Time to Bake: AppleRumCraisin pie using my dehydrated fruit

Hubby has been hungry for apple pie lately so I pulled out my recipe for using my dehydrated apples and cranberries and baked up this pie for him. He says it is the best apple pie ever.

One of the best things about using dehydrated apples is there is no soggy bottom crust and no hard crust rim.

This 10″ pie uses dehydrated apples and dried cranberries or raisins which have soaked about 24 hours in a rum/water solution to hydrate.     To measure the apples pour enough dry apples into a pie plate to form a slight mound….. remember they will double in size when rehydrated.

Add approximately one cup of craisins or raisins, along with the apples to a large bowl, cover with room temperature water and rum to taste. (about half/half)

Optional:  add a cup of broken walnuts

Next day:  drain the fruit and let them continue draining while you prepare the pie crust.

Heat oven: 375F

Pie Crust:    3 cups all-purpose flour, pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cup shortening or lard, 3/4 cup cold water     (or your favorite recipe for a 10″ pie…. make extra, I doubled my regular crust recipe).

To keep the crust flaky and light handle it as little as possible.  I use a spatula to cut in the shortening to the flour until it is incorporated and the result is somewhat granular.  Then I add the water and mix in using the spatula.

Use fingertips only to finish the dough and form into a ball. Separate the ball into two pieces using  1/3 and 2/3 dough.  Place on a floured surface and gently press to form a disc.  Using a light touch, roll the dough into a circle large enough for to hang over the top rim of the pie plate.

Roll out the top crust larger so there is ample to cover the pie, hang over the rim and create a sealed edge with the bottom crust.

Filling: Mix together 2 cups sugar (more if you like it sweet),   2 tbl instant sure-gel, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves.

Filling:   In a skillet melt 3-4 tbl butter.         Add fruit and gently heat through.   Slowly mix in the sugar mixture until it has all been incorporated.   Add a few tbls rum.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and arrange neatly.  Sprinkle 1 tbl rum over the filling.

Cover with top crust, seal, add decorations, cut in vents, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the crust.

Bake 1 hour.  Cool on rack until cool.   The filling will “set up” as it cools.


A Bittersweet Day at the Farm

We knew this day would come, just didn’t expect it to come so quickly!   As I mentioned earlier I had decided it was best for me to find a new home for my goat herd since I am no longer able to care for them.

It took only a few hours following a notice I placed on a Facebook Goat group page to have a new home arranged for them.   This morning their new owner arrived at the farm to meet them and take them to their new home in NC.

A lovely young couple are adding the herd to their new homestead, where I feel certain they will thrive.

Another new beginning for all of us.


It Has Been a Busy Summer…. and waste water update

It is hard to believe we are already in December! Where has the year gone?

Stress-filled for sure, but things are finally looking up….somewhat.

Let’s begin with an update on the waste-water situation.    From what we’ve been hearing around the area, the waste-water/septic issue has also been rearing its ugly head to those who had previously been “grandfathered” in with their ancient systems and emptying their laundry water out onto the ground are no longer saved from these environmental laws.

They also must go through the evaluation/inspection/design and most of all, the expense of replacing their old systems and meeting the new codes.  Many of these folks are hardworking, blue-collar people who do not have the means to go through the process without re-mortgaging their homes.

We finally reached the conclusion that by the time we completed the process to get an approved system we would have spent half the money we had saved up to restore the farmhouse.

By chance, while we were exploring the nearby town, we came across a new on the market, estate sale home.   In a good neighborhood, with an acre of land, and a once elegant home we decided buying it was our best option.

We were able to purchase this home with the funds we had saved up to restore the farmhouse so, no mortgage and ready to live in.   Being an estate sale there are of course repairs and updating to do, but they are few.

The farm is only a few miles away and we go there every day to tend to the animals and do chores.   Our farm life hasn’t turned out the way we had dreamed, but it isn’t all bad either.

We replaced the chicken flock six months ago, and we are still waiting to

find an egg.  The new flock consists of Star Spangled Hamburgs, Aracanas and Black Astralorps.  Four hens and one rooster of each breed in the hopes of increasing the flock.


We also raised a dozen meat chickens.  This year we tried raising Red Rangers and they are wonderful!  We are never going back to the Cornish X.  The RR are big, beautiful and friendly chickens.   They are great foragers and taste great.

There was no garden at the farm this year, sadly.  Even the raised garden I attempted did not work out.   I believe our luck will improve next season as our land in town is better for growing a garden…. there is even a section where I may be able to plant a small orchard.

My long dreamed hope to raise goats for milk is coming to an end.  Since breaking my ankle last year I have been having a difficult time tending to the goats.  After trying all these months to “make it work” I have come to the painful realization that my sweet things would be better off on a farm where they can receive the proper attention.  So it breaks my heart, but I am re-homing my herd as soon as I can find a suitable home for them.

Well, this has been what has happened since my last posting.  Not good, but not all bad either.  Through the next few months I will be re-thinking our situation and the farm, and develop a new plan for going forward with our homestead dream.

As I’ve advised so many people who have asked how can they homestead:  Homesteading isn’t a matter of where you live,  but, rather, how you live.  We still have our farm, and will continue our “Simple Life” homesteading lifestyle.  After all evolving means changing and adapting and we are getting pretty adept at it.

Until next time….. thanks for visiting.


Waste Water Management Nightmare Continues

I wish I had better news to share, but the fact is I don’t.

We finally made contact with a personal engineer regarding getting a design for a waste water system.  That’s where the good news ends, at least for now.

It appears that nobody moves very quickly in the south.  In fact they would need to pick up the pace just to move at slow speed.

After getting the report for our soil we delivered it by hand to the Health Department agent in town who is supposed to be our “go to ” guy.    He is about as helpful as a blind man telling you which tie you’re holding looks best with your complexion.

He gave us a list of personal engineers to interview for our waste water management system, and after going through the entire list only two were actually still around, and one never answered his phone, returned voice messages, or responded to email.

That leaves us with one from the long list given to us.  They at last returned our call, and maintained email contact while we sent them the documents they need to review.  Great, right?

It has taken nearly three months to get to this point.  Last week we were at last ready for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the process, the options and the price for the design.

Mind you, this waste water system is for a one bedroom, one bath home with two adults, and a composting toilet.  No dishwasher or other water consuming appliance.

Including watering the animals, we use less than ten gallons of water daily.

They are telling us what we need is a 1,000 gallon sealed tank (plastic), chlorination and de-chlorination equipment and an ultra-violet system which will leave the water pure enough to drink…… but instead of pumping it back into the house they plan to have it pour out onto the ground.

The entire system will be installed above ground, in what they refer to as a “mound” system and will cost around $20,000 and will require monthly maintenance.

That’s not including their design cost of $4,000 and it is not guaranteed that it will be approved by the state.

They’ve said that when we meet and after they do a site visit (tell me again why we had the other guy do a site visit?)  they may be able to design a less expensive system.

We asked for an appointment for a meeting this week, but apparently the “engineer” is on vacation until next week.

Meanwhile, we are looking at all our options including giving up and moving to another state that is a bit more relaxed.

Meet the Kids…already 9 days and 15 days old

Daisy and Violet were on Friday, June 9, 2017  to Penny

Charlotte delivered Chase, the only buckling, Rose, the tiniest, and Lily on Friday, June 16, 2017 .

Dawson is the sire.

They are all healthy, happy and very playful.   They are for sale with papers ready for registering with the ADGA.

Rose at 9 days
Violet at 15 days
Lily at 9 days
Chase @ 9 days
Daisy at 15 days

Dishwashing Grandma’s Way

If you wash dishes by hand and, like me, use a metal dish pan (mine is an antique enamel tub), place a folded dish towel in the bottom of the dish pan to keep your glassware and dinnerware from possible damage by the contact with metal.

When it comes to hand washing dishes, rinsing off that soapy residue can use quite a lot of water. Since we don’t have running water I use three containers of water.

The first is the dish pan with warm, soapy water. Begin by washing the cleanest things first.

Also, before washing, clean off the cookware and dinnerware first by wiping away any food debris and disposing of it. A hot pan or skillet is much easier to clean than a cold one. While the pan is still hot, drain off any liquid, then wipe away anything that remains. You can easily completely clean a skillet this way.

Glassware first, then flatware, cups, plates and bowls, last cookware. Just as each is washed separately, remove the washed articles to the first rinse water container which holds warm water and vinegar. Then from there move them to the final rinse bath to remove possible hint of the vinegar or soap. By the time the second load of dishes is washed and rinsed, the first load is air-dried and ready to be put away.

I have tested this method against my “former” automated dishwasher, and I had all the dishes washed, dried and put away in less time than it took the DW to start its wash cycle. Just think of all the water and electricity that DW used compared to the 2-3 gallons I used doing them by hand.

After the dishes are finished I can continue using the same water for other cleaning, such as washing down the counters, cupboard doors, and stove. Or use it to wash the floor.

Charlotte had Triplets!

Our second doe, Charlotte, delivered triplets on Friday morning.  Two doelings and a buckling.  Rose, Lily and Chase.

Charlotte needed some assistance to deliver the second, and while we were busy getting the camera as Nick described to me how he became a goat’s mid-wife, Charlotte delivered a third, tiny doeling!

They arrived one week almost to the hour, after Penny delivered her twins, Daisy and Violet.

In one week’s time our tiny herd has grown from 3 to 8 goats!

3 mouths, 2 teats.

Look What We Found in the Barn This Morning!

Penny gave birth to two little girls this morning, we found these in the barn.     It was a surprise because, although we knew she was expecting, her belly didn’t get very large and we thought  the other goat, Charlotte, who’s belly is quite large, would be first to kid.

These are also our first births and we are quite excited…. now to figure out what to do next.

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A Few Thoughts About Living Off Grid

I thought I’d share this story about a Florida woman who was living completely off grid.  She harvested rain water, had solar power, etc and was completely unconnected from the utilities and was evicted from the home she owned because of it.   Lately I have been hearing about states that are trying to make illegal to not be “connected”. If someone has solar power, they must use the power company for backup instead of batteries.  How stupid is that?   I believe, however, all the states now permit harvesting rain water.   Here in the US, each state has its own rules and regulations.                                    Evicted for Living Off Grid

We have been 100% off grid since moving here last October.  No electricity, no running water, etc.  If we cannot produce what we need, we do without.  We don’t let the generator run 7/24 as it is a waste of fuel to have it running during the night just for the fridge, so we time it so it will run out around mid-night.  Then Nick fuels it before he leaves for “the office” in the morning, about 8 hours later.

The generator gives us power for lighting, the computer, the little RV fridge, the microwave and electric appliances such as the water kettle, electric skillet and slow cooker.   We also have two propane camp stoves, each with two burners, and I have a camp oven which requires only that is rest upon one of the gas burners to operate.  I can bake anything in it that I would normally bake in my “big” oven…. only smaller.  It can hold a pie, loaf pan, 6 muffin tin, etc.
Back in the old days when I had my wood cooking stove I used one on top of that.  I haven’t yet tried it on a camp fire.

So far we haven’t built an outhouse or gotten a composting toilet, though both are on the list.  We have a bathroom in the motor-home and Nick empties the holding tank to a “special” composting bin.  There is an excellent book available that is probably the best resource out there regarding how to gather, compost and use humanure and is one of my “go to” books.   The Scoop on Poop

For now we have a bored well, about 20 feet deep, from which we, that is Nick pulls up water in a bucket.  We boil around 10 gallons for safety, every day, for watering the livestock and for bathing and cleaning.  We buy water for drinking and cooking…. just because….

Laundry is done either by hand with a wash tub and plunger/agitator; or Nick takes it to the laundrette while he is in town.  He can work anywhere as long as his mobile hotspot has a signal.  I still struggle with him to at least bring home the wet wash so I can line dry it, but more often than not, he doesn’t.

food storage

This is the first year in many that I don’t have any food from my garden to preserve. Thankfully, I thought ahead last year anticipating this, and there is plenty of food still on the shelves inside the house.

The old farmhouse has become a storage facility for our household goods which are all in boxes and plastic crates.  We still have all the furniture to move from the house in CT.

food storage


Living here, without pubic utilities,  has given us ample time to learn what works and what doesn’t, especially when it comes to the old farmhouse.  We had intended to restore it, but the red tape in doing that has gotten out of hand.  So we are now planning to build a new cabin, further back on the property, for our home.

Recently I discovered a  Canadian television video series about two couples who went to live in rural Ottowa, Canada for an entire year as pioneer settlers of the 1870’s.  They had very little with them, we actually have more tools than they had, with which to build their homes and farm.  There were also faced with the wettest spring and coldest winter in 120 years.  I learned quite a bit from watching how they managed to live, totally off grid, and recommend to anyone wanting to live off grid to view it.  Both for what can be learned, and for its entertainment value.  It is a good show.    Pioneer Quest

For now, we rely on the food I preserved and stocked last year.  Except for chicken, we are running low on beef and so must get some things from the market.  Now that the farm stands are open I will be getting fresh produce from the community farmstand nearby, and we found a place that sells local meat, and the goats will be kidding soon and we will have our own milk.  And though they won’t be laying for a few months, our new flock of laying chicks will be arriving in about ten days, along with a dozen meat chicks.  We will need two dozen meat chickens to put up for the coming year.

I would love to be able to build a cabin from the trees on our land, but at our age it isn’t a project for us.  We are looking at “kits”  and “build on site” cabins for our new home.  Once the shell of the home is constructed and finished by professionals, we intend to do the interior work ourselves.

For my first birthday with DH, many years ago, he surprised me with a wonderful gift.  The box was about the size of a shoebox and was quite heavy.  When opened I found a little jewel box with a beautiful ruby and diamond ring…. but what gave the box its weight was the special gift… a brick with a note reading that this would be the first brick laid in our new home.   It’s taken 16 years to get there, but it looks like we will finally get to lay that brick this year.

Now the question is how “connected” this new home will be to the grid.  I would love it to be 0%… but until we can afford to get the wind turbine………
Are  you living off grid?  How do you manage?   I’d love to know.

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