyway, worked until the very end, even though our clients were no longer answering our emails or returning our calls. At one point, my co-worker came to my cubicle, grabbed me by the hand and brought me to watch a special report on the TV in our lounge. The news was on and the president, Hillary Clinton, declared a state of total emergency. It was an eloquent speech but the meaning was clear: there is virtually no hope for the human race. The government was being disbanded, and each and every one of us were on our own. That day — March 3, 2019 — was the end of the world as we knew it.

After that, everything was chaos. I ran home to my apartment, gathered my belongings (most of which ended up being useless later: cell phone, wallet, keys, etc.) and made a run for it alone. At first, my only weapon was my lucky polo stick. (In undergrad I was a champion equestrian and as part of my junior league outreach, I ran a “Polo for the Elderly” class; of course we used rocking horses and foam sticks.)

I ran south to Arlington and later to Alexandria. I barely remember how I lived through those first few weeks. Over time, I acquired useful survival skills and a rifle. Six months later, I met Mrs. K (back when she was still Miss W). A few weeks later we met up with Mr. K. By August the seeds of our little colony were planted.

The Governor (a former high school history teacher and part-time civil war re-enactor) believes it is important that we acknowledge our history, however bloody, uncivilized and terrifying. He says that the holiday marks a true shift in our culture: “March 3, 2019 was the day we learned we were truly alone. Somehow we have defeated the odds and managed to survive the most devastating disaster in human history. Today we honor our dead while celebrating our own survival.” (Sometimes I feel like one of his bored high school students when he makes one of these speeches but he means well.)

So every year on March 3rd we have our own traditions. Nobody works at all, beyond a couple of guards on rotating duty. It is one of the only days that we are encouraged to discuss our lives before the great panic. Drinks are poured, tales are told, tears are shed, and bonds are strengthened. The intimate atmosphere also tends to loosen everyone’s tongues. Last year I learned that Mr. Caputo was a high-level state department employee, who knew about the crisis back in the early fall of 2018 when it was just in Central America. He says that at the time, no one thought that the crisis would come this far north. It was assumed that it could be contained and exterminated.

This year, as a special treat to my fellow survivors, I am providing free toilet paper from my personal stash, to dry their tears and blow their noses. How does your survival group celebrate Great Panic Remembrance Day?

May we all reach the 7th anniversary,
Miss E

The Gracious Ladies Will Return Friday!

Dear readers!  We do apologize for the slight delay in new Handbook entries.  As you know we were recently attacked  by a large horde of zombies.  We are busy making improvements to our current shelter as well as sending out search teams to scout new locations.  It has, unfortunately, been determined that we are in a highly concentrated zed zone.  We have lots more to share about shopping around for real estate, moving and other new shelter essentials.  Stay tuned!  Regular posting will resume on Friday.

Chicken Pot Pie: The Perfect Post-Zombie Attack Meal

BreadbowlI don’t know what makes this such a good meal to serve after a zombie attack.  Maybe because each person gets their own pie, making it personal and special.  Maybe we all just need something warm and comforting.  I can’t say for sure, all I know is that it works.

Here’s my recipe for all-purpose, pick-you-up chicken pot pie.  This recipe is easy to size up or down.

Serves 6

Filling Ingredients:

  1. 1 pound chicken (mix of thigh and breast meat, deboned and chopped)
  2. ½ cup of butter
  3. 4 whole carrots, diced
  4. 2 celery stalks, diced
  5. 2 cups potatoes, diced
  6. 1 onion, peeled and diced small
  7. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  8. ½ cup peas
  9. 2 ¾ cups chicken stock
  10. 1 ½ cups milk
  11. ½ cup flour
  12. Salt (to taste)
  13. Black Pepper (to taste)
  14. 1 teaspoon Thyme
  15. Chili pepper flakes
  16. Cooking oil
  • Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Cook the chicken in a skillet with 2 teaspoons oil.  Set aside.
  • Steam the potatoes and carrots.  Set aside.
  • Heat chicken stock in a small pot.
  • Sauté onions and garlic with 1-2 tablespoons butter until translucent.
  • Add celery as well as the rest of the butter and cook until butter is melted.
  • Add flour and stir until thickened.
  • Add hot chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then lower heat.
  • Add milk and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  • Add potatoes, carrots, peas, chicken, and seasoning.  Let cook for another 5 minutes and season to taste.

To construct the pies:

Bake small loaves of French bread.  You will want a thick crust so make sure to set a pan of water under the loaves while they are baking.  Once cooled, scoop the insides of the loaves out and fill with chicken mixture.  Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Very truly,

Mrs. K

Post-Apocalyptic Raiding Is Easy as 1, 2, 3!

One of my areas of expertise is in raiding. Perhaps all the time I spent as a teenager shopping at the mall and silently sneaking in and out of my parents’ house has finally come in handy. Looting and raiding knowledge is a fantastic skillset that any survivor group will prize highly.

The Virginia Territory: you might see an apocalyptic wasteland; Miss E sees a golden opportunity.

The Virginia Territory: where you might see an apocalyptic wasteland; Miss E sees a golden opportunity.

While others may see a ghoul-infested apocalyptic wasteland, I see a land of opportunity. And you can to! Raiding can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here is how to do it:

1. Keep a detailed map of your raids-Detail where you went, what the dangers were and all of the supplies you couldn’t carry. Make sure to use a SECRET code so that your fellow survivors can’t find your stashed valuable supplies. You don’t want to provide your group with a veritable treasure map to all of your booty if you possibly can. Indispensability is all part of my survival strategy.

2. Be silent and invisible as possible- Traveling by bike is best because it makes very little noise but is faster than walking. Also, be sure to bring your quiet weapons – no guns or anything noisy! I prefer my machete for these types of clean, quiet kills. Wear muted colors to avoid attracting attention. Zeds aren’t the only danger out there; there are cannibals and bandits at large as well.

Quick tip: Just in case, I always wear my favorite red lipstick in case I happen upon a potential husband! There are more than one type of booty, I always say.

3. Prioritize – Remember, don’t get greedy! Loading too many supplies into your backpack will slow you down into zombie bait. Just take what is most valuable to you at the moment, stash what isn’t immediately necessary in a good hiding place, and note the rest for later.

Wintertime is always best for raiding because the cold makes zombies slow down significantly. You can bring a trusted friend, but I always prefer to do the raiding on my own. You know what they say, the greater the risk, the greater the rewards.

May your pantries and arsenal always be fully stocked!
Miss E