Posts from the ‘Food’ Category

New Resources Added to The Learning Academy

We’ve added:

to The Modern Pioneer Learning Academy. Available to read online or download. We recommend printing them out just in case. More coming soon!



Why You Shouldn’t Homestead

Basic Homemade Pasta Recipe & How-to

Making pasta is so easy, you are going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The recipe is ridiculously simple and the prep is a cinch. I am embarrassed that I did not start making it years ago. However, let us not dwell on the past! I am making it now and I will show you how you can, too.

The Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of water

See? That’s literally all you need. Combine the flour and the salt, then make a well and add the lightly beaten egg. Mix these together, then add the water and work it until a stiff dough forms. (It’ll be very crumbly, so keep working at it with your hands until all the flour is incorporated.) Once you have a ball of stiff dough, knead it for 4 minutes and then let it rest for at least 5 minutes so that it is a little easier to work with, otherwise it’ll be too difficult to roll out.


After the dough has rested, roll it out with a rolling pin until it is thin enough to fit in between the rollers on your pasta machine when they are set at the widest setting (on mine, this is 7). If you don’t have a pasta maker, just keep rolling it out. If you need one, this one is like mine.


When it’s thin enough to fit between the rollers, just roll it through.


Dialing down the settings on the machine, decrease the space between the rollers so that the pasta gradually gets thinner and thinner. Once mine gets down to 4, it is usually pretty long, so I cut it in half.


You can make the pasta as thick or thin as you want. I usually stop at 2, where it is thin enough to see my hand through. The picture below is on 3.


The end result is two very long, very thin pieces of dough.


Now, I feed them into the fettuccine attachment on my pasta maker and cut them out. If you are not using a pasta machine, then once you are done rolling (which will take quite a while), you can then use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut your pasta noodles out.



Once they are done, put them in a bowl, dust with flour and toss them to coat so they don’t stick. You may still have to pull some apart.


From this point, they can be prepared, frozen or hung and dried. I hung a few batches the other day so that I can store them. I don’t have a pasta drying rack (yet), so I just sterilized two plastic hangers and used them. Worked just fine.


If you dry the pasta, it needs between 8 and 24 hours to dry, depending on how thick it is and the humidity factor in your home. When they dry, they are pretty brittle, so be careful when handling them. You can add basil, spinach or many other herbs to the egg before you add it to the flour for an added zip. Bon appetite!

The Importance of Greywater

If you live on a homestead or are planning to in the future, you’ve probably heard of greywatergreywater. So what the heck is it?! Grey water is a term used to describe the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances. Basically, grey water is “used” water that is not toilet water (that’s called “black water”).

If you are moving to a homestead, you need to have a plan for what will happen to your greywater. It has to go somewhere. Many folks use it to irrigate their garden or orchard, but this can be tricky if you use detergents or harsh soaps in your laundry. Too much of that stuff can kill your plants, and you might not have the money or knowledge to create a complicated filtering system. A good way to get around that is to use non-detergent soaps in your cleaning applications. You can either buy it or make your own using non-detergent “soaps” like yucca root and soapnuts, as we do. You should still filter the water at least a little, of course. There can be organic matter in it, such as from washing dishes and it needs to be purified a bit. However, if you are composting your scraps and not allowing large particles of food down the drain, you don’t have to worry too much.

It’s easy enough to divert your greywater to your garden or orchard site. You simply run itwater filter
through a pipe that opens into a drainage area. That’s it! It’s best to use a system that relies on water flow rather than pooling or collection. This cuts down on pathogens and bacteria allowed to grow in it. You don’t want to store greywater unless you’ve got a good purification system set up for cleaning it. If you’re going to use it for a garden of edible veggies, ditto. We personally use vinegar in the laundry rinse water, as a conditioning rinse for our hair in the shower, and we plan on constructing a natural filtration system for it in the drainage area. You could also add hydrogen peroxide to your greywater system to help with purifying it. It can be good for plants, too!

It should go without saying that it isn’t recommended to reuse greywater for drinking or cooking, regardless of whether you’ve cleaned it or not. If you need a clean drinking water solution for your homestead, try harvesting rain water and purifying it with a Berkey water filtration system. No power needed!

Try one of these organic artisan herbal teas by Artisan Orchard!


Organic herbal teas by Artisan Orchard are specially crafted and carefully custom-blended using herbs and flowers known for their therapeutic properties, our herbal teas are both delicious and beneficial. Best of all, they are organic, non-GMO, vegetarian/vegan, compostable, hand-crafted and caffeine-free!

Zzzz Tea: A fragrant blend of flowers and herbs renowned over centuries for their relaxing and sleep-promoting properties, Zzzz Tea is perfect at the end of the day.

Sick & Tired Tea: Formulated from herbs and flowers specifically used for hundreds of years to fight colds, flu and to boost the immune system, Sick & Tired is the best for when you are not feeling well. Enjoy one to two cups a day until you feel better. You can also enjoy some to boost your immune system when you aren’t sick.

Anxi-a-Tea: Crafted from herbs and flowers used since the beginnings of herbal medicine for their relaxing properties, Anxi-a-Tea helps take the edge off in a big way. Can be enjoyed any time of day, even in the morning.

Lo-Tea: Created with flowers and herbs chosen for their proven ability to lower blood pressure, Lo-Tea is crafted to help promote and maintain low blood pressure numbers. Because of it’s fantastic ability to lower blood pressure, Lo-Tea should not be used more than once a day until you see how it will affect you.

Stomach Ease Tea: Using herbs and plants very well-known for their ability to ease stomach pains and problems, Stomach Ease can be enjoyed any time of day.

Sampler: This package contains 4 bags each of our Zzzz, Sick & Tired, Anxi-a-Tea, & Stomach Ease teas.

All blends: 20 single-use tea bags, $7.00 + $3.00 S&H. Please address payment to via PayPal or order through Etsy


Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized

A lot of people don’t drink milk for various reasons, and humans are the only animal that still drinks milk after infancy. We are also the only animal that consistently drinks the milk of another animal. Weird, right? However, if you do the dairy thing, you might be interested in this infographic comparing raw milk to pasteurized milk.


How to Process a Rabbit For Meat

From The Coop to The Table: How To Process a Chicken at Home

Fall is coming and many will be processing meat soon. Originally posted on All credit goes to them for this wonderful tutorial with pictures! Howling Duck Ranch also has a wonderful tutorial with (graphic) pictures for processing goats. 

With the rising cost of food and especially meat, many people are looking to closer to home to start raising their food. Backyard gardens are on the rise, and many people are starting to raise their own chickens for eggs. Meat chickens are one meat source that can be raised with minimal space (compared to say, a cow), convert feed efficiently, and can be processed at home with not much more than a sharp knife and a big pot.

This post will go through all of the steps to process a chicken at home.
Obviously, this is “graphic”. If you aren’t here to see how meat is made from a living animal, stop here and go check out another page. If you are anti-meat, stop here. If you can’t stand the sight of anatomy, stop here. If you are not interested in how to process a chicken, stop here.
Here’s a shot of some of the meat birds. They are Cornish cross from Tractor Supply. They are seven weeks old, about the average age of all the chicken you get in a store. They are fed a 20% protein feed, no medication/antibiotics/hormones etc. These guys eat a LOT – in seven weeks, one dozen consumed about 200lbs of feed. They need a lot of water as well, close to the end, the dozen was consuming about 3 gallons a day.
First step not shown is getting your chicken. These guys are lazy and don’t really run much. Pick them up and carry them to your designated slaughter spot. My spot is in the garage, with a rope hung from a gambrel pulley. The rope has a loop at the end, which I double around to make a noose of sorts that slides easily. I place the chicken’s feet in the noose, and gently lower them to hang. Chickens will stop struggling and hang limp when upside down.
Find the jawbone of the chicken on one side. I use a scalpel, since it’s the absolute sharpest blade I can get. You want your cut to be fast and quick, for minimal suffering to your chicken. Think about if you cut yourself on a very sharp knife – the pain doesn’t start for a few minutes. In the chicken’s case, in a few minutes, they will no longer be alive to have that pain. Cut deep enough to slice the artery, but not so deep you cut the trachea. I hold the scruff of the chicken to make the skin tight against the throat – not choking him, but snug.
 I do one fast slice, and then lower the chicken into a contractor bag inside a bucket that has some heavy stuff in the bottom. This way, they are placed in the dark, they don’t struggle, and they will pass away without panic. At the end of their life, when blood loss is nearly complete, muscle spasms will occur. The bucket keeps blood and whatnot contained.
 I like to wash off the chicken to remove the blood and any dirt or poo. I find it makes the scalding not have the stink many complain about.
 I keep my scald water on the stove, in an old water bath canning pot. I fill about 2/3 full, and then squirt in a good squirt or two of dish soap. This helps work into the feathers to loosen, and also keeps the smell down. I find the prewash with the hose helps heat transfer, so I lose less heat when scalding, which means less time to bring the water to temp. I aim for about 150 degrees, and check the water temp between birds.
 I do one bird at a time. Put him in the water, and use a pair of tongs to swish him around. You want all parts of him to get nice and warm. The water temp is also not high enough to burn you, or cook the meat.
 Scalding is done when you can grasp a wing feather and it pulls out, instead of pulling the bird out of the water. This is usually under a minute.
 Start plucking. Feathers will slide right out, I like to go against the grain of the feathers to really get them out fast.
 You can take feathers by the handful.
The wing feathers are little, just slide them off. I don’t do a perfect pluck, just get the majority off. I will do a final go over when I wash the bird after gutting.
The feet have a skin on them, that can be peeled off. Feet make a good stock.
One cleaned off foot.
 Find the joint at the hock, and place the blade there. You should be able to cut right through. If you are struggling, you are too high or too low.
Once the cut is nearly through, cut from the bottom of the joint.
The feet come off.
Cut along the back of the neck….
All the way from the base of the head to the back.
 Slide the skin up on the base of the head, and cut the head off at the base.
 Peel the skin off the neck and the “tubing”, and then cut off the neck skin with the head attached. Leave the tubing to keep food from coming from the crop out.
Peel the tubing – esophagus and trachea – from the neck.
 Turn the chicken over, and separate some of the skin off the breast. The crop is stuck to the skin and the breast meat. Work it off both, so there is a sack attached to the esophagus, and then the tubing going into the body.
 Can see the lumpy crop with food in it here. I’m working it off the skin.
 Completely separated crop. If you leave the esophagus intact, food and such won’t come out. I like to feed my chickens a bit before slaughter, so there is stuff in the crop. You don’t have to, but it can get tricky to initially peel it. With food in it, you can grab it and work it apart.
 I’m pulling apart the crop and tubing, there are bits of meat/glands attached. Just peel them off. I have the neck bent to the side (left). Cut the tubing off as deep down as you can, but be careful not to slice the breast meat.
 Put the bird back up again (breast down), and find a good spot to cut the neck off. I just use my scalpel – young Cornish birds don’t have a lot of hard bone. I actually use a scalpel all the way through, no other knives.
 I’m starting the cuts to gut the bird. They have pelvic bones, and I use these as a guide for my first cut. I cut toward the bone, so I can open the bird up without cutting the guts.
 I make another cut on the other pelvic bone, so I have two slits, one on each side, and about 1″ or so wide.
 I work my fingers in carefully and use the knife to open up the two holes until I open the gut cavity. Once I have both holes open, I just connect them by cutting the skin.
 Find the end intestine that comes out to the vent. Loosen it off the gut cavity.
 Cut around that tube by cutting around the vent.
 I usually cut the tail off here at this point.
 Reach in and use your hand to slide around the gut cavity, loosening up and tearing off the thin membrane that holds everything to the body. Be fairly gentle, so you’re not ripping into the guts.
 Reach to the front, and grab the heart and just pull everything out.
 The lungs also need to come out. They are wedged between the ribs sort of in the middle. They are the bright red parts in this picture. I use my finger and slide it between the ribs, and pry them out. There are special tools, but I find I can pop them out with my fingers fairly easily. You can also see the “beans” – they are the cream colored bean shapes.This is a young rooster.
 All of the parts. The lungs are on the lower left. You can see the ridges where they sit in the ribs.
 At this point, you can throw out all of the parts, but many bits are great for stock. To use the liver, you need to carefully remove the gallbladder. It’s a greenish/blackish pod, and is stuck to the liver. Carefully cut it’s base out and remove. If you rupture it, immediately remove and wash off the liver.
 I’m holding the gizzard. This is the big and HARD thing in the gut cavity. It’s hard to mistake it for anything else.
 To prepare the gizzard, just cut in half…
 Open it up….
 And then peel the yellow membrane off.
 Innard parts – top is lungs, then heart below them, liver to right of the heart, gizzard and then gallbladder next to it. At the bottom are the intestines. This was a boy rooster, so his cojones are on the top to the right of the lungs. These look like white beans, and are stuck to the back. If you have an older rooster, these can get big, over an inch long.
 One last step is to remove the kidneys. I find the easiest is to “scramble” them with my finger, they are buried almost in the back bone. When I wash the bird, I’ll flush the bits out with water.
 Washing the bird :) I use this time to really clean up any stray feathers.
 Clean bird.
 Finishing touches. I like to use the back skin to hold the legs together to keep it easy to pack him up. Just cut a hole in the skin, about 1″ up from the edge. It only has to be about 2″ wide.
 Making the cut….
 Tuck the legs into the skin hole to truss them up.
 For extra fancy, flip the wings back to tuck them.
 Trussed up and ready to pack!
 You can use freezer bags. I love my Foodsaver, and these guys fit perfectly into the large rolls. I think they store better as well.
 At this point, the bird should rest in the fridge. You don’t want to cook them right away, you need to let nature do it’s thing and let rigor pass. If you grab a leg and it’s not moving easily, it’s not ready to cook. I let them rest in the fridge for 2-3 days, and then put them in the freezer until I’m ready to cook them.
When doing this the first time, expect about an hour of work. You’ll get faster over time, some folks can do everything in about 15 minutes or less per bird, and there are many tools (such as pluckers) that can really speed things up. However, this is just to show that you can process a chicken with no more than a pot and a sharp knife.

How to Make a Solar Still

From MotherEarthNews:

Make Your Own Distilled Water

Make your own distilled water from stream or lake water, salt water, or even brackish, dirty water, using these DIY Solar Still Plans. With just a few basic building materials, a sheet of glass and some sunshine, you can purify your own water at no cost and with minimal effort.

Distilled water is not just for drinking, and it’s always worth keeping a few gallons of it on hand. Clean water free of chemicals and minerals has a number of valuable uses:

• Always refill the lead-acid batteries used for solar energy systems or automobiles with distilled water

• Water delicate plants like orchids with distilled water; minerals and additives like fluoride or chlorine that are present in most tap water can harm plants

• Distilled water mixed with antifreeze is recommended for car radiators, as it’s less corrosive

• Steam irons become clogged with mineral deposits unless you use distilled water

The principle of using the sun’s heat to separate water from dissolved minerals has been understood for millennia, salt ponds being the best example of how this knowledge has been put to use in the past. In salt ponds, seawater is drained into shallow ponds and then baked and purified in the sun until all that remains are crystals of salt. In this case, the pure water that gradually evaporated away was considered a useless byproduct, but as far back as the time of the ancient Greeks it was known that seawater could be made fresh and drinkable by this process.

A solar still works like a salt evaporation pond, except that the water that invisibly evaporates is extracted from the air; the minerals and other impurities are left behind and discarded. As the hot, moisture-laden air rises up to the slanting sheet of relatively cool glass sealed to the box, water condenses out in the form of small droplets that cling to the glass. As these droplets get heavier, they roll down the glass to the collector tube at the bottom and then out to the jug.

The box is built from 3/4 ” BC-grade plywood, painted black on the inside to absorb heat. We used a double layer of plywood on the sides to resist warping and to help insulate the box, with an insulated door at the back and a sheet of glass on top.

Finding a good lining or container to hold the water in the inside of the box as it heats and evaporates can be complicated. The combination of high heat and water containing salt or other contaminents can corrode metals faster than usual and cause plastic containers to break down or offgas, imparting an unpleasant taste to the distilled water. The best liners are glass or stainless steel, although you can also coat the inside of the box with two or three coats of black silicone caulk (look for an F.D.A.-listed type approved for use around food). Spread the caulk around the bottom and sides with a taping knife. After it dries and cures thoroughly, just pour water in—the silicone is impervious to the heat and water.

How to Make a Solar Still

We chose to paint the inside black and use two large glass baking pans to hold the water. Glass baking pans are a safe, inexpensive container for dirty or salty water, and they can easily be removed for cleaning. We used two 10 x 15″ pans, which hold up to 8 quarts of water when full. To increase the capacity of the still, just increase the size of the wooden box and add more pans.

The operation of the distiller is simple. As the temperature inside the box rises, water in the pans heats up and evaporates, rising up to the angled glass, where it slowly runs down to the collector tube and then out to a container.

The runoff tube is made from 1″ PEX tubing. Stainless steel can also be used. However, use caution with other materials—if in doubt, boil a piece of the material in tap water for 10 minutes, then taste the water after it cools to see if it added any flavor. If it did, don’t use it.

Turn undrinkable water into pure, crystal-clear distilled water with a home-built solar still.

View step-by-step photos of how to make a solar still in the Image Gallery as well as this PDF of the DIY Solar Still Plans.

1. Mark and cut the plywood pieces according to the cutting list. Cut the angled end pieces with a circular saw or tablesaw set to a 9 degree angle.

2. Cut the insulation the same size as the plywood base, then screw both to the 2 x 4 supports with 2 1/2″ screws.

3. Screw the first layer of front and side pieces to the base and to each other, then add the back piece. Predrill the screws with a countersink bit.

4. Glue and screw the remaining front and side pieces on, using clamps to hold them together as you predrill and screw. Use 1 1/4″ screws to laminate the pieces together and 2″ screws to join the corners.

5. Glue and screw the hinged door pieces together, aligning the bottom and side edges, then set the door in position and screw on the hinges. Add a pull or knob at the center.

6. Paint the inside of the box with black high-temperature paint. Cover the back and the door with reflective foil glued with contact cement. Let the paint dry for several days so that all the solvents evaporate off.

7. Apply weatherseal around the edges of the hinged door to make the door airtight.

8. Drill a hole for the PEX drain. The top of the PEX is 1/2″ down from the top edge. Clamp a scrap piece to the inside so the drill bit doesn’t splinter the wood when it goes through.

9. Mark the first 19″ of PEX, then cut it in half with a utility knife. Score it lightly at first to establish the cut lines.

10. Drill three 1/8″ holes in the side of the PEX for screws, then insert the PEX through the hole. Butt it tight against the other side, then screw it in place, sloping it about 1/4″.

11. Wipe a thick bead of silicone caulk along the top edge of the PEX to seal it against the plywood.

12. Shim the box level and tack a temporary stop to the top edge to make it easy to place the glass without smearing the caulk. Spread a generous bead of caulk on all the edges, then lay the glass in place. Tape it down around the edges with painter’s tape, then let it set up overnight.

How to Cut a Recipe In Half


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