Category Archives: How-To

10 Ways to Make Healthy Eating More Affordable

How to Make Healthy Eating More Affordable

Homesteaders like to cultivate large gardens, so usually there’s ample “free” food during the warm months of the year. And most of us preserve at least some of our harvest by canning or dehydrating our vegetables, fruits, and sometimes even meats, too. Those of us lucky enough to have root cellars or walk-in coolers use them to store the more hardy types of produce, like potatoes and other root vegetables, winter squash, and cabbage. All these efforts help reduce our grocery bills during the cold weather months.

But it’s practically impossible to squirrel away enough food to feed our families all winter long. So, invariably, we end up needing to buy food to supplement the bounty we’ve managed to store. Even in summer, most of us don’t grow enough to sustain ourselves completely, so we have to buy what we can’t produce. And, yes, buying organic, whole foods at the grocery store can get very expensive. But the good news is, you can still practice healthy eating all year long without mortgaging the homestead to pay your grocery bill.

Here are 10 tips to make healthy eating more affordable.
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9 Unusual Ways to Use a Prepper Pro in the Kitchen

Prepper Pro CoverWhat’s a Prepper Pro?

We originally designed the Prepper Pro as a tool for canning and fermenting. It’s perfect for compressing veggies when packing them into jars or fermenting vessels. And it does a great job of breaking up fibrous veggies so they release their juices before fermenting.

The Prepper Pro has a small end, which fits well in a small-mouth canning jar, and a large end, which fits large-mouth canning jars.  The different sized ends make the tool even more versatile.


Our artisans handcraft each Prepper Pro from quality Appalachian maple wood. It’s easy to grip and feels good in your hand. The Prepper Pro’s ergonomic design makes it comfortable to hold and easy to use. The wood is seasoned with 100% organic coconut oil. Take care of it properly, and it will last a long time.

Now we make our Prepper Pro with Hard Cheery Wood also sourced from Appalachian forests in the USA!  

Why Every Kitchen Needs a Prepper Pro

If your kitchen tools include a Prepper Pro, you can be sure it won’t sit on the counter collecting dust. Even if you never do any canning or fermenting, you’ll find yourself instinctively reaching for your Prepper Pro time and again.  I use mine at least once a day.

9 Unusual Things You Can Do with a Prepper Pro

We find the Prepper Pro handy for a wide variety of unrelated kitchen tasks. Here are 9 creative ways you can use your Prepper Pro (that don’t involve canning or fermenting).

    1. Breaking Up Ice – Sometimes ice cubes stick together and need to be separated before you can use them. This often happens when you purchase large bags of ice at the grocery store. By the time you get it home, the ice has melted a little. Refreezing ice that’s slightly wet can cause some of the cubes to clump together. Usually, the ice loosens up fairly easily if you forcefully drop the bag on the kitchen counter a few times. You can break up any remaining clumps by giving them a couple quick whacks with the large end of your Prepper Pro.
    2. Tamping Down Shaved Ice – If you have a snow cone maker, you know it produces light, fluffy snow that’s just right for making slushies. But if you want a thicker frozen drink, or a tightly packed snow cone, you need to compress the shaved ice. A Prepper Pro makes it easy to tamp down the ice until it’s packed as tightly as you want it.  Using the flat side of the end that best fits your container offers a great deal of control, so the ice gets packed evenly all the way around. Best of all, there’s no mess!
    3. Breaking Up Granola – Homemade granola tends to stick together in clumps as it cools. You can eliminate the clumps easily by lightly tapping them with the flat end of your Prepper Pro after the granola has cooled to room temperature.
    4. Breaking Up Homemade Candy – Certain kinds of candy, like brittle and toffee, need to be broken up after it has set up or cooled. So the next time you whip up a batch of homemade peanut brittle, just slide a spatula under the slab of candy to lift it up off the pan. And then use your trusty Prepper Pro to break the brittle into pieces.
    5. Pounding Chicken into Cutlets – You can use your Prepper Pro like a mallet to pound pieces of chicken (or other meat) into cutlets. Place a manageable slice of meat in a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag and seal it. Then pound away with the flat side of the large end until the cutlet reaches the desired thickness.
    6. Bruising Herbs –  Some recipes require herbs, like basil or mint, to be bruised to improve the flavor. Place the herbs in a bowl and then gently bend or press the leaves with one end of the Prepper Pro. When they show a wet crease, you have ruptured their cell walls and released their tasty oils.
    7. Making Butter – After you’ve made your butter and washed it, you can use the flat end of your Prepper Pro to pound out any remaining water. Pour off any water that gets released as you work the butter. This helps your butter stay fresh longer. (Butter goes rancid quickly unless all the water or buttermilk is removed.)
    8. Crushing Berries – You can crush small amounts of berries or other soft fruit by using the flat end of your Prepper Pro to press the fruit through a sieve. This separates the pulp and seeds from the juice. You can then use the crushed fruit and fruit juice in recipes, or to make jellies and preserves.  Check the photo here pressing prepared elderberries with the Prepper Pro. Elderberries can improve your immune system to ward off colds and flu especially in the winter!
    9. Cracking Nuts and Seeds – You can use the flat end of your Prepper Pro as a nut cracker or pestle. To crack a nut, give it a good, hard whack. If the shell is very hard, you might need to whack the nut more than once. If the shell is soft, a gentle tap might be enough. You might want to wrap the nut in a bit of cheesecloth first so you can hold it in place and protect your fingers. The Prepper Pro also works great for crushing certain kinds of seeds. For example, you can use it much like a pestle to break up whole cardamon pods. Tap them lightly until the pods release the little black seeds inside. Then you can pick the pod fragments out with your fingers and use the cardamon seeds in recipes.

What creative uses have you found for your Prepper Pro? Share your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

How to Enjoy Your Fresh Eggs After the Hens Stop Laying

farm fresh eggs

Anyone who’s ever tasted a farm fresh egg knows they’re far superior to eggs sold at the supermarket. Their yolks are more golden and taller. They’re more nutritious because hens raised on a farm have a better diet than commercially raised hens. And it’s comforting to know they come from happy hens that get to enjoy wandering about outdoors, pecking at bugs, playing on swings, and living a natural, stress-free life.  Have you ever tried freezing eggs after your hens stop laying for the season?

Stock Up on Eggs While You Can!

If you’ve become accustomed to farm fresh eggs, you probably dread the thought of ever eating another supermarket egg again. But with the daylight hours getting shorter as the cold weather approaches, the girls won’t be laying as many eggs, or perhaps none at all. Don’t worry, though, you can still savor the eggs you’ve come to love! Continue reading

How to Make an Affordable Walk-in Cooler that Saves Money

CoolBot Walk-in Cooler Taters

Have you been wanting a walk-in cooler? If you thought you couldn’t afford one, you might be surprised. You can make your own energy-efficient cooler for a very reasonable price! A device called the CoolBot lets you convert an insulated room into a refrigerated storage space for produce, floral inventory, dairy, meats and more. Continue reading

Cookbook Spotlight: Cooking Up a Storm

Cooking Up a Storm Cookbook

Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans

Edited by Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker
2015, 368 pages, Hardcover

When Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans in 2005, many residents lost their homes. Along with their homes went all the contents, which included countless regional recipes from the Times-Picayune. These recipes had been clipped from the newspaper, saved, and cherished for generations.

To preserve the city’s culinary legacy, the people of New Orleans banded together to recoup these lost recipes, one by one. This book is a collection of the recipes recovered as a result of this effort. Each recipe has a story.

In this cookbook, you will find an impressive range of recipes, including appetizers, drinks, special Lenten dishes, and desserts. These foods are eaten as part of everyday life in the Big Easy. The recipes are favorites from both home kitchens and restaurants. Nothing says “comfort food” like Louisiana cooking!

This cookbook truly is a work of love and a symbol the city’s residents’ determination to recover from, and triumph over, extreme adversity.

Learn How to Make Creole Cream Cheese

Love cream cheese? Then be sure to check out How to Make the Best Cream Cheese in the World, featuring a recipe for Creole Cream Cheese from Cooking Up a Storm. Creole Cream Cheese is a unique, regional breakfast food that is served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. You can sprinkle some sugar on top, or shake on some salt and pepper, or top it with your favorite fruit. No matter how you serve it, Creole Cream Cheese is a nutritious and satisfying food.

Why not make some and tell us what you think in the comments section at the bottom of this page?

Hat Tip!

We wish to thank a lovely customer of ours named Libby W. for bringing this unique cookbook to our attention. Libby kindly shared her recipe for Creole Cream Cheese with us, so we could share it with y’all. Thanks, Libby!

The Whole TRUTH About Natural Sun Protection

natural sun protection

In summertime, especially, we’re constantly being cautioned to protect ourselves from the sun before going outdoors. Doctor’s offices, magazine ads, and product labels now carry frightening warnings about the link between sun exposure and increased risk of skin cancers. A few decades ago, people thought of sunscreen as something you used to prevent getting sunburned when you went swimming.  We’d buy a fresh bottle at the beginning of the summer and keep it in our beach bag. Today, chemical sunscreen ingredients are finding their way into more and more everyday products, from lip balm to hair conditioner. But do we really need so much sun protection, and should we be worried about all those chemicals? The answer is a bit complicated, but two things are for sure. The cosmetic skin care industry wants us to believe all UV exposure is harmful. And, they don’t want us to know there are natural ways to protect ourselves from the sun’s dangerous rays. Continue reading