Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Winter Provisioning is Done!

Posted by: Rick

Today, we went into Laramie and did our "final" shopping for emergency provisions for this coming winter.

While we can quite likely always get into town within a week or so of any major storm, it is also possible that back-to-back storms with high winds could strand us at the cabin for several weeks in a row. We have heard that year-around residents in previous years have gone as long as 7 to 8 weeks without being able to get into town. The last thing you want in that situation is hearing your spouse yelling "Crap, we are out of toilet paper!"

The back of the truck after our first provisioning trip to Sam's Club for bulk items.

If you follow this blog, you know we've taken a few steps to ensure our ability to get out in an emergency--such as putting tracks on the Polaris Ranger. However, absent an emergency, it would be best to just hunker down and ride out any bad storms.

The highest likelihood for such storms is in February, March and April of next year. But, we decided to create a list of non-perishable items that we could use to create dozens of meals, and stock up on those items "just in case". Maybe we can highlight some of those recipes in the future. For now, here is a copy of our winter provisioning list. Feel free to suggest additions in the comments.

A few weeks ago we drove to Sam's Club in Cheyenne where we purchased items we needed in bulk. Today, we shopped at the WalMart in Laramie to get the items we only needed one or two of. It was a heavy load as most items are canned. There are some frozen items and dry ingredients too, of course.

And, as you know, I have fully insulated and sealed up the storage shed just outside our back door. Most of these items go in there. Because there is a propane refrigerator and electric freezer also in there (giving off heat), it is staying around 40°, even when the temperatures outside are in the teens. (We are about to get some single-digit temperatures next week, se we'll see how it goes.) Here are a couple of photos of the stocked-up storage shed.

 

Obviously, we can't have fresh vegetables, so we have some canned and frozen. We do have potatoes and onions. They are in the laundry basket on the bottom shelf. I am hoping that storing them in that cool, dark place with the open air will keep them fresh. I hate soggy, limp potatoes. Again, a learning experience.

Items that might be chewed upon by critters (although I think I have the storage shed critter-proof), go into plastic storage bins (flour, boxed items, etc.) Everything else goes onto the shelves in what I hope is an organized way. We are not making an inventory of the shed (like we do the freezer). Instead, we can refer to the original shopping list to remind us what we have bought, and then rumage around to find it.

Now, if we don't get snowed in and are able to buy groceries weekly for planned meals, we'll have all this stuff stored and we will need to then eat from that stock next spring. We will keep you informed.

If you are also provisioning for winter and have suggestions for us, or questions about our strategy, shoot us an email at otg@rickandlynne.com.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Posted by: Rick

Just a short post about our Thanksgiving.

It was a cold day (mid-20s), windy (gusts up to about 30 mph at the cabin), but sunny. We took the dogs for a short walk, then started meal preparations. Somehow, we survive in our tiny kitchen. The main problem we have is counter space.

All burners going!

We had fresh turkey from the Butcher Block in Laramie. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes with gravy. A cranberry/apple relish. And, a new brussels sprouts recipe. It looks pretty good on a plate:

Everything was fantastic except we didn't care much for the brussels sprout recipe we used. We'll use our old standby next time.

We took time to talk about what we are thankful for: friends, family, our health, and the opportunity to live our dream at the cabin. We also took time to think about those who are not having the Thanksgiving they probably hoped for, including our neighbor who spent the day in the hospital.

We are also thankful that dinner got cooked. We've been having a lot of problems with our new appliances. We love the mechanical designs and functionality. But, their quality suffers. I am becoming quite the appliance repair guy. The oven had been "acting up": at first not starting at all; after replacing a toggle switch it would start but would then go off after some time; an adjustment fixed that but left the oven unable to regulate the temperature; backing off the adjustment seems to have fixed it. We were able to cook several items in the oven and it performed well.

The refrigerator is another issue, and a good topic for another time. After all I want to stay positive and thankful in this post!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cold Spell Coming, and Unplanned Meal

Posted by: Rick

As you can see from Lynne's previous post, we are expecting a change in the weather. Thursday's high temperatures will be in the 20s and it will get down to around 10 degrees at night. That is a bit different from the daytime 50s and nightime 30s we've been having. Today is bright and sunny, in the 50s already (10:00 a.m.), and a bit breezy. It is also supposed to accumulate snow, and I think we are ready.

Since I'm sure the ponds I like to fish will freeze up, I went fishing yesterday to see if I could make a last nice catch of the season. And, I caught one nice rainbow trout. He was 14" long and weighed a couple of pounds. He was plump from a nice summer in the pond. His flesh was very pink ensuring a great flavor. 

The dogs were particularly interested in the fish. (But they got their normal kibble with some Alpo on the side.)

We decided to ditch our dinner plan and have the fish. It was big enough to filet, so we had trout filets fried in seasoned flour with a topping of crumbled bacon. First, I fried the bacon. Then, most of the bacon fat went into a cast iron skillet where I heated it up and tossed in some cubes of potato. Once that was mostly cooked to a nice crisp brown exterior, I dredged the fish filets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. The filets then got fried in a little of the bacon fat supplemented with some canola oil. When done, after only a few minutes on each side, I removed them from the pan and deglazed with white wine. I added a few drops of cider vinegar and some chopped fresh savory (from our pitiful herb "garden"). We also heated up a can of mixed veggies--tomatoes, corn and okra. I served the fish with sauce and crumbled bacon on top with the potatoes and veggies on the side. The result was a fresh, yummy, and unplanned dinner.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pork Chile Verde in the Wood Stove

Posted by: Rick

As our winter preparation projects wind down and we move into winter, you are likely to see more food-oriented posts on the Off the Grid blog. Here is what we had for dinner last night:

This is a Pork Chile Verde (Green Chile Stew) recipe that you can find on the web site.

It is pretty easy to make with minimal ingredients. You just need about 4-5 hours to let it cook. Since it cooks at a low temperature, we decided to cook it in the oven of our wood burning stove.

The "old fashioned" wood burning stove.

The stove actually has a large oven. We've done a 13 pound turkey in there before!

Of course, keeping the oven at 225° means adding a stick of wood now and then. And, eventually, the cabin gets quite warm. We had the front door open by the time the stew was done.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Perfect Evening

Posted by: Rick

Yesterday was windy. We had sustained winds of around 20 mph with gusts up to 26 mph. That is not nearly as bad as it will get this winter, but was enough to put a damper on outdoor activities.

Sunday's Super Moon. Slightly out of context, but a nice photo.

We did take the dogs for a walk along the road in the morning before it got too bad. (We can't walk in the woods when it is windy because of the risk of a dead tree blowing down.) And, I stained some wood trim for an upcoming project on the porch.

But, mostly we read, Lynne worked on a puzzle some, I played some games on the iPad. A nice lazy day.

At around 5:00 the wind suddenly stopped. It became dead still. I took the dogs out for a pee and Destin immediately ran down to the camp fire ring. He was trying to tell me something--maybe it was a good evening to have a camp fire! 

Destin, alert at the sound of coyotes calling.

We had thawed a flank steak for dinner, so it was also a good chance to finally use my camp fire cooking setup. I could hang the grill over the fire for the steak, and we'd also hang a Dutch oven to cook blistered green beans.

Me, with the camp fire cooking setup. The box of wine is essential.

So, I started a nice fire. We dispose of old grease in the fire pit, and so it is pretty easy to get a roaring fire going. I had a big, hot fire in no time, then fed it small logs to build up a bed of coals.

It was chilly outside. I could see my breath. So, the heat of the fire and its crackling sound was comforting.

View of the cabin from the camp fire.

I set up the cooking kit. I filled a 2 gallon bucket with water and put it by the fire (just in case). And, I got a glass of wine. 

The flank steak was actually 1/2 of a flank steak. There is no way Lynne and I can eat a whole steak. I made a quick marinade of some olive oil, soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil, some granulated onion, garlic and ginger. Salt and pepper. All that went into a zip bag for about an hour and marinated while the fire burned down to a nice bed of coals.

What can I say?

The bean recipe is a great one, especially for an outdoor fire. I simply stirred green beans with a little oil, salt and pepper, in the hot Dutch oven then let them sizzle. Turning them once in a while, they soon develop brown blisters. I occasionally tossed them in the pot until they were blistered on all sides.

While fire crackled, the beans sizzled, and drops of fat from the meat hissed on the fire, we also heard coyotes calling in the distance. A couple of great horned owls called and responded. Otherwise, the stillness and silence was almost deafening.

Here is a 15 second video of the fire. Turn up your speakers and listen to the crackling of the fire:

;

As we ate our steak and beans the sun set and the hunter's super moon rose. It was HUGE and so bright it hurt our eyes to look directly at it. Stars began to appear and fill the sky. Coyotes sang. Owls hooted. Dogs lay by the fire. It was a perfect evening.

Happy dogs!

We topped it all off with some roasted marshmallows, some whisky, and burned some sage for good fortune. 

We had planned to go to town for dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary, but decided last night's wonderful meal and experience is celebration enough.

Hailey wanted her photo included.

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