Friday, August 22, 2014

Lentils, split peas and barley

Beans and rice get get old fast. Lentils, split peas and barley mixed with beans and rice make a great meal. I know because I just had a big bowl of soup made of the above. Just add water and some salt to the above and throw in a crock pot. Cook about 7 hours.

Easy to stockpile these dried items. Makes beans and rice tastier. Every stockpile should include these items. Bought in bulk they are cheap.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Living Cheap - Food

I've always said if you can't make more money, spend less. I moved to the Ozarks because the cost of living here is fairly cheap. When you live on a small income, you got to stretch every dollar.

We have some fairly expensive grocery stores in the area. I only go to these stores for special items, items I can't buy for far cheaper elsewhere. But the wife and I eat great on far less than most people. Because we know where to shop and how to shop. I've never cut coupon in my life and never will.

Most areas have stores where food can be bought cheap. I've always managed to ferret out these store in every place I've ever lived. It just takes some looking around and dumping the attitude.

We are fortune that there is a Mennonite store 20 miles away. I can buy 2 weeks worth of food for $80 (feeding two). I am not talking beans and rice either.  This store sells big bags of fully cooked chicken tenderloins for $5.39 (slightly less than 2 lbs). The food items vary and you got buy when available. But the prices are far cheap than some of the cheap stores like Save a Lot and Aldi.

We used to get whole  pork tenderloin, some $3 or less. Barbecued many a pork tenderloin when they where available. Can get a 50lb bag of sugar for like $17. The money we save on most stuff allows us to buy great Lebanon baloney and Swiss cheese which is more expensive.  Since the store sells a lot of bulk foods, we get more for less.

Anyone who complains about the food bill needs to look around. I am not saying everyone can find a cheaper place to buy food. If you live in a big city, you might be S.O.L, but many places have cheaper food if you look around.

Cooking is not hard, cooking from scratch isn't hard. It can be, but done right it isn't.
Last night I stuck 4 chicken tenderloins in the microwave. Cut them up, put them in a Tortilla, put some cheddar cheese on it. Re Nuked it. Put some chopped tomatoes out of the garden and some ranch dressing on it. Cheap, good and filling. Hardly any effort to make it.

Now, with food inflation running wild, you got to get the most for your buck. Even the Mennonite store prices have shot up over the last two years. But is still far cheaper than most stores.

Food is always one area to cut cost. I could cut a lot of my current food cost if I had too. But I like to eat and eat well. I have many recipes that I cook in the microwave. I can cook many, many things in the microwave and do.

A crock pot and bread maker are two often used items in my kitchen. It takes little effort to create a great meal in a crock pot. It takes but a minute to load the crock pot and/or bread maker. So that's my take on saving big bucks on food.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


I released ArisNote3 for download. This version should solve the install problems I had on previous versions. I won't bore you with technical details. But to anyone who wants a good way to manage their personal notes, you can download ArisNote3 FREE at

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cornish Game Hens

I must admit, I love Cornish Game Hens (young chickens). While regular chicken is OK if fixed right, Cornish Game Hens just taste so much better.

It's going to get to 95 degrees today, so my plan of grilling a game hen today is canceled.
I take a game hen, split it in half, microwave it for around 8 minutes. Then throw it on a hot grill.

Note I don't do anything to them other than microwave it. Some foods can be great without adding anything. Too many people over do it on some foods. Some foods simple works best.

Game Hens fall into that category.

I nuke them because it can be hard to get them fully cooked directly on the grill, this assures they get done.

Of course game hens can be stuffed, glazed, etc. I sometimes do that, but just nuked and grilled is often plenty good enough. One bird is enough for my wife and myself. Though sometimes I do two for a late night snack. Cold Game Hen, awesome.

So my grilling plan is shot for today, I will throw it in a crock pot. When done remove the meat from the bone, throw some egg noodles in the broth. I've never done it this way, but it should turn out OK.

Love those Cornish Game Hens.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living in the sticks II

Had a good weekend. Drank some PBR, enjoyed a Hickory smoked pizza that frankly was awesome as my wife will atest.

So my take on living in the sticks. You can keep your cities and your burbs. How people can live like that is beyond me. I've been to some cities I like, such as Helsinki and Stuttgart. Settle was nice back in the day as was SF. Wouldn't go there these days.

Living in the sticks is different. Out here you better have your act together. I drive through the hills and see a lot of broken dreams. People who start buildings they never complete. Vacant properties abound.

You have be able to do for yourself out here. If you can't, no one else will do it for you. Many people have no idea what is involved in buying vacant land and getting it setup. They see cheap land, buy it without taking into account all that is necessary to make it livable. I am fine with off grid if that's what you want. Personally I got electric and like it that way.

While solar power is doable you fore go certain amenities. Fine if that is what you want. Personally I like the modern conveniences. My microwave is used everyday.

These days you can have it all. 30 years ago  you didn't have Dish TV and Dish Internet. You might have had electric, but TV or radio was via antenna.

Personally my wife and I like TV, something to watch in the evenings. I am well aware that some people say there isn't anything worth watching on the boob tube. Frankly that's THEIR opinion and not mine. At night I like to veg out. The day is for getting things done, the night is for kicking back. TV is my wife and myself's way of kicking back. So [Raspberry sound] to those that don't like it.

So I am going to enjoy it while I can. Screw what other people think anyway, no percentage in wasting time worrying about what others think.

If the grid goes down permanently, after the electric dream jones's pass, I'll go back to the old ways. The campfire at night, re-reading the books I got, board games, playing cards, etc. But I have no intention of depriving myself for some BS concept that others believe in. We all know what opinions are like...

Out here if something needs fixed, you fix it. If a tree falls across your road, you move it, cut it up or drive around it. You don't wait for someone to come and do it for you. You just do what needs doing.
Out here you are close to nature. You are aware of things that "city" folks don't know anything about. You don't flip over rocks or logs without some caution. A person died from a copperhead bite last week here in MO. It happens. Snakes hide under things. Stick your hand under a rock or log, expect to get a snake bite.  You have to be careful out here, the nearest hospital is 40 miles away.

Yellow jacket, wasp, hornet stings are common. Been stung countless times. Brown recluse and black widow bites are not uncommon. You have to be aware and do things right out here. I am always using my cane to tap on things I intend to move.Move stuff with a rake, just in case.

It's like gun safety, if you got to think about it, then you ain't country ready. It has to be a no brainer.

I see plants all over I know that are edible. Mushrooms too. I been dining off my garden for a months now.

You think about what you need in town. You keep stocked up on things. Our nearest town is 12 miles away. So you don't just go running into town if you need ketchup, because you buy stuff like that and keep plenty in the pantry. It's just the way you do things out here. Those that don't, don't last long out here.

If you get snowed in, you don't sweat it. You got all the food and basics on hand anyway, if you are doing it right that is. Of course there are fools out here that don't.

 I make a couple trips into town a month, stock up. Make a list, buy what is needed. Often buy just a little extra. That's what you got to do out here in the sticks. This ain't city living.

Electric goes out, we fire up the LED lanterns. Fire up the Coleman lantern or stove to cook on if need be. Keep a rechargeable hand held spotlight charged and on hand. If the electric don't come back on, I take my solar battery charger or hook up my 60 W solar panel.Or hook the inverter to one of fully charged batteries I keep around just in case.

Grid down I go back to campfire cooking. Got a grate, tripod, cast iron skillets, dutch oven. No problem. Sleeping bags rated to Zero degrees with wool blankets to boot. Which have been tested I might add when the power went out 2 years ago.Snug as bugs in a rug we where.

The point I am trying to make is we are ready for just about anything. Out here you got it together or move back to the city or burbs where you belong. It's that simple.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Living in the sticks

I've lived out here in the sticks for over 4 years now (not my first time living in the sticks, just here). What I enjoy is the quality of life. The weather has been cool and I've been out clearing the jungle outside my door.

So today I will relax some.

The plan for today is to grill a pizza on the Weber, drink some PBR. I often grill pizza, why this amazes some people is beyond me, but some people don't think you can. I harvested some bell peppers, banana peppers yesterday. The basil, oregano, and rosemary comes right out of my herb garden. Fresh herbs is the best way to go.

I make the dough in my bread maker. Make the sauce (I cheat and use tomato sauce). Throw the herbs in a pan, some extra virgin olive oil, some minced garlic I get cheap at the local Mennonite store. Make the sauce. I got a pizza pan I put the dough on, put the sauce on, the cheese, pepperoni, peppers.

Fire up the Weber let the coals get just right (I only do charcoal, wouldn't own a propane grill myself unless it was to heat up sauces or something like that), put the pizza pan on the grate. Put some wet hickory chips on the coals, cover and hickory smoke that sucker. Hickory smoked pizza is awesome. If you've never had it, you don't know what you been missing.

Of course it's PBR time, I drink a few during the cooking process of course. Smoke a cigar. Might start a campfire tonight sit out under the stars. Might have to run down to the guy who sells real moonshine (he's licensed to sell it) about 12 miles from here. Missouri has some interesting liquor laws for those who don't know and the gun laws suit me just fine (though I am against ALL gun laws, I can live with Missouri's laws). Two of the reasons I retired here. Life is good here in the sticks.

                                                          My ever present entourage

Sunday, July 13, 2014


As I said in my last post, I am hoping to put a up a small cabin before the end of the year. Rather it happens or not depends on how certain things go. I will still be on a tight budget. But planning is keeping me busy and is satisfying work on my part.

I know how to build a cabin. My old man did a lot of carpenter work when I was a kid and guess who his helper was.  You guessed it, yours truely. So I know how to build a cabin. So I know every aspect of building a cabin from scratch.

 But since I am not able to build a cabin from scratch by myself (physical limitations), I will buy a shell. Shells are unfinished cabins for anyone who doesn't know already.

This for me is the best option. So that's my plan. Now since my budget is tight, I am planning to do two things many people don't think of. Salvage companies tear down buildings, salvaging the useable materials.

My old man built cabins using salvage places all the time. Doors, windows, sinks, counters, etc can sometimes be had from a building salvage yard for far far less than new. Not everything, but enough for someone on a tight budget to save big bucks. Some stuff is best to buy new, but if you can get it used and save money, why not.

Wood can be re-purposed as well as with many other components. Saving big bucks. Just takes some effort. I've got some great furniture at thrift stores, refinished them and shocked people. They couldn't believe I paid next to nothing for the piece. Thanks to wood shop in high school (do they still have shop classes these days)'

The second is used furniture and appliance stores. You can save thousands by buying used. A new refrigerator will set you back anywhere from $550 on up (new). You can buy a used for refrigerator for $175 buck (sometimes less, sometimes more). Big savings. Same applies to all types of things.

A little shopping around can save you thousands of dollars. Thrift stores, used furniture and appliance stores, salvage yards, carpet remnant stores, the list goes on. I have one used furniture and appliance store that has what I need. I would save thousands on the stuff I need. There are others around I can buy from when the time comes.

Clearly a cabin in the woods benefits from a rustic, lived in look. My plan is to finish it off over a few years. No big rush.

My old man's one cabin we spent time in, the interior was stud walls for some time. A counter made of 2x4's and plywood was the kitchen (used a Coleman stove to cook on). The old man made a bathroom (installed a toilet with the bare stud walls). So I am comfortable in an unfinished shell. Over time I will do this and that according to my physical ability.

So to anyone considering building their own cabin or buying a shell, consider using salvage and/or used furniture/appliance stores to your benefit and budget.