Posted in Back in the Day, The Hen & the Hammer, The Hen House, The Hungry Hen, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Cookin’ with Cast Iron: A Little Bit of This & That

cfe25d82c2a132311c6c4e88d7542b3e--skillets-cookingI think Cast Iron is makin’ a comeback, even though in my mtns, it never really went away. I can walk into our Aunt Theresa’s house right now and find a gazillion of all shapes and sizes hangin’ from a beautiful rack my Uncle Eddie made.  It’s slim pickin’s at yardsales round here. That’s how prized they are. But in other places, where folks might not know much about em, you maybe able to score big time. Across tables, once in a blue moon, some will be peppered out and all the way across all because they sport a little rust or their famous, traditional black maybe a light grey. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that iron. Grab em if you see em. Walmart sells them as well as Farmer brand stores. (If you’re lookin’.) Lodge is a popular brand, although, I have a few that aren’t and they work just fine.  Rusted up or brand new, they need to be seasoned or fixed. And here’s how you tackle all that and some other little bits you might stumble upon along the way….

First, what’s Cast Iron good for? Well, you ain’t never had fried chicken or gravy like what we whip up in a Cast Iron. Dependin’ on how it’s Seasoned, folks fry up eggs, cook stews, beans and all kinds of goodies. My kids and I swear the best-grilled cheese you ever eat is made with a Cast Iron skillet on a wood stove. Its buttery, crispy, not soggy with a gooey and soft middle. Bacon comes out crispy and sausage nice and brown. Cornbread, biscuits, bread. The skies the limit, dependin’ on what ya got and what you want to do with it.

d6ec5d1a52a2f44c2791c0f16169b406--cast-iron-cooking-cast-iron-pansSecond, seasoning….

Most are intimidated by this but that’s just a shame. Might take a little doin’ but you won’t break a sweat. What you want to do is, lightly rub oil or lard into your Cast iron. Here, I copied these off of Southern Living….

How To Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet:

  1. Scrub skillet well in hot soapy water.
  2. Dry thoroughly.
  3. Spread a thin layer of melted shortening or vegetable oil over the skillet.
  4. Place it upside down on a middle oven rack at 375°. (Place foil on a lower rack to catch drips.)
  5. Bake 1 hour; let cool in the oven. (Source)

Personally, I put it upside down in the oven, but that’s just me.


How to clean?

Every soul out there who has it, has their own way of doin’ this. Some scrub out with coarse salt. Others use hot soapy water. Some yell, NO DAWN or soap that tears off the seasoning. No scrubbing things like brillo pads. No steel wool. I’ll throw soapy water on while it’s still hot. Swish it around as it boils everything off. Dump it and rinse it and then wipe a drop of oil back on. Whatever way you do it, just remember, DRY IT yourself, with a towel of paper after you’re done. Take a napkin, and rub your oil back into it. Lightly. It doesn’t have to drip grease. This is kind of like conditioning your hair. You don’t leave the conditioner on, do ya? No, you rinse, and your hair keeps what it needs. You won’t be rinsin’ your cast iron after this but you do want to work in enough lard or oil so it gets what it needs.

Why Cast iron? On a Practical Sense?

No chemicals. Lasts forever. Will most likely outlive us all– if kept properly. Heats and cooks food evenly– let your brain mellow on that one. Evenly. No Teflon to worry about, coatings wearin’ down that may not be safe to consume. It’s rough and touch and can take a lickin’. Drop a new style pan and it dents all to hell. Drop a Cast Iron, and pray the floor holds out. It’s made to last.

You can use it on the stove, on the camp-fire, on the grill, in the oven or on a wood stove. You can fry, saute, bake or whack your husband upside the head with it. Okay, so you may not want to take that last one literally. winks. The point is if the world came to an end tomorrow, chances are, the only thing that would survive are the cock roaches, my monster- in- law, and the Cast Iron. (Another joke on the Mother in Law. winks)

Seasoned right, it’s naturally nonstick. Again, this stuff is the Mac Daddy, work horse of the kitchen and you can grab it black as night or enamelled coated — I have both that I use for different things.

What if it’s rusty?

Did I cover this one? If I did. sorry, I’m multitasking. If it’s rusty, though, rework the Seasoning steps. That’s all. Rust doesn’t mean death. Again. this stuff is built to last!

Which for which?

What to cook in a Cast Iron (Black and Beautiful in its natural state) and what to cook in an enamel coated Cast Iron?

I save my Mater sauces, soups and stews for my Enamel. I fry meat, taters, even eggs, in my regular Cast Iron. I cook gravy (Southern Gravy), may fry fish, bacon, sausage and all those goodies in my regular Cast.

If things like eggs are sticking–it needs better seasoning. The Cast Iron, that is.

What the heck is this?

That lid goes to a Dutch Oven kind of Cast Iron. Those little pokey things is actually a self-baster. So when you pop that sucker in the oven or stove with, let’s say a whole chicken or roast, in it, then the steam collects to the top and those dotted-points, drips the juice and juice down on your prized meal. Now ain’t that genius?

If you bought one of these and it leaves a metallic taste in your mouth — or any cast iron for that matter– it just needs more seasoning. Wash, again with soapy water and keep seasoning. If you don’t have time to pop it in the oven, then start fryin all your sausage and bacon in it until that grease sinks into the iron and works it up. As you can see, I’m fryin’ sausage in mine. That’s fresh sausage, ya’ll. Mmmmm Mmmmm Goooooooood!!!!!

Still not sure what enamelled cast iron is? Still not sure what regular is? Below are some samples.


Regular Cast Iron


Enamel Covered Cast Iron


Any other questions hit me up!

Posted in From Scratch, Pork, Soups & Stews, The Hungry Hen, Uncategorized

Fancy Shmancy Sausage, Mushroom, & Tater Soup


Fresh Sausage, Mushroom & Tater Soup – Gluten Free (also), The Crowin’ Hen.

With this one, you can use Fresh Country or Fresh Italian Sausage. I chose my Spicy Italian for this go-round but you go where your tummy leads you. If you don’t have FRESH, and can’t get your claws on any, then that’s a shame because I wish everyone could try fresh sausage. Don’t worry,. though. Just use your favourite brand of store-bought.



  • 2 Ilbs Fresh Sausage (Italian or Country. I think some people call Country, Breakfast Sausage too.)
  • 3-quart jars Red Taters, diced.
  • 1 can of Condensed Milk
  • 1 Sweet Onion, diced
  • 1 Orange or Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 can of Spinach, drained, or 10 0z frozen–thawed and drained. You can also substitute Kale.
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1- 8 oz package Baby portabellas, sliced
  • Water or Chicken Broth or powdered Broth mix
  • Butter– 1/2 stick or less. REAL butter.
  • Garlic Powder (or crushed cloves), Salt and Pepper to taste.



  1. Fry your sausage. Crumbled. When done, remove from pan and drain either in a strainer or on napkins. DO NOT RINSE. You want to keep the seasoning and flavour of the Sausage.

  2. While that’s frying, or once its done, dice your taters. Now, you dice as big or small as you want. The reason we are using Red is so that you have that option. Red holds it’s shaped better and doesn’t turn into mash like russets have a tendency to do. If there is another tater like, Red, that you have, which will hold it’s shaped, substitute for that.

  3. Once you are done dicing, add them to a bowl full of water and squeeze the lemon juice in. Toss in the rest of the lemon if you’d like. And let them soak while you dice everything else up. This removes excess starch and the lemons keep the taters white.

  4. Once everything else (except sausage and spinach) is diced, add them and the drained taters to your pot. DO NOT saute your mushrooms and onions before hand. You want all that flavour in the stock you are about to make.

  5. Pour in the can of condensed milk and then enough water/broth to ALMOST cover the veggies. ALMOST. You don’t want to fill it all the way up. The veggies add juice, too. You want it to look about like this or slightly less.



  1. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the taters are nice and tender.

img_1649.jpg7. Now, at this point, taste your broth. It should have a strong mushroom flavour. In fact, you may fall in love with that taste and decide not to add the spinach– which will sweeten it some. It’s a two-option meal, here.However, if you are going to add it, now is the time, along with your sausage. Also add your Garlic Powder, (or clove)m salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 15-25 minutes until the flavours are bloomed and all is hot.

Some notes….

Notice how I didn’t add a thickener to this? Don’t need one. As it cools, and because of the way we did the broth, it will thicken up on its own.

Also, optional, you can add some diced Green or Spring onion (Scallions) before serving. Some sprinkled cheese is good as well or eats it as is. I will warn you, though, even though there is no Gluten, this is a very fulfilling dish. Might make you lazy. May make you want to kick back in front of the woodstove and take a nap, lol. Or, it may give you the warmth you need, that stick to your bones kind of warmth so you can tackle a day outside in the cold weather.



Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Hen Pecked, Hogs, Pork, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Hog Butcherin’ Time


Across the scarcely covered mountains, an icy breeze brings a hint of a woodstove burnin’ from somewhere, where ya’ll know the folks are all toasty and warm. Inside, a there sits a hot cast iron, fresh sausage fryin’ or maybe a hearty sausage and tater soup simmers on the stove. Sure enough, bread or buttermilk biscuits are bakin’ in the oven. Its comfortin’ smell lingers through an entire household just anxiously waitin’. These things make the winter months worth sufferin’. I’m a Spring -hen myself. I like the grass between my toes. Love a river when the sun is warm. But even this chick has to admit, Some things just stir the soul durin’ the cold season and those things make it worth goin’ into. Hog butcherin’ might just be one of em.

I could probably live off the country sausage. Shoot, I ain’t never turned my nose up at Italian either. I love the way it smells when cookin’ and I love the way I feel after gobblin’ some up. We raised four hogs, this year. Two regular, mixed, Yorkshire and Tamworths. Maybe one was part Hereford. Then we tried out hand at two American Guinea Hogs. Those will hang up this weekend or next– dependin’ on the weather. Interested to know how those measure up…which will decide whether or not we raise em next year.

Still, for the past several weekends, my husband and Uncle have been knee deep in the butcher house. His hogs, my hogs, their hogs. It’s an age-long tradition that folks don’t do too much of anymore. Oh, they’ll buy one already raised or butchered up, but not many actually get in there and do it themselves from the little one too big. I know once I’ve butchered, it’s hard to keep em in the freezer. Folks wantin’ it, not to mention what we can easily eat ourselves. Bottom line, though, to me, it’s a clean meat. And by clean, I mean, I know what that hog ate from beginnin’ to end. I know it’s health as we were the one’s keepin’ it healthy. I know what’s in the seasoning of, the cookin’ of, the processin’ of. No preservatives. No big unpronounceable word-poisons. Just the meat. Clean. I can’t describe the deep satisfaction of that. When I serve it to my family, the deeply satisfied feelin’ that I am givin’ them somethin’ as healthy as I can possibly provide. Not to mention the lessons my children learn about traditions, about having a respect and responsibility, some control over their food.

Homesteaders — those who are coinin’ that phrase— are doin’ it and, most certainly, ones who live off grid. Whether you Cure the hams or cut pork chops or grind it all into sausage, though, there’s lots to be made and had from Hogs, which may be why some are jumpin’ in, on the whole, raisin’ them up again bandwagon.

Throughout this week–time permittin’– and possibly month–if time doesn’t turn out to e my friend, I’m going to post up recipes for pork and most likely, sausage. Hope you enjoy……

And if you are lookin’ for recipes in general, of what I already have, check out The Hungry Hen and all the categories within’!



Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

A Southern Tradition: Black- Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens & Pork

Grandma-Maude-Great-Grandma-Gertrude-and-Great-Aunt-Madge_thumb.jpgEvery. Single. Year. Grandma was firm on one rule. Not that she didn’t have many, but this particular one was like angering fate itself. As if it tipped the scales of all bad luck and curses. It was that serious. As if somewhere within’ her Blackwell roots, all tangled up there, written in the blood of her ancestors upon the stone of all stones…

On New Years Day, you better cook and eat Black-eyed Peas, Cabbage and Pork. If you don’t, you won’t have good luck, wealth and health in  the coming year.

Grandma would even make phone calls a day or so ahead of time reminding us all not to forget. And if you pulled some nonsense like, “Grandma, I don’t have time to cook that.” Then she’d reach through that phone snatchin’ you up by the nape of your neck with a death grip of a tone, a forewarnin’, and say, “Then you better come by my house and get some before its too late!”

Grandma’s dead and I seriously doubt she is gonna make a phone call to my house on New Years Day. Although I really wish she could. I can promise you, though, on my stove, every year the menu is the same….

Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Pork and, oh yeah, Greens. I picked the Greens up from my time in North Carolina. I love em, so it’s easy to slip one more good luck charm in on the menu.

Even for a time, my own Mother would cook them on New Years Day. Maybe it was to avoid Grandma from kickin’ down the door and burnin’ her butt up with a switch if she didn’t. Maybe for one small period of time, my Mother actually had some sort of nostalgia for the past, Grandma’s traditions and all those who came before her.  Maybe.

Still, till this day, I have one Aunt who still cooks these things on New Years Day. She even gives me a yell, making sure I am doing it too just like Grandma once did. We catch snark from certain cousins, in-laws and family members for upholdin’ Grandma’s stern rule. Or, at least I do.

They scoff and say, “I make my own luck.I don’t need no make-believe tradition!” Or they say, “God takes care of me. That’s offensive to him.” They say other things but as we get older, we learn to tune people out.

For me and my Aunt, we don’t actually believe cooking these things will make or break us for the following year. We do it because its a tradition that my Grandma took literally. Grandma learned it from her Mother and Father. They learned it from theirs. Maybe none of them believed in it, maybe they did, but you can bet their bottom dollar that they did it regardless all because it was, as I said, a Tradition. It was passed down through their family and bloodline. It survived hard times, bad weather, no money, low supplies, sickness, death, and despair. It survived because they survived.

I cook these things on New Years Day because it meant something to my Grandma. All day, I end up thinking about her. Not the things that drove me nuts or put a wedge between us. I think about the good things, the few times I saw her smile, this meal being one of the few things that made her smile.


My kids learn or re-learn about where they come from. We’re mountain people. We have Roots here. Our kin spread far and wide. Some made and ran Moonshine. Some were Farmers. Some were Preachers. Some actually carved out a place for themselves when these mountains were no more than a wilderness, a hope for a good life to come, filled with dangers and hardships. They lived off the plants and wildlife. They gave birth and buried their dead in the soils and rocks we see now as nothin’ more than dirt and toe-stubbers.

I show my kids pictures of the Blackwell Clan, with the Blueridge Mountains behind them. All mostly dark-haired, wavy and thick. I try to give them a sense of placement. A sense of pride. A sense of beginning. I want them to know that they come from somewhere. And while the women could be mean, that’s what gave them the strength to fight their way through this world when the world owed them no favors.

IMG_1578I show them pictures of the Clarks and tell them the history of that name. Then, thanks to the books and pictures my Aunt Wanda gave me, I show them the little truths of their journey throughout the Ages, their place in many unfortunate wars including the historic battles they survived, even though their minds were never quite the same again.

Through these pictures, you could see my Grandfather, healthy when he just signed up for Service. Not fat, but meaty enough to be called a man. Proudly smiling in his uniform. Someone who was about to make something of himself. Then I show them the picture of him after Pearl Harbor and all that came in its aftermath. A shadow of himself, thin was drinking. He’d spend the rest of his life tryin’ to chase away the demons that war put in his head. The last years I saw him, in a wheel chair, half paralyzed from a stroke, unable to speak words clearly….shaking one fist at the TV shouting something incomprehensible in anger. All because a movie of Pearl Harbor was on. And oh yeah, the time Jacob’s Ladder played and his blood pressure went through the roof.

These Southern Traditions that most of you find pointless and funny are more than what they appear to be on the outside. We honour them because it brings to life our people who are not dead and gone. We remember them. And as long as we remember them, they live with us in our hearts, spirit and mind. What’s more depressing? Dying or realizing when you’re dead, it will be as if you never existed at all because no one remembers you. You passed nothing on. You left no mark upon this world. No imprint. Nothing of importance.

My Grandma’s tradition may not heal Cancer, but it is important. She bestowed unto me a sense of pride, worth, and the knowing that I come from a long line of women who suffered much but overcame even more. Women who were the heartbeats of their home. Women who knew how to survive even things like men and others, like, The Depression.

I think the problem with the world today is that we’ve been made to feel ashamed of who we are and where we come from,  or what collar we wear. Traditions are no longer taught or passed down. Our children are no longer taught the basics or skills. No one takes pride in where they come from and we no longer have a sense of placement, which means we no longer have a sense of worth. We have no more pride in ourselves than we do of anyone else because we no longer teach the next generation of what they gain to lose or what our ancesters faught to have.

We each have heritage and we are in danger of losing it. These traditions help me hold onto that. They help me hold onto Grandma, keep me grounded, and they help my children know a woman who is no longer here to drive them up a wall. As long as I uphold these things, as long as I instil these precious pieces into them, then they will always know they come from somewhere and those that came before them didn’t live and die as if they never lived or existed at all. And we become the stronger for it. And besides, I happen to love eating Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Greens and Pork. So that helps. winks


Posted in Chicken Scratch, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

A Storm is Coming! Quick, Grab all of the Bread and Milk!

file9331287220935We had some snow here in the mountains last night. We were well warned, which meant we had plenty of time to prepare. The truth is, we weren’t expected to have much but it was enough to cancel schools, prepare the roads and so on. And it was just enough, just a whisper of enough, to plant the seed of panic, a triggering of natural instincts to prepare for the worst. To send people out into the stores to buy as much bread and milk as possible.

Meanwhile, Social Media lit up with funny, sarcastic gifs of people emptying shelves, screaming their heads off with titles like, “OMG!One inch of snow coming! Quick! Buy all of the bread and milk!!!!!”

That led to insulting comments and the making fun of, while people asked the question, why bread and milk?

Now, while it came of no surprise people who live and were maybe raised in bigger cities would ask this question, I was a little stumped at those from the same mountains I come from or those who live in rural areas elsewhere. And then I thought to myself, this maybe why we’re losing touch with the younger generation or that we shouldn’t erase history because we are starting to disconnect, starting to lack empathy or understanding with those who came before us and well, frankly, survived a world of crap we can no longer imagine.

If you are one of those people who can’t fathom the reason why people buy milk and bread, then let me take you back into history, especially since when I Googled to see if others had written about the why’s and was shocked to see absolutely nothing of usefulness.

Our answer, in my opinion, lies under two umbrellas…. History and Nature.

Historically, when people couldn’t just pop into a grocery store to grab food, they did what? Grew it, traded for it, but no matter what, made it from scratch. If we yanked open a window into the past during any meal, we would see one thing in common despite what else or what little else they had.


My Grandma made bread damn near every day. Not yeast bread but biscuit bread. It wasn’t in little portions, either. She made it into a big slab. You broke off whatever piece you wanted. She ate it with every meal.  She even put it in her dang coffee and treated it as breakfast, lol!

Four things were common in her house and when I say common, I mean, if you had to take a guess at what Grandma was cookin’, your guesses came down to these…

  • Brown Beans
  • Green Beans & Taters
  • Mater Gravy
  • Bread

Rarely did I see Grandma cook meat. Now, she would throw meat in with the brown or green beans but she didn’t just break out a steak any day of the week and while she would fry chicken, the only time she ever really did was when company came over….special company. Special were those who didn’t live locally or a man who happened to be doin’ a man’s day’s work.

My crazy Aunt Joyce came to visit me one day and I remember her talkin’ bout her childhood. She clinched her cheeks by way of an awful scowl when said, “I used to be so sick of mater gravy. That’s all momma would ever feed us. And then here come company over and next thing I knew, she was fryin’ up chicken. Be derned if we got any either.” lol Aunt Joyce swore she’d never eat Mater gravy again but when I made it that day, I couldn’t keep her out of it.

Anyway, Grandma had a garden every year and in that garden, she fretted over four things. Cucumbers…because they were delicious and a summer treat…but more importantly, the taters (potatoes), maters (tomatoes), and beans (green). Her cupboard was stocked with all of them. The maters and beans were Canned and the taters went in the root cellar or somewhere cool and dark to live.

Grandma called these things Depression Food. The nessesities of life. You may not have liked them but you could easily survive on it.

And by “Depression“, I don’t mean it made you sad. This is something people are losing sight of. The Depression. The actual Depression when stock markets crashed and people struggled to survive. Jobs were like unicorns. Food was hard to buy. It was an awful period of time that my Grandmother lived through. And while she swore she never wanted to live through another one, she refused to forget just how they did it and said one way, was bread. With the maters, they would make mater gravy because if you lived in the country, you always had canned maters. If you were lucky enough to have a cow, you had milk. Milk, like bread, is very filling. But you could use the milk in other ways too. Kids drank it and you could make butter, or more importantly, more GRAVY. If you didn’t have milk, you could still make Gravy, using water. Regardless if you had meat or not, and most didn’t have meat and those that did, rarely did, gravy and bread would stick to your ribs and during a time when a day’s work was actually a day of hard laboured work, folks needed something that stuck to their ribs.

Now, I’m sure you’re wonderin’ why people are hoarding bread and milk now when there is no threat of a Depression on the horizon, and in truth, most can’t even imagine what one even felt like….

Learned behaviour.

My Grandma left an imprint on me. Despite how much she and I butted heads, certain things she said and did sunk in. For one, her ways of Canning and such. I stay stocked up. And while I don’t run to the stores to buy bread like many folks do, I have the means to make it if need be.With a woodstove, I have a heat source. If it’s summer, I have a firepit and grate I can cook on. Heck, I have grills.

Again, if you’re ever in a situation where food is scarce, bread fills you up. Doesn’t take much. In cases of Storms or Disasters on the horizon, we are triggered by a need to survive out anything even the unseen.

What if the power goes out? What if we can’t get out of our homes? Again, bread. Bread saves the day. It’s a learned behavior passed down from every previous ancester out there. It takes a bit for it to mold and it doesn’t have to be cooked. Doesn’t have to be refridgerated.

As far as Milk, that stretches from children and the need for milk. Again, it’s a filler. In the old world, it had more fat. Fat fills. Yes, if you become stranded in the summer, it can go bad, in the winter, it won’t. Drink milk with bread, and it helps with choking. (Another thing that is embedded into us from our ancestors). Children and even some adults drank milk at supper and all meals. Together, the fat from the milk along with the filling effects of the bread, well its more of a meal or feels like one.

Bottom line, you can criticize people for stocking up on bread and milk and say they should be more prepared, more stocked up anyway, but if you live in places where storage is limited, that can be hard to do. Plus, if you don’t have roots to a place more rural, the idea of that may seem absurd.

Still, when danger lurks around the corner, our mindset draws also from Nature, perhaps a more primitive part of ourselves.  When a storm is on the horizon, what do the animals do? They get out there and feed especially if their instincts tell them that they will be hunkered down for a few days all because of the weather. Certain animals hoard food. They go on the hunt and stock up. Our need to do the same kicks in. So most go and grab what instinctively they know will fill them up….bread and milk.

Posted in Back in the Day, Hen Pecked, The Scoop from the Coop, Uncategorized

Homesteading v/s Off Grid :And Those of us Living Somewhere In-Between


These two lifestyle choices go by many names but the ones mentioned in my title seems to be the most recognizable or, possibly, the less confusing. Each one serves as an umbrella, though, with a good many people standing under them. Each person, however, has customized each one. And they can since there are no rules or regulations written into any one stone. I’ll get to more of that as we go.


I won’t go into the historical bits of Homesteading which live somewhere around the 1800’s and the Homesteading Act of 1862, but I will say that the past has found a way into the present. In fact, it’s down-right trending.

Homesteading is something I am more familiar with. What people are trying to do, seems like something our people have done from the very beginning. Except, if you called my Grandma or Aunt Madge a Homesteader, they would have thought you had marbles in your mouth. Their way of life was the way life was…and should be. Oh, I’m sure it had its upgrades from how their childhoods went. Like, electricity. Cooking on something other than a wood stove. And in many cases, like that of my Grandma, women worked outside of the home as well as on the land and at home.

As one of my older Clients told me one day, “Women didn’t burn any bridges back then and get equality. Men just made them think they did. He said, “Fine! Go get a job and a paycheck! And when you get home, tend to those kids, that laundry, my supper and this house!”

“How many years,” my Client asked, “Do you think it took women to realize the only thing they won was the right to do more work?”About that time she scoffed at me with absolute sarcasm. “Guess you could say, they still ain’t caught on.”

But no matter what, women in Grandma’s day lived frugally and they raised everything that they could. They made most of what they had. I never walked into my Aunt Madges house and saw store-bought butter. Every gunk of butter she used, was made with her own two hands. That also went for soap, which was brown and not as high-end and fancy as to what people sell now. It didn’t smell all that awesome either and it was made with the fat off her Hogs. Taking a bath in her iron water mixed with that soap– was something I thought nightmares were made of, lol.

Regardless, Aunt Madge’s pantry was stacked from floor to ceiling with jars filled with what she grew or concocted. Her front yard was filled with fruit trees. The Garden was bigger than what the land seemed and she was always slammin’ that porch door screaming for whoever happened to be standin’ there to get them dern chickens off them eggs. “Don’t let them dern birds sit on em!”

Homesteading reminds me of this. A glimpse into the past. So when people start doing it, it isn’t so odd to me.

Where I live, most already do it but I have noticed that many have or are choosing to lose touch with the old ways. Electronics and newly aged conveniences are replacing the more old-fashioned stuff. And most folks around here will act like you have marbles in your mouth, too, if you throw that word Homesteading around. But it’s out there, taking root in a world where most thought it was long forgotten.

Today’s Homesteaders are downsizing and I suppose you could say, uncluttering their lives. Instead of popping into the local grocery store to buy chicken, they are learning how to raise and butcher their own birds. They are figuring things out– thank the stars for the internet–one present-day wonder that seems to be helping us all out.

So that being said, what is Homesteading, exactly? What was I saying about umbrellas? It’s living more sufficiently. People who are Homesteaders try to use less electricity, eliminate waste, trading the fast food for home-cooked, and cooking from scratch what you have raised or grown yourself– or what you know someone else to have raised or grown.

Living off Grid, takes it one step further depending on how far a person wants to go. There are some out there who go completely pioneer, ditching electricity and damn near everything that makes life more P9030473comfortable. Some have electricity but use solar panels and such. Basically, those who live off-grid find a way to do it for themselves and if they can’t, then they aren’t doing it at all.

How do they manage to do that in a world one step away from being something Sci-fi or ruled by Robots?

By building Businesses and at least using the internet to work those skills and trades.

Keywords: Skills or Trades. We are seeing a rise in those, as well. Men and women picking up old worldly skills such as Blacksmithing. Others learning how to build things with their hands and more.The opportunities are there but finding a way to work them — what you were born to work– is another. Either lifestyle– extreme or not– is hard work. Weather, Disease, Nature, the World around us– can make it even harder. But don’t feel discouraged because nothing will ever feel more satisfying.

There is an extreme path to both terms and under each umbrella, you have many layers of people choosing how extreme they are going to go. I know of people who still work in the city, but live in the County on land, raising animals, growing food, and such. Others have disconnected from the world completely– except for that internet– and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are those out there that have ditched the internet, too. Women have traded diapers for cloth, make their own Aunt-Flow items and many are Homeschooling kids. Healing comes from home and Doctors are the last straw kind of deal while many see physicians regularly.

All these things are optional. It depends on you and how far you want to go.Remember that because if you do keep the internet, if you do seek out others online, you will run into the same arrogance we find in all areas of life. Someone cutting you down because you aren’t extreme enough maybe too simple things like Canning. That’s not including people you see every day or often like friends and family who will think you’re off your rocker for living this way.

As for me? I raise or hunt as much meat as I can. I grow as much food and Can as much as I am able. I live in the Country with some land but my dream is to have more. My kids are not homeschooled. They are very active in Sports and have a natural talent when it comes to them. While I want them to know the old ways in case the world goes belly up or just to preserve the knowledge that I have, I want them to also enjoy the things they are drawn too.

I own a Salon in my home and my husband owns a small Masonry Company. We still interact with the outside world and clearly, I am using the internet. I live as much like my Grandma and her people as much as possible because we are more comfortable this way. I dream of moving deeper into the mountains where all is still and quiet but in order to work for myself, I have to be closer to the rest of the world.

And I know of some who live in tents (or have) and campers, while they build their homes or carve out their land. The only time I go off-grid is when we go camping and because of our animals, we don’t get to do that so much anymore. But I make as much as I can– soaps and such when I am able– and I enjoy a simpler way of life. But like Grandma, I am thankful for the luxuries I do have– electricity, air conditioning, indoor plumbing– though I know how to survive without them.

So, if you are looking to live in a cabin built by your own hands or a tiny house or off the land, you can go to whatever extreme you want. And don’t get confused by the terms. They are just what’s trending. To most of us with roots here in the Appalachian Mountains, we are familiar with what is trending as this has always been our way of life. But, like all of you, we grew up and decided how much of it we would keep, how much of it we want back and to what extreme is right for us.

Posted in Beef, Canning & Preserving, Carnivore, Chicken, From Scratch, Other, Pork, Rabbit Recipes, Soups & Stews, Uncategorized, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

How to Make Bone Broth/Stock

broth3Allot of flavor to this one, so beware. In fact, once you do taste how good this is, and how easy, you may never touch store-bought brands again. That being said, this is easily customize-able according to your personal tastes. So, I’m going to give you the basic 411 on how to make it, explain how you can adjust it, and then let you go from there. One thing is for certain, though– you won’t ever throw out bones again. Not until you’ve made this!


This can be made with ANY and EVERY kind of meat/bone out there. Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Beef, Rabbit, Deer (Venison), etc.


Different scenarios….

Now, say, you haven’t cooked any meat yet. Say, you are wanting to make something like Chicken Soup or a Cream of Chicken Soup. (I have a great Cream of Chicken, Mushroom and Kale Soup Recipe made with Bone Stock I’m about to post!). Put a whole chicken in a pot of water– I usually put enough water in to cover the bird– and cook until meat is tender enough to pull off of the bone. Pull the chicken out, let it cool enough to work with– pull meat off. Put the meat to the side. Put the bones (and DON’T worry if there is still some meat left on them) on a pan and stick in the oven under the Broiler. Brown. Flip and Brown.

Why are we browning them? Flavor. To Brown is to Flavor. Memorize that.

Once the Bones are brown, add them back to the pot, add more water if need be, bring to a boil and then Simmer about 4-6 hours. Some add it to a Crockpot and let it go all day. You do what’s easiest for you.

Once done, STRAIN the Bones from the Liquid– and what you have is, Liquid Gold.


Another scenario is what to do with Bones you’ve already cooked or cut the meat off of. Like, left over Turkey bones, Deer bones, etc.


Again, brown under a Broiler and then simmer, simmer, simmer.


If the Bones are from an Uncooked Carcass, no worries. Brown them and simmer, simmer, simmer.

Now, some are against browning and that part is ALL up to you. If you don’t like to Brown, then just cook.


Options: Broth v/s Stock


You can add Veggies and herbs to the water– carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, onions, whatever you like. You don’t have to chop them perfectly. Some people don’t even peel. They just toss em in. You can roast them under a broiler or just toss. They will all be strained in the end.

Now, the strength of your Bone Broth will depend on Cooking Time. I cooked my Liquid down once– by a lucky accident. By doing so, I realized I created something of a Condensed Stock. So, I added it to smaller Jars and then Froze it. This will be used by adding more Water, or for my Cream based Soups, etc. It’s REALLY Potent.

That brings us to the last bit…preserving. Depending on how much I have, depends on how I preserve it. Some, I add to Jars (leaving 2 inches of head space for expansion) and Freeze. Some, I add to Jars and then Pressure Can 11Lbs of Pressure for 70 minutes. (Times depend on rules YOU follow.)

Any questions, YELL!