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Pantry Chat Q and A

Welcome to another episode of the Pantry Chat. This week we’re discussing the importance of homestead planning in the new year, along with our weekly chit-chat and answering your questions!

Image of a man and woman sitting in the kitchen.

We are in the thick of homestead planning for 2023. We like to do this each year to set the framework for our year.

Watch the Pantry Chat video (or listen to the podcast episode) below to hear what’s coming up for us and how it could include you!

In This Episode 

  • Joel Salatin at Riverbend! That’s right, Joel Salatin will be coming to our homestead doing a consult. We’ll be inviting some of you to join us for this paid event so those interested can learn from him right alongside us. We will share more details as we have them, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss them.
  • The Modern Homesteading Conference is coming up on June 30-July 1, 2023. We’re privileged to be speaking at the conference multiple times this year on various topics. Be sure to check that out and get your early-bird tickets.
  • Everything Worth PreservingCheck out our friend Melissa K Norris’ new book, Everything Worth Preserving. This book is one I can already tell I’m going to reach for over and over again as it’s organized by the type of food, more like an encyclopedia. You simply find the food, and then it will tell you what you can do with that food. All the ways it can safely be preserved, including amazing recipes!
  • In the Homestead Kitchen Digital Magazine – January’s edition of In the Homestead Kitchen Magazine is ready for you to enjoy. We’re doing something a little different this month, and we’ve featured fats, including pork roulettes, rendering and preserving foods in their own fats. If you’re already a member, you can check out the new edition here. If you’re not yet a member, you can sign up for our Silver membership right here!
  • Growing Mushrooms in the Chicken Coop – We were asked whether there are any benefits to inoculating your deep litter method in a chicken coop with mushroom spawn. We’ve never tried this so we can’t say for sure. Psyllium thrives on carbon, so you may lose carbon by using mushrooms with your deep litter method. Also, you may have to cycle through your shavings in the coop more often. So really, it will depend on how much you want to manage it. But we think this is an interesting idea. Try it out and let us know! 
  • Lacto Fermentation – The next question was “How do you make your own Lacto-fermented sauerkraut, and can you keep it near your other ferments in the kitchen?” When fermenting, you’ll want to keep them apart, especially if they are open. They should be a few feet away from each other, but you can certainly ferment multiple items in the same kitchen. If they are done fermenting, they should be locked in air-tight containers with tops on and kept in the fridge. Here they can be kept close together. Take a look at our Lacto-fermented Sauerkraut Recipe.
  • Cider Bottles – Some of you were wondering where we bought our cider bottles. These came from Canada, but you can get these airtight brewing bottles on Amazon. The amber-colored bottles protect the contents a bit longer than the clear bottles. They make blue bottles, which are pretty, but they only protect a little. Read carefully, not all bottles are created equal and are only UV-blocking if they say they are.
  • Freezing vs. Dehydrating Shelf Life – The shelf life for freeze-dried food (removing the moisture under vacuum) is 25 years, which will still hold its total nutritional value. This food preservation method removes 99% of moisture. The three keys to keeping in mind for freeze drying are to ensure the food is vacuumed or sealed in an air-tight container, out of direct light, and not a high-fat item. The shelf life for dehydrated food (blowing hot air over the food) is only one year. This food preservation method removes 95% of moisture. Every year it declines in nutritional value. For more info, check out or post on dehydrating vs. freeze-drying food.
  • Growing Mushrooms – Mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds. To grow mushrooms you need to inoculate wood shavings with mycelium. We are planting them with our fruit trees and along our garden pathways. Mushrooms will actually build soil while growing food for your family. You can order mushrooms online from Tradd Cotter or find them through a trusted local source. Homesteading Hack: You can easily put wood shavings in walkways between garden beds, let them do their thing, and see how they grow for you. We’ve had great success utilizing these “dead zones” where nothing would otherwise be growing. The mushrooms will even turn the shavings into rich soil.
  • Home Remedies for Congestion – One of our viewers asked if you can reheat and reuse the liquid from the home remedies for congestion. Yes, you can, but it will be significantly less potent. The oils, herbs, and cider come out in the steam. So if you are on a budget, you can reuse the liquid. But we recommend making a fresh batch each time. You can also put the used liquid in your garden.
  • Our favorite way to make venison – We use venison just like we use beef. It needs to be seasoned more heavily since it has less fat. Some of our favorites are canned venison (which you can just like raw packed canned beef), Shepherds Pie, and roasting it over a spit.

Josh: Hey, you guys. This is Josh-

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homesteading Family. And welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat and welcome to 2023.

Carolyn: Yeah, exciting. Happy New Years. And welcome to a new year.

Josh: Yeah, I hope you guys all had a wonderful Christmas season and a good new year's. And man, it's time to dive into 2023. Can you believe that?

Carolyn: It kind of feels like it snuck up on us. For as long as the fall felt last year, then it's like, boom, here we are.

Josh: Well, it was a short... The summer went long.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: I mean, summer went into mid-October. That's really strange for here. And then it was like, boom, winter's here. And now we just have a solid winter and cranking right through that.

Carolyn: So today we are chit-chatting. We're answering some of your questions and we're talking about our planning for the upcoming year here and what we're going to be looking at doing, not the least of which is that we are now solidly on the 10 week countdown for baby to arrive.

That kind of marks a spot for me always. I'm always like, everything else, life just takes over until about the 10 week countdown and then I go, "Oh yeah, I have to actually get out the baby clothes and start thinking about the fact that baby is about to arrive," because those last 10 weeks can go fast when you get to them.

Josh: Yeah. How you doing? How you feeling?

Carolyn: Big. I feel big. I feel very big. This is a extremely active baby. Lots and lots of kicking, which is fun in one way and very uncomfortable in another way. He just seems to have a very powerful kick.

Josh: He sounds like he's going to be out and running.

Carolyn: He's going to be a powerful guy when he gets out.

Josh: Doing some TaeKwon-Do inside there.

Carolyn: He's doing something in there. So yeah, in general, doing really well. We have a home birth planned. We always hold those plans loosely.

Josh: Because of weather and we're out a ways. We're 11 miles off the highway, but our midwife's pretty hardy.

Carolyn: We've got very hardy North Idaho midwives and everything's looking on track for a home birth at this point, so that's really exciting. But you do have to hold these things loosely because you never know if a medical issue creeps up, if anything starts looking at all not right, then that the home birth plans change almost instantly. But for the moment we're on track and moving right along.

Josh: Got to get out the crib and dresser and start getting the room set up.

Carolyn: And all of the clothes and everything, so yeah.

Josh: I hope he's a quiet one at night.

Carolyn: I'm not that certain.

Josh: I'm not really encouraged right now. I'm guessing-

Carolyn: No, I'm sorry.

Josh: ... there's going to be some sleepless nights.

Carolyn: I think you have to get your hopes set or the reality set on the fact that you probably just aren't going to sleep. And then if he is quiet and he's one of the few that likes sleeping, we have had a few of those.

Josh: We have.

Carolyn: We have had a few who stepped slept through the night right from the beginning pretty much and loved their crib.

Josh: A baby after my own heart.

Carolyn: Yeah. But I don't think... If you get your hope set on that you're asking for trouble,

Josh: I tackle just about anything well until I start losing a lot of sleep. I can take a lot and roll with a lot. But once I start losing the sleep, that's where it becomes a struggle.

Carolyn: I think we sound like older parents.

Josh: We are older parents.

Carolyn: Yeah, baby, I'll be great. I just don't want to lose the sleep.

Josh: Yeah, well I'm not sure.

Carolyn: Oh boy. Well, you can tell what's on our mind at the moment. Well, what have you been up to? Here we are the beginning of a brand new year.

Josh: Yeah. Pushing a lot of snow.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah. And it's been a very winter winter and a lot of snow. And doing some reflecting on 2022 and the things we've accomplished and starting to go, "Okay, what are the goals this year? What are we going to get done?" Probably realizing that I'm going to have to moderate.

We did a lot last year even for the travel that I did, getting School of Traditional Skills up and going. And I'm going to be traveling again this year, though not quite as intense of a schedule, but we've still got the homestead to go. So kind of a little more mental work. And besides having a nice Christmas season, having a week off. It was nice.

Carolyn: It's very nice.

Josh: Taking it a little bit easy and playing in the snow a bit. And just gearing up here. 2023 is going to be an interesting year. And so certainly School of Traditional Skills is going to be growing. We've got some fun things for Homesteading Family planned. Hey, we've got some onsite events. Can we even tease that out? We should be able to.

Carolyn: Go for it. I think so.

Josh: Hey, Joel Salatin is going to be coming to our farm here, Riverbend, actually to two Farms. We're doing a back-to-back consult with Joel and he's going to come and do a tour here and give us a consult here at Riverbend and another farm in the area. And we're going to be inviting some folks like you to come join us in part of the class. It's going to be a paid event. So anyways, we'll have more of that coming soon on the details on that, but that's exciting.

Carolyn: Yeah, that's very exciting.

Josh: And a big teaching moment. And so that'll be fun.

Carolyn: We are also looking forward to doing something that we have not done before-

Josh: Oh, that's right.

Carolyn: ... and that is we're going to be speaking at a conference.

Josh: That's right. A brand new homesteading conference in the west.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: In the western United States.

Carolyn: We've been needing a good one.

Josh: We've been needing that. We just haven't had one out here. And so our good friend Melissa K. Norris is heading that up. What's that called again? Do you know the name?

Carolyn: I believe it's the Modern Homesteading conference, but I could be wrong. I'm not great with the names.

Josh: Yeah, some of you I'm sure already have heard about it. And if not, look it up, check it out.

Carolyn: Oh, we'll put a link down in the description.

Josh: I think it's going to be the homesteading event of 2023 in the western United States as far as I know.

Carolyn: And we're actually speaking three different times at that conference, so that's going to be really fun. So we really hope you guys will be able to join us. Come out and see us and shake hands. And I'd love to get to see you guys in person. That'd be a lot of fun.

Josh: Yeah, sure would. And maybe you feel you can come out for that and get with the tool for Joel, because Joel will be speaking at that. Joel Salatin will be speaking at that as well along with Daniel Salatin and a whole lot of other great folks.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah, lots of fun things.

Josh: Yeah, we'll have to get some more details on that out here soon.

Carolyn: We will. Good.

So yeah, you've been playing in the snow.

Josh: A lot of snow.

Carolyn: This been an interesting winter weather-wise, just even the last few... Gosh, it has been from the beginning. It started really early. We got snow probably six weeks earlier than we normally get.

Josh: There wasn't much fall. We really had not much fall. We went from summer to winter within a couple weeks, yeah.

Carolyn: And then we've had some of the coldest weather that we've personally seen here-

Josh: Yeah, here at the end of December.

Carolyn: ... North Idaho. Days in the negatives and it was cold.

Josh: Highs in the negatives.

Carolyn: Yeah, with highs in the negative.

Josh: That's definitely. We know our Canada friends there, you guys are used to this.

Carolyn: Yeah, they're laughing, but we're chilly. But then it warmed up and then we had some warm weather right behind that. And so it's just been kind of all over the place and it feels like a mish mash of a year, I guess, to start off with. So you've been trying to keep up with that around the homestead, which creates a lot of messes. When it's that cold and that snowy and then you go to warm and slushy, it's just, it's a mess one way. It's a mess another way.

And I heard a great thing the other day. I read it actually at the chiropractor's office when I was in there and it said, "It's best to choose to have joy in the weather." It was specifically about the snow.

Josh: Oh, that's right.

Carolyn: Have you read this.

Josh: I saw this, yeah.

Carolyn: "Because if you don't, you'll have less joy, but you're still going to have the same amount of snow." And it made me just really think about that. Yeah, we might as well just go ahead and say, "Boy, it sure is beautiful. It sure is fun to get to have the different seasons, isn't it?"

Josh: Yeah. And what a good life principle, right?

Carolyn: It is.

Josh: Life's going to throw at you what it throws at you. We don't get to choose a lot of that, but we can choose how we respond.

Carolyn: Attitudes are a lot of it.

Josh: That may be a good theme. That may be a good thought for 2023.

Carolyn: I think so.

Josh: I think that 2023 may be throwing a lot at us. And you know us, we're going to tackle that with positivity and solutions.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely. And remember, what we can change is our attitude and our focus, right?

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: And the way we choose to look at it and choosing joy.

Josh: Yep, absolutely.

So yeah.

Carolyn: All right, ready to get into a few questions?

Okay, that sounds good. Hey, before we jump into that, I actually have two different things that I wanted to share.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: I was really excited to get my hands on Melissa K. Norris's brand new book. It is just out.

Josh: Big good too.

Carolyn: Look at this book. This is a serious book. It's called Everything Worth Preserving, the Complete Guide for Food Preservation At Home. And this is a really, really fun book. This is actually a book I can see that I'm going to pull out over and over again because it's organized by the type of produce and how you preserve it.

Josh: Oh, that's nice. Instead of the preservation method.

Carolyn: Instead of the preservation method. So that when you get-

Josh: That's like an encyclopedia. Very cool.

Carolyn: It really is. So when you get your peas in, the snow peas start coming in, you can come and say, "Okay, what can I do with all these peas to preserve them?" And it has all the information here on all the different methods.

Josh: Fermented sugar snap peas.

Carolyn: Yeah, that sounds good, doesn't it?

Josh: Sounds really good.

Carolyn: And the recipes look amazing. So there's a lot of really good stuff in here. If you have not grabbed your copy yet, I'll put a link down in the description for you, but you do want to go ahead and get this on your shelf. It's going to be a really good one that is pulled from over and over again.

And then the other thing I wanted to share is that we have our brand new issue of the-

Josh: First 2023 issue?

Carolyn: First '23 issue-

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: ... of in the Homestead Kitchen Magazine out. And in this one we kind of went a different direction. We're completely focused on fats in the kitchen. And this is something as a homesteader, you don't get a lot of support in studying, I got to say. If you want to learn how to preserve something or how to cook something, you can go, gosh, you can go to Pinterest or you can go to and pull up tons of recipes, right?

Josh: Mm-hmm.

Carolyn: But when it comes down to actually using fats, healthy fats, and producing them on the homestead there's not a lot of information out there. So we dive into that in the magazine.

We cover things like pork roulettes making pork roulettes, so preserving meat in its own fat. We cover rendering. We cover compound butters. We cover all sorts of really, really good stuff in there. And so anyways, you're going to want to check out that. It's a digital magazine, but I'll put the link down in the description to that also today.

Josh: Very Cool. That's going to be a good one.

Carolyn: Yeah, really excited. Okay.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So let's jump right into some questions. We have quite a few of them today. Let's see. This one is from Jill Palmer on No More Stinky Chicken Coops. Jill says, "Wonderful information. Thanks for sharing it all. Would there be any benefit to inoculating the deep litter with mushroom spawn while it's still on the floor of the coop or does that cause the deep litter to break down too quickly?

Josh: Wow, that is a really cool question. I really like that. And I can't speak to that with a lot of authority. Haven't tried it and I haven't talked to anybody that's tried that. Harvey and I sure didn't talk about that. I think it's a cool idea. I think that it's worth trying. And I'm going off top of my head here. I can't think of a negative to that.

I'm not sure how the environment deep down would be because you're starting to lose the carbon and that mycelium is going to thrive on the carbon, so it's going to need to probably be up higher. Those things are going across that, the higher carbon area of the soil, which is going to be up top in this environment. And I guess my one concern is the chickens might scratch it up just in their working in the area, but I think it's a really cool idea.

As far as it causing the deep litter to break down too quickly, that's a personal preference really. I mean there's really no too quick in that environment. It's not like that's a thermal composting or something where you're worried about burning off nitrogen or whatever. So that's more just how much do you want to manage? If it works the way you're thinking it might, then yeah, you might have to cycle through your shavings in the coop a little faster.

I'm going to guess it's a little bit of a challenging environment. With the manure coming down and the carbon mix and the chicken scratching, I'm going to guess that's just going to be a little bit challenging to get it to be productive. But I think it's a well worthwhile experiment.

Carolyn: Do you think there'd be enough moisture? Because usually mushrooms kind of want a lot of moisture.

Josh: Yeah, I don't know. Because under the surface there is, there's enough. I think that's fine. So I don't know. I think that's an experiment. I think you should try it. I think it's worth trying-

Carolyn: And then please let us know.

Josh: ... and seeing. So like I said, I have my reservations just without direct experience that it may not get going great, but I think it's worth trying.

Carolyn: There you go.

Josh: So yeah, check it out and let us know.

Carolyn: There you go.

Josh: Okay. Wow. Chorus Spradlin Cox 6187 on How to Make Your Own Lacto-Ferment Sauerkraut. "Can we put sauerkraut in the same refrigerator as my sour dough starter or raw yogurt?" Good question. I like that.

Carolyn: Yeah, you've got a lot of information floating around out there that you need to keep your ferments so far apart so they don't start inoculating each other. And in the kitchen, this can be true, especially if you have open ferments going, let's say, kombucha and sourdough starter. It's best if you give them a few part feet away from each other because they will kind of start taking over each other.

Josh: Swapping critters.

Carolyn: Exactly, swapping critters. And honestly, I've done all sorts of ferments right next to each other and cultures in the kitchen and not had a problem with it. But if you do have any sort of a challenge with starting cultures of any sort, some kitchens are more challenging than others to start cultures in, then keep them further apart.

Now that said, when you put something like a vegetable ferment into the refrigerator, that's once it's done with its active ferment period and you're going to lock down that cap. So that means you don't have an open ferment just sitting there. It shouldn't be a problem. Same thing with your sourdough starter. When you put that in the refrigerator, that should be locked down because you don't want it to dry out. Yogurt also.

So as long as it's locked down, the lid is on all the way or it's in an airtight container of some sort, which all of these things should be in when they go to your refrigerator, you shouldn't have that cross-contamination problem at all. So in the refrigerator, I don't think it's a problem. If it's out on your counter actively fermenting and bubbling and spewing things into the environment, then you do probably want to keep them separated a little bit.

Josh: Very cool.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Good.

Carolyn: Okay. Let's see. Dana, on My pantry is Overflowing asks, "I love the bottles you have cider in. Where did you get them?"

Josh: Oh, well those are a Girish style bottle, the flip caps with the seals. Reusable lids, those are very, very nice. They're certainly easier to bottle than using little caps and the bottle crimper and everything though they're a bit more expensive. We actually got a lot of ours from a shop up across the border in Canada. That's where we've gotten a lot of those. But you can search those online, I'm pretty sure. We have a lot. I haven't bought any in a while.

Carolyn: You can get them on Amazon [inaudible].

Josh: We could probably even provide a link down below for some of those, yeah.

Carolyn: The fun thing with those is that you can get them all different sizes. And so we have nice little ones that we actually do single. Every person in the household has their own kombucha bottle-

Josh: Oh yeah.

Carolyn: ... that gets refilled

Josh: Those kind of squarish one, yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah, they come in different colored glass and you just look at the swing top bottles and different sizes. But those more Girish style, those are a little more geared towards brewing specifically. And yeah, those work out really well because they do block a little bit of the light. The amber color specifically does. We do have green glass bottles over there and unless they say UV blocking, they are not actually UV blocking.

Josh: Right. Yeah, you want brown if you want UV blocking.

Carolyn: Yeah. The blue is pretty, but it doesn't do anything for the light. So it just protects it for a little bit longer.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: Okay. Let's see.

Josh: We're on six there.

Carolyn: Six.

Josh: Yeah. Pam Howard 5852, on My Pantry is Overflowing, "What's the difference between freeze drying versus dehydrating and the shelf life?"

Carolyn: That's a good question. So freeze drying uses a freeze drying machine and that's where it is under vacuum. And this is a key component, under vacuum. It's alternating dropping the temperature down really low into the negative 40 range and then raising it up to a fairly warm state. I think 120 degrees. It's a pretty broad range that it's going back and forth. And it's under vacuum and it's sucking out the moisture.

Freeze dried foods, freeze drying will remove about 99% of moisture when it comes to foods. Dehydrate on the other hand is some form of blowing air, possibly hot air or warm air over food in order to remove moisture. Also, kind of the same principle, it doesn't have the temperature fluctuation and it's not under the vacuum chamber where it's really sucking stuff out. So you're getting closer to about a 95% dehydration.

Josh: Wow. That's better than I thought I was remembering. That's good.

Carolyn: Yeah, it's actually not too bad in that case. And it depends on how dry you want something. You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to dehydrating versus freeze drying.

Josh: Right, freeze drying is going to... It is what it is.

Carolyn: It is what it is, yeah. Whereas as dehydrating you have a lot of flexibility.

What that means though is that with removing so much of that moisture from the freeze dried food, it really does extend the shelf life. So as long as it's properly stored, which would mean kind of in a vacuumed or sealed airtight container and out of direct light then, and it's not a high fat item. That's kind of a key component to this. If it has a lot of fat in it won't last as long. But you can get up to 25 years they say with pretty much full nutritional density out of a freeze dried food. That's phenomenal. That does not exist in just about any other type of food preservation.

Josh: Why you'd need 25 years, I'm not sure. But that's what they say.

Carolyn: That's what they say. So I like to look at it and say, "Well, if you can get 25 years, then you should be able to get to the next harvest cycle with a really good nutrient density," right? That's what that says to me.

The dehydrator on the other hand, has great uses, wonderful. Love our dehydrator, and we use it all the time, even with the freeze dryers on hand. But it does start to decline in nutritional value much more quickly. And it's one of those things that you really need to be replacing your dehydrated food every year in order to keep some semblance of nutritional density.

So big difference in shelf life on the two, but in a lot of ways there's similarity in the preservation. They do end up being fairly different products though.

Josh: Well, they really do. And you've got more flexibility with the dehydrator and the type of product you can create.

Carolyn: Flexibility on when you stop dehydrating, yeah.

Josh: Right. And so what kind of consistency, how you use it. Where the freeze dryer pretty much just takes all the moisture out and you're generally going to fully rehydrate it. But other than some of that fruit, some of fruit is... Those raspberries are really, really good.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: No rehydration needed.

Carolyn: So I actually have a video comparing the two of them out where I took the same food and I freeze dried some and I dehydrated some so that you could look at the difference between the two. So we'll put a link to that in the description for you.

Josh: All right, cool.

Carolyn: Good. Okay. What about this one? Tackling the Giants, on My Pantry is Overflowing, "How do you grow the mushrooms? Do you grow them from seed? Where did you get them from? I'm interested. Thanks."

Josh: Yes. Mushrooms actually don't grow from seeds. They produce spores, which turns into a mycelium. And the bulk of what we call a mushroom is the mycelium, which is actually under the soil surface. So the mushrooms are just the reproductive product of that mycelium to come up and release spores so that it will spread essentially. So it's those spores that spread it.

But when it comes to you want to use mushrooms and plant them somewhere, you're going to obtain the mycelium generally from somebody. These days. You can order it online. I would suggest if you do that, that you go to one of the reputable guys that are out there teaching on it. Tradd Cotter as who comes to mind? There's another guy named Peter. They're the two main mushroom guys out there in our world, in the homesteading world, that are teaching us that are going to be very reputable.

And I'm not sure that both of them sell. One of them does. So I'm not remembering the details because we have a local source. So that's the other thing you can do. We've got a great local source, at least for the type we're using right now, Kingston Foray. We will probably get into others eventually, but we are just really getting this going and doing it low management. Just put it out there, forget about it, see what happens. But you just-

Carolyn: That's our favorite style of everything.

Josh: Well, and that was always so cool about the mushrooms this year and that's cool about perennial systems. You put them in there, they grow, and they don't take the work year after year that an annual garden takes. So they're very essential to a resilient homestead.

But the mushrooms come into this place as well. While you can farm them and do a really intense thing, you can get them going in areas and generally you take wood shavings, a hardwood wood shavings. We do them in the walkways of our gardens between the beds. And you just put that down into the wood shavings and mycelium and you let it do its thing and it takes off and starts to grow. And eventually when the season is right...

And different mushrooms are different. We actually had the kings euphoria coming up all summer and fall.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: Constantly. We were amazed at how many we have.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: And so anyways, the conditions have to be right, but it's pretty simple. So look locally to see if you have anybody and if not, just find a good online source. But it's the mycelium that you're looking for to inoculate is the term. So we're not really planting seeds, we're inoculating a very carbon rich material like wood shavings with mycelium.

Carolyn: There you have it. There is something really special about going out to the garden to go harvest broccoli and other things like that and then like, "Oh look at all the mushrooms we have to harvest today." As they were popping up in between the other plants and right along the rows. It's kind of a fun thing to do. I think everybody really enjoyed that. Just the experience of having the mushrooms out there, but then getting to bring them in and eat them and preserve them [inaudible].

Josh: And no work. No work to maintain them. And so this is kind of the second question that's touched on this, so I'm going to suggest it's a good experiment. It's a good 2023 project. Doesn't take a lot of work once you get the mycelium.

We're going to be doing this in an area that has some fruit trees in it because that mycelium benefits the fruit trees. It's got heavy wood shavings, but it also will turn the wood shavings into rich soil. And we have a guy up here, a permaculture guy that's done this demonstration across this little farm. And it's a phenomenal in converting into soil so it can help you build soil as well.

That takes a lot more and a larger scale. But definitely something for you to check out and learn about because it's a food source that you can get going. You can build soil and create yourself a great food source by just putting it in the ground and pretty much letting it go.

Carolyn: That's fun when you can get those stacked functions like that.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: Let's see, what about this one?

Josh: Okay, Tracy Becker 6669 on Home Remedies for Congestion. "Can you reheat the leftover liquid and use it again?" Wow. You better give us a little context there.

Carolyn: Yeah. So this is an herbal remedy for a deep chest congestion and it works really well to loosen everything up and get things coming out and doing what they're supposed to do. It is a type of steam.

So you have a liquid, you get it nice and hot and then you put your head over it with a towel over it. So she's asking if the liquid can then be reheated and used a second time. And yes it can, but it will be significantly less potent. And there are a couple reasons for that, but the main one is that the herbs in it and the apple cider vinegar that are in that both dissipate with the steam. And so the essential oils that are in those herbs are coming out in the steam. That's just what they do. And so every time you go to use it, you're going to have significantly less.

So if you're really in a position where you're just super pinched on the budget and you just have to make less work, then yes you can. But it's just not going to be as effective that second or that third time. And so if you can, I really recommend just making it fresh every time.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: You can go dump it out in your compost pile afterwards. You can dump it in your garden. It'll be good for everything. So you don't have to feel like you're wasting it and just pouring it down the sink because I know that does feel a little wasteful, but it's best if you just make it fresh.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: You want to tackle this last one before we move on to-

Carolyn: Sure.

Josh: ... talking about 20. We can both answer our favorite way.


So Alyssa D. Walters, I think. Sorry. Alyssa Ann Walters. I don't know. Anyways, on Pantry Chat is Overflowing. "What is your favorite way to make venison?" You Can you tackle that one first and then-

Carolyn: You know what? I use venison just like I use beef, honestly. I pretty much just cook it however we're going to cook something. If we're going to have spaghetti, then we just use ground venison in the spaghetti. If we're going to have tacos, we just cook up a roast and shred it and make it into tacos.

So I do tend to season it a little heavier than I would a regular beef cut. But aside from that, you do have to be aware that it usually has a little less fat. So you usually have to compensate for that in the cooking. But as far as the recipes I use it for, I kind of just use the same old recipes.

Josh: Okay. Well, I've got three ways.

Carolyn: Oh good. Okay.

Josh: Canned. Out of all the canned meats, to me, venison's one of the best, just the flavor of it, consistency of it. In a good hunter's pie is really, really good. As far as a meat in that style of pie. I don't know what else to call it. But cooking, really, really good.

And then what's a lot of fun is probably one of my favorites because this is more of an interactive and that is when we take, and we do this on New Year's Eve or New Year's, and we take a full leg roast and we kind of do a spit, a hanging, spinning spit by the fire and we roast it next to a fire not over and have it on a wire where it turns. And we slow cook that for hours that way and then peel it off as the kids are ice skating and the adults are standing around the fire talking. So that's probably my number one.

Carolyn: Yeah, those are all really good ways to make venison. So I got to agree. And the hunter's pie, we pretty much just make a shepherd's pie, but we replace it with the venison.

Josh: But it's good.

Carolyn: But it's truly good that way. I got to agree with you.

Josh: I might spend a little more time thinking about that because I sit in the tree stand for hours upon hours or hike through the snow day after day sometimes. And so I'm maybe spending a little more time dreaming about-

Carolyn: What you're going to do with [inaudible].

Josh: ... which ways and the kids and I talk about that a bit.

Carolyn: Absolutely.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: I live venison. I just don't have special recipes particularly that we use for it.

Josh: Yeah. Well and it, a lot of it just goes to the freezer. We got a big house. We have a lot of people to feed and so a lot of it goes into the daily flow and you replace it for beef for whatever and it works great.

Carolyn: Yeah, it does. It's good stuff. And we're always thankful to have the extra meat.

Josh: Yeah, we are.

Carolyn: So we wanted to really quickly touch on planning for the '23 year and we have not actually done our plan yet to be transparent here.

Josh: Yeah, we're just starting ours. Yeah, we're just starting ours, but I've got some thoughts.


Carolyn: You've probably got some thoughts.

Absolutely. And you can go back. We have multiple pantry chats where we really talk about diving into the planning for the year. But at the heart of planning, we find that sitting down at the beginning of the year, listing out the projects that both of us are thinking about, listing out the big calendar dates, trying to get those nailed out. Listing out things like when are we going to bring the poultry in, if we're ordering in poultry? Do we have the seeds that we need for the garden? What are the dates we're going to put main crop garden in? When are we going to start seeds?

Josh: When are we going to butcher these animal?

Carolyn: When are we going to butcher?

Josh: How? Sometimes we do it ourselves, sometimes we send it out.

Carolyn: Yeah. And looking at all of those different kind of main pieces of the year really helps us to get a framework for the year that makes sure that everything kind of fits in. There's a lot of projects that can weave in and out between things. They don't really have a timed date attached to them or specific amounts of time.

But then there are these other things that you need to know. If you're getting meat chickens on this date, you really can plan out pretty much exactly when you need to butcher. And you should have those on the calendar now before everything else starts happening around the year. And you go ahead and go purchase your meat chickens and get them ordered to come on the time when it works for you to be able to then butcher that many weeks later depending on what type of chickens you're getting. So that just has really helped us to create a framework for our homestead year.

Josh: Well, and to help the homestead year flow instead of just going at it. And we've got these ideas in our head and we just go at it and we order chickens when it's time to order chickens and that all these different things. So that really helps you stagger things out. It then helps you do tackle bigger projects.

Most of us don't have the ideal property and we are developing a piece of property. And so for me right now in this type of season, a lot of our homesteading activities, we're still doing these things, but they become pretty routine. So they take less effort to do the garden planning, figure out the butchering, how many chickens are we ordering this year? A lot of those different things.

A lot of those take less brain space at this point to me. And in my perspective, they roll along. And it's the projects that we're doing and how do we fit those in to where they are doable and we're not setting ourselves up to fail, and yet we're still trying to move ahead on our goals.

Carolyn: We're also not inadvertently forgetting something to the last minute.

Josh: Right.

Carolyn: We've had years where it started to get cold and we've gone, "Oh no, we have not gotten firewood done." That's not good.

Josh: Exactly.

That does not help anybody's stress level. It doesn't help to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to homesteading. And so if you sit down and you're looking at those dates right now, at the very beginning of the year and say, "Hey, where is the ideal moment to get firewood on the calendar and get it on the calendar now?" then you can get all of those pieces inflow.

I've got one lesson learned from this last year.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Garlic. We need to start putting garlic on the calendar.

Carolyn: We literally were like-

Josh: Because that was a, "We're going to do it. We're going to do it. We're going to do it." We didn't put it on the calendar. We know generally we want to do it in October, early October, and we didn't get it on there. And we never have scheduled that. Which is kind of silly now that I'm sitting here thinking about it.

Carolyn: Absolutely is

Josh: We need to put garlic on the calendar because we got it in barely before the ground froze hard.

Carolyn: As in 12 hours before the ground froze type of thing.

Josh: And what were we doing? We were pushing stuff aside and rushing. It's like, "Oh my goodness, we haven't done this. Our last chance is now," instead of having it calendared. And that was a big stress point right in there.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely. Point taken.

Josh: Follow of our own advice.

Carolyn: We're definitely guilty of all of this. And so every year we're learning about more and more things. And it's helping us I think to just smooth the year out and to not be in such a last minute jam. Things are going to happen that are going to cause that last minute jam no matter what every single year, but we don't need to do it voluntarily by not being planned ahead.

Josh: So we don't have a lot of time left and we haven't done all our planning yet. So let's do a little quick planning. And I'll ask you, what are a couple of your big hopefuls? So bigger projects. We know what we're doing in gardens. We're not doing any major changes to the gardens.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Terraces are going to grow a little bit. So a lot of these basic activities are pretty status quo, minor adjustments. But we are, especially these first several year, tackling larger projects on the homestead in the house. What are a couple that are high priority for you that you're hoping to see happen this year?

Carolyn: This year, for me, one of the things that's my goal is to keep working on extending the harvest of things like fresh greens into the off season. So that might mean bringing in more cold frames or making more cold frames and being a little more thought out about starting seeds indoors, even in the middle of summer to put out for fall plants so that we've got some plants that are up to size and can go. So that's kind of a big piece for me.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: What's one for you?

Josh: Wow. What's one for me? Whew, I've got several. What's the top one? Wow. Probably continuing to extend the barn. We spend a lot of time under roof here with the snow and managing manure and wood shavings. And we've made a huge step this year, but our beef herd is growing a little bit and we still have some things.

So kind of getting that barn to its final stage. We've been working on it for several years. I'm hoping to wrap that up this year. Do an addition on one side and finish some stalls on the interior to have that infrastructure in and done. And we can still play with it, but it's there. So that's one of my top ones this year.

Carolyn: Oh, I like that one.

Josh: You got another one?

Carolyn: That'll be good. Continuing work on the root cellar.

Josh: Oh, you're so nice.

Carolyn: Getting the root cellar moved along.

Josh: She didn't say finishing the root cellar. I was for sure you'd put that in.

Carolyn: I'm sure I..

Josh: That's what she's hoping for. She's hoping the root cellar is done.

Carolyn: I am hoping for that.

Josh: And well, we're in agreement on that one. We're hoping for that, but it is a large project. It's a large root cellar and we're trying to do it with the materials we have. Which then we bought stones, big stones, least expensive we could get to do the walls. We're going to do the roof with trees, which means I've got to cut them down, mill them a little bit, get them in place, and that's a lot to do. But there you go.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: So there's a couple good projects for this year.

Carolyn: And that's the way we do it. We just sit down, we record them on paper and then we look at them and kind of go, what's realistic? What can we actually do? What's high priority? What moves the whole homestead forward versus just, this is Carolyn's little pet project versus... And some of those make it in there too, right?

Josh: Of course.

Carolyn: We like to keep ourselves engaged and enjoying what we're doing. But we just go through that and we start prioritizing it and then start listing [inaudible].

Josh: And you take the ones you think you can do. Take your wish list, might be big, whittle it down to what you think you can do, and then start to put it in order operations and you go at it.

Carolyn: All right. We encourage you guys to do the same. Put in the comments below what big projects you're working on this year. What are your big ones?

Josh: Yeah, what are your goals, your hopes and dreams for 2023?

Carolyn: Share with everybody.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: So guys, it's been great to hang out with you.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: Have a wonderful beginning to the year and we will see you soon.

Josh: See you seen. Goodbye.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat, food for Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

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