Instant Pot Cooking In My Homestead Kitchen

Instant Pot

My new Instant Pot

Instant Pot cooking in my homesteading kitchen was not something I expected to be doing. Not with an off the grid alternative energy system that is for certain. Using heating appliances like stoves, irons, dryers, toaster ovens, etc. has always been a no no. Uses too much power when you are limited depending on the size of your system. The amount of sun available affects it too. My husband mentioned that he thought we could start using some electric appliances for cooking. Now we had more power to use so I was eager to try it. My friend, Dawna started talking about her new Instant Pot. She told of the various meals she was making and how fast it was. Made me have to check it out. Reviews on Amazon were impressive. I wanted to buy one! I did.

 

Trimetric Meter

Meter tells me if I can use electric for cooking today.

The main thing for anyone living off the grid with their own solar, wind or hydro system is to keep an eye on your meter. The meter tells how much power is coming into and going out of your system. Our system has a diversion load charge controller that diverts the power to other uses if our batteries are full. Since we replaced our lead acid batteries with Battle Born LiFePO4 lithium ion batteries, our system is always being diverted. That means we have more power to use! What better way to use it than cooking your food? Cooking for free is what my husband says. I have added a few new electrical appliances to my kitchen since. A blender and an induction cook top (which is like a modern hot plate), as well as the Instant Pot.

raw chicken thighs

Getting chicken ready to cook.

Yesterday I decided to cook chicken in the Instant Pot. Now this post is not really a recipe post.  I don’t use a recipe to cook in the Instant Pot when cooking something as basic as chicken or some kind of meat. All I did was to wash the chicken and season it. I was cooking chicken thighs and breasts. I cooked them separately because the thighs need to cook longer. My husband favors the chicken breasts. I prefer the thighs, especially since I follow a Ketogenic food plan. I wanted the skin to be crunchy crisp. Not easy to do that in a pressure cooker or the Instant Pot. I tried it but was not able to make it come out that way. For now, this will do. It was good.

 

Seasoning The Chicken

Seasoning the chicken first.

I season my chicken with garlic powder, Himalayan salt, fresh ground black pepper and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle Seasoning. I add salt to my foods because eating the Keto diet, I need more salt. You can just omit that. At times I add grated cheese to chicken cooked in the oven. Since this was in a pressure cooker, I did not. Whatever types of seasonings you like you can put on it. As I said, this is not a recipe post so whatever sounds good to you.

Browning the chicken

Browning the chicken in the cast iron griddle.

I began with the thighs, washed and seasoned them. I heated bacon grease in a cast iron griddle on the gas stove and browned them a few minutes on each side. They can be browned in the inner pot of the Instant Pot, but I find it too small to do a good job. I prefer browning meats on the cast iron griddle. They seem to brown better with a nice crust on them. It will hold four big pieces of meat on it at the same time. That saves me a lot of time.

Chicken inside the Instant Pot

Inside the Instant Pot

I had eight thighs and as each one finished I put them into the Instant Pot inner pot. Added about a cup of water and closed it up. I set the timer to 9 minutes and using the manual setting set the pressure to high. That was it. I got to work on washing and seasoning the four chicken breast needed for the next pot. I know it sounds like a lot of food for two people, but I like to have it all cooked and in the refrigerator for a few days ahead.

Instant Pot

Close it up and set the time and temperature.

I can see how handy it would be to have a second inner pot. I plan on buying one very soon. I could have put the first inner pot with the cooked chicken directly in my thermal cooker to keep hot without having to transfer it to another pot. When it was done and the cover had released, I put it in the thermal cooker inner pot and closed it up. That will keep it steaming hot until we sat down to eat. Now I added the browned chicken breasts to the inner pot. Set the timer for 6 minutes. While it cooked, I prepared our vegetables so everything would be ready when the timer went off. It was.

 

Chicken Cooked

Chicken is done!

Even though I was not able to cook the chicken so it had crunchy crispy skin, it came out really tasty and soft. It fell off the bone. It would have been perfect for chicken and dumplings or biscuits but I don’t eat those anymore. I am planning on trying a few low carb ketogenic dumplings and biscuit recipes and see what I come up with. I know I need to cook with the Instant Pot as much as possible to utilize our free electric cooking power. My long term goal for many years now has been to turn off the propane for good. Now that day looks like it is in the near future.

 

katlupe

 

Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.

 


Homestead Cooking Made Simple

Homestead Cooking

Homestead Cooking

Homestead cooking made simple is for busy people, such as anyone living this lifestyle. It is the number one thing you need to do. If your cooking time is limited you do not want it to be complicated too. Simple foods combined with simple recipes or methods of cooking is the key. Don’t waste too much time on recipes that have a zillion steps to follow or ingredients to buy. If you have the time and really want to try a complicated recipe or one with many steps, then go for it. Make sure, first of all that you have all the ingredients and utensils needed to make it. The very first thing I do when I am considering a new recipe, even a simple one, is to read through the recipe several times first. Then make a list of all the ingredients and the amount of each one you will need. Make sure you have all the utensils or tools needed, such as a mixer or a blender, food processor or whatever. Since I do not have a blender or a food processor, I must make sure my electric hand mixer will handle the recipe instead. Sometimes you really need the blender and a mixer will not do. If that is the case, I skip that recipe and  find a different one. Often I can look online and find a similar recipe that doesn’t need a blender or food processor.

 

 

My husband often says that if you can read, then you can cook. I realize that is a broad statement. It is not that you can or cannot read, but you need the experience of following a written recipe. In baking, a recipe is a science and if you skip a step or an ingredient, there is a good chance your dish may not turn out the way you intended. A new cook has to learn these things by doing. Yes, you will make mistakes, but they are your lessons. You definitely learn by your mistakes in homestead cooking. Some you may not remember the next time, but if you keep making the same mistakes over and over, eventually you will catch on. It is so worth it as you gain more experience and time in the kitchen. Nothing warms my heart more than to go out to eat somewhere and have my husband say to me, “You can make this so much better. We should have stayed home.”  I often think that myself, but would never say it out loud.

 

Meat and Salad

Meat Green Beans and Salad

Instead of being overwhelmed about making meals, make simple meals with simple ingredients. It is easy now to find recipes online and you can specify just a few ingredients. If you have a garden, and you should have if you are into homesteading, make those foods the center of your meals. What could be easier than meat and salad with some fruit for dessert? In summer you can grill the meat while you are picking your fresh salad vegetables. Whip up a fresh salad dressing and supper is ready when you take the meat off the grill. Or cook the meat on your stove in a pressure cooker. I love mine and use it constantly. A crock pot or slow cooker would also work. I don’t have one at this point but am planning on getting the Instant Pot as soon as I am sure I can produce enough power to use it. Check out some southern recipes as they made the best use of one dish stove top cooking. Super simple and very tasty too! Like cooking some type of greens with ham or pork on the stove for a one dish meal. I loved those when I was growing up down south. It is still homestead cooking, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can elaborate on it as you gain the experience and have more time.

Breadmaking

Breadmaking

I know when we first started learning about homestead cooking the main food everyone started with was homemade bread. Even the old Mother Earth News magazines had tons of recipes for baking bread. We did that too. Now we do not eat any bread at all, in any form. No grains, sugar or high carbs. Not because of the gluten, but because I like eating Ketogenic food for better health. It just makes you feel better and is much healthier. Diabetes runs in my family and my father had high blood pressure his whole life. So I am always looking to ward those off, as well as fighting Candida. Whatever foods you choose to eat, just develop simple meals that are not a big deal to prepare. Can some meats so that you have your own fast foods for the times you are running late. Instead of running to the local fast food restaurant, make something out of what you have in your cupboards. I know everyone loves their freezers, but having to defrost a pound of ground meat when you are 20 minutes to putting supper on the table is not a good option. Even when I finally do get a freezer here, it will not be for most of my meat. I will still can it and keep it in my pantry. Fast meals in jars, along with the fact that unless an earthquake hits my house, those jars of food will last indefinitely.

Cooking Ground Beef

Cooking Ground Beef

When I post articles about Ketogenic food on my Facebook page, I feel a lot of hostility from others who do not eat that way. That is not why I post them. I post them for myself. What I write here on this blog, is what I experienced in my own life. If you are the picture of health eating vegetarian, then keep doing what you are doing. I find it quite sad indeed to see that the vegetarians are always attacking meat eaters. There really is no need for that. Eat your vegetables and grains and leave me the heck alone. I do not try to change people. We are all different and have our own likes and dislikes. Vegetarians should stop being so angry and just skip my posts about eating meat.  I mean I do not dwell on it. Protein is not the biggest part of my food intake……..that is fat. Low carbs, high fat is what we eat here, so that makes my meals even simpler. Whatever you eat on a regular basis should be quick to put together and not take hours in the kitchen and then hours to clean up. That is where the saying, “Keep it simple stupid!” came from, also known as KISS.

 

katlupe

Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Why Live Off The Grid?

 

In the forest

In the forest.

Why live off the grid? What exactly is the grid anyway? The grid I am speaking of is the utility electric power company in your area. The one you receive your electricity from and pay for. People often ask me why I would move to a house that is not connected to the grid. Some people can’t even imagine living that way. I never imagined it myself either. It just happened. I had some people tell me it was strange to want to live that way. Especially now in modern times. Other people tell me they think it is great and want to know how they can do it too. To tell you the truth I wasn’t really thinking about being without electricity when we moved here. I was thinking about the thousands of acres of forest around our new house and what might be living in there.

The Power Grid

The Power Grid

Now that I have lived off the grid for eighteen years, I can give better answers to the question, why live off the grid?  One thing I remember about living on the grid was how I felt when I saw that electric bill sitting in my mailbox. It always gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. It was always more than I expected. At times I would get behind on it and they would be calling me demanding bigger payments. I didn’t have enough for the payment I was sending, let alone the back amount. To top it off, I was on the night rate so I had to do my laundry and most other things late at night when most people were sleeping.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead Acid Batteries

Another reason I like living off the grid is because we never lose our power. Only if our system has something that has broke or is impaired in some way. Like recently, our power was limited due to our lead acid batteries getting old and needing to be replaced. For most of the time, we do not have power outages. If our power is being limited, such as due to the batteries, we just plan for it. Now that our batteries have been replaced, we are at full power again with no need to start the generator. Summer time helps with sunny days almost daily now. My husband is able to repair most of our components and he is the one who set up our system, which helps him know each and every part of it. He can fix it better than someone who is not familiar with it.

Kerosene Lamp

Kerosene Lamp

I remember many years ago, a woman I knew told me they had a power outage and lit candles. She said, she told her husband, “This is how Larry and Kathy live.” I had to laugh at that and tell her, “Nope, that is definitely not how we live!” We have never used candles for lights the whole time we have lived here. In the beginning we used kerosene lamps, but once our system was in and producing our power, we used electric lights. Our electric lights were working well the night she was having a power outage by candlelight! Now we even have lights that come on automatically at dusk and run on DC (direct current) power so they do not need the inverter on to turn on.

Independence

Independence

Independence is another reason for living off the grid. Yes, even if you have a grid tied system (using solar or wind connected to the power grid), you are not independent unless you have a battery bank connected to your system. If you don’t, then when the power grid is down, you will be too. Another thing is that electric companies are forcing customers to hook up the “Smart Meter” which is the way they can read your meter without having a meter person coming out to read it in person. If you refuse to let them install it, then you have to pay a fine to them which is an added charge on your bill. There are cases of health issues with having one of them in your house, so you may want to check that out before you let them put it in. I just read a book recently written by a doctor who said he had to write letters for his patients to give to their electric companies to excuse them from the “smart meter” program due to their health conditions. It also keeps track of what kind of electric items you use, how often and when you are away. Sounds like a good way to spy on you.

Wind Turbine

Wind turbine even works in a storm!

Some people choose to live off the grid without any energy system or generator in place at all. You can do that. It is not that hard. In the beginning when we first moved here, we were like that for awhile. You can add a propane refrigerator for refrigeration and propane can also be used for lighting, cooking and heat. The trouble with that is that you are still dependent on a fuel company. I know, we have been using propane for cooking for years and our goal is to eliminate that need. Now with the new batteries and hopefully the addition of more, we will reach that goal. Propane can be in your control if you use portable tanks and take them to your local convenience store to fill. We had five small gas grill tanks and would take them to the store as soon as we hooked up our last one. Now we have larger tanks and it is delivered. It is cheaper and more convenient and we never run out. Of course, we now have solar refrigeration and only use the propane for cooking.

 

Through the woods

Through the woods

I am not saying this life is for everyone. We all make our own choices. Just don’t jump into something you don’t understand or that your family doesn’t want. As with all things, study and research, before you make any changes.

 

katlupe

Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.

 

 

 


Shopping Online For Your Homestead

Mail Boxes

Our Mail Boxes

 

Shopping online is the norm for a good share of the population now. I grew up addicted to mail order much to the annoyance of my mother. She would say, “You could get it faster shopping at the store in town.”I did not let that deter me. We would have have to go to the bank or post office for a money order. Then send the order out with the money order. The first item I remember purchasing through the mail was a doll that was on the back of the cereal box. She was three dollars and I saved up that money myself. My father gave me a quarter every morning for my school lunch and I would get a nickel back. I saved those nickels for that doll. That must have been around 1959 and I still have that doll. Back then mail order companies charged shipping based on the amount of your order. Made no sense to me since a small diamond ring would cost less to ship but the price could be extremely high if you bought a good one. Some included a handling charge as well. I’d wait patiently for my order. Often it took a good two months before it would arrive. It didn’t matter, I was hooked on shopping that way and I have always shopped from catalogs my whole life. So transitioning to shopping online was automatic for me.

Alice Boxes

Shopping at Alice

Now shopping online is much faster that it was to order from a catalog. I still shop from catalogs that come in the mail, but after finding what I want I go to their website to order. I like the fact that I can find the size, color or variety of whatever I am looking for. If you can’t find it on one site, you can “Google it” and instantly find another that carries it. Once I embraced online shopping I never looked back. The website, Alice, is the site I first used for household items. I don’t think they sold groceries. I bought pet foods, personal care and household cleaning products there. I loved it! I thought Alice was too good to be true though. They had free shipping no matter how much you bought. So if you bought one little item for less than five bucks, it shipped free. I knew they had to be losing money on those sales. Later on they changed to free shipping on fifty dollar orders. Eventually they charged a nominal fee on all orders. The next time after that, their site was gone. I was disappointed to say the least. I really liked them, but I have heard that they went bankrupt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shipping is what did them in.

Delivery Truck

Refrigerator Delivery

Amazon enticed me constantly offering deals for signing up to their Prime program. Finally I succumbed to their ads and emails. I am very pleased I did. Now I would not want to be without it. My husband has his own Amazon account and I was able to connect my Prime account to his. He buys a lot of tools, hardware, parts and components for our alternative energy system. We even bought our refrigerator there. Most anything we are looking for is available on Amazon and ships free and comes quickly…..IF they are available through Prime. If not, it might not ship as quickly. That is not saying that I won’t buy a product I want if it is not Prime. Sometimes I do pay for shipping from a seller other than Amazon, but shopping online is easy using Prime. I usually check the questions asked about the product on the listing. Many times someone has asked a question about exactly what I want to know about it. If you have have a question that has not been asked, you can ask it before you buy. That way you will know if you want to buy it or not. Buying food there is the best because you can just put in the search box what you are looking for. Such as organic, Non-GMO, sugar-free, low-carb, gluten-free or whatever. I have bought many foods that I cannot find in my local stores. If you do not want to buy imported products Amazon gives you that information in the listing. If it is not there, usually in the questions section, that will have been asked by someone.

MP3 Player

My MP3 Player

The reviews are not as reliable, they should not be trusted one hundred percent. When I study the reviews, many one star reviews are written by a buyer who has a complaint with the seller, not the product. Or their item arrived damaged in shipping and they blame the product. Instead of returning it for a replacement they cry and whine about it. Return it and get a replacement! Often a review is rated one star due to the seller not shipping it fast enough. Again that is a seller issue and you can leave that feedback on the seller’s page. That is not the fault of the product or manufacturer. Another type of one star review is when a buyer purchases an item and does not understand or know how to use it. Many times I have purchased items, including books, that have one star reviews and have been very happy with them. I wonder what were those reviewers talking about? Recently I purchased an AGPTEK MP3 player. After putting in a number of my albums on it and using it almost nightly, I really loved it. One night I turned it on and was disappointed to find it wouldn’t work. It was all messed up and I couldn’t even turn it off. Instead of a bad review, I contacted the seller and received a reply almost right away. She told me what to do and it fixed it. If it happens again, I know what to do now. Good sellers make shopping online so much nicer!

Green Mountain Gringo

One of the products I buy from Netrition

Grocery shopping online is such a time saver for me. I can’t get around like I used to so shopping from my computer really helps. I shop online for almost everything we use except for fresh produce and meat. Netrition is one of my favorite places to shop. I have been shopping there since 2009. Basically it is a health food store, carrying a large variety of organic foods and supplements. I discovered many brands that I had never heard of before. Their shipping charges are $6.99 for orders under $99.00 and free if over $99.00. My orders are normally pretty heavy since most organic foods still come in glass jars and bottles. Glass? Yes, glass is rare these days and I prefer it. Don’t worry about the shipping though. Netrition’s shipping department is the best there is. Every item is securely wrapped, making it a bubble wrap pillow or envelope around the product. Each item is packaged separately so they do not bang against each other in shipping. If I order early enough in the day, my order will be here the next day or the day after.

Damaged Walmart Order

Damaged in shipping! From Walmart!

The last couple of years I have started ordering from Walmart. too. Now their prices are great as usual……BUT their shipping department needs some work. Well actually a lot of work. So far it has been the worst I have ever dealt with. My first order came quickly and nothing damaged, but that was just plain luck. They packed the products all together in a box with no protection at all. The second time I ordered from them, I had a large order of over a hundred dollars and I waited and waited for it to arrive. Finally I sent them a message about it and they replied back that it was damaged in shipping so UPS sent it back to them. They refunded my credit card and that was that. They never sent me a message to tell me that had happened or that they were refunding my card. They just canceled my order and forgot to let me know. Now I did not like that one bit, but I let it pass.

Keystone Pork

Keystone Pork was damaged!

My last order must have had the jar of sun-dried tomatoes break because it was not in the box and the tea bags were all damp and smelled like the tomatoes. The cans of food were all dented and beat up. The main reason I started shopping there was for the Keystone meats since they always have them and at a good price. They are not available in my local Walmart or any store in my area. If they were, probably not at the price I get them from Walmart. I called them and they were very nice and replaced everything that was damaged and told me not to send them back. They were still usable, but they could not sell them to another customer. So I got extra for my trouble. I got my jar of sun-dried tomatoes too! I will keep shopping there as it is very convenient for me. I am sure that Walmart will improve their shipping department over time. They have to if they want to compete online. One other thing I wanted to mention about Walmart is that their disclaimer on their site says they can’t verify where each product originated from since they have so many distributors and manufacturers. I can understand that too. They have been offering various discounts on shipping so that can change at any time, including free 2 day shipping and a discount if you order online and pick it up at your local store. So more to come from them!

Damaged in shipping Tea Bags

My tea bags arrive damp and beat up!

A couple of months ago, I experimented with shopping at Rite Aid. Big mistake on my part, not their’s. I thought the products I purchased were normal sizes and they were almost all travel sizes! Too much spent on items I can buy locally at cheaper prices for full sizes. I have bought at other sites over the years but these are my main shopping sites for now. Be careful on sizes of items so not to be disappointed like I was on the Rite Aid order. Shop around a bit too. I often buy items on eBay and have certain sellers I go back to time and again. If I have a good experience with them I follow them and when I shop on eBay go directly to their store or listings. For the most part I am happy with shopping online and it does save me a lot of time and money. Yes, money too! I don’t buy extras I see on the way out of the grocery store. Buying electronics, automotive parts and components for our solar and wind system has worked great for us too.

 

katlupe

Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Our Thoroughbred Horses

Thoroughbred Horses

Our Three Horses

Our Thoroughbred horses, one who is 22 years old and two who are 21 years old, causes you to think they are too old to want to get out of their fence anymore. Being content to just be lazy and enjoy their barn and paddock. They seem that way, until spring comes around. Spring causes our three mares to act silly and immature. Well, not Tawny, so much. She is part Thoroughbred and Shetland pony and seems to have the most sense. The other two, Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow are registered Thoroughbreds and half sisters, sharing the same father. They were bred for racing at a horse racing farm. Tawny is their niece, their brother being her father. Thoroughbreds are known for their spirit, and yes, our girls certainly have that. When we first got them, we used to be concerned that someone might try to steal them when we were not home. We live in the middle of the state forest in a very secluded area. Once we got to really know them, we used to laugh and say, “We’d come home to some dead guy out in the paddock after he tried to put one of those girls in a trailer!” Yes, that would be a fact.

Boss Mare

Georgie Girl in 2000

When we brought them home from the farm where they were raised, where we were working, Georgie Girl, who had been raced and trailered often, refused to get into the trailer. Bill, the owner, put a rope on the ground behind her, she looked at him and the rope, then at me, and just pranced right up the ramp onto the trailer. She appeared to say, “I trust you. If you want me to get on this trailer, I will for you.” I never knew what he intended to do with the rope. Dark Shadow had never been on a trailer nor away from the farm. She had a huge crush on my husband. He just led her onto the trailer next to Georgie and she followed. Now that makes it sound like she is a quiet, well behaved horse, which was not the case. She was wilder than any of the stallions on the farm! She had never been worked with at all. She was definitely devoted to Larry and would do what he wanted her to do. Sometimes he had to work hard to get her to follow along, but in the end she would trust him and give to him.

Shetland Thoroughbred Cross

Tawny

Tawny didn’t come here till a couple of years later. For the first two years, Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow were not only sisters, but best friends. Still to this day, they are completely devoted to each other. Though Georgie is the boss mare, when she rules over Dark Shadow, that means Tawny will pay. Tawny being the smallest and last horse here, is at the bottom of the herd. So if Dark Shadow gets mad because Georgie has taken her hay away or some other reason, she will come looking for Tawny. I hate that it turns out that way for Tawny who wasn’t doing anything, but minding her own business. But that is way of the horse herd. Tawny will stand up to Georgie, but not Dark Shadow. Dark Shadow acts young and is very spirited and is quite the talker. She will yell out in the middle of the night, and at first it would worry me. I’d jump out of bed in a flash and run outside. Now I know that is her way. She will scream at Tawny or sometimes even at Georgie. That is the Thoroughbred horse way. After all, they are considered to be “hot-blooded” and bred to be spirited and bold and our two are definitely that.

Thoroughbred Horses

Sisters

The first stalks of green grass were poking through the lawn the other day and tempting Georgie Girl something awful. Here I was, sitting at my computer and when I look up, I see outside the bathroom window………a horse head! Uh oh! Out we go to find three horses running and bucking around in the yard. Well it seemed that Georgie was leaning into the fence trying to get the grass and the fence came down. I got Georgie and Tawny into the barn about to go through the gate to the paddock, when Dark Shadow comes around the side of the barn and doesn’t see either of them. She screams a loud horse scream……….out of the barn runs Georgie with Tawny on her heels. Needless to say, I was not successful getting them in. My husband managed to get them back inside and quieted down. They had torn up our yard since it wasn’t cold that day and the ground was soft. Now this morning it is very cold and the torn up ground was difficult for me to walk on. Hopefully, they won’t be getting out again!

Horse tracks

Horse Tracks

signature

Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


Meat Can Be A Big Expense

Raw Beef

Meat can be a frugal choice!

Meat can be a big expense if you do not raise your own livestock. We do not. I would have a large amount of pets and an empty freezer if I did! LOL Well, not exactly, since we do not have freezer, but you know what I mean. Some people can do it and some don’t want to. Yes, I know where meat comes from that is sold in the stores. How come people have such a problem with you not raising your own livestock for meat, but they don’t grow their own wheat for baking? I always say, do what you can or want to do, but please do not force YOUR views on others! If you are following a low carb food plan than meat is an even bigger expense. Fresh produce makes up half of the low carb plan, meat and dairy are about one-fourth each. It doesn’t help that our house rabbit, known as “Rabbit” eats a great deal of the fresh greens we grow, or buy from the store. We try to buy organic as much as possible, if available. Winter is tough though and especially around here. 

rabbit eating wild foods

Wild Foods

Since we heat with wood and have no other type of heating, our house gets pretty cold at night when the wood stove is banked back. Starting plants has always been difficult for me. My houseplants barely survive the winter. I am experimenting with some salad greens and herbs right now since our temperatures have been unseasonably warm for New York state. This morning we spotted our first robin of the year and they are never here this early. I usually look for them around the fifteen of March, not the first. I am not complaining though. We have a pretty large population of robins living here for most of the year. I hope it is a good sign that spring will be early this year.

cows

Livestock raised for food.

Because we do not raise livestock for food, what can we do about the meat supply? Well, you can always become a vegetarian, though that is not for me. I have tried it, but I am used to eating meat since I have had it my whole life. Also since I do so much better eating low carbs, I want to eat it. It satisfies you more than vegetables. One of the ways around the high price of meat in the stores is to purchase a supply from a local farmer. If you have a freezer to store it, you can usually get a much better price directly from the farmer who raised it. I think once you buy it that way, you will not want to go back to buying it in a store again. Another way to get an affordable amount of meat is to buy it in bulk when your stores have it on sale. I do that. Except I can it, instead of freezing it. The main reason I do not freeze it is because we do not have a freezer. Not even a small one. Our refrigerator doesn’t have one. But even if I had a freezer, most of my meat and foods I store, I would can. Freezers can break. Canned meats taste much better and will last years as long as it is properly canned with a pressure canner. My husband calls it fast food. Canned jars of meats or chili and stews are super fast to cook and serve. We love them.

Canned Beef

Canned Beef

I normally purchase our meat from a local restaurant supply store. I can get good deals on meat there, as well as produce. Their food is top quality and I have never been unhappy with anything I bought there. Canning a supply of meat and broth can make preparing meals, not only frugal, but easier. The meat is already cooked so you just have to put the recipe together and heat it. Jars of broth make gravy and soup preparing a snap. After I have finished canning the meat, I add more hot water to it, season it and now have number of jars of broth to can. These are like gold! They add such flavor and store bought bouillon or broths don’t even come close to the flavor.


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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Lasagna Cooked Outside

Cast iron skillet on open fire

Cooking over an open fire

Lasagna cooked outside is the only way I usually cook it. It is easy to put together and in fact, you can make it the day before and refrigerate it for cooking over a fire. I like to put the pan on a good bed of coals and just let it cook slowly all day. Better keep an eye out though, an outside fire can burn it pretty fast without you even knowing it is that hot. It is a good dish to use a cheap type of meat in, or no meat, if you wish. Sometimes I find a package of bones with a tiny bit of meat left on them at the meat counter that is very cheap. I want the flavor of the meat and don’t necessarily need the meat itself.

Raw Pork Bones

Raw Pork Bones

Brown ground meat in your skillet, or if using meat bones, put them in your skillet or Dutch oven and cover with water. Let it simmer, covered, for an hour or so till tender. Then split the bones apart and scrape and cut the meat off them.

Sauce:

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 4 ounce can tomato paste
1 clove crushed garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
2 beef bouillon cubes

Pour the sauce ingredients into the skillet that you simmered the meat in, leaving the water that it was boiled in and heat. Then add the meat and simmer for an hour or more. The longer it simmers the better it gets. If you are using ground meat, drain the grease off first. If you want to get more grease off, rinse the meat with water and drain or pat dry with a paper towel. I only do that if the ground meat is really greasy.

Zucchini

Zucchini Layer

 

While the sauce is simmering, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

4 cups cottage or ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
½ teaspoon salt
Mix all together and set aside.

Cheese Layer

Cheese Layer

 

1 -2 zucchini sliced, or another vegetable or lasagna noodles
3-6 cups of grated cheese, any type you choose ( I used cheddar)

Put the sauce in the bottom of the skillet, then layer zucchini slices over it. Cover that layer with sauce, add a layer of the soft cheese mixture, then shredded cheese. Add another layer of zucchini, more sauce, a layer of soft cheese and shredded cheese I only do two layers because of the size of my pan, but three layers would be good. You may have to increase the amounts of the other ingredients depending on your pan size. It really doesn’t matter what order you put your layers in. You will want to end up with sauce on top and shredded cheese on top of that for the final layer.

Lasagna Ready To Bake

Ready To Bake

If you are baking the lasagna in your oven, then cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes (serves 8). If you are cooking it on an open fire like we did, make sure you put it in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven or a roasting pan. 

Cooking over coals

Cooking over coals

My Dutch oven is not large enough for lasagna, so I made it in the skillet and covered it with another large cast iron skillet. You can use a large lid or aluminum foil. Place the skillet directly on the coals and let it cook undisturbed. Remember when cooking over an open fire you have to keep an eye on it or the bottom of the lasagna can become charred. Mine did, but this is the way my husband likes it. If you start cooking this way, your food takes on a whole new dimension and everyone will love it and if you have children, they will want to help. A good book to try is Cooking With Fire: From Roasting on a Spit To Baking In A Tannur, Rediscovered Techniques and Recipes That Capture the Flavors Of Wood-Fired Cooking by Paula Marcoux.

Zucchini Lasagna

All Done

 

This recipe can be changed in any way you want. In fact, use your own recipe for lasagna and use noodles.  If you have vegetables from your garden this is a good way to use them and make a healthy tasty meal that everyone will enjoy. Who doesn’t love lasagna? I know we do. A frugal meal and if cooking it outside, it doesn’t heat up your kitchen in the hot weather.

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click on, or products I recommend, may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that. I am currently an Amazon Associate and have placed links to an Amazon product in this post that I will be compensated for it you click the link and purchase this or any other product on Amazon today. Thank you if you do!


Using Cast Iron Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware

A few of my cast iron pieces

Using cast iron cookware is not as hard as many people make it sound. I use mine daily. Rarely do I use other pans, unless I need to use a stockpot or a sauce pan. The only type of skillets I own are the cast iron ones. I have various sizes and use certain ones for particular foods I am cooking. When I see the prices of cast iron on eBay, I am grateful that none of mine cost that much. In fact, most of mine were purchased at bargain prices in thrift or antique stores. Some were very rusty and were priced very low because nobody took the time to bring them back into good cooking shape. I could see the possibilities of my three favorite 6″ skillets that were sitting on a shelf in the bargain basement of a thrift shop. They were priced at a dollar each and I bought all of them. I use these more than anything else. Since there is only two of us to cook for, I can easily make our breakfast using these skillets.

Cast Iron 6 Inch Skillet

I have 3 of these 6″ skillets

Over the years, I have learned how to clean and season my cast iron cookware. Some people wash them in soap and water and some people swear not to do that. I am of the latter group. It will cause you to have to re-season them every time you wash them with soap and water. If food has stuck to the skillet, I pour hot water into it and let it soak for a few minutes. Then the food will scrap off easily. After I have scrapped it off, sometimes I will scrub it a little with a “tuffy” type of thing I use for washing pots and pans. Rinse with hot water, then dry it out good with a paper towel. I set it back on the stove to make sure it is completely dry, then I wipe it with a thin layer of bacon grease. I will store it in my gas oven which has a pilot light that is on all the time. When I use the oven, I normally will leave the cast iron skillet that I just washed in the oven. Maybe adding a little more grease (or what ever you use, you can use cooking oil as well). After it has been seasoned well, I will put it in the cupboard with the other ones.

Cast Iron Skillets in Oven

Seasoning in oven

If there is no food stuck on the skillet, you can just wipe it out with a paper towel. Well seasoned cast iron cookware, usually will not have anything stuck to it. The small skillets and a round griddle that I use almost daily, I store in my oven most of the time. I leave them in the oven when I am using it, unless I need both shelves, as it keeps these skillets well seasoned. Cast iron is known for the flaky crud that accumulates on the outside of the sides. I usually just scrap it off with my “tuffy” thing. The best way to remove it is to put in your wood stove fire (yes, right inside the stove when there is a fire going) and let it burn off.  That is if your stove is big enough for your cookware (mine is). Even better, is to put it in an outdoor fire. It burns all that crud off. Then wash the ashes off with hot water, apply whatever type of grease you like (I only use bacon grease because it is never sticky and that is what my grandmother used), then put it in your oven for an hour or so to let it season.

Cooking Eggs

Cooking Eggs


I cook eggs almost daily in one of my small 6″ cast iron skillets. I flip the eggs over to cook the other side and it slides across the surface. If I make an omelet instead, I can slide the omelet right out of the skillet onto a plate. That is the sign of a well seasoned skillet! Biscuits too, which I bake in the oven in a large cast iron skillet and they come out perfect every time. If you do not have any cast iron cookware, buy a small skillet first to get the feel for cooking with it. See how you like it first. If you are purchasing a new one, I’d suggest buying one made by The Lodge manufacturer. They are excellent quality and I have several of their pieces and am quite happy with them. There will be a waxy coating on a new one that is applied in the factory to protect it. You will have to remove that coating, then wash and season it a few times before you use it for cooking. Happy Cooking!


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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click on, or products I recommend, may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that. I am currently an Amazon Associate and have placed links to an Amazon product in this post that I will be compensated for it you click the link and purchase this or any other product on Amazon today. Thank you if you do!


Updating Your Lifestyle

Peaceful Forest 1999

Peaceful Forest 1999

Updating your lifestyle of modern homesteading is a very simple thing to do. My title of this blog was chosen long ago in 2005 when blogs were just getting started. I first wrote it on Yahoo360. Then moved it to Blogger, finally here on my own server. Everyone was interested in my off the grid life back then. I had many people sending me messages through my eBay seller account wanting to know how to do this stuff. So I figured I’d just write it on a blog and they could read it there or ask questions, that I could answer on the blog for everyone. At that time, I loved this lifestyle and couldn’t imagine living any other way. Funny thing about life and people, is that things change. People change. Life changes.

A Farm

A Farm


Maybe due to getting older and things about this lifestyle got harder? Maybe. It reminds me of a woman I once knew. Her second husband and her met at their church. They already knew each other, but had both lost their spouses. One day she shows up at his apartment bearing homemade baked goods for him as a gift. Soon they were spending time together which eventually led to their marriage. A few weeks after their wedding, she tells him that she is not cooking anymore. She said she raised her children on a dairy farm and had cooked and worked hard all those years. Now she was done with cooking, baking and all that clean up work involved. Yes, she knew her new husband had not lived that type of life at all. In fact, his wife had not been a very good cook at all. He was looking forward to all the food he was going to be enjoying made by his new wife. What a shocker that was to him! He says to her, “What about all those homemade meals and baked goods you made for me before we got married?” She just smiled.

My Road

My Road

Life is constantly changing. If you are not, then you are just surviving, not living. Look at how many times you have changed through out your life so far. From a newborn infant, to where you are at the present moment. So with that said, let us embrace the changes going on in our lives and explore new goals. Updating your lifestyle is not that difficult or expensive. In fact, it can and should be fun. Live your life by feeling passionate about your true interests. Even if it is not what you planned to do in the first place. It is possible to not have any interest in something at one age, then become very interested in it some years later.

Raising Livestock

Raising Livestock

Modern homesteading basically means to live a self-sufficient life. Providing your family with food and necessities of life. In 2017, I really don’t think you can live totally that way, even on your own homestead. There are always going to be things that need to be bought and paid for. If you are raising livestock for food, there are many costs associated with that endeavor too. Even something like providing your own heat through harvesting firewood from your own woods would cost you if you were using a chainsaw, you would need the new chains, gas mix, gas, file, etc.. Canning foods will cost you in the jars and the lids you will need to complete that process. I am not saying you couldn’t live that way. A family I know has lived that way for many years. Even as far as cooking on a hearth and using a horse and wagon for transportation. But I noticed when I was at their homestead, that they did not make their own clothing and they hitched rides with people.  As I always say, there are no rules. Just do what you can or want and don’t let others imply that you have to do things their way. You don’t.

Rural Land Search

Rural Land Search

As many other homesteaders have shown over the years, you can live anywhere, even in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. Rural land is very expensive as more and more people expand the cities’ borders. Over population with no concern for the rural areas anymore is normal now. Just keep filling every spot with more people and then complain due to no rural land available. That’s what you get folks. Basically you can live a fairly self-sufficient life wherever you are right now. You may not have 40 acres and a mule (can you tell, I have been re-reading my Gone with the Wind book for the hundredth time?) but you can plant a garden if you have a small yard. You can purchase fresh produce and meat from local farms. Instead of buying small amounts, buy in bulk to get a better deal and then can it instead of freezing it. Tastes better that way and will keep forever. Turn a closet or an extra room in your house into a pantry.

Spots the cat

Spots Does What He Wants

For myself, now into my sixties, I am looking forward to maybe another thirty years of living my life the way I picture it. Not what someone else pictures or says I should do. Just because you have gotten older it doesn’t mean you are resigned to a rocking chair or recliner in front of a television. It means you better get busy living the life you want. Now! That is just what I intend on doing. It is time for ME! What about you? Are you ready to start updating your lifestyle?

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


Driving Through The Woods

Through the Woods

Through the Woods

Driving through the woods to my house, many people are under the impression that we are really “out there.” I only wish! In 1999 when we purchased our house, we had the plan to get rid of our car and use a horse and buggy for transportation. The key to that was that our house is ideally located for someone wanting to do that. I would imagine that past residents of our home, did just that and most likely walked to and back from town. Since this house was built in 1850, that is highly probable. Our location is central to several small towns and one small city. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way for us. Though we did live for over nine months without a motor vehicle. The only reason we could not do this was due to our elderly parents, who resisted us living like this constantly. And of course, our grown kids. Everybody seemed to “need” us for something.

Ludlow Creek

Ludlow Creek

I must admit, I was very impressed with the location the first day of driving through the woods to find it. It was a snow covered road going through the beautiful forest.  It was so peaceful! The snow insulates the sound, so you don’t hear anything except the occasional sound of a chickadee or blue jay. As we drove through the seasonal road, that had a sign posted to drive at your own risk, I had to get my courage up. Once we got half way through the forest, it was so breathtaking that I forgot about being nervous. At the end of that road, we were still in the woods and it was impressive. The trees were huge and grew thickly. In the middle of it all was a small creek that was flowing steadily in the middle of the winter. I fell in love with the little one lane bridge as soon as I saw it.

One Lane Bridge Sign

One Lane Bridge Sign

As the years have gone by, the feeling of being secluded or “out there” has all but disappeared. More people have moved into hunting camps in the area and made full time homes out of them. Our little road, which rarely had more than two vehicles go by in one day, now has much more than that. Still it is not like the Long Island Expressway, but the traffic has increased. If you find a homestead on a dirt road, or in the middle of a forest,  it doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay that way indefinitely. All the forests around us, mostly state forest land, have been logged and it is constantly going on. The little dirt roads are not designed for this and end up hard to drive at times due to the equipment and logging trucks. They log all year round so I just had to get used to it. Then there are the hunters of course. And their litter!

High Bridge

High Bridge

For the most part though, it lives up to the name we gave it, Peaceful Forest. I chose that name before we even found it. I knew what I was looking for and as soon as we saw it, we exclaimed to each other, “It IS Peaceful Forest!” It didn’t have as much acreage as we were originally looking for but being in the forest compensated for that. Thousands of acres surround us here and that is enough for us.

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole