Sunday, October 26, 2014

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Few Rules Of Homesteading, Just In Time...

In my youth, still young to many at 44, I found that I had a drive that was matched by few. Only true people that had the same passion as I did could even keep up with my task. I pride myself on doing more than people expect of me and showing/sharing the fruits of my labor.

Like planting a garden, all the prep work that goes into it, the rewards come later. We live in such a society where people want it, want it now, and if they don't get it... Well you know....

With nearly 10 cords of hardwood split and stacked, my hands are sore, and each day I split a little more. It is a homesteading rule to do things, and I mean all things with pace. A pace makes it sound like I want to put things off or stretch them out over time as if I were lazy. But I assure you, that isn't the case.

I make rules with myself, rules that allow me to do more over a longer period of time without getting burned out to quickly. Sure, when push comes to shove I will double hands down and burn the midnight oil if need be...

So one of the rules I have is to split one wheel barrel or two a night from the second week of August until I have at least 9 cords completed. I split about 6 cords by hand, and the rest I will use a machine. This rule falls to many things here, do a little each day...

There are times when we must demand more from ourselves than normal, but I have learned to do more in each season before the next. It helps so much not to try to do everything that needs to be done in the season. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Cornbread ( 1830's) Kitchen / Campfire Recipe


  • 3 c.  stone ground corn meal
  • 1 1/2    c.  white flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t.  salt
  • 2 1/2 T. molasses  or  21/2  T. honey  or 11/4  T. of each 
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c.  buttermilk
  • 3 T. lard
  • 3  T. veg. oil

While preheating 12 inch cast iron dutch oven to 375 degree (use oven thermometer inside Dutch Oven , remove thermometer before adding batter to oven)
Combine dry ingredients.  Add molasses, oil and buttermilk to beaten eggs.  Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Melt (pig fat) lard in preheated Dutch Oven, add ingredients to dutch oven.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Dutch Oven Cobbler Kitchen / Campfire Recipe


  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 cold stick butter cut into cubes
  • 2 cans pie filling
  • 1 1/4 c. chopped or finely diced walnuts

While heating 12 inch cast iron dutch oven to 375 degrees (use oven thermometer inside dutch oven/oven ) Remove from oven before adding ingredients’  Lightly grease dutch oven with cooking spray

Cut cold butter into cake mix and add nuts (optional) and hand blend (cut) the butter into the cake mix until the butter is in small pieces.

Add fruit to bottom of dutch oven.  Spread dry cake mix with cut in butter over top of fruit.
Bake in covered dutch oven for 30 minutes.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Traditional Buckwheat (no knead)


  • 3/4  cup buckwheat flour (3  1/2 oz)
  • 1  cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 oz)
  • 2  cups whole wheat flour (9 oz)
  • 2  1/4 t. granulated yeast
  • 1  1/2 t. coarse salt
  • 1/8  cup vital wheat gluten (2 T or .6 oz)
  • 1  3/4 cups lukewarm water

Using glass bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.  Put buckwheat flour, wheat flour, all-purpose flour and gluten into large plastic mixing bowl, incorporate salt into flour.  Using  a wooden mixing spoon, add water with yeast to flour mixture, making sure everything is uniformly moist.  Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of container.  Cover with a loose fitting lid.  Allow mixture to rise for approximately 2 hours, depending on room temp and initial water temp.  Longer rising time will not harm the result. 
You can use a portion of the dough anytime after this period.  However, flavor will be best after at least 24 hours of refrigeration.  Any dough not initially used can be refrigerated in same bowl with loose lid for up to 10 days.
To bake a loaf of bread, sprinkle flour on work surface, divide with your hands, a grapefruit size portion of dough, dusting a bit of the flour on the outside of the portion of the dough, not really mixing any of the flour into the dough.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, shaping the dough into a ball.  No kneading required.  The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.  Place on parchment paper, cut to size of dutch oven.  Cover loaf with towel and let rise for 40 mins.
 Before placing in heated oven, dust with flour and make 3 slashes, 1/4 inch deep, across the top, using a serrated knife.  (if refrigerated dough is used, allow more resting time before baking).
The method of baking to be addressed here is to use a cast iron dutch oven (10 or 12 inch size).  One of 3 methods can be used for baking.  At home in your kitchen oven; or outside using either charcoal or wood coals.
While dough is rising, preheat dutch oven to approximately 500 degrees.  Use a trivet in bottom of oven, and preheat with lid on.  When temp is reached, carefully place dough (with parchment paper on bottom) in oven and replace lid.  Use insulated glove while doing this.
Bake for 35 minutes at 450 degree.  When using indoor oven, remove lid for last 5 minutes.  Carefully remove loaf from oven and place on cooling rack.  Slice at will.

Stan has been using this recipe for 28 years.... 

Honey Wheat (no knead) Dutch Oven


  • 1  1/3  cups lukewarm water (approximately 100 degrees)
  • 2  1/4 t.  granulated yeast
  • 2  1/4 t.  coarse salt (.6 oz)
  • 1  1/2  cups whole wheat flour (6.75 oz)
  • 1  1/2  cups  all-purpose white flour (7.5 oz)
  • 1/8  cup of vital wheat gluten ( 2T or .6 oz)
  • 1/4  cup honey (2.8 oz)
  • 1/4  cup lard (melted and cooled) (1.6 oz)

Using glass bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.  Put wheat flour,  all- purpose flour and gluten into large plastic mixing bowl, incorporate salt into flour.  Using a wooden mixing spoon, add water with yeast, honey and melted and cooled lard to flour mixture, making sure everything is uniformly moist.  Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of container.  Cover with a loose fitting lid.  Allow mixture to rise for approximately 1  1/2  to  2 hours, depending on room temp. and initial water temp.  Longer rising time (even overnite) will not harm the result.
You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period.  Divide in half for 2 loaves. Recipe can be doubled for 4 loaves.  Any dough not initially used can be refrigerated in same bowl with loose lid for up to 14 days.
To bake a loaf of bread, sprinkle flour on work surface, divide with your hands a grapefruit size portion of dough, dusting a bit of the flour on the outside of the portion of the dough, not really mixing any of the flour into the dough.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, shaping the dough into a ball.  Then stretching in gently to elongate it and taper the ends.   No kneading required.  The entire process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds.   Place on parchment paper, cut to size of dutch oven.  Cover loaf with towel and let rise for 40 mins.
Before placing in heated oven, dust with flour and make 3 slashes, 1/4 inch deep, across the top, using a serrated knife.  ( If refrigerated dough is used, allow more resting time before baking).
The method of baking to be addressed here is to use a cast iron dutch oven (10 or 12 inch size).  One of  3 methods can be used for baking.  At home in your kitchen oven; or outside using either charcoal or wood coals.
While dough is rising, preheat dutch oven to approximately 500 degrees.  Use a trivet in bottom of oven, and preheat with lid on.  When temp is reached, carefully place dough (with parchment paper on bottom) in oven and replace lid.  Use insulated glove while doing this.
Bake for 35 min. at 450 degree.  When using indoor oven, remove lid for last 5 mins.  Carefully remove loaf  from oven and place on cooling rack.  Slice at will.

Artisan Dutch Oven White Bread (no knead) Kitchen or Campfire


  • 1  1/2 cups lukewarm water (approx. 100 degrees)
  • 2  1/4 t. granulated yeast
  • 2  1/4 t. coarse salt (.6 oz)
  • 3  1/4 cups all-purpose white flour (16.3 oz)

Using glass bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.   Put flour in large  bowl, incorporate salt into flour.  Using a wooden spoon, add water with yeast to flour, making sure everything is uniformly moist.  Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of container.Cover with a loose fitting lid.  Allow mixture to rise for approximately 2 hours, depending on room temp. and initial water temp.  longer rising time (up to 5 hrs.) will not harm the result.  You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period.  Divide in half for 2 loaves.  Recipe can be doubled for 4 loaves.  Any dough not initially used can be refrigerated in same bowl with loose lid for up to 14 days.

To bake a loaf of bread, sprinkle flour on work surface, divide with your hands a grapefruit size portion of dough,dusting a bit of the flour on the outside of the portion of the dough, not really mixing any of the flour into the dough.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off.   Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, shaping the dough into a ball.  No kneading required. 
The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.  Place on parchment paper, cut to size of dutch oven.  Cover loaf with towel and let rise for 40 mins.
Before placing in heated oven , dust with flour and make 3 slashes  1/4 inch deep across the top, using a serrated knife.  (If refrigerated dough is used, allow more resting time before baking.)
The method of baking to be addressed here is to use a cast iron dutch oven (10 or 12 inch size).  One of 3 methods can be used for baking.   At home in your kitchen oven;  or  outside using either charcoal or woods coals.  While dough is rising, preheat dutch oven to approximately 500 degrees. Use a trivet in bottom of oven, and preheat with lid on.
When temp is reached, carefully place dough,(with parchment paper on bottom) in oven and replace lid.   Use  insulated glove  while doing this.  Bake for 35 mins. at 450 degree.  When using indoor oven remove lid for last 5 mins.  Carefully remove loaf from oven and place on cooling rack.  Slice at will.

Stan has been making this bread for 28 years and this is a time tested recipe. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Meal Planning - 6 weeks at a time!

6 Week Meal Planner

My wife, Danielle, has recently created a 6 week meal planner, along with recipes, shopping lists and templates.  This is available as a PDF download that you can print off, and a printed version in a ring binder that you can add to with your own recipes. Order here: http://modernpioneer.highwire.com/product/6-week-meal-planner

This 6 week meal planner comes as 2 options:
  1. downloadable PDF for you to print at home, or
  2. a paper version that we can mail to you. The paper version comes in a ring binder.
This meal planner includes:
  1. More than 30 recipes, organized by cooking time
  2. 6 weeks of planned meals
  3. shopping lists
    • shopping lists are coded so you can easily edit for recipe changes or changes in schedule
    • includes pantry list for your staple food and non-food items.
  4. Extra templates to add your own weeks of plans
  5. Suggestions (but not recipes) for side dishes and breakfasts,.
The meals use a variety of cooking methods and times. They are adaptable and include freezer recipes for future prepping. Most are from-scratch recipes, but allows for you to substitute in your own recipes or pre-prepared versions.

 Order here: http://modernpioneer.highwire.com/product/6-week-meal-planner

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Handmade Christmas

As a farm boy, I never knew I was poor, but I knew I had lots of other things other kids didn't have. I knew I didn't get the toys they had, the nice shoes, pants, and cool Trapper Keeper for school work. I did have my own 20 gauge/ 30-30 switchable barrel, barn and school boots, coat and other necessary items. At the time all those other things like the toys and nice clothes seemed to matter.

Taking you back to the house I lived in Clarksburg PA, it was held together by staples, and had been built a long time ago very quickly and not very well. The windows would be iced up for weeks and sometimes for months during the winter. Every morning my Step Dad Bobby was off early to work, Mom soon followed him, and I was taught to get myself ready and out to the bus stop all by myself at 7 years old.

The year was 1977, it was the same winter as the big snow here in the eastern United States... Prior to moving on the farm the following spring, this was the house where I learned life's first lessons on banking off a coal fire and getting wood in, although it was just a few logs with my Step Dad, it seemed like hard work to me. 

That Christmas I got some presents that were factory made, shinny and new. That was the first year those round plastic disk sleds came out and those huge Styrofoam Airplanes.... I got one of each of those and some clothes. Materialism has been around a long time, and for kids, at least us, it was all about the numbers, how many gifts we got...

I didn't know this would be one of the best Christmases of my life, a time that I would reflect on for the rest of my life, forever. But that year, I tossed to the side the handmade wooden toys made for me by my Step Dad and Mom. I got a spaceship from the show Space 1999, carved and the landing feet were made from screws. I got a wooden truck, I smashed that thing up after months of rugged 7 y/o abuse, and a corn bag toss game. The bags were made from our old corduroy/blue jean  pants.

Perhaps things are tight and you might be considering making a couple gifts, do it... Don't worry about the shinny and new look. Because you may just be creating the best Christmas of a child's life forever.  It really isn't about the wrappers, it truly is about the love...


Monday, December 2, 2013

Seasoning Your Cast Iron, The How To Facts

Like anything else, there is different ways to accomplish the same goal. Although what I am about to explain to you is the correct way, it might not be the same way you know. Also we are not going to tear this whole process apart, we are going to keep this process as simple as it was done a few hundred years ago. Like they say, if it isn't broke why fix it?

In order to clear the slate for a good conversation, let us get straight into factory seasoning. Any good quality cast iron will arrive pre-seasoned. It is ready to use out of the box, a light rinse and your ready to start using it. Over time a non-stick surface will form, which brings us to the golden rule, never, ever wash your cast iron with soap, dishwasher or scrub it with steel wool... I strip all my new (even to me second hand) cast iron down using Kosher coarse salt and a lemon cut in half. With a little elbow grease, you'll be done in no time. If you desire to keep the factory seasoning, that is fine too.

Let's get to the small affordable list of things you're gonna need prior to seasoning your cast iron. A disposable aluminum pan large enough to set your cast iron into while it is seasoning and a tub of lard. Yes, pig fat... You can use a veggie based white spreadable stuff, but stores still carry just plain old lard, which is the best thing to season with.

Pre-heat your ovn to 350 degrees, okay let me stop here and pass along a note. Some will say you have to pre-heat the cast iron prior to seasoning. That isn't true, the concept in theory is there, but I have been working with metal all my life and we are not annealing, we are seasoning. Annealing is a whole different blog post... The whole open pore concept isn't necessary for seasoning. 

Get out your Lard, open it, and just stick your hand in and grab a big ole glob of it and start to smear it on your cast iron, all over, don't miss a single spot...  Go ahead and to the lid to the Dutch Oven as well, smear it all over it too... Place on your disposable pan, place into the oven for one hour.

By this time you're wondering if it will stink, yes a little. Anytime that it gets too much, if it does, just open a window or door to vent. After an hour has passed it is time to remove the cast iron and let it cool to room temperature and repeat at least one more time, two more times is best at this point, but one more will work.

Over time, using your cast iron, and washing it only with hot water and a brush, a non-stick surface will form. Never use metal utensils unless you have to, just use a little care when using them.

From time to time you may need to season your cast iron again. I once knew a woman by the name of Nancey, she had a cast iron skillet that hadn't been washed with soap for 60 years. Her skillet made some of the best fried trout I ever ate, better than my own and Mom's.

If your looking for a great deal on a starter set of cast iron, here is a great deal!!!! 

 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keep Close to Nature's Heart...

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away,
once in awhile, and climb a mountain or
spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir 1838 -1914

I find that seeking out moments with nature have to be not only on her terms, but when she wants to keep her beauty close to her own heart away from prying eyes. She keeps her beauty protected for those who seek out to see it and that are there just for that moment and time.

Passing through a field, I see the plants, flowers and seeds. When I look at the woods or while walking through the woods I see the trees as a part of my life for that moment. I look at their form and shapes, their limbs and leaves as pieces of art.

As I sit in a spot I look and see everything God has provided us in our world. If you think about this a moment, as you sit there and watch the leaves fall, you are seeing in your life a moment of time that will not be repeated.

Yesterday I took a trip into McConnell Mills State Park after the big ice/snow storm pushed through. People had already adventured into the key locations before I made time to go there. But I knew a few places others wouldn't venture into and I could go there and sit and reflect on the sounds and beauty.

The storm had left behind a glass covered forest, as the trees were covered heavy with ice and snow. I sat along the river and listened to the water rush by. Knowing the ice would leave it's toll, I could hear the stress of the trees as branches could be heard crashing down.

As the wind blew ever so slightly, the sound of the cracks of branches could be heard like wood in a fireplace. The pops and cracks would sometimes be followed by big crashes, and other trees would begin to crack from the wind and sound. I sat there listening to this being played out all around me, and I was thankful to be able to go to a place where the scenery was so different from my own mountain spots of the homestead. The scenery and sounds always seem so much more defined and louder in new places as you visit them.

I left these photo's as large as I could so you can look at them and see how they make you feel. This is what I saw around me as I ventured into the park and took in all that was around me.




 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hardtack, The Recipe and Practical Uses

As I walk you through making Hardtack, I wanted to show some pictures of the process but I want to tell you a little bit more about this staple.

Hardtack has been made and used for centuries by many types of people including Sailors, Pioneers and Travelers. It is a type of cracker, that when made properly, can be stored and last forever. On its own, it can be eaten once softened. It was often dipped and used in broths, soups, stews, beans and coffee.

HT can be carried as long as it stays dry, it can be useful. It stores really well in air tight containers and in the dark. You can use basic flour, wheat flour and for this small batch, I ground my own Wheat. You only need water and salt from here. As you can see, I made a small batch, but I suggest that you double up the recipe and make double using the same amount of energy.

Mixing 3 cups of flour, you can mix 2 cups of white and one cup of Whole Wheat, all white flour, all wheat flour, whatever suits your needs. Adding 1 cup of water or so to make a tight dough, and 3 teaspoons of salt. Here I kneaded the mix and formed a ball.

I rolled the now formed dough out after kneading it to form together.

I grew and ground my own flour as you see here. I rolled it into 1/2 thick piece.

I trimed the edges, set them aside to for and make more and began to cut them into 3 inch squares

After cutting them, as you can see they don't have to be perfect at all. Using a small skewer, I poked a bunch of small holes in them, but not all the way through.

I separated them and placed them on a cookie sheet to bake at 350 degrees for a half hour, flipped them over and continued to bake them for 30 minutes more. The general rule to tell if they are done is that they should not be soft at all, hard as a rock they should be.

Here is the final product!!!

3 cups of flour
1 cup of water
3 teaspoons of salt

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes one side, flip and continue for 30 minutes until hard. 







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