Report on the electric pressure cooker

June 17, 2018

I have been using the ‘cooker’ for a few weeks and so far I am very pleased with the results. I adjusted the white rice to water ratio of 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice when making large batches of rice. I add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil per cup of rice.  First of all the coconut oil makes better rice, compared to using butter and as an extra bonus my doggie’s breath is starting to smell much better since we have gone to home made dog food.  Another adjustment I have made is increasing the protein to carb ratio to 40/60 or 50/50.  The dogs are eating food better and act more frisky at the higher ratio.  So far the dog seem to have plenty of energy and have not gained or lost weight.   I keep a high quality dry kibble on hand just in case the dogs need something extra for food but they hardly eat the kibble since I started the homemade dog food experiment.

I have been doing more research on making dog food and I will be adding in more vitamins and minerals. I have read about adding crushed egg shell as a calcium supplement so I have stared savings my egg shells in a small jar. I rinse out the egg shells and then ‘nuke’ the shells for a minute to kill off any possible contamination then crush the shells up.  I want to add some raw bones in addition to the soft food.  The bones I can buy in the store are too big or the wrong type for my pekes, so I am working on a solution of for cutting down large raw bones.

I did up a big batch of rice for dog food and then I cooked up three different batches of dog food using browned hamburger, and browned ground turkey for the meat. For veggies I tried out frozen spinach and did a batch with broccoli.  The beef and spinach mix was a huge hit and the pups seem to like the rice much better since I started using coconut oil. After making up a batch of dog food I put about three days worth of food in the fridge and the rest in freezer bag or container in the freezer so nothing goes to waste.

One big benefit using the pressure cooker in summer is it does not heat up the kitchen and since it takes less time to cook food I save on electricity!  I made up a “Yankee” pot roast recipe that took about an hour and other than browning the roast for a short time on the stove I generated very little heat in the kitchen.

Overall I would recommend a Multi-use electric pressure cooker for any one. Including a prepper/homesteader for making meals quickly and cheaply.  Be it using a cheap cut of meat being fall apart tender or the quick cook time saving electric costs/ not heating your kitchen in summer, to making bone broth in an hour compared to using a crock pot that takes 24-48 hours.  I can not tell you how nice it is to fill the cooker with stuff for a meal set a timer and then go do other stuff and know the cooker will do it’s job.

Now remember this is a pressure cooker not a pressure canner. A good pressure canner is built for canning lots of jars at high pressure for long term food storage. not making a meal.  That being said I think this is a great small cooking appliance for any home.

Advertisements

Filling in the garden.

June 8, 2018

I have about 120 days of growing season before the frost date of October 10th, so I’m sowing seed of plants and herbs in the new beds.  This next week I want to add some herbs, onions, chives along with some root veggies in the ‘cole’  crop bed. So far I have added brussel sprout starts, but it looks like some of my celery died. The lettuce looks okay after watering though I may need to adjust the cloth to protect the plants from the afternoon sun.

This year’s garden is not about production, though I want to have fresh veggies. My focus is making an easy to maintain garden for the future.  I will be adding a user friendly sit down ledge around all of the raised bed.  The new fence is not ‘Tucker the peke’ proof as  he is going under the fence.  At least Tucker has not dug up any of the new plants! Heck, I may just surround the garden area with 2 layers of cinder blocks to keep the little dog from digging until I can build a proper fence.

Repairing Mom’s little chicken house: I added a little WD-40 to the bolts that are rusted that need to be removed.  The manufacture of this little chicken house was poor not because materials though they went cheap.  It would have been simple to paint all sides of the wood and seal it against weather and insects.  Why use 2 inch long bolt and wing nut in wood framing is less than an 1/2-3/4  inch thick?

While I  doubt the manufacturer thought about anyone taking a pattern or learning how to repair or learning how to use a spray paint gun.  That is my ‘project’ for this little chicken house.  I will learn how to make the house rigid,  try and repair flaking wood,  fix some bad stuff and give Mom a great little chicken house.  I get to practice on something that is basically considered a throw away project.

The front lawn is weed whacked and 1/2 is mowed. I can finish up the rest this weekend and if things work out I’ll get the alley way weeds cut down and the cheat grass bagged.

Over all a good day of work and I’m not ‘toast’.   If i’m physically up to it  this weekend I’ll add some onions and herbs to the garden beds, finish up cutting the grass and then attack the alley way weeds.  At worst I think I can get at least one of those jobs finished.


Plants are on sale and finishing the garden beds.

June 6, 2018

The local Shopko had plants on sale so I checked them out for starter plants and did I score! I found a limited selection but the guy running the green house gave me 50% off the already low sale price because the plants were looking a little sad in the small starting pots.  I got a new celery plant called Tango to try out in the beds.  The Utah tall celery does very well in my garden/climate.  Shopko had some nice little water melon and cantaloupe plants for half price, so I set up a couple of small trellises for the melons to climb on each end of one  of the garden beds. My hope is I can get some other ‘cole’ plants going like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and even cauliflower growing and the fabric cover will keep the from getting burnt or ‘bolting’.  This is the middle bed so the trellis and cover cloth should block some of the afternoon sun on the root crop bed.

The lettuce kiddie pool bed is growing plants and I added a sun shade fabric I hope will protect the plants from the heat.  The big bed for tomatoes, peppers and sun loving plants are ready to plant and I used cages as I did not  build the netting for the plants.  Sorry, I ran out of money and time for that experiment this season.  I bought a lot of the frost protective fabric so I can cover the crops this fall using the cages or PVC pipe as structure to protect the plants from frost in October.

I’m playing catch up with garden as I need to add the trellis netting and the PVC pipe for protecting the garden beds against frost.  At this point I want to get as many plants growing , practice succession plantings and finish up the PVC pipe works and watering system.  The raised beds are not finished and need more materials but I have dirt and seeds/plants so I will get all the food production I can, while I finish constructing the beds.

At this time all I have to get done is filling in the garden beds.  Be it plants on sale or starting seeds for later harvest.  Not part of my original plan but I can be flexible and make the new garden beds work.


Installed solar lights, shopping and Tucker is getting though the garden fence

June 2, 2018

I added a couple of small motion activated solar lights around my back door.  It seems that I got the position just about perfect for the lights to activate as a person walks up but the lights don’t go off when my pekes go outside.  It took me a long time to install these lights because you should not drill into vinyl siding as it might deform plus you provide water and insects access to the under lying wood. One of the biggest reasons I added new siding was to protect the ‘bones’ of my house and make the upkeep easier for me to manage. If I start making holes in that siding I’m defeating the original purpose of  installing the siding.

Since I have been watching so many boat refits and sailing videos I have become more knowledgeable about keeping water from getting to wood.  If I can seal against water, the house frame should be safe from insects.  I have the solar lights ‘wedged’ along the roof line cap and the metal part of the siding just to make sure I got the placement correct and the lights charge plus light up the back door entrance.  After a couple of weeks of testing that the lights are placed correctly.  I’ll screw the lights in place and add a sealant to keep out water.

I stocked up a lot last paycheck because there were a lot of great buys on meat and gardening/landscaping items I wanted.  I got a pretty great deal on mulch but I could not afford all the mulch I wanted for filling in the garden and the front yard beds.  The main garden area is mostly done around the raised beds but there is one section I want to build my green house that is bare ground and morning glory that needs to be dealt with this year.  My idea is to layout the greenhouse foundation with concrete piers and build up a layer of small stone for good drainage.  For food shopping I got a lot of meat stocked up and frozen.  Now that I have the new pressure cooker I want to try out a quick ‘bone broth’ recipe. one of the nice things this cooker can be use as a slow cooker for that recipe.

Arrgh! Tucker the peke is getting under my little garden fence.  Actually I may pull down the fence because he is digging into the mulch and not the garden beds.  He is a smart little dog and thrives on praise.  I have scolded him on digging in the garden beds, but let him go on digging in the mulch. Once I finish the install of the ‘frost cloth’ Tucker should have all his digging areas marked out.  Hopefully it won’t be in the garden beds!   Tucker is a great little digger. I need to find a a way for him to dig and turn the compost pile!


New pressure cooker and more mulch!

May 31, 2018

I bought an electric pressure cooker from newegg.com last week and today I tried it out.  The pressure cooker is an Ewant Model BD-QJ . 7 in 1 programmable for everything from yogurt and a slow cooker to a pressure cooker for beans,  rice even sauteing in the stainless steel pot/liner.  There are 3 reasons I bought this  new pressure cooker: #1 I needed a new pressure cooker for my kitchen. #2 It was on sale for $45.00 at newegg.com, which isn’t a bad price for a large 12 cup pressure cooker. #3  I have been cooking a lot of grains (brown rice/barley) for the homemade doggy food and wanted something that cooked grains  faster and meats ‘fall apart’ tender.  I made my first batch of brown rice, chicken thighs with peas and carrots doggy food and it worked out great!

Recipe: Brown rice, chicken thighs with peas and carrots, doggy food.

3 cups of water

2 cups brown rice

4-5 chicken thighs

8 oz. frozen peas and carrots

Optional 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil

Add the 3 cups of water, 2 cups of brown rice and the coconut oil, place the small steamer grate on top of the rice and add the chicken thighs. Select Multi-grain or the Brown rice setting for 20 minutes and walk away… At the end of the 20 minutes release the pressure. While the rice and meat are still hot,  add the frozen veggies then stir so the residual heat thaws the veggies. This also helps stop the cooking process and cools the pot of dog food quickly.

The rice has a creamier consistency and the chicken thigh meat almost fell off the bone. This recipe makes cooking up a batch of dog food easier and much faster compared to cooking the brown rice on the stove top and then baking and cutting up the chicken thigh meat.

I also tried out a new white long grain rice recipe that is awesome!

White rice recipe:

2 cups of white rice

3 cups of water

1 table spoon of coconut oil (Replaces butter)

Rinse off the rice until the water runs clear. Place the water, rice and coconut oil in a large 6 quart pan and bring it to a boil.  As soon as it boils place a tight lid or tinfoil over the pot and turn the heat down to a low simmer then walk away for 12-15 minutes. When the is no standing water in the pot, set the rice off the heat, leave covered for 10 minutes and walk away again. Fluff the rice with a fork or wooden spoon and you will have great white rice.

I made good white rice before adding the coconut oil but that oil really makes a huge difference with the rice’s look and mouth feel.  The individual bits are soft and chewy without any gluey/starch affect.  I did not add any salt or stocks as these test were for doggy food but I taste test these recipes.  They are a little bland, but you could easily add herbs and spices and make a good human meal from these basic recipes.

Things I have learned so far making homemade dog food:

  • The internet is a great resource and it is also full of bad info for making dog food so check with your Vet. and always start with what you know is safe and introduce the food over time.  Also dogs have likes and dislikes so one dog may love white rice, some like beef or like chicken. Peas and carrots seem like the most popular veggie for my dogs but broccoli or green beans will do in a pinch.
  • Adding herbs for flavor,  Many herbs are safe and very beneficial to dogs such as oregano or mint.  Garlic, onions and chives are not doggy friendly flavoring so keep those away from your dog food.  White flour is very bad for dogs and wheat flour is not much better but many dog foods use wheat grains.  Think of your dog being somewhat ‘Gluten-Intolerant’ when you make the dog food.  Corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, steel cut oats can make would be a better carb. than any wheat product. Barley and I have read that corn meal are safe to feed dogs but I have not confirmed using corn meal.
  • Using coconut oil in place of butter for cooking rice is something I never considered but there is some preliminary research that coconut oil ‘might” reduce the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay/gum disease in dogs.  Since coconut oil is safe for dogs I have added it into the rice for dogs but it made the white rice so much better I have added coconut oil instead of butter to my white rice recipe as a safe fat to add to doggy food.

More mulch needs to be added to get a deep layer to kill out weeds. I went out the other day to prep the Three sisters beds and I used the D-shaped hoe to get a few weeds in the beds and around then and that tool worked very well weeding the mulch pathways.  I’m not so sure about the garden beds.  I’m not sure I’ll see more production for this year’s garden as I’m trying so many new beds and money and timing has been a bit problematic.  I think I’ll be okay if I get everything in by the weekend of June 2-3 and the latest with starts by the 9-10th of June.  That still gives me 120-150 days till harvest planting from seed.

 


Garden beds, mulch and weed clean up

May 24, 2018

Mom came over today and helped me with clean up. She attacked the grape vines runners and a bunch of weeds in the area just past the big storage tank.  I have to get more mulch to fill in that area as there are 3 garden beds that will be mounded up for the 3 sisters garden of corn beans and squash.  The square bed will be a test of the fish compost I got from the church ladies at Trinity Lutheran.  You can see the temporary fence with the white step in poles that keeps the dogs out.  I no longer have chickens in my yard but I know the temp. fence would direct chickens if you want them scratching through your beds in the fall and winter. This fence is not protection from above or even against deer but it worked great for pekes and chickens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are the new garden beds tilled and mulched in. The 2 x 4’s you see sticking up at the corners are for building up the bed  height and I will add a sitting ledge for on top for when we weed or something to stand on when we prepare the garden for next year.

I still need to build/install the PVC hoops and then attach the protective cloth on these beds and lay out the drip watering system.  I will be adding a few plants this weekend though it is a little late as I should have had the plants in the ground earlier this month.  The main thing I want to accomplish is to make an simple to care for garden that I can keep under control and minimize time needed for weeding/upkeep.

Mom got most of her remaining pots and large containers for her herbs and a few plants like celery that she wants to get started around her new home.  Her Explorer was pretty  full of pots and plants when she headed back home. She can’t really do a lot of gardening on her land until she cleans it up and has a cost effective way to irrigate the pasture.  We have a lot of ideas on how to do that task.  Sadly none of them are with in the budget.

I have to say I’m amazed by how good looking Mom’s yard is now that it got a little TLC!   The pasture is going to take more time as it huge and full of cheat grass.  We are thinking of trying to plant some clover as ground cover to start improving the soil.  Plus some holly as a “wind break” so the soil does not get so dry.  Finding away to kill the weeds without killing the soil is our goal.  While I hate cheat grass it is keeping the soil in place compared to bare dirt.  We may end up burning out the cheat grass in a section, then tilling and planting a soil building cover crop in those sections.

Cash flow is bit low right now so telling me to pay for rental equipment or a contractor is not a viable option.  We will get it done but it will take some time and sweat rather than credit/debt!


Third garden bed filled with soil

May 22, 2018

Mom and I did more garden and landscape shopping today at the local farm store.  Mom added a few herbs and veggies for her container garden.  I got the last of the soil for the third garden bed and some plant starts for a succession plantings.  I’m a little behind but getting these new raised beds done has taken a bit more time than I first thought.  Plus I’m still trying to recover from Tucker’s big vet bill.  Not a big cash flow problem but I’m trying to re-build the emergency fund (again) LOL.  Like most people at the lower end of the Economic Food Chain.  I have to balance time, money and physical energy just like other people.  The biggest difference is the scale of projects and what variables I can control.  One of my underestimated costs is adding a lot more mulch around the new garden beds. I’m hitting the sales and trying to lay down a thick enough layer of mulch will do some good rather than just look pretty for a week or two and that means a lot of mulch!

I’m very excited that the material I bought for frost protection can work as a sun shade for the more delicate plants like lettuce.  From what I have read as long as you don’t trap the heat this material is a sun shade in summer or frost protection in winter.  Using this material will be another experiment along with one of my old raised bed that I want for growing lettuce beyond the ‘normal’ growing season.  I have been moving plants around in my ‘virtual garden beds” and I am shifting how I will plant the beds so some of the plants will cast some shade on adjoining plant beds that need less direct sunlight . Of course the grape vines are going berserk with new addition of mulch so they need trimmed back again!

Once I have all of this year’s new raised garden bed changes in place I’ll post up some pics of the new lay out of the raised beds along with shots of new temp fence posts around the garden.

Great news the house is smelling much better since I got started on the carpet cleaning.  I think I broke the pattern of the piddle spots by moving the furniture and getting that part of the carpet cleaned.  I still have more rug cleaning but this was a good start heading into summer.  I’m cleaning/removing most of the DE I spread around to eliminate roaches as I have not seen a single roach since March.  The mouse problem has mostly disappeared since the siding install and Mom moving the chickens to her place.  A thing to be aware of if you get chickens.  If grain sits on the ground it will attract critters.  If you are less than pro-active those critters will get into your preps.  I got a bit lazy on getting preps stored properly and I had to deal with a vermin infestation.  Thankfully cockroaches and mice are easy to eliminate if you are willing to remove all food and nesting areas.

Mom says she feels bad that she is taking advantage of me for basic stuff and not helping with my garden. While I do miss her weeding, cutting grape vines and home clean up she is doing great getting her place set up for the future and that does not happen overnight.  With a little luck the new raise beds will produce more and take less effort. Both of our Dogs will get better socialized and we both gain skills to make stuff work properly.