Saturday, December 31, 2016

Our Accidental Trash Free Life

While I always admired people who filled like one mason jar a year with trash, I have to admit that they seemed a bit obsessive about it and so I never set out to try it myself. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I’ve come pretty close to accomplishing this seemingly miraculous feat without even trying or noticing. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rewild Your Spice Cabinet: 17 Seasonings to Forage For

Many people these days are trying to “rewild” their diet, foraging for their own or purchasing wild harvested food, or even buying wild plants grown in an agricultural setting from reputable sources. Wild meats, such as bison, salmon, venison, and duck are as popular as ever. Even wild mushrooms and root vegetables, such as sunchokes, seem to be popping up all over the country in farmers markets, food co-ops, and specialty grocery stores. While it is wonderful to see this movement back towards our local flavors and ingredients, it has been my experience that they are often prepared with traditionally Western methods and recipes, including common seasonings found in the Western diet. I think it is time that we experience the true taste of our local fields and forests and incorporate wild seasonings as well! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Use Your Wood Stove As a Dehydrator

While I would do a lot to get my hands on an excalibur dehydrator, they are expensive and use a lot of electricity. Until I have the means to get one, I’ve been experimenting with alternative methods of dehydrating food and herbs. I haven’t had much luck simply air drying many herbs, so I’m always looking for ways to add just a little heat into the mixture. You’ve seen how I turned a pickup truck into a dehydrator to dry mushrooms and homemade noodles, but now we are classing it up a little by using a wood stove to get the job done. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Cutting Our Own Firewood

As I sit here next to the wood stove sipping my nettle tea, I wonder why anyone would ever heat their home with anything other than wood. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dressing For Subzero Temperatures: Never Be Cold Outside Again

When I moved to Vermont from Illinois, I had no idea what I was in for when winter rolled around. There was no way that I wasn’t going to go outside, but with temperatures commonly dropping to -20 degrees or lower, I froze my butt off, literally. I swear, after one winter camping trip, my butt didn’t thaw for several days. Eventually, I gave myself hypothermia one too many times and I just couldn’t take being cold any longer! I was sick of not being able to do what I wanted when outside, my poor clothing choices were dragging me down and the winter blues set in.  When spring finally rolled around, I raided every clothing swap and free box I could find, and built up my vast collection of cold weather clothing. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gleaning Free Supplies For Your Homestead Projects

There’s an old saying that I learned in Vermont that goes “use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without”. So you’ve used it up, you’ve worn it out, now we are on to the make do stage. Sure, you could just go to the store and buy it, but if you’re like me, that isn’t always an option. Besides, what fun would that be anyway? 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Flying North for The Winter

We’ve been living on an island in Northern Wisconsin for a little over a week now, and although there are a little over two hundred winter inhabitants on this 13 mile long rock, we have only interacted with a small handful of people. Almost every single person who has found out that we moved here for the winter has said something along the lines of “Why in the hell would you do that?”. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Make Hemlock Kombucha

Kombucha! This fizzy, fermented beverage seems to be popping up everywhere these days. From individual bottles sold at convenient stores to entire kombucha bars with many flavors on tap, it is hard to go anywhere without seeing this popular drink, especially if you are a health foodie like me! While all of these commercially sold kombuchas are equally healthy and delicious, they are very expensive (especially when you drink as much as Zak and I do), which is why I brew my own at home. Brewing my own “booch” also gives me the option to experiment with other ingredients, including my new favorite, hemlock. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Secret to Enjoying EVERY Season (Yes, even winter!)

Autumn is in full swing and winter is just around the corner, and many of us are dreading the long cold months ahead, but does it really have to be this way? 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

For Those Who Hate Weeding

There are no guarantees in life except death and taxes, and if you’re a gardener, weeding. Some enjoy it, some hate it, most simply just don’t have enough time to do it.  If you are already a weed destroying machine, hellbent on obliterating every weed on the planet, you might want to take the time you would have spent reading this post to chill out a little. The rest of you, follow me. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Foraging for Chicken of The Woods

Here chicky chicky chicky! You had better bring  your egg basket with you on your next hike because it’s chicken of the woods season! 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Foraging for Honey Mushrooms

Honey mushrooms, Armillaria mellea, are one of those highly underutilized wild edibles. In fact, many foragers don’t even know about them, sticking with the more well known and sought after species, such as chicken of the woods, oyster, and chanterelle mushrooms. Up until a couple of days ago I had heard of them, I’m sure I had probably even seen them, but I had never harvested any until I went out mushroom hunting with my new friend, Andrew, who works here at Hawk Circle with Zak. He’s a pretty hard core mycology fan and shared a lot of new information with us. Between the three of us, we ended up finding and harvesting 7 different edible or medicinal varieties of mushrooms in three hours, including mostly honey mushrooms, lions mane, chicken of the woods, chaga (harvested for hand drill fires), reishi, hedgehog, and puffball mushrooms. This bounty, combined with some massive veggies from the garden covered our entire kitchen table, and almost all of it went into a massive stir fry later that night. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

How to Turn All of Those Giant Zucchinis Into Apple Pie

It’s harvest season! And if you’re like most gardeners, I’m sure that you are so sick of zucchini at this point that you’ve just stopped picking them and they’ve gotten huge in your garden. Don’t let them rot! Tanya Kelley calls them the most versatile fruit in her garden because they are so bland that you can season them in any way and easily trick anyone into thinking you are feeding them lemon pie filling, apple pie filling, or even pineapple, like I wrote about in my post 6 Food Preservation Recipes for Garden Failures

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We Moved Our Homestead… Again! or Is it Really Homesteading if You Don’t Own Property?

After graduating from college six months ago, Zak and I packed up everything we owned and moved all the way from Vermont to West Virginia. We had never lived in the South before and I had never even visited West Virginia, so we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but seeing as we had no money and no place to stay, we cautiously agreed to come when some friends invited us to help start their homestead.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to Make Your Next Camping Trip the Best Ever!

Camping! Everybody loves camping, right? Unfortunately, many people have had negative experiences on their first or second camping trips and vow off of it forever. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

The World's Best Fried Chicken... of the Woods

If you are a vegetarian (or vegan) this is the best fried chicken substitute on earth! But never fear carnivores, I promise that you'll never know the difference. Keep reading for my secret recipe! 

Friday, September 9, 2016

1 Weeks Worth of Healthy Camping Food: Our Canoe Trip Meal Plan

We're going camping! When this post goes live I will be happily paddling a canoe miles away from civilization in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota. Although this is a canoe trip, I still want to keep our food weight down to make long portages just that much more enjoyable. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Our Root Cellar Inventory September 2016

This is the third post in a series. To read about what I put up in July, click HERE. To see our August inventory, click HERE. This way you can see how our root cellar filled up over the summer. 

Okay, I think it is official, I'm addicted to canning. As I watch the root cellar fill up (I've started filling a whole new shelf!), I just want to can absolutely everything. We have so much, but somehow it just isn't enough. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Night Foraging: My New Favorite Hobby

It was probably 8:30 pm already when Jordan from Rabbit Ridge Farm decided that she needed to dehydrate some hibiscus flowers. The only problem was that we did not have enough flowers to fill our dehydrator. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Canned Corn Relish Recipe

Sweet corn season! Today I decided to venture deep into the corn jungle to see what I could glean. It turns out that the corn did fairly well; I harvested about a third of our field and ended up with three laundry baskets full (yes, I do quite a bit of our harvesting into the same laundry basket we use for our laundry). With my glut of corn all shucked, blanched, and cut from the cob, I quickly looked up a canning recipe to see that times. I don't know why this hadn't occured to me all day, but once I looked it up, I remembered that corn needs to be pressure canned. Oh, yeah... 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

6 Food Preservation Recipes For Garden Failures

ATTN: This is a whole long sob story, so if you have your own problems and just want the recipes, feel free to scroll past my incessant ramblings. 

This post was originally going to be called "6 Food Preservation Recipes For When Your Garden Goes to Shit", but I thought that might drive you away before you even got here. BUT WAIT! Don't let it drive you away now, let me explain. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

12 Ways to Get Free or Cheap Food for Canning!

Autumn is just around the corner and canning season is in full swing! We've already canned several hundred quarts of meat, fruit, and vegetables and all in all I've only spent about $50 on produce. To see what we're putting up and watch our root cellar fill, check out my monthly inventory- click here to see the one for August.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Grocery List: How I Feed Two Adults for Less Than $50/Month!

I've just written "16 Tips to Get Your Grocery Bill Under $25/Person Each Month" in which I shared with you some of my personal guidelines for buying food on the cheap. Well, as promised, here is my actual grocery list along with the breakdown of prices for each item. You will see that, on average, I feed two very active adults for less than $50 a month. 

16 Tips to Get Your Grocery Bill Under $25 Per Person Each Month

In this day of low minimum wage and extremely large student loans, money is a much harder to obtain and to keep than in days past. We don't spend money on clothes, cell phones, etc, but we've still got to eat. Over the years, I've wittled our grocery bill down to less than $50 per month to feed two very hard working adults. Now, we could probably survive on less than this but I want to do more than just survive. For $50 we eat as much as we want, we have a very wholesome diet, and we never get sick of what we eat (and trust me, at 6'4" with a crazy metabolism and hours of physical labor a day, my beloved Zachary can eat more than anyone else I know, but I still manage to keep him well fed). Food does more than just nourish the body, it nourishes the soul, which is why I always make sure I am full and satisfied at every meal. Here are some of my guidelines for saving money and eating well.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

12 Tips to Canning Like a Pro

Canning season is here and it's time to throw all other plans out the window for several weeks! Been wondering why I haven't posted a blog post in weeks? Well, our plants have been producing probably 20 lbs of cucumbers a day, berry and mushroom season is in full swing, and I recently butchered two roosters. And on top of all that,  we went to the farmers market the other day and came home with 75 lbs of peaches, 50 lbs of tomatoes, and 20 lbs of sweet peppers! So needless to say, I've been canning every day that it isn't prohibitively hot out.  Plus, we haven't gotten our outdoor canning kitchen set up yet, so I am having to be as efficient as possible on canning days to can the most produce while producing the least amount of heat. Today it was raining so I was able to can 22 quarts of dill pickles and 7 quarts of tomatoes, yay! Yesterday we got 50 lbs of peaches canned, too, so I'm finally starting to feel a little bit caught up. But with all this rain, I'm sure I'll have enough cucumbers to fill a swimming pool in just a couple of days. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Root Cellar Inventory- August 2016

***This is the second post in a series documenting how many canned goods we've put up month by month. To see the first post, July, click HERE***

Monday, August 1, 2016

9 Natural Ways We Protect Our Garden From Deer, Rabbits, and Insects

Here in the seemingly semi-tropical lands of West Virginia, plants and animals thrive in the heat and humidity, including our garden crops and livestock. For every crop, though, there is a wild animal or insect that that thinks it is just as absolutely delicious as we do. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Truck Dehydrator: Desperation Turned Great Idea

As you may have read recently, we found over 100 lbs of chanterelle mushrooms last week! The great news is that we have lots of tasty, tasty mushrooms. The bad news is that we couldn't eat them all fresh and preserved the large majority of them, meaning that our excalibur food dehydrator was running pretty much 24/7 (you can read about this method of dehydrating mushrooms here). 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Baking Day! Our Weekly Bread

Baking Day! We make bread about once every two weeks, depending on how much we eat and how hot the weather has been. But when we do bake, boy do we bake! This morning we made whole wheat soft pretzels, a double batch of whole wheat bagels, a whole wheat loaf, a half wheat loaf, and a cinnamon raisin loaf. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Foraging for Chanterelles Mushrooms

I recently made myself a little red osier dogwood basket that I could carry on my hip and collect mushrooms into while I was hiking. It's wasn't very large, maybe 6 inches in diameter and 8 inches tall. It's important to have a container with openings in it, such as a basket or mesh bag so that the mushroom spores can be spread across the woodlands as you hike home and create many more mushrooms for next year. I never thought that I would ever fill my little basket as I generally only find oysters and only a few handfuls at a time. Ha. Little did I know, chanterelle season was right around the corner and now I couldn't even fit a tiny fraction of my chants into this basket. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Dehydrate Mushrooms

With rain almost every day and temperatures way over 85 F constantly, the mushrooms are exploding out of seemingly every nook and cranny in the woods these days. We're not just talking oysters either, the chanterelles are in full swing! So much so that we harvested almost 20 pounds yesterday in what seemed like a matter of minutes: 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Our Larder- July 2016

As the canning has been picking up, I recently decided to take an inventory of all the canned goods and thought I would share it with you all. I still haven't quite figured out the formatting on my little chart below, but you can get a general idea. Many of these, such as the pickles, jam, dried mushrooms, and chicken soup are increasing in number, whereas the beef, venison, and wild turkey are being depleted. I'm considering making this a monthly thing if I get good responses to this and you will be able to watch the list as it changes. Hopefully by the autumn, this list will be much more extensive and we'll survive the winter.  We haven't got that much right now, but I have a long this of veggies and meat waiting to be canned as we speak. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

How to Make Lacto Fermented Pickles

It's that time of the year again! Christmas? No, it's better, it's canning season and the cucumbers are taking over our garden like an experiment gone wrong in a cheesy B-rated horror film! We've already canned dill AND bread and butter pickles, but there are still cucs coming out of our ears and not enough time in the day to can them all. 

Blog Hop #3

ftf hop header

It's time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week's Top 3 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Simple and Easy Blackberry Fruit Leather

It's blackberry season again and we've got berries coming out of our ears, not to mention that I think my fingers are permanently purple! We've been making pies and jams like crazy, but still have so many berries that I needed to preserve them FAST. Making jam and canning is extremely time consuming and heats up my kitchen more than I can handle. Fruit leather, on the other hand took only 15 minutes of prep and cleanup time, and preserved A LOT of berries into a delicious snack. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pasties! A Historic Food and Present Day Treat

In the light of all this recent rain and heat we have so many veggies that we can barely keep up with them and the constant rain means some, especially the broccoli, are rotting in the fields. To deal with this sudden vegetable overload I've decided to the make a double batch of history's favorite convenience food: the pasty! God only knows why I decided this was a good idea today when it was 80 degrees F in the shade. But alas, as I was toiling over the stove, I began to think upon the millions of other people who had toiled for their pasties. I decided to do a little research on the history of pasties, but if you have less time than interest scroll down to the bottom of the page for my pasty recipe!

10 Ways to Use Pickle Juice That You Never Thought Of

Canning Day! We just made this season's first batch of bread and butter pickles today and that got me thinking about all the delicious pickles (and pickle juice) we'll be eating in the winter time. Pickle juice is what we call the leftover vinegar and spice mix after all the veggies are eaten out of the jar. Many people dump this yummy mix down the drain, but there are so many uses for it that I never waste a single drop! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Blog Hop #2!

We missed last week's blog hop because I was on vacation and being the total bum that I am, I totally forgot. But we're back at it again! Happy Hopping!

ftf hop header

It's time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week's Top 3 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

1st From the Farm Hop!

It's time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week's Top 3 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:

Scroll Down for this week's Party!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Foraging for Oyster Mushrooms

Mushroom hunting! It's one of my new favorite obsessions! I often discuss the collection of free food on this blog, but mushrooms are one of my all time favorite foraged foods. Not only are they super yummy and good for you, they are SO expensive at the store, so I always feel great about finding them. 

While there are hundreds of delectable and medicinal mushrooms out there for the taking, I am going to be discussing the famous oysters in this post. To be specific I am going to be talking about Pleurotus pulmonarius, or the summer oyster, because this is the species you are most likely to find right now. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Here Are The Roadkill Laws in All 50 States

I could not find a list of roadkill laws anywhere on the internet despite hours of searching so I emailed every state’s Fish and Wildlife and asked them these two questions:

1. What, if any, species are legal to pick up after they have been hit by a vehicle in your state?
2. What protocols must one follow before picking up an animal that has been killed by a vehicle, ie contacting the proper authorities, getting a license, etc?

Most of them answered, but the ones that did not are labeled "No information available". This is what they said:

The "Roadkill Bucket": How We Feed Our Chickens For Free

The "roadkill bucket" method of feeding chickens has been going around the internet for a number of years now, but I finally just got a set up to try it out this spring. I was shocked by how well this really works and thought I would write a post to dispel some the myths about this great system. 

So here's the basic idea: You get a 5 gallon bucket with some sort of lid and drill a bunch of small holes in the sides and bottom. You can see four holes in the picture above, but there are probably about  15 in the bottom of it. Next, you go about on your daily errands, but every time you see some roadkill that isn't too totally mangled, you pick it up and bring it home with you. This method is best if you have a short drive home or a pickup truck. I currently have a Subaru, but I generally keep a garbage bag in it just in case and try not to pick up anything that's super rotten or has been hit a million and one times. This method also works with other meat scraps from your kitchen or your local butcher if you're not into the roadkill thing. But on the other hand, I'm not sure why you're reading this post if you're not into roadkill. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Our Recent Move to West Virginia

I don't generally put personal stories on my blog, but I feel like I need to keep my readers in the know. Some of you may have noticed a recent change in some of our blog posts as well as our location. Well here's why:

After graduating from Sterling College in Vermont in May, Zak and I recently moved to our good friends Scott and Jordan's farm, Rabbit Ridge Farm. Now we live in West Virginia, imagine that! (I had never even been here before we moved). Zak, Scott, and Jordan became inseparable friends after hiking the Appalachian Trail together on a whim in the summer of 2013. I was a late comer to the group after meeting Zak in the fall of that year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pickled Burdock Root

I've been getting really into fermented and pickled foods lately so when I learned that you can pickle burdock root and it actually tastes good, I was stoked to try it! Between my jun, kombucha, sourdough starter, ginger bug, fermented sodas, and sprouted wheat, I'm starting to feel a little like this Portlandia clip:

I don't know how excited my family was about having another mystery jar taking up counter space, but I think they changed their opinions once they tasted this unique food. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Super Immune Boosting Mushroom Bone Broth


 Many of us have grown to know and love our bone broth for both its multitude of health benefits and its lovely flavor, but now it's time to take it to the next level. If you don't already make bone broth, you're in luck, you're starting a step ahead of the rest! Bone broth is extremely nourishing in its own right, but there is a whole world of highly medicinal foods out there that you can add to supercharge your broth and make a heartier soup! I'm not going into the health benefits of bone broth in this post as I've already written several about it, plus there are entire books on the topic! Including Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon, which is one of my all time favorite cookbooks EVER, as many of you probably know by now. 


I will, on the other hand, discuss some of the benefits of the added ingredients I have included in the recipe below. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Vegan Sourdough Calzones

This recipe has recently become a big favorite in our household because it is easy and VERY inexpensive to make, plus it's filling and convenient to eat.  I did just a quick estimate of ingredient costs and came up with $3.88 for 10 calzones with extra dipping sauce (enough to feed the 4 active adults in our household heartily). It might be more or less expensive for you depending on where you buy your groceries and what toppings you use. 

12 Ways to Feed Chickens for Free!

Ah chickens, one of the universe's greatest gifts. Whether you eat meat, or just eggs, or simply like to watch the "chicken tv", chickens are lovely to have around, easy to maintain, and provide a great many services including food, entertainment, and fertilizer. I believe that every household should have at least a chicken or two but many cite the prohibitive cost of feed (especially organic) as an argument against it.

If you're one of those people I have good news for you! Decent chicken food doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, in fact, if you have a little bit of time and creativity, it can be 100% free. Here's how:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How to Make Sprouted Wheat Flour at Home

I love carbs! and who doesn't? They're filling and delicious and some people, like my 6' 4" boyfriend, Zak, require A LOT of them to keep going throughout the day. So, we eat carbs with almost every meal, but it's so hard to find high quality, minimally processed flour and sprouted grain products, like Ezekiel Break are SO expensive! That's why I sprout my own wheat and Zak grinds it for me.

I first learned about the benefits of eating sprouted grains from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats and haven't looked back since (when I can get it that is). But, the budget has been a bit tight lately since student loans are kicking in and our recent move to Rabbit Ridge Farm in West Virginia. Sprouting and milling my own wheat is a great way to make delicious, nutrient dense, food for cheap. It takes a bit of time, but it's well worth it.