Friday, February 3, 2017

STOCKING UP - Drying Bella Mushrooms


I've been wanting to dry Baby Bella mushrooms for awhile. When I'm home alone, I can't go through an entire #1 carton on my own before they start to fuzz over. This picture shows 1 of 4 racks on my food dehydrater. I also only use the caps. I don't care for the stems.

My trays are lined with wire mesh screen I purchased from the local hardware store and cut to fit.

This is what they looked like after 24 hours:

I didn't need to leave them for 24 hours I don't think, but I got up way earlier than I wanted so went back to bed... much longer than I wanted. LOL

And this is the final result:

#1 mushrooms dried to 1 cup. A tight fit in a jelly jar.

I dried some the next morning. I rehydrated about 4 T of the dried mushrooms in hot water for about ten minutes then added them to my egg scramble. Perfect!

Now that I know this works well, I'm going to buy a larger quantity at Sam's Club and get a bunch of them put into jars.

Have you tried dehydrating mushrooms? Do you find a difference between varieties? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

FOR THE BIRDS - Homemade Suet Cake

This woodpecker is one of the reasons I make sure I have suet feeders available throughout the yard. Of course, I also have a chipmunk (Chip), a couple of squirrels as well as a variety of birds that enjoy them as well. 

I love watching the birds at the feeders. One feeder hangs on the side of an oak tree. I've noticed I have two varieties of woodpeckers, but one will only BACK down the tree. He never comes head first... and he beeps as he comes down. Is he afraid of heights? Or is this common for his species. I'm still studying him. 

While I could get suet cakes for as little as 97 cents a piece, I decided to make my own primarily because I know what's in them.  I also had a supply of lard in our freezer that had been there since 2009. I didn't care for it in pie crusts so the butcher paper-wrapped blocks have just stayed in the freezer unused. 

After scouring Pinterest for ideas, I revised a recipe from better hens & gardens. The Dump Cake method:

Mixed Nuts and Peanuts left in the pantry
Peanut Butter
Quick Oats (though I did use Old Fashioned, too)

Not shown:
Corn Meal
Cracked Corn wild bird feed
Dried Cherries

I used creamy peanut butter for two reasons. 1) I found that when I made the first batch, the crunchy wanted to stick to the pan and scorch. 2) I prefer creamy lol

She suggests 2 C. corn meal. For the first batch I didn't have corn meal. That's when I started using the cracked corn. Now that I have both, future batches will have 1 C of each. Also, in place of sugar I used molasses for one batch and honey for another. I have plenty of both.  I ran the dried cherries through my mini food chopper.

The Mix

I've saved the trays from store-bought suet cakes. But I also froze 9x13 pans for my larger feeders

This is one I've started cutting apart to fit the large square feeder. The end pieces I put a couple in the long, square block feeders. Smaller pieces were placed on the ground for Chip and the Squirrel.

This is a left over piece that I wrapped in plastic and put back in the freezer until I need it.

I put the last of the 2nd batch in my feeders today so tomorrow I'm going to mix up as many as I can with the ingredients I have on hand. I am going through one of the small squares about every other day. I wound up having to wire the cage shut to keep the squirrels from running off with the entire cake. Crafty little critters, they be.

Monday, January 30, 2017

WEEKEND TRAVELS - West Plains & The Journey

Yesterday, I took Bob out to Colton's Steakhouse in West Plains MO to meet Cowboy Rick, Arkansas Bev, some of the cowboys and The Journey stagecoach.

I'll be telling you more about The Journey in later posts. For now, just some pictures from our day.


The Boot

The Driver's Seat


These pictures were taken off a side road in Winona MO.  I love the sweeping cloud base. These pictures are from 2012. I still have a ton of pictures to get off another memory card and organize.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Happy New Year!

After many changes in my life in 2016, I'm hoping things are back on track. I have several things to share with you over the coming weeks. Today seemed like a good day to kick things off.

If you've not been to The Big Family Homestead on YouTube, I encourage you to check them out. They have a variety of 'homesteading' tips as well as tech tips for using YouTube to share your message.

This week, they are having a Seed Swap and a Giveaway (ends Sunday night!) Winners will be announced during their Sunday Livestream (7 p.m. EST)

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment and share one of their videos.  By now I think you all know how I am about making sure I have plenty of water on hand for drinking, cooking and daily household maintenance. The crisis they speak of that occurred in Corpus Christi Texas a couple of months ago is just one of the many reasons to Be Prepared!

Here's a video where Brad talks about the crisis and the importance of having water on hand:

After you've watched the video, please consider taking stock of your current water supply on hand. Do you have enough to sustain you in the event your power is out for even a couple of days? Or if something contaminates your well or water supply? 

While you're at it, research water purification should you have to share the stream with a local eco-system.

YouTube videos I found of interest:

Reality Survival:

Simple & Quick method from Bushcraft412

NOTE: I have not tried either of these methods but hope to in the near future. Aside from being prepared with water on hand, it's important to PRACTICE the skills BEFORE we need them.

Be Prepared!

Friday, September 30, 2016


We are almost through the first full week of Fall. Temperatures are finally beginning to feel like Autumn and the desire for comfort foods is building. Foods such as Chili, soups, casseroles, etc. Dishes that are best with crackers included in the recipe or as an addition to the bowl. 

One product we use a lot of is TownHouse crackers. I can't sneak an off-brand by Bob (but I have a plan). If you've ever opened up a package and gotten that waxy plastic taste, you know that their packaging is NOT the best option for longterm storage.

I was able to get a package and a half in a 1quart jar with my Foodsaver.

Now, there are a couple of gals on YouTube who get fancy by stacking them. I didn't stack and got the same amount in each jar.

I also bought three boxes of the TownHouse Italian Flatbread Crackers and got the same amount in the jars.

The plain buttery crackers will be great for adding to casseroles. I can mix those with the Italian Flatbread crackers for Chicken Parmesan. 

Because I've heard mixed stories about using the FoodSaver for 'crumb' type items, I chose to put the full crackers in the jar and will crush them as needed. 

Since these pictures were taken I've also purchest Mini Saltines (I prefer saltines in my soup and these are 1/4th the size of a saltine square and Oyster Crackers (which Bob prefers in his chilli).  As soon as I've finished moving craft pattern books up to the studio, I'll have a full 5-shelf book case for these dry goods. The jars are lighter weight than regular canned goods so the cheaper partical board shelves will withhold these jars nicely. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

ROAD TRIP - Ozark Sustainable Living Festival

Last Saturday I braved what I thought was going to be a pleasant weather day to attend the Ozarks Sustainable Living Festival at the Next Step Seventh Day Adventist Church in West Plains MO.

The church hosted a similar festival two years ago with what I believe was a much better organized, attended event (both by vendors and those interested in 'sustainable' living. First, I'm going to show you what I saw then give a this year verses two years ago critique.

These first pictures were taken from three different vantage points around the field/ track of the church yard.
as I approached from the parking area

to the left facing the church

from the back side of the track

I was disappointed in the number of vendors. I realize the weather was questionable, after having survived three days of heavy rain. Two years ago, we had an organic beef meat processor educating as well as offering burgers for sale from their food trailer. There were also a lot more educational booths on sustainability and prepping-type information.

I understand the lack of food availability on the track may have been due to the church offering a vegan burger plate inside the church. (Though I can NOT be sure that was the reason for lack of other options.. just an observation.)

Booths on the lawn included:

Blacksminth Matthias Pen from Ava MO

Garden of Hope (Killian) from Doniphan MO
Garden Nursery, Air Plants, Succulents

Activities for kids such as Balloons

I did not get this gentleman's name but he appeared as if this was the last place he wanted to be.
 Very unapproachable. Notice Tupperware in the background. 

While Tupperware has been around for generations, any prepper knows that plastic is NOT the best way to store long-term. 

There were1 -hr  time slots for seminars in the Main Hall:

Sustainability - The Big Picture Overview  /w Larry Sweet
Food - Our Unsustainable Food System -- help change it  /w Dan Leary
Energy - Everything Needs Power /w Craig Wiles 
Community - We're All Part of This  /w Galen Chadwick
Shelter - Earthships for Sustainable Living /w Allen & Mary Severin 
Panel of 'Experts' - Bring Your Questions
Economics - Prosperity without 'growth' /w Mike Luster

I missed the first seminar, got in on the tail end of the second and sat through part of the third. What I did hear was a lot of 'background' information but no how to put the information into practice. They did offer a sign-up to get an MP3 disk of all the seminars for $5. I signed up for one to hear the ones I missed. 

I couldn't sit through the rest of Energy and rain moved in so I headed out for lunch and to pick up a few things at the box store. Before I'd finished lunch, the sky opened up and began flooding the streets so I bypassed the box store and headed home. I later heard on the news that had I not left when I did, I might have been camping out at the local Comfort Inn for the night due to impassable roads.  

Sustaining Sponsors (contributing $1000 or more to support the event):
Professional Resume Writers (Mick Slack)

Aside from vendors and children's activities, there was to be music. There wasn't anyone there while I was there.

In comparison to the festival of two years ago, I was disappointed in this festival and would have accomplished more staying home.