If I was told that I could only keep one piece of kitchen equipment and had to get rid of everything else, what would I choose? I don’t even have to think about it . . . I would keep my large cast iron skillet. Why you ask, with all the new devices that make life in the kitchen so much simpler would an iron skillet be my choice? Here is why. My life can be seen in the bottom of that skillet. It belonged to my mother. She purchased it as a new bride, when World War II was occurring. I can see myself as a child, watching her cook breakfast and supper using that pan. I can see her baking pans of cinnamon rolls that were the best I ever tasted using that pan. I can see my mom cooking the fish caught by her and my dad after they retired and moved to the lake.
After my dad passed away, my mom did not use the large cast iron skillet very often. She would cook with one of her smaller cast iron skillets. One day, I decided to ask her if I could take it home with me. She agreed and I was so happy. Ask Lorna and she will tell you I cooked tons of pork chops in it. (She still does not eat pork chops.) I fried eggs and fried potatoes and I loved the pan, but my food never tasted quite as good as my mom’s food. After my grandson Joshua was born, I used the pan to make his favorite breakfast of french toast. This cast iron skillet has been lovingly packed as I moved through my life to different locations. Today seemed like a good day to take it out and treat it. As I worked on my cast iron skillet, so many memories came flooding back to me – of days past and of the future for this skillet. At some point it will belong to Lorna – who can cook like my mom and then to Joshua and his family. This cast iron skillet holds the power of tradition, history, and sustenance for my family.
What to do when you check the freezer and see that the vacuum seal broke on a huge ham? Well, first of all I thawed it and cooked it for dinner. This ham was so huge I knew I should can most of it for other days and other recipes. I cut most of the ham into 1 inch cubes and canned 5 pints of it. I used my trusty pressure cooker and cooked the pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.
I still had quite a bit of ham on the bone, so I decided to make bean soup. I used Great Northern Beans, an onion, and carrots. I put it in my counter top pressure cooker and cooked it on 2 cycles of the soup setting. I wanted to make sure the beans were just the right texture. So now I have ham in the pantry and I have soup to eat during these snowy days we are having in Northern Michigan.
Hope this gives you an idea to do while we wait for winter to bid us a final good-bye.
Preparing for Emergencies on the Homestead
Last night on Youtube Live, Noreen’s Kitchen and The Kneady Homesteader were discussing preparing homestead emergencies and what steps they have taken to prepare their families in a time of emergency. It really had me thinking about what we had learned in the past couple of years. Over Christmas, we lost power for a week, my husband broke his ankle and now he had a heart attack. I have become a quick study on some things I never even dreamed about.
For instance, we are on a well and have a generator. Water should not be a problem (as long as we have fuel) right? Well, not exactly: our generator will not run our well pump. No well pump means no water! I don’t have cats, but if you know someone who does, ask him/her to save the plastic cat litter bottles for you. They work perfectly for storing water for flushing and bathing.
5 Gallon Buckets
You can never have enough. 🙂 You can effectively take a bath with less than 5 gallons of water. Heat 2 gallons of water on your stove and mix the rest with cooler water. Grab yourself a cup, or use the plastic storage containers. It works like a charm and being clean never felt so good if you are in a stressful situation without power.
How are you going to cook all that amazing food you have stored in your pantry? Rocket Stove or Wood Stove – Make sure you grab a pair of welding gloves to remove those beautiful pots off the stoves. Kitchen pot holders are not designed to pull hot cast iron off a really hot wood burning stove or rocket stove. Trust me, it will be well worth the few dollars you laid out at Harbor Freight.
We live in Northern Michigan – It’s COLD
Ladies – Know how to run a chainsaw – to include making the fuel mixture, filling the bar oil- and safely operating your chainsaw. This has been a big one for me. My husband always made the mixture for the fuel and made sure I had enough bar oil. In the past, if someone would have said two cycle motors, I would have looked at them with a blank stare. Now I know to mix the oil and the gas together in the correct ratio before running. Totally different from a 4 stroke motor.
Snow plow – either the shovel kind or a mechanical one.
This is especially important if you have a medical emergency. We have quite a long driveway. With the situation we are now in with my husband’s heart attack, this item has moved to the top of my priority list.
Emergency – 911
We only use cell phones. We don’t have land line options in our neck of the woods. This past summer, I needed to contact 911, but I couldn’t find my phone. Seriously! Thank goodness our son and his girlfriend were visiting: they are millennials and never let go of their phones. It worked out.
Ensure your address is visible. Every second counts. That statement is no longer a cliche. My husband died as he was being wheeled into the ER. Thank G-d he was in the right place at the right time, and they were able to shock him back to life.
Cash on Hand
No electricity = NO ATMs or swiping your debit card. Make sure you have some cash!
Make sure you have relationships with people in your community. We have been so fortunate to have the Baker’s Green Acres crew – They have helped out with Wood – Food – Loaning me their kids to help with fencing, and of course fellowship.
This is not an inclusive list. Just some things that came to mind during the live chat with Noreen’s Kitchen and The Kneady Homesteader.
Homesteaders Life – The Reality of Living on a Homestead
The reality of living a homesteader’s life is sinking in today as I walk the dogs. Living off the land, away from crazy neighbors, oh the dream! We scrimped and saved and finally found our little bit of paradise in northern Michigan. We purchased several homesteading and living off the grid books and magazines. We read everyone of them from front to back. Notebooks full of plans and dreams,we want from our property and just the homestead lifestyle. But, the one thing I did not find in those books or magazines – Was…. What happens if one half of your team suffers a life altering injury and illness.
Will you still be able to carry on with your plans and dreams? What will they look like now? Will you be able to keep up with the homestead on your own? What’s next?
I’ll be honest, living on a catamaran in the sea like Gone with the Wynns, sounds far more appealing. The thought of running out of wood in the middle of February, or making sure that once long driveway, which seemed perfect for remoteness has now become a liability. Will I be able to keep it cleared enough so that we or the ambulance can pass through if we need it.
Our days are filled with physical therapy and cardiac rehab vs clearing the forest.
Our days are now filled with naps and making sure my husband has what he needs before I leave for a bit to run up town.
Is it still the dream? Yes, my husband is alive (which is alot better than he was in early Aug)
But the realities of a Homesteaders life sure looks a lot different than our notebooks plan and dreams.