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.


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!


Dehydrated Eggs

Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs are not always available.

Using dehydrated eggs is a good way to stretch fresh eggs. Especially through the winter when most chickens are not laying. If you raise your chickens and have periods of being flooded with too many eggs (though my way of thinking, is there is no such thing as too many eggs), you can dehydrate your own eggs. That would be a smart thing to do. If you do not know how to dehydrate eggs, just Google it. There are a lot of sites with information on how to do it safely. I have never done it myself, but if I had a flock of laying hens and the means to do it, I would.

Dehydrated Eggs

Dehydrated Eggs

In my case, and like many others, if you do not raise any chickens or other birds, you can purchase dehydrated eggs. I have been purchasing dehydrated whole eggs from Emergency Essentials in the large #10 cans. They last forever for a small family like us. They can also be purchased from other stores that sell bulk foods or prepping foods and even right on Amazon. I use it in baking and cooking and these dehydrated eggs work great. I do not care for them so much as scrambled eggs or omelets, even though they can be used for that also. It is just my personal taste and the only brand I have experience with is the ones from Emergency Essentials.

A Tablespoon of Dehydrated Eggs

A Tablespoon of Dehydrated Eggs

Two tablespoons of dehydrated egg and three tablespoons of water equal one large fresh egg. The method I use in cooking or baking is to add the two tablespoons of the dehydrated egg (for each egg called for in my recipe) to the dry ingredients and mix it in. Then when I add the liquid ingredients add three tablespoons of water for each egg. Then proceed as usual. I have never had a failure yet and the recipes always taste the same as if I used fresh eggs. Also available is egg whites only or egg yolks only. I can’t tell you anything about those yet as I have never tried them. They are on my list for a future purchase though.

Dehydrated Eggs, Sugar & Shortening

Dehydrated Eggs, Sugar & Shortening

Dehydrate means to “take way water” (according to the dictionary) and refers to the process of drying foods in machines (such as a food dehydrator), which use controlled heat. The nutritive value of the food is not impaired in this process. In baking, a flour mixture would end up as a heavy flat lump without a leavening agent in it by distributing carbon dioxide gas, air or steam through it, which expands during the baking process. Beaten eggs enclose air in the mixture and liquid turns to steam. I imagine the dehydrated eggs work the same way, since you cannot tell the difference in the finished products, whether I used fresh eggs or not. They are handy to have in the pantry in an emergency or if I can’t get to the store. I like to stock up on them and not have to worry whether I have eggs on hand or not. I always have these.


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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
6 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 Canned Winter Squash

Buttercup Squash Bread

Buttercup Squash Bread

Using canned winter squash you processed the past two years isn’t that hard. Is it just sitting in the cupboard except for the occasional brown sugar and butter side dish? There are many ways to incorporate that valuable canned produce into your weekly menus. Every year I harvest an abundant amount of winter squash. The varieties I plant are Butternut, Buttercup and Hopi Pale Grey. Next gardening season I am planning on adding some others. I normally only plant one variety each year since they can become cross pollinated and their seed won’t be true. I try to save their seeds every year. You can still use them even if they aren’t true, but they sometimes don’t look like what you planted. I canned a lot of yellow squash one year that took over our compost pile, but it certainly wasn’t a true yellow squash. We ate it and there was no difference in the taste or anything. I suppose it only matters if you are sharing or selling your seeds, which I wasn’t.

Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Every year the squash plants spread out all over our lawn near the garden where it is planted. It can be a nuisance for my husband mowing the lawn, but he’d rather have the food than the lawn anyway. I usually put aside a small number of them to store in the pantry or root cellar to eat fresh, most of them will be canned for future meals. A good friend asked me, “Why bother canning them since they store so well from one season to the next?” My answer to that is, “They last longer canned and stored on my pantry shelves. Since there are only two of us here, we don’t eat it fast enough to store all of them fresh.” One thought I had was that it is less work too. I can decide at the last minute to prepare a winter squash recipe without the job of precooking it to use, as most of my recipes would be using it as a soft or pureed ingredient. 

Buttercup

Buttercup

I had such a large crop in previous years, that this year I didn’t plant any winter squash at all. We are still eating the ones I canned in 2013! This is a post I wrote about how I canned our winter squash, Buttercup Squash. After it is on my shelves in jars, how do I use it? Almost any recipe for pumpkin or sweet potatoes is adaptable for your winter squash. Fresh or canned or even frozen, it doesn’t matter. Pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread recipes made with winter squash taste pretty much the same. Amazon is full of good pumpkin cookbooks that can be used for your winter squash or sweet potatoes. This one, Pumpkin, a Super Food For All 12 Months of the Year is a good one, as well as Pumpkin Cookbook by Gooseberry Patch.

Bread in Oven

Bread in Oven

 

This is my favorite pumpkin recipe, which is a Pumpkin Bread one, but tastes like a dessert. We love it! Try it and see what you think. If the winter squash is canned, it should be canned in cubes because it is not safe to can it as mashed or pureed. I pour the whole jar in, water and all, using it as part of the liquid for the recipe. I mash the squash up good with a potato masher to break it up as much as possible.

Pumpkin Bread

3/4 cup shortening
2-3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin, canned
3/4 cup water
3-1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix together sugar and shortening. Add rest of ingredients. Pour into two greased bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Makes two loaves.

Homecanned Buttercup

Home Canned Buttercup Squash

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 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.


Changes On Our Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Changes on our forest homestead, that we made this past spring and summer contributed to an easier life  Change is constant no matter where you live or what you do. On a homestead or farm it seems to be a daily happening. Some changes are hard and others are welcomed with open arms. As soon as spring showed up, which took longer than usual this past year, we got to work. There are many jobs on a homestead that are harder if you are living with an alternative energy system, but not impossible. We spend time researching and finding the best methods for making those jobs easier. Surprisingly, some are easier using older methods or tools of the past. Our main objective has been to use less fuels that we have to purchase. The more money we can save on that, we can put into our system to produce more energy. I am not saying that we do not use fuels. We do. We use less than we did, but still buy propane and gasoline.

Snow Wolf

Using the Snow Wolf

In the winter we bought a Snow Wolf from Amazon. It is a snow shovel that used to be called the Sno Wovel. We had been eyeing it for a number of years. Finally ordered it and my husband’s snow shoveling job became much easier and quicker. It is the job he hates the most around here. We do not use a snowblower because he doesn’t want the hassle of constant repairs and fuel usage. Another reason is that our driveway and paths are all dirt and I guess they don’t do such a good job on them. He says they are like lawnmowers, always having some kind of issue or repairs when you need them the most. Well I am happy to say the Snow Wolf took care of that job. 

DIY Generator Wagon

DIY Generator Wagon

To power our batteries when the weather has been rainy or cloudy for days, we have to use a generator. In the spring my husband put together a generator on a cart. That way he could move it back and forth from the barn to the house when it was needed. I used to worry about our generator sitting in front of the house in a little shed that covered it. It would have been easy to steal it after it was unhooked from the line going into the house. If we weren’t home, an easy job. He ordered a steel mesh garden wagon and attached the generator to that. The generator is a DC only type that works well for our off the grid system.

Green Works and Neuton Lawnmowers

Old and New electric lawnmowers

Another big job around here, though I admit, we made it that way, is lawn mowing. By clearing our land around the house, it meant more lawn to mow. If you do not mow your lawn, your pets will have a lot more fleas and ticks. They live in the grass and that is why if you go for a walk in meadows or pastures you need to take precautions not to get ticks on yourself. For years we had been using a Neuton lawnmower which is an electric model and it worked great. Lasted since 2006. It is still usable. The only problem was the batteries are outdated now and even with two battery chargers and four batteries, it was an all day job. Waiting for the batteries to charge gave my husband a break, but he likes to get the job done and not sit around waiting. He purchased the Green Works electric lawnmower with two battery chargers and four batteries. This lawnmower has newer batteries and works like a charm. He loves it. Since it is electric, unless we have to run the generator, the fuel is free. Most lawn mowing is done on a sunny day, so usually the generator is not running burning gasoline. Now the lawn is mowed in record time with no waiting around for a battery to charge.

All American Sun Oven

All American Sun Oven

Back in May, I wrote this post, Cooking With My New Sun Oven. I purchased the All American Sun Oven and started cooking with no fuel, except sunshine. I had my doubts about it. Even the directions that came with it didn’t make it sound that great. Well, let me tell you, this thing CAN COOK! It is now my favorite way to cook a roast. It is amazing how fast it cooks and you will really have to keep an eye on it or it will be overdone. Last winter, my friend, Susie, was showing off all kinds of things she cooked in her sun oven on Facebook. That made me determined to get one. There are some things I don’t like to cook on it, due to my cast iron skillets and Dutch oven being too big for it. I did cook bacon in it, but I like the oven of my propane stove best for that. I made a breakfast of sausage and eggs in it  which came out good.  I used two small cast iron skillets and they fit together real good in it. If you are going to cook roasts and meats, I suggest you get a good meat thermometer to test if it is done. My problem with it was not that anything was underdone, always the opposite. Always my fault for not paying attention to it. This is one the changes on our forest homestead that I am enjoying the most. 

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 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.


Cooking With My New Sun Oven

All American Sun Oven

All American Sun Oven


Cooking with my new sun oven is a whole new experience for me. I had never seen one before I bought it. I have been experimenting with some different dishes to see what I can cook and what we really like cooked in it. I do not care for the way it cooks hamburgers, but it may be the cook’s error.  We will stick with cooking them on the stove in my cast iron griddle for the time being. The sun oven is great for most meats though, since I can put them in early and they cook really fast if the sun is out all day. The first food I cooked was hamburgers and they came out like little rocks, because I thought they could not be done that quickly. Indeed, they were. My poor husband, being a good sport ate them all. 

Better Browning Granite Ware

Better Browning Granite Ware

I highly recommend using the granite ware pans for cooking in it. Especially the new Better Browning variety. I ordered two of them and they are my favorite now, aside from my extensive collection of cast iron. Cast iron unfortunately is too big for the sun oven. My little frying skillets fit, but they are the only ones. Besides it is kind of tricky for me getting a pan out without spilling the grease. It has a moving rack inside, so that you can move the oven with the sun and not worry about dumping it inside while moving it. These new Granite Ware pans are so easy to wash! I loved them right after my first use. Not expensive either. I plan on getting a few more of them. They offer a set that includes pie and loaf pans also. So you might want to check them out, even if you are not cooking with a sun oven.

Breakfast In A Sun Oven

Breakfast In A Sun Oven

My plan is to try to use the sun oven as much as possible in the summer so I can cut down our use of the propane. The sun oven is the only way I can see of doing that. The nice thing about it is that I can put a piece of meat in early and we can have supper with hardly any fuss. The most I have to do is keep moving it with the sun. I have it right outside the front door on my porch so it is not a big problem. I am usually right here anyway. In the summer, of course, I am outside working in my garden most days. My favorite meal so far cooked in the sun oven was pork spare ribs. They were outstanding! 

Stackable Granite Ware

Stackable Granite Ware


Now my friend, Susie, (who is responsible for me buying this sun oven, after she kept posting pictures of the food she was cooking in her sun oven on Face Book!) likes the stackable pans. These pans came with the oven when I bought it. I tried them yesterday with the hamburgers, but will try something else to really test them. I think I need to do a casserole to really test this sun oven. We do not eat baked goods, so that is out. I am anxious to try some chicken recipes in it. As soon as I get some good recipes for the sun oven, I will post them here.

 

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 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.


Fresh Organic Produce Storage

Organic

Organic

Fresh organic produce is sold in plastic containers or bags everywhere now. There is no way to get away from it.The days of picking out your produce and putting it in a brown paper bag is long gone. I for one, am sad to that happen. Through out the cold weather and early spring, before our garden starts producing salad greens, I buy it from the store. Now I am not a big fan of plastic, but this is how they sell it now.Do you buy it that way too? Have you had trouble with it rotting before you use it all? Makes you mad, I am sure, because it makes mad too. Especially now that we have a pet house rabbit and I like to feed him organic greens and lettuce. He goes through a lot of it and when you find a new container is already no good, it REALLY gets to me. Especially with the price of organic foods!

Storing Greens

Storing Greens

 I had started a number of years ago, taking potatoes and carrots out of their plastic bags as soon as I got them home. Then I put them in brown paper bags. The reason they wouldn’t last was because they would sweat in the bags. I got tired of throwing them out. So when I started buying these new containers with fresh organic produce in them, I was having the very same problem. Red leaf lettuce is the worst. It rots almost right away.And it is my favorite! I read some things on the various rabbit forums, on how they were trying to keep it fresh. I put my brain to work and this is what I do now. 

Divide Between Two

Divide Between Two

The first thing I had to do was to save these containers, so I had a few stocked up. When I get my fresh organic produce home, I wash it and dry it (if it not the kind that says on the container that it has been washed and dried) first. Then put a paper towel in the bottom of two containers. Now add half the lettuce from the container you just brought home. Then fluff it up a bit and put a paper towel over it lightly. Put the cover on, but do not fasten it down. You want a little air getting in there. The other half you will transfer the same way to another clean container with a paper towel in the bottom. Make sure to fluff it up. The reason you are doing this. is so it is not compacted in the center. That causes it to rot. Cover it with the paper towel and put the lid on. It should keep better and not get soggy and rotted. It won’t last for weeks, but will be good for a number of days. We always run out now, but never have any go bad.

Cover with Paper Towel

Cover with Paper Towel

I have found that kale, as well as the various types of salad greens keep for quite a few days this way. Kale lasts even longer. I do the same thing with any type of produce I buy now, that is in a plastic container. I store carrots like this and they last forever. I plan on trying it on fresh berries this summer. When you store food in airtight containers (which is what actually creates the high humid conditions that makes them go bad), it cuts off the oxygen supply of the food. Without oxygen the plant cells can break down very rapidly, shortens it’s shelf life. That is why I don’t fasten the lids. Keep the greens fluffed up so they are not squashed together tightly. 

Properly Stored

Properly Stored

Even though I was trying to rid myself of plastic, here I am using it again. I am planning on searching for some glass containers of this size that I can switch to. I think I need about four. I also want to search for some mesh or breathable bags for the smaller items. But I don’t want plastic ones. When I find them I will post on here so you can check them out. 

Fresh Organic Produce in refrigerator.

Fresh Organic Produce in refrigerator.

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Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole


Changing Our Food Supply To Quality Food

NON-GMO Project Verified

NON-GMO Project Verified

Non-GMO and organic food has replaced most of our food pantry products. GMO food and Monsanto is in the news constantly. Most people are against it, IF they know what it is, and what it does to them and their families’ health. Some haven’t a clue. I decided to get serious about avoiding GMO foods and foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup and MSG. I already grow all NON-GMO vegetables in my own garden. We do not use any kind of chemicals on it at all. I knew I had to really put forth the effort to do this, and to do it NOW. I had a girl on Facebook make the comment on a page of a produce market I shop at, “All you GMO people do not even know what it is or what it stands for.” This young woman’s ignorance is an example of a good share of the American public’s knowledge about this subject. Of course, I knew. It stands for “Genetically Modified Organism” and I know how bad it is for people or pets to consume. If you do not believe me, go research it yourself. Many people do not want to know that the food they are eating and feeding their families is slowly poisoning them. This blog is not about trying to teach you what it is and what it does. It is about what I changed in my food supply, and how easy it is to do so.

Fairtrade

Fairtrade

How did I start this process? The first place I went to was a website called NON-GMO Project. I looked for the products I use, then I was able to learn which food manufacturers weren’t afraid to label their food as being NON-GMO, and safe to use. I didn’t stop there. I researched the companies to make sure I was choosing good quality food products. I would have no worries about serving these products to my loved ones. I discovered that there are many food items in the grocery category on Amazon. Just put NON-GMO food in their search engine, and you will find many brands, that possibly you have heard of, or used in the past. Since I have a PRIME subscription, the cost of shipping was not much of a factor.

Organic, NON-GMO, Fair Trade Sugar

Organic, NON-GMO, Fair Trade Sugar

This is how I did it. I replaced products that we use with the NON-GMO organic ones. I purchased these from Amazon. I might look into finding larger sizes of some of the ones I bought, like the flour. They came in a case of six, but only in 2 pound bags. I wanted to test them first. Then I will find them in the 5 pound bags, as that is what I am used to using. Another example, is the sugar, I found organic sugar made from pure cane syrup. I am very happy with  Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Fair Trade Cane Sugar, and will buy it again. I got it in the ten pound bag and that is a good size for us. We don’t use a lot of sugar, but have started using it again, after having gone many months without it. We missed our sweets, but now these sweets will be made without GMO sugar and flour. You can’t do this all at one time, but little by little. It is more affordable that way. It is easier switching from products that you are used to slowly. My husband and I are very happy to have started doing this now. 

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 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.