Off-Grid Cooking Lessons: How to Prepare Food Without Using Electricity

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By Kara Stiff

When we started building our little house on 17 acres in the foothills of North Carolina, we planned to eventually go off-grid. My husband and I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old. We paid contractors to do the excavation, pour the footer and lay the block, and then we did all the rest of the work ourselves with help from friends and family and “help” from our kids.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime project, exhausting, exhilarating, mud-covered, sweat-soaked, crazy. I’m so glad we did it. I would never do it again. Actually we are building a second structure now but with bigger kids, not toddlers, and much more slowly.

The easiest way to go off-grid is to need as little electricity as possible.

Generating our own electricity would be expensive, so in order to be able to afford it, we had to strive to need as little electricity as possible. We’d already gotten rid of our dryer, corralled our energy vampires, switched out inefficient bulbs and designed the new house to be tight. These changes are good for about a 43% reduction in electricity usage in an average American house or about 13 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per day.

This left us using about 17 kWh per day. Still too expensive! To reduce the heating and cooling usage our little house has no forced air, no furnace or boiler. We heat with a wood stove and ventilate by opening the windows. The house is sunk into the hill, which reduces our cooling needs significantly. We utilize ceiling fans, allow our bodies to adjust to summer temperatures (making gardening in the heat merely unpleasant rather than lethal), and run a tiny window air conditioner in the most humid months.

We got rid of our refrigerator but kept our small chest freezer. We swap a bottle of ice from the freezer to an insulated cold drawer to keep the milk fresh. We shower out in the garden when it’s warm enough with solar-heated water. There isn’t too much left, after tackling all those electricity drains (for a more complete discussion of our electricity reduction adventure, see here). We wanted to retain the ability to vacuum, watch a movie and hang a strand of Christmas lights.

Much of the remaining usage is cooking, so we got set up to cook mostly off-grid.

I say mostly because we still have a crockpot, a toaster oven, and an electric kettle to help us integrate our schedule with that of the outside world. The wage-earner can have his tea when he leaves before the morning fire. The family can have a hot dinner after a day away, or simmer broth overnight. These are convenience devices; we don’t rely on them for our main cooking needs.

Winter off-grid cooking

For winter cooking we use our wood stove, a Vermont Bun Baker. It has an oven and a cooktop. Ours is also set up to make hot water in an open-vented thermosiphon loop. That heat is transferred to the pressurized plumbing through a setup that works surprisingly well, though it was prohibitively expensive. I was nervous about planning a house with a wood cookstove because while I’d cooked on a few, I hadn’t lived with one long-term. But there wasn’t room in our 725-square-foot house for two stoves nor was there room in our tight budget. It was one or the other.

In reality, I adjusted to cooking on a wood stove fairly quickly and easily. The oven only gets good and hot when the stove runs for a while, so I only bake in the coldest months, which is fine because I’m not really into baking. Shorter fires are enough to roast peanuts for homemade peanut butter, or eggshells to crush for the chickens.

Surprisingly, I burn dinner less often on the woodstove than I did on electric or gas stoves, probably because it just takes as long as it takes. There’s no way to impatiently turn the heat way up like on an electric, only to regret it when the food blackens. It doesn’t really take longer to make dinner, though, because I use the heating-up time well. I also burn myself on it less often, probably because the woodstove is hot not just on the top but down the front as well, so it’s impossible to forget that it’s hot. The children have great respect for it and have not come close to even a minor burn.

If you care about environmental damage as we do, a wood stove is not the most environmentally-friendly choice. I did some math and discovered that the one and a half cords of home-grown and salvage wood we burn per year is definitely environmentally worse than using electricity to accomplish the same tasks, but not by that much (see a more in-depth discussion here). Though my family carefully considers environmental concerns in every decision we make, we also care a lot about resilience. In the end, resilience won out for the critical tasks of winter heat and cooking.

Summer off-grid cooking

Summer off-grid cooking is a less straightforward prospect. From mid-March until Halloween it’s far too hot to cook inside, and that’s when all the food preservation must be done. This past summer we got together with two other homeschooling/homesteading families to build solar dehydrators using these free plans from Appalachia State. They call for $300 worth of materials, but by pooling our skills and the materials we all had lying around, we only spent about $200 to build three dehydrators.

I was most excited to use the dehydrator for tomatoes. I canned about 18 quarts of diced tomatoes last year and another 20 pints of salsa, which takes up a lot of space in a small kitchen, and a lot of my time. Unfortunately this year we had drought conditions. The tomatoes only made enough to eat fresh, plus about 15 pints of salsa and just two quarts dried. The dehydrator worked great for those two quarts, though, and it also did some yummy dried pears, peaches, apples, and blueberries.

That’s not all we need dried, though. It is so humid here that in the summer that it’s very difficult to get anything dry enough to go in a jar. Sun-dried chamomile and hops will mold! So we used the dehydrator for our dent corn, tea, hops, and lima beans. I also discovered that my favorite green bean, a yard-long variety, makes a perfectly edible dry bean if the hulls get dry enough to crush, which the dehydrator accomplishes very well. Overall, I’m really pleased with its performance.

Another essential piece of summer cooking equipment is our All-American Sun Oven. The internet is full of cheap DIY solar oven plans. I looked at all of them but I was exhausted from building a house, and I just wanted a sturdy appliance that would definitely work. The All-American certainly is that, so I don’t regret the price tag for a moment. I use it as a slow-cooker, especially for big batches of beans. I’ve done some baking, too. Zucchini bread comes out great. My muffins always turn out yummy but dense. That’s probably not the sun oven’s fault.

A solar oven and a solar dehydrator don’t entirely cover our summer cooking needs, so I also use a camp stove for frying and simmering. It’s a ten-year-old Coleman that I relied on exclusively before I met my husband when I lived for a while in the back of my truck. In seven months of summer cooking, it burns about four gallons of gasoline, which is cost-effective and highly convenient during the busy gardening season. Of course, it’s not rated for indoor use, which is fine because the cooking heat needs to stay out of the house during those months anyway. It sits in the summer kitchen under the grape arbor.

This summer, I’m looking forward to finally getting set up to cook with wood outdoors. I’m going to trial a cinderblock rocket stove to replace the Coleman, which is getting quite elderly and will eventually fail. We have an endless supply of twigs and sticks near the house. There may also be some sort of wood-fired pizza/bread oven in our future. Now that would get me excited about baking.

This has greatly reduced our need for electricity.

All together these changes have brought our electricity usage down to an average of 4.7 kWh/day, which is about 15% of the US household average. This is low enough to be able to afford a small off-grid system, although I’m no longer sure we’re going to get one soon.

The ways my family meets our needs are continuing to evolve away from electricity, gasoline and other purchased inputs, and toward things we can accomplish on our own, in partnership with our land.

The journey is fascinating.

About Kara

Kara Stiff grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and got her BS in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Maine. Now she lives with her husband, two small children and some number of goats on 17 acres in rural North Carolina. She documents her family’s journey toward resilience, community engagement and a lower environmental impact at

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  • You have a Coleman stove that burns gasoline? Please clarify because I have not heard of one of those. I’ve heard of them using propane. Thank you. Great article. ~Jennifer

    • Yes. It’s a dual-fuel fill-it-yourself type, with a little tank you have to pressurize. It’ll take kerosene or gasoline, and I haven’t had any trouble running it on gas for years and years. The operation is just a little more involved than with the propane style (my mom used the propane one while camping when I was a kid so that’s what I learned on). It’s much cheaper and generates no empty canisters to use gas over propane and kerosene. I do sometimes spill a drop on my hand when filling, which is a drawback because I despise that smell.

    • Coleman dual fuel stove. Don’t know if you can get them anymore. But yes, they burn unleaded gasoline and coleman gas or white gas. White gas is what they used to put into cars in the beginning. Now they add so many additives and junk to gas that it’s yellow or orange colored.

        • Most of the gasoline sold in the USA is unleaded and it contains 10% ethanol. The directions for Coleman stoves and lanterns say not to use ethanol. That seemed confusing, so I contacted Coleman customer service and asked them. Coleman says that gasoline with 10% ethanol is perfectly OK.

        • To my surprise our local farm supply has stove/lantern white gas type fuel. Less expensive than Coleman and works just as well too.

      • >Coleman dual fuel stove. Don’t know if you can get them anymore.

        Coleman 414 (large 2-burner, successor to the 413):
        Coleman 424 (small 2-burner, successor to the 425):

        I bought a 414 a few months ago to replace the 413 that I’d had since 1988, but which somehow vanished on me. 🙁 It was purchased off-the-shelf, either at Walmart or Bass Pro (don’t remember offhand who had it in stock at the time).

  • You would have been far better off just doing a smaller wood stove (far less expensive) and gotten a solar/wind battery system. I have two solar panels, a wind turbine, a roof mount for the turbine, a mount in the ground for the panels and about 10,000 watts of power from the batteries. Connect this to a breaker box and you need no electricity from the power company at all. All of this cost about $3,000. I suggest you look up Missouri Wind & Solar online as they are the best for a “do it yourself” system and they give great support. I bought my batteries from Vmax in Michigan and they ship them to you for free. Otherwise, the shipping on batteries is expensive as they are quite heavy.

    • Thanks for the recommendation on Missouri Wind and Solar! I’ll look into them. The Bun Baker is actually the smallest fully functional cook stove on the market. It’s 22 inches wide. I did look at all our less expensive options, and found they needed either much greater clearance (which I hadn’t planned for, and I was locked into my house plans) or sacrificed functionality significantly. No system meets all needs perfectly, but we definitely chose the best compromise for our situation.

  • Excellent article! I really appreciate that this article is someone simply explaining what/why/how they do certain tasks. There was no debating over what the best (whatever) is, nor any push to run out and buy X, Y & Z.

  • Growing up off the land in Maine, and living out of my truck for 3 months in late fall in Georgia, I can relate to the author’s background. I am currently working with a group of people through my church to provide education to the poor and homeless re how to make their environment sustainable. My grandson has also just entered the armed forces with the focus of teaching others, specifically the military, how to survive in all situations. I enjoyed my 7 years working in Alaska and learned so much from the Alaska Natives.
    We have much in common. But most of all, our commonality lies in the energy of our hearts and minds.
    It was a pleasure to find you on the internet – a nugget of gold.

  • That is great!
    I want one of those Vermont Bun Baker stoves!

    I did try cooking mac and cheese on our wood stove. Took a little longer, but it worked!

  • It is good to be able to live partially or entirely off grid.

    My congratulations to anyone who is able to accomplish this important feat.

    I did notice that the author’s website touts reducing carbon footprint.

    Co2 is life-giving plant food, and without it, the planet would be barren and life eliminated.

    The current propaganda that Co2 is a poison is not only absurd, it is a deadly lie.

    Co2 is a lagging NOT a leading indicator. When temps rise C02 follows. When temps get colder Co2 falls.

    The sun controls climate on Mother Earth. Humans pollute but do not control climate.

    We have entered the Grand Solar Minimum and temps will fall along with Co2. Crops will fail, governments will collapse, there will be massive relocation of people, and there will be pandemics (did someone say Wuhan virus?).

    Soon the world will be praying for MORE Co2, but the gods will laugh at our folly.

    • Hooray!!! Finally, someone with a brain and how to use it!!! Hubby and I have known this for years!!! Carbon footprint, HA!!!

      • Thank you Deb.

        Congratulations to you and your husband. It is not easy to wade through the propaganda and disinformation in order to see the Light of truth.

  • Great article and really good suggestions!
    Best solar panel and equipment sales I have found. Shipping will be the biggest cost, so best to go and pick up the panels yourself. I also recommend 24v systems

  • The problem with having goats, sheep, chickens, or a working farm, etc., is that when the SHTF people will eventually find you and either steal or kill you to get it depending on the severity of the situation.

    So expect your labor to be in vain and if you think guns will save you not if they come in gangs or the government (both are the same) when they come for your stuff.

    Don’t know what else to tell ya. And if you think a larger contingency will work. I.e. that is if everybody has the same and doing the same – think community, town, or even a city the raiders will only get larger and meaner.

    BTW, that’s what human history is all about. 😉

    • Domestic animals this may be true. However, there are people around me who feed and/or plant forage for wild rabbits. My yard is overrun with them to the point I have to fence my garden against rabbits. Creating habitat for wild game can pay off in a number of cases if SHTF.
      Both domestic and wild large animals are first targeted in such a situation. Animals that make noise are also targeted. You also run into the issue of getting feed for domestic livestock. Rabbits may be one answer for one can hand harvest forage for them and cages can be inside buildings out of sight.
      I would also look at wild birds that can be populated or conditions created to attract wild populations.
      One point I would make is that animals may provide a justification of keeping feed that people can also eat like corn, oats, wheat, etc. Some plan to reduce the livestock first and save the feed for food.

      • Pigeons were kept for food from ancient times. Raise them in a big rooftop cage then release in the morning to return at night. Neibghbor trains his to return to a cloth in a long stick in the afternoon. Then he waters and just lightly feeds them. They forage all day. Squab is still served in European restaurants.
        Other neighbor raises quail and gave birds that then roam his property staying close for water and occasional grain. They all forage on their own. Rabbits and tiny French quail are silent and can be forraged for. The quail are usually laying eggs before 2 months of age. Tasty little eggs. One or two quail for a serving depending on the appetite. Quail are often garage raised in home built low wire cages. They taKe little space and nature quickly. Wild rabbits are only safe to hunt in cold weather here. The warm weather fleas carry bubonic plague and you can catch it.

    • Common misconception is us rural farmers are going to be easy pickings for all these roving gangs is we are like city or suburb folks and dont talk to each other.
      Being out here in the sticks, we know full well we are on our own. And that is in just a bad weather scenario.
      We know each other. We are friends. We get together on a regular basis.
      A SHTF situation? We will come together in a very no non-sense way and watch each other backs. Same goes for the Amish. We KNOW we are not going to survive without their knowledge and animal power.
      More than a few of us have prior military experience. We know a bit more about security and defense than the average gang banger.

      And how is it these roving gangs seemingly always get out here to the sticks when the fuel is gone, and the bridge over the river is gone?

  • I would also recommend using the Solo Stove Titan wood gas stove, a Silver Rocket stove or one of the other Rocket Stoves. They use twigs and wood chips and put out a lot of heat.

  • Enjoyed your story. Tired of negative ‘dooms’ commentors though. I applaud you and your family for being able to adapt and survive the hard way. Whatever happens you are ahead of the crowd. You not only endure, but face hard work. Better then most who go to gyms to ‘pump-up.’ Along with that you display an optimistic attitude to make life a living experience. Stay focused and strong. May God Bless you and your family and guide you through tough times.

    • Jim Sez: “Tired of negative doom comments.”

      If you were crossing the street and a car was about to run you over, would you prefer to hear a warning, or would you disregard the warning as being “doom and gloom”, and thus allowing the car to run you over?

      Here is my warning to all of you: Lies are a powerful form of magic. They mislead individual into making costly mistakes. This is easily accomplished by making the masses oblivious to reality.

      Globally, the world is at the edged of a pandemic. There is evolving chaos in China and the numbers of infected and dead are blatant lies.

      Now, you have two choices going forward: Believer the lies meant to deceive you and keep you from preparing until it is too late, or take steps NOW to protect your and those you love. If nothing happens, then you still have supplies for the next event.

      And I promise you this: There will be a next event. Pandemics always come with Grand Solar Minimums and a weakling of the Earth’s magnetosphere.

  • Some observations:

    CO2 (carbon dioxide) is so vital to plant growth that some greenhouse operators actually pipe in extra CO2 to assure larger and faster plant growth.

    The solar cooking literature from India (where they have a near ancient history of solar cooking) strongly advises that slow cooking (via solar, or anything else) does a far better job of preserving both taste and nutrition — especially when compared with the American habit of high heat fast carbonizing carcinogen-generating burned to a crisp cooking.

    Dehydrating foods (at least, the ones properly responsive to it — not all are) preserves something like 90% of the original nutrition, in contrast to canning, which according to Tammy Gangloff (of only saves about 50% of the original nutrition.

    The Coleman website is pretty good about supplying replacement parts for their huge family of camping stove models — going back many years.

    The Amish still do a lot of cooking on kerosene-fired cookstoves. The Lehmans catalog and website ( out of Ohio features a lot of that equipment. My Mom told me that for the first few years on my parent’s farm, she was cooking on a kerosene stove — and hated the smelly kerosene residue that was deposited on the walls and ceiling. Apparently in that era, kerosene for consumers was not well “cleaned” compared to cleaner grades available today.

    I remember the hand pump outside Mom’s kitchen window to draw well water — before an electrical water pump was installed. In those days, the local ground water was of excellent quality. Today there has been some much agricultural fertilizer soaked into the groundwater that in some regions, both rural water supplies and city water have been terribly contaminated with nitrates so badly that without further treatment (whether reverse osmosis such as the city has been coerced into installing, or distilling, eg), it’s not fit for new babies, or pregnant women, AND in some cases there’s a cancer risk. So there can sometimes (but not always) be new challenges with rural water these days.

    The Solo stoves (and their many Chinese knockoff competitors) can be fired with a lot more than just twigs and pine cones. Wood pellets work well, with a little knowledge and practice. Esbit can work well. Sterno and denatured alcohol can work if you have the right burner and some like a cut-to-size tin can upside down to get the burner’s flame-height-to-pot-bottom distance adjusted correctly.

    A good watchdog or two in rural America can be worth gold. Ours used to make regular sport of chicken-threatening skunks, possums, badgers, and traveling salesmen.


  • Go to Shawn James Cabin on “you tube.”
    He built a cabin in Canada north of Niagara Falls.
    He built an outdoor kitchen and cooks outside
    on the warm days and inside on his wood stove
    during the winter.

  • The Coleman dual fuel stove can be bought through Walmart, though probably most stores will ask you to order on line, then pick up at the store two days later.

    When I was a kid, my father was an educator, who took consulting jobs for the summer. That usually required relocating for the summer. Rentals were not always available, so there were summers that we camped for as long as three months at a time. In those days, our “kitchen” was one end of a picnic table under a tarp.

    In those days, the Coleman stoves were designed to burn only white gas. Walmart sells white gas in their camping section. Yes, I remember pumping the tank. Well, pumping the gas lantern as well.

    My experience with burning car gasoline is that it doesn’t burn as hot, the flames come out splattered with orange and yellow, it’s dirty, leaves greasy soot on my pans, and it stinks. As long as white gas is available and I have the money to pay the premium for white gas, I prefer to go that route.

    When I left home on my own, I didn’t need a two burner stove, so I got myself an Optimus 8R (no longer made, but if you find one at a garage sale, worth while picking up) single burner stove. Burns white gas. The tank holds about a third of a pint, good for about an hour on high. Most cooking is not on high, and usually no more than about 10 minutes, if even that. After about four decades of use, a couple of gaskets gave out, at the time I didn’t know of any repair parts, so I bought a Svea Mountaineer, which is about the same size and also burns white gas. Then I found a source of replacement gaskets, fixed the 8R, so now I have two mini gas burning stoves. But for a family, that Colman two burner dual fuel stove is great. No, I don’t own stock in Coleman, nor am I paid for this.

    I also got one of those mini twig-burning stoves. Interesting, but I don’t have the technique down yet on its use.

    One disadvantage of camp stove cooking is no baking. One work around is to do steaming. Steamed bread has an interesting texture, just as edible, but lacks the hard crust that some people want. For that we use a Chinese style steamer.

    With miniaturization, most other uses of electricity can be from fairly small sources, unless one insists on a toaster oven or coffee maker. A radio for emergency news can come with its own solar charger, as well as a crank. Many of the latest laptop computers are charged from a USB. Even LED lighting uses only a little electricity while giving enough light for reading and other work. I grew up without TV, so that’s not in my electricity budget. The biggest challenge I see is to go without refrigeration and the foods that depend on it. When I was young, we camped near enough to town that we could shop and get a big block of ice that lasted a few days each in our icebox. What if the electricity is out for longer and there’s no ice? Change in diet?

    It’s getting easier and easier to cut the cord, but not 100% feasible in most modern living situations.

  • I also have an All American SunOven, and it’s one of the best investments for cooking I have ever made. I also use it for heating small amounts of water. I put a quart canning jar filled with water and has a tight-fitting lid, in with the cooking pot. By the time the meal is done, the water is scalding hot. I dilute this water with cold so I don’t get burned, and wash my dishes with it. The SunOven will also safely heat water to make it potable – and mine came with a wax gadget thingie to tell you when the water had processed long enough. Plus, you can use it to dehydrate small batches (leafy greens like Kale are done really quickly!). I really can’t recommend the All American strongly enough because it ticks so many of my boxes.

  • I happen to be a believer in building the capability to cook and do many other things with as many different kinds of fuel as possible. That’s on the theory that it’s tough to predict in any future hard times what kind(s) of fuel might be available (or stolen, or lost), how often, and at what price. I also realize that on average in North America, adequate sun is not available on about a third of the days in any years. That varies a little bit depending on your latitude, but it’s easy to do an online lookup for how many sunny days to expect in a year in the nearest major city to where you live. And if your circumstances dictate that cooking (or whatever else) still needs to be done on cloudy days or at night, that multiple fuels capacity idea gets your attention fast.

    I have great respect for the American Sun Oven for what it does and does well. At the same time, I’ve had clashes with the Sun Oven CEO over competing solar ovens that had the dual capability of switching to electric power when needed that his products don’t have. The US-made Sun Focus and the India-made Tulsi are examples with such hybrid capabilities. It’s really convenient when you’re learning or just trying out new recipes or even just trying to finish a cooking job (when clouds interrupt and cover the sun or the sun simply goes down) to be able to automatically switch over to electric power.

    At the same time, often a power outage collides with night time — especially in a long term outage — and some non-solar fuels are needed, whether wood, propane, alcohol, kerosene, alcohol, esbit, natural gas, sterno, butane or whatever … and that multifuel capability become relevant again.

    There are even some wood-fired stoves (like the BioLite Stove 2, eg) that can generate some electric power (enough to charge a cell phone, eg) while cooking your dinner at the same time.

    I like the Volcano wood / charcoal / propane stoves, even though mine is the older wood / charcoal only Volcano Jr. I like the Copenhagen (take apart and backpack) 15“ square solar panel cooker that works great for international travel, and be bought for around $50 or DIY’d for under $10 per YouTube videos. I like the All Season Solar (panel) Cooker from Jim LaJoie that can be used similarly. I like the backpackable Swedish Army mess kit with a Trangia alcohol burner that can also be used in many other cookers. There is a Geniol multi-liquid fuels stove (a copy of the 1920s German Petromax) that can burn almost any liquid fuel (even some you shouldn’t, like gasoline in it). There are double wall vacuum tube solar cookers both large and small for cooking or water boiling. The little ones are small enough to backpack, but not the big ones. There are huge Fresnel lenses when scavenged from discarded rear projection TVs that can cook, boil or even distill water, and even in some case melt metals, whereas the little ones can only start fires or enlarge the fine print in documents the seller would rather you not read. There is a bewildering variety of retail and DIY rocket stove designs — some large enough to need vehicle transport, but some others are fold-up or take apart for travel. A favorite fold-up of mine is the StoveHinge (demoed on YouTube), but now rebranded last year as the Socrates Fire for cooking, boiling or distilling.

    Aren’t choices wonderful?


    • Thank you Lewis for the detailed info on what’s worked for you over the years! This is one of the most helpful posts I’ve come across. Much appreciated.

  • I have a solar system but the 100 amh battery gas gone out. I need more battery than that. But it’s nice when it’s working. Then I can run a small refigerator, occasionally wash a load if clothing or keave the tv on for my husband who has alheimers. He misses tv. I don’t so much.
    I Cook on a propane stove with a non working oven. Actually in nice weather mostly I cook on a home made BBQ from 1/2 of a 55 gal barrel in a stand made from old bedframes. In winter I have a rocket stove with a hopper to burn pellets. The 16″ round heat collector is find to cook on. The rest of the time a full teakettle sits there. I can make tea or wash a few dishes. I can fry a pan of potatoes, cook soups or stews, or just heat 3 gallons of water in a big pot for our shower. Mixed with cold water to a warm temp it goes into a camp shower bag and we shower in the shower stall like a regular shower. The 3 gallons of very hot water is plenty for the two of us.
    I sometimes cook a small pot of stew for the two of us in an old cardboard solar cooker with a shinny surface. It’s my slow cooker on a hot day. I had the cooker from 30 yearsago when I used it in my classroom.
    On cold nights when the bedroom isn’t getting much of the heat from the gravity fed pellet stove we just use more covers.
    I have battery lanterns and oil lamps. Just one lamp in the livingroom uses 110v electricity. My old Coleman stove and lanterns were stolen when I was away working. I did find a little camp heater with one grid for cooking that burns kerosene or gasoline. It was cheap in a yardsale. It’s made for tent camping. Handy to heat something quick for a meal or it will take the cold edge off in the drafty bedroom. If the place were modern airtight I wouldn’t use it inside.
    I do my canning inside on the old propane stove. I have a 4 burner propane cook top that was made for camp catering. When i pickup another regulator hose I’ll use that for canning. I didnt have enough to bother with canning from the garden this year so I cut up and canned a turkey and several quarts of soup and broth and I canned a whole ham in pints. Then I lightly browned 10 lb of hamberger and canned it it home made beef bone broth. That turned out so good I did 10 lb more. Put it in pints 2/3 meat and broth to fill to the neck of the jar. I have 2 more frozen hams to get canned and some chicken legs. I still had quite a few vegetables from last years garden that was a grand productive jungle.
    I saw the solar dehydrator picture. Much like one I helped build back in the early 70s. We added big dark colored rocks in the heat chamber and a thick piece of glass that had been a shelf. We used screen and made wood frames for slide in shelves in the drying chamber. The a few small vent holes around the top. The drying chamber had been a kitchen cabinet. It worked great. I’m wanting to build another one. I have recycled materials so I don’t think I’ll end up buying anything but screws. Glad you and friends went in together to do the 3 of them. Saved money and I bet it was fun.
    I’m gathering small lava rock to incorporate in the base and walls of a native style mud built horno. Then I can bake again. I talked with several older ladies here about how they built their ovens. Each went at it a little but differently but they all used volcanic sand to fill the base and lava rock with the thick Adobe mud to form the walls. It needs replastered with a grass in mud mixture every year or two to protect it from the monsoon rains. The door is a 2×12 piece cut to fit the opening. A pizza peel is ideal to put food into the heated oven or remove if its still hot. The native ladies do bread and pies and halved pumpkins or Hubbard squash, then roasing ear of corn. All in sucession while the horno is hot.
    We dry our laundry on racks in the home for now but I want a good clothes line outside. I love the smell of sundried sheets and towels.
    We have wells for water. One on grid and one with a winch. I have have large caged water containers and rain barrels but no gutters yet.
    Bit by bit I’m working on being better prepared and more independent. With or without solar electricity I like being off grid. I love food cooked outside. The well water is 38°. Colder than from my fridge. Good clean mountain water in an underground river.
    Thanks for a good article.

    • I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how you do things…I’m learning just as much from the comments as the posts! Thanks clergylady 🙂

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