Must-Haves for Getting Your Heat Stove Ready

Heat a large area (up to 700 sq ft) and cook your family's meals with one unique stove. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Heat a large area (up to 700 sq ft) and cook your family’s meals with one unique stove. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

When we first came to live off the grid, I had never used a wood stove.
We had a little fireplace back east. It was in the basement and it may have even been gas-operated. We never built a fire in it and I would bet squirrels took over the chimney and built nests in it. I didn’t like it because it was so small it couldn’t possibly heat anything and during the winter all it gave us was a cold draft in an already cold basement. I put a big piece of plywood over the opening during the winter and ignored it.

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The Timeless Beauty of Cast Iron

Durable and pre-seasoned, this cast iron pie pan will last a lifetime - and beyond.

Durable and pre-seasoned, this cast iron pie pan will last a lifetime – and beyond.

Most of the pans in my cupboard are cast iron.  There are skillets deep and shallow, large and small.  There are dutch ovens and biscuit pans.  Pie and bread pans.  Even the tea kettle is cast iron.  It’s one of those tiny Japanese tea pots, but it’s cast iron!
The pots and pans get a lot of work at my house and they just keep getting better. Just about every kind of pan comes in cast iron.
Since we live off the grid, we conserve our electricity.  Because of this, there are certain appliances that we just can’t have. We don’t use anything that is really high wattage or has an electric heating element.  This includes microwave ovens and toasters or toaster ovens.  They aren’t missed.  I think food prepared in a microwave tastes strange.  The cast iron griddle makes much better toast than any toaster.
Cast iron pans can be used anywhere.  They are used for baking in the oven and on top of the stove. Often I cook inside my wood stove. I prepare an entire meal in a small dutch oven and put it right on the coals.  Everything cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the pan.  During the summer, I cook in a pit outside and I just lower the dutch oven into the pit of hot coals and it works like a crock pot. Slow cooking without the electricity. The black cast iron is solar oven friendly, too. I’ve baked pies, breads and other foods in cast iron, using the solar oven.
I’ve heard people say that cast iron is too heavy.  Yes, it is heavy, but using it keeps my upper body in good shape.  I use those arm muscles more regularly because I have to lift cast iron pots every day.  I find that is an advantage living out here.  We need to stay in shape.cast iron pizza pan
When I left the city, I gave away glass pans, silverstone pans, and others.  I had a few cast iron pieces and I knew they would be the right choice here.  It was a good decision.  They are more useful and easier to care for than any pans I have owned.
Once they’re seasoned, they are pretty much non stick.  If something does stick, I just put a little salt in it and scrub it around with a cloth.  The abrasive salt cleans up the mess without taking off the coating.  For general cleaning, just a dab of dish washing liquid and some water works well.   They get a quick wash and rinse, not staying in water for long and then dried right away.  If the coating needs a little boost, a very light coat of oil and about 5 minutes on top of the stove on high heat fixes it.
We have a friend who lives in town.  He seems to know when I’m baking something sweet.  Somehow he manages to show up just when it comes out of the oven.  I’ve started baking very large cakes and pies in my 10 inch skillet.  I turn the cakes out onto a 14 inch cast iron pizza pan lined with parchment.  It makes a good serving tray and the lid for my wok fits perfectly for a cover.  Yesterday, it was peach upside down cake.  Good, easy and big enough to share!
Love cast iron cooking? Looking for some new recipes? Here are more than 550, all from our loyal customers!

Love cast iron cooking? Looking for some new recipes? Here are more than 550, all from our loyal customers!

Peach Upside Down Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet
Dry ingredients:
2 1/2 C Flour- (see above)

4 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
Wet ingredients:
4 eggs OR 8 egg whites OR 1 C. egg substitute- your choice-  it all works the same.
2 tsp vanilla-  remember, Gluten Free people-  check it to make sure!
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. honey
2/3 C. mayonnaise-  You can use any kind.  If you are on a diet, use reduced calorie.  If a vegan, use vegan.  Whatever works for you.
1 1/3 C. plain yogurt-  Any kind will do.  I like homemade greek yogurt, low fat.  Use what you like.  Soy yogurt works, too.  So does goat.
For the topping:
About a cup of brown sugar
Canned or fresh peaches, drained.
You can add pecans, cherries or just about anything else if you like to the topping.  You can also substitute.  Get creative here.  Make it your own!
Use a 10 inch skillet– oven at 350.
Oil the skillet with the oil of your choosing.  I usually use canola.   Spread out the brown sugar to coat the skillet. Be generous.  Spread the peaches (slices or halves work) on the brown sugar.
Mix the dry ingredients.  I stir them with a fork to make sure they get all mixed up.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs up really well.  Frothy and foamy is good.
Add the other wet ingredients and beat them really well.
Add the flour mix 1/2 cup at a time, mixing slowly, until it’s all mixed in.
Pour the batter over the peaches in the skillet and bake for about 45 minutes.  It’s done when the top is brown, the sides start to pull away from the pan and you stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
Turn it onto a very large plate about 5 minutes out of the oven,  If you wait any longer, it will stick and make a big mess.  Sooner is better.
Serve hot or cold with yogurt, whipped cream, ice cream or plain.
PS- You can cut this recipe in 1/2 and bake it in an 8 inch cake pan.  Just watch the time.  It should be more like 30 minutes.  I’ve never done it, but that sounds about right.


How I Found Lehman’s!

Need a little nudge this fall? Yoder's Good Health Tonic may cure what ails you. At Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio, or at

Need a little nudge this fall? Yoder’s Good Health Tonic may cure what ails you. At Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or at

Recently, one of our newest bloggers, Glynis, shared how she found Lehman’s. How did you find us? Share your story in the comments, please!

I lived in northern VA and PA for a very long time.  The humidity was awful there.  You couldn’t get me back there.  Ugh.  I was back east for nearly 40 years and never adjusted to the weather.  But, living in Amish country in PA is how I discovered Lehmans.  Way back in the day of mail order, pre-Internet, I went to a homeopathic doctor in Lancaster, PA.  His name was Henry Williams.  He was known all over as the doctor of the Amish.  Every time I went to him there were buggies in front of his office.

Three old Lehman's catalogs--they may look familiar!

Three old Lehman’s catalogs–they may look familiar!

I had an old treadle sewing machine that I was restoring.  Everything was perfect but there was no belt.
I was in the doctor’s office for my annual poison ivy prevention medicine and I asked the two Amish women who were in the office if they knew where I could buy a treadle belt.

Apple Peeler CoverThey said the best would be Lehman’s mail order.  The receptionist in the office happened to have a catalog so I got the address and got my own catalog and the belt.  That was around 1980.  Wow. It’s been a long time!

How did you find Lehman’s? Tell us in the comments below. And get your free catalogs at:

Gluten-Free Peach Cake Cooks Up in Cast Iron

Peach Upside Down Cake in Cast Iron Pan

This is my gluten-free peach cake recipe. I’ve changed many of the ingredients from the original recipe to suit me! For instance, I don’t use butter, I use honey and yogurt, and I bake it off in a cast iron skillet. I think my version is healthier, and (after trying the original) tastier! Continue reading

Low Fuel Cooking: Flowerpot Hoppin’ John and Solar Gluten-free Cornbread

Double Dutch Oven from

Need to make lots of rice, beans or chili? Choose the Lodge 5 qt Double Dutch Oven, at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio and

On Monday, I told you all about the ways I cook without using my stove. Here are two of my favorite recipes, which I make with only minimal use of stove and fuel. I can put dishes together, and let them develop for hours. It’s been really warm and sunny here, so my main motivation is to keep the house cool. But I use these methods in the winter too! Today, let’s talk about Flower Pot Hoppin’John and solar cornbread.  Here’s how it’s done.

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Cooking with the Earth and Sun!

Brown Gas Range at

The Brown gas ranges at Lehman’s in Kidron are truly power-free! Learn more at

There is a gas stove in my kitchen.  It runs on propane.  If the power goes off, a match can light the burners.   The oven is a different matter.  It has something called a glow plug that uses electricity (and a lot of it!) to maintain the temperature in the oven.  It doesn’t light with a match and cannot be used in a power failure.  I’m not fond of it.

The stove that was in the house when we bought it was a mess.  The oven door was propped up with a stick and I was afraid it was going to blow up at any moment.  Besides, there was some rather disgusting stuff stuck all around the oven.  (I don’t mind a dirty oven, but only if it’s MY dirt.  At least I know what it was.)  When I raised the cooktop to examine the gas jets, I found mouse dirt. Yes, mouse dirt!  That stove was one of the first things to go.

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Glynis’ Garden Fortress In The Desert

Garden is walled and netted on top.

Garden overview–note the net on top to keep birds out.

Out here in the desert, gardening is quite challenging.  I guess that’s why it’s so rewarding.

We live amidst volcanic craters.  They last exploded in about 1100A.D.  Our dirt is volcanic ash and cinder.  Under the cinder is clay.   This type of soil requires constant fertilization and compost.  We also dump old potting soil into it.  We do just about anything we can think of to improve the soil.

Fortunately, the people who lived here before us dumped their compost in the garden area.  They never grew anything, just dumped their compost.  This actually helped when I was cleaning the garden and preparing to grow food there.  We also compost everything, but we have a big composting bin.  The rodents would go crazy in an open compost pile. Continue reading

Laundry Day Gets Different When Resources Are At Stake

Kevin's Quality Spring Clothespins

Tired of imported pins that break, and break, and break? Not these. 100% American-made from tough maple, with a fully-wound stainless spring, they’re bigger, stronger and hold heavy laundry better – even in wind.

There are so many things I love about laundry day. Something about clothes hanging on the line, an empty hamper and the idea of general cleanliness. The best laundry days around here are sunny so there’s plenty of solar power to run the machine and to dry the clothes quickly on the line. We try to get the laundry out in the morning so the heavier things have a longer time to dry.

We use a front loading washer here at the moment. It was here when we bought the house and it works fine. It’s an old machine, smaller than the new ones, but it holds quite a large load. It uses far less water than the top loaders, but still comes in at 30 gallons per load. I put a meter on it once to find out. It gets stuffed full and we put in a bag of soap nuts and wash in cold water. On a perfect laundry day with weather and washer co-operating, It gets done quickly and easily.
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For The Love Of Yogurt…Make Your Own!

Yogotherm Yogurt Incubator

Yogotherm Yogurt Incubator is available at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I grew up here in Arizona.  As a child, we lived in the middle of nowhere outside Phoenix.  What are now strip malls and housing developments was just desert in the early 60’s.  Hot, dry desert.

My father was interested in all kinds of things.  He experimented with everything from greenhouses to healthy foods.  We were the only children who had to eat wheat germ on our cereal.  We weren’t allowed dyed foods or much sugar.  Dad kept bees.  We ate honey.  He was ahead of his time in a lot of ways.  I thought he was crazy.

Before yogurt was commonly sold in grocery stores, flavored with everything imaginable and loaded with sugar, gelatin and who knows what else, my dad was making yogurt.  Worse yet, he was making us eat yogurt.  He made it by burying jars of milk in the ground.  He said that’s how people did it in the Middle East.  Didn’t he know we lived in Arizona?  This stuff made wheat germ taste like candy!  It was horrible.  He ate it warm!  He made us eat it warm.  Even our dog wouldn’t eat it.  But we had to “try it.”  Yuk. Continue reading

High Octane Oatmeal Revs Up Your Whole Day

We flake our oats right before we cook them.

We flake our oats right before we cook them.

My husband and I agree on most things.  We love the off grid-lifestyle, the hard work and the rewards.  One thing we haven’t ever agreed on is breakfast.  I like eggs; he likes bagels.  He likes cold cereal, even in winter.  I don’t.  Most of the time, we go our separate ways for breakfast.  Except when it comes to oatmeal.

For us, oatmeal is a winter food.   As soon as the cold weather hits, I’ve got my food grinder out with the cereal flaker attached, making fresh oatmeal for him to cook.   My husband is the keeper of the oatmeal.  He cooks it better than I do and it’s a real treat to have him make my breakfast once in awhile.