Monday, February 27, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Get It Done While Its Available




I am a true believer of getting rid of all the additives from our diets because I am pretty sure that is where most of our allergies come from and maybe even some diseases, I almost died from a new additive to milk when I was in my early twenties so I have to watch out for those dangers in my food.

This past week I have home canned foods I did not grow nor did I raise the animals but I did buy the food fresh and I home canned it without those additives and preservative that I can not even pronounce.

More about : Canning the meat 



I heard that a popular grocery stores had strawberries on sale for $1.00 per pound and another small grocery store had  eight pounds of potatoes $2.50, all of those prices are acceptable for me to buy and add to the homed canned food stock. 

Ground beef was on sale for $1.69 per pound and I bought four packs but it went into the freezer till I got the berries taken care of since they have a short shelf life.

What is better than to get the meat, the vegetable and the dessert all for under $20 and make many meals?



Sunday I woke early and I took advantage of the quiet time, I cleaned and chopped the strawberries. 

First chopped the berries and covered them with a little sugar, covered and allowed them to sit for around 5 hours, so the juices would all come out. I made eight half pints of just strawberries in light syrup because later in the summer a strawberry cobbler is awesome!

Then I knew I would have strawberry shortcake for desert so I sliced about a quart of berries and with the left over syrup from the strawberries I canned earlier I made a glaze that was to die for! I had one serving , around 1 cup, left over so I froze it.

Last I got the jam made, nine half pints.

BUT I also made another trip to the grocery store while I was picking up medication and I bought another 10 pounds :)

I really want to home can strawberry pie filling and make strawberry butter, smooth like apple butter. I am saving those for Monday after work.



I also home canned Irish potatoes. I peeled and diced seven pints. I actually love that I can put some up for another day and still have plenty to slice and fry or bake or actually have a baked potato smothered in butter and sour cream.



A couple days ago I picked mustard greens and turnip greens, I cooked and froze a meal and had a meal of greens for dinner, as my dinner. Since the rains and warm weather coming back I think I will have greens to can up for the rest of the summer, and I will share with my friends too.

Read more : Turnip Greens and more 

Another thing I bought while I was out and about this evening, Jalapeno pepper seeds and more tomato seeds, For the peppers I got those small peat cups .87 a dozen is not to bad at all. I plan to make cowboy candy, pepper jelly and pickles me some sliced for my beans and greens or my Mexican cooking. 

The moon is good and I will plant the Jalapenos today, Monday 27, 2017.

That is what went on at the homestead the weekend of February 25th. and 26th. 

How about you? Get anything accomplished?


By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Best Information Yet and Turnip Greens



I have been saying this for some time but its time for the solar power, something..... anything. But when I went to all the sites on the internet they just wanted to sell me systems and I have to to calculate what size I wanted and so on. I wanted to know more, like the life of the batteries and all that stuff. I do not want to be hooked to a dealer to fix things and constantly have to pay them for minor problems I can solve.

So, I began to dig around the books and I found one I was looking for on Amazon. I have waited two weeks but I got it today in the mail and I am so glad I bought this book. It tells me about what are the best brands to buy, what the life is of batteries and how to install my OWN system! I have not read the whole book but I scanned it and I love it. 

Lets go back to the homestead.


The greens that was sown back at the beginning of the serious drought, well they did come up in the winter as the rains came. Today they were big enough for me to pick me a mess. I cleaned and cooked them late this evening and they will be tomorrows dinner.



And I know I must seem like the crazy canning lady but I look at it this way, cook once and have 7 to 14 meals and all I have to do is warm it, if I want.



For the past two days I have canned meats, that means today was beans. Tony absolutely can live on butter beans and I like having vegetarian baked beans on hand for B-B-Q meals or just cooking out on the grill. 

I have learned that with one pound of dry beans you will make four pints of beans, so when I soak the navy beans for the veggie baked beans I know I will get four pints and I always like my pressure canner full so not to waste power, that means I will also do a pound of butter beans and since the canner holds seven pints Tony will also get a meal of butter beans. 

And that is what is happening on the homestead today, working to get off the grid.

You may also like : Home Canning Meats 
By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry



Getting Off The Grid - Home Canning Meat- The Adventure

No I do not have my own animals to slaughter and I am not so sure I could do that if I had to, that is one reason I am comfortable being a vegetarian or even vegan. I am the gatherer, the sow a seed and make a tree, the sow a seed and make a crop of tomatoes and so on.

Right now I am still on the grid so I buy meat, maybe one day when I have the vegetable garden in full harvest I can find someone to trade meat for vegetables but I am not that far along, yet.

Yesterday I stopped by the local small grocery store called food outlet and bought a few meats with the intentions of home canning them for meals on the days I am out working and I need to make a quick dinner, if I have this meat cooked already it takes me less time to prepare the meal and I am more than likely to eat healthier. 

I bought :

Hamburger meat - $5.00

Top round Beef roast - $6.13

Pork roast - $4.35

Total for the meat : $15.48 

What I did first was I sliced the beef roast into chunks to pre-cook faster. I cooked till the beef roast was medium and I chopped it into chucks and filled the jars with its own broth.

I scrambled the hamburger meat till it was medium and I drained off the grease. I filled the jars with hamburger meat and clean boiling water.

I pressure canned seven pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds.



Next :

While the beef was in the pressure canner I put the pork roast onto cook.

When the canner was done I removed it from the heat and allowed it to cool, while I was waiting I packed clean jars with the cooked pork roast and then I cooked more ground turkey, just enough to fill the remaining spots in the canner.

When the canner cooled down and I removed the beef products, next I pressure canned the pork and turkey burger the same way.



At the end of the evening I have 14 pints of meat and that equals 28 single meals. All for $15.48 that is around .56 per meal of meat.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



The day before I was cleaning out the refrigerator freezer and I had a lot of chicken so I pre-cooked the chicken and removed the bones and I had enough room for two more pints so I cooked ground turkey and fill the pressure canner.

And if you have never had a jar to bust while canning you are in for a treat!



One pint of the chicken cracked and all the juice went into the canning water, all over the other jars. It was a mess. But on a good note it was the dark meat that busted and not the breast :)

Now add those 6 pints of meat and I have 20 pints of meat or 40 meals.


That is how I am home canning meat right now.

NOTE: Yes I still have meats frozen and yes I still buy fresh meats, the canning helps me out on the days I do not have time or when the freezer is bare of meat.

How about you? ever home canned meat, besides deer?

You may also like : Useful things to know  

By Andria Perry 
Photos BY Andria Perry

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - You Can Do This Yourself


Everyday I am learning more about how to do for myself. I am learning from people who already have done what I am about to do, from my elders I collect knowledge. When I find out how easy it is to make some things I am left baffled at how easy it can be.

I often hear these words echo from deep within my brain from my father "Shut up and listen, you`ll learn more" As a teen I rolled my eyes, as an adult getting of the grid I understand completely. I came from parents that were farmers that moved to the city but still had that tomato plant or pepper plant in the flower bed, or that small greenhouse at the edge of the postage stamp size backyard. I can still remember my grandmothers house, she had an out house no inside toilet, she slaughtered her own meat, I watched them kill a hog an string it up.

For me I have only helped clean and process deer, rabbit, squirrel,  turkey and chickens, although we did not pluck the birds and just skinned those it was much easier. The first time I processed the deer myself it took most of the night and hours to clean up the mess I made. I have to say I just removed the meat from the bone and packaged then froze it back then, now 30 years later I can clean the meat, slice it and home canned it in a few hours with minimal mess.


Fish is another staple for a homestead because the cost is minimal. For me its just the $10 license fee. I go out and dig my own worms and yes a worm bed is on the "to-do list" or I fly fish or jig fish, with homemade jigs. Its rare I used other fish as bait but I have in the past, minnows or shad. Cleaning fish is something I had never done till I was in my early twenties and although I watched and knew how to fillet the fish I never did till a couple years ago when the men had got older and sick and could not clean the fish, I did it often but left them whole but one day I tried filleting and I have to say I was good at it. BUT the only way I have preserved fish has been by freezing them, however, I do have a vacuum packing system so I can remove all the air and they will last longer, up to one year. I would like to find a way to home canned them and the fish be tasty.




So far I am just a vegetable and fruit farmer, I do not have any animals for food, no chickens for eggs and no cows for milk, no pond filled with fish. I am just starting out and it takes time to get everything that one will need to survive on a farm.

Of late I have been interested in making other things like cheese and soaps and such. Some of its all natural and some is not, store bought stuff put together but still made at home and will last longer and is just as good.

How to make Lye soap By RexTrulove 

How to make cheese By Homemade by Jade 

These two caught my eye and will be very useful.

Now if I could just get this natural sun stored for false light at night and the well diggers out, I think I would be a step further is getting off the grid.

As far as the well diggers, I got the name and $2,500 was the cost this lady paid for hers, we will see.

The solar stuff? I am due a few books on this, I really do my homework before investing.


Do you have a goal of being self reliant? Could you do for yourself is there were no more grocery stores?

You may also like this weeks "getting off the grid update"

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - What is Growing On The Homestead

Getting a greenhouse was important to me but then sickness came and took  priority and the greenhouse was put on the back burner. But that wont keep me from getting started with the food for this coming Spring and Summer. Growing plants for food is always happening on the homestead.

Just six weeks into this new year of 2017 and what do I have growing already?



I have Tomatoes! Plants that is :) They have grow a lot. I planted them on January 21st. and less than a month they are beginning to get leggy but that is okay the leaves will catch up.


Next was on January 30th. I sowed the sweet bell pepper seeds, I thought they would never sprout but finally, I have babies!


On the same day I tossed seeds for basil in a large flower pot, the seeds are so tiny I could not plant them separate, That is okay because I will give them each a home of its on in due time. They are showing some growth as well.

Outside

We, here in Alabama, are having one of those years that the first weeks of February are unseasonably warm. With the temps so warm the flowers are blooming as well as many of the trees, the Bradford pears are in full bloom, I seen one in the field by my property.



The sage is fairing well on the deck, still had leaves!

I also seen the walking onions up, they have a few burnt blades from those few nights it did get cold but for the most part they are growing.



The spearmint has began to come back to life, I spotted some in the mint bed, if I don`t see it I am certain to smell it in the green grass as I walk over a patch.




On a daily walk I spotted a Dandelion flower in the green weeds and grass, That means sooner than later I will be picking the flowers for jelly and the bitter greens for salads. I will also try to dig some of the roots, I have heard they are wonderful medicine.


And last but not least, The fall greens are almost big enough to begin picking. Yes I said fall greens! When the drought set in I had just sowed the garden with several types of greens, a normal rain year I would have had greens before November and I would home canned them all winter. But the rains did not come so when it did rain and the sun warmed them they sprouted and now I have greens.
I see turnip, kale and curly mustard.


Well, that is about all that is happening on the homestead. What is happening in your neck of the woods?

You may also like : How to make Dandelion Jelly  
And Tried and Loved Recipes for wild foods.


By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Cooking Food That Grows Wild



Poke salad is a weed that grows wild in Alabama. To me its free food.

Most people pick it in the Spring and early summer. There is an old wives tale that you need to eat poke salad three times a year to clean the toxins out of your body. I eat it because I like the taste, it reminds me of the taste of spinach, some say a mix of spinach and turnip greens.

Here is the process, If you do not do it this way you may get very sick, it will cause diarrhea.


Pick poke salad, I use a shopping bag full because it will cook down.

Wash your poke salad, make sure there are not any bugs or bird poop on it .

In a large pot add poke salad and fill one half full with water. Boil about ten minutes till its all wilted and the water is a dark olive green.


Remove from heat and drain all water, rinse with cool water. 

Add 1/2 pot of water again and bring to a rolling boil again about five minutes.

Repeat the draining and rinsing.

Add 1/2 pot of water and boil again for ten minutes.

Drain and rinse this last time, leave in strainer and let all the water drain out.


When the poke salad has cooled down take hand fulls and squeeze all the liquid out. Lay aside in a plate each time.

In a large skillet pour a thin amount of olive oil over the bottom, heat over a medium heat. (if you still live dangerous use bacon grease, its fabulous!) Add one finely chopped onion, cook till the onions are clear.

Add the Poke salad, stir it around till its covered with the oil, cook a few minutes.

Pull all the poke salad and onions to one side of the skillet and add several eggs to the open side (3 ). Scrabble the eggs in that section of the skillet. when the eggs are almost done mix the poke salad in with the eggs.

Cut off heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.



That is how I make Poke salad . That is a down home deep south recipe that has been passed down generations ... but I use olive oil and not lard.

Serve with hot fresh cornbread and a pot of beans! Makes  a meal complete!

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Thursday, February 9, 2017

8 Tips To Save Energy This Winter - Getting Off The Grid


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Most people know that when winter hits we need to make sure a few things are done around the house so that we will stay warm and not be heating the great outdoors. Plus, who want to pay extra for that power bill? Not me!
Some people already do a few of these tips but maybe there will be one that was overlooked that will help, I am all about paying for what I use but hey, money is money and I don`t want to throw it away.
1 - Some people are like me and just cannot breathe in a hot house so 68° anytime is comfortable, that is what most power companies suggest that you set the thermostat at in the winter months.
2 - To me this is a no brainer, wear clothes! If you wear clothes in the winter you`re gonna be warmer, so if the thermostat is down you wont even notice!
3 - Open those curtains and blind and let the sunshine in! Not only will it warm the house naturally but looking at the pretty sunshine will lift your mood as well.
4 - Check out the weather striping around problem doors and windows, caulk around the window panes too, sometimes a little putty is missing and that little air hole makes it cold inside.
5 - The ceiling fans. Do you have one? There is this button that can be flipped up or down, flip it and the fan will push hot air down from the ceiling.
6 - To me this is the best tip of all! Make sure you seal around the dryer vent hole, the water pipe holes, any hole that you have made for pipes to come into the house. Not only will this make the floor warmer in that area but rodents cannot use that gap to come inside to live for the winter.
7 - Wrap an insulation blanket around the hot water heater to keep the hot water hot longer. If you do not have a flip off switch already ( looks just like a light switch) ask an electrician to install one. With the insulating blanket and the flip off switch you`ll really save a lot on hot water this winter.
8 - No everyone lives in a nice house, some of us do the best we can and that means we rent or have bought an old house. One thing I always do and that is I put plastic over the old windows to stop the air from getting in. If you are like me you`ll put it up inside the house and on the outside of the house, for some reason this works really good.
If I forgot one that you know about and I don`t, share by all means! I am always open to new ideas and I thrive on saving my money and energy.
By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

What To Do With Kale - Getting Off The Grid



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One lesson I am learning while getting off the grid is that if you grow it you should eat it, or trade it for something you do eat.
This year the crops did well here in central Alabama in the months of May and June but when July came around a drought set in and rain was only a sprinkle and did none of the plants any good.
But being the woman to test drive the getting off the grid thing, I planted a huge section of the field with Kale, again, last year it was awesome and I had so much kale I was giving it away and trading it for pecans and other fall favorites. Now its the beginning of October and we still have not had any rain, its been 12 days since I sowed the seed for kale and other greens. I did water the area every other day for the first week. Then I had to make the decision, Do I run up the water bill and defeat the purpose of living free or do I just pray and hope for the best?
I gave up watering and went with prayer.
BUT....
Last year was a fabulous year and I did home can and freeze plenty of kale so I am not without my favorite green. Here is a few ways I used the kale I grew and still have in my freezer or pantry.
When I have fresh kale I made this side dish and its wonderful with no bitter bite to it at all, pairs well with carrots and iron skillet fried potatoes.
~ Lemon Kale ~
I took a couple tablespoons of olive oil and put it in a skillet, added one chopped onions and a clove of garlic and cooked them about a minute, then I added several cups of chopped kale, 1/2 cup vegetable broth and covered with a lid to steam the kale down. Then I add the juice of a lemon and agave nectar to taste. I cook for a couple minutes and turn off the heat. I let this rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
And lets not forget the favorite way to eat Kale down here in the deep South.
~Boiled Kale With Pepper Sauce~
Pick or buy a nice bunch of kale. Remember this will cook down so you`ll need a lot.
Rinse well to remove any dirt.
Fill a large cooking with the cleaned kale and cover with water, cook on medium high heat, stirring the kale to make sure all of its getting cooked. Add a tablespoon of salt and 1/4 cup of sugar.
Cook for around 45 minutes, watching to make sure that it still has plenty of water.
When the kale is cooked spoon a heaping amount into a bowl using a slotted spoon. Drizzle pepper sauce over the top and serve with cornbread.
NOTE: Pepper sauce is a slang word used here in Alabama for the liquid used to pickle hot peppers.
Some people are looking for that healthier treat to eat and its all that to make Kale chips and you want to know why? They are delicious!
A fews back I got this amazing dehydrator for Christmas and although it is ran on power I will say it does a wonderful job and I do not use it as much as I should, even getting off the grid and reducing power. But you can do these in the over on a low temp, or outside in your homemade solar dehydrator.
~ Kale Chips~
Clean the kale and allow to dry.
Spread the large kale leaves on a cookie sheet that has been generously oiled with olive oil and roll the leaves in the oil. Place on your dehydrator sheets and sprinkle lightly with seasoned salt.
Dehydrate until they are crunchy. Remove from the dehydrator and allow to cool completely, if any are flimsy they are not ready, dehydrate longer. Store in an air tight container, if there are any left :)
Note: with this recipe you may add what flavors you like.
Kale is one of those power foods that does not cost much and can be cooked so many ways.
By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry - Last photo is mixed greens.

Venison - How to Home Can Venison

Venison - How to Home Can Venison

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Venison - How to Home Can Venison
Venison is the meat of the deer, here in Central Alabama the deer are plentiful almost to the point that they can become a nuisance for many farmers, even small time vegetable gardeners like myself. Whitetail is the common type of deer in this part of the United States.
Usually one or more deer are taken for food per year for this household. There is no trophy hunting involved, you kill the animal you eat the animal. Its much like raising a pig for pork or a cow for beef but they run free and you either hunt on your own property or get a hunting permit from other property owners, there is state land that anyone can hunt.
I usually freeze the deer and just cook it as I want this meat for dinner, but since I am headed off the grid I am home canning more and more to reduce the power of a deep freezer, and canned deer is delicious!
I used a hind quarter from a spike deer, The bigger the deer, with bigger antlers the stronger tasting and tougher the meat will be, the younger deer are tender and has less fat.
First I wash of the leg off making sure its clean , then I slice the meat off the bone using a very sharp knife.
Next I cube the meat, you may slice the meat if that is how you would like to serve it.
I cooked the meat for 15 minutes in a pot filled with water.
Then I filled my clean canning jars 2/3 full with meat and covered the meat with the deer broth to within one inch head space, apply new lids.
In the pressure canner I put 3 quarts of water, a couple spoons of vinegar and I had it nearly to the point of boiling then I placed seven pints of the venison into the pressure canner.
I covered and processed for 1 hour and 30 minutes. I allow the cooker to cool on its own, then I remove the home canned venison and put it on a towel, carefully because its still bubbling, After its cooled down I removed the band, label and store in a cool dark place.
And that is how to home can venison aka deer meat.
By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry - taken 9-21-16 during a home canning session.