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.




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



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!




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


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.


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





Canned Potatoes and Recipes For Your Potato Harvest

Potato Plant

Potato Plant

Potatoes have always been a pretty easy plant for me to grow.  Canned Potatoes and Recipes, a new eBook, will help you process all those potatoes much easier.  One year, I went to our local produce market, Frog Pond, and they had 50 lb. bags of potato seed for FREE! Yes, I said FREE! They wanted to get rid of them and they were damp. In fact, when I brought the bag home in my friend’s car, it stunk it up a bit. That didn’t matter in the least, because I planted all of them and we had the biggest crop of potatoes I ever saw. All I had room for in the garden that year was green beans, tomatoes and the potatoes. But who cares? I was able to store them in a big box covered with newspaper right in my pantry. I had to check them daily, and I would open the box and let it set open for a few hours. If you don’t do that, moisture will accumulate due to the humidity and being in a closed up box. That is why I never keep vegetables or fruits in plastic. Nothing ruins it faster than being closed up in a plastic bag or container.

Harvest of Potatoes and Cucumbers

Harvest of Potatoes and Cucumbers

So when you have a daily harvest of potatoes coming every day, what do you do with all of them? You can store them fresh and eat them through the winter. Of course, canning some of them would be a good option too. Then you’d have some ready to fix without the fuss of waiting for them to cook first. They are basically prepared and all you have to do is to make the recipe you need them for. Fast food! Canning potatoes is not that hard to do and actually, if you have never canned before, it is a good vegetable to start with. Remember you will need a pressure canner, NOT a pressure cooker……….there is a big difference! 

Big Potatoes

Big Potatoes

As you can imagine, with a good crop of potatoes, you can be overrun with them at harvest time. There are so many ways to use them. In my own eBooks I have put down many of my old standby recipes. I thought I’d seen them all until I bought a new cook book for my kindle called  Canned Potatoes and Recipes by Pamela K. Ritter. She has more delicious recipes for using the canned potatoes that I have never had before. So I am planning on trying these recipes when the weather turns cooler and I have time to cook more. Right now, I am mostly grilling or using my new pressure cooker.

Canned Potatoes with Recipes
Not only does she tell you how to can the potatoes in this book, but gives the recipes for these other mouthwatering dishes, such as: Potato and Cabbage Soup, Pierogie Casserole, Fried Potatoes With Corn, Canned Red Potatoes with Garlic and Green Bean Soup, etc. Well, you get the idea. What are you waiting for? Click the link above to order the eBook for your kindle or other reader at Amazon. 

(Note: I am an associate of Amazon’s so if you click the link and purchase this book I will receive a small commission. Not much and it doesn’t add to the price of the book.)

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole

Beef Stew Is Our Favorite Wintertime Meal!

Homesteading On The Internet

Using A Wood Stove For Cooking and Heating Water!

This post was originally posted on my Blogger blog on December 4, 2012

One nice thing about the cooler temperatures is the fact that I can simmer foods on the wood stoves all day. The cook stove is used all year long, but right now the wood heating stove is a big addition to our food preparation. It is a good use of energy, heating the house, heating water and cooking our food. What could be better than that? Saves money by not using the propane stove unless we have to.

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Choosing Good Quality Produce!

One nice thing about the cooler temperatures is the fact that I can simmer foods on the wood stoves all day. The cook stove is used all year long, but right now the wood heating stove is a big addition to our food preparation. It is a good use of energy, heating the house, heating water and cooking our food. What could be better than that? Saves money by not using the propane stove unless we have to.

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Stew Beef from MaineSource Food and Party Warehouse

I like to put a lot of beef in our stew. Usually a pound is what most recipes call for. I double that. The day I made this batch, I think I used about three pounds. Stew can be made from just about any meat you choose, or even no meat, for all the vegetarians reading this. Another reason I make so much is that right now I have three hungry men here and I like to have leftovers. This is my basic recipe, though I eliminate the onions  because my husband does not care for onions……..matter of fact, he HATES them. So I go without even though I love onions myself. What I do for that man!

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Dredge the beef cubes in flour.

 Homemade Beef Stew

  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt/ optional
  • 1 1/2 lbs. stew meat
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, optional
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 3 c. vegetable juice cocktail
  • 2 cups seasoned beef broth/boullion no msg)
  • 10 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed or chunks
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced celery and leaves
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced carrots, 2″ pieces
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Browning the beef cubes on the wood cook stove.

Mix the flour and salt (if you are adding it, I don’t.). Add the meat cubes a few at a time and mix to coat. In a heavy skillet, brown the meat, a half at a time, in the oil on medium high. Put all the meat in a Dutch oven or large pot.Then add the onion, garlic, thyme, vegetable juice, broth, Tabasco sauce and 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 1/4 hours, or until the meat is tender. Stir in the potatoes, carrots and celery. Cover and simmer 30 minutes more. Thicken with flour or cornstarch like you do for gravy. It does not have to be thickened.  It is more like soup if you don’t thicken it. Serves 6.

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Browning the meat.

After the meat has browned, I add the water or juice. Sometimes I do not add the tomato juice but use beef broth and water. Another thing is that I don’t really cook by a recipe much anymore. So this recipe is more basic. You can add what you want to it, or substitute other ingredients. It is all up to you and I know I say that about every recipe I post here. But that is how I cook.

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Potatoes & Carrots Added.

The nice thing about cooking on the wood heating stove is that once the food is simmering, it is all done until you are ready to eat. I like to let it simmer overnight. Most stew recipes tell you to add the potatoes and carrots when it is almost done. I don’t do that. I make sure everything is in the stew so it simmers overnight together. The potatoes and carrots still come out firm and not mushy. I like them to hold their shape and not fall apart in the liquid.

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Celery leaves floating as it simmers.

I sometimes add home canned corn or green beans. Sometimes, both. There are a variety of vegetables that can be used, and it is a good use of root vegetables. For winter time eating, nothing tops a homemade stew in my book. It is also one of my favorite ways to serve venison. If you make a really big batch, it is perfect for canning. Having jars of homemade beef stew in the pantry is the BEST way to get through winter! Yum yum!

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Simmered all day and night!

I am writing this post because MaineSource Food and Party Warehouse requested my help in showing their customers how to shop in bulk to save money and time. They do not discuss with me, what I will be writing about or alter my opinions in any way! My loyalty to my readers will always come first.  See my FTC Blogging Disclosure on this blog.

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Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole