Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So much for the best laid plans!

Ran out of dill yesterday while canning so left early to stop by the Amish store on the way to work and then came home and finished up the cucumbers that had been soaking in salt water.  Had planned to slice the rest of the cucumbers last night and get them soaking in lime water and can bread and butter pickles today.  BUT... our #3 son who has been cooking all the meals got called to go to his brothers home and house sit.  Seems an arsonist is on the loose and set fire to two homes in #1 son's neighborhood yesterday.  #3 son had been wanting to go up there and look for jobs so now he'll be able to do that.  BUT, we lost our cook!  My husband also got called late last night and went to work today.  So I will try to get something into the crockpot so those remaining will have a hot meal when they are able today! I will try to slice those cucumbers tonight instead!  Life happens and you just have to be prepared to roll with the punches!


Monday, August 29, 2011

It's a new week!

Back to work here today!  Got a big huge pile of cukes that have been soaking in a 5% salt brine ready to can up today as dill pickles.  Will get them done and head out the door to work.  Will need to turn the rest of the cukes I picked Saturday into bread and butter pickles!  As fast as my family is eating them I guess it's good I have so many to do up this year!  I'm really missing having fresh dill this year! 

Have a great day and a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh Happy Day's!

It's a beautiful mostly sunny day here today.  We had a bout of rain early afternoon and then the Sun returned.  My daughter has her truck back and learning that a brand new clutch will take some getting use to!  She has just learned to drive a standard transmission so will be learning how to shift very well as she breaks it in.  We let her drive us to church today and she did fairly well, just killed it twice at the lights in town.  I personally think everyone should know how to drive a standard transmission!  One of those life skills you never know when you'll need it!

I'm still buried in cucumbers.  My family picked for me last week and missed several.  I decided to leave them on the vine to fully ripen up to collect seeds for next years crop.  It should also slow down produce of more cucumbers! 

I keep wondering how the recover efforts in Japan are going and how all my friends that live along the east coast are fairing this weekend.  I've just heard from one so far.  They live in a high rise apartment in Alexandria, VA and said they were ok, just went 2 days with no electric.  They had laid in candles and lots of water to go with the food they already had.  No flooding in their neighborhood.

Are you prepared for the next big storm to hit your neighborhood?  Now is the time to lay in supplies so you aren't having to run around and get stuff at the last minute.  Empty shelves are what you could be looking at if you wait until the last moment to get prepared!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Still Running here!

My daughter still hasn't gotten her truck back from being repaired.  She has started school and is driving my car for now.  I've been canning like crazy in between the madness going on here!  I've made apricot jam and lots and lots of pickles!  Note to self: Don't grow pickling cucumbers next year!  Got peaches to start canning today.  Oh they smell so lovely!  Grab natures bounty anyway you can and get it all put aside for that rainy day that's surely coming!  Have a blessed day today!



Saturday, August 20, 2011

My thoughts today

Some one asked me why I'm giving out recipes instead of talking about prepping.  Well it's very simple.  If you haven't been prepping for very long; if you don't have a years supply of food set aside yet, then I'm trying to help you.  Even with the flooding, the drought and unusual weather we've had this year, there is a rich surplus of garden produce to be had.  This is the time to lay in anything and everything you can.  If you've been prepping for several years then you might have room for other things.  But frankly, I've been prepping for over 30 years and while I have accumulated many things, I still feel the urge overwhelmingly this year to stash as much food in as I possibly can.  So bear with me and lets it it all safely stored away for whatever might be coming our way in the coming year.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday on the run!

Had tons to pick on in the garden and just got in and have to run my daughter to work before I dash to work so here I am on the run today!   Will sweet talk the guys into washing cucumbers or at least getting them into the fridge for me!  Sure are needing jars here!  thank goodness tomorrow is pay day!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drying Apricots

Yesterday my husband picked up a box of lovely apricots, so today I am starting to dry them. Short on canning jars now and Apricots dry so very well! Apricots are so easy to work with too!

  1. Wash and cut the apricots in half.
  2. Remove the pit. Press the skin of the apricot inward pushing the flesh of the apricot outward. This is called popping the back of the apricot and it aids in the drying process.
  3. Apricots should be dipped prior to drying to prevent oxidation. Oxidation is the browning of apricots when exposed to air. Oxidation also reduces the vitamins in the fruit. I use ¼ cup of lemon juice in 1 cup of water to dip my apricots in.
  4. Spread your apricot halves out so they are not touching and air can circulate. If you live where it is hot and dry you can dry them on screens in the sun. I live in Missouri where it is never dry so I use a dehydrator. I've heard of folks using their oven as a dehydrator also but you have to keep it at 135 degrees and all I can say is good luck on that! A dehydrator is a good investment!
  5. You should dry them until most of the moisture is out of them but they are still pliable. If they are crisp all the way through, they are to dry! You can run those through the blender and make apricot powder.
  6. Store your dried apricots in glass jars. I vacuum seal mine into canning jars for long shelf life.
Have fun drying the fruits of summer so you can have lovely treats this winter!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Count your blessings, name them one by one!

In my church, we have a song that starts off with signing “Count your blessings, Name them one by one...) It's always good to remember all the Lord has blessed you with. Some days it might be real hard to think of the good things as your life seems to be going down the drain at the moment, but it might be the best time to stop and think of those blessings. I always find the Lord has heaped blessings up upon me way more than I ever deserved! And when things get really bad and I seem to have trouble remembering the blessings I take a good look around and see so many others in much worse shape than I am in! If you'd like to see or hear this hymn you can find it on this link: http://lds.org/cm/catalogsearchalpha/1,17929,4782-1-1,00.html?reportStart=21&reportEnd=30&searchPhrase=C#nullLink

 Counting my blessings today!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rocket Stoves

Rocket stoves, because of their design, allow you to use 75% less fuel (wood) than a normal fire and will be invaluable in your food storage. I was able to boil 2 cups of water for 20 minutes using just a handful of small sticks and a match. Rocket stoves come in all sizes but the idea is the same. You can buy them or make your own. Making your own will cost under $20. If you have the right supplies on hand it can be made for almost nothing.
You will need:
A number 10 can (#10 can)
4 (10 ounce) soup cans...like chicken noodle or tomato soup
Ashes or vermiculite for insulation A small grate or rack Tin snips and gloves

Using a can opener, open the #10 can and empty the contents, keeping the lid you cut off. Cut a hole the exact size of the soup can into the side of your #10 can near the bottom. (This is where the elbow will come out.) Make all of these holes as exact as you can.
To make the elbow, take a soup can and cut off the top. Take a 2nd soup can and cut off the top and bottom. Carefully cut a hole in the side of the 1st can (at the bottom) and slip the 2nd can into the hole. Put your elbow inside the #10 can and bring the end of the elbow (2nd can) out of the hole you have cut into the side.

To extend the elbow upwards, take a 3rd soup can, remove the top and bottom, cut it completely up the side and squeeze it together to fit it into the top of the 1st can. Adjust it so it comes to an inch from the top of the #10 can.
Fill the can around the elbow with your insulation to about 2 inches from the top.
Take the lid that you cut from the #10 can and cut a hole in the center just large enough for your soup can to come through. Push this lid over the soup can and onto the insulation.

To make the “shelf” for your wood, take your 4th soup can and cut off the top and the bottom. Cut it up the side, flatten it out and cut it into a 3” x 3 3/4” piece. Shape this piece into a small "T", making the top of the T 3” wide and the bottom 2 ¼” inch wide so it can just fit inside your 2nd soup can. Making it into a “T” keeps the shelf from going all the way into the soup can.
The small grate or rack goes on top of your #10 can to hold your pots or pans as you cook.
To start your fire, push a small amount of paper under the shelf and place twigs on top of the shelf. Light the paper with a match. When the twigs start to burn, put your larger sticks on top of the twigs. Push them through as they burn and add more wood as necessary.

You may want to make a larger rocket stove or more than one so you can cook several things at once. Unlimited ideas can be found online if you Google rocket stove. Google a “Rocket Stove with bio mass” and you can take this to a whole new level and heat your house for next to nothing all winter!

Have fun exploring a new way to cook or heat!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Dinner

During the summer I really hate turning on the oven any more than I have too! This morning I took a frozen chicken out of the freezer and ran some hot water over it for a couple minutes and then cut off the plastic covering and pad that was on the chicken. I rinsed it in cold water and then put it in my special dish. I went out and set up my Global sun Oven even though the sun hadn't reached my deck yet. I knew we would all be leaving soon for Church. I knew from experience where the sun would be during the 3 hours we'd be gone. I seasoned my chicken and went ahead and put it out in the Sun oven. I also started 6 potatoes to boil and then turned it off. We went on off to Church and I knew dinner would be well under way by the time I got home.

We went to a different church this week so we could all met the family that will be housing my daughter starting next week when she starts college. She had planned to drive back and forth but then realized she would be spending well over $400 a month just in gas so tried to get in the dorms but they were already filled. I sent out inquires to see if any church members had a room they could rent her. Thankfully one was found just 2 blocks from the college and they are wonderful people so we are happy they had room for her! They bought a old home in need of lots of TLC! They are working slowly on renovating it and had a room all fixed up that was perfect for her!

When we got home I sliced potatoes into a pan and then made up a fast sauce to pour over them and put them into the oven just before my daughters started baking their cookies. I readjusted my sun oven which was at 300 degrees when I went out to check it and then came in to change clothes and get a jar of green beans dumped out and heating up. Dinner was all done! The frozen chicken I put in at 7:30 was nicely browned with lots of juices and falling apart! Our Home teachers stopped by about then so got invited to have dinner with us. It was wonderful to have company for dinner! It's been such a long time since we've had company in!

Having our Sun Oven and using it is wonderful! You should double your cooking time for the most part. If you stay around and can readjust it every 30 minutes, it will cook faster. But if you have to be gone for the day or several hours you place it at the mid way hot spot and it will cook and then stay hot for several hours afterwords! It works the same if you have sun in any season! They even use the Global Sun oven at the base camps at Mt Everest. We actually have had 4 month's with no sunlight at all but I still use my sun oven to make sprouts using a candle I the oven with the lid lose. Makes my sprouts much faster in the winter!

Hope you had a loved day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday is a canning day

Working full time during the week so do most of my canning on Saturday.  Busy day here so I had no help today. Spent 2 hours out in the garden collecting and pulling weeds.  Then I started the boiling water and got the ice water ready.  Filled the pan with boiling water with tomatoes and then switched them over to the ice water and started peeling them.  Keep at it until I thought I'd scream!  Part of the problem was with the tomato plants I bought this year.  I bought four 6 packs.  1 of cherry tomatoes, 1 of Amish Paste and two packs of Rueters Canning Tomatoes.  Once the plants grew big and started putting on fruit I knew I had a problem.  The seedling had been mismarked and packed wrong.  I ended up with 1 Amish Paste plant and 2 Rueters and all the rest were cherry tomatoes!  Now 1 cherry tomato plant isn't enough but 2 or 3 is about right and 6 would of been ok as I could of taken them to work and leave on the lunch table.  But 21 plants was pretty overwhelming!  #1 I wasn't going to have enough tomatoes to can!.  #2 No way could any one at home or work or even church deal with this many cherry tomatoes!   So today I canned them!  Today's harvest had a about 5 regular tomatoes and 2 Amish paste and all the rest were Cherry tomatoes.  They were pretty tedious to peel but I got them all done and filled 7 quarts and 1 pint jar so guessing it was worth the effort to deal with them. 

Now I have to deal with cucumbers.  I've made dills, dill slices, sweets and bread & butter sliced pickles.   Asked my family which ones they want more of and their eyes lit up!  Yes they get to eat a jar of each so they can let me know!  Dills & bread & butter pickles I can start tonight and can up Monday before I go to work.  Sweets take 4 days so I'd have to can those up Wednesday before going to work. 

My Amish neighbor has apricots coming in Tuesday afternoon so I'll send my husband over to get us a box.  Will can part and dry part.  Will get 2 boxes of peaches on Friday Morning.  So I can can and dry those over the next weekend.

Hope you are able to fill your pantry shelves this lovely harvest season!    It's hard work but so worth the effort!  I know what we'll be eating this winter instead of wondering how much GMO garbage is working it's way into my home!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canning corn

Canning corn

This time of the year corn abounds for usually cheap prices. A great time to stock up and can or freeze some! Start by pulling the husks off and as much silk as possible. Wash well. Now there are a couple of ways to process the corn. If you like cream style you'll need to cut about ½ through the kernels and then cut again all the way down so you are clearing the ears twice. If you want whole kernel corn you just need to clear those ears once all the way down. They have cute little tools out there that you can run down the ears in one fell scoop. When I was growing up we put a nail through a heavy board and stuck the ear on it and used a knife to cut down the ears.

Now that you have the corn cut off the ears it's time to pack your jars! Use nice clean sanitized jars. I run my jars through the dishwasher an hour before I'm going to can. If you don't have a dishwasher you can boil them for 10 minutes and then turn them upside down on a clean towel until ready to use.

Pack your corn to within ½ inch from the top and add up to ¼ teaspoon salt if desired. Do not shake or pack the corn down! Top with boiling water. Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth and adjust lids. Pressure can at the pressure for your area.

Cream corn pint jars for 95 minutes.
Whole kernel corn: pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 85 minutes

After time is over and the canner is cooled down and pressure is back to normal. Open the canner up and remove jars to a clean dry towel and adjust lids if necessary.


PS Ok, I don't tell you how to freeze stuff!  Freezers are nice BUT if the power goes out long term what are you going to do with it all?   I will cover dehydrating soon also as that is a great way to preserve part of your stash.  My freezer has select treats and lots of water bottles!  I can remove water bottles to add room for other storage and grab the water bottles to put back in to fill the freezer.  I keep some chicken for frying and a few steaks for the grill along with some frozen fruit.  If the power goes out I know the ice bottles will keep it much longer and we have a few special meals to start our crisis with!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Left over but promised from last week.

My home made pizza sauce

I love having enough tomatoes during the summer to make up several batches of my pizza sauce to can up. I use my big stock pot to make up at least 4 batches at a time. I know I started talking about pressure canning yesterday but I thought I'd go ahead and toss out my pizza sauce recipe in case you had plenty of tomatoes to can up. I water bath can it in pint jars for 25 minutes to seal it up.

Pizza Sauce

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 pounds fresh tomatoes (or 3 pounds canned tomatoes)
1 Tablespoon basil leaves
1 Tablespoon oregano
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 can tomato paste (6oz.)

In a heavy pan heat olive oil and cook onion and garlic about 10 minutes. Stir in everything else and lower heat and simmer, partially covered about 1 hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Beat with a spoon to make smoother if desired. Use immediately or can or freeze for later use. 


Monday, August 8, 2011

Pressure Canning Basics

Ok I guess it's time to tackle pressure canning in more detail. Pressure canners are different from pressure cookers and they are not interchangeable. Pressure canners are much heavier so they can handle being under pressure for long periods of time and cool down much slower. I have an All American Pressure Canner Model # 915 that I got over 30 years ago at a garage sale for $35. It was the best investment I've ever made! I wish I had a bigger one but so far I haven't found another great bargain laying about. I rarely have time to hit garage sales but when I do or hit 2nd hand stores I always look for canning supplies! I also tell friends and that's how I landed 5 big boxes of canning jars this year. A group of us ladies had been meeting in town and driving together to a scripture study group for a few years and I had mentioned often needing canning supplies. One of them slipped an e-mail into my box saying she was cleaning out her basement and found jars that she didn't need and would I like them. I answered her right back and went a running!

First I want to explain raw pack verses hot pack:

Raw pack is taking the raw cold product and packing tightly into your jars. You may want to add boiling water for vegetables but I rarely do for meats as they make their own broth as it pressure cans.

Hot pack is taking the vegetables or meat and precooking. Cover with the liquid you cooked it with or boiling water. Using the liquid you cook it in is preferred as it has all the minerals and vitamins in it then top off with boiling water if necessary. I use crushed tomato most of the time so after I skin my tomatoes and cut them up I bring them to boil in their juices and add canned tomato juice if needed and then pack into the jars so they end up more like crushed tomatoes I'd buy at the store. But of course I water bath tomatoes and can't think of another time I hot pack!

You need to use a pressure canner for all vegetables except for tomatoes and pickled vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut. Follow your guide book that comes with your canner but just in case you get one used with no guide book I will give you guidelines here.

  • Put 2 or 3 inches of water in the bottom of the canner.
  • You must use a rack in your canner! If you don't have a rack use a wire cooling rack or cover the bottom in canning screw bands.
  • Set your filled canning jars on your rack in the canner. If your canner is deep enough to allow for a second layer of jars then stagger the second layer or use a second rack. The rack is needed so the steam can flow around each container.
  • Fasten your lid down securely so that the steam can only escape via the petcock or weighted gauge. My lid twist into place and then has catches to tighten down all around the top. Always tighten them from opposite sides as you go around the top.
  • Now you are ready to cook! Turn on the heat and watch it. After about 10 minutes the steam will build up and your petcock will be going crazy or steam will be shooting though where your weighed gauge goes. After the steam has been building up and escaping for 10 minutes you are ready to add your weighted gauge or the petcock will seal and you'll start building pressure. My Mom's canner had weighted gauges she had to put on. My canner has a dial with petcock. You will need to ask your local Extension Office how much pressure you need to can at. Altitude makes a big difference. I need to can at 11 to 12 pounds pressure out here on the prairie. So make sure you call and ask for your area!
  • Once you have reached your pressure then you start counting the time it needs to cook. Times will be listed with each vegetable I list in the following days.
  • Do not let a draft flow over your canner and do not lift the petcock to reduce pressure! Pressure canners require you staying with them and focusing on them! If you are suppose to have 10 pounds of pressure then you need to keep it at 10 pounds of pressure the entire time is is processing! Not 8 pounds to 15 pounds! A steady 10 pounds or what ever level your area requires!
  • Once you have fulfilled the time and pressure then you turn it off and remove from the heat. Do not cool in a draft or pour cold water over it. Just let it cool down slowly on it's own!
  • Once the pressure is released then you can remove the lid and take your jars out using a jar lifter tool and place on a clean towel to finish cooling.

Nothing sounds better than the ping of those lids as they seal shut as they cool down! Now you are ready to pressure can! I'll be listing different vegetables this coming week and work toward doing meats later on.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I am so grateful for the wonderful world my Father in Heaven created for us. I've been all around the world in my lifetime and no matter where I go I find beauty and delights, yes even in west Texas! Today my heart was delighted to see the rich variety of birds that surround me in my area. Those tiny little blue birds and the little touch of yellow flitting through the bush and trees. The very tiny brown birds that visit my kitchen window. So many things to see in our wonderful world! No matter where you are, I hope you'll spend some today seeing God's wonders!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

pressure canning meats today

I had lots of plans for today but my son pays part of his rent with meat and today was the day he did so.  I use the meat to fill my pint canning jars.  My husband told me to do my best filling the jars this year and what we don't fill, we'll fill with venison we take this Fall/winter time.  With my son's help we've got a good selection in with pepperoni's, chicken, ham chunks, bacon and hamburger so far.  This is my first time canning bacon.  I know how to do it, just never have had a reason to do so.  You cut the bacon in half and then lay the slices down on parchment paper and roll it up and shove into the canning jar.  Anyway, today I am just rambling and I promise to cover canning meats in detail soon! 

I am trying to lay in lots and lots of pint jars and half pint jars.  Meats and cheese can  be a big treat if things get really bad.  1 pint jar is a full pound of meat, plenty for a family to share. I do ham chunks in half pint jars to add to soups and beans. A cup of ham chunks added to a pot of beans can be a heavenly treat in hard times! We only need 2 ounces of protein per day and most adults don't really need protein at all.  Protein is critical for growing children and pregnant women.  Not a lot of protein but a fairly steady supply. We are trying to make sure we have enough meats canned so we can have meat at least twice a week for a year.  I make my own cheese to can up or to wax and store away.  Getting the meats is a little trickery as with our very busy schedule we choose not to raise very many animals.  We do have a few hens and 2 ducks but I find it a struggle to just let them loose each day and then get them locked back up at night and no one is willing to go collect eggs so I do that once or twice a week.  With the severe heat wave we had this summer we had a lot of eggs go bad really fast.  Now that the temps have gone down into the 80's I should be able to stay on top of the eggs again.  I had planned on making egg noodles to dry and dry pack can today and then turn the egg whites into angel food cakes for the freezer.  I will wash and oil the eggs and leave them in the fridge and maybe next weekend I can make noodles. 

Well first batch of meat is out of the pressure canner and the next batch is ready to start.   I'll wait until after dinner to do the third and last batch.  Hope you each have a blessed day today!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Learning life the hard way

St Joseph Missouri had a power outage today.  A sub station caught on fire.  It will be tomorrow before they get things back up and running.  Lots of calls saying they can't cook meals without power.  Nothing to do without power, no light at night.  Well, welcome to life.  It could happen to the whole nation if we get hit with an EMP or a massive solar flare which is expected next year.  Learn from any crisis that comes your way!  No way to cook?  Well make sure next time you have a way to cook!  Deal with now so you are prepared next time!  Maybe we don't think about what if the power goes out but once it does at least be smart enough to learn from it!   I guess I could stamp my foot and pout because I went out of my way to go to St Joseph today on my way home to buy stuff at Sam's Club.  Have you ever seen an empty lot in the middle of a week day at Sam's Club?  Well I sure did today!  Oh well, we'll be back that direction on the 24th so can hit it then.   When you are buying what you will use 6 months to a year from now the panic just goes away.  A few weeks later will be fine and frankly I could live with out most of it anyway if I need too! 

I hope you are not one of those who goes through power outage after power outage and are never ready for it in any way, shape or form.  Learn and prepare so you can take a deep breath and relax when it happens to you because you know you are ready to face it!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramblings on the farm

I remember first moving to our farm.  When I had time I'd walk around and see what I thought was weeds.  Over 10 years I learned a lot.  Most of what I thought was weeds were valuable plants.  One weed that I found all over had big velvety leaves, I actually sprayed some of them!  What it really was, was a life preserving plant.  It was Mullein and I have tons of it. Mullein is an herb that greatly helps respiratory problems including asthma attacks.  I learned that many of these plants are eatable.  I learned to blend several together to have wonderful wild eatable salads.   We especially love it in the Spring time when we can add in wild strawberries and violets that grow in our woodland areas.  Many make great dyes.  Many others can be used to make our own natural paper. 

Take a walk around your neck of the woods!  Do you see what you think are weeds?  Do some research and find out what they really are!  Even dandelions & plantain are quite eatable and if you know what to eat and when they are very tasty!  Learn what you  have and how to use it now just in case some day it is the only food you have!