Saturday, July 28, 2012

Taking Inventory

Ok, my store room is a mess.  The dry goods canned up in #10 cans and the 5 gallon buckets are in order and I know what I have but the home canned produce is another matter.  I can all year round.  Things I can store and can later I put off until winter time to can.  Meats and broths and soups get canned all year round.  I tend to stash in piles and sooner or later everything gets mixed up. 

So today I am downstairs digging through boxes finding out what I really have and finding things that didn't work out and need to get dumped because no one here will eat it.  Those items I bake into the daily bread for the chickens to eat.  The produce makes the bread moist and tender and they love it.  I also have to make sure to get a little fat and 15% protein added in.  I add in eggs, milk products, meat products, ect to get the protein levels meet.  I add in lots of whole grains and use items we need to use up along the way. 

I got stuck this week when tomatoes started coming on really good and not knowing what I really had and what I really need. 

One of my biggest mistakes last year was using pickling lime with cut up cucumbers to make pickled spears and slices.  I didn't know after sitting for the time required I then needed to drain them and soak again for at least 1 hour in pure water.  Some times it takes up to 5 hours of soaking and changing the pure water every hour.  So I have learned a lesson and am going to feed the chickens over the next week last years failures.  I also had a batch of salsa that need to simmer 12 hours so I decided to use the crock pot.  For some reason my family thought it had cooked enough and every time I walked into the kitchen the crock pot was turned off.  It turned a dark color and no one will eat it.  So 12 jars of salsa is being dumped also.  I thought it was strange that I did plum and apple butter in the crock pot and no one felt the need to turn that off.  No clue but it happened and ruined a batch of salsa.  I found two good jars down stairs when everyone claimed we were totally out. 

I still have a large section to do so who knows what else I will find.  Also my grapes are turning purple and ripen a full month earlier than usual.  I was worried they would be ready while we would be in California in early September but looks like in 2 weeks grapes will be done!  All we have currently are concord and it looks to be a great harvest this year. 

Hope you are keeping track of what all you have and getting all you need to get through the coming year.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Garden update- Dill Pickle Slices

I have gotten all the peas pulled so we have seed for next year.  Lettuces have now all bolted and going to seed so will be watching carefully so I can get lettuce seeds.  Radishes have also bloomed out nicely so should be able to get seed for those also.

Melon's are looking great so need to be watching for those ripen very soon.  Tomatoes are coming on much stronger now and peppers are coming in strong too.  Might be able to make salsa up soon!  I've experimented with using the burpless cucumbers to make dill pickle slices and it seems to be working.  Not as crisp as I would of liked but not mushy either.  So I will go ahead and make a couple more batches to can up.

I keep going down to look at all those carrots we canned up last week.  They look so pretty in the jars!  I've been so pleased with this years garden.  Mulching has made all the difference in all we've grown.  We still haven't had any serious rain here.  This is the time of year we usually dry up so not to hopeful about getting serious rain.  It would be a great help to my garden but our row crops are already beyond help.  I can not stress enough about having a good food supply built up before this Fall.  Grocery prices are going to go through the roof in the coming year.

If you do not garden, PLEASE, go to farmers markets and see how much you can get and preserve for the coming year now while you can still get decent prices.

Here is the recipe I'm using this year to use up all these burpless cucumbers:

Dill Hamburger slices
Here are some tasty dill pickle slices to top your burgers or sandwiches.


  • 4 pounds pickling cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons canning salt or kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canning salt or kosher salt
  • 6 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 3 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 18 to 24 black peppercorns


Slice ends off cucumbers then slice in 1/4-inch rounds. Put the cucumber slices in a large nonreactive bowl or pot and cover with the 2 1/2 quarts of water. Add 3 tablespoons salt and stir until salt is dissolved. Cover and let stand for 12 hours.
Drain cucumber slices.
Prepare jars. Fill a boiling water canner half-full with water; add jars and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low to keep jars hot.
In a nonreactive pot, combine the 3 cups vinegar and 3 cups water. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons of salt until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Into each of 6 pint jars, add 1 teaspoon dill seeds, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 bay leaf, 3 or 4 peppercorns, and about 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic. Pack with cucumbers.
Add hot vinegar mixture to each jar, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace.
Wipe rims and threads of jars with a damp paper towel. Fit with lids and screw on jar rings tightly. Put the jars in a rack and lower into the hot water. If necessary, add more boiling of near-boiling water so the water level is 1 to 2 inches above the jars. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil gently for 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Check for seals about 24 hours later. Store in a cool dark place for a few weeks before using

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vacation is over so back to work this week!

Ok, I didn't go any where but had lots of company this last week.  All my husband's brother's & sister's came for a lovely visit.  We also had our oldest son with his soon to be wife visiting us from California too.  Had a wonderful but much to short visit with all of them! 

Took a quick walk through my garden today that has been mostly ignored except for things I ran out to pick fresh last week.  Cucumbers are coming on hard now so will be a daily pick to stay on top of them.  Got 3 beds of tomatoes bearing now and 3 beds of green beans needing picking.  I have a full bed of garlic ready to pull and 2 beds of carrots ready to pull.  I'm pulling the peas now also for next years seed.  Got most of one bed done yesterday so will finish that bed tomorrow and maybe tackle another if I have time.

Now I need to decide what to plant as I clear these beds.  I want to plant another bed of garlic this fall and hope to plant several beds of gluten free oats this fall for spring crop next year.  But I will try to plant broccoli and cabbages for a fall crop and more carrots too.

So now is the crazy time of the year where I'm running full tilt harvesting and canning.

Hope you are getting much from your garden too!  If you don't have a garden try to can produce you can get at framers markets.  Keeping up your skills is very important to do!  Creating a food storage is very important also as food prices continue to climb.

The drought this year is going to really make prices climb.  Only 23% of our soy bean crops and the corn crop is expected to do even worse.  Our fruit crop that survived the late hard freeze is dropping most of it's fruit before it matures.  I just got 2 bushel's of peaches from the Amish and they said there wouldn't be any more due to the fruit drop and drought conditions.  Our personal corn crop looks fairly good but failed to put on corn as it didn't get water at the right time.  I'm hearing from farmers all over the mid-west saying the same thing.  So lay in what you want now before the prices sky rocket this fall/winter.   Many cattle producers are selling off their herds because they have no food to feed them.  Meat is cheap now but this winter it will be very high.

Take care and hope you are busy canning too!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

We decided to take a day off and work inside today in honor of the holiday and the high heat we've been dealing with.  I've made 3 batches of soup so far.  I am bagging up 2 quarts of each for the freezer that can be popped into a crockpot and reheated and the rest is getting canned up.  So far I have 9 pint jars of Taco Soup.  I've canned that before and it canned up very well.  We really enjoyed having it to heat up quickly.  Then I have 6 pints of Pasta Bean Soup.  I'm certain the bean soup will can up well but had to ponder adding the pasta in.  I cooked the soup and then added uncooked pasta to it and canned it and it looks like it worked ok.  I guess we'll find out some where down the road when we try it out!  Then I am canning up Broccoli Cheese Soup.  I canned up 4 of those as a trial.  My husband said this was the best Broccoli cheese Soup ever.  It's the first time I've made it with fresh broccoli from our garden and the cheese was home made also.  I know this freezes very well but have never canned it so tried just a few of them until we know if it works well or not.   With us being so very busy most of the time and just the two of us now, it's very nice to have home canned soups we can quickly reheat.  It's also great in a crisis.  Cooked canned soups reheat quickly so would use much less energy when you are without power. 

Next I will make Chicken & Rice.  I use that a lot in recipes and I can not use any of the store bought soups because they put wheat or milk in them.  I will make a very large batch of the chicken rice soup to have on hand.  Today's Broccoli Soup was made for my husband.  I will try a small batch later that is thickened with arrow root powder and uses no butter and uses rice cheese instead of Cheese Whiz.  This has been our most favorite soup in the past.  It will be good if I can create a suitable substitute.

Then I will make Split Pea with Ham and a big pot of Chili.  Both of those can up very well also.  I will also make up some Turkey Soup.  These will make a nice collection to our food storage. 

I think I have listed some of these before but if you need recipes just let me know and I will list them for you.  I can them in pint jars and pressure can for 75 minutes.  The pressure is set by where you live and you can find that through your county extension service. 

Hope you have a great day celebrating our Nation's Birthday!  I pray daily that we might get some people in Washington DC that will defend our Constitution and do what is best for our Nation.