Sunday, April 30, 2017

How To Clean, Cook And Eat Bream/ Sunfish - Getting Off The Grid

I think I learned to clean bream/ sunfish first around the age of 21. The reason I learned was the men came home with around one hundred and they were beat down by the sun and just fishing and needed help so I grabbed a fork and began to just do it.

Its not difficult at all and this is one fish that is for the most part cooked with the bone in and it is worth cleaning and picking around the bones because the bream is the best tasting fish, ever!

I have shares how to clean and fillet a Bass but not the little guys so here is how I do it.

You`ll need :

A clean flat surface outside with water available.

A sharp knife

A fork

A bucket to place the head and guts in.

How to clean Bream / Sunfish :

Take a Fish and begin at the tale with the fork move up toward the head slightly pressing so the scales will come off, flip and do the other side.

Once you have the scales off place the knife behind the side fin and make a slanted cut from the top of the side of the fish down to the bottom fins, This could take some pressure to cut all the way through the bone to the other side of the fish.

Now that the head is off clean out the guts with your fingers.

Rinse the fish thoroughly with clean water and place in clean cold water till you are ready to cook or to bag up for the deep freezer.

That is how you clean a bream / sunfish.

To cook the Bream / Sunfish :

Take the cleaned fish from the water and dip into flour.

Drop into very hot grease and fry till golden brown.

How to Eat a Bream/sunfish: 

First thing to know is there is a bone down the middle of the fish, Larger bones around the rib cage with smaller just above the rib cage bones. Each fin has its own bones.

Take the top fin and gentle pull it out, using your finger trace the area after to get any bones left behind, remove the bottom fins next.

Lift the meat from the the tail up to the rib cage, the bone should stay put and it should stop at the rib cage with no bones. There is a chunk of boneless meat on top of the rib cage area.

Take small bites and if you feel a bone in your mouth simply spit it out. 

I am sure with the first bite of this fish you will agree with me that its the best tasting fresh 
water fish.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Clearing More Land

I think my entire life I have been the odd one, the one that fits in but in the back of my mind I want more so I always want to push things to the next level. Determined to make it, to be what I want to be regardless of people telling me I cannot do it.

However, I do have days when its one of those " one step closer and two steps back," and I will be the first to say that it can beat your down mentally. I just take a day to feel sorry for myself and then jump back in with both feet.

Tuesday me and Tony cleared a section of land that we have wanted to develop for a very long time. Since Tony is still sick he sat down on the ground with the electric chainsaw and cut the small trees down while I removed them and piled them on the truck, after three hours of cutting and pulling, loading and hauling down to the back of the property we were very tired, so I left a few of the smaller limbs to clean up another day. 

The area cleared is about/ around 15 feet by 30 feet. I want a greenhouse but he wants to put the root cellar/ storm shelter in that spot.

Either will work because it does have a slight slope for good drainage. By June I will know for sure what we will have there, it all depends on if I can get someone to bring equipment to dig a root cellar, if not it`ll be a greenhouse by the end of this year. If it goes toward root cellar then I will clean more land and put the greenhouse there. Either will be a win win.

I mowed down the garden area last Saturday, I began to mow down the pitiful section of greens that had went to flowers and seed. It was hard on the mower so I would only do it in sections, I left one spot for next time, plus there are a few turnips that Tony will eat raw and I may get seeds for next year. Notice the tomato plants at the bottom of the photo?

I do have flowers. I don`t know what this plant is but I thought it was pretty so I let it stay and took its picture.

I have heard of rose petal jelly, should I try to make it and see if its something I would enjoy?

The mint is growing the fastest, ever and I will begin to harvest and dry this soon and do it all summer long.

This weekend, if its Gods will, I will have the newly cut spot completely cleaned off and smooth as the rest of the cut grass.

That`s a few days in the life.... Headed off the grid.

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The War Within

Most of the time you read about how good everything is on a homestead whether on or off the grid. While getting off the power grid  and growing my own food is my goal, some days I just want to give up.

I often wonder why am I trading one struggle for another?

 Struggling to make enough money to pay bills and buy food or spend what I do have for solar and grow my own food but live with the hard labor and bugs that comes with growing your own. 

I will admit that I did wish this on myself, I despise the cold weather and I was so happy with the mild weather wishing the cold to stay away. Now there are a zillion mosquitoes and they are seriously torturing me. 

I sprayed the area around my home and I sprayed myself and what do they do? attack my face and head, around my neck!

The fields that have to be mowed, either with a push mower or a small riding mower, takes hours and hours and let me tell you, its not a smooth ride just because its a riding mower. Tractor? Naa cost to much for me to invest, I had big hopes but I am backing away from that idea unless I intend to live outside 12- 16 hours a day

I do not even have to touch poison ivy or oak and I get it all over me, how? Cats rubbing my legs, dogs all over me and I can bet its floating in the air. I am sure no one living in a nice maintained grounds of apartment complex  or a nice little cul de sac has to deal with poison oak or ivy.

I have yet to understand how people make money farming especially a small operation because the work is so hard and demanding and the public wants to pay you pennies for your hard work, the food, and all the time it takes to make one single tomato or ear of corn, the pests/ bugs always eating it before you can harvest, its a real battle.

The battle within me is real!

Do I want to stay here and keep battling this grass and the pest, the droughts and floods or do I want to move to a small place, small lawn for the dogs and  grow porch tomatoes? Maybe a little solar power system? Keep working for others till I die to pay for food and the utilities. 

As you can tell by what you are reading, I am so tired and I have hit rock bottom, I am covered in poison oak bumps and mosquito bites and I killed a tick in the house.

I am so unsure of what I want and I am middle aged! I should already know what I want from life.

I reckon that is just life and everyone every now and then hit the bottom and have no idea where to go from here, the bottom.

By Andria Perry
Photo by Andria Perry

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Those Dirty Rotten Blood Suckers

Here we go again, I am having to deal with the worst pest of all time way ahead of the normal time of the year. Since we had a wonderful mild Winter the mosquitoes have hatched off early and they are out to torture me and the animals.

Tony wanted to to hunt down the worst bug killer we have ever bought but I cannot breathe when that is sprayed, so I looked around Walmart and found one that I am sure will keep the bugs at bay and will not take my air from me and the dogs and cat can have a life outside.

I also bought a couple rolls of garden wire to apply around the bottom of the fence to keep the beagle inside the fenced in back yard, he is an escape artist! Plus I think I have a solution to keep Roscoe from tearing up the backside of the house, I am moving the gate down to the far end of the yard so that the back of the house is out of his reach, problem solved I hope.

On Monday I mowed the back yard where the dogs live and I trimmed the overgrown hedges till I can get them cut to the ground, enough for me to be able to walk under them. Things would be much easier if they were gone, although right now they do filter the noise from the road.

I am sure once I got the chain saw going that this place would be cut back in one day, of course it would take an extra day to haul it down to the back field to burn or leave to rot but that is the easy part. 

Or make charcoal! For instructions read Carol Taylor`s step by step instructions : How to make charcoal  

I have not worked anymore in garden I am just watering till we get rain nor have I sown anymore seed, but the signs are the best for the weekend so maybe I can reserve a day for just planting.

I am watching the blackberries, all in full bloom and beautiful, I cannot hardly wait to taste the first of this years crop. I have many plans for them so if its Gods will I will have a big harvest.

That is about all that is going on around the homestead, how about you? What is happening in your neck of the woods?

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - First Planting 2017

The seed were sown back in January and February for the two types of tomatoes I am raising this year. Big boys and Rutgers. I babied them all Winter and took them outside a few weeks ago to get used to the temperatures and the sun, I do expect a little sun burn but not that much. 

The green sweet bell peppers are also waiting to get into the ground, Sown from seeds by me back in February, they are a nice size and I am due for a good year of peppers for the freezer, jellies and relishes. 

Most of the old timers around these parts plant on good Friday but when I looked at the old farmers almanac Good Friday falls on a poor planting day but Thursday was a perfect day.

I followed the almanac, it has not failed me yet.

One row was tilled, since the ground was plowed by tractor last year it is still soft, with only me and a few wild animals walking on it, so it was not difficult.

Then 41 tomato plants were planted and 8 of the green sweet bell pepper plants.

I saved three tomato plants and I still have a row of sweet bell peppers to plant next week, the tomatoes will be planted by the deck, another way than in the garden. 

I took my sister the tomatoes she asked for and a bell pepper plant, I ave her the heads up on when to plant and I am sure she did as the almanac predicted.

Why so many tomato plants? I am planning to make many tomato products this year. Since I bought the sauce maker I am sure it will be easier to make ketchup and spaghetti sauce to home can. Another step to getting off the grid, not depending on store bought condiments and sauces.

When do you plant tomatoes? Do you have a secret way of planting them?

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - How To Home Can Sauerkraut

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how to make sauerkraut  after getting this awesome deal on cabbage, a quarter a head! And I followed the way that the Amish make their sauerkraut. I am also following the way that they home can the kraut to make it last.

For more about : How to make sauerkraut 

I must say that making your own kraut is a big job and it takes a couple weeks but I am looking to make the kraut to last me for a good long time, making a stock of it for a year if possible.

Today I had two gallon jars filled with fermented cabbage and it was ready to be put in the fridge or home canned, I always chose to home can foods. 

First :  I cleaned my jars and got the lids and seals ready.

Two : I put the pressure canner on the stove eye filled with the correct amount of water and a dash of vinegar.

Three : I removed the kraut by putting it in a large glass bowl, not all fits but you can shake it out as needed for the jars. The reason I take it out of the gallon jar first is that its packed tight and difficult to dip out.

Four : Fill the pint jars 3/4 full with the kraut.

Five : Divide the brine equally and if it lacks enough to within 1/2 inch head space add hot salty water, remember to use canning salt.

Six : Wipe jar rim clean and apply lids.

Seven : Put up to 7 pints in the pressure canner and process 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Allow the canner to cool, label and store your home canned sauerkraut in a cool dark place till you are ready to eat it.

Two gallon jars filled with the fermented cabbage made 18 pints of sauerkraut.  I divided the jars in three cooking sessions for the pressure canner. 7 the first batch, 6 the next batch and 5 for the last batch.

I have to say that I am satisfied with the results of this sauerkraut and I actually shredded another cabbage to make another batch!

I really enjoyed learning how to make this simple food and its wonderful to add to my food stockpile.

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Friday, April 7, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Solar Power And Spoiled By Electric

Yes I know, I really do. You are tired of hearing about the solar power and frankly, I am tired of talking about it, So I did my homework, for years, and I bought a book to learn about how this solar power works and to get better advice about using solar power or even if I wanted to go down that expensive road.

As I mentioned before I took the leap and spent money. I bought solar power motion detector lights  because its something I have needed around here for a while. I finally got them in the mail this week and this weekend I will see if I can get them mounted and tried out.

I have always wanted to live free but the more I do without the more I mess the luxury that I have been accustomed to. Little by little I have been doing without a few things, One of those things I have not used in months is the electric can opener. I have several hand openers and I really had gotten lazy and my hands had gotten weak but since I went back to the hand opener I can say my hand is improving and is stronger.

Another thing I have been using more is the hand mixer, yes its a little work but its powerful! I have had this mixer for well over 20 years and I got it second hand so I have no idea how old it is and it works the same every time. 

The biggest thing that I have had to do without for several days now is heat and soon it will be air conditioner. I noticed the fan / motor and all that vibrating so I turned it off and called my repair man, he said sounded like the fan but could be a few things and it will take him a couple days to get to me, I turned it on to warm the house before bed and it made a noise and smelled of smoke! I turned it off and its stayed off. Normal days around 65° is okay, one night at 45° and then Friday night at 39° doing without heat is the hardest thing, I know I am spoiled to the electric now, no doubts about it.

If I keep on with my intentions of living off the grid I may have to down size, maybe even move somewhere else and it will have to have a fireplace.

So if I buy the solar system I will make sure that is not a roof mounted system, so if or when I move I can take it with me. I like it here and I might just build here, I just need a smaller place to keep warm / cool.

There are so many things to consider when you want to jump into this lifestyle but I will guarantee you that I will chose something that will get me off the grid and I will still have my hard earned money each month in my pocket.

The three T`s are in order before living off the grid.

Think about it.

Think twice.

Think all things all the way through before you take action.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The Waiting

The homestead, just saying makes some people think about things differently, not me its just where I live. The only difference is that I have a hell of a lot more grass to mow or till under and I grow vegetables anywhere and everywhere. One day I will add chickens and maybe even a fish pond for fresh fish but no time soon.

Last weekend I mowed the fields, getting one ready to plow one and the other I think I will plant just fruit trees, the ground is not rich and it does tend to flood from time to time in the back field.

April is the month of waiting, waiting to put the seed or plants into the earth. This week we will experience what the elders call "Blackberry Winter" is that last cold snap before the weather finally levels out and its good to go on the planting, the blackberries are also about to bloom, well some already have while others are waiting for that announcement :) . Predicted temperatures is for Friday night 39° / 40° F. Yes I will toss a sheet over all the plants on the deck as well as the lemon tree with babies all over it. 

The seed that I sowed inside for the second round of bell peppers have not came up even when I took them outside to the sun and rainwater so I will toss that dirt in a food bed and replant, I am sure I have a couple eggplant but they are tiny so I need to move them to  be better protected. The JalapeƱos are finally busting out, it has taken forever. On Tuesday I sowed more seed for both JalapeƱos and Bell Peppers, I like to plant so that I can harvest food all the way till freeze in November / December.

The first and second round of tomato plants are doing awesome, I have actually began to feed them, once already with miracle grow. The first round of sweet green bell peppers are getting big also, actually I am hoping after this cold snap to put some of these into the ground for good. I also plan to wait and do another later planting of tomatoes also, for that November "mater" sandwich :)

The Iris are blooming, ya know I never did have any luck with these all the times I tried to grow them at the old home place but I "threw" some on the ground here and BAM! there are flowers. I always was told not to plant them deep or they would not bloom, well! I did nor even plant them and its working out fine. I swear I laid them on the ground at the edge of the yard and they are there blooming, the whites mixed in with the day lilies and daffodils was Tony`s planting not mine.

So its just the waiting game before I get started on the real work here on the homestead. Maybe, just maybe I will cut some brush down and begin my greenhouse, after all who am I waiting on for help? No one. And that food bed that will go around the apple tree, Yes I will work on that, toss some marigolds out as well.

Spooky, My Shadow while checking on the blackberry bushes down the long driveway. 

You Might also like : What to do with blackberries 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry - 1- Blackberries about to bloom 2 - me mowing grass 3- Up close of blackberry bloom 4 - white iris 5- the field awaiting to be plowed and planted. 6 - Spooky, my shadow.