The Best Way to Cook an Old Hen – Coq au Vin

It’s almost time to get new chicks. Farm stores stock baby chicks in March and we plan to get a half a dozen this year. Hens lay eggs reliably for the first 3 years of their lives, but can live for over a decade. When we got our chickens, we did so knowing one day we would need to get a new flock, and come to terms with eating the old ones. As chickens age, the meat becomes very tough and requires different cooking techniques. After trying a few recipes, we made some delicious French cuisine that left us craving more.

Tasty birds

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Brewing Crazy Awesome Beer Cheap

I like beer, I like it a lot actually, and the beer scene in New England is outstanding. For me, there’s nothing better than a juicy New England style IPA exploding with hop aromas. The only problem is these brews are more expensive to make and in high demand, which means if you can get your hands on them, they sell for $10 a pour. A few years ago I brewed my first citrusy IPA. It turned out good – like really good – and I’ve been hooked ever since. These days, for about $0.40 a beer, I can brew something that to me rivals the best beers in New England. I’m going to share the cheapest all grain brewing setup that I’ve found.

One of my home brews with home grown hops.

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Stop Leaking Cash – Easy Ways to Crush Your Energy Bills

When we purchased our home, it was tough to keep it heated. It’s a slightly bigger house than our last, but our oil consumption was nearly double. After having an energy audit performed, we discovered it had more holes than Swiss cheese. Luckily, sealing a home from air leaks is easy to do, doesn’t require special tools, and can be done very cheaply. After a lot of sealing, we can now heat the entire 1700 square foot house with a small wood stove during the harshest New England winter days, and many days we don’t need to run any heating or cooling. Continue reading

The Secret to Pizzeria Quality Pizza

We used to go to our favorite pizzeria once a week. For a small pie and a salad to split, our bill was usually less than $20. At the time, this seemed like a decent deal. I thought you needed a commercial pizza oven and special ingredients to make a pizzeria quality pie. But over the last few years, I’ve uncovered the secrets to making pizzeria quality pizza. These techniques do require some planning, but not much time. And pizza ingredients are very cheap – we can make better pizza than our local pizzeria for $2 a pie.

Homemade Pizza Napoletana Margherita for $2

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A Miminalist Holiday – I Got Nothing and More!

There was not a single present for anyone under our tree this year. In fact, there were only reverse presents. Say what? That’s right, instead of giving each other gifts this year, Mrs. CK and I rummaged through the house to find stuff to give away. We gathered our “gifts” and piled them under the tree. Then, instead of unpacking presents, we packed them all up into our trusty steed Lightning. And off to Goodwill they went.

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What Do You Consider Work?

Since retirement, many of my neighbors have been noticing that I’ve been home much more than usual. But rather than asking me why I haven’t been going to work, they’ve been commenting on how hard I’ve been working. I’ve been doing a lot of gardening and splitting wood for the winter, but I do these things because I enjoy them. The fact that I really love doing what my neighbors call “work” made me think a bit more about why I’m having so much fun with it. When I sat down today to think about it, the first thing that came to my mind was my grandfather.

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Grandpa working the fields in Canada.

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Ultra Efficient Fridge Project

keezer_finishedHaving more time to think has allowed me to realize how distracting our possessions can be. A few weeks ago, I sold my moped which had been with me since high school. For both myself and Mrs. CK, it was a catalyst to a selling spree. I have especially been working on clearing out larger items that are taking up a lot of space. One of these items was an old second-hand chest freezer.  We had used if for storing meat at one point, as a chest fridge for home-brewing more recently, then it sat idle. Chest freezers are designed for optimal efficiency, so I decided to clean it up and compare it against my Energy Star kegerator. The losing appliance would be listed and sold on Craigslist. Continue reading

Did I Give Up a Six-figure Salary to Pick Trash?

jet_setting_to_colorado

Not every day is filled with exciting travel.

Since quitting my job, we spent half of this summer on the road traveling to new places like Colorado, and Nova Scotia. We got to take in breathtaking views, enjoy new cuisine, and got introduced to fun local activities with Airbnb hosts. We’ve been able to visit more family and friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade.

But to be honest, not every day has been filled with exciting travel. Being at home and having more time also means more projects keep coming up. Prior to quitting, I had been cultivating quite a few FI lifestyle hobbies, and now they are devouring every minute of my time. I thought I would be spending the summer in our hammock relaxing and reading books, but it’s been quite the opposite. A lot more of my time has been spent gardening, chopping wood, and doing home renovations. Most days, I’m exhausted. Everything came to a head the other day when I was disposing of some construction debris. When I got to the dump, I came to the realization that not everyday is going to be filled seeing new places, trying new food, and fishing. No, some days are even better.

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